Category Archives: Short stories

Still in the Mood for Love?

Today my blog has been taken over by writers from Solstice Publishing, whose anthology, Cupid’s Arrow, Vol 2, was published last week.

blog 21 Feb 18

Valentine’s Day encompasses romance for all ages. People go out of their way to show their affection for the one they love with flowers, candy, perhaps a special meal. Just how did this day come to be?

Valentine’s Day can be traced back to the third century, when Emperor Claudius III of Rom decided young men made better soldiers than those with wives and families to care for. Valentine, a young man who preached the word, felt this was injustice at its worst. He defied the emperor and performed marriages for young lovers in secret. Once his actions were discovered, the emperor ordered he be put to death.

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https://bookgoodies.com/a/B079SKVC45

Today, we honor his memory by celebrating romance with the one we love. To honor St. Valentine, Solstice Publishing presents Cupid’s Arrow Vol. 2, a collection of tales of love.

https://youtu.be/5mm2bYgv_VU

An essence of bliss makes everything delicious.

Her last word before kissing him was, “Hush.”

Never say never…

She’s not your grandmother’s matchmaker.

Separated by the winds of war

They meet time after time…

Can love possibly come again?

Real life isn’t a fairy tale… or is it?

Love is a wonderful spell.

Love is a special feeling between couples. The sweetness of caring deeply for each other. A waterfall of romance is brought to you E.B. Sullivan, Jeffery Martin Botzenhart, A.A. Schenna, Adam Zorzi, K.C. Sprayberry, A.J. Kohler, Veronica Peters, Noelle Myers, and Palvi Sharma

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Free download of CAST OFF this weekend.

In a bid to beat the mid winter blues – mine and yours – I am offering some of my books for free on Amazon over the next few weeks.

Cast OffThis weekend it is CAST OFF –  a collection of 13 short stories based on female characters in plays by Shakespeare.

Have you ever thought what a Shakespeare character might be doing or thinking when she is not on stage? Does she like the role that has been created for her? Would she prefer a different plot? Or love interest? How does she really feel about all that cross dressing? Will she actually go back on stage when it’s her cue?

If you download my book on Saturday 13th or Sunday 14th January you can find some answers to all these questions, and more, for FREE. Money back if you don’t find at least one story to your liking!

Amazon link:

myBook.to/CastOff

solstice logo (1)

A Story for Christmas.

This will be my last blog for 2017 so I am signing off with a short story.

Not many people know that there were supposed to be four Magi, but one was sceptical about his friends’ plan, and decided to pull out. Anyway, here is a monologue, as recounted by –

Kevin, the fourth wise man.

 

Phone rings, Kevin picks it up

“Hello? Oh, hi Gaspar, How’s tricks? You planning one of our little adventures? Don’t tellTHREE-WISE-MEN-CYCLE-Preview me – another cruise? No? What did you say? A trek? On camels? All the way to Bethlehem? That sounds more like hard work than a holiday. What’s brought this on?

We’re going to see a baby? Whatever for? Don’t we see enough of our own grandchildren? Not just any baby you say – sorry, the line’s very bad – did you say it’s the son of a Goth? Oh, the son of a God. THE God! 

 Right! You’re not having me on, are you? So this son of God has a palace in Bethlehem we can stay at? Not a palace. A what? A stable – as in a home for a horse?

 I see. Tell me, honestly now, Gaspar, what kind of god gives birth in a stable? What did you say?  God won’t actually be there, just his wife. Someone else’s wife? Not even his wife, his fiancée? And she’s giving birth to the son of God? In a stable?

Gaspar – have you been drinking? You mean you’re telling me all this and you’re stone cold sober? And you’ve already persuaded Balthazar and Melchior to go along? Jeez, are you all mad? But how will you know which way to go? Sat navs don’t work on camels. You’re going to follow a car? Not a car, a star?

No, don’t say anymore. There’s nothing you can possibly add to persuade me to come along this time. No, no. No offence intended or taken. You run along and enjoy yourselves. You can tell me all about it when you get back.

Kevin puts the phone down.

What in Heaven’s name will the old fool come up with next!”

For more of my stories, including at least one free download, go to:

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, and that 2018 is as happy and prosperous as you deserve – or better!

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Was Shakespeare a team player?

There is general agreement that Shakespeare collaborated with another dramatist william_shakespeares_first_folio_1623occasionally – The Two Noble Kinsmen, for example, was written with John Fletcher. He was influenced by other playwrights too – Marlowe’s Jew of Malta / Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. He also wrote parts to suit particular actors, and audiences (especially Royal ones), and most of his heroines find a reason to dress up as boys early in the play because female parts were taken by young boys. All this goes to show that he was a jobbing writer (as well as actor), and needed to make sure his work was finished on time and was performed in front of a paying audience. But few people have regarded the bulk of his oeuvre as a collaborative effort.

Now there is something of a battle between scholars going on because one, Gary Taylor, has suggested he has proof that up to 38% of Shakespeare’s works are collaborations with Marlowe or others. His method of proving this is controversial – he has employed mathematicians to use algorithms to detect patterns in the use of words or phrases that were also used by contemporary dramatists. Other scholars have pointed out that computer programmes that pick out similar patterns in the use of common words such as ‘of,’ ‘from’ and ‘to’ don’t really prove anything more than the research has been done by someone with a greater knowledge of maths than of Shakespeare and theatre.

However, as algorithms are used more and more in our daily lives – think Google, Facebook – this story could run for quite some time. A bit like the one about whether Shakespeare actually wrote any of his plays – some say they were written by the Earl of Oxford, or Francis Bacon. The author James Barrie, when asked if he thought Bacon was the real playwright, replied: “I know nor sir, whether Bacon wrote the works of Shakespeare, but if he did not it seems to me that he missed the opportunity of his life.”

If you have enjoyed this post, you may like to read my own take on Shakespeare. CAST Cast OffOFF is a collection of short stories imagining what some of his female characters were up to off stage. The collection is published by Solstice (www.solsticepublishing.com) and is available in selected bookshops or on Amazon via the link below.

Cast Off: myBook.to/CastOff

REVIEW: One word for this short story anthology? Original. Certainly an odd descriptor for a collection of tales based on the characters in another’s works, but Mrs. Egrot weaves intriguing story lines utilizing some of Shakespeare lesser known supporting characters, and spin-offs from his heroines. My favourite two? “Time Out of Mind” affected me on an emotional level, and “Ban! Ban! Cacaliban” left me wanting more. Each story stands alone on its own merit. If you’ve never even heard of the bard, and you were born in a cave and raised by wolves, you will find a tale here to fall in love with. Thoroughly enjoyed.

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Sent to Coventry

Coventry

Coventry UK has just won the bid to be City of Culture for 2021. The official announcement was made just as the audience was settling down to a play in my local theatre. The production was delayed slightly for the artistic director to tell everyone the news, which was greeted by a huge roar of approval and clapping – a good way to get the actors geed up for their performances too!

I have lived in Coventry, with its world famous new cathedral, for over twenty years – longer than I have lived anywhere elseCoventry 2 in England or Wales. What surprised me most when I first moved to the city was how down beat everyone was about the place. “Why made you move to live here?” was a regular question, not uttered in an unfriendly way, people were simply amazed that someone would choose to live in Coventry. But there has been a lot of excitement about the city of culture bid, and genuine pleasure, not just among arty types, in winning.

Where once the talk was about how good the roads around Coventry were for getting out of the city quickly, now these same roads are seen as a huge plus for getting people in for events etc. in 2021. This is a far cry from the old consensus (not actually based on fact) that you were either born in Coventry, or you were sent there – so didn’t have any choice in the matter.

The phrase ‘sent to Coventry’ is known far outside the city. It now means to become a social outcast, one who should be ignored socially. The phrase arose because during the English Civil War, in the mid 1600s, Coventry sided with the Parliamentarians. Captured supporters of the King (Royalists) were sent to Coventry. They were not actually imprisoned in the city, but were dumped there and left to wander around, ignored by the locals who would refuse them food and opportunities to work. Maybe worst of all, they were refused entry to any of the local inns!

The city’s hostile reputation among Royalists was such that any of their soldiers who were deemed to be rather apathetic in their duties would be threatened with being posted to Coventry as an incentive to show more commitment to the King’s cause.

If you have enjoyed this post, and would like to read more of my work, please go to my Amazon author page. As we are rapidly approaching the Festive season, you may wish to consider one of the anthologies, the Winter Holiday Anthology, published by Solstice, and Festive Treats, published by the Pigeon Park Press, are both available from my page or via the following links. 

AWinter Holiday Anthology:

a-winter-holiday-anthology

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B017T6UJ8K

 

 

 

Festive Treats:

festive-treats

 

myBook.to/FestiveTreats

 

 

Why go to a writers’ group?

Aspiring writers are always encouraged to attend a writers’ group. It certainly helped me make the shift from writing factual reports and practice manuals for work, to fiction. I still go to my local group for the camaraderie, and the tips. Sometimes I even have one to offer myself.

The Coventry Writers’ Group includes a writer who has many successful publications under her belt. Others have won prizes for their work, or contribute regularly to magazines, or are gaining a reputation as performance poets. Some are just starting out and looking for advice. One member recently self-published a novel and was willing to use his experience to help the group publish something together. We were keen to take up his offer and decided to compile an anthology. Once this was agreed, the idea was to get it out before Christmas.

We had published a couple of anthologies some years ago, but that was when we had a member who ran a small publishing house, guided us through the whole process, and sorted the printing and publishing. This time it was totally in-house – though it would have been impossible without the hard work of our volunteer publisher to co-ordinate it all.  Also his patience, as some people were late getting their work to him, asked for changes to the font, disagreed over the cover … you can imagine the scene!

Apart from a vague rule about the length of a poem or story, the only other stricture was that the entry should, if not make readers laugh out loud, at least make them smile. As for what the authors would get out of the anthology – if you have never been published before it is a thrill to see your work in print. Or if, like me, you already have a modest portfolio, it is recommended marketing practice to be able to offer something shorter (and cheaper) than your novels so potential readers can check you out before making a more expensive commitment.

So here we are. Within the time scale we had set ourselves, the group has produced its anthcov2new anthology, Stories to Make You Smile. The content reflects the make-up of the group, with contributions from the full-time writers, the never before been published members, and the majority of us who are somewhere in between.

The anthology is an eclectic mix. Not every story or poem will appeal to everyone, but it is bound to contain something to make you smile. It is now on Amazon both as a print book (£4.00) and e-book (£0.99). Just in time for a real or virtual Christmas stocking. A good enough reason – for me anyway – to be part of a writers’ group!

Links: 

Stories to Make You Smile: myBook.to/StoriesSmile

http://amzn.eu/5i4b5mh

That Dreaded Radio Interview – follow up!

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And so, on Sunday afternoon I found myself standing  nervously in the cold in Stratford-upon-Avon, waiting to be let into the radio studio. It helped that the presenter was also waiting to be let in, and could assure me that I was expected. Yes, I had the right time and the right place. He was also confident that somebody, soon, would hear the bell and come to the door.

My own confidence increased as it was obvious the presenter, (Nick Le Mesurier – see his comment and links at the foot of my last post), was fully prepared for the programme, was very re-assuring, and had a range of plan Bs in case anything went wrong. This included a plan to cover the fact that a co-interviewee,  Andrea Mbarushimana, was lost somewhere in Stratford and might not arrive before it was our turn to go into the studio. Fortunately she arrived in the nick of time.

Both of us stayed in the studio for the duration of the programme, Stratford Words, which had the theme of hidden voices. After general introductions, a poem to mark armistice day and a quiz, it was straight over to me to chat briefly about my collection of short stories, Cast Off. Each story is the ‘hidden voice’ of a female character in a Shakespeare play, so the book fitted well with the theme.  I talked a bit about how I came to write the collection, then read an extract from one of the stories. Nick prompted me to tell listeners how they could get hold of my book, and I was able to advertise my launch event at the Criterion Theatre, Coventry, on 23rd November, where local actors will be reading from selected stories. In short, I covered all the points I wanted to, without too many ‘ers,’ ‘umms,’ or embarrassed pauses. Result!

The next part of the programme, a pre-recorded interview and short story from an Armenian lady now living in Warwickshire, went smoothly. Then Andrea was introduced, talked a  little about her life, and read a story inspired by her time as a VSO in Rwanda.

A monologue then, with an elderly ex-prisoner’s perspective, from Nick, who is an established local writer as well as radio presenter. This was followed by the answers to the quiz and, finally, a short poem from Andrea.

The hour flew by. It was great to be involved. But a great privilege too, to witness how the whole show came together and, with impeccable timing, finished bang on 5pm. I hope the listeners enjoyed it as much as I did.

Link to my story, Cast Off:

Cast Off

 

 

myBook.to/CastOff

 

 

 

 

Link to Stratford Words: www.welcomberadio.co.uk/stratford-words