Archive for February, 2008

What’s novel about a novel?

February 28, 2008

Apparently, according to the book buying public, very little!  Since I am doing second editions of Blazing Embers and When Angels Lie, wanting to shift the first editions, I took samples down to a market stall this morning.  The stall-holder simply said he would not be able to sell them. “They only buy novels.”  “These are novels,” I told him, “and they have good reviews. Second editions are being printed shortly. You can have them very cheap and they are signed.”   “I couldn’t sell them. They only want Cookson and all the popular ones like you see here.”   A glance at the many book covers told me that they were all second-hand ‘bargain basement’ soft-covers of the ones often sold NEW for 3 for a fiver!  I have an idea the customers take back ones they have read and get another for a smallish charge.  Hence, his stock is constantly replenished and he has no books to buy.  So I took my books over to the Oxfam shop where they have an excellent well laid-out book section — the whole of the ground floor. They usually sell them pretty quick there. I was pleased to see they only had one book left of the four I took on Saturday. So I went home smiling! I guess at that place my books are novel compared with the mass-market paperbacks! 

James Patterson thrill-her (and it did!)

February 21, 2008

1st To Die by James Pattenson is a first class pageturner. A book hard to put down (not much work done this week!) My hubby was as keen to carry on reading to me, as I was to sit listening. Mind you, I was feeling weary at the time and, after my household chores, not eager to get on with editing my book. 


The many twists and turns of the plot involving murder of couples on their wedding day, along with a subplot concerning the dire medical condition of the officer in charge of the investigation, plus her emotional involvement with the cop assigned to her, and her groupie friendship with a bright young female journalist, a female medical examiner, and her female superior at work, all call for stamina and concentration, made easier by the story divided into 127 chapters as they dash from scene to scene.


The only reservation for me was the very end, which I thought OTT after what had gone before and somewhat stretched credulity.  But…

I entered Phools Paradise — never to leave it?

February 18, 2008

If anyone reading this has ever visited you will be aware of the strange nature of that blog.

Now, one may ask, “Then what is a blog?”

I’m not sure you will find the answer in Phools Paradise. In this case I can only say a blog is an ‘experience’, and a strange one at that. Forget political correctness and gentility, normality and sanctity, of the written word, this blog is something else! And you will only understand what I mean if you visit it yourself.

But be patient, it takes time for the wackiness of this place to sink in and enter your system. Big things are afoot and you are only likely to fully realise the immensity of what is happening if you allow yourself to leave a footprint, in the form of a comment. This I did and wow! Life will never be the same again! Fame and fortune is mine in Phools Paradise.

Sweet things are on the horizon, but I am not sure that there will be enough jelly beans to go round.  One might say that writers like me already live in a Fools Paradise. (You ain’t goin’ anywhere, mate!) And I guess that is true, for it shows in the stress and strain of getting my books into print and moving, ever hopefully, into the public domain. But, being daft, in Phools Paradise I am at home!

Murder By Stealth… another of my short stories

February 13, 2008


Murder by Stealth


She waited quietly in the shadows, watching them drink from cans.

They were always the same: when not smoking or gulping down lager, they were shouting obscenities at passers by. Foul-mouthed louts! Oh yes, she’ll make them pay for what they did to Trixie. ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’…that’s what the Good Book says. Maybe she could manage two birds with one stone? Hum….


‘Do you think Mum’s all right? I mean, she seems to be acting very odd lately. Mumbling to herself, not eating properly… and I’ve heard her walking around her room at night. She hardly talks to me — to any of us — since we moved here.’

Sam looked over his paper. ‘It’s the move… grief for what was, and never will be again…. Just the same when Dad died. Give her time.’

‘All right for you… off to work, leaving me to cope. Same at night, you sleep while I have to make sure she comes to no harm. The way she is now, she’d be better off in care.’ Laura slammed down a plate of scrambled eggs in front of Sam. ‘You just won’t accept that Mum’s gaga.’

Sam put aside his paper and picked up his fork. ‘Admit it, you never did want my mum living with us. I put up with your mother for a year before she had that fall. Besides, have you any idea how much it would cost?’ He loaded egg into his mouth but went on talking, ‘Bad enough we have to fork out for your old biddie without mine joining her.’

‘Do you have to talk with your mouth full? And we are not paying anything for my mother; the sale of her house raised more money than she’ll ever need. With that cancer eating her away, the poor old thing hasn’t long to live….’ She sat down, hands over her streaming eyes.

Sighing heavily, Sam threw down his fork and pushed his plate aside. ‘Oh for goodness sake, Laura, stop wailing.’

‘I’m not wailing. You have no idea what it’s like here all day with your mother the way she is.’

‘Just give the old buzzard time. She’s probably missing our kids as well as her old home…. I’m late for work. We’ll discuss it tonight.’

‘As usual, run away and leave me to cope.’

Sam was already in the hall pulling on his coat. ‘Get yourself dressed, woman; you’re always hanging around in a dressing gown.’

The front door slammed behind him.


Huh, fighting again, they’re always bloody fighting. They don’t want me here. They just want my money. ‘Honour your father and mother’… but not them, no, not them. Well, I’ll show them who’s an old biddie. Oh yes, I’ll creep out tonight when they’re busy in bed (do they think I can’t hear them at it?) and take revenge for Trixie. Those kids’ll wish they’d never been born. Laura won’t be happy either!


She peeped through the curtain. It was dark outside, only light from street lamps lit up the garden. Noises from the ceiling told her Sam and Laura were at it again. Through the open window, she could hear the lads on the footpath by the stream. She crept to the hall, slipped on Laura’s old voluminous black coat and fished out a silver-knobbed walking stick from the back of the cupboard. Then she put on Laura’s shiny black boots. Silently giggling, she let herself out of the front door, closing it to, but not locking it.


Yes, they were there, just ahead. A fire burning… probably broken up another seat. Take it steady, mustn’t trip and ruin things. Little devils, what a mess all over that picnic table. Cans and cartons all over the place. Huh! Now they’re throwing the cans down into the stream. Tinny music coming from somewhere… they must have one of them phone things that can do everything except wipe your bottom. Chips smell nice…. It’s ages since Laura brought home fish and chips.

I can see them clearly now; wearing them ‘orrible hoods…. Right, go carefully….


Raising the knob-end of the walking stick in the air, she ran forward howling like a hound from hell!

Startled, the boys looked up to see the dark figure towering over them with arms in the air. Too late for one boy to move out of the way — the silver knob caught his nose and eye. A pitiful scream faded as the boy collapsed over the table; blood streaming over his supper, like tomato sauce from a broken bottle.

Yelling and falling over each other, the three other youths tried to escape the punishing blows of the howling monster’s stick. An injured boy backed into the fire — shrieks, accompanied by sparks, rent the air! Another youth tripped over and rolled over nettles and rough ground down to the stream below. The crying third boy, trapped by the table where they had been sitting, pleaded for mercy. But the demented ghoul refused to be assuaged: the bloodied silver knob struck again and again and again.


She opened the door quietly. Muffled voices came from upstairs.

‘Huh! Still at it.’

She silently locked the door and, in the semi-darkness, slipped off Laura’s boots, carefully placing them in the hall cupboard. Still wearing the coat and carrying the stick, she felt her way to the kitchen, where she wiped blood from off the coat and walking stick with a piece of dry kitchen towel. Happily humming to herself, she returned coat and stick to where she had found them.

Stocking-legged, she felt her way back to her bedroom, poured herself a glass of brandy from a bottle kept in a secret place — the back of her clothes cupboard — and prepared herself for a good night’s sleep, content in the knowledge that Trixie had been avenged. ‘That showed ’em — all of ’em!’ she chuckled, ‘and just maybe….’


Laura poured tea into Sam’s cup. ‘Have you heard anything about that attack on those boys the other day?’

‘Don’t expect any more than you have. One youth has died… the other boys are too badly injured to make much sense. They keep muttering about a demon coming at them from behind. At least one does, the others say it was an alien from space, which kept howling and shrieking. I guess it was a rival gang. Bloody kids… drinking and drugged out of their minds.’

‘It doesn’t feel safe here any more. What about your mother? Maybe we shouldn’t let her out on her own. She’s getting quite frail, anyone could attack her. It really is time she went into care.’

‘Not again! Just drop it. She’s been quite happy these last couple of days. Haven’t you noticed?’

‘Huh! The old biddie is demented! She keeps muttering something about Trixie — who the hell is Trixie?’

‘Trixie? That old mongrel she had about twenty years ago? If I remember right, it came home one day looking as if it had been in an accident. Poor old bitch. It was already half blind and crippled with arthritis… due for the knacker’s yard anyway. It should never have been out.’

‘So she is barmy then?’

‘Of course not. Just forgetful…. Drop it, can’t you? Mum’s never done you any harm, leave her be!’

The doorbell rang. Laura went through to the hall. Sam heard voices beyond the open door.

‘Mrs Brown? Mrs Laura Brown?’

‘Yes. What is this about?’

‘I understand from our enquiries that you own a long black coat… or maybe a cloak? …Is this your driving licence?’

‘Let me look.… Seems to be. Where did you find it?’

‘We’ll come to that later…. We have a warrant to search these premises.’


From another part of the hall, came the sound of cackling laughter.

Another of Michael Allen’s detective stories

February 11, 2008

Spence At Marlby Manor by Michael Allen

 Another of Allen’s excellent stories with Detective Chief Superintendent Ben Spence in the leading role. Anyone preferring a contemporary yarn with a detective’s tangled personal life as a main feature must look elsewhere, this is a true classical whodunit with enough suspense and memorable characters to engage the reader without distracting additions.


 An ageing Lady of the Manor, her companion and staff, her doctor, plus relatives eager to grasp her money, all play their part in a classical theme of accidents, suspicion, and finally — murder. Clues that lead even the detectives astray, well described colourful characters that turn the reader’s attention one way and then another, keep up the tension right to the last page.

The Seagull & Le Corsair by Brian Withecombe

February 4, 2008

Here we have a story in the Hornblower tradition. I am not going to compare this with any books of this genre because I have never read any of these sailing ship yarns, nor any other book that has anything whatsoever to do with the Royal Navy — past or present.   So why read this one? (More correctly, why has my hubby read the book with me listening?)  Well, I have to confess it was written by an acquaintance, but that alone would not be enough reason to read right through a book — and my husband doesn’t know the author anyway.  The book is of a different genre to what we usually read, it makes a change and the book has an interesting cover which suggests adventure.  Plus we both enjoy a “whodunnit“.  We were not ‘obliged’ to read the book and I didn’t think my hubby would do so for long, but we both got into the adventure and finished it within the week.   My hubby thought it would be a good ripping yarn for the middle-teen market, or any lad who enjoys Treasure Island and the like. Plenty of info on canons, old guns, sailing ships and naval procedure. (Absolutely great for those interested in sailing ships.) Plenty of blood and thunder and well-drawn characters to get emotionally involved with. The story sails along at a good pace too.  For those interested in history, it is a vivid portrayal of ‘war at sea’ with Revolutionary France and the battle for supremacy within the Caribbean, with pirates and privateers to contend with as well as the enemies of England.   A good yarn and, with a fairly large print, an easy book to read.  Speaking for myself, a few of the ‘explanations’ within the story might have been better in a glossary so as not to intrude in the story. (My hubby does not agree)