Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Newsletters





My son sent me this BBC link today regarding Christmas newsletters:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7785410.stm

It made me laugh.

The latest trend I notice is for people to no longer write on Christmas cards but instead to add a printed sticker with the greetings on and their names. Have things really gone so far that people can't be bothered to scribble a few words to take the time to think of that particular person at this time of the year?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'm a Nano Winner!


I'm absolutely stoked! I managed to complete the Nanowrimo Challenge this year with a day to spare. Not quite as good as some years perhaps [one year I managed 58K in three and a half weeks], but much better than 2007. Last year, I only managed a few thousand words.

I had over plotted that novel down to the last detail and knew what I was supposed to write for every chapter. Never again.

This year, I just wrote a back cover blurb and the story just flowed from there.

Whether I'll finish the entire novel and get it published is another thing. So far, I have completed two other Nano books that I haven't done anything with. So, I have to change that and press on. Finish this book [I'm still inspired] and go back at a later date to edit and revise.

Well, that's the plan.

Watch this space...

Friday, November 07, 2008

NaNoWrimo Challenge


I've been taking part in the NaNoWrimo Challenge for the past week. I have been so busy with my Open University course and work that I forgot all about it starting on Saturday, until late that evening. Still, I haven't done too badly compared with last year. I'm up to 11,000 words.

Here's a taste of my NaNo novel [unedited of course]!

Synopsis: The Clock Strikes Twelve

"When several young women are murdered in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, over a period of several short weeks, the hunt is on to find the serial killer known as 'Prince Charming', so called because his m.o. is to steal one shoe from each woman as a trophy following the kill.

All the women have something in common: they are young, attractive and out for the evening in the pubs and clubs of Merthyr.

D.C. Vince Conway and his partner, W.P.C. Helen Carter, have just forty eight hours to catch the evil stalker before he makes his next move.

Clues are left to taunt the pair, demanding to be deciphered before the ticking clock strikes twelve."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Excerpt: The Clock Strikes Twelve

It was getting colder. The wind was arctic like. Dawn stamped her feet to keep warm and blew on her gloveless hands.

“Somehow ironic, isn’t it?” Vince said, breaking into her thoughts.

“What is?”

“Us freezing our knackers off out here at the back of the Iceland store!”

No matter how she was feeling, Vince always brought a smile to her face. He had been her partner at the station for the past ten years and one of the only people she trusted with her life. Literally. “Enough of the jokes. What do you make of it all, Vince? Could it be him? Prince Charming?”

Vince chewed on his bottom lip. “Possibly, but it doesn’t explain why he went quiet for the past thirty odd years, does it?”

“Maybe he hasn’t been caught yet. There are plenty of unsolved murders up and down the country.”

Vince dug his hands deep in his trousers pockets and jangled some coins. “Or maybe he’s been inside.”

She had thought of that. “Well, if he has been inside all this time it would have to be for another murder or murders for that length of time.”

“There’s also another possibility of course, he may have been living abroad. It might be an idea if we contact Interpol to see if there are any other murderers, maybe on the continent with the same modus operandi.”

“Boss,” Vince turned to see one of the uniformed bobbies standing behind him with a scruffy looking fella in a bright yellow vest. “This is Bill Davies. He’s the one who found the body.”

Dawn looked at the man, whose skin looked as putrid as she felt. She sidled over towards him. “I’m going to need to take some info from you, Mr Davies.” The man nodded. “It can’t have been an easy morning for you.”

“You can say that again.”

She pulled out her note pad and pen. “So, what happened?”

The man briefly closed his eyes as if trying to envisage the scene in front of him and then opened them again. “We were emptying the bins at the back here at about 10.15. We didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary until I put my hand in that bin here and found it…I mean her?” He pointed to the body on the floor that was now being zipped by scenes of crime in a black body bag.

Dawn’s upper lip felt frozen to her face, she quickly ran her tongue over it, at this rate they would be getting frost bite. “And why did you happen to have your hand in the bin in the first place?”

“It was Mal, over there?” He pointed to his workmate standing in the corner. “He thought he found a dummy in the bin and wanted me to pull it out so we could have some fun with it. You know tease the guys at work, that kind of thing. All sounds a bit daft now…” His voice trailed off.

“Not all, Mr Davies,” Vince butted into the conversation. “There are plenty down the station, I can tell you,” he winked at Dawn, “who would have got the same idea.”
Bill Davies straightened himself up, as if he were proud of himself now, for finding the body, although of course it was Mal who had got the original idea to go dumpster diving in the first place.

“We’re going to need for you to come into the station at some point to make a statement about this,” Dawn said.

Mal was now standing at Bill’s side. “We can come in as soon as you like, officers.” There were obviously no flies on him. It was probably a good excuse to get an hour or so off work, not just from them now having to leave their bin duties to go to the police station, but no doubt they would get a couple of hours, or maybe the rest of the day off for the shock of finding the body in the first place. Nowadays, people were such a lily-livered lot. Not like her Dad, who had fought in the Falklands War. Death was common place to someone like him.

Dawn took Vince to one side, so that they were out of earshot. “So, what now?”

“Well, we need to establish who this female is. She looks quite young, doesn’t she? Maybe nineteen or twenty. Someone must be missing their daughter from home around here.”
Dawn nodded. “Probably. Or maybe she lives alone. We haven’t had any mispers reported over the weekend.” A Misper was well known police jargon for Missing Person. In Dawn’s experience, most of them turned up safe and well, either their actions had been entirely thoughtless and they’d forgotten to inform whoever it was that they were elsewhere, or it was more serious in the case of a depressed person who might do themselves harm. In all her years in the force, she had only come across one other case where the misper turned out to be a murder victim.

Dawn strode towards the two refuse collectors. “Right you pair, meet us at the station in half hour. Grab yourselves a cuppa with plenty of sugar, you’ve had a nasty shock.”
Dawn knew only too well what that was like as the shrouded body was loaded into an awaiting van, her mind drifted back to the moment she found out that Jen’s body had been discovered back in ‘75. She had been in school on lunch break. Some of the girls at Cyfarthfa High School, which was in actually a school inside a castle, were wondering around the grounds, heading towards the Cabin as it was called, which was a small snack shop in the park. They were going to get a beef pasty or a Mars bar, and one or two of them wanted to buy some Woodbine singles to feed their nicotine habits. Ruth Jones, the teacher’s pet, came rushing up behind the small gathering.

It was almost as though things were happening in slow motion. Dawn knew as she turned, before Ruth even uttered a word, that it was something about Jen, and not good news. Of all the people in the town, Ruth was the last person she needed to hear it from. She relished all the gossip and was a well known stirrer.

“Girls,” she bellowed, with a sadistic gleam in her eyes. “You’ll never guess what. It’s just been on the radio. Jennifer Johnson is dead.”

The gang crowded around her. So this had been Ruth Jones’s fifteen minutes of fame. For once, she was highly popular with the girls as they hung on to her every word. Who? Where? What? How? In some sad way, it would not have looked out of place if she had sold tickets for the event.

* * *Disclaimer

All characters are fictitious, the places mentioned are not. Iceland Stores accept no responsibility for a dead body being discovered in a large bin at the back of their store.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Another fab review for Watching You


I'm thrilled by the latest review for my new novel from The Romance Studio:

Watching You

Lynette Rees
Romantic suspense
Available from The Wild Rose Press
ISBN: 1-60154-259-3
July 2008

Angeline Hamilton loses her home and everything she cares about when her father dies. She visits the new owner in a fit of temper only to be asked to live there and work as Sebastian Tremaine's personal assistant. As she tries to build a new life an old flame carrying a grudge stalks her. He's determined to make her pay for leaving him years ago.

Lynette Rees builds a tale full of great characters. Angeline is portrayed as a usually mild mannered woman with brains, passion and a temper to match her red hair. Sebastian is a strong, capable, usually kind man suffering the pain of losing his wife and child in a fluke accident that left him temporarily blind. Angeline’s kissing cousin, Will, Sebastian’s sister Marsha and housekeeper Daisy are unique personalities who add much to the story. The villain is a nasty man who kills for fun and sexual gratification, a real psychopath who lusts for blood.

The author doesn’t give Sebastian and Angeline an easy time. They’re attracted from the beginning, it just takes them a long time to admit it.. By the time they do we’re deep into the mystery of what James King will do at the ball to act on his hatred of Angeline. No matter how much security surrounds them, or what Sebastian does to try to protect her, the ex fiancé seems able to circumvent it. It almost gets comical as someone is always distracted or late or slips up or turns their head or something happens to make it easier for evil to take control.

But that’s the fun of it. She keeps us believing that he just might pull it off because he’s gotten past them so many times in so many ways. This is a darned good story.

Overall rating:
Sensuality rating: Very sensual

Reviewer: Dee Dailey
October 6, 2008

http://theromancestudio.com/reviews/reviews/watchingyourees.htm

Monday, September 15, 2008

Addicted to Facebook




Okay, I admit it, I haven't been around much lately, nor have I got much writing done! You see, I have got addicted to facebook. Here is my page if anyone is interested:

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=747060217



I enjoy joining the various groups Facebook has to offer and creating some of my own, such as: "I was an ABC Minor". For those of you, particularly those not resident in the UK, the ABC Minors was a Saturday morning cinema screening for young kids [for me this was in the 60s and 70s] although I believe it was running way before that. Maybe just after the second world war.

I could never see that kind of thing happening these days. Back then it was all very innocent and there were only one or two people in charge of all those marauding kids who were unaccompanied by an adult, stamping their feet and throwing things off the balcony.


It had a kind of innocence about it all.


I've decided I am going to have to wean myself off Facebook and get on with some writing. Call myself a writer...!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Five Angel Review

Just received a nice review for Return to Winter from the Fallen Angels website. I loved writing this book.:


Return to Winter is an action-packed story with a good string of events that hooks the reader and takes them on a fast-moving ride that gets better by the minute. I got a feel for the characters. The intrigue and mystery lends great suspense to the storyline. The relationship between Steph and Dylan emit a great deal of emotion that grabbed this reader. Lynette Rees puts her whole self into each of her characters, making the read captivating. She pens sharp dialogue, a fabulous plot and some little jaunts along the way that spring forth with invigorating excitement. She tells a remarkable tale skillfully done. I liked the way she sketches the story so the reader is involved with every movement of the characters. The different characters came into play, each contributing something to the story keeping the reader spellbound until the dramatic conclusion.

Reviewer: Linda L.

Link: http://www.fallenangelreviews.com/2008/August/LindaL-ReturnToWinter.htm

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Great review for Watching You




I just got a great 4 1/2 shamrock review for my latest book, Watching You, from this website:

http://www.ck2skwipsandkritiques.com/sandra/watchingyou_sandra.html

Evil is watching you, Evil is coming for you….

Angeline Hamilton and Sebastian are thrown together after the loss of her father, along with her inheritance and her home. Through a case of mistaken identity, she ends up being employed by him.

Sebastian Tremaine, now the owner of her home, and dealing with his own emotional and physical loss, steps in as Angeline’s guardian angel. He soon realizes all is not what it seems.

Unbeknown to Angeline, evil and death follow her. Sebastian is prepared to do whatever it takes to keep Angeline alive, but can he secure her love and save her? For she is earmarked as the “NEXT” on the killer’s list.

Watching You is a heart wrenching romance filled with passion, forgiveness, intrigue and murder. Ms. Rees has penned a fantastic story about two wounded people who have to learn to deal with life’s changes and move on. I read Watching You in one sitting and really loved the main characters. Angeline has just enough naiveté to match Sebastian’s well travelled, expect the worst attitude. The levels of involvement of the supporting characters are well played. Not only do they bring brief glimpses of levity, but open up the possibility for future stories in a potential series.

These amazing characters also prove that your second chance at love might just be your first. I really enjoyed this book.

Reviewed by Sandra

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Watching You




My latest WRP novel, a romantic suspense, has just been published in e-book format. Watching You is the tale of one woman's quest for justice. Here is the blurb:

Upon the reading of her father’s will, Angeline Hamilton is devastated to discover that not only has she lost her inheritance, but she has lost Tarrington Manor -- her beloved family home. When a reckless decision results in her working for the new owner, Sebastian Tremaine, she finds herself hopelessly attracted to the very man she should resent.

But her confusion over the unexpected romance soon gives way to fear. Someone wants her dead. Soon she’s embroiled in secrets, seduction and a simmering love affair.

Stalked by evil, Angeline and Sebastian try desperately to hold onto their new found love…and their lives.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Free IQ Test

What's your IQ?
Free-IQTest.net - What's your IQ?


I don't know how accurate or relevant this test is but I was surprised by my score. I'm a little dubious though as according to my result I would qualify for Mensa by being in the top 2-3 % of the population.

Something someone said to me years ago put me in my place: "Lynette, for an intelligent person you do some really daft things!" That just about sums me up. Others see me as intelligent and I honestly have some commonsense but you would not believe some of the silly things I do!

Friday, June 06, 2008

I'm so excited!


I've registered with The Open University to take the Diploma in Literature and Creative Writing. I'm really looking forward to it. I'm going to take Creative Writing [level 2] to begin with then one of these courses from [level 3]:

Advanced creative writing

Shakespeare: text and performance

The nineteenth-century novel

Twentieth-century literature: texts and debates

It has made me consider whether I could go on to take a BA Honours Degree in either English Language and Literature or just Literature. Not sure yet.

So come September it will be back to school for me and I can't wait!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Just got a great five star review from Pat McCain for A Taste of Honey

Lynette Rees improves with each book she publishes. The talented Welsh writer weaves her stories through the small country of Wales, drawing her readers in. A Taste Of Honey flows like honey through the ups and downs of the main characters. Her heroine, Fran Santini, works at a second and secret occupation which brings her into grave danger. Travis O'Connell, once in the opposing corner, now attempts to protect her--much to Fran's dismay.

It's very easy to get hooked on Ms. Rees's books. Her characters are all people you might know and either like or dislike, nothing bland here. ..

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

It's been almost a year...

It's been almost a year since my darling boy, Danny, went missing. If you don't know the story you can read about it in the blog archives for June 2007.

I still miss him, a lot.

I still look at the empty armchair where he loved to sit [see above].

I know in my heart he's not coming back but there's a small part of me that hopes he is going to return on June 1st, 2008, exactly a year to the date he went missing.

I realised quite quickly [well within a few weeks] that I had to let go. It wasn't healthy for me to keep checking the missing dog website. We had done all we could do when he initially went missing with regards to reporting it to the police, online at various missing dog websites, contacted the local dog warden and those in surrounding areas, the country ranger, put up posters etc. My hubby even took some posters to the local school and the headmaster asked the children in assembly if anyone had seen Danny.

The problem I found with the missing dog website was that if I wasn't careful it could become an obsession for me. There were many well-meaning people who checked it and desired to help but some bordered on the fanatic. One day I got a call from three different people claiming to have seen Danny in three totally different areas miles apart. When I asked the people did they notice anything about his ears, none had, which was very strange. They were the first thing anyone would notice about him. They were extremely long and pointed and one was damaged. So one pointed up and one pointed down. He looked more like an Australian Kelpie really than a Border Collie.

What happened to him the night he went missing I shall never know, that's what haunts me the most. I think it would have been easier if I had known, even if I had to live with the fact that he got run over or shot by a farmer. But then again, maybe nothing like that happened and it's possible he is having the time of his life living with some other family -- I do hope that's the case.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Writer's Stasis?


I don't believe in writer's block [not unless the writer is ill or suffering from depression that is]. However, I do believe in Writer's Stasis? What is this strange condition you might well ask.

It's when the writer [you or me] comes to a standstill. Not that they can't write but they won't write. This happens to me at least once or twice a year.

It's happening to me at the moment. I know I will write again but I have to recharge my batteries. My system is overloaded with words and unfinished manuscripts. How I wish I was the type of person who could start a task and finish it without going off at a tangent and starting yet another. If only it were so. Instead, I might start off very well writing three chapters of a novel and then go and start another! Yet, this process seems to work for me. All the manuscripts will get finished in time.

This is the best dictionary definition I can find to explain what I mean by the term 'Stasis':
Main Entry:
sta·sis
Pronunciation:
\ˈstā-səs, ˈsta-\
Function:
noun
Inflected Form(s):
plural sta·ses \ˈstā-ˌsēz, ˈsta-\
Etymology:
New Latin, from Greek, act or condition of standing, stopping, from histasthai to stand — more at stand
Date:
1745
2 a: a state of static balance or equilibrium : stagnation b: a state or period of stability during which little or no evolutionary change in a lineage occurs

So, in effect I am a stagnating writer, but I comfort myself with the thought that even people who stand still for a long time eventually have to move again, and perhaps I am doing that today by writing this post!

American Heritage Dictionary stag·nant
  1. Not moving or flowing; motionless.
  2. Foul or stale from standing: stagnant ponds.
    1. Showing little or no sign of activity or advancement; not developing or progressing; inactive: a stagnant economy.
    2. Lacking vitality or briskness; sluggish or dull: a stagnant mind.





Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Murder, She Wrote


I hate to admit it but I'm hooked on re-runs of Murder, She Wrote, starring Angela Lansbury. The show which ran from 1984 to 1996 for twelve seasons -- that's no mean feat -- is addictive! Don't ask me why I never watched it at the time. I well remember when it aired that I'd see it coming on and thought it looked quaint and interesting, but it wasn't for me -- until now that is.

At the moment it's being shown on both BBC2 and UK Drama TV channels and I'm having a ball.

Mind you, would you want to be a friend of Jessica Fletcher? I mean every episode someone is killed [there's at least one corpse, sometimes more] and more often than not it's a friend's husband who gets it. Or if not, it's a friend of a close acquaintance. If I knew Jessica [or J.B.Fletcher as she's known in author-land] I'd be petrified to invite her to a dinner party at my home.

In all the episodes I've seen so far, although there is mention of her being a famous author, I've yet to see her write anything, except when the show starts and the credits roll. She types on an old-fashioned typewriter, okay, I don't think lap taps were around then, but computers and word processers were, so her writing should be very time consuming. All that carbon copying and use of the Tippex bottle! So, how does she get the time to solve all these mysteries when her editor wants the proofs of her latest novel on his desk?

I edited three books last year and I have to tell you I had little time for anything else, except sleeping and eating maybe, let alone running around after strangers to find out if they are the murderer, and often times on foreign shores from her native Cabot Cove. So far, I've seen her solve crimes in New York, London, Hong Kong, The Caribbean as well as Cabot Cove.

My favourite episode, thus far is

Episode # 19
Mar. 17--Murder Takes the Bus
Guests: Linda Blair, Michael Constantine, Rue McClanahan
Synopsis: Jessica's bus trip to Portland, Maine, takes a dismal turn when a passenger is murdered.


Tom Bosley [who played Mr. Cunningham in Happy Days], features as the Sheriff and do you detect another well known face from the guest list? None other than Linda Blair, the girl from the Exorcist! Imagine her sitting next to you on the bus! If you tried to look out the window you'd probably see her head violently spinning around and imagine the dry cleaning bills from all that green gunk she'd spew over your clothes!

I love Murder, She Wrote for all it's daftness. It's of it's time, and that I think, is part of its charm.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Inspector Lynley Mysteries



The BBC have recently started to repeat the excellent Inspector Lynley Mysteries, penned by the fabulous Elizabeth George. You can read last year's interview published in The Writer Magazine, here:


I was very surprised when I first discovered that Ms. George is an American. I would have sworn that the author was very much a true Brit. What she does as it explains in the interview is to never write about a place she has not been to first. That's what sets this drama apart, the realism. She gets under the skin of each character and the settings are places she knows.

It's very helpful of course that the lead, Inspector Lynley, happens to be played by handsome actor, Nathaniel Parker.

Parker is very easy on the eye and I'm sure, like the romantic lead in a romance novel, women fall in love with him.

So, it's very strange that the BBC should stop making a successful series like this. Over the Easter holidays, I noticed that a lot of TV programmes shown on both terrestrial and Sky TV, were of a crime related nature. For example, Murder She Wrote, Midsomer Murders, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Damages and Bones, etc.


People will always enjoy a good murder mystery to scare the living daylights out of them!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Top Ten Grammatical Irks


Okay, you've had my top ten hates of a grumpy woman, so how about my top ten grammatical irks? Not even sure if that is grammatically correct!

10. The misuse of the word of instead of have. You must of known. This should of course be: You must have known. Soap opera scriptwriters seem to be guilty of this error, especially Eastenders. It could be that the actors themselves are changing things and not the script writers but it's something I'm hearing more and more these days.

9. Whenever I see the word 'I' [as in myself] written with a small i instead of a capital I, I go ballistic! It might sound petty but it looks bad in my book.

8. Who's instead of Whose. These are commonly mixed up by people. Who's refers to who is and whose should refer in this context: Whose baby is it?

7. Bear versus Bare. For example, He has a bear behind, instead of: He has a bare behind. Of course the former might be perfectly correct if a large Grizzly standing happened to be standing behind him!

6. Whether versus Weather. Should be: Whether you decide to weather the storm...etc.

5. It's versus Its: 'It's is short for 'it is' or 'it has ('it's snowing'), whereas 'its' is a possessive pronoun, as in 'its coat.'

4. Ensure versus Insure. Ensure means to make sure or certain, whereas insure means to guarantee against loss or harm.

3. Me and I. People are afraid to use the word 'Me' in its correct context and will often say something like: 'Give John and I a ring.' To find out if this is correct use of the word 'I' just remove John from the sentence. You would never say 'Give I a ring', would you? It's 'Give me a ring.' Don’t be afraid of me.

2. Alright or All right? Although most people seem to favour 'Alright' it should be two words: 'All right'.

1. Definately or Definitely? It's definitely definitely!

Monday, March 24, 2008

When should you call yourself a writer?



It wasn't until I received my first pay cheque that I actually said: "Now I'm a real writer!" The cheque was for an article I had published on an American website a few years ago.

How wrong I was.

I have been paid for my writing quite a few times since then, not just for my novels but for articles in magazines too. Yet, I always was a writer -- even if I didn't call myself one.

The first person who put any value on my writing was one of my school teachers, Mrs Robinson. Mrs Robinson was young and trendy and she spoke about controversial issues: "Do you know we could all be blown up by an atomic bomb at any time!" I was fourteen and she worried me to death.

Yet, I loved her lessons. At night I read magazines like 'Loving' and 'Love Affair' under the bedcovers by torchlight. The stories were written in the first person and obviously meant for grown ups, although they were pretty tame.

So, in English lessons I wrote my own stories. It's no wonder I love TV programmes like The Sopranos today and films like The Godfather, because back then I remember writing a story about a man who killed his wife, chopped her up into little pieces and disposed of her body in a hay baling machine! I don't know if any other teacher would have read out my story to the class but Mrs Robinson did!

When she read my stories and the bell went before the end, some of the girls would gather around outside the classroom door while one of them read the story through to the end. So I was a natural story teller way back then, although I didn't realise it. Didn't think I had any particular talent.

It wasn't until around 1999 that I joined a creative writing class at a local library, by then I was nearing forty, and feared the rest of the group would be very high brow: men wearing dicky bows who smoked pipes and women in tweed suits! How wrong I was. Despite being the 'baby of the group', some were as old as 80+, I learned a lot from them and realised they were just ordinary people like myself.

Attending that writing group gave me a good grounding as we critiqued one another's stories and poems, but I still didn't feel able to call myself a writer.

Receiving that cheque and contract in the post a few years back didn't make me a writer either. You see, I always was a writer practically from the moment I was able to write -- I just didn't know it.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Hope





As today is Good Friday, the beginning of the Easter weekend, I would like to share a poem. I don't write poetry that often as I have to be in the mood. However, my mother, who goes to the Salvation Army over 60 meetings on a weekly basis, said they were looking for poems on the theme of HOPE. So I picked up a pen and paper this morning and this poem flew from my pen.


Hope

~ Lynette Rees ~

Hope is expectation of the unseen

Hope is having faith to believe

Hope is found in the name of one man

Hope is a gift from God


Hope is a burning candle in the night

Hope is a belief that things will turn out right

Hope is eternal – it never fades away

Hope is a gift from God


Hope is here today – right now with you

Hope is within and without ever true

Hope is all – both Alpha and Omega

Hope is a gift from God


Hope is one man who has a blessed name

Hope fills an empty space where despair has been

Hope gives meaning to our lives full of care

Jesus is that gift from God


Jesus is our hope, diminishing despair

Jesus is our light in the darkness out there

Jesus is our precious gift from Him

Jesus is our hope, our eternal King.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What I Learned about Writing from 'The Sopranos'


In my humble opinion, The Sopranos was the best show aired on TV for ages. In fact I enjoyed it so much that I went out and bought each series and watched them four times over! Every time I watched it, I learned something new.

So what is it about the programme that appeals to me?

Well for a start, the characters are believable and their situations interesting. Who would have thought that a show about a mob boss who suffers from anxiety attacks would get such massive ratings? Or that the final ending would cause so much controversy?

As a writer, who pens both fiction and non fiction, here's what I learned from The Sopranos:

1. Not to make my villains all bad

There's no doubt about it, mob boss Tony Soprano is a bad guy, after all, if you cross him you're liable to end up six foot under. Now if he was an out and out hit man with no redeeming features, he would not be such a likable character. Likable? Tony Soprano? I hear you cry. Yes. The guy does have some redeeming features. He likes animals. Remember how he got upset when he found out that the family dog had not 'gone to a farm' as he thought, but was given away to his father's mistress and son? Or the time, the race horse, Pie-0-My, bought by his cousin, Ralph Cifaretto, gets sick. Tony rushes over to the stables and pays the bill. The vet has been withholding treatment because Ralph hasn't been paying him. Tony stays and comforts the horse. Tony is absolutely devastated when the horse eventually dies in an insurance-fiddle fire at the stables.

So Tony cares about animals but does he care about people? Yeah, sure he does. He cares about his children. He wants them both to have good lives. Whether he truly cares about his wife, Carmela, is of course debatable because of his constant affairs. He also shows kindness to his mother even though she plotted against him and to Uncle Junior in some respects, even though he shot Tony.

So, he's not all bad. He has a vulnerable side and that's what we like about him. We laugh with him and we cry with him.

2. My plots need to be character led

Plot evolves from character. Have you noticed how if Tony has a bad day then everyone else is going to know it and his actions have a ripple-on effect? He might shout at his son, AJ, for example, let his wife Carmela down by sleeping with another woman, walk out on his shrink Dr. Melfi in the middle of a session, or even worse, put a bullet in the back of someone's head!

I have learned that character drives plot. Not only that, but character is plot and even certain settings can become characters in themselves. For example, The Bada Bing club can evoke feelings of menace at times when something sinister is afoot, or equally, it can feel a light hearted place depending on the mood of the plot. Or what about Tony's swimming pool at home? Look at the time the ducks arrived. The pool and the ducks seemed to represent how he felt at that particular time coinciding with his mood. When the ducks left he became depressed.

3. Not to sleep with the fishes

Okay, not many of us want to end up sleeping with the fishes in the ocean like Big Pussy Bonpensiero. He was like the older brother, Tony never had, but of course Tony felt justified in getting him bumped off having found out he was an FBI informant. Tony's haunted by it later of course. But that aside, 'not sleeping with the fishes' here, with regards to writing, I'm talking about is not letting my manuscript gather dust in the drawer or languish on disc. If it never sees the light of day then I've little chance of seeing it published. I need to take a chance and send it out somewhere and if it gets rejected, then back out it goes again and again until it finds a suitable home. Some times it might need some revision to make it publishable but that's not always such a bad thing if it makes my story even stronger. I need to be in it to win it!

4. Keep the reader guessing

The ending of The Sopranos has to be one of the most controversial endings of all time. There are those who felt cheated by it and those, like myself, who have read something else into it and feel in retrospect that it was a brilliant ending.

Many fans anticipated a bloody massacre for emotionally tortured New Jersey captain, Tony Soprano, his mob, and even his family.

David Chase, the show's creator, who wrote and directed the finale, chose to cut to a blank screen which left many viewers wondering if the connection to their television sets had somehow worked loose. As the ending is ambiguous, there is another way to look at it of course, that maybe Tony and his family just had an uneventful evening at the diner after all and that the suspicious looking man who left to go the gentleman's room [a scene reminiscent of The Godfather] did just that, went to relieve himself and did not go there to grab a gun hidden in the cistern to shoot Tony and co while they were in the middle of eating a plate of onion rings! This scene gave the viewer the impression that Tony would be forever looking over his shoulder in the future.

We shall never know for certain of course. I prefer to think of Tony, Carmela and the kids still alive and living somewhere in a parallel universe. But that's the beauty of David Chase's ending, he left the reader guessing. There's nothing worse than a predictable ending and that one was anything but! So in summary, the things I've learned are that villains shouldn't be all bad, character drives plot, manuscripts need to get sent out and to keep the reader guessing!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

And the winner is...


The winner of the recent competition I held on this blog is Sarah Elizabeth Rose. Congratulations!! A copy of A Taste of Honey will be winging its way towards you as soon as you send me your e-mail address!

You can send it to peaceful_writer@yahoo.com if you haven't already contacted me!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Mothering Sunday [yesterday]



I had a lovely Sunday. It was Mother's Day here in the UK. My daughter and her boyfriend, Rob, turned up to cook me Sunday lunch. Honestly, I didn't have to do a thing all day -- it was all done for me!

Rob did all the cooking, although Leyna helped prepare the potatoes! The meal was gorgeous, even better than my own Sunday lunches -- Rob's roast potatoes were to die for. We also had chicken with stuffing, dumplings, and vegetables. Oh and Yorkshire pudding! This was followed by a toffee cheesecake. Leyna and Rob also brought me a bottle of bubbly.

The day couldn't have gone any better. They also bought me a real nice new skirt with a fancy belt -- should look nice with my boots, and a pink nightie with the words 'Yummy Mummy!' on the front.

Nathan, my son, brought me a bouquet of lilac and pink flowers and a box of chocolates. My mother joined us for lunch as well, as it was her Mother's Day too. I bought her a funny DVD called Keeping Mum, starring Rowan Atkinson, Kirstin Scott Thomas, Patrick Swayze and Maggie Smith, and a box of Belgian chocs. I also treated her to a meal in the Castle hotel the day before [see previous post].

My hubby came back from Ireland last night and brought me a take-away, so again I had no need to lift a finger, Leyna had even washed up for me!

I'm back to earth with a bump today though. The dish washer has blown up [no not my daughter, the real dishwasher], I shouldn't have ignored that burning smell of rubber lol.

By the way, now I know I'm really an author. I set up a Google alert to check on the progress of my latest book, A Taste of Honey. I just received an alert. It's being sold on e-bay and two people are bidding for it!

See here!

At least I know people are buying it. It also said on the Amazon.com site last night that there was only one copy left in stock. Is that a good sign or not? That's never happened with any of my other books, so I'll take it that it is!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

St. David's Day!




Today, the first of March, is St. David's Day. We Welsh are a patriotic bunch!

I took my mother out for a meal lunch time as a precursor to Mother's Day tomorrow. We went to the Castle Hotel. They must have a new chef as the meals have been fantastic recently. Not just the taste but the presentation as well.

Then we did a little shopping as we always do around the town on a Saturday afternoon. As I came out of one shop I heard someone belting out 'Mama Told Me Not to Come' on the microphone at the bottom of the escalator. It turned out to be a Tom Jones impersonator, who sounded so good, for a split second I wondered if it was the old boyo himself! He did look a lot like him but unless Tom has been on a diet lately, then it couldn't have been him. Just kidding -- I've seen Tom Jones on stage a couple of times. Of course, I knew it wasn't him but there was a faint possibility as he was born just 12 miles away from here.

This week I joined a women's crime writing organisation called, Sisters in Crime. After my fiasco with the Crime Writers' Association, I was pleased to find somewhere that wasn't up it's own backside!

See previous post about my dealings with the CWA here:

Writing Association Snobbery!

The Sisters in Crime newsletter is very interesting.

I read a book this week written by a member [although I didn't realise she was a member when I read it]. The book is called Evan's Gate and the author, Rhys Bowen. I absolutely loved the book. I couldn't put it down and it had a special interest for me as it's set in Wales, so I knew most of the location and the protagonist has the same name as my great great grandfather, Evan Evans.

Isn't it great when you read a book and you don't want to put it down?

I also made one of my favourite Welsh meals this week, Leek and Potato Bake. It's so easy to make and very tasty too. There are lots of variations of this recipe and I suppose you can adapt it to suit yourself.

So, this has been a very Welsh week for me, which is pertinent really as it's St. David's Day today!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A bit of a buzz for me!



I was coming home from work this evening, waiting for a connecting bus at the bus station, when a lady from the village where I live shouted, "You've been on my mind this week!" I turned around expecting that she was speaking to someone behind me, but there was no one there.

Oh dear, I thought, what have I done?

"I couldn't remember your surname," she said enthusiastically, "I want to get your books from the library!"

So of course, I gave her the correct spelling of my full name and both books. Now you might think, what's the point of that because I'm not going to earn anything from it, but I think libraries are a good thing. I've taken out books by new authors and then gone on to purchase further copies of their books.

I know there are authors who don't like having their books sold in charity shops or passed around for others to read, but I'm not one of those. To be honest, I'm flattered when I'm told someone has enjoyed one of my books so much they've passed it on to their next door neighbour or posted it their daughter-in-law who lives on the other side of the world. As far as I'm concerned, my name is getting out there.

So, I hope that lady from the village manages to get both copies of my books and if she enjoys them, she'll tell others. After all, wasn't it Donald Maas that said: "It's not reviews that sell books but word-of-mouth."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Inspiration for A Taste of Honey




A reader asked me the other day where I got my inspiration from for my latest release, A Taste of Honey.

The concept came to me initially from a newspaper article I read in one of the national dailies, here in the UK. It was about a woman who worked for a private detective agency as a honey trapper. Now if you don't already know, a honey trapper is a woman who sets up men on behalf of their partners to see if they are capable of cheating or not.

Now I got to thinking: What would happen if one of these so-called honey trappers accidentally set up the wrong guy? And so, a germ of an idea for 'A Taste of Honey', my romantic comedy was born.

I knew that I wanted the hero, Travis O'Connell, to be a little different from the usual male Alpha hero with the bulging biceps and rippling six pack. For a start he's Irish and I've never written about an Irish man before, but I know some Irish people and I've read a lot of works by Irish author, Edna O'Brien. That aside, it's one of the accents I do best, but that would be debatable in some quarters!

Travis is a free spirit. He doesn't like to feel hemmed in. That's probably why he lives on a delapitated caravan park where his only friends are a stray dog named, Buster, and a neighbour called, Marge. Marge's lorry driving hubby ran off with a young bimbo from the bingo hall some years back leaving her to look after her brood of kids. 'The old woman who lived in a shoe' would be a good analogy for Marge.

In my eyes, I see her as someone looking and acting like, Janet Street Porter.

Someone who's forthright with her tongue, but beneath that steely exterior beats a heart of gold.

Fran Santini, I knew would be someone who loves life. She wouldn't be one of those skinny size zero women who loves to nibble on a lettuce leaf to keep her looks in check. Fran enjoys her food and working at the family Italian restaurant, she needs to. Of course, totally complicating matters is the fact that as a respectable Catholic girl, she moonlights as a honey trapper for The Peace of Mind Agency. If Mamma and Papa, and her brothers come to that, ever find out, there will be hell to pay.

I got the idea for the two elderly, cantankerous sisters at the restaurant from watching two old women who dine in the same hotel restaurant, where my mother and myself go from time to time. They always seem to order the same food!

I developed the character of Ronald Santini, restaurant owner and Fran's Papa, from an Italian restaurant I visited in Cardiff. As soon as my mother and myself went in through the door, the man I based him on was throwing his hands in mid air and shouting: "Beautiful ladies, please sit here." He made such a fuss over us that we ended up ordering a lot of food and wine and got quite a hefty bill because of it. Oh well, you live and learn. I would definitely return to that restaurant but only for special occasions.

So, there we have it, that's how my baby, A Taste of Honey was born!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

COMPETITION: WIN A COPY OF A TASTE OF HONEY




I'm running a competition for you to win a free paperback copy of my romantic comedy, A Taste of Honey.

Here is the blurb:

Honey is not far from the sting.

Fran Santini has a secret she keeps from her family. During the day, she works as a waitress, but at night, she is a honey trapper for the Peace of Mind Agency, working for women who suspect their partners are cheating.

Travis O’Connell is minding his own business, enjoying a pint of Guinness at his local pub, when he is accosted by Fran who believes he is her intended target. After all, he has a goatee just as his “wife” described.

Fran, a hopeless honey trapper, fails to realize she has set up the wrong guy. What’s more, when the penny finally drops, she is forced into a compromising situation, begging the question: can Fran’s job stay a secret for much longer?

At the risk of incurring the wrath of Fran’s brother, Antonio, Travis finds himself attracted to sultry Fran Santini. Will the secret draw the couple together or drive them apart?


All you have to do is post here at my blog by telling me what your favourite romance novel is and why. Oh and don't forget to leave your e-mail address so I can contact you if you win. If you're uncomfortable about leaving your contact details here, then please also send a copy of your post here along with your e-mail address to:

peaceful_writer@yahoo.com

Lynette

Friday, February 15, 2008

Picture Board: A Spoonful of Sugar



This is Suzie's shop, All Things Nice. She creates special occasion cakes for weddings, birthdays and anniversaries.


I imagine Antonio Santini to look like the actor Mark Bannerman. This is probably subconsciously because the character of Antonio is a chef at The Vine Tree restaurant, which also featured in A Taste of Honey and Mark worked in his family's Italian restaurant in Eastenders.


Suzie Frampton, I pictures as a larger than life character. She's not a super skinny girl, but a well rounded size 16 wh enjoys her food and life!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The galley for WATCHING YOU


I received the galley this morning to check over for my latest book, Watching You. I'm really excited about it as it's my darkest novel yet. I go into the mind of a serial killer who is out there watching the heroine -- hence the title.

In my three published novels so far, I have only used the hero and heroine's point of view but in this book I also use the villain's pov which was interesting. This allowed me to be as nasty and evil as I could possibly be! I think authors put a little of themselves into their novels often without realising it, but I promise you I am not about to go around stalking or killing anyone.

A Taste of Honey goes into 801 Borders stores at the end of the month. I'm really over the moon about that!

Monday, February 11, 2008

A cautionary tale for authors




I was surfing the web last night when I ended up at the New York Times website and an article written about the recent so-called plagiarism by a well-known romance author, Cassie Edwards. Apparently, someone had posted a blog about this in January when they had discovered upon feeding some of Ms. Edwards text from her novels into Google, she had blatantly lifted text from the works of three different novels. If you want to read on further about this, here are the links:

A Romance Novelist is Accused of Copying

First Article about issue at Smart Bitches Blog

The PDF Document at Smart Bitches Blog that indicates the plagiarism

When I read the above my eyes widened with surprise that a well-known author of Ms. Edwards standing in the romance community and of course, the writing world, would do such a thing.

She was questioned about this issue but apparently made out it was 'historical research' and she had no idea what she was doing was wrong. Now come on, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to realise that if you lift someone's work almost word for word that you need to attribute it to the source. At least that's what I was taught in college. We used quotes and references. And if someone researches they don't normally write word for word.

I had to carry out research for a recent historical romance I've written. I just read widely on the subject and wrote things in my own words. In any case, most of the topics I researched were written by professors and the like and their writing voices would have sounded totally out of place with my own. And I definitely didn't go taking my research from other similar works of fiction. The books I used were local history books.

So far, Ms. Edwards publishers and the Romance Writers of America [she used to be a member] aren't committing themselves to saying she actually plagiarised stuff. Yet a magazine journalist has even found his own words in one of her books when he wrote about Meer cats.

This is a cautionary tale for authors. Big Brother is out there, watching and waiting, and this time he has a name -- Google!

Monday, February 04, 2008

What are you reading at the moment?




I have this habit of reading three books at the same time. No, I'm not an octopus, but I like variety. Downstairs on my coffee table is a copy of Shirley Jump's book, THE MARRIAGE MIRACLE, which I read when I get the time [I've almost finished it by the way!] On my bedside cabinet, the bedroom is where I read mostly, is a copy of Michael Winner's autobiography, WINNER TAKES ALL: A life of sorts, and INDESTRUCTIBLE SELF-BELIEF by Fiona Harrold [that came free with a magazine a couple of years ago!]

The most absorbing of these three books has to be Michael Winner's. I love it. He hooked me from the first paragraph. His life has been so varied and interesting. As well as there being some extremely amusing parts, there are also some poignant ones. Like the way he describes how Burt Lancaster spent his last days following a stroke and how Oliver Reed had a smallish funeral in Ireland attended by ordinary folk [the type of friends he had in life] and how he, Michael Winner, was the only celebrity in attendance.

I can well believe this. I met Oliver Reed unexpectantly once at a friend's wedding. We arrived for the evening do and someone said that Mr Reed had turned up in the middle of the wedding with just a sheet wrapped around him. Then he picked up a drink, emptying it over his head, saying, "Here's a toast to the bride and groom!"

So, I wondered if he would show up for that evening as I heard he was staying for the week at the hotel. We hadn't been in the bar for more than a half hour when he showed up with his girlfriend, Josephine, who was later to become his wife and who stayed with him to the end. He was a marvellous character, he spoke to us in a normal way, as if he had always known us. I felt very comfortable in his presence. I asked him what he was doing at the hotel and he said that Josephine had always wanted to see Wales. Then he asked me if I wanted to see his tattoo--which I firmly declined--I knew it was on a certain part of his anatomy!

Anyhow, I digress, back to the books...which type of books do you like to read and what are you reading at the moment?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Writing Association Snobbery!




As I write mainly romantic suspense, so there are crime elements in my novels, I thought it might be an idea to join the Crime Writers Association

So I e-mailed someone at the website and was told to qualify for membership I would need to meet certain criteria. Fair enough. The main thing being that my book was not vanity published [that I should not have paid for publication.] I haven't. Also that I receive royalties, well I do. I thought my application would have been straightforward. Not so.

It was taken to some sort of committee and the upshot is that my publisher is not 'big enough', so I was told in so many words to come back when I have a more well known one. This really makes me mad. The reason I wanted to join in the first place is to network with other crime fiction authors and find out more about meetings etc.

Of course, my Samhain novel, A Taste of Honey, is with a much larger publisher as that book will retail at 801 Borders stores across the US, but that's a romantic comedy. My other books are with The Wild Rose Press. Why should TWRP get penalised because of petty minded individuals who only want their organisation to serve the elite few?

The upshot of all this is, I looked at some of the member pages at The Crime Writers Association and noticed that one of the members recently published, has self published both his books at Lulu! So it appears there is one rule for one and one for another! At least I know all my books have been properly edited and copy edited. Who knows about his.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not knocking Lulu. I think it's great. I've even self published there myself. The books look great and it's a reasonably priced publisher.

In the meantime, I've contacted The Mystery Writers of America
who informed me that I am welcome to join them as an affilate member because TWRP does not appear on their list of approved publishers at the moment. I'm happy with that as at least I will receive most member benefits.

The kind of attitude they have at the CWA reminds me of the kind of people who say they only read 'literary' novels. Surely, all novels are literary in some form or another.

Snobbish behaviour pi**es me off. At the end of the day we all break wind and excrete, but perhaps some people's faeces is 22 carat gold plated!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

To outline or not outline, that is the question!





I was asked yesterday whether I outline when planning one of my books or not?

This is a very good question.

The answer is both yes and no.

Before you you shake your head with disapproval. I'll explain...

I'm a bit of an inbetweener. The only outline is in my head. I'll start off with a story idea, maybe something I've heard on the news or read in the paper. This leads me to a certain scenario, usually the moment something big is about to happen to the protagonist. I'll mull this around in my bonce for a few days and will also construct an ending.

Then I create a picture board. I cut out pictures from magazines or something I've seen online that gives me an impression of the characters and settings I wish to create [sometimes I take actual photographs of settings], and I stick the board up near my computer.

Then I write that first scene and work towards the ending I have planned.

This seems to work for me because I like to surprise myself. I'd hate to know too much about my novel before I started it. So some events are as much as a shock to me as they would be to the reader and I believe this helps when I want them to turn that page!

So, what do you do? Are you a plotter, a pantser, or an inbetweener like me?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Special Delivery!






My babies arrived yesterday! I became a mum to ten author copies of my book, A Taste of Honey. I am so excited about this particular book as it will actually get sold in Waldenbooks/Borders book stores across the U.S. The first time any of my published books will retail in shops.

It's also available from the publisher's website and Amazon:

Publisher's website

Amazon UK

Amazon US


Here is a short excerpt:

The man looked up. The first thing she noticed was his eyes; they were so soulful, fringed with heavy, dark lashes. She found it hard to take her own off them. They were the kind of green you could lose yourself in. For a moment, she forgot why she was here. Her mouth dry, she said, “Er, do you mind if I sit?”

He said nothing, just shook his head, indicating she could sit down if she wanted. Boy, she had a feeling this was going to be hard work.

Out of his pocket, he pulled a battered tin and some cigarette papers. Taking some tobacco, he deftly placed it in the middle of one of the papers and made a roll-up. She watched as he ran the tip of the paper across his tongue and sealed the cigarette. Now was her chance. She leaned forward, so he would get a flash of her ample cleavage, and used her huskiest voice, the one she used for jobs like this.

“Do you mind?” She placed one of her own cigarettes between her lipstick-painted lips. She didn’t normally smoke, but knew it looked seductive and, after all, she had been forewarned he was a smoker.

“Mind what?” he replied, in what sounded like an Irish brogue.

“I was hoping you would give me a light.”

“Oh.” He took a match from the box and struck it. She leaned even closer as the flame touched the tip of the cigarette. “You have to inhale at the same time.” The corner of his lips curved upwards into a half smile. She felt foolish, but she was right about one thing—he was Irish. “Now, you’re not really a smoker, are you?”

“I am,” she replied indignantly and inhaled deeply to prove she was, prompting a coughing fit. If ever Francine felt like the ground should swallow her up, it was right at this very moment.

“Here.” The man handed Fran her drink. She observed he had a tattoo of a shamrock on the back of his forearm. As she took the glass from his outstretched hand, his fingers brushed against hers. A tingly feeling danced over the surface of her skin, taking her by surprise. This wasn’t going to be easy. He didn’t seem the type of person she thought he was. But his wife’s description had been accurate: collar-length, dark brown hair, green eyes, goatee beard, smoker. But no mention of a tattoo. How strange.

Now what? “Come on, you’ve got lucky.” She licked her lips. If she could just get him outside in a compromising situation, a photographer awaited to snap a picture of them together.

“I beg your pardon?”

“I thought you might like to come home with me for a night cap?”

“I don’t usually go off with strange women, darling!” His eyes widened and he drained his pint, then slammed it down on the table.

So that was his game, was it? He had probably guessed his wife had someone following him.

Fran tried to keep her voice controlled. “Isn’t that what lecherous men like you want? A mistress, while your poor wife stays at home looking after the children?”

He gave her a hard stare, as if she had a screw loose. “I don’t know what you’ve been drinking, but I reckon you should make that your last one. I ain’t the marrying kind. And I certainly don’t go around picking up strange women with all the morals of an alley cat.”

Well, he would say that wouldn’t he? If he suspected something.

He got up out of his seat and grabbed his combat jacket from the back of the chair. Shaking his head and muttering under his breath, he pushed past her.

Immediately, Fran was on her feet. “You no-good, two-timing son of a bitch!” The pub chatter ceased and everything went deadly quiet. She hadn’t realised how far her voice would carry. It felt as if time had stopped and all the pub’s regulars were on freeze frame. This was so not how to do her job. It was unethical, but she just couldn’t help herself. The man was arrogance itself.

She watched as his shoulders tensed up. The back of his neck appeared to shrink down into his shoulders. Slowly, he turned.

People were giving him the evil eye and whispering. Good. What did she care if everyone in the pub knew about him?

The man took a deep breath. “Lady, I have never seen you before in my life and, if I ever see you again, it will be too soon.” Then he pushed his way through the crowd that parted like the Red Sea to allow him to pass.

Fran followed close after him. Once on the street, she gave a thumbs-up sign to the photographer slouched against the wall across the road, to indicate he should follow them. One thing was for sure, the Irish bloke could walk at a hell of pace. For someone who smoked, he seemed ultra fit. Fran’s high-heeled shoes pinched her feet and one of her heels got wedged in a crack in the pavement.

“Stop!” she bellowed at the top of her lungs. “I want a word with you.”

The man paused and turned to face her, then burst out laughing as she toppled over and lay spread-eagled on the pavement. Any dignity she had now disappeared. Her dress hitched up around her thighs and her stocking tops were on full view. Fran felt her face heat up.

When his laughter ceased, he ran over and helped her to her feet.

“I can manage, thank you.” She brushed the dirt from her new dress. She had torn it and broken a fingernail into the bargain.

He steadied her, taking no notice of her protests to keep away. Aware of his closeness, she shivered. Brought back to reality, she heard a click behind them. Oh no, she had forgotten—the photographer.

“What the…?” The man furrowed his brow, his lips tightening. “I don’t know what your game is, little lady, but you’d better keep away from me before I do something I might regret.” He quickly walked away.

“Yeah, run away,” Fran shouted after him. “That’s what men like you do. You’re all the same!” She remembered the photographer. “Did you get that?”

“Yep. I fired off a few shots from across the road, but the best one was when he steadied you after you had fallen.” The photographer frowned. “Hey, I’m not too happy about setting this chap up.”

“You’ve done it before, Ralph. Why the pang of conscience?”

“Something doesn’t feel right. Are you sure you had the right bloke?”

“Let me tell you, Ralph, I’ve been in this game for some time now and I know we got the right man.”

* * *

Camille Johnson fingered the large black and white prints and handed them back to Francine. “It’s not him.”

Fran’s stomach flipped over. “Are you sure? Take another look…”

“I think I’d recognise my own husband. I’ve never seen that man before in my life.”

“But I was so sure after the description you gave me. You said where he would be drinking and that he had a goatee beard.”

Mrs. Johnson raised her eyebrows and threw her shoulders back, now towering over Fran. “I said nothing of the sort.”

“Yes, you did. You said, ‘collar-length brown hair, green eyes and goatee beard’.”

Mrs. Johnson looked up at the ceiling in desperation. “I said, ‘collar-length brown hair, green eyes and that he would go to bed’. I meant he would go to bed with the woman in question. I can assure you that my husband does not have a goatee beard!” She flared her nostrils in disgust.

Fran looked at the floor. “Oh! Sorry. It’s just that you don’t see many men with goatee beards these days, so I just assumed.”

“Never assume, dear. It just makes an ass out of you and me. I shall expect a refund, of course.”

Fran swallowed. Now she would have to explain to her boss why she’d failed on this particular assignment. She had been so sure, too. Never mind, she was hardly likely to see the man again, was she? It was his local and she never drank there. She also made it a rule not to return to a pub where she had set up a honey trap. This one she would just have to chalk up to experience.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Orbs -- a trick of the light or psychic phenomenon?




I've noticed recently that some digital pics of me have come out with 'white balls' in them. Upon looking this up on the Internet I'm told by various websites that they are psychic orbs, spiritual energy if you like.

I don't know what to think of this. I feel that there must be some rational explanation as I've never seen these balls on photographs taken of me with the old 35mm cameras. Yet, the thought of orbs intrigues me. Some websites show pictures of these orbs blown up where you can make out faces inside.

I'm open minded at the moment about it all. If you look carefully in the photo above you will see an 'orb' near my cheek/chin [I'm on the right]. Although common sense tells me this must be something to do with the reflection of the flashlight in the window behind me.

N.B: To enlarge pic, just click on it.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

In the bleak mid winter



Unfortunately, this is an awful time of the year for me. Whilst I should be looking forward to 2008 and all it has to bring, I find it difficult because I suffer from SAD -- Seasonal Affective Disorder. In September, I get that 'closed in' feeling as the days get shorter and the nights grow longer. I'm not too bad usually until around Christmas [the St. John's Wort helps a lot]. But then just after Christmas things go downhill.

The best way to describe it is as if I am running on half power -- my batteries aren't fully charged up or something. This has the affect of making me feel as though I have to push myself to do even the mundane tasks and drag myself about the place.

It's not exactly depression. I once had a very severe form of that and so know what depression feels like. At least with SAD I feel as though I will get better and feel 'normal' whatever normal is, again quite soon. The days are drawing out now, coincidentally, my birthday on December 22nd is usually the shortest day of the year and that's around the time when I sink to rock bottom.

I look ahead to spring time and all that has to offer. There are many people who are a darn sight worst off than me. Roll on those shorter nights and longer days, that's what I say!