Working Title Blog Advent Calendar – 3rd Free Gift!

We here at the Working Title Blog think that as things have been pretty gloomy and expensive lately we can cheer everyone up with a FREE GIFT every day until Christmas!

So break out the hot chocolate, the mulled wine or the festive spirit of your choice, find a comfortable place to curl up and start reading today’s free gift – then click the link at the bottom to download the entire book for free and keep reading.

Have a fabulous festive season!

Britannia is sweltering under an unseasonable sun.

The column of slow and ugly army supply lorries, left Londinium early in the morning, heading north-west on the main road to Viriconium. It was carrying a recently appointed Submagistratus of Demetae and Cornovii, his brand-new force of vigiles, their families and possessions and a vexillation of grim-faced praetorians.
Julia Lucia Maxilla wondered idly why they didn’t use hover vehicles. She mentioned this to her husband of just seven days – who happened to be the Submagistratus – and he laughed.
“Range my lovely, they would need to recharge and there aren’t any charging stations where we are going.”
“Right. Fine. It’s just that I haven’t seen a wheeled vehicle, leave alone been in one, since my brief time as a border guard on the eastern fringes of the Empire.”
Dai looked down into her face.
“By the sound of your voice that wasn’t the most pleasant of secondments.”
“It had its moments. But I met Edbert and found Canis and Lupo so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.”
She could see he was dying to ask more and felt a surge of affection towards him for the care he always took with her. In the end, though, it seemed he couldn’t resist just one question.
“What was an Inquisitor in the service of the Praetor doing on the Eastern Border?”
She turned in his arms and squinted up at his face. “I wasn’t an Inquisitor. I was a customs officer. Undercover. But those days are gone now. I’m a very proper Roman wife now.”
He laughed and put his hands around her waist. “Not too proper I hope…”
She made a rude noise and crossed her eyes at him. Bending his handsome head, he kissed her into submission.
She giggled, pointing to the man-mountain that was Edbert, her personal bodyguard, who was pretending to be asleep in the opposite corner of the passenger cabin. Dai smiled, then glanced down and his face creased with laughter.
“Will you look at them?”
Julia followed his gaze and saw identical expressions of aristocratic disgust on the faces of Canis and Lupo, her shaggy grey wolfhounds.
When she stopped laughing, she prodded Dai’s chest with a determined forefinger. “Instead of behaving in that extremely un-Roman fashion, why don’t you explain your family to me? Since we are going to be living just outside Viriconium and less than a spit from where they are, I’d like to know a bit more about them.”
“I wondered when you would ask.”
She was instantly contrite.
“I’m sorry love. Should I have asked before?”
“No. I’m sort of glad you haven’t. Let’s me know you married me for myself not my prospects.”
“Oh. Do you have prospects?”
“Actually, no. But most people seem to think I have.”
“Me neither, so we’re quits there.”

You can keep reading Dying for a Poppy by E.M. Swift-Hook and Jane Jago for free if you download it today 3 December 2022.

Come back tomorrow to collect your next free gift!

Working Title Blog Advent Calendar – 2nd Free Gift!

We here at the Working Title Blog think that as things have been pretty gloomy and expensive lately we can cheer everyone up with a FREE GIFT every day until Christmas!

So break out the hot chocolate, the mulled wine or the festive spirit of your choice, find a comfortable place to curl up and start reading today’s free gift – then click the link at the bottom to download the entire book for free and keep reading.

Have a fabulous festive season!

Hanna stood barefoot in the centre of the ring, her hands hung empty at her sides and she looked at nobody. ‘Breathe’ she reminded herself ‘breathe and focus.’ She held herself quietly quiescent, wondering who or what they would send against her this time. Being the champion held its own dangers and she knew the crowd was currently inimical. She was lean and scarred, and carefully emotionless. She had no glamour, and she didn’t know how to get the people on her side. All she knew how to do was survive. This was her seventh bout, and if she didn’t get killed this time they more or less had to let her go.
But that was for the future, for now she couldn’t afford even that glimmer of hope; she had to focus on the job at hand.
There came the sound of a brassy horn, and she heard the chain rattle of a lowering cage. She turned to see what she had to kill. It was no surprise to see a mythical beast, as a human fighter might be affected by her reputation. It was a Minotaur, and he shook the bars of his cage while roaring wordless threats at the small human female in the arena. He stood about eight feet tall, with massive shoulders and shortish bandy legs. His horns were tipped with cruel brazen spikes and he carried a Morningstar and a length of chain. She turned her back on him and looked to the Master of Ceremonies.
‘Choose your weapons.’
‘I choose a short sword and a net.’
A soldier trotted out of the tunnel carrying a short sword with a thick crosspiece and a very sharp blade. He also brought her a rope net about two metres square. Standing in front of her he passed her the net. Hanna was surprised to feel something hard in it, but she’d take any advantage, and with the bewildering speed of hand that was part of her armoury, she secreted a tiny knife in the thick braid of hair that ran down her back. As the soldier handed her the heavy sword he spoke. His lips didn’t move, but his message was clear. ‘Left handed. Watch the chain.’ Then he bowed formally and withdrew.
The Master of Ceremonies raised his voice and silence fell around the arena.
‘The Champion Hanna fights for her life. This is her seventh bout. The fight with which she seeks to buy her freedom.’
The crowd roared its approval, inexplicably warming to the tiny figure in the centre of the arena as the disparity between her and the gigantic Minotaur dawned on them.
‘Han-na, Han-na, Han-na’ the guttural chant filled the air.
Hanna switched off everything except for the necessity to listen for the unlocking of the Minotaur’s cage. Ah. There was the quiet snick of the meticulously oiled lock. She ran as swiftly as her legs would carry her, so that she was just to the right of the doorway as the portcullis lifted. The beast wasn’t fast enough to avoid a debilitating cut to his left arm, he snarled and tried to toss the Morningstar into his right hand. But he missed the catch, and Hanna danced in for another slash of her sword, this time cutting the right bicep. With his arms weakened, Hanna had to bet that her adversary would try to bring his razor-sharp horns into play. She danced back, careful not to trip over the fallen spiked mace and the Minotaur howled his defiance before dropping his head for the charge. Hanna knew she she dare not let him get close enough to gore her with the poison-coated tips of his horns so she moved with speed and caution until she could approach the beast from his left hand side. He turned to meet her, shaking his great horned head in bewilderment, and she knew a moment of pity for the half beast. She hardened her heart, knowing that the creature was incapable of feeling pity for her, and in full awareness that he would kill her without blinking one muddy brown eye.
The Minotaur dropped his head even further for a second charge and Hanna stood her ground for a second, before dodging to one side and making a leap onto the creature’s shoulders. Being behind the horns gave her the only chance she was likely to get and she reached around his brawny neck to slash the throat with her sword. She dropped to the ground with her chest heaving, warily keeping her distance as the blood poured from her opponent’s throat. He didn’t die quickly, but he was too strong for her to chance getting close enough for the coup de grace. As he finally dropped to his knees she looked into his lightless eyes before saluting him with her sword in the manner of warriors the world over. He raised his own fist to his forehead before falling on one side and breathing his last.
Hanna waited as the crowd chanted her name. For the first time since she was taken captive as a teenager she had hope. She lifted her head and met the eye of the Master of Ceremonies. He saluted her with his fist to his forehead and she allowed herself to smile.
She held her head high as she walked slowly through the Victors’ Gate. As soon as the gate closed behind her, a rain of crossbow bolts took her, flinging her around the empty corridor as if she was no more than a rag doll.
The Master of Ceremonies turned to look down at her broken body. He shrugged: the life of a slave meant less than his loss of face if he freed her.
‘Call my bluff, fighter’ he said softly ‘call my bluff’.

One of the stories in pulling the rug: a sideways glance at life in short fiction and verse by Jane Jago that is free to download today 2 December 2022.

Come back tomorrow to collect your next free gift!

Working Title Blog Advent Calendar – 1st Free Gift!

We here at the Working Title Blog think that as things have been pretty gloomy and expensive lately we can cheer everyone up with a FREE GIFT every day until Christmas!

So break out the hot chocolate, the mulled wine or the festive spirit of your choice, find a comfortable place to curl up and start reading today’s free gift – then click the link at the bottom to download the entire book for free and keep reading.

Have a fabulous festive season!

“You have no idea what you are letting yourself in for. How can you?”
Commodore Vane shook his head as he spoke, it was beyond understatement and beyond belief. The soldier’s green eyes were fixed on a point some distance behind the Commodore’s left shoulder. Their colour, so brilliant, Vane suspected genetic enhancement and their focus had been unwavering since he entered the room.
“I think I do, sir.”
He stood in a formal parade-ground stance, as ordered by the scowling Legionary Sergeant who had escorted him in and now lurked by the door. Vane had made a conscious choice not to relax him from the rigid posture. He never did with the conscripts. Vane glanced back at the remote screen he had called up, its contents invisible to anyone else. “Amnesia,” he read the word aloud and looked back at the soldier. “Total amnesia?”
“Total retrograde amnesia, sir,”
The Sergeant, a big, broad-shouldered man called Hynas, stood almost a head taller than his charge who was not much more than average height, and the ever-present scowl changed to a sneer at the words. Vane ignored him.
“And do you know why?”
“Due to an unknown trauma immediately prior to my arrest, sir.”
“Prior to, not during?” The way most of his men were brought in to begin their military career in his Legion it would not have surprised him in the slightest to find the injury had been inflicted at that point.
“Yes, sir.”
“I see.” Vane wondered if he truly did, the implications here were so disturbing. “You have no knowledge or memory of anything before your arrest?”
“None, sir.”
“And that means you have no direct knowledge or experience of what life is like outside the Legion?”
“No, sir. I do not.”
“Then how can you know you want to leave us, soldier?”
He noticed a slight hesitation then.
“I have no direct personal knowledge, sir, but I have researched a great deal about it.”
Which, he supposed, explained the hesitation. But the idea of researching the complexities of everyday life with zero experience of it, stretched his credulity. Vane tried to keep that disbelief from his voice. “Researched it?”
“Yes, sir. I have talked to other people in my unit and accessed information through the Lattice.”
Everyday life as filtered through the minds of violent criminals and a military tactical data provider. The Commodore shook his head but let the naivety pass. His job was to confirm that this man met the criteria required and was fit to be released. In fact, it had been made very clear to Vane he should do whatever was needed to speed the process and allow as little questioning as possible.
But this man was no ordinary ex-criminal. Once – and for many years – his name topped ‘most wanted’ lists throughout the Central worlds and the broader Coalition: the Protectorates and Independent worlds. In Vane’s circle, this man’s name used to be a household word for mindless destruction – the bogeyman of ultimate evil.
Avilon Revid.
Vane found it a curious experience to meet the man behind the myth, but it made the responsibility he now held a heavy one, weighing up all the factors to consider if Revid should be discharged. Revid might have a legal right to be considered for release, but that was not the same as having the right to be released. That decision ultimately lay with Vane and it was one he was not finding at all straight forward.
“Well, you passed your orientation course without any problem and have been declared no danger to civilians.”
No danger.
A bureaucratic joke even a military man such as the Commodore could appreciate. All the Special Legion were more than just dangerous. All serving a sentence for extremes of violent crime. A sentence that included enforced invasive surgery, implants, and drugs to enhance their capabilities.
The brutal training regimens and suicidal military missions were sweetened by the promise of freedom after five years spotless service – a promise almost never fulfilled. In the eight years he had spent co-opted as commander of the Special Legion, perhaps a dozen other men had stood before Vane for discharge approval. Of those, less than half walked out as free citizens. He was not willing to risk any of the monsters he commanded back onto the streets without a very high threshold of evidence to demonstrate they were indeed ‘no danger to civilians’.
Vane nursed no illusions about the fate of those conscripted to serve under him. For the vast majority, joining the Specials meant nothing more than a deferred death sentence. His troops served with an average life expectancy of just under two years. Most died very quickly, either on active service or were killed in the gruelling training. Others fell afoul of their own violent recreational activities or failed to sustain the psychological strength needed and committed suicide. Some died in brawls or were murdered by their comrades. Yet it remained a truism whenever a dirty job needed doing anywhere in the Coalition’s sphere of influence, the Specials were first on the ground, often ahead of the AI mechs. Vane took pride from that. He heard the troops did too.
Ironically, it meant, to be standing here, this soldier could only be the toughest kind: a man who could survive and even thrive in such an environment.

Trust A Few by E.M. Swift-Hook is free to download today 1 December 2022.

Come back tomorrow to collect your next free gift!

Life Lessons for Writers – Four

Yes, it’s me Jacintha Farquhar. 

Having made a reprise of my contributions to my son’s exercise in futility in writing pieces for this blog – which culminated in How To Start Writing A Book (a lamentable exercise in how not to, which I did my best to improve with limited success) – the two mad women who run this thing asked if I would consider offering more ‘life lessons’ for those aspiring writers daft enough to read them.

In case you are wondering, Moons (my benighted son) is now lost in some fifteenth draft of what he laughingly calls ‘literary fiction’ but which is thinly-disguised and very badly written gay erotica. He now declares his science-fiction attempt ‘Fatswhistle and Buchtooth’ to have been his ‘juvenalia’ and the pompous little prick sincerely believes he has a chance at the Booker Prize with his new heap of steaming crap. Sadly, from what I’ve seen of the competition, he might even be right.

Anyway, enough of that, I need to start earning the fat fee they are paying me for this guest appearance and having given the matter some thought I’ve decided to start with one of the big moments in every writer’s career.

Life Lessons for Writers – Four: Reality Check

There comes a point in every writer’s life – well maybe not every writer but most by far of you lot reading this – when they realise they are not going to make it to the ranks of a second Shakspeare in terms of literary acclaim – or even that of a J.K. Rowling.

No. Shit. Sherlock.

I am always amazed how long it takes the dewy-eyed enthusiast to figure this very simple fact. It’s as if when someone starts writing, their logical and discriminatory brain dribbles out of their ears to be replaced by some pink fluffy clouds and unicorns wearing garlands dangling the Amazon logo and woven with ribbons which spell out ‘Fifty Reviews’ or some such shite.

Seriously people, grow up! 

If your teenage daughter told you she was going to be the next Ariana Grande, you might praise her aspiration but be pretty sharp in making sure she was still studying for her exams. Just because you have a few more years under your belt doesn’t mean you are immune to the starry-eyed syndrome. The fact you idolise becoming a fat, wheezing weirdy-beardy like GRR Martin rather than a svelt sexy singer doesn’t shift the needle on the ‘likely to happen’ dial by so much as a smidgen.

What gets me though is how writers respond to this moment of grim epiphany. 

  1. They ignore it and continue to imagine themselves as God’s gift to the literary world, refuse to take any criticism from anyone, spewing ever more dreadful ‘pen babies’ into a recoiling ether until even their own mother refuses to read anything more they write. This is my son Moons for you – pretentious twonk that he is.
  2. They realise how true it is, and conclude that they will always suck and never make their fortune at this writing lark so they should throw down the pen for good and go off to put all their focus into something easier and more profitable like becoming a lawyer, a banker or CEO of a nasdaq-100 company.
  3. They take it on board proportionately, review what is a realistic expectation of what they can accrue from their writing and based on that make a clear decision about where writing can and should fit into their life. The answer to this being different for each writer as some have more ability to work on production and marketing than others.

Unfortunately (1) and (2) – doubling down or utter abandonment – seem to be the most common reactions resulting in both an over-spill of writers of dreadful books who will brook no remedy and the loss of some who might have penned some decent stories. I’m here to advocate for number (3) and to suggest you flush both the marshmallow and dollar signs out of your brain and take a clear hard look at what you do. 

Just because you will never be an author who people hold conventions about and dress up as your characters, like Tolkein, doesn’t mean you can’t write stuff people like reading. Whatever you write and pretty much however good or bad it is, there will be some corner of the internet full of geekish sub-genre fanatics eager to read it. You can, and should, be working on improving your writing, listening to criticism (not slavishly but with a genuine interest in learning and polishing your craft) and making your best fist of it all.

So have your reality check, work out if this is really a beautiful career or a pretty cool hobby, then get on with what you writers do best – Writing. Your. Books.

The Fated Sky – Overflowing with Wealth

Offworld items were rarities, rarities, the few imports that arrived on the continent, having been shipped across the Lesser Ocean from the spaceport in Keran were always valuable – even the commonplace ones. His own fine knife blade, stronger than anything that could be made on Temsevar, had cost Caer most of his first season’s bonus to purchase. So if there was anything salvageable left on the mithan, it would truly be as if the skies had opened up and rained money on them. For a moment that thought drove out every other and he had the exhilarating image of himself leading Alexa the Fair’s caravan into the city of Alfor, wagons overflowing with wealthy cargo.
But only for a moment.
The many long days of travel that remained before they could reach Alfor rose up and cut through that image like a row of jagged teeth. This was a small caravan and painfully undermanned with too few Zoukai. For all his own strength and skill, if word got out that they carried any great wealth – if anyone saw them take it or even noticed they had left the road – then they would be lucky to arrive in Alfor alive let alone with their cargo intact. But if – if he could keep it safe, then the end-of-run bonus it could earn him would be enough to make almost all his wildest dreams grow flesh and walk.
Caer became aware that Alexa was still watching him with an almost hungry expression on her beautiful face. Her eyes were glittering with the same visceral excitement he was feeling. It was as if, for that one moment, they were equals.
“Well, Captain?” she asked at last. “Have you nothing to say about it?”
“You will be wealthy, Honoured One, truly wealthy – if we can reach Alfor safely.”
“If,” she agreed and smiled as if pleased that he had grasped the key issue without her having to spell it out. Then the smile was gone and Alexa was the business-like caravansi once more.
“There is still time for you to ride up the mithan before sunset, Captain. I want you to take a few of your best Zoukai and see what is there, then we can make arrangements to bring it down tomorrow.”
It was getting a little late in the day and the wise Caer said he should protest and insist that they leave it for the next day. It was not sensible to take a dangerous path up the side of a mithan on tired ponies and risk having to make the descent in the dark. But the wild impetuous Caer, the Caer that had turned his back on the security of the craftsman’s life his father had planned out for him for the adventure of being Zoukai, the Caer who had defied all Zoukai convention to grasp the chance to be a captain years before he was supposed to – that Caer told him challenging the order would only make him seem a coward.
“Your will, Honoured One.”
Alexa’s hand lifted in dismissal and Caer pressed his forehead to the rug at the foot of her couch. Then he got to his feet in a single movement and was at the entrance of the pavilion before Alexa’s voice stopped him.
He held the flap of heavy cloth and looked back towards her.
“Captain, if we can get this treasure trove to the Alfor Fair, I promise you that we shall all be rich – you and your Zoukai too.”
“Your will, Caravansi,” Caer responded automatically. It was only as he walked away from the pavilion, it occurred to him to wonder if she spoke from concern in case of an attack on the caravan or fear of his own betrayal – fear that he and the other Zoukai would steal her precious gift from the sky.
He mounted his pony and rubbed its ugly head between the ears. It was true, the thought of so much wealth could certainly turn your mind. But then it could also be that he and the Caravansi were making fine cakes from nothing more than mud and sand. Caer had seen the size of the explosion and he was very aware he might find little on the plateau beyond a few useless scraps of overheated metal and a large crater. He turned his mount and went in search of the men he wanted.

From The Fated Sky the first part of Transgressor Trilogy, and the first book in Fortunes Fools by E.M. Swift-Hook.

November Sunshine

November sunshine’s more of steel than gold
Pellucid light that drips through cloud
And slides as subtle gleams
Transmuting green below and blue above to grey
Enwrapping all in chastest shades
Drawing more of shadow into each day
And close about the naked trees
Discarded twigs and leaves
Acorns, chestnuts, all next seasons seeds
And smoke that lingers in the clinging mist.

E.M. Swift-Hook

Weekend Wind Down – Simultaneous Epic Tantrums

It was a beautiful May morning, but my life was currently being rendered hideous by my five-year-old twins throwing simultaneous epic tantrums. I wasn’t even sure what the screaming was about. I had been feeding the dogs when Ali started to whine, and I turned around just in time to see Roz slap her sister quite hard. Then they both began to scream. The dogs looked at me with deeply reproachful eyes, so I put their food out on the back patio. They went in evident relief, which only left me with two red-faced and hysterical children to deal with. I looked at them for a moment then came to a decision.
I filled a large jug with icy cold water. I was just lifting it out of the sink, when a masculine hand came over my shoulder.
“Allow me.”
My beloved, and normally wholly even-tempered, husband walked quietly over to where two of the loves of his life were screaming like demented banshees. He poured the water over their blonde heads. Miraculously the screaming stopped. Ben waited a beat then spoke very quietly.
“People who behave as badly as that the moment their Daddy’s back is turned should be very grateful he isn’t a spanking sort of a man.”
Then he turned on his heel and left.
The twins sat as if turned to stone and I let the enormity of what had just happened sink in.
It was Ali who found her voice first.
“Is Daddy very cross?” she breathed.
“Sounds like it to me,” I said briskly. “Now is somebody going to tell me what all that was about?”
But of course they couldn’t. It had come over them and they could no more explain than they could fly. They just shook their heads and looked at me with round eyes. Roz even went so far as to stick her thumb in her mouth, even thought she hadn’t sucked it for months. I tried to keep my own expression sober as I looked at their woebegone faces, but I wasn’t proof against the pleading in those big eyes. I held out my arms and scooped the two wet little girls into a hug.
“We’re sorry Mummy.”
“Never mind sweethearts. Let’s get you dry and calm.”
Half an hour later, we were at the breakfast table and the twins were eating porridge. The dogs were in their baskets and peace and quiet reigned. Ben walked back into the room on soft feet and two spoons stopped moving in two bowls. He crouched down between them.
“You two all better now?”
They nodded and he put an arm around each.
“You still cross, Daddy?” Roz quavered.
Ben smiled and kissed each rosy cheek.
“No I’m not cross. Don’t worry my loves. I know you didn’t mean to be naughty.”
Ali clutched his tee shirt in one small hand.
“We didn’t. We wasn’t meaning to be bad, but once we started we couldn’t stop.”
“I don’t expect you could. But there’s a lesson for you both. Don’t be silly. Because it is very hard to stop once you start.”
The twins studied his face carefully and he winked at them. They hurled themselves on his chest and he stood up with one little girl on each arm.
“Have you said sorry to Mummy.”
“We have.”
“Then let’s forget all about it. You two finish your breakfasts.”
He put them back in their chairs and they picked up their spoons. At a quirk of his eyebrows I got up and walked into his embrace. As I leaned in he bent and whispered in my ear.
“Fancy a day off? We can keep the brats out of school and take them for a good walk in the forest.”
“Yeah. I was going to suggest keeping them home anyway. There’s something not right about them. Even before the screaming fit I was concerned. They are unusually clingy, and when I went to wake them this morning Roz was in Ali’s bed.”
“I thought it was just me being fussy Daddy.” He watched the two blonde heads with a worried frown.
I looked out of the open door and across the garden to the flat that was occupied by our chef and good friend, Neil, his wife Stella and their two daughters Ellen and Sian. If I ever needed Stella’s input on parenting it was now.  As I opened my mouth to say who knew what my phone demanded my attention by screaming ‘bugger me boy’ in the voice of a parrot. The twins cracked up, covering their laughing mouths with their hands. I could feel the tension oozing out of them so I forbore to comment on my latest ring tone, merely picking up the call. It was Stella.
“Joss,” she said without preamble, “there’s something going on at school you need to deal with. Sian has been obviously worried, if tight-lipped, for a few days. I thought she had been naughty at school but it ain’t the case. I just wormed the problem out of her. You know that your girls have a new teacher, but what I’m sure you don’t know is that she has taken them in dislike. Sian says she punishes them all the time. Now, it seems, they aren’t even allowed to sit together in the dining room. Sian says it’s a crock of shit, and I reckon she is right enough so that I haven’t even said anything about her language.”
“Thanks Star. Tell Sian not to worry. Me and Benny are on the case. The twins can have a few days off while we get it sorted.”
“Good thinking. I’m keeping Sian home today, too, she’s right out of sorts.”
She ended the call and I looked at the phone with some dislike.
“Girls, can you eat your breakfasts quietly while I have a little chat with Daddy?”
“We’ve finished our porridge, Mummy, and isn’t it time for the school bus?”
I found myself floundering, but Ben rescued me smoothly. “You could go on the bus, or you could have a sneaky day off with Mummy and me.”
The twins beamed at him. “Shall we go and take our uniforms off while Mummy talks to you?”
“You do that. Jeans and sweatshirts for a walk in the forest.”
They shot off and Ben looked at me sombrely.
“What is the big worry? You are as pale as a ghost.”
I told him, and then watched as he found and dealt with the white hot rage he felt at the thought his daughters were being victimised.
“What do we do, Joss? What the hell do we do?”
“First we need to find out more about what has been going on. Then we take steps. If it means home schooling Roz and Ali for a year then that’s what we’ll do. First job, though, is a chat with Sian. Can you manage that without letting her see the berserker flare?”
“Have to don’t I?”
“It would be best if you could, because you are much closer to her than am I.”
“Okay. But walk first. Let’s let everyone settle. Meaning me primarily.”

From Who Pulled Her Out?  by Jane Jago 

Coffee Break Read – The Development of ‘Creative Writing’

Just a thought…

Once upon a time, people told stories – and then they wrote them down. Sometimes they made up new stories and wrote those down too. People enjoyed the stories and would look forward to the next one.

Then some people began to wonder what made stories what they were, so those people took the stories to pieces and looked for patterns. They then declared that the patterns they found were what stories had to have.

Now people started thinking that every story had to have the patterns that had been found and they began to mutilate everything they wrote so it would fit those patterns.

Fortunately, a few people carried on writing stories as they always had – not caring about the patterns just telling a thundering good story whether it fitted any of the patterns or not…

Moral of the story: You can’t learn to write by studying literary criticism – you learn to write by reading fabulous books.

Granny Knows Best – Thanksgiving

I don’t feel myself qualified to comment on Thanksgiving. It’s a noble sentiment – eat until you almost explode to give thanks for staying alive for another year – and one I applaud.

Is it like British Bank Holidays? Slightly outmoded by the number of days people get off work now? Or does it retain real meaning?

I don’t pretend to know. And neither can I pretend to like pumpkin pie.

In the spirit of friendship, I’ll see your Thanksgiving and raise you British Boxing Day, wherein one lays about groaning and recovering from the Xmas excess.

Happy Thanksgiving and may your turkey be succulent….

You can now have a collection of Granny’s inimitable insights of your very own in Granny Knows Best.

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