Sep 2015

I know, I haven’t written much stuff on this blog lately. It’s not that I don’t have stuff to write, but I’m only one person. There’s only so much I can do.

I hope you’re enjoying my series: Letters from Elsewhere. I’m amazed how varied the posts have been so far: serious, humorous, heart-breaking. On Friday, you will hear from Leah, who would never normally write a letter to any of you, but has stepped out of my novel, Neither Here Nor There, to do just that.

I’m also on Cathie Dunn’s blog today, discussing the setting of Neither Here Nor There.

And there’s an excerpt from the novel on Claire Stibbe’s blog.

And don’t forget my posts about living in Israel in the English Informer.

I’m off to enjoy another festival: Succoth, which I wrote about four years ago.

Hag sameach – happy holidays!

Letters from ElsewhereHave you ever written a letter you didn’t send? I have… once or twice. I didn’t know how the letter would come out when I started it. But when I finished and read it through, I knew it was too revealing. No, I’m not going to tell you the details, but I will let you read the letters (or notes) that Beth didn’t send or give to her mother. Three failed attempts to tell her mother what she couldn’t say. I think they speak for themselves, but there is an explanation below.

Three crumpled sheets, tear stained and blood spattered, escape from the bottom of a torn bin bag…




Once Removed

Once Removed: CoverA silent cry for help…

Suspecting self-harm, newly qualified teacher, Abriella Garside, risks everything for a troubled pupil. An incident with a craft knife and unexplained injuries are not enough to secure help for the girl.

Unsure whether Beth is being bullied or has problems at home, Abby tries to win her trust and the two begin a friendship. But has the teacher gone too far?

In the midst of Abby’s own complicated life, Beth disappears. Rumour and suspicion ignite, fanned into an inferno with Abby at its heart.

Two lives hang in the balance.

Once Removed is available in digital and paperback formats from:

Once Removed: Banner

Letters from ElsewhereWe’ve probably all received a rejection letter at some time in our lives. Most of us have probably received several rejection letters. But I doubt any of us has received a rejection letter quite like this one. It’s written by a certain Dr Deeds, who comes to us from Scott Perkins’ novel, Howard Carter Saves the World.

Deeds LetterheadDear Applicant:

The admissions committee has carefully reviewed your application for admission to our Egregious Engineering program here at Arkham Tech and found you very much lacking any actual qualifications. After much consideration, we regret to inform you that we think you seriously have got to be kidding us.

We are aware that this message may come as something of a disappointment to you, but probably not since you must have been aware of how woefully and hilariously underqualified you were for the program.

Your application was lackluster at best and your dossier is simply lacking any of the qualifications we look for in a candidate. Where are your extra-curricular activities? No Zombie football? No after school work teaching maniacal laughter to school children? You presented not one single example of your willingness to build alarmingly large robots to set loose upon the screaming populace in an orgy of wanton destruction! Your school transcripts are completely devoid of laboratory explosions or attempts to replace the faculty with mindless automatons.

Furthermore, you made no attempt to poison, blackmail, or bribe the admissions committee in any way. Not one of our loved ones was kidnapped and held for ransom, and no one in the committee reported so much as a breathy phone call in the dead of the night. There’s just no evidence presented in your packet that you have a meaningful desire to achieve your evil aims by any means necessary.

You apparently don’t even have an amusing accent or a really good maniacal laugh going for you.

Yours in the Mad Sciences,

Dr Villainous Deeds, PhD

P.S. We have found that you are, however, perfectly qualified to join our Disposable Minions Initiative. Please find that application enclosed. We look forward to performing unethical and dangerous experiments on your brain while giving you hilariously menial tasks to perform around the lab.

About Scott PerkinsScottPerkins

Scott is a writer, artist, humorist, and puppeteer.

His debut novel Howard Carter Saves the World is the story of a boy, his mad science teacher, giant robots, alien puppets, secret agents… the usual “coming-of-age” stuff. It was published in the US and UK in April 2015 by Crooked Cat Publishing.

He may or may not write from a secret island lair somewhere in Washington State, where he lives with his wife and an astonishing assortment of puppets.

Sometimes he’s serious, but he tries not to let it happen very often.

Scott blogs at: Pages to Type

Howard Carter Saves the World is available on Amazon and elsewhere.

Oh yes…

The poor, rejected applicant probably applied in response to this recruitment poster:


Letters from ElsewhereToday I’m happy to welcome Nairn Malcolm to my blog. Nairn is an escapee. He’s had a hard time getting away from that evil author, Nancy Jardine. But I’ll let him tell his own story.

Hello Miriam. I’m glad to come and visit you because I’m quite intrigued about these CATS that my creator, Nancy Jardine, often speaks about. There are loads of you CATS who write for Crooked Cat Publishing out there in the real world, but it’s just as well for me that this is a virtual visit since Nancy Jardine has made sure that I’m not at my mobile best. Actually, she’s not my favourite person right now, because of the way she’s treated me, so it’s great to escape from her clutches for a little while—otherwise who knows what she’d do to me next.

And please don’t dare ask if you can take a photo of me for your blog because that answer is a definite NO. I’m not usually a vain guy but she’s really done a number on me…at least at the beginning of my story. I mean, come on! What guy wants to meet the most gorgeous woman he’s ever seen when he’s looking like a splodged advert for a hospital emergency department?

I generally like to make a good impression when I meet new clients, or potential business contacts, but Nancy Jardine made that darned near impossible. In fact, I’ve more than one bone to pick with her…and said bones are presently about as sensitive as my ego.

I thought that the guys in contemporary romantic novels were all about making the lassies swoon with their dashing good looks and impeccable stylish dress but that’s not what Nancy had in store for me. Oh, no, I had to be the untypical highland hero in her novel Take Me Now. Granted, she gave me a restored castle and all of those lovely methods of travel for the debonair contemporary hero —like my floatplane, jet and catamaran— but she also made sure I couldn’t manoeuvre any of them. Though, I guess it could have been worse if she’d popped me into my kilt. That would have made me into a real spectacle if it had fallen off. Ahh! Forget I said that in case she writes a new scene into my story, thinking it would amuse Aela Cameron.

 I just bet she had great fun writing those first chapters where she made me seem like a comatose idiot in front of Aela when she came for an interview. Making Aela the only person I could employ as my general factotum—office help and general driver of all my vehicles— was cruel when I wasn’t in any shape to complain about it. And you know, I don’t even think Nancy Jardine realised just how embarrassing it is for a guy to meet a woman who is so dazzling when he’s not at his best.

Though I guess towards the end of my story Nancy at least made the situation a bit better for me, because by then I’m a lot more like myself. It’s just as well that Aela Cameron has a great sense of humour, isn’t it? Did I mention that Aela’s also the best DIY detective ever who helped solve the mystery of my unknown saboteur?

Mmm. I think it’s time to say goodbye to you in case I divulge all of my secrets in Take Me Now. It’s been nice to meet you, Miriam.

Lovely to meet you, too, Nairn. So glad you were able to get away for a bit!

About Take Me Now

TakeMeNow - Nancy JardinePatience isn’t Nairn Malcolm’s strong point when he finds himself and his business mysteriously under attack. He needs a general factotum immediately— someone with exceptionally varied skills who can ferry him around, help him keep his business running smoothly and be available to him 24/7. He doesn’t expect the only candidate who arrives at his Scottish island castle for an interview to be so competent… or so incredibly attractive.

Aela Cameron’s range of talents is perfect for Nairn’s current predicament. She loves transporting him all over the globe, adores his restored castle, and is thrilled with his hectic lifestyle. Dangerous situations don’t faze her, in fact they make her more determined to solve the mystery of Nairn’s saboteur. She’s not into passing flings—yet how can she resist her new boss as time runs out on her temporary contract?

Can Nairn persuade Aela she’s the woman for the long haul as the mystery is solved?

About Nancy

(who really isn’t evil at all. I know – I’ve met her.)

NancyJardineNancy Jardine writes historical romantic adventures (Celtic Fervour Series); contemporary mystery thrillers (Take Me Now, Monogamy Twist, Topaz Eyes-finalist for THE PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE 2014); & time-travel historical adventures for Teen/ YA readers (Rubidium Time Travel Series). All historical eras are enticing and ancestry research a lovely time-suck. She regularly blogs and loves to have guests visit her blog. Facebook is a habit she’s trying to keep within reasonable bounds. Grandchild-minding takes up a few (very long) days every week and any time left is for reading, writing and watching news on TV (if lucky).

Find Nancy at the following places

BlogWebsiteFacebookLinkedInAbout MeGoodreadsYouTube book trailer videosAmazon UK author pageRubidium Time Travel Series on Facebook

Twitter: @nansjar — Google+ (Nancy Jardine)

Letters from ElsewhereThe moment has finally come for the first post in my new series, in which chacters pop out ANiW Final Coverfrom fiction to meet you. While in some of the later posts, characters will introduce themselves directly, in this first post, you will observe from the sidelines as Dirk writes to Eleanor.

Dirk has come from A Nightingale in Winter by Margaret Johnson. Over to you, Dirk.

Dear Eleanor

You won’t believe this, but I’m writing to you from prison! That is, from a stable I’ve been imprisoned in. But I must explain. After I left you and Kit, I caught a train to get closer to the line and stayed overnight in a pension.

The next day, I arranged with the landlady to leave my belongings there for a few days and set off on foot towards the Front. Idiot, I can hear you saying, and you’d be right, but not for the reasons you think. You see, I’d gone only about three miles or so, when I came face-to-face with a battery of French soldiers. The commanding officer demanded to know what I was doing, and didn’t believe me when I told him I was a reporter. At least, I can only assume he didn’t believe me, because they slung me in here, and just laughed when I demanded to be let out. I think they’ve had more than a few drinks now, Eleanor, and have forgotten all about me. I can hear them singing and laughing, and my head is starting to ache like crazy. I think I might explode if I don’t get some water soon. Hold on a minute while I try hammering on the door again.

Well, I’ve got some more fine splinters in my hands now, but at least I finally made them hear me and managed to beg for some water. They even threw in a crust of bread! Now I suppose it’s just a question of waiting the night out. Not that I fancy sleeping in this filthy straw much; I’m sure I can hear rats scurrying about. No, I don’t think I’m going to risk it. I’ll sit on this bucket instead and think about you going about your work.

I’ll bet your patients feel safe just knowing you’re around; after all, I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of your ministering hands, don’t I? You’re such a professional, unlike me. Four hours as a war correspondent, and I get arrested and locked up. My dad would laugh, and that isn’t something he does very often. Still, we can’t choose our parents, can we? Although they can choose us sometimes. For some unknown reason, sitting here feeling sorry for myself I suppose, I’ve been thinking about my mom and dad a lot. I think I may have told you on The Sussex about being adopted and how mad I was with them both when I found out they’d been lying to me.

Maybe that’s why I wanted to be a journalist. I’m certainly hungry for the truth. Not that it’s doing me any good right now. Everybody told me I was crazy coming out here, and maybe they were right. Though if you get this letter at all, it will mean that I haven’t been shot at dawn for being a spy, so I’m bound to be in a more optimistic mood, and the thought of the letter you’re going to write to me in reply will keep me going. I want to hear all about the dreaded Sister Palmer and Kit of course, but most of all about you, since you’re my angel of mercy.

Anyway, that’s all for now, it’s practically dark, and I must rest before I drop off my hay bale. Maybe I’ll have to take my chances with the rats after all…



PS: The French finally saw sense and let me go after two days with dire warnings about what they’ll do to me if they catch me again, so I’ve decided it might be safer to head to the British lines. They have to be a bit more reasonable there; after all, you and Kit are British. I’m trying to keep from thinking about Sister Palmer!

Anyway, I don’t have an address for you to write to at the moment, but I’ll let you have it as soon as I do. By the way, I’m busy writing down a blow-by-blow account of my ordeal in captivity in case it comes in useful in the future. We writers never miss a chance!


_DSC2275_ppMargaret K Johnson began writing after finishing at Art College to support her career as an artist. Writing quickly replaced painting as her major passion, and these days her canvasses lay neglected in her studio. She is the author of women’s fiction, stage plays and many original fiction readers in various genres for people learning to speak English.

Margaret also teaches fiction writing and has an MA in Creative Writing (Scriptwriting) from the University of East Anglia. She lives in Norwich, UK with her partner and their bouncy son and dog.


A Nightingale in Winter is available from Amazon UK and elsewhere.


Other News

  • Remember to read my posts in the English Informer about everyday life in Israel.
  • I’m on Claire Stibbe’s blog today with a scene from Neither Here Nor There. I’ll update this post with the link when I know it. Edit: here it is.