This Way Madness Lies

I’m reading the last couple of chapters of a book by Thomas William Simpson entitled ‘This Way Madness Lies’. This book was loaned to me by a friend and fellow writer. I’ve never heard of Thomas William Simpson, but am captivated by his unique writing style. This is one of the best written and most intriguing books I have ever read. It’s amusing and clever. I would recommend it to anyone.

Stephen King’s new novel, Mr. Mercedes is tantalizingly waiting for me on Kindle. Usually I drop whatever I am reading when a new Stephen King book arrives, not this time. I have to see how this book ends.

If you want to read something a little different, try ‘This Way Madness Lies.’

This way madness lies

The Winslow clan of Far Hills, N.J., is your not-so-average dysfunctional upper-crust American family. The current generation includes Mary, a historian who communicates with ghosts of the family’s ancestors; Henry, who’s spent 21 years posing as his twin brother, Bobby, who switched places with him and got killed in Vietnam; Ginny, an emotionally ravaged failed actress; Barton, a closet homosexual sculptor and recluse; and Joseph, a Colorado cocaine playboy. “Wild Bill” Winslow, their father, a blustering 70-year-old real estate tycoon whose first wife died 15 years earlier falls down the stairs but doesn’t die, disappointing his gold digger second wife Bettina. He asks that his children be called home; it takes nearly 100 pages to convene the scattered siblings, partly because their ancestors, from colonial times to the near-present, are very much part of the action as both seen and unseen presences. Another Winslow scion, psychotic, estranged Edward, is a loose cannon, providing an element of suspense. A writer of great originality, first novelist Simpson creates scenes of dramatic power and fine ironic humor. Ultimately, however, the fatalistic connections between ancestors and living family members seem imposed and artificial. Literary Guild alternate. 

 

And then there is my humble first novel!

One day I’ll be famous!

http://amzn.to/1aXh4Md

Dead of July by Sandra Thompson

Part Time Writer – It’s a Quandary

Being a part-time, self published writer certainly poses a problem.

dead-of-july_coveronly_300dpi_6x91.jpgI rise early each day and attempt to tackle a little marketing before leaving for my full time job, the one that pays the bills. When I return in the evening (ten or eleven hours later), I catch up with emails, tweet (don’t quite get the twitter thing), blog, and then sit down to work on my new novel. When I’m not writing, I’m editing, or marketing. I love it, but it leaves very little time for anything else. Now if I were a youngster (I’m 57), it may be easier. Still I plod along and do what I can.

I have discovered in my short writing career, that word of mouth is the best advertisement. I talk about my book as much as I can, not just because I want to millions of copies and make money (although that would be nice), but also because I am very proud of my achievement. I wrote a novel that has received great reviews and. I may have only sold a hundred copies, but it’s out there FOREVER.

If you have time and would like to see what I am so proud of, click on the book cover and read the reviews. If you like them, purchase the book and give a new author a sale. The kindle version is reduced to $1.99 for 24 hours on March 3rd, a bargain. If you do read ‘Dead of July’, please make time in your busy day to give me a review on Amazon.

Thanks for stopping by, it means a lot to me.

Goodbye’s and Pink Ribbons

It looked better with the pink ribbon

 

So here we are again, I can’t believe its been two weeks since I posted the last chapter of my story.  I have been busy working on my travel blog too.  Check out ‘Travel Tales and Mishaps’, click on the link to the right of my blog. I will be posting my adventures and photos from Rome there in a couple of weeks.  Back to ‘Flat Country Snow’ and my friend Steven.  It was sad to say goodbye to him, but I had to.  It was very emotional, I felt like I wanted t protect him and help him. I felt like a girlfriend, older sister and mother all rolled into one.  Chapter five is posted below, I hope you like it. I will post one more chapter before I fly away for may vacation.

CHAPTER FIVE

I started the car and let the engine run while Steven scraped the ice and snow off the windows and put the cases in the boot. As I sat there watching him tackle the ice on the front window, something caught my eye on the front seat. It was a pink ribbon, I was accustomed to seeing these now, don’t ask me how they got there, I accepted them though, knowing my little blonde guardian angel was around somewhere. I suppose I should have been scared, as it was usually a sign of that something was about to happen, but I didn’t feel scared, I actually felt quite calm and warm inside. I picked up the ribbon and stuffed it in my pocket as I didn’t want to have to explain it. “Wherever you are little Miss, I hope you are warm and with your mum”. Did I hear a tinkle of laughter in the air, maybe, or maybe it way my mind playing tricks with me.
By the time Steven had finished scraping away snow and ice, the car had warmed up and he got inside, glad of the warmth. “Are you sure you don’t mind dropping me off at the base” he asked me. “No, and will give you a big sloppy kiss when I drop you off, just for good show” I told him. He laughed, and actually blushed a little. “You just can’t keep your hands off me can you?” He directed me to the base, which was actually on the opposite side of Thetford. It was OK though because it meant I could retrace my tracks and follow the map home. No Google or GPS in those days, just the good old ‘Rand McNally’ and you had to pull over to look at it. It was only about ten minutes or so to the Army Base, Steven told me to drive in and he showed his ID to the guard at the gate. The barrier was raised and in we went. There was huge parking area just on the left as we got on to camp, next to a big parade ground, where despite the sub-zero temperatures, there was some marching going on, with full webbing too. Those guys probably weren’t cold at all. I left the engine running and got out of the car to open the boot so Steven’s cold get his case. It was a drab Military green and somehow his name and ID number had slipped out of its little pocket so there was nothing to distinguish it from any other drab Military green bag. On an impulse I stuck my hand into my pocket and pulled out the pink ribbon. I tied it around one of the handles. Steven looked at me with a question mark on his face.” Don’t ask, just keep it there, tell everyone your girlfriend, sorry fiancée, put it there!” I said. With that he pulled me very close to him and kissed me very gently and tenderly. I heard a few whistles coming from the parade ground and I think one of them may have been from the RSM who took time off from yelling at his men, to yell at us instead. I hugged Steven tight, it was a nice kiss, and probably looked very passionate, but not the sort of kiss that would make you want to tear off your clothes. It was nice though. I didn’t want to let go of him, just because I knew what a tough life he had ahead. I wondered how he was ever going to find true happiness, his love of the Military would prevent him ever having an open relationship with a man. He had to find his way though. I hugged him tight and kissed him again and then he picked up his bag and trudged off into the snowy camp, his head was hanging slightly and he looked a little sad.

A Peek at ‘A Walk in the Park’ – my next novella

Notes on the situation

Viktor was dead. He was alive but drunk when Anna left him. He knew where I lived because I had seen him (I think it was him) watching our building on the Sunday night I first met Anna and on other occasions. Maybe he had followed me home that night. Was it him I saw in camp playing tricks with me? Or was that his brother?  If it was Viktor, it was an angry spirit not a real person. Visitations/events in our apartment had happened over the last couple of days.

Questions for Anna

Did the papers say when Viktor died?

What did Viktor’s brother look like?

What did Herr Rutkowski look like?

Did she know of any relations Herr Rutkowski may run to? (I needed to talk to him, he was key to the whole thing and may know what happened and how the Evil Cossack died)

Chapter Two – Two Queens and Champagne

We drank champagne and looked out at the snow

Hello again! I have my ‘writer head’ on today. Chapter two is very short.  Looking back over my blog, my chapters were all way too long so hopefully this will make an easier read. Hope you like the photo too. Sometimes these photos do make me homesick for England, but not for long. Don’t forget to send my blog link to all of  your friends if you think they would enjoy my stories.  Or they may just enjoy reading the ramblings of an eccentric Brit.  I won’t disappoint. Read and Enjoy and once again, leave your comments, I love feedback!

CHAPTER TWO 

Two Queens and Champagne

 

                “You look really nice” he told me as he struggled with the champagne cork.  “Well thank you and so do you” I told him.  He really did! I glanced at myself in the mirror just to make sure my make up was OK.  Everything looked fine, I loved the dress, which matched my shoes perfectly! My hair was its usual natural mass of waves and curls, but that was the current style.  We sat down at the table under the window; on the two plush bedroom chairs next to it.  Actually the chairs were so big, we laughed and felt like a king and queen, or in this case, two queens.  We looked out of the window and down to the street, where it was still snowing lightly.  A couple of inches had fallen already, and it was glistening under the street lights.  It looked magical, well maybe the champagne was helping with that.  I picked up the bottle and looked at it. I couldn’t pronounce the name, Verve de Cliquot, I think it said.  It was French, from Rheims, which meant it was real champagne, or so Steven told me.  It tasted good!  We were having a really good time, chatting and laughing.   I felt relaxed, as though I was having a reunion with an old friend. Steven told me a little about himself, how he had never been attracted to women in a sexual way.  His best friends were female, and he had six sisters, who he got along with famously. His dad had died when he was very young, so all of his life, he had been surrounded by women.  Hardly surprising he favored men. Seven women constantly around him while he was growing up would be enough to turn anyone gay.  After my second  glass of champagne I really felt quite tipsy.  It was excellent.  I almost felt sad that we had to leave the sanctuary of my room and go downstairs.  I didn’t want to share this man with anyone else! He was so nice to be with I wanted to sit, drink champagne and chat all night. It made a nice change from the every other boy I had dated who would try to get you drunk as quickly and cheaply as possible, with a view to getting you alone and groping you.  Steven peered out of the window, and said “Look, there he is” I looked down to the street where a taxi had just pulled up by the front entrance and a balding man was getting out.  The taxi driver held the other door open for a frumpy looking lady in a fur coat.  I laughed, and looked across to see Steven looking at me with a puzzled expression on his face, he looked down at Sgt and Mrs. Davies and he laughed too.  They looked like Mr. and Mrs. Frump.  She was wrapped up tightly in her rabbit fur and he had a big military style coat on.  It was black and double-breasted, clearly military style.  It was in his blood.  I bet his shoes we polished so you could see your face in them  “Or see up ladies skirts with them”  I thought, and laughed again.  Now we were both laughing and we didn’t really know why. Well maybe we did, we had finished the bottle of champagne. It came all the way from Rheims and was the best thing I had ever tasted. The Davies disappeared into the front of the hotel, which meant we really must break away from our little bubble of happiness and join them downstairs.  I was hoping we would get something to eat, it wasn’t that long since our last meal, but neither of use ate a whole lot of what had been on our plates, too much talking. Since then we had drunk a bottle of wine and a bottle of champagne so we really needed something to eat. Just as I was about to open the door, Steven put his arms around me. “I really like you, I feel a great connection between us, I wish things were different, but they never will be.  I am 25 and for my whole life I have known I was different. I have to come to terms with it somehow. I have never been with a man, which is hard, it makes me feel like I am a monk or something, but it’s a choice I made, and this is the way it is. No use kidding myself that I am something I am not. I hope we can always be friends, always” I hugged him back and felt pretty tearful to be honest. Maybe it was the champagne, I don’t know, but I hugged him tight and told him I would always be his friend.  I meant it too!

Guy at the Bar – Back to Books

Well I have goofed around long enough, time to get back to books.  ‘Guy at the Bar’ will be coming off Amazon soon.  If anyone wants to buy the $2 version of it, you have a limited time to do so. I will be getting it tidied up, edited and will re-publish it very shortly.  ‘Girl on the Beach’ will be available on Amazon and other eBook sites soon. I may also put this in print in a month or so, depending on finances, sales etc.  ‘A Walk in the Park’, if that indeed remains the title, will be finished pretty soon.  It is my longest book yet. This weekend I will be posting the second chapter of ‘Flat Country Snow’, the story that makes me smile. Stay tuned and enjoy my journey.  I am in no great hurry, but one day, I will make a living at this.  Have a great weekend and get your fill of wonderful World Cup Football.  Be Happy!

‘Guy at the Bar’ or ‘Girl on the Beach’?

Give me some feedback.  Which did you think was the best?  Be honest!

I enjoyed writing them both. Guy at the bar will always be may favorite because it was the first one I plucked up courage to share.  I am hoping I get better with experience, but who knows.  Have a FANTASTIC long weekend everyone. Grill, entertain and relax.

Chapter Seven – The Storm

My story is almost finished.  One more chapter to go.  I hope  you have enjoyed my story and will keep reading. I have one shorter story, which I may start blogging  sometime in June.  Lots to do now and hard to keep up.  This blog has been a starting point for me, and given me the confidence (thanks to your comments) to continue sharing stories from my life. Every single story I am writing at the moment is based on events that truly happened to me.  I embellished a little to make it fun, but there is a great deal of truth in what I write.  For now anyway.  Enough of my ramblings, let’s get on to the next chapter.  I hope you enjoy it, feel free to comment. Happy Mothers Day.

 

CHAPTER SEVEN 

            We arrived at the gate to the playground just as Mr. Robinson rang the bell for assembly.  He stood by the school doors as everyone filed through them.  Judy and I tagged on to the back and stopped as we got to the door.  Mr. Robinson, Mrs. Ball has taken Sonia home, she had a fall on the way to school.  I think the lightning startled her and she fell over.  She asked us to tell you, and to let you know she would be here soon.  Mr. Robinson looked slightly amused. “Lightning you say, I heard a couple of rumbles of thunder, but I never saw any lightning.  Are you sure?”  I nodded my head and was just about to speak when a huge fork of lightning crackled over to our left in the cornfield, followed almost immediately by an enormous clap of thunder.  We all ran inside quickly because when the thunder and lightning was that close together, it meant the storm was right overhead.  It was even more dangerous because there was no rain.  Dry lightning was bad when the corn was turning yellow.  I heard Freddie say that one day when we were riding in his horse and cart.  Mrs. Ball was the only other teacher apart from Mr. Robinson, so we all got together in one class and Mr. Robinson decided to tell a story.  He liked stories, and took this one from his Hans Christian Anderson book.  I enjoyed his stories, but I couldn’t concentrate, I was hypnotized by the storm.  It got so dark that we had to put the lights on, the sky was black and a howling wind seemed to come from nowhere. I was very glad we weren’t still walking along the road to school.  I wasn’t usually afraid of thunder and lightning, in fact I enjoyed it, but this was a little scary.  The trees outside in the orchard were blowing so bad that the blossoms were flying off sideways, making it look like a pink and white blizzard. Far off, in the teacher’s staff room the phone was ringing.  Mr. Robinson ignored it as he was trying to keep everyone’s attention and if he left to answer the phone his class, especially the infants, might focus on what was going on outside.  I could tell Mr. Robinson was a little uneasy too.  It was like night outside our school and it looked like the sun had a big blanket over it. The phone stopped ringing for a moment, but then started again.  I think Mr. Robinson had decided he should answer it, and stood up to do so when something hit the big window at the side of the classroom.  A branch had blown off a tree and hit the window with such force that the window cracked, catching the end of the branch as it did so and leaving it flapping and banging as it hung there threatening to break in.  Lynne, one of the younger children, started crying and Mr. Robinson went over to her to try to calm her down.  Judy, who was younger than me and not normally in the same classroom, came and sat next to me, her little clammy hand clasped mine and we sat there wondering if the world was going to end.  It felt like it was.  Mr. Robinson gathered us all together and led us into the passage way by the cloakroom, he was trying to be cheerful and not alarm us, but by now several kids were crying.  He told us all to sit down against the wall and explained we were safer there, in the corridor because there were only a couple of small windows , so if any more tree branches were flying around, we wouldn’t be hurt by breaking glass.  Almost on cue, we heard a huge crashing noise as the window in the class room we had just left, finally gave in to the flapping branch, and shattered.  Two or three kids screamed and some just continued to whimper.

            I had never been in a hurricane, and I didn’t know if this was a hurricane, but it felt like one.  I could see things flying past the little windows in the cloakroom.  Branches, leaves, and other things I couldn’t make out.  They looked like flying people, the sort sometimes seen in book illustrations, not quite cartoons, but not totally real either, it was scary, hurricanes couldn’t make people fly about could they? I rubbed my eyes and looked again and was sure I saw a face staring in the cloakroom window, a sad pale face with huge eyes looking directly at me, and then it was gone. I saw what looked like seats and clothes flying by too. It was the darkness outside playing tricks with the shadows from inside.  I squeezed my eyes tightly shut, and as I did so, I must have squeezed Judy’s hand too.  It sounded way in the distance, but I could hear her crying “Stop, stop, you are hurting me” I opened my eyes and released my grip, she immediately snatched her hand away from me.  The wind seemed to be calming down a little, I could hear someone else crying, the sound was not coming from the group of children crouched against the wall, it was coming from the infants classroom at the far end of the corridor. I tried to see who was crying all alone in the classroom just as the lights went out.  Everyone screamed!

            Mr. Robinson was talking to everyone in a calming voice telling them it would be all right and it was most likely a branch falling on a power line that had caused the lights to go out. Judy was holding  my hand again and was whimpering quietly. I hadn’t screamed, I had hardly noticed the lights go out, I was trying to see who was in the doorway of the infants class, it was dark, but I knew someone was there.  Lightning flashed, in that split second of light I saw an angel looking in my direction, there were tears running down her cheeks. It was the little girl from my dream, and from the beach in Blackpool.  It looked like a light was shining from within her, her curls were blowing softly as if there was a breeze, even though she was inside and there was none, she was looking out of the window, up to the sky. She didn’t look frightened, just sad. She raised her arm up to one side, almost like she was reaching up to hold someone’s hand and then lightning flashed again and she was gone.

            Now I was scared because something just wasn’t right.  I had a feeling in my tummy, just below my ribs, it was an uncomfortable sickening feeling.  It felt like the air had been sucked out of me.  This was the very first time I had that feeling. As I got older, it was something I felt often, but in 1964 I was only seven and it felt wrong, I could hardly breathe. Tears trickled silently down my face, I didn’t really know why, but I was more scared right then than I had ever been in my whole life. The wind was still howling outside, but not so much.  It was still very dark both outside and in. Judy was holding my hand still and I could feel her looking at me. I daren’t look up because I was afraid of what I would see.  I felt like this day and the whole world, had gone crazy.  Although the little girl didn’t look scared, seeing her had made me scared, it made me think of my sunstroke dream again, and all of the horrible sounds and smells it brought with it. Lights flashed outside, very close and I was scared even more. “Looks like Mrs. Ball made it, it’s a miracle” Mr. Robinson was talking now and sounded genuinely relieved. The flashing lights I had seen were the headlights of her little Morris Minor. I looked along the corridor and saw her by the front doors, which were made of glass.  She had trouble opening them and I willed her to come in quickly.  There were things outside that could follow her in, things that needed to stay outside, things that were just beyond our vision, but they were there, waiting for the opportunity to come in and move among us.  Mrs. Ball looked awfully disheveled, her normally neatly curled hair, looked like it had been pulled through a hedge backwards, but she made it through the doors and she actually turned around and locked the doors after she entered, maybe she had seen the faces too.  She stood by Mr. Robinson and they looked at each other as though their eyes were talking.  Mrs. Ball took the younger kids to one end of the corridor and started talking to them, Mr. Robinson stayed with me and one or two of the older kids.  Our whole school, which was a converted church, only had twelve pupils, so we were a small group, which under the circumstances was a good thing.  A large group of kids could quickly get out of control in a situation like this. 

            I don’t know how long the phenomenon outside lasted.  I never looked at the clock on the wall, but when the lights came back on, we were all very relieved. The wind died down and it got lighter outside. Mrs. Ball led us all into the assembly room and sat down at the piano, she started playing ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ which was one of her favorite hymns.  We didn’t need any one to tell us to sing. Everyone sang their little hearts out, even the Jehovah’s Witness kids who didn’t normally join us to sing hymns. They didn’t need help with the words either, they sang louder than anyone.  The sun came up again, the wind dropped and then it rained, not a hard drenching downpour, just a gentle early summer rain.  Mr. Robinson led us all to the doors that opened on to the playground and we all stood and looked at an amazing sight.  The playground was covered in petals, pink apple blossom petals, it looked beautiful.  Mrs. Ball and Mr. Robinson looked at each other and then opened the doors, the rain was easing up and we all ran outside, it smelled so wonderful and fresh out there.  We ran around the playground as if we had been imprisoned for days instead of a couple of hours, we kicked apple blossom into the air, we bent down and picked it up and threw it all around us. We lifted up handfuls of it and pressed it to our noses.  I forgot how scared I had been and joined in, the mood was contagious. Kids heal quickly and I was healing again.  The little girls smiling face still haunted me, but I dismissed it quickly, she was probably still on my mind from Blackpool and my mum always said that your mind played funny tricks with you sometimes.

            Melvyn, my first childhood crush, was standing at the far end of the playground, quietly on his own, no one noticed him but me, probably because I was the only one who had a crush on him. He was looking up at a tree at the edge of the cornfield.  I followed his gaze. At first I thought the tree was full of blossoms and toilet paper, which was an odd combination in itself.  I went and stood by Melvyn, next to the wall, to get a closer look.  He looked at me, and instead of pushing me or making fun of me, like he normally would.  He just said, “How did that happen?” I looked at the tree again and saw it was full of pink ribbons!  Full is a slight exaggeration, but there were about thirty pink satin ribbons fluttering from the branches, the same sort of ribbons that the little girl from my dreams wore in her hair. No one noticed us standing there, and in a little while, Mr. Robinson rang the big school bell and we all went back inside.  Melvyn and I didn’t say a word, just went back to class.

Guy at the Bar sold EIGHTEEN copies on Amazon!

It made me a writer!

OK so I get excited easily!  I had not been checking my Amazon account because I didn’t really believe that with the hundreds of thousands of books on there, someone would find mine.  They did though.  I have done no marketing apart from my blog (and my big mouth) so even though I made barely enough money to buy a bottle of champagne, I can still say I SOLD MY BOOK! I would like to say thank you to everyone who bought it and watch out for my new book, which should be published for kindle, I pad, Barnes and Noble etc.  Not decided on a definite title yet so I still need help with that.  If you have been reading my single chapters, send your ideas.  ‘Girl on the Beach’, (thanks Gay), is still my favorite.

Have a fabulous weekend everyone and watch for the next chapter of Girl on the Beach tomorrow.