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Introduction to The Magic of Stories book

MagicofStoriesCoverThis week I’m re-launching The Magic of Stories eBook under the Electric Eclectic banner. It’s been tweaked from the original, with additional stories and new formating, and a brand new super-duper cover, which I love. Paul White of P J Designs has done a lovely job in designing it for me.

Stories are wonderful, they weave magically threads that draw you into a world that is different to your own. We all need escapism and many, like me, like to do this with a good book.

I’ve always said stories are not just fictional.  True life tales, can be just as fascinating. I love hearing about people’s passions, what they love, what they believe, their families and their memories. Stories are all around us every day.

In The Magic of Stories, I have collected material together written over the years, which include poetry, shorts, and flash fiction, each telling a tale.

Screen Shot 2019-09-25 at 17.43.03Last year, I read a book called Undressed by Karina Kantas. It’s a collection of poetry, prose, flash and short fiction. Although I loved reading all the stories, there was something else that made it special. For most of them, she explained her reasons for writing it, or how it came to be, or some other fascinating snippit.

I’ve never seen this done before and found they added another dimension to the book. So, this is what I’ve done with mine. Knowing how a story orginated makes it a a more interesting read.

Karina has kindly offered to give my readers a copy for free. I highly recommend you grab it and add it to your reading list. All details of how to get it are in The Magic of Stories book.

Amazon UK
Amazon US

Every day this week I’ll be sharing articles to accompany the stories in the book. As I publish them, I will add the link here, so you’ll be able to come back and follow them anytime.

Coping with Bereavement
Can you Control Your Dreams?
Playground Games
Finding Humour
Do You Believe in Love at First Sight?
Do you keep a diary?
Memories of my dog Ricky
I don’t like creepy things, do you?
My Sister Far Away
Don’t tell a writer your secrets!
Hidden Stories in Family Tree
Train Journeys
Churches and Ouiji Boards

 

 

 

 

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)

 

 

Isolation

44427376_318214552290296_6855784517664243712_n.jpgEvenings come early in October, the skies begin to dim after lunch and keep getting darker until the nightfall’s, which is around six o’clock.

It is what living so far north, on the edge of the loch entails. It is a continuous way of life, a life stretching back a thousand lifetimes and more.

It is the way of life I have chosen. I love it. The peace, the serenity, tranquillity.

Right now, I sit typing this on a manual typewriter. Two sheets of white paper separated by a single sheet of dark blue carbon paper. You may consider this outdated, outmoded, perhaps it is, but at the same time it is physically connective.

The harder I hit the keys the louder the click, or clack, and the firmer the paper is inked. The actual doing, the keystrokes, the little bell ringing as the carriage come towards the end of its travel, the satisfying ratchet noise as I depress the lever and return, ready for the next line.

I do all this while I look through the window over the waters of the loch, watching the last few seabirds heading for their nests before the darkness closes in.

My wife is at the clothesline, unpegging the washing which has been drying in the breeze blowing through the narrow passage into the loch, imparting a natural freshness no chemical scent can ever replicate.

A cast iron pan, full of rich beef and homegrown vegetables, hangs over a log fire which also warms the cottage.

Some may say we are isolated out here, that we are too far away from civilisation.

“What,” they ask, “what if something happens?”

I laugh and say, “something happens every day, it is why I choose to live here.”

It is their fears, their uncertainties they voice, not mine.

It is also their reluctance to leave things they believe they cannot live without, like electricity, computers and running water. The fact is, no one really needs those to live a happy life, a full life. On the contrary, they are, by their very nature, the things which entrap us and imprison our souls.

I would rather be chopping wood for the fire, as I did this morning, or fetching water from the well or pulling new carrots from the soil than be sat in a fumed filled city, my head rattling from the constant hubbub of noise, eating pre-packed, microwaved slop, which has been mass produced in some factory situated amongst the industrial grime of urbanimity.

Give me a direct, personal, tangible connection, a bond, a personal relationship with the creation of this story, as with the way I live.

Give me unsoiled air of wilderness, the perfume of the sea mist and these early evenings in October. Give me peace, serenity and tranquillity.

And when they ask, “what if something happens?”

I shall laugh aloud once more and say, “something happens every day, it is why I choose to live here.”

© Paul White 2017

Embarrassing!

by Karen J Mossman

The other day I heard Dr Hook’s song A little Bit More on the radio. It’s a beautiful ballad, but whenever I hear it now, I makes smile. It reminds me of my dad. Of course a song Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 15.13.18like that is supposed to remind you of lover, not a father, and that makes me chuckle, too.

The reason is that back in 1976 we lived in Bury, Lancashire. Dad was a policeman with the Manchester Police and was based at Bootle Street in the centre of town. I worked in offices at the Royal Exchange. It was about 15 miles away from home and two buses and a train was my usual commute.

Dad worked shifts and sometimes he would leave the house at a similar time to me, so naturally I would get a lift to work. He also car shared with his friend. The time the song was in the charts must have been in the winter, because it was freezing cold and the car took an age to warm up. He would then call in at Whitefield to pick up his colleague and I hated it when we had to get out and go in old Ford Cortina. That only warmed up when we reached town and the car park. So it must have been very cold that year.

On the way this song would come on the radio. I’d be sat next to my dad in the passenger seat when suddenly, the words were crystal clear:

When your body’s had enough of me

And I’m laying flat out on the floor

When you think I’ve loved you all I can

I’m gonna love you a little bit more

Oh my God! I was squirmed with embarrassment. The song was obviously about sex and you didn’t talk about sex in front of your dad back then!  I remember developed this awful dry cough as they sang.

So if you’re feelin’ alright and you’re ready for me

I know that I’m ready for you

We better get it on now

‘Cause we got our whole life to live through

I died in that car! If it came on when both men were in there it wasn’t as bad because they or we were usually talking and no one listened to the lyrics.

That story takes me straight on to when mum and I deciding to go to the pictures, sometime in the seventies .I can’t remember how we chose the film, but it was called Confessions of a Window Cleaner. Neither of us knew what it was about, except it was a comedy and basically it turned out to be a sex romp. Not the sort of film you go to see with your mum when you are just 16. Who was the more embarrassed, I don’t know. I just remember us sinking lower it he seats.

My son was always a big fan of Eminem and we decided to watch the film 8-Mile together. He was about 16 too. There was this one scene where Eminem took this girl into the garage where he worked, and they went under car into the pits – and made love. I couldn’t look at Ian and he couldn’t look at me. I just recall from the corner of my eye seeing him sink lower and lower in his seat with his hand shielding his eyes from me and a deadly silence from us both.

We look back on it now and find it funny, but at the time it was so embarrassing!