Thursday, 31 May 2012

Between The Sheets With Nik Kershaw - Not For The First Time, Either.

Imagine, if you will, a tall, skinny girl with red hair. Almost fifteen, and it's the mid eighties. She's not in the 'in crowd' this girl. There's a lot of listening to music, writing angst poetry, and reading magazines, with a particular penchant for the agony columns. She sent a poem off to a magazine and that was her first ever publication.

Obviously, I'm talking about me above. Yes, my first ever publication was at the age of 15. I've written about it in detail in another blog post, but Nik Kershaw was on the front of that magazine, which was amazing to me at the time - I loved his music, and he was... you know... a boy. Ooh!

Anyway, fast forward to today, and I've a 100 word story included in a book with Nik Kershaw on the front. Even better, he's written in it too.

This book is the brainchild of the delightful and incredibly talented Caroline Smailes, who put out a call for submissions for 100 word stories inspired by videos on YouTube.

I realised instantly that I'd need something quirky to be in with a chance of getting published in a collection like this. As much as I love a good lyric, I actually picked a song that I struggle to sing along with. You will probably recognise the tune from a certain rip off English version of the song but the original is vastly superior, even if you don't know what he's going on about.

It was the video that inspired my story, My Morning Cappuccino. I think you'll be able to guess why, when you read it.

Imagine, if you will a child today. A child who doesn't say much, but lives in fear. A child who has suffered at the hands of others. This child needs someone to turn to. The charity One in Four helps people who are sexually abused. Think about that title - One in Four.

All profits from sales of this book are going to One in Four. I am so proud to be a part of it.

Buy your copy now from:  

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Thanks and Event News

I would just like to say a massive thank you to everyone who helped make Monday's launch of When Dreams Come True so much fun by blogging, tweeting, re-tweeting, joining the event on Facebook and/or Goodreads, and sharing on FB... and even purchasing the book. It was wonderful to see so many people getting involved.

Sarah Franklin, Caroline Smailes & Ben Johncock
I am absolutely sure that I haven't made it around to thank everyone personally yet and I am also sorry this post didn't go up yesterday, but it was one of those busy days... you know the kind. Mainly dominated by yet another emergency dental appointment but luckily rounded off by a lovely event in Oxford, Short Stories Aloud, a fantastic evening with actors reading short stories. The actors (Steve Hay and Julie Mayhew) were amazing and the chance to do a Q&A session with authors Caroline Smailes and Ben Johncock afterwards was great. There was also cake. Need I say more?

Thanks for reading, and please do come back tomorrow where I will be taking part in the launch of 100 RPM. Yay!

Monday, 28 May 2012

'When Dreams Come True' Launches Today!

Thank you for visiting my blog today, as I celebrate the launch of When Dreams Come True. Some of my blogging friends have signed up to tell us all about their dreams, so please do look at the links below and see what stories they have to tell.

I will be having some celebratory giveaways which I have listed here.

Please grab yourself some virtual cake and fizz, come and join us on the Facebook event page, and also visit some of the wonderful blogs on the linky list below.

The Blurb:
Charlie is happiest when biking with Max and Toby, or watching films with Allie. But when Charlie reaches year nine (age 13), everything begins to change.

As her friends develop new interests, Charlie's dreams become more frequent and vivid, and a family crisis tears her away from her friends.

How will Charlie react when old family secrets are revealed? Will her life change completely when some of her dreams start to come true? 

Where to Buy
When Dreams Come True is now available to order via any bookshop or online in various places including:
The Book Depository
Barnes and Noble
& via Apple iBooks 


Thursday, 24 May 2012

Friday Flash: Rosie Sumner

This is a story about a girl from London, but sadly she's too foul-mouthed to be in any of my books for 10-14s. However, she is the type of person that two of the characters in my third novel will have come into contact with.

This story is for 14+ year olds, and definitely not for people who don't like swearing.

Rosie Sumner

“Oi, Rosie, what’ve you been up to now?” Billy McKenna shouted as the policewoman pushed me towards the squad car. I shrugged at him. It was none of his goddamn business.
PC Smithwell put her hand on the top of my head to make sure I didn’t smash it on the top of the door. It was just as well, I hadn’t slept in days and I wasn’t concentrating properly so her hand took a bashing. “I’m sorry, innit,” I muttered.
“Don’t worry, just get in the car; let’s get it over with shall we?” she said.
I saw the net curtains twitching all the way up the road. Probably the most excitement that shitty little street had seen in a long time. I couldn’t wait to get away from all the nosy, gossiping neighbours.

They didn’t put the lights and sirens on as we drove away. I was gutted – that was the bit I’d been looking forward to. As they pulled into the station car park, Officer Smithwell glanced back at me.
“What?” I asked, without thinking. I could do without being the centre of attention; people looking at me like that make me nervous.
“Nearly there,” she said. “Just wait a sec while we park.”
I rolled my eyes. As if I’d try and make a jump for it while they were still driving.
“Can I have a smoke?” I asked.
PC Smithwell looked shocked. “I don’t think so,” she said.
“I’ve been nicking my Dad’s for years,” I replied. “Please. I’m craving it; I’m proper hooked.”
“Okay, just one,” she said. I figured she wasn’t all bad then, even if she was Old Bill.

I took the cigarette out of the box she offered me, and as she held a light, I inhaled my first nicotine of the morning. “God, that feels better,” I said as I exhaled. “Bloody grateful, I have to say.”
PC Smithwell smiled at me for the first time. I don’t know why she was so fucking up-tight; it was alright for her with her fancy uniform and her neat hair. I was the one sitting in the back of the car.

“Come on then Rosie, let’s get you processed,” she said once I’d finished my smoke.
Processed. What the hell was that meant to mean? I shrugged.
Smithwell got out of the car and came to open the door for me. I had tried myself but they had the child lock switched on. Bloody cheek. She took my arm as we walked towards the door and as it swooshed open I smelt the weirdest mixture of cleaning fluid and stale urine. The piss was coming from an old tramp in the corner, I think. It certainly wasn’t from me.
“We’ve got a room booked,” Smithwell told a man behind a desk. All I could see at the time was a sign saying, “bullet proof glass” on the screen. The man must’ve pressed something as another door beeped and then opened. Smithwell took me into a small corridor.
“Right, Rosie. We’re in here,” she said, opening a door to Interview Room 1.

I walked in; saw a table in the middle of a bunch of chairs, and a plate with biscuits on it. My stomach gave a massive rumble and I picked up a biscuit and shoved it into my mouth whole, before thinking about asking.
“I’m starvin’” I said. “I haven’t eaten for a couple of days.”
“You’ve been busy haven’t you,” PC Smithwell said. Busy alright.
“Do you want a drink?” she asked me and I flinched involuntarily. “I mean, juice, tea, coffee,” she said.
“Orange juice would be ace,” I said. I gulped it down in one go when she’d poured me some. It was quality stuff, not like that cheap shit we had at home. When we used to have stuff like juice.

“Okay there’s someone here to see you now,” Smithwell said. “You’d be well advised to answer their questions as best you can.”
I mumbled. I hate questions. They always cause trouble.

The door opened and a tall man walked into the room. He looked smart and happy, he smiled as he looked at me, said, “Hello, I’m Brendan Masters,” and held out his hand.
I rubbed my palm on my jeans before taking his hand. He looked proper clean and smart, I didn’t feel right shaking his hand in my state.
I noticed Brendan glance at PC Smithwell and for a fraction of a second his face looked different, kind of puzzled and questioning. No idea what that was about. He opened a notepad.
“Right Rosie, what’s your date of birth,” he began.
I told him and he wrote it down.
“Okay you don’t have to answer anything you want to, just tell me to stop if you feel uncomfortable,” he said.
“What happened to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the fucking truth?” I asked.
“Oh, sweetheart, you’ve not been arrested,” PC Smithwell said.
“But Dad said it was my fault,” I said.
I couldn’t understand what the hell was going on. Dad was yelling at them when they came for me but no-one had bothered to tell me anything.
“We’ve brought you here to get you somewhere safe, Rosie,” Brendan said gently. “We’ll find somewhere for you to stay while we find out what’s happening with your Dad.”
“You mean… you mean, I don’t have to go back there?” I asked. “Thank god for that, I was wondering what he would do to me when I went home.”
We talked a bit more and then there was a knock on the door.
“This is Mr and Mrs Cordon, they’re going to have you to stay for a while,” Brendan said.
I looked at the people, they looked smart and friendly.
“How old are you, Rosie?” Mr Cordon asked.
“I’m nearly thirteen,” I replied.
I saw them look at each other and Mrs Cordon looked like she was going to cry.
It was only when we left the council offices that we walked past a mirror. My right eye was swollen, black and purple.
Thank fuck I don’t have to go back to stay with Dad again.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Friday Flash: All About Me

All About Me

“Are you sure you don’t want to come out?” I ask Sally one last time.
“No, my head’s really bad. You go. Have fun, Tim,” she replies. She comes over and gives me a hug, which is about the most she’s done lately, and I kiss her on the cheek and wish for a fleeting second that it was how it used to be.

There was a time, when we first lived together, she’d glance at me at any time of day or night, and give me one of those looks. It would lead to a frantic scramble up the stairs, plenty of giggling and all that other stuff. Or sometimes we didn’t make it up the stairs, just to the stairs, or not even beyond the sofa. The cab driver switches off his ‘for hire’ light and I think of the light in Sally’s eyes. The spark that isn’t there any more.

The taxi ride is mercifully quick and I meet my friends at the bar as planned. By the end of the evening and a few too many shots, they peel away and leave me with the sense that the night is too young to be over just yet. I leave the bar, walk up the pedestrian street and pulses beckon me from several doors; the thud, thud, thud of music takes over my body and I want to dance again. It’s been far too long.

I look down at the sharp creases in my shirt. There’s no doubt about Sally’s ironing skills, so at least I’m dressed appropriately. As I walk towards the welcoming doors of a club boasting a seventies night, the bouncers don’t even speak to me, they step apart and let me through as the sound of Dancing Queen fills the air. I go straight to the dance floor and immerse myself in the atmosphere and the music.

After a few songs, I'm too warm and my mouth is dry, so I head to the bar. I order a beer and look around at the other clubbers. The air is heavy with humidity, the scent of perfume, and a sense of possibility.

I see a woman waving at me. I do a double-take as she looks like Sally did when we first met, only this doppelganger still has the spark in her eyes, not like the burnt out husk at home.

Before I know it I’m standing in front of her, smiling. She looks up at me and nudges her friend.
“Can I get you a drink, girls?” I ask, thinking it best to not alienate her from the offset by ignoring her friend.
“Oh yes please, vodka and coke they say in unison.”
“Make mine a double,” Sally’s lookalike says to me, winking.
They follow me to the bar, giggling, and I wonder where this is going to lead.
As I hand them the drinks they thank me and turn to walk away.
“Hang on while I get mine,” I say.
The pretty one turns around. “What do you think this is, Grab A Grandad Night?” she hisses at me. They look at each other, laugh, and make their way back to their vantage point near the dance floor.

Suddenly sober, I leave the building and walk up to the taxi rank. I’m never going to be a grandad. I can’t even be a father. And besides, I’m only thirty four, surely I don’t look that old?

I let myself into the house as quietly as I can. The room’s spinning but there’s an eerie silence so I can tell Sally’s taken herself off to bed already. I go into the kitchen and make myself a pot of tea. Sally always insists on a pot, and I’m in the habit of it now.

I take my drink through to the living room and settle into my favourite chair. The house looks immaculate. Sally must have been busy when I was out. I picture her upstairs, breathing deeply and smiling in her sleep.

It’s only when I lift the china to my lips, that I spot the envelope on the table.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

National Flash Fiction Day: Oxford Flash Slam

Yesterday evening I went to the Eight Cuts Flash Slam, an event in Oxford at the Albion Beatnik bookshop, which took place as part of National Flash Fiction Day.

It started at 6.30pm and by the time my husband got home and I left, I was running late. was walking as fast as I could to get there, but arrived at about 6.45 and entered the bookshop while Dan Holloway was doing his introduction. Dan promptly greeted me by name (thank you, Dan, that made me feel instantly at home) and asked if I would be a third judge.  Not quite the stern looks and tutting that I was expecting from exploding in on an event at such an hour!

Tania Hershman, Dan Holloway & the 3 judges
It was so nice to look around the room and spot familiar faces from Twitter and Facebook. It was even more amazing to hear some of the people I have spoken to for months or years get up and read stories. Had I not been in 'rabbit in the headlights' mode, I probably should have said I couldn't judge as I knew a few of the writers (online), but I resolved to give marks on how the stories impacted on me on the evening. The standard was astonishing, and I thought every writer/reader was incredibly brave to get up and read.

By pure chance, I was seated next to the incredibly lovely Tania Hershman who commented on all the stories, and read some work of her own as well. I came away with a signed copy of her new book, My Mother was an Upright Piano, which I am very much looking forward to read, especially after hearing some of the stories from it. I think you will agree it looks absolutely gorgeous.

Afterwards it was lovely to chat with people I have previously only Tweeted, and meet some new people too.

As for the venue, the Albion Beatnik is a gorgeous bookshop, with an enormous amount of character - and they also serve tea and coffee. Not just your builders tea, mind; I had Earl Grey from a pot with a tiny strainer and then was told to chose my own mug or cup from the shelves. How lovely is that? How many times have you had a cuppa and wished the cup or mug was different? I will definitely be going back to this bookshop for a proper browse before too long.  And the bar a few doors down was nice too.

I have to say I enjoyed this night so much, I really hope there will be another one before too long. (No pressure, Dan!) 

Follow the Flash Slam attendees who are on Twitter here.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Launch of Housewife with a Half-Life by A.B. Wells

Alison, aka A.B. Wells
It gives me great pleasure today to help celebrate the launch of Housewife with a Half-Life by A.B.Wells, who I have mentioned here on my blog numerous times using her full name Alison Wells.

I have read a lot of Alison's short stories and flash fiction, and I have always been very impressed with her writing. I have bought my own copy of Housewife with a Half-Life and had a "quick look" at the start of it and I then found it impossible to stop reading it.

If you are one of those people who thinks, hmm, Sci Fi, I'm not sure about that... well, so am I. But I have to tell you Alison does something amazing with this book, and indeed all of her stories; she makes different genres more accessible to people who perhaps would not normally try them out. If you don't believe me, you can read the first chapter here!

With that, I will tell you a bit more about the book and the launch, and hope that you will choose to give it a read.

Susan Strong is a suburban housewife who is literally disintegrating. When Fairly Dave, a kilt-sporting spaceman arrives through the shower head to warn her, she knows things are serious. When she and her precocious four year old twins, Pluto and Rufus, get sucked through Chilled Foods into another universe it gets even messier. Where household appliances are alive and dangerous, Geezers have Entropy Hoovers and the Spinner's Cataclysmic convertor could rip reality apart, Susan Strong is all that’s holding the world together.

In this madcap, feel-good adventure, Susan and Fairly Dave travel alternate universes to find Susan's many selves, dodge the Geezers and defeat evil memory bankers. From dystopian landscapes and chicken dinners, to Las Vegas and bubble universes, can Susan Strong reintegrate her bits and will it be enough to save us all?

Buy The Book from: 
A paperback will be available in June. 

Connect with A.B.Wells on:
Alison's main blog Head Above Water
Alison's A.B.Wells blog 

Congratulations, Alison, I hope you have a wonderful launch day!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Launch of Ripper, My Love by Glynis Smy

Today it's the launch of Glynis Smy's debut novel, Ripper, My Love, which I already have on my Kindle and am looking forward to read.

Growing up in late nineteenth century East London, Kitty Harper’s life is filled with danger and death – from her mother, her beloved neighbour and the working women of the streets.

With her ever-watchful father and living surrogate family though, Kitty feels protected from harm. In fact, she feels so safe that while Whitechapel cowers under the cloud of a fearsome murderer, she strikes out on her own, moving into new premises to accommodate her sewing business.

But danger is closer than she thinks. In truth, it has burrowed itself right into her heart in the form of a handsome yet troubled bachelor, threatening everything she holds dear. Will Kitty fall prey to lust – and death – herself, or can she find the strength inside to fight for her business, sanity and her future? And who is the man terrifying the streets of East London?

Who is Glynis Smy?

Glynis was born and raised in England, in the coastal town of Dovercourt, near the port of Harwich (where the captain of the Mayflower lived). After qualifying as a nurse, she married her school friend, and they produced three children. During her rare quiet moments, she wrote poetry and articles for magazines. In 2005 she and her husband emigrated to Cyprus for a new life in the sun. It was here that Glynis lay down her cross stitch and started making writing friends on the Internet. With their support and encouragement she shared her poetry, and was successful in a few contests. She shared a short story with a friend, who wrote back telling her it was worthy of becoming a novel, and not to waste the premise upon a brief plot. The story is the one being launched today. Glynis found her love of writing 19th Century, historical romances and her second novel, Maggie's Child, will be published at the end of 2012.

Aside from writing and Cross stitch, Glynis enjoys creating greetings cards, and sells them to raise funds for a small hospice in Cyprus. One of her pleasures is to sit on the back porch with a glass of wine, and reflect upon her good life. She can often be heard chatting to new characters urging her forward.

Her desire to pay back those who had supported her is realised in a blog designed specifically to promote the books of others: New Book Blogger You can find her personal writing blog at Glynis finds the community spirit of writers on Facebook a valuable one.

Launch day price for the Kindle is 99c/77p!