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Churches and Ouija Boards

Dad was a religious man and enjoyed going to church, he also loved the social aspect of it. As a child we as a family went to church every Sunday. Beibng with everyone there made it feel like a family or a community that we fitted into and enjoyed the company of.

In the church hall we went to barn dances, attended shows, and musicals, in which we starred in. There were jumble sales to organise and attend, and I went to the youth club and guides in the hall.

Mum and Dad went to social evenings at different people’s houses. They even went to Benidorm with the minister and his wife. I used to baby sit their children.

The Rose Queen was a great annual event. My sister was Rosebud Queen at one time, and I was a lady in waiting to the Rose Queen hersef. Happy days.

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That’s me in the black and white photo on the far right. I recall having a boyfriend who was a biker and and I bit of a bad boy. I adored him but was hugely embarrassed to be doing this. I think my parents volunteered me. He never found out about it and at that time it was never the person I wanted to be.

We eventually moved away and although Mum and Dad went to other churches, they never quite got the same friendship and social events they had there.

I went to see The Exorcist when it first came out and it terrified me, so much so it put me off horror films for life.

In 2000 Dad got septicaemia and almost died. When he recovered he said he saw a tunnel and he was being urged through it by his mum who was waiting for him. Later he retracted that saying it was the drugs that made him say it. I think he experienced something but it went against what he believed in, so he denied it.

He lived for another ten years, and when he was told he only had a few days left to live, he was so brave. He accepted it was his time to go and to this day I wonder where he is, where he thinks he is, as its hard to accept him not being a conscious mind somewhere.

I’ve never forgotten him telling me about Ouija boards and although I don’t recall the full conversation, it inspired a story called They Came For Him.

There is an interesting article about Ouija boards here if you would like to read it. Meanwhile, They Came for Him is about a girl who goes back to a friends house to play with a Ouija board. What she experiences is will affect her for the rest of her life.

Here is a small extract from the story. If you want to share your experiences, I would be interested to here them.


‘Dad was now running in my direction. His face filled with fear. For one horrible, horrible second, our eyes met before he passed right through me. For that brief moment, I felt his core and spirit. It was part of me again. When he was gone, I felt bereft, like something had been torn away.

Immediately my skin turned ice cold. A raw blackness filled me. For a second, I couldn’t breathe, and then it was gone. I spun around and saw the spectre sweep dad into the road and under the wheels of a passing truck.’

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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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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

Stories Based on a Song

A while ago I read a book called Riddle by Elizabeth Horton Newton. I really enjoyed it and reviewed it on my blog.

It was only recently I found that it was based on the Richard Marx’s song Hazard. This was really cool because my own book Down by River was also based on the ninties song.

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Both books are very different from each other. For a start Riddle is a full blown novel, whereas Down by the River is a novella, a smaller read.

Apart from the actual stories, I thought it would be interesting to put my own thoughts down as to why I wrote it, and how the inspiration came to be. I asked the same of Elizabeth Horton Newton.

So, here for your delectation are two books, their descriptions, and an excerpt which should delight you, as much as they delighted me.


Riddle by Elizabeth Horton Newton

Screen Shot 2019-08-31 at 12.02.24From the first time I heard the song “Hazard” by Richard Marx, I knew there was a story to be told. Although I grew up in a big city I was well aware of how small-town gossip can ruin a person’s life. I wanted to tell the story of how a young man was viewed as an outsider by some of the townspeople and how those who believed him innocent of any crime remained silent, afraid of getting involved or being harassed because they defended him.

Around the same time, I was learning about discrimination against Native Americans or Indigenous People in both the US and Canada. Something just clicked and several years later I put together my book Riddle.

It seems in small towns there is always an outsider. It may be someone of a different color or nationality or religion. Sometimes it is because the individual dresses differently, holds different beliefs, or some obscure reason. I created Kort Eriksen as both an indigenous man who may have been railroaded as a teen for murdering a popular teenaged girl.

Returning to the town where the crime was committed he faces both people who believe he got off too easily and others who feel he was a scapegoat. Even the stranger, a young woman with problems of her own, arrives in town and develops a friendship with Kort can’t be sure of his innocence or guilt. This book remains close to my heart as it incorporates romance, injustice, and revenge in a suspenseful thriller.

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Excerpt

“Look, there’s a fun house,” Norma pointed out. Knowing it would be dark and probably crowded inside she realized it might be a good opportunity to ditch the rest of the group and once again have Kort to herself.

Grace hesitated. Mandy laughing, called over her shoulder, “Come on! It will be fun!”

As they all headed inside Kort maneuvered until he and Norma were near Grace. They made their way through a rolling barrel, and a maze of mirrors where everyone posed seeing their reflections as fat and skinny, short, and stretched.

Tony stayed close to Grace but Mandy and the other women rushed ahead. Then they entered a room that was totally dark except for dim glow in the dark wall decorations. Occasionally something would brush across Grace’s face and she lost track of where everyone was. She brushed at the spidery web like strings that seemed to grab at her.

Holding her hands out before her she tried to find a wall so she could follow it to the exit. All around her people were laughing or squealing. Once in a while a girl would yelp obviously startled by someone.

A body moved quickly past her and she jumped slightly to one side. Someone else bumped into her and a giggling female voice apologized before continuing on. Feeling disoriented, Grace was tempted to call out for help but didn’t want to appear silly.

Suddenly someone slammed hard into her knocking her off her feet. A boot connected with her cheek and she fell sideways covering her head with her arms and rolled to one side. There was no apology and Grace sensed whoever it was continued to look for her. She had no doubt it was deliberate and she kept quiet hoping he would not find her in the blackness of the room. As noiselessly as she could she began to crawl toward what she hoped would be an exit.

Then out of nowhere she heard a male voice softly call her name.

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IMG_6264.JPG When I first heard the haunting melody of Hazzard, I was hooked. On Top of the Pops they played a video to accompany the song and I was mesmerised. Apart from Richard Marx being really good looking, I loved the atmospheric storyline.It was so clever being shot in black and white that added to the mood.

I was intrigued about what happened to Mary and many of my questions were not answered. It always left me wondering. Although the song was released in 1991, it was played regularly for many years afterwards. Each time I heard it, I was blown away, absorbed once again in the story.

Being a writer, I had to do something about it, and felt the need to write about what could have happened that night.

It started as a very short story and included a character named Ricky, based entirely on Richard Marx as he was a key feature in the story.

My main character was called Shelby, because I felt it sounded American. Shelby had visions and could never understand why she could see many things, but could not see what happened to Mary-Jo.

I tried very hard to create an atmosphere similar to the one in the Richard Marx’s video. I wanted intrigue and mystery, with just a hint of something dark.

Shelby always had a hard time dealing with her father’s alcoholism, it was one of the reasons she left town. This time when she returns home, something is different; something has changed and it takes a while for her to put the pieces together.

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Excerpt

It was growing dark when she arrived home. Pa was banging around upstairs. Shelby took off her jacket and straightened her pale blue sweater. Mary-Jo had had one just like it. They’d laughed and joked that they were twins. It seemed very apt that she was wearing it today.

The coffee-pot was still warm. She was pouring a cup when something came crashing down the stairs. Rushing through from the kitchen, she found Pa lying at the bottom muttering a string of obscenities. He was drunk, very drunk.

“You!” he accused shaking off her offer of help. “What are you doing here?”

“Pa! What’s the matter?”

“You should never have come back, you little whore! Did you think I didn’t know about you and the sheriff? Get out!” He struggled to his feet and staggered through to the kitchen.

Shelby stared at him in shock and disbelief. “W-what do you mean?”

He laughed as he poured himself another whisky. “The whole town knows you were screwing Rawden. I’m a laughingstock!” He staggered through to the living room and slumped into the chair.

“You don’t need me to make you a laughingstock!” she cried, feeling the humiliation burning inside her. “Anyway, it ain’t true!”

He pointed his finger at her face. “Did you think it was easy for me after Annie-Clare died? I brung you up.”

“You didn’t bring me up!” she shouted back. “I brought myself up! You were always too goddamned drunk!”

“Enough!” he roared, rising from the chair. Shelby stepped back, frightened. He poked two fingers into her shoulder. “You wanna get out of here before the same thing that happened to Mary-Jo happens to you.”

“Pa…” Hot tears ran down her face.

“Get the hell out!” He roared. Shelby turned and fled.

Darkness was descending as she walked back towards town. She kept to the road and away from the embankment, feeling the chill of the night air. A car drew up beside her. Rawden got out.

“Can I give you a lift somewhere?” he asked.

“No, leave me alone.” She wasn’t in the mood to deal with him and his sarcastic undertones.

“Don’t walk away while I’m talking to you, Shelb.”

She lost her footing then and slipped down the embankment. Rawden came down as she got to her feet. “Now, that wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t of run. I’m just offering you a lift, that’s all.”

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