Historical Saturday: Review: “The Winchester Goose” by Judith Arnopp

Arnopp 3I’ve been a big fan of Judith’s writing for some time and regret that I so rarely get the time to read. She has a large body of work and I yet have to find one novel that didn’t blow me away.
The Winchester Goose is no different. I was fortunate enough to catch a sunny break in the garden and indulge in this historical treat.
The book is an excellent story told in an intriguing and compelling way: Different narrative strands introduce us to the characters of this novel, all acting in the London of Henry VIII, observing the wider political developments and the gossip at Court while going through their own life-changing adventures.
Winchester Goose is a term coined for prostitutes and one of the narratives focuses on this young woman, having to make a living to feed her younger siblings. The author does a splendid job at making the Goose in this novel very human, likeable and familiar. The writing style always draws you into the characters immediately, long before you even understand fully who is talking and about whom. Arnopp is brilliant at that, even when it comes to the lady in waiting and the young boy who runs away from his abusive father. All of them are lend voices that make you feel immediately for them. Yet, we’re not served victims but multi-dimensional characters.

This novel provides a truly fresh perspective on Henry VIII and tells a human story of love and survival for the less privileged in Tudor London. Judith really knows how to balance the historical detail with advancing the plot. Never dull, always in excellent pace and dramatic tension this is difficult to put down.

Here is an interview with Judith from last year:Judith Arnop

Today I have the special pleasure of introducing Judith Arnopp to you, who dressed up especially for the occasion. She will also be participating at the Llandeilo Book Fair in April, which I might have mentioned previously…
Welcome to Welsh Wednesdays and thank you for participating.

Thank you for having me Christoph, I read your interviews regularly. You are doing writers a great service.

Thank you. I’m glad there are enough talented writers in Wales to fill the spaces. So first up, please tell us about your connection to Wales.

Contrary to what many people believe I am not native but I have been living here, in Ceredigion, for twenty years and am firmly rooted. As a child I came to Wales for holidays and it was then I decided it was the place I wanted to live one day. When the children were small my husband and I decided the time was right, and we sold up and bought a smallholding just outside Lampeter. Our new life was never easy but so much better than it had been living north of London. We had fresh air, plenty of space, and best of all, no manic crowds. The first fifteen years were spent raising the children, looking after our goats, ponies and poultry and growing our own veg. I love Wales, my children are fluent Welsh speakers. I tried and failed to learn but do have a smattering and can understand far more than I can speak. Much to my family in England’s disgust I give vigorous support to the Welsh rugby team.

When my youngest was ten and I had more spare time on my hands I enrolled as a mature student at Lampeter university where I studied English and Creative writing. After graduation I stayed on to do a Masters in Medieval History.

Tell us a little about yourself as writer and as person.

I have always been interested in history. A class project in the (drops her voice to a whisper) 1970s was about the way history has maligned Richard the Third; so I was on to that topic well  before they dug him up and the hysteria began.

When I was little I wrote stories and read them to my dolls; as a teenager I poured my angst onto paper, and when I was a young mother I wrote stories with my children as protagonists. So I think I was born to write, I’ve done it my whole life and there is nothing else I would consider doing; it is an instinct and if I haven’t written for a week or so I become very grumpy.

After I graduated writing historical fiction seemed the natural choice. I don’t think it was a decision but more of a progression. I began my first (and never to be published) novel at university. When I finished it I was astounded that I had actually done it. At the time I didn’t realise the hard work was only just beginning. I am on my ninth historical novel now and, although I doubt I will ever be a household name, I am doing very nicely, with a steadily growing fan base. Arnopp

When I write it isn’t a matter of dates or records. I am interested in perspective, how it felt to be in a certain situation. There are many books about Anne Boleyn but when I wrote The Kiss of the Concubine I climbed inside Anne’s head and wrote from her perspective, exploring possible reasons behind some of her actions.

A Song of Sixpence is the story of Elizabeth of York and a fictional representation of Perkin Warbeck. Again, my fascination with perspective comes to the fore when I explore the political situation from the point of view of two very different people; the queen, and her brother and rival claimant to her husband’s throne. Imagining Elizabeth’s possible dilemma, forced to choose between her brother and son was fascinating. Of course, just because I wrote the story doesn’t mean I believe Perkin Warbeck was indeed Richard of York, I am simply exploring the possibility.

I am very careful to be as accurate as possible and look at things from all angles. My readers seem to like that aspect of my work – I don’t just recount events but try to explain why they happened. finalsong of sixpence cover

What is your life like outside of writing? What makes you laugh, what makes you cry?

I am not the type to weep at movies or sad books but current politics makes me cry, the present government (and the one before that). There is so much ate around just now, and it doesn’t have to be like this. I despair at the state of the environment, our failure to see what we are doing and the bleak future we are committing our children to. All those things make me very sad.

My ten-month-old grandson makes me laugh. I never thought I’d be a doting grandmother but he is the cutest, cuddliest human being on the planet. I spend as much time as I can with him and hope that as he grows older, that time will increase.

I am at my happiest when I am in casual clothes, out walking the cliff path or the beach, paddling and checking the tide line for treasures or lying in the grass looking at the sky. I do my best thinking then, and take the opportunity to absorb aspects of the world that haven’t altered since the setting of my books; the hue of the sky, the feel of the wind on my face, the salty tang of the sea.

I fill the long dark winter evenings with crafts, like needlework and crochet. I make Anne Boleyn style French hoods, and enjoy making small black-worked items, such as medieval coifs and partlets.

Which Welsh person would you like to invite for dinner and what would you serve?

Can I have the entire Welsh rugby team? Is that allowed? J

I think it should be allowed… can we go halves, though?
What is the best thing about Wales, beyond the Rugby talent?

Aside from the diverse landscape, the people, and the deep, dark history, it is the feel of the place. If we’ve been away for any reason, the moment we cross the Severn Bridge and see the familiar soft contours of the hills, I relax. I am home. I guess that is it in a nutshell: Hiraeth – the feeling of home. fullres the beaufort bridecoverfinal

What are you working on now? 

I have just finished The Beaufort Bride, book one of a Trilogy called The Beaufort Chronicles. It follows the life of Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry VII. She was married at an extraordinarily young age to Edmund Tudor, the Earl of Pembroke, and spent the first years of her marriage in Wales.

The Beaufort Bride takes place at fabulous Welsh locations like Caldicot Castle, Lamphey Palace, Carmarthen and of course, Pembroke where Henry was born. I always make sure I visit the locations prior to writing so I can get a feel of the place and perhaps a glimpse of how my characters might have lived there.

What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?

I love to lose myself in the past, take on a different personality and travel back in time, visit dangerous times and have perilous adventures from the comfort of my chair. During the day when my husband is at work, I live quite a solitary life so writing prevents me from becoming too lonely. It also provides an excellent excuse for not going outside when the weather is bad. The downside of that is when it is sunny I am often at my desk instead of outside enjoying the good weather.

The downside is the solitary nature of writing; before I lived here I could go for days without setting eyes on anyone but my husband. Now I have moved to the seaside of town of Aberporth people pass my window every day and even if I don’t speak to them, at least I know the outside world is there if I want it.

I love the research, and setting the first draft on paper, letting the story pour from me and being as self-indulgent as I please. I am less enthusiastic about the tidying up and editing process but, although I don’t favour this aspect of writing, I am very thorough. Then it goes off to my editor and comes back ready to edit again!
How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next?

The best way for me is to get on with the next book. Of course, I do some online promotion but I have found that word of mouth is the best marketing and costs nothing. I have a facebook page for my books where I post news and I also have a rather neglected blog.

The English Historical Fiction Authors blog is one that I try to post on regularly; it is such a wonderfully supportive group with a very wide American audience and if I find time to write an article for them I often find my book sales jump a little. Recently we published a couple of anthologies of our articles. You can see it here.

Aside from blogging and posting on my Historical Fiction by Judith Arnopp facebook page I do very little – I am usually too busy writing or researching the next book.

finalsong of sixpence cover

How have you found the experience of self-publishing? What were your highs and lows?

Self-publishing is a steep learning curve. To begin with I made the usual mistakes but slowly I’ve learned to find a way to make it work for me. Readers can be tough on indie authors; we are castigated for things that go unremarked in traditionally published books (typo’s, formatting errors etc.) I haven’t received any really damaging reviews but I know people who have. I no longer read my own reviews but my husband does and usually reads them to me while I cringe with my fingers in my ears. I take the comments on board, decide if they are justified or not and if they are, I jolly well put it right. If the review is good, of course, I smile from ear to ear all day long.

Early on in my career I had an agent and while I was with her everything seemed to be on hold! Every little thing took so long and she wanted to change the way I write and make me what she called, ‘more marketable’, which to my mind translates as ‘more bland.’ I have no wish to be like anyone else so, after much thought, I dispensed with her services. I now write from the heart for the people who matter. My readers appreciate it, plus I get to keep all my earnings for myself (and the tax man).

What is your advice to new writers?

Write. Being an author is about getting words on a page and crafting them into perfection. Don’t waste time on social media, don’t worry about writing like other authors. Find your voice, join a class, polish your skills and write, write, write. If you don’t do that you aren’t a writer but just a wannabe.

Judith Arnopp’s first Tudor novel, The Winchester Goose: at the court of Henry VIII is still her best seller while The Kiss of the Concubine: a story of Anne Boleyn; Intractable Heart: the story of Katheryn Parr, and A Song of Sixpence: the story of Elizabeth or York and Perkin Warbeck also sell well and receive excellent reviews.Judith Arnop

Judith is currently working on a trilogy tracing the life of Margaret Beaufort, the mother of King Henry VII. Book One of The Beaufort Chronicles will be called The Beaufort Bride will be available later on in 2016.

For more information about Judith’s work click on the links below.



Also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Historical-fiction-by-Judith-Arnopp–124828370880823/

And Twitter: @juditharnopp


Smorgasbord Poetry – Water God by Mary Smith

I’ve met Mary twice now at the Blogger’s Bash and, while a big fan of her fiction and her blog “My Dad’s a Goldfish” I was unaware of her poetic side. I’m very impressed!

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

I am delighted to welcome Mary Smith today with her poem Water God from her collection Thousands Pass here Every Day. The poem is dedicated to her son and a reminder of his childhood.

(To David)

Sun-gleam on wet bronze limbs,
seal sleek you slip
into the deepest pool.
From the rocks I watch,
afraid of your fearlessness,
breath held as brown water
closes over you.
Surfacing, you laugh,
a careless toss of your head
scattering miniature rainbows –
my water god of the Otter Pool.

Other children splash,
playing safe
in sun-warmed shallows.
Their mothers silently question
my carelessness of you.
They do not know
how deep the fear,
how powerless
the mother of a deity
who believes he’s indestructible –
my water god of the Otter Pool.

©MarySmith 2017

Two reviews for the collection

This is…

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Re-blogging an author profile from Lucinda’s blog. JN Reynolds looks like an interesting author to me

lucinda E Clarke

My guest this week proves another theory of mine – all great writers have had a myriad of different jobs – it’s all to do with the watching, observing, learning of people, places and things. He’s had a fascinating life. And, a little bird told me that his wife is helping him with his marketing – ah I wish …  isn’t that wonderful?

BJ Reynolds

Hi, I’m J.B. Reynolds and I live in rural Northland, New Zealand, where I raise children and chickens. (In case you’re wondering, chickens are easier—they also make less mess). I write humorous short fiction in which tragedy meets comedy and character reigns supreme. My first short story was published while I was a university student in the mid-nineties. Since my graduation and a return to serious writing in 2016, I’ve worked as a teacher, graphic designer, landscaper, ski and snowboard technician, film critic, librarian, apple picker, and…

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Review: “Iron Pendulum” by Eloise de Sousa

The Iron Pendulum by [De Sousa, Eloise]I’ve met Eloise at the Blogger’s Bash last week and was intrigued as to what kind of books she wrote. I opted for an adult rather than a children’s book, as I was in the mood for a thriller.
I’m glad to report that I picked a rather stunning thriller full of suspense and susprises. The opening scene sets up a great sense of intrigue as we discover along with the detectives a very strange crime scene that leaves the polive guessing. Soon, another crime scene is discovered, similar, but this one even more bizarre and puzzling. You simply can’t help wondering what has happened and will want to know where the story is going. There are two people missing. We learn a little later on where the missing people are, while the detectives are still in the dark about this. It’s hard to describe this thriller further without risking giving anything away.
It’s high octane, fast paced, well plotted and definitely a worthy challenge for those eager to figure a novel out before the debouement. A treat for crime fiction fans.

Eloise De Sousa
For many years Eloise has been writing stories to entertain children and adults alike.
Her new book, The Iron Pendulum, is a fictional thriller with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing to the very end and her romance thriller, Deception, has the passion and drive to transport you back to Zimbabwe, where her book is based.
Not satisfied with just writing adult fiction, she has recently released a new book in the Spoilt Miranda series, this time tackling the terrible trio, Cecil, Bertha and Thomas in her book Cecil The Bully. Lots of slapstick comedy and of course, some serious lessons can be learned through Eloise’s children’s books which deal with everyday bullying in schools.For more information on her work and weekly updates, follow her blog at http://www.eloisedesousa.wordpress.com and at http://www.facebook.com/eloisebookcorner.

A full list of Eloise De Sousa’s books and ebooks can be found at http://www.eloiseds.com.

Welsh Wednesdays: Review of Not Thomas by Sara Gethin #contemporary fiction

Source : Judith Barrow: My Review of Not Thomas by Sara Gethin #contemporary fiction

Judith Barrow’s Review of Not Thomas by Sara Gethin #contemporary fiction

Not Thomas by [Gethin, Sara]

I gave Not Thomas 5* out of 5*

My Review:

Every now and then I read a book that sets all my senses tingling with the brilliance of it.

And this is why I wanted to write my review in a different way than normal.

 I don’t just mean that the characters are so multi-layered and rounded that I can empathise with them. Or that the descriptions give a wonderful sense of place that make the settings easy to envisage.  Or that the plot makes a story that is innovative and original.

I mean a book that holds all these… and more. And this novel does just that

 Not Thomas is narrated through the point of view of the protagonist, Tomas. He’s five years old. And, because of this, the narration and his dialogue are simplistic and poignant; the words jump off the page as those of a five year old child. And it works so well.  

We see his world; his home, his school, the people around him, through his eyes. We learn of his perception of himself, the capabilities of his body; often described in almost a third person, personification kind of way; “my ear is listening “, ” my teeth are hurting my tongue”

 Sara Gethin has an usual talent for seeing through the eyes of a child and I love her style of writing.

 Without giving any spoilers to this superb novel I will say that, despite the simplicity of a lot of the narrative, this is a dark, compelling story with a gripping plot. I could see this as a television drama.

 I thoroughly recommend Not Thomas. I’m not ashamed to say there were moments when I cried reading this story, sometimes in  a sad way but sometimes, as Tomas would say, when “my mouth was laughing”.

Book Description:

“The lady’s here. The lady with the big bag. She’s knocking on the front door. She’s knocking and knocking. I’m not opening the door. I’m not letting her in. I’m behind the black chair. I’m waiting for her to go away.

Tomos lives with his mother. He longs to return to another place, the place he thinks of as home, and the people who lived there, but he’s not allowed to see them again. He is five years old and at school, which he loves. Miss teaches him about all sorts of things, and she listens to him. Sometimes he’s hungry and Miss gives him her extra sandwiches. She gives him a warm coat from Lost Property, too. There are things Tomos cannot talk about – except to Cwtchy – and then, just before Easter, the things come to a head. There are bad men outside who want to come in, and Mammy has said not to answer the door. From behind the big chair, Tomos waits, trying to make himself small and quiet. He doesn’t think it’s Santa Claus this time.

When the men break in, Tomos’s world is turned on its head and nothing will ever be the same again”

Other Reviews: 

“Heart-wrenching, captivating and beautiful… a poignant portrayal of a hostile world depicted through the eyes of a child. Gethin writes with profound depth and compassion in this exceptionally moving and powerful novel.” Caroline Busher, Irish Times best-selling author

“The ability to use sentiment without descending into sentimentality is a rare commodity. But it is something Sara Gethin does effortlessly in Not Thomas. The book is, by turns, compelling, disturbing, enthralling and both physically and emotionally draining. It is, ultimately,an up-lifting tale that is rewarding and an affirmation of the human spirit. Do not expect an easy read, even though she writes fluently with a skill that drives the reader on. Expect to cry, to run the whole gamut of emotions. This is a book that will reward any perceptive reader. It is thoroughly recommended.” Phil Carradice, writer and broadcaster

“This novel should be printed on plastic paper so that the reader’s ample tears don’t blot the paper. Sara Gethin has given us an undeniably memorable character in Tomos, a lovable boy living in the most brutal poverty and abject neglect. It also casts light into the dark shadowlands of child poverty and should act as a reprimand to those who let it continue. Yet Gethin doesn’t forget that the writer’s first job is to hook the reader with a strong story and this one really gets under the skin. A deeply convincing novel that surges with emotion and compassion in equal measure.” Jon Gower, author, producer and former BBC Wales arts & media correspondent 

“Sara Gethin’s use of simple language, clipped sentences, and repetition assist in creating a very believable and natural-sounding child’s voice… The narrative pace is quick, at times breathless, as one would expect from a lively and care-deprived child, and it contributes to a thoroughly engaging page-turner. Sara Gethin, with her impressive range of writing skills, takes us to a tragic place, a bleak corner of messed-up lives and hopelessness, but she also shows us the warm spirit of human light that can break through such darkness.” –Peter Thabit Jones, Poet and dramatist

Wendy White

Sara’s Bio:

Sara Gethin is the pen-name of Wendy White. She grew up in Llanelli and studied Religion and Ethics in Western Thought at St. David’s University, Lampeter. She has worked as a childminder, an assistant in a children’s library and a primary school teacher. She writes for children as Wendy White, and her first book Welsh Cakes and Custard won the Tir nan-Og Award in 2014. She has two grown-up children and, while home is still west Wales, she and her husband spend much of their free time across the water in Dublin. Not Thomas is published by Honno

Review: “Singled Out” by JulieLawford

I’ve had the pleasure to meet Julie at last year’s Bloggers Bash and seeing her again this year reminded me that I still had her book on my kindle. This weekend’s sunshine provided me at last with an opportunity to indulge in this very accomplished novel.
What I’m talking about is a very well-written thriller set during a holiday trip to Turkey, catering to single holiday makers. You might immediately assume that this is chick lit territory, but that would do the character depth and writing style grave injustice. While certainly appealing to female audiences this novel doesn’t limit itself to pure light-hearted romantic interests but visits darker sides of the dating game and crime.
Using alternate narrative strands and voices we get insight into the characters, but we’re shown enough to be drawn deep into these characters.
Things are not as they seem and while you have an incling what is about to happen, be assured that there are always surprises waiting for you.
Not the kind of book I had originally expected but in fact, a much better one. Very good!

About the book

There’s something delicious about not being known, don’t you think?’

Brenda Bouverie has come on a singles holiday to Turkey to escape. Intent on indulgence, she’s looking for sun, sea and … distraction from a past she would give anything to change.

But on this singles holiday no one is quite who they seem. First impressions are unreliable and when the sun goes down, danger lies in wait. As someone targets the unwary group of strangers, one guest is alone in sensing the threat.

But who would get involved, when getting involved only ever leads to trouble?

Singled Out subverts the sunshine holiday romance, taking readers to a darker place where horrific exploits come to light, past mistakes must be accounted for and there are few happily-ever-afters.

A simmering psychological suspense laced with moral ambiguities, for fans of Louise Doughty, Sabine Durrant, Gillian Flynn, Elizabeth Haynes, S.J. Watson and Lucie Whitehouse.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Singled-Out-Julie-Lawford/dp/1505207517

Read more reviews and follow Julie Lawford on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13411991.Julie_Lawford

About Julie Lawford

Always engaged with the written word, Julie Lawford came to fiction late in the day. Following a career in technology marketing she has been freelance since 2002 and has written copy for just about every kind of business collateral you can imagine. By 2010, she was on the hunt for a new writing challenge and Singled Out – her debut psychological suspense novel – is the result.

Julie is based in London in the UK. Whilst penning her second novel, she still writes – and blogs – for marketing clients.

Connect to Julie Lawford at her website and on social media.

Website: https://julielawford.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JulieLawford
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/julie.lawford.1
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/julielawford/

The Offical Video Of The Bloggers Who Attended The Third Annual Bloggers Bash

Hugh's Views & News

Saturday, June 10th 2017 was the date for The Third Annual Bloggers Bash which, like the previous two years, was held in London.

#BloggersBash #London #bloggers #blogs

And, what a day it was. Of course, as a member of the committee, I’m bound to say it was a success and that everyone who attended had great fun, but don’t take my word for it! No, allow me to introduce you to some of those who attended the event and hear what they had to say.

Click here for the links to all the blogs of those who attended and who feature in the video.

As the cameraman and social media guru for the day, I didn’t get a lot of time to talk to everybody, but I hope I managed to capture the spirit of the day in the video. I did manage to take a few photos, but these are nowhere as good as…

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Mystery Mondays Review: “Never to be Ignored” by H A Dawson

517S6Lh5oEL.jpgToday I have a special treat: A book that truly swept me away, and by surprise, too. I’ve read several of H A Dawson’s thrillers in the past and absolutely loved them. But this is definitely my favourite. The psychological tension drips from every page from the word go, long before I even understood what the plot was going to be like. Some writers just have that talent to keep you interested, almost as if they could quote from the phone book and you’d still be paying attention. It’s a gift.
The narrator in this novel, nurse Shona concedes some fascinating thoughts and details about her life, such as the relationship to her late father, whom she lost at the tender age of 5. I’m a big fan of psychology but not always of psychological thrillers.
Dawson brings in a lot of analytical insight into her narrator, through own reflections and through the presence of friends who try to assist her in solving the problems in her life and the riddle of our plot.
When a seemingly random patient tells Shona a completely different version about her father’s passing the intriguing mystery intensifies and we’re moving towards the exact plot.
It’s one of the best signs of a psychological thriller when there isn’t a murder or a death yet the sense of an impending threat or danger is omnipresent.
As we’re trying to disentagle a web of lies and deceipt we have to question almost everyone’s motivation. Who is telling her what and for what reason? Who can she trust and believe? What happened to her father and why was she lied to about this in the first place?
I had anticipated one of Dawson’s wonderful mysteries and was swept away by this breath-taking and truly addictive master piece of a thriller.
Intelligent, well written and with a fair share of surprises this is excellent and highly recommended. One of the best books I’ve read in a while.

From the Amazon blurb:

When your profession compels you to help people should you ever refuse a dying person’s pleas?

A nurse is an unwitting accomplice to a patient’s scheming. The subterfuge and manipulation have regrettable consequences as this mystery of a dead son unfurls into a family catastrophe.

How would you feel trapped in a cage because you threw away the key?

Shona is a conscientious and compassionate nurse, and her character directs the track of this mystery. The desire to care for this terminal cancer patient pushes her into a situation where the suspense squeezes so intensely that you cramped for breath as you feel this gentle lady’s anguish.

Nurses are not prone to brash actions, but Shona’s bound by emotional chains, dragged along by a patient’s desire for restitution and revenge. In wars, there are no winners as everyone must endure the inevitable devastation.

A gripping British suspense with a disturbing moral dilemma and a twist so vicious your mind will scream!
This author takes pride in presenting the reader with a strong theme immersed in dramatic content. Are you a calm person who can handle friends and family members when their behaviour becomes unreasonable? Then you have a stable psychological profile, but would you betray yourself or stick to your principles come what may?

H A Dawson writes “Women’s contemporary thrillers” You will definitely enjoy her diverse works if you have praise for the following bestselling authors. A J Waines, Rachel Abbott, Mark Edwards, Louise Voss, C L Taylor, Sophie Hannah,
Elizabeth Haynes, Angela Marsons, Sharon Bolton and Linwood Barclay.

H A Dawson


Honor is a British writer living in the Fenlands of Eastern England, she spent 20 years in IT as a software developer and systems analyst for one of the U.K’s largest banking groups.
This professional background has provided the understanding, patience and diligence to write full length novels.
Her catalogue of books is approaching 25 books. Six books are to be launched during 2017

Her imagination is spurred by global travel, experiencing/enduring adventures in the “Big Outdoors”
Characters in her books are formulated from the places, people and situations she encountered while trekking into the unknown.

Respected authors include Arthur C Clarke, Greg Bear, Dean Koontz, Robert Sawyer, Jodi Picoult, Sarah Grafton, Diane Chamberlain, Sophie Hannah, Rachel Abbott
Honor’s writing style will entice many of you to investigate her current books
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HonADawson
Wordpress: http://honoradawson.wordpress.com Something about my rural lifestyle
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/honadawson‎
My Website http://www.honadawson.com

Nostalgia about England’s canals isn’t what it’s going to be – Guest Post by Ian Hutson…

One of my many dreams, to spend a month on the canals of this beautiful country

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

There’s probably a few years in the old horse yet, but…

Living full-time on a boat on England’s canals will, sometime relatively soon, go the way of policemen who would tell you the time, the way of doorstep milk deliveries, of corner-shop grocers, of politicians with spine, integrity or statesmanship, of coal mines of our own, a car industry, the NHS, schools that produced young people who can perform basic arithmetic and correctly spell medium-length words, and even of popular music with lyrics and a tune. We have no idea why we got rid of all of those things, we loved them dearly, but they’re gone now forever. My option to live as I have just begun to do is being steadily eroded and a gentle, ever so politically-correct, £££-based, well-regulated, legal but morally questionable disappearance is being arranged and even advertised as being for my own benefit. The…

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Winners of the 2017 Bloggers Bash Writing Competition – SACHA BLACK

Source: Winners of the 2017 Bloggers Bash Writing Competition – SACHA BLACK


This year the Bloggers Bash hosted a writing competition, the theme was connections. We had some fantastic entries, and today I am announcing the winners.


In first place with a chilling, visually stunning entry is Ellen Best click Ellen’s name to see the entry and the rest of her website.


She sat, on a low wall three bricks high. A wall that once was tall now a crumbled remnant beside the main road. She wore wrinkled long socks, one higher than the other they offered no protection against the easterly wind; that bitter December day. Her ditsy floral skirt flicked against the already chaffed skin; leaving pink welts. A grey knitted cardi hung from her shoulders, the sleeves fisted in her hands as she waited. Flat barren fields of East Anglia solid from the morning frost were inviting her gaze; her were eyes glassy, and wide.

I notice her many times as we flashed by on the way to Norwich. Each time we’d go I would see her, with pain in her shape a stillness about her. Once we stopped at the village shop, while I waited I asked her story. The postmistress said, ” She’s about forty a local she is… not been herself since her daughter… some says she were taken and others say different.” Slowly she shook her head as she stamped my letters. “Only six she was, her girl. Where she sits, it’s where she waited that day and every one since, for the school bus to bring her; she never came home”.

One occasion I stopped, pulled the car into the lay-by. I walked over and took a space on the rough wall alongside her; leaving a gap of two bricks between us, a respectful gap I thought. I gazed across the flat land as she did. “Hello, are you… Are you okay”? I felt a tug, a connection; fleeting though it was. She sat unmoved, undaunted by my presence. I felt the cold from her, saw the fogged breath, I could taste her sadness. An overwhelming urge to reach her enveloped me. Determinedly I unzipped my parka; putting it beside her, untied my wool scarf and wriggled my fingers free of the gloves. “Please, your skin is blue, take these, they’re for you.” I shouted, as the wind whistled by my ears and bit the end of my nose. The pile almost touched her chest; I began to tremble, a feeling of despair, soaked into me. Her eyes flickered as I put the clothes in her lap. “I don’t need them, can you hear me”? A pat to reinforce the point made her flinch and with a straight back but without a second glance I returned to the car. She hadn’t moved as we passed her, the bundle propped on her lap her glassy eyes staring forward; there she sat.

That day, the clouds gathered so swiftly that everyone around the conference table stared at the snow. The CEO said “Due to the change of weather we will take a working lunch. The sooner I get you home the better”. I remember hoping she had put the clothes on, I wondered if anyone would relieve her… because of the weather. I couldn’t get her out my mind, her eyes, the liquid that refused to drop but puddled in her lids as if scared to fall.

On the return journey we stopped next to the wall. I remember the wipers swished, the flakes came hard and fast, but she wasn’t there. Pleased to think her in the warm I began to feel better. In the spring my job took me once more to Norwich. We stopped, there, amongst the grass which grew in the crumbled brick, wedged between the cracks was bunch of brown withered flowers tied with a bright woollen scarf. The connection had forever made its mark.


In second place with a tear-jerker of a memoir is Noelle Granger click Noelle’s name to see the entry and the rest of her website.


I flew to Chicago alone to pick up our second child, a Korean adoption. All I knew of her was from a postage stamp-sized photograph of her tiny round face surrounded by a bowl of black hair. And her Korean name, Kim Hyung Ju. I had asked someone who spoke Korean what that meant, and he replied, “Wise Jewel.”

I had managed to stay calm during the flight from Raleigh-Durham, but when I was met by an old friend at the airport to spend the time between my arrival and Hyung Ju’s, nervousness and excitement started to mount. The feelings left me unable to eat much of the lunch my friend bought me to celebrate.

“How are you feeling?” she asked.

“You’d think I’d have this down by now,” I replied, pushing my food around on my plate. “I just wish Gene were here.” My husband had decided to stay at home with our three-year-old son, thinking it would be easier for our daughter to transition to one person at a time. She had lived with her birth parents for two months before being placed with foster parents by the adoption agency in Seoul. After having her for four months, this couple had wanted to keep her. When I learned that, I could only imagine their pain when she was taken away. Along with eleven other infant adoptees, she’d been cared for by another other couple during the flight from Seoul to Seattle, and yet another from Seattle to Chicago. I knew my daughter was old enough to be confused and frightened by the constantly changing faces.

Other parents gathered at the arrival gate to meet their new children, but first the passengers had to leave the plane. Finally, just a cluster of remained, many whispering excitedly. When my name was called, I walked down the gangway to the plane and entered coach class. “Mrs. Granger? This is your daughter.” A young woman motioned to one of the babies in the first row.

And there she was!  Her foster parents had provided a traditional Korean dress with little rubber shoes and her hair was pulled into a tuft on the top of her head. She was adorable. I gathered her up and took her back to the gate, where I held her on my lap and talked to her. She looked in my eyes… and started screaming.

I held her and rocked her, but the screaming continued. I changed her clothes into ones I had brought, soft and comfortable. She screamed. I changed her diaper. More screaming. I offered her a bottle. She took a sip, rejected it and continued screaming. I walked her around and around in the stroller I’d brought and then went to the gate for the flight back to Raleigh. With her still crying at the top of her lungs, we boarded our flight.

Once we were seated, I held her in my lap facing me. “Cameron (the name we had chosen for her),” I said in a soft voice, “you need to quiet down now. I’m your mother, your only mother. You’re home.”

She suddenly stopped crying. She put her little hands on either side of my face and looked deeply into my eyes for a long moment. There was something there, a moment of recognition, an acceptance. She leaned into my chest and closed her eyes. We’d made the connection.


In third place with a fantastic final twist is Steve Tanham click Steve’s name to see the entries and the rest of his website.

The Final Digit

(Released under the Freedom of Governmental Policies Act)

Play the tape…

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Who’d have thought that the Black Room would have a ‘black box’? When the end of the world came there he was… swearing away at the buttons, and it’s all on tape or disc or some memory device embedded in concrete.”

Camera follows turning anchor:

“Can you tell us any more about it, General? We really appreciate you opening up like this – such a refreshing change of policy. Would you like some of my iced tea?”

“Thank you… ‘Damn, damn, damn’, is all you can hear on the recording – as the world goes to hell and he frantically punches at the last of the codes. It turns out that the Black Room was remarkably old-tech. Everything else was modern: the planes had been changed, the missiles updated and charged back to the rest of what was left of the Alliance, the procedures and escalation workflow had been streamlined in accord with the latest findings of psychology… Everything thought through.”

“Foolproof, then, you would say?”

“Hell, yes! As idiot-proof as you could imagine…”

“And in the end it was… idiot-proof?”

“Yes, but not in a way that any of us had anticipated!”

“You’re sweating a bit, General. Is it the studio lights?”

“Might be… who gives a damn… Been up for twenty-four hours, helping to pick up the pieces. Gimme some of that iced tea, will you?”

“Here, General. have the pitcher, you look like you could use it. Were you the first to get to him?”

“Sonofabitch locked himself in there… We’d all said don’t do it! Told him it was a Mid-East bluff, but he ran for it, locked the door and started to push the buttons. Shot half his closest advisors at close range before he left the emergency council chamber. We didn’t even know he was armed – you don’t advance your career by searching someone of his rank…”

“But you got to him in time to stop the conflagration?”

“Yes and no. I was the only one old enough to remember the backup failsafe code and the fact that four of the top advisors’ fingerprints would open the door. A good number, as it turns out…”

“A good number?”

“Hell, yes! There were only four of us left alive at that point! Not counting the man in the Black Room.”

“But the bad guys’ nukes haven’t rained down on us all…”

“You’ve got to understand bluffs… and strategic gains. The only people who truly want the planet to go up in flames are mad…”

“So the real game is something else?”

“Hell, yes! it’s about positioning before the stand-off.”

“And that’s all about being creative with the truth?”

“Hell no! It’s about being exact with the truth…”

“I see… No, I don’t… Did you save us all, General? Most people think you’re a global hero”

“No, got there too late… One digit too late.”

“Too late? Are we dead, then?”

“No, but the thirty-year-old connector that linked the final digit to the nuke was…”


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