Sunday Salon – Fact or Fiction?

This week I finished reading two short story collections and one novel. The first I reviewed was Sally Cronin’s ‘Life’s Rich Tapestry’. Once again Amazon rejected my review and as usual I have posted my 5 star review on Goodreads and also decided I should put all my book reviews on my Facebook Author Page.

from Janet Gogerty on 13 February 2020

A delightful collection of all sorts to dip into.

We start with the seasons, words carefully chosen, some poems succinct …I stopped to smell the roses… precious time well spent. Then all things human such as ‘From Cave to the Stars’ the first cave drawings onwards to beaming our messages out beyond the stars. The other verses follow mankind’s evolution. Fairies and other Folk takes us somewhere else, starting with the poignant tale of the ugly troll with the sweet nature. The Natural World peacocks, magpies and a murder of crows. Pets, Random Thoughts then 99 Words in a Flash. Telling a story in just 99 words is a skill. A Close Match is a good opener to this section. In the short story selection Brian the dog wins the day and Jack, another old dog, finds a happy ending. Then cats get their turn and love of a cat helps Millicent stand up for herself. Who can resist Speculative Fiction which starts with a family secret? The Wrong Turn is a poignant story, but we are glad Gerald gets his comeuppance in the next tale. A couple of strange stories and then we finish with a poetic tribute to the author’s mother-in-law. A great collection of all sorts to dip into.

 

Sally’s collection made nice light bedtime reading after some of the television programmes I have been watching.
In Wednesday’s blog I wrote about television, because I know some bloggers do not watch it at all and gathering from the comments, others watch programmes or films with various screens and technology without actually tuning in to live television. But it is good to watch something your friends are also following… do you like fact or fiction on television?
This week we finished watching a real life six part ITV crime drama, White House Farm, about the murder of parents, daughter and two young twin grandsons in August 1985. Lots of us remember it being in the news because it was such a tragedy. At first the daughter with mental health issues was thought to have committed the murders and then killed herself, but the story revolves around the doubts that led to the arrest and trial of the surviving son, Jeremy Bamber. To this day he is still protesting his innocence. The leading detective was sure he could have the case neatly sewn up, convinced it was the daughter, while the sergeant, passed over for promotion more than once we gather, is convinced she could not have done it. Modern viewers brought up on CSI and Silent Witness will have been cringing as evidence was cleared away, blood soaked mattresses burnt. Most of us would agree that a young woman who had little idea of how to use a gun could not have shot everyone and beaten up her father. Added to the tensions in the CID office was the interplay in the family. The twins’ father was separated from his wife and the boys lived with him and his girlfriend, as his ex wife had recently been in a mental hospital. He had just taken her and the boys to the farm to stay with their grandparents, never imagining it was a death sentence. Jeremy Bamber had a girlfriend who after a month turned and gave evidence against him. His cousin was equally suspicious because of the way he behaved afterwards. The Bamber son and daughter were adopted, adding another thread; did he feel he didn’t belong, was he the cuckoo in the nest as his cousin suggested?

https://www.itv.com/presscentre/press-releases/itv-announces-details-new-factual-drama-white-house-farm
Coincidentally Chanel Four had a four part drama running parallel and with a similar theme. Deadwater Fell was set in a village in lovely Scottish countryside. After a happy village event introducing the characters, everyone is awoken that night to see the local doctor’s house on fire. His village policeman friend manages to rescue him and drag the wife out, too late. In the darkness and smoke he had discovered the three little girls ( as cute and adorable as the twin boys in the other drama ) were padlocked into their bedroom. At the post mortem it is discovered the children had already been killed with a drug injection. What on earth was going on? The village is grief stricken and then further shocked when the doctor comes out of his coma and pieces together what happened and claimed his wife killed his children, tried to kill him and committed suicide! Amongst all this going on are the complex lives of the leading characters, revealed in flashbacks. The policeman’s ex wife is with someone else, but their boys are with him and his girlfriend and they are undergoing IVF. She was the best friend of the dead woman and worked at the same school with her, but had accidentally had sex with the doctor once – an event she described as controlling sex as he had slammed her face against the patio door!
The policeman begins to suspect his doctor friend; their marriage was not all sweetness and because of ‘what happened after Harriet was born’ he was regularly tranquilizing her, against her will. And then there was the poor grandmother, the doctor’s mother, I felt sorry for her; not only had she lost her grandchildren, but began to suspect her son, perhaps had suspected all along…
It was a good story and we know from the news that whatever writers make up can never be as strange and awful as real life.

https://inews.co.uk/culture/television/deadwater-fell-finale-channel-4-review-david-tennant-cush-jumbo-1382177

liebster-award

Friday Flash Fiction – 600 – Nom de Plume

sunshine-blogger

 

Busy weekend away helping Sally’s aunt and uncle move house; we stopped for dinner at the motorway services on the way back. I still hadn’t written a word for my new writers’ group on Monday evening. Sally just laughed.

‘Rob, it’s not school, just tell them you didn’t have time, though you could write a whole book about this weekend.’

‘Yes… and if it got published would your aunt and uncle recognise themselves?’

‘Not if you changed the names.’

She continued leafing through some free magazine she had picked up, then pushed it to my side of the table.

‘Look, there’s a short story at the back, maybe you will get one of your short stories in a magazine one day.’

‘I am hoping to aim a little higher than some rubbish free magazine.’

I flicked back through the pages; there was actually an article written by a dog, looking for forever homes for his pals.

Lots of licks, Barney.

‘Oh please, spare me… ‘

‘Read the story Rob, maybe it’s good.’

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Protest

by Angelique Dubarry

 It started with a bumble bee and ended with the saving of a whale; thousands of signatures on the petition protesting to Sea Worlds in the USA for keeping Killer Whales in captivity. Saving The World from my computer was simple and addictive, till the day the door bell rang…

Hmm, it was quite a good story, our topic was The Internet – Good or Evil? Sally was busy playing with her phone, I slipped the magazine into my man bag. Nobody in my writers’ group would lower themselves to read this trashy magazine. What did Sally say about changing the names? No one would possibly know I had borrowed the story.

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On Monday evening there was a good turn out and it was a while before my turn. I read clearly and confidently, I was enjoying myself.

…till the day the door bell rang. I thought they were Mormons, two smart young men in suits.

‘Good morning Ma’am… Mrs Katherine Jones?… how are you today?’

I was taken aback they knew my name, but they were so polite and so American I stepped back and they stepped forward, into my house. On closer inspection their black badges did not mention Latter Day Saints and what they were saying did not make sense. ‘… home security…’

I thought they were selling burglar alarms; then they homed in to the extension where we keep the computer. Now their slick talking seemed to include the words ‘national security’.

I realised, when it was too late, I should not have offered them a cup of tea. When I was at the sink filling the kettle they disappeared, with the computer…

I looked up, the room was eerily silent, either they were totally absorbed, or they did not like my story. I stuttered, but managed to get to the end.

  ‘…but I don’t understand sergeant, what I have done wrong?’ I stammered.

 ‘Let’s hope your ‘38 degree’ friends can get you a good solicitor, one who will explain the extradition process.’

The tight lipped silence continued, I noticed the retired lady’s face reddening.

‘It’s okay Ruth, I’ll handle this’ said Giles, self appointed leader of the group. ‘Is this your own work Rob, or have you some explaining to do?’

How was I to know that Ruth Brown used Angelique Dubarry as her nom de plume? How was I to know that everybody recognised the story, because it had been short listed for the prestigious local arts festival competition last year.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Salon

Two novels, a short story collection, a family reminiscence and Big Issue magazine.

Sunday Salon starts on a positive note; five stars for a very enjoyable real life read and my review published on Amazon. I was especially interested to read this book as we took our children to Norfolk on several holidays, but not on a boat!

5 out of 5 stars    The days were far from lazy, but it was the holiday of a lifetime.

23 February 2019

Verified Purchase

This truly was a getaway holiday. The family left a busy part of London for the peace and slow pace of life on the Norfolk Broads. It was also an adventure as they had not handled a boat before. Two sisters, four children and two dogs had to adapt to life in the confines of a boat. Fortunately the weather was good and the sun and fresh air come across in this warm story. There were plenty of places to visit along the way and the family enjoyed everything from the beach at Great Yarmouth to the castle at Norwich. If you have been on boating holidays or are contemplating one do read this book. Lots of us will know the experience of planning a holiday, then worrying if everyone will enjoy it, trying to please all ages etc. The two sisters weren’t sure if all the children had enjoyed themselves, but it turned out that they talked about it for weeks after and years later enjoyed reading this book and recapturing memories.

 

 Out of the four books I have finished reading recently this was the only review not rejected by Amazon. I have absolutely no idea why. The Thank you for submitting … and   few common issues to keep in mind were exactly the same for each book. You can read them below. This has happened to me only once before.

An Australian, a US and an English author, no bias on Amazon’s part then! All were Kindle books bought on Amazon.UK

 I have posted the reviews on Goodreads, but we all want our reviews to appear on Amazon…

Thank you for submitting a customer review on Amazon. After carefully reviewing your submission, your review could not be posted to the website. While we appreciate your time and comments, reviews must adhere to the following guidelines.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/review-guidelines

25 Stories of Life and Love in Australia

27 Jun 2012     by Margaret Lynette Sharp

 

  from Janet Gogerty on 25 December 2018

Romance guaranteed.

A gentle read to dip into. These are stories of life and love. Mostly romantic love, but also family tales. Young love and mature love feature. Whether you are young or older but remember decisions and choices, taking advice or following your heart, you will enjoy these tales. The stories of mature romance often feature reunions and second chances. Perhaps these tales could be set anywhere, but if you have lived in Australia you will know that it is a big country a long way from the rest of the world. If your romantic interest goes overseas or even over to Perth or up north, you know that is likely to be the end of your hopes, unless they return…

A few common issues to keep in mind:

  • Your review should focus on specific features of the product and your experience with it. Feedback on the seller or your shipment experience should be provided at http://www.amazon.co.uk/feedback.
  • We do not allow profane or obscene content. This applies to adult products too.
  • Advertisements, promotional material or repeated posts that make the same point excessively are considered spam.
  • Please do not include URLs external to Amazon or personally identifiable content in your review.
  • Any attempt to manipulate Community content or features, including contributing false, misleading or inauthentic content, is strictly prohibited.

 

Father Figure by James J Cudney

from Janet Gogerty on 17 January 2019

I gave this five stars.

A story that explores the darkest side of human nature and the most uplifting.

This is a novel that packs in a lot of life. The author explores many aspects of human love and that uplifts it from being just another story of childhood abuse or a teenage romance. Two time periods, two very different places and two girls on the brink of adult life. But this is also a mystery thriller with some chapters that will leave your nerves in shreds! Sometimes it’s best to leave your whole life behind and create a new one, but can you ever keep the past closed? There is a rich cast of characters who will provoke every emotion. This is the first novel I have read by this author and I am looking forward to reading more.

 

Shadow With Nowhere to Fall    Mark Lamming

from Janet Gogerty on 24 February 2019

I gave this five stars.

A story of friendship as well as love.

I loved the opening pages and the unexpected event which propels us into the lives of William and his family. His life is about to fall apart and the reader may think he is going to get his comeuppance, but is he a good person at heart, can he atone for the past? This is a real rollercoaster of a story, a love story, but not a cosy tale of mature love.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shadow-Nowhere-Fall-Mark-Laming/dp/1999649060

 

Big Issue Magazine

I wrote a blog the Christmas before last and have continued to buy the magazine weekly if possible – James became a regular, I passed him on my way to writers’ group. Later on he apparently got a job and somewhere to live, replaced by Mark who is also easy to have a chat and laugh with. Homelessness has got worse, I have no answers, but every Big Issue seller is a person doing their job and they have the opportunity to engage with the organisation and get other help as well.

But this is a review and I genuinely enjoy reading the magazine.  I turn first to the back page where they feature Big Issue seller of the week. Then there are plenty of interesting articles about real life, the arts and always some good insights by the founder John Bird. A neat non glossy ( better for the environment) mag. that is handy for reading on the bus or out and about. At £2.50 no more than the price of a cup of coffee, so why not try it.

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2016/12/15/christmas-issue/

https://www.bigissue.org.uk/

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Being In An Anthology

Anthologies, collections of various authors’ stories, are an attractive prospect for many new or not so new, but still aspiring authors. The chance to have your writing in print, your story chosen by strangers is an affirmation and you have something to show your relatives. Your story will be surely be read by all the friends and relatives of each writer who features in the anthology and perhaps one of them will be a publisher, head of BBC Drama or a film producer… The route to these exciting possibilities is often via a competition, you might also win some money and impress your family.

Back in 2009 I was browsing in Borders, a heavenly mix of music, books and magazines; lurking on a bottom shelf under writing and history magazines was a colourful monthly publication called First Edition. Get Yourself Published For Free it proclaimed. Of course that meant they would not be paying YOU for your stories, but that didn’t seem to matter and one of my stories, Reality, was accepted, my brief biography sent off and in due course my free November copy arrived in the post. I immediately rushed off to check the shelves of Borders and WH Smith to buy another copy to send to my mother. I then e-mailed friends and family who hunted in their local branches; I could say I was in print nationwide. Alas, that edition, only the ninth issue, was the last and by the end of that year Borders had suffered a similar demise in the UK. I wonder what happened to the second story I sent them?

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The first time I won a prize was second place in Wrekin Writers’ competition, the cheque for £70 impressed Cyberspouse. The story, Darren’s Day Out, was the first I wrote for the writers’ group I still belong to. The subject was the door, I later added the second part. You can read that story and others at my website.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-six-fiction-focus

Dorset Voices was compiled by Poundbury Voices and published by Roving Press, foreword by Prince Charles.  Poundbury is an experimental new town on the outskirts of Dorchester in the county of Dorset, England. The development is built on land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall.

https://www.rovingpress.co.uk/DorsetVoices.html

Writers were invited to submit short stories, articles and poems, paying £6 to ‘encourage’ them to send their best work; they didn’t have to write specifically about Dorset, but I figured it would increase my chances. Photographers were invited to submit black and white photographs. My story ‘Four Days In June’ was accepted and the book was launched at Bournemouth Library. Those writers able to attend each read an excerpt from their work. By happy coincidence my sister was on holiday from Australia – Cyberspouse was happy as he didn’t have to come to the launch and my sister could take a copy back for my mother, thus saving on postage. I did get a free copy, but also bought several as gift ideas. Prince Charles did not come to the launch.

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My favourite covers are those of the first two volumes of An Eclectic Mix. I have two stories in each.

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Thanet Writers publish articles, stories and poems daily on their website and a dozen of mine have featured. This year my story ‘Thanephant an Elephantasy’ was included in Shoal, their first anthology, published as a paperback and on Amazon Kindle. It was launched at Turner Contemporary Gallery, Margate in May.

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You can read Darren’s Day Out, Four Days In June and stories from Eclectic Mix in the  third collection of my own stories, Times and Tides.

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction – 1K

Two Minutes Later

 It was one of those perfect moments that are rare; my body still tingling from the sea and soaking in the warmth of the sun, I wrapped my white finger tips round a mug of fresh coffee. In the blue skies above, vintage aeroplanes soared and swooped. While others stood on the crowded cliff tops in the baking sun, I enjoyed the privacy and comfort of my little shady window box on the world. The four figure beach hut rates for a six by six wooden box, one tier above the promenade, were worth it for this moment alone.

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I looked at my watch as I polished off my sandwich, 1.30 pm; another hour and I would plunge back into the sea. In the meantime it was inevitable that I would drift off to sleep… the sunlight was red through my eyelids, the planes and waves together made soothing background music.

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Two minutes later a chill on my skin prompted me to open my eyes. I looked at my watch, 1.32pm and closed them again. But a voice penetrated my oblivion.

‘You’ve let your tea go cold.’

‘Geoff, I thought you were on the cliff top taking photos, no peace for the wicked.’

‘What… I thought you’d be in a panic to get ready for work.’

‘Work?’

‘You’re late shift…’

Reluctantly I opened my eyes, wondering if my husband had gone mad. He was sitting next to me and peering over the top of his newspaper.

‘Good thing we didn’t move to Bournemouth, look at all those crowds on the beach for the Air Festival.’

‘But we did… and we’ve got a beach hut…’

He carried on talking as if everything was normal ‘…and as for getting your dream beach hut, long waiting list and much too expensive apparently.’

Something was wrong, very wrong and I could not avoid the evidence of my eyes. We were sitting in the garden of 29, Mildred Crescent, Harmonton. I recognised it even though the trees and shrubs had grown a lot in the seven years since we moved away; this was turning out to be a very vivid dream, a nightmare. I looked at my watch again, 1.34pm. If I closed my eyes I could finish the dream and wake up at the beach hut.

17

We had both taken early pensions from work, I loved working at Heathrow, but I did not intend to spend the rest of my life living in Harmonton, Middlesex; the sea beckoned. Geoff was equally determined not to end up like his boring parents living in the same road all their married lives, round the corner. We had never regretted the decision.

The sun must have gone behind a cloud, I felt chilly. I should have changed out of my wet swimming costume, my beach towel must have fallen off. I looked down at my lap and saw my old skirt, I turned my head to see my old pink blouse.

‘Are you okay,’ said Geoff ‘shall I phone in and say you’re sick.’

‘Er… I’m fine, I had this strange dream we were still in Harmonton.’

‘Ha, ha, very funny… was that the door bell, is Marion giving you a lift to work?’

I shook my head in disbelief; Marion who I felt sorry for, guilty even, when I handed in my resignation and she realised it was true, I really was going. We’d worked together for years, lived close; I had been an aunty to her children. She was never going to leave Harmonton and I was never going to stay. We popped up to visit at first, but their seaside holidays with us never materialised, we made new friends, she wasn’t on Facebook…

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I looked up and there she was, hair different, a few more lines.

‘Don’t blame you for dozing in the garden, that’s what I hate about late shift, I’ll admire Geoff’s vegetable beds while you get changed, don’t be long, we can’t both be late and don’t forget your ID pass this time.’

If I stood up I would wake up and stop my past playing out in my dreams. I walked towards the back door, the scent of Alyssum tumbling over the edge of the patio was so real I bent down to pick a sprig, I crushed the tender stalks in my fingers. I reached out for the back door handle, it was solid and very real. I walked through into the old kitchen I’d been a little sad to leave behind. Then it had been stylish, now it looked very tired compared with the fitted kitchen in our Bournemouth flat.

Now there was a cold feeling in the pit of my stomach. This house was no dream; I dashed frantically up the familiar stairs into the bedroom; yellow and blue, what had happened to the dated eighties pink flowered wallpaper? My work uniform was hanging up on a strange wardrobe…

I stumbled down the stairs, I didn’t want to face the truth, there was still a chance to wake myself up. Out in the street we got into a strange car, not strange to Marion though.

‘Marion, remind me why we’re doing this, still working at the airport?’

She laughed. ‘We’re not getting our state pensions yet and you said you would go mad with boredom staying at home now Geoff’s retired.’

‘I had this vivid dream when I was dozing in the garden, I was sitting in my own beach hut, we lived in Bournemouth.’

‘That was a dream for sure, you’d never get Geoff to move, remember when you suggested it years ago?’

I certainly did and now I knew the unthinkable had happened, I had slipped into my alternative future, a future where nothing had happened except our bedroom being redecorated. Geoff had become his boring father, not the new man who hiked in the New Forest and followed tide timetables for his photography. Boring Geoff was happy with his vegetable beds and fish pond and would never move away while his parents were still alive, or when they were dead. Now I remembered the alternative past seven years, the mortgage paid off and money kept sensibly in the bank. Geoff would not even contemplate a caravan. I let out a silent scream.

 

For more short stories, open the book and have a look.

 

To Free or not to Be

We all read books for free; library books, all those paperbacks people have passed on to you and if you have forked out fifty pence in the charity shop for your favourite author – your favourite author won’t be seeing a penny. I once went to a chat at the library by a noted local author; a strange coincidence occured a few days later and a hundred miles away when we were visiting a National Trust property. There was the usual  second hand bookshop in an interesting outbuilding. As I browsed, there on top of a pile of books on the makeshift counter was the very book the  noted author had been talking about. It cost me fifty pence…

Indie Authors wring their hands and discuss whether they should, or if it will be worth it to offer their book for free. The hope being that readers will be so enamoured they will buy other books by the writer, or more importantly, the reader will be so grateful they will write a glowing review. A week later some authors will be posting in chat forums or writing in their blogs in great distress because no one has written a review yet.

I am happy to accept a free offer, or a ’99 pence today only’ bargain if the book appeals to me and I will review it, because I try and review all the books I read. But by the time I pick a book out of my TBR collection on my Kindle I will have forgotten if it was free or what I paid for it. I just want to enjoy reading.

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A while back I came up with an idea brilliant in its simplicity, based on the premise that Indie Authors can do what they like, even if they have sold their soul to Amazon. To avoid technical stress I would not bother with free offers or prices going up and down. Come to my bookshop and I guarantee there will always be books you can buy for ninety nine pence. If you want to buy a paperback for your aunty who doesn’t have a Kindle they start at £5.99.

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If you want a novel try Quarter Acre Block. It is my best selling book, probably becaue it has always been 99p and readers know what to expect…

‘In the nineteen sixties many ‘ten pound pommies’ had never left England before and most expected never to return or see loved ones again. George Palmer saw Australia as a land of opportunities for his four children, his wife longed for warmth and space and their daughter’s ambition was to swim in the sea and own a dog. For migrant children it was a big adventure, for fathers the daunting challenge of finding work and providing for their family, but for the wives the loneliness of settling in a strange place.’

You can read the background to the story on my website.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-six-fiction-focus/

If you are brave enough to tackle my trilogy you can buy the first novel for 99p.

Leaflet 2015 back

If you enjoy short stories I have four collections.

Try Dark and Milk for 99p.

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If you would like free fiction there are always stories to be read on my website.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/

And look out for Friday Flash Fiction here at Tidalscribe.

Visit my Amazon Author Page

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Janet-Gogerty/e/B00A8FWDMU

How do you choose which books to buy? How long is your TBR pile?

 

 

 

Views and Reviews

When I first joined Goodreads, with no idea what I was doing there and with my picture sideways, I did figure out how to write reviews and it seemed a good way to record all the books I read.

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My Kindle was a birthday present five years ago and the first books I downloaded were my own. I had already published two novels and one short story collection on Amazon Kindle, relying on a local friend and my sister in Australia, the only people I knew with Kindles, to tell me if they had ‘come out’ alright.

Once the Kindle was in my hands it opened up the whole world of Indie Authors. I had no desire to download 3000 free classics, we have a house full of dead authors in paperback. Reading about other writers on line, choosing books that sparked my interest and downloading them in a matter of seconds was part of the fun. I review all my fellow Indie Authors on Amazon and Goodreads, though it is often a while before I actually get around to reading. With all the angst about Amazon deleting reviews I decided to also put new reviews on my blog. I love variety so here are three very different books. One novel, one set of three short stories and my favourite, a collection of stories, flash fiction and poems.

on 4 July 2018
I read this collection on my Kindle and one disadvantage of Kindles is you don’t have the book lying on your coffee table showing off its cover. Coming back to Amazon to review this book I remembered how I loved the imaginative cover which does justice to the contents. I was really taken wih the stories and poems. I love writing short stories that are often dark so I appreciated the author’s style. Here are tales gruesome and scary, but also poignant poems. The book ends with a longer story that held me in suspense all the way through…

Finding Hunter: Riverbend Book 2 Kindle Edition

on 2 July 2018
A very different novel from the first Riverbend book and it would work fine as a stand alone novel, but those of us who enjoyed the first were eager to see if it was Willow’s turn to find true love, only to fear she would lose the love of her life so soon after finding him. Anyone who has had strange experiences when meeting the boyfriend’s family for the first time will sympathise with Willow and admire the way she stands by her man. But how can she stand by her man when he disappears? Hunter is a complex man with a difficult life, can love be strong enough to save him? I am looking forward to reading Book Three and following the next part of Willow and Hunter’s life together.

The One That Got Away and other short stories

4.0 out of 5 stars  Chances missed and chances taken.

on 4 July 2018
Three gentle stories, very different, but all about finding love and new paths later in life. My favourite was ‘More than a Mere Bagatelle’ . Modern grandmothers don’t just sit at home, they have lives of their own, but that can bring difficult choices.
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What do you like to read and do you review?


Four on Fact and Fiction

Sharing reviews helps all writers, especially Indie Authors. Here are four books I’ve recently read on my Kindle and reviewed on Amazon. I also put reviews on Goodreads, a site popular with many readers looking for a good book, it also acts as a digital library so I have a record of all the books I have read.

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At home I have a pile of paperbacks waiting to be read and on my Kindle lots of TBRs I have downloaded after reading reviews or author interviews on line. Part of the fun of reading is deciding what to read next and I like to choose a different time, place or genre from the previous book.

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Long or short? Personally I like reading and writing short reviews; I don’t want to return to school days writing long essays on the book we’re ‘doing’!  But others will like reviews that tell them plenty about the book and the author. What do you think?

 

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The Neighbours  by  Hannah Mary Mckinnon

on 27 April 2018
I enjoy stories where we go back and forth in time, especially if we are told when and who is talking. This is a good story to keep you on edge; the unthinkable has happened to Abby and then a new unthinkable event occurs to ensure the past cannot be forgotten. Nate and Nancy have each married on the rebound, though they don’t know it yet, that is a poignant second story line. How well do we get to know the characters and how well do they know each other? Secrets abound and I only half guessed the twist at the end. I’m not sure I actually liked any of the characters, except Nate. One aspect that jarred in the novel, I didn’t get a sense of place. As soon as I read neighbors with the US spelling in the early chapters I assumed we were in the USA and any English names mentioned could have been their US namesakes. It wasn’t till Wales was mentioned I realised we had been in England all along! This is a story that could be set in any modern suburb in any country, so perhaps that doesn’t matter.

A Kiss In The Dark  by Christine King

on 27 April 2018
Deliciously scary, what an assortment that leads us up the garden path, turns fairy tales upside down, gives us a very unreliable narrator and leaves us alone in the woods… and that’s just the first three stories. And then a poem, I loved ‘Click’. Enjoy ghosts, dragons and the gods of ages, a train journey and of course a graveyard.
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Living In The Past   by Jane Lovering

on 27 April 2018
I have never been on an archeological dig and I’m sure I would be as lacking in enthusiasm as Grace… This is an enjoyable read, as you would expect of a Choc Lit. Time Travel? Why not, people do disappear off the face of the earth and who’s to say they haven’t gone back in time? What would we find if we arrived in the past and how would we get on?
Duncan’s life has been blighted by his girlfriend going missing without trace and never being able to prove his innocence.
Grace has had her happiness cut cruelly short.
Two people who have nothing in common are brought together on the muddy Yorkshire Moors and dislike each other as soon as they meet; the stage is set for an unusual romance.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/review/RR03X4IAHQPGY

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African Ways  by Valerie Poore

on 28 April 2018
I really enjoyed reading this book. I have never been to the African continent, so my knowledge of South Africa is limited to people I have met and new friends on the internet. These are the memories of one family’s three year experience living in Natal, in the most beautiful place they will ever live. Bringing up two very young children was very different from the experiences I and my friends were having in the same time period! This is not a linear story, each lyrical chapter describes an aspect of their lives and the rich characters they became close to; the author obviously embraced her new life and the reader enjoys the humour and drama of a country so different to ‘back home’. Poignantly this chapter of their life had to close and I would love to read about the family’s further adventures.

Friday Flash Fiction Five Hundred

                                                     Terminal State

 

‘No one will ever know,’ said my friend that day in 1959 ‘and it was an accident.’

I expect that is what lots of murderers plead, but we were only ten years old. To this day I have no idea who he was, but I’ll never forget the look of surprise on his face, then the look of terror.

‘Be careful girls’ said my mother as we set off that sunny day.

We liked to watch the aeroplanes, then we would go exploring; Stanwell Moor, Colnbrook village, farms, fields and streams. We were free to wander the western edges of London Airport as long as we didn’t go near Perry Oaks.

My aunt and uncle had lived in Heathrow Village, till they were evicted during the war, but my parents lived out their years on the farm under the flight path, wedged between the runways. Up until the last it was like living in the country except for the ranks of landing lights.

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‘Stay together, don’t talk to any strangers and be back at teatime.’

He must have been a stranger, because no one noticed he had gone. For weeks we expected the police to turn up, looking for someone’s husband or father… or an escaped convict, after all he did act strangely.

‘You two girls out on your own? Have you ever seen a water vole?’

I nudged my friend, we turned to walk away, but he followed and what he showed us wasn’t a water vole. We wanted to run, but we were trapped on the edge of a bank that descended steeply. He was blocking the footpath that led back the way we had come.

‘Count to three then rush past him’ she said.

What happened next happened so quickly; it could have been any one of the three of us that went in; did we push him or did he slip? We had strayed into the forbidden territory, Perry Oaks sludge works and as he slipped under we knew why our parents feared it.

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Looking back as a teenager, an adult, I realised he was a flasher, a harmless loner perhaps. But had he followed us? Would he have murdered us? Two missing girls and every stretch of water would have been dragged, but his body was never found. We never told a soul, we didn’t want to get into trouble for being out of bounds; or that’s what we told ourselves.

My friend’s family took her off to Australia, we lost touch. I wondered if she ever told anyone, for years I half expected a policeman to knock on the door.

Then came the planning enquiry, five long years. We prayed the development would be turned down, no one wanted the upheaval and destruction, the removal of the last farm. But that is not what I dreaded.

Digging, draining, what would they find; a body preserved like peat bog man? When Terminal Five Heathrow opened, I knew at last that no one would ever know.

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‘Terminal State’ is one of the Flash Fiction Tales featured in

Someone Somewhere.

 

 

 

Quarter Acre Blog

The first time Australia was mentioned was at breakfast on a school day. I was astonished when Mum said

‘How would you like to go to another country?’

Where had this idea come from? The furthest we had ever been was a hundred miles to visit my aunt in Cheltenham.

I replied instantly ‘If I can have a horse.’

I had always wanted a horse and what other reason could there be for going to another country? I would need no help caring for it due to my extensive reading of the Kit Hunter Show Jumper series and all the other pony books I could lay my hands on.

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‘Australia?’

I returned from my reverie to hear what Mum was saying. A new picture presented itself; warm weather, living by the seaside and swimming every day. I couldn’t actually swim, but had been up to my chest at Frensham Ponds and in the sea, while Mum and Dad sat in deck chairs huddled in coats and rugs.

But my most vivid image of what our Australian life would be like came from my favourite television programme, The Adventures of the Terrible Ten. Ten children living in rural Victoria, who all had ponies, discovered some old packing cases and built Ten Town. They never went to school or saw their parents.

Mum said I might get a horse, would probably get a dog and would definitely go swimming. But for now the whole adventure must be kept deathly secret; until we knew for sure we had been accepted for migration. This meant absolutely no one, not even my best friend or my younger brother and sister. I kept the secret.

 

It was spring now and by autumn we would be ready to go, not on the dangerous voyage of the early settlers, but Mum and Dad would be burning their boats. Cheap flights at ten pounds each for Mum and Dad and free for children; but it was a one way ticket. My parents expected never to see England or their relatives again.

In the meantime a momentous year lay ahead. It was our last year at junior school; the first year Top Of The Pops was broadcast and in the garden shed our pet white mice were multiplying rapidly. As top years we went on school holiday for the first time to the Isle of Wight. It was a very pleasant holiday, but two strange things happened. As a Church of England school we knew several of our classmates were Roman Catholics, it made no difference to them or us. But on the Sunday of the holiday, one poor catholic boy was to be marked out as different. All of us were to attend morning service at the local church, but Eric’s mother had decreed that Eric must go to the catholic church. As a relatively new boy he was already slightly different; now as his lone figure trudged off in the opposite direction, to the mysteries of candles and incense, he had become an outcast. Later that day, as we ran around in the grounds of the hotel, some primeval, sectarian instinct took over and we all chased Eric; convinced in that moment that we were going to lynch him. Luckily the teacher came out blowing her whistle and normality was restored.

Peter was another unfortunate boy. For some reason he was the only child of our class of forty who didn’t come on the holiday. As we ate dinner one evening, the headmaster came into the dining room looking very distraught. Peter had run away from home and managed to reach the island before being caught by the police. We all thought him very clever to have got that far and very sad that he still wasn’t allowed to join us.

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Back at school our summer term was nearing its end; we practised maypole dancing ready for our centenary celebrations and Mum and Dad visited the headmaster. Later that day he entered the classroom to chat to us; a common occurrence, but this time I realised with horror he was talking about me. I had kept my promise and not told a soul and now was mortified the headmaster was telling everyone I was going to Australia! Having spent four years mostly unnoticed, I was now the centre of attention as everyone turned to look at me.

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As autumn arrived life became surreal. The date was set for our departure. I had passed my eleven plus, but it would make little difference to my future, the Australian schools were comprehensive. Our little school gang had been split in half, four of us were going to grammar school; one mother didn’t come out of the house for a week with shame that her daughter had failed. For a few weeks I experienced a glimpse of what my life might have been at a girls’ grammar school, dressed in bottle green uniform with the excitement of Bunsen burners.

Soon our house was sold and we had reached the point of no return. As the taxi collected us for the airport my grandparents stood stoically waving and my school friend Wendy skipped up the road after us; she would be the only person from those days to stay a lifelong friend.

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The taxi had been late, very stressful for my parents. As we arrived at London Airport     (now Heathrow) our friends and relatives were waiting, wondering if we had changed our minds. We rushed through with hardly time to say goodbye. The airport was much smaller then; as we climbed the steps to the plane we could see our loved ones gathered on the balcony waving. Except for Dad, it was the first time we had been on an aeroplane. I was really excited until I noticed the big card in the seat pocket. How to put on your lifejacket! Until that moment I had not considered the possibility that planes could crash. I wondered if we would reach Australia.

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My novel Quarter Acre Block was inspired by our family’s experience. It is not autobiographical, but people who have read it ask which things were ‘true’. Find out more at my website.   https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-six-fiction-focus