A Fairytale for Grownups!

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(This amazing image was created by Ben Phillips)

Our Little Green Friend

I went with Jaye to meet the strange little fellow she had found at the bottom of our garden yesterday. Sitting beside him, I wondered if he could speak.

He looked real to me.

‘I may be small, young lady, but I’m not deaf. I can hear your thoughts. They’re very noisy.’

I apologised, asking who he was.

‘You can call me Toby.’

I asked that he refrain from reading my thoughts, that I would rather speak with him.

He agreed. Immediately my thoughts burst back into action. He looked like Mr Mushroom Head. The longer I looked at him, I thought he could be Merlin in a new form. I swear to God he winked at that thought.

‘I need a favour, ladies. ‘

‘Anything,’ I said, believing him to be Merlin, come for a visit.

‘I need to stay a while until the covering over my heart has grown. You see, like this, I am vulnerable.’

My words came out in a rush. ‘Stay as long as you like.’

I hoped he understood, for it didn’t sound right in my head. Calming down before speaking again, I asked if his other arm would grow at the same time. ‘How long will it take?’

‘A month or so, weather permitting.’

I had to ask if he would be safe from our cat. ‘Should I put some kind of guard around you?’

‘No need, I will be perfectly safe. Merlin will not harm me. Rather, he will keep me company.’

I was shocked to realise that he knew the name of our cat. ‘How did you come to be here?’

‘Let me just say, I am lucky to have escaped an ill wind. I landed here, exhausted, three days ago. I tire now, ladies. I need sleep.’

We both stood to leave.

‘Before you go, there is one more thing I need. If we have no rain for a day or more, I will need a little watering, as it’s the one thing I cannot conjure.’

You will have as much water as you like, I thought.

As we walked away, I heard his thought. I hope she doesn’t drown me, trying to be helpful…

Back inside the house, Jaye put the kettle on to boil. I couldn’t sit still, my skin was tingling, tiny darts running up my arm. ‘Did you hear what he said, did you see him wink? He used the word, ‘conjure’. Why would he do that, if he wasn’t a wizard of some kind?’

Jaye waited for me to calm down, as she knew I would. ‘I did see the wink. One thing’s for sure. It isn’t some kind of fungus as I first thought.’

Later that evening, I snuck down the garden to say goodnight. At first, I thought he had gone. I didn’t know what I had been expecting, for him to be standing there with his eyes closed? Of course, he wasn’t. The top hat that looked so like a mushroom, or Merlin’s wizardy hat, had collapsed. He must be sleeping underneath. I crept away, as quietly as I could, so as not to wake him. I heard his small sleepy voice whisper ‘Goodnight.’

I answered, without moving my lips.

Our friend stayed for three months. He had warned us not to be sad, should we find him gone. ‘I will try to visit as often as I can. If you cannot see me, you will always hear my voice.’

Sunday morning I found him gone. In his place, a flower grew, one we cannot find in any book or online. It is three inches tall, shaped like a beautiful blue butterfly. A wonderful gift that we keep secret.

I heard his voice in my head, a little water is all he needs

My heart was broken. I wanted him to stay.

The gift he left never grows old, never fades. I think it will be here long after we are gone…

AAAAA

One of our best Worst Ideas Yet?

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As if we don’t have enough to do, we have stumbled into what might possibly be either a brilliant idea, or the worst kind of madness ever to visit our house.

I’m not sure where this idea came from, but for some totally inexplicable reason, we are both equally enthusiastic about actually writing a mystery/thriller book together.

This may not work for a multitude of reasons, for we usually write in such different genres/and the arguments will probably reach hitherto unreached levels/we may end up killing each other!

We have started, and early indications would suggest it could possibly work!

Anita wrote the first section/intro, and I nervously followed. We average about 500 words each, but this could easily change when the musts get going.

Quite apart from being the most unlikely writing partnership, can you imagine what our respective muses must be thinking?

Other writers have done this, and in the past, we have often wondered how it would work. Now we will discover how hard it will be and if it will even work for us. And if we can do it without any of our legendary arguments, it will be a miracle!

Already, the conversations about the direction of the plot have been pretty spectacular, for we have such very different ideas about everything. The fact that I am the thriller writer around here stands for nothing, and my suggestions have not been well received, to put it mildly!

Today’s discussion ended with Anita suggesting that we start again, and this time write a spooky supernatural story.

We could, of course, but I am trying to finish my current WIP at the moment and all of this chaos is playing havoc with my schedule. It is my turn to write the next section, so I had better make it good!

#Jaye’s Journal ~ week 8

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The workmen are still here, and they seem to have hit a problem. This is not the first time they have been digging the road outside our house, and they had a problem then too.

Much walking around, conferring with each other. You can almost see the head-scratching from here but has the advantage of keeping their noisy machines quiet.

This time, however, we have temporary traffic lights to put up with, and you guessed it, they are right outside our house. So although the machines are quiet, we are having to put up with traffic waiting for the lights to change. Cars are not so bad, but motorbikes are deafening!

The obvious frustration of the workmen has been having the reverse, positive effect on my own.  I am tackling the first structural edit of my WIP like a pro and my initial confusion has faded away like a bad dream. I cannot understand why this book had become so complicated. I never had this much trouble with the other three!

But despite interruptions and all the noise, the editing is going well, and most of our books are now on Smashwords.  Next job is adding the links to our book pages!

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They have turned the machines back on and the noise is interfering with my ability to think straight. Time to get out of here and go for a walk!

When I heard about this local walk, one I didn’t know anything about, I almost declined, preferring to wait until the weather became warmer. It had stopped being quite so abominable, the sun was shining but there was a slight chilly wind.

But the lure of discovery was too strong to ignore, so available family members were invited to accompany us and off we went.

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It was just a ten-minute walk from our house, so an easy walk for me and my geriatric knees. Once outdoors, the chilly wind tried to remind us that Spring wasn’t here yet, but the sun kept us company as we walked along on our first excursion in 2019.

I hadn’t been out of the house for ages and was thoroughly enjoying looking at all the houses and gardens. Petersfield is an ordinary town, but even the ordinary can be fascinating if you have been incarcerated all winter.

From what we could see on our way to the walk,  people everywhere were on the move. Builders were busy, gardeners too. Windows were being cleaned and we all remarked on the amount of activity.

Nature had been busy too. New green growth and spring flowers had arrived in all of the gardens, and we were looking forward to seeing what we would find on the walk.

Tucked between the houses in an ordinary street, we saw the beginnings of a river, not much more than a trickle at this point. We also saw the mud on some of the pathways, and hoping this wouldn’t get any worse, we set off.

Although I have mentioned before that our Council keeps our town tidy, they obviously hadn’t got around to this walk yet. It was extremely wild in places, with fallen trees, undergrowth and a lot more mud, which made following the river (such as it was) rather difficult.

Now, I love a bit of a ramble. Climbing over trees in the mud is a fun day out for me, but my family don’t share my enthusiasm and at the risk of being nagged to death, I decided not to push it, and we turned around to make our way home.

I wasn’t too disappointed, for just being out in the fresh air felt wonderful.

Then I caught sight of something out of the corner of my eye. Something rather large was swooping around above our heads. Straining to see what it was, due to the bright sunshine, I couldn’t believe what I thought I was seeing. When it flew around us again, there was no mistaking what it was. A huge ruddy coloured bird with a massive wingspan and fan- like forked tail, it could only be a Kite. The first Kite I had ever seen in Petersfield!

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We stood and stared, mesmerised by the show he was putting on, almost for our benefit. When he finally flew away, we felt both elated and deflated.

But before we reached our house, we saw him again. It was as if he was reassuring us that he was here to stay…

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#Small bites… #Poetry

 

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Fortune Change

I met a lady at the fair

Let me tell your fortune, said she

I smiled and kept on walking

She stopped my steps with this,

“You have one number wrong on your ticket.”

I paid with silver,

she told me then, “turn the four into a five

to see your fortune thrive.”

With this, my bank account did swell…

AAAAA

Jaye’s Journal x7

 

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It is the beginning of the week, the sun is shining and it seems warmer. Optimism had lifted its head and was smiling at me.

Then I heard a load of noise outside my house.

Close inspection from the front room window revealed a horde of workmen, clad in bright yellow reflective jackets. All busy moving heavy machinery and what seemed like miles of orange barriers right outside my front door. We would be drowning in noise at any minute.

They say there is no peace for the wicked, but I couldn’t possibly have been bad enough to warrant so many roadworks. This is the third time they have dug up the road outside my house!

Luckily, my office is at the back of the house, reducing the noise to an annoying buzz that I can almost ignore.

~~~~~

As I make a conscious effort to slow down, I have discovered that I am actually noticing so much more these days. Before, in the daily struggle to get more done, I think I was starting to lose sight of the trees.

This week, while editing the first twelve chapters of PayBack, my WIP,  I found not one colossal error but two.

The first stopped me my tracks. How many times had I been going over these chapters? I had already rewritten and restructured them and yet I had my protagonist driving to work several times, and in the same chapters, he was catching a train!

Finding this mistake almost floored me, but I tackled it and moved on.

The next error I found was a plot hole. Not a very big one, but a hole nonetheless.

 

When I edit, I keep a running storyboard, listing events as they happen. This is so important in a mystery thriller novel and usually avoids plot holes. For the first time ever, my system had let me down.

I decided to edit these first chapters again after correcting the first mistake. My writing senses must have been working overtime, for I could feel something was missing. I kept checking my storyboard but it seemed okay.

I never like to ignore my brain when it tries to tell me something, so I decided to compile a new storyboard just for my protagonist (the detective), as I had a feeling this would be where I would find the problem.

And I discovered a missing chapter.

Now, whether this happened during the rewrite, I couldn’t say, but it looked pretty obvious to me that I will need a few good Beta readers when I have finished.

Therefore, I have an important message to anyone who loves reading mystery thrillers. If you could read PayBack for me sometime in March, I will love you forever!

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February’s Speculative Fiction Prompt from https://mythsofthemirror.com

 

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Snow Storm

Molly the elephant lay dreaming

of a snowstorm, a blue dolls house stuck in a tree.

Tiny white mice huddled there on the roof.

“Fear not, I will set you free…”

She pushed and shoved with all her might

The tree held fast to mice and house.

A voice was heard from high above

“There is no need to shake with all your might

The mice can climb upon your back

to safety, you can carry.”

All night she trudged through deepening snow

the morning light was waking slow.

The blue house stood to the right

windows burning bright beneath the tree of evergreen.

Her family waking, lived outside.

Her dream she told, her mother smiled,

“There are no mice outside this house…”

aaaaa

Jaye’s Journal ~ week 5

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Nearly time, to be honest, I think, something I have been trying to ignore for some time now. It is becoming harder to pretend I am the same as I ever was.

It’s not just my general health, which, to be fair, is not brilliant. Or the eyesight, which is becoming a problem, along with arthritis.

I am talking about my brain.

Those magical grey cells that shuffle all my ideas around and manage to figure out the best way to make them work. At least, that’s what I have always imagined was going on!

Late last year, I started to notice a reluctance to come up with the goods. Things that were once simple and routine were becoming difficult and often forgotten completely.

We make excuses for this all the time. Stress, tiredness, or life daring to get in the way. But I think I knew the writing was appearing on that proverbial wall. Well, the first few words, anyway.

My family are very supportive and continue to be amazed but what I have learned and what I can still do, bless them. They say it is normal to slow down a little at 75 years of age.

Now, my hackles usually rise at the mention of my age and slowing down, but it is probably time I acknowledged that I am the elephant in the corner of the room and that it might be time to start to act accordingly.

Time to have a serious think about the future, and what we can actually achieve. It might well be time we slowed down, but frustration has other ideas.

There is still so much we want to do, so much more of the fun stuff to learn and enjoy.

Seriously though, I do appreciate the need to slow down a bit, but I’m sure that won’t spoil all the fun we are having!

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Our Review for Don’t Touch by Barb Taub #ScienceFiction/Fantasy @barbtaub

 

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Hope flares each morning in the tiny flash of a second before Lette touches that first thing. And destroys it.
Her online journal spans a decade, beginning with the day a thirteen-year-old inherits an extreme form of the family “gift.” Every day whatever she touches converts into something new: bunnies, bubbles, bombs, and everything in between.
Lette’s search for a cure leads her to Stefan, whose fairy-tale looks hide a monstrous legacy, and to Rag, an arrogant, crabby ex-angel with boundary issues. The three face an army led by a monster who feeds on children’s fear. But it’s their own inner demons they must defeat first.

 

Our Review

Lette wakes up on her thirteenth birthday and inherits a terrible problem.

A problem she neither wants nor needs.

Despite the seriousness of her plight, I was impressed by her sense of humour and the way she gets to grip with her often distressing problem.

Don’t Touch is, without doubt, a fascinating, delightful read. Extremely well written, I read it in one sitting. I followed Lette eagerly as she sought a solution, surprised by her ingenuity. Such an unusual story had me laughing at times, sad at others and I loved the romantic entanglements too.

I must confess, I loved George, the cat! Such a character, he tried his best to put a normal slant on Lette’s far from normal life.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Don’t Touch and can heartily recommend it.

 

Excerpt

“I was having a terrific dream that Rag was carrying me into my bedroom. The bed dipped as he lay down next to me, and I could smell cinnamon and lemon. More, I wanted more, so I scooted closer and stuck my nose into his neck. I felt his hands move down my back and realized… Not a dream.

My eyes flew open, and my head shot up.“Ow!”

He was holding his hands over his bleeding nose and yelling and laughing at the same time.

“Raguel?” I asked cautiously. When he nodded, I ran for a wet washcloth. The bleeding had stopped by the time I got back, but he eyed me warily.

“Are you still mad at me, Lette?”

“I was asleep, you stupid ex-angel.”

 “Um… Is this one of those boundary things?”

I gently wiped the blood from his face. “That depends.”

He took the cloth and wiped his hands. “On what?”

 I sat down on the bed and said in the most serious voice I’d ever used with him, “On why you left. And why you came back.”

He sat next to me and took both of my gloved hands. “I left because I saw what you were willing to go through to save Stefan. And then I heard you tell him you loved him. There were so many times I wanted to call you and argue like we used to but I kept remembering you telling Stefan you loved him.”

I started to protest but he put a finger over my mouth and continued. “Oh, and there might have been some cellphone smashing. I couldn’t stand the thought of riding on the Metro, so when a friend in France needed my help for several weeks I went without a phone or laptop. I only came back because Stefan sent a message through Poppy. He said that you were just friends. And that I was a shit for making you cry.”

“I don’t cry.”

He wiped the tears from my cheeks. “I know. And I am a shit. But that’s not the amazing part.” He kissed me, and in about a nanosecond I completely forgot what we were talking about. I might have also forgotten my name. I’m pretty sure I moaned a complaint when he pulled back to continue talking. It wasn’t fair. How come he could still talk?”

 

Biography

In halcyon days BC (before children), Barb Taub wrote a humor column for several Midwest newspapers. With the arrival of Child #4, she veered toward the dark side and an HR career. Following a daring daytime escape to England, she’s lived in a medieval castle and a hobbit house with her prince-of-a-guy and the World’s Most Spoiled AussieDog. Now all her days are Saturdays, and she spends them consulting with her occasional co-author/daughter on Marvel heroes, Null City, and translating from British to American.

 

Best Review

Georgia Rose

5.0 out of 5 stars

Perceptive and witty, I can’t begin to tell you how entertaining this book is…

Until now I had viewed the Null City books from a bit of a distance thinking that I don’t really do fantasy, let along urban fantasy – whatever that may mean – and I’m certainly not YA so these can’t be for me. Right? Wrong…how wrong could I be? I was hooked from the moment I read this:-

‘Hope flares each morning in the tiny flash of a second before Lette touches that first thing. And destroys it.’

Lette (short for Roulette, fabulous name!) is our heroine here and she has a pretty tough time from the moment she hits 13 and inherits the family ‘gift’ where whatever she touches each day changes form. Some days this is great, diamond rings and opals appear alongside cup cakes for example, on other days life becomes precarious when her touch causes things to levitate or explode. Lette learns to cope. She wears vinyl gloves all the time to protect others and isolates herself to live alone. Stefan arrives in her life one day encouraging her to come with him to Null City where they can live a normal life. Stefan, you see, has his own family legacy he is trying to escape from and for a brief time Lette is able to experience the blossoming of a romance. The ‘cure’ of Null City doesn’t go to plan for Lette and she has to move on making another contact with Rag, an ex-angel with boundary issues, along the way.

I can’t begin to tell you how entertaining this book is. I’ve loved Taub’s writing on her blog for a while now, it’s perceptive and witty and this book is no different. A strong, beautiful heroine (who doesn’t see herself as that) with a superpower that is both humorous and heart-breaking, an original story, handsome hero’s with their own tragic pasts, a hopeful but ultimately doomed romance and plenty of action…oh and there’s an evil cat, George, …what more could you want in a book!