The World of Bunch: part one

rat_bookWhilst writing Winter Downs and the world of my heroine, Rose ‘Bunch’ Courtney, there were many things that required some careful research. The first that came to mind was the knotty problem of rationing. Conducting a small straw poll the general perception of  many people seems to be that rationing came in with a bang the moment war was declared, and remained there until the end of the war, when it was lifted immediately. This was not the case.

Mindful of the privations suffered in the Great War, the Ministry of Food was set up to oversee supplies and there was an original plan to implement full rationing from September 1939. The MoF did announce rationing several times in those early months – only to postpone them due to some vociferous newspaper campaigns, spearheaded, by all accounts by a series of editorials in the Daily Express; which, for example, urged the public to “…revolt against the food rationing system.”   Continue reading The World of Bunch: part one

How Many Red T-shirts Does a Woman Need? – Guest post Misha Herwin

Misha Herwin on those extra bits in your wardrobe!

Misha Herwin

Or the latest bulletin from the Bulging Wardrobe. Strictly speaking I have momentarily moved on to my bulging chest of drawers, where I am sorting through several decades’ worth of T-shirts.

So far, and there may be others lurking, I have discovered that I own at least five red T-shirts. Is this a reasonable number? They are more or less the same colour red and to be honest there isn’t a huge difference in style between them. Added to which, one or two I scarcely recognised as it is so long since I last wore them that I had forgotten they were there.

red-short-sleevedtshirtGetting rid of the short sleeved one, will be easy. I don’t do short sleeves and the neckline is not flattering. The others will be harder.

The Laura Ashley with the bow on the neckline is a case in point. Unlike my flowered skirt, there’s not much…

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Focus on Crochet and Art and save your mental health. Guest post Aunty Stella

Art and health from Stella Willcox

Made by Aunty Stella

A few of my friends have commented recently that they have not seen much of me since the beginning of the year. They think that I have turned into some kind of crazy crochet cat lady who only wants to be with their wool and creations.

Well this is true to a certain degree. At the moment, or for the last few weeks at least since just before Christmas last year, that is all I have wanted to do.

There is a reason for it.

For most of my adult life, and possibly in my teens as well, I have had mood swings that go up and down. For years my mother thought it was just my hormones. I am now approaching the time of life when hormones should stop swinging all over the place and calm down, but my mood swings have not!

So there must be another reason…

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Says Alice

In moments of idleness random subjects frequently leapfrog through my mind in rapid succession, turning subjects not merely on their heads but morphing them into something else entirely.

Today, whilst making tea and boggling at the latest news headlines drifting from the radio, the process was begun in recalling the quote from Alice that runs, “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” (Through the Looking Glass, ch 5.)…

Follow the link for the rest of my latest blog  for Authors Electric 



Supported By Your Local Editor

Being dyslexic is something universally recognised but frequently misunderstood. The assumption is that a dyslexic cannot read or write, or even function where the written word is concerned. The reality is very different. There are levels of dyslexia governed by many things too numerous to mention. Those of us on the upper ends of the scale can have a hard time convincing people there is a problem at all because people in general don’t understand what those problems are.

I am constantly aware of the dangers in using wrong or misplaced words without my being aware of doing so. I know perfectly well which words should be used, and where, but all too often the link between eye and brain simply fails and it can take me three or four edits to spot them. Continue reading Supported By Your Local Editor

GF Chocolate Cookies #GF #productreview #wheatfree

lovemore-biscuitI was given a pack of  Lovemore O’Choco biscuits recently.

The best way to describe them would be a form of GF Oreo cookie.  and not being a fan of Oreos the fact that they where not dissimilar is not really a good thing for me personally, though I know Oreos are very popular with some people.

I found this product acceptable if there where nothing else to snack on but not something I would actively seek out as a treat.

Downside:  The biscuits are rather crumbly/brittle and suffer from  the gritty rice flour texture that so many GF baked goods have. Rather bland flavour that is very sweet and lacks a cocoa kick that the dark colouring seemed to promise.



All product reviews are made on genuine purchases.

The world is changing – Rod Rees

The Alchemy Press

cover 003b

The world is changing. Maybe this is so apt:

Greetings Gate, let’s Agitate. Look over your shoulder. Do you see the camera? Then dig that even as you read these words of sedition and denial you are being watched by the ever e-quisitive National Protection Agency. The National Protection Agency – omnipresent, omniscient and most ominous – which runs PanOptika, the spider at the centre of the Web.

PanOptika. What’s the slogan: watching out for the good guys by watching out for the bad guys. But what did that Roman word-slinger, Juvenal say? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes: who watches the watchers?

So dig this to the extremity, cats and kittens: if we do nothing soon we must kneel, digitally-dutiful, before National Protection, and then there will be no chance to zig when the ChumBots say zag, or to beep when they say bop. Realise thou that PanOptika triumphant means we will not…

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Ms Magneto – Killing the Till

hazard Dropped in to Tesco for a few bits and pieces and decided that as it was busy and there were queues  it would be quicker to use the self-service checkout.

How wrong could I be.

The first four items refused to scan for me; ‘unknown item in the baggage area’, each time requiring the staff member to come and reset it. Continue reading Ms Magneto – Killing the Till

The Naked Crime Fighter

Barry – Naked Crime Fighter!

Being Britalian

To be honest the title of today’s instalment is a little bit off the mark, but not enough for it to be click bait, but it does sound better than the semi-naked crime fighter.

So, just who is this naked fighter of crime?


It was Wednesday night and I was retiring to my bed when I saw headlights shining from the rear of my neighbour’s property. Now the property in question is empty as they’re having building work completed at the moment so this car raises my suspicions. I opened a window and could hear voices over the running engine. So I leapt into action and grabbed a pair of pyjama bottoms and a torch and exited the house at speed to confront the assumed thieves. As I ran along the lane I realised that shoes or at least slippers would have been a good idea, but it’s too…

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BFree Pittas and Wraps

bfree-pittaHaving only recently mentioned the demise of the Tesco Free From Pitta Breads I came across BFree Breads.

These are quite palatable. They have a good flavour and are not ‘rice flour gritty’.   Makes a reasonable sandwich and has sufficient structural integrity to take a moist filling without getting soggy too quickly.  8/10

Downside: a little on the thin side so that when opening them up as a pocket it is very easy to inadvertently cut through the sides.

bfree_wrapsThey are in many ways very similar in flavour and texture to the BFree Wraps. I am not sure how good that is. I did find the wraps a little rubbery but better than some make of rice-based wraps which have a tendency to crumble. 8/10

MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories: Part VI

holmes-viThere is a kickstarter campaign for the MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories: Part VI 2017   here

Latest in the best selling series all sold in aid of the restoration of Doyle’s former home, Undershaw (now The Stepping Stones school)

Intended publication date is  22nd May 2017 Continue reading MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories: Part VI

Good and Thin

The sanidshot_540x540dwich ‘thins’ from the Tesco Free From range are not bad at all. Probably one of the closest approximations to ‘proper’ bread that I have found yet.

These have a good flavour, decent texture and keep for several days.  They also freeze well and maintain all the above qualities provided they are used quite quickly after defrosting; though of course that is the case with most baked products. Continue reading Good and Thin

It’s All About Perspective from Barry Lilly

Barry Lilly talks on matters of perspective

Being Britalian

What a time of it we’ve been having here in Abruzzo lately. Snow came and within an afternoon many towns and villages were cut off, our collection of houses overlooking the valley was stranded for 5 whole days as the lane was impassable; even taking the dog for a walk in the deep snow was a challenge.


Along with the inconvenience of snow we had power cuts, with as many as 100,000 homes without electricity for days. Water pipes froze, people lost their broadband connections and then came the rain. A deluge of epic proportions that threatened to be second only to the rains Noah had experienced turned the fields into swamps, the lane ran like a river and mud slid onto the now flooded roads.


During these frustrating times did we moan and complain? You bet we did, when people were able to get onto social media there were…

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Private Life of Elder Things reviewed

The Alchemy Press

front cover 003bThe Private Life of Elder Things by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Keris McDonald and Adam Gauntlett has received an excellent review on the Blasphemous Tomes website:

Although every story in The Private Life of Elder Things is a reinvention, none feels like a simple pastiche. It is all too easy to reuse elements of the work of Lovecraft and his peers in trite, obvious ways. Every story here makes its subject new and weird again, whether this is simply by moving it to an unusual setting or by transforming into something surprising.

What makes The Private Life of Elder Things stand out from most Mythos anthologies, however, is the emotional content and humanity of many of the stories. At its best, Lovecraftian fiction is unsettling, imaginative and weird, but it is rarely moving. The poignancy of stories like Season of Sacrifice and Resurrection and Devo Nodenti is all the more powerful for…

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Echoes of Scott

Famous Horses in Fact and Fiction: Young Lochinvar‘Oh! What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive…’

That line has been running through my head all of this morning, and though Scott doubtless had specific thoughts of lust and betrayal at its heart when he first penned Marmion (which is, after all, essentially crime fiction), I’ve always thought it apt for writers in general; and increasingly so as I wade into the murky waters of historical crime fiction.

To my mind, the entire raison d’être of fiction writers is to deceive their audience. Deceive them into believing that which is being laid out before them is ‘true’, at least within itself.  Even the fantasy writer must construct a world that is true to itself within its own bubble, because if that writer does not know what is true or possible in that universe, they will never be able to persuade a reader that the people and places they have created just may exist, somewhere out there, in another time and place. Continue reading Echoes of Scott

The Best Intentions… Misha Herwin on New Years

Misha Herwin on New Years

Misha Herwin

The best intentions don’t always come to fruition. Once this would have sent up stress and tension, now I take a more laid back view. There is, after all, something very artificial about making resolutions on a certain date, which you promise yourself you will keep to for the rest of the year, regardless of what life throws at you, good or bad.

So, 2017 no New Year’s Resolutions, just a determination to do more of the same. After all 2016 was not a bad year.

It began with the publication of “Picking up the Pieces.” During which process a great number of lessons, some painful, others not were learned.


Most important of all being, a thorough proof-read is vital. A good editor even more so. Thank you Peter Coleborn and Jeanne Wood.

What worked really well was the tea party I gave to launch the book. I kept it…

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Happy New Year!

First day of 2017 and that traditional news round-up of the previous twelve months. First of all I wish you all a wonderful 2017 and thank you all for supporting my writing over 2016!

2016 was a strange year. A great deal of it felt as if life in the Edwards-Coleborn household was marking time. Health and homes and all those things that make up what is so quaintly called the rich tapestry. But all of that, darlings, is sooooooo last year! Onward (as they say) and not upward so much as forward into stardom!

front cover 003Most prominent with regard to my writing was the arrival of Fables and Fabrications (available in paper and kindle formats at all good online outlets 🙂 🙂 )   This has been a steady seller I am happy to say – even finding an audience outside of the UK, despite many of the stories being very ‘English’ in setting – as the cover blurb has it: “Fourteen tales of mystery, mirth and the macabre. From the arctic wastes of Norway to a fun laden evening at the fair, Jan Edwards leads us through a world where nothing is as it seems. Shape changers and ancient spirits roam and cats play a crucial part in stories that unsettle and disturb the reader’s perception.” Continue reading Happy New Year!

Christmas Ghosts – Free story for one week only!

Leinster Gardens cover CConcerning the Events in Leinster Gardens

(Title story from  Leinster Gardens & Other Subtleties (c) Jan Edwards)

The paving under his feet rumbled, setting shivers up through the soles of his boots. It was the Tube; only trains, he knew that. The ginger-moustachioed officer told him, as he’d sold Archie his ticket, how the Metropolitan Line ran right through the street, and laughed as he spoke of it. Archie had laughed along with him, though he felt less than amused now.

‘Number twenty-four.’ He checked the card again, sure that he had come to the right place. The door was solid enough beneath its ionic portico. The perfectly normal balustrade on either side of the perfectly normal step was all perfectly normal for a Regency terrace. But unlike the other residences in Leinster Gardens, there were no lights showing in any of its windows. Even without a Ball, and even if the family were not at home, servants would keep lamps burning in this kind of household. The only sign of life was a small tabby cat perched on the end of the balustrade.

‘This is all a bit wet,’ he told it. ‘Dashed poor show.’

The cat only stretched onto its toes and pulled its lips back in a silent hiss before slinking into the basement stairwell.

Archie looked at the lit windows all along the row, noting how a few drapes had been left daringly undrawn, the better to show off electrical Christmas lights; welcoming beacons for the late-night walkers. When he turned back to his dark destination he almost fell off the stoop, because in that short moment all things had changed. Continue reading Christmas Ghosts – Free story for one week only!

Winking Man – story for the season

2f421d41641caf4da74be26503b0963bMovement out there in the garden broke Kira’s reverie. Two ravens down from the high peaks bounced among the spindly branches of the apple tree and pecking at a woefully small sprouting of mistletoe. They croaked their displeasure into the cold air and flapped lazily to the top of the shed. A few feet below them several rabbits were hunched over the parsnip greens, their frantic mouths inhaling leaves with almost mechanical efficiency, only pausing momentarily as the hiker came into view.

He paused near the stables and seated himself on the stone mounting block with only a glance toward the hostel doors. Laying his battered rucksack and wooden stave on the grass beside him he slaked his thirst from a water bottle.

Kira watched him through the kitchen window, whilst still washing up after the previous night’s hostellers. She wondered if her peace was about to be disturbed. This was her job but she’d be lying if she claimed not to prefer the place to herself.

He was pleasing enough to look at – from what she could see at such a distance. Ex-military in bearing, despite a snowy pig-tail dangling between his shoulder blades. She knew his type. Old-timers yomping over the hills with ferocious intensity, testing themselves against weather, hills and inner demons.

She emptied the bowl and watched the water swirl out of sight, poking at small hunks of detritus to hurry them into the void. When she looked up once more the garden was empty. Man, rodents and corvids had all deserted her.

That didn’t sadden her in the least. Isolation was the reason she had taken a resident caretaker gig. She’d need to make the most of it. Come Friday the place would be heaving with hikers spending the pre-Christmas weekend wandering the hills in lieu of shopping. Mostly twenty-somethings possessed of the energy and freedom to indulge themselves in the run up to excess. Kira was retired, yet had much more in common with those free spirits than with her peers. Not that she had much family left, and few friends in her homeland after years of chasing the news across the globe with camera and notebook.

She wiped her hands, scanning the garden for signs of life. Not so much as a robin, which was odd when the bird feeders were usually awash with finches in the winter months.

She looked toward the Winking Man ridge, picked out against a pinking horizon and her shutter finger itched for action. She never tired of recording the phenomenon that had given the peak its name. The final rays of evening light seared through a natural embrasure over the three days of winter solstice; snapping open and closed as you approached.

She threw down her cloth and grabbing camera and coat, hurried out into the rosy light; taking the well trodden Winking Man trail. On the final stretch she stepped aside to catch the final few blinkings – and her boot slipped between boulders.

Her flayling hands grasped nothing more substantial than the breeze and she fell toward the drop-off with gut churning certainty.

A hand clamped hold of her arm, and halted her chaos mid swirl. Her line of vision was filled with the face of her hiker. A peaceable face, despite the puckered depression where his right eye should be.

Their short descent was taken in a silence broken only by the cawing of two black birds.



(written for an performed at the Renegade Writers xmas party)
(c) jan edwards

Sussex Tales Christmas

Sussex Tales final cover 2nd ed smallIt’s a one-legged Woozlum.’ My father assured me. ‘It’s a cross between an Oozlum and a Woozle. Very rare.’
I looked down at the row of small round holes that trailed through the snow next to our bootprints and snorted both amusement and exasperation. I loved my fathers’ elaborate jokes but there were times when he drove me mad. This one may have worked when I was five but not anymore.
The sledge was heaped high with dark-leaved holly, bundles of ivy, fir swathes and my favourite, the gleaming, orange/pink fruited spindle. I knew they were far more than necessary, but I adored the Christmas ritual of Gathering-the-Greens. It was only I that was really interested, but with my father’s help I always made an occasion of it. We had gathered evergreens for swags and left the sledge near the ram’s shed before heading toward the Top Close where two-dozen steers were kept on deep litter for the winter months.
It had snowed hard that morning, and the sky promised a lot more to come. Leaden cloud layers spanned the sky and a stiff wind was blowing from the north.

(Extract from Sussex Tales – Christmas Bird) (available here – paper and kindle)


December 2016 Alchemy Newsletter & Quiz

Enter the Alchemy Book Quiz!

The Alchemy Press


It’s almost the end of 2016, time for reflection. The Alchemy Press has had a relatively quiet year with just three titles under our belt: The Complete Epistles of Penelope Pettiweather, Ghost Hunter by Jessica Amanda Salmonson; The Private Life of Elder Things by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Keris McDonald and Adam Gauntlett; and Something Remains edited by Peter Coleborn and Pauline E Dungate, an anthology of stories based on the notes left by Joel Lane after his untimely death. Click on the titles to read more about these titles, or visit the Alchemy website to discover our complete range of books.

From a personal perspective, Peter has experienced the ups and downs of the NHS as he underwent a series of investigations for cancer, culminating in surgery soon after our return from FantasyCon, which was held in Scarborough this year (and which, by the way, we both thoroughly enjoyed despite the…

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Should you be buying your friends’ books?

Buying more books – Misha Herwin

Misha Herwin


It’s almost Christmas  and most of us are in the middle of, or have done,  our shopping for presents. For me much of this is done on Amazon. I scroll down wish lists, or remember books I think would suit the recipient and send off for them. A couple of days later, the doorbell rings and that’s another person ticked off on my list.

The best presents I can give my writer friends is to buy their books. A couple of years ago, this worked really well for me. “Sussex Tales” by Jan Edwards was a perfect choice for my sister, while both my husband and brother-in-law enjoyed Jem Shaw’s novel, “The Larks” about flying in the First World War.

My daughter gave her mother-in-law “House of Shadows” and my sister-in-law got a copy from my mum. Result!

None of my writing friends are, as yet, on the best seller…

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