Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Stevie Turner

This is my entry in Stevie Turner’s November short-story competition. Let me know what you think. Why not send in one of your own.

https://steviet3.wordpress.com/2018/10/30/share-your-short-story-november/

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The Special Date

Decision made, she laid out her clothes and applied two coats of a subtle shade of melon nail polish to each fingernail and toenail with meticulous detail. Retiring early, the mirror reflected a well-rested woman the following morning. This pleased her. It was important that she look her best for this date.

A girl needs to get her beauty sleep you know, she could hear her mother say.

What would Mother think about this date? Did it matter? Mother passed away many years ago. Why did she still feel the need for her mother’s approval? Was it because she didn’t get it as a young girl, trying so hard to please?

She returned to the mirror and stopped thinking about such things while she dabbed ivory concealer under her eyes and on various spots on her face.

Get rid of those dark circles and spider veins, and ten years will be erased, she assured herself. Like an artist putting the finishing touches to a masterpiece, she applied the rest of her makeup. She needed to look perfect.

Would he appreciate the effort? she wondered while slipping on her new black underwear; bikini panties and a lace push up bra. She glanced at the full-length mirror. Not many women her age could wear this stuff and look good. She kept her body toned by working out regularly and she watched her diet for the most part. She looked closer, noticed a few bulges here and there, and planned to forgo dessert in the future. Although, she was sure he wouldn’t mind.

She stepped into the slinky little black dress with ease, pulled up the zipper in the back and took another look in the mirror. The cleavage looked inviting. Perhaps it was a bit much though. She didn’t want to send out the wrong message. She reached for her favourite silk scarf and tied it loosely around her neck. The black, grey and melon swirls complemented her nail polish. Pleased with the result, she smiled at the reflection in the mirror.

A giddy feeling came over her, making her feel like a school girl. Perhaps she should have a drink, or better still, something light to eat. There was no point being nervous. It will be all right, she reassured herself. She nibbled on a piece of Brie on a slice of a baguette topped with a chunk of cantaloupe while sipping a small glass of chardonnay.

“A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou,” she murmured to herself.

She looked in the mirror once more to fix her hair and felt a burning sensation in her chest. Her breath started to come in short gasps. The recognizable signs of panic began to take over.

I can’t go through with this. What will people think, what will they say?

She wanted to stay home, go back to bed and forget everything. Those old enemies, tears, were about to revisit her.

“Stop it!” she shouted out loud at the confused image in the mirror.

When are you going to stop worrying about what other people think, you stupid woman? 

She managed to pull herself together in time to save her makeup from running. What was she thinking? She certainly didn’t have time to redo it. All she had to do was look lovely, say the right things and keep cool for a couple of hours, and it would soon be over. She reminded herself that she was doing this for him and he was special.

After running a brush through her nutmeg coloured hair, she applied a light coat of hairspray to the bob. She liked the colour of her hair and refreshed the roots every four weeks. She could not understand women who let their hair go grey and grinned when she thought of women not much older than herself with shades of pink and blue-grey hair. They would bury her with nutmeg coloured hair.

She lined her lips with a pencil to make them look fuller and filled them in with lipstick, a melon shade to match the nail polish and scarf. Taking the new, long black jacket off the hanger, she slipped it on over her short dress. It was well tailored and fit her toned body perfectly. He was sure to be impressed.

Something simple but elegant would be the best choice for jewellery. She rummaged through her jewellery box and found a small pair of black pearl earrings that would do the trick. She tried a couple of pins on the lapel of the jacket but nothing looked right, not the butterfly or the cat or the rose. Time was running out. She slammed the lid of the jewellery box as she decided not to wear a pin.

The limousine arrived to pick her up. A quick spray of her favourite perfume before she slipped on her black patent pumps and she was ready. Making her way downstairs, she felt faint and grasped the railing for support. Would she be able to do this? She had never done anything like this before. She took one last look in the hallway mirror, smiled faintly and took a deep breath. She could do this. He was worth it.

Heads turned as an attractive woman walked into the funeral service to say goodbye to the only man she had ever loved; her husband of the past forty years.

 

 

 

I am sooo pleased to announce that my story, As The Crow Flies, won runner-up in the September short story contest run by Stevie Turner. Check out the winning story, it is so good, and all the other wonderful entries.

Stevie Turner

Thanks to everybody who submitted their lovely stories this month.  It was hard to pick a winner and runner up, but here goes:

The winner for September is Kelly Wallace-Artieri with her rather touching story ‘I Rang the Bell’.

https://www.kellyartieri.com/single-post/2018/09/16/I-Rang-the-Bell

Congratulations Kelly, you can use this laurel on your website:

SHORT STORY LAUREL WINNER SEP 2018

And the runner-up is Darlene Foster with her horror story ‘As the Crow Flies’:

 https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/2018/09/26/as-the-crow-flies/

Congratulations Darlene, and here’s your laurel to use:

SHORT STORY LAUREL RUNNER UP SEP 2018

Do check out all the other great submissions below.  I enjoyed reading them all:

 

Lady Pamela Rose – Petals in the  Wind:  http://achronicalofhope.com/2018/09/03/petals-in-the-wind/

 

Lilly Orchid – Of Dreams and Flying Things:  https://inthesilenceoftheday.wordpress.com/2018/09/17/of-dreams-and-flying-things/comment-page-1/#comment-41

  

Merchant Writes Again – Lips don’t Lie:  https://merchantwritesagain.wordpress.com/2018/09/15/lips-dont-lie/comment-page-1/#comment-518

 

Patrick Walts – With New Eyes:  https://patrickwaltsfiction.wordpress.com/2018/09/09/with-new-eyes/  

 

Phil Huston –  Evan Who?  https://philh52.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/evan-who/ 

 

Robert Kirkendall – The Hill:  https://robertkirkendall.com/2014/10/17/the-hill/comment-page-1/#comment-765  

 

Tallis Steelyard – Sometimes One…

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Stevie Turner is running another short story competition for the month of September over on her blog. The deadline is September 27, so there are still a few more days to enter so why not give it a try and submit something. Here are the details.

This is my entry.

Inge's Denmark photo

photo by Inge Bessmann Norris

As the Crow Flies

by Darlene Foster

A multitude of crows sprang from the misty marshland like bullets fired from a Winchester rifle. Their sorrowful caws fell on deaf ears. The smell of death rose with their nefarious wings as they vanished into the low-lying, ominous clouds.

Leasha absently followed the familiar path. She could have walked it with her eyes closed like she did when she was a child. When she danced happily along the path she loved so much, making up stories in her head and believing her handsome prince would come around a corner any minute.

Before her mother went missing and her father went mad. Before her brothers went to college and her sister moved to the States. She alone remained on the home farm tucked in among the fenlands.

Someone had to be there in case Mother returned.

She looked up at the darkening sky to see crows swarming. She ducked as they whooshed over her. Never before had she seen so many at one time. Trying to recall the collective term for crows, she bent down again, holding her hands over her head as they zoomed by once more.

The crows flew into the marsh, landing in a cluster. Leasha stared at the black mass with raised eyebrows. A whiff of decay drifted her way. She left the path and crept closer.

Feeling her way in the soggy bog, her heart thundered and her breath caught in her throat. She was never allowed off the path. But the crows summoned her.

The crows shrieked louder. The dank, fetid smell grew stronger. She drew nearer.

Images of her mother flashed before her. That last day. Her mother at the sink washing the breakfast dishes, so pretty in her red and white checked shirt-waist dress. Leasha shook her head to erase the image from her mind. It hurt too much.

“I’m going for a walk,” she shouted as she skipped out the door.

“Be careful and stay on the path,” her mother warned, as always.

“Don’t worry. I will.”

She got caught in a sudden rain shower and found refuge by a large rock. When she arrived home everyone was waiting for her. Everyone but her mother. Her lovely mother who had gone to look for her but never came back.

Leasha squeezed her eyes shut and brushed a tear from her cheek. She opened her eyes and saw it. A piece of red and white checked cloth in the beak of a wicked crow.

“Where did you get that?” she shouted as she stumbled after the pilferer, her water laden hiking boots heavy and cumbersome.

She fell face first in the slimy mud. She reached for the reeds to hoist herself up. They parted revealing the myriad of crows. Crows resting on bones. Bones partially covered with a grimy ripped red and white dress.

Leasha choked back a scream.

Mother had returned as she knew she would.

She remembered the term.

A murder of crows.

 

 

I was pleased to see that everyone enjoyed my list of book recommendations, so following my previous post, I wish to share three more books I read and enjoyed this summer. I have included a children´s book as I believe everyone should read a children´s book once in a while. It is amazing what you can learn.

No More Mulberries

No More Mulberries is a story of commitment and divided loyalties, of love and loss, set against a country struggling through transition.

British-born Miriam’s marriage to her Afghan doctor husband is heading towards crisis. Despite his opposition, she goes to work as a translator at a medical teaching camp in a remote area of rural Afghanistan hoping time apart will help are see where their problems lie. She comes to realise how unresolved issues from when her first husband was killed by a mujahideen group are damaging her relationship with her husband and her son – but is it already too late to save her marriage?

My review
I bought this book because I love reading stories that take place in the middle east. I was not disappointed. Mary Smith has written a wonderful story about cross-cultures, family, relationships and Afghanistan. The detailed descriptions of the land, people and culture are fascinating. The story is told through the point of view of Miriam, the main character, who is a wife, mother and medical practitioner. It is easy to identify with her as she struggles to maintain a home for her family in a culture so different from her life in Scotland. Miriam also has to deal with ghosts from the past and the feelings she has suppressed for too long which are having a negative effect on her marriage. This well-written book takes place in a troubled time just before the Taliban take control. Since the reader knows what will eventually happen, but the characters don’t, it keeps you on your toes and turning the pages. I highly recommend this book.

A Marriage of Convenience

Gerrie Hermann, aspiring rock star from a rich South African family, has an unusual proposal for Sophie Woods when he meets her for the first time in their university canteen. Strait-laced Sophie has never done anything out of the ordinary in the whole of her 19 years. When she decides to take Gerrie up on his offer she has no idea that her decision is going to affect the rest of her life in ways that she could never have foreseen, even in her wildest dreams.
My review
Sometimes one hasty decision can affect your entire life. Sophie doesn’t know what she is getting into when she agrees to marry wannabe rock star Gerrie Hermann so he can stay in the UK and pursue his music career. Can a marriage of convenience survive a botched up kidnapping, harboured secrets, lost dreams and undeniable heartache? An easy read with real-life characters set in the exciting London music scene and exotic Rio de Janeiro.

I Am David

David’s entire twelve-year life has been spent in a grisly prison camp in Eastern Europe. He knows nothing of the outside world. But when he is given the chance to escape, he seizes it. With his vengeful enemies hot on his heels, David struggles to cope in this strange new world, where his only resources are a compass, a few crusts of bread, his two aching feet, and some vague advice to seek refuge in Denmark. Is that enough to survive?
David’s extraordinary odyssey is dramatically chronicled in Anne Holm’s classic about the meaning of freedom and the power of hope.
My review
This is an amazing book. One that makes you think. It is cleverly written from the point of view of a young boy who has been raised in a concentration camp. He escapes but has to make his way in a world he knows little about. He gets by with his resourcefulness, honesty, and unique problem-solving skills. The book is written for children but is perfect for adults as well, as the topics of hope, forgiveness and sacrifice are universal and timeless. A must-read for all ages.
I know that TBR list is growing but here are three more to add!!

I am pleased to have as my guest today, author Stevie Turner. I have been following Stevie’s blog for a couple of years and her posts are fun, interesting and informative. She also holds a short story contest most months. She is a prolific writer as you can see and enjoys attending rock concerts. Stevie and her husband love spending time at their holiday home on the Isle of Wight, a place I love and included in Amanda in England.

Stevie and Jimi Hendrix at Dimbola Lodge, Isle of Wight

Stevie Turner grew up in the East End of London and was fortunate enough to attend an excellent primary school which encouraged creative writing. After winning an inter-schools’ writing contest, Stevie began to keep a diary and often added little stories and poems to it as the years went by. However, she did not take up writing seriously until 2013. By this time her two sons had left home and she had more time to herself.

Stevie has now written 10 novels, 6 novellas, 1 memoir, and 18 short stories, winning a New Apple Book Award in 2014 and a Readers’ Favorite Gold Award in 2015 for her third novel ‘A House Without Windows’. You can find details of all her books on her website http://www.stevie-turner-author.co.uk

Stevie still lives in the same picturesque Suffolk village that she and husband Sam moved to in 1991 with their two boys. One of her short stories, ‘Lifting the Black Dog’, was recently published in ‘1000 Words or Less Flash Fiction Collection’ (2016). She has also written an article ‘Look on the Bright Side of Life’ which was included in the 2016 book ‘They Say I’m Doing Well’ which are articles about mental illness, proceeds of which go to the charity MIND.  Her screenplay ‘For the Sake of a Child’ won a silver award in the Spring 2017 Depth of Field International Film Festival, and gained interest from an independent film production company based in New York.

1. What made you decide on the type of books you write?

I write realistic women’s fiction with a psychological twist, also suspense and darkly humorous books. These are the genres I like to read, and the type of books I am interested in. I couldn’t write a fantasy novel even if you paid me to do so!

2. How long have you been seriously writing?

Since 2013. I began to work part-time then, the children had grown up and flown the nest, and I had more time on my hands. I had always dabbled with writing poems and stories since childhood, but it wasn’t until I was in my fifties that I realised I had been privy to a wealth of life experiences over the years. I think 2014/2015 were my most prolific writing years.

3. Where do you get your ideas?

From life events, from items of news on TV or radio, and from tales I’ve been told over the years. I only write about realistic situations.

4. What is your writing process?

I don’t have one. I write when I feel like it. When the words don’t come I stop and do something else.

5. Where do you do your best writing?

In my quiet, air-conditioned front room. Sam works from home upstairs in his office, and I sit downstairs and write. Sometimes he comes down for a cup of tea and we even talk to each other.

6. How long does it take you to write a book?

How long is a piece of string? I have no deadlines to meet, and only write when I feel like it. Therefore one book could take months. My latest book ‘A Marriage of Convenience’ was completed in about 3 months

7. Do you work on more than one story at a time?

Never. I’d get totally mixed up with all the names and characters and end up writing a load of gibberish. No, I see one book through to the end.

8. How do you come up with names for your characters?

I don’t like fancy names – plain good old-fashioned names suit my characters. I also like short names so I don’t have to keep typing long ones. I write down various short traditional names and pick the one I like best.

9. What books did you read as a child?

Mostly Enid Blyton’s ‘Adventure’ series or the Mallory Towers’ series. I used to love books about private schools. I also liked the Nancy Drew mysteries by Carolyn Keene. I wanted ‘titian’ hair like Nancy!

10. Who are some of your favourite authors, and why?

I like the psychological thrillers that Mark Edwards writes. I also like Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins’ books, again because of the psychological aspect. I also like books by A.J Cronin, L.P Hartley, and R.F Delderfield.

ST books2

11. What advice would you give an aspiring author?

Write for a hobby. Don’t expect to earn your living from it, because there are too many other authors out there all trying to get their books out in front. Expect nothing, and you won’t be disappointed.

12. Tell us about what you are working on now.

Absolutely nothing! I’ve just finished ‘A Marriage of Convenience’, which will be published on 6th July, and I’m going to take a couple of months off over the summer to enjoy my holiday home on the Isle of Wight and spend time with the family. There’s more to life than writing…

Thanks so much, Stevie for being a guest on my blog. 

 

My review of A Marriage of Convenience

Sometimes one hasty decision can affect your entire life. Sophie doesn’t know what she is getting into when she agrees to marry wannabe rock star Gerrie Hermann so he can stay in the UK and pursue his music career. Can a marriage of convenience survive a botched up kidnapping, harboured secrets, lost dreams and undeniable heartache? An easy read with real-life characters set in the exciting London music scene and exotic Rio de Janeiro. Darlene Foster

 

Make sure to connect with Stevie on her social media links and check out her amazing books. 

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Amazon.uk: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stevie-Turner/e/B00AV7YOTU/

Website: http://www.stevie-turner-author.co.uk

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Stevie-Turner/e/B00AV7YOTU/

Amazon Author Page (worldwide): http://bookShow.me/B00AV7YOTU

YouTube: https://goo.gl/E8OHai

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7172051.Stevie_Turner

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StevieTurnerAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/StevieTurner6

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/stevieturner988/

WordPress Blog: https://steviet3.wordpress.com/

Audible: http://goo.gl/sz1cXS

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/preview?vpa=pub&locale=en_US

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/105747643789021738179/posts/p/pub

BookSprout: https://booksproutapp.com/author/875/stevie-turner

 

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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.

Stevie Turner has invited all writers to enter her short story competition for January. I would suggest you give it a go. Enter at https://steviet3.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/share-your-short-story-january-2018/

This is my entry. Let me know what you think.

Solar Eclipse 

by Darlene Foster

Audrey rolled out of bed, looked out the window and decided this day would be her last. She saw no point in going on. Her life had become abysmal.

No one called except telemarketers and people taking surveys. As if her opinion counted. No one ever stopped in for a visit either. Many of her friends were dead; the others had gradually disappeared from her life.

A dish with mouldy cat food sat in the corner. How long had the cat been dead? How long had she been so unhappy? She had lost track of time.

Loneliness engulfed her and left a crater in her heart.

She pulled apart the curtains and peered out her kitchen window. The rain continued to pour down like it had for months, or so it seemed. Audrey couldn’t remember the sun anymore. The sun had disappeared like her friends.
When did her life change? How did it happen? She recalled that once she laughed, and sang, and danced. The sun used to shine. That was a different person – another life.

It grew darker outside. Audrey shivered and let the curtains drop.

Was it after Charlie died? That was a tough time. She felt sad back then and cried a lot. Her friends rallied around her, took her out, kept her busy. She concentrated on her job as an employment counsellor, helping others find work. She got through it. Life carried on.

She cleared a corner of the dining room table laden with newspapers, dirty dishes and used tissues. After pouring herself a bowl of cereal, she opened the fridge. The smell of rotten vegetables and stale bread wafted out as she searched for the milk carton. The light in the fridge burnt out a while ago. Three drops of milk dribbled from the container. So much for that. She certainly wasn’t going out for more. Why bother eating anyway if she wasn’t going to be around for much longer.

No point in getting dressed either. Nothing fit. She looked down at the stained nightgown she had been wearing for weeks. A threadbare housecoat that refused to close in front, covered her heavy body. Where did this body come from? Clearly, it was not hers. She ran her hands through her greasy, grey hair. When did she stop colouring it? What did it matter?

Perhaps it was after she retired. Was that when her life went to shit? When the sun went into hiding? She spent the last few years submerged in a virtual fog.

She lumbered to the mailbox in fuzzy slippers. Nothing of interest ever came but checking the mailbox was a habit. Her spotted hand shook as she inserted the key. The door swung open and a multitude of flyers tumbled out. She left them on the floor of the apartment lobby. Someone else could pick them up and throw them away. Someone who was going to be around tomorrow. She began to close the miniature door.

A flash of colour caught her eye. The blue was so bright it hurt her eyes. Like someone had suddenly turned on the overhead light while she watched TV in the dark. She squeezed her eyes tight and then opened them again. The patch of blue remained and beckoned like a neon light outside a downtown bar.

She reached in and pulled out the small rectangular object. What´s this? A postcard? She studied the picture of dazzling-blue water and a clear blue sky. A lone palm tree overlooked the scene and a white sailboat floated in the sun. Sun! She thought she would never see the sun again. Her frozen body began to feel warmth.

Audrey turned over the card.

The unexpected jolt of colour was from her old friend and coworker, Lillian, one of the disappeared who moved to Spain a few years ago. She was inviting Audrey to come to Spain and spend some time with her.

Audrey returned to her apartment, blew the dust off the neglected computer and turned it on. She checked her savings account. Charlie left her a decent amount of money that she barely touched. She had almost forgotten about it.

She placed the postcard on the mantle, took a shower, pulled on jogging pants and a sweatshirt, applied some makeup and ventured outside. After calling in at the travel agent where she bought a ticket to Spain, she purchased a new housecoat, some clothes that fit and milk for the next day’s breakfast. She cleaned the apartment and threw out the cat dish, food and all.

The rain stopped and the sun emerged from behind a cloud.

Her last day could wait.

 


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