Voices in Your Head?

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My first book, The Ninth Life came into being mainly because I became intrigued by the notion that most of us hear voices in our heads at one time or another.

From Pinocchio to Joan of Arc, people have been hearing things and sometimes a little voice can change history, and not always for the best.

Kate Devereau, the ageing artist in my book, has been hearing a voice all her life. Never sure if this is good or evil, she makes a point of ignoring everything it says. Would her life have turned out differently if she hadn’t?

Some people call this the voice of our conscience, a bit like Jiminy Cricket, but how many of us really listen or even obey its commands?

I personally don’t hear any voices, but sometimes I just know I should have done things differently, and have suffered the consequences…

When I researched this topic, I was amazed by just how many famous people have heard voices, going back as far as Moses. Some of these people were convinced they were hearing the voice of God; some thought a heavenly host had visited them. Whereas, on the other side of the scale, if a voice talked you into committing a crime, they usually lock you up and throw away the key.

Personally, I like the idea of a wise voice, advising and helping us with life’s problems. Pointing out the error of our ways would be very handy in our house.

But how many of us would dare to trust it?

 

Excerpt from The Ninth Life

… as the pain rolled on and on, Kate just wanted to die. She knew no one was going to rescue her, they never had before and it was a little late to start believing they would now. For some reason, she knew it was her lot in life to suffer, to be alone and be miserable, no matter how hard she tried to make her life any different. Surely, it was time for the curse on her life to stop? The voice in her head had said otherwise, apparently, there was much worse to come. But what could be worse than this, she thought.

Once the pain started to make her want to push, it all became a little more bearable. At least she felt more in control of the situation, not just lying there helplessly, being tortured.

The baby, a boy, was born that evening and nobody could have been more pleased it was over than Kate herself.

Throughout the ordeal, the voice had kept up a running commentary about her life being ruined. How she had wasted every opportunity and how sorry it was. The last bit surprised her, for she had always thought it disliked her. It had never said anything with any hint of kindness in it before. If it was simply trying to depress her even more than she was already, it had succeeded…

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Not So Simple?

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Excerpt from Simple…

Walking towards Gran, I could feel the blood draining from my body, trying to find some place to hide.  It felt as if it had all gathered in my feet, making each step I took the hardest thing I had ever done.

Gran got up from her rocker and I watched it continue to move, as if she had left some part of herself sitting in it.  She walked inside the cabin and waited for me. She had never done more than cuff me across the back of the head, but I figured I had to be in for more than that this time.  I was trying to think of the worst she could do.

It was cool inside the cabin.  Gran was sitting at the big wooden table grandpa had made.  She might as well have been the town judge, sitting behind the high bench.  She didn’t move or look at me as I sat opposite, waiting for judgement.  I knew better than speak first.  I couldn’t have, even if I wanted to, my mouth had dried up.  Gran finally spoke, her voice hard, as if she had eaten gravel.  ‘You’ve done a bad thing, Leanne. Taken our trust and pissed it in the wind.  Jimmy says he should be the one to punish you, says you had no right taking Simple anywhere near the Spiers. Reckon I should turn you over to him, save my words for someone who can hear them.’

I said, ‘I can hear real good,’ with more grit in my voice than I intended.

Gran fixed me with one of those looks that made me wish I could turn to stone. ‘Seems to me, young lady,  if your ears still work, then your brain’s gone soft like Simple’s. Fancy interfering in business that aint yours. You know right enough, he needs telling more times than the sun wakes us and then some. You want him took off for takin’ town young’uns?’

‘Course not, Gran.’  My voice came out as a whisper. ‘Simple was hurt real bad.  I couldn’t just leave him . . .’

 

Amazon Review

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Disturbing, but compelling and heartwarming

By Rivergirl

5.0 out of 5 stars

This is a story about some very tough and mean people somewhere in the backwoods and mountains of America. It is told from the perspective of a young girl whose mission in life is to protect her big, but simple-minded brother from harm. The story is compelling, frightening and sometimes brutal in the manner of the film Deliverance, but it is also a heartwarming story of loyalty, love and deep affection. It was not what I was expecting, but I’m glad I read it. It has an unforgettable quality about it and the characters are complex but convincing. It really is a great story and unputdownable.

Universal Book Link:  myBook.to/mySimple

 

Simple…

Anita thought our books needed a bit of an airing!

Simple is another one of Anita’s books, written in the same West Virginian theme as Bad Moon. The story of a backwoods family and the way they treat their mentally challenged son, Ethan. Or Simple, as he is called. A story of love and caring, of living with fear and brutality; and how the love of one person can make a difference.

excerpt from Simple…

Gran stormed across the clearing, bending to pick up a stick from the ground without breaking her stride.  Simple, sitting against the wood pile, was in for another of her beatings.  I yelled for him to run, but he didn’t hear me.  Lost in one of his daydreams I guessed.

I watched in silence as Gran repeatedly swung the stick hard against the side of her son’s head.  There were no words to describe Simple’s pain, or the pain of watching.  He probably didn’t even know what it was for and I hated her for making me feel all the things he couldn’t say. He didn’t move or look her in the face, not until she let the stick drop from her bony fingers did he feel safe enough to close his eyes.  He slowly put his hands to his battered head, blood pushing its way through the gaps in his dirty fingers…

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Universal Amazon Link:  myBook.to/SimpleS

 

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An excerpt from The Last Life…

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Kate Devereau wakes up in a hospital, unable to speak or move. Her brain has shut down, refusing to acknowledge her dark and disturbing past, concealing a web of painful secrets.

Michael Barratt brought her to the hospital, insisting that her ex-husband had tried to kill her. And from the state of him, had tried to kill him too. He had been searching for Kate for years, ever since their doomed love affair, only to discover someone else had been hunting her too.

With the help of the DI David Snow, Kate will gradually piece her life back together, only to discover the nightmare is far from over.

Her first instinct is to run, but David Snow convinces her to stay and help him put an end to the nightmare. A nightmare that will get progressively worse before it gets better.

Haunted by his own demons, will the Snowman manage to catch the twisted killer?

Evil lurks in this story and people die, but amidst the tears and heartache, a lost love struggles to survive…

 

Excerpt from The Last Life

 Detective Inspector David Snow looked down at the unconscious woman on the hospital bed in front of him, remembering the state of her when she had arrived, a few hours ago. They had done a good job of cleaning her up. She lay still, like a religious statue in a church, her pale skin the colour of finest marble. The gentle rise and fall of her breasts the only indication life still clung to her body.

So different to the wrinkled, dirt-ingrained body he had looked at earlier, of an old tramp, found dead in the hospital car park, bundled into a moth-eaten army coat and wedged under a car. What was originally thought to be a simple case of neglect, had taken on a more sinister tone when they discovered the tramps head had been cut off and shoved down the back of the old boy’s trousers.

Snow wondered what an old tramp could possibly have done to warrant such treatment, being well known around the hospital and described as a harmless old soul. The tenuous link to the woman in front of him indicated she might not be safe and would need his protection.

They knew very little about her, and he wondered again what kind of woman she was.  Now the dirt had been removed, she looked healthy and well cared for, which ruled out homelessness. A reasonably attractive, middle-aged woman, bordering on the ordinary, apart from her curly hair which would appear to have a life of its own, as even now it crept across the pillow like the roots of a willow.

 

Alone with the unconscious woman, Snow had an excellent opportunity to study her without feeling self-conscious about doing it. In all the years since his wife’s death, he missed looking intimately at a woman. He usually tried to do it surreptitiously to avoid the risk of being branded a pervert, or worse. He liked to imagine what kind of person they were, if they were kind or cruel, bossy or timid, but for once, there were no clues on this woman’s face. A slight determination in the set of her jaw gave him pause for thought.

According to Michael Barratt, the man who brought her here, her name was Kate Devereau, an artist, none of which gave him any clues as to her character. In the beginning, Snow had instinctively thought she might be the murderer in this case, due to the amount of blood found in the cottage.  Michael Barratt had found her unconscious in this cottage on the outskirts of Guildford. He said he knew her, but had no idea why she had found it necessary to be there. As an estate agent, he had been arranging to have the cottage ready for Miss Devereau to rent.

It was all a little mysterious, compounded by the fact Michael Barratt looked as if he had been barbecued. His clothes were burned black in places, apart from his jacket, which was clean and several sizes too small and obviously didn’t belong to him. The back of his head and hands were raw and blistered, suggesting there were probably more extensive burns to his body.

The estate agent had offered no explanation for his own condition but stubbornly kept asking after Kate, which might possibly indicate an emotional involvement. He had no answer for what had happened to her, except to say her health had not been good for a while. If it hadn’t been for all the blood, it would have seemed innocent enough.

So why didn’t Snow believe him?

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Amazon Link for The Ninth Life  myBook.to/TheNinthLife

Amazon Link for The Last Life  myBook.to/TheLastLife

 

 

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Secrets…

Another one of my favourite books from Anita, and this review shows I’m not the only one who thinks so…

Amazon Review:

4.0 out of 5 stars A strong and powerful story, very well told

By Rivergirl

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.

 

 

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Secrets, a haunting family drama, is about deeply buried guilt and all the secrets and suspicions that invade and control our lives.

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 just mischief, it is time for his mother to investigate further.

Maggie Swan loves her little boy Danny, but his new playmate was becoming something of a problem. It was almost as though something was wrong and he was trying to fix it.
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?
myBook.to/Secrett

Excerpt of Secrets…

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Jack Swan sliced through his fried egg the same way he did every morning, precisely, like a surgeon. Cutting a piece of bacon and sausage, he proceeded to dip them into the bright yellow yolk in a very business-like manner.

Sitting opposite him at the breakfast table, Maggie watched him eat, remembering what he’d said at the beginning of their marriage so long ago; that a good breakfast was the only way to start the day. As far as Jack was concerned, if his egg was right, the day would be perfect, and not for the first time she wondered about this part of his childhood programming. According to medical science we are all supposed to have something we carry around with us from childhood. Something individual that makes us act the way we do. She wondered what hers was.

Deep in thought, Maggie started to play with her breakfast and it was Jack’s turn to watch fondly as she doodled with the egg yolk, spreading strange and bizarre patterns across the plate. The early morning sunlight streamed through the kitchen window bathing the breakfast scene in a cosy glow. She looked like a child sitting there in a pretty cotton housecoat, pale honey-coloured hair falling around her shoulders like a halo. She had something on her mind, he was sure. Knowing he didn’t really have the time and hoping she’d say it was nothing, he said, ‘What’s up, love, did you have another bad night with Danny?’

She slowly looked up at him from the mess on her plate, and he could tell by the way her usually bright blue eyes had darkened to the colour of the sea that he wasn’t about to hear anything like what he wanted to hear.
Looking back down at her plate, she said, ‘I’m very worried about him, Jack. These terrible nightmares are getting him down; and now this thing about an imaginary friend, I don’t like it, something’s wrong.’
Jumping straight in, hoping to get it over with quickly so he could get out of the house, he said, ‘You know what the doctor told us, he’ll grow out of it soon enough. It will only make things worse if we try and make Danny let go before he’s ready.’

‘Yes, I know what he said,’ an edge creeping into her voice, ‘but he’s not God. You don’t have to take everything he says as gospel. I don’t happen to think this thing with Toby is the same as a comfy blanket or a favourite teddy a child drags around with him. Can’t you see how he’s changed?
‘… he’s destructive, rude and downright messy. Don’t you think dragging half the garden into the kitchen last week was going a bit too far? You saw his face when I tried to tell him off, he wasn’t the least bit sorry. Judging from the skid marks all over the place it was plain to see he’d had a whale of a time, and what did he say when I asked him why he’d done it? … because Toby wanted him to.

‘… Jack, can’t you see we have to make him understand this Toby is only in his mind and he’s too old to play these pretend games?’
He took a deep breath, painfully aware the time was getting on. ‘Maggie, he’s only seven. You’re making too much of it. The doctor said to give him time and not to bully him into giving up Toby. It might make his nightmares worse.’
She opened her mouth to say something, but before she could, he reminded her again that she had agreed the gentle approach was best.
‘Plus, you haven’t given that idea of yours idea a chance. Having Cathy take Danny to school with Michael may work. He’ll soon see that having a real friend is lots more fun. Have you asked him again about joining the cubs?’
She snorted. ‘I did, and his answer was the same as before. Toby doesn’t want him to.’
‘Give him time, Maggie, he’ll come around.’

Maggie seemed to have run out of wind for the time being, so he took his empty plate over to the sink and left it on the draining board. Straightening his tie as he turned to her again, he said, ‘I’m sorry I don’t have time to talk this morning. I have four books waiting a final decision and what with the deadline and our new budget, I think I’ll have to reject two of them, you know how I hate sending out rejection letters. It doesn’t make for a nice day, especially when a book is worth publishing. If you’re that worried about Danny, we’ll talk about it tonight.’
Maggie frowned and gave him the kind of look that said, sure we will. Jack had seen it many times and responded in a way she had grown used to over the years. He pulled her into his arms, squeezed her gently, saying, ‘I promise we’ll talk about it later.’
Then he kissed her goodbye, grabbed his briefcase and left.

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Our Cornish Book…

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An excerpt from Let it Go…

My footsteps felt lighter once we were inside. I was surprised by what I saw. The room was small but clean and tidy. Dried herbs hung over the fireplace, and there were several pieces of strong wooden furniture. One soft armchair stood next to the hearth. There were no ornaments, and no dust or cobwebs to be seen. I had the feeling they wouldn’t be allowed in here. The air itself didn’t seem to move as if time stood still.

Samuel asked us to sit down. ‘I have been expecting you.’

I chose one of the wooden chairs that stood around the table, and as I sat down, a strong feeling of peace enveloped me, like being inside an empty church. My romantic side would describe it as a feeling of coming home. Mark, with his Sixties kind of mind, probably noticed it before we came in.

He sat down at the table, on the chair nearest to me. Samuel reappeared with a tray. He hadn’t asked if we wanted tea and I hadn’t even noticed him move to make it. I was too busy looking around the place like a local tourist. He put bone china cups and saucers in front of us. The orange liquid smelled slightly perfumed, a pleasant smell.

Mark noticed me wrinkling my nose.

‘Cinnamon,’ he said. ‘Drink it, it’s good.’

I took a sip, and it was spicy on my tongue. I put it down, rather too quickly.

‘No thanks.’

Samuel had sat himself down in the armchair. It was strange, but seeing him sitting down, I noticed how long his legs were. His clothes were almost threadbare, but his large black boots had a shine on them. When he spoke again all the fear in me slipped away. There was no harm in this man, this man born of fire. He must have heard the stories as he grew up but they hadn’t left their mark on him. Was it Ruth who had done such a good job of mothering, or was it Martha’s genes he carried into the Despite the fact, she had been playing with the fire, which eventually took her life.

He spoke without looking at us. Mark reached across the table and laid his hand over mine. I didn’t need the reassurance he offered, but I didn’t move my hand or look at him. My eyes were on Samuel, ears at attention.

‘You found Morgan’s diary, been letting the writing get to you. Asking too many questions and spending long hours in the house of books. There’s nothing in there to help, should have come to see me sooner. Save time and a lot of mixed up feelings.’

I found enough air in my lungs to speak and said I had plenty of time to spare, that my feelings were fine. ‘But I do believe someone should be held accountable for what happened to Martha,’

The sound of her name didn’t seem to mean anything to him. I saw no change in his face or voice.

‘Why?’ He said. It didn’t appear to be a question. ‘Keep pain alive, when living is pain enough for far too many people? I know the story of my birth and the things they have said about the mother who bore me. Of Ruth, who fed and clothed me and taught me how to help even when help was not asked for.’

Mark had told me all about the herbs being left on people’s doorsteps when they were needed. About one young girl who might have died had Samuel not helped her. They actually used these herbs while speaking so ill of him, yet leaving food outside his door as payment.

‘There are many good stories in the Bible. I will tell you something from it. Look to the living, leave the dead to take care of the dead.’

As he spoke these words, looking directly at me for the first time, I felt strange, all empty inside, as if some part of me had been scooped out. I knew what it was without him saying it. My need to punish them had simply left me. But what did ‘look to the living’ mean?

He looked at me with those pale grey eyes that darkened with the words he spoke next.

‘You have a sister, a small part of yourself.’

God, I had never thought of Sally like that, nor would she like me to. He was right though, she was a part of me.

‘You need to watch over her, keep her close to you.’

I told him then this wasn’t something Sally would let me do.

‘No matter. It’s to her you need to give your concern.’

Then I asked him why to say what was in his mind in plain English.

‘Sally appears to have been marked by an early death, one of her own making.’

This reminded me of something Nan had said, about Sally drowning in a storm of her own making.

Samuel couldn’t explain what he felt. ‘The visions are too vague as yet. They will come, and then I will find a way to let you know.’

It didn’t help me much. He had just told me Sally would die as if the Mafia had a contract out on her, and I had to wait?

I was getting more than a little annoyed at his Bible prophecies, as good as double Dutch when there was nothing you could do about them. My initial instinct had been right. I should have walked away. I shouldn’t have come here, shouldn’t have let Mark lead me through the door.

I knew Martha and the diary would all take a back seat now. That my stupid mind would play tricks on me, waking and sleeping about Sally. The hands of death reaching far too early for her immortal soul.

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People often ask us if we have a competitive partnership, and to be honest, I don’t think we do. So far, our achievements have been pretty equal, although I will always admit that Anita is the far better writer.

So, it came as a bit of a surprise, that when I mentioned how many hits my book The Last Life had just received on Amazon’s KDP, (137 plus one print copy) Anita came back with “I don’t usually get that many, do I?”

Not really a question I could answer, but it will really be interesting to see how many Let it Go gets as it is now #Free on Amazon for the next five days.

Will you make her day and prove my theory?

Universal Amazon Link:      myBook.to/LetGo

 

 

 

Scarlet Ribbons for her Hair…

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Scarlet Ribbons has to be my all time favourite of all Anita’s books. Inspired by the song, I think she was truly inspired when she wrote it…

It was all over at last. He would never hurt anyone ever again. If they had the police here, Annie’s mother had paid dearly, given away her own freedom. Murder was murder, no matter how necessary. But if it was up to me, I’d have given her a medal. I wondered when it had happened, and why we hadn’t heard anything. We must have fallen into a deep sleep, upstairs with Annie.

Alan carried Annie down the stairs, past her mother who was still leaning against the open front door. Her face was wiped clean of emotion, no tears as Annie was taken from her. She might as well have used the same knife on herself. She was dead inside, a lifeless husk with faded blue eyes. I couldn’t feel sorry for her though. It was too late for that.

I walked past her, following Annie, forgetting all about David until he called my name.

‘You can’t go with her, Mags. We’ve done our part, it’s over now.’

I kept on walking beside her, trying to touch her hand, her hair, whispering my goodbyes.

Alan sat Annie in the back seat of the car and we watched as it drove away. Half way down Stanley Road, Annie turned and looked through the rear window. Was she taking one last look at what had been her home, or was she saying goodbye to me?

I lowered my eyes, not wanting to see her disappear, that’s when I noticed the red ribbon lying in the road at my feet. For a moment I hardly dared touch it. What if it disintegrated or something? Slowly I plucked up the courage to pick it up, and holding it in my hand, I realised that it was the closest I had ever come to touching her, really touching her. Suddenly, tears were coursing down my face.

David put his arms around me, he didn’t speak and I was grateful for the silence. My tears became huge, gasping sobs as my heart emptied itself of all the pain, only to be replaced by another kind. As he led me away we heard sirens behind us. Not the kind we have today, but loud bells.

Somebody had called the police.

scarlet-ribbons-newI put Annie’s ribbon in my jeans pocket, wiped my face and said, ‘Where to now?’

‘You choose, Maggie.’

‘Home, let’s both go home. We’ve done what we came here for.’ I waited for a tremor, a sign. But nothing happened. We were still there.

‘This can’t be happening. You said I could go back if I helped. I have, now let me go!’

‘Who on earth are you talking to, Mags?’

‘The voice, the one that keeps me here. Haven’t you heard it?’

He shook his head.

‘Well, if it won’t let me out, I’ll find my own way back. I’m not staying here.’

I started walking double time. David had to run to catch up to me.

‘You don’t have to follow me. Find your own way out.’

‘There’s gratitude for you. Thanks a bunch, Mags.’ He emphasised the Mags. ‘All right, Miss Smarty-pants, how do you know which way is out? Or if there is more than one way out of here. We may be stuck with each other a while yet.’

I stopped walking and he bumped into me. Without turning around, I mumbled, ‘Sorry.’

‘Pardon?’ he said. ‘I didn’t catch that.’

I knew he had, but said it again anyway. Before I knew what was happening, he had turned me around and kissed me.

And I let it happen. It felt so good to have his arms around me, his lips soft and warm, so warm it was bringing parts of me alive that I had almost forgotten about.

As much as I wanted it, needed to be held and loved, I couldn’t let it happen. I loved Jack, but David felt so good, so familiar as if those arms had held me before.

. myBook.to/SRIBS

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