Silly Saturday – Sense and Silence

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Are you fed up with your television screens being full of politicians, public persons and reporters talking and talking… why not take a stroll among characters who keep their opinions to themselves, probably because they don’t have any… except perhaps Baz..

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Plenty of pictures to see at the gallery

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-three-picture-gallery/

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Friday Flash Fiction 1000 – A Wife For Life

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A Wife For Life

The mist still hung over the bracken, the Thames meandered peacefully by. A pair of antlers rose above the bracken, tilting back as a black nose sniffed the air. The morning stillness was broken by the thunder of hooves and the cries of young men. Harry led the way on his strong grey stallion, his powerful thighs gripping the saddle. The horse was as strong willed as his master and eager to gallop, his master was the only rider who could keep him in check. The young man knew his hunting grounds well, but the long grass and ferns could easily conceal a fatal rabbit hole.

The alert hart was swift to round up his hinds and flee into the copse, but it was another man on horseback that saved his herd. The messenger galloped frantically after the hunting party sounding his horn. Harry turned his steed sharply, knowing what the news must be.

‘Word from My Lady, Sire’ said the messenger breathlessly, as his panting horse drew level with the stallion.

‘Has her time come?’

The message was a few days earlier than expected, but not a surprise. Harry motioned the other men to continue the hunt.

‘Bring back the finest haunch of venison, God willing we will have a feast tonight.’

Harry galloped alone back to the palace, the messenger on his chestnut mare had no chance of keeping up, but his mission was accomplished.

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Several grooms stood ready as their master leapt from his sweating horse. Harry was soon striding down the long corridors. Lady Maria Santos curtseyed at the door of his wife’s chamber.

‘How is My Lady?’

‘She is in good spirits as usual, her waters broke but an hour ago, the maids are fetching more hot water.’

Ministers and courtiers were gathering in the corridor.

‘Go, go, I want no one here except the Queen’s physician and the lady of the birthing stool.’

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Catherine looked up as her tall handsome husband entered the bedchamber. His red hair was tousled, he smelt of leather and bracken.

She laughed. ‘Your ruddy cheeks tell me you were out hunting.’

‘Not ten minutes ride from home and five minutes gallop back’ he laughed, as he knelt by the imported porcelain hip bath and stroked her swollen belly. She tensed as another wave of pain swept over her; but Maria the physician directed her skilled assistant to bring the bowl of steaming infusion from the fireplace. Catherine breathed in deeply and allowed the steam and hot water to soothe her.

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An hour later Maria declared it was time and Harry helped his wife step out of the bath, supporting her as she squatted and clung to the stout oak bed post.

‘Good, good, I can see the head’ said Maria.

Gravity, skill and the efforts of the mother did their work and the lady of the birthing stool removed the blade from the fire and swiftly cut the chord as Maria held the crying baby.

But Maria frowned, handed the baby to her assistant, then palpated Catherine’s belly. For the first time the king felt fear as his wife’s face contorted in pain.

‘It is as I suspected, another baby, pray it is in a good position, I fear the cord is wrapped around its neck.’

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It was yet another hour before Catherine lay back on the bolster, Harry perched on the high bed beside her.

‘Well done my beautiful Queen, two boys, a sign from God.’

She smiled. ‘Well done my King, did not Maria tell us it is the man’s seed that decrees boy or girl?’

‘…and was it not you My Lady, with your insistence on a Spanish court, who brought your wonderful lady physician with you? And now I shall fetch Edward and Alfred to meet their new brothers.’

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Two little boys with red hair and rosy cheeks burst into the chamber.

‘Permission to retire, Your Majesty’ said Maria. ‘I shall return in one hour. Now I leave you to enjoy your family.’

‘I once nearly had you charged with treason, wanting me to dismiss the royal physicians, barring my ministers from the birth of Edward. But you were right, a King should be witness to the arrival of his heirs.’

The little princes ran around the chamber, swinging on the curtains of their parents’ four poster bed, stopping to peer at the strange creatures attached to their mother’s breasts.

‘Shall you not wish for a wet nurse this time, now you have two hungry babes my love?’

‘No, no, royal Spanish milk is what they need to grow strong like Edward and Alfred, but what shall we call them? I wanted Phillip if it was a boy…

‘A king’s prerogative to choose, and I have chosen. Andrew and Martin.’

‘Martin?’ Catherine formed the unfamiliar name on her lips. ‘What name is that?’

‘Martin Luther, a great man, I have been reading his writings, he wants to reform the church and he is right, I shall reform our church of England.’

‘Husband you are very clever, you know several languages and write me songs, but you are not the Pope, why does the Holy Roman church need reforming?’

‘We must have The Bible written in English so the people can read it.’

‘But most of your people can’t read.’

‘So they must learn and they will learn the Gospel when they hear it read out in English in churches up and down our blessed country. In our great monasteries the monks must set to work translating. King Henry’s Bible, a work my sons will be proud of.

 

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The Wise Man and the Foolish Man

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If you recall the Sunday School chorus you will know the wise man built his house upon the rock and the foolish man built his house upon the sand. The rain came down and the floods came up. Even if you don’t know the chorus or Christ’s parable, I expect you can guess where this is leading. It is meant to be about building your life on Christ’s teaching, but it is also good engineering advice; advice that builders and councils everywhere, especially in coastal areas, often pay no heed to.

 

Someone I knew told me her father-in-law once had a chance to buy a cheap piece of land on the narrow strip of sand between Poole Harbour and the sea.

No thanks, it will be washed away in twenty years.

Sandbanks is now claimed to be the world’s most expensive coastal real estate in the world and the man’s descendants could hardly forget what they missed out on. But one day I’m sure the sand will wash away and there will be a different way out of the world’s second largest natural harbour.

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Move a little further east and cliffs start to rise towards Bournemouth where houses have slid down the cliff over the years. If left to their own devices cliffs naturally crumble into the sandy beach below. But when man made promenades and buildings are put up, the beach is washed away (coastal drift ) and if resorts wish to keep their beaches they must be replenished with sand dredged up from beneath the sea. Houses on the cliff top move nearer and nearer to the edge and remnants of gardens can be seen flourishing vertically on the cliffside. Chunks of cliff often fall on beach huts and three years ago a landslide wrecked one of Bournemouth’s three cliff lifts.

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But the council doesn’t wait for nature to knock buildings down. Last week was the ninetieth anniversary of Bournemouth Pavilion, which has survived both because of and despite councils over the years. It apparently took eighty years of discussion before it became a reality in 1929. In its life time it has seen two winter gardens demolished, but also saw Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra leave and move to Poole’s new arts centre. Looking out to sea from the ballroom the Pavilion was witness to a monstrosity being built at Pier Approach. This was The Waterside, featuring dark glass and a wavy roof designed to represent the sea. It was more commonly known as the Imax building and caused an outcry when it was opened in 1998, owing both to its looks and the fact that it blocked the view across Poole Bay to the Purbeck Hills. The Imax cinema only functioned for a short period and spent most of the years closed. In 2005 the Channel 4 programme Demolition asked people which building they would like knocked down and the Imax was judged first in line in England. The council then had to spend millions buying the building, demolishing it and creating a public ‘space’. Perhaps if they hadn’t demolished the swimming baths that stood there for fifty years…

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When we moved into our current house nearly fifteen years ago, the neighbour one side told us that the neighbours the other side were not there; they had to move out because of subsidence! This was a bit worrying and we should have known not to buy a house built on sand. We are not near the cliff edge, because those properties are too expensive, but we are on what was once sandy heathland.

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See more pictures of Bournemouth at my website.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-two-coastal-views/

 

Everyone is welcome here. Tidalscribe will be remaining in the European Union.

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Game of Life – An Extra Go

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Warning: Do you dare to play the game of life? If you don’t want to read about illness and death or you dislike dark humour please avoid this blog, but I hope you will continue to visit my Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday blogs.

Last week was the appointment to see the oncologist about the scan results. In the main waiting room the television was still on BBC1, ‘Doctors’ on mute with subtitles. The bad news was we got called in quickly and missed the end of Doctors, the good news was everything had stabilised so Cyberspouse could carry on with the current chemotherapy. As he is still feeling fine, life carries on as normal, we can plan a few trips between the three weekly hospital visits. Have another throw of the dice.

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Tales of Life and Death

 An elderly lady told me a story last week about her last surviving son-in-law. She was awake early expecting a sad phone call, her grandson had flown over from the USA to say goodbye. When he rushed into the hospital he found his father sitting up in bed eating  a bacon sandwich.

‘What had been wrong with him?’

Every now and then his lungs collapse and have to be re-inflated. This time they couldn’t blow them up again and there was no hope.

 Someone once told me his mother rang up and said Quick, come to the hospital, your gran’s better. After lying in a coma with everyone waiting for her to die, Granny had suddenly sat up in bed, started chatting and had a cup of tea. By the time her grandson arrived she had lapsed back and died soon after. At least she got to enjoy a last cup of tea.

In a previous incarnation, in a town far away, my friend was practice manager at our doctor’s surgery, a mutual friend’s husband was a self employed builder with heart trouble. She helped run the playgroup at a chilly scout hut near the doctors. I was also one of the helpers. Her husband was always popping in to help ( annoy ) us.

This particular morning he was doing work at the surgery. Our jolly morning with the children was interrupted by one of the receptionists from the doctors rushing in to say Bob’s having a heart attack.

In the meantime my poor friend the practice manager watched as the paramedics were trying to resuscitate Bob on her office floor. She maintained afterwards he was definitely dead.

The next morning the rest of us arrived at playgroup wondering if the news was the worst, but there was Bob sitting at one of the little tables, he hadn’t even stayed home for a bit of a lie in. Apparently at the hospital the paramedics were astonished to see him walking out of the hospital when they were on the way back to their ambulance…

 

 

Sunshine Blogger Award

Thanks to Grace for answering all my questions, here are her answers for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Her answer to number 8 provides a clue as to where she gets interesting material for her blogs.

Anecdotage

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Fellow blogger Janet has kindly nominated me for this award. To find her blog, which describes her travels around the UK and includes all kinds of eclectic details, visit here: https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/

The Rules….Well, there are always rules are there not?

1.Thank the blogger who nominated you in a blog post and make a link back to their blog.
2.Answer the 11 questions sent to you by the person who nominated you.
3.Nominate up to 11 new blogs to receive the award, and then write them 11 new questions – or cheat and use the same questions
4.List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or your blog.

So here are my answers to Janet’s questions:

1.Tell us three things about the place and country where you live now.

a] The small, Dorset town where I live has the largest parish church in the country.

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Silly Saturday – How to Cheat at Being Yourself

Never has it been so easy to not be yourself. Everyone can have a platform to project their persona. Whether you blog in detail about your daily life or fill Facebook with photos of your family, half the world can be invited into your life and they have no idea if it is really you.

How do we know what you are telling us is true? It is much more fun to make up a life, a past and present. Of course if friends and family in real life are reading your blog and seeing your posts on Facebook, they will know. If you have no friends in real life, even better, nobody out there will know the real you. Write about your dramatic decade or your perfect present, take twenty years off your age. Post pictures of someone else or recreate yourself in cartoon form. When you are on holiday take photographs of the view from ‘your  house’. In the botanical gardens snap ‘your garden’. When you feel like a break from blogging invent a rare illness or a life threatening operation.

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But will anybody find out you didn’t really spend ten years in the Amazon ( the real Amazon in South America ) Jungle. No. Even in real life you can recreate yourself every time you move to a new town. How often do you meet new people and believe every word they tell you about their life, which is far more interesting than yours. And your good friends; off they go to visit their highly successful son who owns a tropical island. You have never met the son, because he lives on his tropical island. Unless you actually go with them on holiday how do you know any of it is true?

Among writers Dan Mallory has apparently surpassed us all by being nominated for the British Book Awards, despite or perhaps because he cheated at being British. The best selling author also lied about having cancer and the death of family members. It should come as no surprise to hear that he writes under a pen name A. J. Finn. Perhaps he doesn’t exist at all, which would be an even cleverer cheat.

https://www.vulture.com/2019/03/aj-finn-dan-mallory-british-book-award-nomination.html

But what about the rest of us? Even if you are not outed as a pathological liar by The New Yorker magazine, do WordPress or Facebook  know where you really live, can they pinpoint your location, see you sitting in your pyjamas at your computer in a corner of your suburban bedroom, instead of the pine  summerhouse looking out over the lower slopes of the Alps. Yes, of course they can, but are they going to tell?

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Everyone is welcome here.

Tidalscribe will be Remaining in the European Union.

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Friday Flash Fiction – Moving On

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Dave got the idea from the television news. If tents and living pods could be dispatched to disaster areas why couldn’t homeless people in his town be helped. Dave wasn’t actually interested in humanitarian projects abroad or at home until the tent arrived in his shop doorway. Owning a shop was part of his plan to help rejuvenate the high street in Lower Sandbourne. The once thriving parade of shops and smart flats had gone downhill over the years, mainly due to the property activities of Dave and his brother, now he hoped to reinvent himself with ethically sourced gifts and fine food. There was nothing ethical about the origins of most of his goods, but smart labels impressed the chattering classes who could no longer afford to live in Upper Sandbourne. The Sandbourne Traders Association was pleased with the rebirth of a shop that had been an empty bakers and a blot on the high street for several years.

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And then the tent had appeared. The doorway that presented excellent window display space was also a perfect size for a one man tent.

Dave had dispatched the first resident and his bedding to another town, but with the new CCTV and his new image this was no longer an option. The bleeding heart owner of the pet shop next door was certainly no help. She gave free dog food for the tented one’s sad eyed mongrel. Dave couldn’t complain as it was the dog that kept customers coming. Instead of being put off by having to step round a tent and over a pair of feet sticking out, the locals eased their conscience at not offering him their spare rooms by lavishing their attention on the dog and buying him unwanted cups of coffee.

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The pod idea was enthusiastically supported by the locals. Dave’s gang of unqualified builders were used to makeover services to cover up structural defects in Dave’s property empire, so giving shipping containers a makeover was no problem. The council were happy to be seen doing something. By allowing the cabins to be sited on the car park they had just closed down for development, the residents could not complain about the loss of their convenience to such a good cause. The local family run garden centre was persuaded to provide plants and planters and the whole site looked quite pretty as spring blossomed. Sandbourne Hardware donated tins of Hammerite and most of the residents took a pride in painting  their cabins to look individual.

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Carried away by the great publicity stunt the garden centre built raised beds for the local school to grow vegetables and as the settlement grew, most of the occupiers appeared to be happy, including those who had been made homeless by Dave in the first place. He did wonder how the metal containers would fare in a heatwave, or next winter, but by then the council would have evicted everyone to build the lucrative block of unaffordable apartments; a scheme certain to be tendered out to one of his subsidiary companies. Dave knew he would get the contract, he knew too much about certain councillors for them to turn him down.

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In the meantime the shop doorway was tidy and the shop thriving. But trouble was afoot. Dave, the council and the growing jolly band of volunteers had assumed all the homeless would be grateful and no plans had been put in place to address the ‘complex issues’ of some residents.

Jack from the Sandbourne Gazette, who had been watching Dave for years, ever since he re-emerged from his short spell in gaol, had been biding his time. He had even less respect for the council and planned to snare them both. Syringes and other drug paraphernalia were found tossed amongst the round lettuces and spring onions and children started telling their parents about the scary man and the nasty woman at their garden. A row erupted over who was actually overseeing the project. Jack ensured that newcomers to the area would discover Dave’s past and his future plans.

But Jack reckoned without the initiative of the majority of residents who did not want to lose their new homes. They enlisted the help of the national media and Jack’s moment of journalistic fame was lost. The council hastily sent in their new street team, its numbers boosted with a few of Dave’s friends. Under cover of darkness and with a little subtle bribery, they removed the undesirables to a new assisted living project under a council far away. They were replaced by more acceptable homeless. Gardening resumed and volunteers set up ‘everybody together’ coffee mornings and suppers.

The project received national acclaim and most forgot once again about Dave’s past. Though his shop was doing well it hardly afforded the income he was used to, he would have to bide his time before getting another building project underway.

 

Read more short stories – dip into this selection

for only 99pence.

 

 

Everyone welcome here. Tidalscribe will be remaining in the European Union.

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Where Am I?

Dark events are inevitably connected to the dark side of the internet, a far cry from what Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, intended.

The worldwide web turned 30 last week. To mark the occasion, its inventor, Sir Tim Berners-Lee — in an event at the Science Museum in London — offered a cri de coeur. With more than half the world now online, Berners-Lee pleaded with every one of us to fight for “the kind of web we want”. It is, he said, “one of the most important causes of our time”.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/tim-berners-lee-calls-for-a-fight-for-the-kind-of-web-we-want-wk95rjxls

 For those of us enjoying the many benefits of the internet and for authors using it as a ‘platform’ it seems incongruous that fellow bloggers, full of good cheer, have their positive posts deleted from Facebook while terrorists and extremists manage to post hate and the unthinkable.

Ever since I reluctantly joined Facebook nine years ago I have heard talk of it being ‘finished’ and people leaving, but most of us are still there. However, a few writers have now joined ‘MeWe’, planning to use it as their new platform. I had a look at it on Sunday and as it seemed simple to sign up, I did. What next I’m not sure, especially with my dodgy technical skills and the fact I keep forgetting what it’s called – WeMe, WeWe?

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Eons ago I tried joining Twitter, accidentally joined twice then lost both accounts. I have since recovered one, but I have not yet got a grip on it. It seems to be a lot of retweeting of greetings. My WordPress blogs are linked to Twitter, apologies to any fellow Tweeters I have ignored or not thanked for retweeting… I find WordPress easier to negotiate and blogs more satisfying to read.

My website I also started long ago, another ‘must have’ for new authors; it is a paid for template, a photo album with pages to fill in! If I had known about WordPress back then perhaps I would have done things differently, but when the most unexpected people mention that they have been looking at my website, I think it has a place in the ether.

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https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/

Instagram is a more recent venture; as I love photography I enjoy the challenge of seeking new views to snap most days, but I am not sure how one is supposed to use it to promote books or any other business.

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Meanwhile back at Facebook I have an author page where I post links to my blogs and website; posts there are all mine, though how many people find their way there is another matter! On general Facebook pages there is no logic as to what will pop up on your page and which of your own posts will be seen by friends and family. Facebook Messenger is a boon, so easy to send messages and photos instantly to groups of friends or family. Facebook groups are as good as the members in them. It was Author Chat Forum that started me linking in with other writers on line. Local groups can be handy, but sometimes lead to ‘discussions’ about dogs, cats or coffee shops and hundreds of comments that go on for days. I think I’ll be sticking with Facebook for a good while yet; after all, I would miss the hilarious cartoons and genuine fake news that get shared around.

Choose social media you enjoy for its own sake; otherwise you could be spending a lot of time for little in the way of book sales if that is your only aim.

What social media do you like to use?

Sacrilege

Grace looks back at her best ever holiday to a country everyone regards as special, but reminds us how easy it is to let hate flourish.

Anecdotage

NZ Queenstown

We travelled to New Zealand in the autumn of 2011 when the Rugby World Cup was scheduled to be held there. This was to be our retirement treat-a three month stonker of a trip that also encompassed Australia [where I have cousins] and a small add-on of a stay in Hong Kong on the way home.

The thrill of such an enormous piece of travel was tempered, initially by having our flight from Heathrow cancelled by Quantas for no reason we could discern. This meant that our onward flights from Brisbane were scuppered, messing up our arrival to Christchurch, New Zealand and losing us a night of accommodation.

2011 was also the year of Christchurch’s catastrophic earthquake, which was heartbreaking in itself, besides disrupting the Rugby matches and venues involved.

After a tortuous and exhausting series of flights we arrived to Christchurch’s small airport. In the arrivals hall we staggered…

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Silly Saturday – How to Cheat at Best Sellers

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If there is anything better than writing a best seller, it is writing a best selling series and a best selling series in a popular genre is sure to be a winner. The way to fame is for your series to be adapted for television, so that everyone knows you have written lots of best selling books, even if they haven’t read them.

Fame may come at a price, murder. Crime thrillers are always popular with the public and that’s not hard to understand; we all like to participate in the thrills without actually being killed ourselves. We all like to guess who did it from the comfort of the sofa without having to pound dark alleyways or lonely moors.

You only need three things for your fabulous fiction.

One or more dead bodies.

One or more detectives.

An interesting setting.

Optional extras are a few interesting characters who insist on getting involved in the investigation.

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I love a good crime thriller and some knitting after dinner, we all need a break from writing and computers. At Cheztidalscribe sub titles are our favourites; everything from gritty Paris to dark brooding Wales, from sunny Sicily to bracing Iceland. At present we are watching Trapped, set in a small town in Iceland; the fact that this fascinating country only has three hundred thousand people does not hold them back from having plenty of murders.

Much as I love hearing different languages and seeing a change of scenery, not speaking the language and never having visited are good reasons not to try and write novels set in another country. But there is still plenty of scope for new crime thrillers set in the British Isles. Popular novels can be set in ancient university towns; Morse in Oxford, Granchester in Cambridge. Then there are gritty cities such as Rebus in Edinburgh. Equally popular are quiet villages with an unbelievably high rate of crime, Midsomer Murders or islands such as Shetland where bodies appear at an alarming rate for Jimmy Perez to deal with.

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So let’s choose a place with beautiful scenery and scattered remote houses which the police can never get to in time. A detective who must be divorced or widowed and a local population who don’t trust him, because he is an outsider. His only friends are a simmering love interest with a fisherman’s wife and the local vet, doctor or vicar who helps solve every case. The detective inspector can be of either sex, but their constable or sergeant will always be of the opposite sex.

I am going to set my series on the beautiful Scottish Inner Hebrides island of Iona, I have only been there once, for a few hours, but that won’t deter me. There are only about 120 permanent residents and it is only three miles long, but that needn’t prevent them having a serial killer; with lots of tourists coming over on the little Caledonian MacBrain ferry who knows what could happen and as visitors’ vehicles are banned this gives the police a head start on chasing them.

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When television producers adapt your thrilling best seller there may be some compromise. Your stocky dark brooding hero is replaced by a well known tall blond actor and they film most of it on the mainland because it’s cheaper. The programmes are so popular you have to write more novels at a frantic pace, if not you will find your intelligent stories replaced by increasingly ridiculous plots and your name will appear only at the end of the credits – based on the characters created by…

But the good news is your book will now appear at the front of the book store with the covers your friend designed with his holiday photos replaced by dramatic pictures of the television star on location.

Good luck.