Electric Press February 2020

Page 1

“The highest branch of solitary amusement is reading; but even in the choice of books the fancy is first employed; for in reading, the heart is touched, till its feelings are examined by the understanding, and the ripening of reason regulate the imagination. This is the work of years, and the most important of all employments.� Mary Wollstonecraft, Original stories from real life; with conversations, calculated to regulate the affections, and form the mind to truth and goodness.


Hello and welcome to twenty-twenty; a

Electric Press plans to bring you even

new year and the start of a new

more exciting and diverse literary

decade, which looks very exciting from

insights, interesting essays, amazing

Electric Press's viewpoint because we

offers, and fun articles throughout the

have so much to bring you.

year, so now is the time to share

In this edition alone we feature Mary

Electric Press with your family, friends,

Wollenscraft, often referred to as the

colleagues and associates as well as to

original suffragette, help Electric

your social networks so they too can

Eclectic launch the Novella Fiction Prize

enjoy all we have to bring.

- a superb writing competition where

Besides, Electric Press is free to read, so

the winners have their work published,

what are you waiting for?

have the opportunity to support Vision

We are always open to ideas and

2020, a global initiative for the

suggestions to help us improve Electric

elimination of avoidable blindness, find

Press, so please, feel free to contact us

exciting books from established and

and comment. We really do read all the

new writers, read fantastic author

letters and emails sent to us and love

interviews, examine what it means to

hearing from you.

collect 'first books', learn how to write a quality book review, and we visit some fantastic holiday destinations for book lovers‌ and a whole bunch of

Enjoy this, the February edition of Electric Press. Paul, Editor.

other 'stuff' too.


Inside this edition Inside this edition Inside this edition Page 5 First Books Article Page 10 Boys will be boys Book choice Page 14 It’s for You Short Story Page 22 Why the World is Speaking English Article Page 27 Float Micro Fiction

Page 28 Literary Destinations Travel Article Page 36 Coming of Age Life Article Page 40 The Moon Hunters Book Review Page 44 Our Cover Story Feature

Page 48 Out on the Tracks Short Story Page 54 Writing for Charity Anthologies Article Page 58 A Gran Tour Author Interview Page 64 Mystery of Missing People Article

Page 70 The Dilemma Short Story Page76 I am a Bookworm Insight Article Page 78 Earth – A true story

The stories Within the Invisible Pentacle vary widely; some will make you laugh aloud. Some nod in agreement and understanding. Others will make you shiver with apprehension or fear, while a few may bring tears to your eyes and build a lump in your throat. Each tale is written with consideration for our fragile human disposition, the fears, the dreams and wishes, the uncertainties and self-doubts we all carry inside ourselves, the human elements of love, of life and for personal survival‌ or simple resignation to our fate.

m y b o o k .t o / w t i p e n ta c l e

Celebrated authors and the Unknown writer When collecting first books, one is often dealing

manifestation of an authors work to be

with an author's scarcest work both in terms of

published, which can be a short story or a

sheer numbers; first novels typically have a

collection of such, poetry, a novella or novelette,

smaller print run than subsequent books, (once

fact, semi-fiction or fiction.

the author is established) and because,

The reason for collecting literary first editions,

historically, a smaller number of copies are likely

including first books, should not be primarily

to survive.

financial. There are safer bets if one is looking for

Standing orders from libraries account for a

return on investment. The reason for collecting

significant percentage of total sales of literary

first editions resides in what underlies the

works in the U.S. The smaller first print run also

monetary value of the artefact, which is the

means fewer copies are then available for the

intangible "value" of the books themselves

rest of the book trade. (Library books, because

The important criterion of what is collectible,

the way they are marked, glued, pocketed, etc.,

ultimately, is whether the item in question has

are generally ruled unfit for collecting as rare

specific meaning for you and enhances your


appreciation of life. For some people, artwork,

Also, copies of a first book do not go directly into

ceramics, lamps or even bank notes do that; for

the rare book trade or the collector's market

others, books do, and collecting books makes

unless the book is an instant success, so, by the

sense. In the end, you create your library and

time an author is "established," natural attrition

your library defines you. Collecting the authors

will have taken its toll.

whose work speaks directly to your heart is the

Oh, first books do not always mean a 'Debut

"safest" course, because it ensures your

Novel' or a 'First Edition', but the first physical

collection will always be valuable, regardless of what others would pay for the books you own.

Authors 'firsts'

is considered "valuable" in some intangible way; its first edition, being the earliest example

The fame of authors included herein varies widely: some are names virtually everyone knows; others are writers few people have any knowledge of‌ yet.

of this significant, or valuable, work tends to be considered valuable in an artefactual way and, like any artefact, the scarcer the item and the more widely it is appreciated, the more expensive it is to acquire.

First works must stand on their own merit

rather than rely on their authors' reputations.

The same is true for first books: every published author has a first book. What makes

The quality varies substantially: some, like Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone With the Wind' and Harper Lee's 'To Kill a Mockingbird', became instant classics, winning literary awards and becoming perennial bestsellers; others, like Edward Abbey's 'Jonathan Troy', Tobias

a first book valuable, generally, is either the book itself made an impact or the book's author later came into prominence for some other work(s), thereby retroactively, as it were, establishing the "importance" of their first book.

Wolff's 'Ugly Rumours', John Cheever's 'The Way Some People Live' and Tracy Kidder's 'The Road to Yuba City', were later viewed by their authors as examples of youthful indiscretion or folly (and virtually disavowed), never coming

Several world-renowned authors have very modest first books, which gave little indication of the eventual esteem in which the authors would be held.

back into print even after their authors became

Ernest Hemingway's first book, a small

well-established literary figures.

pamphlet published in Paris and called,

Some, like Mitchell's and Lee's, were the only books the authors produced during their lifetime; most often, however, first books signal the start of long and productive literary career.

unpretentiously, "Three Stories and Ten Poems", was issued in an edition of 300 copies, most of which seem to have disappeared by the time his first novel, 'The Sun Also Rises', was published and he began a literary ascent

Someone once pointed out the one thing all

culminating in his being acclaimed, in his own

books share is they had a first edition.

lifetime, as the greatest American writer ever.

So it is not that a book is found in its first

Similarly, William Faulkner's first book, 'The

edition, per se, which makes it valuable; rather,

Marble Faun', was published in an unheralded,

it is the book itself made a significant impact

small, fragile edition limited to approximately

(or its author did) consequently the book itself

500 copies, few of which have survived.

Both books are now worth around $20,000

areas of experience that might otherwise have

because of their rarity and because of their

remained hidden and made them accessible to

"importance" as the earliest published works

large numbers of contemporary readers,

by two of the greatest American writers, both

broadening our horizons and expanding our

of whom went on to become Nobel Prize

cultural consciousness.

winners. Others have won prizes recognizing the value Another scenario, but also typical of first books,

of their work or, as in the case of an

applies to John Steinbeck's novel, 'The Cup of

idiosyncratic writer like Edward Abbey, simply

Gold'. It received mixed reviews, at best, upon

pursued a personal vision with enough

publication and sold poorly. The total sales

relentlessness and persuasiveness as to in

amounting to only about 1500 copies, many of

effect create a new category of awareness; in

which went to libraries.

Abbey's case, the idea of the social, and even

The rest of the first printing sat in storage,

spiritual, value of wilderness, (which in

unsold and, indeed, unbound until years later,

American literature dates back to Thoreau and

after Steinbeck's literary reputation was firmly

beyond), was extended to include the

established, when the remainder were bound

seemingly barren desert Southwest and the

up and issued by a new publisher.

notion of the intrinsic value of wilderness itself,

Consequently, the true first edition is extremely

of all kinds, is now a truism.


These writers have made a difference. Their

These days, the unsold books would have been

books have helped shape the consciousness of

remaindered or, if no one wanted them,

our times.

pulped. Since the advent of collecting modern first The question of what first books to collect has no simple, single answer. Works that have left a mark on our literature and have influenced our culture and, thus, by extension, the way we look at the world.

editions; a practice dated to the time of the Great Depression, when book collections in more traditional fields failed to maintain the values they had achieved in the heady economic times of the Twenties, personal taste

Some, like Hemingway or Steinbeck or

has been as much a determinant of

Fitzgerald, are universally considered classics;

collectability as the more traditional criteria,

other, younger writers, like Tim O'Brien or

including antiquity, scholarly significance and

Leslie Silko, have taken particular events or

breakthrough technologies.

Auction catalogues from the late Twenties and

interest in his earlier work. (All the Pretty Horses

early Thirties show a healthy interest in such

had hardcover sales more than ten times

writers as Conrad and Galsworthy, Faulkner and

greater than all five of his previous books

Steinbeck, all of whom, except for Conrad, were


still writing at the time.

Similarly, Anne Tyler's first several books were

The "prices realized" can be instructive:

published in editions of 5000 or so, whereas

Galsworthy's books commanded much more

today her books have print runs of 100,000 or

than Conrad's in those days, whereas today the

more. And in the nearly two decades between

reverse is true.

her first book, 'If Morning Ever Comes', and her

Faulkners and Steinbecks could be had, signed,

first bestseller, 'Dinner at the Homesick

for a few dollars. Today, however, even

Restaurant', the supply of her early titles in

unsigned Faulkners and Steinbecks from the

collectible condition simply dried up.

Thirties sell for hundreds of dollars; signed

'If Morning Ever Comes' in some cases, like

copies can bring thousands.

Hemingway's and Faulkner's, an author's first

The comparison to today's authors should not

book was published by a small press, well

be overlooked: some of today's younger writers

before he or she could catch the interest of the

will become the Faulkners and Fitzgeralds of

major publishers. Occasionally such books can

their day, the writers who most fully capture an

become readily available when the author has a

essential element of their time, preserve it for

breakthrough, because the press was so small

posterity and connect it with the fundamental

they didn't sell out the original book, and copies

human experience, as was the case with

remain warehoused until there is more demand

Faulkner's and Hemingway's and Steinbeck's

for them.

first books, the first books by today's young

However, it is far more common for a first book

writers are likely to be lost in the buzz and hype

done by a small press to become exceedingly

of an American publishing industry that releases

difficult to locate retrospectively. Examples

over 100,000 titles a year.

abound, and the greater the length of time

Cormac McCarthy's first book, 'The Orchard

between the first book and the later

Keeper', while not as scarce as 'The Marble

"breakthrough," the more difficult the job of

Faun' or 'Three Stories and Ten Poems',

finding the author's first book.

nonetheless, over a quarter century faded into

The question of whether these books' value will

obscurity before his novel 'All the Pretty Horses'

last is a legitimate one. There's no certain

won the National Book Award and the National

answer since the verdict of history has not yet

Book Critics Circle Award and stimulated

been rendered on today's writing.

Much discussion and argument can take place

Press' you will find many independent authors

about which works will, or won't, survive.

and those utilising the services of small press

Many important figures of 19th century

publishers. Each of these authors have 'first

literature have faded into obscurity over the

books' available. Some still have the first

years; others, like Melville, whose literary

editions of these first books for sale at

reputation was resurrected in the 1920s,

standard book prices.

decades after his death, are now viewed as key

Any one of these authors, these 'Unknown

figures of their time.

writers' could be the next literary celebrity and

Will John Barth and Margaret Atwood be

you could be the proud owner of a first edition

more likely to be read a hundred years from

of their first book.

now, or Anne Rice and Stephen King? No one

Of course, the above refers to real books,


physical books, whether Hardcover, Paperback

However, Allen and Pat Ahearn, in their

or Pamphlet. No electronic file, a so called

volume 'Book Collecting: A Comprehensive

'eBook'. can hold any instinct value or be

Guide' (NY: Putnam, 1995), tracked a list of

considered a first published book, simply

more than 200 collected authors for whom

because it is not.

accurate price records existed in the late Thirties and early Forties and found that 50 years later all but 8 of the authors were still widely collected and the values of their first editions had appreciated at a rate quadrupling the Cost of Living Index. The combination of scarcity and literary significance will always be a primary determinant of price, because the latter fuels demand and the former limits supply. First books in general tend to be scarce; first books by significant literary authors may well represent one of the safest bets in collecting modern literature. Within the pages of each edition of 'Electric

Check out some 'first books' here.



(must read books for boys men) 10 books which should appeal to most men, (and a ton of women too!) about doing all those 'outdoorsy' adventurous and survive-in-the-wilderness types of things we grew up reading about in comic books.

Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe, is the

The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling, is

classic "stranded on a desert island" book.

actually a collection of short stories by Kipling

The protagonist, Robinson Crusoe, "chronicles his

published in the 1890s.

daily battle to stay alive, as he conquers isolation,

Set in India, the stories are actually fables in which

fashions shelter and clothes, enlists the help of a

talking animals are used to teach a moral. The

native islander who he names 'Friday', and fights

most famous of these stories are about the

off cannibals and mutineers."

abandoned "man cub" Mowgli, a boy raised in the

UK https://amzn.to/2ZQA3Y6

wild by wolves.

USA RobCrusoeDD

UK https://amzn.to/2QKnSZ0 USA JunglebookRK

If you never read any of these when you were growing up, I suggest you do so now. Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann David Wyss,

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark

is about a shipped-wrecked family that must

Twain, is an American classic.

survive and adapt to life alone on a tropical

Considered "controversial" in today's highly


sensitive, PC-culture because of its honest

Written in the early 1800s, the book is

portrayal or race relations of its day, including

somewhat "off" in certain details of natural

the frequent use of the word "nigger," this book

history (for example, an impossibly wide range

should be mandatory reading for every school

on animals are native to the island). However,

kid, but often avoided. However, the book's

this is still a classic tale of family adventure and

protagonist is solidly anti-racist, as is the book's


overall theme.

UK https://amzn.to/2MTULBp

UK https://amzn.to/2sDs30N

USA SwissFamWyss


Old Yeller, by Fred Gipson. Yes, this is the book the Disney movie is based on. A timeless American classic and one of the most beloved children’s books ever written, Old Yeller is a Newbery Honor Book that explores the poignant and unforgettable bond between a boy and the stray dog who becomes his loyal friend.

Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, is the first of the Little House on the Prairie books.

UK https://amzn.to/2FlwrnD

Sometimes considered a 'girl's book' because it is told from the point of view of Laura Ingell, the story is really about the life and struggles of an American pioneer family in the 1870s. Pioneering life is hard, with plenty of adventures to keep things interesting.

USA YellerGipson

UK https://amzn.to/36qcF6u USA LittleBigWilder

The Call of the Wild and White Fang, both by

Stormy, by Jim Kjelgaard, is a fantastic

Jack London, are set in Canada during the

adventure story about a boy, Allan Marley, and

Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s.

Stormy, an abused dog accused of turning on its

Full of dogs, wolves, adventure, and survival,


these fast-paced books will hold the attention of

I won't give away too much of this story, but

most boys, while teaching positive themes of

basically the two have some amazing adventures

morality and redemption.

and ultimately save each other.

UK https://amzn.to/2tyhlbD

UK https://amzn.to/2QJeswR

USA WildLondon

USA StormyJim

Big Red: The Story of a Champion Irish Setter

Not an adventure novel, but rather a wide-

and a Trapper's Son Who Grew Up Together,

ranging collection of articles on topics of

Roaming the Wilderness, is another book by Jim

particular interest to boys, The Dangerous Book

Kjelgaard (too often forgotten as a great author

for Boys, by Conn Iggulden, is a book I wish I had

of young adult adventure books).

when I was growing up.

The rather long title pretty much sums up this

Topics covered include essential gear for boys,

book. All of Kjelgaard's books are must-reads for

paper airplanes, the seven wonders of the

boys, in my opinion.

ancient world, the 5 knots every boy should

UK https://amzn.to/39EJFtO USA BigRedJim

know, dinosaurs, making a bow and arrow, understanding grammar, famous battles, first aid, cloud formations, astronomy, navigation, the Declaration of Independence, building a workbench, and seven poems every boy should know, among many others. UK https://amzn.to/2QsePwV USA DangbookIgg

The Daring Book for Girls, by Andrea J. Buchanan.

The manual for everything that girls need to know--and that doesn't mean sewing buttonholes! Whether it's female heroes in history, secret note-passing skills, science projects, friendship bracelets, double dutch, cats cradle, the perfect cartwheel or the eternal mystery of what boys are thinking, this book has it all. But it's not just a guide to giggling at sleepovers--although that's included, of course! Whether readers consider themselves tomboys, girly-girls, or a little bit of both, this book is every girl's invitation to adventure. UK https://amzn.to/2uemLZO USA DaringGirlBuch

It’s for You A short story by Stevie Turner

The display screen verifies my mother, who

“Yeah.” I nod. “But indeed! This is the second time

departed this life in a rage of pain two years ago,

it’s happened, and I’ve missed both of them!”

has once again tried, unsuccessfully, to call me

Mum’s image flashes momentarily into my

from a phone I consigned to a skip back in 2017

thoughts. Even after two years, it’s hard to come

when I cleared her house.

to terms with the fact cancer wrenched her away.

I fling off my coat, pull the cordless phone out of its

Bob takes the phone from me and stares at the

holder and stare at Mum’s number in disbelief. Her

screen again.

phone was accidentally immersed in water or

“Perhaps someone picked it up from the landfill?”

dropped onto hard flooring so many times as to make it virtually useless, but now my own two eyes are telling me something entirely different. “Hey, how’s it going?” I turn around, mouth still agape, when I hear Bob’s voice and raise the phone up to his eye level.

“What does that say on there?”

“No.” I shake my head. “She always said she’d come back if she could. This is her way of doing it.” Ever the sceptic, Bob makes his I-don’t-believe-aword-you’re-saying tut of disapproval. “Don’t get your hopes up, Carrie.” But that’s where he’s wrong. I just know my mother is trying to contact me from the other side.

Bob squints at the screen and then looks down at

When Bob disappears upstairs, I ring Mum’s

me from his lofty height of 6 feet 2 inches.

number and press the phone close to my ear.

“Er… it says, Mum. But…”


I wait in anticipation for two weeks before the shrill

“Hi, Nan.” I hope Bob cannot hear me. “Do you like

ring and display screen once again informs me

the makeover we gave your grave?”

mother is calling. I have my hands in a bowl of flour

“I ain’t dead, you silly moo.” Nan’s raspy voice

and margarine and dash for a cloth before the

echoes down the phone. “I’m here, with your

phone goes silent. With trembling fingers, I press


the green ‘receive’ button. I fail to hear Bob’s footsteps but feel a pinch to my “Mum?”


I can hear a long scratchy sound, like the one old-

“Two sugars in mine, please. Who’s on the phone?”

fashioned gramophone records made when the stylus became stuck.

He wouldn’t believe me if I told him.

“Mum? Can you hear me?” Then the most amazing thing happens. My mother’s

Bob answers the next call.

voice, complete with her execrable East London

“It’s for you.” He holds out the receiver and laughs.

accent, comes down the line loud and clear.

“It says ‘Mum’.”

“Carrie! I ain’t spoken to you in ages!”

He’s listening intently as I start to speak.

I scream and drop the phone. Mum’s voice shouts


out from the terracotta tiles.

“I thought about speaking to you again so, here I

“Bloody ‘ell! What was that noise?”


Slowly in stupefied shock, I stoop to pick it up.

Mum’s voice is unmistakable. I look at Bob and

“Where are you?”

There’s a throaty chuckle in my ear. “I’m anywhere I want to be. Right now I’m standing in Nan’s garden. Nan says hello.” My kitchen looks the same as it always does. There’s a mixing bowl of dough on the worktop and the kettle has just boiled. Steam issues from the

shrug. “It’s Mum.” “Yeah, of course, it’s Mum.” My mother butts in as she always used to do. “Who else calls me Mum? Only you!” “What?” Bob’s face is a picture. “Let me speak to her.”

spout, next to it stands a mug with a teabag inside.

I pass the phone over to him, excited to see his

It’s all reassuringly familiar, except now I’m talking


to my mother, who has no earthly body. She, in

“Dottie?” He gives me a blank stare. “Dottie? Is that

turn, is with my grandmother, who died in 1967 and


is buried in the East London Cemetery.

He thrusts the receiver back in my hand.

“You need your bumps felt. There’s nobody there.” But there is. Mum’s roar of laughter makes me smile. “I ain’t speaking to ‘im. Not now I know what he’s done.” My heart begins to race. “And what’s that?”

Bob shakes his head at me, twists his forefinger against the side of his temple, and walks out. Mum coughs the cigarette-soaked rattle which eventually carried her off. “That’s a funny old game of darts he’s playing every Thursday night. He’s certainly scoring a bullseye though.”

It’s Thursday evening. Has Bob gone for drill practice? He left with a cheery wave and his darts just like he’s always done. Mum hasn’t rung since her last announcement and I’m restless. I cannot settle to my soaps. Instead, I slide Brokeback Mountain into

Yes, Bob always had his night at the pub with his

the DVD player and wonder for the umpteenth time

boozy pals for years.

whether Bob is my Ennis Del Mar.

It gives me a few hours’ peace to watch all the

I hate the ending and turn it off at the turkey

soaps I record and save up for just the occasion. I

dinner, then grab my coat and bag and head out

feel a bit sick as I pipe up with a reply.

towards The Fox & Firkin. If Mum is yanking my

“Has he got another woman then?”

chain from beyond the grave, then Bob will give me

“Er…not exactly,” Mum answers straight away. “If

a strange look as I walk in, then carry on with his

you really want to know… he bats for the Middlesex

darts match.


It’s spitting with rain; the pub is half empty. I give a

“You mean he’s gay?” My voice rises with the

wave to the landlord, who is drying glasses behind

incredulity of it all. “Bob is gay?”

the bar.

“As a daffodil, my dear.”

“Hi, Ray. Has Bob been in?”

The familiar scratchy stuck stylus noise assaults my

Ray shakes his head.

ear, and Mum has gone.

“No. Haven’t seen him for ages.”

I flop down onto a chair and exhale forcefully. I

Several regulars look up from their pints and stare

don’t know what to do.

at me with interest. I feel my face redden. “Okay, never mind.”

I run home and pick up the phone. Bob’s mobile

“Yeah, great.” He gives me a squeeze. “Three

number is unavailable. Alarmed, I do something


I’ve never even thought of doing before; I hunt

It’s good to have him home. As we sink into sleep

through his wardrobe, his chest of drawers and

it occurs to me whatever Bob may or may not be,

his writing desk. I find nothing, although I don’t

he has been a fantastic husband to me for over

know what I’m looking for.

twenty-five years. He has his night out every

It’s gone midnight when he returns and I’m still

Thursday, although I suddenly realise he never

wide awake. I hear the shower running, then he

smells of beer when he comes home. We have a

creeps into bed beside me. There is a pleasant

good life together, and if he has anything to

aroma of shower gel and shampoo.

confess, I know he will tell me when he’s ready.

“Sorry to wake you up.”

Mum has never called me since. I expect she’s

“That’s okay,” I reply. “Had a nice evening?”


Stevie Tu r n e r Stevie Turner grew up in the East End of London and was fortunate enough to attend an excellent primary school which encouraged creative writing. After winning an inter-schools’ writing contest, Stevie began to

keep a diary and often added little stories and poems to it as the years went by. However, she did not take up writing seriously until 2013. By this time her two sons had left home and she had more time to herself. Stevie has now written 11 novels, 6 novellas, 1 memoir, and 18 short stories, winning a New Apple Book Award in 2014 and a Readers’ Favorite Gold Award in 2015 for her third novel ‘A House Without Windows’. You can find details of all her books on her website http://www.stevie-turner-author.co.uk Stevie still lives in the same picturesque Suffolk village that she and husband Sam moved to in 1991 with their two boys. One of her short stories, ‘Lifting the Black Dog’, was published in ‘1000 Words or Less Flash Fiction Collection’ (2016). She has also written an article ‘Look on the Bright Side of Life’ which was included in the 2016 book ‘They Say I’m Doing Well’ which are articles about mental illness, proceeds of which go to the charity MIND. Her screenplay ‘For the Sake of a Child’ won a silver award in the Spring 2017 Depth of Field International Film Festival, and her novel ‘A House Without Windows’ gained interest in 2017 from an independent film production company based in New York.

Pa r t n e r s in T i m e A n o v e l by

S t e v i e Tu r n e r Amazon UK https://amzn.to/2SV343r Amazon USA https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1916012256

John Finbow, a successful writer, and his wife Kay move into Southcombe Rectory, a large Victorian house that has been empty since the 1960s. Previously owned by the Cuthbertson family who had lived there for generations. Their marriage is under strain, as John, 39 would like children before he gets too old, but Kay, 34, does not. When John is working in his study soon after moving in, he is disturbed by the sight of a young woman who appears out of the blue on his sofa. Emily Cuthbertson, whose old bedroom is now John’s study, was 25 at the time of her death and the youngest of 8 offspring of the late Reverend Arthur Cuthbertson and his wife Delia. Emily had died in 1868 but is now unwilling to leave behind her old life on earth, due to having missed out on a family of her own whilst being a companion to her widowed mother. Emily is still desperate for a husband and children, and John is the answer to her dreams. One hundred and thirty years separate them. Will Emily and John’s love survive time’s relentless march?

THE ELECTRIC ECLECTI C NOVELLA FICTION PRIZE 2020 The Electric Eclectic Novella Fiction Prize is a competition for emerging writers and indie

authors. We encourage submissions from all literary fictional genres with no restrictions on theme or subject. The emphasis of the judging will be on ambitious, imaginative and innovative approaches which explore and expand creative writing.

PRIZES INCLUDE A full Paperback publishing package and marketing campaign to support the winning title. Branded eBook publishing for the two runners-up. Design Studio book covers. Professional social media book launch. Managed internet marketing bundle. Marketing material. Web page author bio and book listing. Feature article in International magazine. Book listed on specialist Amazon site. Inclusion into 2021 ‘THE LIST’.

ELECTRIC ECLECTIC Is a decentralised international co-operative alliance, managed by members in various countries around the globe, forming a strong branded synergy of collaborative association specialising in authorship, book branding, publishing, marketing and promotions.

DETAILS Full prize rules and how to enter are on the Electric Eclectic website, http://bit.ly/visitEEbooks Email: EEbookbranding@mail.com

A bit about


Michael Sykes After attending grammar school in

Michael returned to the private sector to

Sheffield, MICHAEL SYKES joined the

join Unilabs UK as the Managing Director

Royal Navy as a junior radio operator.

and then Chairman before deciding to

Following sea-service in HMS Ark Royal, he

travel and work abroad with his wife,

joined the Submarine Service. He was

teaching English and business.

commissioned before leaving the Royal

He started and owned a language school

Navy in his mid-thirties.

and translation agency in Slovenia and was

His last RN appointment, as a Lt Cdr in the

asked by Cambridge University to become

2nd Submarine Squadron, included work

an English language examiner.

on the privatisation arrangements for the Royal Dockyard, Plymouth.

In recent years, he was also the Chairman of an anti-piracy maritime security

His first civilian job was Personnel Director

company and became a published author.

of Bupa Health Services and he was closely

He has spoken at many conferences on

involved in the company's rapid expansion

management subjects, been interviewed by

and recruitment of personnel.

the BBC and had several articles printed in

He was made an Executive Director in the

various papers and journals.

same company, with direct responsibility

Micael has three children, one of whom

for the management of medical centres

was in the armed forces. Members of his

and was then asked to join the National

extended family are still in the armed

Health Service as a Regional Executive

forces. His home is in South Hampshire,

Director, with particular responsibilities for

England, UK.

implementing NHS reforms.

Why the World is Speaking English A Sideways Look How did your interest in this subject (the book) develop? By accident, really, and then it grew gradually. I created a language school in the Balkans as I wanted to do something completely different and I was struck by how many people spoke English. I asked a group of my adult 'students' . . .. why their English was so good? Their answers were always the same: English is easy to learn, PLUS, you need English and most good jobs now demand it - it is a vital career requirement, which is very motivating. This started me thinking about where on earth English had 'come from' when the indigenous Saxons spoke a type of German and the new Normans spoke French - then suddenly, in quite a short time, we were speaking English (in Britain). Why was it an 'easy' language, and how or why it had spread so widely, quietly, unrecognised, uncommented. It is a fascinating and accidental achievement, especially when you think that the British Council say 25% of the world speaks passable English despite competition from Spanish and French so much in the past. It is a remarkable fact that this relatively small island, England, has somehow invented this language gift for the world - a potential world language.

You have travelled the world extensively, have you noticed any countries where there is a resistance to English as a “world Language�? The answer is no, I have not encountered resistance to English as a lingua franca, bridge language, or link language; in fact, the opposite (I'm not keen on the term world language). There is a strong desire to learn and improve. One good example is China. I examine for Cambridge University English language exams. At the beginning of the 2000s, we used to receive few exams from China. This has since exploded and the examiners are now divided into two cadres China marking, and Rest of the World (ROW) marking - there are so many entrants from China it almost overwhelms Cambridge. The Chinese seem determined to learn English. There used to be some haughty resistance in France to English, but this has largely evaporated, especially with the younger generations. It is now a compulsory subject in Spain and Italy (which is remarkable) and in all the East European countries I know. So, rather than resistance, there is tremendous growth in English learning.

You speak about the strengths and controversies surrounding this topic, can you provide a few examples of each? Strengths: • Globalisation, travel, and the explosion in communication has prompted the need for a verbal lingua franca - for business especially. English fills that gap. • Pop and Hollywood movies are more worldwide than people imagine, and it is common to hear people, especially youngsters, articulating popular songs in English. Though they may not always realise what they are singing, they are being familiarised with English. • The BBC is by far the worlds largest foreign broadcaster. The variety of BBC programmes that appear on so many foreign TVs is incredible. I have seen Bob the Builder, 'The Blue Planet', Jamie Oliver, and 'Top Gear' in different foreign countries. Even if they use sub-titles, listeners are still being exposed. I had a young student who spoke such excellent English that I assumed she had lived in an English-speaking country. No, she hadn't, she learnt her English from watching CBeebies (BBC), she told me. • English is easy to learn (I'm repeating this, but it's true). There are no noun genders (everything is 'the'), our verbs are very easy with uncomplicated endings, we don't have to change our words to match gender, and our vocabulary gives choices and many words are derived from other languages. The only difficulty in English is spelling. But, 90% of communication throughout the world is verbal so spelling is not really a problem, especially with spell-checkers. • English is flexible and adaptable. There is no central English language authority and therefore the language adapts to local needs without restraint.

The only potential controversy is the 'cultural' argument, which is a fashionable opinion but, I believe, is nonsense. The argument goes that if the world spoke the same language it would endanger or ruin 'cultures'. I will explain why that is nonsense. Take Spanish. Try telling Mexicans

that their culture is the same as Peruvians because they speak Spanish and they will laugh. Austrians would be very offended if you told them that their culture is the same as the Germans (both speak German). The Syrians have a culture completely different to the Libyans (both Arabic speakers). Try telling a Scot that they have the same culture as Australians (both speak English). Look at it another way. Switzerland has a very well known and powerful culture which is recognisably Swiss, yet they speak German, French and Italian (and Romany) within one small country. It has not inhibited the development of Swiss culture. I firmly believe that language makes no difference to a country's culture except in the minds of those that wish to believe it does. What English does is enable communication and connection.

Are there any other languages that you predict could also be a contender for a “world Language” and explain why? No, I see no contenders. There was once a belief that Spanish might swamp America because of immigration, and it would become a main language, but all the evidence shows that the Spanish speakers that arrive quickly learn English and integrate - it is natural, that is what people like to do - integrate. The advantage that English now has (apart from its ease of learning) is that it has probably reached critical mass - it is so 'large' and widespread it is almost unstoppable.

If the world did adopt a single language (specifically for business communications) do you foresee any ethical implications in terms of cultural diversity and identity? No. This has already been tested. English is the official language for Air traffic, Maritime traffic, and banking, and has been for many years, and there have been no major problems detected in ethics or diversity. In fact, it would be unthinkable if Air traffic did not have one working language, would it not?

Communist and Soviet countries have strict censorship laws and limit their population from using certain communication channels such a social media, do you think these countries are open to the idea of English as a “World Language�?

I have not come across any attempt to control or limit the spread of English in authoritarian countries. I know English is taught well in Russia, Uzbekistan, Slovenia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania to name but a few I am familiar with. China is the best example, where it is being positively encouraged, not discouraged.

Two revolutions are happening now in the 21st century. One is the explosion in cross-world communication and travel. The other is the acceleration of English as a world language. Why the World is Speaking English gives facts, opinions, speculation and observations on the growing use of English, its creation, growth and spread, strengths and controversies, competitive advantages, cost benefits, and suggests that now is probably a ripe time for a world language. It can inform, provoke, infuriate and amuse readers, but it is very readable and relevant to the times we live in. A must-read for anyone interested in English, languages, controversies, education or communications.

Why the World is Speaking English - A Sideways Look

ISBN 9781788237369, is available through all good booksellers. Including :

Amazon UK https://amzn.to/2ujEoHD USA https://www.amazon.com/Why-World-Speaking-English-Sideways/ dp/1788237366


F L O AT b y

Va n e s s a T h i b e a u l t Flower petals floated to the ground and were

these petals from the unknown.”

picked up again as Anastasia swirled her hand in

She slowly opened her hands and one by one the

their direction. Fluttering her wings, she followed

colourful petals began to sink to the ground, one

the petals up to the top of the clearing and then

landing in each of the bowed fairy’s hands as they

looked down. She could see a gathering of fairies,

stretched them toward the coffin. Together they

all crouched down on their knees. Hands in laps.

stood, petals in hand and laid them on the glass.

Heads bowed. They formed a circle around a glass coffin where a fairy lay with her hands neatly together on her abdomen.

Anastasia looked down once more, then flew through the light leaves into the sky. “Until we meet again, in new bodies, but old souls.” She

“Purple, blue, yellow, red,” Anastasia whispered

closed her eyes as the warmth of the sun

to herself from high above, unknown to the

enveloped her.

others. “All these words, not enough said.” Anastasia pulled her hands to her chest and the flower petals came together to form a tight cloud of colour. “Just as she, from us has flown, shed Vanessa, the mother of two intelligent girls, currently resides in Southern British Columbia where she enjoys warm summers and mild winters, where she can enjoy the outdoors. She is working towards her Bachelor of Arts degree through Thompson Rivers University with a major in English. Vanessa currently runs a daycare from her home and facilitates 0-6 programs in her community. She spends her days reading and gardening; making memories with her children and spending many of her evenings with close friends enjoying good wine and conversation.

She would like to travel and explore the world one day.

Website: www.vanessamthibeault.ca Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vanessamthibeault

Some Great British literary destinations (thankfully)

far away from London.

B at h Jane Austen wrote Persuasion in the city of Bath,

C h aw t o n n e a r A lt o n , Hampshire

which also happens to be where you can attend the annual Jane Austen Festival which includes country

While most people associate Jane Austen with

dances, calligraphy workshops, dramatic readings, and

the Georgian city of Bath, the author only spent a

a whole lot of bonnets.

few unhappy years there.

You can also visit the Jane Austen Centre, a year-

She spent most of her time at 'Chawton Cottage'

round, a small museum with costumed tours and a

in Hampshire (on the edge of her brother’s estate,

traditional afternoon tea served in the Regency Tea

Chawton House), where she wrote some of her


most famous works, such as Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park,

Emma, and Northanger Abbey. The house is now a museum celebrating her works and still has much of the original furniture, including her writing table and pianoforte.

Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

H ay - o n - W y e , Wa l e s

Dublin's Trinity College houses the famous Book

Hay-on-Wye is a tiny Welsh village, (population

of Kells, a ninth-century manuscript penned by

under 2,000) basically resembles one giant

monks in amazingly intricate fonts and illustrations, each page is like its own work of art. When you’re done perusing, pay a visit to the library’s Long Room; staring down the 200-

library. The town is famous for its second-hand and antiquarian bookshops, with some stores dedicated entirely to specific genres (including one called "Murder and Mayhem"). Perhaps

foot-long hallway stacked with 200,000 old

its best attraction is the Honesty Bookshop,

books might just give you chills.

an open-air "store" around Hay Castle where all books cost £1 ($1.34) or less.

Elephant House, Edinburgh, Scotland

Cumbria 'Hill Top' is a 17th-century Grade II listed building Near Sawrey near Hawkshead. Set amidst the

There are many places in Edinburgh claim to be

beautiful Lake District of Cumbria, it was once the

associated with J. K. Rowling, but none are as

home of Beatrix Potter. It was here she wrote her

popular as the 'Elephant House'.

enchanting stories of Peter Rabbit.

The children's author and illustrator Beatrix left the

A sign in the window of the cafe proclaims it as

house to the National Trust. It is open to the public as

the “birthplace of Harry Potter.”

the writer's house museum, shown as Beatrix Potter herself would have known it.

It was here Rowling spent hours completing her book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Hill Top is a fine example of Lakeland vernacular architecture with random stone walls and slate roof.

H aw k s h e a d , C u m b r i a This little town in the Lake District was home

H aw o r t h , W e s t Yo r k s h i r e Fans of the Brontë sisters, and their works

to William Wordsworth who lived here

such as Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, will

for eight years with his wife Mary and sister Dorothy.

want to check out Haworth in West Yorkshire.

In the nearby countryside, you can see fields of daffodils which inspired his famous poem. Hawkshead has a timeless atmosphere and consists of a characterful warren of alleys, overhanging gables and a series of mediaeval squares. It is eloquently described in William Wordsworth's poem 'The Prelude'.

Aptly named “Brontë Country,” it was where the sisters lived and wrote. Be sure to visit the Brontë Parsonage Museum, the former family home,

and Thornton, a nearby town where they were born. The area is also home to Ponder Hall, a mansion that inspired Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, as well as Top Withers, an old farm that was the inspiration for Earnshaw farm in Wuthering Heights.

Have you visited @open24 yet ? @open24 is the Amazon


for readers, writers a, booklovers,

bookworms, bibliophiles, writers and authors.

Divided into easily assessable departments, you can find everything from books, children’s books, planners, gifts, tech accessories and more.

All the Electric Eclectic books are here, along with a selection from Dragonfly books and Crimson Cloak Publishing. Find the Essential books every writer and author needs to have in their library, as well as fantastic gifts for readers and writers alike, many hand crafted and personalised. Kindle readers, touch screen stylus, chargers, cases, reading lights and more are all here. Not forgetting to encourage and help your children’s reading. @open24 carries a good range of books for children of all ages. There are great offers and ideas for services too, Fire for Kids, Audible, Prime and Kindle Unlimited. Check them out now

This hilarious MANual is a unique guide aimed at

women who want to gain insight into the mysterious ways that men think and behave. Although you may think this is “mansplaining” gone mad, stick with it because jD exposes the secret desires of men, and how women can exploit this to get what she wants. Using humor instead of boring statistics, the book encourages women to understand the power they innately have over men and














“If you read beyond those first few chapters, Shapiro begins delving into male minds, covering everything from cavemen, to marriage, to dating, to day to day lives. He does a brilliant job in giving the reader a blueprint idea of men, as it’s key to remember not every man is the same. I learnt a few pointers from Shapiro about what men on average tend to prefer from women, without pushing a sexist agenda, he lets female readers know that he isn't saying ‘if women don't do so and so, men won't like you’ instead, he balances the scales by offering men, or as he describes them: ‘nacho heads’, advice on how men should treat women better also. Without revealing Shapiro's secrets, the book is worth the read for anyone, male or female, looking for something out of the norm, and I'd recommend this to people that are stuck in their comfort zones. They may find an empowering bit of writing in there to get them through the day, or just needing to hear someone else's opinion.” – 5* Review

jD is an award-winning writer, director and comedian. He has sold over a dozen screenplays to almost every major Hollywood studio, including Warner Brothers, Walt Disney, New Line, Miramax and Twentieth Century Fox. Best known for writing the original screenplay for Robin Hood Men in Tights, he has also served as a creative consultant on several films that became major blockbusters. He’s created TV shows for Fox, Big Ticket and Spelling Entertainment. “We

Married Margo,” which jD wrote, directed and stars in gained him notable fans such as George Lucas and it won the Audience Award for Best Film at the HBO Comedy Festival. jD and comic book legend Stan Lee worked together from 2002 to 2017 creating new comic book content. jD is very proud that Stan called him his “Protégé.”

jD is doing a 50 city Think Like A Man Comedy Tour in the United States to promote the book. “One of the greatest comic minds I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with” – Mel Brooks

Amazon UK International Author Website: https://www.jdshapiro.com Publishers website: www.austinmacauley.com

VISION 2020: The Right to Sight was launched

close to, elimination by 2020.

in 1999.

The long-term goal of both the GAP and

It sought to promote: “A world in which

VISION 2020 remain the same – to rid the

nobody is needlessly visually impaired, where

world of avoidable blindness and visual

those with unavoidable vision loss can achieve

impairment. It is a shocking fact that in the

their full potential.”

21st Century there are still some 285m

The Global Initiative was set up to: “Intensify

visually impaired and blind persons and that

and accelerate prevention of blindness

80% of these cases could have been

activities so as to achieve the goal of

prevented or treated.

eliminating avoidable blindness by 2020.”

36 million people who are blind

It sought to do this by: “Focussing initially on

217 million people with moderate or

certain diseases which are the main causes of

blindness and for which proven cost effective

severe distance vision impairment •

Of those with blindness and MSVI, 124

interventions are available.”

million people have uncorrected

It aims to reduce “prevalence of avoidable

refractive errors and 65 million have

visual impairment by 25% by

cataract—more than 75% of all

2019” (compared to the baseline prevalence

blindness and MSVI is avoidable

of 2010).

This is now seen as a more realistic global target as to what can be achieved by the end

impaired (in 2015) •

of this decade, rather than the original target of global elimination by 2020. Some individual countries may achieve, or be

253 million people blind or vision

1 billion people with near-vision impairment

% of moderate or severely vision

Top causes of visual impairment: uncorrected

PeeJay Studios have a unique Vision 2020

refractive errors, cataracts and Age-related

design on a selection of over 60 products

Macular Degeneration (AMD)

available via Redbubble from Fashionwear,

Top causes of blindness: cataracts,

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Uncorrected Refractive Errors and glaucoma.

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Coming of Age Valentina a life article from

It feels like yesterday my coming of age, 18

party. It took place at the “Sail Club” an

is a magic number. One feels on top of the

upscale place for the upper crust and

world, invincible, unbeatable, conquering

notables of my native city of Bari in Puglia,

the world seems easy as it should be at that


age, beauty is just blooming, strength is at its best, everything is possible. Kids dream of the day they will become 18 years of age, then the day comes and goes, it lasts one year and it is over. Life after that takes a different meaning.

I arrived at the Club in a landau carriage with a horse and a coachman. I was dressed in a long shimmering silver dress my mother made, the kind Hollywood actresses wore, tight at the waist, spaghetti strap at the top with ample décolletage and flared out at the

In the high stratosphere of society, youngsters coming of age, are presented at

bottom. The dress shaped me like a siren at

the shore.

court, just as in Downton Abbey, when rebellious Lady Rose is presented officially to

My first dance was with my father, we

the King and became a legal adult, it also

glided on the dance floor like two leaves in

means a chaperon is no longer needed.

the wind at the sound of Strauss’s Waltz.

In a less stratified society, youngsters are

We opened the dances. The night went on

still presented today to their friends,

with special food and drinks served by

teachers, family, neighbors, and perhaps to

waiters in white gloves and formal livery.

some city dignitaries as it happened to me many moons ago. The mayor of the city was invited to my

My head was muffled, I felt in a precious glass bauble.

At one point, during the evening, the Mayor of the city

came up to me with a red velvet cushion and presented me with a symbolic key to the city. He declared me officially an adult with all the duties and responsibilities the coming of age brings. It was magical and powerful, it felt important. The Mayor of the city kissed me on the cheek and wished me a good life. I heard someone crying in the background

Next February, I have been invited to my goddaughter’s coming of age, she will be 18 years young. I received the picture of her red dress she will wear on that day for a party in the same “Sail Club” in my hometown where I was presented, still there, still celebrating so many young women.

I will refrain from showing the beautiful red

My father was not a royal or a blazoned noble,

dress she selected, perhaps she will want to

he was a regular bloke with a regular job, who

blog about it? Instead, I will show you what I

wanted the best for his daughter and a

will wear at her party. My outfit is a bit retro.

memorable 18 years old party. He is no longer

These are my accessories, my dress is red and

in this world, but the memories are grand.

black, short a bit above the knees, the nylons

Let’s enjoy the small things in life, those are the

have a seam in the center back, very 1950’s.

things that make life worth living. Ciao.


Valentina Cirasola Interior-Fashion Designer

Valentina Cirasola is a native of Italy and as all Italians, she has a passion for fast cars, fast thinking, quick actions, a snappy temper, hot and vivid colors, but she loves, loves, loves slow food. She is a trained and award winner designer of interiors and fashion, in business since 1990 between Italy and USA. Born in a family of artists, style surrounded her since the beginning of her life and determined her career. She blends fashion and interior well in any of her design work. She loves to remodel homes creating the unusual, as well as styling personal image. Often people describe Valentina as “the colorist” as she loves to colors her clients’ world. Vogue Magazine - Italy and many prominent publications in California such as Gentry magazine featured Valentina’s work. She also appeared on RAI-Italian National TV. She has made four appearances on local T.V. Comcast Channel 15 and for three years she has conducted her show on BlogTalkRadio called: Valentina Design Universe. With this same title, she produces her own TV Show at KMVT15, a local public access TV. When Valentina Cirasola is not working with clients, she can be found at the Opera, Ballet and Art Galleries, in her garden growing organic food, taking photos at anything she finds attractive, creating stylish fashion, speaking in public, teaching classes and taking curious travelers to her native region of Puglia in Italy, where she guides them in tasting wines, food, shopping the Italian style, admiring art and architecture and basically living it up in Puglia for 12 days. She was awarded for her participation on the design concept for San Jose Little Italy Arch, unveiled March 27, 2015 - http://www.littleitalysj.com/archway.html

Website - http://www.valentinadesigns.com Blog: http://valentinaexpressions.com

RED-A Voyage into Colors From the dawn of time, every race and population have attributed various meanings and symbolism to colors. This book talks about colors, how humans can benefit from using them, how our health, spirit, and state of mind can improve by using all colors without distinction. The book teaches how to create and mix colors as a study for people who have an interest in becoming artists and are just starting. Also, the book delves into understanding colors from a spiritual point of view and how to use them, in a technical way, for interiors, fashion, food, entertainment and much more. It is so important when mixing colors to look at nature as our best teacher, where all colors are mixed together and co-exist well without rules and prejudices. We can simply copy nature and feel perfect in our choice of colors.

Amazon UK - https://amzn.to/35t7OQC Barnes & Nobles - http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w Valentina’s Amazon Page - https://www.amazon.com/Valentina-Cirasola/e/B0031A02H2

Review Time Tiempo de revisiรณn The Moon Hunters A Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction Adventure, by Anya Pavelle

Rannie says; The moon Hunters Is an intriguing story set on Ani Island, where a group of survivors settled to escape from a worldwide plague. At the beginning of the story, Leilani and Jenay have been rescued from a small boat by the crew of H.M.S. Kentucky Maru. The rest of the book switches between past and present as Leilani tells her story to the ship's doctor, Deanne. Leilani has been raised in one of the small villages on the island, under a strict maledominated regime. She is a strong and independent woman, who starts to question her upbringing when forced to give up a job she loves to become a Virtue at court. Her experiences at court go from bad to worse and her plans to

Adventure / Dystopian Fiction. Chandra Press. 2019. 399 pages.

escape are thwarted by the king, who brands her a criminal.

Amazon UK Kindle

The Moon Hunters was an engaging postapocalyptic/dystopian read, with superb worldbuilding, dimensional characters, and a storyline kept me interested from start to finish.

Amazon UK Paperback International

A n ya Pav e l l e author of

The Moon Hunters

Anya Pavelle was born in Massachusetts but eventually settled in Florida, where she currently lives with her husband and dog. Anya is a trained art historian who sees the quiet beauty in nature, art, and literature. She has

been imagining new worlds since she was six years old and, like many morbidly curious people, she’s obsessed with dystopian literature.

The Moon Hunters is Anya’s first foray into science fiction. Anya currently working on the sequel and also plans on writing a prequel. In addition to writing, Anya loves traveling the world, SCUBA diving, relaxing with her friends and family, and finally, curling up with a new book and a glass of wine on a moon-lit humid night.



THE LIST is an annually published catalogue of recommended, commended and endorsed books, written by independent authors and

writers published via small presses.

Each book submitted for consideration for inclusion in THE LIST is nominated by an industry insiders who is invited to participate in the process. Each year the selection of proposer advocates differs from the previous year.

THE LIST is published each November,

recommending books worth reading during the forthcoming year.

The current edition is THE LIST 2020.

Read THE LIST now.

OUR COVER STORY Mary Wollstonecraft Mary Wollstonecraft, (Born 27 April 1759) whose married name was Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, was an English writer and passionate advocate of educational and social equality for women. She is often described as the original suffragette. I have a particular interest in Mary, as she once lived in the same town as I now dwell.

In 1768, Mary's father, Edward Wollstonecraft

lived in this town, but only in January 2018 was it

moved his family from Barking (London) to the

discovered which house she resided. Research and

East Ridings of Yorkshire, where he hoped to find

luck found two separate sections of a parish rate

his fortune in farming. The family remained there

book, showing the Wollstonecraft tenancy of 2

until 1775 when they returned to London, the

Highgate. The two parts of these records were

farming venture having failed.

found in different record offices. Although some

During their time in Beverley, (my hometown),

pages are missing, fortunately the vital pages for

Mary acquired some amount of education in one

conclusive proof were intact. It was an

of the many Dame schools which came and went,

exhilarating discovery especially when viewing

but her chief influence seems to have been Dr

inside the house it was discovered most all the

John Arden, father of her great friend Jane. He

18th century features survived.

was a scientist and philosopher, quite famous in

Later, Wollstonecraft taught school and worked as

his time.

a governess, experiences which inspired her views

Beverley historians knew Mary Wollstonecraft

expressed in Thoughts on the Education of Daughters (1787).

In 1788 she began working as a translator for

at his home and included William Godwin,

the London publisher Joseph Johnson, who

Thomas Paine, Thomas Holcroft, William Blake,

published several of her works, including the

and, after 1793, William Wordsworth. In 1796

novel Mary: A Fiction (1788). Her mature work

she began a liaison with Godwin, and on March

on woman’s place in society is A Vindication of

29, 1797, Mary being pregnant, they were

the Rights of Woman (1792), which calls for


women and men to be educated equally.

The marriage was happy but brief; Mary died on the 10 September 1797, just 11 days after

In 1792 Wollstonecraft left England to observe

the birth of her second daughter, Mary

the French Revolution in Paris, where she lived

Wollstonecraft Shelley, who became a novelist

with an American, Captain Gilbert Imlay. In the

best known as the author of Frankenstein.

spring of 1794 she gave birth to a daughter, Fanny. The following year, distraught over the breakdown of her relationship with Imlay, she attempted suicide.

Wollstonecraft returned to London to work again for Johnson and joined an influential radical group, which gathered

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman is one of the trailblazing works of feminism. Published in 1792, Wollstonecraft’s work argued the educational system of her time deliberately trained women to be frivolous and incapable. She posited that an educational system which allowed girls the same advantages as boys would result in women who would be not only exceptional wives and mothers but also capable workers in many professions. Other early feminists made similar pleas for improved education for women, but Wollstonecraft’s work was unique in suggesting the betterment of women’s status be affected through such political change as the radical reform of national educational systems. Such change, she concluded, would benefit all society.

UK https://amzn.to/2T31kVY USA https://www.amazon.com/Vindication-Rights-Woman-Penguin-


ut o

t e Trac


A story by Michael Moore I squinted into the light from the train as it came

seemed to go on forever.

towards me at full speed. The ground vibrated

I wasn't a kid anymore though. I was eleven now. I

under my eleven-year-old ass, and my heart sped

couldn't even count that many years on my

up with anticipation.

fingers, which was okay, because I stopped using


my fingers to count in the third grade.

The street was about fifty feet away, there was a

On both sides of me, metal rails went on forever.

loud "ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding" where

The noise seemed to be coming out of them.

the gates descended to keep vehicles from driving

From my bedroom, it always sounded meek: tik-a-

over the tracks. Even if there had been cars

tik-a-tik-a-tik-a-tik-a-tik-a. But up close, it was a

stopped, nobody would have seen me. It was

humbling, thunderous roar.

pitch dark out and the portion of tracks I was

Steven Miller said not to touch them, they had

sitting on disappeared into a patch of woods.

some sort of electricity running through them.

After the train drove over me, it would cross Hoag

"It's okay to touch 'em when there's no train,"

Road and then a bridge that reached out of the

he'd said. To demonstrate the point, he leaned

Skagit River.

down and placed the palm of his meaty hand flat

I took a deep breath, let it out slowly, watching it

on the track. "But be careful when there's a train

turn to fog. It lit up wonderfully in the beam of

comin', Danny. They'll zap the livin' shit outta ya."

light coming from the front of the train. I liked trains.

That was two days ago. Frankly, I found it hard to


believe there was electricity running through the

I mean, it wasn't an obsession or anything. I didn't have a mini set running around my floor, or locomotive wallpaper. But still, I thought they

tracks. Why would there be? But my neighbor was a year and a half older than me and had more experience with this sort of thing.

were pretty cool. When I was a kid, I used to love

He said he had even lain on his back before and

it when one of my parents would get caught at an

let the train pass over him, said it was the best

intersection waiting for a train to pass. I would sit

experience of his life. That, I did believe. I heard

in the backseat counting boxcars. Sometimes they

of other kids doing it.

Never seen one, even though we lived in The Meadows as long as I could remember, and I spent most of my days playing around the tracks. The closest anybody got when I was around was the bottom of the hill they ran along. A dozen feet at least. I was told if you're not careful, being that close, the train would spit rocks at you. "Seen that too," Steven Miller said. "Kid used to live right here in The Meadows. Lost his whole eye." The train was a big part of storytelling in my neighborhood. Some kids claimed to have jumped on and ridden for miles. Others said they caused derailments by laying loose spikes on the beams. (All a long, long time ago, of course.) Mostly, I just left pennies and came back later to find them flattened like pancakes.

But I wanted a story, which was why I snuck out

were visible, but the moon peeked curiously around a

tonight. Why my bedroom window stood open on the

thin grey cloud - my only witness. Every muscle in my

other side of the fence, and I sat in my plaid red

body tensed. I clenched my jaw so tight I thought I

pyjamas on the damp wooden planks, staring into the

chipped a tooth in the back of my mouth.

light of an oncoming train. My body trembled as cold,


humid air brushed against the exposed skin of my

I closed my eyes, holding my breath, my hands balled


into fists. This was it.

My only regret was I hadn't brought anybody to witness what I was about to do. But it was well past midnight and nobody would be out this late. Even I shouldn't have been, really. My Dad would have welted my backside if he knew. The thunder radiating from the tracks grew louder and the earth began to shake more violently. The train was getting close. I

needed to lay down.

Only then did it occur to me this might really be it. What if the stories were all Bologna? What if I died? But how? The wheels were far enough apart I could have fit three of me between them. And I had seen parked trains. They were high. I could have crawled on my hands and knees and they still would have been able to pass over me. But what if there were pieces that hung down? Chains?


The thought of getting whacked in the gonads with a

My heart beat like a snare drum. I felt tiny needles

dangling chain didn't sit well with me. Nor the idea of

trying to poke their way out from under my skin as I

anything dragging across my face.

reclined and looked up into the foggy sky. No stars

Suddenly, being under the train didn't seem like such

passed over. I closed my eyes as tight as I could, but

a hot idea. And it was close. How close?

tears somehow managed to seep through the slits. I'm

The air around me grew somehow colder. I needed to

sure the ground was shaking more violently than ever

move. I opened my eyes, ready to jump, to roll, to get

under my back, but I didn't notice. Fear filled every

off the tracks as fast as I could. But instead, I froze,

cell of my body, causing it to vibrate like a

stiff as a popsicle stick. Every hair on my body seemed


to reach for the sky. Until then, I had never seen death

I reopened my eyes and he was still there. Somehow

or experienced the dirty, dirty tingling brought on by

his head was back resting on his shoulder, and he was

its reality as it stares down at you. I could die content

laying on top of me, holding me down. He wasn't

if I never know that feeling again.

strong, I was paralyzed. Something about his touch

I gazed up, into the caved-in face of a dark-haired boy,

seemed to drain the life out of me. Though I didn't try,

who appeared to be about my age. Only one eye was

I knew I wouldn't have been able to look away from

visible. The other disappeared where half of his skull

his hideous face.

had collapsed. His jaw hung so far, he could have fit

The worst part, though, was the way he stared at me,

both fists into his mouth. His head rested on one

with his head tilted and his lonely eye trained on me

shoulder as if it had somehow popped off his neck

like a hunter's scope. He was emotionless. Cold. His

bone. Blood decorated his white T-shirt in horrible

jaw, which I now saw was completely detached from

streaks and splotches. With his one good eye, he

his skull, hung from cheeks, stretching them and

looked down, into mine and blinked.

resting on my lips.

I screamed. I sat up abruptly and my head hit his,

The train was a blur as it passed above him. Even

causing it to roll off of his shoulder and dangle from

though the light mounted on the front of the

the skin of his neck. The train was right behind him. I

locomotive had long passed, and the night was darker

didn't have time to get up and I knew it. I screamed

underneath, I somehow saw every horrible detail. I

again and was somehow able to take note over the

tried to form words, but all that came out of my

deafening noise, that I sounded like a girl. I didn't care

mouth was a shaky, "Nnnaaaggghhh!!!"

though. Funny what does and doesn't matter when

I felt a warm spot spread over my crotch. It contrasted

you know you're about to die.

with the cold of the night, telling me I had pissed

The boy grabbed me by my shoulders, shoved me

myself. What could I do? There wasn't a doubt in my

back to the ground, pinning me against the wooden

mind what the boy was.

beams. My head collided with a rock, a sharp pain

I closed my eyes again and thought about what came

which shot through my body told me this wasn't a

next. I would die as he did. He probably died the same


way, laying under the train. He probably had a

WHAAAAAAH!!!!! Then the music of hell erupted around me as the train

neighbor like Steven Miller - with some Bologna story about laying on the tracks - who talked him into

I didn't want to die. At that moment, that's all I knew.

"Thanks." I didn't think about it, it just spilled out of

I looked back up into the one eye of the ghost,


begging him to read my mind.

He didn't answer, just stood up and walked away. I

Please, I thought. I don't wanna die. Protect me,

saw then his back was broken like his neck. The top

please. He continued to stare at me. The moment

half leaned over to one side. He walked with a

seemed to go on forever; I thought about everything

terrible limp.

that mattered to me. For the first time in my eleven

I think I expected him to slowly fade out, but that's

years, I understood life is a privilege, not a right.

not what happened. He kept walking until he was so

Somewhere in the wreckage of what was once the

far away I couldn't see him anymore through the fog.

face of a young boy like me, the cold gaze began to

Suddenly, I knew he hadn't died laying under the

make sense. It wasn't cold at all. It was just broken.

train. He was hit, walking on the tracks.

For the longest second of my life, I felt what he felt.

I went home that night and crawled back in through

My fear didn't just evaporate, but it was gone

my window without anybody ever knowing I was

nonetheless, changed into sorrow. It was bigger and

gone. I decided not to tell my story to Steven Miller,

more horrible than the tons of steel passing over me.

or any of the other neighborhood kids.

Not because the boy was dead, but because he was

I'm now in my thirties and telling it for the first time. I

lost and always would be.

never saw the boy again.

Then the cloudy sky appeared behind him, and the

Every time I see some train tracks, I look for him, but

noise faded out. I looked up and saw the caboose

I imagine he's far away by now. Still, I never forget to

disappear over the bridge, then I looked back at the

whisper a "thank you" in the direction that he was

dead boy. My tears stopped at some point, I was still


shaking though.

About Michael Moore

Michael J Moore lives in Seattle, Washington. His books include the bestselling post-apocalyptic novel, After the Change. His work has appeared in Blood Moon Rising Magazine, Horrorzine Magazine, Schlock Magazine, Minutes Before Six, Terror House Magazine, Siren's Call Magazine. Hellbound Books anthology Ghosts, Spirits and Specters, has been adapted for theater and produced in the Seattle area, is used as curriculum at the University of Washington and has received an Honorable Mention in the L.Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest. Michale's short stories will be released by Rainfall Books, Horror Tree – Trembling with Fear, Black Petals Horror/Science Fiction Magazine, Transmundane Press and Soteira Press.

michaeljmoorewriti.wixsite.com/website www.facebook.com/michaeljmoorewriting

An engineer from out of town disappears. Then Conor Mitchell's girlfriend. Then his parents. The townspeople of Sedrow Woolley, Washington are vanishing at a horrifying rate. But they come back. They all come back days later, and they're different. Hungry. Insectile. Creatures posing as humans. Because Conor knows the truth, and because the entire police force has already been changed, and because there's nowhere to run from an evil that only wants to spread, his sole option is to fight. But they have no intention of letting him leave town.

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Writing for Charity Anthologies (because I care)

Jane Risdon Every couple of years I agree to write something for a

My story – one of 24 – is called ‘Penance.’ I won’t

Charity Anthology and put aside my own writing

spoil things by telling you about it here but the title is

projects until I have finished. I only agree to write a

a dead giveaway. 23 authors and an 11 year child

short story in aid of something I believe in, an

have contributed, some are award-winning, best-

organisation which I feel delivers directly to those in

selling writers with million sales tucked under their

need, or in which I have a particular interest.

belts; I wish I was one.

In the Autumn of 2019 I was asked if I’d like to submit

The charity, Help for Heroes, is close to my heart. I

a short story of 5,000 words maximum for an

come from a family with service from many

anthology in aid of Help for Heroes called, ‘When

generations of Forces personnel. Almost every war

Stars Will Shine,’ (Helping our Heroes One Page at a

and conflict going back to the year dot someone from

Time). I agreed, and set about writing a story with a

both sides of my family has served either in the Army,

Christmas theme, albeit loosely, because publication

Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, and even the Merchant

was to be in time for Christmas and the cover had a

Navy, and many of them who didn’t die, came back

Christmas theme (Christmas decorations and dog-

home afterwards with dreadful physical or mental

tags) which I found to be eye-catching and very clever


(designed by letsgetbooked.com)

My maternal Grandfather died in 1955 from gassing

The collection has been curated and edited by Emma

suffered in WW1 in France in the trenches.

Mitchell, Creating Perfection, to whom the idea and

A second cousin on my father’s side suffered mental

whole project must be credited. The proof-reader,

illness all his life until a premature death stopped his

Noble Owl Proof-Reading, also gave of their time and

suffering. His submarine was bombed and sunk in

expertise freely as well.


There wasn’t any help or even understanding for them or their suffering. My Grandfather had what was then called ‘spongy lung,’ and for three months of the year (Winter usually) he was particularly ill, unable to work, every breath was a struggle to take and might have been his last. My Grandmother received a pittance per week from a work co-operative fund whereby a small amount was paid in throughout the year – by the

employees, such as my Grandfather - to partially cover illness and loss of income whilst off sick – it came nowhere near covering his loss of income. She had 5 children to raise on next to nothing. When I hear about conservation, recycling and

former self, unable to work. He lived on various

whatever, I think of her, making something out of

medications and once in a while when life got too

nothing for their meals and often going without

much he voluntarily booked himself into a local

herself. In those days before the NHS (which came

institution until he felt able to cope again.

into existence in 1947), a doctor had to be paid for

He wasn’t dangerous, but he was withdrawn at

his services and there weren’t free or reduced cost

times and unable to function and was a huge

prescriptions. Life was tough. Sometimes she paid

worry, and quite a responsibility, for his mother

the doctor with eggs, garden produce, and a

who was quite elderly when he finally passed away.

promise to pay as soon as she could.

It took a toll on her own health too. She cared for

Doctors were not wealthy back then. Our family

him alone once her husband died and her other

doctor rode a dilapidated bicycle and was often

sons left home and went abroad.

called out at night more than a dozen times. He

There were many like my Grandfather and second

scratched a living. His surgery was in his house, his

cousin who returned with physical or mental

wife was his receptionist and you were seen on a

injuries who just got on with life because they

first come first served basis – there wasn’t an

didn’t have a choice.

appointment system and he was often still seeing patients late into the evening. It makes you think.

Those with mental illness, such as my second

Families suffered with them. It was seeing this, experiencing this at first hand as a small child and teenager and later with family and friends who

cousin, were virtually left to get on with it. I can

returned from Korea, Kenya, Bosnia, Ireland, Iraq,

recall him as being a lovely man, a talented artist,

Afghanistan and elsewhere, with all sorts of

who had hoped to go to Paris as a young man to

problems, which prompted me to agree to write for

study art but the Second World War ended his

this anthology.

dreams. When he returned he was a shadow of his

We understand so much more about the mental and

When Stars Will Shine

emotional trauma and physical challenges these brave men and women face when they have returned

(Creating Perfection Publishing)

home from deployment.

Kindle UK

Paperback UK

We now have brilliant technology and on-going

Kindle USA Paperback USA

research into Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, which is leaping ahead with every passing year so that now we can - and should - help these people who have put their lives on the line for us. That is why I wanted to contribute, so that this great work will continue and funds can be raised to finance it all. It is my way of saying thank you to those whose lives have been ruined so that mine can continue without the worry and consequences of war looming over my shoulder and my family. In the past I have also written for various Hospice organisations such as The Princess Alice Hospice, in Farnham, England, The Norfolk Hospice in Norfolk England, and for Save the Children (International). I have contributed stories which have benefitted Women’s Aid, Women for Women, and

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jane-Risdon/e/ B00I3GJ2Y8 Website:

Breakthrough, as well as The Ben Kinsella Trust in the



Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JaneRisdon2/

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Sue Johnston

Sue Johnston is an 83-year old widow who loves driving her 'Honda Jazz' car around the country. She also enjoys walking across fields and woods, exploring the scenery.

She has undertaken a 2500-mile tour of the UK alone, by car and foot. But then, as she says, "nothing ventured, nothing gained."

Instagram had never been heard of.

I have published articles over the years, children's comics, jokes for comedians and written lectures for

Sue familiarises herself with modern technological

adult education, and I was a manager for Avon

devices to help her have a leisurely tour. She only


drives 80-100 miles a day, parking at the next hotel, before investigating the local sights on foot. Usually only spending two half-days at each destination, having reserved her stopovers through the 'very

efficient' booking.com for bedtime. A mature widow previously teaching computing and word processing, I was determined to keep up to date, challenging myself; internet, email, Facebook,

My four-year-old car was sitting neglected in my drive; my tour involved two months of advanced organisation. I must learn a lot more about my iPhone; it's got me lost twice, so its back to my

children and grandchildren for more tuition. The result is a rather eclectic and fascinating collection of memories and travellers' tales in this, a book of her solo journey around the UK.

Get to know a what makes Sue 'tick' in this comprehensive interview. Why did you decide to go on a 2500-mile

supermarket was located wherever I

tour of the UK?

happened to be. I listed all the

I decided I ought to find out more about

destinations about 80-100 miles apart,

our lovely country, the U.K. I had a

which worked out at around two hours

relatively new Honda Jazz sitting on my

driving a day. For each stop, I booked a

drive; fully serviced and M.O.T. tested. I

hotel, guest house or hostel in advance. I

felt I needed a purpose now my family are

did them in batches of three only. My

well-established with their own lives and I

daughter said, “you might change your

am alone.

mind Mum and want to come home�.

Did you do any research before your

I started with two Airbnb homes, then


changed to Booking.com. The latter

Travelling on this Tour involved 3 months of planning in advance. Taking a map of

the U.K., a lolly stick, duly marked up with 80-100-mile journeys and lots of plain paper (recycled of course) pens and

turned out to be simpler to book, considering my novice computing skills. My planning took three months of Spring. My journey was going to be around the coast all the way.

coloured felt tips, I was armed to start. I

I believe the mileage is over 7,500 miles.

walked said stick around the coast of

For two main reasons this was changed:

England, Scotland and Wales. (Ireland is

one, family members hearing of my tour

for another time) after starting inland at

wanted to be included by me visiting

my home town.

them. (They don’t all live at the seaside).

I have a very good Philips Atlas (produced by Aldi), so I could look up where the local

Secondly, my idea of calling in on many of the Royal National Lifeboat Stations was

stymied as frequently there is no-one at the stations

credit to us and grandchildren too.

unless there is a “shout-out”.

Being 'on the go' is my favourite. I find I don't have

Money collecting for a charity, of which I consider

much time for solitary or sad thoughts when I'm

RNLI my major one, is not straightforward “who’s


going to give you money?”

What did you learn about yourself when on the

One volunteer asked me to look down her nose

GRAN tour?

during my research for the whole tour.

I learnt self-sufficiency when we went dinghy sailing

I wasn’t hopping, jogging or running backwards, just

as a family. I became aware this was very useful.

an old lady driving for 2 hours, parking, booking in at

Any problem could be sorted with a calm enquiry of

the guest house, then exploring the area on foot for

oneself. As a sailor, you train to get out of a capsize

4-6 miles of leisurely fun.

situation, to help your crew and above all try to

I’ll remember them, in due course, with a personal

manage your boat without calling the rescue boat.


In the real world, if you do need help, don’t be afraid

How would you respond to someone who says they

to ask for it.

cannot travel because they’re too old?

Planning is the only thing necessary when

How do we define young or old these days? The

contemplating any new activity. Study the subject,

Queen is not sending cards every year to people

ask experts, read others’ journeys. Decide what you

over 100 now, as there are so many. If you are able

would really like to do and go for it. Be as healthy as

enough to cope with your mobility, travel is no bar.

you can and pace yourself. There is always someone

Make sure to get the right aids if you need them: a

who has done it before, often better, faster, longer.

swivel for the car seat, a walking/sitting stick for

Don’t heed them, do your own thing.

short rambles. It pays to be curious. Try a small

How did you record notes for your book during

outing to somewhere new, say one hour’s drive

your trip?

away. Just put the postcode in your sat-nav and obey it. Did your travelling help you to grieve to loss of your husband? Although I will never get over the loss of my

I kept a nightly journal and was very strict with myself about writing my notes every day. I write long-hand in a special notebook. I kept all my receipts, listed expenses every day, collected leaflets and brochures.

husband, I thought he would certainly approve of this journey of discovery, albeit without him physically. We had 59.5 years’ of very happy marriage. We have two superb children who are a

I had two plastic cards, one debit, one credit and a small amount of cash. This was all filed neatly into my “office”… a hessian bag placed in the well of the front passenger seat.

What were some of your favourite sights?

stage at the far end of the pier. If there were any

Cromer, Norfolk pier is very smart these days. In my

silences during the show, we could hear the sea

youth, I lived nearby in a small village called

washing against the pier legs underneath.

Trimingham. I used to cycle 5 miles to work in

Sheringham, where I stayed at the Youth hostel (and

Cromer as an assistant in a radio and record shop.

took the bus to Cromer on my visit), was another

The church is the centre of the town surrounded by a

amusing tourist trail with its steam train and

square of shops. If anyone ever asks the way to

enormous supermarket.

anywhere you just say. “You can’t miss it, it’s

I used to cycle over from Cromer to watch my

opposite the church.”

husband playing cricket there when he was in the

Suddenly the heavens opened as I was walking in my

R.A.F. based nearby. That was many years’ ago,

summer shorts and sandals up from the prom. I

where we first met.

dashed into a newsagent’s and bought a brolly. As I

The beaches along this coast are all ideal for sand

stood on

activities, although you must keep away from the cliffs that are always eroding. Walking and paddling along the edge of the tide is very relaxing and

beneficial for the feet, I feel. What interesting characters did you meet? I met a lady around my age, at dinner in a hotel. We shared a bottle of wine together (no more driving 'till tomorrow). I never drink until after I park the car and have booked into my hotel, not even a portion of tiramisu!

the doorstep next to a man and dog also sheltering

The lady had undertaken a driving assessment, to

there, I took the cover off my new umbrella, pressed

check she was still capable of such a feat at age 82.

the unlock button and it flew open with a loud

She passed with flying colours. She did 6 hours

whoosh. The dog and man both jumped in surprise.

driving in one day.

“Sorry,” I said, “this is new.” We tourists all looked funny in our thin summer clothes and flip flops paddling along the pavement,

using various improvised plastic bags to ward off the rain. We Brits just grin at each other and carry on. I had a nostalgic walk along Cromer Pier. As in days of yore, I performed Gilbert and Sullivan operettas on its

She got up early the next morning to wave me off, as I left the car park. Ships that pass in the night, hey? What inspired you to write the GRAN tour? I have always kept a daily journal throughout our family holidays. Now on my own as a widow, I found I needed something interesting to keep me occupied.

What do you hope people take from your book?

And there’s more; in the well below the boot were

Being single-minded though not selfish, people

the essentials for someone to help me if I broke

can follow their dream and enjoy life to the full.

down, Hi-Viz jacket, jack, spanners, screwdrivers,

Are you currently working on any other projects? Yes, I have Dartmouth and Cuthbert Car Adventures, which I hope will be published soon by Austin Macauley. These are short stories to be

cloths for oily hands. I didn’t need any of them over 2,590 miles of my Tour, but there is always the possibility… next time!

read to 4-year-old children. Next year I may go to Southern Ireland - this is half -planned already.

The GRAN Tour of the UK As a footnote:

from all good booksellers.

The geography of the inside of my Honda Jazz is to be contemplated. It was a great success. I had my

Amazon UK

“office”, maps and money purses in the footwell of the front passenger’s seat. Dartmouth and Cuthbert, my two furry toy mascots, sat in the front passenger seat with the seat belt on. TomTom was perched on the front dashboard (except when he fell off). On the back seats, I had one large suitcase and

one smaller one positioned side-by-side, so I could open them easily. Usually covered with a rug to deter baddies. In the well behind me, I had all my shoes, including walking boots. The back passenger footwell is used as an overflow space. In the boot, a bag holding my favourite towelling robe, dressing gown and slippers. A cool bag for

fruit, veggies and leftovers. Sometimes I asked my host to freeze the ice pack in their fridge overnight. A lunch bag to take to the prom during my walk after parking at the hotel.

Amazon USA

Karen J Mossman Like many people, I enjoy a good mystery. Stories

option but to run away. She had her baby and

where you need to know what happens next.

said her life had been a lie ever since.

Tales that pique your curiosity, and keep you

As part of my research I went onto the missing

turning the page to get to the end.

person’s website. There were many stories about

Over the years, I’ve found missing people

people who had disappeared, and those left

intriguing. Why did they disappear in the first

behind. One mum showed the bedroom of her

place? Was it an accident or something more

son left just as it was in 2006 when he

sinister? Is there a happy ending or does it end in

disappeared. The torment she must live with

tragedy? Also, just as importantly, how does it

wondering whether he is still alive is hard to

affect those left behind?


Before I thought about becoming a published

Another high-profile case was that of estate agent

author, many of the stories I’d written over the

Suzy Lamplugh who disappeared in 1985. An

years involved this mystery.

attractive young woman who had penciled in her

Did you know there are 300,000 people reported

diary she was meeting a Mr Kipper. She was never

missing each year in the UK alone? That works

seen again, her remains never found, and they

out at almost 900 a day.

didn’t trace Mr Kipper. As a result estate agents

The first high profile case I recall was that of Lord Lucan in 1974. His wife claimed her husband had attacked her, and murdered their nanny. The police investigated but Lucan was never found and to this day it remains a mystery. Journalist

changed the way they worked and Suzy’s mother founded a Trust in the name of her daughter to deal with personal safety. Not all cases are as high profile, and in 2012 an

appeal was launched for a missing woman who

Amelia Hill wrote a fascinating article in The

had not long given birth. She was already

Guardian about a girl who became pregnant. Her

suffering from anxiety and depression. It could

boyfriend didn’t want to know, and her parents

have gone either way and for a few days,

told her to get an abortion. She felt she had no

everyone lived in hope until they found her body.

Ben Needham was aged just 21 months when he

disappeared in 1991. He was on holiday on the Greek Island of Kos with his family. He was being looking after by his grandparents at their farmhouse when he vanished. It made the news all over the world and it finally looks like the boy wandered onto a nearby building site and died as the result of an accident. Madeline McCann is one

There are many more stories with no conclusions

of the most famous stories. In 2007, the four-year-

offered and it’s frustrating not to have an ending.

old girl was abducted while on holiday with her

I’ve always wondered what makes people want to

family. She was a beautiful little thing with blonde

disappear in the first place. What are their stories?

hair and big blue eyes. She captured everyone’s

One day watching a television programme that

hearts. Despite a massive investigation and search.

searches for missing people, I had an idea for a

The police had no viable leads and no trace of her

story. What if you were the missing person, and

was ever found. Twelve years on, the story still hits

suddenly your face appears on screen? The secret

the headlines occasionally.

you had been trying to keep was now out.

Found! tells the story of Amanda, who has problems with her brothers. She takes off to Scotland and creates a new life for herself. When she and her boyfriend are watching television, it is her face that

comes up onscreen and Jamie, her boyfriend shocked by what he hears. The people left behind don’t always know the reasons their loved ones leave. It affects them in difference ways and many suffer for years. So in this story, I’ve included the bewildered family and how they dealt with her disappearance. Some stories do not have ending and we are not always given that neatly wrapped up conclusion. With Found! I wanted to round it up and conclude it, so get your tissues ready for an sweet ending!

https://amzn.to/35CktAJ https://books2read.com/u/bW9rLM

Down by the River ...is also a tale that involves a missing person. This one was inspired by the 90s song ‘Hazard’ by Richard Marx. I found the song so evocative and haunting and the video creating a story that stayed with me for many years. From that, I added a new main character and it has been described as a crime thriller with a touch of paranormal.

What happened that night down by the river? When Shelby's best friend goes missing, she has to return to her hometown to search for her. As soon as she steps off the bus, she knows it is too late. Her visions are vague but the sense of foreboding is not. What is Mary-Jo's boyfriend not saying, and why is Sheriff Rawden

Hughes so convinced he is guilty?

UK: https://amzn.to/30cyK68 International: https://mybook.to/DownbytheRiverKM

T H I S I S N O T A ‘ WA R ’ S T O R Y. Life in the War Zone A collection of poignant, eye opening stories and articles, written primarily as fictional accounts, yet based on true experiences from major war zones around the globe. Each story and article has been formed from interviews, discussions, reports and dialogues from those affected by conflict. Life in the War Zone brings you the emotional truth about the effects and the long lasting legacy of pain and suffering, to both combat troops and innocent civilian lives, devastated by war and armed conflict. Revealed, the cold hard facts; tales from the front line you probably do not want to consider. Situations you do not want to believe are true. Yet these things have happened, are still happening now. For many, the fight continues long after the last shots of the battle have been fired. Physical trauma, disability and PTSD linger for years, even entire lifetimes, following conflict and struggle. These are the

sad facts of modern warfare.

“In war, there are no unwounded”

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THE ELECTRIC ECLECTI C NOVELLA FICTION PRIZE 2020 The Electric Eclectic Novella Fiction Prize is a competition for emerging writers and indie

authors. We encourage submissions from all literary fictional genres with no restrictions on theme or subject. The emphasis of the judging will be on ambitious, imaginative and innovative approaches which explore and expand creative writing.

PRIZES INCLUDE A full Paperback publishing package and marketing campaign to support the winning title. Branded eBook publishing for the two runners-up. Design Studio book covers. Professional social media book launch. Managed internet marketing bundle. Marketing material. Web page author bio and book listing. Feature article in International magazine. Book listed on specialist Amazon site. Inclusion into 2021 ‘THE LIST’.

ELECTRIC ECLECTIC Is a decentralised international co-operative alliance, managed by members in various countries around the globe, forming a strong branded synergy of collaborative association specialising in authorship, book branding, publishing, marketing and promotions.

DETAILS Full prize rules and how to enter are on the Electric Eclectic website, http://bit.ly/visitEEbooks Email: EEbookbranding@mail.com

T HE D ILEMMA (a condensed version of The Dilemma, a short story in Tall Tales Three by Jack Kregas)

William ‘Tex’ Taylor married Carol Watts thirty-six

Tex, in the nude, went from the bedroom past the

years ago and spent his life working on oil rigs

bathroom to the doorway of the kitchen. To his

around the world. Carol raised their two children

right, coming in from the deck, were two men. One

while working part-time in retail. At the beginning

with a bandana over his face carrying a steel bar

of his career, Tex worked for three years in Texas,

and the other with a balaclava waving a machete.

USA. On returning to Australia with a noticeable

The one with the machete kicked a piece of broken

Texan accent, he became Tex to all his friends.

door away from his foot and lunged towards Tex,

Carol had moved many times, following him around

stopping a few feet from his face.

the world. Wherever the location, they had been a

“Don’t move or I’ll kill your fucking ass! Where is

happy loving family.

the money?”

Tex watched a ball game on TV while Carol was

Tex looked into his dark eyes while being aware the

doing whatever she did in the sewing room or

machete was waving above his head.

office. Around 11:15 pm, she joined Tex to watch the late news before they both went upstairs to

He spoke slowly, scared. “I have no cash here.”

prepare for bed. They were asleep at 3:31 when

The machete came down cutting his arm.

their lives were suddenly changed.

“Fuckin liar, I saw you get money from the

Smashing wood and breaking glass woke Tex with a

machine. I want it.”

start. He hesitated a moment to be sure it wasn’t a

Tex grabbed his arm. Blood flowed. “My wife took

dream. He reached over and whispered to Carol.

the $3OO to her mother. I drove her. She stayed

“Carol, someone’s in the kitchen. Get up and go out

the night.”

the front and call the police.”

Tex knew that he had to delay whatever they might

“Oh no. I…”

do for as long as possible to give Carol more time

“Go now. Hurry!” Carol drowsily jumped from the bed, grabbed a robe and headed to the stairs.

to call for help. The man backed away from Tex. “Grab those phones and the laptop,” he said to the man standing behind him.

“You.” he was back in Tex’s face, “Give me the keys to

“The keys are in a box in the garage. I keep them

both cars. NOW!”

there. I’ll get them for you. I want no trouble. The

Tex watched as the thug collected the two phones

garage has security. Follow me.”

from the chargers on the kitchen countertop. His

Carol ran down the stairs and opened the front door,

heart missed a beat knowing that Carol didn’t have

peeking out. A white van was across the end of the

her phone. She would have to go to a neighbor for

driveway at the front of the house. She could see a

help. Stalling for time was now his only hope. Tex

person in the van. She now realized that in her haste,

reached to his left for a dishtowel hanging on a hook.

being half asleep, she’d left her phone behind. She

He felt the punch to the side of his face and fell back.

started to panic but then thought of Tex. She gained

“No fancy moves asshole.”

control realizing she would have to help him

Tex straightened, “I was just after that towel to put around my arm.” “Fuck your arm. Give me the keys.”

somehow. Luckily, she hadn’t rushed out the door because the sensor light would have come on and alerted the person in the van. She must avoid doing that. Coming

Tex deliberately reached for the towel while watching

to her senses, she reached around the corner and

his aggressor, half expecting to be hit again. He

switched the light off at the wall.

wrapped his arm as the bleeding continued.

Carefully she went out the door, quietly shutting it

the phones and laptop in his hands following behind.

behind her, while staying as close to the door frame as

“Move your ass you old fart or you won’t be moving at

she could. She eased her body to the left, hugging the


side of the house, taking one step at a time, and turning the corner towards the backyard. Her mind

raced as she crept as quietly as she could on the gravel path while trying to figure out what to do next.

Tex felt the push at his back. He started down the stairs. His arm throbbed. He had to think fast. Once in the garage, they might slash him again or even kill him. He sensed they too were scared and anxious, not

Tex stepped over the broken door moving as slowly as

sure of themselves or what they would do. Any

possible out onto the deck. He could feel the one with

minute Carol would arrive with the neighbors and the

the machete breathing on his neck. The other one had

police. Going slow and hope were his best strategies.

The outside sensor light on the veranda had been

unlike a military flamethrower, at the man. His legs,

smashed making it very dark so he held the railing

chest, and head ignited. He screamed inhuman

as he went down the stairs. It was only fifteen or

sounds, falling and rolling on the ground. Tex

twenty steps from the bottom of the deck to the

jumped backwards away from the flames with the

garage door. Time was running out to come up with

smell of burning flesh filling his nostrils.

a plan.

The man behind was stunned at what he saw in

Carol reached the edge of the carport. She heard

front of him and tried to run past Carol. Carol

them coming out of the house and the verbal threat

turned the hose onto his legs. With his pants on fire

to Tex. She had to do something. Looking into the

and in pain, he ran at Carol. Carol swung the bottle

dark carport, she could make out a rake and a large

at him catching him in the chest and chin knocking

broom but figured she couldn’t do much with them.

him backwards and out cold. In doing so she had

She felt something near her foot. She stared down

dropped the hose which in turn burned her leg as it

at it. She now knew what she had to do and crept

hit the ground. She pulled the bottle towards her

behind her car to the corner of the carport. In the

and turned off the valve.

dark, she could make out Tex leading the two men

Tex, recovering from disbelief, ran for the garden

towards the garage. She tensed and waited.

hose turning on the tap and spraying the man on

Tex was two steps from the garage. True, there was

the ground who now was quiet. His body was

a security touchpad on the side of the garage door

smoldering with flesh peeling off his arms. Tex

that he used when he was working in the garden

turned the hose on the other man who lay still as if

and didn’t have the remote door opener with him.

dead, blood running from his mouth with his

He could open the door, but the problem was that

trouser legs burned away showing grilled legs.

the keys to both cars were still in the kitchen.

Carol ran to Tex and threw her arms around him

Maybe he could escape and run down the driveway

sobbing hysterically. Tex held her, comforting her.

before the man could grab him or swing the

Blood dripped from the towel around his arm. They

machete. Maybe?

stood frozen as one in a moment that resembled a

Carol turned the valve while striking the long-

scene from a horror movie with whiffs of smoke

stemmed match she’d found in a pocket duct-taped

providing stenches and pongs no one should ever

to the side of the bottle. Flames shot from the end


of the hose.

The screaming had woken the neighbors. Fred from

She opened the valve fully and stepped from her

across the street ran up the driveway after almost

hiding place yelling, “Hey!”

being hit by a white van taking off at high speed.

The man behind Tex stopped, turning towards the

Lights were on in the house next door with shocked

voice. The next second he lit up like a flare. Carol

faces peering over the fence. Sirens could be heard

pointed the hose, shooting a stream of fire, not

in the background.

The thugs had been treated and taken to hospital

“In other words,” Tex interrupted, “they can come in

with one in a very serious condition with burns over

and shoot you, but you can’t shoot them. That’s

much of his body. The other had regained

fucked. Sorry for the word but…”

consciousness, yelling and swearing incoherently. He

“Look, the law in these cases is ambiguous. Across

had burns to his legs and concussion as well as

Australia, self-defense laws exist in every state and

missing a few teeth.

territory to give homeowners the legal right of

Next came the questioning by police detectives

protecting themselves, but it will always be up to the

trying to piece together exactly what had happened.

police and the courts to decide if the level of self-

Both Tex and Carol gave their accounts as best they

defense used against a home invader was necessary,


warranted or lawful. If not, Aussie homeowners who

The introduction by the two detectives as Inspectors

violently confront people in their homes could

Sullivan and Meade had taken place at the table on

potentially face jail time.”

the back deck. exactly what had happened. Tex

“You sound like you’re quoting a lawbook word for

suppressed a chuckle as their mood changed

word. So, what you’re telling us is that if the police

abruptly when they were introduced to the late

decide there was unnecessary force, we could be

arrival. Noel Upshaw, a solicitor of fame, was Tex’s


friend and personal lawyer. Three hours later the

“It means that if someone comes into your house in

detectives picked up their notebooks and left,

the night and you wake up, you can’t just shoot them

advising them not to leave town as they may have


more questions. “Or toast them,” said Tex almost laughing. “So, does “Okay, Noel. Tell me what this all means. What is the

that mean we should be afraid? Are we going to be

law on home invasion in Queensland?”


Noel thought for a minute before answering. “In

“Remember what I said. The State’s Criminal Act

Queensland, a person is permitted to use reasonable

permits homeowners to use reasonable force but

force to defend themselves or their property, but

only if they believe the force to be necessary. Carol

they must not cause grievous bodily harm.”

acted because she believed you were in mortal

Carol gasped, looking as if she was about to cry.

danger. She heard the guy threaten you, in effect,

Noel continued, “Sections of the State’s Criminal Act

saying he might kill you. That’s why she acted as she

permits homeowners to use reasonable force but


only if they believe the force to be necessary. Police

Tex refilled the wine glasses. “Am I right in saying

never encourage homeowners to confront intruders,

that the police and courts could possibly file charges

insisting they instead take steps to secure their

against Carol or both of us, saying we used

houses from people gaining unlawful entry.”

unnecessary force protecting our lives?”

It is possible but not probable.”


They would transfer their property into their

“If that happened it could cost us so much money,

children’s names so it couldn’t be touched.

money we don’t have.” There was an edge to

Sell their cars and other not-needed assets.

Carol’s voice. She was angry

Turn their retirement plans into cash. Go on

Over the next few weeks, Tex could see Carol’s stress levels were at a continued high. Flashes of that night were recurring as well as the new

an extended vacation with the assets with no thought of returning to Australia to face any court cases that might eventuate.

menace of a possible prosecution. Carol sat with

You as the reader have come to know Tex and

Tex discussing the possibilities. They went over

Carol. They are normal everyday people who most

their options many times during the week.

can relate to. An unfortunate incident turned their

In the end, they wrote down three possible outcomes from which they could choose: 1.


They would sit tight and wait to see what

lives upside down. This is the same thing that

transpired. They would use Noel to represent

could happen to any family anywhere at any time

them in a civil or a criminal case or both if

in the world we live in today.

that was the case. It would cost them much

Ask yourself, if it happened to you, which choice

of their savings and perhaps even their

would you make?


Think about it. It’s not too far-fetched or

They would leave the country on an

preposterous. It could happen to you in your

extended vacation and worry about the next


move when it happened. Maybe come back, maybe not. In the worst-case scenario, this

So, I ask again, “WHAT WOULD YOU DO?”

plan could put their assets at risk.

Morris Morris is a man who believed the exciting life he had once had enjoyed, was ending. A chance meeting with Sheila, an ensuing romance, a friend’s death, and an unusual business idea, transforms Morris Morris. Getting to know Morris Morris may save you a bundle of money! Amazon UK Amazon USA

DARK WORD S Dark Tales, Darker Poetry Dark days come to us all at some time in our lives. Heartbreak, grief, fear, loss, pain and anxiety collide and conspire, individually and collectively to bring us down. We feel the battles rage within ourselves; they fight and scream in a tortured anguish of emotional turmoil.Solace is often found alone, in dimly lit rooms, with mellow songs playing over and again. Reading Dark words, sharing the pain within these tales, help us dry our own tears, to drive away the clouds of uncertainty and crush the demons which haunt our souls. To accept and acknowledge the blackest days of our lives often reveals the pathway from the shadow maze of obscure reflection, into the sunlight of possible future. Dark days come to us all, at some time in our lives. They are not the place for us to dwell for too long.

They are not our home.

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I am a Bookworm ( by Anymouse ) The writer of this essay wishes to remain anonymous. Nerd, Brainiac, loser. I heard those words frequently but they never bothered me, as they may hurt others, because I am a bookworm and proud of it. Reading comes naturally to me, almost like breathing. I remember the books I've read since I was five and how much I loved each of them. It used to be a great treat to wake up early on Saturday mornings to go to the garage sales with my mom. The only items I looked for were books; picture books, fairy-tale books, easy chapter books and hardcovers, many I would have to wait a few years to read. They were all wonderful and special treasures; I was extremely proud of my growing

collection. I'm proud because I am a bookworm. Reading has always been a great way to escape everyday life without actually leaving. All it takes is a little imagination and since I have plenty of that, reading has always been fun. When I got to middle school, with my large collection, maybe large enough to call my own library? my parents began fighting more frequently. I started devouring books even more. On the weekends I would check out three books from the library to keep me occupied.

My favourite author was R. L. Stine, especially

the books I have read, or will read, bring me

his "Fear Street" series which I read and reread,

pleasure. Literature is the books that made me

and if it were a really good one, which most are,

smile, laugh, cry, and the ones which made me

I would read it yet again.

angry. I remember not being able to finish

For some reason, I never seemed to hear my

Fahrenheit 451 because in it they burned all

parents fighting, (it was worsening

books. I found this atrocious‌ destroying

each day, as were the horrid


names my parents called each

Literature got me through my parents' divorce

other), while I was reading, but as soon as I

and kept me (somewhat) sane. Without books I

put down the book I was all too aware of what was happening. Now I am beyond what I regard as some of the

probably would have ripped my hair out. So, I wholeheartedly give thanks to authors of the wonderful literature I enjoy every day.

roughest of my teenage years, I don't need

I know whenever I need to escape, all I need is

reading as an escape anymore. Now I can read

to open a book and turn the pages.

for sheer pleasure. Since I've learned so much

from reading, I feel really lucky, as though I have an advantage others don't. I am lucky because I am a bookworm. What literature means to me is very simple; all

I will always proudly remember; I am a bookworm.

A Tr u e S t o r y f r o m Gabrielle Griffin The escarpment snaked beside the 4WD on the

‘Look it up honey, while I just navigate them.’

remote highway, arching its back as though to strike.

‘Very funny. You know there’s no more reception,

Bush fire scent smudged the air, while skinny gum

only the emergency beacon if we need it, and we’d

trees and sand palms looked more vulnerable

better not need…’

without the usual messy groundcover of grasses and fallen leaves. ‘The turn’s coming up soon on your phone map,’ Kelly said, frowning at the blue pulsing dot. ‘Actually, right now!’

The car shuddered as Sam swung it hard onto a narrow red road, disturbing birds of prey. More blackened eucalypts scattered along both edges of the track, with pops of green grass tufting through the ashes.

‘Look at those kites, Kel, circling for food,’ she said,

lowering the electric windows. ‘We can probably hear them whistling… yes… such a Darwin sound, and now you’re hearing it at last, at the ripe old age of fifty-three. Better late to the Top End than never hey?’

Kelly snatched back the rest of her words, as they mounted a dirt rise, swung down the peak like foolhardy surfers, churned through a creek as high as the door bottoms, and bounced out the other side of the trough with water streaming off the car panels as fast as the fine red dust could powder them again. ‘We’re here,’ Sam said, skidding to a halt beside the tenth crocodile warning sign they’d seen. The adjacent Welcome to Country sign announced that they were on Larrakia Land. ‘I want to be hiking in thirty minutes, so let’s cram breakfast as quick as we can; it’s already nearly ten, and that sun’s only getting hotter.’ By noon, with twelve-kilo packs each of camping supplies, toiletries, spare clothes, and dehydrated

They both smiled, then Sam shifted into low gear, as

food, both women were sweating and quiet. Birds

waves of corrugations began to shake every nut, bolt,

complained about their intrusion, darting among

tent peg and trail snack they had.

shrubs as if warning the earth to brace herself for unfamiliar feet. The river along which the pair

Two hours later, bouncing in the passenger seat, Kelly asked, ‘Isn’t there an optimum speed to cross these ruts on? Didn’t I read it somewhere?’

travelled was flowing fast through the gorge, as centuries of natural energy carved a path of least resistance.

Then Sam stopped, hands on hips, and squinted into the distance. ‘Shit, I don’t think we can get through along here after all. Let me look at the map and compass again.’ She frowned at the contour lines on the creased page, telling her a story of steep cliffs and gullies, without revealing the safest route.

‘Sorry honey, but the only way we’ll get past that massive overhang is to tackle the stone country along the top of the ridge. It’s a bit like


a jigsaw puzzle up there, which you can never solve. Brace yourself.’ Kelly clenched her jaw for a second.

sideways; as she fell to her knees with a rush of

‘I never knew off-track walking was quite this tough,’

adrenalin, a newspaper headline staccatoed through

she admitted. ‘Especially for old ladies like us.’

her brain:

Sam smiled at the familiar joke, but her forehead

‘Two women in their fifties died of heat exhaustion

worried, as they tightened waist straps and headed

bushwalking in Kakadu, within 300 metres of fresh water.’

away from the water without looking back.

No! That was not going to happen, she thought, Within thirty minutes, thighs screamed with lactic acid as they scrambled over boulders and fallen tree

branches, spearing through chest-high spinifex grass.

feeling panic surge through her body. ‘Sam, help me up please. I’m scared we’re getting too far from the river. Can we go back down?’

Previous hypothetical worries about snakes were replaced by very real battles with swarming green ants, dropping from their leaf-woven nests to nip at soft skin. The heat lay heavy, while they fought the relentless gravity of their packs on tender hip bones. Squeezing between granite crevasses, trying to keep up with Sam, Kelly soon realized both water bottles were nearly empty, and cursed herself for not refilling them. Suddenly she wobbled from one loose rock to another, feeling the weight on her back pitching her

‘No, we’ve no choice. I know this is fucking hard work, but we just have to find a way round…’ Another hour passed, as they crashed, pushed, and flailed against the stone country. The sun blasted them from both sky and rock, while vines tangled

their feet, knee flesh was bloodied and scratched, and their cotton shirts grew wet. ‘I almost want to vomit. I need a rest. But we haven’t got any water. This is so stupid Sam!’ Kelly’s voice choked.

Sam licked her lips and wiped sweat from her red

‘This is better than any Christmas ever, even as a


kid,’ she yelled.

‘I’m sorry. But we’re gonna make it. Let’s throw our

Sam paused, then went on ahead to check the way

packs down this ledge, swing off that tree branch,

forward, barely stopping to refill her bottle and

and hope that gully is manageable…’ Her confident


voice quietened as they contemplated their fading

She returned with heavy steps.

options. ‘It seems like the bush doesn’t want us here; as if

the ancestors are hating our invasion, and we’re being punished. I feel like such a dumb white-fella.’ Kelly began to cry. ‘It’s OK. This is just the first big challenge. We can

‘I don’t wanna say this, but there’s another overhang coming up, so we can’t continue. We can either go back up and across, or…’ ‘No. Not a chance. I’d rather camp here on these hot rocks for a week than go back up to that stony hell!’

do it darlin.’ Sam squeezed her hand, and just for a

Sam grinned.

moment the hum and throb of the tough landscape

‘I thought you’d say that. But you’re not going to

settled. ‘We are welcome here Kel; we’ve paid our

like our only other option: to inflate a sleeping mat,

respects, we are treading lightly on the earth, and

unpack both bags, then float everything to the

we’re good people. The spirits don’t want us dead.

other side and start again over there. Can you

Now come on: pass me your pack, and let’s get

handle it?’

back to that water.’ Their palms scraped skin across branches and boulders as they launched into the dark ravine.

Down, down, down they slithered, heaving their bags ahead of them, legs protesting at the speed and brutality of the descent. A spiky pandanus drew blood across Kelly’s cheek, and Sam’s ankle twisted hard in the scrabbling, but at last they burst through the scrub to touch the smooth rock edges of the river again.

The words hung in the air like smoke from the grass fires they’d driven through earlier. They both sighed, as if seeking strength from their bone

marrow. Sam watched the other woman, who pulled herself from the stream, water sliding down her battered legs, standing like a witchetty grub against the grey granite. It felt as though the earth was waiting for Kelly’s answer as well. Grass trees leaned in, while Rainbow Bee-eaters swooped and dived for insects, tail streamers reflected in the pristine waters.

Kelly’s whole body trembled as she stripped naked and jumped into the creek, gulping mouthfuls of water as she cooled down and almost cried with relief.

‘Let’s do it,’ she said. ‘You swim, I’ll load and unload.’ The eucalypts, rocks, and native shrubs stood sentinel while the women toiled back and forth.

They felt the sting go out of the sun as their bodies

cliffs they’d just battled.

cooled and shivered. They repacked, gobbled sticky

It had been a close call. They both knew it.

dried bananas, then dragged themselves round the Kelly looked up at the sacred paintings, imagining

next river bend.

the ceremonies that had taken place for millennia And there they saw it: silver gum trees fringing a

right where they sat. The land waited again for her

white sand beach, gently sloping to a clear blue

to speak. Grass trees leaned in, while Rainbow Bee-

pool, sheltered by cream sandstone walls, with a

eaters swooped and dived for insects.

natural campsite marked out by flat sitting rocks. She slipped to one knee on the dirt, and reached for

Scratched rock paintings showed fat kangaroos and fish. Palm prints outlined in splattered ochre dotted

Sam’s hand.

the caves, as if protecting the site. In exhausted

‘Will you marry me?’ she whispered, ‘Now that

silence, they stood before the art, and held hands

we’re allowed at last. Can you handle it?’

for a moment. Then they sparked a fire and made

Grass trees leaned in. And Country waited once

billy tea. They took turns adding wood, slumped side


by side, staring into the flames, or over at the sharp

Gabrielle has been writing since her first memorable poem at age 4 in red and green textas. She’s a performer, puppeteer, Pilates

instructor, stilt-walker, MC, blogger at ‘bone&silver’ (true queer tales of a feisty over-50), and most importantly, a short-story writer. Several of her stories have been shortlisted or in the top 3 in Australian competitions and compilations, and she continues to strive at the craft.


Goodbye for now