Tony McManus joins Electric Eclectic

Introducing the latest author to join our Electric Eclectic family, let’s give him a warm welcome.

Tony hails from Manchester, England, but has a touch of the ‘Wild Geese’ about him.

To serve his passion for travel, Tony has worked as an English teacher, Bartender, Taxi driver and, in southern Africa, on construction work in the Transvaal goldmines, and the copper mines of Zambia.

He spent a year as a Special Forces mercenary in Central Africa.

He is a keen outdoorsman, sailor, kayaker, and canoeist, he also loves hiking, back-country skiing, and snowshoeing, he now resides, alternately, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and Ste. Adele, Quebec, Canada.

Tony has five novels under his belt.

THE IRAN DECEPTIONa stand-alone espionage novel set in Israel, England, and the USA.

THE SUM OF THINGSbook #1 in the James Fallon SAS Series.

UP FOR ITbook #2 in the James Fallon Series.

A BANGKOK INTERLUDEbook #1 in the Mike Villiers Series.

BANGKOK WANTONbook #2 in the Mike Villiers Series.

Tony’s first Electric Eclectic book is dua shortly.

Dyslexia, Irlen Syndrome and Alexia. (This has nothing to do with Amazon gadgets!)

While this post focuses on writing blogs, website content, social media and emails rather than stories and books, much of the following could be adapted by authors and publishers of books.

As independent authors, our ability to write such is of paramount importance to our promotional and marketing strategy. Yet the way you write could be alienating those who are not quite as apt as you or me at reading.

How-is-All-Started

A couple of years ago, I had a wonderful comment from a person who suffered from dyslexia about a post.

Although his comments were primarily about the content and not the presentation of the post, he mentioned he found my post far easier to read than many, if not most.

Curiosity got the better of me.

Why I wondered, could he read and understand my posts, when he struggled to read so many others?

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Over the next few days, he and I conversed, by email, about his reading on a personal level and Dyslexia in general.

Before I carry on and explain the outcome of our conversations, I think as writers we should all know and understand what dyslexia and some of the most common reading difficulties are. So, I am including the following few paragraphs & bullet points, (which I cribbed from the internet), for clarity.

A formal definition of dyslexia used by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development states,

“It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. “

Unsurprisingly, the International Dyslexia Association defines it in simple terms. “Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms, which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words.”


In contrast, Irlen Syndrome is a perceptual processing disorder, meaning that it relates specifically to how the brain processes the visual information it receives. It is not a language-based disorder and phonics-based instruction will not help someone with Irlen Syndrome improve in the same way it will help someone with dyslexia improve their reading skills.

At its core, Irlen Syndrome is a light sensitivity, where individuals are sensitive to a specific wavelength of light and this sensitivity is what causes the physical and visual symptoms that people with Irlen Syndrome experience.

People with Irlen Syndrome have difficulty reading not because their brains have difficulty connecting the letters they see with the sounds those letters make, but because they see distortions on the printed page, or because the white background or glare hurts their eyes, gives them a headache, or makes them fall asleep when trying to read.

Unlike dyslexia, difficulties experienced because of Irlen Syndrome can reach well beyond just reading. People with Irlen Syndrome have difficulty processing all visual information, not just words on a printed page, so they often have trouble with depth perception, driving, sports performance, and other areas not generally connected with dyslexia.


Alexia is a form of dyslexia, but dyslexia is developmental, meaning that it does not happen from an occurrence such as a stroke or traumatic brain injury.

Alexia is an acquired reading disability because of an acquired event such as a stroke. It is most common for alexia to be accompanied by expressive aphasia (the ability to speak in sentences), and agraphia (the ability to write).

All alexia is not the same, however. You may have difficulty with the following:

Recognizing words ● Difficulty identifying and reading synonyms ● Difficulty with reading despite your ability to sound out pronunciation of words.

Although you can read words, it is too difficult to read for very long ● Blind spots blocking the end of a line or a long word ● Focusing on the left side of the paragraph or page ● Double vision when trying to read ● Reading some words but not others. Of course, this makes reading impossible.

A stroke survivor with alexia that can read larger words, but cannot read tiny words such as “it,” “to,” “and,” etc. ● Any combination of some of these traits.

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My conversations with, (I shall call him ‘Jay’ during this post), led me to take a close look at how I was presenting my blogs, what made them so different and, could I improve them further?

It turns out the style I chose… I was going to say developed, but that sounds arrogant. So, the style I was using at the time was to write in small(ish) chunks, using relatively short sentences and paragraphs, as I have so far in this post.

Unlike this following paragraph

This differed from most blogs and posts on the interweb which were, (and still are), long blocks of continuous sentences and sub-sentences, forming large paragraphs with very little line spacing or breaks. This may be a ‘style’ welcomed by universities and those writing technical/medical/professional and some literary journals. I have seen many papers which follow this style. I have even read a few and I must agree it makes for extremely uncomfortable reading. To read such a document, one must concentrate fully and focus on each word of each line. Whenever the eye moves from its forced liner motion, even for a moment, is when the reader finds some difficulty in returning to the exact location they were at previously, often meaning one must, annoyingly, re-read sections already read. Like you have possibly just done when reading with this last long drivelling, over-worded paragraph I have written in just such a manner to illustrate my point that it makes for uncomfortable reading, even for those of us blessed with good eyesight and adequate skill. A point which I hope I have now made adequately clear with this paragraph which is representative of many blogs.

Writing in this form creates such a large block of words it becomes challenging to separate them into clear concise ‘bite-sized‘ and manageable ‘lots’ of information.

This is one of the areas of written presentation which was highlighted to me by Jay.

I already used a style of writing which broke long paragraphs into much smaller ones, whenever practicable, but I was not aware of the impact doing so made on the reader. From then on, I broke paragraphs down even further than I did ‘pre-‘Jay’

I was also made aware of unnecessarily long sentences, sentences with too many superfluous words.

This simply meant cutting out all those unnecessary words to make sentences read far more precisely and clearly.

OR

Eliminating irrelevant words.

You see, this is not fictional or creative literature as when writing a novel, or even a short story. This is describing and sharing thoughts, ideas, information, and data. Another skill set entirely.

Authors often discover this when having to write a precise about their latest book, like the back-cover blurb, an agent’s query letter, synopsis, or copy text for promotional activity.

We all know, or at least should, that mixing sentence lengths makes for a better reading experience. But so does spacing and breaking them up as I have done in most of this post.

Please do not get me wrong.

I am not solely writing or directing my words specifically to those with reading difficulties, but I am looking to be as inclusive as possible and not simply because I am attempting to be politically, or socially correct.

I do it because I want as many people as possible to read my words. That is why I write.

Looking at how one presents their posts on the screen does not take much effort. Neither does adjusting one’s style to make it clearer and easier to read… for everybody, including you and me.

To finish, look at this Git-Hub virtual reality page. It shows how we can best comprehend the way those suffering from dyslexia and associated reading difficulties may see the written word.

https://geon.github.io/programming/2016/03/03/dsxyliea

My lesson, following those conversations with ‘Jay’, is, 

“We can all learn from others, even those we may have previously considered had nothing to give us. After all, I never thought a dyslexic could teach an established author how to write clearer, even better.

How wrong I was.”

Thank you for reading another of my Ramblings. Please subscribe to this blog if you will.

I am open to all comments and try to reply to them all personally.

Keep happy, Paul


Oh, take a peek at my website, I have a ton of good stuff waiting there 

This Place. A short story for Halloween.

The seat was a fallen tree, a once-mighty oak, now moss-covered, and beginning to rot. It had lain at the top of the hill for as long as I can remember.

It was the place where I often sat in solitude, looking out across the valley to the hills, and onwards into the purple haze of beyond.

I am surprised more people do not know of this place, the place I think of as my own. Yet over the years of coming here, I have only seen a few people before today. The occasional dog walker, the tramp who wandered too far from the village, the little girl with the kite, and one or two more. I have never seen any of those people more than once. It seems that visitors to this place are far and few.

Perhaps, the problem is the woodland. To get to this clearing on the hill, one must trek through the densely wooded area, known locally as the Gallows Trees.

There are rumours abound regarding the woodland.

One such tale is the woods are so named because the town’s gallows were built from the old oaks that grow here. Like the one I often sit on. It is said the lost souls of all those hanged now wander aimlessly amongst the trees.

Another story is, years ago, a fellow called Gallow owned these woods, he was a woodsman. One day a cavalry officer rode up to the Gallow’s cottage on his charger, demanding Mr. Gallow’s surrender his daughter, so to become the officer’s wife.

Gallow’s refused, and a fight took place. As Mrs. Gallows tried to separate the fighting men; the officer sliced off her head with a mighty swing of his Sabre. Mr. Gallow retaliated by hefting his axe high into the air before bringing it down with all his might.

At that precise moment, young Annabel Gallow’s ran from the house, coming between the men. The axe cleaved Annabel’s skull in two.

Mr. Gallows was hung in the town square. His body was left dangling for a week, suspended from a frame he himself fashioned from the very oak trees of his own woodland.

Locals delight in telling this tale to outsiders, informing them Mr. Gallows ghost is constantly looking for Annabel within the woodland. On quiet, windless nights, it is said you can hear him calling her name.

“Annabel”, the air whispers, “Annabel, where are you?”

This is the story the locals tell. But others say it is not true.

One time, not so long ago, something unusual happened here.

A group of men came to this place. They carried with them an array of equipment. I heard they were called Ghost hunters, Spectral engineers, or Paranormal researchers. It really depends on who you listen to.

They were a strange lot, wandering about fixing camera points, heat sensors, movement detectors, microphones, and all sorts of gadgets throughout the woods, and around the green where the tree trunk lies.

Five day’s they stayed. Sleeping in a van, and a few oddly assorted tents at the north edge of the woods, next to what once was Black Mill Farm.

Every morning they milled about drinking coffee and checking their machines. They took turns watching the dials and screens they precariously placed on rickety trestle tables in an open-sided tent.

Nothing happened.

Nothing at all.

This is why, I supposed, they seemed somewhat dejected the morning they were leaving.

I thought I would never get another chance to see exactly what they were doing here, so that morning I walked closer, watching as they unplugged their equipment, and began to pack it away.

I was surprised how much care they took in placing their strange machines into those big black padded cases. Two men carrying them, gently lifting them, and sliding them into the van without dropping, banging, or jolting them.

So intent was I watching the men’s activities, I walked very close to their tent, much closer than I intended.

That was when everything in the tent started to buzz and beep. The men jumped, startled expressions appearing on their faces as they rushed about in excitement. I watched as they stared at the lights flickering and buzzing, pointing, and stabbing their fingers at the screens, and dials.

The men were looking up, out of the tent, in the direction I stood. I looked around and about myself, I could see nothing which would cause them so much excitement.

One man called out… ’Who are you?’

I thought he was speaking to me, so I answered him, ‘I am Annabel,’ I said.

I am surprised more people do not know of this place, the place where a once-mighty oak stood, now fallen, moss-covered, and beginning to rot, the place I think as my own.

© Paul White 2014 _ FFCO2104‎2014/U21/808


If you enjoyed reading ‘This Place‘, I am certain you would love to read my psychological suspense story, ‘Three Floors Up‘, published as an eBook/Kindle, and available from Amazon, https://amzn.to/3uZ5W0q and universally via D2D, https://books2read.com/u/mlYqN7

A Family History of Service to Crown and Country by Jane Risdon

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 May 2020. 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.

Photo© Jane Risdon 2021. My Paternal Great Grandfather served in several campaigns including WW1.

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.

Sovereign’s Parade, RMA Sandhurst Photo courtesy of the RMA.

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.

Photo Durham Light Infantry & 2nd Sherwood Foresters 6th May 1960 in Fermoy Ireland. Proclamation of King George V.

He and my Grandmother served in the RFC (Royal Flying Corps/RAF) after his discharge from the British Army, even though wounded.


Photo © Jane Risdon 2021. Maternal Grandmother in her RFC (later RAF) uniform.

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.


Photo © Jane Risdon 2021. Grove Town Cemetery, Meulte, France.

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.

Photo © Jane Risdon 2021. Great uncle in the Garda Siochána

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.

Photo © Jane Risdon 2021. Three brothers in WW1 – my paternal great uncles and grandfather.

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.

The photo above is of my paternal grandfather later in his career when he was an acting Lt. Colonel. He retired as a Major having left India after Partition in 1947. Photos © Jane Risdon 2020.


Photo RMA Sandhurst. My father is in this photo June 1949 – Instructors at the RMA.

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.

Photo Crest of the British Indian Army Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
Photo Badge of the British Army Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

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.

Jane Risdon © 2021

All photos © Jane Risdon 2021 All Rights Reserved.

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Writing in Isolation

We are into the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s been a tumultuous year as we adjusted to a new vocabulary; masking, social distancing, quarantine. Yes, we’ve heard those words before. We read them in books, maybe, heard them in movies or on television dramas. Now the words were a part of our daily conversations.

I have been out of my house less than twenty times in the past fourteen months. I have seen my children and grandchildren less than that.

I have learned a valuable lesson, and it came as a shock.

I’ve always been something of a loner or homebody. Many would disagree with that assessment. I like people, but I love my own space. Being stuck at home shouldn’t be a problem for me. Generally, that’s true. However, this super social distancing reached a peak a few months ago.

I’ve always committed to writing at least two thousand words a day. That’s what Stephen King does, and if it’s good enough for him, it’s certainly good enough for me.

When staying home was recommended by health officials, I believed this would afford me more time to write. I might double my daily word count. I had several unfinished works, and this would provide the ideal opportunity to whip them out.

Why, I might even finish them all before the quarantine ended!

As the weeks passed into months, I found I was writing less, not more. I would sit with my trusty laptop and read over what I had written the day before. Pages became paragraphs. I would have an idea of what I wanted to write, but I couldn’t get my motor going.

It wasn’t until last month that I realized I hadn’t written anything in over three weeks. I’d edited projects I was working on for others. But I didn’t have a word of my own to show. What was happening? Was this writers’ block?

Somewhere in my ruminations, I recalled something one of my English professors told us. He advised we carry notebooks (this is pre-tech days when pen and paper were the methods of the day) and write down bits of conversations we overheard, descriptions of people we encountered, or places we saw.

I’m a writer and much of my writing draws on outside sights and sounds. My imagination may turn everyday events and conversations into more elaborate (and often disturbing) experiences.

A writer needs a good imagination. A writer also needs to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel the world outside her head. Being cut off from the sounds of busy streets, rolling waves, crunching leaves, bits of conversations, and other real-life noises removed them from my conscious and then my subconscious.

Living inside, I missed the end of one winter, the bright colors of spring, summer heat, the crispness of fall, and another winter.

I missed Valentine’s dinner at our favorite restaurant with my husband, watching my grandchildren hunt for Easter eggs in the grass that was beginning to green. There was no giggling and splashing in the backyard pool, no picnics at the lake where the sounds of motorboats cut the air, no weekend at a cabin for our anniversary.

The pumpkin farm and haunted trails never happened. No big family Thanksgiving dinner where everyone brought a dish to share. I did my Christmas shopping online without the hustle and bustle of crowds, both joyous and stressed.

I don’t know about other authors, but this writer cannot write in a vacuum. I need to smell the change in the air as seasons drift one into the other.

I need to hear snippets of conversations and build a story around an innocuous remark I overhear in the supermarket or restaurant.

It seems, things are beginning to loosen up. I’ve gotten my Covid-19 vaccinations. I will still double mask and be responsibly socially distant. But I feel safer venturing out into the world where my inspirations are waiting.

Somewhere a woman is complaining about the price of milk, a man is discussing a sporting event, teenagers are giggling at a TikTok video.

Tomorrow the sun will rise over a late winter day, and spring will beckon me to go out and play, to smell the freshness of growing grass, to see the heads of flowers forcing their way through the rich soil.

And I will once again begin to weave commonplace occurrences into tales.

In fact, I think I have an idea tickling the back of my mind now.

© Elizabeth Noreen Newton


ELECTRIC ECLECTIC BOOKS, Visit @open24 THE AMAZON STORE FOR READERS AND WRITERS

A Valentine’s Day Tale

Í ÓKUNNUGRI BORG

A strange city is a big, lonely place when you do not know your way around and you do not know a single soul who lives there.

The city seems even bigger when it is in a foreign land; the buildings, the roads are so different to that which you are familiar, as are the signs; thousands and hundreds of signs on the street, in the shop windows, the stations, on buses and lorries and hoardings.

All in a language you do not know.

This is where I am, in a strange city, in a foreign land. All those signs meant nothing to me; besides spouting my own imaginative gibberish gobbledygook, which besides entertaining my mind, said nothing constructive. 

It is a strange experience, both fascinating and frightening.

I needed to be at the public telephone box, situated near a café called ‘Rosy Lee’, in Richmond Park Gardens, a municipal park and flower garden, at eleven o’clock this morning.

She said she would ring, call me there. If I did not show up, she would understand, move on, get on with her life and put ‘us’ behind her.

But I did not want her to move on, not without me by her side.

That is why I am here, in this city. I have to say sorry, to beg for her mercy. I need to admit my foolishness. I want to tell her I still love her, love her more now than ever before.

If I miss her call, if I did not answer the telephone, I may never see her again.

This is why I am getting annoyed, frustrated and so damned worried.

.

I do not know where Richmond Park Gardens are and nobody I try to ask will stop. Most are too busy rushing to wherever they are rushing to. The few who do halt their stride take off again as soon as I speak.

No one, it seems speaks Islenska in this city and I do not speak more than a few word of English, clearly all so badly pronounced to be incomprehensible.

This scrappy bit of note paper I have in my hand, the one with the diagram, the map of how to get to the park is creased, smudged and torn. The written directions almost illegible, even if they were not I have no idea where I am, which way is north or south or which will take me towards the Richmond Park Garden.

The clock is ticking, my hopes and dreams and my future slowly evaporating before me. Still, no one gives me a second glance. No one will spare a few moments to help.

Until the young girl, I guess she is a student, takes the scrappy, ill-drawn diagram from my hand.

I speak, but she just shakes her head and shrugs. I know she is saying “I don’t understand you”. So, I spread my hands and shrug back.

We smile at each other. Understanding.

The young girl looks at the drawing, squints, looks about her, first one way and then the other. She nods and smiles. Waving her hand, she beckons me closer. Until we stand shoulder to shoulder, facing the same direction.

She then signals forward by pointing straight ahead, then left, right and so on. I nod and smile back in reply.

This is a language we both understand.

She passes me the paper back. I glance at my watch. The girl holds her hand up again, fingers spread open. ‘Five’ she is telling me, five minutes.

I shake her hand, nod… it is almost a bow. I can feel my grin stretching across my face, from ear to ear. If I hurry I can still make the park by eleven o’clock.

Hopefully.

I glance back. The girl is still standing in the same spot. She raises her hand and waves. I wonder if she knows, if she has a sense, a feeling of my anxiousness, my distress?

Maybe she knows of my love and of my fear of losing it, of losing my girl? Maybe she could feel my heart pounding, aching.

I like to think so.

I like to think she derived some satisfaction from helping a stranger in a personal crisis. I also like to think someone, sometime will smile upon her, in her hour of need.

.

I see the phone box. It is right there next to the tables and chairs of the ‘Rosy Lee’ tearooms, just as explained in the note. An English telephone box, bright red, blood red.

The red of love and life and loss.

At least it is empty. At least no one is making a call.

I glance at my watch. It is three minutes past the hour. I pray I am not too late.

I go inside. The door slowly squeals as it closes, shutting the noise and the entire world out of my life. There is now only my pounding heart, beating, pounding, counting down the moments.

All I can do is wait.

Wait for the phone to ring.

Wait to hear her voice.

I can feel tears welling in my eyes.

I wipe them away, sniffing.

The kiosk door is pulled open, arms grab me, encircling my waist.

I smell her perfume.

“Ég hélt að ég myndi koma þér á óvart,” segir hún.”

(“I thought I would surprise you,” she says.)

© Paul White 2017-2021


To read more and find out about Paul’s other books, visit his website at, http://bit.ly/paulswebsite

Or visit the Amazon store, @open24, http://bit.ly/PWopen24

If you enjoy love stories, then order ‘The Abduction of Rupert DeVille’ a fast moving, whacky, seriously tear-jerking, thrillingly funny drama.

UK – Paperback https://amzn.to/2xXGO0s

eBook, https://amzn.to/3do21B3

USA – eBook & Paperback, https://goo.gl/3iMFLZ


Ex Libris Legatum

I first published this post, or a version of it, back in 2015 on my blog, ‘Ramblings from a Writers Mind‘. I share it here today because… well, read on, it is self-elucidating.


Ex Libris Legatum

As we age we amass many life skills; some taught to us by teachers, lecturers, professors, our parents and some self-learned by patient practice and repetition.

Many lessons are simply and, often unexpectedly, thrust into our consciousness by the events of living and from life itself, love, passion, loss, hurt, births, pain, grief and death.

At some point, during the period betwixt being born and gasping our last breath, we have also, hopefully, gained some wisdom.

Although, only too often, such wisdom is realised and recognised far too late in life for us to use it in any true and meaningful way for any length of time, such is the cruel nature of growing older.

However, for those who manage to avoid a premature departure from this world, those who never got hit by lightning or run over by that proverbial trolley bus, we become, in some respects, like a soggy sponge.

Yes we droop, our bodies are dragged ‘south’ by the constant pull of gravity and some people uncontrollably leak and dribble I am sure, but the analogy I was trying to draw was one of absorption and storage, the soaking-up and retention of knowledge.

I know, for a fact, I know more than I know I know, even if in that knowledge there is the realisation of knowing that one knows nothing.

With that stated clearly, I will return to the train of thought which initiated my fingers to start tapping away today; that is, within these southerly wiltings, the rather wrinkly, fading bodies which those ‘of a certain age’ seem to acquire, are still our sprightly, lively young minds which have seldom aged beyond fifteen… or maybe sixteen.

Now… these minds of ours need a little control. You see, our minds tend to fool us by considering whatever they think we, (those of us who are over 50 something) still have the physical ability to achieve such things as skateboarding, zip-lining, mountaineering and even imbibing in large quantities of alcoholic beverages and waking in the morning with a clear head… hummph… I wish.

The reason our minds ignore our creaking joints, throbbing tendons and our scar tissues, (which pull as taught as an elastic band every time we move like this… ouch… I should not have done that), is once-upon-a-time we have done all of those things; the once-upon-a-time when our mind was in its infancy and knew little of risk or fear and cared less, our mind (mostly) protected us from going too far; well far too far, too often.

It was during all those life-threatening adventures, (those naughty and dangerous liaisons, the arguments and battles, the fights and flights our immature brains took us on), we collected lots and lots of information, comprehension, realisation, skills and familiarity.

In other words, we gained awareness, understanding and experience, this is how we became educated and intelligent, this is what gives us an erudition of life.

It is what we loosely and casually refer to as wisdom and knowledge.

These are the life skills one collects in the only way possible, by living over a long period, or at least the longest period time allows our weak and feeble bodies to function.

You see, I have out-lived many thousands of others over the years I have been walking upon this earth, (which, thankfully, I can still do… unaided).

I am glad I saw the sunrise this morning, the sad thing is so many did not.

Many of those who never got to see the sunlight today are friends and family, many older than I, many younger. Worst of all, some had only minutes of life with which we could chart their age.

The fact is the number of people who are older than I is quickly diminishing.

Now my mourning’s are frequently for those of my generation, a generation who should use their life skills and knowledge to help and nurture those who are young enough and fortunate enough to have minds which believes it is protected by an invincible body, such as our own did all those years past.

All we have learned of life and living; those births we have witnessed, our loves, both lost and lasting. The passionate moments, some intimate, comprised of twisting limbs and thrusting loins, others of the soul; music, art, theatre, dreams and scenes, vistas of natural beauty. The recollection of our times of loss, of hurt, of feeling pain; both physical and of the heart, not forgetting the grief and deaths.

This is our accumulated wisdom.

This is what we should share, what we should endeavour to teach our children, our children’s children and their children.

‘Ahh’, I hear you say, but children do not listen, do not take heed, so it is best to leave them to find their way.

I do not disagree.

However, (which is a nicer way to say but because there is always a ‘but’.)

If we share our knowledge, leave it somewhere future generations can discover it,  they can learn, or at least be guided by that which we have spent a lifetime accumulating.

This is why I believe I have a duty to leave my thoughts behind when I have gone when I have shuffled from off my mortal coil.

This is why I choose to write.

Woven within the lines of my fiction and on the pages of my fantasies are the truths of life and the facts of living. All the wisdom and knowledge I accrued during my lifetime.

The words within my books and short stories are my bequest to the world, to a future I cannot be a part of, at least in person.

I chose to be a writer, not for monetary wealth or recognition, but to leave a legacy beyond simplistic values.

My wish is my words are read by the generations yet to come.

Maybe then my life will not have been lived in vain.

Ex Libris legatum

© Paul White 2021


You can find my books, including my Electric Eclectic books, on my web page, here.

Some of my Electric Eclectic books

New from Electric Eclectic books for 2021

Deep Waters is the latest Electric Eclectic book, and the first new release of 2021.

For Deep Waters, Paul White has taken a totally different approach from his last offering, the superb, gritty and surprising crime drama, A New Summer Garden‘.

With Deep Waters, we follow the main character, Gary, as he struggles to come to terms with the death of his beloved wife.

After a failed suicide attempt, Gary take himself off to an isolated island, far away from the distractions of daily life and the people he knows, as kind and as helpful as they try to be.

This touching and emotional tale allows privileged insight into Gary’s mind as he stumbles onward through life and unveils an understanding of why he chose this island to execute his last wishes.

Electric Press magazine says,

“Paul White uses his protagonist, Gary, as a device to explore the depths and fragility of the human psyche.

I doubt if you can read this book without shedding a tear, or two… or more.”

Deep Waters in available in both eBook format, and as an Electric Eclectic Pocketbook Paperback

EXCERPT:

“…My first thought, rather obviously, was to name the boat Francis, after my deceased wife, bless her soul.

But then, I felt it was not the right thing to do. Francis had never been here, never been to the island. Neither of us knew this place existed before, before… now, which was part of the reason I came here. To get away from those haunting memories, as callous as it may seem.

You see, that is what life is all about, the memories. The memories of shared experience. The things you do with family, mum, dad, siblings. The adventures with friends and, of course, all the things you do, all the places you go, all the battles you fight and all the little victories you celebrate with your lover, your soulmate, the one you wish to grow old with.

Francis was my soulmate. It was the memories we shared from the life we were building together which haunted me now.

Don’t get me wrong. I did not want to forget. I do not want to erase them from my mind, but neither did I want to be reminded of every detail each time I walked into a room or got onto the boat.

I want to remember Francis when I want to recall her voice or touch or tell a story about her antics. I want to remember her on my terms, not as just some random flashback.

So, no. I could not call the boat Francis…”

Amazon UK  https://amzn.to/2WocchI

Amazon. com USA  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08QVL3PYV

For all other orders (eBook only) https://books2read.com/Deep-Waters

Let’s Talk Dirty

by Karen J Mossman

November 19th is, believe it or not is World Toilet Day. Who’d have thought that was a thing?

How often do you nip to the toilet?

No, don’t answer that, it was one of those rhetorical questions. Just think about it for a moment. It’s a normal part of our day. We all talk about it to each other and it’s as natural as talking about what you are going eat.

Has it ever occurred to you that your favourite TV characters rarely goes for that natural break? Neither do the book characters. Why? How many times do you say to the person you are with, “I just got to wee.”? Or whatever terminology you use.

I read a book where the hot male lead eventually finds the female he’d been searching all day for. Does he say something worthy when he finally locates her? No, the first thing out of his mouth was: “I gotta take a piss.” He then disappears into the bathroom as she waits with bated breath for why he has come. I loved him for that. Considering this man had travelled a long way, this was likely outcome. Yet normally its a fact generally ignored. Well done to that author for bringing in a little realism.

In another book, the women is and escaping her lover’s bed went to sit on the toilet to contemplate for a while. That works. That’s normal, too.

Having thought about this, I went into overdrive as a scene played out in my mind. It went like this:

The beautiful girl lies across the bed in her bra and briefs. Her hair cascades over the side, flowing to the floor. She is waiting for her lover to return.

He opens the bathroom door, his hair falling slightly over his chiselled features. He’s wearing a white vest which is pulling taut over his ripped torso. Boxers show off his strong sturdy legs.

The toilet is still flushing behind him. He’s been in there at least five minutes. A smell follows him out…..

What? It’s natural. It’s what happens, except it doesn’t really work. It’s not necessary. It’s what our boyfriends and husbands do in real life. We want escape, not normality!

So yes, it’s okay for our characters to nip to the toilet. It’s real.

Now, I’m going take it one step further. How many times do you or someone around you fart? No, don’t answer that either.

I’ve read hundreds of books and only in one did it happen – The girl lay under a tree with her boyfriend. They were talking and laughing together. Suddenly she let out a little lady fart (is there such a thing?)  And that was it. Never was it mentioned again.

Have you ever read erotica? All the wet slapping sounds make me wonder what’s the difference? Anything and everything goes these days, so it’s only a matter of time before natural functions are included.

So let’s keep our writing real and know our own boundaries.  How far would you go to keep realism alive? How far does a reader expect an author to go?

I wanted to make an example and use a ‘toilet scene’ in one of my books and make it real. It isn’t crude, but everyone farts, right?

In The Ghost on the Stairs, I experimented and wrote a scary book, but I couldn’t help myself. My stories tend to be a mixture of things, just as life is. Life might be scary, but its also humorous. So my toilet scene is very funny because there is nothing better than to embarrass your main character!

Am I wicked? Yes!

When a good-looking guy walks into a café and asks for you by name, you sit up and take notice. Cassie is instantly attracted to Damien Mathers, who is also a World Super Bike Champion. He needs her help to banish a ghost. That is not what Cassie does but Damien is very persuasive!

The Ghost on the Stairs takes clairvoyant Cassie on a journey she won’t forget. It leaves her unnerved and scared—not because of it, but what it unleashes within her.

Damien doesn’t believe in the paranormal until he witnesses something he can’t explain. He is falling for Cassie but how can he love her dark side, too?

Can Cassie hold on to Damien? Can she banish the ghosts and save her relationship?

Can you hear them?

Can you hear them?

A short story for Halloween 2020 from Paul White

I have a small multi-tool. It is much like a penknife; a type of ‘Swiss Army’ knife for the handyman. I keep it in a small compartment in the top draw.

That compartment is its ‘home’. When it is not in use, it is where it ‘lives’.

Two weeks ago I needed this knife. It was not in the draw. I could not find it.

Today I was fetching another item and the knife was back in the draw, back in its small compartment. Back in its ‘home’.

This is not the first time some of my possessions have gone ‘missing’ or have moved; seemingly at will.

Sometimes things appear in my home. They may be objects I have lost, misplaced and… this is one of the strangest, items I have never purchased, ones I do not own.

Generally, these are small articles, inconsequential stuff, general household or personal belongings. The type of artefacts we all acquire during our lifetime.

I hear you saying ‘so what’? This happens to us all and you would be right, it does.

But, I ask you, how many times have you been certain the item in question was not where you left it?

I do not mean the times you may have been mistaken, but those times when you were totally and absolutely sure; times when you know your certainty is more than mere conviction?

I hear people say ‘we must have ghosts,’ or that ‘Mr Nobody’ must have moved it.

The fact is, when said and done, it is not too far from the truth. Only it was not a ‘Mr Nobody’, or a spectral entity who moved or misplaced your item.

It is something real.

Something which lives amongst us. Something which lives in all our homes, in our workplaces, our schools and colleges. Something which is with us at all times.

Even while we sleep.

Especially while we sleep.

It has been said, the best trick the Devil ever played was to make people believe he does not exist.

This is also true of the Gremlin.

I am not speaking of those cute(ish) furry characters portrayed in the film, but of the true Gremlin. Those tiny flitty little beasts.

The leathery-skinned ones with luminous green eyes and teeth like wild piranha.

I doubt if you have seen one, unless you are particularly susceptible to the spirit world, or you are a young innocent child.

Then you may have heard one scuttling under your bed, or in the closet, or outside your bedroom door in the darkness of the hallway.

You may have, on the odd occasion have glimpsed at one. That fractional shadow, the one which flicked past the corner of your eye yesterday.

The silhouette under the bathroom door, the one you see when you are home alone.

They are the Gremlin.

They watch you.

Constantly.

Hear a bang, the unexplainable crash from the room or upstairs. Like when the jar toppled over in your kitchen, or the picture fell from the wall.

All the tapping noises, those creaks and rasps you hear as you try to fall asleep at night.

What causes them?

Gremlin.

Gremlin love the night.

Gremlin love the darkness.

They are the creatures who moved your lip gloss from your handbag and hid it in the back of the bathroom cabinet.

The Gremlins took your car keys and tossed them into your sneakers, pushed them right down into the toe section so you could not find them.

The older the Gremlin get the more insidious their pranks. Messing with your machines. That is why your dishwasher rattles and your car now pulls to the left.

That accident you passed… it was no accident.

The Gremlin have been playing.

Trains crashes. Ships capsize. Planes disappear.

Gremlin.

They are in the machines. Your TV, your Vacuum cleaner, even the device your reading from now.

They are in the rear of your closet, the dark corner of your garage, and under your bed.

Turn your TV off. Turn the radio off.

Be quiet.

Be still for just a moment.

Listen… that noise… the faint noise…

Hold your breath and listen…Listen hard to the background noise, the constant drone which accompanies our lives.

Strain your ears.

You can hear it now, just there in the background… yes, that. It’s Gremlin going about their work.

Quickly look into the corner now, did you see it? In the shadow by the cabinet, shooting behind the sofa?

No?

Sneaky aren’t they.

Try again… use the corners of your eyes.

They are there. In your lounge, in your bedroom.

In the dryer, the car, your garden shed.

They are in the darkness at the top of the staircase, waiting in the loft, in the eaves of your roof.

They are watching you now, right now. Watching your every move.

Doggedly.

They are waiting for the right time, the right moment.

Trust me, I know.


Would you like to read more short stories with a little ‘spookiness’? Then download your copy of these Electric Eclectic Novella today…

North to Maynard, is a ‘ghost in the machine‘ story with and ending you will not expect. Download today.

Or how about a bit of fun?

Miriam’s Hex is a tale of greed and latent curses. This is light hearted black humor at its best.

Available to download now, or order as a Pocketbook Paperback

The Amulet is a ‘feel good’ tale of ancient magic in the modern world.

Download your copy, click here.

You are welcome to visit my website where you can find all my books, artworks & photography, http://bit.ly/paulswebsite