Hidden Meaning

The image shows a covered paved street. One person is sitting in a chair in the middle of the street talking to another sitting at the side walk. There is a truck parked in the street behind them. The street is lighted up well with lights hanging from the ceiling.

The light of experience illuminates

the wealth of knowledge expounds

but the real truth lies

behind the words

in the depths of the speaker’s soul.


Written in response to SadjeWhat Do You See #48 photo prompt.
Image credit: Mohammad Hoseini Rad – Unsplash

Location, Location, Location #1

Location No. 1 – St Mary’s Church, Rufford

Come on a journey with me…

The setting is very important to a novel: the sense of place, time and social environment contextualizes the story so that the reader can visualize and experience it.

I thought it might be fun over the coming weeks for us to go and visit some of the places where my novels have been set. Each time I’ll give you a little of the background as why these locations were important to my story and important to me, and you can read how they fit into the narrative of the book.

We’ll begin in Rufford, a little village in West Lancashire, England, where my debut novel, The Silver Locket, is mainly set.

My route to work each day took me through this pretty little place with its traditional houses, surrounded by flat, fertile farmland. In the evening, I’d see a hawk hovering over a field, then swooping down to catch its prey, and through the early morning mist, a bright barn owl would fly low across the road, almost touching the windscreen.

Near the centre of the village, there is a big, brick-built Victorian house, set back from the road, in large grounds. I was particularly drawn to the huge old oak tree in the garden. It grew in my imagination and over time, the house and garden became the perfect location for my heroine, Laura, to begin her ‘journey’ through the pages of my story.

Early on in the book, Laura visits St. Mary’s, the local church in Rufford. Here, in the churchyard, we learn some important clues about the past inhabitants of the house that Laura has recently inherited, and we meet a new character, about whom there is a definite air of mystery.

St. Mary’s Church, Rufford, is a real place, although its resemblance to the church and churchyard in my story is no more than a passing one. However, I do share Laura’s passion for visiting old graveyards…

Excerpt from ‘The Silver Locket’

Laura was keen to explore some more of the village. She walked down the twisting side road towards St Mary’s Church. Laura had always loved old graveyards; there was something about the hint of past lives engraved on old lichen-covered gravestones which she found curiously satisfying. As Laura worked her way through the headstones reading names and dates it occurred to her that the inhabitants of Rufford had been a particularly hardy bunch, all living to a ripe old age over the last couple of centuries.

One grave stood out to contradict this. It belonged to the Martland family. She leant forward and read the inscription: ‘In memoriam: Peter, beloved son of Thomas and Sarah, aged 22 years, died in a storm off the New Hampshire coast, 28th April 1912.

Then beneath that: ‘Captain Thomas Edgar Martland, aged 49 years, lost with his ship “Ariadne” and all her crew, 14th April 1913.’ There was a poem:

‘Safely moored amongst the peaceful dead
And from his labours rests his weary head,
With Neptune’s waves many times he’s fought,
Yet the blow was struck when least was thought.’

and underneath that…

‘Rest in peace: Sarah, loving wife and mother, died of a broken heart, 15th July 1916, aged 45 years.”

“So sad,” someone said softly behind her.

Laura started. She hadn’t heard anyone approach. She turned to see a big, powerful-looking woman with thick greying hair drawn up into a bun. She wore a brown coat and sturdy-looking shoes.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.” She spoke with a trace of an Irish lilt in her voice. “So sad, both Peter and the Captain gone and Peter’s first time at sea too.”

“They died within almost a year of each other,” said Laura, looking at the dates.

“That’s right. Peter was on his way back from his first trip to New York and the Captain, he was lost at almost the same time the following year. His poor body was never found. Mrs Martland was never the same again, losing them both… and then…” her voice trailed off. The woman shook her head, gazing beyond the gravestone into the distance. “Sad, so sad…”

“You remember them?” But how could she, thought Laura. The captain and his son had perished 75 years ago. “No, surely it was too long ago?”

The woman smiled back her, her expression far away.

“Do you live round here?” asked Laura. “I’ve just moved into my aunt’s old house in the village.”

“So you have,” said the woman in agreement.

Laura looked at her, wondering how she knew. News travelled fast in a small place like this she supposed. Memories too, would be in the psyche of the village.

“It was my home once.” the woman replied. She reached inside her coat and consulted a small silver fob watch which was pinned to her dress.  “I must go now.” She turned abruptly and walked away, her upright figure disappearing behind the west wall of the church.


The Silver Locket: available as a paperback, ebook and on KindleUnlimited

Welcome to Paradise

The image shows a beautiful garden with illuminated trees and brightly coloured flowers

The heavy door clanged shut behind her. Sinead wheeled around, drawing the Sword of Elshain for protection. The weapon glowed only dimly: no threat was apparent.

Sinead advanced through a lofty hallway, which opened into a still larger, circular atrium. Double doors swung open at the far side and a warm, fragrant breeze wafted in. Sinead hastened forward, filling her lungs with the scents of fruits and flowers, and tasting the honey-dewed air.

She stepped out into patchwork of verdant greenery, laid out in manicured magnificence. Was this really the place where Mother Earth was being held?

‘We’ve been waiting for you.’

A woman, neither young nor old, dressed in flowing emerald robes emerged from a blossom-filled orange grove. Moonsprite was at her side, whinnying gently. Sinead dropped her sword and ran towards them, burying her face in Moonsprite’s mane.

In that moment, their reunion was all that seemed important.


Image credit: ‘Alley Of Roses’ by Leonid Afremov on Deviant Art

Previous episodes of Sinead’s Final Quest an epic tale, unfolding in tiny 150 word increments.

Flying off the Canvas

The image shows an incomplete watercolor on open pages of a notebook. There are tubes of colors next to it and some painting paraphernalia.

Purple robes from the snot of snails, rays from the tails of mango-fed cows.
Colour-wash fades, dribbles down the page,
Feeble brush strokes
weep over wet
paper.

In a misery of contempt she kicks the traces of her fractious art.
Screw it up and start again!

Ground from stones, hewn from rocks
poisonous pigments from the artist’s jewel box
cobalt and lead, one blue, one red
the venomous tools of her craft.

Carving curves with furious angst
passions explode and erode
while careless cadmium spatterings
join dread smears on the studio floor.

Scissoring through shards of purple-pink silk
the blood on the carpet of despair
raising her brush she rages on
rending the canvas in two.


Written in response to SadjeWhat Do You See #47 photo prompt.
Image credit: Elena Mozhvilo – Unsplash

Download for a Dollar!

Treat yourself this weekend and download a copy of my 5 star rated adventure-romance novel. Available from Amazon for just a dollar.

You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07R116WPW

To set the scene for you, this is (sort of) where it first began. I based the house where characters Lucy, Gina, Gary and Cynthia live with their landlord, Tony Wong, on the bed-sit in Liverpool where I once lived.

I’ve taken the photo from Google Maps. I didn’t have a camera back then. The house has been smartened up a bit since I was a tenant in the 1980s when the rent was just £10.50 a week (that’s about US$13.50). My room was on the ground floor on the right.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Questioning Reality

Matt Smith's Doctor Who shouting 'Geronimo'.

Previously…

The warning lights are still flashing on the empty flight deck outside the Tardis. The Time Rotor screeches and wails while the Doctor battles with its controls.

‘Look, Miss Jemma!’ Cee-Threepio points at the viewing screen. ‘I think your star-ship is trying to communicate with us.’

I peer at the screen. Line upon line of text is spewing across my work station monitor. It’s too small to read from here, but it must be important. Otherwise, why would it be there?

It’s my ship, and from the way the Tardis is bucking and rolling despite the Doctor’s efforts, we’re all in trouble. I head for the doors. My place is on my own flight-deck and if Harris and Steven’s are still on theirs… I squash that thought down.

‘Jemma, wait!’ I hear the Doctor call out behind me, but I’ve made my decision. I fling myself through the doors of the Tardis; they snap closed behind me and I stumble over to my seat. The sound of the warning sirens is almost deafening, far louder than I’ve heard them before, but my job is to focus.

I strap myself in and concentrate on my monitor. A series of complex equations scroll before my eyes. Something’s wrong. The equations are incomplete. Basic stuff is missing! I grab the old-style keyboard and my fingers start to fly over the keys. I might not be a gamer like Harris, but I know my basic quantum theory. I hunch over the keys, scrolling down the lines, fixing errors and omissions, and tidying up messy calculations.

It’s like one of the speed tests we used to have back in Cadet College! I finish and flop back in my seat, then look around. Everything has gone quiet.

No red lights, no sirens. I swivel around. No Tardis!

Then I hear low-pitched voices and laughter. Harris and Stevens appear from the back of the flight deck.

‘You should’ve come with us, Jem,’ says Harris.

‘The Rec Room here is awesome,’ adds Stevens. ‘It’s got a top of the range Holodeck. We had a tour of the Millennium Falcon with Han and Chewy…’

‘…and I got to fly a mission attacking the Death Star,’ adds Harris excitedly.

I’m confused. Hold on. ‘Rec Room?

‘Yeah, Jem’, says Stevens slowly, as if talking to a particularly dim droid. ‘Starbase 74, you know, it’s recently been upgraded.’ He gives a sideways glance to Harris. ‘Maybe she’s a little low on sugar.’ He tosses a crumpled chocolate bar over to me. It looks like a ‘Snickers’ but it says ‘Banquet Bar’ on the label.

Did I miss something?

Harris crosses to his seat, glancing at the calculations on my screen. ‘You plotted the co-ordinates then. That’s great!’ He rubs his hands together. ‘Our first solo mission.’

I stare at the screen. All my quantum calculations have morphed into a simple star-schematic. The location is certainly familiar. It’s where landed up when we first ‘borrowed’ the Professor’s Special Space Machine. But how did we end up here..?

Harris and Stevens have both strapped themselves in. They look at me expectantly.

‘Take her out, Captain Jemma!’ says Stevens, grinning broadly.

As I reach across to take the controls, the comms device tumbles from my tunic pocket. The screen flashes on and the face of Matt Smith’s Doctor Who appears. He puts a finger to his lips, and a speech balloon appears over his head. ‘My reality is different from yours,’ it reads. The Doctor winks, then his image is replaced by a cartoon white rabbit disappearing repeatedly down a black hole.

Something is definitely not right.

And so, as Jemma and her crew head out into space again, so concludes series two of Space Cadets, leaving you, in fine tradition once again, with more questions than answers. But judging by the way this has ended, it looks like there’s going to have to be another series.
Stay tuned!


Image credits: darstcenter.com, space.com

Another Doorway

The dwarves scuttled back across the cavern leaving Sinead alone once again. Why had they departed so suddenly, almost without a word? Was it the bridge that had frightened them? Or was it the waters over which it led?

Sinead stepped onto the bridge.

She held the Orb aloft, its soft bluish light glowed a little brighter with every step she took, while the inky waters lapped menacingly on either side. She quickened her pace knowing better than look down into their murky depths.

The bridge ended at a narrow jetty, but its moorings were empty of boats. A single domed archway in the towering stone wall ahead beckoned her, reminding her of the entrance to the Maze of Mandoran.

Courage, Sinead. The words echoed in her mind, just as they had before. So close, so close now.

Sinead placed her hand on the hilt of her sword and entered.


Image credit: omagrandmother on Deviant Art

Previous episodes of Sinead’s Final Quest an epic tale, unfolding in tiny 150 word increments.

Sands of Time

For visually challenged reader, the image shows a person walking in a desert, dwarfed by huge sand dunes. A long line of their footsteps can be seen behind them

sand
at the back of the throat
chords strung taut
bloated tongue, swells
says nothing.

time
runs through the hourly glass
empty now
confession calls
tell nothing.

life
sands of time spilling out
dunes shifting
time, after all
is nothing.


Written in response to SadjeWhat Do You See #46 photo prompt.
Image credit: Dan Grinwis – Unsplash

No time to lose

R2D2 inserting his scomp link into a port

Previously…

‘Everyone into the Tardis,’ cries the Doctor herding us towards the open doors.

Artoo beeps excitedly and scoots across the flight deck. Cee-Threepio is less enthusiastic. ‘Surely we won’t all fit in there, sir,’ he says as he bustles after Artoo.

Cee-Threepio steps over the threshold, then steps back, looking curiously at the Tardis’ exterior. ‘Oh I see, Doctor. It’s bigger on the inside!’

Despite the urgency of the situation, I allow myself to smile; Artoo emits a low-pitched beep, which I’ve come to realise is his equivalent of an eye-roll.

The Doctor is already at the controls as I close the doors behind me. Artoo’s head is rotating anxiously and he’s waving his scomp link in the air. ‘Plug that in here,’ instructs the Doctor, pointing to a port on the console, ‘but don’t upload the coordinates until I say.’ The little droid beeps his assent.

‘What can I do, Doctor, sir?’ asks Cee-Threepio.

The Doctor flicks a switch giving us a view of the flight deck beyond the Tardis’ doors on the interior monitor. ‘Concentrate on that image, Cee-Threepio. Commit that ship to your memory banks.’ The Doctor whirls around and points his index fingers at me. ‘Now you, Jemma, get Mr Solo on the line. We need to make sure that Harris and Stevens are on board too.

I pull out the comms device. Han’s anxious face appears on the screen. ‘What’s happening, kid?’

I hand the device over.

‘So you’re the mysterious Doctor then,’ says Han.

‘That’s right. I’m the Doctor and everything’s under control.’ I glance down and notice that the Doctor’s fingers are crossed.

‘What’s the plan, Doc?’

‘It’s complicated.’

‘Try me.’

Artoo whoops and beeps loudly enough for Han to hear.

Han looks taken aback. ‘Okay, I’ll just concentrate on keeping the Falcon steady.’

‘Thank you, Mr Solo. Lovely ship, by the way. Now, let me speak to the boys.’

I peer around the Doctor’s shoulder as the worried faces of my two fellow cadets appear on the screen. ‘Now listen. Harris, Stevens, I want you to get back on board the ship and strap yourselves in.’

‘But Doctor…’ Stevens moves the device so we can see what’s behind him. The bright red ship doesn’t look exactly stable.

‘Trust me, Stevens. Take the comms device, leave the channel open and get back on the ship. I’m about to do something very clever and a tiny bit against the rules of the universe.’

The boys look at each other.

‘Well off you go!’ He waves them away with the back of his hand and passes the comms device to me. ‘Right,’ he says, rubbing his hands together. ‘Let’s get to work, Artoo!

I watch as Artoo activates the scomp link. For a moment nothing happens. I glance at the Doctor who holds up a finger. A moment later, things start to happen very quickly.

‘Geronimo!’ yells the Doctor.

The Time Rotor in the centre of the console begins to move and I feel the floor shudder. Artoo extends his stabilisers, rooting himself in position.

‘Oh dear, oh dear me!’ Cee-Threepio cries out, tottering on his feet.

Warning! Warning!

The alert’s coming from my ship. I wheel around and check the viewing screen. Red lights are flashing all over the flight deck.

Quantum Error!

The red lights continue to flash and the Time Rotor begins to screech.

‘Is something wrong Doctor?’ I shout over the din.

The Doctor’s hands race over the console, flicking switches and adjusting dials. I snatch out the comms device. ‘Stevens! Harris! Come in!’ But all that comes back is static.

What’s this Quantum Error? Has the Doctor’s plan misfired?
And what’s happened to the boys on the other ship?
Tune in next week for the final episode in the current series…

And if you we’re wondering what on earth (or off-earth) is going on,
you can catch up with the entire first series of Space Cadets
 here


Image credits: outerplaces.com, darstcenter.com

The Key is the key

The Prophesy Book remained silent as to where Sinead might find the shackled Mother Earth. She and the two dwarves stood contemplating the key that lay in her hand. Then Dorrin spoke:

‘The key is the key! See the picture on the bow.’ He traced a calloused finger over the head of the key.

Alric nodded. ‘It’s the Cavern of Stalactites! Come, my lady.’

The dwarves each lit a torch from the dying flames of the forge and hurried down the passage next the spring. Sinead strode behind them. It was not long before it opened out into a broad cavern, the roof decorated with sharp stalactites. At the far end was a bridge leading across an inky lake.

The dwarves came to a halt.

‘We must leave you here, my lady,’ said Alric.

‘We may not cross,’ added Dorric.

They both bowed deeply and scurried off without another word.


Image credit: eWKn on Deviant Art

Previous episodes of Sinead’s Final Quest an epic tale, unfolding in tiny 150 word increments.