Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

Now available, my book in paperback
Amazon.co.uk http://amzn.to/2qrRuvc

Amazon.com http://amzn.to/2pndHwN

…(or as an ebook download)

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Many writers bemoan inspiration, or a lack of inspiration for writing the next piece, short story or novel. For me, inspiration comes the minute I sit down and start to write. It simply feeds off the words that went before. However, sometimes my problem is actually sitting down to write in the first place!

Followers of my blog will know I attend a local Writing Group and we task ourselves to write a short piece for our next meeting. This time we each wrote a random word down and then said, ‘Ok-write a story using the following:- lampshade, wizard, panda, coal bunker, twelve, armchair, camel, jellyfish, battenberg, bettingslip and wellington boot’. This is what I sat down and wrote……(you can have a go too if you like)

“Doreen, don’t answer that, it’s someone going door to door!”

The shouted warning from upstairs came too late. Doreen had already unlocked and opened the front door.

“Good evening madame. Are you the proprietor? I should point out straight away I’m not here to sell you anything, merely to annoy you and take up a lot of your time.”

She found herself staring at a man of average height dressed in baggy trousers tucked into wellington boots and wearing a high viz sleeveless vest. He sported a goatee beard and a felt conical shaped hat which flopped over at the top. A laminated card dangling on a piece of red twine around his neck proclaimed ‘Wearer’s official status guaranteed’. Doreen thought his appearance rather mystical but she said nothing.

“My name is Wizard Prang and I’m here tonight to ask for a sizeable donation in exchange for a twelve per cent stake in my company, ‘ThirskWriteNow’. Thank you for your forbearance and for inviting me into your home tonight.”

And before Doreen could protest he had pushed his way past and into the living room plonking himself down into an armchair by the fireplace. Rubbing his hands in the warm glow of the fire he muttered to no one in particular, “A fresh bucket of coal and a mug of hot chocolate wouldn’t go amiss.”

“What did they want this time?”shouted her husband Roger from upstairs. “Hope you gave them short shrift. I hope it wasn’t that animal rights group with their sponsor a camel for the Tuaregs again?”

“Roger! I think you had better come down. We have a Wizard in the front room.”

“Bloody hell, Doreen. What did you invite him in for? You know its Tuesday and I’m supposed to be going out.”

“He just came in. Says he wants to offer us a share in ThirskWriteNow. ”

“I’m putting my trousers on. Doreen you’d better put the kettle on and pander him with some of your homemade cake. It’s not every day you get a Wizard popping in and we don’t want him waving his wand around.”

“So Mr Prang, how long have you been a wizard and what is it you wizard exactly?”

“Oh please Roger, call me Denton. By the way that’s an awfully nice looking brocade lampshade in the corner. Exquisite macramé work and fringed with drop down tassels too. Do you mind if I try it on?”

“Tea, Denton, and would you care for a square of battenberg.”

The wizard did and much to Roger’s consternation chose pink, eating both squares and removing the marzipan from the remaining yellow ones.

“Simply delicious, thank you. Now without further ado I suppose I had better persuade you to invest in my company and relieve you of your money. You won’t be disappointed. Roger and Doreen listened intently as Wizard Prang embarked on his spiel setting out his aspirations for ThirskWriteNow. He concluded with a little demonstration, and with a flourish produced several betting slips from an inside pocket which he promptly turned into a chapter of Thrills International and a dastardly fiendish murder plot.

“Hey presto, our unique selling point and the end of my presentation. Are there any questions?”

There certainly were. Roger wanted to know how he’d arrived at such a ridiculous valuation for a writing company and was eager to drill down to the underlying hardcore financials. Doreen on the other hand was sceptical and rather bemused to hear a group of writers variously described in such terms as ‘free swimming’, ‘gelatinous’, ‘umbrella shaped’ and having lots of ‘trailing tentacles’. It sounded more like a jellyfish to her, but there again she wasn’t a writer.

She coughed politely. “Wizard Prang, I’m going to say I’m out. Now unless you have anything else in your pockets that might burn this wicked witch of the west is going to trip the light fantastic down the yellow brick road to the coal bunker. Goodnight!”

And with that Doreen promptly disappeared.

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It is usual for writers to say, “The characters and events portrayed in this story are fictitious and any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended.” All I will say is, Walter and Nimrod are characters from my imagination, two Yorkshiremen in their later years, but as for the rest…..!

It was a balmy summer’s evening in North Yorkshire and the horizontal rain had slackened to a dreary downward drizzle leaving the countryside cloaked in a damp and misty murk. The puddles on the footpath were tinged with an orange glow as two figures clad in damp tweed jackets with cloth caps pulled firmly in place met by the village’s solitary lamp-post.

“Nah then, Walter. Thought you were away on yer holidays with the Missus.”

“I am, Nimrod. Went on Friday for an all inclusive long weekend break to that new holiday park down the road. Problem is all the caravans were booked so we’re stopping in a yurt. And they don’t allow pets in yurts so I’ve come home on me bicycle to see to Sabre.”

“Good job you chose a short haul holiday then. So what’s with the piece of string?”

“I haven’t got a lead for t’dog.”

“You mean there’s somat tied to the other end? What sort of dog you got?”

“A Mexican sheep dog, Sabre’s a Sheepwowah.”

“Well I’ve heard it all now. Walter, tha’s been ‘ad. T’only way he’ll be wowing owt is if he starts crooning Mexican love songs to lull sheep at shearing time. Aye up, Walter, mind that puddle!”

Walter bent down and picked up the dog as the pair walked on in silence for a while.

“Anyway, Nimrod, what you doing out tonight? It’s not your usual night for going out.”

“I’ve been down the Village Hall.”

“Village Hall? But it’s W.I. night. Nimrod, what you been up to?”

“Tonight’s the night they were picking the months for the new Calendar Girls and doing a photo shoot. Mrs Newman was misty March, Mrs Lane hot July, Mrs Fallows and young Julie autumnal harvest….”

“And you were helping out?”

“Well not exactly, Walter. I went with me camera and was peeking through the windows hoping to get some shots in full digital colour.”

“Joined the hoards of the papparazzi now have you? Fancy a quick pint down The Feathers and you can tell me more.”

Nimrod sighed and shook his head.  “I didn’t actually manage to get any photographs. I was thwarted, Walter. Thwarted by that Amanda. Too clever by half she is. She’d covered all the windows in bubble-wrap.”

“Well I hope you didn’t see my Enid in there. I don’t fancy giving her a croggie back. Anyways, Nimrod, time I was getting Sabre home and back to me holiday. Right fancy them yurts, you know. Ours even has a chandelier.”

This was written for my writers’ group, ThirskWriteNow and the idea was to write a piece using the following 8 words…Lamppost, Bubble, Chihuahua, Bicycle, Chandelier, Feather, Caravan, Camera.

You are the judge of whether I achieved that aim!

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What would you do?

An elegantly dressed lady from the 1920s knocks at your door, invites herself in for tea, calls you “Sweet-cheeks… darling…my Romeo” and says, “Edward, I’m the lady in your dreams.”

Only Eddie doesn’t live in the 1920s, he’s a widower living alone in a quiet English village and the dream is about to become a nightmare. Who is the lady from the past and what does she want from Eddie?

Find out by reading ‘The Lady in Red Boots’, the first short story in an anthology of 6 curious and mysterious tales.

Available on Amazon.

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She was lying quite still, a thin linen sheet pulled up to her shoulders exposing her long hair which flowed across the pillow. She was tired and the events of the past few days were running through her mind going over the list of tasks left her by the mistress of the house. It had been a hectic time getting all in order with the house being closed and empty for so long. She sighed and tried to drift into the arms of sleep. All was quiet now as the big house rested, waiting for the new day when all the family and guests would arrive for their annual escape from the summer heat, smell and rigours of the city.

She closed her eyes and the voices started. Soft laughter, merry chatter, indistinct conversation, close yet too far away to pick out precise words or understand what was being said. They seemed to come from down the hall again. It was not the first time she had heard voices in recent days but she had dismissed the other occasions as exuberant servants noisily going about their allotted tasks unsupervised, and no one else had heard them. Now, tonight, she was alone in the house and the voices seemed different, getting stronger. She was tired and dismissed it as the wind, breeze whispering through the trees. She did not want to give the matter further thought, not now, she wanted to sleep.

The crash of a bottle, a man’s shouted curse woke her. It seemed to come from that same room in the hall. She sat up and a shiver of fear tickled her spine. A shaft of moonlight shining through the shutters picked out the oil lamp on the stool next to her bed. She lit it and the flame guttered then took hold casting a pale wavy shadow across the room almost making the wall paintings come to life. She swung her legs over the side of the bed and her feet touched the cold floor. She had to go and see who had shouted. She should not be on her own. One of the other servants had gone to the village when the wheel of the cart had broken. He had obviously succumbed to a jug of the local ale and she did not think he would risk the lonely walk back alone in the dark.

“You clumsy oaf, red wine too. That’s the carpet ruined.” A woman’s shrill voice this time.

She walked to the doorway, and peered along the hallway. Nothing, no tell tale flickering lights. Then she saw the stain oozing out from under a door, spreading out over the smooth marble floor, growing larger. Suddenly the noise was louder, much louder and it hurt her ears. Strident voices, harsh laughter, and music completely foreign to her ears. She would get the blame for this. There would be trouble. Anger overcame her fear and she grasped the handle and threw the door open. Dazzled by the sudden brightness of the lights she stared into the room her eyes drawn to a strange window in the corner and reflections of people dressed in bright coloured costumes and dancing in a jerky yet choreographed way she had not seen the like of before. Her feet now felt strangely warm and she noticed too the vibrant scenes of the mosaic floor had disappeared and were now covered in a thick soft wool material.

A voice cried out. “Hey, it’s someone in a Roman toga. Come in, join the party.  You needn’t have bothered with the fancy dress though, unless you’ve come for the coins and broken pottery I found the other day!”

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A new short story for those final days of summer.

Mr Jacobs woke a little earlier than usual beating his alarm clock ticking loudly by the bedside by a good 15 minutes. He had a big smile on his face and with good reason. For today was the day when the Withering-By-The Sea ‘Dippers’ met for their annual picnic on the beach before rushing naked into the waves. All in the best possible taste of course. And today was also the day he had invited Mrs Golightly and the Nussling-In-The-Vale ‘Wheelers’ to the picnic too.

The sun’s morning rays creeping across the foot of his bed made his smile even broader and the thought of the rather ‘Rubenesque’ Mrs Golightly running down the beach and  into the waves in front of him even broader still. There was no time to waste. Today called for a hearty breakfast and an early start to ensure everything was ready. He tumbled out of bed and went about his ablutions with extra care and thoroughness.

Soon he was ready and took a final look at himself in the hall mirror. The Zingari blazer and striped tie from the second hand shop matched with a white flannel shirt and panama hat created just the right image he thought to himself, befitting his position as President of the Withering ‘Dippers’. He picked up the small packet of sandwiches made the night before, all carefully wrapped in greaseproof paper, and stuffed them into a pocket. Although Mrs Golightly and her gals were bringing hampers stuffed with all manner of home-made goodies and fortified ginger wine he doubted it would include any of his favourite cheese and salad cream sandwiches.

Mr Jacobs reached the beach and dismounted rather ungainly from his Elswick Hopper. It had not been very easy cycling with two windbreaks tied to the crossbar and that little snappy Jack Russell near the chemist’s had not helped matters. He removed his bicycle clips and rubbed his ankle. No blood drawn, thank goodness. He pushed on through the marram grass into the sand dunes and to the place Mr Timms, the club Secretary, and he had specially selected for their little gathering.  It was a natural bowl in the sand surrounded on three sides by sand dunes with a narrow gap on the fourth side that funnelled out onto the beach. Beyond was the sea, which at precisely one forty five, high tide, would be a mere 50 yard exuberant frisky dash away.

By 11 o’clock all was in place and ready. The flagpole and windbreaks, which doubled as modesty screens for changing, were erected and there was a good turnout of ‘Dippers’ present; seven in all, three more than last year if you included old Mr Stocks who had collapsed with a stitch before reaching  the sea, and had come this year in his capacity as honorary Treasury and spectator .  Mr Jacobs hoped it was the sunny weather that had increased the numbers but as Mr Timms had so ineloquently commented, “More like the prospect of Mrs Golightly, and her friend Miss Partridge from the florists bouncing over the sands. Bloomin’ lovely, the pair of them.”

All that was missing now was Mrs Golightly, the other Nussling ‘Wheelers’ and a tightly packed hamper or two. Meanwhile the tide crept ever closer.

Suddenly there was a loud commotion and young Billy Pearce appeared at the top of one of the dunes. “Oi, Mr Jacobs, you’d better come quick. There’s been a dreadful accident. At the crossroads, near the church. Three of the young Nussling ‘Wheelers’ with hardly a stitch on between them. Didn’t half startle the vicar’s pony and trap, never mind the vicar. Poor horse bolted, ran amok, bodies, vicar, bikes and upskittled hampers everywhere. No one knew where to look first. Mrs Golightly and several others have been taken to the cottage hospital. And as for Miss Jenkins the organist. Well you’d better come quick. There’s a right to-do.”

All in all it had been a long day and as he sat quietly at home eating his cheese and salad cream sandwiches, now curling sadly at the edges, Mr Jacobs reflected on what might have been. He sighed. Sergeant Burton had been most adamant. The ‘Dippers’ had dipped their last hereabouts. As for the ‘Wheelers’; it was out of his jurisdiction but suffice it to say Mrs Golightly and her gals would not be wheeling anywhere quite so ‘lightly dressed’ again either.

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