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Guest Post: Writing horror and supernatural stories by Robbie Cheadle #DarkVisions #HorrorAnthology #NewRelease

One of the authors featured in the new anthology of scary stories collected by Dan Alatorre has also written about WWII.  Here she describes how researching that book offered insights into hauntings and from there to the two stories in  the anthology.

via Guest Post: Writing horror and supernatural stories by Robbie Cheadle #DarkVisions #HorrorAnthology #NewRelease

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I am Soul Virtual Blog Tour – Day Nine

My sincerest apologies to Yecheilyah – this was supposed to appear last Monday, 1st October. With everything else that was going on in the preceding week, I completely forgot. I hope that, as the last in line on the tour, being late might offer an opportunity to extend the duration of maximum exposure for her new book.

Bio. EC

Yecheilyah (e-SEE-li-yah, affectionately nicknamed EC) is an Author, Blogger, and Poet and lives in Marietta, GA with her wonderful husband. She has been writing poetry since she was twelve years old and joined the UMOJA Poetry Society in High School where she learned to perfect her craft. In 2010, at 23 years-old, Yecheilyah published her first collection of poetry and in 2014, founded Literary Korner Publishing and The PBS blog where she enjoys helping other authors through her blog interviews and book reviews. The PBS Blog has been named among Reedsy’s Best Book Review blogs of 2017 and 2018 and has helped many authors in their writing journey. I am Soul is her fourth collection of poetry.

SHE WAS NOT A POETI am Soul - High Resolution

No one told her she was supposed to taste the lyrics first,

That her brain was supposed to decipher the intent of melody

before it escaped her mouth,

That her taste buds were supposed to burst forth

before she spit them out.

She had no aspiration that we should admire,

Never attended a poet’s university

or danced between the poetic techniques

they said would enhance the skill,

Did not know what all these terms were

for she was not a poet.

Did not understand Dickinson’s Train,

Why it lapped the miles,

and licked the valleys up,

and stopped to feed itself at tanks,

Or why frost stood still and stopped the sound of feet.

No one warned her about the sweet, sour,

and salty substances of alliterations

and internal rhyme schemes,

But she fell head first in love with the way the words

moved around in her mouth,

With the way her emotions tickled against

the backdrop of her heart.

With the filled something that racked

against the torn cells of her tongue,

With the calm that sprayed peace into the air,

With the poetry that took her there…

So she sang.

Sang poetry with all of the ignorance

stomping around in her stomach—

She sang.

Did not care about its government name,

Did not worry about its image,

Did not care that her words were not professional enough

for she

was not

a

poet.

Fun Facts about Yecheilyah:

  • She loves to laugh, and her favorite comedy TV show is Blackish
  • She is originally from Chicago, IL
  • She’s been married to her husband 8 years, together for 11 years
  • She believes eggs makes everything better
  • She is a twin
  • She is addicted to reading and new notebooks
  • Her favorite desert is ice cream

I am Soul is now available on Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Scribd and The Medu Bookstore at Greenbriar Mall in Atlanta.

Universal Amazon Link

Universal Link to other Retailers

Greenbriar Mall

The Medu Bookstore

2841 Greenbriar Pkwy SW

Atlanta, GA 30331

Author Website  Blog   Amazon Author Central   Facebook  Instagram  Twitter

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Dan is at it again!

At what? Offering to critique a 1000 words (max) submission from you for just $10. And there’s more! If he really likes your submission you’ll be in line to win $300.

Read more about it below

via Announcing The Word Weaver 1000 Word SPRINT Writing Contest

Supporting Cancer Charities With Writing

It is 7 or 8 years since the Laois Writers’ Group published an anthology which they sold in order to raise funds for the Cuisle Centre. By attracting sponsors and holding a slew of fund raising events we were able to defray the cost of having the book printed locally so that all sales proceeds went to the charity which supports patients and their loved ones following a diagnosis of cancer.

macmillan5More recently, as Paul Ruddock’s post which follows explains, a group of authors from across the world contributed stories for an anthology published to support the UK’s Macmillan Fund which provides nursing care for cancer patients being cared for in their own homes. I am proud to have had a story accepted for the second such volume which will be published later this year. I am also assisting with the final preparation of the volume.

Paul’s post below includes the story he contributed to the first volume. Read and enjoy it. Then click his link to buy the book and support this great cause.

“In 2015 my good friend and fellow author, Ian D. Moore invited members of our FB writing group the IASD (see www.indieauthorsupportanddiscussion.com) to write and contribute original stories for an anthology of short stories on the theme of Relationships in all their many and varied forms. The idea was born out of the author’s personal loss of a much loved close relative to cancer. See more

 

MPs Abusing Clerks

2018-03-10 (1)Following recent revelations on the BBC’s Newsnight programme, here’s a prescient extract from my novel Transgression in which an MP is accused of inappropriate behaviour.

It’s 1987. In the run up to the general election in the UK that year a young woman approaches a journalist with a story about the local MP.

“You talk about the Topford countryside as though you’re familiar with it, yet your accent suggests you’re not from the area.”

“I moved here five years ago. A group of us took over a rundown farmhouse where we could practice self-sufficiency. I grew up in Diss.”

“You say there’s a group of you. How many?”

“It varies. There’s a core group of three, all former LSE students. But there are others who come and go. Some of us spend a lot of our time at Greenham.”

Roger had noted the CND badge. Mention of the women’s peace camp at Greenham confirmed his impression of a left-wing, feminist view of the world, with all its conspiracy theories and paranoia. In her mind, was Douglas part of one of those conspiracies? Time to get to the point of the meeting.

“How do you know Douglas Bowen?”

“I don’t know him personally. But I do know he’s not fit to be an MP.”

“I imagine you’d think that about any Tory candidate. Frankly, I don’t think there’s anything that will stop him being re-elected. He’s highly regarded as someone who looks after the constituency.”

“If the women voters knew what he’s really like they wouldn’t support him.”

“That’s a serious aspersion you’re casting. I hope you have something solid to back it up.” As he spoke Roger gestured towards the bench, inviting her to sit down. Then regretted doing so. Sitting side by side, both half turned to face each other, was uncomfortable.

“You probably think I’m a left-wing conspiracy theorist. That’s what men tend to think when they see women like me, committed to protecting the environment, ridding the world of weapons of mass destruction, campaigning for peace.” She ignored Roger’s feeble attempt at protest and continued, “I’m all of those things. I hate what Margaret Thatcher is doing to this country, all the more because she’s a woman. But that’s not what this is about.”

She hesitated. Roger was startled by the intensity of the stare with which she engaged him. He sensed she was uncertain about the best way to phrase her next utterance.

“When I was a student, I worked for a while in the office of a Labour MP at the House of Commons. I got to know a number of young people doing similar work, researching background information to feed into parliamentary debates, that kind of thing. Not everyone I met there was of the same political persuasion, and I got to enjoy the experience of rubbing shoulders with politicians from right across the spectrum. I learned that they were all equally committed to their beliefs, even those with whom I profoundly disagreed.

“But I soon realised there were certain men who it was not safe for a woman to be around. Bowen was one of those. I was warned about him, not once, but several times, by different women who had experienced unpleasant encounters with him.”

Transgression is available for Kindle and all other e-readers as well as in print. Follow the links to read the opening chapter.

Honest Hearts is Going Wide

If you read yesterday’s post about making my books available on other platforms as well as Kindle and then clicked through to my publications page you may have wondered why Honest Hearts was not included. Honest Hearts was my first novel. Before uploading it to Draft2Digital I read it through and decided that there is much room for improvement. So until those improvements are made I shall not be ‘going wide’ with it. That may take a little while as I also want to finish The Poor Law Inspector.

Meanwhile, here is a short extract. It is a bit of back story that explains how the female protagonist came under the  evil influence of a dodgy character of Italian descent. I present it here exactly as I wrote it back in 2011 and I’m offering it as my entry to Stevie Turner’s March short story contest. I shall call it “Byrne Terrace”.

Byrne Terrace

The new buildings that sprang up to accommodate the massive influx of humanity flocking to the new conurbations of North America during the second half of the nineteenth century were often of poor quality construction. Many were made of timber. So it should be no surprise that there were so many devastating fires during that period.

The wealthy – professional people, landlords and factory owners – could afford to take out insurance against such an eventuality. The poor could not. So when a building was consumed by fire the owners of the affected buildings could easily build anew, usually using better quality materials. The tenants however lost their few belongings and, being uninsured, were frequently left with little more than the clothes they were wearing. These, though, were the fortunate ones for many others lost their lives.

But life for everyone was precarious in these years. Professionals, factory owners and landlords would, like as not, be in hock to a bank or money lender. In the event of a fire or other disaster it would be the bank or money lender who would benefit. It was the bank or money lender therefore that acquired the new building paid for by the insurance money.

Some of the wealthy adopted habits not entirely conducive to retaining, let alone expanding their wealth. On the shore of Coney Island for example frequent horse races were run and many people who ought to have known better lost fortunes betting on the outcome of these races. Others became slaves to the god alcohol. Combining the two was a recipe for disaster.

It certainly was in the case of Joseph Byrne. Since arriving in North America Joe had worked hard, saved diligently and invested his savings in land on which he built, with his own hard labour and that of fellow Irishmen, houses that were of a generally higher standard than most of those that he watched being crudely assembled alongside. Once his houses were completed he was able, because of their superior quality, to lease them to some of the more discerning of tenants. In this way he was able to ensure that his wife Mary and the daughter they eventually produced enjoyed relatively comfortable lives.

Of all the houses that Joseph built the most solid and attractive was the one that he and his small family inhabited. Its rooms were larger than any in his tenanted houses. It was furnished with cabinets and chaises of a quality that would normally be found only in the homes of much wealthier individuals.

All of this was achieved in fewer than two decades of hard work and Mary was naturally proud of her husband’s achievements and as grateful for the beautiful and talented daughter he had given her as for the many examples of craftsmanship and artistry with which he had filled their home. Now that Joe’s thick wavy hair was turning grey and his jowls coming to resemble those of an overfed turkey she had begun to hope that he would slow down. It would be nice, she thought, to be able to spend more time together; to have him beside her, as well as their daughter, when they took a stroll along the boardwalk; to accompany him to the races and maybe have a small flutter on a horse.

119

The Sheepshead Bay racetrack, taken by George Bradford Brainard, courtesy the Brooklyn Museum. Reproduced from “No sheep in Sheepshead Bay at boweryboyshistory.com

Had Mary been aware that Joe was already attending the races on a regular basis and having much more than a “small flutter” on every occasion she would have had cause for concern. To be fair, Joe’s judgement of horseflesh, like his judgement of quality in building and in interior furnishings, had been impeccable at the start. Indeed, not a few of the fine things in Joe and Mary’s home had been purchased with the proceeds from a well placed bet.

As time went on, though, Joe began to make some reckless wagers. Even the best of tipsters will sometimes fail to produce an accurate forecast of the outcome of a race. Perhaps the rider is out of sorts on the day. Perhaps a sudden fall of rain makes the sand softer than anticipated thereby favouring a different horse. And it is never beyond the bounds of possibility that behind the scene someone is determined to ensure a particular outcome and has the power to guarantee that such outcome ensues. No amount of expertise in the attributes of horse or rider can counter such things.

The sensible punter puts such losses behind him and determines either never to bet again or, at the very least, to keep his bets within affordable limits. The man who is confident of his ability on the other hand will conclude that the best way to cover his losses is to place a bigger bet on the next prospect. It is at this point that the sensible person will begin to question the judgement of the other. The over-confident person never questions his own judgement. And if he is partial to a drop of the best Irish whiskey that money can buy his judgement can quickly become impaired to a dangerous degree.

It didn’t take Joe very long to get himself into a position where he needed to mortgage his tenanted houses in order to pay off his gambling debts. And it was not very long after that when he realised that he still was not winning – or at any rate not with the frequency necessary to meet payments on the mortgage. It was at this stage that his better judgement departed entirely. He determined that, as the houses were insured, if they were to be consumed by fire the mortgage would be paid off and he would be off the hook. Never mind that what he was planning was a crime. Never mind that it would leave him with no source of income. The bank would be off his back.

Still, it was a high risk strategy, only to be followed in extremis. One last bet on a certainty would also get him out of trouble. Only if that failed would he adopt the strategy that he had come to refer to as the final solution.

The wager on which he decided to stake everything – including his home and everything in it – was indeed an absolute certainty. Of course, as has been stated above, there is no such thing. The weather changes; riders have off days. So too do horses. Nevertheless, it was neither of these things that was to be the end of Joe Byrne and his small property empire.

Joe would never know it but the man with whom he placed at stake his only remaining asset was also the man who knew the outcome of the race; knew it because, as the owner of the horse and, in all but name, its rider, he had decreed that it would be so. Leonardo Carlucio had watched as Joe Byrne had worked to build his successful business. Consumed with envy Leonardo had nevertheless bided his time. He had watched as Joe’s gambling addiction had taken hold. He had encouraged Joe to cover his losses with ever larger stakes; had accompanied Joe as the latter sought solace in drink.

Joe was pleased to have found such a sympathetic ear into which to pour forth his concerns for his future and that of his wife and daughter. After all, he could hardly discuss the plight into which his business had fallen with them. That would have meant admitting to his weakness and would have destroyed their happiness. Of course, if his plans went awry their happiness would be destroyed in any case. But that would not happen. His new Italian friend had assured him that the bet he was about to make was as safe as any he had ever made. And Joe trusted Leonardo; would trust him with his life.

Leonardo certainly did know the bet was safe. But not in the way that Joe thought. Joe had no way of knowing that the person with whom he was placing the bet was actually in the employ of Leonardo and that Leonardo would be the beneficiary were the horse, by some freak of fate, not to win the race. Nor could Joe have known that there was no freak of fate involved; that, in fact, it was all pre-arranged so as to deliver Joe’s home, and with it his wife and daughter, into Leonardo’s hands.

As he watched the horse, on which he had staked everything, stumble and fall Joe Byrne wept. His life was surely over. His dearest friend Leonardo was beside him and tried to console him but it was impossible. He extricated himself from Leonardo’s embrace and, feet dragging, left the boardwalk. Entering the centre house in the block of five that he had built with such care barely a decade ago, he retrieved the tin of kerosene that he had stashed under the stairs earlier in the day.

He was certain that the houses would be empty at this time but, to be absolutely sure, he went to the front door of every apartment and checked that it was unoccupied. His judgement may have departed but he retained enough humanity to not wish to be responsible for the death of any of his tenants. All he wanted to do was to ensure that Mary and Maeve were not going to be held responsible for the mortgages on these properties. Rather, he aimed to ensure that they received a lump sum from the residue of the insurance payout after the mortgage had been repaid. This, he fervently hoped, would be sufficient to save them from destitution.

After he had placed a kerosene soaked rag under each basement floor he set a slow fuse to burn in the centre property. Then he walked away from the block. Crossing the boardwalk he strode across the sand so recently disturbed by the hooves of race horses. The seaward side of the track was already being eradicated by the incoming tide. Ignoring the waves washing over his feet and soaking the heavy corduroy of his trousers he continued walking. He did not hesitate as the icy water reached his paunch. He uttered a brief gasp as a wave several inches higher than its predecessor splashed his jaw and he tasted salt. But he didn’t stop. He had never learned to swim. If he had it would have made little difference. The weight of his wet clothes dragged him under and there was no longer any visible evidence of his existence. No neat pile of clothes on the beach. Nor had anyone seen him walk to his death. Everyone within sight was distracted by the fire raging in the row of dwellings that Mary liked to think of as Byrne terrace. It would be a long time before Mary came to appreciate the irony in the sound of those two words.

Getting to Know Your Characters

Earlier this week Stevie Turner posted a piece about character development. I commented on the piece, saying that I sometimes place my characters in difficult situations in order to see how they respond. Often these situations will be tangential to the actual work in progress. I’m posting here an example of that in which I explored aspects of the relationship between my main character in the novel Transgression and his partner through the partner’s eyes. I might add that it also impinges upon the recent discussion here about diversity in fiction because my characters are gay and I am not.

Egg on my Face

There are times when being alone is the most pleasant of things. And I shall always be grateful that there are still places where it is possible to be alone. That’s what I was thinking as I strode along the sand this morning. The tide was out and I could just about hear the sound of the waves coming from my right. On my left a line of dunes concealed the coast road. Somewhere above the dunes I could hear the song of a skylark as it soared invisibly into the clouds.

I had been walking for some twenty minutes when I came to the bank of the river. Here I became aware that the dunes had protected me from the wind which now declared its hand by whipping a fine dry powder in soft clouds close to the ground to highlight the ripples in the hard wet surface of the sand.

A swallow swooped low, skimming the ground in front of me as it looped around my legs several times. I had never seen such behaviour before and wondered where its nest could be, so far from human habitation. As I walked, sand flies skittered away and I concluded that the swallow found in them a ready source of food.

Vinny bounded ahead as soon as I released the lead. I’m not sure if Van Gough ever painted a dog, but if he had it would have looked just like Vinny, all lines and wrinkles around his face and fine golden curls under his belly. Seeing him in the pound, Roger and I both recognised it at once and immediately christened him Vincent, which we soon shortened to Vinny. That syncronicity of thought is what makes us so good together most of the time, the knowledge of it adding to the distress I feel at the way things have turned out between us in the past few weeks. This holiday is supposed to help us over it so that we can continue our lives together as always.

That’s why I wanted to be alone this morning; why I offered to take Vinny for his exercise, leaving Roger to prepare our breakfast, a task I usually perform. I needed space to think about recent events, and work out a way back from the frustrations that had begun to appear since he retired. The truth is the poor man misses work. We are not used to being together in the house on a daily basis. At first retirement had seemed like a long holiday. But there came a time when all the jobs that needed doing about the house and garden were done, and there was nothing left to fill his days.

Neither of us feels old enough yet to spend hours watching day time TV. I, always having been the one who keeps the house clean and tidy, can keep myself busy dusting, hoovering and washing and ironing our clothes. Roger has taken on some of that, and claims he enjoys it, although I suspect he says so only to appease me. As a nurse, I am in the fortunate position of being able, even after retirement, to take on the occasional shift filling in for absentees from the regular staff. It keeps me in touch with former colleagues and gives me something to do outside the home still.

I think that Roger needs something like that. I thought perhaps he might have been tempted to write a novel but that did not appeal. Too used to dealing with facts in his job as a journalist he claims. Making things up is not his cup of tea, not when real life is so much more interesting, or so he says. Anyway, it means that our relationship is going through a torrid time just now, each of us sniping at the other about the smallest things. Last night it was about the choice of TV programme: he decided he wanted to watch football. I was all for Master Chef, a programme we both like, both of us being enthusiastic cooks.

“We never watch football,” I pointed out. “Why the sudden interest?”

“I just fancied a change. I’m getting a bit tired of Greg and John and their staged debates about which contestant is going to be eliminated, when it is always obvious which of them can’t boil an egg.”

“Stop exaggerating,” I said. “You know it’s always between two who are equally incompetent. Anyway, it’s the insights into the workings of professional kitchens that makes the programme interesting. You always said that; or were you just saying it to please me?”

“I bet that’s staged, too. A star-rated chef would never let a bunch of amateurs loose in his kitchen like that. They are only in it for the publicity.”

“Oh go on then! Watch your football. You’re obviously in one of your stews.”

And that’s what we did. Sat there stiffly, neither of us really watching the game – I couldn’t even tell you who was playing whom – both of us in a bit of a sulk, wondering what had soured our relationship.

By the time the match was over we had both cooled down and we laughed at our stupidity. But I layed awake for ages worrying about where we will be if this carries on much longer. Things should be easier for us now that public opinion is generally less hostile to relationships like ours. I have seen young gays walking hand in hand on the street, something we still wouldn’t dare to do. But it’s reassuring to know we could if we wished. It’s all so much different from the days when we had to hide our sexuality or face the jeers and sneers of a society conditioned to believe we were a threat to them and their children.

In school my name provided the bullies with an easy epithet to add to the everyday ones of “poof” and “queer”. The inititials C.C. – for Conrad Clarkson – all too easily became “sissy”. Back then “Connie” was equally a name I abhored because it almost always carried the same connotation of contempt, as though I was in some way a lesser being. Now it is spoken with affection by most of those who know me and I am comfortable with it. Perhaps being comfortable is part of our problem, mine and Roger’s: we’ve been together for so many years now and been through so much together.

When we first met it was at the height of the AIDS crisis. That gave the homaphobes another stick with which to beat us. The Gay Plague it was called. I lost so many friends then, between the straight ones that were scared to be near me, and the gay friends who contracted the disease and died a lingering death. Roger was my rock back then, and I can’t imagine what would become of me if we were to part now.

Anyway, to cut a long story short so to speak – not boring you am I? – I needn’t have worried. When we got back to the holiday cottage Roger was full of excitement. Vinny sensed it and that’s how I got scrambled egg all over my face and everything – in my hair, down my shirt front. I was a right mess, I can tell you. Roger came to the door to greet us carrying the bowl in which he was mixing eggs and milk for our breakfast. Vinny, with that sixth sense dogs have, must have felt his excitement and bounded up, sending the bowl flying out of Roger’s hands and straight into my face. The egg everywhere wasn’t the worst of it. The edge of the bowl caught the bridge of my nose and left a nasty bruise. Whilst we were chastising poor Vinny and trying to clear up the mess the toast burned and set off the smoke alarm. For a while it was like something out of Brian Rix but without the double entendres.

When it was all over and we finally got to talk about something else, Roger explained that Madge Morris – you know, the woman that plays the part of landlady at the Red Hart pub in the eponimous soap – she comes from the same town as Roger. Well, she’s only asked him to help her write her autobiography. So now he has something to keep him occupied and we are going to be OK. I am so happy for him.