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Category Archives: Sunday Feature

2014 Plans

In case you’re confused, the number in the title signifies the year, not the number of my projects. Just thought I’d make that one clear. Phew. Now, let’s get on with the show!

You know I’ve edited a lot last year, and as a consequence I only managed two new books, Eternal Immortality (co-written with Kristie Haigwood) and Blood is Power, the second in the Hunter trilogy. Even so, my collection doesn’t look too bad:

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Despite the fact that my ‘booked’ editing projects now stretch to the end of May, I didn’t think my book banner was anywhere near cluttered enough. I have so many stories that need to get out, and not a lot of spare time in which to write them, so for this year I’ve changed the way I work. I’m going to try something new: novellas. And I’m going to try it repeatedly. I am also going to write a non-fic book. Yes, you read it right. Non-fiction. Taboo and scorned by some, but trust me, this one I have thought through properly, and I am writing it not because I need to write it (the way I can’t wait to let out some of my inner fictional worlds), but because so many other people need to READ it. It’s a book for others, not a book for me.

Because I’m not just a writer. The question flooding my mind in many guises is this:

how I feel as a writer

So what does my future writing schedule look like for 2014?

A bit like this:

Not Juliet single14 February: NOT JULIET – A Modern-Day Romance (novella)

9 May: THE PROBLEM WITH WRITING – non-fiction, and still in the planning stages

Summer: ETERNAL ILLUSION (working title) – the third book in the Eternal Series (paranormal romance) – with Kristie Haigwood

September: BLOOD IS FINAL (working title) – the final book in the Hunter Thriller Series (and look forward to a big surprise)to catch single

December, Pre-Christmas: TO CATCH A GUY – A Christmas Romance (novella)

December, Pre-Christmas: ABOUT THREE AUTHORS – Contemporary Romance – with Patti Roberts

December, Post-Christmas: Compendium of Written Works (working title), showcasing my writing, permanently FREE. Is there an ulterior motive behind this last book in the year? You’d better believe it. I’m angling for a new-age agent or publisher, someone who can help raise awareness of my work – more like an agent in the entertainment industry, this person is expected to find the best way to employ my writing and editing abilities. Spongers need not apply. Open warning: I can see through BS-coated disguises with my eyes shut, guys! Do not test me!

Before you ask, (Laura), I haven’t forgotten Tequila. What I plan to do is re-release the whole of the Hunter Series early 2015, and at the same time release DEAL WITH IT! – Tequila’s Story. I plan to cycle offers on the four books in this series – one per month – through the year.

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8 Comments

Posted by on January 5, 2014 in News, Sunday Feature

 

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Tree Lights and Happy Thoughts

Only a quick post today, as I promised to show you my wreaths. I couldn’t help snapping a few shots of the tree, too. I’m sure you’ll forgive the over-exuberance of color. What can I say? I love Christmas!

Editing-wise, you’ll be pleased to know two more books will hit the shelves in time for Christmas, and I’ve got two more to get out there next week. Wish me luck and speedy fingers.

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My home is so cheerful, it makes me happy to the very core of my soul, and that’s important, because when I’m happy I can move mountains!

Do you feel the same?

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2013 in News, Sunday Feature

 

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Waiting for the Tree and Being Creative

santa 1I can’t wait. I’m one of those people who can’t keep the grin off their faces come Christmas time. I’ve celebrated Christmas all over the globe, and I have fond memories of all of them, indiscriminately.

There were the times when I used to decorate the tree under the watchful eye and witty direction of my grandfather. He always bought candies wrapped in shiny foil, and I loved swamping the poor tree in them. Somehow, they tasted better when ripped off the branches.

Then there’s the time when the man who was to become my husband and I got stuck in a train, in a snowstorm in southern Romania, with just a sandwich each and a bottle of Fanta to share between us. What a magical day that was! The local station master rounded up some kids from the village nearby and brought them along to sing Christmas carols underneath our windows. I was moved to tears. Almost sorry they dug us out of the snowdrift and got the train moving again.

carolers1And then in Bishkek (ex Frunze), Kyrgyzstan, when I spent two days searching for Christmas trees, to my driver’s increasing annoyance. Kyrgyz people are Muslim, and the few Christian Russians celebrate Christmas on the 7th of January, so I was way too early, looking for a tree mid-December. And then, at a traffic junction, just as we decided to call it a day and go home, I spotted a huge truck full of trees crossing right to left, right in front of me. Tolik caught my eye and drove like a bat out of hell, cutting across three lanes of traffic and breaking about a dozen traffic rules, hot on the trail of the runaway Christmas tree truck. He honked and flashed lights and shouted out the open window until the truck’s bewildered driver pulled over. Then my awesome, dedicated driver jumped up in the truck, on top of the hundreds of trees, and proceeded to pull them out and stand them up to show them to me, one at a time. I chose quickly… within the first fifty, anyway.

And there’s the time when the wallpaper fell right off the walls in the baby’s nursery, pulling large lumps of plaster and wall off with it. And the Kiev one, when I was holding onto my husband’s waistband as he leaned out of the seventh story window to clear the snow off the satellite dish with a long-handled broom, so the kids could watch the Cartoon Network. And the time when my kids were ill Christmas Eve and were not even aware of the pile of presents under the tree, hidden by just one fluffy blanket, as the poor darlings were being fed medicine and cough syrup in the living room… And the time when we had to take the seats out of the car to fit all the presents in… And the time when we only had hugs and promises we gave each other… And so many others in between.

I loved each and every one of them.

And this one, the first one in Ireland, is going to be special, too. I can feel it in my bones.

We won’t be able to go looking for a tree until Wednesday, but I couldn’t do just nothing, so here’s how some of yesterday and today was spent.

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And this is what my living room looks like today. Lovely.

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The wreaths are only half done, so you can see those next week. 🙂

 
10 Comments

Posted by on December 8, 2013 in News, Sunday Feature

 

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Feeling Free on the First!

Hello, my dear friends. First of December – where has this year gone? It seemed more like a couple of hundred seconds than a couple of hundred days…

I’ve experienced so many ups and downs and so many changes. But none as significant as the last three months. The move to rural Ireland has not been the smoothest – and I moved quite a bit in my life (since I met my husband we’ve lived – not visited, but lived and worked – in eight countries so far) – and I can honestly say Ireland is the most magical place I’ve seen. Maybe it’s the leprechauns. Maybe it’s the numerous rainbows, or the gorgeous sunsets. Maybe it’s just me, or the people here – always happy to chat, and never in a hurry.

Look what I see out of my picture window. How could you not LOVE that?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALife is good, even when the world conspires against me. All I have to do is look out the window, or take a walk across the fields, and I’m okay with it all.

Talking about the fields… I always expected my fitness would improve once I start working, as in proper working, the land. So… it may be only bramble clearing for now, but it is hard word, and I feel it. Come spring, I’ll hardly spend a couple of hours indoors anymore.

An unexpected benefit of having so much space is that my creativity knows no bounds. It’s free. I’m free. And it’s the best feeling in the world.

Here are a few snapshots of my field:

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Grass weave – ok, I know I won’t win many prizes here – around my newly planted living willow hedge – all done by me

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Excess logs for the fire, which don’t fit under cover – all dead wood from around the field plus old fencing – courtesy of my husband, who isn’t letting me touch the saw

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It’s the first of December, but this snapdragon doesn’t know it.

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And finally, while clearing brambles for a secluded spot for a poly tunnel, I discovered a colony of wrens living in the far wall separating my field from the neighbours’. They told me off for disturbing the peace, but they happily accepted the food offering.

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I imagined this yogurt pot would do them for a few days. They almost emptied it in less than 24 hours.

For all of the above, I’m grateful every day! I feel blessed and lucky. Happy Thanksgiving!

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2013 in News, Sunday Feature

 

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NaNo Bites the Dust and Other Seasonal Thoughts

I’ve come to the conclusion November is the wrong month for NaNoWriMo. I mean, I don’t know about others, but I’m not so perfectly organized that I lose all Seasonal Anxiety long before Christmas. In fact, the opposite is true.

santaFar back in the days when office work was my life and my family was an unimportant detail – sorry guys, you know it’s true, but you still love me – I used to be ready for Christmas by the end of August. I used to know what my kids wanted with some degree of certainty, and when I didn’t, I could just sit by their sides when they wrote the letters to Santa and… um… influence point out advantages of toys I’d already bought, wrapped, and stashed in a friend’s attic for last minute collection. Santa always agreed with me.

I’m not proud of how I acted but, in my defense, I was young, confused, and had been raised to believe a good career was the topmost priority for the modern woman.

No wonder I was feeling so displaced!

Anyway, to cut a long story short, the days when I was chasing career advancement at (almost) any cost are long gone, and so is the nice income and security for what tomorrow would bring. You see, once I got a couple of my clients to communicate to my management how impressed they were by my quality of service, I knew I wouldn’t lose my job, unless I quit.

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Me, in my corporate days. Picture the hamster in a pin-stripe suit.

And quit I did, one day, when I realized I knew more about my work colleagues than my own husband and kids, and that team-building events were being organized outside work hours. It dawned on me I had become a willing slave.

So I changed the status quo. I began working for myself and taking in what my kids were saying (my husband will confirm I continued to ignore him, so he didn’t get a much better deal). I had far less disposable income, but I had time with my family. I had contact with the people who mattered to me. And we were happy.

The recession hit and I still considered myself lucky, because I was in control of my own life, and I was living it right, though in an unconventional way, if you judged it by society rules. I was there to teach my children how to cope with the day-to-day living, how to budget, how to save, how to cut back, and how to care.

In time, we sold the business on and I welcomed the chance to do something with all my unfinished writing. I found a publisher and kept writing. I volunteered at the local theater, built props, made costumes, even wrote a play. I found time for myself and began learning to play the piano – another childhood wish I’d never found time for.

grabbing handStill, the costs of living rose and rose, and there seemed no end to this hike. We learned to live on little. And then I found self-employment carried severe risks. No, not in the way you’d think. I’ve never NOT had work. The opposite: I’ve not had more than a few days off since the beginning – less holiday than I was getting in the damned office. I had all the work I could do, and still it wasn’t enough. One minute, we had enough to live on, the next some other tax appeared that would draw our bottom line closer to absolute minimum. The Christmas presents became scarce, and I remember one year when all we had were ‘promises’ we made each other. We still have each other, and that’s a win!

The hit that flattened me came just this week. At the time i thought I still stood a chance to finish my NaNo project this month, and have it out by Christmas. Now, I’m sure I won’t. I just can’t get into it right now, because inside I am in shock. I’m sure in time all this will get sorted, and everything will return to some sort of normal, but that rational thought only occurs when the shivers stop. Illogically, I still hope bad things only come in threes.

A working family tax credit failed to materialize into our account. No matter, we said, we’ll talk to the right people, write to them. Response time: fifteen days. Ok. We need to be careful with what we spend for fifteen days. We can do that. If necessary, we can draw some funds from the business paypal account.

On Friday, Paypal sent me a notification saying I exceeded some EU-imposed threshold and therefore I couldn’t withdraw money from my account until I provided some paperwork. Paperwork which doesn’t exist in the UK, I might add. Any attempts to provide enough information to satisfy the bureaucrats in Brussels have so far proved to be unsuccessful. (As an aside, I had already spent five weeks fighting – and ultimately winning – this same battle earlier in the year. What changed? Who knows? The ways of the bureaucrat are intricate ones.)

So now we only had my husband’s pension to live on. Not ideal, but do-able, just, for a limited time. Only on Saturday morning we noticed his state pension didn’t get paid into our account. Blankness was the only thing in my mind at that particular moment. Complete blankness. Perhaps a glitch. Perhaps a trainee employee pressed the wrong button. Perhaps the planets have lined up wrong. Perhaps this year was just set to test us. I can honestly say it was my lumpiest, so far. But I didn’t let it get me down. I got up, dusted myself off and went on with life, hopeful things would get better. Now… Now I’m not sure I even want to get up anymore. Inside, I know I will. I always do. I’m built on some sort of bounce-back DNA not yet cataloged.

Whatever it was that caused this would be fixed, given enough time and finding the right people.

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But what happens in the meantime? Whichever way I look at it, the glass is empty.

And since I’ve had a lot of ponder-time lately, my mind keeps coming up with questions. How can it be possible, in this day and age, to leave a family of four people with two dependent children with no income? Let me repeat that: no income. None. How is it acceptable to give no notice when doing something like limiting an account? I guess there is a good reason for setting your European branch in Luxembourg, Paypal. What gives you the right to sit on my money, Paypal? And dear UK Government, how comes you find it fit to stop a pensioner’s only income – the one he worked for all his life – without notice, or at all, in fact? It’s his money, not yours.

Why does the choice to live your life with and for your family feel like a mistake?

My only hope is that tomorrow, when the ‘offices’ open for business, we find a real person to talk to, someone with a brain and who is capable of rational thought. And that it won’t cost us more than the credit we have on our phone. Otherwise, when the cupboards are bare and the last penny of our savings has fizzled out… Well, this could be a Christmas to remember!

~ Despite the rant above, it will be business as usual in my office. I have some editing to do and some authors to support. And I have a family to love, who loves me back. ~

broken baubleElla’s letter to Santa

Dear Santa, I could do with a real miracle right about now…

 
12 Comments

Posted by on November 24, 2013 in News, Sunday Feature

 

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NaNo – Week 1, and a sample

nano4If you know me, you know I like to keep busy. In fact, I somehow manage to take on far more work than I can cope with in a normal working day. Cue late nights and fourteen-hour work-days.

So my own writing lags behind, because I only write when I have little or no editing work to do. How I managed to have my name on five books and three anthologies, goodness knows!

To counteract the negative effects my work life has on my writing, I’ve done the unthinkable: I’ve joined NaNoWriMo for the first time ever. Has it gone smoothly? Um… can I NOT answer that?

Let’s just say that we’re a third of the way through and I haven’t written a third of the words yet. On the plus side, I’ve had an amazing couple of days yesterday and today, and – though this is only first draft – I’m comfortable enough with what I’ve written so far to let you have a peek.

badgeAre you ready?

The genre is comedy romance (yes, another new genre – I like making life easy for myself).
The title is To Catch A Guy.
The subtitle – A Careful Girl’s Guide To Getting A Hot Christmas Date.
(Laura, Sherry, this is for you two! Share nicely.)

TO CATCH A GUY

– A Careful Girl’s Guide to Getting A Hot Christmas Date –

© Ella Medler 2013

 

CHAPTER 1

Toni curled up tighter in the back corner sofa, squeezed her eyes shut and turned the volume on her iPod to maximum. Nothing changed; the drum beats were just as loud.

She didn’t want to be here. She so didn’t want to be here. Damn Kimberly to the darkest pits of Hell for dragging her over to such a sordid, vile gathering. In fact, she could think of something even better than cursing Kimberly: leaving.

Toni shot to her feet before her brain had the chance to catch up with her intentions and lift her eyelids fully. The top of her head connected with something soft, yet unyielding and inertia yanked her ungracefully back to the sofa.

A girl with an unnaturally large chest bent over, insinuating far too much of her barely covered body into Toni’s personal space. She bobbed in time with the music, her assets threatening to spill out of her tight top and cause Toni her second headache of the evening. Then she turned and dropped on the sofa so close to Toni, the cushions heaved, the groundswell causing her to grab onto the nearest thing – the girl’s sweaty naked leg.

Gross! Toni took her hands back as fast as she could, rubbed them on her jeans and stuck them safely between her thighs. The girl put her arm around Toni’s shoulder to get her attention. It worked; Toni turned, petrified, and watched plump lips painted sparkly red articulate words, but she couldn’t make sense of what had been said. Could head-butting boobs give you hearing failure?

Hands with talons the same shade as the lipstick approached her head, either side. Just as she was getting ready to scream, Toni felt the earplugs pop out of her ears and a moment later the gravelly smoker’s voice got through.

“You need something?”

Oh, appearances really could be deceiving. This girl was actually being helpful. Grateful, Toni smiled at the stranger. “Have you seen Kimberly? My friend? She owns the blue Toyota out back. I just want to go home.”

The red lips stretched into a non-descript smile. “Over there, third door on the left.”

Toni followed the general direction indicated by the perfectly manicured red talon, bumping into fewer people than she’d feared on her way out of the room. The crazy boogie of disco lights was more subdued in the hallway, and that helped her get her bearings. Third door. Left or right? Damn! She’d let herself be so intimidated by the stranger in bright lipstick that she’d forgotten to pay attention.

“Left. She said left,” Toni mumbled to herself. Yeah, that sounded right.

She jiggled the handle, but the door didn’t open. Toni frowned, turned her back to the door and leaned against it. Her eyes roamed over the wall opposite. Two doors, and then a corridor. So it couldn’t be right. Left. She must have got it right. The girl had said left.

Just as she arrived at that conclusion, her perch disappeared and she tumbled into the darkness beyond. The thin sliver of light from the hallway fizzled into strands of grey as the door shut again, and Toni felt around blindly, trying to determine which way was up. A pair of strong hands clasped her around the waist and lifted her off the floor.

“Kimberly?” she asked.

“Shh,” several voices, none of which she recognised, came from different directions.

The hands that had picked her up placed her on a lap. Toni’s head snapped up in alarm, but her plan to get away from the hands, the darkness, the party, vanished when her eyes alighted on Kimberly. The other side of a one-way mirror. In a bed. In a bed which had three other people in it, naked.

Toni’s scream reverberated throughout the house, drowning the insistent drum beats for a whole minute.

“Hey, shut up, will you? I’m missing the show.”

“Let me out!”

“Hey, who’s that chick?” came another voice.

“Let me out this very instant, you hear me?”

“Or what?” the owner of the lap asked, laughter in his voice.

“Or I’ll continue to scream and spoil your fun.” She let out another blood-curdling scream to reinforce her threat.

“Oh, for God’s sake! Chuck her out.”

More than one pair of hands shoved her towards the exit, and for once Toni didn’t offer any resistance.

*

By the time Kimberly made it to the car, Toni had given in to her most primal instincts to preserve her sanity. She was curled up on the brick-weave driveway, hugging her knees to her chest and rocking back and forth against the front wheel of the Toyota.

“Ah, there you are. Someone said you left the party. You might have told me.”

“I might have… what?  Told you? Kimberly, I screamed. But something tells me a whole artillery battalion could have let rip and you wouldn’t have noticed.”

Kimberly averted her eyes. “No need to take that tone with me. I was busy.”

“You and a few others,” Toni said, her voice icy.

Kimberly got into the driver’s seat and pushed the passenger door open from the inside.

“Did you know what sort of party you were bringing me to from the beginning?” Toni demanded.

“Are you getting in? I thought you couldn’t wait to leave.”

Toni climbed in and slammed the door shut. “Did you? Answer me, Kimberly Garcia, or I swear I’ll never talk to you ever again. Did you know?”

Kimberly sighed and started the engine. “Why does it even matter?”

“Kim!”

“All right, all right. Yes. Yes, I knew, and yes, I wanted to have some fun. What’s wrong with that? It’s not like I signed up to be a nun.”

You wanted to have some fun. To hell with Toni, then! You know I don’t like crowds. I don’t like parties. It’s uncomfortable and awkward. And loud. My ears are still ringing.”

“You finished moaning yet?”

Toni opened her mouth to retort, but nothing appropriate came to mind. She closed it again and turned away from Kimberly, determined to do nothing more than stare blankly out of the window all the way home.

Her expectation that Kimberly would eventually fill the silence with mind-numbing chatter was wrong. The whole way home, her friend didn’t utter a single word.

Kimberly fought the urge to talk until they’d closed the front door to their shared flat, but that was all she could take.

“How much did you see?” she blurted out.

Toni fixed her gaze on a spot over Kimberly’s shoulder and frowned at it. “Just enough to know you were one of the four.”

“It bothers you?”

Toni’s temper finally flared. “What exactly are you referring to, Kim? The fact that you had sex with three complete strangers, or the room full of people in front of whom you performed?”

Kimberly let out a dramatic sigh. “It’s not as bad as you make it sound.”

“Really?”

“I had fun.”

“Did you know those guys?”

“Of course I knew them.”

“What were their names?”

“Huh?”

“You said you knew them. What were their names, Kimberly?”

“Er… Jim… Tim… and…”

“Him.”

“Yeah, Him. No! Not Him! Um…”

“Oh, give it up, Kim. You’re a pathetic liar.”

Silence snuck between them and chilled the atmosphere. As usual, Kimberly was the first to crack.

“I’m sorry. I won’t do it again, Toni, I promise.”

“I’m sure you won’t. I’m never going anywhere with you again.”

“Oh, come on. That’s a bit harsh, don’t you think? We’re best buddies.”

“Were.”

“No! Not were. Are. You’re my best friend. Don’t do that to me! Please let me make it up to you.” Kimberly shuffled closer to Toni and put her arm around her shoulders. “Name anything and I’ll make it happen. Anything. Auntie Kimmy will take out her magic wand and grant you three wishes tonight.”

Her smile was infectious and Toni couldn’t help but smile back, though she kept her eyes averted, to tease her friend.

“Only three?” Toni asked.

“Four. Ten, if you like. A hundred!”

Toni shook her head, smiling. “I appreciate the sentiment, Kim, but I don’t know what I want, and besides… you’re no fairy.”

“Are you saying I’m ugly? ‘Coz I take offence at that!” Toni giggled. “And how come you don’t know what you want at your age? You’re no spring chicken anymore, hun. Let’s sit down a minute and talk this through. There’s more to that crease on your forehead than you’re letting on. I can tell. It’s the gypsy blood in me.”

Toni sat next to Kimberly, her smile gone, frown back in place.

Kimberly took an imaginary pen from behind her right ear, dipped the tip of it on her tongue and poised it over the imaginary notepad in her left hand. “Wish number one. I’m all ears.”

Toni’s lips turned up at the corners, but dropped back right away. “Well… I guess I need a change of scenery. I’ve done nothing but work since the day I graduated and all I’ve got to show for it is this flat.”

“Which you so graciously let me share. I am eternally grateful, by the way.”

“I need you here, to keep me sane. Plus, you’re like my personal chauffeur.”

“You’ll have to learn to drive one day.”

“And you to pick up your clothes.”

“Anyway…” Kimberly cleared her throat. “Back to our fairy business. Change of scenery. Noted. Wish two.”

“I’d love to find a job that actually interests me. Something to utilise my skills, something I couldn’t wait to wake up to each day.”

“I thought you wanted to study law.”

“My parents want me to study law. I quite like web design, as you well know. But apparently that’s not a proper job, not by their standards. I’d work from home, for a start. To my parents, work is something you do in an office; the more prestigious, the better.”

“Ok. New job. Got it. Wish three?”

Toni’s frown intensified.

“Oh, I see. No need to tell me. I know this one,” Kimberly said.

“What do you mean?”

“It’s written all over that pretty face of yours. You need a man.”

“I don’t need a man.”

“You do. Stop contradicting your fairy. She knows best.”

“Like she knew what party to take me to?”

“Oh, for God’s sake, will you stop bringing that up? It was a mistake. I said I’m sorry. I’ll make it up to you, you’ll see.”

“That’s what worries me.”

“What are you afraid of, Toni? Love? It’s the most beautiful feeling in the world. What’s the worst that can happen?”

“With you for a fairy?” Toni joked.

“Hey!” Kimberly grabbed a cushion and threw it playfully at Toni. Toni retaliated, and soon the fairy, the list of wishes and the failed party were forgotten in a flurry of flying cushions.

CHAPTER 2

Jackson Carter poked his head into his little brother’s room.

“He’s asleep,” his mother’s voice came from behind him.

He closed the door gently and turned to give her a hug. “How has he been today?”

“Better than yesterday. He’ll pull through; he always does.” She smiled, but he could see the worry clouding the sparkle in her eyes. “Come down, son. I saved you some steak.”

Jackson kept up a barrage of questions throughout dinner, trying to determine whether the stress of his brother’s illness was too much for their mother to bear, but she seemed to have everything under control.

For such a small woman, she’d coped well. She always did. Even when, pregnant with her second son, she’d had to keep the family business going following her husband’s accident. James Carter had pulled through, but fallen ill shortly after – a hospital-acquired infection had eaten him from the inside out and, like any devoted father, he’d neglected his own health when it became clear his baby required specialist medical care. All efforts had gone into looking after Luke.

While James had invested every ounce of energy into wringing every dollar out of the business, to pay for it all, it was Barbara who’d sorted out hospital visits and medical bills, and trips to specialists and experts all over the country. And when James had finally died, it fell down to her to plug the temporary gap in the sawmill’s management, which she did on top of everything else, aware that the family business was her only chance to keep her son alive.

Jackson had stepped up to the task soon after. He had a good head on his shoulders, which enabled him to find new avenues for the business’ expansion, despite being barely old enough. Years passed, Luke wasn’t getting any better, and the bills weren’t shrinking any, either.

“I spoke to Mandy,” Barbara said, watching him wipe barbecue sauce off his plate with a chunk of bread. “You know Mandy… Susan Hugh’s nurse, the one with contacts at the UPMC…” Jackson nodded, encouraging her to continue with an eager look. “She said there’s a team of specialists expected to visit next month, so I was wondering whether we should make another approach… I know it’s expensive…”

“Mom, of course we should. Call Mandy and tell her to go ahead and ask if they can help Luke.”

“Pittsburgh is not exactly close… The airfares alone –”

“Mom! Don’t even think about it. Go ahead and book them, and send me the bill.”

“Are you sure?”

Her eyes were full of worry and guilt. Jackson knew she blamed herself for having a child so late in life, for not being more careful, for everything bad that had ever happened to them. He stretched his arm and stroked her cheek with his hand. She leaned into his palm and covered his hand with hers.

“Of course, Mom. Anything. The business can take it. Book the trip, and stop worrying. There is hope. Maybe this time…” He left the words unspoken. Hope was a beautiful thing, he thought, as he watched a weak smile stretch her lips. He smiled back, putting as much warmth and reassurance in his gaze as he was capable of.

It took an hour longer than he’d planned, and he’d had to promise he’d be there before bed-time the next day so he could do the voices in his brother’s favourite story book, but finally Jackson closed and locked the hotel door behind him. He set up the laptop and high definition camera, checked there were no incriminating details in shot, then logged in.

Two messages blipped as soon as the screen lit up. Damn, the boss had checked up on him, and he’d been late starting. Again.

Jackson tore his shirt off and clicked on the first awaiting connection. A woman. He made sure the camera view showed as much as possible of his torso, then talked to her – verbal caresses and pretend love-whispers – making sure he showed his pecs and six pack in the best light possible. Judging by the sounds she made, she was enjoying the display.

Two more women followed, and a man. The display had been quiet for twenty minutes when he decided that was going to be it for the night. He was about to switch the laptop off when he saw another message.

“We need to talk,” it said simply.

“Crap.” That did not look like a promotion. Full of foreboding, Jackson picked up his phone and dialled the second number on his speed-dial.

*

He lay in bed, watching the sunrise through the threadbare hotel curtains. The conversation hadn’t been long, but it would possibly rank as one of the most uncomfortable he’d ever had. It rankled. Hell, he was a man. What man liked being told he just wasn’t good enough? It was hardly rocket science – talking sweet nothings while showing off a well-toned body. Still, he’d been told he was on his last chance. His latest assessment by an anonymous critic had been biting: wooden and out-of-touch.

He had twelve hours to decide whether he wanted to retrain or quit.

Shit, he needed this job, especially now, with the takeover looming over him like a black storm cloud. The extra money would come in handy.

Nothing to do, but confront his dilemma head-on. If he allowed his pride to get the better of him and quit, he’d soon pay the price. Evening jobs were few and far between, and none paid better than this one while requiring so little personal involvement. If he re-trained… he could keep doing what he was doing now, and do it better. It was a no-brainer. The only worry was leaving his mother to cope alone for a week while he flew half-way across the world.

Jackson stared at the growing daylight, wondering whether all this struggle was going to be worth it, in the end. Then his brother’s face floated to the forefront of his mind, and he made up his mind in a second. If the kid could struggle on with a smile on his face through all he’d had to cope with, then it certainly was worth it.

He kicked himself for having doubts at all. Only a coward could ever consider the easy option: backing out. This was a job like any other. All he had to do was go back to school for a week. A week. That was all. How hard could that be?

~

~ Now the first major turning point in the novel is in sight, I feel much more relaxed about it. I’m enjoying writing, and I’ve got a smile on my face ~

Nano feels

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2013 in News, Sunday Feature

 

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Tales from the Roaring Water Bay #2.5

FIRST FIRE OF THE SEASON

FIRST FIRE OF THE SEASON

Time for a quick update (the proper tale is still in the draft stages). Busy is a disease, they say, and I guess I’ve caught it. I’m getting better now, and as soon as I finish another edit (tomorrow, with a bit of luck and a following wind) and one more later in the week, I’ll finally be able to start up my NaNoWriMo project properly. Yes, I’m doing NaNo for the first time. Why? Maybe because I’m crazy. But you knew that already.

~

I’ll use this coming week to catch up on all the un-posted reviews, and then it’s write-write-write all the way to the end of the month. I was planning to edit and publish this new book in December, but I’ve taken on a(nother) new author whose work I like, and he’s on a tight deadline. I guess my book can wait.

~

SUNRISE

SUNSET

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Ok, let me give you your Roaring Water Bay picture, taken just before the worst storms for thirty years hit. Amazingly, I haven’t lost my internet connection, or power supply – which is way better than I would have had in the UK, so YAY! for Ireland and DigitalForge, the internet supplier. Thank you, guys. You rock!

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MY PIER - TINY BUT PERFECTLY FORMED -  COMPLETE WITH JETTY AND RUSTY GATE

MY PIER – TINY BUT PERFECTLY FORMED – COMPLETE WITH JETTY AND RUSTY GATE

 
14 Comments

Posted by on November 3, 2013 in News, Sunday Feature

 

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