Image courtesy of Roger Bultot
Nothing. I’ve nothing except dust and junk. Mama’s attic virtually bare now. Opening the last box, I’m hit by colour and memories as vibrant as the shimmering material I find myself clutching to my chest, which aches with longing.
‘Do you have to go?’ I’d asked.
‘It’s how we’ll make our fortune.’ Mama kissed my nose as she set off for another long shift, sewing clothes for the ungrateful jewellery maker’s wife.
I lift the dress to the light. It’s heavy. Surely too heavy? The sparkles too bright to be fake?
I remember the headline ‘Missing diamond mystery.’
Perhaps I have something after all.
Happy New Year! Tomorrow, Thursday 4th January, at 19.30 GMT I’m live on the Facebook Group Crime Book Club, answering questions about writing, publishing and books as well as discussing my latest novel, The Surrogate. Whether you’re a reader or writer do pop over and join me if you can. You’ll need to join the group first here.
Diamonds & Dust was written for Friday Fictioneers. A weekly 100 words story challenge inspired by a photo prompt and hosted by Rochelle. You can read the other entries here.
Image courtesy of J Hardy Carroll
The camera flashes are as dazzling as my smile. Angling my body, I suck in my stomach. All I ever wanted was to be famous.
‘Silly cow.’ You slammed your fist into my face. ‘Ain’t nobody never gonna wanna look at you.’
But you were wrong, weren’t you?
‘How are you going to plead?’ I am asked again. Already the papers are calling me Sleeping Beauty. I’d stabbed you while sleepwalking – allegedly anyhow. Now everyone knows my name. My solicitor says he’ll line up talk shows once I’m acquitted.
I push out my chest as I’m led into the court. It’s my time to shine.
I am ridiculously excited that tomorrow is paperback publication day for The Gift in the UK! I can’t wait to visit the bookshops & supermarkets & see my second psychological thriller on a shelf. Tesco have an exclusive edition with a short story in I’ve written especially for their customers. Don’t think I’ll be getting much sleep tonight!
’15 minutes’ was written for Friday Fictioneers. A weekly 100 word story challenge inspired by a photo prompt. Hop over to host Rochelle’s blog to join in.
Image © Marie Gail Stratford
I love Jen.
We’ve been friends forever. First day at preschool. First love. First kiss. First loss.
Now we’ve children of our own.
But today there’s tension between us as we shuffle impatiently in the queue. She smiles, her teeth pointed and white. Nudges me with her sharp elbow.
‘Look.’ She nods behind me.
Stupidly I turn.
Too late, I miss the doors flinging open. Jen racing inside. Triumphant, she raises this Christmas’s must have toy over her head. I’m only seconds behind but the shelf is already empty.
I hate Jen.
I’ve really missed participating in Friday Fictioneers these past few weeks – it’s the first time in years I haven’t taken part but I’m (trying) to focus on nailing the first draft of my fourth psychological thriller which is due out next summer. I couldn’t resist joining in today though. I popped out on Monday for a pint of milk and came back with a Santa dog toy, a tub of Quality Street & a bottle of Bailey’s. The Christmas madness has started!
‘Tis the season’ was written for Friday Fictioneers. A weekly 100 word story challenge inspired by a photo prompt, hosted by Rochelle. Hop over to her blog to read the other entries or join in yourself.
Image courtesy of Douglas M. MacIlroy
I’m free and yet I’m not. Not in a cage but still trapped by bars of my own making, but they bring me comfort, these bars. They keep me safe. They stop me flying because if I were to flutter my wings where would I go? Who would I be? What’s to stop me falling? The world is so huge and I feel so small. So insignificant.
I screw my eyes up tight, blocking the voices telling me I can, my own telling me I can’t. I try. There’s a shift. A movement and then it happens. I’m rising, soaring, flying. Free.
How joyous I was when I saw this perfect prompt. This weekend I conquered a lifelong phobia of public speaking and appeared at the Althorp Literary Festival. You can read how I got on here and see the photos.
Yesterday I had a great time on the radio chatting about Friday Fictioneers, the way it’s helped me tighten my writing and my love for the WordPress writing community. You can listen to that here.
Soaring High was written for Friday Fictoneers. A weekly 100 word story challenge inspired by a photo prompt. Read the other entries and join in over at host Rochelle’s blog here.
Image courtesy of J Hardy Carroll
Shadows loom from all corners of my room as daylight fades like hope. Insects scratch-scratch-scratch, scuttling under my creaky metal bed frame. I’m trapped in a spider web of shattered memories.
Fluttering. A moth. Gossamer wings translucent in the moonlight. Fragile. We’re all so fragile. Easily broken. I should know.
Footsteps thud outside my door.
‘This place is so cool.’ The excitement in the boy’s voice is palpable. ‘Are you sure it’s deserted?’
‘No-one’s lived here for years.’
‘I’m here,’ I scream. But they don’t hear me. No-one ever does.
Oh that scratching. The endless scratching.
Help me. Please.
I had SUCH a great publication day yesterday for my third novel, The Surrogate which you can find over on Amazon here. Yesterday evening I took part in a live Facebook chat with Kim Nash, the publicist of Bookouture, which you can now view here if you missed it. We chatted about the writing process, how I approach novel writing, editing and getting published. Of course I gave Friday Fictioneers a plug as it’s often the highlight of my week.
‘Daylight Fading’ was written for Friday Fictioneers. A weekly 100 word flash fiction challenge inspired by a photo prompt. Do join in over at Rochelle’s blog here.
Yesterday, I bid my husband goodbye & jumped on a train to Birmingham for a day of
drinking hanging out with bookish peeps. Writing is absolutely my dream job. I wouldn’t change it for the world but sometimes even dreams can have cracks in them and I admit that going from a hustle-bustle-busy working environment, to spending long days talking to creating characters, can feel a tad isolating at times.
It was fabulous to catch up with old friends and have the chance to make some new ones. The book bloggers I haven’t met before, but feel I already know, were just as warm in person as they are online. I’m now even more excited about The Surrogate Blog Tour next week (and receiving my toad in the hole recipe from Joanne Robertson!)
For me, the chance to grill other writers about their approach to novel writing is invaluable and after a long conversation with the lovely Barbara Copperthwaite, I came away feeling much better about something that had been troubling me about my own approach to writing a first draft, which had felt quite slap-dash. Slowly, and largely due to events like these, I’m realising we all have our own way of doing things. There is no right and wrong.
It was wonderful to hear the news that several I’d met last year had finished their novels, some were submitting and there were 2 book deals to celebrate. Each and every writerly success I hear of gives me a warm fuzzy feeling that had nothing to do with the wine. There can never be too many books.
On the journey home, I was exhausted but happy. Feeling incredibly grateful to be a part of such a friendly and supportive community.
Huge thanks to Kim Nash & Holly Martin for organising the event.
Photo courtesy of Kelvin M. Knight
‘Bread and water,’ mum had said clipping him around the ear. ‘That’s what you’ll get if you’re caught nicking again and no soft, warm bed.’ She made him return the sweets he’d stuffed into his pockets to the corner shop where he’d muttered apologies he didn’t mean. Later, as he’d picked at too-thick stew and sticky dumplings he wished he’d still got that Mars Bar. He hated mum’s cooking.
Mum was wrong. His bed is soft and it’s always warm here. The food is good, no bread and water, but still, right now he’d give anything for home-made stew and dumplings.
I’m delighted that in less than 2 weeks since publication The Sister has entered the Top 20 Paperback chart in the UK. Tesco are currently featuring The Sister as part of a ‘Try a new author’ for £2 deal’ so grab yourself a bargain (other supermarkets have their own offers running too). In the run up to publication day my self-doubt set in big time. You can read that post here and my Waterstones launch party was a mixture of emotions, you can read my post on that here.
It’s too late was written for Friday Fictioneers. A weekly 100 word story photo prompt. Hop over to host Rochelle’s blog to find out how to join in.
Image courtesy of CEAYR
Sometimes I wonder if it would have made a difference if you’d told me somewhere else. Somewhere beautiful. Whether sitting cross legged next to the bubbling stream, sunlight dappling the water would have softened the blow. Do you remember our picnic there? Warm breeze kissing our skin, your lips kissing my neck? It was perfect until we opened the picnic hamper. Wasps buzzing around our sandwiches, ants marching towards the jam jar.
Sorry, I’m drifting. That always did annoy you, didn’t it? But did the ugliness of our surroundings coax those ugly words out of your mouth? I still wonder. Sometimes.
It’s been a week for celebrating! The Gift was listed in Amazon’s half yearly trends report as the third biggest selling ebook of 2017 so far and Sphere (Little, Brown Book Group) shared the exciting news they will be republishing The Sister on August 24th and it will be available in retailers for the first time. You can read my post about that here. It’s been an incredible year and I’m so grateful. I wouldn’t have honed my writing without Friday Fictioneers.
‘Sometimes’ was written For Friday Fictioneers. A weekly 100 word story challenge inspired by a photo prompt. You can join in over at host Rochelle’s blog here.
Image courtesy of Kent Bonham
‘Because I straighten your boots when you sling them on the mat?’ She was crying.
‘It’s not just that. You’re endlessly plumping cushions. Making the bed as soon as I get up to make tea. You live your life by hospital corners and I can’t live like that.’
I didn’t look back once as I left.
Now, I throw open the door of my cold bedsit which doesn’t feel like home and kick off my boots. I hesitate. Bend down and place them neatly together. I sink down on the sofa. I don’t have any cushions. But I don’t have her.
Hurrah – this week I finished my structural edits. I was stunned & delighted The Surrogate reached the top 40 in the UK Amazon chart on preorders 3 months prior to publication. Thank you! You can read my ’15 stages you go through with a structural edit’ post here. I’ve also had an emotional week with a big change you can read about here.
‘Wonky Boots & Crumpled Sheets’ was written for Friday Fictioneers. A 100 word weekly story challenge inspired by a photo prompt. Join in over at host Rochelle’s blog here. (For all my US friends who might not understand the connection the first thing I noticed was the car boot which I think you call a trunk over there?)
Image © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields
I’m broken. Exhausted. Afraid. The stench of my fear is cloying, catching in my throat. The ties binding my wrists slicing deep into my flesh.
Pain. So much pain.
The shutter rattles. He’s back. I curl into a ball as though I can fold myself away.
‘It’s time.’ He drags me outside. The brightness of the sun burns my eyes.
‘Please, Sir.’ A little girl holds out a coin to the man. ‘Can I have a photo with your monkey?’
I plead with her with my eyes – save me. She doesn’t listen. No-one ever does.
She strokes my matted fur so gently I want to weep.
Huge apologies for not getting around to everyone’s story last week – I usually do try. Finishing the draft of book 3 took longer than expected (doesn’t it always!) but it’s off with my agent now so I get a few days rest – hurrah!
‘Broken’ was written for Friday Fictioneers. A 100 word story inspired by a photo prompt. You can join in over at host, Rochelle’s blog, here.