#WednesdayWriter Nine Lives

This was my debut novel, one I made such a lot of mistakes with.

Feel free to comment, advise or critcise, as I am very interested in improving my craft.

It might never be perfect, but your very first book is always special, isn’t it?

To this end, I will be posting a chapter every Wednesday…

 

NL_banner.jpg

Chapter One

Kate’s days were too long, the nights never ending. She didn’t belong in this life, this face, this body. It was all wrong.

She had wished for death many times, and it passed her by so often. It cheated her yet followed her everywhere. It whispered to her. Black thoughts plagued her dreams, monsters wearing the face of her mother, brother, husband. She wished such evil for them and it had returned to sit like a monkey on her back.

Kate heard the teasing voice in her head and chose to ignore it, wondering again if she was going insane. Why was it still pestering her after all these years, why couldn’t it leave her alone?

None of what it said ever made any sense, so she filed it away in her mind as some sort of deviance she must have been born with, like colour blindness.

Friday had been a busy day like any other and Kate was tired and ready for bed, ready to forget the day and switch her brain off, but the heartburn that plagued her all day seemed to have another agenda.

Pushing the unruly mop of curly hair away from her face, she studied the canvas in front of her, trying to decide if the painting was good enough; or if she was wasting her time trying to be creative when she felt like crap.  It had most of the elements her customer loved so they should like it. A stunning waterfall was the focal point of the picture with ethereal greens and blues in every shade imaginable captured in the white froth of the spraying water. The image seemed to shimmer and move the more you looked at it.

She knew the place well, it was in Cornwall and she had been there many times. It was a truly magical place, for you could climb up the rocks and get close to the falling water. Close enough to get soaked, she thought, smiling at the memory. She knew she would have to go there again, and soon.

There was something about water; it seemed to communicate directly with Kate’s soul. She loved nothing more than being near, or in it at every opportunity. A simple boat ride would be so much more special if she ended up soaked to the skin.  She didn’t tend to analyse it too much though, water had the power to make her feel good and paint extraordinary artwork. This transferred to anyone who loved her paintings, and that was all she cared about.

Deciding to call it a night, she took a last look at the canvas, reasonably pleased with what she had accomplished. The wet paint glistened like moonlight on the water, and she wished as always the effect would remain when the paint was dry.

In the beginning, she thought the voice just wanted to confuse her as it kept telling her what to do, or usually, what she shouldn’t do.

Why was it she instinctively never took any notice of its instructions, or the seemingly sincere appeals or sarcastic quips? She knew from experience to refuse to cooperate sometimes led to a disaster of one kind or another, but something other than the voice told her that to obey was more than her life was worth.

Either way, she seemed powerless to do anything other than follow her own instincts, even when she knew deep down she was wrong.

It was almost as though she was meant to fail, to suffer. To know and feel just how stupid she was, as though she was born with something missing. She often wondered if the voice was, in fact, the devil, because sometimes it would seem as though it was. All that medieval temptation and mysteriousness – it could well be, she thought, but what was its business with her?

A small part of her brain always sympathised with the Devil. He had been cast out too hadn’t he, fallen from grace and all that? They did seem to have a lot in common. It didn’t explain why this voice had been annoying her for most of her life. There was no reason she could see or imagine, or was it the only thing that listened whenever she prayed for help?

The voice didn’t seem evil or cruel to her. Sometimes there was something else just underneath the surface; something she could sense, but never strong enough to make her toe the line. She never obeyed the slightest suggestion, and despite the consequences, she didn’t intend to start now. She often wondered if her life would have been any different if she had, or would it have been worse?

What could it possibly do to her anyway? It was just an annoying voice in her head and couldn’t  hurt her, could it?

She finished her cigarette, stubbing it out in the overflowing ashtray and looked at the painting again. Oh well, she had done enough for one night. She wiped the paint from her fingers with a piece of rag that smelled strongly of linseed oil and made her way to the kitchen.

The indigestion was developing into razor blades in her stomach and she pulled a face. Why was it bothering her now? She used to suffer a lot in the past when she was worried or going through yet another crisis.

Lately, though, her life had evened out and that was just as well for she was getting too old to put up with any more trouble. She was moderately happy and free from problems; at least she thought she was. There was no annoying pig-headed husband to drive her nuts anymore, no pestering family turning up at inopportune moments. She was her own boss, doing something she loved. If she could just sell more of her work, it would be perfect.

Then she could move to a remote island, somewhere she would not see or hear other people with all their noise, but she was content for now.

That’s if she could just get this indigestion to sod off.

While she was making the last cup of coffee before bed, she took another antacid tablet, hoping to knock the heartburn into submission so she could get some sleep.

A wave of nausea and dizziness hit her and she clutched desperately at the worktop, wondering how long it would last this time. This wasn’t like before; she felt hot and seemed to be moving in treacle. She sat down on the nearest kitchen stool, hoping it would pass or just ease off as it had in the past, but if anything she was feeling worse by the minute. There was no pain, apart from the heartburn which was trying to burn a hole in her chest; and when she checked her pulse it was dancing all over the place, seeming to stop altogether for long moments as she frantically tried to hold herself together.

This can’t be happening now, she thought. Was she finally going to die or was this just another one of its games?  She didn’t care anymore, she just wanted to stop thinking and feeling. Just stop.

The voice was busy telling her that she needed help, but Kate didn’t want to listen.  Please just go away and leave me alone. She didn’t need any insidious remarks tonight.

As she sat there, trying to decide what to do, Dylan, her silver tabby walked into the kitchen and wrapped himself around her ankles.

‘Hello boy, where have you been?’ She hadn’t heard the cat flap so he must have been asleep on her bed. He nuzzled her hand and stared up at her as if he worried about her. She loved him dearly but other things were on her mind just then. ‘I am okay, go back to sleep.’

She was probably right, this was nothing new. She had been having these ‘turns’ for a while now and they always stopped before. As she sat there, she began to realise that this time something was wrong. She was sweating and sleepy, and a strange thing was happening to the indigestion. Instead of the annoying pain of heartburn, it was turning into a clamping grip of iron that threatened to get worse. It was time; it seemed, to call an ambulance…

 

Advertisements

Pictures From an Exhibition Blog Tour with Tallis Steelyard @JimWebster6

513tQacZ3uL._SY346_.jpg

 

More of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard. Here Tallis tells the stories behind a series of paintings presented at an exhibition held in Port Naain. Discover the dangers of peasant dances, marvel at the duplicity of well brought up young ladies who mix with robber barons and prepare to be astounded at the wisdom of the goose girl.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tallis-Steelyard-Pictures-Exhibition-Webster-ebook/dp/B07C5V726Y/

 

Dafltv8XkAEsIBr.jpg

I love these stories from Tallis Steelyard and the amazingly beautiful paintings that always accompany them.

This story, The Gnome, is the second story in this collection of stories about the art exhibition Tallis and his friends create for their friend, the artist Andeal Willnoton Quillabin. Who, in their opinion, was not as well regarded as they thought he should be.

The Gnome is the nickname for the artist’s muse, model and assistant. A very small woman, hence the nickname, but a force to be reckoned with…

Pictures from an exhibition.jpg

The artist and Morri…

The Gnome

Not many people know why Morri was nicknamed The Little Gnome. Some thought it referred to her size and it‟s true that she‟s not the tallest of women, but if that was the reason, the name seemed a little harsh. Personally I always had a lot of time for her; there are not many women who have been the muse for two such different men.

It‟s been mentioned before that she was Andeal ‟s muse, model, and assistant. Indeed the whole exhibition had been planned with the idea of producing enough funds to enable Andeal to acquire a house. Hopefully it would be a suitable house, with such fripperies as glass in the windows; a house that would convince her to marry him.

But she had also been the muse of Rargan Grosset. Rargan was one of the handful of living poets that I ever looked up to when I was young. He was a lot older than me, perhaps forty years or more. But he was always generous with advice and praise, and what is more he was not too proud to feed a starving poetaster and many of us dined at his table over those years.

It always struck me as a little sad; Rargan had a body of really fine work. In his youth he had shown himself a master of Zeugma and had done truly wonderful things with the Triadic stepped line. Yet in later life, at the time when I first met him, the springs from which his verses flowed seemed to have dried up.

It was when his elderly housekeeper died that he advertised for a replacement, and Morri applied for the position. He took her in, assuming that she was another waif who needed rescuing, and fearing that if he didn‟t rescue her, she‟d fall into the hands of worse. As it was she rescued him. She didn‟t merely keep house for him, she took it upon herself to set his business affairs in order.

I have mentioned that he was generous. Not merely did he feed us, some borrowed money from him to fund artistic projects. One such was Dash Blont. Always a womaniser, at the time he saw that being a published poet would open doors to him. In his case predominantly bedroom doors, but still, I can understand his reasoning. Thus he borrowed a considerable sum from Rargan to publish his unspecified work of poetic genius. Personally I suspect that he borrowed as much as he did because he assumed that Rargan would die of old age before Dash was called upon to pay it back. The elderly find it easy to become creditors.

Having looked at Rargan‟s accounts, Morri decided that Rargan needed the money, so she would get the money back. She wrote gentle letters of reminder which Rargan signed. Dash Blont of course ignored them. She wrote stronger letters which Rargan didn‟t want to sign. It didn‟t matter, she signed them for him, but Dash Blont still ignored them. Finally she arrived at Dash Blont‟s house in person, sat down in his kitchen and explained that she‟d come to collect the money. She refused to leave until it was paid.

Dash tried everything. He tried charming her, flirting with her, cajoling her, but she merely kept carving a block of wood with a wickedly sharp knife.

He wooed her with fine wines and excellent food. She ate, drank, and continued carving.

Finally, after three days, Dash realised he was beaten. He could hardly invite some inamorata back to his house, lest she find Morri sitting in his kitchen and asked questions he wasn‟t really willing to answer. Not only that but he could hardly go out to the house of a lady friend, lest Morri wander from the kitchen and perhaps stumble upon his correspondence. Thus he offered to pay her all the cash he had, which was a third of the loan. Morri continued carving. She continued carving for the remaining two days that it took Dash to gather together the money. She left with the money, leaving Dash a sweet smile, and a wooden phallus. It was so finely carved that one could even see where it had been severed from the body.

After that word circulated, and Morri‟s gentle letters to creditors produced a veritable avalanche of currency, some even adding a nominal amount to cover interest charges.

Still there were others who needed chasing up. These were people who had promised to supply things and had never delivered. Rargan Grosset had business associates. For example rather than merely going to a printer and having his work printed, he‟d worked through publishers. One of them, Balor Finch, had published three of Rargan‟s books of poetry and whenever Rargan asked how the books were selling, Balor pulled a long face and explained that the market for poetry was depressed and the books were sitting on his shelves gathering dust and cobwebs.

At this point Morri came to me for advice. After all, you can see her reasoning; „Tallis is a published poet and an honest man. He will tell me what sales are like‟. Here I was in a quandary. My own sales remain such as would not cast doubt upon a writer‟s amateur status. On the other hand Rargan was one of the greats of our day. Not only that but since Morri had appeared on the scene he‟d got a new lease of life and was writing once more. Not only that, he was writing beautifully. I was sure that if anybody was selling poetry, it was Rargan Grosset.

So I asked for a little time and dropped in to Glicken‟s Printers. I knew they printed for Balor Finch. I asked for a few prices, as if costing out a work of mine own, and old Ardwok had the decency to give a young poet half an hour of his time. He went through all the costs, explaining the problem about short print runs and suchlike.

Finally I asked, “So how do folk like Rargan Grosset manage?”

Ardwok smiled. “Tallis lad, they manage because they sell steady away, and we‟ll print a thousand every year.”

With that information I returned to Morri and explained that it seemed that Rargan was indeed selling his work. Indeed if he was selling a thousand copies every year he was outselling most of the poets in the city.

It must have been a week later I met Morri in the street near Balor Finch‟s office. She was carrying a bag in one hand and her wood carving knife in the other. I walked with her for company and asked about the bag.

“Oh Balor Finch has done a hasty recalculation of sales and has paid Rargan everything he owes him.”

I was impressed; indeed I was almost rendered speechless. Finally I asked, “How did this come about?”

“Oh, after talking to you I went to see Ardwok Glicken. I just told him that Balor Finch was having trouble paying his bills and perhaps he was experiencing financial difficulties. Ardwok cancelled Finch‟s line of credit immediately. It was only by paying Rargan that Finch could convince Ardwok that he wasn’t about to go bankrupt and so Ardwok has allowed him a little credit.

It was at about this time Rargan was heard referring to Morri affectionately as “his little gnome.‟ I don‟t know anybody else who really used the name, although I know some who had much harsher names for her.

Me? I have always liked her; there is about her a freshness of attitude, a no- nonsense briskness. My lady wife Shena is, after a manner of speaking, her cousin, and I can see the resemblance.

 

Sharing reviews for Secrets by Anita Dawes #Literature/Fiction

We have decided to catch up with promoting some of our books that need a little extra feedback. I think Secrets is an unusual story for Anita,  in that it crosses several genres.

We would love to know what you think, so don’t be shy!

 

promo (2).jpg

Many children have an invisible friend, and sometimes they can be a necessary part of a child’s life for many reasons.
But when this ‘friend’ starts to cause more than childish mischief, it is time for his mother to investigate.
Maggie Swan loves her little boy Danny, but his new playmate was becoming something of a problem.
Her husband Jack was no help at all, dismissing her ideas as rubbish. But was he merely trying to hide a guilty secret? One that Danny’s new friend knew all about?

Amazon reviews

I’ve been thinking about this review for a few days. I finished Secrets a short while ago and I’ve been trying decide how to express what I felt about it, but now my heading really says it all. This is a strong and powerful story, very well told. The characters are well-drawn and empathic; you have to like and sympathise with them fully, and the main plot, being that of a child who has an invisible but somewhat malicious ‘friend’, is very compelling. If you enjoy and read a lot of paranormal suspense, then you will really love this book. It isn’t my usual choice but I still found myself ‘turning the pages’ on my Kindle till I reached the end. In fact, it is very good!

I won’t say too much about the story as I don’t want to spoil the suspense and excitement for the reader, so this review is quite short. However, I think Anita Dawes has tapped into subjects that are very topical today and it’s well worth reading this book to see what can happen when we bury secrets for too long …

4.0 out of 5 stars A strong and powerful story, very well told
I’ve been thinking about this review for a few days. I finished Secrets a short while ago and I’ve been trying decide how to express what I felt about it, but now my heading really says it all. This is a strong and powerful story, very well told. The characters are well-drawn and empathic; you have to like and sympathise with them fully, and the main plot, being that of a child who has an invisible but somewhat malicious ‘friend’, is very compelling. If you enjoy and read a lot of paranormal suspense, then you will really love this book. It isn’t my usual choice but I still found myself ‘turning the pages’ on my Kindle till I reached the end. In fact, it is very good!
I won’t say too much about the story as I don’t want to spoil the suspense and excitement for the reader, so this review is quite short. However, I think Anita Dawes has tapped into subjects that are very topical today and it’s well worth reading this book to see what can happen when we bury secrets for too long.
 
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary + Well Written
 This was a beautifully written novel and flowed from chapter to chapter. Many children have an invisible friend and sometimes that can be a necessary part of a child’s life for various reasons. But when the “friend” starts to cause more than childish mischief, then it is time for the adults to do something about it. The characters in this book were well defined and I liked them all and felt empathy for all of them. This was a page-turner for me and I kept thinking there might be more sinister things going on, especially with the neighbor. I don’t want to give away too much, but I’d like to hear from other readers what they thought about the ending. An entertaining read. A 5 star from me.

Excerpt from Secrets…

The men began to dig, just to one side of the old barn by a broken down fence. She could just make out what was left of an old tree. Her curiosity strained just enough to keep her watching as Janet stepped out from the shadow of the house and took a few steps towards the men.

‘What you got there, buried treasure?’ she called to Tommy.

‘You hold your noise woman, I could always make this here hole big enough to put you in, now get on with you!’

She shrugged, picked up an old basket and walked off round the side of the house.

‘I couldn’t have done that,’ breathed Cathy. ‘I would want to have a look.’

‘Maybe she believes what Tommy said…’

‘Could be, I wouldn’t want to bump into him on a dark night. Did you get a load of his teeth?’

Maggie smiled in spite of herself. ‘I did, every dentists nightmare.’

The word sent a shiver down her spine.

After quite a pile of earth had been dug up, Jack threw his shovel aside and began pulling at something that was stuck in the ground.

Maggie felt sick. Where was the dignity? All she felt was the shame and sorrow of it all.

Tommy gave something a kick with his boot and Maggie felt herself flinch as a large, earth covered bundle came free from the grave. She couldn’t believe her eyes when Jack simply picked it up and carried it back across the field to the car. She watched him put it in the boot and noticed that Tommy was watching him too, before throwing the shovel and pick into the barn. He rinsed the mud from his boots with a hose outside the back door, then he came in and they heard him open the Aga.

‘He’s going to eat his lunch, for Gods sake!’ she said to Cathy. ‘How can he?’

Even as she said it, she realised that today of all days, anything was possible.

Jack was on his way back to the house when Janet appeared again. Waiting until she was sure he’d hear her, she asked,

‘Got what you came for, then?’

Trying to wipe the mud from his hands, he nodded.

‘Come inside and wash up.’ she said.

Jack looked up and caught Maggie’s face at the window. He felt sick to his stomach and didn’t want to look at her. He couldn’t believe what he had just done.

Janet squirted the hose over his shoes, soaking the bottom of his trousers and he held his hands under the stream of freezing cold water to get most of the mud of.

‘We’d better sit down.’ Maggie said, nudging Cathy towards a chair. ‘They’ll be here in a minute.’

They heard Janet tell Jack to use the sink in the small room behind the Aga. ‘But then, you’d know about that, wouldn’t you.’ she said. Seeing Tommy getting stuck into his food, she asked Jack if they would like some lunch before they go.

‘For God’s sake, don’t say yes.’ Maggie whispered, and Cathy held her breath waiting for his answer.

‘No thanks, we really do have to go. I’d like to get back home before it gets dark.’

Jack came into the living room and brought the smell of freshly dug soil with him. It was a smell Maggie usually liked, but not today. In her minds eye she could see the shallow grave, dark and forbidding, with white bones sticking out of the mud. How was she going to get into the car, knowing what was in the boot?

Two Brilliant Reviews for Let it Go!

aat.jpg

 

 

 

I was reminded today of just how far we have come with our writing and all that is involved with it and wanted to share our pride in our accomplishments.

Still a long way to go, but loving what you do is a lovely way to do it!

(we didn’t do it all by ourselves, so we thank everyone who helped us along the way!)

 

 

 

You read about families where everyone is happy and life is wonderful.
That wasn’t my family.
My mother coped patiently with a drunken, obsessive gambler of a husband and a daughter with an insatiable sexual appetite. I loved my father, but he kept us one step away from the poor house. Loving my sister was harder, basically because she hated me and constantly brought trouble to our door.
Me? I couldn’t wait to grow up and live my own life.
Then everything changed. Dad won a guest house in a card game, and suddenly we were off to a new life in Cornwall. A beautiful place, steeped in legend and mystery.
Would trouble leave us alone now, or was it merely biding its time?

Excerpt from Let it Go

We hadn’t seen dad for nearly a week, and that was a long time, even for him.

Mum was going spare, ranting on about what she’d do to him when he finally came home. Poor dad, it could mean another black eye or a nose which wouldn’t stop bleeding for hours after mum lands one of her punches. This is pretty normal behaviour for my parents and had been going on for years. Considering my mother’s temper, you would think he would stop rolling home drunk and penniless, but he never did.

It was late Friday night when he finally came home. We knew it was him, even though it sounded as if something had been thrown at the front door. We listened to him fumbling with the key for ages; mum with arms folded, waiting for him to fall through it. How she controlled her temper and didn’t rush at the door and tear it from its hinges, I will never know. I think I would have done; it would have been quicker.

I heard the lock turn and dad swung in like a gust of wind, holding on to the key that was stuck in the lock. His dark, shaggy hair hadn’t seen a comb in days and his clothes appeared to have been slept in. He stood there swaying, grinning at mum like an idiot.

She slapped his hand from the key, sending him flying across the hall, skidding on the mat that never seemed to want to stay in one place. I had a ringside seat at the top of the stairs and watched as she calmly removed the key and slammed the door.

Sally, my older sister by two years, came out of her room to see what was happening. At seventeen, she thought she’d been around the block and knew everything. As for the block, she’d been around it all right. There was no good way to describe my sister, other than to call her a tart. Right then, she looked the part too, with her smeared makeup and messy hair. Hanging over the bannister in her underwear, she told mum to kick his no good arse back out the door. Mum looked up at us with rage in her eyes and we both fled, creeping back when we felt it safe, even sliding down a few stairs to hear better.

They were in the kitchen now and something wasn’t right. Mum’s voice sounded cold, as though talking through ice-cubes. We heard her say she was leaving him, after twenty years of going nowhere she’d had enough. Then silence. Why weren’t they speaking, shouting or smashing things like they normally did?

I sat there wishing I could see through walls. I wanted to go in and say something, remind her that dad wasn’t a bad man. Stupid and unlucky maybe, but it wasn’t his fault all his schemes and dreams came to nothing.

The silence frightened me. Mum couldn’t possibly leave him. She loved him, had stood by his crazy ideas all this time. Turning to Sally, I whispered, ‘We’ve got to do something. Put some clothes on, hurry, before Dad passes out and mum goes to sleep on the thoughts in her head.’

Sally stopped me from standing up, pulling me backwards, knocking the lower part of my back against the stairs. ‘We can’t, Mary. He’ll say something stupid in a minute, then she’ll go for him. You know what happened last time. You got mum’s elbow in your face, couldn’t see for a week.’

I looked at her, seeing her differently for a moment. Unable to stop the words from coming out of my mouth, I said, ‘I didn’t know you cared.’

‘Of course I care, you stupid cow. You’re my kid sister.’

Was that a hurt look I saw, or another of her acting games? I tried again to stand. Feeling her hand on my shoulder, I moved faster, not wanting to be pulled down again. My foot slipped forward on the edge of the carpet and gravity did the rest, pulling me headlong down the rest of the steps. I heard Sally yell, then a chair scrape against the kitchen floor. My head hurt. I tried to move, and then someone turned out the lights.

I woke up on our living room sofa with dad holding my hand. Mum was putting a cold flannel on my head. Trying to move shot a pain through the top of my head, much as I imagined dad must feel when mum slaps him with whatever comes to hand.

‘Lie still, Mary.’ Dad said. ‘Everything’s all right. Hard heads run in the family.’

From somewhere in the room I heard Sally scoff. I struggled to sit up and could see her leaning against the doorframe, picking at her nails.

Looking dad square in the face, I said, ‘It’s not all right. Didn’t you hear mum say she’s leaving you? Couldn’t you hear the difference in her voice?’

Dad put the palm of his hand on my cheek and smiled. The smile that made you believe in angels, and held mum to him all these years.

‘Not to worry, Mary. I have something here that will put the warmth back in her voice.’ Taking some legal papers and a bunch of keys from his pocket, he gave them to mum and said, ‘Read it, Margaret.’

Waiting for mum to say something, to let us in on what could only be another of dad’s get-rich-schemes, seemed like waiting for hell to freeze over.

She read them once, and knowing dad of old, read them again. ‘Cornwall,’ she said finally. ‘A broken down guesthouse.’ She waved the paper at dad. ‘How did you get this with no money?’

‘Playing cards.’ Dad said. ‘I won it from old Tom. That’s where I’ve been, Cornwall, to look at the place. Margaret, it’s beautiful. Overlooks the ocean – a lick of paint and it’ll be good as new.’

‘So, Michael Flanagan. How long has this place been closed, did you think to ask?’

‘A year or so.’

‘Right. So with eyes full of beer, you managed to figure out it’s a lick of paint we’ll be needing, nothing more?’ The temper still showed on her face and her words had thorns. It was no accident she had been born with red hair.

‘Don’t start, Margaret. Can’t you see that luck has finally found us? It’s what you’ve always wanted, to run our own place. And the money we get from this house will get us started. The girls can help out, even get paid for the work they do around the place.’

‘I don’t see myself as a chambermaid.’ Sally moaned, folding her arms across her chest like mum. She straightened her back, trying to look tough.

Dad spun on her. ‘Better than lying on your back with God knows who, whenever the mood takes you!’

Sally stormed off and I heard the bedroom door slam shut as dad went on about her going the same way as his sister, Aunt Vivian, known hereabouts as the local bike.

Mum said he should hold his tongue.

‘Can’t do it, woman. I won’t see one of my own daughters end up on the same road. I’ll be putting the house on the market first thing in the morning. We’ve talked about nothing else for the past ten years. Now, it’s been handed to us on a plate.’

From the look on mum’s face, I could tell she was beginning to think it might be a good idea. After all, we had nothing to lose. It had plenty of rooms and hadn’t cost dad a penny, and this house would give them the money to do it up. But what on earth did they know about running a guest house? I decided that now wasn’t a good time to ask…


Two Wonderful Reviews!

4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for fans of family dramas and coming-of-age stories

Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

Fifteen-year-old Mary’s life is turned upside down when her father wins a large house in Cornwall in a card game, and her parents decide to up sticks from South West London, move down to Cornwall,  and run a bed & breakfast boarding house.  Mary does not have a good relationship with her sister Sally but is particularly close to her elderly and infirm grandmother (Nan).  Nan decides to make the biggest change of all and move with the family to live in a caravan at the end of the garden.
Mary finds an old diary written by a girl her own age who used to live in the house.   She reads of a particular event in the diary that happened years before, which she cannot get out of her mind.  Mary has a need to follow up the event and finds a new friend, Mark, who has knowledge of the local area and all its mysteries to help her in her quest.
The author has an obvious love of Cornwall, and this is evident throughout the book.   I enjoyed reading about the shifting family dynamics, Mary’s relationship with her sister, and the new life experiences that she had to learn to cope with.  I can recommend this four star read for fans of women’s fiction, family dramas, and coming-of-age stories.  There are a few grammatical errors, but they did not distract me from the story.  Well done!

 5 stars A fantastic look at family relationships

Format: Kindle Edition

A fantastic look at family dynamics through the eyes of Mary, a fifteen-year-old who is older and wiser than her years. When her father wins a guest house in a card game, Mary’s has to adjust to a new life in Cornwall. In addition to her parents and sister, Mary also has her beloved grandmother, Nan, to aid in that adjustment.

This book is filled with wonderful characters and effortless writing. I adored the relationship between Mary and Nan. As narrator, Mary does an excellent job in allowing us to see the world through her eyes. From the vivid place descriptions to the strengths and weakness in the people around her, including her own family, the reader sees scars, faults and triumphs.

The plot thread with Mary’s sister Sally, and how the family rallies around her when she runs afoul of three local women is especially strong. I also liked the thread with Spike, an unexpected “lodger” and how his storyline turned out. The author has a great style and hooked me immediately. I plan to seek out more of her books. Consider me a fan!

 

These reviews really thrilled us and made our writing life so much more rewarding. Everyone should review the books they read. It is easy to do and brings so much joy to writers everywhere!

 

Our Review of Tallis Steelyard and the Sedan Chair Caper by Jim Webster @JimWebster6

Today, we are hosting Jim Webster’s Book Tour, to spread the word about his newest story, Tallis Steelyard and the Sedan Chair Caper.

All of Jim’s stories are excellent reads, and this one is is absolutely hilarious and we urge everyone to read it. Not enough laughter in the world lately!

Tallis Steelyard and the Sedan chair caper.jpg

Amazon Book Link:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tallis-Steelyard-sedan-chair-caper-ebook/dp/B079K4LDBT/

Rather than his usual collection of anecdotes, this time Tallis presents us with one gripping adventure. A tale of adventure, duplicity and gentility. Why does an otherwise respectable lady have a pair of sedan chair bearers hidden in her spare bedroom? Why was the middle-aged usurer brandishing an axe? Can a gangster’s moll be accepted into polite society? Answer these questions and more as Tallis Steelyard ventures unwillingly into the seedy world of respectable ladies who love of sedan chair racing.

Our Review

I discovered that the sedan chair was named after the town of Sedan in France where it was first used. It came to London in 1634 and became a popular means of transport, as they were so much faster than carriages. It was literally a chair in a box, supported on two long poles and carried by two men.

Although I knew what they were, I had never heard of Sedan chair racing, so was eager to read more about it. What I discovered in this book was hilarious although extremely dangerous and was once considered to be illegal, which was just enough notoriety to encourage the sport.

Tallis Steelyard, a poet in residence, is employed to oversee the fun and games at the grand party thrown by the mastermind behind these races. A complicated plot has been developed to fix the race, guaranteeing a win, so Tallis will have his work cut out.

Tallis is to ensure the evening a success by keeping an eye on the drinking and behaviour of the staff and guests alike. As is the way with the best-laid plans and all that, this old-fashioned story with its quaint words and customs will not only take you back in time to another way of life, it will have you holding your sides with laughter. The scenes involving the frogs still had me in stitches…

 

Lady Edan%E2%80%99s Fan..jpg

Lady Edan’s Fan

Crisanto was the member of Madam Jeen Snellflort’s gentlemen adventurers who drew as his task the acquisition of Lady Edan’s Fan. The lady had inherited the fan from an estimated twelve generations of her foremothers. The fan itself was made from ornately carved wooden ribs, set with semi-precious stones, joined by a web of finely woven cloth of silk interwoven with gold thread. It had been an antique when it fell into the rapacious hands of Lady Edan’s family; indeed it was one of the few surviving pieces produced for the court of the Kings of Partann. They then handed them out as ‘gifts’ to the barbarous warlords on the periphery of their kingdom.

The lady always had the fan with her at formal balls, the rest of the time it was kept securely in the family vault. At formal affairs, when the fan was, as we might say, deployed, the lady was always accompanied by two of the family men-at-arms who stood behind her and kept their hands firmly on their sword hilts. Still Crisanto, our intrepid hero fixed on the next Harvest Ball as his best opportunity.

Crisanto was a slightly built young man, habitually neat about his person and the son of an apothecary. His family had given him a good basic education and from a child he’d helped his parents in their small Ropewalk shop. Although perfectly aware of where he had come from, he aimed to achieve more. He normally adopted an air of casual insouciance; even somebody commenting peevishly on the frayed state of his shirt cuffs was not allowed worry him. He would merely sigh and comment that, “Janners has obviously been picking my shirts from the pile to be given to the gardener. His eyesight is failing.”

Faced with the challenge he turned his back on his affected persona and decided instead to play to his advantages. After some thought he decided on his plan of action. A week before the ball, this gentleman adventurer, closely shaved and dressed in some of his sister’s cast off clothing, applied for a job serving in the Grand Sinecurists Dining Room. The interviewers were impressed by his (or her) courtesy, his knowledge of etiquette, and his natural grace and modesty. He was given the job and for the next seven days he, or should it be she, was considered to be a useful member of the staff. He was a quiet girl, kept himself to himself but went out of his way to be helpful. Because of his personable manner it was decided that on the night of the harvest ball his job would be to circulate through the guests with a tray of nibbles.

At home that evening he made some delicate little tart cases out of pastry. Instead of placing jam in the cases before cooking, he substituted syrup of his own devising. His syrup was produced by slowly boiling the fruit of the kilin tree. He kept skimming off the fruit and reduced the liquid considerably. Finally he disguised the flavour by dissolving sugar into the syrup and caramelising it. Kilin berries have been regarded for years as one of our more useful stimulant laxatives, and the dose in each tart was enough to loosen the bowls of an Urlan destrier.

On the evening of the harvest ball, he carried two small trays, one covered with a napkin. The first tray contained little bowls of salted, honey roasted, woodlice for people to nibble on. The second tray, covered with the napkin, held the little tarts he had made himself. He passed through the crowd, proffering the bowls of woodlice to guests. As Crisanto came upon Lady Edan and her guards, he smoothly swapped the napkin across to cover the woodlice and with a sweet smile she, or he, offered her tarts first to Lady Edan, who politely took one. The great lady, fanning herself, nibbled graciously on the tart and enjoyed it. Not merely that, she recommended them to her bodyguards. Each took one, and then our hero, [or at this point was he our heroine? I confess to a degree of confusion.] with a roguish wink, tempted them all into taking a second.

This done she faded away, once more covered the tarts with the napkin and continued circulating with the woodlice, watching her prey carefully and waiting for the stomach cramps to hit. The timing was critical, if it took too long for the laxative to act the Lady would be sitting at table and Crisanto could be too far away from her to put the second part of his plan into operation. But if he had made the laxative too strong, the impact could be explosive and his victim might not make it across the room, never mind to a suitable privy.
His woodlice all taken, Crisanto had to dash to the kitchen to get more. He surreptitiously lost his remaining tarts amongst several trays of similar nibbles and returned to the fray with new trays and continued to keep an increasingly nervous eye on his victims.

Twenty minutes later one of the body guards grasped his guts with both hands and precipitously fled. Seconds later the other followed him. Crisanto placed her trays down on a side table and moved quietly to join Lady Edan. This worthy, almost bent double, was most thankful when a charming young maid led her swiftly to a suitable facility. Lady Edan, her mind on other things, thrust into the maid’s waiting hands anything that would encumber her; fan, handbag, pince nez, wire framed ball gown, before collapsing through the door and kicking it shut after her.

The maid left the lady’s effects carefully folded on a chair, the ball gown she stood up in a corner, and then calmly made her way downstairs and out into the street with the fan concealed down the front of her blouse.

Later that night an ecstatic collector was clutching the fan to his bosom, and Madam Jeen Snellflort (plus a discreet escort) made her way home carrying enough cash to buy a small farm. That small farm, donated to the sanatorium by an anonymous giver, provided the institution with a modest but steady income.

Biography

Jim Webster is probably fifty-something, his tastes in music are eclectic, and his dress sense is rarely discussed in polite society. In spite of this, he has a wife and three daughters.
He has managed to make a living from a mixture of agriculture, consultancy, and freelance writing. Previously he has restricted himself to writing about agricultural and rural issues but including enough Ancient Military history to maintain his own sanity. But seemingly he has felt it necessary to branch out into writing SF and fantasy novels.
He lives in South Cumbria.

He has even been cozened into writing a blog, available for perusal by the discerning (or indeed by the less than discerning) at http://jandbvwebster.wordpress.com/

 

Our Review of Password (Nightforce Book 1) by Staci Troilo #Mystery Thriller

51IUdJimgjL._UY250_.jpg

Some passwords protect more than just secrets.

Danny Caruso was glad to be back in the United States, back to his regular job. Back to his comfortable routine of all work and no play. But when his friend Mac asks a favor of him, he can’t refuse. He owes the guy everything. So he accepts the job, even though it means a twenty-four/seven protection detail guarding a particularly exacerbating—and beautiful—woman.

Braelyn Edwards is careful to stay out of the spotlight, preferring to hide in the background and skip the trappings of a vibrant social life. But her privacy is threatened when there’s an attempt on her life and a bodyguard is foisted on her. Compounding problems? He doesn’t just want to protect her. He wants to investigate every detail of her life, starting with her top-secret job.

Danny casts his sights on Charlie Park, her co-worker, her partner… the one man who knows all Braelyn’s secrets. She’s frustrated by the distrust until she realizes jealousy fuels Danny’s suspicions as much as instinct and proof. One of them is right about Charlie—but by the time they figure it out, it may be too late to save their relationship. And Braelyn’s life.


Our Review

Password is my first Staci Troilo book, so wasn’t sure what I would think of it.

I needn’t have worried.

There was brilliant scene-setting throughout, with interesting and vibrant characters, all wrapped up in a totally realistic and believable scenario.

Braelyn Edwards first struck me as an ordinary working girl, hardly someone who would need a bodyguard. But someone had attacked her, so she could be hiding a secret.  Danny Caruso has trouble believing she is innocent too, although she seems so ordinary. He is convinced she had to be mistaken for somebody else.

She mysteriously denies knowing of any reason for the attack, and this is when their incredibly fast-paced banter begins. The chemistry between them fizzles with electricity, and I ended up enamoured by the two of them to such an extent that I forgot all about the plot. I just wanted to watch and listen to the two of them together. I suspect we are seeing the birth of a relationship that will sell a lot of books!

The ending was unexpected, with a very clever twist I didn’t see coming.

Staci Troilo has created two masterful characters for this first book in the series, roll on the next one!

Excerpt from Password

Danny blew out the candles then wrapped a towel around his waist. He surveyed the room by the light coming in from the bedroom. Half the water had splashed out of the tub and pooled on the tile floor.

 “Seems we made a mess.”

“It’ll clean easily enough.” Braelyn yanked the towel off him and dropped it on the floor, then she used her foot to sop up some of the soapy puddles.

“And why is it I’m standing here naked but you still have your towel?”

“I have more to cover.”

 “That’s not a logical argument.”

 She shrugged. “Okay. I’d rather look at you than me.”

He grinned and reached for her towel. “But I’d rather look at you.”

Braelyn danced out of the way. “Sorry. Besides, if someone out there is going to play Peeping Tom, I’d prefer they peep you.”

He stooped down and gathered the discarded clothes. Both his and hers were wet from the water that had sloshed out of the tub, so he didn’t bother suggesting either of them dress. Things were more fun when they were naked, anyway.

“Speaking of, we need to get away from the windows and back to the closet.”

 “Race you!” She dashed out of the room. Danny smiled and gave chase. They spent the rest of the night on the air mattress in the closet, exploring each other’s bodies until they fell into restful sleep, their arms and legs entwined in a sensual embrace. He woke naked and warm with a smile on his face. First time that had happened in… longer than he could count. The smile part, anyway. His phone beeped, signaling a text, and he rolled away to retrieve it from the floor. He glanced at the message and swore under his breath.

Braelyn stirred when he pulled away. Sat when he cursed under his breath. “What’s going on?” Her hair was mussed, her eyes only half-opened. She yawned, stretched, and wrapped the sheet around her while she waited for his answer. She’d never looked better to him. All the more reason to enjoy the moment while it lasted, which would only be a few more seconds. When he told her what he’d just learned, the serene expression on her face would be gone.

Amazon Link:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Password-Nightforce-Book-Staci-Troilo-ebook/dp/B0792NPVBZ

 

 

 

#ThrowbackThursday The Power of Books 1…

Reposted by Jaye Marie…

Bad Moon meme

I was a lonely child, and London was a lonely place to be when I was growing up there after the war. All around me, people were busily trying to put their lives and homes back into some kind of order.
I remember walking around the streets, confused by all the chaos that still had to be dealt with, all the piles of dusty bricks and rubble that was all that remained of so many people’s lives.
This is probably what made me such a melancholic child, and the reason I retreated into the world of books.

My favourite book was a copy of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and I would love to have that particular copy back in my possession. I remember it as being illustrated, full of hauntingly beautiful but tortured imagery that managed to scare the living daylights out of me. (I was only eight years old)

I often wonder if my memory is at fault. Was this book really illustrated, or did the words simply conjure up what I thought I saw?
I do love a good book and I must have read thousands of them in my lifetime. This brings me rather neatly to my favourite author of all time, Stephen King. He wrote about everything from a crazy car to a tormented child and just about every scary subject in between. I have spent so much time in his company.

BM promo x2

Which brings me to another of my favourite authors. Anita Dawes. You meet her here quite regularly, as she is the other half of this writing partnership. Not quite getting the recognition I think she deserves, but I can see a similarity with King in everything she writes. Horrible things happen to her characters too, but you cannot help but love them anyway.
What follows is an excerpt from Bad Moon, my all-time favourite…

 

“Watching the truck coming towards us seemed to take forever, like Pa was going deliberately slow. We waited for Pa to get out of the truck and I could see from his dirt-streaked face that it weren’t good. Nathan’s face looked worse.
Ma tried to stop me from running to the truck, but couldn’t hold me. I climbed on the back and didn’t see Nathan getting out. Suddenly he was there beside me. I remember kneeling and touching the blue check shirt that covered Josh’s face. I remember the touch of Nathan’s hand on mine and the gentle way he said, ‘Don’t look, Annie please. Just let Pa bury him.’
But I had to see for myself, had to know if it was the tree falling on him that had killed him. My eyes were wet, but the tears wouldn’t fall. I pulled the shirt back and a scream tore at my throat, trying to find a way out.
No sound came as I looked at what was left of his face, dark gaping holes looked back at me. Gone were his blue grey eyes, the very thing I had liked most about him had been gouged away.
His face was torn and bloody. Dried blood matted his hair and dead leaves were sticking to him.
Nathan tried to take me away, saying I had seen enough. I felt myself being lifted slowly from my knees and as Nathan carried me away, that’s when my mind registered what it had seen.
The torn flesh on his face hadn’t been caused by the fall. The skin standing away from the bone and all the dried blood made it hard to read, that was why my mind didn’t see it right off.
They had cut Pa’s name down one side of his face, as if taking his eyes weren’t enough.
The scream that wouldn’t come before, finally broke through and shut down my brain like an axe blow…”

See what I mean?

If you want to read more of this incredible book, simply subscribe to our blog, leave a comment and win a free copy.

Or you can find it here on Amazon… myBook.to/badmoon

See you next week…