We are pleased to announce the winning authors of the Electric Eclectic Novella Fiction Prize.
The levels of entries were outstanding. Our judges, who ‘blind-read’ each manuscript had a most difficult task in selecting the winners.
After much lip chewing, hair pulling, and brainstorming we managed to select a shortlist, and then whittle the submissions down to the final three.
1st Place, Stevie Turner with, ‘Scam!’
Runner-up, Jonathan Koven, with, ‘Below Torrential Hill’
Runner-up, Phillip T Stephens with, ‘Doublemint Gumshoe’
The above stories are now in the process of becoming Electric Eclectic books.
Lauren West and Ben Hughes are saving frantically for their forthcoming marriage and mortgage deposit. When Lauren sees an advert online from a firm of brokers extolling the profits to be gained by buying and selling Bitcoins, she is interested enough to pursue it further.
Lauren clicks on the advert. She is soon contacted by Paul Cash, a knowledgeable stockbroker whom Lauren trusts straight away. He is affable, plausible, and seemingly genuinely interested in her welfare. Lauren looks forward to making enough money to be able to surprise Ben and bring the date of their wedding forward and to put a deposit down on their ideal house.
However, things don’t go quite to plan, as Lauren falls victim to a scam and loses £10,000 of their savings. Ben is furious. Paul Cash threatens their safety, and Lauren must try and get her marriage back on an even footing if she wants to win back Ben’s trust.
(To be published by Crimson Cloak Publishing for Electric Eclectic)
Below Torrential Hill
Tristen’s abusive father dies when Tristan is young: a suicide. Tristen’s mother, Lucy, copes with alcohol, occasionally violent. Tristen grows up, ignorant to his father’s abuse, substituting for an ill-equipped mother. Stepfather Lave moves out.
When Tristen is sixteen years old. A comet appears.
Lucy hears voices calling from the sink. Tristen steals his mother’s wine and leaves to a neighbourhood party, blacks-out, and argues with his friend Ava.
He chops a Christmas tree in the woods which his father frequented. After a disastrous visit from his stepfather, an argument ensues, and Tristen is assaulted by his mother.
Tristen gets far too drunk, scaring Ava. She manages to calm his temper and gifts him a marijuana joint.
Lucy discovers Tristen’s theft and reveals to him his father’s abuse, asking him to help her.
But he runs into the woods, falling off a cliff, just as his late father did. Tristen discovers a fallen meteorite. When he touches it, he experiences an epiphany about forgiveness.
Doublemint Gumshoe pits the world’s dimmest detective against its most advanced AI.
When a nano robotics engineer who moonlights as a nude model vanishes from her hotel room leaving nothing but empty gum wrappers, Detective Bob takes the case. But Bob has never closed a case in his long career, and the citizens of San Noema conspire to stop him from solving this one.
Pitted against a dying mob boss, a corporation with wide-reaching tentacles, a ruthless cyber gang, his own family (whose nepotism secured his job), a jealous girlfriend, aliens, competing narrators, and possibly an evil AI from the future, Bob is determined to find the missing girl who has captured his heart, and do it in fewer than 30,000 words. Gumshoe takes readers on a supercollider ride, sending up Thomas Pynchon, Kurt Vonnegut, conspiracy theories, postmodernism, and even the movie Chinatown.
All of us here, at Electric Eclectic, congratulate the competition winners and eagerly await the publication of their books.
You can find more Electric Eclectic books by simply typing ‘Electric Eclectic Books’ into your Amazon search bar, or by visiting @open24, the amazon store for readers & writers, http://bit.ly/EEbooksonOPEN24
Last year I had the opportunity to contribute a short story for an anthology which would go on sale in celebration of the 75th anniversary of VE-Day. I jumped at the chance. I’ve contributed towards various anthologies in the past but this one was and is special.
The Anthology is called, VICTORY 75 in celebration of the 75th anniversary of VE-Day:8th May2020. It is available on Amazon (Toad Publishing/Electric Eclectic).
My contribution is called, ‘We’ll Meet Again.’ My story is obviously set in WW2.
I was asked to contribute a blog post about the service my family has given to Crown and Country over many decades, and centuries, so forgive me if my post does not just touch upon WW2 and VE-Day. The consequences of going to war reverberates down through the generations. Even today.
My family has served in the British armed forces for generations, mostly in the Army but not exclusively, and we have long connections with various regiments, and with the Royal Military Academy (RMA) at Sandhurst.
My maternal Grandfather served at the RMA, my father was an Instructor there, so was an uncle, and a cousin and his two sons have passed out as Officers, during the latter part of the 20th century, and their cousin has also passed out during the mid-21st century. They all went on to serve in the various conflicts we all know about and many of which are still on-going, sadly.
Indeed, one of my cousin’s sons who served in Afghanistan in recent years was awarded the MBE for bravery, leading his men out of an ambush through enemy territory under fire. He has progressed in the army and became Commander of the Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistics Regiment in Aldershot, later becoming Colonel of the Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistics Regiment.
My maternal Grandfather served in WW1 and was in France. He was gassed more than once and discharged eventually with ‘influenza,’ which I soon realised when researching family history, is a euphemism for being gassed. He suffered all his life from what was called, ‘spongy lung,’ and he eventually died from being gassed, in 1955.
He didn’t get any help, either mentally, physically, or financially, and therefore when he was laid off work at the RMA every winter for three months, he and his family struggled to survive on money they put aside every month in a small insurance policy which paid a pittance per week when he was unable to work, fighting for every breath.
My Grandmother’s first husband served in WW1 and various other conflicts including in Afghanistan, South Africa, and India. He was wounded at the Somme and discharged with shrapnel injuries which eventually led to his death in 1923. Again, he did not receive any financial or psychological help. He served with the 2nd Sherwood Foresters.
He and my Grandmother served in the RFC (Royal Flying Corps/RAF) after his discharge from the British Army, even though wounded.
In 1916 one of my Grandmother’s brothers was giving his life at The Somme whilst another brother was arrested and incarcerated in HM Prison Wakefield, for his part in the Easter Uprising.
My great uncle is buried in France. He was with the 1st Battalion Irish Guards.
I often think of this and wonder what conversation around the dinner table must have been like for the others left behind in a small village in Tipperary.
My great uncle who was imprisoned in Wakefield later went on to become a Sergeant in the Garda Siochána in Dublin, despite his prison sentence for being part of the Easter Uprisings.
Of course, every household in the British Isles and beyond experienced their loved ones being sent off to war and they had to deal with the consequences if/when these men and women returned possibly (probably) injured, both mentally and physically.
The photo above is of my Great Uncle George in his Duke of York School uniform before he went into WW1 aged 14 Photos (c) Jane Risdon 2021.
My paternal Grandfather and his brothers went off to WW1, having lied about their ages so they could join up. All three had been through the Duke of York School in Kent which was a boarding school for children of soldiers who were orphaned or whose family couldn’t afford to keep them. The three brothers who went off to war together in WW1 posed for a photo before leaving. Happily, they all survived the war.
I know my Grandfather was 14 when he was in the trenches in France I have seen his army records. He served in France and was later posted to India (early 1920s) where he was part of the British Indian Army. He was sent to Africa in WW2 with his men – mostly Indian Sikhs – to fight Rommel. Later he returned to see India gain independence in 1947 when he and his family returned to England, except my own Father, who had joined the British Army in India (IEME – Indian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) and was posted to Africa, and various other conflicts before being sent to the RMA (Royal Military Academy) Sandhurst as an Instructor to the Officer Cadets.
In 1952 my father was sent to Korea and took part in the Korean war – I was just a baby and apart from his seeing me aged 3 months, we never set eyes on each other again until he was posted to Singapore and Malaya (Malaysia) to rout bandits raiding rubber plantations in Johore Bahru – where my Mother and I joined him in 1954.
We lived in many countries whilst he was still serving, including Germany and England.
One of my brothers became a ‘boy’ soldier and eventually joined the same regiment as my father (REME) and served in Bosnia, Ireland, and elsewhere. His son joined the RAF and was Awarded a Commendation in the Queen’s Birthday Honours a couple of years ago. He has served in The Falkland Islands, and in Afghanistan.
A paternal Great Uncle served on submarines in WW2: one he was on sunk. He returned home a shadow of his former self following his experiences trapped inside for a long time. He was a talented artist and had hoped before the war to study in Paris. Sadly, he suffered the rest of his life with mental illness, and he didn’t get the help our Forces hope to get today. He used to book himself voluntarily into a local psychiatric hospital whenever he felt himself losing control and he’d stay there until he felt well enough to leave. He was not violent, just someone who’d become agitated and withdrawn, tormented by what he’d seen and experienced.
I could go on listing relatives who served over many years, going back to the very first Army/Navy we had as a country, but I am sure every family can do this.
Our family detests war, but many have heeded the call to arms when necessary and have fought proudly and bravely for Crown and country. Including one of my stories in Victory 75 has been an honour.
I was seven when Grandpa died, too young to really remember him. I was told it was partly due to the problems in his back through being in the water for so long during the war. I didn’t know what that meant and later learned it was on the beaches of Salerno and the length of time he and his comrades were standing in the sea whilst waiting to join the fight.
I looked it up and according to Wikipedia the Salerno landings took place on 3 September 1943 during the early stages of the Italian Campaign of World War II.
The operation was undertaken by General Sir Harold Alexander’s 15th Army Group (comprising of General Mark W. Clark’s Fifth Army and General Bernard Montgomery’s British Eighth Army).The main invasion landed around Salerno on the western coast at the ‘toe’ of Italy.
I admit to not knowing anything about the regiments but as soon as I read the above, Montgomery’s Eighth Army, stood out. My Dad often talked about the eighth as it was Grandpa’s regiment. He also talked about the toe of Italy and again at the time I didn’t know what that was. Now seeing it in black and white, reminds me of Dad who was fascinated with the history of war. Over the years he told me lots if stories about his father and what he endured. Being dropped off in the water at Salerno was one of them.
There was also The Battle for Monte Casino, and how Grandpa earned the honour of wearing the Canadian emblem his uniform. He and his comrades came to the rescue of Canadians being blocked in by German soldiers. He also talked about the miles and miles the armies walked during the war years.
In November 2019, author Audrina Lane invited me to a Christmas Craft and Book fair which she had organised in Hereford. That evening as we sat on her settee reflecting on the day, she spoke about her Gramps and what he did during the war and how VE Day was on the 8th May. I said how nice it would be to capture some of those stories in a book. We talked some more both liking the idea and the beginning of Victory75 was born. We then took the idea to Paul White, the founder of Electric Eclectic books, and he rounded up some authors to write stories to capture what it must have been like when the war finally ended. Several of us incorporated real war stories into our fiction and wrote dedications to those people who gave up so much so that we could live the life we do.
Before I came up with a premise for my story, I was privileged enough to see the book cover first. The Dome of St Paul’s, which played an iconic part in London’s War history by simply remaining there, and not being bombed. It gave me the inspiration for my story. Because I’d heard the tales s through my Dad, this became the starting point. Thinking I was being clever, I based it on the celebrations planned for the 8th May in London, where people originally flocked to when the announcement about the war ending came. The anthology was to be launched on that date and we would have our own celebration with the book.
My main character Jack was bang in the middle of what was to take place on the 8th May 2020. So people who read the story, would probably have seen the Queen meeting old soldiers and the parades and wreath laying. It would make it all the more real as the nation came together to remember the momentous time.
However, there was no way to predict the events that would unfold during 2020, and along with so many things, the celebrations to mark the occasion were cancelled.
The world was reeling from Corona Virus, specifically COVID-19. Over half a million people died, just like they did in the war, except this time from an invisible enemy.
You can still enjoy the stories of this special book including mine called The Dome of St Paul’s dedicated to my Grandpa, Cyril Parry from Chester. The other stories, all with a common theme will keep you entertained until the very last page.
Look out, too for Audrina’s Lane’s poignant story, where she holds her Gramps’ hand in his last hours, his war stories coming to life through a photograph album.
My Grandpa loved music and was a dedicated follower of The Salvation Army. I don’t have any photos of him in his war uniform but do have this one in his Salvation Army one along with his beloved trumpet.
Gran got to her feet and opened the sideboard drawer and handed me a dark blue table cloth. “This is the sea,” Grandad said. “Get your boats out too, you’ll need them for this story.” I ran into the front room and brought back several vessels, eager to know what he would tell me and what we were going to do. The table cloth was now on the table, and Grandad was setting up the soldiers.
“I was in the British 8th Army, and we were taken by boat and dropped off at Salerno. Have you heard of it?”
“No,” I replied, looking at him earnestly.
“It’s in a place called Scilly. The Canadians and American were already there and fighting the Germans on the beaches. So they dropped our regiment off in the sea under the cover of darkness. But the Germans, the canny buggers, knew we were there and took pot shots at us. We were defenceless, standing waist deep trying to get ashore and dodging the bullets at the same time.”
“Couldn’t you get back onto the boats?” I asked.
”They’d gone, lad, soon as they dropped us off, they headed back. We were abandoned us to our fate, and many men died. I thought I was going to die too, but somehow made it onto the beach which we got control of it. We helped the Americans to fight the Germans, and the battle raged for hours. We won that one, but it was at a high cost. Too many young men lost their lives.” He looked over at my Gran who was watching and listening. “We should never have been left like that.”
When I first thought of the idea for doing an anthology to commemorate VE Day’s 75th Anniversary in 2020, it was the end of 2019. I was with Karen Mossman at the Christmas book and Craft fair I had organised in November and you know what it’s like when two writers get together… ideas burst into life!
At the time, my Grandad (I always called him Gramps) was still alive, still healthy and I guess me and my whole family thought that we would have him in our lives for longer. Secretly willing him to be able to get his telegram from the Queen. Time transpired against us and he went peacefully in his sleep, at home in his 100th year. He was aged 99 and 12 days. I was lucky enough to share 46 years of my life with him and during the time we had possibly only had a few conversations about the war. When I was at secondary school we had to write about what our grandparents had done during the war and my Gramps, being quite a quiet, modest man told me to talk to my Nan. Between these conversations I learnt that they had met in the RAF, my Gramps a mechanic and my Nan helped to taxi the planes onto the runway or back into the hangers. She confessed that she really wanted to be working on the parachutes as they got to keep the spare scraps of silk to turn into underwear.
I vividly remember sitting on the sofa as he got out this battered photo album and started to show my black and white photos of his time in India and then onto the Cocos Islands (also known as the Keeling Islands). It almost looked like they were having a great holiday, sitting on the beach under palm trees or swimming in the Indian Ocean. The full horror was never talked about, especially as he fought on after VE day until VJ Day on August 13th and even then he never returned home for nearly a year as transport was so sporadic and disrupted. It was only recently and watching the Stephen Spielberg series ‘The Pacific’ that I discovered the hardships of those left fighting the Japanese on these small islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
Later in life I learnt more through talking with him and my Dad as he said that he was quite often chosen to accompany the RAF Officers to meetings in Great Britain which they would fly to in a small plane. A mechanic would go with them in case there was any difficulties and he remembered an occasion when they were flying in thick fog and the pilot asked if he would help to guide them down by peering through the window. He said he’d been scared that if he made a mistake then the plane would crash. On the other hand, he would have to wait while the meeting took place and spent many hours sitting in the Officer’s mess, even though it was above his rank. I wish now that I had asked him more about this period, what it was like, what it felt like, but I always thought I would have more time for that. I was and still am fascinated by the photo of the falling bomb over fields, so powerful an image as I have only ever lived through peace.
Writing the tribute story in this anthology was my acknowledgement of his sacrifice for our country today, one I knew too little about but which I am so proud. This story was hard to write as I wanted to keep certain things based on fact’s, but I never knew my Gramps’ full story. I found little online but with what I could I was able to add to the few parts of his life that I did know about. In my own words it was a story of true emotion as I let him fly free for the final time, yet still have a part of him close to me in the words of his story – 99th Squadron. A carthartic write in the middle of the turmoil of bereavement and a pandemic that can be likened to a war with an invisible enemy.
‘We had a radio to keep in touch with the news and as the 8th May, 1945 dawned nothing felt any different until we all heard a shout from the NAAFI and we scrambled from our places on the sand or in the sea to find out what was happening and whether it was good news of bad. It was good, the war was over in Europe with Hitler and Germany surrendering to the Allied forces. But would it be the same for us, forgotten in the Pacific Ocean. We raised a quick glass to our boys on the Western front but then it was back to work. More screws and bolts to check and tighten before the next flight sortie took off. Then it was the long wait until they returned.
I always found that part the hardest, waiting to hear the drone of the Liberator engines returning to base. As chance would have it our bombing raids were very few as the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan and that was the beginning of the end of the Pacific war. I had been in the RAF since the start of the war so I was lucky enough to be one of the first men to start the journey home. I remembered the buzz of the plane engines as we took off, we actually had to stand until the plane was in flight and it was one of the memories I always came back to in the years since. Through the chink in the bomb doors I watched the landing strip fall away before a view of the small island, surrounded by the bright blue of the Pacific ocean. We had been such a small part of a huge operation, with so many lives lost along the way.’
It seems a long time with nothing much happening that we, the Electric Eclectic authors and friends, brought you an anthology full of stories about VE day. We planned a big launch to coincide with all the celebrations that were going to happen as it had been 75 years of Victory in Europe.
Sadly, along with everything else in 2020, the pandemic hit, and everything was cancelled. The book was released without ceremony and sold a handful of copies. However, one year has now past and we want to bring it to our readers attention again.
The book contains six poignant stories and is 109 pages long. Predominately Electric Eclectic authors, we invited two special friends to join us. Julia Blake and Jane Risdon are wonderful story tellers, and I urge you to check them out on Amazon.
“They called his regiment back to rest but, before they could, they received word a Canadian division were blocked in, and under attack from a German tank regiment. They went to help and leap frogged each other as they dodged bullets. With guns blazing, they blasted a hole in the ring of Panzer tanks. The Germans soon fled. As a result, the Canadian government awarded them the Maple Leaf battle honour, which they wore on their uniforms with pride. “
‘The sun was beating down on my face, the heat reflecting up from the light sand of the beach. The bombing raids on England had been devastating at times with the coastline and the major cities of London, Birmingham and Coventry also facing a daily and nightly barrage. I wondered if we would win this fight, as I twisted the spanner and tightened the bolts that had shaken loose on the fuselage. The pilot was lounging in the shade, what little there was on the beach. The conditions were vastly different with the main part of our work taking place early in the morning or later in the evening. This was the furthest I had ever been from home and I often thought about my life back there. Ena, the girl I had met back in the early days when I’d first signed up. We had been married and I knew that when or if I returned my legacy was assured. My wife had been pregnant when I’d flown away to what had seemed to me to be the other end of the world.‘
We’ll Meet Again by Jane Risdon
‘Stanley Potter’s Band played Vera Lynn’s, ‘We’ll Meet Again,’ as Mavis and her best friend Agnes sipped their tea from canteen style white china cups, their eyes watching the latest arrivals from the camp. Both girls were wearing their Sunday best and wore their hair in the latest style which they’d created for each other on Friday night whilst they listened to the BBC Forces programme.
‘Mavis, did you see the tall bloke who looks like Michael Rennie, the one near the exit?’ Agnes nudged Mavis in the ribs and nodded towards the double exit doors.
‘What? Oh yes, he does look like him. Uncanny,’ her friend replied, but it soon became apparent that Mavis was staring at another bloke who’d just come in on his own.
The soldier was tall, dressed as the others were, in uniform, but for some reason he carried himself differently and stood out from the others. Agnes was impressed but she wasn’t attracted to him like she was the Rennie look alike. Mavis noticed he didn’t appear to be with anyone else, male, or female, which pleased her for some reason.
‘Yours is a bit of all right Mavis but mine’s a cracker. See you later.’ And Agnes walked over to the man of her dreams and brazenly asked him for a dance.’
Rosemary for Remberance by Julia Blake
And it was fun. To begin with. The streets were heaving with people, so many people, all determined to celebrate this most wonderful occasion. The war was over. All those long bitter years they’d suffered through had finally ended. Barely twelve years old when it all began, Rosemary could hardly remember what it had been like before. When her parents reminisced about having plenty of food and being able to walk the streets at night with no fear of bombs dropping, she’d felt it was another world they were describing. A magical land of safety and plenty.
Andrew and his friends had acquired beer from somewhere and were openly swigging it on the streets, and nobody cared. Looking around, Rosemary saw food and drink being shared amongst friends and strangers alike. One young airman offered her a swig of his beer and she took it, not liking the sour gassy taste, but desperately wanting to be part of it all. It settled in her empty stomach, spreading a warm glow throughout her body, and she laughed with the others.
All shapes and sizes of vessels left the English ports. Any seaworthy boat went to rescue those from the French shores and the horror of the massacre on Dunkirk. The boats approached the French shoreline, horror on the faces of the captains and seamen, as they watched the slaughter continue. The boats powered ahead to rescue as many men as they could, praying for the souls of those they couldn’t. Close enough now, men were running towards them, guns were firing at them, some toppling dead in the water having been shot before they could get to the boats. Big black bursts of smoke overhead, where Spitfires and Messerschmitt’s fought aggressively in a massive dogfight. The Spitfires in protection mode, the Messerschmitt’s doing what damage they could. British, American and Canadian men fell in their thousands.
‘The wall was too far from the air raid shelter and much too far from home; where dear Daddy dug the garden and installed an Anderson Shelter with steps down and a canopy over. He made a sound wooden floor and a raised platform where he placed a mattress to make sure it did not get damp. We had a radio on the shelf. Electric light, camping stove, windproof matchsticks, kettle and tin mugs, along with all things for making tea and cocoa. It was very cosy. Even the cat would go down there. I knew my mother would be scurrying to the shelter now, pulling my brother, Peter, along with her. She would worry about my own whereabouts. Most nights we slept in the shelter, although my diary records on 6th November 1940 I slept in my own bed. I still have no idea why.‘
‘This is a wonderful, yet very moving collection of short stories. I have to admit I had more than a couple of tears in my eyes whilst reading them.‘
‘The stories will make you laugh and cry and they’ll be with you for a long time to come. Congrats to all concerned and to Paul White for putting it all together.‘
‘I’m sure it’s going to be one of those ‘can’t put it down’ reads. We owe it to those who gave their lives & those who lived with the memories.‘
‘Really good short stories, all made you think and made you realise just how lucky we all are not to have had to live through a world war. A lot of the stories made me cry and some made me smile. A really good mix.‘
Look out for articles over the next few days from Karen J Mossman, Audrina Lane, and Jane Risdon who talk about their stories.
We recently featured this book as a new release. Since then we have found out a little more about the writing of the story.
The main character is called Billy and she suffers from bullying during her school life. When she leaves education, a counsellor recommends she go on an archaeological dig, and this is when the story really beginnings. Billy digs up more than she bargained for and the bodies begin to pile up. Stone Cold is such riveting read, as the reader (and Billy) tries to work out what is going on.
Bullying is a very emotive subject, and the author used her own experience, to start off the story and it is something that has haunted her since she was young. So, in a way, the book is cathartic, and highlights the issue to show people they are not alone and it can happen to anyone.
Although Stone Cold in a YA book (Young Adult), this refers to the main character’s age, and can be enjoyed by anyone older. It also recently had a new cover, which we think is very striking. You can see it at the bottom, and it was designed by the author herself.
The book is 66 pages long, so ideal to read over a weekend. If you have Prime, the paperback comes free delivery.
“A suspenseful short supernatural story that kept me hooked right up to the last page – I loved the twist at the end,” says one Amazon reviewer.
Reading of Stone Cold
The Book Video
It is always exciting opening a parcel, but to get a copy of your book is extra special. But even more than that, Karina is based in Grease and Amazon won’t ship her copies of her book to check out before it goes on sale. However, recently she has found that Amazon Germany, will. So, when it arrived it was something to celebrate, and here you can see the opening of it on Facebook.
‘Karina draws a thin line between FACT & FICTION.’
If being bullied through every school Billy went to wasn’t enough, being attacked in her own home just pushed her over the edge.
Now severely depressed and suicidal, Billy takes matters into her own hands and sees a counsellor. After just one session, she’s now on her way to Scotland as a volunteer to help the Professor of Edinburgh university, dig and clean up an archaeological site that has just been discovered.
Although she tries to shy away from the others, not wanting them to find a reason to dislike her, she’s soon accepted as one of them. Without realising it’s happening, she becomes closer to Shane, a motocross enthusiast who has taken her under his wing.
However, whilst working at the site, Billy comes across an unusual stone. She takes it to the Professor to be looked at, but he dismisses it as a pendant probably dropped by a hiker and so threads the stone with a black leather cord and gives it back to Billy.
Only the peace they once had, the friendships they had all formed, gets tested as bodies start to pile up.