Dispatches From Lockdown In An English Spring

We humans are resourceful. We adjust. We have to.

My mother lives in her snug, safe home across the garden from us, but I can’t get close or hug her, because she is self-isolating, sheilded from the outside and coronovirus.

When the weather is nice, as it was last week, we sat in the garden, many feet apart, with a cup of tea.

I got us each some daffodils, a small treat from my supermarket mission. They bring us both joy as we wave to each other from our kitchen windows.

We talk every day in person, by text or What’s App. Yes, my eighty-something Mum uses What’s App and forwards funnies from her emails. Times have changed.

My husband works from home now with his office set-up in the dining room. I have worked from home, writing, for eight years now, but this is a big change for us both.

I am relieved he is here, safe.

Working from home isn’t as easy as it sounds. I used to dream of it when I worked in paid employment, but at home, it’s hard not to procrastinate, endlessly, and avoid the many distractions of family life.

A friend of mine had a small business from home, and gave me some great advice: get up, get dressed and face the day as you would if going out to work. In other words, don’t get up and start typing in your pyjamas or you’re lost. I know this to be true.

The other problem is isolation. The key is finding a good work/play balance, but now we’re all in isolation, there is no balance. Now it’s all about keeping safe.

I had my memoir submissions to agents lined up and then coronovirus hit.  Suddenly, a strong need to check in regularly with my kids, family and friends took over, with not much time for much else. Video calls saved the day.

Ploughing through crowded streets, offices and public transport took on new danger. We started self-distancing before the lockdown.

Then came the stockpiling and suddenly going to a supermarket felt like the start of a zombie apocolypse.

A shock to the system, all of it, none of us prepared for such a scale as this. How did we go from normal life to the sight of shelves stripped bare with no bread, milk and toilet paper, never mind trying to get in a good day’s writing?

Submit? Write? Seized by lockdown brain fog, how can anyone do anything?

It helps now the stockpiling has eased with stringent measures in place. Maybe we can breathe a tiny bit easier, though great danger still exists and far from over.

But my need to write has usurped my brain fog, so excuse my ramblings if you will. I can’t let my publishing dreams slip away. I need to break through the fear and the helplessness and the missing of my loved ones and the terrible toll on too many who have lost loved ones and just be here…now…sharing something…

We are allowed outside exercise once a day in our neighbourhoods. This does not mean packing a picnic and driving twenty miles to a beauty spot, no matter how beautiful the weather. I am blessed to live in a village which enables this, as these photos attest, but a walk along this road is not without hazard…

There’s a small farm with some fat lambs…

A few cows…

And a pony…

And a library from a kindly neighbour: ‘All Books Free’, invites the sign…

Cars travel these same roads. Other walkers too, with the same idea. Car and people-d0dging takes some planning. Some drivers force me into the hedgerows with not so much as an acknowledgment as they zoom past.

Others slow down and give me space and a friendly wave. Most of us greet one another on our daily walks, but I am paranoid about them getting too close, as some do.

People-dodging at the supermarket is a sport without a winner’s cup. Despite stringent self-distancing measures, my heart sunk at the number of those still huddling together in the aisles. It’s exhausting.  It took me two hours just to get round the store safely, and drained me for the rest of the day with the ever-present worry of virus spread.

Too many of us can’t get an online, delivery or click-and-collect service for love nor money.

Life has changed in ways we could not have imagined in mere weeks. By the hour and the day.

A young checkout man told me about a customer who, so enraged that he could buy ONLY three packs of fresh meat, threw a packet of chicken at him across the checkout.

In stark contrast, a few days ago, a note came threw our letter box. A neighbourhood volunteer group is set up in case anyone in the village needs help with shopping, posting letters or just chatting on the phone for those living alone.

Last night at 8pm, as last Thursday, we came together in the UK to clap from our front doors in gratitude for all our NHS and key workers, including supermarket staff and delivery drivers.

Thank you all with hearts of gratitude.

I thought it would be nice to share some photos from my early spring garden to end on a colourful and cheery note…

And Lord knows, it helps to keep a sense of humour. Thank goodness for memes! We just need to get through this.

After all…

Stay home. Save a life. Keep well.

Love Sherri x

 

 

 

 

Posted in Coronovirus | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

A Plea From The Ranks Of Carers At Home

I write this as a plea. Our Prime Minister tells us to stop panic buying, there’s enough for all, stock up in case you need to self-isolate for 14 days, but leave some for others. Please.

Mr Johnson, I would like to tell you that if the vulture-picked supermarket shelves in my community are anything to go by, few are listening.

Every day. Getting worse.

Everyone over 70 now needs to self-isolate for 12 weeks. Teams of volunteers are setting up to help those who are most vulnerable with their shopping, I hear.  That’s great.

But I wonder what I am to do. I am a carer for my youngest, adult child who is on the autistic spectrum with social anxiety. Social isolation is not a new thing for our family. We live with it and find ways to deal with it. Now we have to find new ways, because my mother, who is vulnerable and also lives with us, is self-isolating.

This means I will also do her food shopping and thank goodness I can, but how can I when there’s nothing left on the shelves? Aware that supermarket staff are on the frontline and no doubt bombarded with complaints, I tried, nevertheless, to ask for advice.

Here’s my conversation from yesterday afternoon at a local supermarket:

Me, at checkout: ‘Sorry to ask, I don’t want to hold you up (the man in line behind me already sighing…) but do you have any advice for me, as a carer, of the best time to shop, as your shelves are bare?

Checkout Guy: ‘Oh…are they? Well, we don’t have any sanitizer or hand soap…’

‘Yes…I know that…but I’m talking about fresh meat, tinned food, toilet paper, pasta, bread…’

‘Well the shelves are stocked overnight…I can’t tell you what gets put out as I don’t do the shelves…it’s just what’s there…’

‘Yes…I understand that, but I’m trying to find out when I should do my shopping, as clearly there’s a time when everything gets cleaned out.’

‘Well, they come in early and buy everything…’

‘How early…like first thing, they queue up before you open?’

‘Yes…’

‘Can’t you put a limit on things when that happens?’

‘You’ll have to talk to my team leader,’ he sighed, clearly fed up with me. ‘She’s over there…’ He pointed to a checkout lady busy with her customer.

The man behind me glared  as I walked over to said team leader.

I explained my dilemma.

‘Nothing we can do…’ she said. ‘Head office haven’t told us to limit anything…’

‘So what do I do? Online shopping is a mess…’

‘Well that’s probably going to end anyway…sorry, it’s pot luck. Sorry…’

This isn’t what their circular email said, reassuring their customers they were doing all they could to make sure everyone had enough. The panic buyers put paid to that. Not only that, they are risking exposure by herding together as they wait for the doors to open.

And what of those who still have to work? My eldest son called in to his local supermarket for his usual shop on the way home from work yesterday. Shelves stripped bare.

He went home with a bottle of rum.

My middle son can’t get much at all with the hours he works. As part of a houseshare, he doesn’t have room for hoarding even if he wanted to (he doesn’t).

He’s getting by with cider and tinned peaches. I told him, keep the peaches in the fridge; they’re nice chilled.

Seriously…I’m worried for them. For us.

Shut Away, Calm Waters

Still, today brings a glimmer of hope as supermarkets announce item limits. About time,   because appealing to common sense and consideration towards others hasn’t worked.

Kindness does exist, though. If we don’t keep it close, we’ll sink.

My husband and I recently stayed at a hotel (necessity, not holiday). The hotel was pretty empty, but the staff there remained helpful and friendly, despite their obvious fears for their very livelihoods.

Back home, my husband emailed the manager to thank him for his help and concern (we needed an extra night).  The manager replied that on a morning rapidly sinking into chaos, my husband’s email gave him hope.

Just a little kindness. That’s all.

But I am still unsure as supermarkets have set up dedicated early morning slots before 9 am for ‘the elderly’ to shop.  How can they shop when they are self-isolating at home?

What do I do, as my family’s carer? Will I be allowed to use that slot? Will they believe me when I turn up, or think I’m trying it on? Do I need proof? Or will anybody really be enforcing this? I’ve researched online, tried calling, but can’t get through. Has this not been addressed?

Think of me tomorrow morning when I hit the shops at 8am.

And here’s the other thing: I need to keep myself healthy. Husband too. This I fear the most: who will look after us if we both get ill? Who will do our shopping? Online shopping isn’t a good option right now: the nearest slot is at least 2 weeks away and I have no assurance that my order would be delivered.

My head spins even as think of it, trying to make some sense through the writing of it. A dilemma to which I would love a solution without feeling that everytime I leave my house, I’m doing battle.

We’re in this together, world over.

We’ve got enough supplies to tide us over.

But we all know that nothing lasts forever.

Let’s hope this means coronovirus too.

 

Posted in Carers, Coronovirus | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 70 Comments

Still Sweet Robin Sings

The world has gone mad, my family’s needs call…

but still Sweet Robin sings.

And the blackbird too. 

Take care all, keep safe and be well…

This too shall pass.

Posted in Nature & Wildlife | Tagged , , | 32 Comments

Book Tour With Author M J Mallon And Mr Sagittarius

Today, I am thrilled to host talented author and lovely friend, M J Mallon. I have had the good fortune of meeting Marje several times, and she is as kind and as friendly as her smile attests.

Marje is on book tour for the launch of her latest release:

Mr Sagittarius

A magical story expressed via poetry and prose with photographic images 

 

Intrigued from the moment I first saw the title and cover and read the blurb, I was hooked.  Having pre-ordered it and read through it, I can tell you it is a beautifully created work and most delightful story.

So here it is…Mr Sagittarius!

Blurb

Who Is Mr. Sagittarius?

And what is his connection to twin brothers, Harold and William?

When Harold dies, he leaves a simple memorial request

Will his sister Annette honour it?

Or, will the magic of the garden ensure that she does.

Mr. Sagittarius is a collection of poetry, prose and photographic images inspired by the botanical gardens in Cambridge. It features a variety of my photos including: trees, a robin and a dragonfly! As well as this there are several stories, and even some Halloween poems!

I doubt I would have created Mr. Sagittarius if it wasn’t for these two amazing ladies: Colleen Chesebro (for her weekly poetry challenges and Charli Mills – Carrot Ranch (flash fiction challenges.) Both ladies have been a huge source of inspiration and encouragement.

Mr. Sagittarius is a magical celebration of the natural world, a story about the circle of life, with an emphasis on the changing seasons of the year and sibling relationships.

Huge thanks to my amazing cover designer and formatter: Rachael Ritchey who has done an amazing job creating the ebook, paperback cover and graphics.

*******

Mr Sagittarius is available for Kindle
with the paperback due for
release shortly:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

*******

Contents include:

THE GOLDEN WEEPING WILLOW (story and poem plus photo of a dragonfly)

GOLDEN WILLOW TREE (poem and photo)

ROBIN: ETHEREE (poem and photo)

LIFE LESSONS FROM BUDDHA (poem)

LIFE LESSONS FROM CATS – poem – (photo image via Samantha Murdoch)

  1. FROWNING TREE (poem and photo)

RAINBOW CHILD – story – (image of Tourmaline crystal via Samantha Murdoch)

FRIENDS FOR TEA (poem)

THE CANDY CORN MONSTER (Halloween poem)

CANDYFLOSS CRITTER (Halloween poem)

MR GHOST WITH EASE (Halloween poem)

DREAMING AT HALLOWEEN (Halloween poem)

ODE TO LOVE –ETERNAL (Ghost/love poem)

LOVE TAKEN BY DEATH: DIAMANTE (poem)

GHOST: SEPTOLET (Ghost poem)

A FACE ON BARK: ETHEREE (poem)

LOLLIPOP SUNSHINE TREE (poem and photo)

FOR MR. SNOWMAN (poem)

SERENA’S CHRISTMAS BUBBLE MONSTER (humorous story and photo)

BUBBLY SNOWMAN KISSES (poem)

THAT TWINKLE IN HER EYES IS MAGIC (poem)

THE OLD MAN OF SNOW AND THE SNOW SNAKE (story)

MY HEART IS A CAVE (poem)

  1. SAGITTARIUS (story)
  2. SAGITTARIUS DIED THIS DAY IN THIS SNOW DROP GARDEN (poem/prose/photo of snow drops.)

Love (story)

I asked Marje if she would kindly share an excerpt for us, and she chose this
lovely snippet from the short story, Rainbow Child:

Aurora’s eyes gleamed with excitement. She didn’t hesitate; she pressed the nib of the pen to the paper, but no words came, not one. She frowned and tried again. But the pen drew no words forth. She knelt to the ground, dipped the nib of the pen in a puddle of a rainbow and pressed the anointed nib to the paper. At last the words flowed in a myriad of colours filling the white page with a colourful rainbow of verse.

Dear rainbow, so fine,

Your colours reversed,

Red on your inner side arc,

Double beauty, discovered.

Never leave me, dearest heart.

Parasol of light,

Rainbow of colours divine,

Warming my soul,

Sweet route to inspiration,

Hide me from pain and suffering.

Red, and yellow, blue,

Indigo and violet,

Many coloured dreams,

Such a beauty, shining joy,

Create with me, my rainbow friends.

She placed the pen down and felt an extraordinary lightness of spirit. She danced and danced, her skirt swirling around, unravelling and widening in an arc of spectacular colours as she moved. Soon, she had a curious crowd of onlookers. The shy hedgehog came out of his hiding place, followed by the birds, cats, butterflies, and even the reticent worms poked their heads out of the ground to join in with her happiness.

Such is the power of a double rainbow; it warms our hearts after the sky pours down its sadness in raindrops.

******* 

Marje’s book tour continues with more great exerpts, conversations and Q and A throughout the week.

Congratulations, Marje, it has been wonderful to host you today at The Summerhouse;
I wish you, and Mr Sagittarius, every success!

*******

Author Bio for M J Mallon

I write YA Fantasy/Paranormal novels, Horror/Ghost short stories and multi-genre flash fiction as well as micro poetry – haiku and Tanka. I share book reviews, poetry, flash fiction, photography and inspirational details of my writing journey at my lovely blog home: https://mjmallon.com/

I’m a member of two professional writing groups: The Society of Children’s Writers and Book Illustrators  and Cambridge Writers

As well as this I run a supportive group with fellow Administrator D G Kaye on Facebook: Authors/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club

I work as a Receptionist/Event organiser for an international sixth form and live in Cambridge, England.

*******

Other Books by M J Mallon:

YA Fantasy:

The Curse of Time Book 1 Bloodstone

Coming in 2020

YA Fantasy:

The Curse of Time Book 2 Golden Healer.

*******

Short Stories in Anthologies:

Nightmareland

Bestselling horror compilation – edited by Dan Alatorre –

“Scrabble Boy” (Short Story)

*******

Ghostly Rites Anthology 2019

“Dexter’s Creepy Caverns” (Short Story)

*******

Ghostly Writes Anthology 2018

“Ghostly Goodbye” (Short Story)

*******

Read more about M J Mallon and her other books
at her author page on Amazon.

 

 

Posted in Guest Blogs | Tagged , , , , , | 46 Comments

Happy New Valentines Day With Memoir Pitching Tips

Not quite the jaunty start to 2020 I hoped for, but at least I can wish you a Happy New Year and Valentines Day at the same time.

One reason for my absence is my self-imposed, many-weeks long assignment to study, learn and act upon the querying process for memoir submissions. I’ve included a few links for anyone in the same boat. Or out at sea, as I have been, storm or otherwise.

Before the bad weather hit last weekend, I took a walk by the sea. A literal calm before the storm in the late afternoon.

It helps process thoughts in a writerly brain such as how to write a good elevator pitch.  Razzle Dazzle: The Art and Craft of the Elevator Pitch by Ruth Harris gives some great pointers.

Hard to imagine how hard it can be to find a few good words with this view…

Nice to see life carrying on at this ‘Number 10’ by the sea. No mention of politics or the ‘B’ word here…

This surfer had the right idea…

Not so sure about these…then again, as the wind picked up…

Writing a synopsis, an approximately 500 word, chronological summary of your entire book revealing the key plot with major twists, is no easy task either. Writing the Dreaded Novel Synopsis? These Two Simple Hacks Will Help by Anne R Allen gives great advice.

The snyopsis reveals the ending, unlike the blurb which keeps us guessing.  Looking at this full moon in a clear, winter sky kept me guessing about the storm heading our way.

This starfish seemed wisftul gazing out at the horizon, wondering if the rumours were true…

I wondered, too, about the query (cover) letter. Do I have to submit my completed memoir under non-fiction guidelines, or can it go like a novel, since it’s a story, albeit true, not subject-led?

Jane Friedman’s excellent article,  The Complete Guide to Query Letters pinged into my inbox just in time…

‘This post focuses on query letters for novels, although the same advice applies to memoirists, because both novelists and memoirists are selling a story. Nonfiction book queries are addressed here.’

The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2020 is a fantastic resource, packed full of agent and publisher submission advice.

I hope this is helpful, and if anyone has any memoir submission tips, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Storm Dennis is on its way this weekend (storms didn’t used to have names, did they?), but no seaside shots this time; I’m holding out for some snow…

Happy New Valentines Day!

Love Sherri x

 

Posted in Memoir | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

What I Wanted To Tell You At Christmas

What I wanted to tell you at Christmas is how spectacular the illuminations at Stourhead this year.  I wanted to show you the carpet of lights twinkling down to the lake and the Pantheon lit up like a beacon in the distance with two little boats in the water…

I wanted to tell you about The Twelve Days of Christmas lighting the path in the dark and the cold and the rain.

A partridge in a pear tree…

Two calling doves…

and Three French hens.

All the rest followed with an arch as bright as day
and musical globes by the bridge red as embers …

And at the end, the church lit up and the moon above,
white and stark in the jet-black night.

I wanted to tell you for Christmas about my book.  It is finished and out for agent submission and now I wait.

And isn’t it funny? Life, I mean. Just when you think you’re on a hiding to nothing and you wonder where it’s all going to lead, something wonderful happens, something you didn’t see coming a million miles away.

Charli Mills held her Rodeo Contest at Carrot Ranch with a team of judges from her home community in Minnesota. You know, right there by Lake Superior in the snow. Lost in submissions and a crash of confidence, I didn’t think I could or would enter. But at the last minute, something wild came over me. So I did. Just one, the last: TUFF (The Ultimate Flash Fiction) with the prompt, ‘Beans’.

I wanted to tell you at Christmas that my entry placed second and oh what a thrill to see my story with the other winning entries. The validation at any time but especially this time (for me) is a huge boost. Knock-backs take their toll.

Charli writes about the push and pull of entering contests and the fears, doubts and insecurities writers face. It’s an excellent read.

Thank you, Charli, from the bottom of my heart, for your faith in me.

Then I wanted to tell you at Christmas about the three bears bearing gifts
with plenty of ‘Grrrrr’ for the season…

And another kind of bear, that is Paddington Bear(s) in greetings from Bath

I wait while enjoying the sights…

…including some parachuting Santas.

What I also wanted to tell you at Christmas is that my blogging friend, Michael S. Fedison, author of The Eye-Dancers and its sequel, The Singularity Wheel, is now offering Freelance Editing and Proofreading Services.  I’ve known Mike and his wonderful writing for years and highly recommend him.

And also to tell you that Esther Chilton (she helped me greatly with advice and edits of my memoir manuscript) has a new book on writing tips coming out soon. Not to be missed with her writing expertise as an experienced tutor and editor.

There is an excellent writing blog I have followed for a long time: Anne R. Allen’s Blog…with Ruth Harris. Great excitement in discovering that I once lived in the same place as Anne on the Central Coast of California. I’m her neighbour from afar! Anne has great advice in her recent post, Commenting on Blogs: The Easy way for New Writers to Build Platform.

More news I wanted to tell you at Christmas is the release of Sally Cronin’s new book, Life’s Rich Tapestry -Woven in Words, a collection of verse, micro-fiction and short stories. Author D G Kaye (Debby Gies) shares her 5-Star Review in a beautiful write-up.

For all your generous sharing and support, simply to you both:
Thank you from my heart.

And to all of you who read my blog and support my writing and for your friendship
and encouragement, I can’t thank you enough.

There is so much I wanted to tell you at Christmas.
In the crazy of this world and the darkness of these days, it is hard finding answers.

Sherborne Abbey, Dorset, England

The light of hope in the lonely hours came for me through the words of a
book for our time.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse,
by Charlie Mackesy

My husband gave this to me as an early Christmas present. To encourage me, he said.

When the night is darkest before dawn.

Introduced by the author as a book for anyone from eight to eighty, its message is as exquisite as it is profound. It will floor you then fix you.

‘The boy is full of questions, the mole is greedy for cake. The fox is mainly silent and wary because he’s been hurt by life…’

Simplicity in its purest form of words and illustrations, this book will, I know, crush the hardest heart. This book is a gift of hope.

‘”What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?” asked the boy.

“Help,” said the horse….’

Kindness, love and discovering that home isn’t always a place. And never giving up.

And that is what I wanted to tell you at Christmas.

*******

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year.
See you back here in 2020!

Love Sherri x

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Christmas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 67 Comments

Book Blog Tour: The Last Will of Sven Anderson by Geoff Le Pard

Seasons Greetings, all! Things might have seemed quiet here at the summerhouse, but it’s been a buzz of activity behind the scenes. More on that next week in my Christmas post.  For now, it’s great to return with a hearty welcome to my lovely friend, blogger and prolific author, Geoff Le Pard.

Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry, short fiction and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls. He also cooks with passion if not precision.

Some of you know Geoff well through blogging. I first met him five years ago at the very first Bloggers Bash in London and it’s great to catch up with him here and there. I’m delighted to help with the launch of Geoff’s latest novel, The Last Will of Sven Anderson, which continues with the misadventures of one Harry Spittle, first introduced in Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle. A third in the series follows next year. Congratulations, Geoff!

The Last Will Of Sven Anderson

Blurb

When Harry Spittle, nearly qualified as a solicitor, is approached to write a Will for old acquaintance Sven Andersen, he is somewhat surprised but rather pleased. That pleasure sours after he finds that the Will Sven actually signs is very different to the one he has drawn up, with Harry as the executor. Disappointment turns to horror when he discovers that Sven has been winding up his late father’s criminal empire and a number of not very nice people are interested in the Will’s contents.

If he is to remain in one piece, able to continue his career in the law and save his on-off relationship with his girlfriend Penny, who is unfortunately under suspicion of murder, he needs to find out what’s happened to the money and distribute it according to Sven’s wishes. The trouble is Sven has not only hidden the assets but also the identities of those who benefit. Harry will have to solve a fiendish puzzle Sven has left behind with the help of his sister Dina before his world comes crashing down. With so many people depending on him, Harry knows it’s time for him to grow up – it’s just that he really, really doesn’t want to.

Set in 1981 to the backdrop of punk, Thatcherite politics and an upcoming Royal wedding, this is a book for those who like their nostalgia served with a side of humour and a dash of optimism all wrapped up in a compelling mystery.

Available here:

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

*******

Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle

Blurb

It’s summer 1976 and hotter than Hades. Harry Spittle, nineteen, is home from university, aiming to earn some money to go on holiday and maybe get laid. He expects he will be bored rigid, but the appearance of an old family friend, Charlie Jepson, his psychopathic son, Claude, and predatory wife Monica changes that. As his parents’ marriage implodes, Harry’s problems mount; before he knows it he’s in debt up to his ears and dealing in drugs. Things go from bad to worse when he is stabbed. He needs money fast, but now his job is at risk, his sister is in trouble and he has discovered a family secret that could destroy all he holds dear. Will Harry have to join forces with the local criminal mastermind to survive the summer and save his family? Can he regain some credibility and self-respect? Most importantly will he finally get laid?

Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story. Set in 1976 the hero Harry Spittle is home from university for the holidays. He has three goals: to keep away from his family, earn money and hopefully have sex. Inevitably his summer turns out to be very different to that anticipated.

Available here:

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

*******

If Harry Spittle isn’t great entertainment enough for you, do scroll through for links to Geoff’s other books with updates at Geoff Le Pard’s Amazon Author Page.

My Father And Other Liars

My Father and Other Liars is a thriller set in the near future and takes its heroes, Maurice and Lori-Ann on a helter-skelter chase across continents.

Available here:

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

*******

Life in a Grain of Sand

Life in a Grain of Sand is a 30 story anthology covering many genres: fantasy, romance, humour, thriller, espionage, conspiracy theories, MG and indeed something for everyone. All the stories were written during Nano 2015.

Available here:

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

*******

Salisbury Square

Salisbury Square is a dark thriller set in present-day London where a homeless woman and a Polish man, escaping the police at home, form an unlikely alliance to save themselves.

Available here:

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

*******

Buster & Moo

 

Buster & Moo is about two couples and the dog whose ownership passes from one to the other. When the couples meet, via the dog, the previously hidden cracks in their relationships surface and events begin to spiral out of control. If the relationships are to survive there is room for only one hero but who will that be?

Available here:

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

*******

Life in a Flash

Life in a Flash is a set of super short fiction, flash and micro fiction that should keep you engaged and amused for ages.

Available here:

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Smashwords

*******

Apprenticed To My Mother

Apprenticed To My Mother describes the period after my father died when I thought I was to play the role of dutiful son, while Mum wanted a new, improved version of her husband – a sort of Desmond 2.0. We both had a lot to learn in those five years, with a lot of laughs and a few tears as we went.

Available here:

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

*******

Life in a Conversation

Life in a Conversation is an anthology of short and super short fiction that explores connections through humour, speech and everything besides. If you enjoy the funny, the weird and the heart-rending then you’ll be sure to find something here.

Available here:

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

*******

Lovely to feature you today, Geoff, and we wish you all the best with your latest launch.

 

Posted in Guest Blogs | Tagged , , , , , | 58 Comments

For Stories Yet To Be Written

In early September, my family whisked me away to a delightful cottage (a one time Calvinist chapel) in the heart of the beautiful Sussex countryside. This was my ‘big’ birthday getaway, plotted and planned with great secrecy.

With stunning views all around, we ate breakfast on the roof patio, took walks in the surrounding woods and fields and visited the quaint and historic towns of Battle (site of the 1066 Battle of Hastings) and Rye.

Room With A View – from the upstairs living area (c) Sherri Matthews

I didn’t do a thing: the kids cooked, cleaned up, arranged some meals out and eldest son’s girlfriend made a divine birthday sponge cake of lemon and blueberry with lemon-curd butter icing. They also kept me topped up with bubbly. They know their mum well, obviously.

Blackberries ripening, a sure sign of autumn…

With cards, gifts and a video slideshow of family pics put to a few of my favourite songs, I struggled to keep a dry eye.

Sussex Forest on our doorstep (c) Sherri Matthews

But best of all, my adult children gave me their gift of time in days filled with love, laughter, silliness and joy.

And this: a hand engraved ink bottle with ‘Stories Yet to be Written’ inscribed on the front, their personal message on the back…

(c) Sherri Matthews

They knew of my euphoria when I finished my memoir before this milestone birthday, but not of the strange lull that followed. They couldn’t have known how a few simple words so lovingly considered and etched on an ink bottle would lift me.

The power of the written word…

‘Get it out there, be like Nike Girl’, a friend recently urged me. ‘Just Do It!’  Not so out of reach, but the beginning of a new chapter.

The message behind the message my family commissioned for me, like the gift itself, is priceless. Not only because of their love, but for the philosophy of the person who crafted it…

Andy Poplar, founder of ‘Vinegar & Brown Paper‘,  tells it like this on his website:

‘Advertising creative gets burnt out by the industry.
Quits.
Becomes stay at home dad.
Has an idea about etching words onto glass.Sets out to mend his head with [vinegar & brown paper].
As [vinegar & brown paper], I’ve spent the last 7 years taking vintage or iconic items of glassware and bringing them to life with the tools of typography, wit, wordplay and a slightly askew way of looking at the world.
From the humble British milk bottle to beautiful laboratory glass, nostalgic filled sweet jars to vintage mirrors, each item is individually etched in my studio in the North of England and it never fails to amaze me, that you can now find pieces of [vinegar & brown paper] on bookshelves everywhere, from York to New York.
Andy Poplar
Ideas etched in glass’

 

Holly Tucker MBE (Founder of Holly & Co , champion of small businesses,) interviews Andy on her ‘Conversations of Inspiration’ podcast: ‘The Healing Power of Becoming an Artisan ‘. Andy talks about leaving his city job, his struggles with mental health and his recovery through the fulfillment of his creative dreams.

My heart is full of love and gratitude for my family.

And I would like to tell Andy that my treasured ink bottle sits in pride of place on my desk in Somerset, inspiring the flow of words for Stories Yet To Be Written.

 

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‘More Glimpses’ And A Secret With Hugh W Roberts

Greetings, dear friends! After a few weeks away at work (memoir submission) and play (birthday fun, catch up post next week), today I’m delighted to welcome author, Hugh W Roberts, to the Summerhouse.

Hugh is on book blog tour with his second short story collection, More Glimpses. Thrilled to jump onboard and help spread the word, I knew I was in for a treat when Hugh’s book arrived in the post.

It is no secret to those of us who have read Hugh’s stories on his blog and debut collection Glimpses (published in 2016), that he knows how to keep us riveted with his masterful storytelling.

Whether funny, sad or downright deadly, from drama to comedy, science fiction, murder/mystery, paranormal and horror, Hugh leads us through a gamut of emotions and keeps us guessing to the end with a twist in every tale.

More Glimpses’ gives the reader an opportunity to take a peek into the lives of normal, everyday people whose lives are all on a path full of twists, turns and unexpected endings. But it’s not only about the humans; nothing escapes the extraordinary journeys Hugh has planned for you.’

A wonderfully engaging and fantastic read, I highly recommend More Glimpses with my 5-Star Review on Amazon, adapted here:

‘With Prudence Pebblebottom, the Easter Bunny and The Queen, to name a few, how can Hugh’s stories fail to thrill? Tiny people, elderly time travellers and a boarded up music hall transport us to unknown worlds. ‘Murder in Evershot’ takes us to a quaint English village in deepest, darkest Dorset I know well; Miss Marple will never be the same again. My favourite story is ‘Dream Catcher’ because as Hugh knows, I love a disturbing twist. So pull up your chair and turn down the lights (except the one you read by) for a page-turner collection in the mind- popping tradition of Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone. You won’t be disappointed.

Hugh’s opening story, The Whistle, contains a secret within a poignant and powerful read. It gripped me from its first line:

‘When will it come? Every anticipated moment is like torture.’

The only way to find out, of course, is to read the story. But first, Jack, the main character, has a few words to say about it, insistent on writing Hugh’s guest post:

Can You Keep A Secret?

Before you answer that question, you may like to read what I have to say first. You
see, I have a warning for you. Something that you should take very seriously. My name is Jack, and I’m a character in the story ‘The Whistle’, the first story in the new collection of short stories, More Glimpses, by Hugh W. Roberts.

I fought hard not to appear in that story because it was a place I didn’t want to go, but Hugh refused to allow me to leave. Just like some secrets which are held like a prisoner, Hugh locked me into the story and threw away the key. I found that heartless and thought I’d never trust him again.

However, over time, I grew to trust him, and even though it took him months to finish
the story, it wasn’t until he told me that he was going to reveal a secret that I finally
stopped plotting to escape and agreed to stay.

As Hugh tapped away at the keyboard, he kept promising to reveal the secret to me.
But, as the author, he also knew that if he told me too soon, I’d have caused him
trouble and relentlessly tried to escape before he had finished the story.

Without me, Hugh knew that the story would never have had the same impact as it’s been getting in the reviews for ‘More Glimpses.’

Now, where were we? Oh, yes. Secrets. How many secrets have you been told? Are
they even secrets once they’ve been told?Just like the nearest person to you right now, we all have secrets, don’t we? Some of us find it challenging to keep them safe (one of the biggest mistakes us humans can make in life).

As soon as you unlock the door to the place they are held, and allow them to roam free, you allow ‘uncertainty’ into your life and those who are locked inside the secret.

I’m one of the first to agree that not all secrets are unsafe when freed, but most of
them can grow into a creature that will unleash unhappiness, terror, and darkness
into the lives of so many of us.

They can not only split families apart but can summon up another monster that visits us way before it should do. You know who I mean, don’t you? Yes, the green-eyed monster.

If I told you the secret that Hugh told me, who knows what you would do with it. You
may promise me that you’ll never pass on that secret to anyone else but ask yourself
what would tempt you to reveal it. Is there anything in your world that would entice
you to unlock the door to my secret?

If you answered ‘no’, ask yourself if you really are being truthful to the person that matters most in your life. Who’s that person? You!

I can’t reveal the secret I know to you, but if you read ‘The Whistle’ you’ll find out
what it is. I wonder what you will do once you know my secret. Will you create a
monster from it, or lock it away and hope nobody ever finds it?

Can you keep a secret? It’s up to you.

*******

Don’t worry, Jack; your secret is safe and sound at the Summerhouse. No spoilers here. But for those of you wanting to find out more about Hugh and his writing, a lovely warm welcome awaits you here (and I can vouch for that):

Blog: Hugh’s Views and News

Twitter: @HughRoberts05

Flipboard

Mix.com

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads

*******

‘Hugh W. Roberts lives in Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom.Hugh gets his inspiration for writing from various avenues including writing prompts, photos, eavesdropping and while out walking his dogs, Toby and Austin. Although he was born in Wales, he has lived around various parts of the United Kingdom, including London where he lived and worked for 27 years.Hugh suffers from a mild form of dyslexia but, after discovering blogging, decided not to allow the condition to stop his passion for writing. Since creating his blog ‘Hugh’s Views & News’ in February 2014, he has built up a strong following and now writes every day. Always keen to promote other bloggers, authors and writers, Hugh enjoys the interaction blogging brings and has built up a group of online friends he considers as an ‘everyday essential’.His short stories have become well known for the unexpected twists they contain in taking the reader up a completely different path to one they think they are on. One of the best compliments a reader can give Hugh is “I never saw that ending coming.”Having published his first book of short stories, Glimpses, in December 2016, his second collection of short stories, More Glimpses, was released in March 2019.A keen photographer, he also enjoys cycling, walking, reading, watching television, and enjoys relaxing with a glass of red wine and sweet popcorn.Hugh shares his life with John, his civil-partner, and Toby and Austin, their Cardigan Welsh Corgis.’

*******

Hugh, it’s been an honour to feature you and your wonderful book at the Summerhouse today, and I’m sure my lovely readers will join me in wishing you every success with all your ventures, secret or otherwise.

 

 

 

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Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New Series – Sunday Author Interview – Coming Soon.

Calling all authors, read all about it! A fantastic opportunity to promote your books for free, thanks to Sally Cronin’s Sunday Author Interview series coming soon! ❤

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the new Sunday Interview series, and this time, the focus is on the authors in the Cafe and Bookstore.

At any time there are approximately 150 authors in the Cafe and Bookstore who have new releases or recent reviews. My focus for the rest of the year is going to be on those authors in the Cafe and Bookstore and on promoting new authors who would like to join them on the shelves.

If you are a new visitor to the blog and an author with recently published books or reviews then please pop in to the Cafe and find out how you can submit your books. It is completely FREE, and all I ask is your participation when your books are promoted. This includes responding to individual comments on your posts and sharing on your own social media.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-free-author-promotion/

Now to the new Sunday author interview.

I…

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Posted in Book Promotions, Reblogs | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments