…Authoress pal, Sherrie Lowe, takes a flyer with her book, OVER A SPITFIRE…

Feeling pleased and honoured that Seumas has featured me on his blog. Thank you so much!

Seumas Gallacher

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…I absolutely LUV it when writers get themselves speaking directly to camera, which really means speaking directly to us… my Guest Blogger today, Authoress, Sherrie Lowe, has a lot to tell about the genesis of her book, OVER A SPITFIRE… have a wee listen first to her video.. it takes less than a minute… smashing stuff, m’Lady…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CEYy7Wfb-g
The Germination of OVER A SPITFIRE
Summer 2011
“I’ve got a great idea for a book for you,” my son Mark stated as soon as I’d got my bum on their settee, “it’ll make you a fortune.” (Ha, we wish!) He continued. “You’ve got a couple, he dies, then comes back reincarnated and they meet again.”
“I’m not writing that!” I said aghast. “It’s tempting Fate.”
“You can’t think like that or you’d never write anything.”
“They’d be different ages.”
He shrugged. “Well think about it.”
I did. My stories have…

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Billy’s Dream

An excerpt from The Author, The Gardener and The Woman What Does

(The title is grammatically incorrect purposely.)

Billy was dreaming, a lucid dream, he knew it was a dream. He’d half woken at 5:30 a.m. turned over and fallen back into a doze.
He was working on a landscape of a large garden backing onto dense woodland. A movement at the perimeter caught his eye and made him look up. There, standing barefoot and wearing only his white shirt which fell to the top of her thighs was Anita. He knew she was naked beneath it, her nipples poked out through the diaphanous cotton material and he could just make out their dark circles. His eyes fell lower to the triangle of her pubic hair, which flashed tantalisingly as the light breeze moved the fabric. There was the trace of an enigmatic smile on her lips as she stood with her legs slightly parted, beckoning him with a crooked index finger.
As if mesmerised he dropped his spade and followed her as she led him slowly into the woodland. In among the trees she stopped and turned to face him. Wordlessly she placed his hands on her breasts and he could feel her nipples thrusting into his palms, and his own arousal.
Slowly she began to unbutton the shirt allowing glimpses of naked flesh to peep through. His hands moved inside the shirt, thrilling at the feel of her skin, then they moved down over her belly to that now forbidden place.
She let out a moan as they sank down onto the soft woodland floor and his fingers caressed the most sensitive part of her. It felt good, it had been a long time since he’d had sex and he was unaware of removing his own clothes but in that dreamlike state they were both naked and moving in perfect time against each other.
As their passion mounted he couldn’t see her face, it was hidden beneath his shoulder but suddenly, as she cried out his name he looked at her and it wasn’t Anita’s face that looked back at him but Tess’s.
He woke with a start, bathed in sweat, got out of bed and headed for the bathroom. As he stood beside the toilet the whole erotic scene played out before him as if it was a movie projected onto the walls.
Where had it come from and how could your mind play such tricks on you? He didn’t want to make love to Anita, but if she walked into the room at this moment wearing nothing but that transparent shirt he knew he would. And Tess. Where had she come from? He realised if she were to materialise before him wearing the shirt he would tear it off her where she stood and follow his instincts.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Author-Gardener-Woman-What-Does-ebook/dp/B008C7NBYU/ref=sr_1_11?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1479813743&sr=1-11&keywords=sherrie+lowe

The Author Front cover

A Taster of a Christmas Journey

This is a short excerpt taken from the title story from my collection The Journey. It’s not a metaphor but a story based on a journey I might have taken had life followed a different path. It is part fact and part fiction. Some people wrong others. Some people have to pay….

The December sunshine slants straight in through my windscreen as I turn the key in the ignition. I’ll be heading west so I suppose it will sear into my eyes until it sinks below the horizon, then the resulting sunset will brighten my journey and add to the suffusion in my soul as I savour the purpose of my impending visit. I am exacting retribution. I don’t consider myself evil or vindictive but this scab has been picked at at every milestone in my life. I was robbed and someone has to pay.
I have made every preparation for this; no I is left undotted, no T left uncrossed, right down to my physical appearance. I’ve been to have my roots done to blend away the grey and keep the dark colour, as those morons will remember me. I don’t want them to mistake who I am for a second. My eyebrows are shaped, my clothes crisp, most important to look the part when the shock registers on their faces.
Children are coming out of school, laden with Christmas decorations created by their own tiny hands and there is an excitement in the air as they are now on a four day countdown to hanging up their stockings. The traffic is heavy as I intersperse with the school run. After that I might make good progress for a while until the rush hour starts. A stupid time to travel I know but I want my arrival timed to achieve maximum impact, a sadistic bedtime story.
I don’t like to think I’ve allowed the issue to fester and rot away my peace of mind but I suppose it must have done to some extent. I believe in being fair, each person having what they deserve, what they’ve worked for – what is their birthright. I was denied mine.
I’ve left the village on the North East coast that has been my home for many years behind me and I’m heading for the motorway, well the A road first, a dual carriageway; it’ll be about an hour before I reach the M62 which will take me in a South-westerly direction. My destination is The Midlands, Newcastle under Lyme where I grew up.
It could never be said that my childhood had been unhappy, quite the contrary. I don’t suppose any marriage is perfect but to my child’s eyes my parents’ was. They were in tune; each personality balanced the other. My father was easily irritated, had an effervescent temper, but just like an exploding soda bottle his fiery fizz soon calmed as it flowed into the placid waters of my mother’s gentle nature. In turn, she would worry about any tiny detail.
“If two flies are crawling up the wall your mother will worry about which one will get to the top first,” my father always told me.
His take-it-or-leave-it attitude counteracted her worries and he was able to rationalise them. Their characters complimented each other. I knew nothing of soulmates at the tender age of ten – indeed I have never met mine – but I understand it to mean now that two souls are one half of the other and they are only complete when they are together.
Soulmates. I ponder on them as I negotiate a roundabout. I would love to have found mine. My marriage was based on physical attraction. John was the man I wanted at the time and for a few years we were happy. We had two fine sons, now grown and flown but our marriage crumbled long ago. I will not be controlled by anyone. Maybe some people are happy with that but I couldn’t accept it. When I was contemplating divorce I was given a piece of sound advice.
“I’d rather be on my own than with someone I don’t want to be with.”
I acted upon those words and they stay with me to this day.
Maybe I’ll find my soulmate in the next world. Some people believe we live through many lifetimes on this earth. Some believe that in each lifetime we find our soulmate and travel these lives together as twin flames, or is your twin flame the one you meet in your last earthly life? I don’t know, or what I think of it. It would be a pleasant thought I suppose, but my mind has wandered from its purpose.
The earth has turned and the sun has left our Northern Hemisphere for this day. The sky is streaked with lavender clouds and outside the warmth of the car I know there will be a chill in the early evening air. Snow has been forecast overnight but I will be in a comfortable hotel by then. No immediate need to travel back home tomorrow, as long as I am back to spend Christmas with my boys and their families. I have a Christmas present of my own to deliver first and that little flicker of satisfaction slumbering within me becomes a flame and a smile touches my lips in the darkness. Subconsciously my hand finds its way to the inside jacket pocket of my smart work suit and gently, fondly caresses the envelope nestled there, close to my heart. I press the accelerator pedal and join the motorway…..

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Journey-Sherrie-Lowe-ebook/dp/B00PUEPIP8/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1478691372&sr=1-3&keywords=sherrie+lowe

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BOOK LAUNCH Newcastle Staffs Library

From Monday 26th September to Monday 3rd October 2016 Newcastle library are very kindly organizing a book launch for me for my latest release OVER A SPITFIRE. As it’s set in World War Two it will be a part of their local and community history festival. I originally approached them to ask if I could donate a hardback copy of the book to their stock and Terry Heath the activities officer agreed, with also a copy for Kidsgrove library.

Terry asked me if I’d like to come in and give a talk on the book and self publishing, which I would have loved to do but as I suffer from M.E my health is very unpredictable and I can never guarantee being well enough to be anywhere at a given time so although I would have loved to do that – I do like to talk – I had to decline. That was when Terry said they could arrange the launch, for which I was very grateful.

I am however hoping to be well enough to pop in on Saturday 1st October for a short while, around lunchtime, thanks to my son and his fiancee doing the driving, which I struggle with now, so if anyone is around then it would be great to meet you. I apologize if I’m not well enough to go but I’ve got everything crossed that I will be. Hope to see you there and if not there are always signed copies of the books.

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The Germination of Over A Spitfire

The Germination of Over A Spitfire

Summer 2011

3D
“I’ve got a great idea for a book for you,” my son Mark stated as soon as I’d got my bum on their settee, “it’ll make you a fortune.” (Ha, we wish!) He continued. “You’ve got a couple, he dies, then comes back reincarnated and they meet again.”
“I’m not writing that!” I said aghast. “It’s tempting Fate.”
“You can’t think like that or you’d never write anything.”
“They’d be different ages.”
He shrugged. “Well think about it.”
I did. My stories have a habit of happening. I’m very wary of killing characters off. I wrote about a car accident, it happened to Mark, although fortunately the outcome wasn’t as bad as in the story. My village was called Willow’s Dip. Some years later Mark and Harriett moved into Willow Drive. I wrote about breast cancer, a friend told me she had it.
“I can’t tempt Fate,” I said to Ellis as we lay on the lawn one sunny Saturday and I told him of his brother’s idea.
“You could make it a gay couple,” he replied drowsily, “we don’t know anybody gay so that wouldn’t be tempting Fate.”
I didn’t know anyone gay at that time but I’ve known a few people since. Thankfully they are fit and well and untouched by my scribings.
When Ellis left I set about a plot. What era would it have to be for a realistic relationship into a subsequent life? I thought about World War Two. I’d recently seen a programme called Spitfire Women about pilots in the Air Transport Auxiliary and it fascinated me.
I’ve always loved Spitfires, proud to be Stoke-on-Trent born like Reginald Mitchell. The first one I’d actually seen was in The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Hanley, my local town many years ago when the boys were small and we’d gone for a visit in the school holidays. I thought it was such a marvellous machine as I climbed the steps and looked at the cockpit from the viewing platform. I always felt very patriotic on Remembrance Sunday when one flew over the Cenotaph at 11a.m even though the war ended ten years before I was born. I used to see my dad there and Remembrance Sunday always reminds me of him. It was my parents stories of the war years that I grew up with.
I always had a notion to fly when I was young but sadly it was a dream that was never realized, I’ve not even flown as a passenger but the reason why is another story. Perhaps I was Will, my character in the book in a former life. Maybe that’s where this story has come from. Who knows? It is neither a lesbian nor a heterosexual romance, more a story of two souls connecting across time and realm regardless of their gender.
As I progressed I reported the regression idea I’d had to Mark and Harriett.
“I’d start it on the hypnotist’s couch,” said Harriett, so I did.
Two years later Ellis met Holly, who told her pupils that she didn’t like the word ‘said,’ there are many more interesting words to use, so I’ve kept it to a minimum.
I knew I wanted a Spitfire for my cover and a young woman of that era, preferably in ATA uniform, but I’m paranoid about breaching copyright so I decided to use a photograph of my mum. I’d followed The Cover Collection on Twitter and they’d followed me for some years so I contacted them and Debbie created this fabulous cover for me. I hope you can see why I love it.
I’m also thrilled to bits with the fabulous promotion video done for me by Rachel McGrath. It really captures the essence of the story.
If you download the book, a huge thank you. If you like it could you just take a few moments to review it on its Amazon page please, it will be a massive help. Can I ask you not to do the review as invited by Amazon at the end of the book as they don’t appear on the Amazon page for some reason, they vanish into cyberspace, but instead use the link I’ve added which will take you straight to the page.
Many thanks.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Over-Spitfire-Sherrie-Lowe-ebook/dp/B01GCFFR6S/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1464780025&sr=1-1&keywords=sherrie+lowe

THE SEQUEL IS UNDERWAY!

Whilst writing I had the idea for the reincarnated character to trace their family from their past life but I thought it would make the story too complex and I didn’t know where it would fit in. A few weeks after publishing I was watching a TV programme on reincarnation and the people in it had done just that! Hence the idea for the sequel was born.

Excerpt: The Author, The Gardener And The Woman What Does

The following is a humorous excerpt from The Author. The white jeans and the mud are anecdotal. I decided I’d give Tess my embarrassing moment but make it a touch more embarrassing for her by its not going unnoticed. Both she and I were a spectacle in the petrol station after the event!

(The title is grammatically incorrect, purposely. In the UK anyone who has a cleaner will often say, ‘I have a little woman what does.’)

Chapter 12

Dawn Hills were fresh and washed clean by the morning’s showers as Tess walked the dogs on the Friday lunchtime. The sun had come out making sparkling diamonds of the raindrops dripping from the leaves, and being July, it was hot, vapour rising from the ground like a steam press as it dried. She was wearing white jeans and T shirt; she did wonder if it was a reckless choice of colour for dog walking, splashes might speckle the jeans, but it was summer and she felt the need to lighten her mood after the grey skies of the morning, and the thoughts of Kacey and Billy together still pulling her down.
As she walked the threads of her mind were knotted together like a badly knitted scarf. They were irrational she knew; she couldn’t have Billy for herself so why begrudge Kacey? Goodness knew the woman had had a tough enough life bringing up two children alone, surely she deserved a little happiness. But hang on a minute she chided herself, you’ve got them down the aisle and married, and it wasn’t as though Billy had asked Kacey out. She’d offered to do him a favour in return for dinner. As far as she knew that’s all it was to Billy. Anyway it was none of her business; there was nothing she could do about it so she must put it out of her mind.
The dogs taking off after a squirrel, which scampered with effortless agility up the trunk of a horse chestnut tree distracted her and she took in the beauty of her surroundings. Branches of trees linked arms across the path forming a green, leafy archway and birds flitted to and fro, some still feeding hungry chicks. As she circled down through the woodland and back to the car she felt invigorated with the exercise, gave the dogs their drink then locked them in the car whilst she went to feed the ducks.
The lake was only a few metres in front of the car park with benches dotted around it so that people could sit and enjoy the view. Two women sat together chatting as Tess walked past holding her bag of bread. The grass slope leading down to the lake was slippery after the rain and liberally spotted with duck doo – or more aptly, goose doo – and Tess trod carefully, trying to avoid stepping in any in her white ballet pumps. She raised her eyes momentarily to see a pair of swans gliding towards her with their brood of fluffy cygnets, and in that second, her feet shot from under her and she slid gracefully down to the lake on her bottom, through all the mud and duck doo. She went sailing past startled ducks, bemused at this creature in their midst traversing the mud, clutching desperately onto what they knew was their food.
As soon as her feet found purchase, she scrambled to them hastily with as much dignity as she could muster, not daring to even cast a furtive look at the two women on the bench, who must surely be in fits of hysterical laughter at her spectacle. She broke the bread for the ducks as though nothing was amiss and it was perfectly normal to do such a thing in pure white jeans caked in mud to the knees and across the backside, and white ballet pumps with their bows encrusted with it. As she broke the next piece of bread having eye contact with no-one save the birds, a soft male voice at her elbow said, “Are you all right? Can I be of assistance?”

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Author-Gardener-Woman-What-Does-ebook/dp/B008C7NBYU/ref=as_sl_pc_ss_til?tag=phoenixsong-21&linkCode=w01&linkId=&creativeASIN=B008C7NBYU

The Author Front cover

The Sinister Bauble

Here is a seasonal tale taken from my collection of short stories and poems entitled JUST A MOMENT.

Christmas baubles, the symbol of joy, peace, goodwill – or are they?

The Sinister Bauble
By
Sherrie Lowe

I am ambivalent towards Christmas. It is stereotypically the time of love, joy, peace and goodwill, the time of merriment, but is it? There is a darker side: loneliness, illness and I always find if I dare to look forward to it, it only ends in disappointment, yet fool that I am, I joyously get out the decorations every year.
I only have a tiny tree, a fibre optic tree, but lots of decorations so I have to be selective as to which ones go on, but he/she must go on, I can’t risk upsetting evil forces. She is an angel – or is it he? It is sexless but it is not angelic. No round bellied, chubby cheeked cherub this one. I’d call her – him – IT – Lucifer if I dared, but I dare not for fear of him manifesting himself from the mere association. I secretly think of it as The Fallen Angel.
At first glance it looks like any average angel ornament: the white gown, the soft feathered wings, it’s only when you look at its face and see the evil, twisted expression that you feel a chill – at least I do. I feel its eyes on me as I sort through the other baubles with their special memories, a new bauble for each year, some more special than others.
I pick it up gingerly. Even the memories associated with The Fallen Angel are unpleasant. I feel fear whenever I think of them, as I do when I handle it.
“Buy it,” he’d said when I’d picked it up in the garden centre’s Christmas department several years ago, and the joyous voices of the children queuing to see Santa in his wooden cabin grotto were blocked out by an all encompassing blackness as I looked at the twisted features of the angel.
“I can’t!”
“Why not?”
“Look at its face. It’s evil.”
He’d given a twisted smile which mirrored that of the ornament. “Only in your eyes.” He’d given my arm a heavy handed, proprietorial squeeze and against my better judgement I’d put it in my basket with the gifts I’d selected.
He’d frightened me, Cameron. Nothing I could put my finger on except maybe an air of control and I just didn’t feel comfortable with him. I’d got to know him through a friend’s party soon after my divorce. He wasn’t the type I usually went for, pretty boys with soft, floppy hair; he was muscular, shaven headed, big. I hadn’t been looking for a relationship, it had just happened and I’d gone along with it. I hadn’t even found him particularly attractive but he’d been complimentary and my battered pride had been soothed, pampered even by his flattery. The biggest turn on had been the fact that he’d found me desirable. I seemed to bloom like a spring flower after having been crushed by my ex husband’s indifference. Yet he frightened me – and excited me!
I remembered the first time we’d made love, if it could be called that. There was no tenderness, it was pure lust. His blue eyes that could flash like chips of ice as the mood took him had burned into mine. It had been in my house, my lounge.
“I could just overpower you, here on the rug,” he’d said, his eyes never leaving my face, and he had.
It had been wild, passionate with a hint of cruelty, but I’d never been so excited in my life!
That was what kept me with him for so long. Well, I say so long, it hadn’t lasted until the following Christmas. I was glad and I wasn’t. I missed the wild sex but I was relieved to be rid of his overbearing presence. He was a predator, always on the hunt. It was the thrill of the chase for him and once he’d made me submissive he lost interest and I breathed easy again, but The Fallen Angel always brought back his memory, those mingled feelings of fear and excitement.
I put it aside and select a bauble with happier connotations, the little white sparkling reindeer that we’d got for our eldest daughter’s first Christmas twenty years ago. She’d been ten months old and her baby hands had marvelled at the rough texture of its sparkling body. Her father had helped her put it on the tree whilst I had watched proudly and operated the camera. Such a special decoration and I hang it right at the front where I can see it.
Equally special is the one bought for her sister’s first Christmas two years later, a carved wooden elf dressed in green with a tiny jingling bell round his neck. She had only been four months old so hadn’t been able to hang it on the tree but her eyes had watched our every move and she’d loved the sound of the bell. Eyes watch me now as I hang it below the reindeer so that I can see them both together, the eyes of The Fallen Angel.
“Pick me,” they say. “Choose the best position.”
“No,” my mind responds and I force myself to look away from its malevolent gaze.
Why don’t I get rid of it, you’re thinking. I can’t. There’s something about it that compels me to keep it. Whether it’s the feeling of passion it evokes I don’t know, but it has to have its place on the tree.
I select another favourite decoration, this time from my childhood. It is a tiny sleigh made of even tinier baubles like little silver beads, and Santa sits in it on a seat of cotton wool.
“Oh me Dad please!” I hear my child’s voice call out from across the years. “Please let me hang that one on,” and with an indulgent smile he always did.
It’s a tricky business getting Santa to stay in his seat and I balance him carefully, all the time aware of The Fallen Angel’s eyes.
The chickenpox bauble comes next. When my eldest daughter was four years old and in nursery school the whole class came down with it. One half of them had all attended the same birthday party and had caught it together; the rest of the class caught it from them and were affected two weeks later. In turn it was passed to her younger sister so that year it was a very itchy, scratchy, spotty Christmas and the bauble was a large silver one with snowflakes embossed on it, making it as scratchy as our two girls.
Then comes the saddest bauble, the one purchased the first year after my husband Malcolm left. He’d outgrown me he said. We were two different people he said, and shrugging, well, there was someone else. I’d been sad but not devastated. He’d been right; we’d changed but not together and our love had run its course. We get on well when we see each other; we are friends, and we’ll always have our girls.
The ornament I chose reflected my mood that Christmas, one of feeling sorry for myself, just a simple, small tree bereft of ornaments with only a light dusting of snow. I hung it on the back of the tree where I wouldn’t have to look at it and be reminded of my life, bereft of ornament or any other light hearted, joyful trivia. I felt guilty to the poor, tiny tree, hanging it there out of the way, unable to show off its simple beauty to all who entered the room. As I hold it now I give it a better place. My emotions are no longer raw, it can come out and share in our Christmas.
“There little tree, look out over the room in your mantle of snow,” I tell it as I secure it to a branch.
And all the time The Fallen Angel watches. I feel its glare all the more forceful for my having left it until the last.
“Come on you demon,” I want to say to it, “where shall I stick you?” but I dare not speak the words.
I know it is only a figure, an inanimate object but to me it’s symbolic of evil. Why I always get this feeling I don’t know, it has never brought me any harm, any ill fortune, it is just its face, its expression. I don’t like to think myself shallow in only liking pretty things but its look doesn’t please me.
I pick it up and stare at it defiantly. I can feel its presence emanating from its very fibre as it challenges my glare. I remember the time I first saw it at the garden centre. What on earth drew me to it, made me pick it up? Had it dared me to do it? Was it the expression that was so alien to the spirit of the season? Then there had been Cameron, forceful, persuasive. If it hadn’t been for him I might have put it back. Maybe it’s his bauble. Then why am I clinging on to it? Why can’t I either decide to like it or get rid of it?
I wonder where to put it on the tree. It defies me to choose an obscure position so I put it to the side of the tree, near the top. There, that should keep it happy.
“Will that do you?” I ask rhetorically. “You can see enough from there.”
It stares back with its silent glare.
The light is fading on the short December day. I switch the lights on on the Christmas tree and stand back to survey my festive display. They blink and flash and I am pleased with the effect. Their gentle glow even softens the harsh features of The Fallen Angel, but there is one more bauble to adorn the tree, one which is yet to arrive.
I go to the wine cabinet and get out two glasses and a bottle of Irish Cream liqueur. I pour it into the glasses and take them back to the table beside the tree and sit down to wait.
A key sounds in the front door.
“Only me,” calls the voice that I love.
Robin, my fiancé walks into the room smelling of cold, fresh air. I stand to greet him with a kiss.
“Did you get it?” I ask.
“I did.” He hands me a small package wrapped in white tissue paper. “I hope you’ll like it.”
I unwrap it to reveal a delicate porcelain cherub.
“Oh Robin it’s beautiful, thank you! This year’s decoration.” I lift up the golden thread secured to its shoulders. “Where shall we hang it?”
He inspects the tree. “What about here in place of this frosty faced angel? You don’t want that miserable looking thing staring down at us do you? If it was mine I’d stamp in its face.”
I laugh at him and hand him the cherub to hang on the tree. “No I don’t, get rid of it.”
It will be all right if someone else gets rid of it, not me.
He unceremoniously removes The Fallen Angel and dumps it in the waste paper bin, hanging the cherub in its place. He steps back and takes my hand.
“There,” he says, “that’s perfect.”

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Just-A-Moment-Sherrie-Lowe-ebook/dp/B0163BTKXW/ref=as_sl_pc_ss_til?tag=phoenixsong-21&linkCode=w01&linkId=&creativeASIN=B0163BTKXW

 

What First Attracts You To A Book?

Never judge a book by its cover, says the old cliche, but how many people do? The cover and the title are the first things the reader sees so they are arguably the most important aspects of the book. Getting them right is another matter.

I have been very fortunate in having an artist friend who paints watercolours to create the images for my covers and I have had many positive comments about them on twitter. As well as reflecting the content of my books they also reflect my dreamlike  personality – but are they ‘punchy’ enough? Do they grab prospective readers?

I recently read Paddy Cummins @paddycummins memoir The Long Road, in which someone suggested he change the cover of one of his books, which he did and it boosted sales. It set me thinking. Maybe I should try with one of mine. I decided on Angel Breaths.

My good friend Maureen Turner @Booksbymaureen had a lovely cover for her book Do Androids Dream? It was very in keeping with the content and I asked her who had designed it. She very kindly put me in touch with a friend of hers, Yvonne Thompson, and I duly contacted her.

The image she created for me is perfect for my story. The angel she has painted IS Angelique!

Do readers choose a book for its cover? I have, many times, and for its title. Some I’ve enjoyed, some I haven’t but that’s just the way it goes.

With her new cover we will see if Angelique will fly.

Young Carers 1960s style

In 1967 when I was just 12 years old my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. Throughout that year she underwent treatment following a mastectomy. Although she did as much as she could for herself, my dad and aunties were her carers and when they were at work my sister Emily, then aged 7, and I in our turn did our share. Below is an excerpt from my memoir Shadow Across the Sun, depicting a particularly difficult task. In the 60s there was no such thing as counselling for family trauma, you just had to get on with it, which we did.

The neighbours have been in but they’ve gone now and Mum’s gone to lie down for an hour before she gets the tea ready.
“Ooh no!” It’s a sort of shocked whimper coming from her room.
“Are you OK Mum?”
“Come here a min will you duck, and bring a bowl of warm water and some cotton wool, oh and a towel.”
Emily comes with me and we’re wondering what Mum wants all of these things for. As we walk into her bedroom she’s sitting on the edge of the bed with her blouse undone checking the dressing. She’s been going for radiotherapy for a while now so I think that’s why she has to have the gauze dressing over the patch that gets treated.
“The dressing’s got stuck,” she says looking up at us. Her eyes are wide and she looks scared. “Bring me the water please and the cotton wool.”
I pass them to her and put the towel across her knees. She tears a piece of cotton wool and dips it into the bowl, squeezing most of the water out. Then she drips a few drops behind the pad.
“I can’t do it. I can’t get at it properly. You’ll have to do it.”
“I can’t do it! I might hurt you.”
“It will hurt me but it’s got to come off.”
I look at the pad and it is stained red and orange with yellow stuff oozing out between its mesh, and it’s stuck fast to her chest, the yellow stuff acting like glue. I daren’t touch it. I know it will hurt her to pull it off and I don’t know how we’re going to do it.
“Come on duck,” coaxes Mum, “just get the corner of the pad and ease it gently while I squeeze drops of water behind it.”
“I can’t! I can’t do it.” It makes me shudder to think of pulling it away and bringing all of that stuff with it.
“I’ll do it,” says Emily moving past me, and I admire her bravery and feel useless myself as she sets about her gruesome task.
It reminds me of the time that Mum was refilling a stapler. She’d got her finger over the end and a staple shot into it.
Ow!” she’d shouted. “Sherrie just pull it out for me will you.”
I couldn’t. There were two blobs of blood where the staple was sticking in and I just couldn’t touch it. I don’t know what it is about blood but it makes me go all unnecessary. Anyway, Emily came along, calm as you like, and pulled it out – and she was only about five at the time. She is so much braver than me.
She sits there now, perched on the edge of the bed facing Mum, easing the pad, gently, gently, a fraction of an inch at a time, concentration etched on her seven year old features. Mum is gritting her teeth and making tiny ‘hoo, hoo,’ sounds between her lips, so quiet that we can hardly hear them but they show how painful this whole business is for her. Her eyes are screwed tight while she squeezes water and Emily keeps pulling gently.
After what seems like hours, the pad comes free and Mum lets out a long sigh and falls back onto her pillows. “You’re a good girl Emily,” she breathes.
The patch on her chest looks red and sore with a big oozing scab. We can see the line of the scar where the stitches were but it’s embedded in the seeping mass. It looks a terrible mess.
“It’s infected,” says Mum. “The nurse will have to have a look at it.”
She bathes it carefully, hardly daring to touch it, and says she’ll leave it open for a while to dry out. She doesn’t put another dressing on it yet in case it gets stuck.
“Can you start the tea ducky,” she says to me. “Just peel some potatoes and carrots so your father can switch it on when he gets in will you, and get rid of this stuff for me please.”
I take the bowl and the messy dressing and bits of cotton wool all wrapped in tissues.
“Don’t forget to give your hands a good wash.”
“I won’t.”
I don’t feel quite so useless now because I can peel the veg. I could cook the tea for when Dad gets in if she’d tell me what to do, but she says no wait, Dad’ll do it, I might get scalded with the boiling water. Emily sits on the bed to keep her company while she has a rest. All of that has worn her out.

Shadow Across the Sun

 

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The Best Christmas Present Ever!

Here’s a humorous excerpt from my memoir BETTER OR DEAD, sequel to Shadow Across the Sun. I bet none of you guys reading my post can beat this for a Christmas present for your wives or girlfriends!

If it gives you a giggle and you think you’d like to read the book I’d be so grateful for a review on its Amazon page.

Many thanks.

A week later, after Elliot had made his stage debut as a king in the Nativity and walked proudly down the middle of the hall carrying his gift, it was Christmas Eve. Barry and I – both sober – put the presents out, the boys’ filling the settee, ours on our respective chairs; I couldn’t resist a little glance over at the presents for me – not too closely, I didn’t want to spoil the surprise, but one in particular intrigued me. It was a small parcel; I touched it, it felt like a box and I felt a tremor of excitement. He’d bought me jewellery. At last! I was always telling him I’d love a ring – or earrings even, but preferably a ring. The only rings he’d ever bought me had been my wedding and engagement rings and that had been twelve years ago. He’d splashed out on the most expensive engagement ring we’d seen giving me the mistaken impression that he was generous but had somewhat taken the sparkle off it by saying it was an investment; not the most romantic of comments to your new fiancée. Now at last he’d got me another. I wondered if it was an eternity ring. I’d always wanted one but he hadn’t been very forthcoming when I’d suggested it. Perhaps he’d wanted to surprise me. I’d really like to have chosen it myself but then I’m sure it would be in keeping with my other two rings. I didn’t finger the present too much; I wanted to wait until morning.

I think I was more excited than the boys that Christmas in anticipation of what was waiting for me in the small, enigmatic parcel. Usually my Christmas was seeing the look of delight on Matt and Elliot’s faces, and it was of course that year, but I was dying to get round to mine. However I didn’t want to rush it, I wanted to enjoy it, to savour the moment so I watched Barry open his presents then he said, “Go on lovie, open yours.”

He wanted to see my reaction when I looked at the ring and I smiled a Mona Lisa smile as I opened all of the others and left that one until last. There it sat, the only one left in its wrapping. I felt Barry’s eyes on me as I picked it up. Part of me wanted to rip the paper off to reveal its hidden secrets but the other part wanted to hold onto the mystery and surprise for a few seconds more. I peeled off the Sellotape, pulled back the paper to expose…. a box of After Eight mints? A tiny box at that, not even full sized, it only contained five!

“Well I always said I wouldn’t buy you chocolates lovie so you don’t get fat,” said Barry totally oblivious to my look of incredulous disappointment.

“I thought… I thought… you’d got me a ring.”

“Ha ha! Ha ha! Ha ha!” He all but rolled on the floor in hysterics.

I could feel tears of dismay and loss for the gift I’d never have amassing in my throat but I wouldn’t give them their freedom and reveal my innermost feelings. “I really wanted a ring,” I said in a muted tone.

“Oh well never mind. Come on, let’s get the dinner on.”

paperback from FeedARead.com

Better or Dead

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