My sister’s email

I’m feeling fine, you should see the lights here. Amazing- as if the universe were sitting on Earth,

On the bus as we came in, we turned down a dark street

And on a Church wall glowed a blue neon cross.

It almost made me cry again.

I found my room, it’s in a large building in a nice spot,

I’ve met my neighbors, they all seem nice.

You should hear the sounds of the city at night,

It’s like a recording of a dream.

I started work, I’m really enjoying it.

I hope you’re feeling better, I know this change is making me feel better

But I hope I’m not here too long; you know how I get

And how much I love home. Could you call Sal and tell her I’m OK?

Do you have any news? Can you tell everyone it’s going really well for me?

It sounds silly but it’s so big here, and so far away

I sometimes wish I’d stayed.

I haven’t seen him yet, but I’m sure he’ll arrive to see me soon.

I’ve called him to tell him I’m pregnant, but he hasn’t replied,

Could you try calling him? Could you make sure he’s here in town still if you speak to him?

I hope I don’t lose my job when the baby comes- but as soon as we’re together, it’ll be fine.

Anyway, don’t worry about me and sorry I cried when I left,

I was just tired.

The fortune

Outside a light rain is falling

turning the concrete path grey-black.

With friends, I sit and drink. We stay warm and laugh

one cries out

“We have a treat coming tonight” and he looks at his phone.

A few drinks later, a knock at the door.

A man near to it swings it open.

A tall woman, thin and bent, her face a centre to a nest of black hair,

someone to frighten children strides inside.

She holds a red case that reads

Madame LaCarrie -Fortunes told.

The laughter and talking stops

but all around the light reflects off white teeth

the room full of smiles.

The woman stands before us, full of confidence

Surveying the room with a cruel eye and thin-lipped hunger.

She holds out her free hand, the other clutching her red box

And says

“I can see the future.”

It is all she says before striding forward and humping her box down

So that it claps with a bang.

We all follow her movements.

She holds her hands out again and waits.

Those who know lead the action

And they start to put coins in the gypsy’s palm, and she gulps them into her pockets

With greed and flashing eyes.

Someone shouts; “Turn down the lights” and they are turned down until

Only around the fortune teller lights glow, enflaming her black hair.

The box is opened, and the table is littered with her cards. She points to me.

“Choose,” she says. One eye open more than the other.

I had not laid a coin in her hand.

“Choose” again comes the hissed command

And I choose.

The card is turned over, and we look to it.

“The woman you love, loves you not,

No one will ever be true to you,

You are not true to yourself.”

It is all she says and then looks around the room and selects another.

Sitting back her words echo in my mind

And drive me into a fury.

“What do you mean?” Suddenly I shout.

The crowd stops, the old woman’s eyes smile, sending me deeper into a fury.

“I have spoken,” she says. “There are no more sights for you, remember my words.”

The woman I love has found the flaws in me, and it twists inside me

The gypsy woman has only touched the nerve; the wound appeared by my own thoughts.

Suddenly, in that crowded room, I was alone

My thoughts ran to you.

I have been cut down.

This voice, heard yesterday at evening.

An old man, dreaming on a bench by some ancient stone building

Turned to me yesterday and said;

Her smooth hands could break a man’s wrist,

What has she done to be so strong?

I knew a woman who would,

Work all day, washing and lifting,

Moving and cutting

Yet became weak and bent like an old sea-nail,

A cancer cut her in half in the end.

Live life with passion, before it ends.

Some people never find passion

But mock and blur their evenings with drink and lies,

Find something to love, something of value

Something good

And feel it surge in you until it burst forth like a great spasm,

Wear your passion, share it, but keep it safe.

And if someone loves you,

Pray nothing hurts them,

Not cold winter rain

Not strangers,

Not a car on a cold Wednesday afternoon, skidding across stones.

The wind blows, the leaves speak.

There is a tree of mid-size with long heavy branches

that grows by a country path.

The younger part of myself

collects stones, mostly quartz

and leaves them at the base of this tree, as offerings.

I ask the tree to watch over me

and I ask it for luck.

I like to walk this path in the evenings,

just as the sun is setting behind the hills

it is then the cold western wind blows, rushing across the wet ground.

I stand by my tree

and experience the loneliness that helps me remember happier times.

I will take you to my tree one day

and maybe you will understand;

maybe you can leave a stone and make a wish.

There are spirits in nature,

be kind to all things,

be kind to yourself.


She reveals her kindness

Once again, like storms I remember from my childhood,

The rain has returned to fill the fields and forests

With deep puddles and the kind of mud that can swallow machines.

She has been sleeping late this morning

Because there is nowhere to go

And the weather is as good as a locked gate.

I watch her face, trying to record the details of her appearance.

I have seen her kindness

It comes out of her like the glow from a flame.

It makes me smile, a sad little happiness.

She shares pictures of dogs with me.

Animals who need adopting from the pound;

She would have them all if she could.

And in her gentle love of animals and from her thoughtful acts

There grows a gentle love in me.

The kind of feeling that lets a single tear fall from my eye.

I am ashamed in case she sees it

And asks me ‘are you crying?’

I would laugh and say no, my eyes are tired.

The truth is; it is a tear that says

You have touched my heart.

A memory, a conversation. Words written in a quiet, sad moment.

The Sun drops, heavy with life

A cold white Moon ascends.

How often I have been blind to beauty, that falls softly

Secretly, silently,

Like the night dew.

She pointed out the sun to me

Not by making me look

But by showing me warmth.

Too late you find

Too soon it’s gone.

At the quiet moment, a young man asks

What is the best way to love?

The older man says;

With the heart.

Heavy thoughts kill what is important

But what is important always dies.

Time waits, but then steps forward

Knocks down what you have built

And snatches away all wealth.

Hand on the telephone

Do you get sad, sweetheart?

Sitting in the park rotunda writing on your phone

When a man comes in and sits near you; He smells of wine and faeces

You leave, hearing him cry out as you go.

You tell me how horrible it was at that moment, his yellow teeth, yellow face, black eyes

I saw him sleeping on a blanket outside a café yesterday, or someone like him.

The flowers of the city have been trampled

The trees are wrapped in protective boards

 men work through the night cutting up the tiles

the scream of their drills echo in the city streets as I walk home.

But alone is really alone.

You have to close the curtains because the glow of the buildings

Light up your room

With painful, sharp white lights

I See the white steam rising from the building rooftops

And wonder where she is

Most likely she isn’t thinking of me.

Instead, she has a hundred phone messages to answer

Remember though-

Sitting in the Roman Room of the museum

How she sat and read her phone, not looking up at the 2000-year-old jars.

How that annoyed, how I complained

Those artifacts of human history, made before Caesar ruled,

Are not as interesting as what Michael or Brett are doing.

Close your eyes and forget,

Life is hard enough without recalling the past, reliving regret.

How will you get out of bed in the morning

If you let the fears of life

Sit on your chest like fat angry devils.



Writing Wednesday! How to build a setting in your novel

This is the first of my writing Wednesday series, tips to help you create your work.

Today I will talk about creating settings for fiction before you start to write.

When writing a novel it is a good idea to brainstorm, to get ideas down about character, plot and setting.

Working out the setting fore your novel can be a fun activity.

When I am beginning a new work, I go for a walk. I don’t have to be anywhere fancy or exotic, I don’t have to be in the place where I will ultimately set the novel, all I’m looking for in the early stages are buildings, trees, streets anything that my characters might end up seeing, walking down or living in.

The best settings are the ones you know intimately. For example, if you are writing a story about a professor in a University in New York State but you’ve never been to the USA, take a walk at a nearby university or school and see how the buildings look, what does the library look like in the  morning when the professor may arrive at work.

Seeing how the trees look along the main path when the sun shines through the leaves will help you novel immensely. The proffer walks this way to class every morning, so how does the sun look against the trees in the morning. When the wind blows do the leaves make a noise? Do students sit in the shade of these trees at lunch time. These facts, facts you can glean from a simple walk, will create a great sense of truth in your walk.

I was considering writing a novel set in the 1930s, I wanted an art deco look to the world I was creating so I went for a walk and took photos of all the art deco building I could:

IMG_0203 IMG_0205 IMG_0206

I could easily set my novel in these buildings, I can tell you how water has stained the side walls, I can tell you where the mail boxes are, I can tell you how the sun glints off the side windows because I walked around these buildings, I went up the side and back lanes. Now when I come to write my book I can add these details.

The Bomber will be at the Frankfurt Book Fair. 

Pick up a copy today!

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Adventure Short story

The beach reflected the sunlight, burning golden hot under Molly’s small gentle feet. She trotted across the hot dry sand to the edge of the ocean where the cool salty water washed gently over her toes. The soft wet sand gave way under each step, leaving small indents which, when the waves drained away, contained small pools of water. Molly stopped and looked back at her footsteps as she went and then purposefully began to drag her toes in the wet sand.
‘People will think a turtle has come ashore when they see these marks,’ she thought to herself. She stopped after eighteen turtle-steps and looked back to see that the marks were being eroded by the gentle waves.
Being carefree she forgot this game and stared out to the horizon where dark blue storm clouds were gathering. White caps on the rough sea broke in the distance and Molly pretended they were the tails of thousands of whales slapping the waters surface.
“It will be a storm,” she said to herself, having heard her mother say so to Aunty Joan as she left the house.
Further on, only five minutes walk along the quiet beach, were huge granite stones. The stones caused the waves to become dangerous and they smashed into the huge house sized boulders sending up wild spray. If Molly were to fall in, she imagined, she would be smashed into thousands of pieces and then dragged into the deep water where animals would eat her. She had been told not to go there and climb on the rocks. She was allowed to go that far as long as she turned around and came home as soon as she reached them. It was her morning exercise during the family vacation, a chance for her to get out of the rented beach house and work off the morning energy that would tear her apart internally if she did not run it off.

The rocks loomed dark and mightily before her, crooked ancient trees grew along the highland behind them. Their huge heavy branches reached out to the sky, creating a beautiful effect of green on blue. The grey clouds came closer to the shore but did not worry Molly, she hoped it would rain, she loved the rain on these hot slow days.
She climbed up the closest rock using the large dimples to gain ahold. It was hard work, but soon she was on top with only a scuff on one knee where little drops of blood formed. It was nothing to worry her. She brushed herself and delicately touched her knee for a moment and then looked for a puddle to wash with. She froze, the terrible pain of a sudden shock ripped through her chest. A man with long grey hair and dark eyes sat on a stone which jutted out from this nest of rocks. The man was looking out to sea, but as Molly watched the man turned his head and looked at her a while before looking away.
Molly struck with the old man’s attitude, watched him while the waves smashed upon the rocks sending a delicate spray into the air, which rained down on her in tiny bubbles.
It would be a difficult job to cross over to the man, if she wanted to go close enough to speak. There were large gaps between the rocks where if you fell, you would disappear into the darkness and an unknown depth. For a while she satisfied herself watching the man who after sitting perfectly still, reached down and raised a long staff into the air and waved it about as if he were trying to control the clouds above. As if loyal and submissive the clouds rushed over and soon the summer rain fell in heavy fat drops.
Molly edged her way across a split, looking down into the darkness as she crossed. She climbed the rise of a rock until she could speak to the old man.
“Hi,” she called.
The man was silent.
“Hey!” she yelled again, “What are you doing?”
The old man turned his glare away from the ocean to the girl. “I’m commanding the waves.”
Molly looked back to the ocean, the waves were rough and coming in high and fast. “No you’re not,” she said.
The man began to wave his stick harder. “What would you know?” he asked.
“I know that if you stopped doing that the waves would be exactly the same. In fact if you weren’t even here nothing would change.”

The rain came down harder still, Molly could feel her hair hanging heavily down the sides of her face.
“I am controlling the rain too,” the man added.
“Pshew!” the girl dismissed him. “Where are you from?”

“Town,” the man nodded toward the town that lay over the hill.
“Do you swim?”

“Is that your wand?”

“It’s a staff,” he corrected her and as a ferocious wave hit the rocks, he waved it high above his head.
The rain began to annoy the girl, “Can you make it stop raining?”

“If I wanted to.”

“Stop it then.”

The man stood up, “I will grant you this one miracle,” he shouted, “But first tell me, aren’t you afraid of me?”

“No,” she lied. “I mean you are a bit weird, but you couldn’t cross between your rock and this one, the gap’s too wide. I’d think I could run faster than you too.”

The old man smiled. “I will stop the rain.” The man held his staff above his head and began to yell and jerk about, occasionally pointing his hands and stick aggressively toward the sky. The rain continued, the clouds rolled over the land from the sea.
Suddenly the man turned pale and clutched at his chest, he sat back. “When I was younger I could have stopped this,” he said.
Molly nodded and suddenly felt very sorry for the man.
“Have you had lunch?” she asked.
“I’ll go and get you a sandwich.”

Without waiting for an answer she dashed across the rocks and leaped down into the soft wet sand. She ran along the beach, back to the cabin where her family were and grabbed three sandwiches from the table. Molly, dripping with rain, turned to leave.
“Where are you going?” her mother asked.
“There’s a man on the rocks who is hungry, I’m gonna give him some sandwiches.”

“Hang on Molly, you’re not going back now, not in this rain. I’ll come with you this afternoon and you can show me your friend.”

“No, I gotta go now.”

“No.” Her mother took her by the shoulder and steered her back, taking the sandwiches. “You’re all wet, go and dry off and we’ll go later.”
“He’ll be gone,” Molly complained but it was beyond her control now. She turned to the window. Rain streamed down the glass, the ocean waves rushed to shore.