Most of you will know Carol Taylor from her Food and Cookery Column here on Smorgasbord as well as her own eclectic blog located in Thailand, where she shares the wonderful food on her doorstep and recipes that turn them into delicious meals.
Carol also is passionate about the environment and has some down to earth things to say about our contribution to the state of the world, and the loss of habitat leading to the extinction of far too many species. You will also find her quirky and whimsical sense of humour coming through in all her posts..
Connect to Carol via her blog and enjoy posts on healthy eating, conservation, waste management, travel and amazing recipes: Carol Cooks 2
Carol also writes short stories and contributed tothe Phuket Island Writers Anthology: Amazon US
Which leads me to the reason you are here today, which is to…
Not writers, they use words, except for page numbers…
rWhen I published my first novel seven years ago on Amazon Kindle it was a miracle; I didn’t even possess a Kindle myself and had to ring our friend, who had helped initiate us into the process, to tell him it was live so he could download and see if it had ‘come out’. It was quite difficult explaining to people that my novel did not exist on paper. Of course independent authors were already self publishing real paper books by various means and with varying degrees of success. But I was not going to do anything that involved outlaying money, being conned or ending up with box loads of unwanted books in the garage. A writers’ magazine claimed that soon we would be walking into book stores, plugging in a memory stick with our novel on it and returning to collect a printed book an hour later. This hasn’t happened, but what the Amazon Elves do at their printing press, hidden somewhere in Magic Mountain, is print on demand. You can order one copy or a thousand.
Two years ago I published my first paperback at Amazon Kindle and was pleased with its appearance, now I could send a real book to my mother in Australia! Since then things have moved on and we can order author copies at cost price. I ordered one copy of ‘At The Seaside…’ it looked good, I posted it off to Australia and ordered more, gave a couple to friends, but it was not until I took a copy round to our writer friends that bad news was revealed… by the time I got home there was a message on my phone did I know there were no numbers on the pages?Not surprisingly the others in the batch also had no numbers… Did the elves not check before the books left Magic Mountain?
This poses the question, do we need page numbers? Cyberspouse helpfully suggested that I just put a bookmark in each copy. Books on Kindle don’t have page numbers, the pages themselves are pretend. If you change the size of the font the page alters. The bottom of the ‘page’ in the novel I’m reading on my Kindle Paperwhite tells me I have read 85% and have 45 minutes reading time left. There is a location number 3629, but I would probably forget what it was if I nudged the screen and lost my place. With real books we can see our progress, but do we notice the page numbers? It is handy if you can recall which page you were on if you lose your bookmark or if you want to look up a particular chapter.
Back at Tidalscribe Publishing House we downloaded the novel again in what we hoped was the right format, the preview showed page numbers, I ordered one copy and waited nervously…
In the meantime I took the remaining copies to writers’ group and offered them free, with the chance they might become valuable editions if I ever became famous…
…the very rare 2019 numberless edition… what am I bid?
The new version arrived in the post the other day and it did have page numbers.
Stories have always played a part in Christmas celebrations and over the next few weeks I would like to share your festive tales… and you can find details of how to participate at the end of the post.
Xmas Eve by Janet Gogerty
Linda hated Christmas, or rather the long run up to Christmas. It was busier but easier when the children were still at school; they knew exactly who would be there for Christmas every year; four children and four elderly relatives. Now, since the children were grown up and the elderly relatives no longer around, each year was different.
But this year would be the first Christmas she and Roger had spent by themselves. He was looking forward to spending Christmas Day and Boxing Day alone, relaxing; Linda was not. With the prospect of such a quiet Christmas there did not seem to be anything to get ready…
When Ollie started at Mulburys’, work brightened up and so did the windows. He arrived just in time to create the Christmas window displays and he brought new ideas.
‘Every window tells a story,’ he would say to the other window dressers. ‘Most of your window shoppers could never afford the dresses in the window or the houses the models appear to live in. But we’re going to make them feel they could one day… that’s the magic of Christmas.’
It seemed natural that Ollie and I would become close. Ollie knew how to treat a lady and my confidence grew as I worked with him. ‘Nobody leaves Izzie in the corner,’ he would joke.
True to his word, Ollie had created a story which started at the side of Mulburys’, opposite the tube station. An old man sat at his computer, Skyping. On his mantelpiece were plenty of cards and photos – photos that matched the moving pictures on the computer screen. The next few windows took shoppers around the world and around Mulburys’ until they reached the main entrance. Scenes of the old man’s family getting ready for Christmas, a BBQ somewhere hot, a ski hut somewhere very cold, a cruise ship; every scene so realistic, but always with glamorous women dressed in Mulbury outfits, from bikinis to winter coats.
On the other side of the main entrance was the busy airport scene, followed by the airliner up in the clouds with Father Christmas waving as he passed by. The window on the corner showed a street scene, Christmas trees in windows and the old man taking his dog for a walk, looking longingly at the bright windows. How the children loved these scenes; to find out who was in the plane they were directed upstairs to the Christmas grotto. I was dressed as the glamorous elf welcoming children and adults to the final scene, bigger than any window could accommodate. The old man opens his front door and surprise, surprise all his family have arrived.
In the middle of December Ollie bought himself a shiny new red car and parked it at the front of Mulburys’ in the ‘ten minutes only pick up zone.’ Just long enough for us to look admiringly from the window. There was much amused chatter about the new traffic zones; single occupant cars were banned from the city centre, everyone had to be seen to be car sharing.
‘No probs,’ said Ollie, ‘I shall give Izzie a lift.’
I was as surprised as everyone else, or rather they were amused. Ollie knew what my circumstances were, but gave no hint that I had no home to have a lift to.
Like the gentleman he was, he helped me into the leather passenger seat. ‘Well, darling Isabella, how jealous other drivers will be when they see my glamorous girlfriend.’
I couldn’t help smiling, I thought we were just good friends; any physical closeness had been within the confines of the store windows. How I enjoyed the drive, looking out at the Christmas lights, watching the busy pavements as shoppers and workers made their way home.
Ollie’s flat was not in a smart building, but as he helped me up the narrow staircase and opened his front door I was delighted to see the interior decor had the same style as Mulburys’.
‘I can tell from your enigmatic smile that you like it Isabella, but it hasn’t been a real home till now, with you here.’
He sat me down on the comfortable sofa. ‘Relax and watch television while I rustle up something to eat.’
And so my evenings were no longer lonely, Ollie and I had the same easy relationship we had at work, but I had to admit I preferred it when we were alone. At the weekend he had a few friends round, not from work, people I didn’t know. They seemed to enjoy their visit and laughed and talked a lot.
‘So this is the delectable Isabella, the mystery woman I saw you with at the traffic lights.’
‘Yes, the woman of my dreams.’
‘Has she got a sister?’
‘She has actually, but I’m not going to introduce her, she’s too good for you.’
After a few visits, I began to realise I was different, I thought I must have one of those syndromes. I couldn’t really join in the conversations, never quite understood what they were talking about, although it was obvious they were often talking about me.
Other times I felt totally ignored. Like when Joe from work dropped in looking rather wobbly, I thought he was never going to leave. I think Ollie was fed up with him but too polite to say so. Joe went on and on about someone called Milly.
‘How am I going to get through Christmas, I was going to propose to her, now she’ll be in New York with Miles.’
‘You’re best off without her mate, she’s a bitch, we could all see that except you. I know it’s unbearable, I’ve been there, but it will get better. Reckon I’m the lucky one. Isabella would never look at another man and would never utter a word to hurt my feelings.’
I almost blushed at his words, but I wondered where it was that he had been and how did words hurt your feelings.
‘You don’t know how I feel Ollie, you have a wooden heart, just like your cold girlfriend there.’
I glared at the awful Joe, so different from the Joe we knew at work. I was not cold, never felt the cold; that’s why I was happy to wear the low cut sleeveless dresses Ollie loved to see me in.
Christmas Eve came and Ollie was going to a party.
‘Sorry to leave you by yourself Izzie, but I know you don’t enjoy parties. Come and sit by the window and look at the lights, have you seen the great big tree in the garden opposite? Tomorrow it will just be us, no work, we’ll watch sentimental Christmas telly together.’
A few merrymakers passed by and waved to me, I almost felt as if I was back in the shop window. When at last Ollie came home he was a bit wobbly, but his hands were as gentle as they were at work when he undressed me.
‘I bought you some new lingerie, well actually I pinched it from work. You and me go well together, two lonely souls. Won’t you tell me truly what you think, do you love me? If I wished hard enough, in ten minutes time at the stroke of midnight would you talk to me, would the blood run warm in your veins?’
I did not understand his words, but I was just glad to have Ollie home again, where he belonged, with me. But for some reason I wasn’t keeping him cheerful, there was water running down his cheeks, like the dreadful Joe had that time, but with Ollie I wanted to reach out and hold him. For a moment a strange feeling came over me, just below the neckline of the lovely red lacy garment. But as the clock on television started to strike twelve I felt cold for the first time.
Ollie turned away from me and covered his face, then turned back. ‘It didn’t work, did it? Beautiful cold Isabella, this isn’t a fairy tale, you will never be a real woman. On Boxing Day I shall take you back to the shop window where you belong, in time for the sales.’
This story was first published two years ago on line at Thanet Writers.
By Christmas 1964 we were in our new house on a quarter acre block; south of the Swan River in a new suburb laid out in the popular grid pattern. Our street would soon go on for miles, but at the time there was still a sandy track between us and the few shops. The location was ideal for Dad’s new job and we could see my future high school across the paddocks opposite our house. On one side of our house was bush with beautiful ‘Christmas Trees’ covered in yellow blossom. The other side was an empty quarter acre block that mirrored ours with gum trees and black boys – now days they are called grass trees – almost prehistoric, they had black trunks with long tough grass like spikes. They were said to grow just one inch a year, which is probably why they were only waist height.
On the other side of the empty block were our only neighbours, Mable and George, dinky di Aussies who had retired from the goldfields in Kalgoorlie. George got himself a job as a dustman and after work devoted himself to the novelty of a television set. Mum and Mable became good friends, they were both strangers in Perth; to Mum it was a tiny city, but to Mable huge, she had never been on an escalator. Mable and George’s only son lived in The Eastern States, two thousand miles away; he may as well have been in another country. Even today Perth is still the most isolated modern city in the world.
Around the corner were more houses; Dad soon found me some new friends when he went to buy petrol and met a Pommie who worked at the service station. The two families with two girls each were more established and had television sets. Mum and Dad had vowed never to get one now we had got used to its absence, they weren’t missing much, television was quite new in Western Australia.
Christmas was strange, no relatives to come and visit, no parcels to arrive in the post and Mum and Dad on a very tight budget. My parents had not found a church, nor were they likely to find one to match the ancient parish church with a thriving congregation that we had left behind. Candlelit services and the dark greens and reds of winter were now in the past. But when our packing cases finally arrived it was like Christmas as we were reunited with our favourite books and toys.
Only one of my new friends was also starting high school at the beginning of February 1965. I was glad to have someone to go with, but as we walked along the sandy track on the first morning Linda told me that if you didn’t pass your junior exams you had to repeat the whole three years. I believed her.
There were fourteen hundred children in the school, it was a senior high school so that included fourth and fifth years. We all lined up on the grass in front of a long veranda. There was no assembly hall. Names were called and we were allotted to the ten classes, Linda and I were separated. Although education was comprehensive the classes were ranked. 1-9 and 1-8 the only classes to do French, then all the way down to 1.1 and if you were in 1-Special that was bad… I had made it into 1-9, another girl in my class later told me she thought 1-9 was the bottom class and went home and cried.
I was on my own, but not for long, an Australian girl said ‘Do you know anybody?’ she was new to the area and in the same boat, we became friends.
Sally Cronin’s blog Smorgasbord does a wonderful job both as an on line magazine with great contributers and also in promoting Indie Authors. Read how Sally became an Indie Author and take a look at her latest book.
Delighted to share the news of my own new release today. Life’s Rich Tapestry : Woven in Words is a collection of verse, micro fiction and speculative short stories.
About Life’s Rich Tapestry
Life’s Rich Tapestry is a collection of verse, microfiction and short stories that explore many aspects of our human nature and the wonders of the natural world. Reflections on our earliest beginnings and what is yet to come, with characters as diverse as a French speaking elephant and a cyborg warrior.
Finding the right number of syllables for a Haiku, Tanka, Etheree or Cinquain focuses the mind; as does 99 word microfiction, bringing a different level of intensity to storytelling. You will find stories about the past, the present and the future told in 17 syllables to 2,000 words, all celebrating life.
This book is also recognition of the value to a writer, of being part of…
I have not read Phillip Pullman’s trilogy ‘His Dark Materials’ but we have been watching the BBC series of His Dark Materials. Animal lovers will be entranced by the variety of pets that follow the characters around – but wait! These are not pets, they are daemons! Every human in Pullman’s world is born with a dæmon – a physical manifestation of that person’s inner self that takes the form of an animal.
Once we have grasped this important fact questions come to mind.
What would my daemon be?
How do people avoid tripping over their daemons?
What would a rugby match be like if the players all came on with their daemons? When characters argue or fight in the story, so do the daemons. Commentators would be very busy in sport if there was a parallel scrum of assorted animals or an eagle daemon grabbed the tennis ball and prevented the opponent’s winning point. As for the Tour de France, can you imagine the chaos as they speed down those winding roads with rabbits, rats and cheetahs getting tangled in the spokes?
Would we take politicians even less seriously if their daemons were monkeys telling them what to say?
Children’s daemons take different forms until they ‘settle’ during adolescence. Lyra the heroine’s daemon seems to be swift and agile, usually a white ferret and small enough to cuddle in bed like a teddy. One chap has a cougar/leopard, another an eagled perched on his shoulder, but most of the adults have small animals. A horse would be handy for transport, but nobody has a giraffe, elephant or rhino – that would be a challenge.
Phillip Pullman did not invent the name; the Ancient Greek daemon referred to a lesser deity or guiding spirit. Nor is he the only one to reinvent the word; a daemon is a computer programme that runs as a background process, rather than being under the direct control of an interactive user. Have you got daemons lurking in your computer?
I may already have a daemon, our resident robin does follow me round when I’m gardening, like a bluebird in a Disney cartoon.
They first saw the house in late summer, the neat suburban cul-de-sac ‘Little Glades’ may have seemed a cliché, but to Helen and Sam it was their dream home. They did not dwell on the large deposit and huge repayments; Helen pictured pushing a pram, chatting to neighbours and admiring the beautiful front gardens. Sam pictured mowing the long lawn and throwing sticks to a large dog in the park. They both dreamed of peace and quiet after years of renting the cramped flat above an all night shop at a busy junction.
Even with heavy curtains, lights of every colour flashed into their flat; the neon lights of Price Saver below the bedroom window, the endless amber, red, green of the traffic lights. On the other corners the glowing cross of the twenty four hour chemist and the pulsating purple night club sign. Even the tiny kitchen-diner at the back was never dark, security lights glared until dawn. Then there was the noise; sirens, squealing brakes, dogs barking; supplemented at dawn with the arrival of delivery lorries and rubbish trucks.
Autumn came and went, but at last they exchanged contracts, then completed the sale. They planned to spend Christmas alone, enjoying the peace and quiet of their new home – and it would be quiet, the asking price reflected the fact that there was nothing convenient nearby, no bus stop, shops, pubs, schools or railway line.
It was quiet on the morning of December 13th as they drew into ‘Little Glades’ with the small rented van. All day they tidied, arranged, explored, determined not to set foot out of their home until it was time to return the van. The furthest they ventured was down the damp garden and through the little gate into the park. When it started getting dark they were busy in their new kitchen cooking together.
But something was not right.
‘I hope there’s not a fire,’ said Helen ‘I thought I saw a flashing blue light.’
Moving into the hall they saw colours moving on the ceiling, they didn’t need to open the front door to hear
SO HERE IT IS MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY’S HAVING FUN…
When they did open the door they did not recognise ‘Little Glades’ – they had been transported into a dystopian grotto. Neat semi-detached houses transformed into flashing cartoon parodies of their real selves. Monster inflatable snowmen swayed in front gardens, brightly lit sleighs and grotesque reindeer balanced on roofs and a sinister Father Christmas climbed up a lamp post.
An even scarier Father Christmas approached them, a mittened hand extended.
‘Gary, acca Santa, number six. We thought we’d leave you in peace to settle in and now… welcome to Glades Grotto on our opening night. Every night is party night till January the sixth. Every year we raise thousands for charity, visitors from miles around, hope you don’t want to get that van out till morning.’
Delighted to share the news of the latest release by Janet Gogerty... A thriller – At The Seaside Nobody Hears You Scream.
About the book
In the summer of 2013 Annette Bethany Brown went missing without trace. Her boyfriend Toby Channing was the last person to see her, the only person who knew where she had spent the previous days.
In February 2014 Tobias Elliot Channing, private investigator, was still roaming the country, a camper van detective specialising in missing persons; hoping to discover why so many people go missing. He was visiting every place that had a connection with Anna, there were still no clues to her disappearance.
I started collecting picture post cards when I was eight and still buy them on holiday to send to the oldest and youngest in the family; people like getting mail through their letter box, including Pete who blogs as beetleypete. When he asked if people still sent postcards bloggers started sending them, as you can see on his blog post.
‘If anyone else would like to post one to me, you can read my address easily, and your card will be featured in Part Two. Thanks again to all of you who took the time and trouble to send me a card.’
When we were away in Whitby I bought an extra card and as I sat down to write ( and here’s my confession – I don’t get around to writing postcards till about two weeks after returning ) and saw the piece of paper on which I had written his address lying on the table, it gave me an idea for a dark story. The names and places have been changed to protect the innocent! Thanks to Pete for the idea.
Detective Inspector Greaves stepped through the front door, he needed to go no further to see the body. The scene was bloodless, but any impression that the woman had died of natural causes was cast aside when another step revealed a large syringe stuck in the back of her neck. Why would the killer leave the evidence when it could have been the perfect murder?
‘Where’s the husband?’ Greaves asked the uniformed officer.
‘In the kitchen, doing the washing up Sir.’
‘What! Crime scene, evidence… did you stop and think?’
‘No Sir, he said his wife liked to have everything clean and tidy if they were having visitors.’
Further discussion was pointless, he sent the officer outside to keep a little band of neighbours at bay and stepped carefully round the body to make his way to the kitchen, where a middle aged man was vigorously polishing a glass.
‘She always liked to leave the house tidy when we went out, in case anything happened to us while we were out and the police had to break in and…’
‘Mr… Mr. Stanton isn’t it? I need to ask you a few questions… When you came home was the front door locked?’
‘Yes, everything looked normal until I unlocked the door.’
‘And where were you today?’
‘With the chaps, four of us, been away on a three day golf break, they dropped me off first, drove off before I got inside.’
‘So they can confirm that. Did you call your wife while you were away?’
‘Was that the last time you spoke or had any contact, no emails, whatsapp?’
‘Yes, she was fine, enjoying the peace, no sign… who… it doesn’t make sense…’
For the first time the man showed emotion, but shock could do strange things. When Greaves had sat the man in the police car with two officers he returned alone to gain an impression of the home and the lives of these two people. An ordinary house in a quiet road that had never drawn attention to itself before; nothing could be assumed, but on the face of it this was a bizarre senseless murder.
In the dining room he spotted a piece of paper on the polished table; an address, no phone number or email.
Greaves checked the address book sitting neatly by the house phone and found no entry for a Geoff Jones or anyone in Norfolk.
Back at the police station Mr. Stanton was safely installed in an interview room, alibis checked, background checked. Inspector Greaves started with the only piece of evidence.
‘Who is Geoff Jones?’
‘Never heard of him.’
‘Has your wife got friends or relatives in Norfolk?’
‘No, she’s never even been to Norfolk.’
‘Mrs. Stanton, was she still working or retired?’
‘Retired, or she reckoned she was still working, did stuff on the computer, goodness knows what, I don’t go on the internet, but she was happy dabbling with her writing, left me in peace to watch what I liked on television.’
‘As routine procedure we will seize… er take your wife’s computer, I assume you have no objections?’
‘Well she won’t be needing it will she… oh God, I can’t believe this is happening…’
At that moment a female officer knocked on the door with a cup of tea, though they were supposed to have equality Greaves was glad to leave her to deal sympathetically with the overwrought husband. He had work to do.
Back in the office he handed out tasks to his small team. ‘Check this address and if it’s genuine get onto Norfolk Police and ask them to send someone round.’
In Cowslip Lane Geoff Jones was enjoying the evening news; the doorbell took him and the dog by surprise. On the doorstep stood a young man, trying to edge inside out of the torrential rain. He showed a warrant card.
‘Mr. Geoff Jones?’
‘Yes, that’s me, oh god, has something happened to my wife, no they send uniform for that don’t they?’
‘No, just a routine enquiry. Do you know a Mrs. Rita Stanton of Mulberry Close, Sandbourne, Dorset?’
‘Dorset, I don’t know anyone in Dorset.’
‘Are you, er do you live alone?’
‘No, my wife’s away for a few days at her sister’s.’
‘Might she know Mrs. Stanton or anyone in Dorset?’
‘NO, look what is this about?’
Andy’s first day as a detective constable wasn’t going well so far.
‘We’re making enquiries about a murder I’m afraid. Have you been outside the village in the last two days, work, visiting?’
Andy was gratified to see Geoff Jones look distinctly nervous.
‘No, I’m retired, well a writer actually, blogger; all I’ve been up to is taking Rufus on his two hour walks and doing my blogs.’
‘Can anyone confirm that?’
‘I haven’t seen a soul, no one else has been out in this dreadful wet weather, but what on earth has any of this to do with me?’
The young detective felt suspicion creeping into his bones, who would take a dog out for two hours in the torrential rain? As he tried to edge further into the hallway and avoid the very large dog, he got a glimpse into the front room. On every shelf and available surface were propped picture postcards.
‘You must have a lot of friends Mr. Jones, a lot of friends that go on holiday?’
The next police visit to Geoff’s house was in the morning. This time Andy was accompanied by a search warrant and an inspector from Dorset Police, who had driven up overnight. Fortuitously they met the postman at the door, with a postcard from Dorset. Jones’ computer was taken away, Jones himself was taken away and all the postcards collected up.
In the interview room Geoff Jones protested his innocence, though he hadn’t actually been arrested. ‘Blogging friends, I wrote a post about picture post cards and followers kept sending them.’
Greaves left him to stew for a while and went back to the office to see how enquiries were going and stared at the postcard posted in Sandbourne, Dorset.
Wish you Were Here!
Best Wishes from Rita Stanton ( Scribbletide )
He tried to curb the enthusiasm of the young detective.
‘We may have barged in too quickly, if this poor man is totally innocent we have some explaining to do. The card seems to prove what he told us about his followers. What have you found on the internet?’
‘Jones was telling the truth about the blogging and the post cards, what he didn’t mention was that a while ago he wrote a serialised story about a chap who wanted to commit the perfect murder.’