March 2016


Letters from ElsewhereI’m delighted to welcome Ellen Dunne to my blog. Ellen, who comes from the pages of An Ocean Divide by Elizabeth Grimes Brown, lives in Ireland. Her lover, Michael McBride, recently travelled to New York to join his older brothers in their expanding family construction company. Ellen hasn’t told anyone that she is pregnant with Michael’s baby. In July 1912 she writes a letter to Michael that distresses him deeply.

This letter is sent with a heavy heart, Michael; you of all people will know how difficult it is for me to write the words you are about to read.

On Friday of last week, I became Mrs Patrick Lafferty.  Now I felt that I should be the one to tell you of my recent nuptials, and not out of any malice, Michael. I’m sure you will agree and understand that I would not stoop to that. I wouldn’t be wanting you to hear it as a topic of some piece of idle gossip.

Although it pained me deeply to hear of your engagement to, Amelia, I believe is her name?  I cannot but wish you well. You must luv her very much, Michael, for I can’t think of anuther reason why you would break my heart like this.  You of all people. I would never have expected in all the world that you would be the one to hurt me so.

That dreadful, unexpected revelation in the letter that cum from Robert, to your Da, was as a shock for us all, especially as I hadn’t heard a word from yourself on the matter;  still, it is dun now, and, after all we have been to each other, I cannot but wish you well in your new life.  And, Patrick, well he is a good man, I do care for him; I know he luvs me and will take good care of me.

I feel there should be more to say, but I am at a loss for words to express my sadness.

Wishing you well

Ellen

This is the first time Michael has heard any suggestion of an engagement to Amelia. Who could have told Robert such a thing?

About An Ocean Divide

EB2Invited by older brothers, Joe and Robert, to join their successful company in America, 19-year-old country boy Michael McBride is booked on the Titanic. After surviving the sinking of the ship and unaware that the family business has been built on corruption with the backing of the Mafia, he works hard to learn all he can. Through distractions, distance and deceit, he unwittingly neglects his love back in Ireland.

Ellen Dunne, finding she is pregnant, and hearing false rumours of Michael’s impending engagement to his boss’s daughter, is panicked into marriage to neighbouring, older farmer Patrick Lafferty.

Over the years, feuds and resentments divide brothers Michael and Robert. Michael’s love for Ellen is as strong as ever and one of his visits back home results in a second pregnancy. Eighteen years pass before Michael finds out that Jack, Ellen’s son and a boy he has befriended and grown to love on visits over the years, is really his own boy, the revelation being announced at Ellen’s funeral. Jack rejects him out of hand. Can father and son be reconciled, will Michael find new love, and will power-hungry brother Robert one day rue his guilty past?

As the story follows the family over four decades, the tale of love and loss brings heartache for all – births, deaths and corruption creating a feud between brothers.

About Elizabeth Grimes Brown

EB1Elizabeth Grimes Brown, mother of four adult children, three grandchildren and a 1-year-old great-granddaughter, lives in England with her husband, Bill. Born in 1941 at the height of the ‘big blitz’ into a small parish in the Dock Road area of Liverpool, Elizabeth, like many children born around that time, learned to make her own fun through escapism. Pretending, or story-telling, became part of her daily life.

After being employed in some menial jobs, and while raising her family and working for 23 years as a bank clerk, Elizabeth was always keen on being creative, be it dressmaking, decorating or art.  There were a few successes along the way: she won a make-over competition in a national newspaper in the year 2,000, and a piece of her art was hung in the local library as part of an exhibition.

It was only on retiring that Elizabeth decided to enrol in a creative writing course. After 2 years and a grade 1 and 2 accredited by Lancaster University, she applied and gained entry to a BA Creative Writing degree at Edge Hill University. Unfortunately, due to home and family commitments, this exercise was cut short.

Elizabeth has been treasurer of her local Writers’ Group since 2004 and has gained knowledge, experience and confidence through public readings. She has had a few small successes with acceptance for Puffin books and short stories in a couple of anthologies, and while taking part in a letter-writing venture for the ‘Liverpool Sea Odyssey’ to commemorate the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic, her letters were amongst the hundred selected to be fired from a cannon at the culmination of the event.

Having three novels and one short story published with FeadAread.com, in addition to the paperback version, Elizabeth now has all of her work available on Amazon Kindle.

You can follow Elizabeth on her Elizabeth Grimes Brown Author page on Facebook or elizabeth0141@twitter.com

Her available novels include An Ocean Divide, Run Amy Run and Loving in Fear, all of which can be found on Amazon.com – Amazon.co.uk – Barnes & Noble – WH Smith- Waterstones – and The Book Depository.

Other News

Elizabeth adds:

  • I am at present writing a social history novel based on my experiences of growing up in a predominantly catholic parish in the early years following WW2.
  • I am also collecting a number of short stories to add to my existing short story on Amazon: A Life in a Bottom Drawer.
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It seems I missed Theme Reveal day, so I’ll reveal my theme today.

Here it is:

2016AtoZChallenge

Starting on 1st April.

Edit: To explain: (almost) every day in April I will post another story starting with the letter A and ending with Z. Other bloggers will have chosen different themes or may post without having a specific theme. You can find all the blogs taking part in the challenge here. You can also join in, if you want and have the time. I don’t have time, but I’m doing it anyway.

 

I nearly forgot: today is my blog birthday.

Seven years ago today, I posted this:

Speech is silver, silence is…

…not golden. Just a fake gold that soon dulls.  Like the necklace I bought in Cyprus. They told me it was gold. I knew they were lying, but I bought it anyway. I felt I had to buy something because they gave me tea….

I’ve been keeping silent for most of my life. It’s time to talk.

So tune in again, keep in touch and don’t suffer in silence.

And I’ve been talking ever since. Thank you for listening!

25.04CYorkBettysTeaRoomsResizedLast summer, as part of a long trip to the UK, I was in the northern city of York, because my publisher, Crooked Cat, organised an event for its authors there.

I hadn’t been to York before and didn’t know much about it, other than the fact that its history is long. I was also vaguely aware that Jews had lived there and misfortune had befallen them at some point… unsurprisingly.

So I started reading. Jews were first brought to England from the continent by William the Conqueror in 1066. Many of them settled in York because, at the time, it was the second most important city after London, with a thriving textile industry. And, as in so many places in those times, Jews weren’t allowed to own land or work in a profession. So they did the one thing they were allowed to do, because Christians weren’t allowed to do it. They lent money.

Many people needed to borrow money, so the Jews did well from money lending. This was good for the King, because he could levy huge taxes on the Jews. But the people who owed money to the Jews were not so happy, especially as the Jews seemed to be more prosperous than them. Moreover, in church, and particularly around Easter time, they were taught to hate Jews.

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Clifford’s Tower (rebuilt)

These are the main events that led to the massacre of 16th March, 1190. On that day, the Jews who were still alive took refuge in Clifford’s Tower, which was then a wooden structure. But a mob surrounded the tower and then set fire to it, and the Jews decided on a mass suicide. Except for a few who left the tower and offered to convert in the hope that they’d be saved. But they, too, met their deaths on that day.

It is said that, because of that event, there is a “cherem” or boycott of York. That Jews aren’t allowed to set foot in York. That if they pass York on the train, they mustn’t eat or drink as they pass through and they mustn’t turn to look at the city. Yet there were Jews living in York for the next hundred years until they were expelled altogether from England in 1290.

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Clifford’s Tower (rebuilt)

In more recent times, small numbers of Jews have lived in York, some of them having arrived on the Kindertransport. There was a synagogue that closed down, but very recently prayers have started to be held again in York.

So what about the cherem? Most researchers say that in reality there never was a cherem. But it seems to me that even if only a few Jews boycott York, it’s still a boycott, albeit an insignificant one.

I have a reason for mentioning all this now. Last night, I attended a very absorbing talk on this topic organised by HOB Rehovot. Barry Levinson told a rapt audience consisting mostly of immigrants from the UK about the events leading up to the massacre and the massacre itself. He also showed us the short film he made on the topic. You can watch the film here.

During the talk and in the general discussion that followed it, I couldn’t help thinking how history repeats itself. The more I listen to the news from the UK and around the world, the more scary that thought becomes.

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Stone set in the floor of the city wall

Letters from ElsewhereMy guest today is Nick. He’s been released from the pages of The Forgotten Promise by Kate Ryder. Nick is sharing his letter to Maddie.

Ashton Chase Barn

6 March

Dear Maddie,

I have to write this letter.  Though I have a skip full of mail that demands answers and my day sheet is crammed with a mass of urgent chores and obligations that I have no hope of fulfilling, I have to write this letter.  I have a very stern and hard-working conscience which is giving me no peace at the moment.  This letter may quieten its angry clamouring.

It is to be a plea for my defence, a token of gratitude and hope for future friendship.

First, my defence.  I am not one of life’s great planners.  I do not chart courses or control events.  It cannot be said on my epitaph that he knew what he wanted and went out and got it.  Whilst my successful friends bore across life’s oceans in pursuit of lofty goals, I bob in their wake, drifting on the tide of circumstance, admiring the scenery that chance presents.  Through such aimless navigation I arrive in situations by accident.  I know enchanted creeks and peaceful backwaters that the captains of their own destiny will never see.  But there are perils that await the drifter, rocky shoals and whirlpools that responsible people steer clear of.

In the same way that I don’t control my life, I cannot control my feelings.  I cannot be blamed for admiring attractive scenery.  That a client happens to be both charming and beautiful should simply sweeten the working day.  Where I am guilty is in not heeding the signs that something was happening within.  I should have corrected things and started paddling away at the start when I found myself thinking of you too often and too fondly.  That I didn’t take evasive action was due to a naïve belief in some Enid Blyton Utopia where everyone exists as “jolly good chums” – a world uncomplicated by the tangle of feelings, relationships, sexuality, envy and jealousy.  The outcome is painful.  And now I am dangerously close to being in love, if not already.

This is where the gratitude comes in.  For the enchantment that your company has brought to my life.  It is a nice feeling knowing there is someone around that you really like.  Dorchester, Walditch and the Blacksmith’s Arms are places that have grown a new attraction for me – that I might glimpse you.  I enjoyed dusting off my peacock feathers (though I hope it wasn’t too obvious).  I did not make a play for you, rather I fell for you.  Thank you for briefly and unwittingly making me very happy.

A grey dawn now fills the barn where I am writing this.  It heralds a full day.  I have used up all the paper trying to write this and there is no more left, and I have not said anything that I really wanted to say.

Maddie, I wish you the greatest fortune in your life.  May the gods smile upon you and bless you with happiness – and may your friendship be mine.

Love, Nick.

The Forgotten Promise

9781491884577_COVER_FQA.inddThe Forgotten Promise is set in rural Dorset.  It is not only a present day romance between Maddie and Nick, but also an intriguing ghost story, replete with twists and turns, which takes the reader on a journey back to the dark and dangerous days of the English Civil War through the characters of Mary and Nat.  It is also a story of self-discovery, lost loves and second chances, and of a love that resonates through the ages…

Maddie believes her strong connection with Nick is more than simple, mutual attraction and, over time, recognises that the spirit of her 17th century husband, Nat, lives on through him.  Nick is unable to temper his feelings for Maddie and finds himself looking for any excuse to be around her but, being a loyal partner, is very aware of his responsibilities to his long-term girlfriend, Sarah. However, following an incident when he has allowed his strong feelings for Maddie to get the better of him, he writes the letter to her. Heart-broken, Maddie knows she has lost him for a second time.

The Forgotten Promise was shortlisted in Choc Lit UK’s “Search for a Star” competition.

The novel is available in both paperback and Kindle format on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Kate Ryder

KateRyderKate Ryder has worked in a number of industries, including publishing. Mainly employed in editorial, she has worked as a proof-reader/copy editor and, most recently, as chief writer for a national newspaper.

Kate believes that variety is definitely the ‘spice of life’ and in 2001 she moved to Cornwall to restore a 200-year-old cottage. During renovations a time capsule was discovered, left by a previous owner, prompting Kate to think about past occupants and the lives and dramas that had been played out within her home.

With an interest in things ‘alternative’, in 2005 Kate set up a complementary health business for people and animals (http://www.equihealth.co.uk ) and – in between ‘proper’ jobs – has been active at shows and markets up and down the country.

Wanting to escape the restrictions of newspaper speak, Kate joined a creative writers group with the intention of writing short stories, some of which have since been published. However, following a chance conversation with a fellow country market trader the seeds were sown for The Forgotten Promise and a particular exercise during a writers’ workshop turned out to be a little longer than intended; hence this debut novel.
She is currently working on her second novel.

Kate lives in Cornwall with her husband and a collection of animals

She is scheduled to do a book signing during Tavistock Arts Festival 2016 on Saturday, April 23rd.

I have to admit, I’ve never heard of this meaning of “Easter eggs” before, but it’s a great term for an interesting topic. I’ll let Rumer Haven explain.

 

Thanks so much for hosting me, Miriam!
As the oft-repeated saying goes, “Write what you know.” And so writers often do, me certainly included. As I’ve related time and again when people ask, yes, What the Clocks Know is inspired in part by real life. The protagonist’s move to London parallels my own, as does her emotional response to the life changes she undertakes.
But that’s the bigger stuff that helps drive the plot and underlies the themes. There are a lot of little things writers will include from their own experiences, too, and I’m no exception. In fact, no one loves an inside joke more than I do, so I deliberately plant these personal “Easter eggs” in my stories to give myself and people who know me a chuckle. Here are just a few that appear in What the Clocks Know:

1. Chapter One alone is pretty loaded with ’em. I’m ridiculously nostalgic for my childhood and past pop culture, so I drew from that to initially ground Margot in the ordinary world she lives in during the present before she enters a rather extraordinary one of the past.

  • High school friends will remember the way I put dimes in my black loafers instead of pennies.
  • College friends might recall the “squirty bird” I purchased at the Meijer store off campus–a big, bright plastic parrot that squirted water out of its beak. One of my rooms at the sorority house had a flat roof just outside the window, so at night, I liked to climb out and wait (unseen) for unsuspecting friends to pop in and chat with my roommate, then douse them through the window screen.
  • Speaking of the sorority, yes, I was in one, and yes, we had a traditional symbol that we’d form with our index fingers and thumbs when posing for group photos. Unfortunately, many sisters had the tendency to position this diamond-shaped symbol below waist-level, which made me laugh hysterically–Really? Did they not see the innuendo there? But apparently I wasn’t the only one to catch it, as the alumni magazine now bans this pose from all its photos.

2. In Chapter Two, while Margot is still at her childhood home, she finds an old grade school journal akin to one I kept in sixth grade. Reading through some of the entries reminds her of a classmate who lived off a dirt road that I based on my actual school bus route. Though now paved over, this road has forever creeped out locals and become an urban legend, as depicted in the eponymous film Munger Road. I was shocked when the movie came out after I’d already incorporated this reference into my first draft–just goes to show the mark that road makes on locals!

3. The once nameless waiter at the Troubadour cafe in Chapter Five only first became “Hal” during the late stages of editing–named for the actual Troubadour employee who gave me permission to reference the independent cafe by name. He was so pleasant and enthusiastic about the book that when he jokingly suggested I name a character after him, I decided to do just that.
4. Speaking of cafes, though not mentioned by name, the Chicago coffee house that Margot describes to Chloe at the Troubadour is the very same Bourgeois Pig Cafe featured in my last novel, Seven for a Secret. I frequented that place when I lived in Chicago’s Lincoln Park, loving and missing it so much that I held my Seven for a Secret launch party there as well in 2014.
5. There are occasional references to the French Revolution and, more specifically, Bastille Day–which is my birthday.
I could go on and on with these little hidden eggs, I’m sure, but I’ll leave the challenge to you as you read What the Clocks Know. Happy hunting! I mean, reading!
~ * ~

About What the Clocks Know:
Finding a ghost isn’t what Margot had in mind when she went ‘soul searching’, but somehow her future may depend on Charlotte’s past.

Woven between 21st-century and Victorian London, What the Clocks Know is a haunting story of love and identity. A paranormal women’s fiction, this title is available as of March 18, 2016 from Crooked Cat Publishing.

“A unique tale of the paranormal – as beautiful as it is haunting.”
~ Shani Struthers, author of Jessamine and the Psychic Surveys series

** Add it! **
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29368003-what-the-clocks-know
** Read it! **
Amazon US – http://amzn.to/21DZoCw
Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/1QsiFfr
~ * ~

Author Bio:

Rumer Haven is probably the most social recluse you could ever meet. When she’s not babbling her fool head off among friends and family, she’s pacified with a good story that she’s reading, writing, or revising—or binge-watching something on Netflix. A former teacher hailing from Chicago, she presently lives in London with her husband and probably a ghost or two. Rumer has always had a penchant for the past and paranormal, which inspires her writing to explore dimensions of time, love, and the soul. She debuted in 2014 with Seven for a Secret (in which a Jazz Age tragedy haunts a modern woman’s love life), and her award-winning short story “Four Somethings & a Sixpence” (about a bride who gets a little something she didn’t register for) was released in 2015. What the Clocks Know is her second novel.

Learn more about Rumer at:
Website – http://www.rumerhaven.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/rumerhaven
Twitter – @RumerHaven

Thank you for coming, Rumer, and for revealing all those Easter eggs.

As for the novel, What the Clocks Know,  I can attest to its excellence because I helped with the final editing, so am privileged to have read it.

Hong Kong Whirl

Despite not having packed my case,
I spent the morning at Esther’s place,
Where, guided by our experienced mentor,
We budding writers, who number four,
Ate, drank, talked and laughed,
Our misunderstandings often quite daft.

Our driver, Ilan, carted luggage and all,
And talked all the way to the terminal,
Where we boarded our El Al 747,
Stomachs full of sushi heaven,
And sat in seats our boarding cards did show
Only to be told we’d got the wrong row!

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Eleven hours later we travellers three
Arrived in a thoroughly modern city.
Soon clutching train cards, money and SIMs,
On the Metro we dragged our weary limbs
To our hotel suite with a view that was lacking,
Though we found the inside to be quite cracking.

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Son promptly lay down and soon was out,
But the two of us needed to get out and about.
Along one long street we exercised our paws,
Amazed to  see so many jewellery stores.
At the end we reached the view we did seek:
Over water to the island and Victoria Peak.

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Next day we walked on an island called Lamma
In temperatures that felt almost like summer.
Lamma for us means why, oh why
Do we climb up and up and up so high,
Only to get to the top and descend
Once again to reach the end?

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Every day, without fail,
We walked along another trail
Dragon’s Back and Maclehose
And Hong Kong are some of those.
The amazing views from Victoria Peak
And Lantau Island are unique.

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Each evening we ate with a new ambience:
From Italy, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and France.
The hotel breakfasts, laid out as buffet,
Gave us plenty of choice every day.
The food on the plane, on the other hand,
Was aeroplane food, okay but bland.

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On the last day, we visited Kowloon Park
Before we really had to embark
On a journey that took us all the way back
To the place where our cases we could unpack.
Not London, Paris, Madrid or Rome,
But Jerusalem — home sweet home.

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Welcome Back! (From our plum tree)

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