Linda, Wednesday…

Sorry that we missed a day yesterday! I wonder what you think of Linda…

I found the Rose and Crown too smoky.

Pushing open the door, I remembered Brian had thick, blond hair, a crew cut back then, dark blue eyes. Making my way to the bar, trying to look without swivelling my head too much. Wouldn’t want anyone to think I was about to spew pea soup across the bar or speak in tongues.

It was the eyes I noticed at the corner table. I sat opposite Brian, holding out my hand. He stood, shaking my proffered hand.

‘I’m glad you came.’

The blond hair had vanished, a shiny dome in its place. That makes it sound as if he was doing an impression of St Paul’s. I remembered the whispering gallery when mum took me. I wondered what thoughts were running around inside that dome that will never get said that evening.

He ordered drinks, reminiscing about the old times. The past doesn’t interest me. I could feel boredom creeping over me like unwanted ivy.

About an hour in, I made my excuses. ‘I have a big lunch meeting tomorrow; I need my shut eye. Been nice catching up.’

I stopped myself from saying we should do it again. He stood; I could feel him watching as I left.

It wasn’t exactly a lie. I do have a meeting my boss wouldn’t want messed up.

On my way home, I scolded myself a little. I could have given Brian more time.

I didn’t have to be in work that morning, the boss wanted me fresh for the meeting with Peter Westwood. I chose to wear my pencil skirt, long sleeved pale blue blouse, three buttons undone, showing just enough cleavage. If his eyes drop below my face, I will know something about him. A gentleman never lets you notice his eyes wandering. He is practised, he can do it without staring. This one knew the rules. Not once did I see his eyes wander. Deep brown, like chocolate buttons. Thick black hair with a slight kink trying to be a wave.

He is polite, stood shaking my hand, letting me sit before he did. His voice is deep. Not down in your boots deep, just enough to be sexy. Which I very much found him to be. ‘Would you like to order? I have to admit I am ravenous.’

He spoke naturally, which put me at ease.

We spoke while eating, which surprised me. I had to admit his book idea didn’t go down well with me. A teenage story of murder come whodunnit with a prize, if you entered of a replica of a jewelled dagger.

Knives and guns are all wrong, I told him. I couldn’t in all consciousness work with his ideas. I wondered what my boss would say if he was standing right behind me. I could almost hear him screaming between clenched teeth.

‘Maybe it could be a magical mystery tour around London where the reader could track the perpetrator, and the winner could have lunch with you.’

He must have liked the idea, for he stopped chewing, took a swig of his white wine. ‘That a much better idea. I could run them all over London, then back to Mayfair to the Silver Spoon.’

Before leaving, he gave me his card and his ideas for the sketches he wanted in the book. A young man with a book and pencil in his hand, roaming through London, hoping to win a lunch date with his favourite author.

He offered me a lift back to work.

I told him I was working from home today.

‘Home it is then.’

He sat in the back with me, my skirt riding up more than I would normally like. This time I didn’t tug it down. I couldn’t tell if he noticed the amount of leg on show. ‘Ask your driver to turn left here. I’m the one with the monkey puzzle tree out front.’

Turning to face me, he asked if he could come in for coffee. ‘I think there is more we can do.’

I will let you know tomorrow what he had in mind…

© Anita Dawes 2021

Linda… new hair, new date…

We had some brilliant feedback yesterday for the first episode of Anita’s serial, so thank you all for that.

Here is episode two, so we are looking forward to reading your comments!

The book I brought yesterday kept me up past my usual lights out of eleven pm. It was twelve thirty before I could put it down. The writer has a soft, gentle way of writing that pulls you in on every page. I wanted to know what will happen to the girl and her baby. That’s quite enough of that, or I will want to stay home and read some more.

I am taking the car, after a light breakfast of Rice Krispies. I check the post, just five birthday cards, as I have no family to speak of and few friends. Parking the car in my allotted space, I wondered what I would find upstairs. Would they have remembered my birthday?

I decide on brunette for my hair, in Stella’s across the road from Holland publishing. I can see the shop from my window and have been there twice for a shampoo and trim.

Entering my office space, I saw the envelopes on my desk. Terence arrived with coffee and a cupcake with a lit candle. Stopping in front of me, he said, ‘make a wish,’ with a big grin on his face. I wished for him to have a good life. I know, goody two shoes!

Like I said he’s a good egg. Birthday wishes over with; I find a note on my desk. The boss wants to see me. My guess, it was about Wednesdays meeting. Wants to give me his final pep talk. Well, okay, it is my birthday, I will be kind. Let him believe I am hearing it for the first time. that done, I pick up a file I had forgotten yesterday and put it in my bag.

I had time for a quick sketch of the fire fairy for page five of the new children’s book. Somehow, looking at it, made me think of the last date I had. The cinema, drinks after, that’s when he turned into an octopus. Too many hands had me running to the hills.

That was the beginning of last year, about ten months ago. Enough of that, today my year begins again.

Checking the time, I gather my cards. ‘I’m off, guys. Thanks again for the cards and cupcake.’

Opening the door of Stella’s let out a waft of hair spray, a warm sweet smell. Stella greeted me, ‘Come sit down, Linda. I hear it is your birthday. Carol will see to you today.’

I had barely sat down when they burst into singing happy birthday and another cupcake. This time the wish was for me. I can’t tell you what it was, or it won’t come true. I will let you know if it does. Picking my new colour from her colour range, my transformation began. Carol was quick and nimble fingered. Before I knew it, my hair was being blow dried and I was ready to go home. I liked my new colour, and everyone agreed that it suited me. Making my way back across the road to my car, my footsteps felt lighter.

There is a message on my answer phone. Someone I hadn’t heard from in a decade. Brian, an old flame from school. I listened to the message more times than was necessary. Should I agree to meet him at the Horse and Crown? He had, after all, remembered to wish me a happy birthday. Would I recognise him after all this time? What did I remember about him? Not much, which might be good or bad. He said eight I clock, so I have time to think about it. In the end I decide it would be a good test of my new look.

Would he recognise me? It was a pub, so I decided on my navy trouser suit, cream camisole, navy sling backs with four-inch heels.

We recognise each other without too much trouble. Turns out four inches was the best choice as it put us eye to eye. Save my six-inch heels for a better date.

Now that’s unkind, he might surprise me.

I will let you know tomorrow…

© Anita Dawes 2021

Book of the Week: Satin & Cinders by Jan Sikes

A wild black stallion has cautiously watched a beautiful white mare, from the safety of the forest for many years. He longs to be with her, and ventures close to the barn nightly to communicate with her. They share their deepest desires and secrets. Now it is winter, and the rest of the wild herd has moved on, but the stallion stays. He cannot stand the thought of being so far away from her. The scent of sweet alfalfa hay and the enticing lure of the white mare is too much for him. He must find a way to be with her. But will it be worth the risk? Satin and Cinders is a story of courage and determination.


More about the author, Jan Sikes

I’ve been an avid reader all my life. I can still remember the excitement that surged through me the first time I realized I could decipher words. Many summers, I won the highest award possible from the Hobbs, NM Public Library for reading the most books.
There’s nothing I love more than losing myself in a story.
Oddly enough, I never had any ambition to be a writer. But I wound up in mid-life with a story that begged to be told. Not just any story, but a true story that rivalled any fiction creation. Through fictitious characters, the tale came to life in an intricately woven tale that encompasses four books. Not satisfied to stop with the books, I released music CDs of original music to match the time period of each story segment.
In conclusion, to bring the story full circle, I published a book of poetry and art. I was done.
Wrong!
The story ideas keep coming, and I don’t intend to turn off the creative fountain.
I am a member of the Author’s Marketing Guild, The Writer’s League of Texas, Romance Writers of America, and the Paranormal Writer’s Guild. I am an avid fan of Texas music and grandmother of five beautiful souls. I reside in North Texas.

MyThoughts

As a lifelong lover of horses, I looked forward to reading this story, the equine equivalent of Romeo and Juliet. Beautifully written, this touching and romantic tale of the love and longing between Cinders and Satin reminded me that love really can find a way and will conquer all…

#Flash Fiction Challenge for Carrot Ranch Literary Community

September 23, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about an author’s chair. It can belong to any author. Where is it located and why? Does it have special meaning? Go where the prompt leads!

My authors chair is in a pub called The Drum.
It has a blue plaque with his name on, H G Wells
A man before his time, no pun intended
He sat inside with the likes of Lewis Carrol and others
Discussing their latest ideas
I would love to have been there as he wrote notes 
about what became my favourite film
The TIME MACHINE
How many would queue to sit in that chair
I would in a heartbeat
Push that crystal stopper from his brandy decanter
be on my way
Don’t look for me, I’ll be a while…

© Anita Dawes 2021

Creating Lives…

Looking back at the books I have written, it suddenly struck me just how powerful being a writer really is. Not only do we create complex characters and their lives, we control everything that happens to them. And we seem to do all of this without compulsion or regard for their feelings.

This is what I understood when I started out. The first time I had a stand-up fight with Kate Devereau, one of my characters, it literally blew me away. She had a valid argument too, and I was forced to listen and then to change my plans for her. This character continued to be demanding through two more books. Even now, she fully expects to be in my next book.

It is tempting too, but I think I have used up all her potential and have declined. It is quite special, I think, when a character does this, proof positive if you like, that you have successfully created a living, breathing and believable person.

The reverse of this coin is more complex. Antagonists, or the less than savoury characters, are harder to make real, mainly because you want them to be larger than life, worse than anyone you ever met. Keeping them believable isn’t easy at all. I always imagined they could cause me trouble if I made them too bad.

But so far, they have behaved themselves, so maybe I didn’t make them bad enough.

Right now, I am in the process of creating a new bunch of people, and I love every minute of it. The genre yet, is undecided. I like to find my people first, and then we learn what their story could be.

The people I create tend to be composites’ of people I know, and that goes for the bad as well as the good. It helps, I think, to know how a person behaved in certain circumstances, especially when you have personally witnessed all the mistakes they made!

© Jaye Marie 2021

The Secret of Flying

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I had an idea the other day, but didn’t make a note of it at the time. I think it was a good idea and remember thinking, “Wow, that would be good to write about,” but nothing else. And it doesn’t matter how long I take to try and retrieve it; it won’t come back.

The other problem I have, and this can be just as annoying, are all the cryptic sentences I do managed to jot down. Looking back at them, it’s almost as though an idiot wrote them and I have no clue what I meant to say.

My desk is awash with all the things I find useful, post-it notes, notepads and scraps of paper, and on all these things, I have undoubtedly scrawled something that was to be brilliant, memorable or interesting. Trouble is, I look at what I have written and it means absolutely nothing to me.

I suspect that more often than not, what I have jotted down is the most important detail that would lift our careers out of the depths of anonymity. You know what I mean, that little known secret that will make people notice you and want to read all of your books.

We all want to find that, don’t we?

Well, for all I know I might have done that, just couldn’t understand a word of what I scribbled down.

Before I stuck a hesitant toe into the World Wide Web, I had no idea how hard it would be, thinking it must be easy to become involved, to blog, to establish a presence. After all, there were so many interesting people out there all making it look so effortless.

How wrong I was to assume that all you had to do was switch on your PC and away you go! Nothing could have been further from the truth.

I started our blog for the sole purpose of promoting Anita’s books. I am, and always have been, her editor and general dogsbody as she will not touch a keyboard on pain of death and I’m sure there are a lot of writers like that out there.

I have always loved the process of transforming a pile of handwritten notes into what I think is a masterpiece. Back in the day, we have posted off many a manuscript to countless agents and publishers, only for them to be returned in various conditions. Once a copy of one of our books came back in tatters with coffee cup rings all over it!

We have had some very encouraging rejections letters (if that’s not an oxymoron!) which is why I am still trying to get these books to fly.

What I didn’t know, back then, was that you have to be something of a writer to do this in the first place, as you won’t keep coming up with even half decent posts if you cannot string more than a few interesting words together.

I have gradually learnt the discipline of writing, learnt that I write best first thing in the morning and am fast learning the necessity of writing legible, more detailed notes.

I am sure there are so many things still to learn, and one of them just has to be the secret of flying…

© Jaye Marie 2021

The Sunday Whirl ~ Wordle 517

I believe a filter for the brain should be available on the NHS
I have met a few people of late that could do with one
I must admit, I was right on this occasion
The monkey cage was filthy
I could sense their hunger as they huddled in the corner
Trying to get away from the cold
It is never normally like this
I left my complaint at the office
They are shorthanded and couldn’t deny
That some of the cages had fallen behind
I wish I could help tidy up
Before I could finish the sentence
She asked which days I could volunteer
We won’t let you stray, we will take care of you,
My mind said, like you have the cages.
That was unkind
Suddenly, I felt eager to start helping
I could try three days a week
I sat on the bench under the mulberry tree
Wondering what I had let myself in for
The next day I was shoved fully grown
from the womb Into the monkey cage.
Now I had to put my money where my mouth was…

© Anita Dawes 2021

This Time Last Year…

My head, and house are in chaos, so I thought I would post something I wouldn’t have to think about. This is a post from 24th August 2020…

Freedom of the Road 2020

I read a post the other day where they were talking about the wonderful sense of freedom to be found behind the wheel of a car.

Immediately, I was transported back to my own independent, working woman days when I owned a car.

Learning to drive was a nightmare for me, as it takes me a while to learn anything new, but once mastered, the world became my oyster. Not only did I drive myself to work every day, my family found a newfound freedom with that car, as we visited so many interesting places.

Becoming an experienced driver opened a very different world for me, a world where I finally felt competent and capable, something I had never felt before.

It wasn’t all roses though, there were a few hair-raising experiences along the way.

Someone must have dropped something from the bridge, just as I drove underneath. The windscreen splintered into a million pieces, leaving me in a state of shock and unable to see anything in front of the car. 

I had been travelling at about 65 mph and for a few seconds I froze. I had no memory of anyone behind me, but my instinct was to slam on the brakes in an emergency stop. The silence after the car stopped was deafening, and I sat there stunned, with my eyes shut.

I became aware of someone shouting, and when I opened my eyes, a furious man was standing beside the car, demanding to know what the hell I thought I was doing.

I couldn’t answer him. I was still in shock and confused but I remember thinking, what the hell did he think I was doing?

More to the point, I wonder what he would have done in the same situation?

He stomped back to his car and drove off. At that point, I desperately wanted to go home too, so somehow, I punched a hole in the splintered glass and drove away.

Another time, we were just leaving the garage in our car, feeling rather pleased that it had miraculously passed its MOT. It was a lovely sunny morning and our spirits were high. We were looking forward to a visit to the coast that afternoon.

We were waiting at the top of a narrow exit ramp, when we saw a rather large laundry van at the bottom of the ramp.

We wondered what the van was doing. Surely, he wasn’t going to reverse up the ramp?

Oh yes, he was, and he obviously hadn’t seen us waiting at the top. He continued to reverse, we expected him to stop at any minute and when he showed no sign of slowing down, we started thumping the horn like a pair of crazy people.

Because the ramp was narrow, we couldn’t get out of the car. We were being forced to watch the disaster unfolding.

The car needed a new bonnet and radiator after that, but our nerves took a while to mend!

To this day, every time we see a Sunlight Laundry van, we still want to scream!

I was a driver for more than 25 years before my hip put a stop to my fun, but all those years sitting in the driving seat were some of the best years of my life…

Has anyone else had any near misses when driving?

Excerpt from Out of Time… Jaye Marie #MysteryThriller

This is book two in my DI Snow Series, and having just received an amazing review for CrossFire from Colleen Chesebro, HERE I thought you might like to know a little more about Out of Time…

 Kate Devereau wakes up in a hospital, unable to speak or move. Her brain has shut down, refusing to acknowledge her dark and disturbing past, concealing a web of painful secrets.

Michael Barratt brought her to the hospital, insisting that her ex-husband had tried to kill her. And from the state of him, had tried to kill him too. He had been searching for Kate for years, ever since their doomed love affair, only to discover someone else had been hunting her too.

With the help of the DI David Snow, Kate will gradually piece her life back together, only to discover the nightmare is far from over.

Her first instinct is to run, but David Snow convinces her to stay and help him put an end to the nightmare. A nightmare that will get progressively worse before it gets better.

Haunted by his own demons, will the Snowman manage to catch the twisted killer?

Evil lurks in this story and people die, but amidst the tears and heartache, a lost love struggles to survive…

Excerpt from Out of Time

Kate sat at the table in the Vestry with her head in her hands. She couldn’t believe Jack had found her again, despite all the Snowman’s security. She kept seeing the ivory roses, blood dripping from the petals, laid on the altar like an offering. Only Jack could have thought of something that macabre.

The blood reminded her of what had happened to her beloved Dylan, her silver tabby. Jack had ripped him apart in her kitchen, strewing blood and fur all over the floor for her to find. At least this time, she wouldn’t have to clean up the mess.

Why had Michael gone outside?

She knew he was having trouble coming to terms with the fact that their relationship was over. After all this time it must have been a bitter pill to swallow. But going against David Snow’s specific orders was foolish and irresponsible. Maybe his depression had grown bad enough to warrant taking such a risk. Or had he wanted to die?

The voice disapproved. ‘I did ask you to try and be kind to him, Kate. Even though you couldn’t love him, you, of all people, should have treated him better than that…’

It was true; she remembered feeling that bad. Jack had that effect on most people. Just knowing he was out there somewhere had made her suicidal in the past, and the feeling wasn’t too far away now.

The Snowman should have let her see Michael; her imagination couldn’t be worse than the real thing. Right then, it didn’t seem real, and she kept expecting to see him come through the door at any minute. She wished with all her heart that she had run away the first time she suspected Jack was back on the scene. Michael’s sudden reappearance had reawakened all her old desires and dreams, rendering her incapable of thinking straight.

Fate was too cruel. Why had it conspired to bring Jack back into her life at that time? If he hadn’t arrived when he did, her brother would not have died, and the chain of destruction would have broken.

She wanted to run away but suspected there was no point. Jack would find her wherever she went. The knowledge sunk in that none of them were safe anymore if they ever were. What would it take to be rid of Jack for good?

Kate heard the door open but realised the noise had come from the wrong side of the room. As she raised her head to investigate, a damp, sweet-smelling cloth covered her face. She struggled against it, but he was too strong. The room went dark and then faded away…


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ABOUT US: For those new to our website and blog, we would like to thank you for visiting. Between us, we write in several different genres, so there should be something for everyone to enjoy. Anita cannot abide computers, so I (Jaye) do all the technical (oily rag) stuff! Our books tend to be varied, from horror to supernatural romance and coming of age, and mystery thrillers.  We try to keep our website interesting with guest posts, bloggers, poetry, and reviews for all the books we read. Our books are shown in the right-hand sidebar and clicking on the images should take you straight to Amazon. If you enjoyed your visit, we would love you to leave a comment… Hoping to see you again!

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Jaye’s Week…

In an effort to ignore what’s going on all around me, both in the world and in our house, (Anita has an appointment next week at the hospital) I have been trying to bury my head in the computer, trying to catch up on all the things I haven’t managed to get around to lately. In my wildest dreams, I could never have dreamed what I would be getting up to in my advancing years. Just goes to show how far you can come if you let yourself dream big.

I have always hated anything to do with computers for they are illogical, slow and complicated. I firmly believe they were sent by the devil to drive us all mad. At least, that’s what happens in our house!

But it wasn’t always this way.

There was a time when the idea of a machine with such amazing capabilities did seem like a fantastic advantage. But my first encounter with one, some thirty years ago, probably ruined me for life. This was when it was in its infancy, and you had to upload or input reams of data to do even the simplest thing. My son was playing chess on this strange looking box and I wanted to have a go. What he forgot to mention, was if you made even a small mistake in entering this data (which seemed to take hours) you would get a big fat nothing. Stubbornly, I tried and tried but failed to get it to work.

Fast forward to just a few years ago, when Indie publishing started making headlines.

Despite my earlier disappointment, I felt myself warming to the idea. I wouldn’t have to input masses of data like before, so maybe it would be easier to use. We all know the answer to that supposition, don’t we?

I still hate computers with a passion, but I do appreciate just how wonderful they are if you can learn the ropes. I still have days when I could beat mine to death with a mallet, but this is more to do with my stubborn brain than anything else. Because they can sometimes do so many amazing things, it encourages us mortals to reach for the stars.

Way back at the beginning of my blogging career, I can remember wondering if I would ever write a book, and now I have written four, well, six if you count the non-fiction ones and am close to finishing another. At the time, I was happily editing Anita’s books. I never thought a muse would bother me.

When it did, I was astonished by just how addictive writing can become. The most surprising thing was the behaviour of my characters. They became like old friends, and I enjoyed their company so much, the first book turned into a series. Even now, they are nagging me to let them loose again!

It has been an amazing and often terrifying journey, from that first ever blog post to eventually formatting e-books, paperback copies and book trailers. Learning how to publish a book was hard, but the writing was the best part, once I convinced myself that it was something I could do, after all.

None of which was easy for the biggest technophobe this side of Microsoft, someone who battles technology every single day for that magical moment when realisation dawns and I finally understands how things work.

I am well past retiring age now, but I am busier than ever and have no intentions of slowing down or stopping, for where would the fun be in that?

This journey still has some mileage, however, for there are a few things I haven’t attempted yet, and several that need improving. So I won’t be putting away my thinking cap just yet.

As they said when I was at school, “There is always room for improvement…”