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Marjorie’s Revenge

Another short story that may give you chuckle or two. Enjoy!

Marjorie’s Revenge

Under cover of darkness Marjorie Butterworth slipped out of her back door. The night was starless and the autumnal fog hung low as she scurried along the road. She pulled the hood of her hoodie further down over her face whenever she passed a lighted window, head down and hands deep in the pockets of her camouflage trousers. Mrs Butterworth was nearly seventy and not a hoodie or a camouflage type of person, she was in fact an upstanding member of the community and a member of the parish council. But she’d been pushed too far.

The recent council meeting had done it. George bloody Blair! Again! Mrs Fairweather, the butcher’s wife, had brought up the subject of dog-fouling and ways of controlling it, and Blair, the pompous old sod, had jumped in and raged on about dog owners, and why did they want dogs anyway, all they did was shit and bark, and little old ladies should have budgies if they wanted pets instead of rats on strings! The chairman had looked suitably miffed at the outburst and George had sunk back into his tweed waistcoat and wound his handlebar moustache back in.

Marjorie became more furious as she made her way through the churchyard. How dare that bastard allude to her dear little Binky, a most beautiful pekingese, as a rat on a string! George Blair needed to be taught a lesson, him and his unbending, bombastic, military attitude. He was intolerable and intolerant. He’d recently tried to stop planning permission for an extension on a cottage in the village simply because the owners were gay, and now refused to buy his papers from the village shop because the new owners were Indian. The man was a dinosaur.

Marjorie hurried down Brook Lane, George Blair’s house was at the very end, a lovely old Cotswold stone building with wonderful views of open farmland – except he’d only be able to see them from upstairs. The back garden was surrounded by high walls, with ivy trailing over the top. If Marjorie’s plan was to succeed she had to get into that garden. Her cunning plan was to raid George’s pumpkin patch. The old blighter had done nothing but brag about the pumpkin he’d grown for the Harvest Festival Pumpkin Competition and at every parish council meeting his pumpkin got bigger, and was now apparently a pumpkin of Olympic proportions. Marjorie was going to prick his balloon. By way of nabbing his pumpkin.

Blair’s side gate creaked hideously. Marjorie held her breath. The mist swirled around her. After a minute she continued on tiptoeing up the path to the tall arched doorway that opened into the back garden. At least she needn’t worry about a dog hearing her. The big old wrought iron handle on the door was well-oiled and turned easily. She pulled the heavy door open and slipped inside, quickly taking in the perfectly mowed lawn, edged with flowerbeds, and at the far end of the garden she could make out a good sized potting shed. Keeping to the edge of the lawn and ducking under various small trees she hurried down to the shed and dodged behind it. To her delight she found she was standing in the vegetable garden right next to the old git’s pumpkin patch!

Best check all was clear before she got to work. She peered round the shed. A downstairs light had come on. Not a worry. Probably having one of his hideously expensive whiskies he was always bragging about. ‘Give me a pint of Guinness any day,’ she muttered. Marjorie dug in her pockets for her little penlight torch. The small beam quickly picked out an enormous orange blob in the middle of the patch. ‘Good lord!’ she muttered when she stood beside it and took in the size, ‘The mother of all pumpkins!’ Blair hadn’t been exaggerating after all. It wasn’t going to be easy getting this monster home, in fact it was going to be nigh on impossible without a wheelbarrow, and she only had a sack. There was no way she could carry it. But she could still ruin his day. In a few minutes she was getting down and dirty beside the pumpkin with her penknife, carving out an enormous wedge. The moon slipped out from behind a cloud as she manhandled the pumpkin piece into her sack, stood up, and slung it over her shoulder. She was just going to set off when she thought she heard a cough. She froze. Had she imagined it? Cautiously she crept back to the side of the shed and peered at the house. Across the lawn the patio doors were open and the downstairs light was still on. But no sign of anyone. She decided to get out now. Leg it!

Marjorie pulled her hoodie well down over her face and taking a firm grip on her sack she launched herself from behind the shed.

She collided heavily with a tall blonde woman coming from the opposite direction.

‘Aagh!’ they both yelled.

Marjorie, who had lost her balance, and ended up on her ample backside, peered up from under her hood at the blonde in the moonlight. She didn’t get it. Blair had never talked of a wife or girlfriend. The dirty old sod had kept this quiet! The blonde was looking equally shocked. Marjorie noticed she was wearing a bright pink ballroom dancing dress and silver high heels. Her gaze travelled up to the woman’s face – a dreadful make-up job from what she could see between the strands of long blonde hair. Two puddles of black mascara and … a handlebar moustache!

‘George?’ gasped Marjorie in amazement.

George Blair grabbed at a set of earphones which snagged in the blonde hair and whipped the wig off with them. Marjorie caught a few brief strains of James Last’s ‘Somewhere My Love‘.

‘Please Marjorie, I’m begging you!’ George’s voice was stricken with panic.

Marjorie got up, smiling. ‘Dancing round the garden in drag to James Last George. What will the neighbours think?’

‘Please! … Marjorie! … I’ll do anything!’

‘I’m sure you will George. From now on I’m sure you will!’

Marjorie picked up the sack and slung it over her shoulder, the pumpkin would make a nice bunch of pies for the Harvest Festival.

Weekly Wednesday Winspiration… a small idea with big dreams. Re-blogged from Jack Probyn!

I’m re-blogging Jack’s post to see if any of you writers/authors or other sorts of bloggers would like to join in his Wednesday Winspiration. All the more the merrier!

An exciting concept…WeeklyWednesday Winspiration

Bloggers, writers, authors, listeners, readers, viewers, lovers… everyone!

Today – well, just now actually – I had a random spur of inspiration. Or rather, as the image above would suggest, I had a random spur of winspiration. If you haven’t worked it out, it’s a little “win” that has happened to me and has given me inspiration to carry on writing and working hard to become an author.

Winspiration – quite catchy, don’t you think?

Then a concept appeared to me. I thought (and this is pretty much word-for-word), ‘It’s a wednesday… I’m feeling inspired – wait, I’m feeling winspired. That’s alliteration! Why not have Wednesday Winspiration. No, even better! Weekly Wednesday Winspiration!

And so, an idea was formed.

What is that idea? You ask.

Well, virtual reader, writer, blogger and listener, the idea of Weekly Wednesday Winspiration is to give anyone and everyone…

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Guest Post: Author Jack Probyn

Hello fellow authors and writers! I’ve wanted to start doing some guest posts for a while and Jack Probyn from over at https://jackprobynbooks.com has kindly volunteered to be my guinea-pig. (Thank you Jack!). He’s agreed to an interview by way of some serious, and some fun questions (below). Jack has completed a thriller manuscript, and is currently working on the completion of a fantasy novel. He also has a blog with some great content – ideas, thoughts, information, and quirky short stories. A recent short story with a scary twist at the end was ‘Short Story: Bad Pooch’ https://jackprobynbooks.com/2017/05/18/bad-pooch/

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Jack has been an excellent first guest! Here are his questions and answers …

1. What is the working title of your next book?

The next book, or rather my first that I plan to publish before my fantasy novel, is going to be called The Next Destination. It’s a thriller novel set in London, with a detective as the protagonist who is thrown into a deadly situation regarding terrorists and a mode of public transportation… I do not want to disclose too much at this stage!

2. Where did the idea for your book come from?

As cliché as it may sound, the inspiration came to me while I was on my commute to my placement job. Hence, probably why trains feature so heavily in it. I just thought “what if…” and then it came to me.

3. Do you have cover-art planned, and will you do it yourself or hire an artist?

I do not have cover-art planned at this moment. As much as I like to think I’m creative, I somewhat lack the artistic capabilities to do anything as important as create a book cover, despite having worked with graphic designers at my job. However, I feel it best to leave it up to the professionals. After all, they’d ask us to write a novel for them rather than do it themselves (I hope!).

4. What, for you, is the single most important quality in a novel; what must an author do to win you over?

I think that the most important quality in a novel is that it needs to have a gripping plot, something that’s going to excite me all the way through, leave me guessing, making me want to read more. It’s like going to the cinema, in a way. I will watch a film because I think it looks good, not because of how well it is done, because at a first glance all we get is the trailer (or in the case of a novel, the blurb). Only after we’ve begun watching – and reading – do we appreciate the talent and skill that has gone into it.

5. Your three favourite books?

My three favourite books are probably The Shining, by Stephen King (I was – and still am – a massive fan); 1984, by George Orwell (difficult choice between that or Animal Farm); and A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess. The reasons for them being that I read The Shining when I was younger, after having been repeatedly told not to by parents because it was “too scary”, and I loved the complexity of the plot and the way it was written. It was the first proper, full length book I had read, and I loved it. The reasons why 1984 is one of my favourites, is because the political undertones fascinated me. To think, that he was able to get away with saying such things! And also, how pertinent the themes in that novel are nowadays is crazy. Finally, my reason for choosing A Clockwork Orange is because I enjoyed the plot, but not only this, the way it was written and the language that Burgess created intrigued me. I believe it could be an influence on why I enjoy “world-building” so much! As you can see, all of my favourite books have nothing to do with which genres I want to write in – but I think that’s okay, because I do not think it necessary to limit myself to only liking certain books from the fantasy and thriller genres. Reading is about having a particular favourite genre(s), but it’s also about enjoying a broad range of genres, too.

6. What strengths of character do you particularly admire?

I quite like writing about strong willed women, who are quite intimidating. I’m not too sure why, but both have appeared in my thriller and fantasy manuscript. I also enjoy an underdog, a shy boy/girl who is quite reserved and underestimated – they always come out on top!

7. Which author, dead or alive, would you love to have lunch with?

This is a tough one. Very tough, indeed. I think it would have to be Tolkien. Just to simply get inside his head for a few hours, see what’s really going on in there – how he came up with The Lord of the Rings and the legacy it has created.

8. What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Quirky. Sarcastic. Pedantic.

9. You’re writing a fantasy novel, do you plan to try the traditional publishing route, or go straight to Indie?

I have thought about this for quite some time now, and have weighed up both options. But personally, I think I will go down the self-publishing route, because I believe in the long run it is more beneficial for me as an author. I mean, it is essentially creating a brand for yourself, on your own, without the help of a publishing house to do that for you – what can be more rewarding than that?

10. Do you have any significant scars?

Perhaps significant isn’t the right word. Stupid, yes. Significant, no. On my arm I have a small scar where I “chicken scratched” it. For those of whom that don’t know, a chicken scratch is where you furiously scratch at your skin until it bleeds and creates a scar. Stupid, I know. But I was young, and didn’t know what I was doing. Other than, I’m pretty scar-free. *Touches wood*.

11. If reincarnation exists what do you want to come back as?

A Killer Whale. Hands down. They’re the predators of the sea, and they’re beautiful, majestic animals. Often-times I would only watch a documentary on the sea if a Killer Whale features in it, otherwise they’re just not worth watching. The way they work in teams and come up with creative ways to catch their prey is just ingenious. Usually, I’m sat there, face glued to the screen watching a Killer Whale scene in a documentary while my girlfriend can’t bear to look because of the poor seal/penguin/prey gets killed.

12. If you could have one magical power what would it be?

Another interesting one. I don’t want something mainstream like flying, or invisibility. While they would be cool, they wouldn’t serve much of a purpose. Neither would immortality, because no one wants to outlive the earth and everyone else on the planet. My magical power would have to be something to do with time or the brain. The ability to control others’ thoughts… possibly, but no. The ability to move things with my mind… also interesting, but still no. I think the power to alter time, pause it, stop it, reverse it, fast forward it – everything would be fun. All I’d need is a pen and paper so I can write some brilliant novel ideas down from all of the amazing things I’ve seen.

13. A famous lady you’d be happy to get stuck in a lift with?

Emma Watson. She was great in Harry Potter.

14. At the fairground – Roller coaster or galloping horses carousel?

Roller coasters, every day of the week. Until I feel nauseous, of course, and then I have to come off. But I have been to many theme parks in my life and I love the adrenaline. Every boy’s dream: going fast, something dangerous, and having no fear of your own safety!

A Note From Jack – Thanks for reading!

 

Going Live!

I can’t quite believe it’s happened. But it has. On Friday I received my proof copy of The Mouse and the Microlight from CreateSpace. It arrived earlier than expected, my hubby brought it up from the post box and put it on the kitchen table. My heart gave a little start when I saw it and realised what it was. ‘Aren’t you going to open it?’ says he. ‘Yes,’ says me staring at the package nervously, ‘But I have to make a cup of tea first.’ Of course it was a delaying tactic. I was so nervous at what the book would look like. Would I like it? Would it be good enough? I almost dreaded opening it. Anyway, I did make the tea and then forced myself to do it. I opened the package.

It felt so strange holding my book, all my hours of work and this was it at last in paper form. The cover looked great, excellent colours. I carefully turned pages. The paper felt good, good quality and the pictures stood out well. My only criticism was that one or two of the pictures set in dark situations were a little too dark, but my hubby didn’t think so. I started to feel quite thrilled and very pleased with the result, and so I completed the final part of the process with CreateSpace and pressed the Approve button.

It takes three to five working days to appear on Amazon, but now today I see it’s already there!

I took a few pictures …

On Amazon here

It’s hard to believe it’s actually happened, and I’m so pleased with the result.  I’m waiting for the proof of The Stowaways now, due to arrive mid May. Onward and upward!

Ferns made me think of ideas!

Have you ever walked in the woods in spring and noticed the ferns? They’re coiled, so tight that their new offspring leaves look like tiny fists.

Little hands gripping secrets.

And then, slowly, warmed by the sun they gradually, oh so gradually, unfurl.

The tight little fists of the ferns unfurl into leaves.

Until the creation is complete.

Just as our minds unfurl their ideas into creations and some of us create books!

One Down Three to Go!

I’m excited. After many weeks of labouring and puzzling over document set-up for printing in book form – all new word-processing stuff for me – I was ready to send (electronically) my manuscript and book cover for The Mouse and the Microlight to Createspace. They check it and make sure all requirements are correct and let you know within twenty-four hours. I heaved a huge sigh when mine was accepted.

I had a choice as to whether to proof read it online, or order a proof copy, or both. I did both. Proof reading online with Createspace’s reader really only showed me what it will look like as a book, you turn the pages as with a book, and because there were at least three illustrations per chapter I was keen to see how the layout looked. But I also wanted a hard-copy proof to see what the book actually feels like. And of course to put on my bookshelf!

The downside is that the proof comes from the U.S and takes a month to get here! It would seem everything gets faster in life except the mail service! An image immediately formed in my mind of an overworked, corpulent carrier pigeon with no GPS.

When the proof arrives, and if I’m happy with it, then I press the big red button and tell Createspace it can go live. This should happen about May 2nd. It will then be available on Amazon. In the meantime I’ve started the same process for The Stowaways, the sequel to The Mouse and the Microlight. I must say it’s a darned sight easier the second time around – although I still had a problem with page-numbering in LibreOffice! Next in line will be A Red Waterproof Jacket, my own story about following a dream, and lastly The Sleighriders.

If you have the time and the patience self-publishing your own book is a hugely rewarding journey!

Two Days Page Numbering – Arrgh!

For the last week to ten days I’ve been focused on getting The Mouse and the Microlight set up for self-publishing in paperback with Createspace. I thought I was doing really well, and had got as far as the cover design which actually wasn’t that difficult. I decided to use the same design as I used for the e-book. The main difference with a paperback is that you also have to create the back cover and the spine – and do it all in one go on a template. I was really pleased at how well it worked and sat back in my chair feeling a sense of relief that I was now nearly at the end of the journey.

There was just one more thing to do, put the page numbers in the manuscript. Surely this wouldn’t take a minute? It took two days and my hubby nearly divorced me! To start with I needed to number the pages as in a book, so they need to be alternating for left and right pages. That took a day to figure out! I’ve only ever made minimal use of a word processor so new things take far longer than expected, and sometimes I don’t even understand the terminology. It really was a hair tearing out process. But I did it! Great! Ah … but hang on, I’ve suddenly realised that I don’t want page numbers on the introductory pages, I want numbers to start at chapter one. Back to the drawing board. It took another whole day and most of the evening going around in ever decreasing circles before, having lost even more hair, I managed  it. Talk about a sigh of relief.

I have learned something through all this – patience! I like things to work, and work now, and getting annoyed and and frustrated doesn’t help at all. It was a case of trying things over and over again between constant searches on LibreOffice sites on Google. Around and around and around I went like someone lost in a maze, often ending up right back where I started, utterly brain-fogged and despondent. But I did get there, and the book is finally prepared and ready to upload to Createspace.  I may do it today!

In the meantime I decided I’d like my own logo to go on all my books, and after much doodling I ended up with this …

I’ve always doodled mice, and two of my books are about Mouse Formidable, plus there’s a mouse who plays an important part in The Sleighriders. So a mouse it had to be.