Am I my own worst enemy?

BG_inky_hands-768x512.jpg

How many times have you moaned about manufacturer’s insistence on changing and improving things?

It’s never for the better, is it?

It has recently dawned on me that I am guilty of the same behaviour, I am ashamed to say.

My problem is that I am never happy with anything I have created. At first, I am, but then the doubts start to creep in. What seemed brilliant in the beginning, starts to look shabby and inadequate, and nay I say it, inferior.

By this time, of course, I just know I can do better.

I do this with most things, but the ones that give me the worst trouble, are our book covers. They are so important to get right, aren’t they?

We have many books under our belts now, and I am not happy with quite a few of their covers. Some of you may have noticed, (and admitting this makes me cringe) just how often I change them.

 

haiku.jpg

When a dirty blue car mows Maggie down outside her local supermarket, she becomes trapped in the nightmare world of a coma patient.
In this very different world, she manages to rescue an abused and neglected child. But when it looks as though she will finally wake up, she cannot bear the thought of leaving the child behind.
But is this other world real, or was she just dreaming? And if it is real, can she help this child?

“Maggie is a likeable character who is easy to engage with and I found myself willing her to find the courage to embrace happiness. If you like a story that is more than just your average romance then I thoroughly recommend this one…” Amazon Reviewer

######

I have just changed the title and cover for Anita’s book, Scarlet Ribbons, mainly because the story is about just the one ribbon. It was only when I realised what else I would have to change, I began to see the enormity of my dissatisfaction.

The cover had to be changed on:

  • Our website
  • Amazon
  • Goodreads
  • The books trailer
  • Book links
  • The end matter in several of our other books
  • Buffer
  • Facebook

New posters had to be made, and replaced on just about every site I ever visit.

All of this took two days, and so far, so good, but I just know there will be other places I haven’t thought of yet, but right now, after doing all of that, I never want to change another cover.

But…

There is one that could be better…

 

#Jaye’s Journal: Another Visit?

JAYE'S JOURNAL.jpg

I have found myself thinking about my mysterious visitor at odd moments this week, despite having one of the worst depressions ever.

I did spend a lot of time trying to do as he suggested, going over my characters life in PayBack, my current WIP. Instead of inspiration and enthusiasm leading me on to greater depths, my mood became blacker by the minute.

After some time trying to pretend that everything was fine, I had to admit defeat, probably because other things were becoming unglued.

I was within an eyelash length of giving everything up, walking away (well, running away, to be precise) when I realised I wasn’t alone.

My visitor was back.

His familiar figure had made himself comfortable in my office chair and was swivelling backwards and forwards with a whimsical smile hovering on his lips.

To be honest, I wasn’t really in the mood for another literal lecture, my mind busy trying to remember where I had seen him before.

 

As he became aware of my presence, he turned the chair in my direction and smiled at me. Not that I could see his mouth properly, the snow white moustache all but his it from view, the only clue the upward ripple of his whiskers and the light in his eyes.

“There you are, Jaye. I have been watching your progress, or should say the lack of it and could not stay away any longer. I take it my advice did not help much?”

“I’ve had a bad week, can’t seem to do anything right these days…”

“But you do want to finish the book, I take it?”

For the briefest of moments, I couldn’t answer his question. Many times this past week I had wanted to burn it, but could the reason I didn’t, be because I did want to finish it and do it well?

“Yes, I do, but it’s not happening…there is such a lot of everything else to do each day, I just can’t keep up.”

 

He looked at me for the longest time, as if trying to read the state of my mind. I nearly laughed at that thought, there wasn’t much of interest going on in there and that’s a fact.

“That could be the problem right there, ma’am…”

I couldn’t help it. I groaned. The last thing I needed right now was another problem.

“I am duty bound to tell you, so you might as well listen.”

“Before we go any further, any chance you can tell me who you are? You seem so familiar, but my mind is not obliging…”

“My name is Samuel and I have come a long way to help with your predicament.”

My brain was doing the rumba, searching my damaged database for anyone called Samuel, but nothing was forthcoming. In the meantime, Samuel went back to swivelling my chair and enjoying every minute. He seemed like a good man, one with a sense of humour. He spoke with a soft American accent, southern, I think and his dark clothes were old fashioned. None of which helped to identify him. I’m usually good with faces, hopeless with names, but I had no idea who he was.

“Okay, I’m game. What pearls of wisdom have you for me today?”

“I have the feeling you are spreading yourself a little thin, trying to do and think of so many different things. The result is that you accomplish very little. Maybe you should narrow your focus, concentrate on just a few goals. You need to succeed in something and soon, or your confidence will shrink even more.”

 

His words sounded familiar. Someone had said the self same thing to me just that morning. I had to admit that the thought of actually managing to achieve something was very appealing, as I couldn’t remember the last time I had.

“But what about PayBack, should I try to finish it?”

Even as I asked the question, I knew what his answer would be. Of course, I should finish it, that’s the reason I get up every morning, isn’t it?

Signature Jaye.png

 

 

Our 5* Review for Double Blind by Dan Alatorre#FastPacedMurderMystery @savvystories

Two detectives hunt a serial killer. The killer is hunting them.

 

double-blind-ebook.jpg

 

A lone trucker is ambushed, shot, and brutally stabbed. A tourist meets the same fate while out for a jog. Facing two crime scenes that could have come from a horror movie, Detectives Carly Sanderson and Sergio Martin search for the crazed serial killer.

Five more attacks happen in a week, launching the entire city into a panic and causing the mayor to throw all of the city’s resources into stopping the rampage. But while the detectives work around the clock, they don’t know the killer has upped the game—by making them his next targets.

 

Our Review

At first, the killings seem random, just the actions of a deranged mind.

I found the descriptive powers of the author, combined with the smell of blood quite stomach churning as I searched for clues. I knew it would be a bit gruesome going in, but wasn’t quite prepared for the intensity of the murder scenes. The author has a very powerful imagination!

I loved the easy relationship between the two main characters, detectives Carly and Sergio. A most unusual pair, but real people, warts and all!

The casual dropping into the story half way through of a major clue as to the killer’s identity almost ruined the story for me, but it was cleverly done and hard to spot.

If I have one criticism about this book, it has to be about the killer. I can normally empathise or sometimes even admire most killers. I mean, they are usually damaged in some way, driving them to murder. Try as I might, I could find no redeeming feature in this man.

Here’s hoping the sequel finds Carly and Sergio with a far more interesting antagonist…

 

Excerpt

The wind gusted, sending the trash into the street in a tiny tornado. Lifting and dropping a McDonald’s hamburger wrapper, the little vortex danced and raged; then, as quickly as it had come, it was gone. The pieces of trash twitched and were still. The chill in the air remained, though. That wasn’t going anywhere tonight.

He glanced down the street. In the darkness, a shadow moved. Sergio held his breath. Opposite side of the street. The motion indicated walking. Tall. Probably a male.

This is our pedestrian.

Moving his gaze back to the sidewalk before anyone could tell him to, Sergio watched the stranger while keeping his face pointed at the ground. The man walked with his hands in the front pockets of his hoodie. The stride was long but not fast. The pedestrian seemed to intentionally sway his shoulders, as if he was walking up a steep hill.

When he’s closer, let him see you see him, then immediately look away. Head down, submissive.

The stranger kept coming. Sergio kept walking, his heart pounding.

What if this is our guy?

If it’s our guy, he will approach you. Keep walking. Casual.

The stranger got closer. He was larger than Sergio had originally estimated. Thicker, and taller.

Maybe six foot two, maybe a little more.

Eyes down. Don’t act like a cop.

He’d have to be big to do all that stabbing, to overcome a big guy like Leo.

But he used a gun to help.

Sergio glanced at the hands in the hoodie pockets. Could that conceal a .38? The man looked Sergio’s way.

Eyes down!

He didn’t think eye contact was made, but if the man had seen Sergio looking, maybe that was the time to walk faster.

Maybe we’ll speed up a little anyway.

On opposite sides of the street, the two men neared each other. Forty feet away, then thirty.

Sergio’s head was humming. This is how he did the jogger. Right on the street. A shot to the chest and then he started stabbing.

The bulletproof vest will protect you from both for a while. Long enough for the teams to get here…

Sergio forced himself to take a long, slow breath and walk slower without appearing to be trying. Sweat gathered on his forehead.

The man had heavy movements, a clumping kind of stride like someone might do when they were wearing new construction boots that don’t quite fit. The stranger stayed on one side of the street; Sergio stayed on the other. The sidewalk turned to gravel and then to mud. Sergio stepped around a big puddle and into the street.

“Hey, bro.”

The stranger’s voice cut the quiet night like a knife. Sergio didn’t look up. He kept his head down and kept walking.

“I got fives and tens, my man. If you lookin’ to party.”

Drug talk. Could be a street seller and nothing more. And if the killer was watching, what would he expect Sergio to do? Or if it’s the killer, what would work best?

Sergio halted.

The sergeant was loud in his ear. “Do not engage, Walking Boss. If it’s our guy he’s not trying to sell you drugs. Keep walking.”

Sergio did not move.

“Walking Boss, do you copy? Please respond.”

Sergio turned toward the stranger, keeping his head low and peering upward. He took a step toward the big man.

“Walking Boss, we are not receiving your signal. Please respond.”

His eyes. I want to see his eyes.

The man crossed into the street, dropping his hands to his sides. Sergio held his ground. Sweat dripped down the side of his head and into his ear. To wipe it free might draw attention to the earpiece. He let it go, taking a step toward the stranger. “What kind of stuff you got?”

“Walking Boss, do not engage. Do you read me?”

“Just the basics right here. Fives and tens.” The stranger pointed to the hoodie pocket. “But I can get something else if you want.”

The shadow of the hoodie kept the man’s face dark, but his features were coming visible. The man’s teeth were yellow and his eyes were red. Could be a drug addict or could be a killer.

“Walking Boss! Do you read me?”

The red eyes moved forward. “What you want, bro?”

The way he said it made the hairs on the back of Sergio’s neck stand up. The sneer, the thickness of the voice, like he dreamed it. He fought to not react, holding his breath. His racing pulse throbbed in his ears as a drop of ice cold sweat trickled down his back.

It’s not him. It’s not him. It’s not him.

#####

 

Biography

International bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 17 titles published in over a dozen languages.

From Romance in Poggibonsi to action and adventure in the sci-fi thriller The Navigators, to comedies like Night Of The Colonoscopy: A Horror Story (Sort Of) and the heart-warming and humorous anecdotes about parenting in the popular Savvy Stories series, his knack for surprising audiences and making you laugh or cry – or hang onto the edge of your seat – has been enjoyed by audiences around the world.

And you are guaranteed to get a page turner every time.

“That’s my style,” Dan says. “Grab you on page one and then send you on a roller coaster ride, regardless of the story or genre.”

Readers agree, making his string of #1 bestsellers popular across the globe.

His unique writing style can make you chuckle or shed tears—sometimes on the same page (or steam up the room if it’s one of his romances). Regardless of genre, his novels always contain unexpected twists and turns, and his endearing nonfiction stories will stay in your heart forever.

25 eBook Marketing Tips You Wish You Knew, co-authored by Dan, has been a valuable tool for upcoming writers (it’s free if you subscribe to his newsletter) and his dedication to helping new authors is evident in his wildly popular blog “Dan Alatorre – AUTHOR.”

Dan’s success is widespread and varied. In addition to being a bestselling author, he has achieved President’s Circle with two different Fortune 500 companies. You can find him blogging away almost every day on http://www.DanAlatorre.com or watch his hilarious YouTube show every week, Writers Off Task With Friends.

Dan resides in the Tampa, Florida area with his wife and daughter.

 

 

 

 

 

#Throwback Thursday: A Shiny Coin for Carol Prentice by MarkBarry @GreenWizard62 #Drama

 

dds

“I swore that I would never go home,
but in the end,
I had no choice.
I had to confront what happened.
And them too.
It was going be icky. And totally scary.”

Carol Prentice left Wheatley Fields to attend university in Manchester and not once did she return in four years. Her beloved father visited her whenever he could, but then he passed away and it was up to her to sort his affairs.

She could have done this from a distance, but a woman can run to the far corners of the earth, but, in the end, she can never escape herself.

She had to come home: There was no other choice.
Taking a job at a bookshop for the duration, she befriends Steve – an older man who looks like a wizard and who knows everything in the world.
Carol quickly encounters the demons that forced her to leave in the first place – including Toby, the raffish local villain, with whom she shares the most horrifying of secrets and whose very existence means evil and mayhem for everyone around. Especially the lovable Steve.
Carol finds herself in the middle of a war between the two men:
A war which can only have one victor.
Soon, she wishes she had never come home.
But by then it was too late.
Much too late.

Our Review

“We received a copy of this book through Rosie’s Book Review Team”

The main character, Carol Prentice, made quite an impression right from the start with her dark clothes, hair and Doc Marten boots. She had come back to her family’s hometown after the death of her father, determined to sort her life out, and this involves a plan and a secret.

What does make someone choose one path over another and the hardest one at that?

A totally unpredictable and powerful story of what starts out as Carol’s revenge, but ends up being for someone else too. She came back home, knowing she would run into all kinds of bad memories, so what she intended to do had to be very important.

Some of the words Carol used confused me, but I am probably too old to understand the parlance of the young these days, but it did manage to help create a harsh rawness to the drama.

The other character I really liked was Steve, the bookshop owner. Steve is a thoroughly likeable older man and the perfect foil for Carol, giving the story another dimension. I did think it might have been better if Steve was younger, but maybe it worked better because he wasn’t, for there was enough going on without romance in the mix.

This is a gritty, well-planned story of revenge, every detail brings you slowly to the necessary showdown, but you won’t be ready for it. I know I wasn’t!

I didn’t want to enjoy this book quite so much, what with its nasty threads and even nastier people, but despite it all, there is redemption at the end and that for me, was well worth the read…

About the Author

71TBZXHeEjL._SY200_

Mark Barry is a multi-genre writer and novelist. His work includes the minor cult hit Ultra Violence about football hooligans at a small Midlands football club and Carla, a quirky, dark, acclaimed romance with shades of Wuthering Heights.
He is the co-designer of the innovative Brilliant Books project aimed at engaging the many, many reluctant readers amongst young people.

He has one son, Matt, on the brink of University, with whom he shares a passion for Notts County Football Club. Fast food, comics, music, reading, his friends on the Independent scene, and horse racing keep him interested and he detests the English Premier League, selfish, narcissistic people and bullies of all kinds.

He is based in Nottingham and Southwell, UK, the scene of most of his fiction.

 

 

#TuesdayBookBlog: CrossFire by Jaye Marie #CrimeThriller #Fiction

fffrt.jpg

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

Betrayal and lies come to the surface as Snow struggles to find the truth, but is he looking in all the wrong places?

Can he outwit the killer, or will the truth cost him his life?

 

Excerpt from CrossFire

‘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 were 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…

 

 

 

#WednesdayWriters ~ Nine Lives ~ Chapter 24 #MysteryThriller #Fiction

NL_banner.jpg

Kate has welcomed death from an early age. With no family to speak of and a brother she hates, she waits for death to take her away.

It speaks to her. Teases her, yet will not come for her.

Death takes those around her, making her desire for it greater than ever.

She wonders how much longer it will take for her time to run out…

Chapter Twenty-four

On the way home, Kate picked up some lamb chops and some white wine for her lunch with Sam, inwardly still trying not to be angry with Michael. Who did he think he was? Regardless of the fact him turning up was something she had dreamed of for years, he still had the cheek of the devil.

There was an ambulance outside Janet’s house and Kate’s heartbeat accelerated as she walked towards it, wondering who it was for. As she drew closer, she saw Janet’s door was open and as she watched, a paramedic in a reflective yellow striped jacket was wheeling Janet out of her house in a wheelchair. She appeared to be asleep, her face pale and peaceful. What had happened?

She approached the ambulance. ‘Hello, how is Mrs Goldman? I’m her neighbour.’

The paramedic stopped for a second and looked at her. ‘The old dear took a tumble and we’re just taking her in to be checked over.’

‘How did she tumble, she has no stairs?’ Kate asked.

‘She must have been up on a chair, there was one overturned when we turned up.’  He grinned at her and climbed into the back of the ambulance. ‘She’ll be fine, see if she’s not.’

Kate had the strangest feeling Janet wouldn’t be ‘fine’.  She was far too old to be taking a tumble.

She decided to spend the rest of the day in her studio after she had something to eat and if Janet wasn’t home by tomorrow morning, she would go and see how she was.

The rest of the afternoon was spent preparing the next canvas. This one was going to be a night scene, with the moonlight like a pathway across the water. That was the plan anyway, and that sometimes changed as her paintbrush often had a mind of its own.

As the afternoon faded into early evening, Kate found herself thinking about Michael a little more fondly than she had that morning. She had almost seemed rude, hadn’t she?  God knows what he made of it.

She was in the kitchen, waiting for the kettle to boil when there was a knock at the front door. Who could have that be, she thought, wondering if it was something to do with Janet.

Kate’s heart was in her mouth as she opened the door to find Michael standing there with a small bunch of carnations clutched to his chest. She almost choked, and her first instinct was to slam the door, but for some strange reason, she couldn’t.

‘I’ve come to apologise, Kate. I shouldn’t have carried on as though nothing was wrong between us. No wonder you had nothing to say. Please let me in, so we can start again and talk properly.’

She glared at him. ‘How do you know where I live?’

‘I felt so bad after you left, I had to find you so I could apologise in person. I had no way of knowing if you would turn up tomorrow.’

‘But how did you know where I live?’

He had the grace to look sheepish. ‘I looked you up on the electoral roll. Lucky you still use your old name, or I would never have found you.’

Kate still hesitated, unsure whether to let him in or not. This was her private space; did she want him touching everything?

She already knew she would let him in, the effect he had on her was the same as ever, regardless of the history between them. ‘You had better come in then,’ she said, standing aside so he could pass. ‘And don’t think I have forgiven you because I haven’t.’

He turned and offered her the flowers. ‘They’re not a peace offering Kate; I just thought you would like them.’

She tried to accept them gracefully, knowing she would prefer to wrap them around his neck, and made her way to the kitchen to put them in water.

He stood in the doorway watching her, and it all seemed the most natural thing in the world as if he had done exactly that dozens of times before.

It suddenly occurred to her just how much she resented him showing up on her doorstep.

‘Nice place you have here, Kate. Been here long?’

Why did she automatically think he already knew the answer to that?

‘Not long ‘, she said, non-committedly. ‘And I will soon be moving on, anyway’.

He smiled, and there was just a hint of nervousness in his smile. Was it possible he was a little unsure of his reception?

He nodded at the back door. ‘What happened to the cat?’

The hair on the back of her neck twitched and it was all she could do not to march up to him and slap his face hard. ‘Why assume something happened to my cat? He could be sleeping in another room.’

His smile vanished, and she could see he was trying to think of a suitable answer. Whatever he said, she wouldn’t believe a word.  It was as if he knew what had happened to Dylan, and how could he, unless… The possibilities that presented themselves didn’t bear thinking about, and she knew something was wrong. Nobody would say a thing like that by chance.

‘Come on Michael, say something to convince me you meant nothing sinister.’

‘I don’t know why I said that, Kate. The way you’re carrying on, something did happen to the cat. What was it?

The cheek of the man took her breath away, which was just as well for she had no intention of telling him anything.

‘It doesn’t matter, come and sit down and tell me the real reason you showed up here tonight.’

He followed her out of the kitchen and paused outside her studio. ‘Can I have a look?’

The door was open, so he already had a good look in her opinion. She leaned past him and closed the door. ‘I would rather you didn’t if you don’t mind,’ she said, not caring she came across as more than a little angry.

He looked surprised, but what did he expect? Had he forgotten how badly he had let her down, not to mention walking out on the child they had made together?

Her temper finally snapped and she turned on him angrily. ‘Don’t bother getting comfortable, Michael. I want you to leave, now.’

‘And…’

‘No buts, did you think I would fall into your arms again? You must be more stupid than I thought.  Please, just go.’

For a moment, he managed to look sad, but if that was supposed to mean anything to her, he was badly mistaken. Although a small part of her still loved him, a bigger part resented him for turning up like this, assuming she would forgive and forget.  She hadn’t been able to do it then and certainly wasn’t about to do it now.

Kate went to open the front door, desperate to get him out of her flat.  Just as well I’m leaving, she thought, as knowing he knew where to find her was annoying her a lot more than she thought it would.

‘Can’t we just talk about this, Kate,’ he said, trying to look sheepish.

She came up to him and shoved him not too gently towards the door. ‘Go away Michael, I don’t want you here.’

As he walked away, she waited for him to turn around, to appeal to her one more time. He didn’t, he kept on walking and for a split second it was all so sad she felt like crying.

He didn’t appear to have come by car. If he had, it must be parked somewhere else. Why would he do that?

As Kate stood on the doorstep, she noticed there were no lights showing at Janet’s house. Did that mean she was still in the hospital?  She would have to ring them in the morning and find out what was going on.

She didn’t feel in the least like painting, and went to the studio and stared at the canvas. She should work on it a bit more, after all, Sam was coming for lunch tomorrow and the more progress she could see, the better. It might help to get all thoughts of Michael out of her head, so she would have no trouble sleeping tonight.

She tried to empty her mind of him as she spent the next few hours pushing paint onto the canvas, and one question kept rattling around in her head. Why had he assumed something happened to her cat?  It might have just been a coincidence; after all, there was a cat flap in the back door. It could have been for the previous tenant’s cat. It was almost as if he knew something bad had happened, but how could he have done?

She decided to call it a night when her arm was so stiff she could hardly hold the paintbrush. Canvas number three was almost finished and Kate liked the way this one was turning out. Probably because it was such a peaceful, serene scene, it had gone a long way to soothing the savage beast Michael had awakened with his impromptu visit…

What does Michael want?

Did he kill her cat?

 

Signature Jaye.png

Tallis Steelyard: Six Men in a Boat #ScienceFiction&Fantasy @JimWebster6

Joining us here today, is everyone’s favourite story teller, Jim Webster.

The famous Tallis Steelyard has a new adventure that we all want to read!

Over to you, Jim…

3) Amazing what you learn as you grow older..jpg

 

Six men in a .boat.jpg

 

Instead of his usual collection of anecdotes, this time Tallis presents us with a gripping adventure.

Why is Tallis ‘run out of town’ by hired ruffians?

Why does a very sensible young woman want his company when plunging into unknown danger?

Who or what was buried in the catacombs? And why has there been so much interest in making sure they stay dead? Also featuring flower arranging, life on the river, and a mule of notable erudition.

Amazing what you learn as you grow older.

Meirdre, the oldest daughter of Garrat and Taffetia Drane was, by common agreement, a precocious child. After all, at the age of six, she was a full partner in ‘Peepers and Narks’, investigators of choice to the leading Port Naain legal partnership of Thallawell, Thallawell, and Thallawell.

Now, this might have been regarded by most as something of a formality, and to be fair, for the first three or four months it probably was. But her parents didn’t want to see their child cheated by older partners, and so they looked for ways in which their daughter could become more ‘hands on.’ Inspiration came when Garrat was reading a report written by one of the many peepers who worked for the partnership on a casual basis. He commented to his lady wife that a child of six would be expected to have better grammar and spelling. Taffetia, who was in point of fact quite proud of the education she had been giving her children, agreed entirely with her husband’s sentiments.

(I will pause here to discuss in brief the fact that some cynics have intimated that this entire agreement on the behalf of a wife to her husband’s comments is surely exclusive enough on its own to make this story worthy of recording. I merely state that it is not a unique occasion, several times my own wife has agreed entirely with something I’ve said. Admittedly, a number of these occasions will be when I restricted myself to ‘Yes Dear’ but by no means all.)

Still, parental agreement within the Drane household meant that before the age of seven, Meirdre was reading every report made to ‘Peepers and Narks’ by their operatives, and was correcting grammar and spelling. A couple of years later she started to do the same to those reports that the partnership sent on to their clients. In the course of this, she discovered that because she had read and scrutinised every statement coming in, she often had a better grasp of the situation than the other two partners. Thus, she started writing the final reports rather than merely editing them for grammar and spelling.

If this seems a lot for a girl of her age, remember that at this point she was also working as a wailer. This role she fulfilled entirely competently but was beginning to get in the way of her new profession. With little hesitation, she turned her back on it and concentrated entirely on office management. To be fair her partners were perfectly happy to leave the paperwork to her. They moved to supervising the fieldwork whilst Meirdre ran the office. This worked well; Dagly Ween had been considered one of the best peepers in the business. At the same time the other partner, Mirabelle Sobent, was the leading female ‘arm and a leg’ man in Port Naain. Whilst it’s unlikely that anybody actually boasted that they’d taken a punishment beating from Mirabelle Sobent, she was known for dispassionate efficiency. Word got round the business community, if you want somebody beaten up for asking difficult questions, poaching your staff, or stealing your ideas (or complaining when you steal theirs) then Thallawell, Thallawell, and Thallawell know the best people.

Yet a note Meirdre might get from a nark would often need action to be taken immediately. So inevitably, she drifted into management. By the time she was fourteen, she was regularly sending out instructions to peepers or arm and leg men, stating what action she wanted taken. Still, ever courteous, she made sure her partners would get a copy of the note to keep them in the picture. As her partners grew older, more and more of the work fell upon her shoulders until finally, she bought them out. Now in sole charge at last, she could run the business as she felt it ought to be run. She expanded the organisation’s operations into Partann searching for both economic and political information which could be sold to better paying markets than a lawyer’s practice. Closer to home, her long familiarity with the Port Naain criminal classes gave her a lot of information on the city’s politics and politicians. Slowly she began to gather more evidence and built up her files. By the time she was thirty-five she quietly dominated the city’s politics. Politicians relied upon her for information about what was happening both inside and outside the city.

Indeed she was being actively courted by four Sinecurists and it was widely expected that when she married she would become the richest and most influential lady in the city. Fate took a hand as her carriage, taking her to a ball, collided with a cart loaded with mott carcasses. She got out and fell into conversation with the driver of the cart. He was firm but courteous; her coachman had been too free with the whip which had left the horses jittery. Thus when they’d come round the corner and met his cart they’d panicked. She could see the correctness of his analysis and instructed her coachmen and postilion to load the contents of the cart into her coach. Meirdre and the driver of the cart, (now revealed to be the farmer who had fattened the mott whose carcasses were being transhipped,) then left the postilion to ensure that the cart and ponies were looked after whilst the coach made its way down the ropewalk to Bolidad and Offspring, butchers to the gentry. As the coach was unloaded, Meirdre and the mott farmer were in deep conversation, so deep that she dismissed the coach and the two of them sat drinking coffee in Slybooks. Two weeks later, to the surprise of the city in general, Meirdre married her mott farmer and went north to live with him on a pleasant enough holding perhaps thirty miles from the city. They live in a house with three books, and two of them are about mott husbandry. The height of their social calendar is the day they provide the young mott for the village fete’s ‘catch the greasy mott’ competition. And now the hard sell!

OK so perhaps the not so hard sell. It’s just that this is part of a blog tour which is peering into the lives of Garrat Drane, and his lady wife Taffetia Drane. Now we are meeting their various offspring, delightful people and pillars of the community. Or perhaps not. But still now is your chance to meet them and inadvertently you may discover their importance to our hero, Tallis Steelyard.

But actually, the purpose of this blog is to draw your attention to the fact that a new book has been published. ‘Tallis Steelyard: Six men in a boat.’ https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tallis-Steelyard-Six-men-boat-ebook/dp/B07JPKYJJN

Rather than a collection of his anecdotes, this is indeed an ‘adventure’ as Tallis ventures forth from the city of Port Naain. Questions are asked that may even be answered, why is Tallis ‘run out of town’ by hired ruffians? Why does a very sensible young woman want his company when plunging into unknown danger? Who or what was buried in the catacombs? And why has there been so much interest in making sure they stay dead? Also featuring flower arranging, life on the river, and a mule of notable erudition.

Treat yourself; you know you’re worth it…

#WednesdayWriter: Nine Lives ~ chapter 23 #MysteryFiction

NL_banner.jpg

Death has been visiting Kate all of her life, leading her to imagine she has nine lives, like a cat.
With nothing to live for, no family, just a brother she hates, she waits for death to take her away when her lives run out.
Death continues to speak to her, teasing her, yet will not come for her. When people around her begin to die at the hands of a serial killer, she hopes to be next.
Has she finally run out of lives? Will she find a reason to live after all, before it is too late?

Chapter 23

Saturday morning arrived and Kate felt better than she had for quite a while. The pain in her chest had gone and she was more like her old self. A little optimism was creeping in which she found most welcome. She had never been a miserable person, despite her turbulent life and the thought she might have nothing else to look forward to was depressing in itself.

Today was more like it. She felt in control for the first time in ages. Her first cup of tea tasted wonderful and she enjoyed every drop as she ran through what options she could think of to take full advantage of the day.  Shopping was high on the list for the cupboards were empty. She should telephone Sam with a progress report and possibly make a start on canvas number three. She idly wondered if the library was open on a Saturday and mentally decided to check when she was in town.

After an invigorating shower, Kate started to make a shopping list and wrote down cat food without thinking. As she looked at the words, the sharp pain sliced through her chest and she had to sit down. ‘Oh Dylan, I miss you so much,’ she said, her eyes filling with tears. She sat, waiting until the pain had gone, leaving an ache behind. She blew her nose and went back to the shopping list.

It suddenly occurred to her that the voice had been quiet for days, hopefully, it was a good sign.

 

The weather was trying desperately to match her mood.  It was early in September, and the trees showed no sign of the approaching autumn. Gentle sunlight and a light breeze made the walk to town a pleasant one. The library wasn’t open, so it would have to wait until next week. As she went past the estate agent, one of the men inside looked up at her from his desk, and for a split second looked so familiar. He had dark curly hair, greying at the temples, but she couldn’t see his eyes properly as he was wearing glasses. She walked on, deep in thought to the supermarket.

Later that morning, after getting back home with several bags of shopping, the image of Michael slipped into her mind and she found herself imagining what he would look like now. She stopped, with a packet of frozen peas in her hand, and realised it might have been him. ‘Don’t be daft, why on earth would it be?’  She shook her head as if to dislodge the notion and carried on putting away the groceries.

Kate expected the voice would have something to say about it. It never usually missed an opportunity to snipe at her but it remained quiet.

She rang Sam and made arrangements for lunch on Sunday for a preview. She should get a bottle of wine, or something nice for lunch.

 

When Kate crossed the street on her way to see if Janet was in, she noticed that the old green car was still there. Was that one more thing to worry about, she thought?

Although she waited patiently at Janet’s door, the old woman did not appear. She must be out or having a nap. As Kate drew nearer to the estate agent, her stomach was churning and she desperately wanted to walk the other way. What was she thinking? It couldn’t possibly be Michael, not here in Guildford. She always imagined him happily married and living the high life in London. After all, he was a good-looking man; women should fall over themselves to grab him.

She suddenly realised she was standing outside the estate agents and the picture of a picturesque cottage was right in front of her.  It’s too expensive, she thought, buying anything like that was out of the question, she had never had that kind of money and wasn’t about to end up in debt at her time of life. She wondered if they had rental properties too.

Her eyes began to focus past the pictures in the window and she studied the staff, but Michael wasn’t one of them, at least she couldn’t see him.

Her feet moved to walk inside and she went with them, safe in the knowledge there would be no embarrassing moment. Not if she was quick. She walked near the empty desk, looking for a nameplate or other identifying piece of evidence, but there was nothing. Then a soft female voice behind her asked if there was something she could help with, and Kate turned around, fully intending to ask about rental properties.

The woman who had spoken was quite short so Kate had a clear view of the man who had come up behind her.

‘It’s okay, Juliet. This lady is here to see me. Hello Kate. Long time no see.’

Kate’s knees had turned to jelly, how was she still standing up? It was definitely Michael, older, a lot older, but still attractive. He wasn’t wearing his glasses today and the familiar blue eyes had the effect they always had. She instantly felt she was the most important part of his life. How could he still do that, after all this time?

He took her by the elbow and steered her towards a chair.

‘I’ve just been seconded down here as they were short staffed. Funny how fate intervenes, don’t you think? You must tell me all about yourself. How are you and what are you doing these days?’

She stared at him, her mind a complete blank. Think of something to say, she thought, or he will think you’re senile. What were you supposed to say to someone who had broken your heart so many years ago?

He was looking at her the way he always did, and the magic had not died. Not in the slightest. She knew she was lost, so why try to go through the motions of being offended, or hateful. What would be the point? He probably wasn’t free anyway, so there was no harm in talking to him, was there?

‘Somehow, you look the same, Michael. How are you ?’

‘Oh, I’m fine. Getting older but nothing I can’t handle. Was there something you need, or did you know I was here? His eyes twinkled, reducing her nether regions into a pile of jelly babies.

‘I was contemplating finding somewhere to rent. Is that something you do here? She said, trying to hold on to her sanity.

He glanced at his watch. ‘Look, why don’t we discuss things over lunch; less formal than sitting here like any other customer.’

She remembered nodding slowly, but nothing else, and before she knew it, they were sitting in a quiet public house and there was a glass of white wine in front of her. Michael was looking at her as if waiting for the answer to a question.

‘I’m sorry, did you say something?’

‘I asked if you were well Kate, you look amazing, so I suppose the answer is yes.’

Kate picked up the glass of wine and took a sip, contemplating what to tell him, if anything at all. Something was telling her not to say anything and surprisingly it was her own idea. As she sat there looking at him, a frisson of annoyance nagged at her. How could he calmly sit there, looking gorgeous, as if they had no traumatic history between them? Had he forgotten he hurt her so badly it took years to heal? Added to that, the trouble with her ex-husband had turned Kate off any romantic encounters for life and there had been no one in her life since.

He is being patient, she thought. He must think she was too old to think straight, and maybe she shouldn’t enlighten him.

She declined any food, intending to keep the meeting short. He kept studying her and asking questions, obviously hoping one of them would make her talk.

She had fantasised about meeting him again, how they would be as wonderful together as they had been before, but somehow it didn’t feel right. He had no right to think she was still his for the taking.

He was talking again. ‘… must be something you can tell me about your life, is Jack still in the picture?’

So, he knew about Jack, what else did he know about her? ‘No, I divorced him and there is no one else.’ Why had she said that?

He smiled at her, his whole face lighting up like a little boy on firework night. ‘So, what have you been doing with the rest of your life, Kate?’

How can he just sit there as if they were old friends? She should hate him, and part of her probably did. She suddenly realised this meeting was not a good idea, and it was time to go home. ‘I paint’, she said and went to stand up. ‘I have to go now, I have things to do.’

He stood up and moved behind her chair, his hands brushing gently over the back of her coat as she stood up. She had to use all of her willpower to keep moving.

‘I might pop in tomorrow, to look at some properties. It was nice to see you again, Michael. Goodbye.’

His face was a picture. So many thoughts and emotions were flitting across his features, but he said nothing, just smiled forlornly at her. ‘See you tomorrow, then Kate.’

Signature Jaye.png

 

 

Paper Paradise… Bad Moon by Anita Dawes #PowerfulFiction #Horror

 

book banners.jpg

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, all that remained of so many people’s lives might be 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. One of my favourite authors of all time is 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.

Which brings me to one of my favourite authors, Anita Dawes. You meet her here most weeks as she shares this site with me,  and her work is not getting the recognition I think it deserves. I can see a similarity with Stephen King in everything she writes, for horrible things happen to her characters too, but you can’t 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 wasn’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 like 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 wasn’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? See you next week…

Signature Jaye.png

5* Review for The Emissary 2: To Love Somebody #UrbanFantasy @marciameara

41SFg3FhZyL._UY250_.jpg

 

 In Marcia Meara’s second installment of The Emissary Trilogy, a Riverbend spinoff series of novellas, we find our three heroes at it again. Beautiful new places, exciting new adventures, and a whole assortment of new problems await them, bringing tears, laughter, and an extraordinary amount of love along with them.

 

 

 

Our Review

Not all sweetness and light this time, as Azrael gets serious about equipping both Jake and Dodger for their job of helping souls in trouble.

I loved the chapter about the training session, and how Dodger and Jake reacted to the new strong-arm tactics.

I loved everything about this book just as I did the first in the series.

The way Dodger tries to cope with his insecurities, and Jake’s capable and patient attitude. Azrael had me laughing, he tried hard not to lose it as he struggled to get his point across to these very different personalities.

You never really imagine an angel getting cranky, now do you?

The missing element between Jake and Dodger, always a possible father-son relationship, really gets going in this book. I found it beautifully written and very emotional as I never got to know my own father.

Altogether though, I thought they made a great team as they travel around the country, helping us mortals keep on the straight and narrow.

A subtle reminder that some of us in this world can’t be helped, but wouldn’t it  be wonderful to know someone cares enough to try!

 

812mD9iU7EL._UX250_.jpg

About the Author

Marcia Meara lives in central Florida, just north of Orlando, with her husband of over thirty years, four big cats, and two small dachshunds. When not writing or blogging, she spends her time gardening, and enjoying the surprising amount of wildlife that manages to make a home in her suburban yard. At the age of five, Marcia declared she wanted to be an author, and is ecstatic that at age 69, she finally began pursuing that dream.
Three years later, she’s still going strong, and plans to keep on writing until she falls face down on the keyboard, which she figures would be a pretty good way to go!
Marcia has published five other books to date, all of which are available on Amazon in both print and Kindle format: Wake-Robin Ridge A Boy Named Rabbit: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 2 Swamp Ghosts: A Riverbend Novel Finding Hunter: Riverbend Book 2 Summer Magic: Poems of Life & Love
You can reach Marcia via email at mmeara@cfl.rr.com or on the following social media sites: The Write Stuff: http://marciamearawrites.com/
Twitter: @marciameara
To keep up with Marcia’s latest news and giveaways, and win FREE stuff, sign up for her Mail List here: https://marciamearawrites.com/mail-list-win-free-stuff/