Just Finished…Anchor Leg by Jack Croxall

Anchor Led

The Blurb…

Stranded 750 million miles from Earth. Stranded with a saboteur, stranded with a killer.

Humanity has spilled out into the Solar System, into a succession of giant space stations known as the Relay. Seren Temples is a security apprentice running the Relay’s remote Anchor Leg. When sabotage strands her vessel near another damaged ship, Seren and her team are sent across to investigate. The second ship is a zero-G graveyard. Inside its vast hold, nothing but a single vial of frozen blood.



My Thoughts… This became part of my ‘clear the Kindle challenge’ after I’d downloaded a free copy (I think) ages ago on an Amazon giveaway day. We’ve previously review and featured author Jack Croxall on the blog A-G-E-S ago in 2013, and this is a very different style of book to the historical adventure that Tony read (you can check out our other posts HERE).

Anyway, what about Anchor Leg I (imagine) I hear you cry? Well, how fast did I get into this book? First page and I was transported into the middle of the interview taking place between two of our central characters… I was right there in the room with them, could picture everything and bonded with our lead character, Seren, immediately.

I found the story fast-paced with plenty of mystery and twists. I liked the attention to detail in the crew, apprentices and characters, that felt realistic and sci-if without being OTT, I feel non-sci fi fans (which I’m on the edge of) could read and enjoy this. This is a murder-mystery, conspiracy theory, adventure in space – with the younger characters adding a YA slant to your reading of this, whilst the logical, investigative approach of the lovely Seren makes it feel like a cop-drama in space.

There’s a nice touch of romance in this, that fits with the story as a whole without feeling that it was crow-barred in just to add that element. When you look at it this way, there are elements in this book to appeal to a wide range of readers, and it can neatly nudge you out of your comfort zone if crime, or sci-fi are not really your thing.

This is a great read and I would highly recommend the author based on my reading on Anchor Leg. 5

‘Thank you’ to Bloggers

Sharing Mel’s recent post from her author blog on appreciation for what it means to be a blogger… Happy new year!

Mel Cusick-Jones

dear-blogger Coincidentally, another Melanie seems to appreciate bloggers too! 🙂

I’ve just been doing a little ‘spring cleaning’ on my laptop today, tidying up the bookmarks that I keep on here relating to all things books: I have YA book blogger lists, MG/kids blogger lists, blogs on writing that I follow as well as other general writing resources.

For once, instead of dipping in and out of blogs based on what Twitter flashed up at me and made me go ‘Ooh shiny shiny!’ *click* I started at the top of my list (around 40 YA blogs) and I began running down from the top, to see who was out there from when I first started blogging and reading blogs myself, back in 2011… There are six active blogs left posting today. Just six.

Some of the blogs that have gone were ‘big’ to me – they had between 1000-10,000 regular followers…

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Just Finished…Slated by Teri Terry

Slated - CoverI really liked the concept of Slated – wiping the minds of young criminals to enable them to be reintroduced to society with improved behaviours – in a recognisable dystopian view of London.

The book is well-written and the characters have some depth to them – I particularly liked her adopted Mother. However, for my taste there was a lot of setup with not a huge amount of action – I suppose this might come in the future books in the series – but there was a lot of time spent running and talking, without much significant happening and so when I got to the end of the book I wasn’t really enticed to go further in the series and find out more about what was happening. 3* from me…

Just Finished…The Testing Trilogy

Maybe an odd few spoilers in here, so tread carefully, just as you might if you were going through The Testing yourself!:)

In the last couple of weeks I’ve read the three books that make up ‘The Testing’ trilogy by Joelle Charbonneau. I think I downloaded the first book in the series a year or so ago, when it was on a free Amazon download day… I picked it up because it was pegged as being for ‘fans of the Hunger Games…’ and with a blurb like this, you can see why:


Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one and the same? 

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career. 

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies–trust no one. 

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

See? Handsome boy from your home sector – check. Students chosen from outer colonies to come to the capital city for ‘Testing’ – check. Deadly competition and questionable morals amongst the candidates, check and check!

I think it was the reported similarities to The Hunger Games that made me avoid reading this for so long. I loved The Hunger Games: the competition, the rebellion, Katniss and Peeta (yep, Team Peeta, not the other guy – Katniss is the narrator and you never got the romance vibe from her in relation to him, did you?) The relationships between the characters as well, from Rue and Haymitch, through to Finnick and Mags – they all had good depth and realism, which I loved throughout that series and for me made it very strong.

Anyway, I’d not read any YA dystopian for a while and so I picked this up in the end and gave it a whirl – and it was worth it! Book one was good, book two was even better I thought – it moved further away from the Hunger Games-esque arena and built out it’s own world and plot.

After blasting through the first two books in this trilogy, I did stall a bit when it came to ‘Graduation Day’. I really liked the world built up in the first two books and in a way, keeping Cia’s world more compact (either controlled as part of the Testing, or built around her place at University) made her actions and the scale of the story realistic.

When we move to the final installment Cia doesn’t seem as ‘changed’ as she continually tells you that she is – this was something that started to grate on me a little in this final book. It felt like there was a lot more tell over show in this part and the characters that you were familiar with from books one and two began to feel a little more like cardboard cut-outs, despite the fact that you knew them already and could have seen their behaviours come out, rather than Cia telling you how she was interpreting things.

Overall, after two good books with plenty of pace and action, bounded nicely within the areas they were set inside, the third one fell flat. The various climactic elements left me a bit cold if I’m honest, which is a shame as the set up was good. I think for me – as some other reviewers pick up – things became quite unrealistic in the third book: the scope of what Cia got tasked with seemed inconsistent with the scale of everything else happening around her and her ever-present bag of magic tricks became a crutch. How could they be advance enough to manipulate genetics and do complex chemical engineering to revitalise their world, but not have anything more than basic communications, which a university student can apparently knock together in a workshop pretty quickly.

This is a good series and some comparisons to The Hunger Games are fair, particularly in the first book. But by the second it does stride out in its own direction, which I really enjoyed – the third book delivers many of the answers following the set up in the other books, it just didn’t grip me to the end as I hoped it might.

Overall I’d rate the series 4* – it is very readable and enticed me enough to buy the next two books in the series, having read the first one for free. I would have just liked something more, something different from the ending that was delivered.

Just Finished…The All Souls Trilogy…

A Discovery of WitchesIt’s taken a while to get to reviewing this series, as once I’d started the trilogy with A Discovery of Witches back in September 2015, I then bought the other two books and thought I would do a review for the trilogy as a whole.

In fact, this first book had been on my kindle since March 2012 waiting for me to get around to reading it! There’s nothing like trawling your old purchases to find something new to read, when you’re looking for inspiration – I think this may be the theme for most of my reading this year, as I started off in January reading the first in Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones series and am currently partway through the first Beautiful Creatures book by Garcia and Stohl. I’m only about six years behind the reading curve on those then! 🙂 I added a lot of books in 2012 and as quite a few of them are still there, bouncing around in digi-book purgatory in my kindle, I began to feel bad getting anything new before I released them.

Anyway, back to the book…

A Discovery of Witches lands you right in the middle of academic and book lover nirvana: it’s set in the beautiful libraries and colleges of Oxford, as American Professor Diana Bishop attempts to ignore the fact that she’s a witch to get on with her research without magic. When a strange book lands on her desk during her work, one filled with magic and questions, she deliberately dismisses it – sending it back to the archives, so that she can continue to ignore her magical abilities.

What I loved about this first book, which I would rate 4*, was the world-building and background premise to the magical world of ‘creatures’ that Harkness describes. The first few hundred pages flew by as I learned about daemons, vampires and witches in this world – what made them different, their characteristics and behaviours, and how all this came together in a meeting between genetic science and mythology. It was great. The characters introduced were also intriguing and drew me in to the story and mystery that was obviously being laid out.

There was a lull in the middle of the book for me – something that I found in each of the books in the series if I’m honest – where I was reading and reading and it didn’t really feel like there was much happening, significant character development or action. There was quite a lot of tea making, wandering around buildings described in lots of detail, and day-to-day happenings I wasn’t too fussed to be reading about. I love a good cup of tea, but when your protagonist is making them every few pages in considerable detail, you’re really not that bothered. All three of the books are long-ish (579 pages for this one) and I would have said a good 100 pages or so of exposition could have been lost without detriment to the overall story. After the lull in the middle, it finished with a bang – which had me heading to Amazon to grab the next two books, so that I could find out more about the characters and world I’d invested in.

Shadow of Night So, book two lands: Shadow of Night. Funnily enough, the lull for me in this one came at the very beginning – perhaps because I’d closed one book and opened the other immediately. Here the main characters have used Diana’s powers to ‘time-walk’ into the past to Elizabethan England, to the home – and former life – of her vampire partner Matthew. After a slightly slow start, the world-building picks up, as does the action and Diana – a historian – throws herself into this interesting world. Sixteenth century London is described in fantastic detail, with historical features mingling with the world of creatures set up in book one. We learn more about magic and the issues of the present, as we journey with Diana in the past. Spellbound as a child, to protect herself from her powers, she has always thought she was a poor excuse for a witch and thus focused on academia as her strength and not witchcraft. Now that she has found what was done to her as a child, she has to learn about herself and witches from the beginning, in an unfamiliar world. This was my favourite book in the series – the mixture of worlds and travels through history, living and breathing the places Diana and Matthew pass through, as they continue to unravel the mystery started in A Discovery of Witches. After the initial lull, the rest of the book flew by and I read it in a few days.

The Book of LifeThe Book of Life, brings us back to the present and the huge cast of characters assembled during the first two books now converge in the present day as Diana and Matthew continue their search for answers.

The book started well, but maybe 200 pages in it began to drag. I know loose ends had to be tied up, but just as in book one, there were long chapters of exposition that weren’t adding to the story for me. Also, after the majority of the first two books being written from Diana’s POV (first person) this book moved around a lot more – jumping into other characters heads, re-telling scenes in the third person. I didn’t find the jumps confusing, but just felt that if first person was good enough for the majority of the book, surely there were ways of conveying what was done here, without a quick and easy 3-4 paragraph jump out, to jump back. It felt lazy somehow, and with the detail and story-telling of this series, Harkness is not a lazy writer.

Anyway, there was a long lull and so I found it hard to keep reading in the sporadic moments I’d get. It felt like something I had to get through in order to finish the story and get my answers. In the end, you do get the answers – some are quite satisfying and delivered well; others, particularly action elements, could have been much more exciting. I started the book in September and have just finished it this morning.

So, overall – I’d probably be around 3.5* for this series. There are some great elements to the story and the complexity of the ‘creature’ world-building is excellent. There are characters that you buy into and want to know how their stories develop. But, the pace in several areas is just too slow – you shouldn’t be feeling that you need to ‘power through’ to the good bits. I’ve read several reviews for the books that compare them to Twilight – an adults version, if you like – and I can appreciate that. If Bella had gone off to uni and met her vampire around the age of 34, instead of 17, it probably would have been a very similar tale. My feelings about the drag in the books are very similar to the drag I experienced reading Breaking Dawn, with random characters appearing in an endless stream, leading up to the most anti-climatic battle ever. Action scenes and pace are not Harkness’s strong points either, but she can write depth and history and weave a huge tapestry of a new world that you can absolutely believe is realistic. Maybe just a bit less tea making, wandering in gardens and being coddled by other creatures in rooms described in minute detail; and when you get the violent climax of a three book series, don’t skip over it in a page or two. It was all a bit Finnick: *reading, reading, reading – turn page* “Wait a second!” *turns back a page* “Did Finnick just die?”

Just Finished…City of Bones

imageSo, this is my first book of 2016… I realise that I am about eight years late in giving this series a try, but it has been sat on my bookshelf for ages now and I just randomly plucked it off and started it over Christmas.

Overall, my rating for this would be 4* – up until about two-thirds of the way through, it was probably more of a 3*, but the writing style and ideas behind the world created in The Mortal Instruments held things together for me, when perhaps I wasn’t as invested in the characters or their actual adventure. That might sound like an odd thing to say, but I’ve found that happening with a few books I’ve read lately (including a very long trilogy that I’m just coming to the end of and will review soon).

In terms of the world created, it has a lot of typical YA supernatural elements: wolves, vampires, angels, demons… But, in here they are all in the same ‘world’ for once, rather than split into an angels book, or a vampire-wolf combo, which is interesting. I liked the idea of the city setting as well; seeing the action unravel around various parts of New York was a nice twist for me, with demon clubs and vampire hotels around every corner.

The action/pacing wasn’t amazing for me though – I never felt ‘gripped’ by the story and could easily put it down and walk away. I enjoyed the characters and the witty banter was great, but I never really bonded with them. As it stands, I’d read more in the series if the opportunity came up, but as a completed series, ready and waiting for me, I don’t feel the urge or that invested to pick up book two. In honesty, I like the sound of Clare’s second series more and so may give the Infernal Devices a go before I venture further along the paths of shadowhunters and demons…

And for anyone interested, Tony reviewed one of the ‘Infernal Devices’ novels a while ago, you can see his thoughts here:



Sunday Write-Up – September 2015

Sunday Write Up Header

It’s the last Sunday of September and so we’re back with another write-up challenge for anyone feeling they want to give their creative legs a stretch. Slight twist this month because I found this fantastic image on Pinterest by David Vandre… https://1x.com/photo/5981/all:user:1618

When I saw it, I just thought “that road is going somewhere” and figured if we use it for our inspiration this week, instead of the usual set of words, we might find some wonderful destinations somewhere along it.

So, for this month write your piece, short story, poem, etc. based on this image, whatever you want, whatever comes to mind… Post your piece on your blog as normal and put a link to it in the comments below so that we can check out what everyone writes.

Sunday Write-Up – August 2015

Sunday Write Up Header

It’s the last Sunday of the month again and so it’s time for the Sunday Write-Up (yay!)

Everyone is welcome to take part in this monthly event, whether you’ve published fifty books or are just deciding to write for the very first time.

The idea is easy:

  1. Take the five words from the bottom of this post
  2. Write a short story (less than 2,500 words), a few paragraphs of a snapshot scene, a poem…whatever you like. Post it on your own blog.
  3. Link your post back to here in the comments section.
  4. Take a look at what other authors did with the same prompts – learn, share and comment with them.
  5. Each month, we’ll share some of our favourite contributions to the feature with our Facebook and Twitter followers.

As always, don’t worry about it being long, short, perfectly edited…the idea is to just let your imagination run wild on something you’ve never even thought about writing before, blast out a piece in however much time you have on your Sunday (or the few days afterwards).

So, here’s today’s prompts – include all five in your piece and see what you come up with.

Today’s five words are:

idea     why     stupid     handsome     hello

IAM15 Guest Feature…Competition Writing

IAM 2015 - Topper Back in January, I saw an advert for the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge and whilst I was mulling over whether to have a go at it or not, I posted the link onto my Facebook Author Page to share with others. As it was, I got distracted by something else shiny and didn’t sign up to take part, but a friend – on his way to being an Indie Author – did and completed the first couple of rounds. In today’s guest feature, Christopher William Kinsey, shares a re-blog of the post from his own blog The Kinswah Reflective discussing the experience and sharing the entry he wrote that took him through to Round Two!

NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge – Round One: Weighty Words

Having never managed to keep a short story below 8,000 words before, I took it upon myself to enter this year’s NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. I had no expectation of progressing but thought it’d be a good exercise. For Round One the participants were given eight days to write a story with no more than 2,500 words. In addition to the time and word limit, the genre, subject and character would be random along with the distribution of the writers across the forty-eight groups.

After weighing up the possible genres I decided comedy was the least preferable. The literary gods must have been listening because – you guessed it – I got comedy. Doing a competition just for fun is one thing, attempting a clean-cut comedy is another. After five days of ignoring it I sat down and bundled the following words together. I’m not particularly overjoyed with the results but in one of the biggest surprises of the century, it managed to finish fourth in my heat and progress. Heat 28 – Genre: Comedy; Subject: Unemployment; Character: A Fitness Instructor.


Dale, a former fitness instructor, ponders why he was fired from his last job as he works out in his mother’s basement.

Weighty Words

Dale couldn’t help wonder if he followed bad advice based on what seemed to fit at the time. What at first appeared to be breadcrumbs – offhanded remarks, disguised as advice – now dangled the proposition they were just innocent remarks. Working up the type of sweat he used to force upon his old clientele at the gym, life seemed grim. His pectorals heaved, metal clunked as it echoed around his mother’s basement, while thoughts kept persisting on what job he’d get next.

He’d been a fitness instructor. At the time it was a natural fit. During his high school years he was the typical introvert. When his peers laid on the wise cracks he tried to crawl for the shadows. What he couldn’t build up with banter he’d make up with brawn. The obsession with a better body allowed little time for much else. This included girls and grades.

His folks hinted he could follow family members into their respective fields. His father had repeatedly said:“It’s not what you know but who you know.” The usual follow up sentence his father often added was, “Think about what you’re good at and what those in the family can do.”

To Dale these tips were handy pointers from his father, Bob Tasker, a successful accountant. His old man obviously hadn’t wanted to feed the information on a plate but the hint was snatched upon. He could work in the fitness industry. His hobby was keeping in shape; it made sense to extend this to others. And his father, the cheeky scamp, had left the important subtle hint: think about what those in the family can do. Both Dale and his father were good with figures.

It was after starting work for Mr Nobbs at Fitness Forever he realised another important family trait would come in handy. Dale spent his days pushing people beyond their limits, shouting as they endured pain they wanted for psychological pleasure. Metaphorically cracking the whip during one hour sessions as their personal trainer/torturer. Dale’s ability to do this like a seasoned pro probably came from his mother’s genes. She worked as a dominatrix. The main difference was she literally cracked the whip.

Thankfully tucked away in her basement, like he was now, the sounds of her business remained just that – her business. His new role in life was to ensure the clients left on time and his mother was okay. His parents split years ago, Bob Tasker, being good with numbers, reduced the amount of digits that ended up going his wife’s way. Maggie Tasker had been getting her revenge on men ever since.

It was only her son that received the soft touch from her.

Bob never understood why his advice was ignored the first place. He specifically recalled – on numerous occasions –telling Dale to stick to what he’d be able to do, and to get a job through the family. Short of driving him to Uncle Chad’s store, dressing him in the uniform, demonstrating how to stack shelves, there wasn’t much more he could have done.

These thoughts would have devastated Dale, but he would never hear them, to do so would have meant breaking the Tasker family long held tradition of never speaking clearly or directly to one another. It was much safer and politer to live in a world of assumptions and silence.

Continuing his own fitness regime had kept his mind sharp. Well, as sharp as Dale’s would ever be, it was still more like a spoon than a knife. Still, he reasoned if he worked out why he had failed as a personal fitness instructor then he could avoid similar outcomes in the future. To date this in the most logical thought Dale has ever expressed.

It should have been his dream job. Once he started for Mr Nobbs it became apparent that a lad without an imagination struggled to see the pluses. His lack of drive meant Dale never became certified. This lack of qualification was a bonus for Mr Nobbs for the purposes of hiring – Dale could he palmed off with a lower wage – and an aid to firing.

Study was a reminder of the dark days. The high school days. Boys full of bravado, girls with condescending stares. Those same characters had frequented Forever Fitness.

Instead of performing wedgies on underwear, the boys – who hadn’t grown into men, they’d just become bigger boys– pulled their bodies up on frames instead. They dropped testosterone everywhere they walked, it dripped on the bench press, it acted as steam in the sauna after a workout. Dale’s safe haven had been invaded by those he’d tried to escape.

He wondered if the “geeks” from school had made the right call. No former football captain was ruining chess nights or giving scorn during online gaming sessions. They definitely would never enter a comic book convention or Lord of the Rings fancy dress re-enactment.

The nerds had fewer women in tight fitting spandex to look at, Dale thought. This should have been a glimmer of hope, a perk and a pick-me-up. It was not. Dale saw those same mean girls from school now. Except they, unlike their male counterparts, had grown up. They had become bitchy women. They pretend flirted, as if part of an elaborate act Dale couldn’t comprehend, whilst focusing on everything but the simple goals he’d lay out.

They cared little for running times and lifting weights. They seemed preoccupied with their stretch marks, then in a contradiction cooed over the ones Dale had gained across his shoulders and chest from getting ripped too fast. Bob Tasker laughed at how his son never had enough brains to go around and now it seemed he was short on skin too.

The women also found it more important to update social media. Getting fit would be an accidental side effect of what was in reality an exercise in public exposure. Instead of doing the four sets per station Dale gave them, it was four selfies. Rather than risk breaking a sweat, which would be a disaster for the carefully applied make up, it was more pressing to get a shot near the big machines. Later they could pretend they’d used them while acting drained over a coffee. And a cake.

It should have resulted in a fairly easy day. Only a handful of his clients wanted to lose weight or gain definition. The bored housewife majority could have been his brain off hours. Problem was, his brain off hours started when his eyes opened in the morning, only finishing at bedtime.

This lack of foresight gave a rise to Dale aggravating the paying public. Mr Nobbs cared little if the people with gym memberships used the establishment, he cared even less if the ones that paid extra for Dale actually tried in class. Their lack of motivation equalled more cash. If they never won the battle of the bulge then Mr Nobbs would continue to fund the arms race. Complaints that Dale was too strict, too rude, or too insensitive were a problem.

Most of these came about due to misunderstanding. Take Penny Pinnerman, she asked for a simple request, that from his perspective, Dale attempted to stay on top of. She wanted a “Better tone.”Penny Pinnerman thought it wasn’t too big of a task. She was naturally a thin woman, even the smallest lycra shorts had excess material in the bum region, it was as if she’d been stretched on a rack.

Instead she got Dale snapping at her every other sentence. “Watch how you answer me back in that voice,” he’d say.“Enough of whining in that pitch,” he had once snapped. She felt bad telling Mr Nobbs but it got too much.

Dale was dumbfounded when the complaint was read out during his informal warning. He had prided himself on going that extra mile for the customer. He liked to take a holistic view. That was an alien word to Dale, but so was the cause of this complaint.

Mr Nobbs received Dale’s best apology face. Dale left the office more certain than ever that all women were from the same type of high school clique.

Dale was used to the female clients having perverse views of their bodies. “My bum looks massive today,” was a popular one, when in reality their rears didn’t catch the eye quite as much as the flab bubbling over the waistband. Penny’s request was a new take though. She hated her voice, or more exactly, her tone. Well, that’s how Dale perceived her request. So during work outs he’d point out when her nagging got to that grating level that was most unattractive. Was it really his fault if that happened to be every few seconds? People shouldn’t ask for the truth unless they can take it.

Dale placed the dumbbells on the floor, as he did they kicked up some dust, no carpet had ever been laid down here. He flicked off the dance music he always used during workouts and turned the television on.

A daytime chat show host was shouting at a man for not paying his child maintenance money, then shouted at the woman for not knowing if this guy was even the father – DNA tests after the break. He was glad his father never asked for such a test, just in case. Not inheriting his brains was bad enough, zero cash would have been worse.

Dale sat on the exercise bike. A stationary device to reflect how his constant efforts and peddling would get him nowhere. He did this bit of cardio now to keep an eye on the time. The mystery guest in his mother’s bedroom didn’t have long left.

His mind drifted to the formal warning he received. This time Katie Renton, whom everyone cruelly called Cakie Ten-ton. Her request was simple, a reduction in size. Dale thought Cakie, sorry, Katie, need to lose more than just one dress size. She needed to get to a size where dresses were just that – dresses – and not recycled tents and bedspreads.

After one session she lay slumped on the exercise mat after performing three of the most trying and all-consuming sit-ups ever witnessed by mankind. Had she been the first person to attempt them under study conditions sit-ups would have been outlawed on grounds of danger. People would have placed them above anthrax and napalm on a list of things to avoid.

“I’m struggling because of the weight today,” she wheezed.

This irked Dale, “Maybe avoid the snack shop before the session then.”He was perfect when it came to punctuality; the wait today was her rolling in ten minutes late with a ring of cream around her lips. The audacity of some people never failed to surprise.

Mr Nobbs reminded Dale that while it was perfectly acceptable to offer basic dietary advice, pointing out missteps in a derogatory fashion was something that couldn’t go unpunished.

Dale made the situation worse when he said, “That snack bar should be shut. I know it makes money but too many are in there eating.” To Dale it was like having free beer on tap during an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

The end of show music made the old TV vibrate and hum; this brought Dale back from his daydream. Maggie should have text by now.

He stopped peddling.

Dale had never been one for dramatics– they took up to much energy, imagination, thought – but this was worrying. His mother stuck rigidly to a system once it was in place. Especially when it was for safety purposes. She couldn’t be killing people in her line of work by accidents and oversights.

He walked slowly to the blaring screen and removed its power. The house was perfectly silent. The niggling voice of doubt pointed out it would be in the basement so he took purposeful steps toward the upstairs entry. The stairs creaked as they absorbed his weight; the door to the main corridor gave a warning groan.

On the other side there was still nothing but silence. Had the client left, his mother would be running hot water for a shower or bath. Had the paying pervert stayed the crack of leather or a howl of pain would be filling the walls. He took the staircase to the upper floor.

At the door of the main bathroom, facing the top of the stairs, Dale saw his mother’s dressing gown. He bounced over the last steps and pushed his way into the room. She was sat on the toilet, lid down, using it as a chair. The gown covered up her work clothes, only her black boots were evident.

“What’s up?” Dale asked.

“I pushed myself too hard today, love,” she said. Her face looked drained as she spoke. In his dressing gown her tired face and messy hair made her look more like an inhabitant of a care home than a mistress.

“Why didn’t you call for me?”

“The client is still her,” she said.“I was only taking a break before getting back to him. Then my chest – don’t worry, it’s passed – but my chest was aching a little.”

“Well you definitely should have called me,” he said with a pained expression. He wondered if he needed to give CPR. He’d seen it performed on a first aid video. It didn’t look like she needed help breathing so they could skip that – thank God, only he knew where that mouth had been today – but a few chest compressions could help.

Or the Heimlich manoeuvre, he’d seen that get people going again, but that was after they’d been gagging and his mother wasn’t. Well, she had been, but he hadn’t seen that, it was minutes before she took a turn for the worst.

“He’s still here,” she said. “The client. You’ll have to untie him.”

“Wow! No way,” he replied.

“Please, love,” she said. “He’s blindfolded, so just unclip one hand and leave the room. He’ll see himself out. I’m not up to anything else today.”

The look on her weathered face pulled on all his compassion. “Okay, you go and get a cup of tea and relax,” he said.

The walk to his mother’s “Workroom”was more nerve wracking than the one he’d taken from the basement. He swung the door open, expecting the seediness to suffocate him. Instead his eyes relayed information that replaced fear with shock, confusion with anger.

Spread star-shaped on the four poster bed, tied at his wrists and ankles, a blindfold covering his eyes with a gag in his mouth, was Mr Nobbs. Dale walked over and unfastened the gag.

Mr Nobbs coughed, spittle landed over his face, and he said: “You had me going. But it was good. A tease is good. Now finish me off.”

As always Dale understood you had to adhere to the wishes of the paying customer. And true to form, his understanding of the context was some way off.


If you enjoyed this, you can check out Chris’s entry for Round Two here. At the moment Chris is working on finalising his first novel release as an indie author, which will be available soon!


IAM15/Sunday Write-Up – July 2015

Sunday Write Up HeaderIAM 2015 - Topper

No author of the day today – just a day for writing!

What better way to celebrate Indie Authors, than to join us in our regular monthly writing feature? Everyone is welcome, whether you’ve published fifty books or are just writing for the very first time.

The idea is easy:

  1. Take the five words from the bottom of this post
  2. Write a short story (less than 2,500 words), a few paragraphs of a snapshot scene, a poem…whatever you like. Post it on your own blog.
  3. Link your post back to here in the comments section.
  4. Take a look at what other authors did with the same prompts – learn, share and comment with them.
  5. Each month, we’ll share some of our favourite contributions to the feature with our Facebook and Twitter followers.

As always, don’t worry about it being long, short, perfectly edited…the idea is to just let your imagination run wild on something you’ve never even thought about writing before, blast out a piece in however much time you have on your Sunday (or the few days afterwards).

So, here’s today’s prompts – include all five in your piece and see what you come up with.

Today’s five words are:

forget     weird     acorn     come     need