Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2020 – Reality Informs Fiction: Trails in the Sand by P.C. Zick


Welcome to the current series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and if you would like to participate with two of your posts from 2019, you will find all the details in this post: New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

This is the second post for author P.C. Zick. Although the posts from the archives are not usually for self – promotion of books, in this case it is relevant to the story of an event that took place on April 20th 2010 when the oil rig Deepwater Horizon caught on fire with a tragic loss of 29 lives and creating a devastating impact on the environment and local wildlife.  The post also goes to show how reality plays a role in our own creativity.

Trails in the Sand (Florida Fiction Series) by [Zick, P.C.]

Reality Informs Fiction: Trails in the Sand by P.C. Zick

I published Trails in the Sand in 2013, three years after the disastrous oil spill after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. From the first moment I heard about the explosion nine years ago and through my job as a public relations director with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, I was glued to the news on the struggle to contain the tar balls and greasy water approaching the Panhandle beaches of Florida.

When not working at my day job, I was also starting a novel about a dysfunctional family struggling to change generations of heartbreak. April 20, 2019 marks the nine year anniversary of this event.

Four years ago, I wrote about the disaster and how the book Trails in the Sand was born. Here is that post to commemorate both the oil spill and Earth Day and to remind us all the importance and fragility of our natural world.

Published originally on April 20, 2015 – Five years ago today, the oil rig Deepwater Horizon caught on fire. Even though the newscasters downplayed its significance at first, I felt a black cloud deepen. I’d just moved to southwestern Pennsylvania where news of the Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster a few hours away in West Virginia still dominated local news. Twenty-nine men died in that explosion on April 5, 2010, just ten days earlier.

We soon learned that BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico had blown its cap, which allowed gushing oil and killed eleven workers on the rig. As I’ve done for the past two decades, when something bothers me, I start to write. The result from my sorrow and unease with both disasters resulted in the novel, Trails in the Sand. The novel serves as a reminder of two preventable disasters that occurred within two weeks of one another in 2010. Forty men died and countless wildlife and their habitats were injured or destroyed. Both events touched my life in some way and both made their way into the writing of Trails in the Sand.

When the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia exploded, twenty-nine miners, doing their job in the bowels of the earth, lost their lives. Subsequent reports showed the company ignored safety regulations, which played an important role in the explosion. At the time, I was in the process of moving from Florida to western Pennsylvania. The mine is located several hours from my new home, so the local media covered the disaster continually for the next few weeks. The national news also kept its eye turned toward a small town in West Virginia where families mourned their husbands, sons, fathers, brothers, and cousins. After April 20, the lens of the cameras shifted to the southwest.

The news began as a whimper before erupting into cries of outrage. An oil rig somewhere off the coast of Louisiana caught on fire on April 20, 2010. Soon the whole rig collapsed, and eleven men never made it out alive. Oil gushed from a well several miles below the Gulf’s surface.

As I made the transition to Pennsylvania, I still held my job in Florida, although I was in the process of leaving. I was a public relations director for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. I made the trip back and forth sixteen times in 2010. I conducted meetings from a cell phone in airports, highway rest areas, and at a dining room table from our small temporary apartment in Pittsburgh.

Every time I started to give my two-week notice to my supervisors, something happened, and my wildlife biologist bosses pleaded with me to stay. During a crisis, the spokesperson for a company or agency suddenly becomes a very important part of the team. Scientists become speechless when looking in the face of a microphone.

Nothing much happened in those early days of the oil spill for the wildlife community, although as a communications specialist I prepared for worst-case scenarios, while hoping for the best. Partnerships between national and state agencies formed to manage information flowing to the media. By May, some of the sea turtle experts began worrying about the nesting turtles on Florida’s Panhandle beaches, right where the still gushing oil might land. In particular, the scientists worried that approximately 50,000 hatchlings might be walking into oil-infested waters if allowed to enter the Gulf of Mexico after hatching from the nests on the Gulf beaches.

seaturtle4

An extraordinary and unprecedented plan became reality, and as the scientists wrote the protocols, the plan was “in direct response to an unprecedented human-caused disaster.”

When the nests neared the end the incubation period, plans were made to dig up the nests and transport the eggs across the state to Cape Canaveral, where they would be stored until the hatchlings emerged from the eggs. Then they would receive a royal walk to the sea away from the oil-drenched waters of the Gulf.

aptopix-gulf-oil-spill-1fee0422a0df6673

The whole project reeked with the scent of drama, ripe for the media to descend on Florida for reports to a public hooked on the images of oiled wildlife. Since I was in transition in my job, they appointed me to handle all media requests that came to the national and state agencies regarding the plan. From my new office in Raccoon Township, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, I began coordinating media events and setting up interviews with the biologists.

As the project began in June 2010, I began writing Trails in the Sand. At first, I created the characters and their situations. Then slowly I began writing about the oil crisis and made the main character, Caroline, an environmental reporter who covered the sea turtle relocation project. Then suddenly I was writing about her husband, Simon, who mourned the loss of his cousin in the coal mine disaster in West Virginia. I didn’t make a conscious effort to tie together the environmental theme with the family saga unfolding, but before too long, I realized they all dealt with restoration and redemption of things destroyed. As a result, the oil spill and the sea turtles became a metaphor for the destruction caused by Caroline and her family.

I’m a firm believer in the subject choosing the author. When that happens, it’s best to let the muse lead me to the keyboard and allow the words to find their way to the story. Trails in the Sand stands as my testament to the process.

©P.C. Zick 2019

About P.C. Zick

Bestselling author P.C. Zick describes herself as a storyteller no matter what she writes. And she writes in a variety of genres, including romance, contemporary fiction, and creative nonfiction. She’s won various awards for her essays, columns, editorials, articles, and fiction.

The three novels in her Florida Fiction Series contain stories of Florida and its people and environment, which she credits as giving her a rich base for her storytelling. She says her, “Florida’s quirky and abundant wildlife–both human and animal–supply my fiction with tales almost too weird to be believable.”

P.C. writes both sweet and steamy romances. The sweet contemporary romances in her Smoky Mountain Romances, are set in southwest North Carolina. Another sweet romance series, Rivals in Love, contains two books with four more in the works. All six follow the Crandall family of Chicago as the siblings find love despite their focus on successful careers.

Her steamy romances go from Florida to Long Island. The Behind the Love series, set in a small fictional town in Florida, feature a community of people who form bonds as they learn to overcome the challenges of their youth. Her Montauk Romances are set in and around Long Island and feature simple, yet sophisticated beach houses designed with romance in mind. The two books in this set are filled with steamy scenes as love grows and thrives.

No matter the genre of novel, they all contain elements of romance with strong female characters, handsome heroes, and descriptive settings. She believes in living lightly upon this earth with love, laughter, and passion, and through her fiction, she imparts this philosophy in an entertaining manner with an obvious love for her characters, plot, and themes.

A small selection of  books by P.C. Zick

One of the reviews for Trails in the Sand on Goodreads

Mar 09, 2013 Christoph Fischer rated it it was amazing

Trails In The Sand” by P.C. Zick is an emotional read about family secrets and making peace with the past. After her sister dies, Caroline reconnects with her family and with Simon, the man that her sister stole from her and married. Said widower Simon has an adopted daughter that needs to come to terms with her status and with the new relationship between her aunt and her father. Thrown into the mix are a few more family issues such as a drowning in 1956 and more revelations that come from diaries. As you can see that there are a lot of issues to be resolved in this family, making it an emotionally charged scene.

Zick uses several separate narratives for this story to bring different perspectives into the book and also includes several sub plots making for a rich reading experience. There is an important plotline which concerns the 2010 Deepwater Oil Spillage in the Mexican Gulf, a metaphor for hidden or covered-up tragedies and wrong doings that ultimately force their way to the surface and spill onto the shore. Caroline being a writer and journalist that concerns herself with environmental issues – not just the oil spillage – describes the horrific damage to the wildlife and the coast. She also writes also about a coal mining disaster in Virginia which helps to take the focus of just one or the other oversight or cover-up making it a more global theme. The family is under severe stress from both external and internal forces and as they unite to save sea turtles and work together on the present they let go of the past and begin to forgive and to heal.

The writing in this novel is immaculate and tight; for example, the Prologue begins in 1956 with the drowning of Alex, Caroline’s uncle, and the story ends in the same spot, a beautifully chosen way to complete the circle. The dialogue and the weaving together of the various plots and narratives works well to unfold the story and make this an interesting read. The characters are well composed and believable and make for an engaging and convincing portrayal of their inner struggles.

Zick writes with much empathy and insight into her characters, showing a very caring and committed attitude towards the environment and the human beings in it. The interplay between the story lines, private lives and newspaper stories that are woven into the narrative adds much depth to the book.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow P.C. Zick on :Goodreads

Connect to Patricia

WebsiteP.C. Zick
FacebookP.C. Zick
Twitter@PCZick

My thanks to Patricia for sharing this with us. Living history and its personal impact on us is important to pass on to future generations and including it in our fiction is one way to do that. Your comments are always welcome. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – 2nd – 8th February 2020 – Jazz, Italian Valentines appetizer, Guests, Books, Reviews and Funnies


Welcome to a round up of posts from the week on Smorgasbord that you might have missed.

I hope you have had a good week. Weather wise some sunny days with a promise of spring, but this weekend we are expecting storm Ciara to hit by lunchtime but we have got used to gale force winds this winter and fingers crossed they have passed through without too much damage. The same cannot be said of the west coast which gets the brunt of the weather when it hits from the Atlantic. We don’t plan to go anywhere and will be breaking out the movies.

Anyway hopefully these posts will brighten your day….

As always my gratitude for the wonderful posts written by the regular contributors and guests and to you for dropping by and supporting the blog.

William Price King with Grammy Winning Ramsey Lewis

This month a mouth watering appetizer perfect for Valentines Day created by Silvia Todesco.

Puff Pastry and Bacon hearts

Heart shaped puff pastry stuffed with bacon – Appetizer for Valentines Day

Robbie Cheadle shares the condition OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), her observations in those that suffer from OCD and how it has influenced her writing.

How interacting with OCD sufferers has influence Robbie Cheadles Writing

This week it is the turn of Amino Acids and how to ensure that you are eating the foods that promote a healthy balance in the body. This is a little less straightforward than the other nutrients, as most of the amino acids we need are manufactured in the liver. So this requires a shopping list to include the foods this organ needs to be healthy.

Part Five of the Shopping List by Nutrient – Amino Acids

Two more stories from the collection.

Isobel – Hiding in Plain Sight

Jack a VIP Visitor

This week for Colleen Chesebro Tanka Tuesday Poetry No 163 – Poet’s Choice we can decide our own format and theme. I have written a Butterfly Cinquain

Colleen Chesebro Tanka Tuesday Poetry No 163 – Poet’s Choice

Witch Way and Other Ambiguous Stories by Cathy Cade

Secrets of the Galapagos by Sharon Marchisello

Be My Valencrime (The Juniper Junction Holiday Mystery Series Book 3 by Amy M. Reade

The Player (Men of Warhawks Book 2) by Jacquie Biggar

Dumfries Mary Smith, Gardens Cynthia S. Reyes, Contemporary Jessica Norrie

Memoir Joy Lennick, Memoir Marian Longenecker Beaman, YA fantasy Jean Lee

Paranormal Marcia Meara, Thriller J.P. Mclean, Romance Ruth Larrea

This is the first post by author P.C. Zick and it is one that is both emotive and thought provoking. Patricia shares her own experience of PTSD, and that of a couple who she met who wanted their story told about their own traumatic experience.

PTSD its a real and present danger by P.C. Zick

This is the second post by Elizabeth Gauffreau and shares the trip she made to Vermont to share her book Telling Sonny with the P.E.O International Organisation, and to reconnect to the very special ties she has to the P.E.O through her grandmother.

Trip to Vermont connecting with the PEO Sisterhood by Elizabeth Gauffreau

Haiku Hound – Climate Change

When Stars Will Shine Anthology by Jane Risdon

Can we be replaced by AI.. by Jan Sikes

Poetry Colleen M. Chesebro, Mexico & Travel Insurance D.G. Kaye, profile photos Scott McCormick

Lifestyle Toni Pike, Blogging Pete Springer, Phone Safety ACFlory, Language Sue Vincent

Blogging Brigid Gallagher, Art Emma Cownie, Thailand Deventuretime

Swearing Alison Williams, Bread Irene Arita, Kookaburras Cindy Knoke

Hugh W. Roberts

Photos Hugh Roberts, Olive Oil Cake Eat Dessert First, Millennials Nicholas Rossis

Comedian in Residence and some jokes from Sally

More funnies from D. G. Kaye and some new material from Sally

Thanks for visiting this week and I hope you have enjoyed…have a great weekend and see you again I hope.. Sally

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Helping Our Heroes: When Stars Will Shine – December 2019 Happy Publication Day – When Stars Will Shine by Jane Risdon


Welcome to the current series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and if you would like to participate with two of your posts from 2019, you will find all the details in this post: New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

This is the second post by Jane Risdon and is about the publication of a very special anthology that was released just before Christmas in aid of the armed forces… the collection is of course still available and I have added one of the recent reviews to Jane’s post.

December 2019 Happy Publication Day – When Stars Will Shine

My Paperback of When Stars Will Shine

I’m excited to be part of this anthology of short stories written by authors who feel strongly about our Armed Forces and their care.

Being asked to contribute is an honour. My family has provided many generations who have served our country in many wars and conflicts around the world and I’m proud to be able to help raise funds for this wonderful cause.

For over 40 years I have been working on my family history – both sets of parent’s sides – and the service our family has given has been admirable.

My contribution to this anthology is called Penance and deals with guilt and ‘what if?’

Published on 9th December 2019 in both Paperback and eBook and ALL funds raised will go to the charity.

Compiled by editor, Emma Mitchell, here is the blurb:

WHEN STARS WILL SHINE is a collection of short stories from your favourite authors who have come together to deliver you a Christmas read with a twist.

With true war tales that will break your heart, gritty Christmas crimes that will shake you to your core, and heart-warming tales of love lost and found, this anthology has something for everyone. And, with every penny made being sent to support our troops, you can rest assured that you’re helping our heroes, one page at a time.

From authors such as Louise Jensen, Graham Smith, Malcolm Hollingdrake, Lucy Cameron, Val Portelli, and Alex Kane, Jane Risdon, you are in for one heck of a ride!

A Note from Emma Mitchell:

As the blurb tells us, When Stars Will Shine is a multi-genre collection of Christmas-themed short stories compiled to raise money for our armed forces and every penny made from the sales of both the digital and paperback copies will be donated to the charity.

Working closely with Kate Noble at Noble Owl Proofreading and Amanda Ni Odhrain from Let’s Get Booked, I’ve been able to pick the best of the submissions to bring you a thrilling book which is perfect for dipping into at lunchtime or snuggling up with on a cold winter’s night. I have been completely blown away by the support we’ve received from the writing and blogging community, especially the authors who submitted stories and Shell Baker from Baker’s Not So Secret Blog, who has organised the cover reveal and blog tour.

There isn’t a person in the country who hasn’t benefited from the sacrifices our troops, past and present, have made for us and they all deserve our thanks.

It has been an honour working on these stories and to create this anthology and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have.

Contributors are:

Alex Kane, Anna Osborne, Billy McLaughlin, Carmen Radtke, Gordon Bickerstaff, Graham Smith, HR Kemp, Jane Risdon, John Carson, KA Richardson, Kris Egleston, Lorraine Rees, Louise Jensen, Lucy Cameron, Malcolm Hollingdrake, Mark Brownless, Maxine Grey, Owen Mullen, Paul Moore, Paul T. Cambell, Rob Ashman, Robert Skagg, Stewart Giles and Val Portelli.

For further information please refer to Emma Mitchell, http://www.edmcreatingperfection.com

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Griffy 5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!  22 January 2020

I absolutely loved this collection of short stories. After reading a succession of novels, I fancied something a little different and this delivered with a punch. The stories ranged from crime themed to heartwarming tear jerkers. They mostly had a Christmas theme going on but don’t let that stop you reading them now. I read them after the festive period and loved them. Who doesn’t love a bit of Crimbo spirit anytime of the year?

Also, I should add. The profits made from this book go to charity to help our soldiers and veterans. That’s another huge reason to download it. The other reason is, the authors who have contributed are awesome writers. I’ve read a few novels by some of these writers before picking this book up, and I loved their work. I knew then, I wouldn’t be disappointed.

I’d definitely recommend this collection. It’s brilliantly edited and reads with ease. It provoked a lot of emotion in me as I read through the offerings and I really enjoyed it. Fantastic read for those seeking a break between novels or those who love short stories. Loved it!

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

©Jane Risdon

Books by Jane Risdon

About the book

Under one cover for the first time a collection of Crime Shorts from Jane Risdon featuring previously unpublished stories which will have you on the edge of your seat. There is an extract from Jane’s forthcoming novel (series) Ms Birdsong Investigates Murder at Ampney Parva: Operation Matryoshka – with the title of Undercover – for those who’ve been awaiting this series about a former MI5 Intelligence Office, Lavinia Birdsong. There’s something for everyone who enjoys a good yarn and more twists and turns than Spaghetti Junction.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

I really loved this book. I discovered this author several years ago and have avidly followed her ever since. She has the ability to draw you into her stories and keep you hooked. Undercover Crime Shorts is a delicious mixture of intrigue and fast paced page turning stories, with plenty of red herrings to keep you guessing. I highly recommend this collection. Do check out her other books.

Also by Jane Risdon

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Jane:Goodreads

About Jane Risdon

Jane Risdon has spent most of her life working in the International Music Business rubbing shoulders with the powerful and famous, especially in Hollywood.

Married to a musician and later working alongside him managing singers, musicians, songwriters, and record producers, she’s also facilitated the placement of music on successful television series and movie soundtracks.

With long-term friend, award-winning, best-selling author, Christina Jones – one-time fan-club secretary for Jane’s husband’s band – Jane has co-authored Only One Woman (Headline Accent) which is set in the UK music scene of 1968/69.
Recently Jane completed her first collection of short crime stories for publication – Undercover: Crime Shorts – published in both eBook and Paperback 2019 (Plaisted Publishing House Ltd).

Jane writes for online and print magazines and has contributed to 16 anthologies. She also has a blog and often hosts guest authors.

She is working on the sequel to Only One Woman as yet untitled, as well as a series of crime novels – Ms Birdsong Investigates – featuring former MI5 Intelligence Officer Lavinia Birdsong which she plans to complete in 2020. Her experience of working at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in her pre-music days has given her plenty of material for her crime/thrillers.

Her books are available in Waterstones and all good book stores as well as via various digital platforms.

Connect to Jane Risdon

Blog:  Jane Risdon WordPress
Facebook: Jane Risdon
Accent Press: Jane Risdon
Twitter: @Jane_Risdon
Instagram: Jane Risdon Writer

My thanks to Jane for sharing this post, and thank you for dropping by today and I hope you will head over to read the reviews and add this collection of stories to your TBR… Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2020 – #Haiku – Climate Change by Denis Young – Haiku Hound


Welcome to the current series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and if you would like to participate with two of your posts from 2019, you will find all the details in this post: New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

This is the first post from Denis Young – Haiku Hound and he shares images and Haiku from a climate change protest Melbourne.

Climate Change

demanding action

young and old australians

our future calling

September 20th was one of the most significant days of this century and perhaps of all times.

This was the day when young people across the world responded to Greta Thunberg’s call to turn out and let world leaders attending the UN Climate Action Summit in New York to start acting, (fast) as time has almost run out to keep carbon emissions at a safe level. Here in Australia hundreds of thousands heeded Greta’s call. Jill and I attended the response in Melbourne along with over 150,000 others. Our conservative government is ignoring the science and reality, making a lot of noise about acting, however emissions in Australia have kept rising and we are exporting huge quantities of coal to Asia to be burnt. Our Prime Minister was in New York but did not attend the summit, he was not allowed to speak because of his government’s poor record. Instead he met with President Trump, attended a gala function with lots of right wing political and business people and also opened a factory with Trump.

The mood has strengthened for Climate Change Action in Australia since September 20 and will continue to strengthen despite our government. They will grow increasingly irrelevant and could not possibly win the next election. I have included a short video I took on the 20th to share the mood. Vimeo – Climate Change

©Denis Young – Haiku Hound

About Haiku Hound (Denis Young)

IMG_0595

Haiku has been a growing interest to me since I first visited Japan in 1990. Often Haiku comes into my imagination when I experience something, see a picture or remember a moment from my past. In this blog I am sharing some of my Haiku linked to an image with a short story about the place, event, experience, or character. This combination of art and poetry is known as Haiga, many of the old Japanese poets including Basho practised Haiga

For instance this picture of Kara at the sweet age of about 14 weeks would most likely conjure up images of sweetness and cuteness.

img004

My haiku linked to the image creates a haiga

innocence

don’t be fooled by looks

devilment

There is much more than cuteness, Kara was a horror, she was full on action, mischief and demanding attention every waking moment of her early childhood. So my haiku links to the image and asks the reader/viewer to look closely at the subject. The eyes should give her away, she is looking for the next bit of action.

Connect to Denis via his blog: Haiku Hound

My thanks to Denis for sharing his poetry and images with us and more to follow next week. As always your feedback is very welcome..thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #WritingCommunity – We all need help and advice…paying it forward by Jane Risdon


Welcome to the current series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and if you would like to participate with two of your posts from 2019, you will find all the details in this post: New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

This is the first post from Jane Risdon who share the generous spirit of the writing community and how it is a great feeling to be able to help a fellow author when they need advice or to tap into a special skill set, as it is usually reciprocated in turn.

We all need help and advice…paying it forward

It’s always good to be able to call upon other authors for help and advice when writing a story which might well require specialist knowledge.

I am always grateful to other authors and members of the Police and other related agencies for their advice and help if I am particularly stuck or in need of expert input when writing. It never ceases to amaze me how generous and helpful people can be when I want to pick their brains.

From time to time I have been asked to contribute my experience in the music business to help writers who have a musical background to their novels, and it is always fun to revisit my past life and help where I can.

I’ve often been asked to provide some of my limited forensic knowledge to help other authors who want to kill off a character or investigate a crime scene and are not sure how things work in the British system.

If it hadn’t been for my interest in Forensics Science, Criminal Justice and Archaeology I would’ve been completely stuck every time I’ve started to write a crime story, having to pester others more often.

I decided some years ago to try to help myself and improve my knowledge. I enrolled in 7 different university courses covering these topics – specially designed for crime writers and run by world acclaimed experts – so, although I am not an expert in such matters by a long chalk, I possibly have a better than average knowledge of these subjects – enough not to make basic mistakes and, as I said, if I get stuck I can call upon valued expert advice from other authors who have first-hand knowledge of such matters.

There are so many generous people who have taken time to help me I am reluctant to name any for fear of missing someone out. They know who they are and have my sincere thanks and appreciation for the time they’ve taken answering my questions.

Investigations

I always like to thank those who have helped me, possibly by featuring them on my blog, sharing their posts, book details and launch events, and therefore it is especially lovely to receive such an acknowledgement from those I have helped – sometimes by way of a mention in their latest book credits.

One of several authors I helped a while back – with two different books in two different genres – has written a lovely thank you to me which is on her website. Just click below to read it. I am so chuffed to read this and also to know that her latest novel (paperback version) has acknowledged my help. I wish her much success with all her books.

A belated thank you from Jo Lambert

We all need help and advice and it is such a pleasure to pay it forward, to return the favour if and when I can, as others have done for me.

©Jane Risdon

Books by Jane Risdon

About the book

Under one cover for the first time a collection of Crime Shorts from Jane Risdon featuring previously unpublished stories which will have you on the edge of your seat. There is an extract from Jane’s forthcoming novel (series) Ms Birdsong Investigates Murder at Ampney Parva: Operation Matryoshka – with the title of Undercover – for those who’ve been awaiting this series about a former MI5 Intelligence Office, Lavinia Birdsong. There’s something for everyone who enjoys a good yarn and more twists and turns than Spaghetti Junction.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

I really loved this book. I discovered this author several years ago and have avidly followed her ever since. She has the ability to draw you into her stories and keep you hooked. Undercover Crime Shorts is a delicious mixture of intrigue and fast paced page turning stories, with plenty of red herrings to keep you guessing. I highly recommend this collection. Do check out her other books.

Also by Jane Risdon

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Jane:Goodreads

About Jane Risdon

Jane Risdon has spent most of her life working in the International Music Business rubbing shoulders with the powerful and famous, especially in Hollywood.

Married to a musician and later working alongside him managing singers, musicians, songwriters, and record producers, she’s also facilitated the placement of music on successful television series and movie soundtracks.

With long-term friend, award-winning, best-selling author, Christina Jones – one-time fan-club secretary for Jane’s husband’s band – Jane has co-authored Only One Woman (Headline Accent) which is set in the UK music scene of 1968/69.
Recently Jane completed her first collection of short crime stories for publication – Undercover: Crime Shorts – published in both eBook and Paperback 2019 (Plaisted Publishing House Ltd).

Jane writes for online and print magazines and has contributed to 16 anthologies. She also has a blog and often hosts guest authors.

She is working on the sequel to Only One Woman as yet untitled, as well as a series of crime novels – Ms Birdsong Investigates – featuring former MI5 Intelligence Officer Lavinia Birdsong which she plans to complete in 2020. Her experience of working at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in her pre-music days has given her plenty of material for her crime/thrillers.

Her books are available in Waterstones and all good book stores as well as via various digital platforms.

Connect to Jane Risdon

Blog:  Jane Risdon WordPress
Facebook: Jane Risdon
Accent Press: Jane Risdon
Twitter: @Jane_Risdon
Instagram: Jane Risdon Writer

Thanks to Jane for sharing this post which is a reminder that as writers, no man or woman is an island. It says a great deal about our blogging community that there is such a generous spirit… Jane would love your feedback.. thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2020 – Communication Breakdown: What can you do when your characters refuse to play? by Richard Dee


Welcome to the new series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and if you would like to participate with two of your posts from 2019, you will find all the details in this post: New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

This is the second post from the 2019 archives of Richard Dee and in this post Richard explores a problem that most authors suffer from along the way.

Communication Breakdown: What can you do when your characters refuse to play?

What do I mean by that?

Let me try to explain. I wanted to write a certain story this month. In the end, I found that I couldn’t. Even though I felt motivated and had a starting place, the story just wouldn’t play in my head. You might call it writer’s block; I don’t see it that way. I’m not blocked, I can still write, just not the story that I want to. My head is filled with other stories, ideas for blog posts and content for my website and social media feeds. The cast of my chosen project are doing something else; in effect, they’re ignoring me. It’s impossible for me to write what I can’t see.

I need to tell you a bit more about my writing method.

This is where it all gets a bit problematical. I’ve often found that when I tell non-writing people how I get the ideas for my novels; in effect, how I work, very often they will smile at me nervously and gaze around for an exit, or for someone they know to ‘rescue’ them from the mad writer. I suppose it’s possible that they think I’m being less than honest for some reason or amusing myself at their expense. Perhaps they consider my obvious affliction might be catching.

I don’t know how they think that I’m supposed to get my inspiration, but I do know that my method is not seen as strange among other writers. Basically, I see the story in my head, it plays out like a film. It used to happen only when I was asleep, and unlike other dreams, was easy to remember when I awoke. The act of writing it down encouraged more to appear and soon, I was seeing the story when I was awake.

The characters basically get on with their lives, have adventures, whatever. I just watch and write it all down. The great thing about this is that it requires little input from me, there’s no need to exert myself in weeks of plotting. All that’s required is the ability to type. I just sit at my computer and watch the action, recording it as it unfolds. If it’s all going a bit fast for my fingers, I can slow it down; don’t ask me how, I just “think” it. I can also rewind and repeat, to make sure that I get everything important. Sometimes, quite spontaneously, I will be shown a scene again, from a different angle, to emphasise the point.

What I can’t do, is get any clue about where the story will go. I never know what will happen next. Whether this is a deliberate thing (I’ll come to another possible reason later) or just the way my imagination works, who knows? It means that I never have any advance information about the ending, who will end up as the hero (or villain) or even who will still be standing when I type The End. Or when the end will happen.

It means that when you read one of my books, you will find out everything at exactly the same time that I did.

I have to admit that sounds weird, it felt weird when it started happening to me. Which might go some way towards explaining the reaction of my non-writing questioner.

I digress, the side effect of this is that sometimes, when I try to write to a deadline, the story isn’t there. As I said in the title, they aren’t coming put to play.

Which is what I mean when I say that my cast of characters have decided to go somewhere else and have nothing to do with me.

Like in real life, people drift in and out of your space, some you see regularly, some every now and again, some go missing for a while and then turn up. That’s how it is in my head. Fortunately (or not), I don’t just have one set of friends living in my head. I’m usually seeing several stories at once (like watching several regular programmes on T.V.), so if one set have gone missing, there’s another to tell me what they’ve been up to instead. Occasionally, two or more may fight for my attention, wanting to be the first to update me with the latest events in their lives.

As you can probably tell, it can get pretty messy in my head, it plays havoc with trying to write what people are expecting you to produce. They are expecting a sequel, or prequel or whatever you told them you would write. What they get may be something completely different. It all depends on who’s about and what they want to tell me.

All this begs the question, where does it come from?

If it’s in my head, why can’t I see it all at once?

If it’s being downloaded (for want of a better phrase), who is hosting the content; why send it to me?

Where do the characters go when they’re not bothering me?

The most radical possibility, and one that frightens me, is that it’s all real. It’s not a story, it’s reality, everything I see is actually happening in real time as I see it, in some sort of alternative universe that I can tap into.

It would explain a lot, the fact that I can see it again and again (as a sort of memory), the fact that I can’t see what happens next, because it hasn’t happened yet.

Because I keep up with developments in science and technology, I know about the latest scientific theories; the ones that deal with parallel universes and multiple timelines, how everything is connected and how all possible outcomes might well exist in their own reality. That suggests that I might be onto something. All writers might have the gift of being able to see other dimensions.

Does it make us gifted, or will people just think that we’re crazy?

I got a bit side-tracked there, the whole point of this was to tell you that I tried to complete a writing challenge this month, my cast had other ideas.

Instead, I wrote something completely different.

But that’s another story. 

©Richard Dee 2019

About Richard Dee

Richard Dee is a native of Brixham in Devon, England He left Devon when he was in his teens and settled in Kent. Leaving school at 16 he briefly worked in a supermarket, then went to sea and travelled the world in the Merchant Navy, qualifying as a Master Mariner in 1986.

Coming ashore to be with his growing family, he used his sea-going knowledge in several jobs, including Marine Insurance Surveyor and Dockmaster at Tilbury, before becoming a Port Control Officer in Sheerness and then at the Thames Barrier in Woolwich.

In 1994 he was head-hunted and offered a job as a Thames Estuary Pilot. In 1999 he transferred to the Thames River Pilots, where he regularly took vessels of all sizes through the Thames Barrier and upriver as far as HMS Belfast and through Tower Bridge. In all, he piloted over 3,500 vessels in a 22-year career with the Port of London Authority.

Richard is married with three adult children and two grandchildren.

His first science-fiction novel Freefall was published in 2013, followed by Ribbonworld in 2015. September 2016 saw the publication of his Steampunk adventure The Rocks of Aserol and of Flash Fiction, a collection of Short Stories. Myra, the prequel to Freefall was published in 2017, along with Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café, a murder mystery set in space and the start of a series featuring Andorra Pett, an amateur detective. He contributed a story to the 1066 Turned Upside Down collection and is currently working on prequels, sequels, and new projects.

A small selection of  books by Richard Dee

One of the recent reviews for Andorra and Her Sister

Nov 12, 2019 Steven rated it it was amazing

Andorra Pett – space station café owner, scooper pilot and sometimes super sleuth – returns for another adventure. Andorra finds herself on Earth to sort out her ex, Trevor’s affairs following his grisly murder at the hands of a mobster on Mars.

Intending this to only be a brief stay to finalise affairs before returning to the space station orbiting Saturn and the comfort of partner Derek. Unfortunately, as ever, trouble manages to find her in the form of her estranged sister Tia. When she is arrested for smuggling through importers and money laundering she calls the only person she can for help – younger sister Andorra.

Suspecting from the start that something is amiss, not least Tia lacking the sense to pull off such a crime, Andorra cannot help but be drawn in to solve the mystery and see that justice is served. Smugglers, corrupt police and a chance run in with Clive – an old face from her first ever mystery – make for high jinks aplenty. He is found running what he claims to be an official Oort Cloud Café tribute bar complete with sleazy Andorra lookalike waitresses and slanderous tales of fictitious romances assuming Andorra will never hear of it way back in space.

Once again Richard Dee has delivered a wonderfully funny murder mystery with a cast of characters new and old to entertain readers. The mystery becomes farcical as it twists and turns to a conclusion. Andorra sees herself in her share of trouble and tight spots all in the pursuit of clearing Tia’s name. This third instalment of the Andorra Pett series is a wonderful addition and only makes me long for book four in 2020 that much more.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Richard: Goodreads

Connect to Richard

Website: Richard Dee’s Scifi
Facebook: Richard Dee Author
Twitter: @RichardDockett1

It is good to know that I am not the only crazy one around here…thanks Richard for that reassurance.

I write all my stories in my head too and then sit down and let them out on to the page and then sort out the finer points later. How about you?

Thanks for dropping by and your feedback is always welcome… Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2020- #ShortStory – Sign by D. Wallace Peach


Welcome to the new series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and if you would like to participate with two of your posts from 2019, you will find all the details in this post: New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

This is the second post by author Diana Wallace Peach and it is another short story in response to the Sue Vincent’s magical #writephoto prompt.

Sign by D. Wallace Peach.

Belladonna Shadowbend climbed the creaky stairs of her dead aunt’s ancient Victorian home. Gossamer cobwebs draped the corners like grayed wedding veils. The eyeballs in the portraits tracked her progress, and a transparent child hissed from the next landing. Belladonna rolled her eyes and blew out a sigh. Honestly, so cliched.

Witchcraft had become so trendy among modern teenagers that Belladonna considered it passé. Gone were the glorious days when witches drowned tied to chairs or sizzled at the stake.

Was she feeling sorry for herself? Probably. Her dreams of building an online clearinghouse for magical accessories had shattered. She’d believed people wanted quality over crap and would pay for it, but Amazon was a start-up’s nightmare. Cheap magic wands, love potions, and cursed amulets were as popular as iphones. Everyone owned at least one, and the local bodegas sold them beside the tabloids and gum.

Her options were limited. No one was making any money in fortune telling, casting hexes, or selling souls. The white witches complained about global warming and saving the bees, but few listened to them. They needed a little help from the devil if they wanted someone to pay serious attention. She chuckled at the thought. An unexpected visit to hell would do wonders in Washington.

No, selling the old place with it’s slamming doors and undulating curtains would buy her some time while she figured out her next venture.

Another staircase led to the attic, a rat’s nest of iron-strapped trunks, twig brooms, and garment bags stuffed with black capes. Shelves along one wall held dozens of peaked hats. She picked one up, brushed off the brim, and coughed in the cloud of dust. The stuff appeared authentic, but what the heck? How many hats did one old witch need? She half expected a stash of pointy shoes and blurted a laugh when she flipped the lid on a trunk and found them. Cleaning the place out would take a year. Generations of witches in her family and her legacy amounted to a house full of vintage… oh… oh my…

Belladonna smiled. All she needed was a sign.

© D.Wallace Peach 2019

About D. Wallace Peach

I didn’t care for reading as a child – I preferred Bonanza and Beverly Hillbillies reruns, Saturday morning cartoons and the Ed Sullivan show. Then one day, I opened a book titled The Hobbit. Tolkien … literally changed my life.

I love writing, and have the privilege to pursue my passion full time. I’m still exploring the fantasy genre, trying out new points of view, creating optimistic works with light-hearted endings, and delving into the grim and gritty what-ifs of a post-apocalyptic world. Forgive me if I seem untethered in my offering of reads. Perhaps one day, I’ll settle into something more reliable. For now, it’s simply an uncharted journey, and I hope you enjoy the adventure as much as I.

A selection of  books by D.Wallace Peach

A recent review for Caitling’s Bane

I really enjoyed Catling’s bane, the prose is excellent and so are many of the characters, with quality varying upon how much time was devoted to them. Catling, in particular, is good, as her personality evolves as she matures and experiences the various events of her life.

The plot itself is also excellent, with its core foundation revolving around the morality of emotionally influencing people for ‘the greater good.’ This provided a wealth of depth to the world, plot, and characters because the author doesn’t simplify the moral conflict. We are introduced to heinous, middling and benevolent characters performing this mental abuse, many of them truly believing in their cause while acknowledging the reality that they’re oppressive and abusive. I loved this moral core of the narrative.

However, speaking the narrative, there are stretches where not much happens. I never found the story boring, in part because of the prose and character’s excellence, and these inactive sections do have a purpose in the story, the narrative just doesn’t progress. It’s particularly prevalent in one of the POV characters, who, despite having emotional nucleus and goals, spent most of their chapters floundering through the story and not really interacting with or affecting events meaningfully.

That one, minor, qualm aside, I really enjoyed the book.

Read the reviews for buy the books: Amazon US

And Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Diana: Goodreads

Connect to Diana

Blog: Myths of the Mirror
Facebook: Myths of the Mirror
Twitter: @Dwallacepeach

My thanks to Diana for sharing this lovely story and I must head up to the attic…where I know I have stored a trunk or two… thanks for dropping in and we would love to hear from you.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2020 – #Writing – Is The #Editor You Hired Actually Doing The Editing? by D.G. Kaye


Welcome to the new series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and if you would like to participate with two of your posts from 2019, you will find all the details in this post: New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

 Is The #Editor You Hired Actually Doing The Editing? by D.G. Kaye

While visiting a friend’s blog recently, I was intrigued at something Amy Reade’s guest, an author and freelance editor, mentioned in her interview – “English teachers are not editors.”

Her comment took me back to a terrible experience I once encountered with an editor I hired after being referred to her by a highly successful author friend. At the time, I was just completing my final draft for my 3rd book – Meno-What? – A Memoir and was already quite happy and comfortable with my previous editor but somehow got caught up in the hoopla of this highly recommended editor who my friend claimed had brought his book to a new level.

I carefully vetted the editor, looked at testimonials and checked out her work, and even had a free chapter edited by her for her to demonstrate how she works. And for some unexplained reason I decided to try her out for a change of pace. I emailed her and even followed up by calling her because I wanted to get a good feel for her and her work. . . and the nightmare began.

I submitted my manuscript and anxiously awaited it to return to me with the edits, and what I got back was a holy mess.

The manuscript I was reading didn’t read like it was my voice anymore. All of who I am as a writer was stripped away from my story. My story had no emotion left in it, it read boring and almost clinical.

As I continued to scroll through the initial first pass of the edits, I literally shed tears and felt like shredding the whole manuscript. Nothing was jiving. Everything I’d read about this editor wasn’t adding up to the praise she had been given by many. And after I did a first scroll through I turned on the track changes in the review section of the Word document to read further – the explanations in the viewing panel from the editor, the panel that not only displays comments and suggested changes, but is stamped with the editor’s initials, or full name. THE NAME I SAW WAS NOT THE NAME OF THE EDITOR I HIRED!!

I was livid. I immediately drafted a letter and sent it off to ‘the editor I hired’. I let her know how I felt about the shoddy work done on my MS, and that I discovered that she did not edit my book! She replied to me with a bunch of malarkey to soften the blows and proceeded to explain to me that she was behind in her work and subbed out my MS to an English school teacher friend of hers. She did not inform me of that when I hired her, or when she sent me back the MS, hoping I wouldn’t notice!

I chewed her out and told her I would not be paying the balance owed and if she had a problem with that I’d have no problem exploiting her on social media. Then I put my tail between my legs and emailed my original editor of my other books, explained how I betrayed her and apologized, told her about the mess my book was in and asked if she’d take it on and start from scratch with the original manuscript before it was hacked to death. And of course, the good person she is, she consoled me and told me it’s not unusual for writers to want to explore other editors and that she was happy I came back to her. I wanted to hug her.

I’ve read many times how we as writers aren’t effective enough being our own editors and I know this first hand. I’ve read many a tale of woe where writers cried in protest their editors had stripped their voice from their manuscripts. And I’ve also read several times that English teachers don’t qualify as editors. Then I learned why.

I recently visited Amy’s Blog where she was featuring author/editor Cindy Davis, talking about one of her books and touching on several insights about writing. Her statement and explanation below is what reminded me about the importance of hiring a real editor:

Amy asked: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Cindy responded: Two things. Never think you’re done learning. Keep striving to improve your writing skills. And second, get your book edited. Not by an English teacher. I know I’ll take some flack for this and I agree that teachers are awesome for punctuation and grammar, but they aren’t trained in story development or the fine-tuning it takes to bring your story to the next level—things like filter words, head hopping, and show don’t tell.

And I will add to that the importance of maintaining voice. Voice is how we project our words, how they are received by a reader with a distinct and familiar narration just as we all have our own unique sound of our actual voices, our voice should carry into our writing. We are the storytellers of our books. The editor’s voice is not the one that should emit through the story.

Remember, not every editor is suited for every book. We have to do our diligence and vet the editor. In my situation, I did my diligence vetting and when I had my MS returned to me, nothing about it gave me a wow factor as I’d expected and my suspicions proved correct because the person I hired wasn’t the person who edited my MS.

Have any of you here ever been duped or unsatisfied with a hired editor? Please share your experience with us.

©D.G. Kaye 2019

My thanks  to Debby for giving us a reminder that we must do our due diligence and research before handing our work to anyone who is offering writing services or marketing.

About D.G. Kaye

Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.

When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.

Quotes:
“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

                 “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.

Books by D.G. Kaye

A recent review for Twenty Years After “I Do”

The author married a man who is twenty years her senior. At the time of their marriage, she did reflect on what could or would happen in the future as the relentless march of time took its toll, but she loved Gordon so much that she decided to grab the happiness and job life was offering her.

I found this book particularly interesting because my mother is ten years older than my father. My mother has always been “young” for her age and my father a bit “older” for his. They are now 80 and 70, respectively, and it has been interesting to watch the changes to their relationship and lifestyle. Ten years is half of twenty years, so such a big age gap does seem rather overwhelming to me and I was curious as to how the couple managed their life together now that they were both older. It turns out that they manage very well indeed, and I found this memoir uplifting and even inspiring.

The author addresses all sorts of aspects of married life, many of which are relevant in any marriage, regardless of the age of the spouses. I learned a lot from her thoughts and ideas, in particular, the idea of counting to ten before speaking in rage and never saying anything deliberately spiteful or hurtful. I have heard this message before, but never understood it quite like this. I am going to take this lesson learned forward in my life especially in my relationship with my one son, who is so like me we often fight like cat and dog.

The information covered in this book about living with a senior and travelling with a senior is useful to anyone who spends time and travels with parents so it is all very relevant and useful. I is also interesting to note how the author manages medications and illness with her senior husband.

This is a great book with numerous important messages that can be enjoyed and appreciated by people of all age groups looking to gain the best from life and relationships.

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

More reviews and follow Debby: Goodreads

Connect to Debby Gies

Blog:D.G. Kaye Writer Blog
About me: http://www.wiseintro.co/dgkaye7
MeWe: mewe.com/i/debbygies
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@pokercubster (yes there’s a story)
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dgkaye7
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dgkaye
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/dgkaye
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/dgkaye7

Check out Debby’s new series here on SmorgasbordD.G. Kaye Explores the Realm of Relationships

Thanks for dropping by today and if you have had an experience with an editor that you would like to share to help other writers make effective decisions about their work then please let us know.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2020 – I’m not just a writer, #Recipe -Peanut Cookies by Richard Dee.


Welcome to the new series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and if you would like to participate with two of your posts from 2019, you will find all the details in this post: New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

This is the first post from the 2019 archives of Richard Dee and he showcases his other skill… as a baker with a recipe for Peanut cookies..

 I’m not just a writer, Peanut Cookies

We writers tend to get obsessive over our craft, if we’re not careful we could talk about it all day, every day. And not everyone wants to hear all the little details of plot, characters and marketing successes and failures. Nor do they want to be bombarded with a constant and incessant ‘buy my book’, refrain.

I try and keep away from becoming too narrow in what I post or share about myself. I want people to see that I’m not just a writer. I like to spend my time doing other things, one of which is cooking. Unfortunately (depending on how you look at it), I’m a sucker for an ingredient that I’ve never seen or used before, and will often buy something and then see what I can do with it afterwards.

I spotted this, I can’t remember where now, and my thought process went into overdrive, it’s pretty readily available, somehow I had never noticed it before. Now I see it everywhere, in various brands and sizes.

I’ve tried cooking with peanut butter before, it’s great mixed with Sweet Chilli sauce to make a coating for chicken or pork, however, I’d never had much success using it in anything that was sensitive to the amount of liquid in it. Like biscuits. For one thing, peanut butter is too wet and you have to modify the other ingredients and proportions to allow for that (if you can). So when I saw the powder, a whole new range of possibilities opened up.

My first idea was a peanut cookie. Now I know you can just add chopped peanuts to an ordinary cookie but I wanted to see what difference substituting some of this powder for the plain flour would make.

Ingredients,

  • 175 g softened butter,
  • 200 g Plain flour
  • 50 g of the peanut butter powder,
  • 90 g Caster sugar,
  • 100 g roughly chopped salted peanuts

Method,

Cream the butter and sugar. Add everything else and work into a dough. Form the dough into a sausage and coat it with Demerara sugar. Wrap it in cling film and rest it for 30 minutes in the fridge Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Take the chilled dough and slice it into 2 cm discs, flatten them onto a baking sheet which has been dusted with more Demerara sugar. Keep them looking slightly rustic at about 1 cm thick.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, keep an eye on them, as soon as the edges start to brown, they are done. Take them out and let them cool for a few minutes before transferring to a rack.

The addition of the powder made for a very short pastry and boosted the flavour. The biscuits melted in the mouth and were very hard to resist. In the end, I didn’t bother.

©Richard Dee 2019

About Richard Dee

Richard Dee is a native of Brixham in Devon, England He left Devon when he was in his teens and settled in Kent. Leaving school at 16 he briefly worked in a supermarket, then went to sea and travelled the world in the Merchant Navy, qualifying as a Master Mariner in 1986.

Coming ashore to be with his growing family, he used his sea-going knowledge in several jobs, including Marine Insurance Surveyor and Dockmaster at Tilbury, before becoming a Port Control Officer in Sheerness and then at the Thames Barrier in Woolwich.

In 1994 he was head-hunted and offered a job as a Thames Estuary Pilot. In 1999 he transferred to the Thames River Pilots, where he regularly took vessels of all sizes through the Thames Barrier and upriver as far as HMS Belfast and through Tower Bridge. In all, he piloted over 3,500 vessels in a 22-year career with the Port of London Authority.

Richard is married with three adult children and two grandchildren.

His first science-fiction novel Freefall was published in 2013, followed by Ribbonworld in 2015. September 2016 saw the publication of his Steampunk adventure The Rocks of Aserol and of Flash Fiction, a collection of Short Stories. Myra, the prequel to Freefall was published in 2017, along with Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café, a murder mystery set in space and the start of a series featuring Andorra Pett, an amateur detective. He contributed a story to the 1066 Turned Upside Down collection and is currently working on prequels, sequels, and new projects.

A small selection of  books by Richard Dee

One of the recent reviews for Andorra and Her Sister

Nov 12, 2019 Steven rated it it was amazing

Andorra Pett – space station café owner, scooper pilot and sometimes super sleuth – returns for another adventure. Andorra finds herself on Earth to sort out her ex, Trevor’s affairs following his grisly murder at the hands of a mobster on Mars.

Intending this to only be a brief stay to finalise affairs before returning to the space station orbiting Saturn and the comfort of partner Derek. Unfortunately, as ever, trouble manages to find her in the form of her estranged sister Tia. When she is arrested for smuggling through importers and money laundering she calls the only person she can for help – younger sister Andorra.

Suspecting from the start that something is amiss, not least Tia lacking the sense to pull off such a crime, Andorra cannot help but be drawn in to solve the mystery and see that justice is served. Smugglers, corrupt police and a chance run in with Clive – an old face from her first ever mystery – make for high jinks aplenty. He is found running what he claims to be an official Oort Cloud Café tribute bar complete with sleazy Andorra lookalike waitresses and slanderous tales of fictitious romances assuming Andorra will never hear of it way back in space.

Once again Richard Dee has delivered a wonderfully funny murder mystery with a cast of characters new and old to entertain readers. The mystery becomes farcical as it twists and turns to a conclusion. Andorra sees herself in her share of trouble and tight spots all in the pursuit of clearing Tia’s name. This third instalment of the Andorra Pett series is a wonderful addition and only makes me long for book four in 2020 that much more.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Richard: Goodreads

Connect to Richard

Website: Richard Dee’s Scifi
Facebook: Richard Dee Author
Twitter: @RichardDockett1

My thanks to Richard for sharing this recipe with us and they do look very irresistible…your feedback is always welcome.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts From Your Archives 2020 – #Shortstory – Clarifying Shampoo by D. Wallace Peach


Welcome to the new series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and if you would like to participate with two of your posts from 2019, you will find all the details in this post: New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

This is the first post by author Diana Wallace Peach...and it is a short story, and for those of you (us) who sometimes get into a bit of a dither, it is very clarifying…..

Image Pixabay combo

Betsy over at Parenting is Funny was recently musing over a bottle of clarifying shampoo (yes, it’s a real thing). Her blog is a hoot, and I encourage you to visit. Her post popped a story into my head. I hope you enjoy.

Clarifying Shampoo by D. Wallace Peach

Clara was born a Libra. Not the normal kind of Libra with a smattering of other signs in her chart to balance her scales. She was an anomaly, an astrological case study, solid Libra from her Sun all the way across the galaxy to Pluto. She vacillated like a seesaw and simple decisions were intolerable with all the second-guessing.

Worst of all, she was the epitome of annoying. Potential friends stopped calling after a week, and romantic relationships unraveled before they had a chance to knit. She frustrated counselors. Even her mother had stopped answering the phone.

Clara had to do something, and the only thing she hadn’t tried was consulting a psychic.

Madam Bea’s Fabulous Fortunes occupied the basement below a hair salon. She specialized in Tarot, but the handmade poster on her sandwich-board advertised results, and that was exactly what Clara needed. Results.

At the bottom of the concrete steps, a peeling door led into a tight space cordoned off by red sheets tacked to the ceiling. A disorienting combination of odors—garlic, mildew, and sandalwood—assaulted Clara’s nose. A card table separated two folding chairs, complete with a sparkly glass ball on a plastic stand.

Madam Bea, a beak-nosed woman with painted eyebrows, sat at the table finishing off a pizza. She waved to the unoccupied chair while munching on the crust, and then tossed the pizza box behind the makeshift curtains.

Clearly, Clara had made another mistake, but she accepted the seat and laid out the saga of her peculiar horoscope complete with runny mascara—another miscalculation. She should have applied the waterproof variety.

The fortune teller listened intently while picking her teeth with a ruby fingernail. “I have joost the thing,” she said and disappeared behind the sheets. When she returned, she placed a half-empty bottle of shampoo on the table.

“Shampoo?” Clara frowned.

“Clarifying champoo.” Madam Bea’s eyebrows arched higher than already arched. “Trust me. I give you discount. That be fifty dollars.”

Clara forked over the cash with a sigh and drove home. Before dropping into bed, she washed her hair.

In the morning, she shuffled to her closet and ruminated over what to wear. Slacks or a skirt? Maybe a dress. Or slacks in case the office is cold. But what if it’s warm? A dress with a sweater? Although a skirt…

The lavender suit.

Clara froze. The whispered voice seemed to originate from somewhere above her head. She glanced up and then peeked over her shoulder. Alone. Was the voice real? Inside her head? She backed up and sat on the edge of her bed. Should she make another counseling appointment?

Ivory blouse and low pumps. Pearl studs but skip the necklace.

Clara jolted up with a yelp. She rifled through her closet and wriggled into the lavender suit. Studs in her ears, she dashed from her apartment to the sidewalk, the low heels a wise choice with all the running.

She inhaled a lungful of sunshine to calm her racing heart, shoved the morning’s weirdness from her thoughts, and wavered over whether to walk to work or take the bus. Or drive. Or walk. What if she got blisters? And then there was city parking…

Walk. It’s a nice day. You need the exercise.

Clara frowned and casually swept a hand over the top of her head. Was her hair giving her instructions?

I’m clarifying.

“Clarifying?” She wrinkled her nose. “Why? But what if—”

Clarity never hurt anyone. Now, no time for waffling or you’ll be late.

Still suspicious of her hair, Clara set off for work, and for the first time in three years, she arrived on time, a fact noticed by Harry, the tall, dark, and hunky cubical-occupant across the aisle. Her hair urged her to have tea instead of coffee and to check her emails before returning calls, decisions that would have taken an hour.

By the time the clock struck noon, her lips curved into a relaxed smile, the day’s decision-making handled entirely by her hair.

Harry cleared his throat. “Clara, would you like to join me for a quick lunch?”

“Oh, er, hm.” Clara didn’t know. Should she? What would she order? Maybe she shouldn’t. But then he might not ask again. So, she should. But what if she did, and he ended up being a creep, and then he’d ask her every day? She might have to quit her job. Or he could be nice. “Um, I…”

Gah! Just say yes!

“Yes,” she blurted.

Eighteen years later, while Clara unpacked her shopping bags, her daughter, Elizabeth, sauntered into the kitchen, phone in hand. “Mom, there’s a bonfire at the park tonight. Chantelle and I were planning to go, but her mom needs their car. Can I take ours? I’ll be home by nine.”

Clara wanted to say yes, but driving after dark… And what if there was beer? And boys? There would be boys. Was Elizabeth old enough? Should she say no? Eventually, she’d have to trust her daughter’s choices. She could drive the two of them. But that might be humiliating. Was it worth a fight?

She’s a responsible kid. She said she’ll be home by nine.

Clara sighed. “All right, you can go. I trust you to make good choices.”

“Awesome, mom. I have to hurry and hop in the shower.”

“Oh!” Clara perked up and searched through her bags. “I bought you some shampoo.”

© D.Wallace Peach 2019

About D. Wallace Peach

I didn’t care for reading as a child – I preferred Bonanza and Beverly Hillbillies reruns, Saturday morning cartoons and the Ed Sullivan show. Then one day, I opened a book titled The Hobbit. Tolkien … literally changed my life.

I love writing, and have the privilege to pursue my passion full time. I’m still exploring the fantasy genre, trying out new points of view, creating optimistic works with light-hearted endings, and delving into the grim and gritty what-ifs of a post-apocalyptic world. Forgive me if I seem untethered in my offering of reads. Perhaps one day, I’ll settle into something more reliable. For now, it’s simply an uncharted journey, and I hope you enjoy the adventure as much as I.

A selection of  books by D.Wallace Peach

One of the recent reviews for Sunwielder

Avid Reader 5.0 out of 5 stars  Highly recommended to lovers of time-travel  Reviewed in the United States on December 20, 2019

If you would be granted the ability to travel back in time and redo some of your life choices, would you take it?

What if strings were attached?

Without giving any spoilers away, I loved the way D. Wallace Peach handled the plot and the magic she instilled in the time-travel charm as well as the twists she put in the past being relieved. The worlds she created were fascinating and very well developed as well as full of political intrigue. It was amazing to discover how Gryff’s new life options affected those involved and the heartache he went through was gripping, well balanced by lyrical descriptions.

I found it hard to put it down, so many chores were put on hold until I finished the book…

Sunwielder is a page turner with a super clever plot, highly recommended.

Read the reviews for buy the books: Amazon US

And Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Diana: Goodreads

Connect to Diana

Blog: Myths of the Mirror
Facebook: Myths of the Mirror
Twitter: @Dwallacepeach

My thanks to Diana for this delightful story and next time I have a decision to make I will make sure to listen for any advice from my hair… thanks for dropping in and we would love to hear from you… thanks Sally.