Castles in the Air

The image shows shows a castle in the clouds. A surreal image created by the clouds that surround it.
The image shows a castle in the clouds, a surreal image created by the clouds that surround it.

If I were able
I’d build a castle
just for you

A pearl-white, perfect vision
fashioned from daydreams
forged in the flames
of burning desire

If I were able
I’d offer my castle
only to you

A shining cerulean citadel
sculpted from fantasies
shaped by illusions
of anxious lust

If I were able
I’d trade my castle
to be with you

A glowing golden fortress
moulded from memories
shored up by recollections
of passions past

If I were able
I’d secure you
in my heart

And never let you go.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Image credit: Google Images

Written in response to Sadje‘s What Do You See #107 photo prompt

Tom Burton is on the Launch Pad!

Tom Burton’s short story collection, ‘Pocketful of Time’

It’s my great pleasure to welcome indie author, Tom Burton to this month’s Launch Pad spot. Like me, you may have come across Tom’s vivid creative writing on his blog. I happened upon it a couple years ago, my interest having been grabbed by his episodic story following the adventures of one Sergeant Craig Harper. Since then, Tom’s readers have been treated to many well-crafted stories across many genres.

So, let’s find out a little bit more about Tom. We’ll start with his official author bio:

Tom Burton is a British author with a passion for writing magical, mysterious and historical fiction. He lives with his family in Devon, his writing fuelled by the magic of dark chocolate and Yorkshire Tea.

His short stories have appeared in Spillwords Press, Literally Stories, Dreaming in Fiction, and Whatever Keeps The Lights On.

He has published two collections of short stories so far: Wildlands in 2020 and recently released, Pocketful of Time.

Published books by Tom Burton – Wildlands and Pocketful of Time

Before we get to Tom’s latest release, he’d like to share some of his own thoughts on writing, garnered from his own experience as a storyteller. Over to you, Tom!

Tom’s Top Three Guidelines

I know, I know. We’ve all read those wonder lists of the “Top Ten Tips To Write Right!” or whatever. Who on earth am I to give advice? Eww. *retreats under couch hissing like a cat*

So I’ll just call them guidelines, NOT rules. They’re not hard and fast tricks to success – these things never are. What works for me might not work for you.

But they sure helped my writing improve.

1) Entertain One Reader.

That’s it. You and your reader. All it is. Good writing makes your reader laugh and cry. If there’s no emotion? No buy-in to the story. If your book says what you want and how you wanted to present it? Job done. Whether people like it or not is entirely up to them.

Not everyone’s going to love your book. Harsh but true. If you try to write to please EVERYONE, you won’t end up pleasing ANYONE. If your work’s out there, readers who love your style and genre will find you. There’ll be a whole lot of ‘no’s’ along the way. But it only ever takes one ‘yes’.

You’ll get SO MUCH unasked-for advice from readers. Thank them politely. Read it. Shelve it to one side. Move on. They didn’t write your book. You did. Own it. Be proud of that glorious mess you made.

Someone once sent me an actual email cordially advising me to write longer flashfics as they come across more ‘writerly’ (???) and I sent them a reply that just said ‘Chapter One: No’.

”I really liked the idea but thought there should’ve been a twist in the end to make it like a thriller.” Which would’ve been, y’know, GREAT advice … for someone writing a thriller.

2) Immerse your reader.

Use different senses to plunge your reader into a scene: what can the character hear, smell, see? Getting the setting, mood and background senses right make the scene pulse with life and draws in your reader! Smell is often underused, but it really enriches your story. “The stench of a decaying carcass” paints a hugely different picture than “the sweet aroma of jasmine”.

Immersion pulls us right in the thick of the story. We feel like we’re living these stories because the author’s ensured we’re fully captivated. We forget that it’s words on a page that another person has written. We forget that hundreds of other people could be reading the story at that very moment. It’s our story. Just us and the characters and their world.

Immersing your reader is different than just hooking them, it’s keeping them hooked. It keeps them plugging along and (hopefully) conjures some kind of emotional response. (Preferably one that doesn’t involve hate mail.)

Omit dialogue tags (I said/you said/he said/she said) if it’s clear which character is talking. Words like “said,” “asked,” or “wondered,” drag down your story telling. Instead, spice up dialogue with action! Having that back-and-forth punctuated with action makes dialogue flow smoother, so your reader never gets yanked out of the story. For example:

“Get out of my room, you brat!” Evie demanded.
Mark glared at her. “Make me!” He retorted.

VS

“Get out of my room, you brat!” Evie tried to shove her brother into the hallway but his heavy bulk ruined her efforts.
“Make me!” Mark held his ground.

3) Keep it simple.

Less really is more. The delete key is your friend! Often the best days are when you have fewer words on the page than when you started. Window Prose helps: the kind of writing that’s so simple, clear and minimal that the audience doesn’t even notice they’re reading. They never have to stop to think, so it’s just like gazing through a window at the unfolding action.

Purple Prose uses large, complicated indulgent words to over-describe simple, clear descriptions. It’s flowery, excessive and breaks the flow of the reader’s attention. Don’t slip a ten-dollar word into a ten-cent simple sentence like “scintillating” and “incandescent”. It messes up the flow and makes the reader reach for a dictionary (BIG no no). Don’t drown your reader in unnecessary adjectives and adverbs. Run-on sentences bog readers down with unneeded elaborate detail and distract from the story. For example:

“The branch on the fire burst asunder with a muted pop as the coals underneath heated the gnarled length of wood to the point where a small cache of water that had somehow evaded the sun’s rays for untold decades exploded into steam” GAAAAHHH

VS

“The fire crackled.”

Seduce your reader, don’t burden them. Never use five fancy words when three simple ones will do. Be concise. Don’t fall in love with the gentle trilling of your smooth flowing sentences. Cut out what doesn’t need saying. You don’t want to be writing with a thesaurus in your other hand, choosing unfamiliar fancy words to replace simple, clear, familiar ones. Plain, clean language is the way to go!

Want to enhance a scene? Use precise, punchy nouns and strong vivid verbs that heighten the reader’s sensations, paint strong mental images, and avoid wordy descriptions and overused adjectives.

> Smell = stench, aroma, scent, fragrance.
> Small = tiny, petite, minuscule, miniature.
> House = cabin, mansion, cottage.
> Group = horde, team, gang.
> Woman = lady, mistress, matron.

~~~~~~~~

Tom’s latest book of short stories is Pocketful of Time, a splendidly vivid collection of historical tales. You can read my review here.

The image shows Tom Burton's new book, Pocketful of Time in paperback and ebook
Pocketful of Time ~ paperback and ebook

Now, over to Tom to tell us a little more about his book and how he came to write it.

~~~~~~~

Thanks ever so much for hosting me, Chris! It’s such a privilege to be invited to a great outlet for indie authors. Really excited to be here and share my latest book Pocketful of Time on your blog. Also, thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my writer’s thoughts with your readers!

I’ve always loved history from an early age. It’s fascinating to have that unique viewpoint into the living, breathing world of our grandparents and ancestors – that shock of the intimate past that reaches out to jab us in the ribs. Historical fiction’s made such a triumphant comeback recently; Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent, Sebastian Barry’s A Long Long Way and Ian McGuire’s The North Water are all  critically acclaimed for transporting the reader into rich evocative worlds that capture the audience’s imagination.

I also studied history at Uni, which I’m sure helped.

Pocketful of Time grew out of that childhood fascination for history. Being a part of our wonderful WP blogging community for the past several years really gave me the inspiration to help my writing blossom and take the leap to self-publish for others to read via Kindle Direct Publishing.

Short stories were something I was slowly getting better at, so I thought: why not self-publish eight of these together in a collection? So I did. Big advantage of publishing a collection: if the reader doesn’t like one particular story, they’ve got plenty more to choose from.

~~~

The blurb

A world-weary cynic rediscovers his faith. A soldier is haunted by his duty. A prisoner faces her last night on earth . . .

These visceral tales dive into the depths of humanity, exploring the darkest deeps of despair and mortality. Human history is often a grim legacy of bloodshed, misery and despair. Yet still there is hope, the triumph of the human spirit against overwhelming odds and enduring courage in the face of adversity.

Poignant, gruesome, chilling and triumphant, this collection of adult short stories has a little something for every reader.

Fancy diving into William Tyndale’s struggle to publish the first English Bible? Guy Fawkes’ last days in the Tower of London? A lone German citizen’s non-violent resistance to the Nazi regime? Then feel free to check these stories out!

Pocketful of Time is available in paperback and ebook – get it here: Amazon US / UK

~~~~~~~~

Stop Press!!!

Tom’s second historical collection Only Human is due to be published in time for Christmas! Fourteen short stories including:

> the final voyage of Lady Jane Grey
> the swashbuckling life of pirate Mary Read
> a trapper boy’s childhood down the coal mine
> the last arctic mystery of the doomed Franklin Expedition
> a suffragette’s fight for the vote in pre-WW1 England.

~~~~~~~~

Tom’s social media links

Website: Slumdog Soldier

Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/Tom-Burton

The image show Tom Burton's new book, Pocketful of Time with a good luck message and the Launch Pad logo from luna's online
Pocketful of Time, by Tom Burton, available in paperback and e-book

~~~~~~~

Would you like a spot on the Launch Pad?

If you’re a writer with something to say about you new book I’d love to hear from you. All mainstream genres are welcome be it fiction, poetry, memoir or even non-fiction (am I the only person who reads cookery books cover to cover?). I’m particularly keen to support fellow Indie Authors, although by no means exclusively.

Book your ‘First Friday’ spot now, especially if you have a book release lined up in the coming months. Just drop me an email at chris87hall@gmail.com and in response I’ll explain what I’ll need from you and when.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Do you believe in faeries? ~ episode 11

Illustration from the Rose Fyleman Fairy Book

Previously

Bethany stared round-eyed at Lobelia as she fluttered through the open window and landed at Greta’s feet, without doubt, the anxious creature was one of the faerie folk; Lobelia returned Bethany’s astonished gaze, ‘so the golden-haired child has returned!’

‘We thought so too, Lobelia, but she wasn’t wearing the travelling bracelet we left for her, so she can’t be,’ said Greta, looking at Bethany doubtfully, ‘she just appeared out of nowhere, and now two more Other Worlders are here; Captain Stinger and his soldiers took them away just now.’ Greta slammed the window shut, ‘you say the Shoemaker’s wife has been arrested for Word-Singing?’

Lobelia nodded, her wings drooping for a moment, ‘so many people have been taken away for Word Crimes since the Owl-King arrived: we must do something to restore justice!’ cried Lobelia. ‘All the other faeries have gone into hiding until a solution is found,’ she stared up at Bethany, ‘and if she isn’t the golden-haired child, who can we pin our hopes on?’

Greta looked at Hans, ‘I think the time has come for us to take matters into our own hands; after all, the Owl-King doesn’t know that Bethany isn’t the golden-haired child, does he?’

on to the next episode!


Written in response to two challenges:

Di of Pensitivity 101’s Wednesday’s Three Things ChallengePIN, SOLUTION, WITH
Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge’s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt: RESTORE

Bryony, Bethany and Mr Eyre first appeared in my historical fantasy fiction novel, Following the Green Rabbit. They’ve been begging to go on another adventure and now they’ve got their wish!

More Sixes here!

The Wall

The image shows an elderly man and woman embracing. In the background, people can be seen going about their business.
The image shows an elderly man and woman embracing. In the background, people can be seen going about their business.

A country, carved into four
by the victors.

A city, divided
by ideology and
something more.

Erected in haste
assembled in the silent hours
while they slept
apart, in blissful ignorance,
concrete and iron
snaked through
their lives.

Three decades on
torn down in protest:

lovers reunite
whom time
could not
divide.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Image credit: Gennaro Leonardi @ Pixabay

Written in response to Sadje‘s What Do You See #106 photo prompt

To NaNo or Not to NaNo (2021)

An open book, Chris's author pic and the title 'chatting with my characters'

‘Misquoting the Bard, Ms Hall?’ Connor strides across the floor and strikes a dramatic pose by the fireplace. The two bars of the electric fire glow ineffectually against the foggy October day which presses around the edges of the bay windows. Feeling the chill, I pull my cardigan more tightly around me.

‘Turn the fire up, Connor,’ says Cynthia. ‘Ms Hall’s blood will have thinned after ten years in warmer climes than these. I remember when I returned from Singapore, it took me years to readjust to our dismal English weather.’ She takes an emerald-coloured pashmina from the back of the chaise-longue and tosses it over to me.

‘Spot of something warming, perhaps?’ asks Connor, looking longingly at the half-empty bottle of whisky on the sideboard. I shake my head. He frowns. ‘I sense by your utterance you are caught on the horns of a dilemma. Pray tell us what troubles you.’

Before I can answer, there’s a tap on the door.

‘It’s open, darling,’ calls Cynthia.

Gina appears. She flings herself into an armchair and grins across the room at me. ‘Do you have some news for us, Ms Hall?’

I explain about NaNoWriMo. Three years running and three books written within each succeeding year. But last year NaNo was a struggle and didn’t get me off to the same start.

‘It sounds as if you might be taking on a little too much to commit to that for a fourth time,’ says Cynthia gently. ‘Don’t pressurise yourself.’

‘But you’d be picking up our story again,’ says Gina. ‘I mean you’ve just finished writing that other sequel, haven’t you?’

I incline my head. It’s true. The sequel to Song of the Sea Goddess has passed the final editing stage and is soon to be proof-read by another keen eye. I twist the pen I’m holding. ‘Ah well, not quite yet, and I’ve been considering putting a poetry collection together in time for next year’s World Poetry Day.’

Connor’s eyes light up. ‘Congratulations, splendid idea!’ Connor rubs his hands together. ‘I’d like to think my success with the slim volumes I’ve had published has inspired you. You know I’ve had an advance to compose a third..?’

Gina shifts in her seat. ‘But so much has happened in our story since our book came out,’ she holds out her hands. ‘Each time you’ve come round something new has happened.’ Her eyes fall on the notebook in my lap. ‘You’ve noted it all down, haven’t you?’

My new notebook with notes on my YNWA characters dated 2019-2021

I look down in my lap. Gina’s right of course, I have been keeping notes… and there are a few more. I smile at three of my favourite characters from You’ll Never Walk Alone. ‘Next year will be your year, but no NaNo this time.’

Tango Videos + J.Barrow: C.Hall audiobook: Pod5 Healthy Carrot Delight

Listen here! There’s something a little different on Luna’s online this Friday.

We have a splendid sight and sound combo from da-AL’s Happiness Between Tails, in which she introduces her new podcast page. We also have a helping of carrot cake and a dancing delight: the tango – que romántico!

Then to follow, is it all about audio now??

Happiness Between Tails by da-AL

https://anchor.fm/depe9/episodes/Carrot-Delight-Cake-a-Healthier-Recipe-by-Khashayar-e175b56

Click H E R E & you’ll find my brand new podcast page! It’s on AnchorFM, where the most recent show is the audio rendition of my blog post (the blog version is h-e-r-e and it includes the full recipe written out), “Our COVID + Carrot Delight Cake Healthier Recipe by Khashayar.”

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts and Breaker, to Pocket Casts and RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher, plus Overcast and an RSS feed and more.

Screenshot from video of Khashayar and da-AL dancing Argentine Tango, un-choreographed.

This week I did more writing on my novels … plus… happiness!… It’s been since forever — gulp! since quarantine! —  that my husband and I haven’t danced. No classes, no practicing on our own, no nuthin’. And as much as we’ve missed it, we’ve missed…

View original post 1,317 more words

Do you believe in faeries? ~ episode 10

Illustration from the Rose Fyleman Fairy Book

Previously

Bryony’s face itched from the thick hessian of the hood that had been forced over her head; behind her she heard the rasps of Mr Eyre’s breathing, as Captain Stinger and his guards herded them across the wooden bridge that crossed the Owl-King’s Great Divide.

They stumbled off the slatted planks and their forced march continued through what Bryony, from the late-season scent of autumn leaves, could tell was woodland, until eventually Captain Stinger called a halt; their hoods were removed and she and Mr Eyre were left blinking in the sunlight.

A towering, pink-stoned palace, surrounded by emerald-coloured lawns, rose up before them reminding Bryony of an illustration in ‘The Wizard of Oz’, a volume she’d been given as a keepsake by a favourite aunt.

‘To the dungeons!’ yelled Captain Stinger and once again they were on the move, escorted swiftly to a drab grey out-building set within a high-walled yard; ‘you will await your fate here,’ the Captain announced, glancing meaningfully at the gallows in the corner.

Dread welled up in Bryony’s stomach; Mr Eyre took a breath and squared his shoulders: ‘Surely your Owl-King will permit us a fair trial?

No reply came from their grim-faced captor.

/…next episode.


Written in response to two challenges:

Di of Pensitivity 101’s Wednesday’s Three Things ChallengeALLOW, PERMIT, SEASON
Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge’s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt: KEEPSAKE

Bryony, Bethany and Mr Eyre first appeared in my historical fantasy fiction novel, Following the Green Rabbit. They’ve been begging to go on another adventure and now they’ve got their wish!

Join the party and read more #SixSentenceStories here!

Enigma

The image shows a dog dressed in a woolen sweater and wearing round wire-rimmed glasses, staring seriously at the camera.
The image shows a dog dressed in a woollen sweater and wearing round wire-rimmed glasses, staring seriously at the camera

What lies inside your little world?
What secrets hide within?
Eyes disguised, emotions veiled,
concealed behind a mask.

Wide-eyed, yet poker-faced,
your visage a strange conundrum
reposed, composed and tranquil
in silent contemplation.

Cloaked in mystery, unperturbed,
let me plumb your hidden depths.
What lies inside your little world?
What secrets hide within?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Image credit: Charles Deluvio @ Unsplash

Written in response to Sadje‘s What Do You See #105 photo prompt

Location, Location, Location #26

photo of castle street in Liverpool showing the town hall at the end of the street. Cafes and restaurants occupy the ground floors of these impressive 19th century buildings
Location No.26 – Castle Street, Liverpool City Centre

Welcome back to our literary tour through the pages of my novels. Once again, we’re in the centre of Liverpool, with a fine view of the Town Hall in front of us. The insurance office where I started my first ‘proper’ job is just around the corner on Exchange Street East. The building has been converted into a Travelodge, which I find rather weird. You can take a peek at it here – see the old company logo carved into the stonework over the front door? How strange to stay in a building in which you once worked!

Anyway, that’s not why we’re here. We’re just going to pop through one of the doorways on the right of the picture into a warm and slightly stuffy basement café, and take a peek at one of my favourite scenes from You’ll Never Walk Alone. The café will have changed beyond all recognition now, but the way I describe it was pretty much the way it was when we used to pop out from the office for a lunchtime tea and toasted teacake, long before the time when central Liverpool became a trendy, ‘go-to’ destination.

All done? Well, let’s jump on the No 82 bus and travel out to the leafy suburbs of south Liverpool.

1 Aigburth Vale, Liverpool 17

This rather sad-looking building is where my husband and I first rented a flat together (it was a little bit smarter back then). The house is at the end of a long driveway and there was a rambling woodland garden on one side, long gone now. The area is occupied by some rather nice retirement flats. You can just make it out in Google Maps Street View.

The house originally belonged to Sir Ronald Ross, the man who discovered that malaria was transmitted by mosquitoes. Later the building was sold and it became a nightclub, and so it gets a passing mention in my book excerpt below.

Now, onto the story – look out for my little ‘Hitchcockian’ cameo too!

Excerpt from You’ll Never Walk Alone

Gina had almost finished her coffee. Mollie, her mother, was late as usual. She fiddled with the teaspoon in her saucer and stared around the gloomy interior of the subterranean cafeteria, at its brown banquettes and Formica-topped tables. Dreary pictures of sad-looking landscapes lined the walls. The place was stuck in the 1970s. Not a good decade for Liverpool, (not that the 80s were turning out to be much better so far). Gina wondered what it was about this particular establishment which made it her mother’s favourite lunchtime meeting place. Maybe some tie from the past. Well, that was apt, Gina thought, as she took the photocopied photo from her bag; the one with her mother, her long-time friend Marie and various members of the Kingston Jazz Cats, including Godrell Clarke, the man Mollie claimed was Gina’s father.

The sound of Mollie’s voice preceded her as she tottered down steps from Castle Street in her high heels. “Oh Marie, you know who I mean, the one with the face like a robber’s dog.” Gina rolled her eyes, glancing at the woman at the next table, who had been sitting pen in hand, gazing at the notebook in front of her. The woman looked up at the two women as they made their entrance and suddenly started writing.

“Here she is!” Marie started waving at Gina as she bustled her way through the tables. She was hard to miss in her bright pink coat. “Gina, love, sorry we’re late.” Marie plonked a couple of carrier bags down on the floor before easing her way between table top and banquette to sit opposite Gina. “Bargains,” she announced proudly, “you should get along to T J Hughes’s and have a look. I got a smashing skirt and a few little tops, all for a tenner.”

Mollie arrived more sedately and sat down next to Marie. “Ouch, my feet are killin’ me.” She slipped off her shoes under the table and flexed her stockinged toes.

“You didn’t walk from TJ’s in those new shoes of yours, did you, Ma?”

“No, love, of course not, we got the bus, but it’s still a tidy walk from the stop in Dale Street.” Mollie reached down and rubbed her left foot. “I think I’ve got a bunion coming.”

The waitress hovered beside the table. “What can I get you, ladies?”

“What’s the soup today?” asked Mollie.

“Mulligatawny.”

Mollie pulled a face.

“We’ve got sandwiches: cheese and ham, cheese and tomato, ham and tomato. Or there’s scones or toasted teacakes.” The waitress reeled off the limited menu.

“Toasted teacake and a tea, please,” said Marie.

“Same for me,” said Gina.

Mollie paused, screwing up her eyes in an effort of indecision. “Yes, I’ll have that too,” she said eventually. “And make it a pot of tea, for three.”

The waitress nodded and scribbled on her pad before wandering back to the serving counter.

“How’s Gary, love?” asked Marie, leaning across the table.

“Fine, thanks,” Gina smiled, remembering the wicked look on his face as they’d tumbled into bed the previous evening.

“Oh look at that. Isn’t that just the cat that got the cream last night,” said Mollie loudly,

“Ma, shush,” Gina said, glancing at the woman at the next table. Her head was bent over her notebook, busy writing.

“What’s the matter, love?” said Mollie innocently.

“You’re embarrassing me.”

“No ring on your finger yet?” Marie put in.

“Not yet, Auntie Marie,” Gina smiled sweetly, covering her irritation.

“Oh, I wish you’d drop the ‘auntie’, Gina,” said Marie, “you make me feel like a hundred years old.”

Gina laughed. “Okay, I’ll try to remember.” She picked up the photo and slid it across the table. “Now, look. Here’s what I wanted you to see.”

Both women leaned forward and peered at the grainy photocopy. There was silence for a full two minutes, probably a record for those two, thought Gina. She looked over at the woman at the next table; she was gazing into space again.

‘Well?” said Gina, impatient for a reaction.

“Oh my word,” said Marie. “Don’t we look young?”

“We were young. Younger than our Gina is now.” Mollie stroked the face of the man holding the saxophone. “Here he is, my Godrell.” She had a dreamy look in her eyes. “He was so gorgeous, and he fell for me.”

“…and then left you.” Gina put in.

Mollie ignored her. “What were the others’ names, Marie? This one with the trumpet?” Mollie tapped the photo with a red-painted nail, “Deon something…”

“No, Deon was the guitarist. That’s Dixon. Dixon Jones played the trumpet.” Marie smiled. “He had a bit of thing for me, remember?”

There was a pause while the waitress set out the cups and saucers. “The teacakes are just coming,” she said as she set down a large stainless steel teapot before heading back to the serving counter.

“Where was the picture taken?” asked Gina.

“It was a dance hall,” said Marie, “near Sefton Park somewhere, wasn’t it?” she turned to Mollie.

“I don’t remember…” Mollie shook her head.

The food arrived. Mollie poked her teacake with a knife. She looked up at the waitress and smiled. “Lovely. Thanks, love.” The waitress mumbled something as she turned away.

Marie continued: “It was up this long drive. A big white building, with French doors to the garden outside. You must remember. You’d disappeared outside with Godrell that time…”

Mollie’s face lit up with recognition. “Oh yes…”

Gina noticed a red flush travel up her mother’s neck. “Really, Ma?”

“You can mind your own business, my girl,” said Mollie. Although she spoke sharply, she had a twinkle in her eye. She busied herself buttering her teacake.

Gina took a bite of her own teacake and decided to change the subject. “What about you and the trumpet player, Marie?”

“Oh, that never came to anything, love. I’d met my Jimmy by then.” The three women cast their eyes down. Jimmy had been killed in an accident at the docks when Gina was nine. He and three other men had entered the cargo hold of a ship which was full of logs. One of the others had slipped and fallen into a gap between the logs. Jimmy had tried to rescue him, but he too had disappeared into the narrow spaces between the logs. When the two men were eventually brought out by the shore fire brigade, both had died of suffocation.

Gina smiled sadly. Her uncle Jimmy had been a great favourite of hers, always cracking jokes and bringing her sweets.

Marie rubbed her hand across her face and turned her attention back to the photo. “Just look at what we’re wearing… and your hairdo, Mollie.” She turned to Gina, “you know, your mother was the first girl to have a beehive in South Liverpool.”

Mollie laughed. “All that lacquer, it set hard like a bloody helmet.”

“You know why our handbags are all lined up on the table like that?” Marie looked at Gina. Gina shook her head. “We had those miniatures of gin behind them, but all you can see are the tonic bottles.” She threw back her head and laughed. “What a time, we had.”

an old photo taken c. 1960 showing four young women all dressed up sitting at a table with their handbags in front of them. You can see little bottles of tonic water, but the accompanying gin is hidden.
‘Hiding the gin’. Emma, my lovely late mum-in-law is the one winking at the camera.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You’ll Never Walk Alone is available from Amazon in paperback, e-book & on Kindle Unlimited
USA UK ~ CAN ~ AUS IND ~ the rest of the world

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Photo credits: liverpool.echo.co.uk, boomin.com

Do you believe in faeries? ~ episode 9

Illustration from the Rose Fyleman Fairy Book

Previously

Bethany stared after Bryony and Mr Eyre as they were marched away by the strange-looking soldiers in their indigo field dress, their fierce-looking weapons making her fear for her sister and tutor’s treatment at their hands. ‘Where are they taking them, Greta?’

‘Those are the Owl-King’s soldiers, they patrol his Kingdom making sure everyone obeys the laws and rounding up Other-Worlders, they’ll be taking them beyond the Great Divide to the Owl-King’s Palace,’ Greta glanced through the window to where Hans was returning from speaking to Captain Stinger, she sighed heavily and continued in a hollow voice, ‘no-one who has been taken there has ever been seen again.’

Hans stomped through the doorway, taking one last look down the now empty path which led across the forest, ‘I managed to satisfy Captain Stinger’s suspicions, for the time being at least,’ he raised his eyebrows in Greta’s direction, ‘but what we do now…’ his gaze rested on Bethany, his forehead furrowing.

A moment later, a tiny oval-shaped face with pointed ears and piercing blue eyes appeared at the window; Greta flung it open: ‘whatever is it, Lobelia?’

Lobelia’s wings fluttered anxiously, ‘it’s the Shoemaker’s wife, she’s been arrested for Word Singing!’

/….to be continued.


Written in response to two challenges:

Di of Pensitivity 101’s Wednesday’s Three Things ChallengeHOLLOW, SATISFY, FIELD
Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge’s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt: TREATMENT

Bryony, Bethany and Mr Eyre first appeared in my historical fantasy fiction novel, Following the Green Rabbit. They’ve been begging to go on another adventure and now they’ve got their wish!

More #SixSentenceStories here!