How I Boosted My Confidence To Write And Publish My First Book – A True Story And Guest Post By Stephen Havard @StephenHavard

What’s stopping you from writing and publishing your first or next book?

What was it that helped you write and publish your first book?

You may be surprised by what it was that helped my guest Stephen Havard write and publish his first book. I’d never have guessed. But not only did it help Stephen write and publish his book, it also helped him with mental health problems he was encountering at the time.

A very warm welcome on Hugh’s Views And News to Stephen.

Blog banner for the blog post 'How I Boosted My Confidence To Write And Publish My First Book'
A guest blog post by Stephen Havard

It’s January 2011, and I was sitting at my desk at work feeling depressed. It had only just gone 4.30, and it was already starting to get dark, the grey drizzly day now being consumed by blackness. The advent of the shortest day last month hadn’t taken effect yet, and my mood was as dark as the picture outside the office window. 

Christmas had been great; time with the family and a period away from the laptop was just what I needed. Unfortunately, this had only been a brief respite, and here I was once again sitting before a computer in a job I hated more and more by the day.

I was stuck in the rat race with no way out, and it was draining the life out of me more and more. I needed something to spark me into life; the only question was what, though?

My job was the main issue, but the option to leave wasn’t possible right then. I had a young family to support and couldn’t just jump ship. I’d have to persevere with it for the time being and find another outlet to lighten my mood.

That outlet came unexpectedly to me a few weeks later as I browsed the BBC website and noticed that the quiz show ‘Pointless‘ was looking for contestants.

I’d loved quizzes from an early age and had even auditioned for another quiz show, 15-to-1, without success after leaving university in 1997. Over the intervening years, my passion for quizzing had remained, regularly going to pub quizzes and still avidly watching every quiz show on the TV. I had never applied for another quiz show, though.

Was this a sign?

Pointless was one of my favourite quiz shows and something that played into my relatively obscure knowledge. This contestant call which was now staring back at me was surely telling me to apply and once again try and get onto a TV quiz show.

I spoke to my wife, who was seated beside me and urged me to apply and follow my dream. She knew how much I hated my job, how it affected my mental health and made me quite hard to live with at times. She wanted me to be happy and believed that the simple act of applying for this quiz show would help in that regard.

So that very moment I applied, buoyed by the enthusiasm of my wife, I spent hours perfecting our application in the hope that what I was writing would be what the show wanted. I say ‘our application’ as my wife had agreed to be my partner on the show as well.

Now I’m not the most patient of people, and as the weeks passed without any news, I thought the worst. Had my attempt at TV stardom fallen at the first hurdle? The very thought that it probably had depressed me even further.

Over a month later, I was again sitting at my desk and facing a now-familiar dilemma. What was I going to do to get out of the malaise my life was currently in?

While I sat there debating the options, my phone started to ring. A quick glance at the screen told me it was from a private number, another bloody call centre, I guessed as I declined the call.

Less than a minute later, I heard the familiar beep that indicated a voicemail had been left. Strange, I thought as I picked up the phone and dialled my answerphone, those call centres don’t usually leave voice messages. And as I listened, my heart began to beat more quickly. The voice at the end of the line was from a casting researcher at Pointless who wanted me to ring them back!

And to cut a long story short, my wife and I seemed to impress them on that phone call, Cathy being rung moments after me.

Our successful telephone audition led us to a hotel in Cardiff a week later for a face-to-face audition.

Now, this was the scary bit. Not only did we have to impress the researchers there, but we also had to do it in front of a room of 30 other hopeful contestants.

I’m quiet by nature but knew I had to shine here and create a persona that the TV execs wanted on their show. Having my wife there helped me as she is naturally more outgoing and chattier than me. I treated that day as a job interview, I knew I had to impress, and that’s precisely what we did as a couple of months later we were at the BBC Television Centre in London recording our episode of Pointless.

Photo of Stephen Havard and his wife on the TV quiz show 'Pointless.'
Steve and his wife, Cathy, on the TV quiz show ‘Pointless.’

It was a day I’d never forget as we came away with a Pointless trophy and the jackpot!

So how does appearing on a daytime quiz show lead to me writing my first novel, I hear you ask.

Well, since that first quiz show appearance in 2011, I’ve auditioned and appeared in many more shows with various degrees of success. Quizzing has become a great passion, and I love to appear on TV to show off my knowledge and test myself against other great quizzers.

I’m also convinced that appearing on them vastly improved my confidence and helped with my mental health.

Writing a book had also been something I’d always wanted to do, but like most things, that passion had been put on the backburner with work and family life taking precedence.

Then in March 2020, lockdown happened, and my life, along with the rest of the country, changed utterly. I was ‘working from home’ permanently, and my daily commute of over 2 hours had suddenly disappeared.

Despite the awful circumstances of the pandemic and lockdown, I sensed this was an opportunity to follow that dream of writing a novel.

The only question was what to write about?

This had been a conundrum for so long and another reason why I hadn’t yet typed any words. Yet during those first few weeks of lockdown, the idea of my debut novel locked into place, and it was an idea that was staring me in the face all along if I’m being honest now. Why not write about my other great passion, that of quizzing!

And that’s what I did over the next seven months as ‘The Duel’ took shape. It incorporated the world of quizzing, which I knew well and required very little research with a murder mystery.

‘The Duel’ was self-published in November 2020 and has been well received by readers that have bought it. It’s a story I’m happy to have told at last, and I hope it may lead to a full-time writing career eventually (fingers crossed).


About Stephen Havard

Photo of Stephen Havard

Stephen Havard lives in Swansea, South Wales, with his wife and two children, he also has 2 stepchildren.

Currently working in the IT industry, he enjoys quizzing and watching Swansea City football club in his spare time.

His quizzing exploits have resulted in a few TV appearances, with varying degrees of success!

The Duel is Stephen’s first novel.

Connect With Stephen

Twitter

Amazon

Stephen’s Book – The Duel

Ashley White is desperate. An ill-advised investment in cryptocurrency has left him in financial meltdown, with the bank threatening to repossess his home and a wife that knows nothing about the mess he is in.

A new quiz show called ‘The Duel’ is about to hit the TV screens, offering a mouth-watering 2 million pounds to the winner. The show is to be hosted by Patrick Reed; the scandal-hit presenter who hopes it will revive his flagging career.

Ashley hopes the show can be his way out of his financial problems and does all that is necessary to appear, even when those things have murderous intent.

Image of the book The Duel by Stephen Havard
The Duel – by Stephen Havard

Available on Amazon UK

Available on Amazon.Com

My thanks to Stephen for writing this guest post.

If you have any questions or comments for Stephen, please leave them in the comments section. He’d be delighted to hear from you.

If you enjoy reading true stories, check out these previously published true stories

Supernatural Encounters – True Stories And A Guest Blog Post By Victoria Zigler @VictoriaZigler

Please welcome author, writer and blogger, Victoria Zigler to my blog.

Just in time for Halloween, Victoria shares some true stories of supernatural encounters she has experienced, including one about a missing bath plug.

Have you had any strange, supernatural encounters?

Do you have a true story you’d like to share on my blog? Contact me via theContact Hugh’ button on the menubar.

Copyright © 2022 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Watch Out For The Matador! – A True Story And Guest Post By Sally Cronin @sgc58

I’m delighted to welcome Sally Cronin to my blog today, sharing a true story that had me laughing all day after I read it. It bought back many happy memories of a similar nature for me, especially some of the parts I played in school plays and amateur dramatics.

Watch Out For The Matador – A True Story by Sally Cronin

Many of you will know Sally from her successful blog where she is constantly helping to promote the works of bloggers, authors and writers alike.

Will Sally’s story have you as staged-struck and laughing in the aisles as I was after reading it?


My two sisters who were ten and eleven years older than I was, both trained as secretaries, which led to them having some interesting and high level jobs over the years.

However, I decided at an early age that I wanted to be a singer and actress! The desire to follow this career path was my mother’s fault really. Apart from the fact that she had a bit of a flair for the dramatic, she manipulated me into being her co-conspirator every Saturday afternoon.

My father loved football, and after he had cooked us one of his Spaghetti Bolognese lunches, followed by steamed treacle duff as he called them, we would retire to the lounge where our television took pride of place. I would have been about seven or eight at the time and my mother would coerce me into facilitating her viewing pleasure; the Saturday afternoon musical on BBC2.

Of course this conflicted with the afternoon football offering by Grandstand on BBC1. Fortunately my father had a weakness. Stoked up with carbohydrates and sugars from lunch, within 10 minutes of the match starting, he would be stretched out in his recliner, snoring.

In the good old days it was necessary to get up and down to switch channels, and this is where I came in.

As soon as my father began snoring, my mother would nudge me, and I would creep across the carpet to turn the channel over to BBC2 and the Saturday musical. Things did get a little hectic at times if there was a temporary change to my father’s breathing. At a shove from my mother, I would leap up from the sofa, dash across the room and switch channels back to the football. My father would watch blearily for about five minutes then resume his afternoon nap.

This would happen several times during the course of the movie, and as the final credits scrolled up the screen, I would turn the channel back over to BBC 1. My father would wake up to enjoy the cup of tea my mother had made, convinced he had watched 90 minutes of fancy footwork, but not the kind we had been watching.

This Saturday afternoon ritual fuelled my love of dancing and singing. My heart and soul burned to be the lead, dancing and singing my way through the performances like Ginger Rogers, Esther Williams (yes I would have done synchronised swimming if called for) Deborah Kerr, Mitzi Gaynor etc.

I had seen South Pacific at age ten and I would have even taken the role of Bloody Mary given half the chance. I knew all the lyrics from all the popular musicals of the day and wept buckets as John Kerr lip synched to “Younger than Springtime”; and I could perform all the songs from the Sound of Music.

Over the next few years I was lucky enough to be cast in a number of school plays. Being tall for my age, it usually involved me standing completely still for thirty minutes in the guise of a tree or some other inanimate object.

I did attempt to achieve some form of recognition for my talents, which included dressing in Swiss costume and dragging one of my friends around to old people’s homes to entertain the residents with the songs from The Sound of Music (they were very appreciative, let me tell you!).

This did not impress my parents, who were adamant that when I left school, I must train as a secretary, as drama was not a profession to be relied on.

Sally – aged 16

I left school in September 1969 at age 16 and enrolled in technical college for a year’s secretarial course. Over the course of the next twelve months, I became very proficient in shorthand and typing, but it was the extra classes we took in English that I enjoyed the most.

Our teacher also taught drama, and had trained more than a few successful actors and actresses over the years. To my delight, she was casting for that year’s drama production which was the operetta “Passion Flower”, based on the story of Carmen, but adapted for the amateur stage.

Without informing my parents I auditioned. I was rather expecting to be cast as part of the scenery again, but you can imagine my absolute thrill when our producer chose me to play Micaela – Carmen’s rival for the matador’s affections. Something that I kept from my parents, and they assumed I would be part of the chorus as usual.

Police cadets did their initial training at the college, and several of these were roped in to play the soldiers. Our producer recruited outside talent from her drama group to play the leads including an Australian dentist in his mid-thirties who took on the role of the matador, Escamillo, and a wonderful young singer called Julie took the part of Carmen.

The performances ran for three nights, and by the final evening I had almost conquered my nerves, despite the fact there were two very important people in the audience. I had persuaded my parents to come on the last night, with the expectation that it was likely to be the most flawless performance of the three.

I was desperately hoping that if they saw how passionate I was about acting (and my talent); they might relent in their objections to me attending drama school.

I can still remember standing in the wings that night, knees quaking as I prepared for the cat fight with Carmen, followed by being manhandled by the soldiers as they pulled us apart enthusiastically.

All was going very well until we reached the final scene when Escamillo threw a rose onto poor dead Carmen’s body, having been stabbed by a former lover, and then pulled me into his arms for a passionate kiss!

Unbeknownst to the rest of the cast, our lead actor had been celebrating the end to the run by consuming a number of cans of beer hidden in the wings. This certainly gave his performance some extra gusto which our producer put down to exuberance. As I swanned across the stage and into his arms for the expected stage kiss, he bent me over backwards and gave me a hearty smacker, before picking me up and rushing off stage.

Cue a very loud gasp from the cast clustered around poor Carmen’s corpse and from the front row where my mother and father were seated with other VIP guests. I can only assume they had already been taken aback by my starring role as a floozy, in an off the shoulder blouse, big earrings and a penchant for men in uniform.

I also had an inkling that these last few minutes had not gone down well. My erstwhile suitor and I joined the cast and clasped hands, bowing in appreciation of the applause. All I could focus on was my father, arms crossed with a very frosty look on his face.

My mother told me later that my father had turned to her and shouted over the applause, ‘Who is that man and what was he up to with our daughter?”  At this point, a woman who was sat next to my mother announced furiously ‘That would be my husband.”

As you can imagine, this fiasco did not further my ambitions to be allowed to attend drama school. Two weeks later, when I had graduated with my secretarial diploma, the evening paper’s employment section was strategically placed next to my beans on toast for supper. Probably for the best, as I have enjoyed a wonderful variety of jobs across a number of industries including broadcasting.

However, my love of musicals has never diminished, and who knows… maybe one day!

***

#books #authors #author
Author, writer and blogger, Sally Cronin

About Sally Cronin

After a career in customer facing roles in the hospitality, retail, advertising and telecommunications industry, Sally wrote and published her first book in 1999 called Size Matters, about her weight loss journey, losing 150lbs in 18 months. This was followed by 13 further fiction and non-fiction books, including a number of short story collections.

Sally’s aim was to create a watering hole on her blog to provide a wide number of topics to chat about…..This year in September 2021, Smorgasbord in its current format, celebrated its 8th anniversary.

As important as her own promotion is, Sally believes it’s important to support others within our community. She offers a number of FREE promotional opportunities on her blog, linked to social media.

Having lived a nomadic existence most of her life, Sally is now settled on the coast of Wexford in Southern Ireland with her husband of 40 years, enjoying the odd sunny day and the rain that puts the Emerald in the Isles.

Connect with Sally

Blog

Amazon

Goodreads

Twitter

Sally’s Latest Book – Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet

Life is like a bowl of cherries

Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet is a collection of short stories with scattered poetry, reflecting the complexities of life, love and loss.

The stories in the collection dip into the lives of men and women who are faced with an ‘event’ that is challenging and in some cases life changing.

Even something as straightforward as grocery shopping online can be frustrating, and a DNA test produces surprise results, the past reaches out to embrace the present, and a gardening assistant is an unlikely grief counsellor. Romance is not always for the faint-hearted and you are never too old for love. Random acts of kindness have far reaching consequences and some people discover they are on a lucky streak. There are those watching over us who wish us well, and those in our lives who wish us harm.

Click here to buy Sally’s latest book

More books from Sally

More books from Sally

My thanks to Sally for writing this guest post.

If you have any questions or comments for Sally, please leave them in the comments section. She’d be delighted to hear from you.

Do you have a true story you’d like to share on my blog? Contact me via the ‘Contact Hugh’ button on the menubar.

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

If It Feels Right, Can It Be Wrong? – A True Story And Guest Post by Liesbet Collaert @LiesbetCollaert

Continuing my series of true stories, I’m delighted to welcome Liesbet Collaert, who shares her story of how life changed the direction she was travelling.

If it feels right, can it be wrong?

Although Liesbet leads a different life to me (read and follow her blog to find out more) her true story is one I gasped at even though I’ve had similar experiences. It makes me believe in fate even more and why we find ourselves in certain situations for a real purpose.

Will her story bring back memories of a familiar position when you read it? Has fate played a part in your life?

***

Liesbet and Caesar arriving in San Francisco

San Francisco. A fascinating city I only know from movies and guidebooks. So close now! I can almost see the Golden Gate Bridge, smell the salty air of the bay, and feel the breeze in my light brown hair. The promise of a new adventure causes my ear-to-ear grin as I hop into our small camper to grab a CD of dEUS, my favorite Belgian band.

After crisscrossing the United States, Western Canada, and Alaska in our truck camper for the last year and a half, my boyfriend Karl, his dog Caesar, and I landed in California. Karl’s friend Nik, a DJ, had invited us to share his studio-apartment in Oakland, as a base to explore SF. Nik also rents out two apartments in his house.

CD in hand, I enter the yard again and stop dead in my tracks. Two gorgeous dogs with fluffy tails had run up to me. I smother them with cuddles and praise.

“Hi, I’m Mark. And these two are Kali, the white one, and Darwin, the grey one.”

Liesbet with Kali and Darwin

I look up from admiring the wagging furballs.

My eyes meet those of a tall, skinny, short-haired, and attractive man in the doorway of apartment #1.

“Hello. I’m Liesbet. My boyfriend and I are staying with Nik for a week to visit San Francisco. Our home on wheels is parked in front of the house.”

“Home on wheels? Why are you living in a camper?”

“It lets us travel around with our own bathroom and kitchen and plenty of storage and provides much more comfort and security than dingy hostels and a backpack,” I tell him with an unfaltering smile and raised voice; telltales of the excitement I always feel when elaborating on my pursuit of freedom.

“I detect an accent. Where are you from?” he asks, after I had described a handful of places I visited while backpacking for almost two years on the other side of the world.

“I’m from Belgium, but I haven’t been back in a while.”

Mark seems entranced, which encourages me to ramble on about my passion. After some time of telling stories and trading questions and answers, he exclaims, “That’s incredible! I need to travel and find myself a Belgian girlfriend!”

I blush. It dawns on me that we’d been chatting for a while.

“Do you know what time it is?” I ask. An hour has passed. I rush to Nik’s place next door.

“Where have you been?” Karl asks.

“Talking to a neighbor, the one with the big dogs. He seems like a nice guy.” I hand my CD to Nik, who is always eager to discover new music.

Our planned week in the Rockridge area of Oakland turns into four, as all of us become friends and Mark unintentionally draws me closer and closer. Karl encourages my contact with the neighbor. “Soon we’ll be out of here and it’s just you and me again,” he says. “Enjoy the company!”

I embrace Mark’s presence until I crave it.

One night, the Hollywood-moment arrives… our first kiss. An arm around my shoulders. A fluttering body. Touching of lips. Mutual desire. He loves me back!

We never allow anything more to happen. Mark is a realist. He knows I am leaving Nik’s place shortly and that I am in a serious relationship.

Our dreadful last evening together eventually arrives. We hug strongly and kiss tenderly.

“I’ll come pick you up wherever you are, whenever you’re ready to leave Karl.” Mark’s parting words sound sweet. Is he serious?

Mark and Liesbet

That night, I lie awake, heart racing. By morning, it’s time to pack up the camper and leave.

I exchange glances with Karl. His eyes beam with excitement about continuing our adventures; mine reflect trouble and sadness.

I take the plunge.

“I can’t be with you anymore. My attraction to Mark has grown too strong.” I sound more determined than I feel.

Shock.

Karl stares at me with intent. “We’re driving to Mexico. We both looked forward to this.”

Silence.

Did he not notice my enthusiasm to continue our overland journey had diminished these last weeks?

I swallow hard.

Can I really give all this up? Our past explorations on the road? The year and a half before that, where he tried so hard to fit into my Belgian life? How about my American visa that will run out if I don’t leave the country soon?

The consequences of my impulsiveness finally trigger some brain activity.

Karl continues, “I love you. Caesar and I will miss you so much.”

We both cry. Three years together is not nothing. I think about the good times we shared. Karl and his dog – and me, too – had been ecstatic when I showed up at his Maryland apartment, ready to roam North America. That was the summer of 2003. I had thrown a goodbye party at my parents’ house in Belgium and hopped on a plane. Little did I know I was never to return.

I remain quiet. My heart bleeds for him. Karl is a sensitive man who understands me and cares about me. We have the same passion: traveling the world on a budget. Yet, I crave more romance in a relationship…

Am I seriously giving up my travels for a man?

That would be a first. It’s usually the other way around. My gut knows how this predicament will end. My mind has nothing to add.

I face Karl and finally utter, “If I leave with you, I will want to come back here at some point.” It is the only conclusion I can muster.

I have fallen in love with another guy, the “guy next door.”

Mark with Kali and Darwin

“If that’s what you want,” Karl replies with a sigh, “then you should just stay.”

In the hours that follow we split the money from our communal account; I gather my belongings; and we discuss a contingency plan for the truck camper. I pet Caesar goodbye and give Karl one last, heartfelt embrace. Then, misty-eyed, I watch them drive away.

I close the door of Mark’s apartment behind me. Unlike other times when Karl and I returned his dogs after walking them with Caesar – today, I don’t leave.

My pile of clothes and gear clutters the corner of the bedroom. I settle on the bed with Kali and Darwin. My tears soak their fur within minutes. Mark has found his Belgian girl without having to travel; she appeared right on his doorstep. He probably thought he’d never see her again. Surprise!

Liesbet and Darwin

What will he say when he comes home from work?

What if he doesn’t want me here?

As usual, I don’t have a back-up plan.The rest of the afternoon, I cry. I feel bad for Karl.

I’m such a selfish bitch.

The front door opens. The dogs jump up and run towards their human. I stay behind in the bedroom.

“Hi, guys,” Mark greets Kali and Darwin with a sad voice. “I guess they’re gone, huh? You two don’t seem too excited to see me. What’s up?”

I walk into the hallway. My eyes sting.

Mark looks up.

“What the hell are you doing here?” His words crush me. I shuffle towards him. We hug. I don’t want to let go.

“I’m staying with you,” I whisper, as if he doesn’t have any say in this. Mark’s face relaxes into a smile. His grip tightens. I guess that means it’s okay.

***

Writer & Blogger Liesbet Collaert

Liesbet Collaert’s articles and photos have been published internationally.

Born in Belgium, she has been a nomad since 2003 with no plans to settle anytime soon. Her love of travel, diversity, and animals is reflected in her lifestyle choices of sailing, RVing, and house and pet sitting.

Liesbet calls herself a world citizen and currently lives “on the road” in North America with her husband and rescue dog. Follow her adventures at www.itsirie.com and www.roamingabout.com.

Connect With Liesbet

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Blog: Roaming About

Blog: It’s Irie

Amazon

Liesbet’s true story is taken from her new book, Plunge.

Book cover for Plunge by Liesbet Collaert
Plunge

Tropical waters turn tumultuous in this travel memoir as a free-spirited woman jumps headfirst into a sailing adventure with a new man and his two dogs.

Join Liesbet as she faces a decision that sends her into a whirlwind of love, loss, and living in the moment. When she swaps life as she knows it for an uncertain future on a sailboat, she succumbs to seasickness and a growing desire to be alone.

Guided by impulsiveness and the joys of an alternative lifestyle, she must navigate personal storms, trouble with US immigration, adverse weather conditions, and doubts about her newfound love.

Does Liesbet find happiness? Will the dogs outlast the man? Or is this just another reality check on a dream to live at sea?

Information/Purchase links

Buy on Amazon

For eBook versions worldwide

For paperback distributors worldwide

Reviews

My thanks to Liesbet for writing this guest post.

If you have any questions or comments for Liesbet, please leave them in the comments section. She’d be delighted to hear from you.

Do you have a true story you’d like to share on my blog? Contact me via the ‘Contact Hugh’ button on the menubar.

More true stories…

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Not Stupid Today – A True Story And Guest Blog Post by Graeme Cumming @GraemeCumming63

I’m delighted to welcome Graeme Cumming to my blog. Not only is Graeme somebody I class as a friend, but he’s also a very talented author, writer and blogger.

A guest blog post by Graeme Cumming

Graeme’s true story opened up my eyes to something I’d never thought about when it comes to passing on wisdom and mistakes I’ve made in my life to those younger than me. Read his story and let him know how you pass on words of wisdom to the younger generation.


Unlike Bryan Adams, my summer of ’69 had nothing to do with playing guitar. Having struggled to play triangle during a school concert, I think it’s safe to say my musical abilities wouldn’t have stretched that far.

When I chose the wrong moment to hit the triangle, I was even more mortified than I might otherwise have been because my dad was in the audience. He didn’t tend to turn up for school stuff because of work – not many dads did back then. So, when he was able to put in an appearance, I wanted to impress him. Clearly, I was to be disappointed and, at the time, I assumed the same was true for him. It’s funny the perceptions we have of our parents.

That summer, we took a rare holiday. I suppose they were rare because we didn’t have the money for them. In those days, it was common for the husband to go to work and the wife to stay home and look after the house and children. With one wage-earner, a holiday was a luxury. Even better, we had two weeks at Mablethorpe, not just one.

Fifty-one years later, I still have great memories from that holiday. Great, though not all of them filled with joy. Not at the time anyway.

There was an incident where my dad and I were playing football on the beach. Sport had always been his forte. He’d even been signed as a professional footballer back in the fifties – though a foot injury put paid to his sporting career within weeks. Nevertheless, even with the injury, he was a good all-rounder. In his time, he played cricket, tennis and squash to a high standard, and even walked away with a trophy on the one occasion he played golf.

In contrast, my own sporting skills have always bordered on the inept. So there was very little surprise when I kicked the ball in the wrong direction, sending it hurtling out into the sea. The tide was going out and, before long, it became apparent that the ball was going with it. My dad did go after it – inevitably, he was a bloody good swimmer, too!

Like most kids, my dad was my hero. I thought he was capable of anything. So, when he swam back to shore and I could still see the ball in the distance, it’s fair to say I was disappointed. In short, I wanted my ball back.

Standing at the water’s edge, he pointed to where it was, bobbing further and further away. I felt very let down that he’d come back empty-handed. And I let him know it, too.

“You can still get it.”

“Graeme, it’s too far out.”

It didn’t look that far to me, a point I expressed pretty sharply.

“The tide’s taking it,” he tried to explain.

Perhaps the concept of tides was too difficult for a six-year-old. It was another thirteen years before I experienced the terrifying pull of the sea as a Moroccan beach seemed to recede very rapidly from my line of sight. And the overwhelming sense of relief as I somehow managed to scrabble my way back to shallow waters.

To this day, I don’t know whether my dad had ever gone through a similar experience, but he knew what he was talking about. I didn’t.

Hands on hips, I looked up at him and, in the manner befitting a child who isn’t getting their own way, let him know just how disappointed I was in him. After all, this was my hero. He was my Simon Templar, my Robin Hood, my Tarzan.

“Aren’t you brave enough?” It was an idea that was, frankly, shocking to me.

Exhausted from swimming against the tide, and faced with a similarly unreasonable question, I’d like to think I could show the same level of patience he did (I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t).

“Sometimes, Graeme, there’s not much difference between being brave and being stupid.” He glanced out to the ball. “I’m not going to be stupid today.”

Naturally, this quite profound life lesson went straight over my head at the time. And yet, strangely, the incident and the words stuck with me, until one day they made sense.

I’d like to say my dad was not only a great sportsman, but a philosopher too. But I can’t. Like each and every one of us, he was a flawed individual, and over the years I learnt as much from his mistakes as I did his wise words. And I’ve learnt even more from my own mistakes, especially from my youthful certainty that I was right, that I was invincible, that I would be my own hero. But that’s part of growing up.

Now, as a father myself, I see my children making their own mistakes, and hoping they’ll learn from them too. I’ve shared my words of wisdom, and hope they’ll remember some of them when the time is right. Sometimes those words have been dressed up in stories – because sometimes it’s easier to learn when you’re being entertained.

And I do like to tell stories.


Graeme Cumming

Graeme Cumming lives in Robin Hood country.  He has wide and varied tastes when it comes to fiction so he’s conscious that his thrillers can cross into territories including horror, fantasy and science fiction as well as more traditional arenas. 

When not writing, Graeme is an enthusiastic sailor (and, by default, swimmer), and enjoys off-road cycling and walking.  He is currently Education Director at Sheffield Speakers Club.  Oh yes, and he reads (a lot) and loves the cinema.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Connect With Graeme

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Books

Ravens Gathering

Where To Buy Ravens Gathering:

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

Waterstones

Troubador

Signed copy

Carrion

Where to buy Carrion:

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

My thanks to Graeme for writing this guest post.

If you have any questions or comments for Graeme, please leave them in the comments section. He’d be delighted to hear from you.


For more true stories from my guests, click on the links below

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Welcome To Vietnam – A True Story And Guest Blog Post by Chuck Jackson @chuck_cljjlk

I’m delighted to welcome Chuck Jackson to my blog today. Chuck is an author, writer and blogger, and lives in Florida.

A Guest Blog Post by Chuck Jackson

Chuck shares his incredible story of life as a Special Forces member of an Air Force Pararescue Team in 1968. Reading his story told me how all these men and women deserve to be remembered for the champions that they were and still are.

* * *

HH-43B (Pedro) in the foreground with a Douglas A-1 (Sandy) in the background

In December 1968, after completing 14 months of Special Forces training to be a member of the Air Force Pararescue team (PJ), I left my wife in tears and joined a hundred plus men from all branches of the military for the dreaded flight to Vietnam. Dressed in our fatigues, we boarded the aircraft at Travis AFB with stops in Alaska, Japan and then on to Vietnam. The closer we got to Da Nang, the more nervous we became.

Upon our arrival, the weather was cold and rainy; the scene was bedlam, with aircrafts of all sorts and sizes parked haphazardly. Military vehicles of various types were running back and forth-carrying men, fuel and cargo. Over to the side, I spotted a haunting site I would never forget. Lined up were many baggage carts, and on them were black bags containing the bodies of men who had given their lives. I saw no honor guard, nor flag covered caskets; only those body bags lying in the freezing rain.

* * *

When I checked into the 38th ARRS (Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service) Detachment 7 in Da Nang, they assigned me to an Air Force Kaman HH-43B team. The HH-43B “Huskie” or as PJs named it “Pedro” they never designed it for combat because of its slow speed, short range, and it was not armored.

My team included Air Force Major William (Billy) Atkins, First Lieutenant Lawrence (Larry) Riley, Airman Samuel (Sammy) Burkowitz, and me. Our call name was Pedro 7-5. The other three had been together for several months and I was replacing a PJ that had rotated back stateside.

The first week we did nothing but Medevac to get me broken in. Although I was told this was temporary, my ignorance of actual rescue missions left me bored and wanting more. I did not understand what my future held; however, it wasn’t long before they immersed me into the reality of being a PJ.

I was hanging out in Detachment 7’s ready room with Sammy when the alarm sounded. By the time we arrived at our bird, Billy had the engines running and Larry was standing out front watching for us. As soon as I got out of the vehicle, Larry yelled, “Come on Doc. Get your gear on; we need to be in the air.” Sammy and I didn’t have enough time to get anymore than our helmets on and plugged into the communication systems when Billy was lifting off.

I asked, “What’s the scoop?”

Larry said, “We got two Huey medivac birds down. Sandy 2-7 says he is not sure there were survivors. There are hostiles crawling all over the area and command has scrambled a support jet and a second Sandy from Dak To.”

“Are we the only rescue crew?”

Billy said, “No, Pedro 4-4 out of Pleiku will be in support, but we are the primary.” Billy snickered, “Hey Doc, I hope you put on clean skivvies this morning. You wanted a mission, you got one now.”

Within 20 minutes, we were in communication with Sandy 2-7. He all but escorted us over to the crash site. We were circling at 1,000 ft. and it did not look good. Wreckage was spread over a quarter mile, although one cabin seemed to be intact. It took another half-hour of circling in the distance, with the two Sandy’s and an F-100 Super Sabre clearing the area. Pedro 4-4 was in formation with us.

Finally, we got the call, “Pedro 7-5, Sandy 2-7; Copy? .”

Larry answered, “This is Pedro 7-5; Go ahead.”

They gave us the green light and Billy made the turn. We heard the Sandy, tell Pedro 4-4 to maintain his pattern. Billy made a wide sweep and then as he lowered to less than 200 ft. Sammy yelled, “We got some hostiles at 7 o’clock.” Billy instantly kicked our bird in the butt and ascended back to 1,000 ft.

“Pedro 7-5, this is Rooster nine-err, two—two. Maintain your altitude.”

Billy replied, “10-4, Rooster 9-2-2; Roger that.”

Out of nowhere, a F-100 swooped in below us and hit the area with an onboard rocket followed by his guns. The target lit up with flames and smoke.

Sandy 2-7 cleared us again for an approach. This time we saw nothing, and Billy brought us in, hovered at six ft., and I jumped. Billy immediately rose and was making tight sweeps. I ran toward the cabin. When I got within 100 yards, I started seeing body parts. While still strapped I found the pilot in the cockpit, the other two were lying outside at various distances. The body parts seemed to come from one individual.

I radioed, “Pedro 7-5, PJ 7-5; Copy?”

Larry responded, PJ 7-5; Go ahead.

“No survivors here. Give me the direction to the other site.”

“PJ 7-5, 3 o’clock and 200 meters.”

“10-4”

I hightailed over toward the other site. I had to break through some thick brush. Once I did, I saw a burned cabin, or what was left of the cabin. I also saw severely burned bodies. I only found what I could identify as two crew members.

“Pedro 7-5, PJ 7-5; Copy?”

“PJ 7-5; Go ahead.”

“No survivors here. Check on the number on board this Huey.”

“PJ 7-5; Roger that.”

While I waited, I searched the area. The stench from the burned bodies was nauseating. I checked in all directions, finding nothing.

“PJ 7-5, Sandy 2-7; Copy?”

“Sandy 2-7; Go ahead.”

“Command says crew of three on each bird. Copy?”

“10-4, Sandy 2-7; thank you.”

Billy instructed me to return to the first site. He said Pedro 4-4 would handle the burned site.

With both Sandy’s, keeping watch over our backsides, Billy landed at the first site. He kept our bird’s engines running. Sammy helped me get the pilot out and put him in a body bag. We gathered as many body parts as we could find and put them in a separate bag. We did not have another bag, so we used a tarp out of our emergency locker and wrapped the third crewmember. Then we loaded all three in our bird.

Pedro 4-4 landed at site two and it took its crew 30 minutes to find the third crewmember. We left before Pedro 4-4 and headed for our base. For the last week, I had hauled body bags when we did Medevac. However, this seemed more dismal. Perhaps it was because these were flight crews and not Army grunts. No one spoke on the return to base.

As I helped unload our formidable cargo, I must have had a melancholy appearance. Billy walked over, put his arm around me, and said, “I’m sorry to tell you Doc, it doesn’t get any easier.” Then, cynically, he added, “Oh yeah, Welcome to Vietnam.”

Thoughts of a Pararescueman

I am that which others do not want to be. I chose to go where others fear and excel where they have failed.

I ask for nothing from those that will not give… and reluctantly accept the thought of eternal loneliness, …should I fail.

I have seen the face of death, felt the stinging cold of fear; I have realized the harsh reality of just what this job is all about. I enjoyed the sweet taste of victory and love; but those were just fleeting moments.

I have cried, pained and hoped, most of all, I have lived times others would say are best forgotten…But,

At least I will be able to say that I was proud of who and what I am and that in my heart and soul I will always be a “PJ”

<Unknown author>

“These Things We Do, That Others May Live,”


Author and writer Chuck Jackson

Chuck Jackson is a retired accountant living in Southeast Florida. He was an ‘Air Force Brat’ and followed his dad’s 33-year military career by also serving four years in the Air Force.

He is an extensive reader and since retirement; he has spent much of his time studying and enhancing his love for writing. This story is taken in part from his published memoir. He is a two-time cancer survivor and draws his strength from his faith and church activity.

For years, he spoke little of his Vietnam experience, suffering similarly as many Vietnam Veterans anguished in silence. With this writing, he wants to help return the honor and dignity of those that served with him. He dedicates this story to those men that proudly served as PJs.

Connect with Chuck

Blog

Twitter

Amazon Author Page

Chuck’s story appears in the Anthology – Stories Through The Ages – Baby Boomers Plus 2020.

Stories Through The Ages – Baby Boomers Plus 2020

Click here to order your copy.

My thanks to Chuck for writing this guest post.

If you have any questions or comments for Chuck, please leave them in the comments section. He’d be delighted to hear from you.

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Last Train To Aldwych – A Short Story For VE Day

Nobody noticed Grace Simmons.

She sat on her own in the second carriage of the London underground train which had just come to a halt at Aldwych station.

Further down the carriage, party goers got off the train and she could hear the sounds of their laughter fade as they exited from the station platform. The only evidence that they’d ever been there were the empty beer bottles and fast-food wrappers which littered the carriage floor.

Dressed in her blue, floral, hour-glass vintage dress from the nineteen forties, she waited patiently. It wouldn’t be long before the music started, and they could dance again.

She held on tightly to the jet-black leather handbag he had given to her one Christmas. Such a happy day, one full of laughter and happiness. It had only been the two of them that day – the best Christmas she’d ever had.

The lights flickered briefly on the station platform. He would be here soon. The station was quiet, and she wondered what he would think of her when he saw her again. He hadn’t aged at all, but the wrinkles on her face, along with a head of grey hair, had aged her so much.

However, she always took plenty of time preparing herself for the meeting she had with him on the same date every year.

Then, the faint sound of music came to her ears and her heart began to beat faster. She dared not move until he came to her and asked her if she would like to dance.

The lights flickered inside the train carriage as the music became a little louder. She recognised the tune: Glenn Miller’s ‘Moonlight Serenade’.

It was their tune, the one they had first danced to at this very station the first time they had met.

Suddenly, she heard the sound of footsteps. Were they his? She hoped so; it had been such a long time since they had last danced.

As her heart beat faster, Grace remembered their wedding day. Her mother had helped her make her dress and when he’d finally seen her in it, she knew she had taken his breath away.

“Your eyes shine like the brightest stars in the night sky,” he’d said. “You are my guiding light. I am the luckiest man alive.”

She dared not look up, just yet, in case the footsteps were not his.

Twice before, the footsteps had belonged to the station manager who had explained that this was the last train to Aldwych, and she needed to leave the station.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw the shadow of a man and hoped with all her heart that it was Ernest. The shadow grew longer as it passed the open carriage doors. Then the footsteps were no more.

“Would you like to dance?”

Raising her head slowly, tears came to her eyes as she saw him again.

He looked so handsome in his army uniform. His wavy black hair had not lost its colour and his handsome boyish features looked the same as they had on their wedding day.

His deep blue eyes gazed at her as he held out his arms towards her. For a moment she could not move, but the music gradually released her and she moved towards him.

She tried to say his name, but the words would not come. He held a finger to her mouth. There was no need to say anything; they were together again.

He lowered his finger from her lips as she stepped out of the carriage. After placing her handbag on the platform floor, she looked up at him.

Holding out his arms, she took hold of his right hand and rested the other on the small of his back. They started to dance, never once taking their eyes away from each other. They dared not look away for fear that this was all a dream and that it would end quickly if either one of them awoke.

Sounds of laughter, singing and clapping came to them and, from above, the distant sounds of explosions. Nobody else was there to witness the love and happiness which had come to Aldwych station.

They could feel the love all around them as they danced together. For a few precious moments they were the happiest people in the world.

A slight breeze blew along the platform, its hot air circling at her legs. With it came the front of a discarded newspaper. She looked down as it came towards them and tried to kick it away, but it became stuck to one of the heels of her shoes. She dared not let him go and tears once again came to her as she looked into his eyes. He smiled back at her.

“I will always love you, Grace.”

She looked down again as the music began to fade.

Lowering her arms to her side, she did not want to look up to see if he was still there for she knew this would be the last time they would meet. The love and joy which had just been there with them had now turned to sadness and sorrow. She bent down and removed the newspaper. Her eyes took in the date.

Friday, 30th September 1994.

Underneath, the headline read –

Last Train to Aldwych.
Station To Finally Close Down For Good – Tonight.

That night, Grace Simmons took the ten-minute walk back to The Strand Palace Hotel and died peacefully in her sleep.

Some still say that when walking past the boarded-up building that was once the entrance to Aldwych underground station, they can hear the faint sounds of a nineteen-forties band playing Glenn Miller’s ‘Moonlight Serenade’. Others claim to have heard the rumble of an underground train as if it were pulling into the station.

For Grace and Ernest, their dance still goes on.


Story taken from the short story collection Glimpses – Available on Amazon.

#books

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Double Eighteen – A Short Story For Valentine’s Day

It was love at first sight.

Quentin fell in love with Maureen the moment he set eyes on her. She was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen and was perfect in every shape and form. The shocked expression on Maureen’s face when he first introduced himself had not in the least put him off.

Quentin could not remember which of his friends it was that had organised the blind date, but he had a lot of thanking to do. He was sure a few pints down the local pub would be a nice way to say how very grateful he was for the introduction to Maureen.

He saw a wonderful future ahead for both Maureen and himself, although the thought of getting married, at this stage, was probably a little bit too ahead of its time. Besides, he hadn’t met Maureen’s parents yet and, whilst his father had taken a shine to Maureen, he wasn’t so sure what his mother thought.

Three months later, as Maureen sat on the only chair in Quentin’s bedroom, Quentin couldn’t take his eye off her as he got ready for their night out. He had promised her a spectacular evening and pretended he could read her mind as he looked into her big blue eyes.

Going down to The Legend of Oily Johnny’s pub was probably not Maureen’s idea of a spectacular night out, thought Quentin. She’d, in all probability, rather spend an evening in with him. However, considering how well he’d looked after her since they had first met, she wouldn’t want to spoil his fun down the pub, would she? After all, the rest of his friends would be there and even if some of their so-called female friends only ever seemed to laugh at her, Quentin always made sure he looked after her and told her that he loved her at the end of every night.

He knew, too, that she’d even had to refuse several advances and a little bit too much attention from his best friend, Duncan Donuts, but Quentin knew that Maureen only had eyes for him, and nobody else.

“The white one or the blue one?” asked Quentin, as he looked over to Maureen. “Which one looks the best on me?

Holding both shirts to his chest, Quentin paused for a moment. “No need to answer, Maureen. I’ll wear the blue one, so it matches your beautiful eyes. We’re gonna knock ‘em dead tonight. I’m so lucky to have found somebody like you.”

Forty minutes later, Maureen was sat in the bar of The Legend of Oily Johnny. The place was packed out. There had never been so many people crammed into it before, but then there had never been a darts match offering a prize of a Valentine’s romantic weekend for two, in Paris, before. No wonder it was so busy.

Whilst Quentin knew that Maureen didn’t play darts, because he knew she thought it a rather dangerous sport, he knew she was happy to watch him throw the arrows towards the board. Every time the referee, Horace Cope, a man who believed he could foretell the future, shouted out ‘one hundred and eighty’ when he threw the arrows, Quentin knew that he and Maureen were one step nearer to going to Paris. They’d never been to Paris before, although Quentin often talked about going there.

Gladys Boise, a party girl who was a little bit too free and loose for most people’s liking, sat down next to Maureen just as the darts match was coming to its climactic end.

Forcing Maureen to move to an empty chair, Gladys did all she could to try and put Quentin off from scoring double eighteen to win the match and the trip to Paris. She wanted her radio DJ boyfriend, Mike Raffone, who was also a keen karaoke singer, to win the match. Mike only needed to score a double five to win, but here was Quentin, with his final dart, only needing to score a double eighteen.

The bar became strangely quiet as Quentin lined up his dart. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Maureen, who had now stood up and was just to the left of the dartboard.

Maureen was looking so sexy this evening and the thought of what lay ahead after the darts match, when they got home, started to make Quentin’s blood pressure rise. He had to win the trip to Paris, if not for him, then for the woman who had brought him so much pleasure over the last three months.

The shirt Quentin had chosen to wear was the perfect fit, and he felt like a million dollars in it. This was going to be his night. This was going to be Maureen’s night. This was going to be their night.

As the first bead of sweat trickled down his back, Quentin pulled his hand back slightly before flicking it towards the dartboard. However, just before leaving the gentle grip of his two fingers and thumb, Gladys let out an almighty sneeze causing Quentin to lose concentration.

As the whole bar held their breath, Quentin watched in horror as the dart moved in slow motion towards Maureen. The shocked expression on Maureen’s face told the regulars of the pub, that the dart was not going to hit its intended target of the double eighteen slot. Instead, they watched in disbelief as the dart made its way towards the woman who had brought so much pleasure into Quentin’s life.

“Noooooooooo!” shouted Quentin, as the dart made contact with Maureen’s left breast while, at the same time, huge smiles developed across the faces of Gladys Boise and Mike Raffone.

For a few moments, all eyes were on Maureen who had not flinched. You could have heard one of Gladys’ false eyelashes fall to the floor as everyone in the bar held their breath. Then, to the complete shock of some of the customers in the bar, everyone watched as Maureen gave off a slow hissing sound as she slowly doubled up and bent for-ward towards the floor.

Not even the offer of a puncture repair kit from local plumber, Duane Pipes, could now save the romance of Maureen and Quentin. Inflatable girlfriends were expensive to buy.

Two months later, Quentin had forgotten all about Maureen, after meeting his new girlfriend, Helen Highwater, who had seen it all and survived.

They lived happily ever after.


Story taken from the short story collection More Glimpses – Available on Amazon.

#books

Copyright © 2020 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

A Different Type Of UFO – A Guest Post By Mae Clair @MaeClair1

Hugh, thank you so much for inviting me to your blog today! I’m delighted to be here, and happy to share an encounter I had when I was a child. It might sound a little off the wall, but…

When I was six, my family lived in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. My father and I had a habit of sitting on the porch after dinner. We’d take in the sights of people passing on the sidewalk, cars on the street, the occasional thunderstorm. That evening, my dad fell asleep as twilight settled.

Was there traffic? Maybe.

People on the sidewalk? Not then.

What I can tell you—what I still see clearly in my mind—is the object in the sky. I can’t recall if it suddenly appeared, popping into view, or slid from somewhere overhead.

Before I continue, however, I’d like to share some facts you may not be familiar with. As an example, did you know most UFO sightings are not of the saucer-shaped variety, but light sources?

Image credit: Bigstockphoto.,com
Image licence owned by Mae Clair

Have you ever heard of a “UFO Flap?” This occurs when an exceptional number of sightings are confined are to a specific area during a limited time frame. Point Pleasant, West Virginia experienced a well-publicized flap during 1966-1967.

Several years ago, while reading a book on UFOs, the author mentioned the skies above Harrisburg, Pennsylvania being filled with light sources. Guess what year? Yep—I was six years old. Harrisburg didn’t experience a flap, but there was a buzz of activity.

Next up: I bet you’ve heard of Men-in-Black. But did you know the late author, John Keel, coined the phrase to identify mysterious strangers who descended on Point Pleasant, West Virginia in 1966? MIBs, as they’re called, had one purpose—find anyone who’d reported seeing a UFO and warn them not to talk about it.

The government denied the existence of MIBs, as did the Air Force, but there were plenty of eyewitnesses. When you descend on a rural area in shiny black Cadillacs, wearing black suits and broad-brimmed black hats, you’re bound to stand out.

Speaking of rural sightings, did you know pastures and fields are often covered with blobs of a mucous-like substance after a UFO appears? Many locals refer to these globs as “starsh*t.”

I could go on, but let’s get back to Harrisburg, and that warm summer night with my dad.

Sometime after he nodded off, the cloud appeared. Not a normal cloud, but something massive and green, moving rapidly across the sky. I remember looking from the cloud to the ground because it emitted a broad beam of light, the same eerie green as the cloud.

The light scrolled across the sidewalk, onto our front lawn, then crept onto the porch, enveloping me, edging near my father. I don’t remember if it touched him, but I looked up into the light.

The next thing I remember is being on the sidewalk, several houses down, with my dad. People were everywhere, chatting with excitement. A woman with two children stopped to talk to us. I distinctly remember her telling my father “the sky looked like it had a tail.”

This incident has stayed with me, vivid in my memory, but there’s something that niggles in the back of my mind. Why didn’t I tell my dad what I’d seen, especially given the excitement on the street? Why is everything blank from the time I looked up into the light until talking to the woman on the sidewalk?

A Cold Tomorrow, the second book of my Point Pleasant trilogy, deals with UFO sightings and MIBs. I dumped a ton of research into the entire series, including making two trips to the actual locations that factor into the story. Something I found highly interesting while doing research: many UFO witnesses don’t recall the incident until years later—especially if they’ve seen a light source.

Some experience “Flicker Phenomena” an occurrence that mesmerizes the individual and blocks the incident from their mind. I wish I could recall when the memory of that warm night in Harrisburg resurfaced. I know it was there by the time I reached high school, because I was enthralled by the idea of spotting a UFO. I desperately wanted to see one again.

I never did.

Many people are able to talk of their encounter immediately after witnessing the sight. Some experience conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the eyes.

When I wrote A Cold Tomorrow, I wanted the cover to reflect the image in my head. My green cloud scrolled across an urban street­ whereas Point Pleasant is a rural river town. Even so, my cloud factored into my fictional “flap.”

Dirt lane image credit: Bigstockphoto.,com
Image licence owned by Mae Clair

Excerpt from A Cold Tomorrow:

Doreen Sue Lynch stubbed her cigarette into an ashtray and craned her neck to glance out the kitchen window. Her grandson, Sam, had promised not to stray. He’d helped her with the dishes after dinner, then begged to go outside with Rex, a friendly mongrel mix of Australian shepherd and retriever. She’d agreed to take her boyfriend’s dog while Martin’s house was being fumigated for spiders, and Sam would stay overnight because Katie was off visiting a friend.

Not that she minded. She loved having Sam, and Rex was hardly any trouble. Boys and dogs were good together, both bursting with bundles of energy. Even so, she’d have to call them in soon. It was getting late in the evening for an eight-year-old, and she wanted to set a good example as his grammie.

Spying him through the window, she drew in a sharp breath. An eerie green light spilled from somewhere above, haloing him in a cone of brackish illumination. Stock-still, Sam stood as if transfixed, his head tilted back as he gazed up into the weird light. Somewhere out of her line of vision, Rex barked furiously. The sound made the hair on the back on her neck rise, but by the time she reached the door and wrenched it open, the dog had stopped yapping.

“Sam.” Doreen Sue walked onto the rear stoop just as the green light winked out. Like someone throwing a switch. The jarring abruptness left her off-kilter and lightheaded.

It isn’t happening. Not again. Please God, not to Sam.

Shaking off her vertigo, she sprinted from the stoop and was across the yard in record time. “Sam.” Gripping her grandson by the shoulder, she gave him a gentle shake, drawing his attention from the sky. There was nothing. Nothing she could see. “What are you looking at?”

“Huh?” He blinked as if waking from a fog. “N-nothing. Just a cloud.”

Doreen Sue bit her lip. Sam sounded befuddled and, although he wore a jacket against the crisp October air, he shivered. “Look at you. You’re cold to the bone. Let’s get inside.”

Wrapping an arm around his shoulders, she cast a worried glance at the sky. Nothing is there. Nothing was ever there. “Did do you see where Rex got to?”

Sam shook his head as she led him toward the house.

“All right, you go inside and get warm. I’ll look for him.” The dog’s barking had sounded frighteningly out of control. Nothing like the gentle animal she knew. “I won’t be long.”

Sam hesitated when she held open the back door.

“Grammie?” His expression hadn’t changed, still composed of that same odd blankness as if he moved in a haze.

“What is it, baby?”

“Do you have any paper?”

Puzzled by the question, she cocked her head to the side. “What kind of paper?”

“For drawing. I want to draw the cloud.”


Although I changed the events of the encounter in my book, it remains lodged in my head with a sense of wonder and curiosity I hope never to lose. I want to thank Hugh for allowing me to visit and share the story.

If you’d like to read more about UFOs, may I recommend my novel, A Cold Tomorrow? Within its pages, you’ll find green clouds, animal disappearances, MIBs, bright lights in the sky, power outages, and plenty of other oddities. It’s based on historical facts, legends, and folklore surrounding the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

A Cold Tomorrow Blurb:
Stopping to help a motorist in trouble, Katie Lynch stumbles upon a mystery as elusive as the Mothman legend that haunts her hometown of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Could the coded message she finds herald an extraterrestrial visitor? According to locals, it wouldn’t be the first time. And what sense should she make of her young son’s sudden spate of bizarre drawings—and his claim of a late-night visitation? Determined to uncover the truth, Katie only breaks the surface when a new threat erupts. Suddenly her long-gone ex-boyfriend is back and it’s as if he’s under someone else’s control. Not only is he half-crazed, he’s intent on murder….

As a sergeant in the sheriff’s office of the famously uncanny Point Pleasant, Officer Ryan Flynn has learned to tolerate reports of puzzling paranormal events.   But single mom Katie Lynch appears to be in very real danger—and somehow Ryan’s own brother, Caden, is caught up in the madness, too. What the skeptical lawman discovers astounds him—and sends him into action. For stopping whatever evil forces are at play may just keep Katie and Caden alive…

Click here to buy A Cold Tomorrow.

Red house image credit: Bigstockphoto.,com
Image licence owned by Mae Clair

Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts:

Amazon| BookBub| Newsletter Sign-Up
Website | Blog| Twitter| Goodreads

My thanks to Mae for writing this guest post.

Have you ever seen a UFO? What happened and how did you deal with it? Do you have any questions or comments for Mae? Please leave them in the comments box. She would love to hear from you. (No comments for Hugh, please).

Top image credit: Hugh W. Roberts. All other images are owned by licence to Mae Claire.

Can Dogs Solve Murders?

We may not have to introduce ourselves to some of you, but we’re Toby and Austin, two Cardigan Welsh Corgis owned by author Hugh W. Roberts and his partner, John.

#dogs #pets #corgis #books
Austin (left) and Toby

Why are we famous?

We had no idea that we’d be appearing as characters in one of the stories in Hugh’s new book, More Glimpses. He didn’t even ask our permission if he could use us in the story, although we suppose we have to take into account that Hugh and John, feed us, walk us, groom us, look after us and keep us out of danger. Well, we say danger, but that’s not always the case.

What could possibly go wrong in a sleepy, little village?

Picture this: A sleepy, little, village in the heart of the Dorset, in England, on a few sunny days in mid-June. The village may look quaint and as if nobody dared think about committing murder, but nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors, do they?

Murder At The Vicarage - Miss Marple

Those doors can hide all kinds of dark secrets, even more so if you see the door-handle or letterbox flap moving frantically while walking past. Is something trying to get out or, even worse, something you can’t see trying to get in?

#dogs #pets #corgis
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What you shouldn’t do when you discover murder has taken place.

We found ourselves deep in a murder mystery from the day we arrived in Evershot. All you humans seem to do is panic when you hear the news of a local murder because you think you could end up as the next victim. Silly thoughts start entering your minds like is it safe to go out after dark or does rubbing salt into an arctic white carpet remove blood red wine stains?

#pets #dogs #corgis
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Because we have a better sense of smell and sound than you humans, you may think we had an advantage when solving the case. But you humans have a far better sense of sight than us. Use your eyes and look for those red-herrings when reading ‘Murder in Evershot‘ because, like all good murder mysteries, they are there. Sure, we used our noses and ears to solve this case, but not every smell or sound was what we thought it would be.

#photography #WordPress #space #dogs #corgis
Did anyone say treats?

Did we really solve a murder?

You’ll have to read the story to find out how the murder(s) were solved, but if you still don’t know when you’ve finished reading it, then make an appointment with us as the first client of Private Investigators Toby and Austin (Cardigan Welsh Corgis), Bureau of solving the unknown and missing dog treats. However, we’d much rather play chase with each other.

Toby and Austin play

Story #7: Murder In Evershot

Genre: Murder/Mystery

Set in the sleepy, English village of Evershot, John, Toby, Austin, and Hugh find themselves in grave danger when several murders take place. Can they find a well-known detective, who lives in the village, and ask for her help in solving the murders before the murderer finds them?

If you’d like to meet more characters from More Glimpses, click here to meet Jane Collins from the story The Jump, and here to meet the strange ‘being’ from the story The Man In The Television.


This post was written in response to this week’s theme of ‘A Dog’s Life‘, for the Sunday Stills challenge hosted by Terri Webster Schrandt.

Copyright © 2019 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Are the Strangers in Your Dreams Real People or just Figures of your Imagination?

A few week’s ago I kicked off a blog tour for the launch of my new book, More Glimpses. My first stop was at the blog of author, writer, and blogger Debby Kaye, where I was given a terrific welcome.

The guest posts I’ve written for the blog tour all come from some of the characters found in the stories in More Glimpses. Click the link below to meet Jane Collins, who appears in the story The Jump. She asks an interesting question that may have you questioning who appears in your dreams.

Guest Author Hugh Roberts Launching More Glimpses

#MoreGlimpses #books #shortstories

My thanks to Debby for inviting me to use her blog for the tour.

I’ve closed comment here. Please leave any comments over on Debby’s blog.

Copyright © 2019 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Why Books And Libraries Can Be Terrifying Places

Every time I walk into my local library to pick up some recycling bags, I feel like I’m entering a world that doesn’t want me there. Or is it that I don’t want to be there?

Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com

For me, libraries can be terrifying places. Just like picking up a book and opening it can be a terrifying prospect. As an author and writer, you’d think that both would be something I’d get a lot of pleasure from.

Why I’m terrified of libraries and books?

Dyslexia – that’s the answer. As somebody who is dyslexic, reading and writing are two things I have always found difficult. When I enter the library and am faced with all those books that can introduce me to new characters and transport me to different worlds, I feel like a big door is being slammed shut right in front of me. Why? Because I know that I would find it difficult reading many of the books on the shelves.

How does being dyslexic affect me?

Being dyslexic affects me in many different ways. For example, I often find myself struggling to know what a word or its meaning is. Even when I try saying the sounds the letters make as they appear in a word, it doesn’t always come to me. Struggling on a word in the middle of a sentence can literally stop me on my reading track and, sometimes, make me feel a failure. It’s as if the word is some sort of barrier preventing me from carrying on reading.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Occasionally, when I pick up a book, I find myself coming across too many words that I don’t understand. They can be the simplest of words, yet my brain can not work out what the word actually is.

If I have to go back to the beginning of a page or chapter because I don’t understand the plot or what’s going on, I will almost certainly give up on the book. I may have another go, but more often than not I will never pick up that book again.

It’s not only about reading

When it comes to writing, one of the strangest things dyslexia does to me is not putting certain letters in the correct order. I seem to struggle if a word has both an ‘A’ and ‘C’ in it. For example, I can write the word ‘because’ in a blog post lots of times, yet Grammarly will underline every ‘because’ I’ve written because I’ve incorrectly spelt it. It’s always the ‘A’ and ‘C’ in the wrong order. I have trouble with other words where ‘A’ and ‘C’ follow each other too.

Not all is lost

I’m pleased to say that I don’t have problems reading all the books on my ‘TBR’ pile. I seem to go through peaks and dips with them. Recently, after reading a book review by author and blogger Teri Polen, I read ‘Call Drops‘ by John F. Leonard.

Not only did I get pulled into the story quickly, but I also whizzed through it in two sittings. Maybe it was the way the book had been written, but I didn’t struggle with any of it. It was the first book I’d read from start to finish in a while. Of course, I also left reviews on Goodreads and Amazon for it.

Am I reading another book?

You bet. I’m currently reading, and enjoying, The Jack Lockwood Diaries by Geoffrey David West.

A library was the setting for a piece of flash fiction from my first collection of short stories, Glimpses. Set in the future, it’s a story about a teacher who takes her pupils to a library where she reveals the truth behind the disappearance of trees.

Story #28: The Library – by Hugh W. Roberts


“And this is the library.”
The students stood open-mouthed.
“So, these are books?”
“Yes, these are books, Trudy.”
“How many are there, Mrs Millar?” inquired Tommy.
“Nobody has ever counted, but we think several million,” replied the teacher as she nodded slowly. “And paper is what every one of these books has in common.”
“So, this is the main reason why all the trees disappeared from Planet Earth?” asked Trudy.
Mrs Millar continued to nod her head while admiring the books.
“Yes, and each and every one of the authors that was alive when the last of the trees disappeared, was put to death for the crime they committed,” smiled the teacher.

Click here to buy Glimpses.

Happy endings

I allowed dyslexia to suppress my love of writing for far too long. In February 2014, when I published my first blog post, I felt like I had conquered it. Maybe I can do the same with reading books and visiting my local library?

I’ve often heard it said that people with dyslexia have unique imaginations. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it’s been a happy ending for me.

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Now it’s over to you

Are you dyslexic? How do you manage with your reading and writing? What book are you reading at the moment? Tell me about them by leaving me a comment.

This post is my entry to the Sunday Stills challenge, hosted by Terri Webster Schrandt. This week’s theme is ‘For the Love of Reading and Books.’ Click here for full details.

Copyright © 2019 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Creating Atmosphere In Fiction – by Esther Chilton

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Esther Chilton to my blog.

While I’m putting the finishing touches to my next short story collection, Esther kindly accepted my invitation to write a guest post. This is a must-read for anyone who is in the process of writing fiction, whether it is for an upcoming book, competition, for publication in a magazine, or as a blog post.  Esther gives lots of great writing advice and tips over on her blog.

#writingtips #writing #authors
Image Credit: Pixabay

To be successful, a short story or novel needs to develop a strong sense of atmosphere. This draws your readers into your story so they can imagine this world you are creating. It also sets up expectations for them and gives them information about the characters they’re likely to meet in your story.

Here are some ways to help you ensure your readers feel as if they’re right there alongside your characters, experiencing the story for themselves:

Setting   

Setting isn’t the same as atmosphere, but it is a big part of it and can help to shape the mood of the story. A story set in an abandoned warehouse immediately evokes a sense of eeriness and isolation, of neglect and dreariness.

Make sure you choose a setting which suits the type of story you’re writing. Different settings create different atmospheres. In a ghost story, you want the atmosphere to be creepy and one of trepidation. An ideal setting is an old theatre or graveyard. A setting on a crowded beach in Malaga induces a very different atmosphere.

Description

You can’t create atmosphere without description. But this doesn’t mean you need paragraphs and paragraphs of purple prose to ensure your readers can picture the scene. A few powerful adjectives and adverbs will effectively make your readers feel part of the story.

Perhaps you have chosen a hotel as your setting. Using different words can dramatically vary the atmosphere created. For example, look at the following description of the hotel:

She eagerly hurried inside, her eyes soaking up the sumptuous sofas, gleaming floors and dazzling chandelier taking centre stage. 

This short passage gives an image of light, of space and a pleasant place to stay. From this passage, your readers can also imagine the type of people the main character will meet e.g. smart businessmen and wealthy women.

The following describes a contrasting hotel and produces a very different mood:

She gingerly stepped inside, her eyes widening at the sagging sofas, the filthy floor and dull, flickering light.

Here, the hotel comes across as dingy and dirty. Your readers can picture this hotel’s patrons as seedy and up to no good.

Five Senses

Sight and sound are often used to bring a scene to life and for impacting upon the tone of a story. But the senses of smell, touch and taste can also affect a story’s mood. A rundown cafe might smell like a mixture of sweaty training shoes and over-fried chips. The menu may be caked in sticky sauce and clammy mashed potato. Perhaps the tea tastes like stagnant water.

Your readers will be able to imagine themselves there, smelling the vile scents, feeling the congealed food on the menu and tasting the liquid being passed off as tea.

Weather

The weather is a useful tool for producing a certain type of atmosphere. A gloriously sunny day immediately conjures up feelings of warmth and joy, where something happy is about to happen. This may be the atmosphere you want to create for a wedding in your story. Though, perhaps it’s a wedding doomed not to take place. Again, you can use the weather to change the mood of the story and build up a mounting sense of tension, with the wind gathering momentum and thick clouds charging across the sky.

Time

The time of day can make a difference to the type of atmosphere your readers feel. For example, you can darken a story by setting it at night. There’s always an extra sense of menace, of threat and uncertainty in a story that takes place at night.

First Person Viewpoint

A story written in the first person can be very effective in creating a sense of atmosphere and making your readers feel as if they are part of the story, seeing and experiencing everything along with that character. Take the following example:

I looked at the garden, at the weeds weaving their way towards the house, merging with the ivy-coated walls. Something tugged at my memory. A smell – of unwashed skin, of bad breath and of something worse. Much worse. I shuddered, shivering and shaking. I remembered.

See how you share in this character’s horror, seeing, smelling and feeling everything she is.

So now you have some tools for ensuring your story is an atmospheric masterpiece!

About Esther Chilton/Newton

#blogger #author #writer #books
Author, writer and blogger Esther Chilton

I’ve always loved words and writing, but I started out working with figures in a bank. I was on an accelerated training programme and studying banking exams, which meant I didn’t have time for writing so it wasn’t long before it was a thing of the past – or so I thought. My love affair with writing ignited again when I had an accident and seriously injured my back. It meant I could no longer carry out my job working in the bank and it led me back to writing, which has now become a daily part of my life.

I’ve now been working as a freelance writer for nearly twenty years, regularly writing articles and short stories for magazines and newspapers such as Freelance Market News, Writers’ Forum, Writing Magazine, The Guardian, Best of British, The Cat, and The People’s Friend to name a few.

Winner of Writing Magazine, Writers’ News and several other writing competitions and awards, I have also had the privilege of judging writing competitions.

As well as working as a freelance writer, I have branched out into the exciting world of copywriting, providing copy for sales letters, brochures, leaflets, web pages, slogans and e-mails.

I love writing, but equally, I enjoy helping others, which I achieve in my role as a tutor for The Writers Bureau. I feel like a proud parent when one of my students has a piece of writing published. Some of them have gone on to become published authors and have achieved great success.

In addition to tutoring, I work as a freelance copyeditor offering an editing, guidance and advice service for authors and writers. I’ve edited novels, non-fiction books, articles and short stories.

If you’d like my help or would like to know more about what I can do for you, please get in touch: estherchilton@gmail.com

Connect With Esther

Blog: https://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com

Twitter: @esthernewton201

Linkedin: Esther Chilton

The Siege and Other Award-Winning Short Stories:

Blurb: After launching her short story collection, ‘The Siege and Other Award Winning Short Stories’ as an e-book, freelance writer and The Writers Bureau tutor, Esther Newton, received numerous requests to bring out a paperback version.

#books #shortstories

‘The Siege and Other Award Winning Short Stories’ paperback features a further six short stories, as well as the original twelve from the e-book, offering more drama, more tension, more laughs and even more emotion.  From the heart-rending story of a young girl who’s never had a friend, to some special letters to Father Christmas, to a woman running away from a violent man, each story will keep you reading on straight into the next.

The collection includes prize-winning short stories from Writing Magazine, Writers’ News, The Global Short Story and Ouze Valley Writers competitions, amongst others.

Buying Links:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

And all other online stores. The book can also be ordered through all good bookshops. Additionally, Esther has copies of the paperback for sale at £5 each. You can order one directly through her. If you’re interested, please contact her at: estherchilton@gmail.com

Esther is currently working on her next collection of short stories, A Walk in the Woods and other Short Stories. It’ll feature some prize-winning stories, as well as some new ones. Look out for it later this year.

If you have any questions or comments for Esther, please leave them in the comments section.

Click here to follow Hugh’s writing tips magazine on Flipboard

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