Mandy's Musings

Mandy's Musings

Thursday, 29 December 2011

My first novel is to be published!


I have fantastic news! I am to have my novel Righteous Exposure published in e-book form by Crooked Cat Publishing in late February 2012!

They are an innovative new company and have exciting ideas for bringing new authors and great stories to the public. I signed my contract on Boxing day, and you can imagine that it made my Christmas!

I will be bringing you more exciting news about the release date as soon as I know. So exciting isn't it?

Click here to find out more about Crooked Cat Publishing, my novel and submission guidelines.

http://crookedcatpublishing.com/

Monday, 31 October 2011

The Little Big Man

The man swaggered.

He never walked or ambled like other folk, swaggering was his thing. On top of the swagger, a puffed up chest proudly thrusted. The physical stance and presence of the man silently challenged all who crossed his path.

He puffed and preened, insinuated his importance into very air that they breathed, until each person he chanced to meet felt in awe of him. These lesser folk would whisper about his mightiness in hushed tones. Some fled from his long shadow before they could be exposed as naked, unworthy, feeble...envious.

One day the man swaggered past a small child playing in a cool clear stream. The child laughed and splashed the man's expensive shiny shoes.

The man puffed out his chest, folded his brow into a furrow and wagged a fat finger at the child. "Don't you know who I am?," he said.

"Umm, people call you 'The Big Man', why don't you come and play in the stream with me, it's fun!" giggled the child.

"I am too important to play in streams, and you have wet my shoes," the man bellowed.

The child laughed again and the man felt his heart lift and fill with the simple joy of a long forgotten childhood. The child's laughter insinuated itself into the very air that the man breathed. A tickle of laughter bubbled in the pit of the puffed up chest, but the man clapped his hand over his mouth to suppress it. It would never do to be seen laughing in public. He had an image to uphold.

The man's wet feet marched him home, and once inside, he barricaded the door with every available stick of furniture. Red faced and sweating, he caught a glimpse of a little man across the hallway. What was this man doing in his house?

Swaggering forward, he was annoyed to see the little man copy his movement. How dare the impudent little wretch!

The man rolled up his sleeves, puffed out his chest and prepared to strike the little man hard across the face. The little man mirrored his every action and all of a sudden it became horribly clear that the little man was in fact his own reflection in the looking glass.

But how could this be? Everyone knew he was the big man, a man of swagger and puff, a man of stature. The man raised a trembling hand to his brow and feared his life of importance was over. "It was that child, that damned child!" he wailed aloud.

Clawing aside the barricade, he opened the door and raced back to the stream. The child had gone...but the laughter remained. It whispered in his ears, tugged at his heart strings and encouraged the tickle of laughter in his puffed up chest to swell, grow and erupt from his mouth like a shower of diamonds. The man kicked off his shoes, peeled off his socks and splashed into the stream.

People from miles around heard his laughter on the breeze and in the very air they breathed. Carried on wings of joy, they ran to join him in the cool clear stream.

And from that day forward, they no longer whispered in hushed tones, or ran from the man's shadow. Instead, they lived with him as equals and they all grew strong and tall.

The little man was was at last truly big. He and all the folks often laughed and splashed in the stream...and the child led them.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Trapped

I tell myself it’s just a clock like any other.
A machine made to mark time.
A helpful reminder of minutes and hours,
slipping past, to rise and shine –
Carpe diem.

Whispering through the night, smiling in the dark
rubbing its hands at the thought of 6:am.
Thought becomes reality, and summoning all powers of evil
it unleashes a BANSHEE WAIL !

A jackbooted marching assault on silence and senses.
Viciously shaking me awake...GET UP!
GET UP! NOW! WORK! WORK! NOW! WORK!
GET UP! GET UP! WORK!

WORK crushes my spirit long before it has
wings to fly.
At time’s inception it’s dead in
the water.

Trapped like a cog in the wheel
I roll from slumber searching desperately
for my ship to come in - unfurled freedom upon its mast.
When it does, I’ll sail away.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree

If time were compressed into a sphere the size of a golf ball and whacked with a 5-iron, would it actually fly? Would it rocket across the universe, ricochet off stars; get tangled in String Theory and collapse into a black hole-in-one?
Recently, her mind mimicked a circus. Thoughts tumbled like acrobats, cart-wheeling, clambering over obstacles of reason and logic, and in finale, presented human pyramids of surrealism.

Time...there was never enough of it.

Dew covered wellingtons. She stopped in dappled sunshine, looked up. Fluttering leaves, interlacing branches, and beyond the highest canopies - blue sky. She knelt, moisture seeping through jeans. Pressing a palm to moss, she held and released. Her handprint remained, fleetingly.

Death left nothing behind except memories. There had to be more to human existence. Were we just handprints in moss?
A carpet of bluebells nodded affirmation.

A deep breath. Inhaling wisps of toadstool, hints of fern, she stood and followed the path to the meadow. The farmhouse, brown against multitudes of green, seemed alien now, yet it was home.

Nearing the orchard, a memory of a long ago spring soothed her troubled mind. In this spot, he’d enveloped her in strong arms and softly sang,
“Don’t sit under the apple tree...”

She plucked a sprig of blossom, leaned against the tree. Soon blossom would fall and apples ripen. Apples would rot, pips would grow into trees, and once again lovers would sit under them. Perhaps some would even sing softly on hushed spring nights.

She smiled. Her lips caressed the blossom.

Spring was a time for hope - the bluebells were wrong.

Friday, 1 July 2011

An End to the Bull

Tonight, under the light of a million stars, she would put an end to the lies. Once her reason for being, he was now a weight around her neck, draining, wounding, dragging her earthbound.

Too often she allowed the bull to sweeten the pill of bitter excuses. He must have thousands packed away in his cold little heart, and when required, there they’d be, ready. Excuses R Us – just add water - unpack and peddle.
Working late, car broke down, conference away, the wrong kind of air on the tracks. Bull, bull, BULL!

Only she could put an end to it, but what final barb?

His eyes twinkle like the stars, but she must take him by the horns - cast him to dust.

“I want an end to the bull; you tear my heart out, taunt me, trample my love beneath your hooves of infidelity.”

He snorts, paws the earth. She sees more excuses, bitter wounds ready to tumble from his lips. She smiles, lifts her eyes to his, thrusts her sword between his horns, a twist for good measure.“I don't love you anymore.”

He stumbles, falls, dies in the dust.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Meet Ronan



Sorry I haven't posted for sooooo long but I have been working on a new novel and spending lots of time with the young man in the photo.

As you can see, Ronan is the most beautiful child in the history of the universe. He is of course my grandson, born on the 23rd of February this year.

When my daughter was pregnant with him, a friend on Twitter, Sandra,(@sixtiesdancer) told me that I would fall instantly love with him/her, when he/she was born. I thought hmm, of course I was really looking forward to meeting the new baby, but instant love? She was right. I was lucky enough to be there at the birth and saw him minutes later. He is so lovely, adorable, intelligent, curious, sweet...in short, perfect.

Every time I see him he's changed and at just over four months, he's already losing the baby look. I am so lucky to live close by and see him grow and develop into a little boy, with his own personality and the rest of his life ahead of him. I'm sure we will all share many happy days with Ronan.

This brings me to a project I am involved with. I have written a story which is part of an anthology, Hipp-O-Dee-Doo-Dah to raise money for Children's Hospices UK. (Click on the link on the top left of the blog for more information.)

There are lots of children in the UK who are not as fortunate as my grandson. These children and their families need our help and support in order for them to get the facilities they need.

Children's Hospices UK, relies on charity for its survival, which I personally think is scandalous.Cuts are being made in public services and poorly children have to rely on charity, while Tomahawk missiles fired in Libya and elsewhere cost £500,000 each. Storm Shadows - another type of missile cost £800,000 each. Isn't there something wrong here? Money for death can always be found, while money for life is apparently non-existent.

Once again, like so many other causes, it's left down to people like you and me to make a difference. The anthology has loads of great uplifting stories which would entertain children of junior school age. If you feel you could help in a small way by buying this anthology I, and the children would be very grateful.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Cross Your Heart

“So what happened to fish face then?” Gill asked Bella’s bottom as it wigged to and fro.
Bella stopped wiggling and moved from all fours to a kneeling position. She turned to look at Gill, and frowned. “Fish- face?” she said absently scratching her forearm with the back of the damp scrubbing brush.
“Yes the one that you emailed about. The one that you would die for, murder for, walk over hot coals for, poke your eyes out for. You called him fish- face as a term of endearment for some unknown reason.”
“Not fish-face silly, fishcake!” Bella laughed, standing up and slopping dirty water into the sink.
“Oh right, there is sooo much difference between the two, how could I have been so stupid?” Gill smiled and sipped her tea.
Bella smiled too, washed her hands and then joined her friend at the kitchen table. She looked at Gill and suddenly pinched her cheek playfully. “I have missed you so much. You mustn’t leave it so long next time.”
“Oy, watch the make -up,” Gill said rubbing her cheek. “And anyway, you’re the one who upped sticks and moved fifty miles away. Remember, you just had to be near Bobby, or you would just wither and die like a poor little flower on an arid plain?”
Bella rolled her eyes and nodded. “Yes, but as you know there turned out to be a Mrs. Bobby, so he bobbied off to be with her and the three little bobs.”

Gill laughed at her friend’s dry humour and poured more tea. She wondered if the flippancy was just a facade though. Bella looked like she’d lost weight. Her normally glossy chestnut mane looked lifeless, and the old faded pink T-shirt and grubby stained jeans had definitely seen better days.
The small sea-front flat Bella called home was spotless however. Gill remembered that her best friend had always cleaned furiously when she was down. Bella hadn’t even stopped scrubbing to greet her properly when she’d arrived. Still, she figured she’d carry on with the light hearted banter if that’s what Bella wanted.
“And then before you had time to pack your bags and come home, fish-face came on the scene. So where is he?” she said sitting back and folding her arms.
“I told you it was fishcake!” Bella said laughing a little too loudly. “He once made me a cake in the shape of a fish. As you know I’m a Piscean, so on my birthday he made me this wonderful...wonderful fishcake.” Her eyes suddenly brimmed with tears and then spilling over, they ran unchecked down her face.
Gill jumped up and quickly went to hug her. She could feel tremors shaking her friend’s whole body as she gave free reign to her sorrows. Her sobs grew louder, and Bella suddenly pulled away covering her face with her hands.
“What’s wrong honey? What’s he done to you?”
“What they all do, use me and ...d..dump...me!” she wailed through her sobs.
“So he just walked out on you? Look at me sweetie,” Gill said trying to prize Bella’s hands from her face.

Suddenly Bella stopped crying, took her hands from her face and said calmly. “He tried to walk away, but he found that difficult after I hacked his legs off.”
Gill looked at the vacant stare in Bella’s dark eyes and felt a chill start at her toes and race up the length of her body. “That’s a funny thing to say Be...”
“I drugged him and then hacked him to pieces,” Bella interrupted in her flat monotone voice. “He’s, well what’s left of him, is in the bath.”

Gill stood up knocking her chair over. A flashback of the dirty water slopping into the sink rocked her senses...dirty water which had looked oddly rusty in appearance. The pink faded T shirt, had it once been white? The stained jeans...Jesus, what had Bella done?! She backed away towards the sink and gingerly glanced in. What she saw made the bile rise in her throat.

Gill nodded to the sink. “God Bella, please tell me that’s just liver or something you were cleaning up when I got here.”
Bella looked puzzled. “What? No I just told you I hacked him up. That in the sink is what’s left of his heart. He crossed it and hoped to die when he said he’d love me forever. I crossed it a few times when I shredded it,” She looked at Gill and grinned manically.
“For God’s sake Bella stop it! You’re scaring me now. Look you’re obviously having some kind of breakdown. I shouldn’t have just showed up here unannounced, it threw you.”
Gill edged her way towards the bathroom, not daring to take her eyes from Bella’s. “Now I’m going to look in the bathroom and you’ll see, it’s all in your mind.”

The handle felt cold, and Gill’s hand shook as she pushed it down and opened wide the bathroom door. Bella’s breath felt hot on the back of her neck as her terrified eyes tried to take in the carnage in the bathtub.
“It’s all in my mind eh?” Bella whispered, and then, “I’m so sorry Gill.”

Bella hummed as she ran scalding water into the bucket, and added a liberal squirt of bleach. She wiped the carving knife clean and then returned to the bathroom. Bella had a few loose ends to tidy up.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

A Story worth Telling

Jenny watched the frantic dance of snowflakes outside her father’s upstairs window. Each one is different, she remembered as a sudden flurry peppered the glass. She sighed as their fragile forms distorted, melted, and slid to obscurity - their unique beauty lost forever.

A chill crept through her like rising damp, and she pulled her father’s chunky Arran cardigan tightly around her. Jenny rubbed her face against the collar, inhaling the familiar comfort of better days. He’d had this cardigan forever.

She felt her energy sapping away, and the old rocking chair creaked in protest as she flopped down in it suddenly. Pushing back, Jenny set the chair in motion and closed her eyes against the darkening sky. Her hands cradled the mound of her belly, and she slowly stroked her unborn child as it turned, stretching the round, distorting the form of her shape.

A voice calling her name woke her. Jenny opened her eyes and found that it was night. Immediately furious with herself she struggled to her feet, she’d not intended to sleep at all.

She hurried to the next bedroom and opened the door.

“Dad, did you call, are you alright?”

“Ha-ha! Now we both know that’s a daft question,” her father said, the effort of laughing causing him to cough into a handkerchief.

Jenny pulled a chair up to the bed and took his hand, a hand that was almost skeletal, a hand that felt paper- light, a hand that full of strength, used to hold hers when she skipped alongside him.

“Well you know what I meant, are you feeling any worse, I thought I heard you call me?” she said anxiously scanning his face. She definitely thought he looked more drawn, and his skin seemed almost translucent in the yellow glow of the bedside lamp.

“Aye I did call you, but I‘m feeling not too bad as it goes,” he leaned forward and squeezed her hand. Even this was too much for him, his breath rattled and rasped in his chest, and he sank back down onto his pillows like a deflated balloon.

“Dad, just lie there and try and get some sleep,” Jenny said blinking rapidly and swallowing hard. Life could be cruel, you’d think at the end there’d be some respite.

Her father shook his head and looked at her, the old flame was suddenly lit in his eyes, and he wagged his finger from side to side.

“Plenty of time for sleep soon. No, I want to tell you something, and if I don’t say it now I may not get the chance.”
“No need to say it dad, I know what...“

“No you don’t know what I’m going to say. You think I want to say I love you and stuff, well there’s no need because you know it,” he wiped his mouth with the handkerchief. “No I wanted to say that I read one of your stories a while ago and it was good, really good. I forgot to mention it with all the tests and hospital trips, but I think you should do something with them.”

Jenny flushed with pride. He had never been one to praise her for anything really, so this meant a lot. She’d never really imagined doing anything with her scribbling. She had written for pleasure almost as long as her dad had owned that cardigan, but had only shown her stories to family and friends.

“Well, I suppose I could send one or two off somewhere and see what happens?”

“There’s no suppose about it. Do it, and do it soon. Too many of us go through life and never leave our mark. I’ve done my best, worked hard and looked after my family, but I won’t be remembered for anything in particular.” He took another painful breath. “My story will remain untitled Jen; don’t let the same thing happen to yours.”

Jenny couldn’t blink fast enough, or swallow hard enough, and the tears escaped, chasing each other over her face like melting snowflakes on the pane. They held hands in silence as no words were necessary.

She thought about her dad, their old life, and the new life growing inside her. Lastly she thought again about how each snowflake was unique and beautiful, and how unbearably sad it was that some melted without ever been seen at all. Jenny edged nearer and placed her father’s hand on her belly.

“I promise you dad, I’ll try my best to leave behind to this little one a story worth telling, and I’ll make damned sure he knows that you handed down the tale.”

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Happy belated New Year

Gosh so sorry 2011, not really acknowledged you on my blog. In fact I haven't been on here all year!

OK, what have I done so far this year? Well I have become grumpy due to getting up in the dark and rain and wind and hail and snow and cyclones (well that's pushing it a bit), and going to work. That's been the negative bit. But on the positive side there's lots.

1) Finished my novel and am currently sending out into the world on its own. It's still tottering on its wobbly little legs but hope it will learn to walk soon. Running? - well you can but dream:) Book deals only happen to others...or do they?

2) Colette Caddle acclaimed novelist, my Twitter friend and now real friend came over to see me a few weeks ago. She is just the same as she is on Twitter - well not quite as she is bigger than her avatar (though not much) and is very warm, funny, and caring...well sometimes. I am really lucky to know her and she cheers me up and slaps me when I need it too. Her hands are quite small so I don't need medical treatment afterwards.

3)I was shortlisted in two comps - one still pending. Yes I know always the bridesmaid never the bride, but you never know - one day I gotta win don't I? (why I suddenly descended into the Bronx circa 1955 speak I don't know.)

4) And last but certainly most exciting, it is only 3 weeks to the day that my first grandchild is due!! Yes can't wait - seems to be taking ages and I am quite an impatient person sometimes! Well yes alright ALL the time. I am going to be at the birth unless my daughter kicks me out for getting on her nerves.Wonder what it will be - I'll stick my neck out and state right here and now that it will be a ...baby! Slight cop out there. OK I reckon it will be a girl.

So anyway WW aside (work and winter) I feel optimistic and positive about 2011 so far. Little rays of sunshine in the shape of all the above are shining through the January gloom and lifting my spirits to the clear blue beyond!

Long may it continue I say :-D