There was only one thing I could do…

While I was teaching I had students who were perfectly capable of reading and were fluent readers… however, they were totally disengaged and had got out of the habit. As they were approaching public exams, it was important to get back into the way of reading – especially in English when they had to read set texts.

I started to write pieces for them, always with a cliff-hanger ending to get them back into it, and eventually these pieces became stories, and eventually, I published them! My three stories are available as paperbacks, and also as e-readers.

This is an extract from ‘Screaming King Harry’; Jo-Jo who tells the story lives with her parents in a pub, and one night observes her English teacher Henry King – known as King Harry, exchanging something for a wad of money. He realises he’s been see and then things begin to become dangerous for Jo-Jo and her family. The pub is set on fire in an arson attack…

There was only one thing I could do.
The brewery had fixed us up, Dad and Mum would manage a pub on the other side of town. We had to pack our bags and move out because although the smoke and water damage had been worse than the actual fire, we couldn’t live there for a while.
I told Mum and Dad it was too far to travel to school and that I was staying with a mate; I gave them a name and made up the address. I gave the school the name and address of a made up pub.
Then I camped out while I thought of what to do. I didn’t literally camp outside, although I had been in the Scouts when I was a kid and knew all about camping. The Scouts met in a church hall and I knew a way into it. It was dry and not too cold and there was a toilet and kitchen and as long as I wasn’t there when other people were using it all would be OK. In the evenings, if the hall was in use I sat in the church doing my homework – yeah I know it sounds boring, but I hadn’t anything else to do.
You see, the arson attack at the pub was aimed at me; I was putting everyone in danger. I couldn’t stay with my mates, or even be with them, just I case, and I definitely couldn’t stay with Mum and Dad, we could have died in the fire.
So, why didn’t I tell the Old Bill? Would they have believed me, or would they have believed King Harry? What do you think?

It worked fine for three days while I thought of what to do. On the morning of the fourth day, cold and not really feeling very clean, I decided on a course of action. It was the only thing.
I had to talk to King Harry; I would give in to his threats and bribes and blackmail. I would do anything if he’d leave me and my mum and dad alone – especially my mum and dad.
Sounds soft, but it’s only when someone’s in danger that your realise how important they are to you – and yeah, how much you love them.

I caught him on the corridor.
“Sir, can I see you?”
He looked surprised then wary.
“I hear you’ve had trouble at the pub,” he said.
The cheeky so-and-so! Too right we’d had trouble at the pub, trouble at the pub thanks to his majesty King Harry!
“We’re ok, sir,” I replied casually. “But I wondered if I could talk to you?”
He stared at me for a moment, his blue eyes dangerously blue. “I’m not free today and I’ve got a meeting after school.”
“I’m going to be working in the library, got a project to catch up on,” I said; also the library was warmer and cosier than the church hall.
“Come and find me when you’ve finished, then, or I can come and find you?”
My skin crawled.
“Fine sir, just fine.”

Day 12… NaNo update…

I was going to preface my update by saying it’s been such a busy time in my life… well, it seems these days all the time is a busy time! 2016 was the year of throwing things away – not into the rubbish (although some things did go there) but to charity shops, given to others, recycled… I cleared the decks of much clutter and our usually untidy home had some sort of order restored.  As with many families these days, children who fled the nest have, or are in the process of, returning – so suddenly all our lovely space is being filled up with … things! We are delighted to have them home but it just takes a little organising, to cram three households of stuff in together.

On the writing front I and my fellow bloggers on our Moving Dragons blog have been putting an anthology together, which is now published and available (and we would welcome your comments and reviews on Amazon), and I have at last made my reluctant readers books available on Etsy as actual books, and on Amazon as Kindle e-readers.

As well as my blog here, the Moving Dragons blog and the National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, which I shall tell you about in a minute, I am continuing to try to finish my next Radwinter book, in time to be published spring 2018… I am also hoping to produce my second Radwinter book as a paperback.

Oh, and there’s the rest of my life, including the creative writing classes I lead, the writing groups I go to, the French class and the Saxish class I attend… oh and meeting friends, going places… the usual stuff!

So… how has NaNo been going? I’ve mentioned that I intended to write about a long-standing character in search of a story… however he has wandered off, and instead I am writing about Milla who has come to my imaginary town of Easthope. She is a woman with a mystery past, which has not yet been revealed to the reader. Over the twelve days I have been writing about her, her character is gradually developing, especially as she is coming into contact with other people – the other people who live in the house where she’s renting a room, people in a café where she’s been working part-time, other people from around the town.

She has created what amounts a set of runes, which she is ‘reading’ each day, by taking one at random and bearing it in mind as the day progresses. In order to do this I do have a made up set of images which I am randomly picking out – so in a way the writing of the story is guided by chance. I have got to a point now, where I feel as if something has to happen… there has to be some action and movement to keep the reader engaged because otherwise this will just seem like the diary of an uneventful life – and even if there is some strange secret in Milla’s past, by the time it is revealed the reader won’t be reading any more!

Another thing has struck me which I must have a good think about – if I have time to think as I pound away trying to reach my target… Milla’s character. To be sure she is mysterious, but she is gradually changing into a stock female character without an actual character – she has no personality!

So that’s my task for the next few days, to discover her character, and make sure she is interesting and different!

Here is a link to our anthology:

The Moving Dragons Write:

And to my ‘Can read, won’t read series’: