Call of the Duvet :Authors Electric #authorselectric #drwho

My latest blog now up on Authors Electric:

Call of the Duvet by Jan Edwards

It is that time of year when some of us would much prefer to hibernate. Once new year celebrations are over (in the UK at least) there are two months of cold and damp to look forward to – and I am a summer girl. …

To read the rest go to Authors Electric  HERE

 

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Secret Locations

In Winter Downs: Bunch Courtney Investigates #1 the village close to Bunch’s family home is never named. This was quite deliberate as I didn’t want to pin myself to firmly on a location that can be too easily recognised.  Continue reading

Ash Wednesday (extract from Sussex Tales (c) )

Ash Wednesday  by Jan Edwards

I slowed by the small shaw that separated our lane from the main farm road,  dropped my bike on the verge and surveyed the woodland’s edge. Fortunately for me this section of frith[1] had yet to be cleared and there were plenty of saplings to be raided. I jumped across the ditch and grabbed onto a young ash standing proud from the mass. It took only a moment or two to select a couple of growing tips; slender and smooth and grey, their foliage still encased in cool black buds that looked for all the world like the hooves of tiny goats.

I tucked both sprigs into my bag and knotted the string carefully. Losing them was not an option. It was Ash Wednesday, when every Sussex school child would arrive at the gates armed with the Ash. These short lengths of twig were transient in extreme but essential for surviving the day. Those lacking Ash could expect to suffer pinched arms and stamped-on feet by all that noticed their error. And with playgrounds being what they were that would be every student on the premises before the first bell rang. Like an injured wildebeest they would become prey to the pack and it had been known for the ashless to scaddle[2] off rather than suffer their fate. A few short hours after this the Ash would become unlucky sticks that needed to be discarded as close to midday as lessons allowed. To be caught with Ash by the dinner break would result in a fresh orgy of violence. Being opposed to pain, on the whole, I went to great lengths to prove my solidarity with tradition.

I arrived at Sawyers Common to Haltwood Primary School fifteen minutes before the bell and made for the cloakroom to change my welly boots for school browns. The cloakroom smelled, as it always did, of old socks and wet coats, with a faint undertone of farmyard, but it was warm and I lingered for a few minutes, taking extra care over my shoelaces before retrieving my precious ash twigs.

I tucked one into the top of my sock, making sure it was both well secured and prominently displayed. Thievery was not unknown, either by stealth or overt mugging. The wise and windy would always carry a spare and I shoved into my pocket as an emergency backup and headed for the playground.

Voices raised in chanting, accompanied by the rhythmic slap of rope against tarmac, told me that Angie Cartwright’s skipping corner was already up and running. I considered joining in, except for the fact that Angie was a villager, and though we bore no personal grudges, each of us knew that Villagers and Commoners did not mix. It was an ancient rule; never voiced but always obeyed. Nobody quite knew why.

Half way down the steps when Bobby Fuller issued me the challenge.

‘Ash,’ he called. ‘Ash or bash!’

I turned my leg awkwardly to display the twig. ‘Got mine,’ I said loudly. ‘Have you?’

‘’Course,’ He replied. ‘Peter Marshall hasn’t though. Adam Garton dead legged ‘im.’ He grinned at me. ‘Got yer marbles?’

I shook my head. Marbles season always saw the boys in a frenzy. Marbles were a serious business but I hadn’t the stomach for their fierce tournaments that would carry on until Easter and which were the basis for many a grazed knee, bruised arm or worse. Bobby shrugged and moved off to join the kneeling gaggle of gamers.

I looked around for a sign of the unfortunate Peter. I would add my time-honoured blow to Ash if a victim was under my nose but I didn’t seek them out. Bobby was a real bully, as was Adam. I was glad that both kept contact with me down to taunts about my size. They left me alone because Len was a Scout patrol leader, and Len was a lot bigger than either of them. It was small change as bullying went. I ignored them and they ignored me and all was good.

‘’llo Sue.’

I turned to see my best friend, Linda, crouching half way down the steps. ‘H’lo Lin. You got yours then?’ I said, striding up to her and pointing at my ash twig.

Linda glanced about her nervously. ‘Fer’got,’ she whispered.

I drew an exaggerated breath, slapped my left hand over my mouth in mock horror, and reached my right hand into my pocket to tweak the spare ash tip into her palm. It was the same smooth grey, starkly marked with far fewer matt-black buds and far smaller than the piece I had kept myself, but was Ash, nevertheless.

She curled her fingers over it like a slow gin trap. ‘Ooh, thanks, Sue.’ She bent quickly and slid the twig into her sock before flinging both arms around me. ‘I was thinkin’ I were a deader there, then.’

‘S’alright,’ I said. ‘Got yer rope?’

‘Yer ‘tis.’ Linda shook out her tangle of clothes line, tied one end to the fence and played the rest out across the tarmac. ‘You first,’ she said, a sure sign of her gratitude when the owner always had first dibs. She began to turn the rope, slowly at first with exaggerated wind-milling of her right arm. The cord billowed into a flowing arc, and slapped the ground, lightly at first, steadily building to the air-cracking rhythm required for serious play.

Another Commoner wandered across to stand expectantly next to Linda. ‘Can I join?’ she asked.

‘If’n you turn first, Mags.’ Linda handed over the cord-end without further comment and went to stand opposite me. As if by arrangement three more girls drifted up. One untied the tethered end and the rope suddenly turned easier for being guided by human hands. The lines of waiting girls swelled to four a side, all watching the rope, each gauging the speed with a practised eye, each one a paid-up expert on the unwritten physics of the skipping-rope.

I bent down to push my ash twig further into my sock, and grinned as Linda mirrored my movement.

‘Teddy bear on three,’ I shouted, ‘One… Two…  THREE!’

We leapt into the rope’s blurred ellipse and began to skip and mime, whilst the assembled girls chanted.

[1] Frith – young undergrowth
[2] Scaddle – To play truant

Extract from Sussex Tales (c)  available in paper and kindle formats

 

What’s in Horrors?

TOC for The Alchemy Press Book of Horrors

The Alchemy Press

There was an avalanche of stories submitted to The Alchemy Press Book of Horrors – especially in the final month of the submission’s window. To be honest, we didn’t expect to receive around 310 manuscripts seeking a home in this anthology. We were worried that we’d have too few submissions.

We read the stories as soon as possible after receiving them (but as indicated, January was a particularly busy month), maintaining a database of comments in order to narrow down to a shortlist.

Yet we managed it quickly – and then the shortlist itself needed to be pruned, and even so we couldn’t cut back to the original idea: an anthology containing a dozen stories. So we succumbed and settled on 25 stories. Without further ado, in alphabetical order (alphabetically by first name that is!), here’s what you’ll be reading in the latter part of 2018.

  • Adrian Cole: Broken Billy

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Circles of Derby Hell #satnavs #derby #dante #msmagneto

Getting home from an event in Derby last night we  left the car park and had, for once, found the right road out of Derby city.

Any non-Derbian who has attempted this will know that it is no mean feat. The road signage and ring road accesses were plainly designed  by a Dante-obsessed planner who has never driven a car. Many is the time we have driven in desperate circles searching for the way out!

When we came against a diversion from the main road we were thrown back into the street-maze with diversion signs that petered out into the hinterlands of Derby,  leaving us wondering where in (Dante’s) hell we were. Continue reading

2018 Plans and Resolutions: Patricia M Osborne and Jan Edwards. @PMOsborne @Jancoledwards

On Writing for 2018 #books #crimefiction #janedwards  (my piece comes up after Pat Osbourne’s thoughts)

BookLoverWorm

Today I am thrilled to have posts from Patricia M Osborne and Jan Edwards. Both have written quite different, but unique posts that I hope you’ll enjoy.

What does 2018 have in store for me? – Patricia M Osborne

As 2017 comes to an end, what lies ahead for me as a writer in 2018?
On March 4th, I shall attend my first book fair in Worthing at the UK Southern Book Show. Here I’ll be joined by many other writers of varied genres. I expect the day to be more about networking with other authors than selling books but of course I hope to sell a few of them too.

Around late spring, early summer, my plan is to release my work in progress, The Coal Miners Son, the next book in line to my debut novel, House of Grace, A Family Saga. The Coal Miners Son may be…

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Pea snacks #glutenfree #lowcal

Image result for aldi pea snacksWhen (for allergy reasons) I went wheat free it was not long before I noticed how wheat-heavy all of our food is when it comes to grabbing a snack on the go.

Added to which, so many wheat free foods (and for the purposes of buying snacks that usually means gluten free) are invariably higher in sugar and fat than other snacks – and thus higher calories.

Aldis have these pea snacks, which are 90 cals per pack and also high in protien so well worth looking at. They come in sweet chilli, sour cream and chives, Malay curry and salt and vinegar flavours.

Verdict: If I am honest they do have a slightly odd after taste and like many GF foods have a tendency to stick around your teeth (sorry if that sounds gross but those of us who are stuck with GF will know how often this is the case with ready-made GF foods).

These snacks are not bad despite that.  They are made from peas and not potatoes after all. And  more importantly – not wheat!