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I know it’s Wrong, but…

A couple of years ago I supported a campaign called Our Books Are Not Free! Something I truly believed in.

Amazon take such a big chunk of royalty and on average I may earn about £6 a month, and on an extremely good month sell 10 books.

I’ve been publishing since 2014, and in that time have learnt a lot about the craft of writing and marketing of books. However, like most writers I’m just one person. Once the hard work of writing and editing is done, the marketing starts. You have to promote your book regularly and often.

During that time I’ve become involved in other things which also take time to market. Then of course, there is a the little matter of every day life, and it is impossible to do it all and to keep up the momemtum.

In 2019 I sold  eighty eight books, which isn’t a lot and would probably buy me a meal out.

Several times a week I check my sales on Amazon and Draft to Digital, an alternative to seller.  They send books to Apple, Nook, and Kobo, amongst other places.  The reports mostly look like this.

This

 

Screen Shot 2020-02-08 at 10.23.07I was told the more books you have the more you’ll sell. That may have been the case once but not any more, at least not for me.  Readers have the biggest choice of books now and the competition is greater than ever.

When I see reports like the above, I ask myself why I’m writing if very few people read them? Well, the answer is simple; it’s my love of stories. Being able to write is an extension of my imagination. It’s why I started this blog, why I gave it the name and where my passion for stories lie.

Let’s be honest here, I will never be a best selling published author. I’m never going to make millions. Which brings me back to where I started, I know it’s wrong, but…

In total I have fifteen published works. Eight are with a publisher, and seven are self published. I’ve made the big decision to make four of them free to download.

Now my reports look like this. That’s virtually a sale every day and I am reaching more readers than ever before. I can only hope they like my writing style enough to want to buy a book, too.

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In the below chart, Butterfly Bats, May Recitals, and Mothballs, are anthologies by Electric Eclectic Books, of which I have stories in. I uploaded them on behalf of the brand. I get the same feeling seeing them doing well and being downloaded.

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Although part of me feels I’m doing a dis-service to other authors because it was said it devalues their books. In the time since that campaign, I’ve stuck to my guns by not offering any for free and it hasn’t gotten me more sales. So, is it so wrong to want people to read my work?

My free books are:

The Magic of Stories a compilation of short stories, flash fiction, and poetry.
The Adventures of Cassidy Newbold is four short stories
The Power of Love, is a short story.
One Christmas,  a short story novella

If you would like to support me and purchase a paid book too, I would be really pleased.

The following novella’s can be found here.

Distant Time – a science fiction novella
Down by the River, a crime thriller novella
A Cry in the Night, a romance novella
Play the Game, a romance novella
Finding Amanda, a mystery novella.

Or, my self published books

Behind Closed Doors, a romance novel set in the 70s
Joanna’s Journey, a romance novel set in the 80s (Also available on Kindle Unlimited)
Joanna’s Destiny, a romance novel set in the 90s (Also available on Kindle Unlimited
The Ghost on the Stairs, a paranormal adventure featuring Cassidy Newbold.
Toxic, a dystopian, science fiction  novella.

Purple

 

 

A Short Story for the Weekend

Steps of a Killer by Karen J Mossman

Hampstead Heath is beautiful in the early morning sunlight. The dew sparkled on the grass giving it a magical appeal. Where I stood, the ground was elevated and I could see the city. People were waking or heading off to work. It was just a normal day for them.
For a moment, I looked over at the trees and breathed deeply. I could feel her. Exhaling, I took another breath and my feet moved in her footsteps. Briefly, my eyes closed as I advanced. This was where she was, where she walked, stumbled and broke into a run. Her feet became mine as I moved with her towards the trees.
I entered a pathway surrounded by trees and knew beyond a doubt this is where she was killed.
My heart is thumped. My breath was jagged and the adrenaline is surged through my veins as I entered a pathway surrounded by trees. Beyond doubt I knew this was where she was killed.
I become her as a sob escaped me. I felt him following behind. Moving quickly, I stumbled, my head whipped around and his shadow attacked me. Crying out, I threw my arms forward hoping to knock him away. Instead we rolled together on the ground. Me and a shadow from the past.
We came to a stop having hit an obstacle. A shaft of sunlight hits the trees and a beam of light illuminated his face.
Later, I sit alone in the Dandelion café sipping my drink and staring out of the window. The high street is full of shoppers. They carry their bulging bags and have no idea a killer could be amongst them. He probably looked like an average man on his way to do his business, to the pub for a drink, or to meet friends. They don’t know what he did. Or the life he took for his personal gratification.
My fingers worked the fabric in my hand, a bit of cloth that came from an evidence bag.
I felt the girl in my core. Her hopes and dreams for a future she will never have. Poor girl. Poor, poor girl.
Coldness enveloped me and for a second everything went silent. I took a sharp intake of breath – he was here! I felt him strongly.
My mind returned to the café and the surrounding people come back into focus. “Excuse me? Is anyone using this chair?” My blood runs cold. It’s the face of the man I grappled with in the forest.
I shook my head, too stunned to speak. He moved the chair to a different table and joins an older man. They chat and I stared at his profile.
His forehead jutted out a little and his hair is side parted, his nose was sharp and long, and he had a slight double chin.
How can he sit there looking like any normal guy?
Pulling out my phone, I selected Seb’s name and listened to it ring. Seb was my brother and a police detective.
“Cassie,” he answered.
“I’ve got him,” I state.
“What? Where?”
“Right here. I’m looking at him.” I was staring at the side of his head, unable to take my eyes from him, unable to fathom how normal he looked when he carries such a terrible secret. I suppose I expected him to look the monster he is.
“Where Cassie? Where are you?”
“The Dandelion café.”
“Okay, I’m on my way.” The phone went dead.
The man’s companion got up and I heard him say, “Thanks for the coffee.” My eyes burned into the side of the killer’s head. He glanced around as he raised the cup to his mouth.
My blood boiled. How dare he just sit there and act normally! He thinks no one knows what he had done but he is wrong. I know! I couldn’t help myself as I stood and moved over to his table to sat in the empty seat. He looked surprised as I said nothing.
“Can I help you?” he asked sounding like a regular guy. Normal voice open expression, friendly even.
Seb was going to be annoyed. He says I’m a loose cannon and unable to contain my feelings. He’s right. I shouldn’t be taking risks like this.
“I know,” I said quietly.
He stared at me and says, “I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.”
I wish I could throw the fabric I still have clutched in my fist at him, asking if he remembers it, but because of where it came from, I can’t.
“Yes, you do. I can see it in your eyes.”
He continued to stare, and I could hear the sound of him breathing. “I think you’ve mistaken me for someone else.”
“No, I haven’t. I know who you are, or rather what you are.”
His Adam’s apple bobs. “And what’s that?”
I looked around. “Do you want me to say it out loud?”
He leaned forward and I flinched as my back pressed into the chair. In a whisper, he said, “You’re crazy, I don’t know you.”
As his breath washed over me, I realised she wasn’t the first one he’s killed.
The shock of his evil breath made me rise to my feet. I shouldn’t have confronted him. He stood up too, scraping his chair on the floor.
Glancing out of the window I urged Seb to hurry. The man gives me a hard stare and strides out the door.
Damn! I rushed after him while putting the phone to my ear and pressed redial.
Seb’s voice comes through and I heard he is on hands-free. His blues and twos echoed down the phone and in the distance, as he approached.
“Can you still see him?” he asked after I explained.
“No, he’s gone. Where are you?”
“Two minutes. I’ll be two minutes. Stay there,” he said urgently, and hung up.
Moving away from the doorway, I looked up and down the high street, stopping sideways to look at the reflections in the shop windows hoping to spot him.
I felt his presence.
Spinning around, he was right behind me. Something sharp pressed against my skin.
“Keep walking,” he commanded. His touch consumed me. My psyche flooded and I saw everything he had done. How those poor girls suffered! I couldn’t do anything except walk with him. I knew beyond a doubt he would plunge the knife without conscience and disappear into the crowd before I even hit the floor.
Where the hell was Seb?
He walked me into an alleyway, and out of sight behind a large dustbin.
Seb! The sirens approached.
The blade was against my throat and his other hand was pulling at my skirt and underwear.
“How did you know?” His fetid breath covered my face.
“I know everything,” I told him as the blade broke the skin and I panicked.
“You know nothing!” he hissed.
“I know if you don’t let go, that man over there will kill you.”
He laughed, but still checked as Seb came skidding over. Grabbing him by the neck of his jacket, he threw him to the floor. With a knee in his back, Seb cuffed him.
“Are you all right?” he asked.
I pushed my clothes back into position and wiped the trickle of blood from my neck, Seb yelled at me again. “Yes!” I retorted, and he talked into his radio.
People gathered, wondering what was going on. They shouted in our direction, aiming phones. I tried to keep my face hidden. Seb yelled at them to stay back.
The man, the killer, is struggling on the ground trying to break loose. Seb was having trouble holding on to him. I couldn’t do anything to help as the guy swung round and pulled Seb with him. More sirens got louder as Seb fought to keep a hold on him.
Relief flooded through me as cops spilled into the alleyway. They relieved Seb of his prisoner and he strode towards me.
“You bloody fool!” he said moving my hand from my neck, shaking his head. “Get that looked at. God, Cass, what the hell were you thinking?”
“I’m sorry,” I said, feeling shaken.
The killer threw us a strange look as they carted him off. My brother, Seb, and I are used to those looks. People often look at us strangely because we look so alike
“At least you’ve got him,” I said as we walked back up to the road.
“Have to link him with the crime yet.”
“Him attacking me will give you time to do that.”
“Don’t tell me my job,” he snapped, and I knew I’m wasn’t off the hook yet, although, he rarely stays mad for long.
An ambulance pulled up and I was glad to get inside, away from the curious eyes and stares. It is just a scratch and a plaster was all that is needed.
Seb drove me home and I took the tongue-lashing, as is par for the course. You see, Seb and I are twins, identical, and it’s unusual for a girl and a boy to be as much alike as we are.
He was a seeker, he always finds what he’s looking for, especially when it’s me. He can zone in on where I am, so I never get lost. Seb has no psychic power, but we work well as a team.
Want to read more?
The Adventures of Cassidy Newbold is free to download from most booksellers.
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Christmas Time

Firstly, welcome to my new subscribers who’ve dropped in this last month. I do post fairly regularly, but haven’t for the last few weeks for various reasons.

However, I’m back and the other day a blog post caughte my eye. It was about Christmas past, present and the furture.

It made me realise how at Christmas time I always remember what it was like when I was a child and how we celebrated our Christmas’s. I came from a big family and we  hung a stocking on the end of the bed. In the morning there would be an apple, orange, a little toy and some chocolate inside. The chocolate was particularly nice when eaten at 6 am!

We would go downstairs when told we could, and there in the lounge was a pile of toys, all unwrapped waiting for us. It was a treasure trove as our eyes grew wide with excitement. Mum or Dad would tell us which chair or end of the settee was ours. The toys for many years consisted of the same the things, but we loved them just the same. Always a coloured-1854302_1920spinning top that hummed like crazy the faster it got. A tea set with cups and saucers, a tea pot, milk jug and sugar bowl was also firm favourite as I used to have a lot of tea parties with my dolls. And yes, a beautiful doll, whom I always adored. I still remember counting them one day, and I had twenty eight of all different shapes and sizes and colours. I loved choosing a name for them. One year I even had a hamster in a cage. We were lucky, and we all loved Christmas. This cumiliated in a wonderful Christmas dinner.

When I met my husband, his family did something different. They didn’t open any presents until after Christmas dinner had been eaten, cleared and washed up. He had a big family, and they went to different relative’s houses on different years. There used to be up to wenty two around the table. The presents, all wrapped sat like a mountain around the Christmas tree and took hours to open. It was lovely. Gradually as the years went by the elderley relatives passed away and the people round the table got less and less.

When we had our own children, we kept that tradition although we did have some toys to open on Christmas morning, with many more later. There is something special watching your little children getting up when it was still dark, desperately trying to be awake to seeing the glee in their eyes. I remember one particularly year we bought our son a sit-upon-digger. It was too big to wrap so I placed a balloon in the digger bucket and covered it with a table cloth. In the morning, he pulled off the cloth and exclaimed loudly with a sharp intake of breath. ‘A balloon, a balloon!

When the children grew up, we experienced a different kind of Christmas where it was just the two of us. The family would come to us for dinner and we would open presents afterwards, just like we always used to. It was strange waking up in the morning to have no gleeful children and it took a while to get used to.

We moved to Angelsey a few years ago and Christmas’s changed again with us going back on the day, and the children and their families coming here another. Next year it will change again as our daughter moves to Anglesey in a house that will accomodate us all.

So things evolve all the time and you do have to work at it, not just the preparation but making it as enjoyable as possible by doing the things you love with the people you love.

The blog I saw which inspired me to write this was by author Chantelle Atkins. It’s a lovely read and she puts it so well. Pop over here to have a look.

Before you go, get yourself in the mood for the festive season with my novelette One Christmas.. It’s funny and sad, happy and very Christmassy. It’s also short. So you don’t have to commit to a big read. I’d be grateful of a review too, just a few words to tell me what you thought.

As a Christmas gift, it will be free to download from 16th December to the 20th.

Happy Christmas!

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A Good Son

by Karen J Mossman

 

I was at Pedro’s house and we were making out on the sofa. My head was back, my neck stretched in pleasure, my eyes flicked open and there was his mother looking through the window.

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I don’t think any of us recovered from that as I made a quick exit. Now as I lie in my bed, I feared I was drowning. My eyes wouldn’t open, not that I want them to. Carefully I poked out my tongue, jiggled it about and was rewarded with the strong taste of chocolate. Hmmm! My senses came alive as it rose up my neck until it covered my entire head. I was afraid that if I opened my mouth, I would drown. But how could I resist chocolate? Easter my favourite time of year. As my tongue ventured out again, I expected to feel the luxurious velvety creaminess, but instead, my eyes snapped open and it was all a dream. I was nose-to-nose in bed with Pedro and his brown eyes were looking at me.

“Good morning, Cassie!” he said. “Happy Easter!”

He brought his hand up and perched on his finger was a fluffy yellow chick. Not a real one, of course. Its wired feet were wrapped around his finger. He bobbed it a couple of times.

As I focused on it and then him, his eyes flicked sideways. There on the dressing table was a huge chocolate egg with a big red bow.

I shrieked and leapt out of bed, pulling down my short nightdress as I went. Grabbing the egg, I kissed it. I loved Easter! Pedro was now sitting up bare-chested with an amused expression on his handsome face. Remembering my manners, I skipped back and sat on him, thanking him personally for my special gift.

Just as we were getting into it, his phone rang and sighing I fell back against the pillow. “I have to take this,” he said, stabbing the button with his finger. “Hello, Mother.”

Once more she had come between us, she was constantly ringing, usually at the most inopportune moments. Actually, she didn’t even need inopportune moments to do that. She just rang.

“Can you bring home some milk?” “What are you doing? “When will you be back?” It was always the same. I was sick of his mum. Apart from that day, where I did a quick hop, skip and jump out of the front door, I hadn’t met her, and I already didn’t like her.

-o-

I am a clairvoyant, and there are some aspects of my gift I don’t like. One of them is suicide. So, when the mum of a victim wanted me to accompany her to the place where her daughter died, I already had misgivings. That’s another problem, I find it hard to say no especially when someone is distressed.

The circumstances of this were not pleasant, not that any suicide is. Jess Turner, a girl who seemed to have a lot to live for had ended her life horrifically. It had been in all the papers, I remember sitting in the Dandelion Café reading about it over a cup of coffee.

Jess, whose pretty face had stared up at me from the photograph, wasn’t much older than I was. She had one child, a husband, and loving family – and a dark secret. One day she took herself off to the local park, sat on a bench, doused herself in petrol, and lit a match.

Calling it a tragedy doesn’t do it justice. I wasn’t sure I wanted to communicate with such a troubled and demented soul. You had to be demented to do something like that. I’m sure there were easier ways to die.

So why her mum wanted to come to this place, was beyond me. I met her after work at the park gates; it was already dusk, and the sky was a dark leaden colour. I didn’t know her but guessed she was the lady clutching a flower.

“Cassie?” She came forward to meet me.

“Hello, you must be Sandra.”

“Yes. Thank you for agreeing to come.”

“What would you like me to do? You know I can’t promise anything, don’t you?”

She nodded as we walked together down the path. “I know, but I have to try. I’ve brought this along.” She dug into her pocket and pulled out a hair bobble. “This is hers and she wore it the last time I saw her.”

I looked at it but didn’t take it. “Okay, let’s wait till we get there. Do you know where it is?”

“Not really,” she said putting the bobble back in her pocket. I had a vision of us wandering around in the park after dark trying to find this bench.

-o-.

Back with Pedro, our relationship had taken took a worrying turn. “My mother wants to meet you,” he announced one day while we were making ourselves a drink in my kitchen.

My stomach did a flip. “Why?”

“Why not? You’re my girlfriend, and you can’t hide from her forever.”

“I can,” I said filling two cups with tea and taking them to the sofa. My flat, above a shop, was small, with a lounge and a kitchen to one side. Another door led to the bedroom, and a small bathroom.

“She wants to meet you properly.” He slurped his drink and then placed it on the table before sitting on the sofa. “Cassie, we’ve been seeing each other for over a month. I’ve met your brother, so it’s only fair you meet her.”

“I have met her,” I said sitting next to him.

“I mean properly, not just a wave of your hand as you disappear.”

“Pedro, darling, I don’t think I could look her in the eye,” I said staring at him.

He laughed, “Do you think she’s never had sex? How do you think me and my sister were born?”

I slapped his thigh. “That’s not what I meant. You’re a mummy’s boy, Pedro, and I’m just competition.”

He looked indignant. “I am not!”

“Yes, you are. How many other twenty-eight-year-olds do you know still living with their mums?”

“A lot. It’s practical. Especially since Chantelle disappeared. Anyway, she wants you to come for dinner and I said yes.”

“Oh, Pedro! You didn’t! Why didn’t you ask me first?” I folded my arms as if protecting myself from his words.

“I just did.”

“Except that you’ve already committed me.”

“Oh, stop being a grump!”

I stuck my bottom lip out childishly. I had every reason to be a grump because I didn’t have a choice.

Chantelle was his twin sister who had disappeared. That’s how we linked up in the first place. He wanted me to help find her but I couldn’t.

-o-

It wasn’t difficult to find the place of Jess’s suicide as they’d cordoned off the area with police tape. The actual bench had been removed, but the blackened tarmac remained. There were a lot of flowers, with a variety of messages.

‘Miss you so much.’ ‘I’m sorry this happened.’ ‘You’ll be forever in my heart.’ Every one of them heart-breaking. I tried to keep my eyes averted and not read too many of them. I didn’t want to feel their grief.

Sandra lay down her flower and then dug into her pocket for the hair bobble. I took it and as soon as it touched my skin, I was consumed with feelings of guilt. Not only did the hair on the back of my neck stand on end, goose bumps flooded my arms and shoulders. I felt a piercing heat burn my bones. So much so, I almost lost balance. Sandra’s hand touched my arm, and I grabbed her wrist to steady myself.

Unable to speak, I nodded as the spirit of Jess filled me. Her last seconds of life were horrific. The moment she lit the flame, she panicked as the scorching heat became unbearable. She tried to beat it out, but it spread quickly. Her screaming filled the air, and I tightened my grip on Sandra’s wrist trying to endure it. Her pain became mine, and the terrible secret she’d tried to keep came pouring out. The secret itself was not so bad, at least not bad enough to kill herself for.

In the last few moments of life she had felt a deep sense of regret, not for what she’d done, but for this dreadful end she’d assumed would be was her only way out.

There was no time for tears or escape, one moment she was Jess and the next she was burned embers and bone fragments.

I opened my eyes and was crying as Sandra looked at me with alarm.

“What did you see? What happened?” She asked worriedly.

I couldn’t tell her how I watched her daughter burn in agony. “She was so ashamed,” I said, wiping my face and bringing myself back under control.

“Did she say anything?”

“I picked up on her addiction to other men,” I said tactfully.

Sandra’s face paled. “I know about that. She didn’t have to kill herself for it,” she said in a voice that sounded like a grumble. “What else did she say?”

“At the last minute, she regretted her action.”

“Yes?” she said expecting more.

I looked back at the charcoal-coloured ground and at the trees behind. The birds sang their goodnight melody, and I sighed. “Such a beautiful place to have witnessed such a sad ending.”

“But…but, did she say anything else? Mention anything at all?” Sandra persisted.

I turned to look at her, the hair bobble still twirling around my fingers. “What were you expecting?”

“I wanted her to tell me where she hid the rest of her Grandfather’s money. He left it all to her in his will, but we don’t know what she did with it. I was hoping…” She trailed off, seeing the look on my face.

I handed her back the bobble. “I think we’re done here,” I told her, as the night air turned chilly. There were no ghosts here.

-o-

Pedro’s mum held out her hand. “Hello, my dear, nice to meet you at last. Do come in.” Her red hair was back-combed, and she wore a lot of makeup with dark red lipstick, red nails and a pair of twisted gold hooped earrings. I wondered if she was trying to recapture her youth, or if she was making a statement to prove she wasn’t old yet.

I could feel the blush rising up my neck at the thought of her seeing me in the throes of an orgasm.

“Pedro, mijito,” she greeted, a Spanish word of endearment meaning my little son. “There is wine in the kitchen, go and fetch it while Cassie and I get to know one another. Oh, and turn down the oven while you’re there.”

She took my hand and led me into a back room. It was decorated with Spanish culture in mind. “You will have an apéritif before dinner, won’t you?” She said it in such a way it was difficult to refuse.

“Now, tell me all about you and what you can see.”

Really? “W-what would you like to know?” I asked not wishing to tell her anything. Where was Pedro?

“Well, you see ghosts, don’t you? Pedro has told me about it, and I want to hear it from you. I’m so fascinated.”

“Erm, well, only when they want me to, the ghosts I mean.”

“Ah yes, perhaps if I give you something of Chantelle’s?”

Here we go. “Mrs. Parslow-”

“Please, call me Amia.”

“I can’t tell you if Chantelle is still alive if that’s what you are asking.”

Just then Pedro came back. “Mother leave her alone. You promised you wouldn’t.”

“Well,” she said, taking the bottle of wine as he put three glasses on the table. “It seemed like a good opportunity.” Then she looked at the third glass. “Aren’t you driving later?” she asked him.

“Yes, I’m just having the one.”

“No, put it back. We’ll have no drunk drivers here.”

Amazingly Pedro returned the glass to the kitchen. Just like a good mummy’s boy.

Dinner wasn’t much better as Mrs. Parslow continued issuing instructions or contradicting whatever he said. After we finished eating, Pedro gave an appreciative burp.

“Manners,” she scolded.

“Sorry, Mother.”

“Pour Cassie some more wine,” she told him, and he rose to his feet.

“No, it’s fine, I don’t want any more.”

“Coffee then, anyone?”

I didn’t want coffee either; I wanted out of there. I’d had enough. I don’t know who was worse, him or his bloody mother!

“Could I just have some water?” I asked. “I have the beginnings of a headache.”

“Oh no,” Mrs. Parslow said dramatically. “Get her some tablets while you’re up, Pedro.”

“No, it’s okay,” I blurted. “I’ve got some special ones at home, I’ll take those.” Pedro was staring at me.

“What kind are those, love?” Mrs. Parslow asked. Before I could reply she glared at Pedro. “Stop gawping and get the girl some water.” He turned and left the room.

“Oh, just some the doctor gave me,” I said shaking my head and getting up. “I really should go.”

“Have your water first,” she reminded me.

“I will, thank you. Is the kitchen this way?” Pedro could get my coat at the same time.

I entered the room just as he turned holding the glass of water. “Oh! Are you going?”

“Yes, thank you for a nice meal,” I said taking it and drinking half in one gulp.

“I’ll get your coat then,” he said as I ignored the puzzled glance he gave me.

As I turned to leave, I caught sight of something familiar on the sideboard. It was a huge chocolate Easter egg with a big red bow. Exactly the same as mine.

The end

This story is taken from a collection of short stories featuring Cassie.

The Adventures of Cassidy Newbold

Or a full length story in The Ghost on the Stairs

 

 

 

Every Picture Tells A Story

by Karen J Mossman

 

PlaytheGame

We all lead busy lives and sometimes it’s hard to find the time to do things we enjoy.  So why not allocate yourself an hour or two in the evening, or at the weekend, or even on the journey to work if you are a passenger, and enjoy a good book.

Play the Game is a novella that’s gets you to the very heart of the story.

Each pictures tells its own unique story. My characters are called Kelly and Stella. As I’m a big fan of Chicago Fire, my favourite characters are  Stella Kidd and Kelly Severide. Their romance captured my imagination, so it seemed right to use their names.

The next photo shows a cosy couple enjoying dinner. Kelly and Stella’s first date is in the hotel where they first met. She hasn’t dated for a long time and apart from Kelly being nice, she was tempted by the thought of a hot meal. The trouble is she is also a modern woman, and was prepared to pay half the bill. When she opens the menu, the food is so expensive it’s completely out of her range. Will she own up, or not each much?

The next photograph is of a Call Centre and this is Stella’s day job. She works as part of a team of handling insurance claims, and hates the girls she works with. They gang up on her by making snide remarks and bullying her at every opportunity. So, as a writer, I couldn’t let them get away with it, and Stella will ultimately get her revenge, but no in the way you think.

The next two pictures show what she does during the week. She hands out sandwiches to the homeless. This means she has to walk the streets at night visiting all the places girls usually stay away from. She’s never had any trouble, until one night, a man high on drugs or drink, takes a shine to her. There is no one around to help up and she is terrified as he tries to lead her away.  Help comes from an unlikely source.

Her team members are big fans of their football club. In between calls they switch screens to follow matches and always talling about the best players. Stella says she’s not a fan, and doesn’t know any of the footballers. It only opens her up to more ridicule.

Kelly’s world is very different to her own and his circle of friends bring her anxieties to the fore. He is very patient as he tries to explain that she’s just as good as everyone else, and she shouldn’t be intimidated by them.

Love was something she never expected to find. Kelly is much more than the person she originally mistook for hotel staff. When he finds out what she does, how, despite her circumstances, she still find time to help others, he can only admire her courage. He wants to build up her self esteem, take away her loneliness, and give her back self confidence.

Will Stella listen? Can love be as powerful as that?

One last tragedy comes into her life but this time she is not alone to deal with it.

Read Stella’s inspiring story and how there is something special in all of us. It just takes the right person to show us the way.

Read it here.

Available to read for free in Kindle Unlimited until January 2020

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Train Journeys

One day while I was away in place we holidayed with the children when they were small, we came to a level crossing and the barrier went down to say there was a train coming. For one moment I felt the rising excitement I had as a child.

Dad used to let us get out of the car and stand by the gates waiting for the train to pass. The mounting anticipation as we heard it approaching was so exciting. The smell of the steam as the chug-chug-chug that got louder and louder. It was an absolutely thrill when the train went past. It was always huge and loud, and apart from covering us in smoke, it made all sorts of noises as it trundled by.

The carriages all and a corridor and there were compartments all the way along. When we were teenagers and we caught the train, if it was empty we used to think it was fun to travel in the luggage rack above the seats. They were made of strong rope that looked a bit like a hammock. It was so much fun!

In The Magic of Stories, which is launching this week, I include two fictional stories that came from these early memories of trains.

Joanna’s Journey is my novel set in the 80s because that was when the original idea came to me. A a girl got on a train to London and as it was full the porter took her to the first class carriages. Inside was a handsome guy who didn’t want company but then felt obliged to share. There begins a three hour journey where strangers reluctantly get to know one another.

The first story in the book is called Stranger on a Train, and it was taken from the premise of Joanna’s Journey and written at a time when I loved having a twist in the tail kind of story.

In this one Jenny meets Nino in a similar way to Joanna. She then goes on to have an affair with a rising rock star, same again as Joanna but this is not what you expect.

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Hidden Stories in Family trees

At the end of the nineties I researched my family tree and being the curious type, I ended up doing four, my parents and my husband’s parents. Each one totally fascinating and each had curious tales to tell.

My father was very dark skinned. Out of us four children, only one of us has the same skin tone. I remember going to cabaret shows with my Dad in the seventies and eighties, and the comedian would say on seeing him enter– ay-up the Arabs have arrived. Not very pc now, I know!

His mother, my grandma, was also dark skinned, as were three of her six children. We were lucky enough to have a photo of her mother and it was clear it where it came from. When I researched the family tree, I couldn’t find anything. Recently my sister did a DNA check via Ancestry and Turkish blood came up. I’d love to find out who it was and the story behind it. Perhaps it was a illicit liaison somewhere.

We already knew Mum’s dad didn’t not know who his father was. He was born in 1904 and it was always suspected the father was the doctor she was a nanny to. On her deathbed my grandparents begged her to tell them who it was, she refused and took her secret to her grave.

Why would she do that? What harm could it have done seventy years later? I think I found the answer. Just before he was born, according to the 1901 census, she worked as a domestic servant to a large family in the town. They owned a business, the head of the household was the brother of the mayor, who was a local businessman. I reckon it was him, or one of his elder boys that did the deed, possibly against her will. There are many stories about domestic servant’s becoming pregnant. The family were, seventy years later, still prominent in the area, and she still felt some misguided loyalty. That would make more sense, wouldn’t it?

When I did my husband’s family tree, I knew he was an only son, of an only son. That made me realise my own son, was the last of the line. The original Mossman was Scottish and came to Manchester when his parent’s died to look for work. He married his landlady’s sister and they had three sons and a daughter.

James Mossman - b 1837

He had four sons. The youngest didn’t marry. His three other sons did. There was Robert, my line.

Robert Annie, Jack and Molly in the back yard

 

The next one was Harry, who had two sons. The oldest died in a prison of war camp and the youngest died at a school’s sport’s day

Cyril and Arthur Mossman

James emigrated to Australia and was never heard of again. So I concentrated on James because the photograph shows him with his family before he left and it was possib le he went on to have more children. I traced him, and he did have sons. I put out an expression of interest and was contacted by a grandson and it turned out he had exactly the same name as my son. What a conincidence!

Jim Mossman 1927

My husband’s mother was interesting because she lost her mum to asthma when she was eight and didn’t have a good childhood because her father passed her around to relatives to look after. He was a hard working man, active in World War 1, and on the Homefront in World War 2. Eventually he realised his daughter needed a mother and married a woman he not love.

There are many more interesting stories in my tree, as I’m sure there are in yours. Is there any you want to tell us about?

Meanwhile, The Magic of Stories also contains poetry, and each poem tells a story. This is just one of them.

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