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10 REASONS TO GO ON AN IMAGINE WRITING RETREAT

Alison Knight and I are proud to present our very first “Imagine” writing retreat…

10 reasons to go on an Imagine Writing Retreat…

1                    Writers need writers! No one understands writing and a writer’s life like another writer. Mutual support is the name of the game!

2                    Located in the stunning Victorian manor, Northmoor House, Imagine’s retreat gives you the chance to stay in a home untouched by time (But don’t panic, there is Wi-Fi). You can even indulge in the waters of an original Victorian bathtub…don’t forget your bubble bath!

3                    With so many of the manor’s period features still in place, Northmoor is the ideal location for sparking inspiration and dreaming up new plotlines.

4                    On the edge of Exmoor, near the popular village of Dulverton, there are plenty of beautiful places to explore should you, or any non-writing friends or partners, wish to. There are miles of good walking land on hand. The pre-historic Tarr Steps are but minutes away, and the cafes in Dulverton are excellent. I can personally recommend the poached eggs on crumpets in The Copper Kettle.

Tarr Steps

5                    However, you might not want to stray into the village for food because we have employed an excellent local caterer, who is providing a delicious menu that will cater for all dietary requirements. All food is locally sourced.

6                    Come along for a confidence boost! At Imagine we pride ourselves on helping everyone to get their words onto the page. We are here for beginners and experts alike.

Kate Griffin

7                    Meet Kate Griffin! One of Faber and Faber’s most successful crime writers. Kate Griffin is the author of the brilliant Kitty Peck Mysteries. An expert on Victorian London, Kate will be our guest speaker on the Wednesday evening.

8                    Find your inner writer’s peace of mind. Let mentor and fellow writer, Trina Stacey, help you” Set Your Sails for Writing Success”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9                    Let’s face it – Monday to Friday in a beautiful Victorian Manor, with time to write, all food provided, plus three optional workshops, a chance to meet Kate Griffin and Trina Stacey, and the opportunity to share writing ideas over a glass of wine (or two) – for only £450  is a BARGAIN.

10             It would make a BRILLIANT Christmas present for the write in your life.

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Full details are available at https://www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk/writing-retreats 

If you have any queries please email Alison or myself at imaginecreativewritng@gmail.com

Now is the time to drop heavy hints about wanting a writing retreat for Christmas… 

Happy writing everyone,

Jenny xx


Guest post from P. J. Reed: The Torcian Chronicles

I’m delighted to welcome my friend and fellow author, P.J. Reed, to my blog today. 

Once again the power of a trip to a coffee shop is revealed!

Over to you Pam…

A big thanks to Jenny for inviting me onto her blog. I am a completely random author. I basically fell into writing. My first hints of writing came during a poetry lesson at University where I was studying to become an infant teacher. We had to produce a series of poems in a variety of styles, which was probably the most interesting part of the course. I handed him in my meagre sleep- deprived offerings and weirdly enough he seemed to enjoy them and told me that I should seriously consider a career in writing. This struck me as rather strange as I was half-way through my teaching degree.  I was unsure whether it was a commentary on my teaching or writing abilities.

Obviously, I thought he was mad and completely ignored his delusional ramblings.

Then it happened.

One morning I nipped in to Costa for a cup of tea and a slice of chocolate tiffin, as I am particularly partial to any food with chocolate in the title and my life changed forever.  A story unfolded before my eyes like movie and I dived into Torcia the first fantasy world I ever created.  I saw the main character of the story, a warlock sitting in ragged clothes in a dingy, cluttered garret clutching onto the side of a medieval looking wooden inn. He was sitting quietly on his favourite armchair by the fire, but something was very wrong in Torcia as even from the inside of his lodgings he could feel his people’s suffering as the invasion of Torcia accelerated.  It was all very exciting as I didn’t know what was going to happen next, I just sat down at my laptop and my fingers typed the images which flashed across my brain.

After two years the first book in ‘The Torcian Chronicles’ was written.

It was a big, bold book of magic, warfare, suffering and defiance. So, I named book one … Defiance!

In Defiance, the land of Torcia lies in chaos and ruin. Naturally rich in faulstan veins, the power behind all magic a sleeping Torcia attracted the attention of Mivir, her eastern neighbour. In Torcia magic was subjugated and its practitioners imprisoned by the Protectors, a religious order dedicated to protecting the citizens of Torcia from the dangers of magic. Mivir, however, knew the power of magic and cultivated, refining the black art to create a virtually impregnable army. Unfortunately, Mivir also developed an insatiable demand for magical or aweosung energy, a need that could only be met by mining the faulstan rich lands of Torcia.  The Torcian armies were no much for the magically enhanced Outriders and warlocks of Mivir. Soon the whole of northern Torcian lay waste, devoid of life and ready for the mining.

In a desperate effort to save his embattled country, King Athemar summoned his surviving council members and devised a plan to save Torcia. He would fight fire with fire and destroy Mivir using Torcian magic. One of the last ancient warlocks of Torcian would be rejuvenated and sent on a mission deep within the Mivir while the last of his soldiers rallied for the final defence of Torcia.

It wasn’t perfect and too be honest it was full of spelling mistakes I had missed as being dyslexic I have an interesting relationship with spellings. I was then faced with the big dilemma – to self- publish or not?

I had heard the horror stories of writers being rejected for years only to end up throwing their ‘book baby’ in the flames of authors self- doubt or should I just self-publish and save myself years of heartbreak.

Being of a slightly contrary nature, I decided to send my manuscript off for one year’s worth of refusals just because my family stated in no uncertain terms I would never ever get a book published. So, I sent my manuscript off to several publishers and was completely shocked to get two offers in just under four months.  It was very strange.

My publishers even had a press release stating – “WiDo Publishing™ submissions editor Allie Maldonado found this high fantasy novel fascinating and exciting. “P.J has written a tale of depth and intrigue, complex but not confusing, with multi-faceted characters you can absolutely cheer for. Pretty amazing for a first novel. It’s a great foundation for a series.”

So here I am waiting for my high fantasy novel ‘The Torcian Chronicles’ to be published in January 2018.  For further information about The Torcian Chronicles’ visit my fantasy website at http://fantasyworlds.jigsy.com.

My publishers wanted the sequel written as soon as possible, so I sat down and began to write the sequel of prison, plots and magical mayhem.

I do not know exactly what will happen as my characters tell the story of their adventures themselves, but I know it be exciting, occasionally funny and always highly dangerous.

 

Bio – P.J. Reed is a writer and poet from England. She holds a BAEd from Canterbury Christ Church University, an MA from Bradford University and has dabbled in Psychology at the OU. She is an outrageously eclectic writer.

Her work has appeared in a wide variety of online and print magazines, collections, anthologies and podcasts. In 2015 she was shortlisted for the National Poetry Anthology award. Her haiku collections include – Haiku Nation, Frozen Haiku, Flicker and Haiku Yellow.

The Dark Tales of Witherleigh’ her sinister thriller based on a remote Devon village is available to download from Radish Publications.

Defiance‘ the first instalment of The Torcian Chronicles, her high fantasy magical adventure series will be published Spring 2018.

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Social Media Links

Read More at http://fantasyworlds.jigsy.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/PJReed_author

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/p.j.reedauthor

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Many thanks Pam – fabulous blog. Love that map!

Happy reading,

Jenny xx 


End of the month with Nell Peters: There goes October!

Somehow we’re here again. The end of the month- and that only means one thing…

Over to you Nell…

Hi, y’all – and happy Halloween, All Hallows Eve, or Samhain if you prefer. Like the proverbial bad penny, I’m back again – well, at least I hope I am. Let me explain:

I’m writing this blog even more in advance than usual because we are away from 22nd October to 30th – flying back then from a late break in the sun (hopefully!) That’s assuming the OH is still in one piece after his flight to Monaco on Friday 13th (cue spooky music!) – he’s due back practically minutes before we set off. Could be worse; I’ve had to meet him at the airport before now. With all the shenanigans going on with air travel recently – so glad we are booked on BA and not Monarch or Ryanair – I have fingers and toes crossed that our flight isn’t delayed until the 31st, because historically that has been a very bad day for plane crashes.

Exactly a hundred years ago during WWI, a Fokker (careful how you say that) piloted by a Lt. Pastor suffered structural failure and crashed – it was the second such accident in three days, and needless to say, all those aircraft had to be grounded until the design fault could be identified and rectified. Pastor was under the command of infamous fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, aka as the Red Baron, because he held the hereditary title of Freiherr (free lord) and painted his plane red – all the unit’s planes were brightly coloured, hence their epithet, The Flying Circus.

I’ve mentioned before that my grandfather was a youthful pilot with the Royal Flying Corps – a sepia photograph of him sitting in his flimsy plane hangs on one of our landings. As I drift past and glance his way, it never ceases to amaze me how incredibly brave those young airmen (of whatever nationality) were, when their life expectancy was a mere seventeen flying hours – they were indeed ‘Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines’. Unlike my grandfather, the Red Baron didn’t survive to see peace declared despite his eighty air combat victories; his luck ran out in April 1918. Drat – I have that song rattling around my head now … they go up tiddly up up, they go down tiddly down down.

 

Coincidentally, The Battle of Britain ended on this day in 1940 – since 10th July, nearly three thousand RAF pilots, including many from what was then the British Empire plus refugees from Nazi-occupied countries in Europe, had been defending British air space over southern England against the Luftwaffe’s relentless attempt to wipe out airborne defences. Flushed with his successful infiltration of much of Europe, this was the prelude to Hitler’s ultimate plan to invade and conquer this ‘Sceptred Isle’. The pilots of Fighter Command, dubbed ‘The Few’ by Churchill, had an average age of just twenty and were paid £264 pa (a little over £30,000 in today’s money). Sadly, during ‘Our Finest Hour’ (Churchill again) five hundred and forty-four fliers were killed and over a thousand aircraft lost – but (fortunately for us) they were victorious and Adolf backed off to lick his wounds.

In 1949 a pilot conducting secret tests of a prototype aircraft died when he crashed into houses in Yeovil, also killing two victims on the ground – and the following year a British European Airways (now part of BA) Viking failed to make it off the runway at Heathrow (then London Airport) in foggy conditions. Of the thirty people on board, only a stewardess and one passenger lived to tell the tale. Fast forward to 1964, when NASA astronaut Theodore Freeman perished after a goose smashed through the cockpit canopy of his Northrop Talon jet trainer in Texas, causing shards of Plexiglas to enter the engine, which caught fire. Although Freeman ejected, he was too close to the ground for his parachute to open properly. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.

More Halloween air disasters in 1979, 1994, 1996 and 1999, and in 2000 there were two – in total, hundreds of passengers and crew lost their lives. Most recently, in 2015, on the day that New Zealand beat Australia 34-17 during the Rugby World Cup final at Twickenham, a Russian airliner came to grief in Egypt and two hundred and twenty four people died. So you see my point? Maybe not a good day to fly, if you have a choice. There have been some good aeronautically-associated events on 31st October, however – like Rear Admiral George J Dufek becoming the first American to land an airplane at the South Pole in 1956, and BA taking on its first female pilots in 1987. Shall we move along, feet firmly planted on terra firma?

George Dufek

No more cheerfully, Indira Gandhi was assassinated on this day in 1984 (very George Orwell) by two of her security guards – you can’t trust anyone, can you? Both men were in turn shot by other guards, and although one survived, he was executed when found guilty of murder. In a speech given on the day before her death, Mrs G declared prophetically, ‘I am alive today, I may not be there tomorrow…I shall continue to serve until my last breath and when I die, I can say that every drop of my blood will invigorate India and strengthen it. Even if I died in the service of the nation, I would be proud of it. Every drop of my blood will contribute to the growth of this nation and make it strong and dynamic.

Indira Gandhi

Indira (no relation to Mahatma) was India’s first and so far only woman PM. Politics were obviously in the genes, because her dad was India’s first PM, Jawaharal Nehru. She had two sons – Sanjay, the younger, had been her chosen successor politically, but died in a flying accident in 1980, leaving Rajiv (a pilot) to take up the reins following her death. He was himself assassinated in 1991.

Dangerous stuff, politics, as Italian fascist PM Benito Mussolini may have noticed in 1926, when an assassination attempt was made on his life – not a brilliant way for him to celebrate his fourth anniversary of taking office. Fifteen year-old schoolboy, Anteo Zamboni tried to shoot the leader in Bologna during a parade, but the unfortunate youth missed and was immediately set upon by squadistri (fascist squads) who didn’t ask any questions and lynched him.

This was the second unsuccessful attempt on Il Duce’s life that year – in April, middle-aged Irish woman, The Honourable (but not very) Violet Gibson, daughter of Lord Ashbourne, shot him as he walked among the crowds in Rome after delivering a speech. Armed with a revolver disguised by her shawl, she fired once, but Mussolini moved his head at that moment and she hit his nose (no ‘on the nose’ jokes, please); when she tried again, the gun misfired. Poor old Vi was almost lynched (what is it with Italians and lynching?) by an angry mob, but police intervened and escorted her away for questioning. Mussolini’s wound was slight, and after being patched up, he and his bandaged nose continued walkabout. Violet was deported to Britain and spent the rest of her life in a mental asylum.

This was the day in 1959 when ex-marine and accomplished marksman Lee Harvey Oswald decided to visit the US Embassy in Moscow and declare he wanted to renounce his American citizenship. It was a Saturday, so perhaps he was at a loose end. Officer Richard Snyder accepted Oswald’s passport and a written note, but told him that further paperwork would need to be completed. Oswald didn’t follow through with the process and when he became disaffected with life in Russia (not too many burger joints there at that time, I imagine) returned to the United States in 1962. News of the defection made the front pages of American newspapers, four years before he would be reviled globally as the alleged assassin of JFK. Speaking of the late President, he held his last meeting with FBI Director, J Edgar Hoover this day in 1963.

Lee Harvey Oswald

31st October falls within the zodiac sign of Scorpio (23/10 to 21/11). Honesty and fairness are two qualities that make Scorpios a good friend to have – they are dedicated and loyal, but if they feel let down, it’s curtains. Quick-witted and intelligent, they are full of surprises but also very emotional. Ideal careers for Scorpios include scientist, physician, researcher, sailor, detective, business manager and psychologist.

 

I can think of only four Scorpios I’ve known – although I’m sure there are probably many others – one being super-blogger and lovely lady, Anne Williams (23/10) of Being Anne, a great supporter of writers and thoroughly good egg (whatever that means?) Then there’s a sister-in-law (10/11) who is mad as a box of frogs … seriously.

She’s the sort of person that if you pick up the phone and hear her voice on the other end, you really, really want to pretend nobody is in and you are the answering machine. Another I haven’t been in touch with for many years now – he (7/11) was a member of the Bomb Squad and worked in all sorts of hairy situations worldwide. I don’t know if it’s true, but he told me that a group of them were drinking in a bar (are the military allowed to drink in uniform off-base?) and someone asked what the bomb insignia on their sleeves stood for – they told him they were the Army darts team. The third (21/11) is a lecturer in Sociology, has OCD by the bucket load and is tattooed almost everywhere on his body (he tells me!) Typical Scorpios? You decide – I know who I’m voting for.

Boston Custer was born on 31st October 1848 – one of the younger brothers of Lt Colonel George, of Little Big Horn fame, or infamy. Boston – unlike brothers George and Thomas – was unable to officially join the army due to ill health and so became a civilian contractor. In this capacity he was a guide, forager, packer and scout for the regiment on the 1876 expedition against the Lakota Indian tribe. On June 25th, along with his teenage nephew Henry Armstrong (Autie) Reed, Boston was with the pack train at the rear of George’s troops when a messenger reported that his big bro had requested ammunition for an impending fight. Boston and Autie left the train to take the ammo forward and joined the main column, as it moved into position to attack a sprawling Indian village along the Little Big Horn River. If they had stayed put, they might have survived the battle that became known as Custer’s Last Stand. But they didn’t, and perished along with George and Thomas. A fourth brother, Nevin, became a farmer because he suffered from asthma and rheumatism and was not fit for the military, even as a civilian contractor – strangely lucky for him.

A century after Boston Custer, English actor Michael Kitchen was born in Leicester – although he’s been in many TV and film dramas, he’s perhaps best know now as DCS Christopher Foyle in Foyle’s War, who is driven around by the splendidly-named Honeysuckle Weeks and always gets his man.

Continuing the parts of a house name theme, American soap actress Deidre Hall was born a year before Michael, so Happy 70th today! – her twin sister, Andrea, is also an actress. In sharp contrast to MK’s prolific and varied career, Deidre has played the role of Dr Marlena Evans in Days of Our Lives for forty years – wow! She won her first award for the part in 1982 – the year another set of twins, aka the Cheeky Girls, were born on Halloween. I’m sure Monica and Gabriela Irimia have heard all the jokes, so I’ll leave it there.

Thanks again for having me, Jenny – and no, I am not wearing a horror mask, I always look like this.

Toodles.

NP

Nell Peters writes mainly Crime. Her two Accent Press novels can be found here: www.myBook.to/hostilewitness and www.myBook.to/BAON and other books are on Amazon KDP.

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Thank you ever so much Nell. Another stunning blog. Loved it.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x


Guest blog from Richard Dee: What is Steampunk anyway?

It’s my pleasure to invite friend, fellow author, and member of the Exeter Author Association, Richard Dee to my site today. Richard’s latest book, A New Life in Ventis is available on pre-order now!

Over to you Richard…

Thanks Jenny for the invitation, now a few of you might be wondering what a Steampunk author is doing here, plugging his next work. Aren’t we straying a little off-piste?

And what is Steampunk anyway?

There are many interpretations of the genre, here’s mine.

Picture a world, a world without oil, without electricity. Imagine a place where the steam engine is King, driving vehicles and industry. Where portable power is provided by clockwork engines; powered by coiled springs. It’s conventional to depict this world as Victorian, because it gives us a reference point, it’s the nearest we can get in our experience. And let’s be honest; the costumes are pretty cool too!

But when you think about it, if oil and electricity had not been utilised in our society, where would our Victorian’s be today? Could we have vast aircraft, with jet engines powered by coal gas? Could we have clockwork computers, printing onto paper? Or mechanically driven moving picture shows? Of course we could, and so much more.

Who knows what else might have been invented by necessity? And what are the limits of the technology? Might the world even be a better place?

That’s an awful lot of questions in two paragraphs.

So you could say that a Steampunk world is really just a different us. Even though I called my Country Norlandia, it could just as easily be an England that went in a different direction. And as it’s us, the people in my world are no different to the people in Jenny’s or anyone else’s stories. They have the same emotions, the same vices and the same tales to tell.

My fictional world of Norlandia and the stories set there have romance, corruption, revenge, heroes, villains and all the other elements of any adventure, the only difference is that they are set against the background of smoking chimneys, coal dust and the whirring gears of fantastic machines. The technology is a character, not the main event. In the same way as a village or a beach, or even, dare I say it, a coffee shop?

Once I started creating the world, I realised that I could adapt a lot of what we have today and invent new ways to make it work differently. By keeping it practical and useful but just slightly ‘not the way it’s done here’ it enhances the difference in the setting. Things like the gas powered jet engine, it’s perfectly possible but not quite how we do it. And you can also have fun creating those little bits of back story that give the place its atmosphere, like the suggestion of myth and magic in exotic foreign lands, the novelty of Cofé and how the lack of instant communication makes people behave differently.

Anyway, if you wanted to learn the intricacies of Fantasy World building you wouldn’t be here, I’ll get back to the story.

A New Life in Ventis, the novel I came here to tell you about, is the second one that I have set in Norlandia. It follows the further adventures of Horis Strongman, an ordinary person who finds himself thrust into extraordinary circumstances. He’s a city boy, naive and out of place in the country. Luckily he finds a feisty sidekick in Grace, and then there’s his new friend Maloney, an ex-soldier with a mechanical arm and a dislike of authority, to keep him safe and on track.

In the first book, The Rocks of Aserol, published in 2016, Horis is the unwitting pawn in a conspiracy. Sent to be the expendable minion, he discovers a secret, falls in love and is rescued from the fate his unscrupulous superiors intended. He sets off to make things right.

A reviewer commented: – There’s something of a ripping yarn about this excellent tale of adventure. False accusations, discoveries kept secret, villains who murder to get their way, and the whiff of requited love – it’s all here in this classic steampunk saga.

That story was complete, or so I thought, I moved on to other projects. Then I started getting requests to continue the adventures from readers. One said, so, what becomes of the hero? All I’ll say is, the story does have an end but there are still questions unanswered. I think Mr Dee would disappoint quite a few readers if he didn’t come up with a sequel – or better still – a series.

And another commented, I absolutely adored it but the ending!!!!!!  What’s going to happen next? Please tell me you’ve written a sequel.

Seeing those remarks made me wonder, what could happen next? I knew that I had to continue the story; A New Life in Ventis was the result.

In the second book Horis experiences the joy of reunion, he discovers that the bad guys are still out to get him and will stop at nothing in their pursuit. He also learns…, well that would be telling.

Here’s what one of my fantastic team of beta readers said: – “A New Life in Ventis took off with a bang, and kept up the tempo throughout the entire story. Overall, it is another excellent book!”

And, if my editor is to be believed, there needs to be a third part to the tale as well. There are certainly enough possibilities, enough machines and fiendish adversaries to justify many more adventures for Horis, Grace and Maloney. And who knows, maybe Horis will find the quiet life he craves.

We will have to see what happens; the creation of the world so far has already resulted in an alarming amount of research and invention. Sufficient to make a book of short stories, Tales from Norlandia, which; incidentally, is now available exclusively from my website.

Here’s a chapter from A New Life in Ventis to give you a flavour of the story.

In the Provincial Hotel, Asero

Sayrah Faith was unused to flattery. So that when the stranger leant over the reception desk in the Provincial Hotel and complimented her on her appearance; she was unsure just how to reply. Flustered, she put her hand to the side of her head, patting her tightly wound hair.

“Oh sir, you should not,” she answered breathlessly, unaware that her normally well-hidden feminine instincts had made her react in the same way as the girls she considered ‘flighty’. The cheap novels she read so avidly described such situations as this, but she had never been part of one herself. She found that she quite liked the sensation it produced. It was just as the novels had described it.

“How may I help you?” she asked, attempting to strike the sort of pose that ‘heroines’ did. In her bone corset and tight gown and with her stomach sucked in she found the posture uncomfortable. Still, she reasoned, it might be worth holding it for a while longer.

“I’m looking for a room,” the man replied. Sayrah was on safer ground here. She pulled the pencil from behind her ear and automatically licked the point. Then she thought that perhaps she should not have done, as the man’s eyes widened. Flustered again she opened the ledger and ran her finger down the page.

“We have a single available,” she began but the man shook his head.

“Oh no, a double room for me,” he said. “I may be on my own but I do prefer comfort, a single bed leaves me no room to spread myself, don’t you agree?”

He was tall and thin, with a heavy moustache and side whiskers yet had an air of mystery and excitement about him. Sayrah was unworldly; in her mind she could hear her mother’s voice. ‘Double beds are only for marriage and the worst kind of adventures,’ she had used to say. Sayrah had never been a party to these ‘adventures’ and although she was aware of their nature had never been in a position to experience them. In her life thus far, men had treated her at best with indifference, it was because of her plainness and larger body she was sure, but this man had a twinkle in his eye and a kind face. Perhaps he was what the novels referred to as ‘the one’.

“I couldn’t say,” she blurted, then realised that wasn’t the right answer for a worldly wise woman to give. She blushed but the man never noticed.

“Now, my dear,” the man continued, “where might I get a good meal tonight with pleasant ambience? I know,” he added, “perhaps you could accompany me, I wish to know all about Aserol and I’m sure we might have an enjoyable time.”

Maloney was sat in the porter’s office, close to the desk, reading a news-sheet, his ears pricked up at the conversation. Sayrah was unable to hear the insincerity in the stranger’s voice and he did not like to think of her being gulled by a stranger. And there was another possibility; this may be an attempt to elicit information about Horis and Grace.

Since he had returned to work, Maloney had been alert, waiting for such a moment, he had no doubt that Terrance would seek Horis and Grace out for revenge and he wondered if this was just the start of things. Sayrah was an easy target for an unscrupulous agent after all. He merely needed to flatter her and she would be his. Maloney put down his sheet and crossed to the door, to better hear what else transpired.

“There is an excellent eatery on the sea promenade,” Sayrah said, she had never tried it but had longed to. As she walked alone some nights she had looked through the windows at the couples inside and wished herself there, in happy communion with ‘the one’. Pride would not allow her to go alone, perhaps tonight might be her chance to sample its fare. “It is called the Icthyus.”

“After the piscorae,” said the man. “Very well, I will call by speaker and arrange a table, is eight of the clock suitable for you?”

“Why yes,” said Sayrah. “I will be delighted to accept.”

“Good,” said the man. “Where is your speaker booth? I will set the wheels in motion.”

Maloney’s office was between the desk and the speaker room; he busied himself as the man passed then went to the other wall and listened carefully. He could hear the man on the speaker as he called the operator. But instead of asking for the eatery, he heard him ask for a number in Bingham. That was a town halfway to Metropol City. That alone served to warn him that his suspicions might be well founded.

The connection was made. “I am in Aserol,” he said, “with good news. Already I have a possible source of information; about one of the persons you wish me to find.”

There was a space while the other party replied, Maloney could not hear the words but guessed that the man was speaking to Terrance, or perhaps some representative of the government.

The man suddenly laughed.

“Some old spinster at the hotel where I suspect the three met. I think that the two were employees and your man was the guest. I’ve turned on my considerable charm and I have the lady eating from my hand. I will try to get more information from her tonight.”

There was silence as the other person spoke. The man laughed again. “If I must, if there is no other way,” he said. “But I would rather not; hopefully she will tell me before I have to do that.”

Again there was the silence. “Very well,” the man said. “I will report to you again at this time tomorrow, assuming that I survive the night.” Maloney heard the click as the call ended, then the noises as a second call was quickly made and a table at the eatery was booked.

Maloney stretched and straightened, peering through his door he saw the man speaking to Sayrah; no doubt he was confirming their meeting.

The bell rang. “Porter,” called Sayrah, “there are bags to take up.”

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A New Life in Ventis will be released on November 1st 2018 as an eBook and paperback.

You can find more about Norlandia and The Rocks of Aserol at richarddeescifi.co.uk/rocks

Tales from Norlandia is available as an eBook at richarddeescifi.co.uk/shop 

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Many thanks for dropping by today Richard, and for sharing such a great story. Good luck with your new release!

Happy reading,

Jenny xx


Apaches, Blues and Cadillacs – The ABC of Growing Up With American As A Second Language

I’m delighted to welcome Richard Wall to my place with a fascinating blog about living- and writing- with the duel influences of American and British culture.

Over to you Richard…

Apaches, Blues and Cadillacs – The ABC of Growing Up With American As A Second Language

The USA has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. A new president who comes across as petulant, ignorant and divisive, and a spate of mass shootings is giving a great nation extremely bad press when it comes to world opinion.

As ever, the actions of the “few” has created a backlash of bad feeling towards the “many” – ordinary Americans just trying to get on with their lives.

America, it seems, is like Marmite. But whether you love the place with a passion or hate it and all it stands for, there is no denying the huge cultural impact the United States has made on life in Great Britain since the end of WW2.

Opinion varies as to whether this is a good thing or not, but what follows is my personal viewpoint.

As a writer, people often ask me why, as an Englishman, my stories contain so many references to American culture. Well, you could say I had no choice in the matter! Despite growing up in the backwater of a small market town in rural Herefordshire, I’ve been around Americans all my life.

I was born in 1962 and my g-g-generation was (I think) probably the first to be subjected daily to the American way of life without ever having to leave British shores. In the early 1960’s, television technology advanced and TV sets became accessible to more and more UK households; the numbers of channels and programmes increased and TV influences from across the pond came thick and fast. As a result of this, I, like everyone else in my age-group, grew up with American as a second language, absorbing an influence that reflects strongly in my writing.

My earliest memories are of watching John Wayne movies on our old black and white TV, and then playing cowboys and indians (I always wanted to be Geronimo, leader of the Apaches). I watched Neil Armstrong step onto the moon and news reports of the Vietnam war.

There were also countless US TV shows: Champion The Wonder Horse, Casey Jones, Bonanza, Kojak, Starsky and Hutch, The Rockford Files, M*A*S*H, Taxi, and many more.

When I began to take an interest in music I learned that blues men from the 1930’s inspired the Beatles, the Rolling Stones (also in their 50th year), Led Zeppelin and other British bands who took this music back to America to a white audience who were largely unaware of their own musical heritage.

American movies introduced me to classic American cars: Steve McQueen’s 1969 Ford Mustang (Bullitt), Gene Hackman’s 1971 Pontiac Le Mans (The French Connection), Jim Rockford’s Pontiac Firebird and Barry Newman’s Dodge Challenger (Vanishing Point).

Someone once said; “if you can’t see the beauty in an old American car, then you’ve got no soul.

American writers, such as: Stephen King, Andrew Vachss, Elmore Leonard, John Steinbeck, and Langston Hughes (and lately Ran Walker), added layers of depth and context to my TV and film influences, and gave me an ear for US colloquialisms.

When I finally realised my dream and visited the USA (Florida, and Rhode Island, courtesy of a nuclear submarine), I found it every bit as cool and exciting as I imagined it to be as a child.

Since then I have returned many times; visiting California, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and including one memorable road trip through Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta, visiting blues heritage sites and seeing with my own eyes the places where my blues heroes were born, lived and died.

All of these lifetime influences have been bubbling and fermenting in a cultural stew that I hope adds flavour to my writing.

My first short story to be published on Amazon was ‘Evel Knievel and The Fat Elvis Diner

An Englishman in Oklahoma is watching a storm approaching when he receives an email on his phone. As he waits for the email to download, it causes him to reflect on his childhood in 1970’s England, his relationship with his father and the journey that brought him to the USA.

Five Pairs of Shorts’ a collection of short stories, some with strong American influences, followed soon after.

In 2015 came my first novel, Fat Man Blues, inspired by the Mississippi road trip, and which has attracted a great deal of interest (and praise) across the world since its release. Fat Man Blues has opened the doors to a fascinating world where I have been extremely fortunate to meet and become friends with talented and creative people from across the planet.

Earlier this year I wrote another short story: ‘Hank Williams’ Cadillac’:

Vince and Stu’s road trip through Texas is cut short when Stu’s ancient Honda breaks down in the quiet town of Rambling. Nearby is Bubba’s used-car lot, containing a collection of classic American cars. Following a bizarre encounter with a talking crow, and a deal signed in blood, Stu trades in his Honda for a powder-blue 1952 Cadillac convertible. Back on the road, the two buddies continue their journey in style, until a series of Burma Shave road signs and an encounter in a cemetery changes things forever.

This was inspired by a road trip with friends, from Oklahoma City to Colorado, which took us along parts of Route 66, where glimpses of the America from my childhood imagination can still be seen. By the way, the cover photograph (taken by me in 2012) features the beautiful 1955 Cadillac in which we took a tour of Memphis.

The American influence continues with another short story due to be released at the end of the year. Beelzebub Jones will accompany the spaghetti western-themed concept album of UK Blues Man, Andrew ‘HalfDeaf’ McClatchie.

So, America. Good guys or bad guys?

Well, my personal view is that I’m British and proud to be so, but I can also speak American, because I grew up with it. At the end of the day we are all just people.

Ordinary Americans just want a quiet life, like we all do, and are among the friendliest people on the planet.

 

In the town of Kingfisher, Oklahoma, I was honoured to meet a WW2 veteran who, it transpired, fought in North Africa around the same time as my late father. He shook my hand with an iron grip and said: In North Africa we had everything and the Brits had nothing. I got nothing but respect for them; you push ’em back and push ’em back and push ’em back until they’re up against the wall and then they come back at you like tomcats…”

These words from an American made me proud to be British.

Oh, and I love Marmite.

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Richard Wall can be found loitering around www.richardwall.org 

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Many thanks for sharing your blog with us today Richard. Great stuff.

Happy reading,

Jenny x


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