Tag Archives: writing

I Sold Some More Books!

I was so pleased last week when I had emails pop up to say I had sold some more books, both in the EU and the UK! A Red Waterproof Jacket and The Mouse and the Microlight. The greatest fun is always the writing, the hardest part for me is promotion, and the icing on the cake is when I see I’ve sold some. It’s kind of a proud moment every time.

At the end of November I’ll be publishing The Sleighriders in paperback, it’s a full length fantasy novel with a Christmas theme.

While I’m here, a big thank you to everyone who has kindly followed my blog, bought my books, and left likes and comments on my posts, it’s really appreciated!

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A Dozen Red Roses (a short story)

June 8th 1990

The flower shop smelled beautiful. Emmy inhaled the glorious scent of freesias, her mother’s favourites, but she wasn’t shopping for her mum. She found what she was looking for in a tall glass vase near the till.

‘Can I help?’ A slim, dark-haired young lady appeared from the back room, carrying a small bucket of pink and white carnations.

‘Yes please,’ said Emmy, I’d like some red roses … a dozen.’

The assistant put the carnations down next to a pot of tulips and came around to the desk. She dug out an order pad and picked up her pen. Emmy gave her the details and the message to go on the card, then she paid in cash.

‘Must be a special someone,’ said the assistant gently, picking up on a certain sadness around her customer. She had learned to read people well. Flowers so often spoke of emotional occasions in her business – happiness and sadness – weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, funerals.

‘Yes, very special’ said Emmy softly.

The assistant handed her her change and her receipt.

‘Thanks,’ said Emmy. Then she walked out of the shop and back to her car. She carefully folded her copy of the receipt and pushed it deep into a corner of her purse, biting her lip, willing the tears not to start.

2010 – Twenty Years Later

Dennis Hitchcock plonked a shoe box on the kitchen table and eased himself into a chair with a loud belch and a groan. He was getting old. Rampant indigestion when he over-ate, even though he’d cut down, and bloody arthritis. Every bit of him ached and it seemed ten times worse in the cold weather. Maybe he should hike the thermometer up a couple of degrees. Not that he couldn’t afford it. But there again he could always put on an extra pullover and save a few quid.

He pulled the box to him and took the top off. Stuff. Bits and pieces belonging to his wife, killed in a car accident over twenty years ago. He had let go of all her things the same year as the accident, cleaned everything out he thought, but now one of the kids had found this box in an old suitcase in the loft. He picked up the card on the top, a birthday card from her sister Lucy. Emmy had been close to Lucy. She’d been closer to Lucy than she’d been to him he thought with a pang of resentment. In fact the longer their marriage had gone on the wider the gap had become. The pang of resentment grew into a tight acidic ball in his stomach. Hadn’t he allowed her to have her interests? Allowed her to take a job? Let her take up art classes? She should have been grateful. And yes she had been a dutiful wife, a good cook and gardener, and had kept the house spotless. But the physical side and any speck of affection had died a death within a few years of their marriage. He had chewed and obsessed about it for years but could never understand what he’d done wrong.

Dennis sorted through the stuff; Christmas cards, birthday cards, letters from a pen-friend in America, a key-ring, a pair of brown leather gloves he’d given her which still looked brand-new. She’d never worn them. He sat back, stroking the gloves and thinking. He never could get it right. Never got her gifts she was genuinely pleased with. Oh yes, she made the right noises, but in a subtle way let him know he’d got it wrong, again. He threw the gloves in the pile he’d made to be binned, which so far was everything.

The last item in the box was an old red writing case which she’d used for years, he vaguely remembered it had originally belonged to her mother. He unzipped it. There was still a pen in the holder and the remains of a Basildon Bond writing pad, even a couple of old stamps. Too bad they were too old to make use of. There was a letter from an Aunt under one of the flaps and a photo of her mother’s little dog – that snappy little dachshund that had never liked him. He shoved his fingers under the flap on the other side and felt around. Some thin paper … maybe a couple of old pound notes! He pulled it out. Not money, just folded paper. He was about to bin it, then at the last moment he opened it up. It was a receipt from a flower shop in Birchford dated June 8th 1990.

Twelve long-stemmed red roses. £42.00.

Message:

‘A piece of my heart goes with you’

Dennis stared at it, puzzled. There was nothing to say whom or where the flowers were to go to. He turned the paper over and then back again, and stared at the message. Then there was a knock at the door.

‘Come in!’ he shouted.

The door opened and a tall, fit looking man, a few years younger than Dennis stepped in.

‘Ah Leo! How nice to see you,’ said Dennis, ‘Cup of tea?’

Leo pulled out a chair and sat down at the table. He looked at the pile of papers and cards, then grinned at Dennis. ‘You look busy, how are you keeping anyway?’

‘Lousy,’ said Dennis, ‘Aching all over, knees, shoulders, everything.’

No change there then thought Leo.

‘I’m just cleaning out an old box of Emmy’s stuff that one of the kids found in the loft,’ said Dennis hauling himself out of his chair and heading for the kettle. He filled it up and put it on, then he grabbed an old shopping bag ready to shove the rubbish in.

‘I’ve just found something a bit weird,’ he said pointing to the receipt on the table. Have a look at that.’

Leo picked up the receipt and stared at it, after a few seconds he cleared his throat. ‘It’s a receipt,’ he said casually, shrugging his shoulders.

‘Yes, but a dozen red roses … and why was it in Emmy’s writing case?’

Leo scratched his head. ‘It’s dated over twenty years ago.’

Dennis put two mugs of tea on the table and flopped back into his chair. ‘But who were they sent to, and who sent them? And look at that message!’

‘I’m sure there’s a logical explanation,’ said Leo staring hard at the receipt. ‘What are you thinking?’

‘I’m thinking what if she was having an affair.’

‘Surely not,’ said Leo, rubbing casually at the back of his neck, ‘I remember you two always being so happy.’

‘Never judge a book by its cover,’ grunted Dennis. ‘She was distant as hell for the last five years or so before she died. I never could figure out why.’

Leo sat up suddenly and tapped the receipt. ‘Wasn’t that around about the time Emmy’s father died?’

Dennis sat back and sipped his tea. Leo was right. And there had been red roses on the coffin. He felt a shiver of relief go through him. ‘You’re right,’ he said, ‘You’ve got a good memory. And she was devastated at losing her father, awkward old sod that he was. Thanks Leo, I’d completely forgotten that.’

A while later after they had put the world to rights Leo finished his tea and got up. ‘Well, I must be getting on, Maggie will wonder where I’ve got to,’ he said, ‘Shall I put this lot in the bin for you on the way out?’

‘Thank you kindly,’ said Dennis, ‘Good idea.’

Leo shoved the contents of the shoe box into the bag.

‘Stop in any time for tea,’ said Dennis, ‘I always enjoy company.’

Leo dropped the bag in Dennis’ recycling bin and made his way back to his car further down the road. car. He got in and sat for a few minutes then opened his hand and stared at the receipt. He unfolded it and the message hit him again like a hammer. ‘A piece of my heart goes with you.My darling Emmy,’ he whispered.

Dennis sat at the table sipping the remains of his tea and eating a biscuit. A chocolate Hob-Nob. He’d kept them in the cupboard while Leo was there. Lovely chap, Leo, but Hob-Nobs were expensive. Leo had been a good friend all those years ago before he moved to Australia. He’d been single then, then met and married Maggie while he was out there. Nice that he’d moved back and took the time to drop in for a chat. When did he move out there anyway? He couldn’t remember. For some reason it bugged him. Bugged him enough to dig out his old diaries. He had kept careful records of everything going back donkeys’ years: events, family, friends, the price of diesel, purchase of cars, weddings, funerals, birthdays, money lent, money repaid, the list was endless. An hour later after much careful searching he found a note he’d made in his diary … on June 8th 1990. How strange. It read: Leaving party for Leo at the Red Lion. Good bash. He leaves for Australia tomorrow. Emmy didn’t go, had one of her bad heads – probably due to the approach of her father’s funeral next week. Dennis put the diary down slowly with a slightly sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. ‘A piece of my heart goes with you.‘ He’d never know.He glared out of the window and wondered when Leo would come for tea again.

The Word Jug: Perfunctory

From the Jug today I poured out : Perfunctory (I like this word!)

Definition

  1. Characterised by routine or superficiality: Mechanical – a perfunctory smile.
  2. Lacking in interest or enthusiasm

Origins:

Perfunctory is a word whose origins are found entirely in Latin. It first appeared in English in the late 16th century and is derived from the Late Latin perfunctorius, meaning “done in a careless or superficial manner.”

I wonder if you ever use today’s word?

 

 

Transported (a short story)

 

He was jolted by the slamming of the cab door. A few minutes silence and then there was a massive rumble and a vibration as the engine started up. He noticed rain was hammering in from the side, freezing cold, straight under the truck.

The driver, unaware of his extra passenger clinging beneath the lorry, lit his second fag of the day and put the radio on. The weather man announced in a cheery voice that it was going to rain all day, so remember to take an umbrella. What the hell, when you’re in a nice warm cab it didn’t matter. The roads across the fens ran long and straight as a dye, and his first trip was to Birmingham, eighty miles or so, to deliver the lettuces and carrots that had been loaded late last night. The immigrant workers worked hard, he had great respect for them, bent over those fields all day. It was now five o’clock, the veg would still be fresh as a daisy when it hit the supermarket shelves. He switched the wipers on and watched them slap the water off the sodden windscreen, back and forth in big arcs, then he flipped the light switch and shoved the gear stick into first. The truck sighed and ground its way out of the yard and onto the main road.

He shouldn’t have done it. Shouldn’t have crawled in here. He was small and space was adequate, and he could easily fit underneath, but the vibration and movement of the truck made things far more dangerous than he’d realised. He stared down at the tarmac flying past below as the truck picked up speed, and hung on for grim death. He’d wanted change, he was sick to death of lettuces, and the same old routine, he wanted adventure! Now he had it, but it would be short-lived if he fell off.

An hour up the road and the weather worsened. The truck tyres picked up standing water and mud and spewed it up at the stowaway, showering him in a filthy concoction. He hung on desperately, eyeing the lethally spinning tyres just a foot away.

At 07.30 the driver pulled into a truck-stop. A full English breakfast was in order. He hopped down out of the cab and made his was into the café.

Under the truck the stowaway tried to clean the mud from his eyes, then he peered down onto the gravel and considered slipping off here while the truck was still. But then he saw it, the hedgehog. He shrank back, terrified, and gripped even more tightly to the metal. The hedgehog wandered about, snuffling, searching for breakfast, and after a while disappeared into the far hedge. He had to make a break for it. Had to do it now. Summoning all his courage he slipped out scanning around for danger, moving cautiously forwards. The door handle of the truck felt cold to his touch.

The slam of the café door signalled the sudden return of the driver who had forgotten his cigarettes. He walked over to his cab door and stared up at it, a look of disgust suddenly flashing across his face as he took in the silver trail up the door and the large spotted leopard slug on the door handle. He found a stick, balanced the slug on the end of it and twanged it over the hedge.

The stowaway flew through the air and landed with a splat in the garden next door. After a few minutes he unfurled his eyes. He was looking down a long row of lettuces.

The Word Jug

It’s about time I posted again. This is the trouble with having three blogs! Anyway I thought I’d put the Word Jug up again because I came across a rather interesting word this week. Initially I thought maybe it was some sort of medical state but I was way out.

Chthonic  (adjective)

Definition:  of or relating to the underworld: infernal

Appears to be pronounced THAH-nik

Origin & Etymology:  it comes from ‘chthōn’ which means ‘earth’ in Greek and is associated with things that dwell in or live under the earth. It is commonly used in discussions about mythology. 

Maybe it will be useful for you writers of fantasy!

A Little Poem to Keep You Going

One should post regularly on ones blog, but sometimes one has difficulty thinking of something new and original – so one digs a beetle out of ones photography archives and posts it with a poem – that one was forced into reciting on stage at primary school – which brings back memories of being scared shitless!

A little  green beetle

Flew in from the damp

And dried his wet wings

By the warmth of my lamp

He hovered a moment

Green-gold in the light

Then flew out of the window

And into the night.

 

Isn’t that sweet!

(I just wasn’t born to be on stage)

Amnesia

New Year 2015

The New Year’s party was in full swing. Queen was blasting out Bohemian Rhapsody and then someone turned the music down and turned on the TV just in time to catch Big Ben booming the first strokes of midnight. A chorus of ‘Happy New Year!’ started up around the room and the bubbly flowed even more freely. Party-poppers popped, and the party goers launched into a slightly slurred rendition of Auld Lang Syne.

It was after three when the last two guests stepped out of the farmhouse door.

‘So you lucky sods are off skiing,’ said Geoff Harding, who owned the farm across the valley from the Blakelocks, ‘Where did you say you were going?’

‘Austria, we’re driving.’ Simon Blakelock pointed over to the new silver BMW X5 with the ski-rack perched on top and two sets of skis in smart zipped carry bags. ‘Linda hates flying and we’ve got plenty of time.’

‘I can’t wait,’ said Linda, sliding an arm round her husband’s waist and grinning up at him with huge blue eyes.

‘You’re lucky to have found that one,’ said Sue Harding attempting to wave a finger in Linda’s direction as she listed slightly and grabbed Geoff’s arm for support.

‘Don’t I know it!’ laughed Simon just a smidge too heartily.

‘Who else would put up with you!’ giggled Sue.

Geoff steadied Sue as she nearly missed the next step, ‘Come on,’ he said, ‘Just because he’s been married a dozen times doesn’t mean he’s that bad.’ He let out a huge guffaw.

Simon hugged Linda too him, ‘Hey! Steady on! She’s only number four!’

‘Well you guys have a great time, we’ll see you in a couple of weeks,’ said Geoff.

‘Send us a postcard,’ burbled Sue as Geoff guided her to their car.

‘Come on darling,’ said Linda, ‘There’s a lot of cleaning up to do before we leave.

Three Weeks Later

Simon came round slowly. There were bright lights. Someone was shining a torch in his eyes. What the hell …

‘Simon?’ said a pleasant male voice, ‘Mr Blakelock?’

Simon came to a bit more. His vision cleared. The man with the pleasant voice was wearing a white coat and had a stethoscope around his neck. Then he realised he was in a hospital bed.

‘What’s happened?’ he stuttered in a panic.

‘It’s OK Simon, you’re going to be fine, you’re in hospital. My name is Doctor Zigler, and you have had a bit of an accident, a pretty bad bang on the head in fact.’

‘I … I don’t remember!’

‘That’s not entirely unusual with a head injury,’ reassured Dr Zigler.

‘But I don’t remember anything!’ said Simon.

‘Not even your name?’

‘No.’

‘Your home – where you live?’

‘Nothing.’

‘OK. Well the worst thing to do is to worry, and stress yourself, because that won’t help your recovery. I can tell you that your name is Simon Blakelock and you live at Foxburn Farm, just outside Foxton. You’re forty-six. Two days ago you were on your bicycle when you had a collision with the post van. Apparently your brakes were in bad shape and you shot out into the road from your farm drive and into the path of the van.’

‘Lordy!’ mumbled Simon. ‘So when will my memory come back?’

‘That’s impossible to say. You’ve had quite a severe injury. The CT scan shows slight bruising to your brain. Some people can take quite a while to regain all of their memory; it often comes back a bit at a time.’

‘Hello!’ said a voice. Dr Zigler looked around and Simon looked up. A woman with a cheery smile and a shock of dark hair had poked her head through the curtain surrounding the bed.

‘Ah, Mrs Harding,’ said the doctor, ‘Simon, this is Mrs Harding, she and her husband are your neighbours. They’ve been keeping an eye on things at the farm for you. I must get on now. Maybe you two would like to have a little chat.’ He turned to Sue Harding, ‘Simon is suffering from memory loss, thanks to his bump on the head, maybe you could try and fill in a few blanks.’ Sue’s face dropped. Simon looked at her blankly. Why did the doctor’s request seem so unwelcome? ‘I’ll see you again tomorrow morning,’ said Dr Zigler.

After he’d left Sue Harding eased herself onto the edge of Simon’s bed.

‘Hi,’ said Simon.

‘Hi Simon, we – Geoff and I – didn’t know about the memory loss. What do you remember?’

‘Nothing, absolutely nothing. Not the accident or anything before it.’

‘Shit,’ muttered Sue.

More bad news surmised Simon. Could things get any worse? ‘Please,’ he said, ‘Tell me, whatever it is, just tell me. I need to know. I’m living in a massive blank at the moment.’

Sue drew in a huge breath. Why me, she thought. But someone was going to have to tell him. She moved onto the visitors chair next to the bed and took one of Simon’s hands in hers. Very bad news thought Simon.

‘OK, your name is … ‘

‘The doc has filled me in with name, age and address,’ he said quickly.

‘Right, OK. So … you were married Simon, last year you married Linda. Then at new year you guys drove to Austria and went on a skiing trip. Because you were both experienced skiers you went off-piste in the glacier area. You shouldn’t have been there, but you both love a bit of risk taking. There was a terrible accident and Linda lost control and fell into a crevasse, a deep crevasse. Bottomless. There was no hope of reaching her.’

Simon’s voice trembled, ‘My wife is dead?’

‘I’m so sorry Simon. You came back from Austria in pieces. Nothing would comfort you. You were still trying to get your head round it all when this accident with the bike happened. You’ve just not been with it.’

‘Have I got any kids?’

‘A son from your first marriage, but he’s in Canada.’

‘Parents?’

‘Your dad died some years ago, your mum is in a home.’

‘Great.’

‘Geoff and I have the farm across the valley from you,’ said Sue kindly, ‘We’re going to help you as much as we can.’

September 2015 – Eight months later

Simon poured himself a second cup of coffee and stared out of the window. Harvest was over. Sue and Geoff had been great this year, helped him with the farm and filled him in on various bits of missing memory, but there were still some great big holes. ‘A memory like bloody Swiss cheese,’ he muttered. The gleaming yellow of the stubble field in the distance beckoned in the sun. He must get the plough out; start preparing to get the winter wheat sown. He sighed and shrugged off a sense of loneliness. How could he be lonely for someone he only knew by name, and from information given to him by friends. Emotions were all still a blank. He finished his coffee and went to get his coat. Might as well get the ploughing done.

It was just after lunch, the big tractor droned steadily in a nice straight line as the plough turned the moist earth into orderly furrows. A small flock of seagulls had come inland and were following the plough, scavenging for worms and any other grubs and insects. A few rooks had joined them. Simon liked the birds. Not only the feathered kind he mused to himself. He must find himself a new woman. What if he wanted to marry again? Did the law require him to wait a certain number of years because his wife’s body couldn’t be found? He had no idea. He chuckled, if he met a fit bird he’d just have to live in sin. It was at that point that the birds behind the plough suddenly became seriously active, diving and wheeling and squawking excitedly. Simon heard them and looked back. Something pink – material of some sort. The birds were going crazy. Simon stopped the tractor, hopped down and walked back to whatever it was that had them so excited. He got within a few yards and stopped dead with shock. A mess of partially shredded pink material lay exposed above the earth. Entangled in it was a skeletal human hand.

‘Jesus Christ!’ Simon just stared, eyes fixed in horror. Then he dug out his mobile phone and phoned the police.

Some weeks later – in the Foxton Gazette

Farmer With Memory Loss Ploughs Up Wife He Murdered!

Simon Blakelock told friends and family that his wife had fallen into a crevasse while skiing in Austria, but detectives have proved that no such incident took place. Blakelock murdered his wife and buried her in one of his fields. It’s believed that he would come into a large inheritance on his wife’s death. Police are looking into the deaths of his three previous wives.