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Books Letters from Elsewhere

Letters from Elsewhere: Dan

Letters from Elsewhere

Well, well, well! I didn’t think this feature would return, but here it is, brought out from the woodwork by eighteen-year-old student, Dan, who is keen to show us a letter to his younger sister, Sharon.

Dan has popped over from the pages of Revelation, a new novel by friend and author, Jo Fenton. In fact Revelation was released just three days ago.

Dear Sis,

Thanks for your letter. It’s great to know that I have one family member who cares about me. I can’t talk too freely here for reasons you understand only too well. How is Dad? Did he see my last effort?

I was too upset to say much when I last wrote, and I had a bad headache, which I’ll explain more about today. I think I just mentioned that my friend, Rick, was found… I can’t even write the word. My hand’s shaking so much, but you can probably see that from my writing. I hope it’s not too illegible.

They still don’t know if it was accidental or if someone hurt him on purpose, but he was such an amazing person. Why would anyone like that have enemies?

Becky’s trying to find out more. I think I told you about her last term. She’s pretty cool, and a good friend. I found out we’d met a while back through a national Jewish youth weekend. Somehow she remembered me. I’ve no idea why. I don’t usually stand out in a crowd. As you know, I’m usually the quiet, geeky one in the corner.

Anyway, to go back to that day, Becky reminded me that I was the last person to see Rick alive, and I freaked out and went for a long walk. It was so cold that day, and it started to snow. I slipped and hit my head on the ground. As you know, I’m not good with the red stuff, and I passed out on top of everything.

I came round to find this bloke squatting on the ground next to me. His name’s Alan, and he’s very kind. He’s some sort of religious leader, and he’s into Kabbalah – you know – Jewish mysticism.

You remember we were told in Hebrew classes that no one can start learning that stuff before the age of 40? He thinks that’s a load of rubbish, and that everyone should be able to access it when needed. He wants to help me, and told me about his group when he took me to the hospital to get my head stitched.

I’m not sure if it’ll help. There’s a hole inside me the size of a glacier and twice as cold. I can’t breathe sometimes.

The only time I felt like this was when Mum passed away. It took well over a year before I began to feel anything close to normal again, and I dread each anniversary, birthday or Mother’s Day. I know you feel the same. Dad never seems to care. He’s too busy with his blasted business.

Maybe in a year I’ll begin to feel normal about this too, but that feels a lifetime away, and the only way I’m going to get through this is with you and Becky, and perhaps with this guy Alan (who, I’d better add, is not my type. Excuse the small writing here – hopefully too small for his lordship to read.)

Look after yourself. I hope you’re okay. The phone situation here is crap. 1 phone between 46 people. Maybe if it’s quiet one evening, I’ll be able to give you a call. Don’t hold your breath though.

Love Dan.

If, like me, you’re left with a lot of questions, who know where to find the answers.

About RevelationRevelation by Jo Fenton

Manchester, 1989

A student, Rick, is found dead in halls of residence.

His friends get caught up in the aftermath: Dan, who was in love with Rick; and Becky, who is in love with Dan.

Their fraught emotions lead them into dark places – particularly a connection to a mysterious Kabbalistic sect.

Will Becky discover who killed Rick in time to save her best friend?

Find Revelation on Amazon.

Jo’s two previous books are also on Amazon: The Brotherhood and The Refuge.

About Jo Fenton

Jo FentonJo Fenton grew up in Hertfordshire. She devoured books from an early age and, at eleven, discovered Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer. She now has an eclectic and much loved book collection cluttering her home office.

Jo combines an exciting career in Clinical Research with an equally exciting but very different career as a writer of psychological thrillers.

When not working, she runs (very slowly), and chats to lots of people. She lives in Manchester with her family and is an active and enthusiastic member of two writing groups and two reading groups.

You can find Jo on social media at her website, Facebook and Twitter.

Categories
Israel SIM Talks with Miriam Social anxiety

SIM Talk 2: Jo Fenton

#SIMTalksWithMiriam

For the second SIM Talk, I welcome back Jo Fenton to the blog. She brought Tina to Letters From Elsewhere, and also wrote a lovely post for my other blog. I wonder which of the three topics – Social anxiety, Israel, Misunderstandings – she’s going to talk about…

Jo FentonWhen I was 19 I went on a six-week trip to Israel. It was my first visit there and I was very excited. The main purpose of the trip was to work as a youth leader in a summer camp in Ashkelon, under supervision of a Hebrew speaking youth worker.

I went as part of a group, and there was to be time afterwards for touring the country. I had foolishly planned to do the touring with a young man who was the friend of an ex-boyfriend! More to follow on that subject…

I was a shy, nervous nineteen year old. Although I’d had a fantastic time during my first year at Uni, being away with a group of strangers brought all my social anxiety to the fore.

There were some lovely people in the group, particularly amongst the girls, and I did make some friends. I’m not sure if it helped that my closest friend in the group was a recovering anorexic, and the other girls and I spent a lot of our time making sure she ate, and trying to convince her that her view of her body image was distorted. At the time, I didn’t realise how similar I was to her in many ways, having an inaccurate view of myself due to the unkind comments of just a few.

There was a young man amongst the group – an attractive-looking guy with a charming smile and a Scottish accent. I don’t know if he understood how hurtful he was when he commented almost daily on my nervous laugh. Perhaps he was stupid enough to think he was helping me. Not surprisingly the more he commented, the more nervous my laugh became!

ashkelonsunset
Ashkelon (photo by David Drori)

Ashkelon was beautiful. I loved working with the kids, many of whom came from deprived homes; but who were lively, cheeky and resilient. It felt great to be able to do something worthwhile with them. The highlight of each week was the Israeli dancing on the beach, where we would dress up, enjoy ourselves, and socialise. I kept away as much as I could from the young Scotsman. My anxiety always returned ten-fold whenever he was near. I spent several weekends with the girls in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and fell in love with the country.

Eventually the time arrived for us to say goodbye to the children, and go off on our more extended travels. My ex’s friend, whom I shall name P to save anyone embarrassment, agreed to do a brief tour taking in Lake Tiberias and Netanya before meeting the girls back in Tel Aviv for the flight home.

P refused to accompany me to Masada and the Dead Sea as he had already been. Without knowing it, he did me a favour, as I’m sure I got much more out of the trip to those fantastic places when I visited with my husband, sons and my mum last year!

From the minute we set off on the bus towards Tiberias, he started moaning: I was cramping his style. The fact we appeared to be travelling together meant that all his potential girlfriends would be put off from approaching him. This complaint continued throughout the three days we spent in each other’s company. He thought nothing of my own feelings, but by then, I was so downtrodden, the idea of me getting a boyfriend seemed a million miles away. One thing I was certain though – he was not on the list!

Overall, the trip did little for my confidence. All the anxiety that had been squashed during my first year as a student, returned in full force thanks to these somewhat insensitive young men. It was not until I met my husband-to-be a few months later, that some confidence returned.

Looking back, I see that I shouldn’t have allowed these individuals to get to me, any more than my anorexic friend should have been affected by the idiots who joked that she was fat. (She was the opposite!) I’m happy to say that I haven’t been criticised for my laugh or my existence since then, and as stated above, I returned to Israel for a most enjoyable and fulfilling trip with my family last year.

Ah, the tribulations of the young! I’m so glad you had a much better experience on your second visit. Thank you, Jo, for that entertaining account, which includes all three topics of the series!

Jo Fenton grew up in Hertfordshire. She devoured books from an early age, particularly enjoying adventure books, school stories and fantasy. She wanted to be a scientist from aged six after being given a wonderful book titled “Science Can Be Fun”. At eleven, she discovered Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer, and now has an eclectic and much loved book collection cluttering her home office.

Jo combines an exciting career in Clinical Research with an equally exciting but very different career as a writer of psychological thrillers.

When not working, she runs (very slowly), and chats to lots of people. She lives in Manchester with her husband, two sons, a Corgi and a tankful of tropical fish. She is an active and enthusiastic member of two writing groups and a reading group.

Her first novel, The Brotherhood, is available from Amazon.

The sequel, The Refuge, will be released this summer by Crooked Cat Books.

Jo can be found on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

Categories
Books Israel Reviews

The Boring News

Hello and welcome to a bit of calm in a turbulent part of the world. Compared to what’s happening to a million people a bit further south, what I have to tell you seems insignificant.

But I wanted to tell you about a book I enyoyed very much.

The Brotherhood

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.The Brotherhood by Jo Fenton is a psychological thriller that had me hooked from the beginning and never let me go.

My review doesn’t do justice to it, but I tried. Basically, I think you should read it.

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This blog will be back with another in the series Letters from Elsewhere on 31st August. See you then!

Miriam Drori

 

Categories
Books Social anxiety

The Word

Have You Heard the Word?

Say the word and you’ll be free
Say the word and be like me
Say the word I’m thinking of
Have you heard the word is…

INCREDIBLY

Yes. If you live in the UK, listen to yourselves, listen to others, listen especially to Radio 4. This is the word you’ll hear more than all others. Nothing is very or really or amazingly any longer. Oh no! INCREDIBLY is the all-encompassing word.

It’s so fine, it’s sunshine
It’s the word…

Back in 1965 the word was love, but now the word is INCREDIBLY.

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I had slots in three book launch parties recently and popped into others. Congratulations to:

I’ve read Heathcliff, which is excellent (or should I say: incredibly good?). I’m reading The Brotherhood, which promises to be excellent, too. I have yet to read the others, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy them. After all, they’re all published by Crooked Cat, which has published some incredibly good books. And mine.

—0—

This week, I read a blog post by Social Anx that resonated with me. In fact, I thought it incredibly powerful, even though not everything in it applies to me. It inspired a post of my own on the other blog.

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See you next Friday. I hope the week works out incredibly well for you!

Categories
Books Everyday life Israel Rhymes

Look What They’ve Done

Today, instead of Letters from Elsewhere, here’s a post about me, to catch up with some of the things I’ve done since… whenever.

The other day, I wrote two new verses to an old song. They’re inspired by a strange phenomenon: rain.

Look what they’ve done to my June, Ma

Look what they’ve done to my June, Ma.
Look what they’ve done to my June.
Well it’s the only thing they could do half right,
And it’s turning out all wrong, Ma.
Look what they’ve done to my June.

Look what they’ve done to my sun, Ma.
Look what they’ve done to my sun.
Well, they took some clouds and made them black
And covered up the sun, Ma.
Look what they’ve done to my sun.

Yes, it’s been raining heavily in various parts of the country, but not so heavily in Jerusalem. There has been flooding. One of the most afflicted towns was Sderot. You’d think they’ve had enough to contend with without the weather joining in.

It never rains in June in Israel. Don’t they know that?

If you don’t know the original song, I’m sure you can find it on Youtube. “Look what they’ve done to my song.”

I’ve appeared on a few other blogs:

Author

Topic

My Post

C.J. Sutton

Fear

A Fear of People

Carrie-Ann Schless

Diary Entry

Noname’s Diary

Megan Mayfair

Espresso Tales

Coffee with Miriam Drori

Val Penny

My Writing Story

If you’d told me I was going to be a writer

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I’ve hosted two authors on the social anxiety blog: Jo Fenton and Val Penny.

I hosted characters on this blog in Letters from Elsewhere:

Character

From

By

Tina

The Brotherhood

Jo Fenton

DI Hunter Wilson

Hunter’s Chase, Hunter’s Revenge

Val Penny

Joseph Flynn

Heart of Stone

John Jackson

Anne

The Road to Newgate

Kate Braithwaite

Harriet

Harriet of Hare Street

Angela Rigley

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And I was delighted to receive this from a grateful customer.

Me with Chasing the Case

Yes, I was the editor for this lovely novel: Chasing the Case by Joan Livingston.

And I have lots of new and exciting ideas for my writing. If I stop sleeping, I might be able to put them into practice. Who needs sleep, anyway?

Happy reading! See you next Friday for another Letter from Elsewhere!

Categories
Books Letters from Elsewhere

Letters from Elsewhere: Tina

Letters from Elsewhere

I think I’ve found a kindred spirit today! She seems timid. Many would call her shy, but I’ve always been wary of using that term for others, because I never agreed when it was applied to me. Tina has brought a letter she wrote to her friend, Melissa, who vanished a while ago. Apart from that, she seems too anxious to get involved in a conversation. Let’s read the letter; that might explain her reticence… either that or the book blurb below.

Tina comes from The Brotherhood by Jo Fenton, due for release on 25th July.

To my dear best friend Melissa,

It’s been ages since I saw you. I still can’t believe you disappeared without a word, but Dominic said you had to go away to rest. For some reason he thought it would be easier for everyone if you didn’t say goodbye.

He was wrong. It’s been awful not really knowing where you are. Everyone is missing you. Mark’s constant scowl would turn all the milk in the Abbey sour. I’m almost scared to speak to him now. He just snaps everyone’s head off. He did apologise to me yesterday, but he said something very strange, Mel. He said he wished he knew where you were! How can he not know? I didn’t like to ask him though…

I wish I knew how to find you. I think Thomas does. He’s started leaving me alone more – such a relief – and he said it’s because of you, but he wouldn’t explain why. If you’ve seen him and said something to stop him from … well, you know… then I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’m actually starting to feel almost safe.

If only you were back!

Take care, dear friend, and look after yourself. I hope you’ll be back soon.

Lots of love

Tina xx

About The Brotherhood

The BrotherhoodThe Brotherhood – safe haven or prison?

After her parents’ sudden death, a grieving Melissa falls back on her faith and into the welcoming arms of a religious sect. Captivated by their leader, Dominic, she leaves her old life behind and moves to the countryside to join them.

But life in The Brotherhood is not as safe as it first appeared. When engineer Mark joins The Brotherhood, Melissa finds herself conflicted between her growing feelings for him and her crush on Dominic. With their leader’s initial encouragement, Melissa and Mark grow close.

But as her haven becomes a prison, Melissa’s newfound happiness is destroyed by Dominic’s jealousy. How can she escape and save the ones she loves?

You can pre-order The Brotherhood now on Amazon.

About Jo Fenton

Jo FentonJo Fenton grew up in Hertfordshire. She devoured books from an early age, particularly enjoying adventure books, school stories and fantasy. She wanted to be a scientist from aged six after being given a wonderful book titled Science Can Be Fun. At eleven, she discovered Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer, and now has an eclectic and much loved book collection cluttering her home office.

Jo combines an exciting career in Clinical Research with an equally exciting but very different career as a writer of psychological thrillers.

When not working, she runs (very slowly), and chats to lots of people. She lives in Manchester with her husband, two sons, a Corgi and a tankful of tropical fish. She is an active and enthusiastic member of two writing groups and a reading group.

Find Jo on Twitter and Facebook.