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!

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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…

 

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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/

 

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

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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…

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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.

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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…

Update for Broken Life #MysteryThriller by Jaye Marie

Once upon a time, Jaye fell out of love with the cover and title for the third book in her #mysterythriller book Broken Life. And if you know her at all, you will know this happens a lot.

So, after much deliberation, we went from…

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We both love the new version, and hopefully, it will not need to be changed again!

CrossFire is now available on Amazon here, and the paperback is on its way!


Book Description:

DI David Snow has a serial killer to catch, a killer as mysterious as the crimes he commits.

Snow is due to retire, but not before he discovers why someone killed his sergeant and is now coming after him.

The killer seems to have a personal vendetta against Snow, but he is determined that no one else should die because of him. His efforts are hampered by the arrival of a new sergeant, ‘ruthless’ Ruth Winton, for she is not what she seems. Alarm bells start to ring when Snow realises she is after more than just his job.


Book Excerpt:

‘Do you know why we have brought you here today, Ann?’

Ruth thought she would ease her way in, rather than accuse her straight off, for triggering any hostility wouldn’t get them anywhere.

The woman stared at Ruth, her pale, colourless eyes searching for clues. ‘Nah… but I ‘spect you’ll get to it pretty quick…’

Ruth indicated a brown paper bag on the table beside her. ‘We found a pair of work boots at your house, Ann. According to your husband, they’re not his. Are they yours?’

Ann Taylor glared at Ruth. She seemed to be enjoying the interview, her arrogance showing through the previous nervousness. ‘Dunno, can’t see them can I?’

Ruth undid the bag and placed the dirty boots on the table. Most of the mud had dried and fallen off, but still didn’t seem like the kind of boot a woman would wear. ‘Are these your boots, Ann?’

Without looking at the boots, she shook her head. ‘Nah, I don’t think so.’

Ruth looked at Snow, but not for confirmation. She wondered why he was choosing to stay silent. What was the point of sitting in if he wasn’t going to contribute? Not that she cared, one way or the other. She had only looked at him to signify inclusion.

She looked back at the woman. ‘Are you quite sure, Ann?’

The woman shrugged her shoulders and refused to speak.

‘For the benefit of the tape, Ann Taylor has refused to answer.’

Ruth decided to read out the coroner’s report, detailing every bruise and damage to the child’s body. When she read the part about the boot imprint on the child’s back, she slid the photograph across the table in front of the mother.

‘Did you do this, Ann?’

When the woman didn’t answer, Ruth decided it was time to play the ace card, and she looked forward to it. This cold-hearted bitch of a woman was about to be arrested, but not before Ruth had enjoyed herself. ‘Are you aware that the person who wore these boots would have left significant DNA inside them?’

Ruth paused, watching as the realisation sunk in.  ‘And are you also aware that we have tested your DNA and it has been proved that you are the owner of these boots?’

The fear and shame were beginning to show on the woman’s face, and Ruth watched, wondering what she would do now. She didn’t have to wait long to find out.

Ann Taylor’s face seemed to implode, as the terror of being found out took effect.  ‘I swear I don’t remember that part… I know I were angry, but when she fell over and banged her head, I thought she was dead…’

‘So what did you do then, Ann?’ Ruth knew what had happened next, but not which one of them had done it.  ‘Were you aware that Amy was still alive when you dropped her into the canal?’

The horror was all-encompassing, as the woman realised the enormity of what she had done. She looked around the room, just once, before she started screaming…


Jaye is working on updating Book Two, The Last Life as we speak, so watch this space for another new cover!

 

Day Four of Lazy Days Book Tour…

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The other day, I forget which, I promised to post an excerpt, and must have promptly forgotten to do it. I have no excuses, apart from the fact that I have a few things fighting to get my attention these days, and sometimes I lose the thread!

(Anita has been making little comments about early onset dementia, but, as I am very quick to point out, I have always been as daft as a brush!)

So without more ado, here is the excerpt from Lazy Days…


Monday

Everyone is looking forward to Yarmouth today, and as much as I love the waterways, I can’t wait to see the sea. This holiday is turning out much better than I thought it would. Everyone is happy, all the eternal arguing is down to a minimum. I should have remembered that this sense of euphoria never lasts long.

After breakfast, when the daily chores were done and the dogs had been walked, I go to start the engine and nothing happens. I double check the starting procedure and try again. Alarming wisps of smoke start to appear from somewhere deep inside the engine, so I turn it off. My stomach sinks into my shoes as I realise we probably won’t be seeing Yarmouth today after all.  I remember something a friend of ours said before we left home, about there being a fire on the boat. Something we took with a pinch of salt at the time, for she had many of these premonitions. Pity, she didn’t tell us what happens next, I thought.

What were we supposed to do now? We were miles from anywhere, with no idea how to get any help. I hadn’t thought to ask this question, in the beginning, a definite oversight on my part, so much for all our careful planning.

I volunteer to go and telephone the boatyard and find one further along the bank by the windmill. They tell me to stay put, and that help is on its but how could we do otherwise? I try hard to be civil, but the joke about us staying put has ruffled my already flustered feathers.

When I return to the Sovereign, I could have sliced the silence like a loaf of bread. The kids were in their cabins and I was grateful to be spared their looks of disapproval. Even the dogs seemed to glare at me.

Anita, sitting in the Captain’s chair had a black cloud hovering over her head. I hesitate, unable to find the right words and terrified of finding the wrong ones.

‘Well?’ she said. ‘What the hell happens now?’ She turned around to glare at me and suddenly I could see through her rage to the upset behind it.

‘They are coming to tow us back to the yard… they didn’t seem to think it was serious… I think it will be all right.’

‘I hope you’re right, for there are four disappointed kids back there…’

Two hours later, help arrives, and we are towed to the boatyard at Burgh Castle. This brought the kids out from the cabins, to watch the Sovereign being hooked up to a much smaller boat. We had been expecting the boatyard owner, but a rather chubby middle-aged man with a ruddy complexion and permanent smile turned up instead. He chatted away with the kids and managed to make the short trip to the boatyard a pleasant experience.

All the way there, I sincerely hoped it would be nothing serious and we could enjoy the rest of our holiday. It had begun to feel as if we had been cursed, and I didn’t like the feeling.

Turned out the battery hadn’t been charging properly, but this didn’t explain all the smoke.


After a sandwich lunch, we take the opportunity to fill up the water tank, which must be empty after our showers last night, and when we are finally fixed, we set off again and I discover how hard it is to steer a boat with all my fingers crossed.

We think it might be a good idea to change our plans, in case we have any further trouble with the engine. We try a different route and pass Reedham, where we find the entrance to a small river and decide to explore. The river Chet is small and narrow, with horrible bends all along it. A bit touch and go, literally, for passing other boats. At the end of the river, we find an idyllic marina in a village called Loddon. It is even more peaceful here, with several huge willow trees trailing their branches in the water. Living in London, you don’t realise there are places like this. Life can be so different in other parts of the world, and you can find yourself there with a bit of effort.

We spend the rest of the day in Loddon, as I think the morning’s drama had unnerved us all a bit and probably best to relax before going any further.  I turn the engine off, praying it would start again tomorrow. The weather is warm but cloudy and we hope it doesn’t rain. The good thing about these boats, you can still drive cruise with the sliding canopy closed, so any rain won’t stop us, and fingers crossed, neither will the engine!

Our food supplies are getting low, and the need to walk on solid ground is becoming urgent, so I suggest we go for a walk. Their rush of enthusiasm surprised me, it would seem we are all feeling the same way.


Walking away from the Sovereign felt good, and from the amount of cheerfulness that arrived from nowhere, I think everyone else felt relieved too. The morning’s drama with the engine, although it had turned out to be insignificant, must have damaged our new found confidence. The more I thought about it, the more I worried about the rest of the holiday. Would we be able to move on from this point, or would we have to go home? I wanted to talk to Anita to find out what she thought about it, but not with the kids within earshot.

Loddon had a lot going for it, and we decide to leave the shopping until later and explore. We visit The Holy Trinity Church first. Built in 1490, its tall tower and finely flinted walls gleaming white in the sunshine, seemed to draw us closer like a magnet. We are not particularly religious, but we like to explore some of Englands finest old buildings, usually full of history and connections with the past.

We see several signposts for something called The Wherryman’s Way, and we all want to know more about it. Turns out aWherry was a large cargo carrying barge with elegant black sails,  once a common sight in this part of the Broads. The Wherryman’s Way is a long walk beside the River Yare, some 35 miles long, so not exactly our idea of an afternoons walk, so we end up walking around the village instead.

We see more signposts for something called Hardly Flood. Just under a mile away and described as a lake with masses of wildlife and the occasional otter. An area created when this part of South Norfolk first flooded back in the 1940’s. This walk sounded reasonably doable, so we pick up sandwiches and cakes from a local bakery and set off.

As we walk along in the sunshine, the dogs enjoying all the different sights and smells, I think we all began to relax and become united as a family again. Something other than engine failure had happened this morning, something which made some of us retreat into ourselves, affecting everyone else. I couldn’t have been the only one to have had visions of leaping into the water from a flaming boat.

We find a lovely spot for our picnic, and the rest of the afternoon flew by. The kids wander off to explore, so I take the opportunity to ask Anita how she is feeling.

‘Now, you mean, or about this morning?’

‘Both. I think it has unnerved us all a bit. What do you think?’

When she didn’t answer straight away, I thought the worst.  I couldn’t think of anything else to say, so I waited.

‘Well… this morning could have been more serious, it’s true. This is the trouble with adventures, you walk a thin line between fun and fear. By tomorrow it will all feel better. At least, I hope it does.’

‘And if it doesn’t, does it mean going home?’ I finally asked the question that had been nagging me all day and wasn’t sure which answer I wanted to hear.

Again, a delay in answering, our attention interrupted by a group of noisy ducks having an argument, splashing around right in front of us.

‘I think it will take more than a little smoke to make us abandon ship…’


And now to todays Book Quiz Question…

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We have just delivered a late breakfast at the Event over on Facebook, why not pop over and meet everyone?

See you all tomorrow?

All Set for the Lazy Days Book Tour!

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This is definitely going to be something to look forward to in the New Year!

This is only the second time we have run a book tour, and this time we will be including a quiz/competition every day, with prizes. Still thinking through all the details, but it will be fun and different…

There are still spaces if anyone wants to join, just shout and we’ll get back to you!

 

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This novella is the true story of our family’s first proper holiday back in the Seventies. Looking back, I wonder what made us think it was a good idea, but despite all the things that could have gone wrong, we had a fantastic time. I was the Skipper most of the time, and for some reason decided to record our adventures in a small notebook. We were young and without husbands, Anita was a widow, and I was glad to be rid of mine. (and that is another story) Money was precious and scarce back then, but all the saving and sacrifice turned out to be worth every single memory we all cherish.

This notebook has been treasured and kept safe, despite numerous house moves and family disasters, as a symbol of our courage and determination. Renting a boat on the Norfolk Broads could so easily have been one of the stupidest things we had ever done, but even after 40 years, we have such good memories of that time.

Over the years, we often thought of making it into a proper book, but along with everything else in our often-complicated family life, it was something we never got around to. Until just recently, when I was looking for some old photographs, found the now fragile notebook and knew it was time.

It wasn’t as easy as I imagined it would be either, for our logbook writing skills left a lot to be desired, but there was just enough information entered on those pages to get us started.

Excerpt from Lazy Days

Saturday

We had waited a long time for this day to arrive, and now the time had arrived, we could have flown to the Norfolk Broads powered by our excitement. The tension coming from all of us made the air crackle with electricity as we prepared to leave. Going anywhere with the kids is never easy, but we had planned this holiday with far more skill than our usual days out, and researched everything of interest and planned our route to ensure plenty of happy days. For the first time in our lives, we would be miles from home on a boat for two weeks. There would be six of us on this holiday, two women, four kids and two small dogs. There was the possibility of enough trouble there to last us a lifetime!

I wasn’t expecting much trouble from the teenage girls, Anita Jr and Heidi; but the two younger boys, Stephen, ten and Darren, eight would be a challenge, for they have the knack of finding trouble anywhere.  Added to the mix were our two small dogs.  Lady, a cross between a Pekinese and a Yorkie, blessed with sharp teeth and a ferocious dislike of strangers, and Katy, an adorable chocolate coloured toy poodle pup.

Getting them all in our car proved a bit tricky. A big Ford Granada, normally a comfortable fit for all of us, but this time we had Heidi, our younger step-sister to fit in too. She had been staying with us while her mother was in the hospital.

I sensed an air of resentment as the kids tried hard to fit themselves into the back seat. Various elbows were used to show disapproval, prompting a chorus of complaints. For a moment, it looked as if we wouldn’t be going anywhere. The situation looked hopeless. Anita finished packing our luggage into the boot of the car and appeared at my side.

‘Is there a problem here? Do we want to go on this holiday or not?’

No one spoke, but as I watched, a subtle relaxing of tightly packed bodies occurred as they all thought about it. They knew their mother well. She would cancel everything if they didn’t accept their fate and settle down, and if the holiday was cancelled because of them, they would never hear the end of it.

I am always amazed by the way Anita handles her brood. It must come with practice, although I doubted I would ever learn how to do it! You probably need to be a parent first.

Looking at them, resignation on all their faces, I prayed the boat would be bigger than it looked in the brochure. I also prayed I would get us all the way to Norfolk without incident. I hadn’t been driving long, and my nerves were already stretched to breaking point…

 

 

Kindle Promotion for Let it Go…

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Starting on Thursday, 30th November, and for five days, Anita’s family adventure drama Let it Go, will be free on Amazon…

For some reason this book has always been the black sheep on our book list, so it has to be time to show it some love, don’t you think?

Pretty please?

Amazon Universal Link:  (but not until Thursday!)  myBook.to/LetGo   

 

 

Excerpt

Ruth whispered for me to be still, she had only come to make sure those darn fools didn’t harm Martha. From the way the men were waving their lighted torches around, it didn’t seem as though they only meant to scare her. Martha was awake now and I could see her face. Her cheeks billowed and sank with each frightened scream that backed up against the filthy rag in her mouth. Dark eyes shone like coal in the moonlight, filled with fear, pleading for her unborn child.

Ruth pointed a gnarled finger at the scene below, saying Martha was in labour. Said she would have to go down and see what she could do about putting a stop to it.

I watched as she stumbled and fell on her short legs, rolled over and managed to get herself down to the cove. She was about two feet away from the wheel when the men turned on her; the flames from their torches lighting her face red, like blood. As Ruth stepped forward, the rush of silence almost hurt my ears. Sam stepped in time with her, saying she had no business there. Ruth looked him square in the face, saying her business was the baby about to be born. Couldn’t they see the woman was in labour?

Sam spun around to Kenny in horror. As he did, his torch fell from his hand, not caring where it landed. Ruth tried to kick the torch away from the wheel where Martha lay, but the flames bit into the fish oil and crept around the wheel, taking hold before Ruth could free her. The baby was coming fast and the men fled. As Ruth cut through the ropes one by one, Martha pulled the gag from her mouth and her scream tore at my heart. She knew Ruth was trying to save her and the baby, but they were the screams of someone who knows she is dying and giving birth at the same time.

No words can tell how the sound of those screams hurt. Ruth’s hair and clothes had caught alight from the dancing flames. The knife she used to cut the ropes must be hot in her hand, but still she tried in vain to set Martha free.

The flames had nearly completed the circle, but she was able to tear with her knife at Martha’s undergarments. One last scream and the child lay in Ruth’s arms. Somehow, as though sleepwalking, I had made my way down to Ruth and I gave her my coat to wrap the baby. She would need help to bring him up, at least until the burns on her face and arms had healed. She asked me to stay with her and say nothing of what happened that night. They wouldn’t want this child in the village, and I knew how that felt.

I had no words; there were none available to me. I barely managed to nod my head, seeing clearly the flames had completed the circle and were burning fiercely. Martha was not moving.”

 

I closed the diary slowly, hardly believing what I had read. It couldn’t be real; people didn’t do this kind of thing. Even years ago, we were more civilised than that. At least I thought we were. Maybe it was Morgan’s attempt at fiction.

Touching the soft leather cover of the diary, I wondered why I had found it. If it was a true story, what could I do about it now?  I decided to finish reading it; maybe the story resolved itself.