Tag Archives: #newfiction

The Last Emoji (flash fiction)

 

There had to be thousands of messages in the chain he was scrolling through….. and he missed receiving them.  Those silly emojis that she’d used. The crazy conversations of emojis alone that they’d both understood perfectly. Messages that would ping into his phone at all hours of the day and night. Random and bizarre. Short and sweet. Occasionally an annoyance. … an annoyance he now sorely missed.

For two long weeks the thread had been virtually silent. All the recent messages had been one way. All of them had been his.

With a sad smile, he looked at the last one he’d received from her

                Beach time 🙂 🙂 🙂

                Have fun 😎 Be careful 😀

 

She’d never reached the beach that day.

It was a news report shared on his timeline by a mutual friend that had delivered the news of the accident. The brief report had made his blood run cold.

Those first few days had been touch and go. From a distance, he’d waited for news, thankful that his sister-in-law was a nurse in the ICU. He’d made every excuse he could to visit her at work that week. Offering her lifts, coming into the hospital to let her know that he was there, hoping to seize the opportunity to visit Room 5.

The opportunity finally came three days after the accident. He’d arrived early to collect his sister-in-law from her last in a run of night shifts and, needing to confide in someone, he’d told her the gist of his friendship with the patient in Room 5. Luck had been on his side. There was no one sitting with her.

For less than ten minutes he was allowed to visit in secret. They had been the shortest ten minutes of his life. She had looked so peaceful, despite the tubes and IVs and the incessant bleeping of the machines keeping her alive. Nervously, he’d held her hand and talked to her. He’d kissed her on the forehead before he’d slipped unseen from the private room.

Now, ten days later, he couldn’t remember a word he’d said but he could’ve sworn that she had squeezed his hand ever so gently. Wishful thinking? A reflex reaction? He’d never know for sure but it made it easier to bear if he kept believing that she’d known he was there.

It was after that that he’d started to message her again. Short messages. His usual random messages as if nothing had changed.

                Morning 🙂

                What a shitty day! >:D

                Car broke down again. Hate buses 😥

                Night. Sleep well  😉

                Long day. Work’s fried my head 😕

 

And so they went on……

The day he heard that he’d lost her forever, he’d sent another message

                😥  xx

Even though he knew she was gone, he’d kept messaging her. He could see on his phone that they were all unread but sending them, holding onto the connection,  eased the searing pain of his unspoken grief.

After the funeral service, he’d messaged her again.

                You’d have hated that! SO not you! Not one song that you’d have picked ha ha  :’)

 

Now a week after he’d said his final goodbye alongside her family and friends, he sat on the wall looking out over the river in his lunch hour, scrolling back through their message conversation. Re-reading some of the old messages made him smile, triggering memories of happier times.  In the mix of short text and emojis, her personality was still alive.

In his heart and his head, he knew he couldn’t keep messaging a ghost. He had to stop ….  but he didn’t want to. Then he began to worry that her family might be able to read the message chain. A wave of panic washed over him. Silently, he prayed that she’d been as careful with their messages as he had.

What happened to folk’s social media after they died? Would her timeline just sit there growing old and out of date? Would it be deleted and be gone forever?

A swift Google search informed him that nothing would happen to it until the family reported her death to the host site. Knowing how thorough her family could be, he guessed that the death would be reported sooner rather than later  and the account “memorialised”. That at least would be something to hold onto in the darker moments of the days and weeks to come.

He had to let go. He had to say goodbye.

With a heavy heart, he typed one final message. 

                    Miss you  😥

He hit send then stuffed the phone back into his pocket. Time to get back to work.

As he walked across the car park, his phone vibrated twice.

Two notifications.

Pulling the phone back out, he glanced at the screen.

One notification. One message.

The notification was the change of status of her account to “memorialised” and her friends list had all been notified.

His heart sank.

The message almost made him drop his phone. It was from her! How? Why? His mind raced. Rationalising things swiftly, he deduced it must have been stuck as a draft and the suspension of her social media account had triggered it to send.

He opened it.

                   ❤ U x

He smiled.

 

 

 

 

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January……

motivation collage

January – the first month of the year when you are supposed to feel motivated and energised to take on the challenges of the year to come.  Eh……maybe not!

January – cold dark month lasting at least 96 soul draining days…… I jest (slightly)

Did I feel motivated and ready to take on 2018 31 days ago? I thought so…..

In the spirit of honesty, I’ll confess to having struggled with my own  creative motivation   this month. The stresses and strains of every day life may have been a contributory factor or I may just be making excuses…who knows! We are now at the end of January and I’ve not met the goals I had in my head at the turn of the year and I’m mad at myself.

As part of the “day job” in the “salt mine” I’ve been delivering coaching sessions to my team to encourage them to think about what motivates them in a work sense and to think about what areas they wish to develop themselves in. I’ve now delivered the same session, tweaked to the individual, fourteen times.  It struck me earlier that I needed to deliver it one more time. I needed to deliver it to myself!

I’ll not bore you with the ins and outs of it all but the focus of the coaching was a motivational triangle. The three sides represent Clear, Capable and Motivated. Is it Clear what’s expected of you? Are you Capable of meeting these expectations/goals? Are you Motivated to succeed?

I paused for some self-reflection as I went for my lunchtime meander in the cold. A bit of soul-searching.

And the result……

Clear – YES I am clear of the expectation /goal I have set myself. I need to finish the first draft of book baby 4.

Capable – YES I am capable of achieving this. I need to remain focussed and not “waste” the time deviating off at a tangent and writing other pieces.

Motivated – YES I will finish this! I have invested too much time in the project to abandon it at the last gasp. It is so close to being finished in reality.

So, without further ado…. I have a book to finish! ….. Goodbye January. Hello February!

A Little Excerpt From Book Baby 4.

AL church

GULP….. time to share a little tiny piece of Book Baby 4 with you all.  It’s still a work in progress but I thought I’d share a little excerpt with you….just to tease you.

For me this is more than a little nerve wracking. Not even my “infamous five” alpha readers have seen this yet!

Book Baby 4 still doesn’t have a title but features a band that those of you who have read Impossible Depths and Bonded Souls will be familiar with. It’s working title is AL – After Life.

Here’s just a little sneak peek into the After Life story. Enjoy!

After Life’s usual rehearsal hall was in the basement of a former church. The church above  had closed its doors a few years before due to dwindling numbers of worshippers. When Ellen and Taylor arrived with Rocky next day, they found that they weren’t the first to arrive, despite being deliberately early. Cal and Luke were already practicing.

“Morning, boys,” called out Rocky loudly. “No Jack?”

“He’s gone over to the music store to pick up some drum heads,” answered Cal. “He split two earlier. None left in the trunk.”

“Two?” echoed Rocky, shaking his head. “That boy’ll bankrupt us all at the rate he goes through them.”

Casually Ellen slipped off her leather jacket and laid it over the back of a nearby chair. As she crossed the room to join the band on the low makeshift stage, she was aware that all eyes were on her. Taking a deep breath to steady her nerves, she asked, “What’s the plan?”

“To rehearse,” stated Luke tersely. “And to see if you can deliver the fucking goods, princess.”

“Luke,” growled Taylor as he lifted his guitar from its case. “Cut it out.”

With a sneer, Luke bowed his head slightly, “Humble apologies, Miss Lloyd. Ladies choice.”

Before she could reply, the door creaked open and Jack returned carrying a bag with his new drum heads in it.

“Sorry, people,” he apologised. “Are you all waiting for me?”

“Yeah,” drawled Luke sourly. “And on Little Miss here deciding what we’re playing.”

“Kashmir,” stated Ellen with a calm confidence.

“Kashmir?” echoed the bass player unable to mask his surprise. “You mess this up and you’re history! Hear me?”

“Luke!” snapped Rocky. “Enough, young man! Give her a fair chance.”

“It’s fine, Rocky,” said Ellen, praying she sounded calmer than she felt. “Luke, I’ll make a deal with you. One error and I’m gone. One from you and the result’s the same. You go.”

Both Jack and Cal laughed before Cal commented, “You asked for that, mate.”

“Harrumph,” muttered Luke sulkily.

“Luke, that sounds fair enough to me,” said Rocky. “Especially considering the way you spoke to this young lady last night.”

“Fine,” he growled, inwardly seething at having been backed into a corner.

 

A few minutes later, Ellen stood centre stage with her trembling hand wrapped round the microphone. Taking a deep breath, she heard Jack and Luke begin the thundering drum and bass intro then Cal and Taylor came in on guitar. Precisely on cue, she began to sing, keeping her voice low and even with a hint of menace.

“Oh, let the sun beat down upon my face.”

Over the next eight minutes, she poured her heart and soul into the vocal. Channelling every last ounce of her inner strength, Ellen shut out all thoughts of Luke and the pressures on her, focusing instead on nailing every note however high or long. Beside her, Taylor was playing with a passion to rival her own, almost as if he were willing her through the iconic anthem with his own music. As she reached the final couple of lines, Ellen’s heart was pounding and her palm was sweaty.

“Let me take you there!”

Her voice rang out across the hall as the band finished off the song with a flourish. It didn’t escape her sharp attention that Luke fluffed a section just before the end. With a small smile, Ellen raised her eyebrows and stared at him through her tinted glasses.

“Fucking insane!” declared Cal enthusiastically. “Awesome voice, girl!”

“That was quite something,” agreed Jack from behind the drum kit.

Without looking at Ellen, Luke unplugged his bass, laid it down and stepped off stage. As he walked towards the door, he called back over his shoulder, “The bitch is in.”

 

Book Baby 4 coming Summer 2018  (I hope!)

(image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing PF Gregory

TEFAY cover

I’ve said before, the world of social media is an incredible thing. It opens up so many avenues to explore.  As an indie author myself, social media is a great way to connect to other authors and to obtain book recommendations (hint…hint…). There is also a strong network of support out there for writers who are keen to support and help others. So, in the ethos of “pay it forward” please allow me to introduce you to P F Gregory, fellow indie author.

Author Profile

Paul and I “met” through a more business related social media platform as we both work for the same parent salt mine in our real worlds.

I’ll be honest, I don’t read a lot of crime novels (not my genre of choice generally) but I grew up on a healthy TV diet of Miss Marple, Bergerac, Taggart and Morse so I’m not averse to the occasional murder.

Paul recently published his second novel, The Evil From Among You, and having devoured it within a few days I was proud to leave a 5* review for him on Amazon and Good Reads.

Just in case you missed it, here’s what I had to say:

Great Second Innings

 Fantastic second crimebuster from P F Gregory. Really enjoyed reconnecting with Chief Inspector Kent and crime reporting journalist Merv Davieson. Both have really developed their personalities in this tale.

Throughout the book the reader is introduced to various interesting characters who could all have had a motive for murder but Mr Gregory succeeds in keeping the reader guessing “who dunnit” right to the final pages. Even, if like me you have no interest in cricket, this is an entertaining read. Check it out for yourself today and see if you guess the murderer quicker than I did!

Look forward to reading about Kent and Davieson’s next case!

 I invited Paul along recently for a “virtual chat”. Here’s what he had to say.

Congratulations on your second crime novel.   What was the inspiration behind the cricketing theme here

A- Without divulging any spoilers, I had an old idea banked of a retribution motive and needed some awful (but plausible) injury to take place. A couple of options were considered but cricket worked and it also lends itself to the enduring English image found on so many male greetings cards to this day – timeless, traditional and a perfect setting for the rural/nostalgic atmosphere I am looking for.

 

We first met Davieson and Kent in your first novel. Was a family wedding the inspiration behind your debut Kindly Invited To Murder

A – Certainly not lol! I’d like to the think the family wedding’s I’ve attended went off with a lot less mayhem, but a local church (Breedon-on-the-Hill) – which is quite a landmark here in Leicestershire, was certainly the inspiration for the setting, becoming the fictional St. Catherine’s Church. The wedding setting did allow me to bring the various characters together in the same place though.

The Evil Among You really develops the characters of Kent and Davieson. Will we see any more of them?

A- Yes, I am keen to retain both my Chief Crime reporter, Davieson, and Chief Inspector Kent. Davieson will always be after local comment and interview when a crime takes place and will have a business reason to be there in the heart of the developing investigation. They will certainly both appear in my next novel and then I maybe need to reverse chronology and temporarily retire Kent for one novel as I write the mystery that made Davieson famous – and for which he boasts about in my first two novels. Davieson had assisted others in the police force, back then, before he met Kent – although Kent had heard of his assistance.

Do you have plans for book number three?

A -Yes, plot devised, characters created and I am currently 36,000 words into writing the first draft with a fairly detailed chapter/scene plan to work through as my road map.

Your Amazon author bio says you’ve been inspired by Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Have you always wanted to write whodunnits? What inspired you to take the plunge and write a novel?

A –I had been entertained by the genre for years (since childhood really) and progressed from reading the Enid Blyton children’s mysteries such as ‘The Five Find-Outers & Dog’ series – to my parents’ Agatha Christie paperbacks. I read literally hundreds of classic detective fiction stories, heard audio books and saw a handful of plays such as The Mousetrap in the West End a couple of times. Additionally, when not reading, there was nothing I enjoyed watching more than the latest Poirot, Marple, Morse, Midsomer Murders, Sherlock Holmes on primetime weekend television. Eventually, this all rubbed off on me and I wondered if I could devise a crime myself, create a bunch of probable and possible suspects and tie it all together by the end of the book. This was the inspiration and driving force to attempt a whodunnit.

We all struggle with our creative work from time to time. What motivates you to keep writing?

A -Nice feedback, a steadily increasing word count – and a continually topped-up bank of ideas for current and future work (characters, scenes, great words, lines of dialogue). I am finding writing a great release too and very therapeutic/rewarding.

Do you have a favourite author and/or book? (I know, cruel question!)

A – So…no longer with us, but for me Agatha Christie and as a prize specimen I’d chose her ‘ Evil Under The Sun’ which is heavily-clued. For me, she delivered so many firsts in the genre and broke many conventions.

How do you approach your writing? Are you a meticulous planner or a pantser?

A – I am a meticulous planner so I love a detailed chapter plan. In writing crime fiction I want to know who did it, why and how before I even start – I then want a bunch of interesting characters and a detailed flow of how the novel will run. I had at least 40 scenes planned out before I even started to type up a sentence of my current project. 

What advice would you give to any budding crime writers reading this?

A – I would say, read widely in the genre and find the style of sub-genre you believe in. Write primarily for yourself unless you absolutely need your work to try and put food on the table – if you do, then pay close attention to conventions and expectations in the genre (everything from word-count, to cover design, to typeface – to procedural accuracy). Accept no barriers – there is plenty of help out there, both in books and on the net, to help you achieve and realise your dreams. Be prepared to put the work in – unless you are a self-made man, or have a cast of thousands, then consider that you will likely have to wear several hats (author, typist, researcher, editor, proof-reader, type-setter, cover designer, marketing, social media/Comms.)

 Publishing one never mind two books in a short space of time is quite an achievement. How did it feel when you held a copy of your novel in your hands for the first time and saw your name on Amazon?

A – I actually plotted my debut novel in my late 20’s and wrote half of the book way back then. For whatever reason, I parked that half-finished book for over 13 years and only picked it up again in my early 40’s when I felt suitably inspired at re-read to finish the job. My output, therefore, appears a little more industrious than it has actually been this last 18 months or so. I am glad I did finish the debut and proved to myself that I could write a detective novel  – the feeling of holding my own book in my hands was incredibly exciting and I had copies printed to wrap up as family Christmas presents last year. I could barely contain myself watching the recipients open them – hugely, hugely rewarding. Similarly, seeing my book on Amazon was surreal and I couldn’t stop looking at the screenshots I took for some time afterwards and enjoyed sharing a hyperlink to my page/product.

 

I also asked Paul for a bit of background on the man behind these novels and was pleasantly surprised to find a musical connection there. Paul revealed that in his late teens/early twenties he played bass for a band called Exit Laughing. Want a listen? https://youtu.be/RQuUkqRGKRM

I was mildly surprised that cricket wasn’t listed as one of his “likes” but Paul is also a keen runner and fell walker, enjoying exploring the summits around the Lake District. Maybe these or his early musical adventures will provide inspiration for future murders. (hint….)

 

I’d like to thank Paul for taking the time out of his busy world to chat to me  and I wish him every success with his books.

PF gregory

 

Please spare a moment to check out him out on Amazon. Here’s the link to Paul’s author page:

Amazon.co.uk link –  https://www.amazon.co.uk/P.F.-GREGORY/e/B01N4LYL4V/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1515094781&sr=8-1

Amazon.com link – https://www.amazon.com/P.F.-GREGORY/e/B01N4LYL4V/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

 

 

Twisted Silk – a dark tale (adult content)

Black-Silk_028ebb56-bb9b-4406-a338-657e70170b66

 

The text message had been quite clear. She knew the rules, knew how to play his game.  Christ, she should after twenty-five years of marriage. Only this time, she planned to add a few moves of her own.

As instructed, she arrived at the hotel at four thirty, entering the room with the key card he had given her at breakfast. Room 413- his favourite suite in the small boutique hotel. They’d spent many anniversaries in that room and she knew it intimately.

The room looked identical to it had the year before as she entered. With a smile, she removed the black wig she had worn and shook her red hair free. She stuffed the wig into the side pocket of her overnight bag then set it down on the floor. Carefully, she hung her coat up in the wardrobe. She kept her long satin gloves on.

A bottle of champagne sat in the ice bucket beside the bed, two lead crystal flutes on a silver tray beside it.

She had an hour to finalise her preparations. Keeping her gloves on, she began to undress.

 

By five thirty, she was sitting on the edge of the bed ready to greet her husband. She had spent a little extra time on her makeup, ensuring that it was perfect. The black silk lingerie that he had requested that she wear wasn’t exactly what she felt comfortable in but she knew the role she had to play.

Behind her on the bed lay the “toys” he had requested that she bring from his personal collection at home.

She had opened the champagne, poured two glasses, ensuring that the additional “surprise” in her husband’s glass was fully dissolved. To calm her nerves, she drained half of her own glass in one gulp then topped it up before adding the rest of the powder to the bottle, wiping the neck clean.

The click of the key card in the lock caused her to jump. Could she pull this off? She owed it to herself to try.

“Good evening,” she purred as her husband stormed into the room, slamming the door behind him.

He barely grunted his reply as he dropped his phone and car keys onto the dressing table.

Praying her hand stayed steady, she passed him his glass of champagne.

“Happy anniversary, master.”

“If you’re a good girl, it will be,” he stated before draining the glass, just as she had hoped he would.

“I’ll be good, master. I promise,” she replied, taking his empty glass and refilling it.

He took a sip then set the glass down.

“Allow me to help you, master,” she suggested.

Slowly she slid his suit jacket from his shoulders and hung it carefully over the back of the chair. She loosened his tie and draped it over the jacket. With trembling gloved fingers, she undid the buttons of his crisp white shirt. As she slid it off, she allowed her fingers to caress the backs of his arms just as he preferred.

Without a word, he took another mouthful of champagne, then sat on the bed and invited her to remove his shoes. Slowly, allowing him to savour his view of her full breasts, she bent to slip the Italian leather loafers from his feet. Ignoring the pungent aroma, she removed his sweaty socks then gently massaged his feet.

“Enough,” he barked standing up.

“Of course, master,” she replied, her tone dutiful but not overly submissive.

She unfastened his trousers and slid them down his slender thighs. He side stepped out of them as the material pooled on the floor at his feet.

Carefully, she folded them and laid them on the chair beside his jacket.

Before she could return her attention to him, he’d reached across the bed, selected his “toy” of choice, a riding crop, and smacked her hard across her ass. The blow stung and she gasped, biting her lower lip to prevent herself from squealing. A squeal would earn a second, third or even fourth blow.

“Too slow,” he growled as she turned to face him.

“Sorry, master.”

Already she could see his cock hard and erect in his boxers.

“Bend over.”

Obligingly, she bent over the bed, baring her bare butt cheeks to him. Her black silk thong hid nothing and offered no protection. She bit down hard on her lip as he cracked the crop across her buttocks twice more.

“Resume,” he commanded before draining his glass.

“Yes, master,” she replied.

The black silk negligée had slipped, revealing more of her breasts and the crests of the dark areola that surrounded her nipples.

Smoothing out her long satin gloves, she sensuously slid his boxers down his long legs. His erect penis stood proud as she bent down to fully remove his shorts. He staggered slightly as she lifted his feet in turn for her.

For a split second, as he stood naked before her, she was reminded of how attractive he could be. Without being asked, she refilled his glass.

She handed it to him. As he drank deeply, she saw him sway a little.

Her heart skipped a beat.

“Change of plan,” he declared, setting the glass down and lifting two silk cords from the bed. “On the bed on all fours. Hands on the bedstead.”

Obediently, she moved into position, staying stock still as he tied her wrists to the wrought iron bedframe. His knots were loose and sloppy, she noted with relief.

Crack went the riding crop as he whipped her across the butt once more, leaving another fresh red welt among the many.

Roughly, he grabbed the thin fabric of the thong, ripping it off with ease. His coarse hands roughly shoved her legs further apart. With a primal grunt, he thrust into her hard and deep.

Clutching the bedframe tightly she felt him lean over her. Felt his breath hot and stale on her neck.

“Happy anniversary,” he hissed before biting her hard at the back of her neck.

Totally disregarding her pleasure, he continued to thrust his erect penis into her hard and fast. His movements were clumsy and rough.

In her heart, she began to panic. Had she misjudged this? Was her plan about to fail?

Suddenly, she felt his weight slump down onto her back and his cock slide from inside her. Quickly she shuffled up towards the top of the bed, allowing her husband’s drugged body to collapse on the clean white linen duvet.

Time was now short.

Swiftly she wriggled her wrists free and removed the cords from the bedstead. Using all of her strength she wrestled the naked form of her husband onto his back, his un-satiated erection going flaccid in front of her.

She reached under the pillow and withdrew the knife, selected from their own knife block that morning. Placing the knife in his left hand, she wrapped her own gloved left hand over it and guided the knife over his right wrist. The sharp blade slit through the thin skin of his inner wrist with remarkable ease, opening the vein as planned. Breathing hard, she switched hands and repeated the action with the right, slashing deep into his left wrist. She let his hand fall to his side, the knife still loosely in his grasp.

Blood poured from the open veins soaking into the duvet.

She paused for a split second, then lifted his right hand along with blood stained knife for a second time. Leaning her body weight to it, she drove the knife into his abdomen.

Blood oozed from around the edges of the blade.

Time to tidy up.

 

Luck was on her side. There wasn’t a drop of blood on her or her gloved hands. Methodically, she wiped her own empty glass clean and set it back down on the silver tray. She gathered up the sex toys and returned them to her overnight bag.

In the bathroom, she removed the remains of the black silk lingerie, stuffing the tattered fabric into her bag. Using her make up remover, she wiped away the thick layer of foundation, revealing her natural pale complexion complete with cigarette burn scars on her cheek. As she dressed, she caught sight of her thin body in the mirror, wincing anew at the dozens of cigarette burns, some old some fresh, on her body and her breasts. She ignored the pain of the bruising on her ribs to twist round to inspect the bite on her neck. His teeth marks were clearly imprinted in her skin and were already turning a deep purple colour.

It was finally over.

Meticulously, she tucked her long red hair up into the black, bobbed wig. She lifted her coat from the wardrobe and slipped her arms into its warm soft sleeves. With her Jackie O sunglasses on to hide her face, she lifted her bag and left the room without a backwards glace.

Freedom awaited in the hallway.

 

One week later, she sat in a different hotel in a different city reading the newspaper that had arrived along with her breakfast tray. On page seven, she found the article she had been looking for – “Business Tycoon Takes Own Life As Company On The Brink Of Collapse.” The by-line detailed how he had been found by a member of hotel staff. The coroner had ruled that his death had been caused by an overdose of tranquillisers mixed with alcohol and multiple self-inflicted knife wounds. A statement from his lawyer confirmed that the IT firm was in ruins and that he had been on the brink of bankruptcy. The journalist went on to reveal that the family home had been saved from the business collapse as it had been in his reclusive widow’s sole name. He continued that the mansion had recently been sold to a mystery buyer and that the grieving widow had been unavailable for comment.

Sitting back, she closed the newspaper and smiled.

 

(image source via Google -credits to the owner)

 

Introducing…….

Mary

Social media and the internet really have made the world a smaller place…..

 

An American Facebook friend recently commented on one of my promotional posts, drawing one of her friend’s attention to it. The common link here, other than Facebook, is music and books and on more than one level.

All three of us share a musical family “bond” – we’re all fans of Alter Bridge and part of the worldwide “AB family”

On another level, Mary and I have both written “rockstar” novels. In another twist, Mary has written her debut about a British Rockstar while my hero, Jake Power, is American. (Mary is American; I’m British)

I read the synopsis of The Guitarist on Amazon and was suitably intrigued so purchased the e-book there and then.  (I should say, the favour has been returned. Thanks, Mary)

 

I loved it! Loved Nicholas Trent too by the end (and Oliver).

 

I’ve already posted my short review on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Good Reads, happily awarding The Guitarist a well-earned  5 stars.

 

In case, you’ve missed it, here’s what I said

 

Great debut novel from Mary Ogden Fersner!

I quickly developed a soft spot for Nicholas Trent then gradually grew to love him as the story wove its magic.

There are aspects of this book that you can “hear” and others that you “feel” as you live the journey of the central characters.

One of the strengths of this debut is Mary’s descriptive style of writing where her words paint the picture before your very eyes, bringing it to life.

One minor criticism is that for my liking there are perhaps too many sub-characters and too many names to remember but, that said, it doesn’t detract from the strength and believability of the central characters.

I loved the human/normal element to this rock star….sorry. guitar player…..tale.

I’m really looking forward to discovering what the future holds for these guys.

Great read. Well done, Mary!

 

Now, us “indie authors” need to stick together here. It takes a lot of time and effort  ( slight understatement) to get a book into print and no small amount of personal courage to put it out there for the world to see. It’s also soul destroying, hard work promoting it once it’s out there.

 

In good old-fashioned “pay it forward” style, I reached out to Mary and asked if she would agree to answer a few questions to allow me to showcase her debut here.

 

So, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to Mary Ogden Fersner, the author of The Guitarist.

MAry 2

 

Mary, how did it feel to finally see your name in print and hold your book in your hands?

 

Oh man, it’s the most incredible feeling of accomplishment I think I’ve ever felt! So exhilarating! Of course, the first time I felt it was with the novella I published prior to The Guitarist. I wanted to see how easy it would be to use CreateSpace/KDP, but I didn’t have a long work ready to invest. I had this novella which I eventually named, Cruise Encounter as near ready as anything else I had, and I experimented with that. Getting the galley was exciting, but receiving an actual box of approved books was great! It eased me into the self-publishing world and helped with invaluable lessons. (Shameless plug: Cruise Encounter is available as a paperback and ebook from Amazon.)          

 

What inspired you to write The Guitarist? Why did you choose to make your hero British?

 

To be honest, I’m a bit obsessed with Brits. I love the language, LOVE the accent, love the sense of humor. Naturally, I wanted a beautiful British man whispering sweet nothings into the ear of my ego-challenged American woman. Hahaha!! But he would have to have problems of his own to make a good story.

Hence, the inspiration. My husband experienced a pretty serious health problem in 2012 and if we weren’t going to a doctor’s office, we were home. That was the year the Tom Cruise movie, Rock of Ages came out. When one of my friends asked me if I wanted to see it with her, I didn’t realize how happy I would be just to get out of the house for a few hours. I had been in a five year writing slump at that point—and make no mistake, this is one of the cheesiest movies ever made—but when two of the characters sang the Foreigner song, “I Wanna Know What Love Is” to each other, a switch turned on in my head. I considered how hard it must be for an unattached, working musician on the road to find a lasting relationship—if he or she even wanted one at all.            

 

 

Will there be more about Nicholas and Caitlyn and Oliver (I liked Oliver) in the future?

 

I’m glad you like Oliver. Everyone seems to like Oliver. I’m seriously partial to the Bishops as a family. I think I invented them to be the warm, loving family my own was not. They weren’t as bad as Caitlin’s family, but they were not the Bishops. But to answer your question, Nicholas, Caitlin, and Oliver—especially Oliver—are in the novella, Cruise Encounter. The Guitarist was finished and “cooking” as they say, when I wrote the cruise story and I needed them. Because touring musicians often know each other, tour together, and are sometimes even friends, my characters will make appearances from one book to another even though the MAIN characters are ones the reader has yet to meet. Nicholas and Caitlin play a part in my next, as-yet-untitled, book in the Tools of Tone Series. I hope I can keep them there. Haha!

 

 

When did you first start writing? What motivates you to write?

 

When I was a kid, I always made up stories in my head involving characters I’d see on TV or read about in books, but I didn’t write any fiction—actually write it—until sometime in junior high school (grades 7-9). I don’t remember exactly which grade, but I was an early teen. The story was inspired by song lyrics and I’m still inspired by song lyrics. For Nicholas Trent’s backstory, the Def Leppard song “Paper Sun” from their 1999 album Euphoria, and a song called “Loose Cannon” from The Mayfield Four’s 2001 album called Second Skin gave me the direction I needed. 

 

 

 

 

 

How do you approach the task of writing a novel? Are you a master planner or are you “winging it”?

 

Oh, I’m definitely a “pantser.” Winging it by the seat of my pants. Hahaha!! And that’s why I always have so much editing to do. I let my characters lead the way and sometimes they go off on tangents that I need to lead them out of. The original draft of The Guitarist was 149K words and I ended up cutting out over 55K out of it. I cut characters and scenes I swore I had to keep, but in the end, they didn’t really add to the story. I’ve got a great Thanksgiving Day scene at Billy Farmer’s house that just had to go. That being said, I never throw anything away. All these scenes reside in my “Deleted Scenes” file so I can modify them for another story if the chance presents itself.

 

 

Where do you prefer to write?

 

I would love to say somewhere without distraction, but that does not describe my life. My desk is a dining room table that our dining area is too small to hold, and I write in between loads of laundry, letting dogs out one at a time, because God forbid they act like a pack and go out all three together. Hahaha!! Not to mention other household chores. Ugh! But when I’m really in the zone, none of that matters. I can’t be able to hear a television or music with lyrics. I like to have instrumental rock guitar music, the white noise of a fan blowing, or both at the same time. I write initial stages of any work longhand in a spiral notebook. I used to get allergy shots and I wrote much of The Guitarist in the waiting room of my allergist’s office, earbuds in, listening to my Neal Schon station on Pandora, waiting for my thirty minutes to be over. Even then, if I was on a roll, I’d stay and finish so I wouldn’t forget. 

 

You wrote a “playlist” at the end of the book (neat idea), who are your own musical idols?

 

Pretty much everyone who was listed, the main ones being Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, Andy Timmons, Steve Morse, Jeff Beck, Neal Schon, John Petrucci—who incidentally does a great song with G3 called Glasgow Kiss. You should look it up on YouTube. It’s a great song. Some of the vocal bands I like are first and foremost Alter Bridge. Talk about inspiring lyrics! Papa Roach, Seether, Shinedown, Sixx A.M., The Virginmarys, Foo Fighters, Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, The Mayfield Four, Theory of a Deadman, and many others. 

 

If you could meet one rock star or band and hang in a bar like Westie’s bar in the book, who would you pick and why?

 

Hahaha!! Who could I pick and not act like a goofy fangirl? I guess I’ll say Alter Bridge. I’ve met them a few times through meet and greets and such. They were on ShipRocked last year. I’m pretty good about being myself most of the time, and people I know have hung out with them. I know they are all lovely men and very fan friendly. But their music . . . it has meant the world to me. I mean, they have seriously ROCKED me, and they’ve also brought me to tears. What could I possibly say that could interest them? Hahaha!! I’m almost in tears now, thinking about it. I’m a goober, plain and simple. (sniff) Hahaha!! (It took me fifteen minutes to come up with this answer. Hahaha!!) Goober.

 

What advice would you give to other aspiring authors?

 

(Recovering myself) Just sit down and write. It’s a first draft. You don’t have to have the perfect opening line, you just need an opening line. It could be what you had for breakfast, or something interesting you saw while walking your dog, or it could be a rant about some careless driver. Write SOMETHING.

I have a writer friend who lost her husband last year. She desperately wanted to write about her grief, their life together, her life without him. But the words wouldn’t come and so she filled pages and pages with “s**t happens.” That’s all that would come out. Then one day, the words came in the form of haikus. Little tiny bits, seventeen syllables, but the words came.

So just start out with something, what you want to write will present itself out of the chaos. And then read it. This is SO important. Read it out loud. It will seem silly at first, but reading it out loud fixes so many problems in terms of editing. You HEAR when you’ve overused words, or need to change up sentence structure, or when voices begin to sound too much alike. You hear how it sounds and can see how to fix it. Also, find a writer’s group nearby. Share your work with them. Nothing helps like a fresh eye. You don’t have to change everything they may not like, but you can take the advice that makes sense to you and leave the rest. Your work will be better for someone else’s eye. I swear.

 

How much of you is in your characters?

 

Well, I have to admit there’s a lot of me in Caitlin, or at least there used to be. I grew up quite shy, with very low self-esteem. Being always overweight, I never considered myself pretty. I wasn’t “popular” in school. But I had close friends and eventually realized that my dad’s greatest gift was also mine: it was said that he never met a stranger, and once I conquered my shyness, I’m about the same way. I’ll talk to anyone. (Even though I have that problem with the Alter Bridge lads. Hahaha!!) And I have the same easy smile that he did. Those two things can override one’s looks, I’ve found.

Some people have told me they don’t much like Caitlin because she’s indecisive—she’s not a particularly strong female character. Unfortunately, I’m not a very strong female. Once one’s spirit is broken–one’s heart is broken—it’s very hard to recover. So when some little bit of flattery is received, given enough time, self-esteem can slowly rebuild. It’s a very long road from believing oneself is without worth to becoming a published author. Wow! Just incredible!! I’ve always wished to be much more Sheila Gregg (barring the criminal element, of course) than Caitlin, but it is what it is, as they say.

 

 

As a final question I asked Mary if there was anything else, any other little insight she wished to share here.

Well, you may ask, just where did this obsession with instrumental rock guitar come from, Mary O? Well, here’s the story. I’m old and I’m gonna age myself plenty right here, right now. We were surrounded by music in the house where I grew up. Music on AM radio, music on TV, my dad had his stereo and vinyl albums, my brother had his, and when I was old enough, I got a record player and began my own vinyl collection. But it was AM radio in 1968 that originally caught my ear with this song. I was a sophomore in h.s. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEzyrpfrPEI I knew the station played it in the afternoon and I would literally RUSH home from the school-bus stop so I wouldn’t miss it. Of course my musical tastes rolled with the times up until about 1987 when I first heard Joe Satriani play “Surfing with the Alien” on WIXV FM out of Savannah, GA. Man, oh man. That song changed my life. But it was THIS song that started it all.

 

 

 

Mary recently hosted a successful launch party for The Guitarist. Here’s a few photos from the event to let us see what we missed.

Mary 3mary-4-e1511164690195.jpgMary 5

 

 

 

 

Mary’s fantastic debut novel can be purchased via Amazon. Please take the time to check it (Remember, Christmas is just around the corner and books make great gifts….hint…hint)

 

Here’s the links:

 

Amazon.com

 

https://www.amazon.com/Guitarist-Hard-Rock-Fiction-Tools/dp/0972669388/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510688279&sr=1-1

 

Amazon.co.uk

 

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Guitarist-Hard-Rock-Fiction-Tools-ebook/dp/B076J9PTGW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1510688321&sr=8-1&keywords=mary+ogden+fersner

 

Mary can be found on Good Reads too!

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15906772.Mary_Ogden_Fersner?from_search=true

 

And at her website:

 

https://www.writedogsrock.com/

 

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Mary for taking the time to answer my questions. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading her answers here as much as I did.

 

I am left pondering one thought….I wonder how Jake Power would get along with Nicholas Trent?

 

Libby (a short story of childhood’s end)

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Sunrise was her favourite time of day. At sunrise there still hope that, with the start of a new day, Lucy would remember she was there.

On the far side of the bedroom, a muffled sound escaped from under the duvet as Lucy rolled over in bed. A teddy bear was shoved unceremoniously onto the floor as Lucy muttered, “At least Libby didn’t take up as much space in the bed.”

Libby’s heart skipped a beat. Lucy still remembered her. She was safe for another few days. She glanced down at her hands and feet, then curled up on the rocking chair and went back to watching the sun come up.

 

For ten years Libby had been Lucy’s closest confidante. They had played together day after day. They had gone to school together for seven years. They had holidayed together, first in Devon and Cornwall and then, as Lucy grew older, they had visited France, Spain, Portugal and America. She had liked travelling with Lucy. Everywhere Lucy went, Libby went too.

On the last trip to America, Libby had met another girl about her own age while she had waited at the bag drop at one of the many rollercoasters in the theme park. She had been surprised by the cynicism shown by her new acquaintance.

“It won’t last much longer. Trust me. Just you watch. You’ll grow apart real fast. It’ll end and losing…what was her name? Lucy? Losing her will kill you. Literally.”

 

Almost five months had passed since that Easter trip to Florida. At first, Libby has dismissed the American girl’s comments as nonsense. Forget her? Why would Lucy want to forget her? They’d been inseparable since Lucy was three years old. But, as the seasons moved from Spring to Summer, Libby began to pick up on subtle changes in her beloved Lucy. Some days she would leave for school without her. Other days she would arrive home late and barely have time for her between dinner and bedtime. Once she went away for the entire weekend and left Libby behind without a wave or a backwards glance.

At Lucy’s thirteenth birthday party, Libby had kept to the shadows and was hurt that Lucy barely spared her a thought all day. She even blew out the birthday candles without Libby by her side to share a wish!

“You’ll grow apart real fast. Losing her will kill you. Literally.”

The words began to haunt Libby day and night….

 

As August wound its way towards to September, Libby found herself excluded more and more by Lucy. For hours on end she would wait patiently for Lucy to remember she was there and to involve her in her day.

By the middle of the month, Libby began to panic. Once morning when she awoke early to watch the sun rise, she realised she was fading away. Her hands and feet were barely visible. Just before panic took over, she heard Lucy talking in her sleep and heard her mention her name. Instantly she felt whole again. Her hands and feet were there. Her black patent ballet pumps were shining in the early morning sunlight.

 

Unfortunately, this had only been the beginning of Libby’s torment.

 

As August ended, there had been no less than half a dozen similar fading episodes. The last one had really scared Libby. Her hands and arms had disappeared all the way up to her elbows; her feet and legs had vanished right up past her knees.

Lucy was forgetting her!

Lucy was growing up!

Yet again, the American’s words tore at Libby’s faithful heart, “Losing her will kill you. Literally.”

 

September marked a milestone for Lucy – she started high school. From the relative safety of the rocking chair under the window, Libby had watched as Lucy packed her new school bag and laid out her new school uniform.That night Lucy had gone to bed without wishing her goodnight. In the darkness, Libby had cried herself to sleep on the rocking chair.

 

Now, as she watched the teddy bear, always a favoured bedtime bear of Lucy’s, lying on the floor, Libby finally resigned herself to her fate. September had been filled with gaps in the relationship with Lucy and there had been almost daily episodes of fading out. For the past week, Libby had barely seen her hands and feet. Even her long pigtails had faded at the ends!

To save herself, Libby knew she had to take action. She realised that she could no longer rely on Lucy to remember she was there. Now that she had been fully restored to her old self, Libby decided that today was the day.

 

The week before a new family had moved into the house next door. From Lucy’s bedroom window, Libby had watched a little girl playing alone in the garden. Hiding behind the curtains, she had watched the little girl, Wendy, play on her swing and slide down her chute. Seeing her playing on her own for hours on end had tugged at Libby’s heart strings.

 

After Lucy left for school, Libby waited on the rocking chair until Lucy’s mum had come in and opened the window to let some air into the room.  

This was her chance!

A quick glance outside informed her that Wendy was already out playing in the garden with a bright red ball.

Carefully, Libby climbed up onto the window sill. With a last look round the bedroom, she balanced on the ledge for a moment, then carefully climbed down the trellis, trying not to damage Lucy’s dad’s Clematis.

As she crossed the garden, Libby began to panic anew. It was the first time she had been outside alone in over ten years. What if Wendy couldn’t see her? What if Wendy rejected her?

It was too late to go back now.

Slipping through a gap in the fence, Libby made her way into the garden next door. For a few minutes, she stayed in the shadow of the big, old, apple tree that dominated that corner of the garden. With a nervous smile, she watched Wendy play with the ball. The little girl was throwing it up and trying to catch it. Eventually she dropped it.

The ball rolled down the gentle slope and landed at Libby’s feet, nudging her black patent shoes.

“It’s now or never,” thought Libby, bending down to pick up the ball.

When she stood up again, Wendy was staring at her.

“I like your shiny shoes.”

“Hi. Thank you. I’m Libby,” said Libby, tossing the ball back to the little girl, who caught it safely in her arms.

“HI. I’m Wendy,” came the shy reply. “Want to play?”

“I’d love to!” declared Libby with a smile.

“Daddy’s going to build me a tree house in that tree,” explained Wendy as they walked back up the slope. “It can be our club house. Our special place. You can live up there when it’s done. It can be your fairy castle.”

“I can?”

“Of course you can! You can stay in my room till its builded but you’ll need to hide. Need to be a secret,” whispered Wendy seriously. “Mummy doesn’t want me to have imaginary friends. We can be secret princess friends forever though.”

“I’d like that,” said Libby as her heart turned a somersault of delight.

She was safe at last.

 

(image sourced via Google- credits to the owner)