Friday, 29 December 2017

Wishing You a Perfect Year


    The year 2017 is now coming to an end. For some of us it may be a time to close an unhappy chapter of our lives and wish on the stroke of midnight that the year about to start is going to meet our hopes and aspirations.

    For others it may be a time to be thankful for the good fortune we have been blessed with, grateful for the love and support we have received from those around us.

    As we take time to reflect, melancholy can creep up behind us, making us think of times gone by, sadly thinking of those friends and relatives who have left our lives, for good, or have moved many miles away. Leaving a great void behind.

    However, I hope that the memories of the joyous times spent with them will outweigh the loss felt and I hope what ever your midnight wish is, you all have a perfect year.


Friday, 22 December 2017

The Journey of Regret Part 3

Part 3 of 3  (Final)

    I feel a piercing pain in the side of my skull and I explore my right temple with my fingertips. I wince, I've found a bleeding head wound. My blood moistens my fingers and it runs down my face. I can taste the saltiness of it, as it trickles onto my lips and into my mouth. I sit still and try to orientate myself with my surroundings, but the situation I find myself in seems somewhat surreal.

    "Jemma follow me. I will take you to safety," says a woman. I'm unable to see her because of the strong light that is now shining in my face.     Thank goodness, I feel relieved that a rescue party has arrived.  I can hear the voice of the woman clearly persuading me to follow her. I shakily get to my feet and I clamber into the aisle. I hesitate, I've remembered that my carryall is on the seat to the inside of me. I reach in and I brush my hand across the sticky, velvety pile of the upholstery. But the bag is no longer there, it must have fallen onto the floor. How on earth am I going to find it in this darkness? I sigh, there is no point in me fumbling around to try to locate it.

    The female voice continues to encourage me on, but the light is moving away from me and I have to follow. I take a step and I stumble over something. I bend down and tug at what is some kind of bag, hopefully I've found my carryall. But the item is too small to be mine, I think it may be a briefcase, or a laptop. I push the
bag aside to clear my path and it moves away from me at speed. I hear it coming to a thudding halt somewhere up ahead. 
    I can only assume that the train has been derailed, because the carriage is slightly tilted over to one side and I proceed with difficulty. I grab hold of the backs of the seats to steady myself and I follow the guiding light. I pass by my fellow passengers, some groan loudly and others cry for help. I can't understand why they don't follow the rescuer. 

    Although it seems to have taken forever, I've reached the end of the carriage and to an exit. I stop at the open doorway and look up into the cloudless December sky. The cold air blasts my face, making my cheeks go numb. I take a deep breath, a strong smell of diesel oil fills my nostrils and lungs. A multitude of twinkling stars and a full moon light up the night sky, but they fail to illuminate my surroundings. I can't see anything but the woman's light.

    Jumping down onto the track, I drop to my knees. Sharp stone chippings dig into my flesh, causing me to flinch.
    "Jemma, follow me. I will take you to safety," the woman's voice beckons.
    "Please help me," I plead. I'm still on the ground, but my plea is ignored. I lurch to my feet; the light of the rescuer is advancing and is now some distance ahead. I must gather my strength and go after her.

    I walk unsteadily along the track, my feet slide on the hard-core rock that lies between the rails. I  stagger and I nearly lose my balance. I can hear muffled voices, but they're nowhere near me. I can hear sirens, but they're in the distance. The cold bites through my whole body; I start to shake and my teeth are chattering. I have no other option but to keep following the light. With great difficulty I stifle my sobs, I feel so desperately alone and very scared.

    The light is becoming bigger and brighter, I must be nearing safety at last. My legs are weary, I'm struggling to put one foot in front of the other. My head throbs, my body aches and I want to lie down. I daren't though, because the light is within reach.

    I exhale a sigh of relief, I've reached the light and I’m now bathed in it. Its whiteness burns deep into my eyes. I try to shield them with my hand in an effort to see, but to no avail.
     "You are safe. Your pain will ease. Your wounds will heal. We will take care of you now,” says the woman.

     I drop my arm away from my face; the light no longer hurts my eyes and I can feel it penetrate deep down into my body, into my soul. I try to turn around, but I can't. It's as though I've been cemented to the spot. I turn my head and glance behind me; but there is nothing to see, only the white light.
     "I want to go back,” I beg.
     "I know Jemma, I know. But now you can only look back, because for you there is no going back. You are with us now,” the woman says.


    The 8:00 P.M passenger train to Brighton from Victoria Station, London was derailed at 8:20 P.M yesterday evening. At present the cause is unknown, but accident investigators are on the scene.  

    Several passengers are known to be severely injured and there is one reported fatality. The deceased is believed to be 17-year-old Jemma Anders,who was said to be returning home after visiting some friends in London. Although badly injured, Miss Anders is thought to have wandered from the train following the derailment,in search for help.

    An Emergency Service spokesperson, told reporters that a rescue worker had gone to investigate, what he thought was someone waving a flashlight some distance away from the wreckage.But unfortunately he came across the body of the deceased. It is likely she died because of head injuries. A full postmortem will follow.

    Relatives, family and friends have been informed.


** This was first published on this blog Nov/22/2012

Sunday, 17 December 2017

The Journey of Regret Part 2


Part 2 of 3

    However, after two days, I was struggling with the whole living away from home thing. Sneaking into shopping mall restrooms to wash before going for an interview and drying my hair under the hand-dryer. I found it all more than a little alien and I didn't get the jobs either. The most distressing thing for me though, was that I was really missing my mom. I was yearning to hear her voice, feel her arms wrap around me, and giving me a big hug.

     I managed to stick it out for another five days and now I'm on the train, going home. I'm feeling relaxed and I'm now thinking about things constructively, rather than destructively. I managed to make a call to my mom before the train left, from a payphone. I told her I was on my way back; there were lots of tears, but she's forgiven me for my unreasonable behavior. So much so, that she's making my favorite supper tonight. She's a great cook, and I love her chili beef and garlic bread. My stomach's rumbling just thinking about it.

     It's 8.00 PM and the carriage is empty. The other occupants are all seated quite a number of rows away, so there's no one to disturb me with their coughing, sneezing, snoring, or any other bodily function that takes their fancy.

     Suddenly I feel overwhelmed and here was me telling you that I was thinking constructively. Okay I lied; I was just putting on a brave face.

     Deep breathe; I’m putting my negative thoughts in a box and into temporary storage, in a dark corner of my brain. My mind goes blank, I now only hear the noise of the carriage wheels as they roll along the steel track and a state of calmness engulfs my whole being. I close my eyes in the hope that I may be able to drift off to sleep, the state of slumber being something that hasn't been easy to do the last week. The thought of a rat nibbling my toes, or someone stealing what little money I had, kept the adrenalin pumping and the sleep at bay. 

    OMG, I've been awakened by a sudden jolt and the carriage is in darkness. I hear some of my fellow passengers moaning and there's noise of general chaos echoing all around me. 

** First published on this blog Nov/18/2012

Friday, 15 December 2017

The Journey of Regret Part 1

     Part 1 of 3

The Journey of Regret


     I wish in real life there was a pause, rewind and replay button. If there was, maybe I could rectify some things that have happened in the last week, for sure. Have you ever felt that you may have something in common with the guy called Humpty Dumpty? If you remember, his wall tumbled down round about him. I did, except my world came tumbling down. I opened my eyes one day last week and I decided that things could not go on as they were. I was miserable, everything I seemed to do was wrong. I just had to get away. Anywhere, anyplace.

     Well, my septimana horribilis started last Thursday morning at around 6:30 a.m to be exact. It began with my mom, going on and on about me staying out after curfew time. A curfew time that I felt, she had unfairly imposed upon me. Bottom line is we had a terrible row, I threw my dolly out of the pram big style and I stropped out of the house.

     This row was the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak. At school that day, I just could not concentrate. All I could think about was the cross words that my mom and I exchanged that morning. Arriving home in the evening from school, the rowing started again and I decided it was best if I went to my room; never surfacing for the rest of the night. So when I woke up on Friday morning  I made the decision to leave home.

     Mom and I didn't say much over breakfast, but we never did anyway. She thought I was heading for school as usual. But of course, I wasn't. To run away from home I knew I was going to need some money. Luckily for me, my dad had given me some money on his last visit and if I watched what I was doing, I would be able to get by on that until I got a job. One of my school friends had left home, she had gotten a job as a waitress, and that's exactly what I was going to do. I would be working long hours, but Emily, she’s my friend, said that the tips were great. 

     I checked the train timetable on my PC and I saw that there was an early train into Victoria. Instead of my schoolbooks, I packed what I could in the way of clothing, toiletries, and a couple of things that had some sentimental value into my carryall. I wrote a quick note explaining my reasons for going, and that I regretted that it had ever come to this. Dressed in my school clothes I set off as normal. Mom had no reason to suspect anything; we had disagreed a million times before. So what was knew?

     I arrived at the station feeling sick as a dog; I had never been away from home on my own before. I received a message on my cell phone from Emily just as my train was pulling out of the station, she said that she had to work. But all going well she would still be able to meet up with me first thing at Victoria station. But when my train turned up an hour and a half late, all my plans were thrown up in the air, adding to my anxiety. Eventually we did meet up and she took me back to her squat. The folks she’s sharing with were very accommodating; they were happy for me to move in and even happier when I offered to contribute something towards the communal living expenses.

** First published on this blog Nov/15/2012

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Demon's Story

Demon’s Story

    It’s 7 am, and JoJo transmutes from her serpent appearance into that of her human form. She dresses quickly into her canteen assistant’s uniform and makes her way into the kitchen at the back of her house. The sun is rising, causing the cacti in her backyard to imitate shadowy figures, which move
desultorily across the ground.

    A transient shadow makes her stop what she’s doing. She lifts up the net curtain, to take a second look out of the window. She can’t see anything incongruous and she drops the window covering back into place.

    She goes into the utility room to get her white leather clogs from the shoe rack. An indistinguishable figure flashes across the opaque glass of the door that leads to the yard. JoJo turns the key in the lock clockwise and then opens the door with some caution. There are no obvious visible signs of her having
uninvited company. But nevertheless, she steps out onto the paved path that circles the house and calls out,
    “Hello, is there someone there?”
    Only the crickets chirp a reply. She laughs raucously and turns to go back inside. Bang, the clatter of a garbage can comes from the side of the house. She moves towards the location of the noise gingerly.

    “Grrr, grrr, grrr.” A male black bear appears from around the corner, causing JoJo to jump back in surprise. The bear stands upright on its long hind legs and begins to walk towards JoJo. Its broad skull and large jaws seem disproportionate to its three and a half foot stature. The curved claws of its leathery soled forepaws gouge at the air, forcing JoJo to backtrack her steps speedily.

    She goes back into the utility room, but she has no time to close the door as the bear is close behind. The black omnivore swipes at her, but misses his target. JoJo commences her mutation, but doing so lessens her ability to stay out of the bears reach. He catches hold of her shoulder, she squeals as the
razor-sharp claws dig deep into her flesh.

    She frees herself from his clutches, she has only partially changed into her demon state. The bear aims a blow at JoJo’s twisting serpent like head. His sharp nails meet with their objective once again.
This time tearing at the scaly skin on top of her head.

    The demon is using up all her energy to fight for her existence, meaning that her full metamorphosis is being delayed. The black bear has the upper hand and JoJo’s powers are all but depleted. She has nowhere to go and nowhere to hide. She can only hope that her master can forgive her for her weakness.


This was first published on this here Dec/19/2016


Friday, 8 December 2017


A secret is something never to be shared
Told to another because you believe they cared

A little matter that worries you
Or, a hide-away that you want to remain special to just you two

Embracing your hopes, dreams and even fears
Intimate knowledge to remain hidden over the days, months and years

 You find out suddenly your world is no longer a private matter
For a moment you feel your life might tear apart and shatter

Choose carefully in whom you trust
Their loyalty and reliability is a must

This post was first published August/18/2016

Sunday, 3 December 2017

What a Wonderful World it Could be

    In the early 19th-century in the UK, many of the poorest population were employed in some way or another in the textile mills. The work was not restricted to adults, but children as young as the age of five worked alongside their mothers, as well as orphans. There were no infant schools or creches for the children, just sweat shops and a life of hard labour, working in excess of 12 hours per day.

The Institution for the Formation of Character (School)

    Robert Owen, a mill manager from Wales knew that the use of children in the mills was wrong and believing that the future of society evolved around them he wanted to change this cruel practice.

    After marrying a Scottish girl, Owen moved to New Lanark, Scotland, where he became the manager of his father-in-law's mill. This is where he put his beliefs into action, he removed the children from the factory floor into schools he had built for the worker's children.
    Schools were a rarity, his nursery and infant schools were the first of its kind, a place where the children could learn and play and their mother's could go to work knowing that their children were out of harms way.

Falls of the Clyde, New Lanark

    His vision didn't stop at schools, he envisaged a community where all were treated as equals and he went about building a model village in New Lanark. Social housing was provided for the mill workers, a shop where they could buy reasonably priced food, and a fund set-up for health-care. It was a place where families could work, live in safety and generally enjoy life together.

Cotton Mill, New Lanark
    Robert Owen, who some saw as an idealist, set about trying to make it a perfect world to live in and he took his ambitious plans to Indiana, US. Here he purchased the town of Harmonie, renaming it New Harmony, however, he returned to the UK, having failed to develop his plan successfully there.

Robert Owen's Home, New Lanark

    He wrote essays on the 'New View of Society' and the 'Principle of the Formation of the Human Character' on which his ideals were based and his conception of what a wonderful world it could be.

Plan of New Lanark

Robert Owen 1771-1858     #UniversalChildrenDay

This post was first published November/19/2015

Friday, 1 December 2017

Book Week Scotland

John Buchan heritage Museum, Peebles
    We know that if an adventure book is well  written the characters come alive on the page and we the reader, are transported into the author's, thrilling world. There are of course writers who do it much better than others and one such author was John Buchan.

Tweed Bridge, Peebles

    The protagonist, Richard Hannay, features in Buchan's books, The 39 Steps, Greenmantle, The Island of Sheep, The Three Hostages and Mr Standfast. The unlikely, action hero has been and still is a favourite in film and on stage, one hundred years after he was created.

Plaques to both John Buchan and sister Anna also a novelist

    Born in Perth, Central Scotland and spending his child-hood-years in Pathhead, Kirkcaldy, Buchan took his fictional character Hannay on his thrilling journey into the Galloway Hills. These hills, surround Peebles a town in the Scottish Borders, where the author holidayed and a plaque can be seen on the wall of the Bank House, in which he stayed along with the other members of his family.

Peebles High Street, Galloway Hills in background

 A couple of weeks ago I went to the Royal Burgh of Peebles, where Buchan is still a local hero and I snapped some photographs so you too, could get a feel of his  charming world. A great place to visit virtually or in reality, Book Week Scotland.

The town of Perth, Central Scotland

This post was first published November /21 /2015 #archive

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Meet Author J Edward Neill

     Today it's an honor to introduce you to the gifted J Edward Neill in my, Author Spotlight, post. Jeremy is a US based indie author of fiction, sci-fi, philosophy and has published short stories for Kindle's galaxy-wide.
    If that's not enough to be going on with, he is also a talented painter, bringing canvas alive with his imagination and use of color. He has been writing for the last sixteen years and has an extensive catalogue of titles to his name including a series of dark fiction of which he is the co-author. His first book Down the Dark Path was published in 2013 and he has agreed to giving us a look into his world.

Q & A
  • What came first, the writing, or the painting? 

        Definitely the painting. As a much younger man, I attended art school, which admittedly I enjoyed far more than any other classes. After graduation, I started a t-shirt business and painted huge banners for local music acts. My crowning achievement: a banner I created for the heavy metal band, Slayer. Nowadays, hardly a night goes by without painting being involved in my life. It’s just so very relaxing.

A snapshot from my studio, aka my kitchen

  • What made you decide to write solely for the adult market?
        Good question! When I began my writing journey, the market lay smack in the center of the Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games era. Everything seemed to be for young adults, and little of it appealed to me. I decided I’d do my best to offer alternatives to the prevailing popular themes of the day. To make my rebellion a reality, I went straight for epic dark fantasy. And by ‘dark’ I don’t mean sexual. I mean adult themes such as war, sacrifice, betrayal, et cetera. These are central to my most popular fantasy novel, Dark Moon Daughter

  • Have you faced any particular challenges writing multi-genre?
        Yes. And I embrace them all. I recently jumped straight out of a sci-fi series and into a pair of philosophical memoirs. I think I threw my audience a curveball with the leap from ‘star-destroying space vampires’ to ‘an author drinks wine and writes about his childhood.’ And that’s OK. Bouncing from genre to genre has proven to be more fun than I’d ever hoped. I encourage everyone to try it. Just be careful not alienate your readers.

  • What age group would you say your work is likely to appeal to?
    I’ve got a two-part answer…
        My fantasy, sci-fi, and horror books will likely appeal to the 18-35 crowd. These works contain enough action, character development, and plot twists to engage readers looking for a straightforward good time.
        For older readers, I recommend my Coffee Table Philosophy series. Questions about science, philosophy, and morality tend to appeal to those of us already drowning in fiction books.

  • How do you decide on your titles?
    I hear plenty of authors talk about the challenges of deciding on book titles (and blurbs.) As for me, I enjoy the process. I usually design the title and blurb long before getting into the meat of writing the book. I try to nail down the central themes of whatever I’m working on, and then I make a list of potential titles. For my latest sci-fi book, Shadow Forever, I allowed my readers to decide the name. It was fun to hear their feedback!

  • 101 Reasons to Breakup, was the last title to be released in your series of coffee table philosophy books. This was book number thirteen, will you be adding another title? Or, do you have a new WIP that you want to share with us?

        I'll definitely keep adding to the Coffee Table series. 101 Reasons to Break Up has been a big success (selling to book stores in England, of all places) and so I’ll likely pen a Part 2 before 2017 ends. I’ll need more stories to do it…since all the break ups are real.

        As for my current WIP, I'm about 30% finished with, Eaters of the Light. It'll be the last book in my big sci-fi series. I'm having a riot working on it.

  • Most authors have favorite characters, can you introduce us to one of yours?
    You asked for one. I’ll give you two.
        My first is Mia from the short story, Let the Bodies. She’s just a little kid living in a dangerous city, but her bravery is unique. Some of my readers might not realize it, but she makes a cameo in another book, The Circle Macabre. Poor little Mia. She doesn’t know how doomed she is.
        My second is Archmyr from the, Tyrants of the Dead series. He’s about as bad as an antagonist can be, and yet he’s still very human. He makes the best of a bad situation…and then makes the worst of a perfectly good one. SO fun to write.

  • Jeremy, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to let us into your creative world. But, my readers would never forgive me if I didn't ask you to tell us a little about your journey into the world of writing?
        It all started on a dark and stormy…
    Actually, now that I think about it, the desire to tell stories has always been with me. As a little kid, I recall inventing worlds with characters to populate them. I suppose my creative spark was stoked to a flame when my Uncle John presented me with a full set of Dungeons & Dragons books for Christmas (the full story appears here.) At that very moment, I knew I needed to tell stories for the rest of my life. Big stories. Epic stories. Tales of our world and every dimension in-between.
    And here I am many years later, still at it. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to stop.

    Also, I’m inspired by my son, who made me wear this sombrero!

Reach J Edward at his website – Down the Dark Path

…or at any of these fine locations: