Saturday, 15 July 2017

Returning Guest Louise Boulter - author of Forgotten

Louise has been a guest several times on the Scribbler and we are fortunate to have her as our guest this week. Her novel is an exceptional story and we have posted a previous excerpt. See it  here  There has been such a terrific response to her story that we asked her to share it one more time.



My book 'Forgotten' is about a man who, after a brutal attack, wakes from a coma and does not know who he is or where he is from. All he has to go on are initials on a wallet the police found, as well as a picture of a woman and a young girl hidden inside the wallet. He makes his way across Canada in the hopes of finding who he is. Along the way, he becomes homeless and his outlook on life changes.


 

 

Part of the proceeds from the sales of the book goes to local soup kitchens and shelters. Thus far, I have been fortunate enough to donate over $1,900.

 








Here is one of many reviews I have received:

 

I read this book over two days and found it really difficult to put down. Not only was the topic of homelessness front and centre — an engaging issue that could always use more attention — it was also well written, with a beautiful storyline that enlightens along the way.
Warning to readers; This book can open your eyes to realities that demonstrate homeless people are just like us, except for one turn of fate.” – Andy L., Former ATV News Director, Dartmouth, N.S. Canada

 

The cover photo was given to me by the wonderful Moncton photographer, Serge Martin.

 



 

Below is an excerpt from my book:
(copyright is held by the author. Used with permission)
 

The only thing that keeps me alive is the hope of finding the woman and child in the photo. Night comes and I’m again not able to get a cot at the Salvation Army. They’re full. Back to the streets. Huddled around those I now call friends. It’s only 6 p.m. and I’m starved. One guy sees the look of hunger on my face and approaches me. 

“Hey, Tee.” I’m surprised he remembers my name since we’ve only talked once or twice.

“I know where we can get all the hot coffee we want and some damn good donuts, maybe even sandwiches.” 

“Lead the way, Chuck.” He’s likely full of it, but I’ll humour him. Either that or he’s planning on robbing the nearest Tim’s. But he’s serious. He tells me he goes to AA meetings about three times a week. 

“They’re a nice bunch there. Don’t judge me neither.” I look at him. I know he drinks whenever he can get his hands on stuff, but he’s also a good guy. Last week he brought a half dozen sandwiches wrapped in napkins for those of us gathered around the garbage can. Didn’t tell us where he got them. Some said they didn’t need anything, but he insisted. So what if he drank? I’d drink too if I were him. As a matter of fact, if I had any money, I’d drink every day, just to ease the pain in my back. 

I follow him.





Visit Louise on FaceBook


Thank you Louise for sharing an excerpt from your compelling story. Looking forward to your future work.






And thank you to you, the visitor. You are what the Scribbler is all about. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Music from “Down Under” with Special Guest Denis Belliveau



Denis Belliveau of Ocean Reef West Australia grew up in Moncton, New Brunswick. He is the founder of Supermoon Den.  He recently released his debut album and it's exceptional. He is kind enough to answer 4 questions for the 4Q Interview.

Supermoon Den is performing at Plan B on July 13th with special guest Luther Chase. (Read more below)
 



4Q: A terrific debut CD Denis. I understand this has been a dream of yours for some time. Did you write all the songs and compose the music? Tell us about this experience and your inspiration.

 
 
 
DB: Thanks Al I appreciate the kind words. It was always a dream of mine to write and record an album or a series of albums.  Most of my musical journey was spent in bands sharing music with others. It was great journey for me to dig deep to write the songs then record them. My inspiration was fueled by having some time to dedicate to this and a willing participant who was at the helm of the mixing desk.
 

4Q: Tell us about your fellow musicians and putting together this great compilation of songs.


DB: I am very fortunate to have a wonderful circle of very talented friends here in West Australia. I originally went in with the intention of recording 4 songs with me and my acoustic guitar and maybe some backing vocals. Jackie was the first to collaborate with her violin and back-up vocals, then I got Frank to come in and put some male back-up vocals and it was then I realized it needed more. Everyone that contributed on the album were all very both good friends and talented musicians who understood the songs and the value of their contribution. 
 

4Q: Share a childhood memory or anecdote.

DB: Many years ago when I was in Moncton working on my paper route, I clearly remember a day when I was doing my thing and day dreaming about leaving town and coming back to Moncton. I was quite young but somehow knew that I was destined to leave at a young age and peruse my dreams. Whenever I go back I take time to walk my paper route and reminisce. It is a grounding exercise that I find very fulfilling. 

 

4Q: Where did the name Supermoon Den come from? What’s in the future for Denis Belliveau, the musician?

DB: I was struggling with an artist name to be honest, very few people in Australian can pronounce my name yet spell it. So I wanted something that would stick, yet t also had to have meaning. During the recording of the album, we happened to have recorded under 2 super moons. One of those evenings had a significant impact on the way we recorded the guitars which had a huge influence on the sound of the album. I tried to register The Den but it was taken with the idea of calling the album The Supermoon Sessions, In the end I decided after much thought to call the project Supermoon Den.

The future is an interesting concept for me as an artist, I have written a few songs for the next album and hope to be recording by the end of the year.

 
 



Anyone can buy the album online via iTunes or via
www.cdbaby.com, or alternatively people can come to the Plan B on July the 13th and purchase a cd. Most people don’t buy cd’s anymore, most of music today it purchased online or downloaded illegally. I may leave a bunch of CD’s at Spin it when I am home.  
 
Here's some samples from the CD.



Thank you Denis for being our guest this week.  Good luck with your future endeavors.
 
Anyone interested in reading more about Luther Chase, please see a previous post on the Scribbler when he was a guest. Go here
 
 
A huge thank you to you - the visitor! Please tell us your thoughts in the comment box below.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Far Out Mall! A short story by Allan Hudson.

Any Science Fiction Lovers out there?

This short story was originally published on the Scribbler in July 2014. It will be part of the new short story collection - Four Boxes of Memories - coming this fall!


Many people know that I work for Peoples Jewellers at Champlain Place, a Mall in Dieppe, New Brunswick. I imagined a Mall in Outer Space - it could happen some day!

                              The Far Out Mall
                                                      Copyright is held by the author.



                                                            May 5, 2657

 

The Far Out Mall is 603 miles above Earth. It’s located in the 16-A Octagonal of the InterCosmic Manor 2599 (the year it was completed). The Off-Earth Living Pod (LP) is two miles long, two miles wide and three hundred feet deep, taking twenty-one years to complete. Shaped like an octagon, the frame is built of lunarium, the hardest and lightest metal known to man, mined deep below the surface of the moon. The ore was smelted, refined and the frame was shaped in the Galactic Forge 2412. The surface is covered with a golden skin of polyalymel, a combination of high density plastic from Earth, malleable alloys and elements from Mars. It has the ability to absorb and store light, providing all the power the manor needs. Sand, immense heat and pressure have been added to the compound to create the nine hundred and fifty-seven transparent glass panels through which its populace can view the stars, other Pods and Earth. Each of its thirty levels is divided into eight sections called an Octagonal.  Each floor has 20 bulk elevators and 78 HTDs - human transmission depositories.

InterCosmic Manor 2599, informally referred to as “Mac99” in reference to the original pioneer of living Off-Earth in self-sustaining  Pods in the twenty third century, Macintosh Fairweather , is home to over 80 thousand people. More than nine hundred of them tend the gardens and the forest on level four, unofficially referred to as the ‘feed and breathe’ level. Hundreds more tend the animals on level three, or manage the silage and fodder or control the enormous stores. Another seven thousand inhabitants work on levels one and two which are devoted to the power plants, the waste center, water control, ventilation, heating, maintenance, computer and communications center, robot and probe repair, janitorial, the recycling complex, the air transport garages, emergency response department and the morgue. The shipping and receiving docks for goods traded with Earth, Jupiter, Venus, Moon stations and the other satellites occupy their own Octagonal on levels one and two.


The owner and the extremely wealthy occupy enormous, extravagant suites on level thirty. They, their robots and their appointed staff are the only ones allowed at that level. Even the HTDs are programmed to detect designated biological signatures from each person’s Mac99 implant that they receive when arriving or are born here. Refusing the implant is not an option. LPs beyond the 200 mile ISB or International Space Boundary are responsible for their own safety, their own laws. Of the 263 LPs circling the earth, only two are hostile. Both orbit at miles 450 and 455 respectively, in the Scatter Zone between miles 445 and 465, where LP 2290 was destroyed by an asteroid. There are very few rules there, every vice you can conceive and slavery is legal. The owners and their mercenaries are ruthless; people do as they are told.  The rogue LPs are officially called LV2477 and LV2501 but the populace refer to them as LV1 and LV2. Only one other LP orbits in this zone, the former InterCosmic PRT(prison/rehab/termination)2344. It revolves the over populated Earth mostly uninhabited, a floating rusting hulk.  
 
 
 

On Mac99 manufacturing takes up levels 14 and 15. Level 16 is dedicated solely to education. Security headquarters, the armory, admin, governmental offices, entertainment facilities, a worship hub, and hospital are all on level 17, as is the shopping center. One Octagonal is solely devoted to trade.  The ethnic food franchises are in main entrance. The second hub is where the larger franchises are located, SpaceMart, Future Shop and Fong’s Hardware taking up half the floor area. Beyond that there are boutiques and specialty shops.

On the coveted outer wall the shops face Earth. Each boutique offers full transparent panels where guests can view the ever changing sky as they browse or shop. Luxuriously appointed, only the wealthiest of store owners can afford the lease. Alexander’s Fine Jewellery is one such occupant.  It is situated in the very center of the outer perimeter with the entrance facing the fine dining concourse, the upscale cafes where the moneyed take their lunch. The varied cuisine emits pleasant aromas of spices and rare herbs. People of every possible nationality roam the hallways, searching for baubles or necessities. If the buying patrons venture this deep into the shopping mecca, the only common denominator would be wealth.  Yet, dreamers and the regular drifters roam the halls.

A baby’s cry rises above the gossip and stray chatter that fill the open areas causing people pause. Babies are rare. The mother, her escorts and personal defense droid follow her to an open park-like seating area in the next establishment, Vittorio’s Gardens.  Joe Average cannot afford the protection and usually opts for sterilization. Dreaded creatures called virkon-eptiles, are carnivorous and prefer humans, especially their young. It is only preceding this interruption that patrons eye the golden droids hovering abundantly around the ceilings. One is stationary in front of every HTD which are busy today transporting shoppers.  Every defbot can react within a millisecond of sight, sound or smell of a virkon-eptile, destroying the worm like parasite instantaneously with a powerful laser blast. There is no hesitation from the droid, no matter what or who comes between the dreaded monster and the laser; it will be vaporized as well.

There has not been a sighting for over a year within Old Mack, until last week in Loading Bay 14 on Level 2. It was assumed it ate the driver only minutes before docking his water transport. It took two lasers 1/100th of a second to simultaneously detect and destroy it. Nothing remained except a small gathering of gray ash. Virkon-eptiles grew from a viruses captured on an astronaut’s clothing when the mining of Asteroid Pliney took place last century, his name was Dismas Virkon. Exposed to high CO2 levels and water, the beings that evolved are reptilian, they can think and are able to manipulate their own DNA to replicate anything organic it comes in contact with. It can perform this function for only a short time, thirty minutes or less needing ten to twelve hours to regenerate. Scientists from the InterCosmic Lab2424 are making terrific headway at being able to duplicate this unique ability by experimenting on both dead and live specimens.  All but a small cache of virkon-eptiles have been eradicated. Only those alive are corralled on Prison 2344; they live off the human detritus from LV1 & LV2. Some of them escape. They are extremely fast. Sometimes LPs experience power malfunctions shutting down most defense systems. If a virkon-eptile is hiding, lying in wait, it is this moment it will feed. There was an outage on Mac99 yesterday.

That was why Alexander’s Fine Jewellery is having a PLS – Personal Laser System - installed. During the blackout Mac99’s emergency power went to where it was most needed, especially the HTDs and weapons on the top four floors. The general power was interrupted for only two minutes but 65% of the LP remained weaponless for that short time. That was too long when beings that could eat three humans in ninety seconds might be present.

Gracia Moeller, nee Alexander, does not want to experience such fear like she did when they experienced the outage before closing time yesterday.  Every unit went to immediate lock-down. Doors shut whether you were in or out or in between. Everyone was scrambling for a place to hide, knocking over the chairs, sliding and bunching up her antique carpets, tipping her Moon Drop display with several of the rare crystals shattering. People beating at her glass doors that she was unable to open broke her heart. She shakes her thick auburn hair out of her face as she tries to forget about last night and concentrate on serving her guest. Handing a gaily colored gift bag with the Alexander A in gold foil gracing the outer flap, to a young man distinguished by his spindly frame and bushy eyebrows, she says,

“Thank you for your business Mr. Dubrowski. This is a moment neither you nor your dear friend Candace will ever forget. Please bring her in sometime so we can meet her.”

‘Thank you for helping me pick out that beautiful ring, I know she’s going to love it.”

Blushing and grinning he waves as he hastens to leave, already late on his lunch break from the Orbital Control Center where he monitors the propulsion systems in the eighth sector. 

Gracia waves back before surveying her premises. Beside her the PLS Installer, a bent- over middle aged man, terribly bowlegged and much too serious, is sliding a black box into a cubicle he shaped under the serving area that centers the premises.  The work station is within the twelve foot circle. The base is uncommon red pine harvested from underwater fifty years after the flooding of the lower mountains in Canada when a large portion of the Arctic polar cap melted rapidly in the twenty third century. Crafted into a perfect circle, the lacquered wood supports a thin 30 inch horizontal panel where the clients are served. The total surface of the counter is a layer of durable, touch and voice sensitive, extreme-tech plasma. The overall screen shows a replica of the circles of Saturn. The point of sale or POS system can be anywhere they are standing.

Gracia has her hands upon her shapely hips, jewels sparkling from several well-manicured fingers. Her silk jacket is tucked neatly behind them. She regards her number one sales person, Aisha regale one of their regular patrons to the joys of owning a four carat Martian cyntonium, the largest available Off-Earth.  Her part time worker, Cristofer, is rearranging her Moon Drop display, adding new pieces to replace the broken ones. Michelle her manager is helping a young couple select their wedding bands. There are two other patrons in the store, “just looking”. The Installer is replacing his tools in the small cloth bag he brought in with him. Wiping his hands on a faded blue cloth he turns to Gracia.

“Everything is ready to go Ms. Moeller.”

He hands her two pulse pistols, the latest in fashion weaponry as well as two stylish holsters that are chameleonized to change color with whatever outfit they may be wearing. One is custom built to fit in her hand only, programmed to recognize the ID signal from her implant only, the trigger activated by her nerve impulses only. The other is for her manager. With a long face that expresses little joy for his work, the installer adds as if by rote.

“These will be charged tomorrow by one of our guns specialists. He or she will be explaining the usage, the dangers, the responsibilities, the laws, the licensing and the deadliness of these weapons. I urge extreme caution, always. I hope you never have to use them. There are holders for these in the console I just installed, where they will remain at night to hold their charge. Did you have any questions before I leave?”

Gracia eyes the large letters emblazoned on the chest of his coveralls BOB.  Thinking that the letters are his name, she says,
“So the guns are harmless now Bob?”

Scrunching his brow with a questioning look he replies.

“Name’s Ralph and yeah, you couldn’t kill a mars-bugg with these.”

What Ralph had no way of knowing is that the apprentice armorer, in her zealous approach to her new responsibilities did indeed charge these weapons. Not understanding the flag in the work orders, the “gunrat”, as they were referred to in the armory, loaded a full force to each one in her work station. In a parlance from the twentieth century, that still defines a deadly readiness –they are, locked and loaded.

Placing the paraphernalia on the counter top, Gracia turns to him with her hand out adding a smile.

“Oops, sorry Ralph.” She points her finger at the letters on his chest, “I thought…well anyway, thank you for the nice work. Please come back and visit again, bring the Mrs.…”

She is interrupted by the distinct sound of sharp heels clicking on the hard stoneoleum in the hallway. She stops shaking Ralph’s hand standing motionless with her ear cocked towards the sound. A frown crosses her pretty face, the dimples more pronounced. Ralph bug eyes at her sudden hesitation, deciding he should leave. Releasing her hand he hastens away.

“Good day to you Ms. Moeller.”

Gracia is ignoring him, all thoughts of the installer vanished, all thoughts of the loaded weapons eliminated. Pursing her lips, rubbing her hands in anticipation, she realizes from the gait of the approaching clackety-clack it is that damn Mrs. Abernathy.  The woman will not quit. Turning to Michelle who has heard the announcement as well, they nod in confirmation. They already planned what to do when the bothersome shopper turned up.

 

Agnes Abernathy is not as wealthy as she pretends to be. Inheriting a suite of rooms on the 27th level from her fourth husband is difficult to maintain when the slime left everything else to his mistress. Using the last of the currency her father bequeathed her, the botcredits are going quickly. She has the annoying habit of buying expensive jewels and returning them after she wears them to some social function that the rich dally in. Her relentless pursuit of spouse #5, in her mind, requires being seen at all the ‘right’ places, as well as being seen in the latest and richest baubles. Even after the passing of centuries, the advancement in sciences, the ease of living, some things never change.

The latest acquisition was a pair of earrings. Flawless 1.4 carat shycetic gems from Phobos, the largest moon of Mars. Only 3000 carats were mined before the operation was deserted as being too costly with fewer gems being discovered. Light that is captured in them returns to the beholder’s eyes as a dazzling spectrum of strong colors. They are very hard to find. Making them even more valuable is that they are they only precious stone to have a scent, emitting an aroma that can only be depicted as floral. The stones adapt to each human’s chemistry to evoke a unique perfume. Highly sought after, they are very expensive. Mrs. Abernathy purchased them on Friday. She will want to return them today.

The irritable noise of her approach is hushed when she turns into the store to walk upon antique hemp rugs woven by hand in the 24th century by weavers from the “Double LP” (Love & Peace Living Pod 2401). Agnes Abernathy is doomly clad in this season’s colors, black and blood red. Only her pink hat covering short silver locks softens her somber presence. Her face and hands are dyed a silver slightly darker than her hair which is quite the rage for those that visit earth frequently. For some unexplainable reason many rich men find it attractive. Holding a matching pink clutch in one silver hand, she swings a small tote with the recognizable A upon it. When she reaches the counter where Gracia is standing she moues as she waves the bag in the air before setting it upon the sales area.

“I’m sorry Gracia but these just won’t do, there is too much blue in their dispersion and it clashes horribly with my wardrobe. I’m afraid I’ll have to return them my dear.”

Gracia is trying very much to be nice, it is ingrained in her from her ancestors to show their clients respect but this has got to come to an end. With a smile that might freeze butter, she says,

“I’m afraid not Mrs. Abernathy. Did you not read the notice on your communicator when you purchased them? They are not returnable. It states very clearly on your notification?”

Abernathy steps back in astonishment at the boldness of Gracia’s delivery. Her immediate thought is the five hundred thousand botcredits the jewels represent. Currency she cannot afford to be without. Indignation takes precedence over kindness as she replies coldly,

“I care little of what is posted on my “communicator” as you call it. I’m much too busy to trifle over mere receipts of payment. I purchase many items here Ms. Moeller”

The speech is more formal. In her guest’s hesitation Gracia speaks up.

“You indeed make many purchases Mrs. Abernathy but you return everything.”

Gracia cannot contain herself any longer. She does not run a rental shop.  One hand akimbo, the other with an accusing finger pointing at her client’s grey pallor made pinkish by the boiling blood within.

“I’m wise to you Mrs. Abernathy, you wear the purchases to one of your calendar events and then return them but not always this soon. Of course we do not move in the same groupings, I did however, see you at the Spatial Charity Experience. Those very earrings caused quite a sensation amongst the hundreds that attended. I searched for the owner, knowing you had the only ones aboard the Manor. I’m sorry, but you own those now.  Now if you please, I would appreciate it if you would leave.”

Almost sorry she said it Gracia softens somewhat. Agnes Abernathy does not. In a loud voice so that everyone can hear, she exclaims her disappointment, the way she is being treated. More angrily she goes on about her distaste for anything she purchased, her demands for the return of the earrings. Gracia cannot calm her down. She has a sudden hate for this woman that continues to harangue her. Everyone in the store is still. The two “lookers” decide to leave. Patrons in the restaurants across the way have paused in their dining to listen. There is no stopping the dirge of anger that passes through Abernathy’s mouth. When the language begins to turn profane, Gracia decides it is time to summon security.  When she reaches down to the console she spies the pulse pistols. Picking up the one that is hers, the molded weapon slides easily into her grip. The sleek weapon is the most advanced available. It takes fifty thousand nanoseconds to respond to Moeller’s ID. Wishing it was loaded she points it at the yelling woman in a mocking gesture, even though it is illegal to use it on human beings.

Abernathy knows what is in Moeller’s hand and immediately shuts up, backing several steps from the serving area. Gracia thinks the weapon is sterile. Nerve impulses to the sensitive tellium surface of the trigger tells it to fire. A beat of pure energy is released to consume the first obstacle in its path which in this case is Mrs. Abernathy. Like a black hole, the woman implodes, every iota of her being is consumed within seconds.

Gracia Moeller cannot believe what she has done. Her voice is a shocked whisper.

“Ohh Shit.”

 







Thanks for dropping by the Scribbler. Hope you enjoyed the Far Out Mall.





Please leave a comment below!
 

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Guest Author Margaret (Meg) Sorick of Pennsylvannia.


I am always sort of stymied when someone asks me to tell them about myself. I haven't exactly figured out who I am I suppose, but I'll tell you what I've got so far...

I am a writer. I write because I love to read. In fact, I'm a book junkie. I need to read. I want to climb in books and live there. I want to meet the characters, walk in their shoes, fight their battles, fall in love with their heroes...Oh I do go on, don't I? Nevertheless, I imagine I share that same enthusiasm with most passionate readers. And likewise those readers dream about writing stories of their own. Does that mean I'm living the dream?

My father was a story-teller. It's only now, looking back, that I appreciate what a vivid imagination he had! He made up a whole series of adventures involving our neighbor's cat Mopsy, and another one with a little old man and a cuckoo clock that always saved the day. He would weave a tale out of thin air. And as a result, I came about my love of stories and books, naturally.

I loved taking notes in school and writing letters to my friends who moved to Florida when I was a little girl. I kept a diary from the time I was eight years old right up to about age fourteen. I still have some of the notebooks I filled with poetry when I was a teenager. I excelled in English, ignored it to the detriment of my other subjects, yet was never encouraged to pursue it as a career. C'est la vie!

I went to college, majored in marketing, learned to write ad copy and design polls and surveys. Graduated in a time of recession and couldn't get a job. I was floundering. I ended up working in a retail clothing store, which ultimately led me to pursue a career change. At twenty-one, I found myself with such back pain, I could barely walk. Long story short, chiropractic saved the day and I found my new calling, I went back to school, started working in my field, got married, etc. Suddenly I realized it had been a year since I thought about writing.

One day, a few years ago, I was sitting in the stylist's chair at the hair salon, touching up the blonde and reading my book to pass the time. My stylist said to me "You're always reading. Did you ever want to write a book yourself?" "Sure," I laughed. "Doesn't every reader want to be a writer?" "You should do it," she said. "Hmm," I thought. "But what am I going to write about?"

I bought a nice notebook, a collection of fancy pens, started following other writers on Tumblr first and then Wordpress. After what amounted to months of reading about writing, I finally started jotting ideas of my own and four years later....

I have published four books in a series on Amazon. This series of romantic suspense novels is set in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where I live. They are stories about ordinary people with families, people who fall in love and sometimes find themselves in outrageous circumstances. Add some suspense, humor, family dynamics and good conversation and voila!. I've just finished the first draft of a fifth novel in the series, which will hopefully be ready for publication this summer. In addition, I've written a collection of short stories, poems and dabbled in both art and photography, all of which are featured on my blog. I call it my mid-life renaissance. I also write about things I've learned along the way - including errors and blunders, bits of interesting research and the things that move and inspire me. I love the idea of connecting with other creative people who are trying to live their dreams, as well. I welcome honest feedback and above all else, know that I am happy to meet you!





 
See Margaret's books here 


An excerpt from: Here Lies a Soldier - by Margaret Sorick

 Copyright held by the author. Used with permission

December 26, 1912

 

The morning after Christmas was always a little glum. Especially this year with father so ill. There’d been no money for presents and our only treat was the honey cake Mama had made for dessert. Of late, we girls had had to find ways to contribute and for me that meant work at the manor house on the hill.  

The air was cold, I could see my breath. The warmth from the stove hadn’t made it to the upper room I shared with my two sisters. I quickly washed my face and hands in the icy water from the basin and pulled on my clothes. I’d brush my hair downstairs by the stove and talk to Papa while I braided it. We’d moved a cot next to the stove so that he could keep warm over night. 

Mama had gone out already, it appeared. She cooked for the vicar in the village and would have to get his breakfast for him.  

“Papa,” I said softly. I laid a hand on his arm. He came awake coughing so I helped him to a sitting position and pounded his back like the doctor had instructed. When the spams stopped, he signaled for a glass of water. I fetched it for him and held it to his lips. 

"Thank you, my dear," he rasped. "How's my girl?" 

I smiled. "I'm good, Papa. How are you feeling?" 

"Right as rain, Love. Right as rain. I'll be on my feet again before two shakes of a lamb's tail," he said with a reassuring smile. "Now tell me... How many pages did you read last night?" 

Papa was adamant that we girls continue learning. He had hoped that we would be able to train to become teachers or nurses. Of course, that supposed we wouldn't find husbands. And I always teased him that he thought the three of us were going to be 'left on the shelf.' 

Conversation with my father was always easy. Most men would rue the lack of a son to carry on the family name. Not so my Da. He loved his three daughters more than the best of the sons he could've sired. My younger sisters hadn't yet lived up to his expectations, but they were still young. Clara was just 14 -three years younger than me, and Grace another year younger than her. They would, in time, flourish under Papa's guidance. Which was why he just had to get better. He just had to... 

I sat on a stool beside his cot and brushed out my hair while I told him all about the book I was reading. I plaited the long dark tresses into a single thick braid and then wound that into a bun. There was just enough time to fix tea and a slice of toast for the both of us before I bundled into my coat and set out for Prentice House, the manor on the hill. 

The day dawned grey and cold, with just a hint of snow in the air. At least I was assured of abundant warmth in the Prentice home. The family had a houseful of guests for the holidays. Normally, I worked with the cleaning staff, but with the extra mouths to feed, I'd been reassigned to help in the kitchen. 

When I entered through the servants' door on the ground floor, the kitchen was already bustling with activity. Simmering pots of porridge, fresh loaves from the oven, pans of eggs, sausages and bacon were keeping warm until the guests assembled for breakfast. It would be up to Nancy and me to wash and scrub all those pots and pans as they were emptied onto platters to be taken up to the dining room.  

I hung my coat and scarf on the peg, tied my apron around me and got to work. The butlers and maids scurried about delivering and returning dishes for refill. My hands were raw from scrubbing and scouring by the time the last pan was clean. We had a precious hour to rest before we'd need to start on the pans that were already in use for the next meal. Nancy and I helped ourselves to a cup of tea and sat side by side at the servants' table in the dining area next to the kitchen.

"What'd you do for Christmas, then?" she asked.  

I looked into my cup, embarrassed. "My ma made us a stew. We had a honey cake for dessert. That's it." I shrugged. "How about you?" 

"Made a goose, my ma did." 

"Shut up, Nancy. You're lying," I snapped. 

"It's true," she boasted.  

I ignored her and sipped my tea.  

We sat in uncomfortable silence till the tea was gone and our break was over. I stood, pushing my chair back and taking my cup to the sink to wash. Nancy was always putting on airs. A goose, indeed. Likely as my Da being elected Prime Minister. 

Mrs. Cooper was herding the rest of the girls into position when the head butler appeared in a panic. "Quickly!" he gestured, as he gasped for breath. "It's a disaster! The table...  it's collapsed... food everywhere... hurry!" 

Every free hand was put to work cleaning up the mess as the Prentice family and their guests looked on. Mr. And Mrs. Prentice appeared embarrassed and horrified, while their two haughty daughters looked like they'd just sucked lemons expecting them to be sugar cubes. Only young Hugh Prentice gazed upon the scene with a twinkle in his eye and a smile threatening on his lips. When he caught me looking at him, he set the smile free and winked. I averted my eyes, blushing, but couldn't keep my own smile from turning up the corners of my mouth. I busied myself with the cleanup until every scrap and spill was dealt with. And as I stood, wiping my hands on my apron, I looked up to find the blue eyes of Hugh Prentice still staring at me.
 
 
 
 
 
Thank you Margaret for being the guest this week on the Scribbler.
 
 
 
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Saturday, 10 June 2017

Guest Author Debbie Jinks of Great Britain


I am a UK girl, dragon lover, wildlife lover, fanatic reader and now writer also, and a bit of a dreamer. Coffee and chocolate are my downfall, but I enjoy walking and running so that kind of makes up for it. That’s my excuse anyway!

I never set out to be a writer, well not stories as such. I was a professional singer/songwriter for 15 years, singing was always my passion from childhood. It took a major change in my life to take me in the other direction. I suffered a head injury which left me with no sense of smell or taste, this is called Anosmia. It was such a devastating and life changing condition that I began a blog as a way of releasing my sadness and loss. As I wrote I realised, not only was it a therapeutic thing for me to do, but also that I loved writing. My writing slowly came to life from there and as this happened I came back to life too.

I now have a writing website, and also continue my Anosmia blog alongside it. I am in the process of writing a fantasy novel and have written some short stories in that genre also. Having taken a fantasy writing diploma in which I achieved a distinction, I truly feel I have found my writing niche. In a crazy way if my Anosmia had never occurred my writing wouldn’t have either. I suppose even though I could have done without all that pain and heartache, had I not gone through it I would never have found myself at this point.

Now I try to write every day weather it turns out to be good or not so good I find it immensely satisfying. I want to take my writing to another level now which is why I’m writing a book, and I’m so pleased with my short stories. Maybe I’ll write an autobiography about my Anosmia one day. But for now my fantasy writing world is enough.
 

 
 
Now You See Me (copyright is held by the author. Used with permission)
The grass was damp under his feet as in his haste Rory had forgotten to put his shoes on. He walked over to the two Gnomes his feet already starting to feel cold. “What are you two playing at?” He whispered under his breath, “Are you trying to wake up mum and dad?”
“No, my grumpy brother here won’t let me play with this bracelet, even though I found it in the first place.” Lawrence said
“Let me have a look then,” said Rory. Len the oldest of the brothers reluctantly handed the bracelet to him. “I’ve never seen this before, where did you find it?”
“In the grass under the oak tree, where the farmer grazes those silly, illiterate sheep of his.”
“Don’t be mean” said Milly, landing on Rory’s shoulder, “they can’t help it if they don’t understand you, even I don’t sometimes”
“That’s because you are a scatty little Sprite!” said Lenny.  Rory ignored the bickering and put the bracelet into his jacket pocket. “I’ll give this to mum tomorrow maybe she can ask around and find out who it belongs to. But enough of this, my feet are freezing, it’s the middle of the night and I have school in the morning!”
Crystal rubbed up against Rory’s legs. “Where’s that dragon when you need him she purred, he could warm your feet up.”
“I’m not letting Casper near my feet he’ll burn them.”
“Oh well just a thought, I’m off to see if there’s anything to chase”.
 
“Did I hear my name being called Master Rory?”
“Casper where have you been, and don’t call me master you know I don’t like it”.
 “Ok”, Casper shrugged.
“His feet are cold” said Milly “do you think you could warm them up without burning his toes off?”
“No sweat, get it no sweat ha, ha, sit on the path master,….um Rory and I’ll soon have them warm as toast.”
 “I’d prefer them not to be toasted Casper, but ok my toes have gone numb now.”
“Well it probably wouldn’t hurt if he did burn them in that case,” Lawrence said.
Once Rory’s toes were warm enough for him to walk back to the house, he dashed in before they got cold again. Groaning inwardly he realized the whole entourage had followed him too. Crystal was still out chasing things however. “At least that’s one less for now”, Rory thought.
 
After a sleepless night Rory got ready for school. “Thanks to you lot I’m done in this morning” he said. “I did try to snooze but you were making such a racket even that didn’t happen.” They all looked at him sheepishly as he stomped out of the bedroom door. 
Downstairs his mum was making breakfast. “Did you sleep in this morning love? You’re late for your breakfast.” His mum couldn’t see Rory’s magical friends so he couldn’t exactly tell her the truth.
“Yes mum my bed was so comfortable, I didn’t want to move.” He knew that was a pretty lame excuse but it would have to do, he was too tired to come up with a more convincing one. After a rather rushed breakfast, he grabbed his schoolbag and dashed off to catch the school bus. “By mum,” he called hurriedly. In his haste he’d forgotten all about the bracelet in his pocket.
 
Focusing on his lessons that morning was almost impossible, but he tried to look interested before the school bell sounded for break time. He want and hid out at the end of the school playing field it was warm with a gentle breeze and he needed the fresh air to revive him. He hadn’t been there long when a girl he didn’t recognize walked over to him. She was small with short blonde hair and a stubborn look on her face. “I’ve come over here for some peace and quiet” she said. “Those silly giggly girls drive me mad!”
“Well you’re going to be popular with an attitude like that.”
“I don’t want to be popular” exclaimed the girl, “I want to be left alone!”
“Well don’t let me stop you” said Rory and walked further down the field.
He hadn’t been there long when Milly materialized on his shoulder making him jump. “Milly why did you make yourself invisible, you know I’m the only one can who see you, and you lot”, he said quietly as the others appeared out of the grass. “Why are you all here? I’ve told you before not to come to my school.”
“Well you just said yourself you’re the only one that can see us so there’s no danger” said Len.
“Anyway,” piped up Casper, “we felt bad about last night so thought we’d come and cheer you up a bit.” 
“Yes I suppose we are a bit sorry” admitted Lawrence reluctantly.
“Ok you’re forgiven, but you’d best go in case that grumpy girl over there thinks I’ve gone crazy talking to myself.”
“Ahh mmm too late” said Milly, “she’s coming over.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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