Darlene Foster's Blog

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I am submitting this story to Stevie Turner´s Short Story Competition  You may want to submit one as well.

This story was inspired by a visit to Clifford´s Tower in York.

Terror in the Tower
By
Darlene Foster

The tower ruin overlooks the city from high on a grassy mound. Angela pulls her sweater tighter around her as she glances up. She experiences the same chill every time she walks past the site.
When she was seven, her mother took her up to the old stone keep. From a small window, she saw a girl looking out at her through iron bars. Fire blazed behind the child. It had frightened her so.
“Mommy, we need to help that little girl,” exclaimed Angela.
Her mother took her hand and said, “There are no children in there. It must be a trick of the sun reflecting off the water.”
The sad, terrified and helpless child appeared very real.
Angela shudders as she recalls that day. She rushes to work.
***
It was the feast of Shabbat ha-Gadol. Instead of the usual tables overflowing with food, around her lay the dead bodies of friends and neighbours. The smell of fresh blood and smouldering wood filled the thick air. Ester searched for Jacob and Marta in the crowded tower. She witnessed parents slitting their children’s throats and then their own. Terrified, Ester tried to look away, but it was the same everywhere.
Since she didn’t have any parents, she stayed with old Jacob the moneylender and his kind wife, Marta. For her board, she cleaned the house, made meals and ran errands. Ester stumbled in the smoke-filled keep looking for the only family she knew. Eventually, she found them, dead in each other’s arms on a bed of straw soaked with maroon blood. A curved butcher’s knife lay beside them.
Did they forget about me? Did Jacob slit his wife’s throat and then his own?
The flames and smoke of the burning wood tower closed around her.
A growing mob outside yelled, “Come out, you dirty Jews.”
Why is this happening? We were promised safety in the tower.
She peered through the iron bars of a low window. Angry people outside the tower waved swords, scythes and pitchforks. It was safer to stay inside. It was better to die by your own hand. That is what the Rabbi said.
In the crowd, she caught the clear blue eyes of a girl her age. A girl dressed in fine clothing. Maybe she can help me. Ester mouthed the word Help.
The girl pointed to the window and said, “Look, Mother, there is a little girl in the tower. It is burning. We must help her.”
Ester saw an elegant woman take the child´s hand and pull her away. “There are no children in there, Angelina. Let us go away from this awful place.”
Ester coughed from the thick smoke and fell backwards. The flames engulfed her.
***
Nine centuries later Angela feels the eyes of Ester pleading for help as she hurries past Clifford’s Tower on the way to her Hebrew lessons. One day she will stop and help the child.

The Bess Time cover Nov7

“Have you ever wanted to go back in time? Here is your opportunity.” Bess Turner, a woman of the twenty-first century, would like to invite you to accompany her on a journey to London, England. The season is Christmas. The year is 1847. The adventure begins with a light in a window. Mesmerized, Bess hears street noises behind her. No, that cannot be; she is in her living room, looking at a miniature building on the mantel. True, but …. Meet her colourful Victorian family, stay for a cup of tea, and taste the flaming plum pudding. Hold your breath and squeeze into the dreaded corset. Swirl around the majestic Vauxhall to the Viennese Waltz. Take in the smells and sounds of the horse-drawn carriages along busy Fleet Street. Enjoy the ride; it is The Bess Time.

My review of The Bess Time

Who wouldn’t love to go back in time to visit Charles Dickens’s London at Christmastime? This is what happens to Bess Turner when she stares into the lights of the miniature Victorian street scene on her mantle. A delightful venture into time travel, the author does an excellent job of transitioning from the twenty first century to the nineteenth century with ease. The many unique characters are well developed and you will definitely fall in love with them as they become as familiar as your own friends and neighbours.  Even the charming Mr. Dickens himself makes a cameo appearance. The setting, the accents, the food, the weather, the clothing and the customs of the time come to life on the page. There are many laughs and a few tears as Beth divides her time between a modern North American Christmas and a traditional London Christmas of 1847. I didn’t want the story to end and am happy to hear there is a sequel in the works. You will need to buy two copies of The Bess Time, one for yourself and one for a friend as you won’t want to give this one away. Pour yourself a cup of tea and enjoy!

Interview with the author Yvonne Pont

How long have you been writing?

Since I was in high school, but not seriously till about 2009. Before that, I have written for my various club newsletters, letters to family and friends and minutes for meetings. I took various writing courses and joined a writers’ group. Both of which have helped tremendously to hone my craft. 

What gave you the idea for this book?

The miniature buildings and the built in curiosity and imagination to discover what goes on behind closed doors. Wouldn’t it be fun to go back in time and observe? So I did. 

What made you decide to self-publish?

I tried the traditional way, but it is not easy for an unknown author to have a publisher in today’s market take a chance on them. So I took the bull by the horns, took a deep breath and plunged head first into another world I knew nothing about. Each day brings new challenges and tests the will to continue. A relative once told me if you sit in the safety of your backyard and never venture out, life passes you by. 

I just love the characters. Did you pattern them after people you know?

Yes, a few are, and others have the names, but not the personalities of the namesakes. Observing people while in restaurants, shops, etc. is a good way to add or start on a character. 

How did you manage to get all those accents down pat? It wasn’t long and I knew who was talking without the tags, just from the accent!

I made a profile of each character and added their special dialogue. I wanted the reader to experience what Bess did and that was to listen to their different accents of that time in history. It had to be as real as possible.

I also love the cover art work. Was this your idea? How did you find an illustrator for the cover?

I told the artist exactly what I wanted, and she went from there. I also took pictures of figures and buildings in shadow to get the idea across to her. Fortunately, my good friend and artist, Connie Wicklund, did a great job. Iryna Spica of Spica Design in Victoria gave me samples for the title printing and holly emblem. I picked what I felt went best with the book and artwork.

What authors have inspired you? Who are your all time favourite authors?

Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie and Jane Austen. 

Do you have a writing routine?

I try. However, life keeps getting in the way. Thank goodness, I have not experienced writer’s block, so it is not difficult to get my thoughts on paper on short notice. I always write in long hand and then transpose it to my laptop. My thoughts, my hand, the pen and paper work as one. Transferring it to the laptop is another step to further editing the piece.

Are you a plotter or a panster? (do you plot the story out before hand or write by the seat of your pants as ideas come to you?)

Yes, I have a plot. Yes, ideas come while the hand is on the paper too. Does that make me a plotster? 

Tell us a little about you including some quirks or funny habits.

I love animals, travel, gardening. I tend to relate an object such as my car, a book as human. Each has its own personality and story to tell. As far as the funny habits, you will have to ask my husband………. 

What is the name of the next book in the Christmas in Time series and when do you expect it to be completed?

“Nick Of Time” I hope to have it finished and published for fall of 2015. 

What advice would you give someone thinking of writing a book?

Go for it! However, learn your craft and join a writers’ group who will critique and give you sage advice. Editing is a must and must be done many times before the work is finished. But above all, don’t forget this is your work. Be true to it! Heed others advice, but if it is not what you want or had in mind for your story, let them write their own book.

Great advice! So happy to meet yet another Jane Austen fan too.  Thank you, Yvonne for sharing a bit about yourself and your book.

You can buy The Bess Time here or here

Visit Yvonne’s website  http://www.yvonnepont.com/ to learn more about her.

The author is giving away a copy of her book to one of the lucky readers of this blog. Just add a comment and your name will be put in the draw. Don’t forget to comment before the deadline, February 14.


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