Writer in Residence – The House by the Sea – Chapter Five by Paul Andruss


Yesterday Patrick Noone discovered the joy and freedom of life beneath and in the waves of the sea with Muireann. Sadness enters his life however and his swimming lessons are put on hold. Will this mysterious woman wait for him? Paul Andruss takes us into the final chapter.

THE HOUSE BY THE SEA – Chapter Five by Paul Andruss

A month short of being twenty-one, Patrick was summoned home from work to meet a fancy lawyer from the country town. Biddy, with a deference Patrick had never seen before in his life, showed him into the parlour, previously only used for Pat’s funeral, and meekly poured tea, served in her best china. She indicated Patrick to sit down in one of the good armchairs; and him in his rough and shite and all.

The lawyer began without preamble. ‘Patrick Noone, on reaching your majority, you will inherit your father’s share of his business, this house, freehold and without lien, and a capital sum standing at a little over two thousand five hundred pounds, representing invested profits. As you are probably aware your aunt was able to draw on this for your support over the years, however it must be said, she has behaved admirably.

‘I have been instructed to inform you by your father’s old partner, a Mr O’Leary, now of Cork, he would like you to take your place in the firm. I believe he was kept abreast of your upbringing by your aunt.’

Biddy nodded.

‘Is it to do with my father’s fishing boat?’ Patrick asked Biddy.

The lawyer answered. ‘I believe that was the original company. However Mr. O’Leary subsequently built up a successful business of three merchant cargo steamers. He is making a very generous offer.

‘I do understand this is a lot to digest, young man; hence my early announcement. As I am affiliated to the company’s legal firm, I am instructed to offer whatever guidance you require over the coming month.’

Picking up his satchel, the lawyer took out a sheaf of papers. ‘I would suggest you review these and that we meet in my office in a fortnight to discuss your questions. I will send an appointment letter.’ He looked Patrick up and down. ‘I also suggest I introduce you to my tailor.’

He put out his hand for Patrick to shake and rather awkwardly Patrick stood to take the proffered hand in his own dirty paw. The lawyer’s expression did not change at all.

‘Delighted, I will see you in two weeks then.’

‘So what are yer thinkin?’ Biddy asked after the lawyer left.

‘I’m not too sure what I’m thinking.’

‘Give it time,’ Biddy answered.

After telling Ron the foreman, Patrick asked if he could carry on working, until they replaced him. He had wanted to say until he had decided what to do but thought Ron would not believe him. He barely believed himself. He said he would have to go home each night rather than sleeping in the camp. There were papers to look at, and things to think about.

In truth, the only thing Patrick wanted to think about was Muireann. He wanted to know if he had lost her forever. Each evening he’d stand on the beach, looking forlornly out to sea, praying she’d appear. When it got too dark, he’d reluctantly head off home. One precious night, he saw a solitary dark head break the waves. Carelessly he ran into the surf, calling out her name; slapping the water, shouting himself hoarse. By some miracle she came, swimming through the wine dark sea under a violet sky.

Peering through the deepening gloom, his heart sank every time he lost her in the swell and surged as she reappeared. Suddenly the head appeared so close he could clearly see it was a curious seal. For a few long seconds, it stared at him with large dark eyes, before diving underwater.

He swore there and then in his anguish if he could but see her one more time. Mermaid, fairy; no matter what she was, he would declare undying love and put his life in her hands. Declare it while he could: before his whole life changed and she was forever lost.

Walking back to the house Patrick thought he heard singing on the wind, faint but unmistakeable, like the song that haunted his childhood dreams. That night he prayed. He who never prayed, who had never asked anyone for anything, prayed to God and Jesus and the Holy Mother, to Jude, the patron saint of lost causes, to his mother in case she was in heaven, and his Uncle Pat and his father who already were.

The next day, at twilight, Patrick’s prayers were answered. Muireann waited on the beach wearing her antique green dress. Heart singing, he ran to her. All he wanted to do was sweep her up in his arms. To kiss her, and to have her kiss him back. She stopped him before he could touch her.

‘I tried to stay away’, she told him, ‘but seeing you unhappy…’

‘I knew it was you.’

She hushed him. ‘I am not what you think.’

I don’t care what you are. I love you.’

‘And I love you too. I always have, for your whole life. ’ she replied. ‘Patrick, I am your mother.’

He felt as if the whole world was falling in. He couldn’t speak; couldn’t look at her.

Her voice was gentle. ‘We of the Selkie live in the sea, only casting off our seal skins to come ashore. If our skins are taken we remain prisoners on dry land.’

‘My father?’

‘I loved your father Patrick, loved him so much I gave up everything. We hatched a plan to keep my seal skin locked securely in a chest. He said he would always wear the key over his heart, as a sign of our love. I returned with you one day to find his sister in the house. The chest dragged from its hiding pace with lid flung open. My sealskin, draped over a chair, had lost its sheen. It looked stiff and dry as old leather. It brought tears to my eyes. I was filled irrational longing.

‘He told me to tell you he doesn’t love you any more,’ his sister told me as I stared at my unloved skin. ‘Said, I should burn that auld thing.

‘How could it not be true? She knew our greatest secret. He must have given her the key to open the chest. Madness descended on me. I was afraid she would take my skin and throw it in the fire. I snatched it up. She grabbed you. ‘Go’, she snarled, ‘he wants you gone.’

‘All I could think was to save my skin; to bring back its gloss and shine. As soon as I felt the cold caress of the waves, felt my two skins bond, my form change, I remembered she had you. But what could I do? You were born without a skin. And I was unable to step on land until a year passed for each year spent in mortal form.’

His mother’s large brown eyes filled with tears. ‘I used to sing to you. Did you hear me?’

He nodded slowly, blubbering, ‘He never stopped loving you. He thought you left him; was terrified you’d come for me.’

His mother hugged him, tenderly pulling down his head to nestle in the crook between her shoulder and neck, gently stroking his hair. Although Patrick was taller and broader than she, he instinctively knew these were the arms he remembered caressing him as a child.

‘I know he loved me. I was the one who found him,’ she gently told her son. ‘He swam too long, too far, searching for me. The key, our key was still around his neck. And then I knew she lied. And he did too. Knew she’d betrayed the secret he shared with the sister he loved.

‘I brought him home to the strand in front of the house, waiting with him all night until the sky grew pale. I saw you leave for school, with her waving you off at the door. I waited until you were gone and called out.

‘Although she only heard the bark of a seal, she knew it was me. She seized the axe from the woodpile and came charging down the beach. When she saw him, she knew. I saw it in her face; all her schemes born from bitterness unravelling.

‘She dropped the axe, falling down in a heap, weeping and keening over what she’d done.

We stayed until the sun rose high, wife and sister with the man they loved, who had each thought in their own way to make him happy and between them destroyed him.

‘When she stopped crying she looked up, blowing her nose on her sleeve. It seemed as if some part was broken, or something inside had died. I turned back to the sea leaving her alone with her sin.’

When he got home, Patrick told Biddy he had met his mother on the beach. Biddy said nothing, putting out the dinner in silence. When he was in bed she knocked on his door and came uninvited into his room.

‘It wasn’t what you think,’ she began. ‘I was at me wits end with yer poor Uncle Pat shivering in two damp rooms an her, that godless creature, throwing the fact she wanted for nothing in me face; what with yer father, and you, and this fine big house.’

Patrick said nothing, pretending to be asleep until Biddy stumbled to a halt and left. Unable to sleep he got up before first light and made his way to work. Taking foreman Ron to one side he asked for his due wages. With none to be had until Saturday, the lads had a whip round scraping together what they could. A passing cart gave him a lift to the station up the line. From there took the train to the country town, where he told the lawyer he would like to take up Mr O’Leary’s offer. He then instructed the lawyer to sell the house by the sea and settle an adequate sum on his aunt.

Arriving in Cork Patrick lodged with Mr O’Leary and his wife. In time he fell in love with and married Mr O’Leary’s eldest daughter Kathleen. An arrangement, that must be said, suited all parties. His aunt did not come to the wedding; although his cousin did.

Patrick’s cousin was a pretty young thing. Some might call her beautiful with her thick dark curls and large soulful eyes that turned many a young man’s head at the wedding party. Although some young women cattily remarked, as some will when alone together at social gatherings where they feel ignored, that the darkness of her eyes, hair and brows left her skin looking pale as ivory and her generous lips quite pinched and bloodless.

©Paul Andruss 2018

© Image The Colour of Life Geoff Cronin and Pinterest.

I am sure that you have enjoyed this story as much as I have and a huge thanks to Paul for the enormous amount of time spent in writing it for us.

Find the previous chapters here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-special-the-house-by-the-sea-by-paul-andruss/

Paul asked that I share some of the links from The Colour of Life by Geoff Cronin that he enjoyed and included elements of in this story.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/05/the-colour-of-life-chapter-two-my-grandfathers-story-1930-by-geoff-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/04/16/the-colour-of-life-james-the-landlord-1939-by-geoff-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/04/23/the-colour-of-life-work-on-a-timber-gang-1942-by-geoff-cronin/

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Finn Mac CoolFinn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

When the fairy folk deliver a soldier called Finn (the first outsider in plague-stricken Ireland for a decade) Erin believes he is Finn Mac Cool – returned to kill the tyrant King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster. and free Great Queen Maeve – Ireland’s true ruler & Erin’s dying mother.

The druids kidnap Finn – planning to turn him into the hero Finn Mac Cool – who will save the world by destroying it.

Erin goes in looking for Finn – so he can kill Conor Mac Nessa before her mother’s dream of a free Ireland dies with her.

Erin’s quest draws her ever-deeper into Ireland’s ancient mythological landscape; a place…
… Where dream and reality merge
… Where a man’s fate is written fifteen hundred years before he was born
… Where books are legends & a library a myth
… Where people hate Christians for defying the gods
… Where phony druids use real magic

Find out more and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

Here is an extract from my review of Thomas the Rhymer

Challenge your senses with a rival to Harry Potter by Sally Cronin

After 60 odd years of reading it is easy to get into bad habits. By this I mean sticking to the tried and tested with regard to genres and authors. This is not healthy when you are a writer yourself, as I have discovered when reading Thomas the Rhymer by Paul Andruss.

I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling when it was released. Whilst I enjoyed it as a children’s story, I really did not find myself engaged or inspired to read the other seven books or watch the movies. I felt excluded from the millions who did and usually keep my silence in the face of fans.

However, Thomas the Rhymer had me hooked from page one and continued to keep me engaged the entire 319 pages.

This is an ensemble piece with a cast of characters that would be happy in starring roles in Alice in Wonderland or any Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. Jack Hughes, Ken, Catherine and the delightful Rosie, along with Thomas with his foot in this world and that of the Fairies; draw you into their inner circle and hold you fast.

Each of these wonderfully drawn characters face challenges in their past or present that make them feel isolated until they join forces to protect the most vulnerable amongst them and bring a brother home.

Read the rest of the review and challenge you senses and pick up a copy today: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Currently for a limited period Thomas the Rhymer is FREE to download via Paul’s website. It would be a great service if you could download the book and review and put it on Amazon and Goodreads.

Thank you to Paul for this special story and he would love your feedback. Thanks Sally

 

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Writer in Residence – The House by the Sea – Chapter Four by Paul Andruss


In yesterday’s chapter we meet a woman who seems impervious to the cold as she swims naked in the sea. Patrick Noone is enthralled by her exotic behaviour and agrees to meet her and learn how to swim….Paul Andruss continues the story.

THE HOUSE BY THE SEA – Chapter Four – Paul Andruss

Biddy wanted to know why he was soaking wet. He could not tell her about the woman. No, he did not want to tell her. So he made up some tall tale about falling in the woods, getting covered in mud from head to foot, and washing himself in the sea. Biddy stared gimlet-eyed like she didn’t believe a word.

‘Yer stupid get,’ she said eventually. ‘Now get outta them wet things an get some aul newspapers stuffed in them boots to dry them out by the stove.’

That night all Patrick thought about was the strange woman. He wasn’t stupid. He knew no ordinary woman could swim naked in a storm-ripped winter sea. It came as no surprise her name was Muireann. He knew the story of Muireann from school; a mermaid caught long ago in Lough Neagh in the North, who became a woman when baptised by some old saint.

All his life Patrick had heard the old stories of mermaids drowning sailors or bad fairies dragging children down to the green weeds of the river bed. But if she’d wanted him dead, she could a done it there and then. She didn’t need to offer to teach him to swim. No, whatever she was, he was sure she meant no harm.

Saturday afternoon found Patrick on the beach. He had taken off his boots and socks, along with his jacket, trousers and shirt, to stand shivering in the wind off the sea, naked except his oldest patched pair of long underpants. The ones he knew Biddy would never miss.

Muireann did not come from the sea, but walked along the wind whipped sand in an faded dress of spoilt green satin and forlorn lace. It looked as if it might have once been worn by a fine lady a hundred years ago. Its long full skirt swept the sand smooth. Its trace washed away in turn by the tide.

The dress was wet and clung to every curve. He thought it strange as her hair and skin were dry. Her thick dark hair curled unbound to the waist. Sleek and glossy, it looked as if it had been brushed until it gleamed. Eyes, dark and lustrous as he remembered, left her skin pale as ivory; her full lips looked bloodless with the cold. He thought her beautiful.

‘Don’t you look handsome,’ she remarked.

Handsome or not he found himself lost for words, and felt his face colour. He stood watching her watching him, as the cold spray plastered the thin fabric of his underpants to every muscle. Without a word she reached out to take his hands and walking backward drew him into the sea.

‘Do not be afraid,’ she he told him.

‘I’m not afraid.’

‘It feels cold at first but that is the wind on the waves. Take a deep breath and fall to me.’

He closed his eyes and squeezing her hands fearfully, did what he was told. There was a moment of panic as his feet went from under him, but her grip held firm. Under the waves it felt warm, or at least not cold. He felt light as air and just as free. He put his head up to take another breath and plunged it back underwater, opening his eyes to a brief sting of salt. He laughed. The air bubbling from of his mouth forced him to find his feet and stand with the waves crashing from waist to chest.

‘Do you like it?’ she asked.

He nodded, eager; greedy; happy as a child on his birthday.

‘A deep breath,’ she instructed.

He breathed and together they plunged beneath the waves.

They say everyone favours one of the four elements. Some breeze through life with laughter in their heart. Some light up the world around them, though they may be changeable as the day is long. Others, solid and dependable, will not be moved if they know they are right. They thirst for justice and are good to have standing at your side in troubled times. Then there are those, often the quiet ones, who run still and deep. Whether they be calm or tempestuous, they do not give love easily. But when they love… ah, when they love, over time that love of theirs will erode mountains.

On Monday Patrick saw Muireann walking along the beach in another antique dress. As luck would have it, or maybe it was a premonition, he had packed his old underpants in his knapsack. After this they met for an hour each evening on his way home to swim together. With the lengthening days and bursting buds, Patrick realised he dreaded the return of spring. Sleeping under the trees night after night seemed a poor substitute with his new taste for the sea.

In his heart he knew this is what his father felt in his fishing boat: the call of the sea; in all her moods. And perhaps there was more. A dark sinister thought crept in, growing like a worm gnawing at his heart. Perhaps his father had known his own Muireann. Perhaps this was this why he drowned, searching for one such as her? Perhaps this was why his mother left?

Day after day he steeled himself to ask Muireann if she knew of his father. Each time he quailed, afraid of what it would mean. If her people were responsible for his father’s death or his mother leaving; where would that leave them?

One Thursday morning, no more than couple of hours after starting work, Sam the Undertaker’s son burst into the logging camp looking for Patrick. His Uncle Pat was dead. Ron the foreman told him to take what time he needed and he’d try not to dock his wages if he could. Although wages were the last thing on Patrick’s mind.

Biddy later told him Pat had died in his sleep. He knew Biddy and Pat slept in different rooms. Pat’s cough kept her up all night leaving her good for nothing. She’d seen him when she took in with his early morning tea. He was so peaceful; not a peep out of him. She thought it would be a kindness to let him sleep; not realising he was already gone.

As darkness fell Patrick grew fretful. Muireann was expecting him. What if he didn’t show? Would she ever come again? But how could he leave Biddy? She had no one else. Reluctantly he closed the curtains, knowing they would not be opened again ‘til after the funeral. There would be no swimming now, no dalliance, at least for a while. It was no comfort to know he was doing the right thing.

The funeral was Saturday afternoon so friends from the logging camp could act as pallbearers. Patrick was not in work but sat with Biddy night and day watching over the body. Friday night everyone turned up for the send-off. Biddy laid on a spread, with a barrel brought from the pub in the drayman’s cart.

It was a good turn-out. There was lots a laughing and singing round the coffin with two fellas from the pub on fiddle and banjo. Near midnight, when the songs were getting maudlin and people shifting uneasily, looking ready to leave, it was time for Pat to go. Biddy went over and opened the window, while respectfully the mourners formed an avenue for his spirit to pass between them out into the night.

The funeral went without a hitch. Everyone came round after. They were subdued for a while, probably nursing hangovers. Some brought a bottle or two by way of commiseration. Wives drifted by with a stew-pot, a spare pie or something else they’d baked. Before anyone knew, it was midnight again and the barrel was finished and the bottles empty and everyone was saying what a great aul fella Paddy was. Though by Jeasus, they’d bothered with him little enough before. And that was that. The man was laid to earth. Biddy and Patrick were expected to get on with it.

After Church on Sunday, there was cold-cuts for dinner and a slice of pie. Claiming a blindin’ head, Biddy went to bed. At a loss Patrick went to the sea. When Muireann wasn’t there, he stripped himself naked and swam until his arms and legs burned. Coming out he realised his eyes were running with tears and he thought it must be the bloody salt water.

For the next week he went to the sea each evening on his way home from work. Muireann had gone. Sometimes he stripped himself and swam. But his heart wasn’t in it. By the month end he was back to work proper and sleeping under the stars, or more often than not under a stretched tarpaulin with the rain drip, drip, dripping off the branches onto the oiled canvass above his head. He missed the sea. But on them nights he missed the sea least of all.

©Paul Andruss 2018

© Images The Colour of Life Geoff Cronin

My thanks again to Paul for this compelling episode in this story and I hope you will pop in tomorrow for the final part.

Find the previous chapters here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-special-the-house-by-the-sea-by-paul-andruss/

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Finn Mac CoolFinn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

When the fairy folk deliver a soldier called Finn (the first outsider in plague-stricken Ireland for a decade) Erin believes he is Finn Mac Cool – returned to kill the tyrant King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster. and free Great Queen Maeve – Ireland’s true ruler & Erin’s dying mother.

The druids kidnap Finn – planning to turn him into the hero Finn Mac Cool – who will save the world by destroying it.

Erin goes in looking for Finn – so he can kill Conor Mac Nessa before her mother’s dream of a free Ireland dies with her.

Erin’s quest draws her ever-deeper into Ireland’s ancient mythological landscape; a place…
… Where dream and reality merge
… Where a man’s fate is written fifteen hundred years before he was born
… Where books are legends & a library a myth
… Where people hate Christians for defying the gods
… Where phony druids use real magic

Find out more and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

Here is an extract from my review of Thomas the Rhymer

Challenge your senses with a rival to Harry Potter by Sally Cronin

After 60 odd years of reading it is easy to get into bad habits. By this I mean sticking to the tried and tested with regard to genres and authors. This is not healthy when you are a writer yourself, as I have discovered when reading Thomas the Rhymer by Paul Andruss.

I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling when it was released. Whilst I enjoyed it as a children’s story, I really did not find myself engaged or inspired to read the other seven books or watch the movies. I felt excluded from the millions who did and usually keep my silence in the face of fans.

However, Thomas the Rhymer had me hooked from page one and continued to keep me engaged the entire 319 pages.

This is an ensemble piece with a cast of characters that would be happy in starring roles in Alice in Wonderland or any Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. Jack Hughes, Ken, Catherine and the delightful Rosie, along with Thomas with his foot in this world and that of the Fairies; draw you into their inner circle and hold you fast.

Each of these wonderfully drawn characters face challenges in their past or present that make them feel isolated until they join forces to protect the most vulnerable amongst them and bring a brother home.

Read the rest of the review and challenge you senses and pick up a copy today: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Currently for a limited period Thomas the Rhymer is FREE to download via Paul’s website. It would be a great service if you could download the book and review and put it on Amazon and Goodreads.

Thank you to Paul for this special story and he would love your feedback. Thanks Sally

Writer in Residence – The House by the Sea – Chapter Three by Paul Andruss


Welcome to the third chapter of The House by the Sea. We left Patrick Noone coming to terms with life with his Aunt Biddy and Uncle Pat. At seven years old he took over the chores for his ill uncle and has learned the value of hard work. Paul Andruss picks up the story.

THE HOUSE BY THE SEA – Chapter Three – Paul Andruss

At the age of fourteen, Biddy put a word in and Patrick got the gardener’s boy’s job up the big house. The gardener, an amiable old chap who headed a team of ten good natured fellas, took bright eager Patrick under his wing, intending to teach him all he knew. Perhaps he felt sorry for him because he was quiet. At the end of his second year the old man sat Patrick down, knocked out his pipe on the heel of his boot and slowly shook his head.

‘By the holy Jeasus an all o’ his saints lad, you’ve a aul rare gift. No matter what I gives yer, by Jeasus, if it don’t curl up an die. I might as well save meself the trouble an dip it in saltwater. Now I likes yer, I do, an there is no doubt yer can graft, but it can’t go on. I’m supposed ta be fillin the place like the Garden o’ Eden, not leaving it scorched as the hobs a Hell.

‘Now Paddy lad, don’t be lookin at me like a dog off to be whipped, I spake to Danny, that’s Mr McEnery ta yer, an yer fixed ta join is timber gang, if he likes the cut of yer jib. It’s a good life lad, an yer gift for killin plants ain’t such a handicap to them, what with the business the’re in,’ he chortled.

That afternoon the gardener took him to be looked over by the Estates Manager Mr McEnery, or ‘that miserable aul’ get’ as everyone else referred to him. The estate had a logging team and its own timber mill, each run by a foreman under McEnery. At first Patrick was put in the timber mill, which he hated; especially with McEnery living up to his nickname, barking out his orders with a puss on him like he’d been slapped round the face with an aul kipper.

Lucky for Patrick within a fortnight one of the logging men had an accident and he was sent to the team, temporary mind, to help load and drive the cart. It was a wet cold miserable week. None of the other fellas were keen on moving out of the comfort of the factory.

Patrick loved the freedom, loved no one checking on you every five minutes. Most of all, he loved being in the woods with the scattered diffused light breaking through the dark green canopy and the rain on his face. He thought it was the closest he’d ever come to being underwater. It was like living in the sea.

Before long he was wielding an axe as good as any of them and loving every minute. The rest of the lads were like Uncle Pat, except fit and full of laughter. Even the foreman Ron, only got stiff when aul McEnery came sniffing round, which wasn’t that often as long as you got your quota to the mill on time.

In summer they would stay out for days on end, working dawn ‘til dusk and sleeping on canvass cots under tarpaulins stretched between branches like tents. They kept a roaring log fire on the go, cooking up a big aul frying pans a bacon, sausage, eggs n bread, n spuds roast in the ashes. With a big aul billie a tea, strong n sweet with condensed milk, stewing away night and day.

He worked six and half days, and it was hard, hard labour, but it filled him out. By the age of twenty he was weathered as seasoned oak, with muscles like ripcords, a strong back and broad across the shoulders. A quiet man, each Saturday afternoon instead of staying in the pub with the lads, he’d head back to Aunt Biddy to turn over the bulk of his wages and help out with the chores. On the way home he always made sure to pick up a couple a pint bottles of the black stuff from the pub and a pack of ciggies from the tobacconists for Uncle Pat along with a bag of boiled sweets for Biddy.

There was Mass on Sunday morning followed by a slap up breakfast and a slap up dinner. By suppertime he was heading back to camp with a week’s worth of clean clothes and a couple of large meat and potato pies in his backpack to share with the lads.

Winter was different. It was too cold to be sleeping rough. With the short days the lads headed off early to their homes or lodgings in the town. At one point, Patrick even suggested Auntie Biddy take in a few for the extra money, but by this time Big Pat wasn’t well enough. The poor aul sod looked like death, propped up in the big aul armchair by the grate day and night; asleep more often than not, with a burned down ciggie hangin’ from his lips.

He’d joke the doctor told him to stay away from the ciggies. ‘But I said to him,’ he’d say, ‘by Jeasus Doc, and where am I goin’ a get one a them fancy ciggie holders when I’m buggered walking ta the privy?’

Then he’d laugh, which would start the hacking cough, which wouldn’t stop. Biddy or Patrick would have to bend him forward and rub his back trying to loosen the congestion. Sometimes after a bad attack, Patrick saw Biddy bent over the stove, or doing the ironing, quietly crying. He knew better than to say something.

It was an early spring afternoon, one of them days with just a promise of what’s to come in the air. Patrick was walking home before twilight. There had been a filthy big storm the day before that left the logging camp like a sea of mud, with nothing movin’. The foremen sent them home saying they’d get an early start tomorra.

As Patrick hit the coast path leading down to the house, didn’t he see the strangest thing on the beach? At first, he didn’t know what to make of it. Then thought his eyes was deceiving him. There was something black and white caught in the surf. It couldn’t be; but it was. Jesus Christ and all his saints in heaven! There was a body washed up, all white, broken and naked: a woman judging by the long dark hair tangled by the crashing waves.

His first thought was she must have drowned. There were stories he’d heard, what with living by the sea all his life, how the riptide could strip a body naked. Holy Mary Mother of God, what a hideous way to go! He was debating what to do when he saw her move. He knew it wasn’t the waves, when she moved again. Jesus Christ she was alive!

Yelling like a mad man he tore down the cliff path. Within twenty or thirty wards there was a way down to the beach: he knew it well. He hit the sand running so fast he went tumbling arse over tip. As he struggled to his feet, he looked again. He was too late. She was gone.

A cry of anguish was ripped out of the heart of him. Patrick pelted into the crashing white surf, looking right and left, hoping to find some trace. Anything!

He was shocked to see the top of a head appear from beneath the waves. A slim pale hand wiped away the long dark hair plastered across her face to reveal large brown liquid eyes looking at him, full of curiosity.

He stared back uncomprehending.

‘You’re alive?’ he muttered after a moment.

Slowly the rest of her head emerged, a delicate nose and full lips, pinched and blue with the cold.

‘I heard you coming, I had no clothes.’

‘I thought you was dead!’

‘Me? No.’ she laughed.

‘You looked dead’, he protested, biting his lip, scared to offend her. But she had looked dead; lying white and broken; cast up like flotsam.

Slowly she rose from the water, her long sleek hair sticking like a pelt to her narrow shoulders as she broke surface. Under the water it floated like strands of kelp, obscuring the swell of her breasts.

Patrick blushed to see her rising naked. He turned away. He had never seen a woman and was desperate to look. But not like this. It wasn’t decent.

He felt a peck on his cheek. ‘You are gallant,’ she said, sounding as if she was laughing at him.

Before he could stop himself, he’d looked. She was holding something to protect her modesty, lank and dark like a wet blanket, or perhaps wet leather, or maybe moleskin, for it looked slick and glossy.

‘I was swimming.’ She took his hand in her icy one and led him from the water. ‘You will catch your death.’

‘And what about you?’

‘I never feel the cold’.

She saw him puzzling over this. ‘I swim every day.’

‘It must be marvellous… to swim’

‘Can’t you?’

He shook his head.

‘Perhaps I could teach you. Would you like that?’

They were out of the swell now. The waves crashing no more than calf deep still wanted to drag him under. She began to adjust her blanket, draping it over her breasts and torso, leaving her white arms and shoulders bare.

He must have been staring for she was laughed. ‘Go home. I have a long swim a head of me and you will catch your death.’

Obediently he waded out of the cold grey water. Reaching the beach he heard her say,

‘When?’

He looked back.

‘Your swimming lesson. When?’

Saturday,’ he hesitantly replied, ‘afternoon. Two?’
‘I am Muireann.’ She smiled. ‘And I will wear something more appropriate.’

‘I’m Patrick.’ He returned her smile.

‘What a lovely name.’

He walked up the beach, feeling her eyes on him. Reaching the dunes he turned to wave goodbye. She was gone.

©Paul Andruss 2018

©Images The Colour of Life Geoff Cronin

The mystery deepens.. who is the strange woman who is brave enough to swim in such wintery seas…. pop in tomorrow to find out more.

Find the previous chapters here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-special-the-house-by-the-sea-by-paul-andruss/
 

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Finn Mac CoolFinn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

When the fairy folk deliver a soldier called Finn (the first outsider in plague-stricken Ireland for a decade) Erin believes he is Finn Mac Cool – returned to kill the tyrant King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster. and free Great Queen Maeve – Ireland’s true ruler & Erin’s dying mother.

The druids kidnap Finn – planning to turn him into the hero Finn Mac Cool – who will save the world by destroying it.

Erin goes in looking for Finn – so he can kill Conor Mac Nessa before her mother’s dream of a free Ireland dies with her.

Erin’s quest draws her ever-deeper into Ireland’s ancient mythological landscape; a place…
… Where dream and reality merge
… Where a man’s fate is written fifteen hundred years before he was born
… Where books are legends & a library a myth
… Where people hate Christians for defying the gods
… Where phony druids use real magic

Find out more and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

Here is an extract from my review of Thomas the Rhymer

Challenge your senses with a rival to Harry Potter by Sally Cronin

After 60 odd years of reading it is easy to get into bad habits. By this I mean sticking to the tried and tested with regard to genres and authors. This is not healthy when you are a writer yourself, as I have discovered when reading Thomas the Rhymer by Paul Andruss.

I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling when it was released. Whilst I enjoyed it as a children’s story, I really did not find myself engaged or inspired to read the other seven books or watch the movies. I felt excluded from the millions who did and usually keep my silence in the face of fans.

However, Thomas the Rhymer had me hooked from page one and continued to keep me engaged the entire 319 pages.

This is an ensemble piece with a cast of characters that would be happy in starring roles in Alice in Wonderland or any Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. Jack Hughes, Ken, Catherine and the delightful Rosie, along with Thomas with his foot in this world and that of the Fairies; draw you into their inner circle and hold you fast.

Each of these wonderfully drawn characters face challenges in their past or present that make them feel isolated until they join forces to protect the most vulnerable amongst them and bring a brother home.

Read the rest of the review and challenge you senses and pick up a copy today: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Currently for a limited period Thomas the Rhymer is FREE to download via Paul’s website. It would be a great service if you could download the book and review and put it on Amazon and Goodreads.

Thank you to Paul for this special story and he would love your feedback. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Reblog – Writer in Residence – How the Whale Became by Paul Andruss


This is a companion piece to the much discussed post last week by Paul Andruss on how the Elephant had a near miss and nearly became a whale…..

The Whale’s Tail: or just a fluke? (Trip advisor.co.uk)

How the Whale Became

Companion to How the Elephant almost became a Whale on Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord by Paul Andruss

In 1859, Charles Darwin hesitated over publishing On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection.

It was not because he was concerned about the church’s reaction. He took care to excise any suggestion man was descended from the ape, even if the logical inference was staring people in the face.

And he was not concerned about his fellow scientists. Evolution was old news. His great-uncle Erasmus Darwin wrote about evolution in 1796. In 1806, the French philosopher Jean-Baptiste Lamarck proposed animals changed shape by reacting to the environment, thus baby giraffes were born with longer necks because their parents were always stretching up to reach the tree tops.

Darwin’s knew his theory of change by natural selection was sound. Farmers had been improving livestock by selective breeding for centuries. It required no stretch of the imagination to see if animals were better suited to natural conditions they would be the ones to breed and pass on their adaptations to offspring.

What Darwin was really worried about was the lack of evidence one animal could change into another. It was obvious people had bred a myriad of dog species from the wolf, but what he was proposing was equal to a dog changing into an elephant.

Darwin needed a transitional form, an animal forming a bridge between one creature and another. Otherwise, how could he explain how a sea mammal like a whale had come from a land animal, when there were no similarities between the two?

Archaeopteryx (Natural hist fossil & its-nature)

Read the rest of this fascinating post on the evolutionary journey of the whale: http://www.paul-andruss.com/how-the-whale-became/

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Finn Mac CoolFinn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

When the fairy folk deliver a soldier called Finn (the first outsider in plague-stricken Ireland for a decade) Erin believes he is Finn Mac Cool – returned to kill the tyrant King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster. and free Great Queen Maeve – Ireland’s true ruler & Erin’s dying mother.

The druids kidnap Finn – planning to turn him into the hero Finn Mac Cool – who will save the world by destroying it.

Erin goes in looking for Finn – so he can kill Conor Mac Nessa before her mother’s dream of a free Ireland dies with her.

Erin’s quest draws her ever-deeper into Ireland’s ancient mythological landscape; a place…
… Where dream and reality merge
… Where a man’s fate is written fifteen hundred years before he was born
… Where books are legends & a library a myth
… Where people hate Christians for defying the gods
… Where phony druids use real magic

Find out more and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

You can find all of Paul’s past posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

Writer in Residence – The House by the Sea – Chapter Two by Paul Andruss


We continue with part two of the story of Patrick Noone whose life is bound inextricably with the sea. Tragedy has already struck with the loss of his mother, whose large and beautiful eyes are one of the few memories he has of her.  Paul Andruss shares more of Patrick’s childhood.

THE HOUSE BY THE SEA – Chapter Two by Paul Andruss

After his father’s death, the years rolled on; the last much the same as the next with little to choose between them. Patrick grew into a fine strong lad, wiling and polite, if a little withdrawn, but with something that made people warm to the ‘poor orphan’.

At seven he made his first Confession and Holy Communion before becoming an altar boy at the Blessed Virgin with Father O’Malley. He got new clothes at Whitsun and Christmas, but for the rest of the year Biddy patched and made do. In the years of his First Holy Communion, and later, his Confirmation, the new clothes were saved up for the big day, so Biddy could make a good impression on the parish.

Patrick remembered his Confirmation Sunday because everyone went up in a charabanc to the big church where the Bishop marked them with chrism, filling them with the Holy Spirit by whispering a secret name in each child’s ear that only God and the angels knew.

Over the years, Patrick came to learn his Aunt Biddy was not a cruel woman. True, she had a fierce temper on her and little suffered shenanigans; what, with the washing and the ironing she took in, keeping house and putting meals on the table. Patrick had his fair share to do, especially as his uncle’s health grew worse. As Biddy informed him one day when he was about eight, you’re the man now.

Each morning he cleaned out the grate, set the fire, and fed the chickens, before running down the farm for a pitcher of creamy new milk, essential, so Biddy claimed, for someone with contagion on the lungs, and to pick up a loaf from the bakery. After school he chopped wood and brought it from the woodpile to the house, saw to the chickens and weeded the small garden where his uncle grew cabbage, potatoes and leek.

Every six months, spring and fall, he used the old yard-brush to paint the inside of the privy with lime-wash to keep out infection. Brought up by Biddy, Patrick never feared hard work and cheerfully did every task she dished out. The one he liked best was the first job he did every day after school: running down the alehouse with a stone jug for a quart of black porter for Uncle Pat.

It would have been a couple of years after his father died Patrick asked if his mother drowned too. Was that was why his father hated the sea?

‘Yer mother didn’t drown’, Biddy snarled with the face on her screwed up ‘til lips and eyes were no more than gashes. ‘She ran off and left him. Broke his heart she did; the bloody fool!’

She looked at Patrick with something like a cross between pity and contempt; staring so long he wished he could turn invisible. He looked down at his feet, but could still feel her eyes burning into the top of his head. At last she snorted and spat on the iron. And with the hiss, the heat in his face evaporated.

Biddy was not a talkative woman. Usually she barked orders and stood gimlet eyed as he scurried to carry them out to her satisfaction. But that day Biddy talked and talked.

Perhaps it was the long firm strokes of the iron that soothed and left her in a sort of trance. Maybe it was the odd, sly, encouraging word from Uncle Pat. Whatever, Patrick had the sense to stay frozen; aware the smallest movement would break the spell. He learned more about his family in one afternoon than he had in his whole short life.

‘Yer father never hated the sea,’ Biddy told him. ‘Even had a boat, handsome Knox it was with a sail as well as an engine. Happy as a sand-boy; spent his days fishing for crab an lobster for them grand hotels down the coast what cater for the tourists who come down from Cork, an even far away as Dublin. He was mammy’s youngest an so handsome; the apple of her eye.’

Biddy worked in one of those hotels.

‘Housekeeper mind, not one of yer scullery maids, second only to the under-manager I was. But that was before I met yer Uncle Pat.’ She nodded to her husband in the big armchair by the fire, cradling his pewter pint pot. ‘He was under-manager for the next hotel on the bay. We met at the big staff Christmas party.

‘By this time I’d given up on walking out with a fella an was resigned to goin’ to me grave a dried up aul spinster, til the Holy Mother of God had mercy on me. One thing led to another an before we knew where we was, me an Pat was wed.

‘Well, married women weren’t like girls and widows; working wasn’t for us. Anyway in them days, I thought I’d soon have me hands full with a house full of me own. Not long after, we moved to Dublin. It was when yer got that job Pat wasn’t it. But the filthy air didn’t agree with yer did it?

Pat nodded and coughed pathetically to demonstrate exactly how it hadn’t agreed with him.

Biddy carried on speaking about her husband as if he wasn’t there…

‘It was his poor aul lungs. Shot thru thee was. Well I tell yer, it was hand to mouth for a couple of years, ‘til we came back an I got a job charrin’ for Doctor an Missus Lowther. By this time you’d arrived. Yer was about three or four by then.

‘Our Micky, yer dad, had built this fine big house by the sea for her; cos she liked the sea did yer mother. But I never warmed to her. A right cold fish, she was. Miserable as the day was long. You’d think she’d lost a half a crown an found a sixpence. I didn’t see your father much in them days, but he seemed happy when he came down with a nice bit of fish or a few shillin to help us out.’

After that day, Biddy gradually seemed to soften towards Patrick, as if whatever passed for a heart was slowly melting. Big Pat, always fond of the lad, became almost like a father.

As his health worsened, on fine afternoons Biddy sat her husband outside under the veranda in a wicker chair, with a blanket over his knees, to get the benefit of the sea’s ‘salubrious ozone’. But she took care to keep him out of the wind.

After chores Patrick liked to join his uncle. Big Pat smoked his Players Full Strength hawking and coughing so hard it would seem a mercy if he dropped down dead. When he nodded Patrick topped up his uncle’s pewter pint-pot with the thick dark beer in the jug.

They never spoke much, but enjoyed the company. Sometimes, not often, Biddy would stick her head out and on cue Patrick ran to fetch a chair from the kitchen. Biddy would let him pour her a half mug of porter and the three sat in comfortable silence until the evening turned chilly.

©Paul Andruss 2018

©Images The Colour of Life Geoff Cronin

Thanks to Paul for another amazing chapter and don’t forget to pop in tomorrow for the next episode.

Find the previous chapter here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-special-the-house-by-the-sea-by-paul-andruss/

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Finn Mac CoolFinn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

When the fairy folk deliver a soldier called Finn (the first outsider in plague-stricken Ireland for a decade) Erin believes he is Finn Mac Cool – returned to kill the tyrant King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster. and free Great Queen Maeve – Ireland’s true ruler & Erin’s dying mother.

The druids kidnap Finn – planning to turn him into the hero Finn Mac Cool – who will save the world by destroying it.

Erin goes in looking for Finn – so he can kill Conor Mac Nessa before her mother’s dream of a free Ireland dies with her.

Erin’s quest draws her ever-deeper into Ireland’s ancient mythological landscape; a place…
… Where dream and reality merge
… Where a man’s fate is written fifteen hundred years before he was born
… Where books are legends & a library a myth
… Where people hate Christians for defying the gods
… Where phony druids use real magic

Find out more and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

Here is an extract from my review of Thomas the Rhymer

Challenge your senses with a rival to Harry Potter by Sally Cronin

After 60 odd years of reading it is easy to get into bad habits. By this I mean sticking to the tried and tested with regard to genres and authors. This is not healthy when you are a writer yourself, as I have discovered when reading Thomas the Rhymer by Paul Andruss.

I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling when it was released. Whilst I enjoyed it as a children’s story, I really did not find myself engaged or inspired to read the other seven books or watch the movies. I felt excluded from the millions who did and usually keep my silence in the face of fans.

However, Thomas the Rhymer had me hooked from page one and continued to keep me engaged the entire 319 pages.

This is an ensemble piece with a cast of characters that would be happy in starring roles in Alice in Wonderland or any Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. Jack Hughes, Ken, Catherine and the delightful Rosie, along with Thomas with his foot in this world and that of the Fairies; draw you into their inner circle and hold you fast.

Each of these wonderfully drawn characters face challenges in their past or present that make them feel isolated until they join forces to protect the most vulnerable amongst them and bring a brother home.

Read the rest of the review and challenge you senses and pick up a copy today: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Currently for a limited period Thomas the Rhymer is FREE to download via Paul’s website. It would be a great service if you could download the book and review and put it on Amazon and Goodreads.

Thank you to Paul for this special story and he would love your feedback. Thanks Sally

 

 

Writer in Residence Five Part Short Story – The House by the Sea- Chapter One by Paul Andruss


As regular visitors to the blog you will have already enjoyed the factual and fiction posts by Paul Andruss. When I mentioned that I was going to be spending the next week writing, he offered to write a story for the blog in five parts to keep you entertained. I was deeply touched, as would my father-in-law Geoff Cronin, by Paul’s dedication. It is wonderful to have your writing appreciated especially by someone who is himself a superb author.

I am sure you will enjoy this five part story over the next week and I have illustrated with some photographs from the stories of Geoff Cronin.

THE HOUSE BY THE SEA by Paul Andruss

Dedicated to Master storytellers
Geoff Cronin whose tales inspired the setting
& his spiritual heir & daughter in law
Sally Cronin whose short stories inspired me to try

Patrick Noone had liked the sea ever since he could remember. He liked the way its wildness stirred restlessness in his heart. His earliest memories were of yearning to plunge into the world beneath the waves; to hold his breath and let the current sweep him where it would.

Those memories came unbidden as he lay in bed, or at twilight watching a red bloated sun sink into grey. At such times, he remembered sitting in someone’s lap with protective arms wrapped around him. He believed it was his mother; although he remembered nothing of her. He imagined if he could only turn his head to look into her eyes he would see everything. But of course, he could not.

Sometimes when he had fallen into these reveries, he thought he heard low singing in a feminine lilting voice. Never words, just a soothing noise on the edge of hearing, like the whisper of waves on the beach below the house. At such times, he remembered large, dark, liquid eyes revealing his reflection and a wide expanse of seamlessly joined sky and sea. They were his mother’s eyes he supposed. They were certainly not his father’s.

His father hated the sea. His earliest memory of his father was of a bright day. Left to his own devices young Patrick wondered down to the beach and stood letting the water lap around his toes. He was entranced, lost in the sound of distant singing. Suddenly he was snatched up. Thrust face first into a musty corduroy jacket smelling of cigarettes, and carried roughly away.

His father did not say a word as he dropped him in a heap on the kitchen floor. He made to take off his belt; then stopped. He stood staring at his son for minutes. Or was it hours? Patrick did not know. When you are a child, time seems frozen and sometimes in memory, time is frozen too.

He remembered his father’s face crumpled as he let out an anguished cry. It left Patrick shaking and he burst into tears. His father knelt down and hugged him. Patrick remembered being held so tight he could not breathe. He fought as children do when feeling smothered. Without warning his father let go and walked out the house. Patrick must have been about 5 years old.

Patrick always thought his father died that night, although he knew it was not true. For some time they lived in two rooms, the kitchen and parlour next door with all the furniture pushed back to make room for a large cold bed where Patrick and his father slept. Not though his father ever slept in the bed, he always fell asleep in the chair with a bottle on the table and a pewter mug in his hand.

In the morning Patrick would creep around, looking for a crust. Perhaps he’d find scrapings of a leek and potato soup from Aunt Biddy, or scraps congealed on last night’s plates of cold boiled bacon and colcannon. Patrick did not wake his father. Not because he was afraid, but because when his father slept he looked almost happy.

He remembered Aunt Biddy in a blustering rage accusing her brother of not loving Patrick. She claimed he was afraid of him. Even at that young age Patrick knew not a single word coming from Biddy’s mouth was true. Even she did not believe it. Biddy had her eye on his father’s handsome house; neglected and forlorn as it was.

A crying shame she scolded, with no fire in the grate and filth in the corners piled high as the dirty dishes in the sink. This was no way to live, with a poor wee mite running round filthy and bare arsed as a heathen. And didn’t she make a great show of wanting to be a sainted mother to him, lunging at Patrick with her great white arms in which to smother him. A fate Patrick avoided only by hiding behind his father’s chair.

Biddy rubbed her eyes with the edge of her pinnie. Rubbed them in the exact place tears might appear, had there been any. Upon her life she sniffled, all she ever wanted was wee ‘uns of her own. But she couldn’t yer see. Not with Big Pat’s lungs shot through with the consumption. Her voice already a hoarse whisper dropped to inaudibility at the thought of any indelicacy passing her lips. The malarkey, she mouthed, not possible yer see. Over the years Patrick often wondered if Biddy had wanted wee ‘uns of her own why she never treated him better.

Biddy was the type of woman any man would struggle to best, never mind his father with all the fight gone from him. As Patrick could testify from experience, her powerful white arms and raw rough hands could land a clout to send you spinning clean across the room; if she had a mind, which she often did.

Not long afterwards, Biddy moved in with her husband, Big Pat, a small mean-built man, skinny and pale as Biddy was large and red. Before night fell, the whole house smelled of carbolic and damp washing, a smell even the tempting aroma of a mutton stew could not overwhelm. By the end of the week she forbad Patrick’s father from drinking in the house, which meant he went out drinking in the pub. Then she forbad Big Pat from going with him, which meant he carried on drinking in the house. From then on Patrick saw his father less and less. Which was good in a way, for when he drowned Patrick never really noticed he was gone.

Once the house was as she liked it, Biddy turned her attention to Patrick. Biddy took in washing and ironing for the big house, the doctor and the priest, and wanted him out from under her feet. Announcing she couldn’t have him running round the house all day long like a wild heathen, she scrubbed him, head to foot, with gritty soap on an itchy rag and inspected his head for nits by wrenching a fine-toothed comb through his tangled locks.

He was dressed in his Sunday best, a shirt with a starched collar that chaffed his neck, short trousers creased so sharp he might do someone mischief and black books so shiny he could see his face. Biddy inspected him critically and after a final scrub round the ears with spit and the edge of her pinnie, pulled on her good coat and dragged him, screaming every inch of the way, to the nuns for schooling.

‘Jeasus, Mary and Josef, what was yer thinking?’ she roared at his father. The woman could hardly believe her ears when Father O’Malley came round to tell her little Patrick was a real heathen and if she wanted him in school he would have to be baptised. Baptised he was that very day and started school the next; the youngest in the whole place, which was really just two classes.

©Paul Andruss 2018

©Images The Colour of Life by Geoff Cronin

A wonderful start to the story.. please drop in tomorrow for chapter two.

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Finn Mac CoolFinn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

When the fairy folk deliver a soldier called Finn (the first outsider in plague-stricken Ireland for a decade) Erin believes he is Finn Mac Cool – returned to kill the tyrant King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster. and free Great Queen Maeve – Ireland’s true ruler & Erin’s dying mother.

The druids kidnap Finn – planning to turn him into the hero Finn Mac Cool – who will save the world by destroying it.

Erin goes in looking for Finn – so he can kill Conor Mac Nessa before her mother’s dream of a free Ireland dies with her.

Erin’s quest draws her ever-deeper into Ireland’s ancient mythological landscape; a place…
… Where dream and reality merge
… Where a man’s fate is written fifteen hundred years before he was born
… Where books are legends & a library a myth
… Where people hate Christians for defying the gods
… Where phony druids use real magic

Find out more and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

Here is an extract from my review of Thomas the Rhymer

Challenge your senses with a rival to Harry Potter by Sally Cronin

After 60 odd years of reading it is easy to get into bad habits. By this I mean sticking to the tried and tested with regard to genres and authors. This is not healthy when you are a writer yourself, as I have discovered when reading Thomas the Rhymer by Paul Andruss.

I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling when it was released. Whilst I enjoyed it as a children’s story, I really did not find myself engaged or inspired to read the other seven books or watch the movies. I felt excluded from the millions who did and usually keep my silence in the face of fans.

However, Thomas the Rhymer had me hooked from page one and continued to keep me engaged the entire 319 pages.

This is an ensemble piece with a cast of characters that would be happy in starring roles in Alice in Wonderland or any Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. Jack Hughes, Ken, Catherine and the delightful Rosie, along with Thomas with his foot in this world and that of the Fairies; draw you into their inner circle and hold you fast.

Each of these wonderfully drawn characters face challenges in their past or present that make them feel isolated until they join forces to protect the most vulnerable amongst them and bring a brother home.

Read the rest of the review and challenge you senses and pick up a copy today: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Currently for a limited period Thomas the Rhymer is FREE to download via Paul’s website. It would be a great service if you could download the book and review and put it on Amazon and Goodreads.

Thank you to Paul for what promises to be another fabulous story.. I am sure that he would love your feedback. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Review 2017 – Smorgasbord Writer in Residence – The Gift by Paul Andruss


The top viewed post by Paul Andruss was one that celebrated his birthday and resulted in a great deal of discussion regarding the giving and receiving of gifts!

If you are a regular reader of Paul’s posts, you will know that he writes with one eye firmly on the truth of the matter, and the other on the unusual and often humorous elements he has unearthed on the subject. He always leaves you with a feeling that you have had an intimate audience with the legend or infamous person he has written about, and in The Gift he draws us into a story from his life with the skill we have come to expect from him as a writer…

I am sure you will join me in wishing Paul a very happy birthday and since Paul is such an avid gardener.. here is a cake I found on Pinterest.

The Gift by Paul Andruss

There is the argument that life is a gift and therefore not yours to squander. To this I would counter that any gift you never asked for and given with conditions attached, is not so much a gift as an obligation.

Let me tell you a story.

My mum was a part time nurse. She became close friends with two long-time close friends, Neave and Maggie. Neave was a state registered nurse and Maggie was the departmental sister. Apart from their jobs, the two women could not have been more different.

Maggie came from a comfortable background, happily married to a successful businessman and lived in a large detached four-bedroomed house in the affluent Liverpool suburb of Woolton. Neave lived in a rundown 3-bed council terrace in a neglected urban overspill called Cantril Farm, which in those days went by the name Cannibal Farm. I never lived there, so I can’t comment. But there must be some reason why the name vanished from history for the more salubrious moniker of Stockbridge Village.

I never met Maggie but Mum, Neave and I spent the day at the Liverpool Garden Festival in May 1984 before going back for tea at my new flat, close by, off the Aigburth Road, up Parkgate Drive.

When I met Neave, I immediately saw the attraction. Neave was my Nan, my mum’s mum. She had same tiny wiry build and the delicate faded beauty worn down by life and smoking too many Woodbines. There was the same dyed jet-black hair, piercing dark eyes and that quick witted, slightly self-disparaging, wicked humour characterised by hard times and hash upbringing.

That humour, which possibly originated among the Celts, is now so all pervasive many places claim it as their own. But to us Scousers, it’s Scottie Road – the old working class ghetto outside the city centre, leading up to Everton Heights. It was the place Cilla Black grew up. My Nan knew her mother.

My Granddad was a womaniser. Mum once disgustedly shared a story from when she was a girl. She overheard her Dad trying to arrange an assignation with her horrified 15 year old best friend. In his defence, perhaps it was a bit of banter. Those were different days. In mum’s eyes, worse than his womanising was the fact he kept Nan short of money, so he could spend it on the gee-gees and splash it round down the pub.

I never knew my Granddad. He was a builder and had an accident, falling off some scaffolding before I was born. It sent him loopy, or violent, or a bit of both. All I know is one day the two older girls (Mum and Aunt Eleanor) and my Uncle Frank came home from work while he was beating on my Nan. It looked like he was ready to kill her.

Although they were terrified, they ganged up on him. I think the back of a frying pan was involved. They tore him off, threw him out and locked the doors while he raged like a madman outside. My Uncle Frank was always a bit of a hero in our family after that.

All I remember of Granddad was a half-heard whisper to my Mum from Uncle Paul (four years older than me and more like a brother). People forget you’re there when you’re little.

He saw Vernon in town. Don’t say anything, Mum said. And nothing more was said.

Like my Nan, Neave had a similar hard life, except she had no one to throw out her old man. Neave had two sons. The eldest was a chip off the old block, except unlike his dad he couldn’t hold down a job so all the money he squandered on betting and drinking was his mother’s. The youngest boy was a bit backward, as we used to say in them days. It was a terrible story told to Mum by Neave and repeated by Mum to me. It might have even been to make sure I was in the right frame of mind to like Neave. If it was, it worked.

Brian, Neave’s youngest, must have been about 3 years old when it happened, a lovely lad and bright as a button. Her good-for-nothing husband was watching the footie on the telly in the large kitchen-living room, just like in my Nan’s house. The parlour was kept for best in them days, for sitting in at Christmas and New Year. And it was the place they put the tiny coffin when the undertaker brought my Nan home. I remember the room always being cold.

So it’s Saturday night and Neave, making dinner, puts a pan of water on the stove to boil while her lout of a husband is watching the football. When it starts to rain she runs out to get the washing in: as naturally he does nothing around the house. Watch the baby, she shouts dashing out.

Moments later there is terrible screaming. Brian pulled the pan of scalding water over on himself. There’s a terrible argument, a bit of a fight. The husband storms out. Neave is left trying to get to hospital with a black eye, bruises and two young sons in tow, carrying the badly scalded baby and no money in her purse for a taxi.

Eventually she gets there. Then the bad news: somehow the little boy is now brain damaged. Neave works full time for the rest of her life because her husband won’t tip up any more of his wages for special care for their ‘spassie’ child. Worse, what he pays barely covers the rent and utility bills. Her eldest grows up worse than his dad, who at least can hold down a job: a right ‘waster’ as we say.

And now dear readers for the punchline: remember Maggie, Neave’s friend, back in paragraph one? I said Maggie was from a comfortable background, so when an aunt died she inherited a packet. It was an embarrassment of riches.

She and Neave had been friends over 20 years at this point, and she knew full well the dog’s life Neave had. Thinking she had all this money. And given Neave never had nothin’. She decided to give her £10,000, which probably would have bought Neave’s council house in them days.

There was only one proviso, well more than one really. Neave must not tell her older son or husband about the gift. And if they found out she was not to give them anything, no matter how they wheedled, threatened or blackmailed. The money was for her and Brian.

Well you can imagine Neave’s response. Naturally it was…

You can stick your money. If you give me something, that money’s mine and you’re not telling me what to do with it. So you can shove it up your arse!”

And from that day on Neave and Maggie never spoke.

So, if life is a gift, it is one given without being asked for and without consultation about what you want. It is also one into which we are not born equal. There is no equitable distribution in terms of family, location, opportunity and inherited wealth, or even talent, intelligence, health and able-bodiedness.

In my humble opinion, as long as you do no harm to others, no religion, claiming to represent the Godhead, should be able to put stipulations on how you live your life, simply because it is a gift from above. And when they do, just remember Neave’s wise words and think: If that’s the case… shove it up yer arse!

©Paul Andruss 2017

Image: Pinterest.

I would imagine that like me that gave you something to think about when giving and receiving gifts!  Thanks Paul.

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is a modest but very talented author and he has two books currently available. Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen.

I have read and reviewed Thomas the Rhymer earlier in the year, and here is the link to download the epub version of the books for FREE.

Thomas the Rhymer Paul Andruss

Paul also has a pdf file available and you can read for FREE by obtaining a copy from Barnes & Noble for Nook readers and also from Kobo.

You can find out how to download from Paul’s site and also links to the other options at this link.

http://www.jackhughesbooks.com/amazon-links.php

It would be amazing if you do download and enjoy the book as much as I did. If so then it would be great if you could put a review on Amazon by adding in a sentence at the beginning – Disclaimer: I was gifted with a copy of this book from the author..  Or you can leave a review on Facebook and tag Paul in the post by using his full name Paul George Boylan.

Finn Mac Cool

Paul’s second books is Finn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, explicitly sexual and disturbingly violent, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

Connect to Paul on social media.

Blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

You can find all of Paul’s posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

Thank you for dropping by today and please feel free to share the post on your own blog and networks. Thanks Sally

Writer in Residence – Paul Andruss – Christmas Story – The Three Sisters (Part Two)


Yesterday in the first part of the story we meet two sisters who are settled back in the town where they were raised. But things are a little different from what they remember. Jenny meets Mrs. Partridge and wonders at the change in her sister Sally.. Despite a tragic year, is something magical about to happen?

Three Sisters (Part Two) by Paul Andruss

Jenny was shocked by how neglected Pear Tree Cottage looked. When she was a kid it always seemed full of light and sparkle. Her and Sal often took the long way home from school just to pass it.

There used to be fairy lights draped around the inside of the windows and the glass panelled door; strung up the pillars of the porch and wrapped around every single one of the snow columned conifers in the garden. She loved the way the lurid coloured lights painted all sorts of patterns on the virgin snow.

One year Sal, who must have been a teenager by then, archly remarked how it looked like Santa’s Littler Helpers had been having a game of paintball. And Jenny thought her sister was dead clever for coming up with something like that.

Now, it was a dark old house, lived in by a lonely old lady. Thinking back Jenny never remembered a Mr Partridge. That must be, what, about twenty five years at least. All that time alone. Poor Mrs Partridge. Jenny felt a pang of shame for considering letting the old woman down on Christmas Eve. There were people worse off in the world, even if it didn’t feel like it.
Inside, the house looked just as sad. Mrs Partridge had not put up a tree or any decorations.

There were no Christmas cards on the dusty mantle-piece. She had not even lit the fire. It was heart-breaking to think someone who loved the season so much, no longer bothered.

When Mrs Partridge took her coat, Jenny wandered to the parlour window from where you could look down at the whole village. The star and snowflake Christmas lights twinkling on the main street and the Christmas trees in people’s windows looked hollow and garish. The lit up decorations of snowmen or Father Christmases on the house fronts and gardens smacked of desperation.

This wasn’t what Jenny remembered. She wondered if the magic had vanished from the place, or just from her. Somehow she thought coming back might recapture a time when she was happy and gave no thought to tomorrow; when she accepted things on faith, and believed.

Mrs Partridge joined her.

‘It looked so magical when we were young,’ said Jenny. ‘We used to take the long way from school just to walk past your house.’

‘It’s a lot of work.’

‘Of course it is. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean… It’s just… We kids used to call you Mrs Christmas.’

‘Well, my name is Mary,’ the old woman chuckled.

‘You’re kidding, Mary Christmas. We’d have laughed our heads off if we’d known.’

‘Do you still think it was a mistake?’

Jenny nodded. ‘I shouldn’t have come back.’

‘Perhaps you need to see through a child’s eyes again.’

‘Somehow I don’t think that’s going to happen. Oh you still have it. Lovely.’ Desperate to change the subject Jenny touched the tall triangular candelabra dominating the narrow windowsill. In truth it was anything but lovely. Carved from black stained wood, and holding twelve thick candles, it was too big and ugly. Yet…

‘Sometimes you’d spot me and Sal gawking at your Christmas lights and invite us in. You and Theresa with a plate of her mince pies or gingerbread and mugs of hot chocolate. Then you’d light a candle for us, and it always seemed like something magical would happen.

We’d be so excited. It was like the countdown to Christmas. And afterwards, when all the decorations were gone, we’d walk past to watch you putting out the candles, one by one, every day.’

‘With the last candle always extinguished before the snowdrops bloomed.’ chuckled Mrs Partridge. ‘That was Flora’s time and it would have seemed selfish otherwise. Perhaps… would you? Oh go on, light one of the candles.’

‘I don’t know’, Jenny laughed, feeling a little self-conscious.

‘Try giving looking through the eyes of a child a chance. You know you want to.’ Mrs Partridge pressed a box of matches into her hand.

Feeling a bit silly, Jenny struck the match and lit the candle: watching the flame dance on the wick; its reflection dance in the window glass. Outside, a solitary snowflake fell, followed by another, then another.

‘It’s snowing.’

‘Of course it is. Now you should not do it this way every year. But for once we can make an exception. Light the next and see what happens.’

Jenny did as she was told. Somehow the lights in the village looked cheerier; even through the snow, now falling thick and fast.

Old Mrs Partridge clapped her hands. ‘One more?’

Jenny could not believe her eyes. With the third candle, Mrs Partridge’s garden rippled and sparkled with fairy lights. Or perhaps it was the twinkling lights around the window reflected in the glass.

The old lady leaned forward and waved. Sally stood at the garden gate, with snow on her coat and in her hair, and a huge grin on her face. Jenny wondered how long she’d been there.

Seeing her sister, Sally enthusiastically waved back and started up the path.

‘Now quickly, before she gets here, just one more to make it feel like Christmas.’

As soon as the wick caught, the whole window filled with golden light. Jenny spun around expectant, excited to see a dazzling Christmas tree dominating the room. It sparkled, dripping with glittering baubles and festooned with thick twists of silver tinsel, just like the trees she loved as a child. A roaring fire crackled in the fireplace. The whole room swam with the scent of pine, leaving it cosy and inviting.

Seeing Sally burst in grinning, it suddenly felt real and a little frightening. ‘What’s happening to me?’ Jenny demanded. ‘Am I going mad?’

Sal rushed over and sat her sister on the settee. ‘I know it’s a bit of a shock Jen, but let me try and explain. First of all no one is going to make you do anything you don’t want to. I mean I want you to, but it’s up to you.’

‘What is?’

‘This place isn’t called Three Sisters after the hills… Oh God, this is hard. I wish I could remember how Theresa explained it to me.’

‘But Theresa was dead.’
Sally looked a bit embarrassed. ‘Well, she was, sort of, but then… Who do you think taught me to cook?’

‘A ghost?’

‘She seemed real enough.’

Jenny’s voice dropped to a whisper, she rolled her eyes to Mrs Partridge. ‘Is she a ghost too?’

‘I may be dead dear, but I’m not deaf.’ Mrs Partridge sounded mildly offended. ‘Think of me as a remainder, or a reminder. There have always been three to help the goddess turn the year.’

‘It’s the way it was everywhere, but it’s not the way it is anymore. That’s why everything is going to pot! Or at least that’s what Al says.’

‘But he’s the vicar!’

‘Yes, but he’s not one of those judgemental types. He thinks everything is part of God’s great plan. He’s quite spiritual. You know, for a vicar! Did you never wonder why you only see Flora in spring? She brings the flowers. Mrs Partridge tends to Yule, the twelve days of Christmas; keeping the hope alive the darkest days.’

‘And Theresa?’

‘An old Greek harvest goddess. They’re spirits of the seasons.’

‘Yes I got that bit thank you very much, I’m not thick!’

‘We were chosen as young girls by those before us,’ Mrs Partridge told her. ‘But the choice was ours; as it is yours. I’ve waited a long time to find you. I can wait a bit more.’

‘They lost us when mum dragged us away as teenagers. And they never found anyone else. Then Theresa died five years ago.’

‘What about you?’ Jenny asked Mrs Partridge

‘Not long afterwards I’m afraid. But we wouldn’t go without a safe pair of hands. I mean, it’s alright for Flora; she keeps coming back because spring is rebirth.’

‘It is a responsibility, Jen. But I think you could be happy in Pear Tree Cottage. Look at me in Theresa’s old place. There’s magic here and we bring it to life.’

‘And I don’t want you to think I will be in the way dear. It will only be until you get the hang of things. You will hardly notice me.’

‘Think of it as on the job training,’ Sally helpfully offered. ‘Tell you what though; when Theresa appeared the first couple of times it put the willies right up me. How we laughed! So what do you say Jen?’

Jenny nodded thoughtfully. Well, ‘I’m not saying I will.’

‘We always thought it was such a shame there were not three of you for us. But you know what,’ Mrs Partridge, confidentially patted the back of Jenny’s hand, ‘that’s Flora’s problem.’

‘Speaking of which,’ said Sally, ‘I’ve been wondering if mum would fancy moving back from Spain. You know just for summer. I might ask her over for a holiday. What do you think Jen?’

‘I think you should be careful what you wish for!’

* 6 *

A little before twelve Mrs Partridge poured three schooners of sherry. As the chimes of midnight mass announced the birth of the saviour, Jenny lit one more candle. It may have been her imagination, but she thought she heard something heavy skid across the roof and the faint tinkle of sleigh bells.

‘Did you hear that?’ she asked in wonder, thinking there were going to be some very excited children tonight.

‘Merry Christmas!’ announced Mrs Partridge.

‘No,’ Jenny raised her glass, ‘to Mary Christmas!’

‘And don’t forget the new Mary Christmas!’ added Sally.

Mrs Partridge chuckled. ‘I’ll drink to that!’

©PaulAndruss 2017

A huge thanks to Paul for writing this story especially for the blog and I am sure you enjoyed as much as I have.

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

Buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Finn Mac CoolFinn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

When the fairy folk deliver a soldier called Finn (the first outsider in plague-stricken Ireland for a decade) Erin believes he is Finn Mac Cool – returned to kill the tyrant King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster. and free Great Queen Maeve – Ireland’s true ruler & Erin’s dying mother.

The druids kidnap Finn – planning to turn him into the hero Finn Mac Cool – who will save the world by destroying it.

Erin goes in looking for Finn – so he can kill Conor Mac Nessa before her mother’s dream of a free Ireland dies with her.

Erin’s quest draws her ever-deeper into Ireland’s ancient mythological landscape; a place…
… Where dream and reality merge
… Where a man’s fate is written fifteen hundred years before he was born
… Where books are legends & a library a myth
… Where people hate Christians for defying the gods
… Where phony druids use real magic

Find out more and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

Here is my review of Thomas the Rhymer

Challenge your senses with a rival to Harry Potter by Sally Cronin

After 60 odd years of reading it is easy to get into bad habits. By this I mean sticking to the tried and tested with regard to genres and authors. This is not healthy when you are a writer yourself, as I have discovered when reading Thomas the Rhymer by Paul Andruss.

I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling when it was released. Whilst I enjoyed it as a children’s story, I really did not find myself engaged or inspired to read the other seven books or watch the movies. I felt excluded from the millions who did and usually keep my silence in the face of fans.

However, Thomas the Rhymer had me hooked from page one and continued to keep me engaged the entire 319 pages.

This is an ensemble piece with a cast of characters that would be happy in starring roles in Alice in Wonderland or any Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. Jack Hughes, Ken, Catherine and the delightful Rosie, along with Thomas with his foot in this world and that of the Fairies; draw you into their inner circle and hold you fast.

Each of these wonderfully drawn characters face challenges in their past or present that make them feel isolated until they join forces to protect the most vulnerable amongst them and bring a brother home.

The story will challenge your beliefs in spectacular fashion. Is there another world or worlds running parallel with ours, are fairies sweet and delicate creatures or demons; is that tramp outside the Post Office real or an illusion? As you travel with Jack, Ken and Catherine on their quest, hurtling along ley lines and battling fantastic monsters and evil temptresses, you will find your heart beating a little bit faster. And probably checking under your bed at night!

The scenes set in London that criss cross centuries are filled with historical facts distorted with fairy dust. Next time you are in the city and walking the streets you will be looking into dark doorways and wondering if behind that old oak door with chipped paint lies a nest of elfin waiting to rob you of your senses.

The writing is superb with wit, humour and an edge that turns this from a children’s fairy story into a multi-generational adventurous fantasy that I believe knocks Harry Potter into a cocked hat!

I recommend reading Thomas the Rhymer and at £1.22 it is a steal worthy of the elfin themselves with a value of very much more in my opinion. There are more books to come in the Jack Hughes series and I would love to see the movies.

Challenge you senses and pick up a copy today.

Currently for a limited period Thomas the Rhymer is FREE to download via Paul’s website. It would be a great service if you could download the book and review and put it on Amazon and Goodreads.

Thanks for dropping in today and as always your feedback is appreciated.. don’t forget to drop in to read part two tomorrow.. thanks Sally

 

Writer in Residence Paul Andruss – Christmas Story – The Three Sisters (Part One).


Three Sisters (Part One) by Paul Andruss

 

* 1 *

‘Jenny isn’t it?’

Jenny spun round, staring blankly at the tiny old woman wrapped up against the cold.

‘Yes. Hello’, she replied, wondering who the hell it was.

‘You don’t remember me.’

No, I’m… Are you? She floundered. It couldn’t be. She’d have to be a hundred by now. But she looked exactly the same: the white hair carelessly tucked beneath the old felt hat and those sharp eyes, bright as buttons, in a web of wrinkles. ‘Mrs Partridge?’

‘And how are you, dear?’ the old lady’s voice dropped. ‘It must have been terrible.’

Jenny gave a brittle smile thinking she would kill Sally. This was the last thing she needed: a week of total strangers telling her they were sorry. ‘I’m feeling lot better thank you.’

But she wasn’t. It was hard to face it again in the middle of an empty windswept street. Just when she thought she had heard every possible expression of sympathy, something like this came out of the blue leaving it all raw. She felt tears start and laughed stupidly. ‘I’d forgotten about that wind. It’s biting. Do you ever get used to it?’

‘I never feel it.’

Maybe you didn’t when you’d been here as long as she had, thought Jenny; remembering how her mother hated the winter wind. She swore it brought the snow down off the Three Sisters. Jenny looked for the towering peaks, but they were lost in thick low cloud.

‘Your mother never liked the cold.’

‘She still doesn’t,’ laughed Jenny, scrabbling in her bag for a tissue, ‘couldn’t wait to move us out the valley! But I think the wind was a small price to pay for those winter wonderlands we had as kids.’

‘If you don’t mind, we can walk home together,’ said Mrs Partridge, handing Jenny a folded handkerchief to wipe her eyes. ‘Are you with Sally for Christmas?’

Jenny nodded. ‘Yes, just got here and was sent out to pick up some icing sugar before the shop closed. Honestly, I think Sally’s baking for the whole village.’

‘It’s nice you’re back,’ said the old woman.

‘Thank you, it’s nice to be back’, replied Jenny, thinking no it bloody isn’t. What happened to the place? She remembered it as something special. Snow a foot deep every Christmas. Now look at it; wet and miserable as everywhere else. ‘How are you and your sisters?’

‘Well, Flora will see us all out!’

Jenny smiled. ‘I remember those Easter egg hunts in her garden; full of daffodils and bluebells.’

‘It’s still as pretty. Sometimes I wonder where she gets the energy. Sadly Theresa passed away last winter. It was a shock for Flora when she returned. They were always close.’

‘Is Sally in your sister’s house?’ asked Jenny, wondering why she hadn’t mentioned anything.

‘Yes. It’s lovely to see the place full of life again. Theresa would be pleased Sally’s taking up the mantle. She’s really bringing everyone together. Theresa was fond of you girls. We all were.’

‘And we were fond of you too. Theresa used to make the most wonderful pies and cakes. Whenever we passed she would always have something for us. This was such a magical place as a child. Funny, it looks no different to anywhere else now. Sad you have to grow up, isn’t it?’ Jenny laughed awkwardly.

‘I think a happy childhood sets you up for the emotional bumps life dishes out along the way.’

Mrs Partridge chuckled. ‘Like an inoculation.’

‘What a nice way to look at things. And here we are. Have a Merry Christmas.’

As Jenny opened the front door, Mrs Partridge blurted out, ‘I was hoping you and Sally might come over for an hour tonight. You know, Flora is never here this time of year.’

‘Of course we will!’ Jenny answered quickly. Alone on Christmas was something she’d spent far too much time thinking about recently. The first thing she was going to do as soon as she got in was to run a nice hot bath and have a good long cry.

‘About 8.30?’ called Mrs Partridge heading up the hill to Pear Tree Cottage.

* 2 *

Her sister greeted her. ‘Put the kettle on Jen. And crack open that bottle of wine in the fridge.’

‘Want one?’

‘Not ‘til I’ve got this lot sorted, just throw a tea bag in a cup for me’.

‘I met old Mrs Partridge by the store,’ she told her sister. ‘I couldn’t believe it. She hasn’t aged a day since we were kids; that must be, what, twenty five years ago. I didn’t realise you were in her sister’s house.’

‘I was really lucky to get this place.’

‘I thought Mrs Partridge said she only passed away last winter?’

‘Did she? The poor old thing gets a bit confused.’

‘So what happened Sal how come you came back? You never said.’

‘I don’t know. It was all work, work, work and I suppose I thought what the hell am I doing? You know wrong side of forty, single and no life to speak of. It was really a spare of the moment thing. I was on the motorway and saw the turnoff for Three Sisters and thought I’d take a look at the old place. We had a lot of happy times here as kids. It always seemed magic.’

‘I said the same to Mrs Partridge. Oh and incidentally… How the hell did she know? You shouldn’t have said anything Sal.’

Sally looked genuinely shocked. ‘I didn’t. Come on, do you really think I would sis?’

‘Well someone must have.’

‘Look if I did, then sorry, I didn’t mean to. But I swear to God it’s like the woman’s psychic!’

‘It doesn’t matter. I need to get used to it. It’s just when I think I’m fine someone says something and it all comes flooding back.’

‘Give yourself time. Look, there’s loads of hot water in the tank now, go and get that bath. Take the glass of wine in with you. Hell, take the bottle!’

‘God, no, not the bottle, old Mrs Partridge asked us to pop round. Hope you don’t mind. I guess I was thinking about all the time I’ve been sitting by myself. Oh God, I’m going to start. I’ve told myself no more!’

‘Why didn’t you come to me?’

‘I wanted to get away and I thought the sunshine would do me good. But you know what me and mum are like; drove each other crazy after a month. Then, I just wanted to be by myself.

Seeing Jenny fill up, Sally picked up the glass and put it in her sister’s hand. ‘Go and get your bath and take as long as you want.’

* 3 *

Relaxing in the bath Jenny thought about Sal. All she had even known was this mad career woman, flying all over Europe: best medical equipment sales manager award five years in a row. Suddenly her penthouse apartment sold, sports car turned in for a big old roomy Audi. No more business suits, designer dresses, spa days and top salon colour and cuts.

In truth she envied Sal. She was like a new woman. Old Sal would have never invited her home for Christmas. Maybe taken her off to a fancy hotel in Rome or Las Vegas, but she wouldn’t be caught dead in a pair of old jeans, up to her eyes baking on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve; she should be in Switzerland with John. It was all planned. Nothing special: they had been living together for fifteen years. She didn’t even know why they wanted to get married.

A simple Registry Office with everyone staying in the hotel close by. Some close friends, John’s parents with his brother’s family, Sal, and Mum said she’d fly in from Spain: you try and keep me away was what she actually said. After the ceremony back to the hotel for a meal and a bit of a knees-up. Then see everyone at breakfast and off around lunchtime to the airport.

‘Not another bloody skiing holiday’, said Annie when she told her. ‘What are you two like?’

‘Well, call it a honeymoon if it makes you feel better!’ she’d laughed at her best friend.

‘You miserable cow!’

‘You’re only jealous because we’re not letting you and Jed come with us this time.’

‘So, it is a honeymoon! I knew it.’

Then six months ago everything changed. Well, six months and eighteen days if you were counting. One wet Saturday evening, side swiped at a busy junction by a harassed woman. It must have been one hell of a knock because both cars went straight across the carriageway into an oncoming bus. And that was it. John, Annie and Jed gone: just like that. She heard the other woman died too.

But her?

Not a scratch.

Ok, maybe not. She looked down at the red scars lacing her arms, chest and shoulders. There were a couple of fractures, bruising and concussion. It was touch and go for a while they thought. Still, they said it was a miracle. Funny it didn’t feel like one.

At that point the tears started, and Jenny had the good long cry she’d promised herself.

* 4 *

‘Do you want a hand Sal?’

‘No, get ready.’

‘What about you?’

‘Look Jen, I’m going to need an hour.’

‘I’ll wait.’

‘We can’t both let her down.’

Jenny thought about it. She didn’t really want to go but Sal was right.

‘So what’s with all this domestic goddess stuff? As I remember it you couldn’t boil an egg!’

‘And look at me. To be honest I love it, and you know it’s a community here. When I thought of all the old people living alone, I had a word with Albert one Sunday after church…’

‘Whoa hang on. Who are you, and what have you done with my sister? So Albert’s your mysterious vicar! When do I get to meet him?’

‘He’s not my vicar, he’s everyone’s vicar. He’s nice and funny but we’re not serious.’

‘But he’s got to be better than that creep you wasted all those years on.’

‘At least he’s not married!’

‘Which gives him a head start!’

‘Yes, but… I don’t know… No, I’d do, we’re not serious. He’s fun. We get on.’ Sally turned red. ‘What!’

‘Nuthin!’ Jenny grinned. ‘You were saying about the old folks and going to church.’

‘Oh shut up you! Anyway I don’t know what happened to this place, but it’s not the same as when we were kids. Have you noticed? So I suggested to…’

‘Albert!’

‘Al actually…

‘Al now is it.’

I’m warning you little sister! …About starting a dining club. Obviously tomorrow can’t be any different. It’s just a couple of hours in the village hall.’

‘Hmmm, sounds like fun!’

‘Actually it generally is. It not just me and Al, everyone’s starting to pop in. Even those with kids usually bring someone down in the car and stay for half an hour. That’s what all the extra mince pies are for. You don’t have to come unless you want to…’

‘Let me think about it. I’m already doing my charity stint tonight!

‘No pressure sis, do what you want tomorrow. If you don’t fancy it, I’ll be back about three and then it’s just me and you.

©Paul Andruss..

Part two of The Three Sisters will be posted tomorrow at the same time……

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

Buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Finn Mac CoolFinn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

When the fairy folk deliver a soldier called Finn (the first outsider in plague-stricken Ireland for a decade) Erin believes he is Finn Mac Cool – returned to kill the tyrant King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster. and free Great Queen Maeve – Ireland’s true ruler & Erin’s dying mother.

The druids kidnap Finn – planning to turn him into the hero Finn Mac Cool – who will save the world by destroying it.

Erin goes in looking for Finn – so he can kill Conor Mac Nessa before her mother’s dream of a free Ireland dies with her.

Erin’s quest draws her ever-deeper into Ireland’s ancient mythological landscape; a place…
… Where dream and reality merge
… Where a man’s fate is written fifteen hundred years before he was born
… Where books are legends & a library a myth
… Where people hate Christians for defying the gods
… Where phony druids use real magic

Find out more and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

Here is my review of Thomas the Rhymer

Challenge your senses with a rival to Harry Potter by Sally Cronin

After 60 odd years of reading it is easy to get into bad habits. By this I mean sticking to the tried and tested with regard to genres and authors. This is not healthy when you are a writer yourself, as I have discovered when reading Thomas the Rhymer by Paul Andruss.

I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling when it was released. Whilst I enjoyed it as a children’s story, I really did not find myself engaged or inspired to read the other seven books or watch the movies. I felt excluded from the millions who did and usually keep my silence in the face of fans.

However, Thomas the Rhymer had me hooked from page one and continued to keep me engaged the entire 319 pages.

This is an ensemble piece with a cast of characters that would be happy in starring roles in Alice in Wonderland or any Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. Jack Hughes, Ken, Catherine and the delightful Rosie, along with Thomas with his foot in this world and that of the Fairies; draw you into their inner circle and hold you fast.

Each of these wonderfully drawn characters face challenges in their past or present that make them feel isolated until they join forces to protect the most vulnerable amongst them and bring a brother home.

The story will challenge your beliefs in spectacular fashion. Is there another world or worlds running parallel with ours, are fairies sweet and delicate creatures or demons; is that tramp outside the Post Office real or an illusion? As you travel with Jack, Ken and Catherine on their quest, hurtling along ley lines and battling fantastic monsters and evil temptresses, you will find your heart beating a little bit faster. And probably checking under your bed at night!

The scenes set in London that criss cross centuries are filled with historical facts distorted with fairy dust. Next time you are in the city and walking the streets you will be looking into dark doorways and wondering if behind that old oak door with chipped paint lies a nest of elfin waiting to rob you of your senses.

The writing is superb with wit, humour and an edge that turns this from a children’s fairy story into a multi-generational adventurous fantasy that I believe knocks Harry Potter into a cocked hat!

I recommend reading Thomas the Rhymer and at £1.22 it is a steal worthy of the elfin themselves with a value of very much more in my opinion. There are more books to come in the Jack Hughes series and I would love to see the movies.

Challenge you senses and pick up a copy today.

Currently for a limited period Thomas the Rhymer is FREE to download via Paul’s website. It would be a great service if you could download the book and review and put it on Amazon and Goodreads.

Thanks for dropping in today and as always your feedback is appreciated.. don’t forget to drop in to read part two tomorrow.. thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – Paul Andruss, C.S. Boyack, Carmen Stefanescu, Paul Cude and Angie Dokos


You are more used to seeing the posts by Paul Andruss on a Friday in his role of Writer in Residence. But, Paul is a very talented author and if any of your family are Harry Potter fans they will love Thomas the Rhymer. Wonderful for all ages and I hope that you will put on your gift list for yourself, family and friends. I read and reviewed the book earlier in the year and can recommend.

About Thomas the Rhymer

A magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.

To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.

But there is a problem…

No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.

And even if they find her… will she let them go?

One of the reviews for the book

Just about the worst thing that can happen to any family is the disappearance of a child. This is exactly what happens in Jack’s family and, worse still, Jack is a witness to his older brother’s sudden and troubling disappearance.

The facts of the disappearance are very peculiar and, subsequent to his disappearance, Jack receives strange telephone calls from his brother, Dan, on his cell phone. When he answers, Dan says nothing and the line goes dead. Jack finds himself unable to tell anyone about what his saw that day, as soon as he tries he starts to choke and can’t utter a word. Then a strange tramp appears who speaks only in rhymes. The tramp, whom only Jack can see, seems to be able to pass through walls and disappear at will. All of this is against a background of stress at home due to Jack’s mother suffering from a chronic illness.

Jack finds himself embroiled in the magical kingdom of the fairies and soon discovers that their failing world is tinged with evil. Jack and his friends experience an array of mystical and strange happenings including travelling by fairy ley lines and disappearing into a living tapestry.

Author Paul Andruss has an expert knowledge of mythical creatures and the world of the fairies which he shares with the reader using the most beautiful and expressive language. He pulls you into this fairy world, which exists in parallel to our own and which is fraught with difficulties due to human technology and progress. This book also shares valuable lessons about everything not being as it appears to be and the value of strong friendships.

Who is the strange tramp and what does he want from Jack? Can he help Jack to find his brother and bring him back before it is too late?

A few beautiful quotes from this book are as follows:

“Beautiful,” she signed, mesmerized by the shifting hues washing over the weave like skeins of mist.”

“Drifts of heady perfume left Jack heavy-eyed, yet giddy with recklessness.”

“The tramp was back on Mr Gibson’s wall. All he could think about was the poem. Yesterday upon the stair, I met a man who wasn’t there… He wasn’t there again today… I wish that man would GO AWAY!”

This book is suitable for readers aged from 11 years and older. Adult readers will also appreciate the delightful prose, beautiful imagery and clever story line.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Connect to Paul on his blog:  http://www.paul-andruss.com/

The next gift suggestion is for the short story collection The Enhanced League by C.S. Boyack. Craig supports Indie authors on his blog with entertaining interviews courtesy of the lovely Lisa Burton.

About the Enhanced League

The Enhanced league is a collection of short stories and anthems centered around a year in a fictional baseball league. It has a slight science fiction background. This league has a lot more pomp than you might be used to, and nobody seems to care if the players use performance enhancing drugs.

Stories involve existing heroes, up and comers, and falling stars. While there are the obvious stories that take place on the field of play, there are also human interest stories that take place around the baseball gyrations. These stories involve scouting, trades, ruthless business decisions, and even relationships.

I enjoyed researching and bringing you The Enhanced League, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. — CB

One of the excellent reviews for The Enhanced League

Harmony Kent  5.0 out of 5 stars Great read 23 July 2017

I know nothing about baseball and am not into sports. So, why read this book? Well, I rate this author highly, especially his short stories, and I love his experimental notebooks. Here is a writer that brings his characters to life right off the bat (story, couldn’t resist the pun!) 😉 … In The Enhanced League, we meet many varied folks who have something to do with an enhanced baseball league. While a common thread connects each chapter, they read well as standalone stories too, while having an overarching storyline, and this makes for an easy book to dip in and out of when you don’t have the time to read a novel length book.

The book held me enthralled enough to give it five stars even though some spelling hiccups do occur, which would usually merit a four instead. Definitely not in this case. Here, we have a master of the speculative fiction genre who spins a darn good yarn. Well worth your time and money.

Read the other reviews and buy The Enhanced League: https://www.amazon.com/Enhanced-League-C-S-Boyack-ebook/dp/B073T5DH2Q

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Enhanced-League-C-S-Boyack-ebook/dp/B073T5DH2Q

A selection of books by C.S. Boyack

 Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/C.-S.-Boyack/e/B00ILXBXUY

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/C.-S.-Boyack/e/B00ILXBXUY

Read more reviews and follow C.S. Boyack on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9841203.C_S_Boyack

Connect with Craig via his blog: http://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com

The next author that I would like to feature is Carmen Stefanescu who has been a wonderful supporter of the blog this year. Here is Dracula’s Prodigy.

About Dracula’s Prodigy

Running from the hands of an abusive husband, on the verge of committing suicide, a series of strange events/apparitions make Linda reassess her life. She embarks on a thorough research regarding her unusual ancestor—Vlad, the Impaler, aka Dracula.

Can Linda discover the truth regarding Vlad among the countless malicious stories, exaggerated legends and whispered slander dating back to 15th century? Is he a hero, a brave protector of his hard tried people and country? Or a cruel monster feeding on the blood of those impaled at his order?

And is good-looking Jody really helping Linda regain her trust in men and love, or is he another evil envoy of a past that haunts her and threatens her life?

One of the reviews for Dracula’s Prodigy

An Engrossing Read  on August 6, 2017

A complex story that focus on a descendant of the infamous Vlad the Impaler (Count Dracula) that is intricately imagined and beautifully told. Linda Cartwright has no idea who the strange man in her dreams is, nor does she understand how the life she once imagined with her husband, Bill, has turned into a nightmare for her and her young daughter.

Fleeing a loveless marriage, Linda discovers courage she never realized she had, and an ancestral history rife with betrayals, revenge, and eternal devotion. Rich with details of both past and present, Carmen Stefanescu continues the story she began in Dracula’s Mistress, but offers a unique twist by placing her heroine in modern times.

I found myself caught up in the emotion of the central characters and a mystery that transcends centuries. The author’s writing flows beautifully, both visual and compelling, keeping the reader turning pages and racing to the conclusion. If you enjoy history and myth with a twinge of the paranormal, woven into a contemporary setting, this is a story you don’t want to miss.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Draculas-Prodigy-Mistress-Book-ebook/dp/B071KVQ48W

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Draculas-Prodigy-Mistress-Book-ebook/dp/B071KVQ48W

Also by Carmen Stefanescu

Find out more about Carmen’s books and other published work: http://shadowspastmystery.blogspot.ie/p/works.html

Connect to Carmen via her blog: http://shadowspastmystery.blogspot.ro/

The next author with books that would please anyone who loves fantasy and dragons is Paul Cude with his Bentwhistle the Dragon Series which is now available in a box set which makes a great gift. Paul is an amazing sharer of my posts on Facebook and he is definitely someone to follow.

A brief summary of the three books in the series.

Book 1
Can you be heroic and naive? For Peter Bentwhistle, the answer would most certainly have to be YES! Blissfully unaware of what’s going on around him, for the most part he remains fully focused on blending in and keeping a low profile.

But fate and just plain bad luck have other designs on him. Not so bad, you might think. Until you discover the TRUTH! Just like his friends, Tank and Richie, he is a…..DRAGON!

Book 2
Treachery from the sands of Egypt to the plains of Antarctica. Following on from the harrowing events of ‘A Threat From The Past’ (Book 1), a new found friendship with the dragon king is forged.

Soon though, young and old alike are unwittingly drawn into a deadly plot, when a straight forward meeting with the monarch sees them helping an injured dragon agent, straight back from his mission in Antarctica with news of a devastating encounter with another ancient race.

Book 3

Hearts and minds ripped to shreds. Amid turmoil surrounding devastating attacks across the world, the dragon domain faces the planet’s greatest fear: global terrorism by an unknown force of magic users. Against this backdrop, and with Manson’s deadly scheme in full swing, events quickly turn from bad to worse.

The most recent review for the the first book in the series – A Threat from the Past

on December 6, 2017

Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat from the Past by Paul Cude is a story set in the present day world where dragons are disguised as humans and have infiltrated the human race to guide and protect them. Peter Bentwhistle and his friends Tank and Richie are three young dragons fresh out of the nursery ring. Peter rises to the head of security at Cromptech; a firm that provides laminium which is a critical resource for dragons. Peter’s boss starts going through his own changes which appear to be due to a security consultant named Manson. The three young dragons get caught up in an evil plot to steal the precious commodity vital to the dragon community. How does Peter and his friends restore his boss to his former personality and old self and thwart Mansion?

This is book is an amazing adventure story that both children and adults alike will love. Going through the book and reading it with my daughter the story got a 2 thumbs up. My daughter raved about the story and couldn’t stop saying how amazing and awesome it was. Bentwhistle was a very suspenseful tale of adventure. The vilian was both subtle. We were drawn into the struggle between he and the hero of the book. The dragons practice magic for the transformations between human and dragon form through devices called magic mantras. The believably is amazing given the fact that this revolves in the fantasy genre. In this book dragons care very much about the humanity of the race as well as the lives of the humans around them. This is something that you as the reader get a great perspective on while reading the novel. This is a must read for anyone who enjoys this type of book.

To accompany the boxed set is a Prequel to the series – A Right Royal RumpASS

About the book

Remember how rowdy your education was at times?

Throw in prehistoric battle urges, violent outbursts of combustible flame, the ability to fly and a natural affinity for magic and what do you have? A group of mismatched young dragons studying at a renowned nursery ring, thrilled to be learning how to use their dragon abilities and the inherent magic each of them possess.

But like classrooms across the world, it’s not quite as simple as that. With a class bully determined to outwit everyone, including their ‘tor’ (teacher), the friends must work together to expose not only the unknown magic used, but also his dastardly method of cheating.

As an unflappable newcomer becomes a worthy ally, aerial antics abound in an illicit laminium ball match whose outcome may yet determine one dragon’s fate.

Read the reviews, buy the boxed set and the prequel: https://www.amazon.com/Paul-Cude/e/B007339206

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Paul-Cude/e/B007339206

Read more reviews and follow Paul on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5368048.Paul_Cude

Connect to Paul Cude via his website: http://www.bentwhistlethedragon.co.uk/

The next author that I would like to thank for her consistent and very welcome support on Twitter is Angie Dokos with Roadside which tells the story of Serena and her journey back from violence with the help of a stranger.

About the book

Zayne finds Serena’s lifeless body off the side of the road one morning. She has been beaten and left for dead. As she recovers, they become the best of friends. It doesn’t take long for Zayne’s feelings to grow stronger. Will the fear of ruining their friendship keep them from taking a chance on love?

One of the recent reviews for the book

Author Angie Dokos has written a book that All ages can enjoy – having characters in college and high school, along with their parents, give the sense of family, ‘and’ the way you’d want Your family to be. Once Zayne and his father (a law enforcement official), Levi, find Serena on the side of the road, barely alive from a vicious attack, young Zayne seems drawn to this young girl. As their relationship grows, and his father locks up the man who assaulted Serena, they get to know each other day-by-day, meet one another’s parents, attend Church together, and have get-togethers with their friends – reminds me SO much of the days my children had ‘their’ friends around!! By the way, you will also find a ‘little’ bit of tension as the story progresses, and you will keep pulling for Zayne and Serena to be together!! Hang in there – it’s a Beautiful ride until the end!! Thank you, Angie Dokos, for this beautiful story!!

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/ROADSIDE-Angie-Dokos-ebook/dp/B0722T3Y58

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.co.uk/ROADSIDE-Angie-Dokos-ebook/dp/B0722T3Y58

Also by Angie Dokos

Visit Angie’s Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Angie-Dokos/e/B01BLPOZEY

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Angie-Dokos/e/B01BLPOZEY

Read more reviews and follow Angie Dokos on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14905574.Angie_Dokos

Connect to Angie Dokos via her website: https://angiedokos.wordpress.com

I hope that this has given you plenty of ideas for book gifts for yourself,family and friends.. It would be great if you could share.. thank you Sally