Be Careful What You Wish For

I received an invitation last week to join the new social media site Ello, so that in itself should tell you its clearly not that exclusive if they let me join. Like yourselves I’d read all the reviews and thought I’d see for myself what it’s all about particularly as we’ve all discussed many times our frustrations with Facebook.

I was delighted to find an eclectic mix of very talented creative people; a bit like yourselves! In my first couple of days I was invited to take part in a Flash Fiction project so taking all that I’ve learned from the Queen of Flash Fiction, Valentine over at QBG_Tilted Tiara, I rolled up my sleeves and got stuck in. It probably helped that I was partnered with the talented photographer Ricardo over at Porto Street Shooting. So basically this is the fruits of our labour; hope you like it! And if any of you are already on Ello, give me a holler!

It was wrong; she knew it was wrong. If only she hadn’t uncorked that second bottle of Shiraz which had been the start of her undoing. Well that’s not exactly true, her problems started way before; six months’ ago to be precise when the conniving tattooed harlot had moved into the house next door.

Now she was damned and was going to Hell as Father Mullaney had constantly predicted when she was forced to attend Sunday school several lifetimes’ ago. She was strangely comforted knowing that the old bugger had been right all along so she couldn’t help but smile as she poured herself another glass of the Shiraz.

During their courtship Rick, her husband, frequently teased her about her strict Catholic upbringing but over the last few years the gentle teasing had developed into more sinister accusations of being cold and frigid. So it was no surprise that it didn’t take him long to notice the manipulative minx next door and pretty soon he was popping over there on the pretence of mowing her lawn or clearing her guttering despite the fact that their roof had been leaking throughout the winter. Whilst she struggled alone to unblock drains her next-door neighbour enjoyed her husband’s attentive ministrations.

But that had all changed today with the uncorking of that second bottle. The kitchen door banged opened and she anxiously asked “Is it over?” her voice shook slightly as she emptied the bottle into the second glass. A hand snaked out to take the crystal goblet from her as a warm light kiss brushed her neck.

“I dumped the body in the quarry, they’ll never find him” the conniving harlot whispered.

tattoo

The Great Escape (Part Two)

If you missed Part One you can catch it here

The following day Barbs and I discussed strategy over a hearty breakfast at the local organic café as my mother insists on giving us porridge, muesli, prunes to keep us “regular” but superheroes can’t march on granola alone and neither would it help hone my cat-like reflexes ahead of our stealth invasion.

As soon as we had finished our Big Girls’ Breakfast we returned home to gather “intel” for the covert mission ahead. Two discarded Toy Story walkie talkies were retrieved from the loft where the kids had left them a fair few years’ ago. The fact that they were now in my possession suggested that they were some toys you never outgrew and some adults who never grew up.

With the batteries replaced they were as good as new and the range so clear that I could probably have safely guided a Boeing 747 in to land on my Dad’s lovingly cultivated lawn.

Barbs’ late mother used to knit balaclavas which would have been ideal for the job in hand but sadly as she was no longer with us I had to make do with one of my Dad’s old gardening hats but as I picked up the scissors to insert eye holes my mother snapped “Deborah, don’t be using my good scissors for those” As opposed to the naughty ones!

We spent the next couple of hours assembling our outfits for the covert mission ahead and agreed on our radio pseudonyms; Barbs would be “Roller Chick” and I would be “Lawn Mower Girl” for use over the airwaves. We giggled as we finalised the details of our cunning plan and envisioned victoriously retrieving all our lost booty. We waited until midnight or the witching hour, which as you know is when Barbs and I do our best work.

It was a clear crisp night with a full moon and having disconnected our security light we snaked over to the privet hedge. I tried to persuade Barbs as the littlest and most lithe to venture across the great divide but she wisely declined which meant that I was going to have to be the one to defend the family honour.

“Now be careful with that garden shed; it was put together on a wing and a prayer like all his other DIY projects. One slight tap and the roof’ll fall off” hissed Barbs.

As I struggled to heave my ample bottom over the hedge I couldn’t help but think it would have been a damn sight easier if we’d got the local WICCA coven (one of the members makes jam with the old dear at the Women’s Institute) to create some potion or other for us; one that involved a good deal of discomfort, of course.

Sitting astride the hedge with the blackberry brambles ripping me to shreds, Barbs handed me the walkie-talkie and as I slid down into enemy territory, I nodded “See you on the other side” as they do in the movies.

Having landed safely on Turbo’s decking, I crawled across to the shed. Crouching I gingerly reached up for the handle and carefully opened the door.

“Lawn Mower Girl calling Roller Chick, come in Roller Chick” I hissed into the walkie-talkie “I’m going in”.

I sneaked into the shed to retrieve as many familiar items as I could and handed them across the hedge to Barbs who was stood on tiptoe on the other side. After locating my Dad’s last spade, I whispered into the handset “mission accomplished Roller Chick, I’m coming home”. However, my excitement was short-lived as suddenly there was a creak followed by a large groan and the shed collapsed leaving me holding just the door handle.

Immediately the light in the upstairs window came on and I hightailed it back to the safety of the hedge. Across the airwaves, Barbs dulcet tones screamed “abort, abort”.

Well aren’t you a little late to the party, my little vertically challenged friend I thought as I scampered over the top of the hedge. I was literally one minute away from being undetected when the bedroom window swung open and a torch was shone in my direction.

“Who’s there? Dallas, is that you?”

Cringing with embarrassment I recovered quickly informing him that we were doing a little blackberry picking as a surprise for the old fella’s breakfast. He asked if I’d seen any intruders and with a sharp intake of breath I shook my head unconvincingly.

Hedgehogs” I exclaimed “loads of them around this time of year looking for somewhere to hibernate”

Without missing a beat that’s when my partner in crime piped up “they’d have to be ninja hedgehogs on steroids to bring a shed down”. After throwing me under the bus, she giggled softly “told you to be careful, didn’t I.”

Turbo scratched his head and said “Can’t understand it but the instructions were in Japanese so I just bodged it when I was putting it up. I’ll get your Dad to give me a hand with it in the morning.”

Relieved that we’d dodged a bullet, I  realised I was in dire need of  some fortification so we had a shot of my Dad’s dandelion wine but after Barb’s flagrant display of disloyalty I decided to save the good stuff until she’d departed for home.

hedgehog

No Hedgehogs were harmed during the writing of this post

We’re All Gifted, We Just Unwrap Our Packages At Different Times

Hello friends, it’s been a while. This past month well real life has taken over, I even had my bestie for a visit and her new-found hobby of roller skating was the focus for a week; but that really is a story for another day.

Sadly these days I’m up at 5am to start work and return to be carer, gardener, scrubber, shopper extraordinaire. I don’t get to spend as much time blogging as I would like but I think of you all often but ironically when we’re up against it, the thing we enjoy the most tends to be the thing which is sidelined. I’d love to keep up with you all so you can find me on either Twitter or Facebook. My other announcement is that I have started serialising “The Honeymoon Stories” on Wattpad. It’s still early days and I certainly couldn’t have done it without two years of support and encouragement from the best bloggers in the world (you might want to check out the dedication on Chapter One)

As I’m late to the Wattpad party, I would be happy to hear from any of you that are frequent users and have any tips or suggestions for me.

So signing off for now but I hope you all find time to do what makes you happy this weekend.

With fondest thoughts and a grateful heart, your blogging friend Dallas

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The Quiet Place

Each of us has a quiet place, somewhere where we go to write, reflect, create or just be alone. Of late I seem to have lost the key or forgotten the combination to the door of my secret place. Overlooked or misplaced either way I am struggling to find my way in where previously the door had somehow always been left ajar.

I envy my father in that way, that the second he plucks at a weed or picks up a shovel he becomes blissfully immersed and emotionally invested in his joyful occupation whilst the worries of the world just slip away. I seem to have lost my way to my own happy place and writing no longer beckons me or offers me solace in the way it has before. I envy those that find comfort in much-loved pastimes but I have always struggled to write if my soul is in disquiet.

Maybe all I really need is a little faith, trust and pixie dust but there again it might be that old familiar thief called time has stolen away my happy place when I wasn’t looking. What will help me find my way back? I’m not sure but when I find that magical road map, I’ll let you know.

So wherever you are today, I hope you find your quiet place and spend it doing just what makes you happy.

And then there were four!

And then there were four!

The Writing Process Blog Hop

Delighted and grateful to have had the baton handed to me from the very lovely Eva over at The best and the worst via Twitter no less!

Myself and the other nominees have all become familiar with each other’s work from a daily Twitter event #BePositiveHour inspired by AKA Literary Agent Terrie Wolf. So if you are in dire need of a positive thought or have one to share then pop on over between 3pm-4pm. Although, I usually contribute prior to going off to work to fight the good fight with the Evil Queen; as it’s a bit like putting on my titanium-reinforced deflector shield pants in my war against the dark side.

The challenge is to answer four questions regarding my writing process, so without further ado here goes:

What are you working on?
As most of you know my Dad had a stroke last October which left him semi-paralysed so in-between working full-time and being the main carer there are just not enough hours in the day so regrettably the current answer to this one, is very little! However, I do still blog and I am writing additional chapters to the Honeymoon Stories as I’m hoping that particular story ain’t over yet.

How does your work differ from others in the genre?
I write adult fiction or chicklit based on real-life events and people mainly about life as an expat living in Turkey with the mad, bad & downright crazy and Devon village life with my eccentric family & neighbours ; although the names have been changed to protect the innocent. I would say that my style is wholesome and gentle with a shedload of humour & occasional tear thrown in but I don’t like to pigeon-hole myself too much and would rather readers make up their own minds.

Why do you write what you write?
Well I started this blog two years’ ago whilst working in a dusty little Turkish shop in-between serving customers when I was a real “Billy No Mates” having just relocated to a new country miles away from my family. Its made me a better writer as have all of you but as you know being an avid people watcher, real life, people and events inspire me. Even photographs speak to me almost begging me to write their story and being a good listener I’m fortunate that others share their stories with me too. An inscription in an old book or gravestone can also have me wondering about the life of the person concerned, were they loved,were they happy and what were their dreams?

How does your writing process work?
I handwrite all my original ideas into an A5 notebook with a fountain pen which somehow makes it all the more special for me. I then type it up onto my laptop and start the hideous process of editing which takes me forever and leaves me feeling like I’m chewing my own tongue. I agonise for days before publishing just one blog post and afterwards always feel that I could have phrased something better or done it differently.

So now its over to you! I know that we all have demands on our very busy lives so everyone & anyone, new or experienced bloggers are invited to participate with no pressure and those that do please put your post links in the comments under this post so that we can get to know you too. Well, go on what are you waiting for …..

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Photograph by one of my talented blogging friends Rhonda over @ 50 Shades of Gray Hair

Paying It Forward

I remember starting this blog in a dusty little shop in Turkey when I had started a new life in a foreign land with few friends to call upon. It was then that the wonderful world of blogging brought all these amazing new friends into my life from all corners of the globe and introduced this shop girl to a world of infinite possibilities.

In just under two years I have made some amazing friends, shared tears & laughter, become a better writer and fought the good fight against bullies and the like. I started this year determined to make a change and take the time to celebrate successes. For example did you know that in recent weeks Kitt Crescendo @ theinnerwildkat published her book, Kerry Aslan over @ Earth Laughs in Flowers launched a hugely popular Home Cooking for Expats Facebook Page, Marianne @ East of Malaga needed our votes

Marinanne's entry

Marinanne’s entry

and Megan & everybody’s favourite little man Tedstar @ Cowboys and Crossbones filmed a pilot for a reality TV show?

I have been so fortunate with the support that I have received from all of you that it has become important to me to pay it back in some way, so without further ado I announce the launch of the 2014 Club which I hope will encompass all of our triumphs and accomplishments. To be included in the month’s Roll of Honour, please email me your good news to crazytraintotinkytown@hotmail.com (what else) or a request for help from our fellow bloggers and each month I will run a post acknowledging all our outstanding achievements and good news. I hope that it will inspire, motivate and encourage the rest of us into working a little harder to achieve our dreams and also remind us that anything & everything is possible.

Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you

Megan & Tedstar Reality TV Stars

Megan & Tedstar Reality TV Stars

You Had Me At The Proper Use of “You’re”!

One of my pet peeves is poor grammar and spelling or more specifically substituting the English language for abbreviated text talk. I have frequently been astonished by the standard of homework that my nieces have submitted but even more stunned by the marks that they have received for said homework. Had I presented misspelled and grammatically incorrect essays like as not it would have earned me a visit to the Headmistress’s study for a spot of not so gentle one on one coaching with a ruler and someone who resembled the Dolores Umbridge character from Harry Potter.

When exactly did content become more important than learning key skills and technique? Surely it is these core skills that will provide the foundation for the standards that young people will use in their chosen career. Attention to detail is often one of the most important criteria for many job roles; so ask yourself would you want someone with scant regard for quality, managing your accounts or installing your electrical wiring.

Are we expecting too much when even the online version of our local newspaper is peppered with spelling mistakes; let’s be honest automatic spellcheck is not rocket science. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a supposedly professional publication to be a champion of their nation’s language.

Maybe I’m placing too much emphasis on what is fast becoming an outdated notion so what do you think?

Starting next “A Bit of a Do” which will be the next episode of the Serial Shagger saga and how we did actually get to make it up the aisle …..

Dolores-Umbridge

No Good Deed Ever Goes Unpunished

I think it’s fair to say that this week has been full of trials and tribulations for us and today was no exception. Unfortunately, on Thursday my Dad suffered his second stroke but despite being waited on by a bevy of lovelies at hospital, who even woke him at 6am on Friday to wish him Happy Birthday with a cup of tea, he decided he wanted to come home for the weekend. Clearly, the strong medication had rendered him immune to my impeccable driving skills.

As my Dad likes to read a daily newspaper I stopped at the local newsagent on the way home from the hospital, as I entered the shop I noticed a small black cat curled up by the door and having seen it there all week assumed it belonged to one of the local villagers. When I mentioned it to the shop assistant he informed me that its previous owners had been the tenants in the flat above the shop but had done a moonlight flit leaving their pet behind to fend for himself some four weeks’ ago. Whilst some of the villagers had left scraps out for it no one had come forward to offer it a home leaving the poor defenceless creature exposed to all the elements.

I couldn’t resist stopping to stroke him on the way out as he cowered against the wall and noticed he was a very young cat so made the decision there and then to return home for a cat box hoping to drop him off at the local shelter. The terrified & hungry little boy offered no resistance as I scooped it up into the carrier and with my Dad riding shotgun headed off in the direction of the rescue centre.

When we got to the reception area at the shelter I was dismayed to find that there was no room at the inn and furthermore, I was advised to return him to “where I had found him”. This was never going to be an option for me and we drove homeward bound with our new friend.

As I unloaded the car I was dreading my mother’s inevitable lecture which would start with “Deborah, the trouble with you is that you don’t think”. Sadly ‘tis true as we all know I do all my thinking with my heart and deal with the consequences later. Whilst I was bracing myself for the verbal onslaught, one of my elderly neighbours, Geoff hailed me enquiring about my Dad’s health and commented on my new little friend trembling in the cat box. I told him the sad story and said that I hadn’t been able to secure him a place in a rescue centre but assured him that I would find the kitten a good home.

Geoff and his wife, Muriel had been married to each other for many years and had lived in their current home for over forty. Muriel had once confided in me they had never been blessed with children but had made the best of being favourite “aunty & uncle” to many generations of village children. I have never understood why some people who would make the most magnificent parents frequently aren’t whilst some that couldn’t responsibly raise an ant farm are bestowed with the precious gift of children.

Muriel and Geoff had given every spare ounce of love to their various beloved rescue animals over the years and had been devastated earlier in the year when their much-loved cat had succumbed to a fatal illness. They had felt then that they would be unable to ever replace him and had donated all his bedding and toys to a local shelter. I remember saying at the time that some small creature would find a way into their hearts when the time was right and a home was needed.

Somehow I wasn’t surprised when they both turned up at our door a short while later saying they’d come for our new lodger; just like that the little boy had found the best home in the world. We rushed around finding bedding, cat litter and packets of food for the newly named little “Kismet” and the last time I saw him as I left their home last night, he was sleeping curled up on their sumptuous duvet. I could hearing him purring as I climbed all the way down the stairs and as I strolled home the world seemed a brighter place knowing that some fairy-tales did indeed have a happy ending.

The thing about rescue animals is that they rescue you right back

Meet Kismet

Meet Kismet

A Sunday Well Spent Brings A Week Of Content

Our village lies within the boundaries of the city of Plymouth in Devon, a naval port and not forgetting home to Plymouth Gin which has been distilled here since 1793. As some of you may already know in 1588 Sir Francis Drake played his famous game of bowls on Plymouth Hoe before sailing out with the fleet to fight off the Spanish Armada and the Pilgrim Fathers left Plymouth in 1620 for the New World. Nancy Astor, became the first woman MP in 1919 representing the constituency of Sutton in Plymouth.

John Smeaton’s Eddystone Lighthouse was dismantled in 1877 brick by brick and brought back to Plymouth Hoe to be re-built and where it remains one of the city’s more prominent landmarks.

In the literary world in 1882 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle worked at friend’s medical practice here and later went on to write the Hounds of the Baskervilles set on Dartmoor. Aircraftsman Shaw also known as Lawrence of Arabia served with the RAF in Plymouth.

So that’s it from my neck of the woods, what’s happening in yours?

Named & Shamed

Some of you may know that I am at the querying stage with agents and publishers alike in the attempt to achieve Crazy Train to Tinky Town worldwide domination. Despite having the use of Microsoft spellcheck, there’s always something which I still manage to overlook. I also happen to think that editing your own work is a bit like chewing your own tongue and then gargling with vinegar.

So as one of my besties, Barbara Cheapskate Walshaw, was staying with us, I enrolled her in the unenviable task of proofreading my query. I also asked her whether if after reading this tagline on the back of a paperback in an airport concession, would she buy the book.

Without missing a heartbeat she replied “Depends how much it is”

And that’s why I should have kept all my imaginary friends!

My Former Friend Barbara "Bargain Bucket" Walshaw

My Former Friend Barbara “Bargain Bucket” Walshaw