Streets Ahead Book Promotion Club ~ Wisp by Adele Marie Park

Streets Ahead Book Promotion Club

This week the author is Adele Marie Park, the book with the fabulous cover is Wisp, a magical supernatural story.

I have goosebumps just thinking about reading it!

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Edra; a world where magic flourishes and where dark secrets are concealed by those who rule. Secrets which can get the innocent killed without a thought.

When the body of an elf is discovered in a treacherous area of the city, Wisp a young Law Enforcer is assigned the case. He soon realises the case is far from simple. As soon as he finds one thread another one leads him to unravel a tapestry woven from lies, secrets, corruption and evil. When friendship turns to love, Wisp`s life, as he knew it will completely change.

 

What started out as a murder case ends in a grisly battle which Wisp and his companions seem to have no chance of winning.

Author Biography

I love writing, it`s my passion. My genres include fantasy, horror, urban fantasy, and a mixture of all those. I love telling stories;period. I am married to my wonderful wife, who is my rock. Our daughter and our dog, german shepherd collie cross, are also my passions. To experience a moment of pure love is to experience the world.
Creativity is something I couldn`t live without.
I am also a Supernatural geek, and love my music. Punk, Goth, Rockabilly and visual Kei music from Japan.The paranormal is my normal.
oh, and I also totally believe in faeries.

#Interview with the Author: Bad Moon by Anita Dawes #HorrorFamily

 

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Spotlight on the writing of Bad Moon

or

(An informal interview with Anita Dawes)

 

Today I have dragged Anita away from her writing desk and forced her to sit and talk to me about my favourite book (and I suspect, hers too)

Good morning Anita, make yourself comfortable and tell us how you came to write Bad Moon?

Hello Jaye, this is all a bit strange for me, I haven’t done anything like this before, so I am trusting that you are right and it might just be interesting and productive.

I began to write when I couldn’t stand all the voices in my head. They would not let me rest until I told their story, and once I started, I couldn’t stop!

I just love the minds of the people from West Virginia in America, their philosophy and their way of thinking.

What decided the plot of Bad Moon, was it just your imagination or did something trigger it?

I was in a bad place at that time in my life and I think escaping into another world, even one that was not sweetness and light, helped me a lot. There was a song that caught my interest, from Credence Clearwater Revival, about a ‘Bad Moon Rising’. You could say that that was my inspiration right there.  I think song lyrics are very emotive, you can usually come up with a good story to go with them. My book turned out to be the usual story of good and evil; you cannot get away from it, not in nature or human beings. Maybe knowing that what I was writing was not real, helped me in real life. It is possible.

 Is Annie a biographical character? Did you see yourself in her at all?

  No, I don’t think so. She turned out to be stronger than I could ever be.

 She seems a lot like you, somehow.

Does she? It was not intentional. My mother was the inspiration for the creation of Annie’s mother, and Annie’s father reminds me of one of my stepfathers. A long-suffering doormat. All of Annie’s relatives remind me of crows at a funeral.

But in the book, Annie’s father seems like a nice chap?

Yes, but he is weak, unable to control his wife or her relatives.

 Why did the title lose the word ‘rising’? And where did the idea for Pa’s grotesque carvings come from? They do sound fascinating…

 I had to change the title because there were just too many books out there with the same title. The idea for the carvings came from my imagination, although I loved the film ‘The Guardian’ with Jenny Agutter. There was an interesting tree in the storyline that could have sparked something.

I always love the macabre side, like the ‘Tooth Fairy’ in The Silence of The Lambs. Making things out of human skin is fascinatingly disgusting, but people have been doing it for centuries.

Despite all her good intentions, Annie has an incestuous relationship with her brother Nathan, before she falls in love with Josh. Did the thought of writing about incest bother you?

No, there is more of that going on than most of us realise. I believe it can be a natural occurrence, as the love you feel for someone – brother or no – can become so strong and overwhelming. It is possible to love more than one person too, we do it all the time.

Your next book ‘Simple’ is very similar to ‘Bad Moon’. Is that what you intended?

Yes, because I feel it is a part of who I am, and I love writing them.

Will you ever write another story like these two?

Maybe, but it has yet to be proved to me that people are interested in reading them, although I cannot rule it out as I may not be able to stop myself!

If anyone has any questions or comments, we would be pleased to hear from you!


Brilliant Review on Amazon!

OlgaNM
Bad Moon is narrated in the first person by Annie, a young girl who lives happily with her family: mother (Ruby), father (Jed), and older brother (Nathan). She adores her father, although her mother’s behaviour is far from exemplary (she regularly invites other men to her home and that results in incidents with her husband, who takes it out on the men and seem remarkably tolerant of his wife’s behaviour). At first, Annie is worried that she might end up becoming a woman like her mother when she grows up and thinks it is all due to her mother’s family (her father says that her mother was born under a ‘bad moon’ and she comes from ‘the Hills’ where people seem to have their own morality and rules of behaviour). The inhabitants of the Hills seem to be a directly related to those of The Hills Have Eyes or the banjo players in Deliverance. What Annie doesn’t know is that things are worse than she ever could imagine. She has lived all her life in a world of lies and secrets. She is convinced she must learn the truth to avoid history repeating itself and is prepared to go to any lengths to achieve that. The costs are high indeed.
Annie does not have much formal schooling (she decides to leave school when she realises things aren’t as they should) but she is extremely articulate, and some of the descriptions of the landscape surrounding her home, of her experiences and dreams, her mystical feelings on visiting the caves previously inhabited by a Native-American tribe, and her reflections are beautiful and lyrical. We might disagree with some of her decisions but it is difficult not to admire her determination. She never tries to be liked or makes excuses for her own behaviour (she might blame others at times, but despite not being a believer or having much in the way of role models, she does question her actions and tries to make things better), and she is neither all good nor all bad. It’s a testimony to the skill of the author that although Annie’s head is not a pleasant place to be in, we can’t help but wish she’ll succeed and live to see another day.
With themes including incest, rape, infanticide, murder, cannibalism, paedophilia and plenty of violence, this is not a gentle novel or an easy read. There is sex and violence, although these are not graphically rendered, but anybody with a modicum of imagination will be left with many powerful images difficult to forget. The strong intuition of the main character, the roles of fate, blood and family history and the communities portrayed turn this book into a tragedy where instead of kings and gods we have as protagonists a family in the outskirts of society and outside of history. (The historical period of the story and the outside society are not described in detail and this adds to the sense of claustrophobia an entrapment.)
If Annie is a heroine, a tragic hero or an anti-hero is open to interpretation and I haven’t decided yet. I’m not sure I’d like to meet her in real life, but I know I’d like to read more about her.

 

#Writer’s Wednesday… #Simple by Anita Dawes #Mystery #PsychologicalSuspense

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Chapter One

Gran stormed across the clearing, bending to pick up a stick from the ground without breaking her stride.  Simple, sitting against the woodpile, 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.

 

Jack was Gran’s firstborn, a mean son of a bitch.  Then came Simple who was soft in the head and lived in a dream world.  Tommy, my favourite, was the youngest and nowhere near as bad as Jack.  They were supposed to make sure Simple stayed away from town.  Gran never could bear the thought of Simple going anywhere near there, but never let on why.  The beatings came when he forgot, and somehow Gran always found out.  I figured she should give up on the beatings; it wasn’t helping him to remember to stay away.

I knew why the others went to town so often.  The girls there let them do whatever they had a mind to.  I couldn’t figure why Simple sneaked off; not for girls, I knew that much.  Tommy and Jack had teased him enough about Lizzie, the day they caught him spying on her as she washed in the river.

Watching Gran beat Simple made me think back to the day I lay by the river. I was trying to catch hold of the whispers in my head while looking at the reflection of the clouds in the water.  It was something I liked to do and usually had the place to myself.

That particular day, I had company.  Lizzie was taking a bath and Simple was watching from the bushes.  Without warning, the boys appeared and dragged Simple out of the bushes he thought hid him from sight.  Jack grabbed Simple viciously between the legs, saying it was time he knew how to use it.  They called for Lizzie to come out of the water.

I hid behind a rock, too scared to run back to the cabins.  It wouldn’t matter if I told Gran anyway, she’d say they needed their fun and to let them be.

Tommy helped Lizzie up onto the bank.  She stood there naked, her dark hair dripping.  The water running down her skinny legs made muddy pools at her feet.  Jack stopped her from picking up her clothes.  ‘You won’t be needin’ them just yet, Lizzie.  We’re goin’ to have us a little fun.  It’s Simple’s birthday.’

‘No it ain’t, and I ain’t doing what you have a mind to.  Not with Simple.’

Jack took hold of her arms and roughly pulled her close to him.  ‘You’re mine and you’ll do like I say, missy.  You’re his birthday present.’

Simple tried to move away but Jack held him back; telling him he didn’t want to miss out on such a fine gift.  He threw Lizzie to the ground like a rag doll.  I watched, too afraid to move.  Jack had ears like a bat if I moved an inch he would hear me.  Fear and fascination swam together in my head; knitting an invisible chain that held me fast behind the rock.

Jack stood between her legs and unfastened his belt.  He undid his belt, pushed his pants down and fell on Lizzie, pumping his body up and down.  Tommy pulled Simple down on the ground beside them, slapping Jack’s bare behind.  ‘See, Simple, this is how you please the girls.’

There was much grunting and groaning before Jack let out an even bigger groan and rolled away from Lizzie, his thing still dripping as he pulled up his pants. Tommy pushed Simple down on top of Lizzie and he lay there like a big lump.  As Jack pulled him to his knees, a clump of Simple’s dark brown hair came away in his hand.

‘You see how I did it, now set to, before I tell Gran what we saw you tryin’ to do in town again.’

I wish I knew what Simple did that got Gran so mad, so fired up about him being in town.  He was crying like a baby, tears and snot sliding down his face.  Jack kicked him viciously and he fell forward, stopping himself from flattening Lizzie by putting his hands out, hitting the ground so hard the dry dirt sprung up between his fingers.

I wished there was something I could do to help Simple, but Tommy and Jack had been at Gran’s grog again and I knew if I showed my face, they would do the same to me.  Lizzie seemed to have gotten over the idea of Simple getting at her, giggling as Tommy pulled Simple’s pants off.  I couldn’t bear to watch anymore and turned my face away, but I heard every sound that escaped from Simple’s lips.  I wondered what thoughts were running through his head if any.

For days after, I couldn’t bear to look at Simple or talk to him and knew how much he missed that.  I was the only one who spent the time of day with him.  The others always teased him, saying words over and over before moving on to the next the way Simple did.  I spent hours getting him to speak slowly, and with me, his stammer wasn’t so bad. When Simple got worked up his words stuck, stretched out like an echo rebounding around the woods before finding the end of it.  Most times he gave up trying to say what was in his head.

The back of Gran’s cabin was the only place to find any shade unless you took off into the woods, which wasn’t always a good idea.  Folk around here tend to look out for their own and looking out for the neighbours wasn’t their way of doing things, especially the Spiers.  We’d been having trouble with them for as long as I could remember.

I sat with my back against rough, weathered timber that had been cut from the woods, grateful to be alone to hear the wind rush through the trees, whispering my name.  Emily, the name my heart recognised. Not Leanne, the one they called me.  I got to thinking that Gran would have renamed me, not wanting anything to do with town folk or the names they called their children.  Seeing as how Uncle Jimmy had let slip that my folks had come from the town, I got to thinking how on earth Gran could be mine.  I figured the only way was one of my parents must have been kin to my grandpa.  That could account for the way she looked at me sometimes as if I didn’t really belong.  Part outsider; which is how I felt most of the time.

This got me looking closer at Gran’s boys.  They didn’t look like they come from the same seed either.  Jack, mean and dark, had the best looks. Tommy was the just the opposite.  Fair and plain, as if they forgot to give him character.  I’d been told that Simple was soft in the head because Gran had been too old for birthing. That couldn’t be the true reason, for Tommy was all right. Didn’t matter to me though, I liked him the way he was; all soft and gentle, yet big enough to make me feel safe.  Big enough to squash the rest of them flat should he take a mind to.  Reckon that’s why Uncle Jimmy keeps clear of Simple.  I heard him tell Jack one day that Simple would snap soon enough with all the teasing he gets.

I told Gran once that sometimes I thought I could hear my Ma calling me by another name, could feel her reaching for me and almost make out her face.  Gran said I must be getting soft in the head like Simple and warned me not to talk rubbish again.  I knew better than try.  She would whop me like she always did when something didn’t please her.  It didn’t pay to have an opinion or argue with Gran about anything.

Lizzie said it was just my imagination playing tricks on me, but I didn’t believe any of it.  I felt it in my heart, not my head, and it wasn’t the summer heat frying my brains as Tommy suggested.

Gran said she would be making one of her rare trips to town soon.  I would be twelve next month and according to her, a young woman needs new clothes.  This meant material for Gran to make a new dress, two if I was lucky.  Gran hated going to town, but she knew you couldn’t trust men folk to choose anything.  I knew how hard this would be for her and my heart reached out to hug her, my body slow to follow.

Gran waved the air in front of her to keep me away.  ‘No need to thank me, girl.’

I wished what I felt inside didn’t always show so quick on my face.  My life would be a mite happier if it didn’t.

Lizzie had told Gran about the young’un she was expecting and Gran wasn’t best pleased.  Didn’t matter who the pa was, she didn’t ask.  All she said was, it had better be stronger than the last one. ‘You ain’t made for young’uns, Lizzie. Age has taken your best chances. This has to be the last one, that’s if you can keep it from falling away before its time.’

In the past, Lizzie had managed to keep one until it was three months old.  It was sick from the start, Gran said.  And Lizzie too foolish to give it the right kind of care.  No milk to speak of and she forgot about it for days on end.  Took off with Jack and left it crying.  I asked Gran why she didn’t take care of it, seeing as how she knew better.  It was a stupid question and I almost felt the heat from her eyes singe the hair on my arms.

‘The brat’s Lizzie’s, not mine,’ she snapped.

I couldn’t understand Gran’s way of thinking or feeling.  All hard and shrivelled, weren’t any softness about her, not even around the eyes.  Something bad must have happened to make her so hard.  There wasn’t anything I could do, no way for me to change her.  The child Lizzie lost had been buried just outside the clearing by a big old redwood.  I would sit there sometimes and lay a few wildflowers on the makeshift grave.  All Lizzie said was I was too soft to live in the woods. She didn’t seem to care about the loss.

‘Gran should’ve taken you to town years ago, left you outside the church.’  She often said that when feeling particularly mean.

When Gran didn’t ask who the pa might be, I wondered if she might have something to say if she knew it might be Simple.  I found myself hoping this one would be strong.  Having a baby around would be real nice.  I could help Lizzie take care of it.

Just then, Jack stormed into the cabin behind me, yelling about the Spiers’ messing with his traps again, taking his kills.  That I knew to be one mistake they would pay for.  Gran told him to hush up and let Jimmy take care of it when he got home.  Jack went on and on about the Spiers, he had a thing about them. Every time anything went wrong or the still broke, he would say they had been at it.

Gran told him he was too thick to take care of any one of them.

‘It’s no wonder you lost your kill, shouting your mouth off in town. Makin’ out like a big man, letting’ on where you left the traps.’

I heard Tommy ask how she knew.

‘It ain’t hard to figure, when she knows you couldn’t keep your mouth shut if she was to stitch it.’

Jack must have lost his temper and thrown a chair across the cabin, because something hit the side where I sat, listening.  The thought of Uncle Jimmy coming made the cool spot behind the cabin too cold and I moved off into the sun.

I wondered what he wanted, what brought him down from the mountains.  Jimmy was a mean one, even meaner than Jack was.  Tall and quiet, he liked killing, hunting things.  Animals, men, even bugs weren’t safe.  He would flatten anything that crossed his path, his hands quick as lightning, grabbing winged creatures from the air.  Didn’t seem to matter some of them might sting.

I saw him swallow a wasp once after teasing Simple with it.  Mostly he liked pulling the heads off his kills.  Said even a man ain’t nothing without it, get rid of the head, you get rid of trouble.  That’s what he believed.

His visits were always too long.  Tommy hated him and swore he would take off one day and never come back.  Gran laughed.  She’d heard him say it so often; she didn’t believe he had a mind to do it.  I could see in his eyes that one day he would, he was tired of living in fear of Jimmy and being in Jack’s shadow.

I thought about taking off some days.  Thing was, where to?  I guess Tommy had the same trouble.  Town was good for letting off steam, but the woods were home.  Clarksville was growing speedily, too fast for Gran’s liking. She said it was getting closer to the woods each year.  Full of outsiders thinking they can wander where they please and look down their noses at the way we live.  The sheriff was up here just last week, telling Gran I should be attending school.  She sent him off, saying I knew all I needed to.  School didn’t have anything she couldn’t put in my head.

There were times when I wondered if she was right.  Maybe I would have liked school, made friends of my own age.  Throwing the idea at Gran did no good at all; she had a thing about town folk.  Strange, when I’d heard Jimmy say that grandpa had been from Clarksville.

‘Your Gran liked town folk fine back then.  Never did say what changed her mind.’

Jimmy said grandpa died one winter, caught by one of his own traps. Wolves ate most of his body.  I could understand how this would make Gran sad, but I couldn’t make sense of the way she spoke about town and the folk that lived there. Outsiders, she called them.  There had to be a reason for the way she hated them.  I knew better than to ask, but by keeping my ears open, I would hear most things soon enough.

Jimmy had brought down two headless deer for Gran’s larder.  I wondered what he did with the heads.  Tommy said he ate them, but I figured he buried them, although I half wondered if Tommy was right.

Uncle Jimmy hadn’t been with us for more than a week, when the sheriff turned up again, warning Gran to have a word with her boys.

‘Ned Harrison’s been shooting’ his mouth off about Tommy, if he sets eyes on him again he’s gonna kill him. Says he’s been messing’ around with his wife.’

Jimmy stood there the whole time, his rifle cracked open across his arm.  The sun lighting up the fact the barrel weren’t empty.  It didn’t seem to worry the sheriff, he had his hand on the butt of his own gun, looking Gran in the eyes.  I could see Tommy hiding behind the water barrels while the sheriff tried explaining to Gran that he couldn’t keep an eye on Ned all the time.

‘Wouldn’t want your boy to lose his head over a piece of pussy.  Have a word with him, Ma’am.’  Touching the rim of his hat, he bid Gran good day.

I reckon he saw Tommy because he doffed his hat again as he passed the water barrels.

Tommy tried to get out of a beating by telling Gran the sheriff wanted to get it on with Ned’s wife himself.

‘Jealousy is all, Gran.  Ned ain’t gonna shoot no one, too full of grog mostly. When he ain’t drinking’ he’s sleeping’. ‘Lizabeth’s real nice Gran, I like her and old Ned ain’t gonna last forever the way he’s carrying’ on. I figured on movin’ in when he passes.’

‘Is that so?’  Gran said.  ‘Got a mind to help him on his way, bring more trouble that ain’t my doing’?’

‘No Ma.’  Tommy said, his eyes and voice pleading for her not to reach for the stick by her feet.  I could see in her eyes it was no good, she needed to whop him for reasons of her own…

Simple is just 99p this week… just saying!

#TuesdayBookBlog: CrossFire by Jaye Marie #CrimeThriller #Fiction

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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…

 

 

 

Albert…

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Albert

 

I first noticed Albert sitting on a park bench outside my office building. I took him to be in his late forties. There are a few reasons he stuck out for me. His dark navy suit had seen better days and the shirt might have been white a long time ago. His dark hair was greasy, flat. I couldn’t make out the colour of his eyes. He wore no shoes. It was mid-April, and warm. His feet were filthy with dried blood. I was struck most by the glow around him as if he had been polished by the sun.

The day was overcast, waiting for rain. I decided to take him a coffee and a sandwich. I wanted to know his story. At first, I sat without speaking, placing the coffee and sandwich in the space between us. I could almost feel the glow coming from him. He turned his face towards me and asked me for the time and the day. I told him, pushing the coffee nearer to him.

‘Please,’ I said, ‘these are for you.’

He thanked me, and I was taken aback by the sound of his voice. It was soft and gentle with a sense of innocence as if he had never seen or heard anything bad. The only thing I managed to find out that day was his name and that he was on his way to Canterbury Cathedral.

‘A penance…’ he said.

We are in the middle of Kent and miles from Canterbury. I looked at his feet, wondering if he would make it. He said no more and I went back to my office. I couldn’t work. I sat watching this man, a stranger that somehow stuck to me like a second skin.

That night at home, I told my very new wife about Albert. All night I couldn’t shake Albert from my mind. The next morning, over breakfast, I told my wife I needed to take a few days off, as I wanted to walk with Albert.

I should have mentioned earlier that my office and my job is publishing, looking for the next best seller. Albert has a story to tell, I wanted to be the one to tell it.

Alice, my wife agreed that it sounded too good not to try. I packed a rucksack with spare socks and underwear, a few tops, and a pair of soft jeans. Spare trainers, well-worn like the ones on my feet. Hoping to catch up with Albert. How hard could it be?

I knew where he was going.

I set off, hoping he hadn’t taken the long way to Canterbury. I popped into the office, letting them know what I was up to and leaving instructions for the time I would be gone. I had leave owing and took it, no argument.

Making my way to where I last saw Albert, I knew he wouldn’t be sitting there waiting for me. I asked around if anyone had seen a man with bare feet. Charlie on the paperstand said he had taken off towards Woolage Green. From Shepherdswell he couldn’t have gone far.

I found Albert sitting by a tree in Woolage Green. I don’t know what he was made off, but my legs were done in already. The light was leaving, and I asked if I could walk with him. He said he couldn’t stop me from walking in the same direction as the road was free to everyone.

I asked if he would be resting for a while, as I wanted to get some food from the shops nearby. I knew he must be hungry, thirsty at the very least. Looking over my shoulder, I must have taken twenty minutes before getting back to Albert where two young ladies had beaten me to it, giving him a sandwich and a bottle of water.

Sitting beside him, I did my best to get him talking. My first question was why he was punishing himself by walking with no shoes. His answer was simple.

‘So I can feel the ground.’

‘Can I ask, why Canterbury?’

‘It is the best place to make my confession.’

He didn’t seem to mind talking to me, but somehow I didn’t feel like pushing my luck. We slept beneath the tree. The ground was hard, my thoughts tearing around my head like a speeding bullet. Which made me wonder, had Albert killed someone?

Somehow, I didn’t think so. The night felt longer than any night I had tried to sleep through. Albert seemed quite comfortable propped up against the tree. When the sun came up, I couldn’t move. My back felt as though I had lain on rocks. Not smooth boulders either, jagged rocks. Albert was nowhere in sight. Again, I wasn’t worried. There was a Poppins in town and I decided on breakfast. Thinking about how fast Albert walked, I could cheat and jump on a bus to the next town, which was Barham.

A stranger told me he had been seen heading for the North Downs. I finally caught up with him at Aylesham, where again he had been fed. As if he were a monk with an invisible begging bowl. He seemed to be walking in whatever direction took his fancy. Asking how he felt, led me to my next question.

‘What are you punishing yourself for?’

He looked at me for a while and I wondered if I had gone too far. It was personal after all.

‘I will tell you my story, maybe then we can travel in peace. I am a simple man, an accountant. I live alone. I visit my parents to see they are all right. On one of those visits, my mother had left out an old photo album, which I flicked through. A letter slipped out, which I read. The words told me that I was one-half of a twin. Unfortunately, I had absorbed the other being while I was waiting to be born. At first, it didn’t bother me too much. A shock, yes. A year or so later, I found I couldn’t stop thinking about the life I had taken. My life fell apart, so here I am…’

Words failed me. This man was torturing himself for something he had no control over. I tried to explain this, but it did no good.

He said, ‘I took a life…’

The nearer we came to Canterbury, I watched the glow around Albert fading. A shadow now hung over him. I figured one more day and we would hit Canterbury high street. It was years since I had been there.

That last night, we slept under the shadow of the Cathedral. My bag stuffed with dirty clothes became my pillow. I wondered if a priest would be available to take Albert’s confession at such short notice. Undeterred, Albert walked through the open doors. Visitors stopped to watch as he passed. I didn’t know where the confessional boxes were located. By now, I looked every bit as dishevelled as Albert. I noticed a young priest walking towards us, he had kind blue eyes and asked if he could help.

Albert spoke, in that beautiful voice, which I swear, hypnotised the young priest. ‘I need to make confession and my companion, who has walked with me, could do with a blessing.’

The priest, who by now had said his name was Father Thomas, escorted us to a small room, where he asked Albert to sit down. ‘I am sure Father Michael will take your confession after I have seen to your feet.’

Albert made no objection. His feet were placed in a warm bowl of water. A hot cup of tea was placed on both of our hands. By now, I noticed the shadow beside Albert had grown, almost as though someone stood beside him.

Albert refused the soft shoes offered to him.

‘I will take you to Father Michael now,’ the young priest said, telling me to wait there for Albert. I said I would rather wait outside with the rest of the visitors.

An hour passed before I saw Albert again with Father Thomas. The shadow no longer walked beside him, the glow had returned.

Father Thomas told me that Albert would be staying with them for a while.

‘You may talk in the small room, for Albert has something to tell you.’

No thought of what that might be crossed my mind. The door shut behind us and the room felt smaller than before. I looked at Alberts’ feet, clean for the first time since I met him.

‘I want to thank you for walking with me. You can tell my story as your own, about a man you met along the way.’

Albert left me alone in the room. I sat awhile before managing to move.

I wrote the story for Albert and the many people who might feel guilt that doesn’t truly belong to them. The title was simple, Albert. My dedication inside read, Thank you for the Journey

AAAAA

Our Review of House Without Windows by Stevie Turner #RomanticSuspense @StevieTurner6

 

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Dr Beth Nichols thinks she has been held captive by Edwin Evans for about 8 or 9 years now. Amidst her grief she often looks back and thinks about her fiancé Liam. She lies awake at night staring at the one light bulb that is never switched off, and prays that Liam is still out there somewhere searching for her.

 

 

 

Our Review

This is an incredibly sad yet powerful, well written story.

One that will shred your nerves and try repeatedly to break your heart.

Most of us couldn’t begin to imagine what happens to Beth, or how she  manages to cope with it all and remain sane.

I don’t think I would have, for simply reading this story has left scars on my emotions. You keep telling yourself it is fiction and didn’t really happen, but we know only too well that it does. This story is probably far too close to the truth than is comfortable. The characters and their suffering are devastatingly real, made all the more so because we know situations like this have happened to people just like Beth and her daughter.

This story reminds us that this world can be cruel and disturbing, but that we can somehow survive and rise above the despair, if we can keep love in our hearts…


 

Biography

Stevie Turner is a British author of suspense, women’s fiction family dramas, and darkly humorous novels. She has also branched out into the world of audio books, screenplays, and translations. Most of her novels are now available as audio books, and ‘A House Without Windows’ gained the attention of a New York media production company in December 2017. Some of Stevie’s books have been translated into German, Spanish, and Italian.

Stevie can be contacted at the following email address: stevie@stevie-turner-author.co.uk
You can find her blog at the following link: http://www.steviet3.wordpress.com
You can sign up to her newsletter here: https://www.facebook.com/StevieTurnerAuthor/app/100265896690345/

 

#Blog Battle: Heart #Fiction

 

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Stone

Mama read me this story when I was no bigger than a bean sprout. About a dragon who believed his heart was turning to stone.

It all happened a long time ago before he learned how to control his flame throwing abilities.

He burnt a village to the ground sp one of the village elders put a curse on the dragon, saying that within a year his heart would turn to stone.

A village girl felt sorry for the young dragon, telling herself that one day she would bring the dragon, who she named Blue, a new heart.

She searched high and low across lands that she had never been to before with no luck. Telling herself it was a stupid idea, she made her way home.

Tired and hungry, she sat down beside a slow running brook. That is where Mary from a nearby village found her. Mary had brought her washing basket and lunch and could see that the child was clearly upset and possibly hungry.

Gently she spoke, ‘Come now, nothing can be that bad…’

Alice told her story.

‘Your blue dragon sounds very beautiful. Dry your tears, you are making your sandwich wet. There is something you can do for your young dragon. Find him a safe place to live, are there any caves where you come from? Dragons love caves.’

Alice nodded her head. ‘I can find one near the top of the ridge. There is fresh water there too.’

‘Good,’ said Mary. ‘Do you think you are brave enough to try talking to your dragon, seeing as how he is a young’un, he will need help finding food. If you can do this, it seems to me the only thing he needs is your friendly heart to break the spell…’

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#Tuesday Book Blog: Secrets by A.Dawes #LiteraryFiction

 

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SOME SECRETS WILL KILL YOU…
and some are about someone who is already dead.
A mother must find the truth before the secrets destroy her family…

Excerpt

Maggie heaped three spoonsful of brown sugar into the frothy coffee, and Scott gave a gentle tut-tut as she watched it slowly slip through the bubbles.

Watching her stir the coffee for longer than was necessary, he asked, ‘Shall I fire questions at you or will you volunteer your troubles to old Scottie?’

The softening of his name was only for those he considered his true friends and he listened without interruption while she told him all about the nightmares, the mess in the kitchen, Danny’s destructiveness, burying Jack’s stuff in the garden and all the things that Danny attributed to his imaginary friend, Toby.

Scott pondered awhile, and then said, ‘You of all people shouldn’t think it so strange, where would you be without imagination, Maggie?  Pulling groceries on a check-out? Not that it’s a disgrace; someone has to do it… Danny is developing his mind, maybe he’ll be a great artist like his beautiful mother, or  write the books Jack couldn’t… then he’ll need all the power of his inner mind, much the way you do.’

She looked deep into her empty coffee cup as if it were a crystal ball. ‘Maybe I could believe all that if he were happy, Scott, but he’s not. He’s so moody and goes days without saying a word to anyone.’

She related Cathy’s story about hearing a dog in the car, and Scott looked puzzled.

‘From what you’ve told me about her, I’d say she’s prone to flights of fancy and you shouldn’t take any of it too seriously. It could have been anything, like that wretched noise when you speed past those wooden poles along the road. Maybe there was something stuck to the wheel of her car. Noises you would normally recognise have a way of sounding strange when you’re cooped up inside a tin-can on wheels.’

She didn’t believe Scott’s explanation, but it was enough to put a little doubt in her mind, she realised that she hadn’t thought the situation through as thoroughly as she might.

She didn’t tell him about the bite-marks and scratches that appeared on Danny during the nightmares until last. It wasn’t really all that bad, not enough to draw blood but marks none the less.

‘Could he have done it himself?’ asked Scott.

‘Yes, but he denied it.’

‘Someone at school, a fight? Boys get into them all the time.’

‘I don’t think so. Danny told the doctor that this Toby did it. When we asked him why he hadn’t said anything to us, he just shrugged his shoulders and clammed up. We’ve been advised not to push him too hard.’

Scott could see how worried she was, but he couldn’t really think of anything to allay her fears, real or imagined. It was high time to lighten the mood. Catching Kelly’s eye, he ordered two more coffees with hand gestures.

‘God knows what you’ve been letting your mind get up to, Maggie darling, but as far as I can tell, there are only two explanations. He either did it himself or he got into a fight and didn’t know how to tell you. There are times, darling when a young man can’t run to his mama. Losing a fight would be worse than telling you he had been in one in the first place…

‘Maybe that’s all he’s hiding from you, and as for the rest of it, it’s plain old-fashioned mischief born out of the sheer frustration of keeping things locked inside…’

~~~~~

 

Secrets

Danny’s secret goes back in time

How is this known to a child of nine?

No one believes him when he speaks

Of buried treasure the earth still keeps.

Yet stranger words are said in sleep.

His mother hears his sleeping moans

Afraid now, how can he know

Of secrets buried so long ago?

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#Wordle 377 #Challenge

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Wordle 377

 

The Rosebud

A hollow trunk lay beneath the snow-laden trees, a place where I had hidden many times since I was a child. My brothers never found me there.

I would often become sleepy, waiting for a sign they had gone home out of the cold, leaving a line of footprints I could follow.

I do not remember what woke me, a sound, birdsong, something.

Following the fading footsteps, I heard a sound. A distant chime.

Church bells.

But there is no church here. With fine snow continuing to fall, I knew I was lost. I let the song of a robin lead me on, for they know where food can be found. Soon I could see lights, the outline of a house. Smoke drifted, someone must be home.

As I drew nearer, the burnt house still smouldered.

We play here most days and I knew the forest well. My brothers, older than I would have told me about it. How could they not know we had forest dwellers this close to town?

I could hear our church bells ringing for evening mass. Why hadn’t anyone come looking for me?

I knew my way home from here and would give them what for when I saw them. Brothers indeed! They were supposed to look after me.

Finally, I made it home and opened the front door. I could smell lunch cooking and hear my brothers laughing. Making my way to the kitchen I could see they were helping mum to lay the table.

“You are just in time, sweet pea,” mum said. Turning to face me, she reminded me to get out of my damp clothes.

 

It was still light outside. I realised I could not have heard our church bells. I couldn’t have been dreaming either, for I had the rosebud I found in the burnt out house. I handed it to mum and was taken aback by the strange look on her face. The smile, the way her eyes lit with memory as she placed it in a small vase. “Get on with you now, lunch is on the table. “ I had the feeling mum knew about the house.

Over lunch, she cleverly avoided each question I asked.

The next day I asked the vicar, as he knew more than the local library. He told me there had never been a house that near to the forest edge or this close to town.

His answer made me feel strange. Where had the rosebud come from?

Someone had put it in the broken vase that lay in the ash, in a house I am told doesn’t exist. I vowed to take another look for myself.

 

Snow crunched beneath my feet as I left the church.

I wanted to find something to prove the house was there. I found the spot easily, remembering the oak tree with the initials L S carved into it. Touching the letters I realised they could be my mother’s name, Lilian Small.

Searching through the junk on the ground, the only thing I found was a tiny piece of the vase with a blue flower painted on it. But no ash, no house, no sign that anyone had ever lived there.

I could not shake the feeling that my mother knew something, but I would never be able to prise it out of her.

I left the broken piece of vase beside the rosebud on our kitchen windowsill, hoping that when mother found it she would say something.

 

That afternoon, I watched as she held it, turning it gently in her hands and as I left the room, I saw my mother brush a tear from her cheek.

I knew I would never be able to ask her about the house or the rosebud I found there.

There is one thing I knew for sure, I was not dreaming…

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Would You Read This Book? #TuesdayBookBlog #Fiction #FamilyHorror

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Bad Moon was the first book I ever wrote and came about I think because I am slightly obsessed with the way the people in West Virginia talk.

Some people call them Hillbilly’s and years ago, there was a very funny television programme called The Beverly Hillbillies. Maybe that was where it started, I don’t know.

I love the place too; it seems so wild and untamed. So much, I sometimes wonder if my father came from there and I have inherited something. I have it on good authority (from my mother) that he was an American.

So when this very distinctive voice began to speak in my head, all about her life and family, in no time at all I was completely hooked. Annie’s story is nothing like “The Walton’s”, no happy family in the usual sense of the word. They do seem to care for each other, but most of the time what they get up to is pretty hard to live with, a conclusion that the girl in my head had already arrived at.

The more she tries to change things, to make them better, the worse they seem to get. Horrible secrets are revealed and bad things keep happening, but this only seems to make her more determined than ever to leave all the pain and sorrow behind.

The trouble with writing such an unusual book is that most publishers won’t touch it with a barge pole. When I first wrote it, I tried very hard to get it published by the mainstream publishing industry. Most of them loved it, saying it was ‘powerfully written’.

It very nearly made it, but, and it was a big but, they discovered to their horror that they didn’t know how to market it, and one by one they gave up on it.

I think it is a great story. It has everything, plenty of drama, horrifying storylines, love and passion, all wrapped up in a young girls rapidly growing sense of right and wrong.

Still trying to find people who will read it, and dare I say it, review it. It needs to succeed, if only because the next book Simple is based in West Virginia too and about a similar family group.

In some ways, Simple is worse, as it concerns family bullying and the abuse of a mentally challenged family member.

I’m sure that if more people were aware of these books, they would receive more acclaim, but I fear my marketing attempts are inadequate at best.

I’m still in there, swinging… so who knows?

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Amazon Review

OlgaNM
Bad Moon is narrated in the first person by Annie, a young girl who lives happily with her family: mother (Ruby), father (Jed), and older brother (Nathan). She adores her father, although her mother’s behaviour is far from exemplary (she regularly invites other men to her home and that results in incidents with her husband, who takes it out on the men and seem remarkably tolerant of his wife’s behaviour). At first, Annie is worried that she might end up becoming a woman like her mother when she grows up and thinks it is all due to her mother’s family (her father says that her mother was born under a ‘bad moon’ and she comes from ‘the Hills’ where people seem to have their own morality and rules of behaviour). The inhabitants of the Hills seem to be a directly related to those of The Hills Have Eyes or the banjo players in Deliverance. What Annie doesn’t know is that things are worse than she ever could imagine. She has lived all her life in a world of lies and secrets. She is convinced she must learn the truth to avoid history repeating itself and is prepared to go to any lengths to achieve that. The costs are high indeed.
Annie does not have much formal schooling (she decides to leave school when she realises things aren’t as they should) but she is extremely articulate, and some of the descriptions of the landscape surrounding her home, of her experiences and dreams, her mystical feelings on visiting the caves previously inhabited by a Native-American tribe, and her reflections are beautiful and lyrical. We might disagree with some of her decisions but it is difficult not to admire her determination. She never tries to be liked or makes excuses for her own behaviour (she might blame others at times, but despite not being a believer or having much in the way of role models, she does question her actions and tries to make things better), and she is neither all good nor all bad. It’s a testimony to the skill of the author that although Annie’s head is not a pleasant place to be in, we can’t help but wish she’ll succeed and live to see another day.
With themes including incest, rape, infanticide, murder, cannibalism, paedophilia and plenty of violence, this is not a gentle novel or an easy read. There is sex and violence, although these are not graphically rendered, but anybody with a modicum of imagination will be left with many powerful images difficult to forget. The strong intuition of the main character, the roles of fate, blood and family history and the communities portrayed turn this book into a tragedy where instead of kings and gods we have as protagonists a family in the outskirts of society and outside of history. (The historical period of the story and the outside society are not described in detail and this adds to the sense of claustrophobia an entrapment.)
If Annie is a heroine, a tragic hero or an anti-hero is open to interpretation and I haven’t decided yet. I’m not sure I’d like to meet her in real life, but I know I’d like to read more about her.