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It’s a Miracle!

This is a perfect title for this story and I love ones that have happy ending. There are several aspects to this story that I can relate as my hubby also suffered ill health for a while and you wonder what would happen if the worst happened. It didn’t, thank goodness, so do read Carole’s story and leave her a comment if you do.

via It’s a Miracle!

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What to do next in Self Publishing

I recently read a blog post called The Decline of Self Publishing. It made me think about myself and my own books. I feel that the self publishing market is saturated. Everyone is writing stories these days and readers have a massive choice. The odds of them choosing mine amongst the thousands on offer is very slim. Promoting my books daily can can bring in one or two sales, but it’s hard work, especially when you have as many as I do.

All my Books

You can spend up to a year writing your and it costs a lot of money to prepare for publication. A decent cover can set you back about a £75-£150, then there is editing and formatting. Even if you do most of it yourself, that doubles the amount of time you spend on one book alone.

Suddenly, your baby, who you have become very attached to, is now ready, and you upload it to Amazon. If you set the price too high, those few people you reach with your promotions, won’t buy it because they can get books for free or 99p. So you set it at £1.99. You sell the book and Amazon takes 65% of the profit. How many books would you have to sell before it becomes profitably? Far too many to make it viable.

Why shouldn’t you collect £1.99 from every sale?

You deserve it – we deserve it – other trades and business make money without someone else taking a big chunk of it, so why can’t we?

I’ve tried selling directly to the reader, but for some reason, they only want to buy from Amazon. I’ve got a Kazz’s Books and Cards page on Facebook where people can purchase a birthday card and an ebook, because don’t they make great gifts? I’ve still to make first book sales.

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So why do we continue flogging a dead horse? Wasting so much money, time and effort to do something that only brings us stress?

I’ll tell you why, because we love it, we are addicted. We can’t stop writing stories.

So how can I turn it around? What can I do that still indulges my love of writing fiction?

Simple – I joined Electric Eclectic Books. My sales have gone up, I’m writing more stories and importantly, I’m not fighting my corner on my own any more. I am part of a collective of authors who support one another.

Writing novels is just not worth the time and the effort any more but I can still write stories, have them as eBooks and sell them. What more could I want?

Here are a few facts:

  • Electric Eclectic Books is not a publisher.
  • It is a book brand of novelettes between 6K and 20K.
  • Founder and author Paul White came up with the idea in 2017.
  • Everybody keeps 100% of their profit.
  • They get a book cover and a light edit and a book template.

Electric Eclectic Books are already taking the self-publishing world by storm. Our books are getting seen everywhere.

And it can only get better as we expand into newsletters and other websites.

I’m now on my seventh novelette under the EE brand. My love of writing as never been as high. I read a lot of the books too, because they encompass almost every genre.  I like finding new authors, because besides being a writer, I’m an avid reader, too. If I enjoy the book. I’ll go on to read their novels.

Another thing an Electric Eclectic book is great for – and that’s enticing readers to read your novels.

  • PARALLELS give authors the prospect of exploring untold events from their books; these Parallels are like a sidebar, allowing incidents not fully investigated in other volumes, now to be discovered by their readers.
  • BACKSTORIES are excellent ways to explore an individual (or several) character’s life (lives) in more depth, even from childhood or birth, delving into their lives to find what experiences moulded their temperament and personality. What traumas or conquests brought them to this point in their lives.
  • A PREQUEL is, of course, telling the tale of what happened before the series started, the worlds, the events, the people, their endeavours and conflicts, the formation and destruction of agreements, syndicates, cartels and collaborations… there is no end of possibility.

So, what does it cost? Not a lot, when you compare it to what you’ve spent on your novels or what you could pay big companies who say they will publish for you.

With Electric Eclectic Boosk there is :

  • A one off registration fee – £5
  • Brand Licence fee per book £4
  • Book cover £8 per book, or provide your own. (Subject to specifications)

There has to be a catch, I hear you say, and there is, isn’t there always?

We can only take six more authors this year.

Admission is open now. So what are you waiting for?

Contact Electric Eclectic here.

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Embers of Webster Street

by Karen J Mossman

 

Walking up to the front door, I was about to press the buzzer when the warden appeared. “Your mum’s not herself today, Jennifer.”

“What’s happened?” I asked following her down the corridor to mum’s flat.

“She’s telling everyone John’s coming.”

I pursed my lips, “John’s, my dad. He won’t be coming.”

“That’s what I thought.” She said, pushing open Mum’s door. “I’ll leave you to it, then.”

“Thanks, Megan.”

Mum’s flat was small, a bedroom and bathroom led off the lounge which also incorporated the kitchen. I still felt guilty living in our family home while she lived here.

Mum, wearing a pink sweater with a stain on the front and black slacks was holding a photo of Jessica and me.

“Ah, there you are,” she said, as Jessica came in behind me and sat on the arm of the sofa.

She was stroking the photo with her thumb. “My girls.” She murmured and looked up at me. “Your dad will be here soon.”

I glanced at Jessica who was watching Mum closely. “Mum, dad won’t be coming.” I told her. “Why don’t I make us a cup of tea, instead?”

“Yes,” she said putting down the photograph. “That will be nice. Get an extra cup out, just in case he comes.”

I said nothing as I moved around the kitchen filling the kettle and putting tea bags in the pot.

We sat around the table like we used to, and Mum poured the tea.

“Do you see Dad at all?” she asked.

“I don’t know what you mean.” I stirred my tea. Jessica looked at me and back to Mum.

“Your dad and I said you’d grow out of it, but you haven’t, have you?” I sighed and looked at Jessica.

When I was a child, I talked to people they couldn’t see. Jessica, who didn’t laugh often, thought it was funny until she realised I was serious. She and I were like two halves, she the introvert and me extrovert.

“Who are they and what do you say to them?” She once asked while we were doing puzzles in the front room.

“They’re people who’ve lived and died in this house.” I said, not looking up.

“Aren’t you afraid of them?” Her blue eyes and blonde hair were the mirror image of me.

“No, and you shouldn’t be either.”

“What do they look like?” she asked.

I thought for a moment. “I can’t always tell. I don’t really see them individually.”

She screwed up her eyes in that funny way she has. “What do you mean? I thought you could see them?”

It was hard to describe. “I can, but I see shadows, I suppose; wisps of people doing what they’ve always done when they lived here. I don’t even know if they’re aware of each other.”

Jessica and I had been born in the house on Webster Street and had lived there all our lives. The shadows had been there for longer than we had.

“Wow!” Jessica seemed transfixed as she looked around the room trying to see what I saw. “Cool, you better not tell Mum and Dad, though. They’ll think you’re silly.”

I never did, which was why Mum’s question lingered in the air. Jessica looked glum.

“You haven’t grown out of it, have you, Jennifer?” Mum repeated.

I couldn’t discuss it with her and especially not now. “Mum…”

“We knew you were different but didn’t know what to do about it.” She was having one of her lucid moments and it made my heart ache. “You were the only one who didn’t cry at your dad’s funeral.”

Without thinking, I said. “That’s because he was standing next to you.” Jessica put her head in her hands and groaned.

“You can’t do this!” Mum shrilled, getting to her feet and knocking over the dining chair. “I’ll get Jessica to stay with me. She was always the nicer one, now get out!”

There was no reasoning with her when she went off on one like this. It would end up with us all being upset if I tried. So, I left and went down to find Megan, who was sitting in her office chatting to a Home Help. I tapped on the door to get their attention and they turned to look at me.

“Sorry to interrupt, but I can’t reason with her and it’s best just to walk away. Will you keep an eye on her? She should calm down now I’ve gone.”

The Home Help looked sympathetic and Megan said, “Of course. I’ll pop down there in a minute to see if she’s okay.”

I nodded, “Thanks. Give me a ring if there are any problems.”

“She’ll be fine, I’m sure.” Megan said with a smile.

It wasn’t far to walk home, that’s why I liked the accommodation Mum was in, convenient to get to day or night. I put my head down and with hands in my pocket tried not to think of the how it always hurt when she did that. I wanted my mum back, and that would never happen now. Even her lucid moments were getting less.

I didn’t notice the car till the horn blared and Tom, my boyfriend got out. I say boyfriend and although I liked him, it was hard being in a relationship when Mum was this difficult. Tom was a good man who didn’t push me and was always supportive.

Three years ago, I dialled 999 when Dad fell off a ladder hitting his head on the paving stones. He died instantly, and Tom was one of the first police officers on the scene.

Mum, who already lived her life in profound shock, went downhill from there.

Tom got out of the passenger door. “Jen?”

“Oh hello, I was miles away. I’ve just been to see Mum. She’s had another turn.”

He walked with me and the car crawled alongside us driven by his colleague. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I know it’s upsetting. She can’t help it now. I think it’s time to make that phone call, don’t you?”

I knew in my heart of hearts I needed to ring Social Services and have them assess her again. But even though her lucid moments were getting less, they always made me hesitate. “I know you’re right.” I said giving him a half-hearted smile. “It’s just so…” I trailed off.

“Difficult,” he finished for me.

“Yes. I know I have to face it sooner rather than later.” We stopped at my garden gate. “I just feel so guilty all the time.”

Tom put his hand on my arm and said, “I know you do and you really shouldn’t. It’s not your fault, Jen. You did the right thing for her and you must do it again. Make that phone call.”

Tom was so always so wise. “I know.”

Tom turned to his partner in the car. “Des, I’m going to walk Jen inside.”

“I’m fine, honestly.” I told them looking at Des as well. I didn’t want to get them in trouble.

“He had a curry last night, so yeah, it’ll give me a break.” Des quipped.

“Ignore him,” Tom said, and I smiled.

There was always banter between those two and they often made me laugh even when I didn’t want to. We walked up the path to the from door.

“Do you want a cup of tea?” I relented, as he seemed intent on coming in.

“Never say no to a cuppa. You know me.”

I put the key in the lock. “Well, your daft mate better come as well.”

Des didn’t need telling twice, and I knew they would take it as an opportunity to skive. Tom went straight up to use the toilet and Des lingered in the hall talking on his phone.

I went through to the kitchen, put my coat over the chair, and filled the kettle trying not to think about what Mum had said when Jessica appeared.

“Don’t say anything, favourite child,” I told her, forcing a smile. It wasn’t Jess’s fault, poor love.

As Des came into the kitchen and Tom down the stairs, Jessica retreated.

“So, what happened this time?” asked Tom, leaning against the table.

“Just the usual really. You know what she’s like.”

Des looked out into the back garden, “My nan was like that, normal one minute, unreasonable the next. We never knew what mood she would be in.”

“It’s more than that, Des,” said Tom as I put the bags in the teapot and filled it with hot water.

“Oh, I know, I was just saying. I sympathise with you, Jen. I know what it’s like.”

“Let’s go out tonight?” Tom suggested.

“Oh! I’d love to, thanks for asking,” said Des and I laughed. Tom picked up a tea towel and threw it at him before turning back to me.

“Ignore him. We could try that new Italian place on the high street.”

“Desranos?”

“Yes, that’s the one. It would be good to get your mind on something else for a change, what do you say?”

I nodded. “Yes, okay.”

“I take it I’m not invited, then?” said Des.

“No!” Tom and I said at the same time and grinned.

“Seriously though.” said Des. “I went the other week, and it was nice. The food’s really good.”

I handed them the tea, and we all stood in the kitchen drinking when their radio burst into life. They had a shout and quickly left. I emptied their tea down the sink just as Jessica came back into the room.

“I know,” I said, as she always knew what I was thinking. “I shouldn’t commit to a relationship when he doesn’t know about this?” I swept my hands around the ghostly images. “And there’s Mum, she needs me even if she doesn’t always know it.”

Jessica remained impassive as I turned away and washed the cups.

A couple of days later Mum walked in through the back door.

“What are you doing here?” I gasped, abandoning the meat I was frying.

“I want to see Jessica and I want to see John!” she demanded.

She went into the front room where Jessica was sitting. “So! You’re keeping secrets from me, are you?”

“Mum! Please!”

“And where’s John, where’s your dad?”

“I can’t just bring him back like that. You shouldn’t be here. How did you get out?”

“I walked, how do you think? Anyway, I heard you telling Jessica that you could summon anybody, and I want to see John.”

“I know you do, but I was a child then. It’s not like that now. They need to be left alone.”

She was poking around the room, peering behind the sofa and curtains. “They? Who are they? Where are they?”

“Nobody’s here, Mum.” I said, trying to be patient, but she wouldn’t listen.

“Yes, they are. They’re always here.” She carried on looking determined to find something. “You said that. I heard you say it.”

I looked at Jessica, and she wore that haunted guilty look.

Running out of the room she said. “I’ll find them. I will, I’ll find them.” As she went upstairs, I was just about to follow her when I smelled burning. The meat!

The frying pan had caught fire and ignited the curtains. Panicking, I threw a tea towel over it, but it caught fire too. Thick smoke billowed and engulfed the kitchen forcing me out into the hallway.

It happened so fast and Mum was upstairs! I covered my mouth and nose with my arm and tried not to cough.

“Mum! Mum!” I screamed expecting her to appear.

I was just about to go after her when I was grabbed around the waist. I’d hardly registered someone kicking down the door as they pulled me outside.

“My mum! My mum!” I screamed, but they didn’t listen as the flames headed for the stairs.

Within minutes a fire engine had arrived, and everything became chaotic and surreal. Water hoses spurted at the windows and fireman with breathing apparatus went inside. They put ladders against the upstairs window and I watched with horror as they headed up.

People gathered round to watch and as I sobbed, I could see faint shadows in the windows. Thick smoke poured out of them, and flames licked the gutters through the broken glass.

Screen Shot 2019-05-08 at 10.57.19They brought Mum out, and it was too late. Once I had been checked over for smoke inhalation, Tom took me back to his house as I had nowhere else to go.

The following day I insisted on going back to see the embers of Webster Street. My family home was burnt to the ground.

His arm was around me as I stood and sobbed. “I don’t understand why you need to see this. You’re only torturing yourself.”

One day I would tell him although I’m not sure he’d understand. I took a final look at Mum, who for the first time looked happy. Dad, his arm around her protectively had the twinkle back in his eyes. Finally, standing next to them was Jessica, my depressive, suicidal sister.

This is just one of the stories in The Magic of Stories book. It is available to read for free on Kindle Unlimited. Or to buy from all good book stores.

Amazon UK
Amazon US

The Magic of Stories cover (Jon_s MacBook Air)

What is Flash Fiction? It’s this…

Flash fiction is a style of fictional literature or fiction of extreme brevity. There is no widely accepted definition of the length of the category. Some self-described markets for flash fiction impose caps as low as three hundred words, while others consider stories as long as a thousand words to be flash fiction.

Fewer words often tell a better story, I think.  So I’ve had a play about with words.

Addicted to Love

I love…..

I loved……

I cried……..

I saw, I took, I loved and I lost.

That sums it up really.  He was handsome and kind and when he asked me out, I said yes. I took the love he offered. It was good, really good. I drank from him and I waded through a pool of caresses and kisses. I indulged, I supped, I enjoyed.

I became dependant, possessive, needful and addicted. It was too much. No good shutting the door after the horse’s bolted, Granny said. It was one of herf avourite saying and its pity I didn’t listen.

How do you wean yourself from addiction? Time will heal, says Granny and this time I’m trying to listen. It’s hard and it hurts. I’ve cried, I’ve yearned and I’ve learnt.

This was a compilation of shorts I wrote a few years ago.

Albert

Albert loved to watch the children play in the school yard. Their voices filled hish eart with happiness, but someone reported him as suspicious. Now all Albert watches is trains.

This was a dream I had, so not all of it makes completele sense. But I think you will get the gist of it. It stuck in my mind because of the shock of what happened at the end. It felt so real.

And The Ship Went Down

I’d gone with a small group of tourists back in time. We were observers and everything around us was in black and white.  Just like a film except that we were there.

In the corridor people had spilled out of cabins shouting and pushing to get out. They couldn’t see us as we stood watching like observers.

A woman shouted above the noise, “It’s all right we;re going on again.” Just for a moment the panic subsided and then I realised we weren’t going on, we were going down, and at the same time I realised it, so did they. The ship was sinking!

The panic and bedlam rose up again. People began falling as the ship tilted. Among them were children who were getting trampled in the panic.  I could hear each individual scream and it was horrific.

We scrambled to the back of the ship and stood waiting.  I could see land not too far off as it tilted and the sea was further away. There was no question of jumping, it was like contemplating jumping off a cliff.

With awful suddenness we realised something had gone wrong, we were going down with it, and the water the rushing towards us, “I don’t like this, I want to go,” I shouted above the noise.  This was too real, not what I expected at all!

We began to sing the code word, Red Tomato, Red Tomato, Red Tomato, and nothing happened. The wind rushed in my ears and the people in my party started singing, “We are English, We are English.”  Did that matter? What was that for?

Apart the abject terror, there was no time to panic as water rushed up my legs and over my head. I will swim, I thought, soon as I’m under the water, I shall swim away, and back up to the surface.

I didn’t count on the whoosh, and of sucking sensation that sent me turning and spinning.  Then I stopped and was floating. I waited for the pain that goes with drowning. I looked across the murky water to see other people who had been sucked down too. Inthat tiny millisecond I realised I didn’t know which way was up and I wasn’t going to get to the surface. Then my breath ran out. I had no choise but to breath in and fully expected it to be sea water. It wasn’t. It was fresh air. I was alive! My eyes opened and it was a dream….only a dream…

Cooking

When I withdrew the knife, I smiled.

This would be better.

I liked to cook in the kitchen, especially on my own.

It was when I got to the sink I realised the knife still had his blood on it.

Torture

A pulse was beating in my temple which exploded into a full blown headache as I saw them come for me. I was taken down a white walled corridor as my stomach churned. I felt sick.

A light above me flickered as hysteria bubbled inside. The door opened and he was standing there waiting for me, a glint in his eyes. I didn’t want to look at the cold, sharp instruments lying on the table. I could smell fear in the room as the blood rushed through my veins and pounded in my ears. For a moment, I thought I was going to faint.

I’d seen others coming out, their faces as white as the walls.  Somewherea tap dripped. The bright light above was aimed like a spotlight illuminating the area of kill. Oh god!

Hands were on my shoulders making me lay back and terror consumed me. I caught the sight of ametal hook and broke out into a cold sweat.

A hush descended the room, the only sound was my breathing. A sweet sickly smell swept though my nostrils as goose bumps marched down from my shoulders.

Thank god they had changed it to 12 monthly appointments, as I couldn’tgo through this every time I needed a dentist check up.

The Mistake

I’m 30 and I’m single. Is that unusual? I don’t really care because I am happy with who I am.

I’m Christina; I live alone with my cat, Henry. I’ve had plenty of boyfriends and have a good social life. I love men and always have, but haven’t found the one to settle down with.

Life was good, I have a good job and my own my flat, but last weekend my life turned upside down.

It’s hard to put into words and I’m struggling to come to terms with what happened. My whole life has been thrown into disarray. I don’t know who I am any more. My self-confidence has plummeted.

You see I went to a party. My friend dropped out at the last minute and I decided to go on my own. Lots of people were there and I always find it interesting meeting new people. I’m waffling; I know I am waffling, putting off the moment I have to tell you.

You see, I kissed another woman.

There, I’ve said it. It was a full blown necking session with wandering hands. Every time I think about it, my stomach flips and I go cold. I love men. How could I do that?

I feel sick, indeed I have been sick. I’m not a lesbian, I’ve never thought of another woman that way. I love men. I love everything about them. I love sex – with a man. I’m repulsed at the thought of sex with another woman simply because I’m not gay.

So why did I end up kissing another woman? I don’t know. She liked me. She made all the moves. At first Ithought she was being attentive and naively thought she found me interesting. When she began touching me, I didn’t think anything of it. When I realised she being over affectionate, I knew I’d drank too much, and because I lwas enjoying it. Before I knew what was happening, we were outside. She was smiling at me in a way that was disconcerting. Then she began kissing me, it was passionate, it was nice, my eyes were closed. Then I opened them.

I expected to see a handsome hunk, instead there was a pretty women. I felt let down, and cheated.

My friend told me to chalk it up to experience. She said it happens to most people at some point in their lives. At least, she said, you know who you are now.

But then I always did. I love men.

I See Things

I am a normal ordinary person, or I would like to think that I am. I’ve lived in our house for 18 years and was brought up by a loving family. I’ve never had any problems. That was until recently. Now I see things.

I don’t particularly believe in ghosts. I’ve never seen one, at least I don’t think of what I see as ghosts. If they aren’t, what are they?

Well, they are small, dark blobs I see from the corner of my eyes. Suddenly they run across the room or they run up the walls. When I turn my head to look properly, they’ve gone, escaping to wherever it is they are running to.

Sometimes I think things live in this house, things we never knew were here and living along side us.  Now I know they are here, I worry. Where are they when I can’t see them?  Why do they dash everywhere and why can’t I see them as they really are?

I hear them at night too, as I lie awake in the dark. I can’t describe the soundt hey make but it is there and muffled in the silence. Where are they in the darkness? Are they crawling up the walls and dashing across the floor? It makes me shiver, and worry as to who else is living in our house with us.

Night Time Cuddles

“Do you know I love you very much,” he whispered.

“That’s very nice.”

“Very nice? What kind of an answer is that?”

“I’m just saying, that’s all.”

“You never say nice things to me.”

“Yes, I do.”

“When?

“Well, erm, I told you that jumper looked nice.”

“I’d just bought it.”

“Yes, well, I say other things too.”

“Like what?”

“I thanked you for washing up, didn’t I?”

“That doesn’t count.”

She giggled and snuggled closer.

“You’re a crazy woman, you know that?”

“That’s why you love me.”

“I do. Very much. Now go to sleep.”

Treachery

Mrs Horseface was very angry and I hung my heard.

“Somebody better own up or you are all going to be punished.”

Keeping my head bowed, I moved my eyes to Charlie on the right and Ian and Shaun on the left.

“It was her, miss,” said Charlie.

I looked up sharply in time to see the other boys nod in agreement.

Mrs Horseface turned to me and I shrunk from her stare.

“Right, get out, you three.”

And my so-called friends, didn’t need telling twice. They shot out of the door as I hunched my shoulders.

“You better explain yourself, right now Sophie Clark.”

“Erm, I’m sorry Mrs Horsley, I…I….”

“Yes? I am waiting.”

“I…well, you see….”

“Spit it out,”

“It was Charlie, he made me do it, said as my Dad was a gardener and I should pull them up.”

“Do you realise they were only planted in the spring and they were going to flower in this autumn? They’re not going to flower now, are they?”

“No Miss.”

“I shall be writing to your mother and father.”

“Oh, no, please don’t do that, miss. I shall put them back.”

“Hold out your hands.”

Reluctantly I did.

My hands were smarting so much when I came out of her office, but that didn’t stop me punching Charlie on the nose.

Like these? Some and more are featured in The Magic of Stories book. It’s on offer at 99p/c and free to read on Kindle Unlimited.

The Magic of Stories cover (Jon_s MacBook Air)

 

 

The Mystery of Missing People

By Karen J Mossman

 

Like many people, I enjoy a good mystery. Stories where you need to know what happens next. Tales that pique your curiosity, and keep you turning the page to get to the end.

Over the years, I’ve found missing people intriguing. Why did they disappear in the first place? Was it an accident or something more sinister? Is there a happy ending or does it end in tragedy? Also, just as importantly, how does it affect those left behind?

Before I thought about becoming a published author, many of the stories I’d written over the years involved this mystery.

Did you know there are 300,000 people reported missing each year in the UK alone? That works out at almost 900 a day.

The first high profile case I recall was that of Lord Lucan in 1974. His wife claimed her husband had attacked her, and murdered their nanny. The police investigated but Lucan was never found and to this day it remains a mystery. You can read the full story here.

Journalist Amelia Hill wrote a fascinating article in the Guardian in 2012 about a girl who became pregnant. Her boyfriend didn’t want to know, and her parents told her to get an abortion. She felt she had no option but to run away. She had her baby and said her life had been a lie ever since.

As part of my research I went onto the missing person’s website. There were many stories about people who had disappeared, and those left behind. One mum showed the bedroom of her son left just as it was in 2006 when he disappeared. The torment she must live with wondering whether he is still alive is hard to imagine.

Another high profile case was that of estate agent Suzy Lamplugh who disappeared in 1985. An attractive young woman who had penciled in her diary she was meeting a Mr Kipper. She was never seen again, her remains never found, and they didn’t trace Mr Kipper. As a result estate agents changed the way they worked and Suzy’s mother founded a Trust in the name of her daughter to deal with personal safety.

Not all cases are as high profile, and in 2012 an appeal was launched for a missing woman who had not long given birth. She was already suffering from anxiety and depression. It could have gone either way and for a few days, everyone lived in hope until they found her body.

I once read a story called Never Coming Back by Tim Weaver. It told an intriguing tale about a young woman who visited her sister and when she arrived there is no one home. The whole family had disappeared right in the middle of what they were doing. How could they just disappear, leaving their dog, and food cooking? It’s a great read and that element of mystery was a key factor.

Little Ben Needham was aged just 21 months when he disappeared in 1991. He was on holiday on the Greek Island of Kos with his family. He was being looking after by his grandparents at their farmhouse when he vanished. It made the news all over the world and it finally looks like the boy wandered onto a nearby building site and died as the result of an accident. More details are here.

Madeline McCann is one of the most famous stories. In 2007, the four-year-old girl was abducted while on holiday with her family. She was a beautiful little thing with blonde hair and big blue eyes. She captured everyone’s hearts. Despite a massive investigation and search. The police had no viable leads and no trace of her was ever found. Twelve years on, the story still hits the headlines occasionally.

There are many more stories with no conclusions offered and it’s frustrating not to have an ending. I’ve always wondered what makes people want to disappear in the first place. What are their stories?

One day watching a television programme that searches for missing people, I had an idea for a story. What if you were the missing person, and suddenly your face appears on screen? The secret you had been trying to keep was now out.

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Found! tells the story of Amanda, who had problems with her brothers. She takes off to Scotland and creates a new life for herself. When she and her boyfriend are watching television, it is her face that comes up onscreen and Jamie, her boyfriend shocked by what he hears.

The people left behind don’t always know the reasons their loved ones leave. It affects them in difference ways and many suffer for years. So in this story, I’ve included the bewildered family and how they dealt with her disappearance.

 

KindleDown by the River is also a tale that involves a missing person. This one was inspired by the 90s song Hazard by Richard Marx. I added a new main character and it has been described as a crime thriller with a touch of paranormal..

As mentioned before, some stories do not have ending and we are not always given that neatly wrapped up conclusion. With Found! I wanted to round it up and conclude it, so get your tissues ready for an sweet ending!

 

The Power of Love

by Karen J Mossman

It was a normal scene of children playing down at the sparkling brook. A brook that ran through the forest, except this was no ordinary boy as he and his friend squatted by the water, knees to their chins holding sticks.

Jorge’s gold coloured hair was mucky with dirt from the ground, the same dirt that covered his naked body. Josie’s ringlets carried specks of leaves and a tiny twig had caught in one. The children played happily in the water. People who didn’t know them would think they were siblings, but they weren’t.

Josie’s head shot up a moment before Jorge’s as music filled the air. “The King plays,” she uttered.

Jorge watched in awe as the colourful musical notes filled the surrounding air. Quavers, crotchet, minim, and clefts showered downwards entering the water with a slight hiss. Bubbles rose to the surface as if to receive them.

Josie stared at the popping on the water. “What is it?”

“It’s the music drowning,” he said.

Josie looked up and around not seeing anything. “Are they still raining?”

Jorge nodded wiping away one that had landed on her shoulder. Awe shone from their faces, although Josie only heard the sounds. She accepted that Jorge was the only one to see them. Perhaps it was magic.

Once, when Jorge was at home in the village with his parents, the music struck up and he dashed to the window to watch them fall.

“They are beautiful, Mama,” he sighed as they hit the ground, split apart, and vanished.

“What are?” His mother asked as she came to window to see what he was looking at. She was pretty woman, with an abundance of dark hair that she kept calm with a ribbon weaving through it.

“The music, Mama. Can you not see it?”

His mother looked at her husband, who was standing very still. Her eyes were fearful. Jorge was a special boy and she didn’t want him to appear different to the other children in the village.

“Son…” His father sat next to him placing his big hand on the boy’s shoulder. He was a robust man, a solid torso with short legs, so different from his son. “You must never speak of this to anyone.”

“But why?” Jorge asked earnestly. “They are so pretty and the music is so special. It’s the King playing, isn’t it?”

His parents again looked at each other. “Yes dear,” said his mother. “When the King, who lives in the castle, plays music on his pianoforte, everyone in the land can hear it.”

“But only you,” continued his father, “can see it.” The boy’s eyes grew wide.

“That makes you a special boy,” she said, her eyes never leaving her husbands.

“Yes,” he agreed. “You are our special boy, but never speak of this to anybody, not even Josie. Do you understand?”

Jorge nodded, not wanting to say he already had. “But why, Papa?”

“It’s our secret, and when you’re older, we shall tell you why it needs to be this way.”

His mother’s eyes filled with tears and Jorge’s hand rested on hers. “It’s all right, Mama, whatever it is will not take me from you.” He didn’t know what he had said to make her gasp and cry.

“Mama loves you very much and never wants to lose you.” Jorge still did not understand and frowned.

“Everything will be all right. Just remember our secret.”

Jorge never forgot the hurt his questions had caused and never spoke of what he saw to them again.

-O-

One day, several years later Jorge was out hunting with Josie. The King played his music and Jorge stopped and lowered his bow. The mournful song tore into his soul with its beauty.  Over the years the musical notes had become transparent accompanied by a myriad of rainbow colours.

Josie watched him for a moment and then said, “You still see them, don’t you?”

Jorge nodded. He could not be untruthful with the girl he would eventually marry. “One day I shall join the others and visit the castle to watch the King play.”

“But your parents forbade you.”

“I don’t want to hurt them, but the music calls me, Josie. I have no choice. I must go.”

“Then I will accompany you.”

Jorge went to his parents and told them his news.

“We have to tell him the truth now,” his mother said, as she looked at her husband for agreement.

“What truth is this” Jorge asked.

His father looked at the fine strong young man in front of him and knew the time had indeed come. They could not keep their secret any longer. “Sit down, son.”

Jorge stepped back and sat in the wicker chair his father had made many years ago. His parents sat on similar chairs and looked uncomfortable.

Jorge fidgeted, “I fear for what you are going to tell me.”

“Just know we have always loved you,” said his mother.

“I know,” said Jorge quietly. “Of that there has never been any doubt.”

“You were not born of your mother,” his father began, as Jorge’s eyes grew wide in shock. “We found you in the forest when you were a tiny baby. Your Mama fell in love with you and we brought you home.

“In those days there were many battles, as men came from foreign lands to claim what belonged to us and our kingdom. We found out much later that one such battle occurred whilst the King and Queen were travelling in their carriage. They lost their child, a boy.”

Jorge’s face changed as he realised what his father meant.

“They wounded The Queen, and some say she went mad for her only son who was never found. The King plays his music as a lament for what was lost. Not only for his son, but in truth he lost his wife as well.”

The silence hung heavily between them as Jorge looked at each of his parents. He lowered his head and said quietly, “I am that boy, aren’t I?”

“We fear so. Your Mama could not give you up despite a King’s ransom being offered.”

Jorge looked around his humble dwelling and just like the other people in the village they were a poor family. Indeed, to have turned away a King’s ransom they must have loved him very much.

He sighed quietly knowing he couldn’t change the path he must now take. “The music calls me, Papa, Mama,” he said looking at each of them again. “The music has always called me. I have no choice, but to go to the castle.”

Mama cast her eyes downward knowing she could not dissuade him.

“The King grants an audience to his music,” Jorge continued. “I must go and hope they will choose me to enter.”

“Maybe they won’t choose you?” his mama said hopefully.

“Then I will keep returning until they do. I will get in, Mama, and Josie will be accompanying with me.”

Jorge could see how upset his mother looked and went over to her. Kneeling down in front of her chair, he took the hand of this woman who loved him beyond doubt, and who had cared for him all his life. Despite their poverty her love was a rich as any King’s ransom.

“You will always be my Mama. You both will always be the people I return to, and the people I treasure most,” he told them earnestly. ‘This is not the end. It is just the beginning.” He stretched his hand across to include his father. “I love you both very much.”

-O-

They gave him and Josie horses and provisions to make the trip in case they had to camp outside until they gained entry to the castle.

Many people requested entry on a daily basis and Jorge was dismayed when he saw just how many arrived at the castle gates like they had. Each one having their own reason for wanting admittance. None would be as important as Jorge’s.

Only so many people were allowed into the castle at one time and people crammed towards entrance hoping they would be chosen ones. Jorge and Josie were turned away many times, not being able to get near enough. Josie knew it was just a matter of time. Jorge was confident of that and she remained by his side. Each day, they made progress and now they were near, Josie could see the music was having more of an effect on him. People outside listened in awe, but Jorge was lost in the sound, his eyes closed, his body almost rigid. He still saw the musical notes.

One evening as the sounds played, she watched tears form and spill from his eyes. Leaning over she wiped them away. “Please do not weep, my darling Jorge. We are here, we will get inside and see the music being played.”

“They are not tears,” he said. “The music is inside me now and pouring out making me as translucent as it.”

Josie could see the magical quality of his skin and it was like he was taking on a glow.

The following day Jorge and Josie were at the front when the drawbridge was lowered. Once inside they could only stare in wonderment. It was the most beautiful place they had every seen. The walls led up to high ceilings with carved elegant wood moulded into beautiful shapes. Some were even animal-like. People scuttled in beside them, their own faces looking around in admiration.

Inside the music room the walls were adorned with paintings of past and present royalty, animals, and musical events. Like Jorge and Josie the people had never laid eyes on such things and could only stare in wonder.

“Look,” whispered Josie as she pointed out candelabras made of cut glass and figurines made from finely painted china. “Have you ever seen anything as beautiful?” She drew in her breathe as her eyes glowed with the astonishment of it.

A murmur arose as the King entered. People lowered themselves to their knees paying homage to their monarch. Jorge saw the grand pianoforte on a raised platform in front of them. Josie gasped as she stared at the King, then turning she looked at Jorge with shock. “The… the King, Jorge, the King,” she stuttered. “He looks just like you!”

Jorge stared and realised he did. Even her could see the likeness now. It explained many things. One stuck in his mind and that was when the King and his carriage passed by Jorge was never allowed to attend.

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Questions he asked were evaded, and looks between his parents did not go un-noticed. Now it was clear to see why.

People rose to their feet, clapping in glee, all eyes focused on the rotund robed figure.  The King was a handsome man of middle age. His coiffure shone in its goldenness and on his head was a crown encrusted with rubies and diamonds. He wore a double-breasted waistcoat made from finely woven material, and a cloak of red velvet with fur trims held together by a golden button. His dark corduroy trousers finished below the knee and met white woollen stockings leading down to fine shiny leather shoes with a small heel.

The King bowed in acknowledgement waving a royal hand. His reddened cheeks crinkled as he smiled. He appeared happy to greet his people. Moving over to the piano, he sat down, pushing his cloak to the back of him.

Behind the pianoforte, the people could only see his head and shoulders and a little of his chest. He swayed as he began to play.

Jorge’s legs weakened and for a moment thought he would fall. Josie’s hand shot out to steady him. “Jorge? Are you all right? Jorge?”

Jorge blinked, tore his eyes from the King and looked at her. He nodded, not trusting himself to speak, shocked of what he was seeing.

He had expected to see the musical notes arising, but instead, he saw the small transparent clefs, quavers, and crotchets descending like they were a living being. They were raining from the ceiling, at first settling on the instrument and then King. The more he played the more they rained down.

It seemed the King was not playing the music at all! Jorge moved around, with Josie following to see what the King’s fingers were doing. They were hovering over the keys but the musical notes were making it appear that the music was coming from the piano, so no one suspected. Only Jorge was able to see the notes settling around him and popping, like a bubble bursting. It was indeed like magic.

Jorge whispered in Josie’s ear, “Someone else is playing the music, it’s not the King.” Josie looked back and couldn’t tell. It sounded like he was playing, everyone around thought he was playing. “Stay here,” he said close to her ear.

To her amazement Jorge pushed his way out of the room. He eyes followed the dancing music. He walked quickly down a corridor as it lead the way leaving Josie behind.

Guards, who were standing nearby, didn’t seem notice him pass. Jorge’s skin shining and almost see through, as if the music was making him invisible. He felt a dampness it clung to his clothes and hair, yet his eyes were fixed on their movement to a small open doorway.

Passing through, he went up the dark narrow steps. The way lit up by clefs and quavers. The stairs moved up in a circular manner he went up a tower. Light-footedly he skipped up higher as the music became louder as it called to him. Reaching the top, he found a solid iron door. There was a rusty key sticking out of the lock. He turned it.

The light inside almost blinded him. The music was so beautiful, it made him stumble and as the emotion consumed him, he thought his heart might break. It was mournful, sorrowful and the notes contained a yearning that was beyond measure.

He stopped and the music suddenly ceased. The silence startling  as his eyes adjusted to the bright light inside.

There in the centre of the room was the biggest pianoforte he had ever seen. The silence was startling as he stared at the figure sitting on the stool.

The woman had long black hair tied back in a once neat style. Now it was matted together with ribbons that were already falling apart. Her once opulent dress was torn, and old. The vibrant green was faded and dull. She stared at him with bright blue eyes that looked almost out of place on her old face. Her dry lips parted and her voice sounded like it hadn’t been used in a long time.

“My son,” she uttered. Jorge couldn’t move from where he stood as he stared knowing she spoke the truth. “I’ve been calling for you for so long.”

“Mother, your son has come.”

The Queen always believed her son was alive and had not been eaten by some wild animal was it was suggested. The King had his guards searched but to no avail. Eventually the Queen was banished to the tower with her madness, and in truth many had forgotten she was still alive.

Rising to her feet, her body was bent from the long hours at the instrument. “I am the mad Queen they put in the tower,” she said, her voice becoming clearer. “I’ve been calling for you to give me the peace I desire.”

She held out long thin fingers to him. Taking her hand he was surprised to feel the strength emanating from the thin weak skin.

“Come,” he said. “It is time for you to take your rightful place beside to the King.”

At the top of the tower, they descended the dark staircase, she following behind him. As they emerged together through the door, the guards gasped standing aside as they saw their Queen and the tall young man by her side, her arm looped through his. The only sound, as they made their way to the music room, was the rustle of her dress on the floor.

If it hadn’t been for Jorge by her side, the people would have thought she was an apparition as they gradually parted to let them through. All eyes were wide in horror and fascination as they gasped allowed. “It’s the Queen! Isn’t the Queen supposed to be dead!?” People muttered as they began to curtsey and bow in awe uttering, Your Majesty.”

The murmur grew louder and as they moved passed Josie, Jorge caught hold of her hand and brought her with him to where the King was standing. A stunned expression was on his face.

“Sir,” said Jorge, with a respectful bow. “May I present my mother, the Queen?”

There was another audible gasp as people came out of their stupor and fell to their knees.

“My son!” said the King just as the Queen began to speak.

“The power of my love has brought him home. Just as I said it would one day.”

The King gasped again, this time he clutched his chest. As he fell to the floor, his courtiers rushed forward. They knelt beside him and sadly shook their heads. “The King has died,” said one.

The Queen reached her shaking arm out towards her son and with all the energy she could muster, cried. “Hail the new King!” Her legs gave way, and she collapsed dead beside her husband.

After a moment of shocked silence, the crowd shouted out and until their voices became one. “Hail the new King!”

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The Bittersweet Seventies

by Karen J Mossman

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In 1973, I was a teenager and the most important things in my life were music and fashion. I lived in Manchester with my family.

A few of us, including my brother Phil, would go to an under 16s discotheque. There was always someone who didn’t know about the neon lighting in the foyer. It showed up anything in white – bras mostly, which made us giggle.

We danced to Gary Glitter who was at the height of his popularity with Do You Wanna Be In My Gang and I Love You, Love. The D.J. was Andy Peebles, who found fame with Radio One. I recalled him turning up one night with his face bruised. Rumours circulated how he’d got into a fight outside.

The 70s were a time of wild fashion and everybody loved dressing up. We were no exception with our penny round collars, tank tops, and flared trousers. We thought we were cool with our feather cuts and bomber jackets.

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Me with my penny round collour and a feather cut.

Platform shoes were the height of fashion, only your mother ever wore shoes without a platform. The trendiest ones I had were made from brown fabric with a platform resembling a brick.

Bruce Lee made his first film, Enter The Dragon and David Carradine was starring in the cult TV series Kung Fu. Everybody wanted to learn how to fight.

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I fell in love for the first time in the autumn of ’73. His name was Steve, he worked with Martin, Phil’s friend, and rode a motorbike. I couldn’t eat or sleep just living for when we could be together; life was wonderful.

Martin and his mate Keith were impressed with Steve’s Honda motorbike, and saved up to buy one each. This meant they could travel anywhere, and they met two girls, Jo and Lisa . It didn’t matter that it was illegal to carry pillion passengers until they’d passed their test, or even for passengers to wear helmets.

My best friend Sue and I were in awe of the girls. Jo in particular. She had a dark fringe and the rest of her hair was a bleached blonde. She also wore heavy black eyeliner and had a tattoo on her arm. She was different to the normal girls we hung around with. She and Sue always wore the latest fashion of midi skirts with short waisted cardigans.

‘What do you think of my shoes?’ Jo asked one day as we were sitting on the wall outside my house. ‘I’ve sprayed them silver.’

It impressed me. ‘Wow, that’s cool. My mum’d never allow me to do that.’

‘I needed a new pair,’ she said, shrugging as if it was an everyday occurance. They had a big thick heel and a smaller platform.

Carl Douglas entered the charts with Kung Fu Fighting and we were all in the grips of Kung Fu Mania. Jo loved The Jackson Five. I would watch her dance and wanted to be like her.

Keith was still seeing Lisa, but two-timing her with Lauren. It was complicated for a while, before he stuck with Lauren. Things between Martin and Jo were not going well either. Jo was smitten, and Martin moaned to me. ‘She’s getting to be a nuisance. I get home from work and she’s sitting on the doorstep. She won’t take the hint. ‘You have to just tell her,’ I said, knowing it would break Jo’s heart.

One day I came home from work to find the police talking to Mum. She looked worried. ‘Here’s Karen now. Come and sit down,’ she told me. ‘These policemen want to talk to you.’

I was shocked to see them. ‘When was the last time you saw Martin?’ one asked.

‘Last night,’ I said puzzled. Martin had never been in trouble with the police. ‘He was here, playing cards with Phil and I.’

‘What time did he leave?’ they asked.

‘About 11.30.’ The questions bewildered me. ‘Why? What’s wrong?’ Something bad must have happened.

‘Can I tell her?’ Mum asked. They nodded and mum whispered, ‘Karen, Jo’s dead.’

My first thought was Martin had finished it and she had killed herself, but they soon put me straight. ‘Someone murdered her,’ said the detective. ‘She was found this morning in a playground.’

‘You don’t think Martin…’ The thought was preposterous.

‘He’s gone missing,’ they said. ‘We know he was going out with her.’

‘He was trying to finish it,’ I blurted, ‘She didn’t want to. He would never do that. Besides he was here till late,’ I repeated.

The date was Friday 13th September. Shock waves ran through us all. While the police were with me, Martin and Keith were at the scene talking to detectives there. They were quickly eliminated from their enquires.

We bought every newspaper that carried the story and went to Keith’s house to read them. We discussed every possibility. Who could have done it, and why?

Murder was unusual in those days and it made the headlines. Apart from her photograph, there was a picture of the scene, and a single silver sprayed shoe.

They apprehended the killer. Someone she knew followed her from the Fish ad Chip shop. He was convicted and sent to jail.

Kung Fu Fighting reached number one, Jo would have been pleased.

No one ever spoke of her again but once in a while Kung Fu Fighting comes on the radio and it transports me back. She should be out there somewhere too, smiling as I do whenever someone mentions the Seventies.