May 18, 2022 saw the publication of Paul Mount is Special Squirrel and the arrival of a new superhero on the block.
Paul Mount – Superhero?
Paul was the baby Mary and Joseph had longed for, even the incident Mary was involved in while pregnant wasn’t allowed to get in the way. As Paul was growing up, some of the things that happened around him marked him out as special.
As an ex-girlfriend says of him; “Bright, clever, witty, brave and gentle; my hero.”
Paul finds himself investigating local crime and corruption. His unique, but unreliable, power is definitely helpful
Paul lives in Measham, Ted Bun’s imaginary town somewhere in the English Home Counties. The story brushes against some familiar characters, PC Adiscombe, The Johnstons and the Cutters and a famous resort.
The sun is glinting off the undulating surface of the sea all around me. I am maybe fifty metres offshore laying on my surfboard. On the shore, I can see the late afternoon breeze starting to pick up little squalls of sand. Soon the wind will gather strength and the squalls will turn into an abrasive, blinding blizzard of sand.
A nicely formed wave rises behind me, I kick the board forward and paddle hard. The wave rises behind me and I start to rush towards the shore. Twisting and turning the board I accelerate along the face of the wave for several seconds before turning towards the beach. The tail of my board drops and the wave breaks around me. I continue to ride the foaming surge through the shallows until the water starts to stream back out, leaving me stranded, my board beached.
I hurry to my feet, pick up my fibreglass bodyboard and waded through the ebbing streams before the next wave could wash over me. I walked up the slope of the beach pulling the scrunchie out of my hair, shaking it loose. I am a few years older and a couple of kilos heavier than the Beach Boy’s Surfer Girl, but I’m here by the ocean’s roar, with saltwater dripping from my long blondish hair.
I reach the spot where my bag and towel were waiting for me as the first blast of stinging sandblasts around my ankles.
I turn back to check on my unofficial surf buddy, it is always safer to have someone keeping an eye on you, the sea is a dangerous animal. Calm and peaceful one minute and seconds later, capable of tearing ships apart and spitting out the broken bits.
The guy in the baggy blue shorts has drifted along the beach earlier in the afternoon. We hadn’t spoken but I knew he was watching out for me and I kept an eye on him.
When I took a break from the surf to have a drink and a bit of time in the sun resting my muscles, he had disappeared along the beach. He returned half an hour later carrying his pack, which he dumped on the beach a polite distance away from me.
I had just ridden my last wave of the day, I bent down and picked up my towel. No way was I going to sit down and get my tanned, salty, skin scoured by the wind-blasted sand. I started to roughly towel my hair dry as buddy-boy got up on a big wave. He was going well when the wind got into the wave. It stopped dead and dropped, dumping all of its weight straight down, pitching him and his board headfirst into the shallows.
That was the sort of wipeout that causes broken collar bones, dislocated shoulders and concussions. The ones that kill unless someone is there to keep you safe.
I was relieved to see him break the surface, trying to wipe his dark hair from his face, pull his sand and water-filled shorts up and all the while groping for his board before the next wave smashed into him, knocking him down into the water again.
He failed and was sent sprawling by the next wave. This time he managed to gather his board up and started for the shore.
“Nice body!” I thought as I finger-combed my hair into a rough ponytail. He had a lean athletic build, with a slim waist and good pecs. “Only a year or two younger than my twenty-nine summers too!” I secured my hair with the bright pink scrunchie taken from my wrist.
From the way he was walking, he was not physically injured. The way he threw his board down next to his pack suggested that his pride had taken a battering. He pulled his towel from his pack and started to dry himself.
The tightening of my skin suggested that the sun and wind had already dried all the droplets of briny water from my body, leaving a thin coating of salt. Relucantly, I reached down into my bag and pulled out my sundress. which I slipped on, fastening just a couple of the buttons. I rolled up my damp towel tucking it into the bag. Picked up my board and with it clamped firmly under my arm I set off towards my car.
“Au revoir, a demain! See you tomorrow!” I called I was well aware that the increasingly orange glow of the slowly setting sun was highlighting the depth of golden colour of my tanned limbs as I walked past, He smiled in response and went to wave but he had both hands full. I watched as he blushed struggling with his towel and the baggies. He went to say something. I had him, I’d made his heart come all undone.
I put my fingers to my lips to silence him. “Tomorrow!”
He would have to wait until then, there was no way he could complete the Modesty Dance and catch me before I reached the car. No matter how much I wanted him to.
I had learnt patience, the words of the song and images of me, would echo through his dreams all through the night. Surfer girl, surfer girl, my little surfer girl! In the morning I will make his dreams come true.
I know that tomorrow he will be dressed for a quick getaway, ready to take me everywhere I go. I smiled a self-satisfied little smirk. For that, he’d need to be attired to avoid the self-conscious towel shuffle. The one I remember all too well from the time before my death. From before I returned to the surf. From my life before I became the Naked Siren of the Surf!
“Do you love me, do you, surfer girl?” he will plead, while, naked, we ride the surf together.
I bought myself a new electric bike. We live on a hill, a long and in places steep hill, about a kilometre from the nearest bar (and the boulangerie). Being slightly eco, I prefer not to drive that short distance and go by bike, unless it is raining. Yes, I know a fairweather eco-warrior!
Proud of my new purchase I put a picture on Farceburk.
This posting attracted a comment from my friend (?) Richard Savin. He is the author of some rather good books. Richard’s best seller is the excellent wartime drama that sweeps across Occupied France . “Girl in a Baker’s Van” so when he commented:
“The Nudist on The Butcher’s Bike?”
it made sense. It was also struck me as a challenge.
Several weeks later the plot had jelled in my mind and I started work on a story that turned out to be a much closer approximation to Richards title;
The Boy on a Baker’s Bike.
The story is set during the long summer break after finishing school. When after taking their A-Levels, English teenagers wait nervously for their results to find out if their higher education dreams are going to come true. It is the story of one young man’s working vacation one year during that fuzzy period as the seventies gave way to the eighties.
Read this story to discover the surprises that await our hero that hot summer. Dreams? which dreams? Will any of them come true?
I am delighted that the book will feature original artwork by Rene Gourley. The artist who created the cover image for The Girl with a Ginger Cat
The date of publication is not fixed yet … but I hope it will be on sale around the beginning of November. The details will appear on my author page as soon as everything is finalised.
Frozen Assets is a new title for my alter ego … Edward Yeoman.
Set against a background of British life in the 1970s. It is an uplifting tale of a young man making the most of every opportunity to take a step forward. To make more of himself. To bend life to his advantage. All without doing down those around him.
This is the story of a ‘Good-Guy’ making good!
Why Frozen Assets? At the time, the British were not allowed to take money out of the country. Your UK assets were frozen, unless you could find away to unfreeze them! Maybe helping someone will repay in real assets!
I am enjoying the feel of sunshine on my back. I am lying on a towel spread out on a sandy beach in Menorca. I decide to turn over before I burn. It is fabulous being warm, without layer upon layer of clothing.
For over two years, I had worked in the Arctic North. Norway to be precise, north of the city of Tromso; one of the most hostile environments in the world. Permanent darkness, from mid – November to mid – January. Cold; between October and April it seldom gets above freezing and it can get down to minus eighteen degrees Celsius. The nearest city was Soviet Murmansk. It wasn’t as if you could just pop over the border for a few days of R and R.
What had inspired me to spend a whole year in that hellhole? Money, filthy lucre, cash, the wherewithal to be able to afford to be lying on this beach today. To be able to watch some hippy chicks scrambling over the rocks across the little inlet and playing in the sea without a care in the world and even fewer clothes. That wasn’t about to happen if I had stayed in England.
Something a little different from my usual subjects … don’t worry, all the tradition Ted Bun stuff is there, just not as prominent as in some of my other stories.
As author Michael Beyer put it
This story (The Girl with a Ginger Cat) is among Ted Bun’s best. Witty, charming, funny at all the right moments, this magical tale of a young witch learning about her powers, her secret origin, and her biological family all around her twenty-first birthday wastes no time in building a world where human witches are pitted against the evil Fey world of fairies, elves, and unicorns. It is a magic-wielding comedy that offers a little bit of romance, a little bit of suspense … and a whole lot of fun. I highly recommend this book.
The thing about Nanami was that until Freddy, the ginger cat, found her in the car park of an out-of-town supermarket, on her twenty-first birthday nobody knew where she was. She had been lost. Her mother had fled a few hours before her baby was expected. All her people knew for certain was that she had been born while her mother was on the run. They had found her mother’s body, mutilated and tortured, a week later. Of Nanami, there was not a single trace.
A new genre, something a little different …
Is it #NaturistFiction? … Maybe.
Is it teen fiction … it could be
So what is it about?
The story starts with a 21 year old girl..
Then a little magical realism gets stirred in to the mix . Witches, Dragons, Elves Faeries and Unicorns that sort of thing … Oh, and we mustn’t forget Freddy the Ginger Cat!
Available on Kindle, including Kindle Unlimited and as a Paperback. I hope you enjoy reading this slight departure from my normal output
A new Crooke and Loch story escaped into the rainforest …. the first time I have ever published in three formats, the e-book, the paperback and the new baby a hard cover format edition.
There are two problems with the hard cover version. One for me, the other is for you.
My problem is with the set up. All my paperbacks are in the 8 x 5 inch layout beloved of major publishers of paperbacks such as Penguin. The closest available from the ‘Zon for their hardback format is 8.5 x 5.5! That means a separate Word manuscript for each. Not hard to do but a pain.
The other issue that comes with the change of template size … is the need for a size new cover. To add to the pain there it has to have much wider safety margins. “No problem!” just resize the images.
Nope, you need them to fit in the guide lines.
No problem Amazon have templates!
Yes, but at the minute they are for the paperback formats and sizes and don’t fit, as you are told in an overnight e-mail. Ages spent creating, uploading and adjusting to get the right; dimensions, content in the right place and getting rid of the stuff on the standard templates.
So after hours of labour … here it is …
The downside for you the customer … the rather hefty price compared with the e-book. Three pints rather than some change from one.
Then again, it will take longer to ingest than the drinks … even after the bars, pubs and clubs are re-opened
What is a writer supposed to do with bits of story, backstory and such like left over after publication?
Deliberately Left Over Story
A few years back I was working on what turned into “The Uncovered Policeman; Made For TV” when I discovered a chunk of the story was going in a different direction to the main narrative. I cut it out and dumped it into a separate file, summed up three thousand words in five lines and carried on.
Three thousand words, it was a lot of work, I wasn’t going to waste it, surely? Certainly not.
I added a few characters and followed the narrative. I ended up with one of my longer stories, “While Bees Sleep.” A story described by one reviewer as “a fine contribution to the literature of the body-positive movement.”
My last novelette, D-Day for Ruth is very much a one Point of View (PoV) piece. However, there are other characters in the book and to make the story work, they need a backstory.
One of the backstories developed into an interesting narrative of its own.
I was tempted to write it into the timeline of the existing story. I soon realised that it would involve extending the story beyond the ending as it exists. Effectively, it would become a different story.
I think it may appear as a second story however, it lacks an ending … Perhaps, one day!
The Unfinished Book
A third type of left over material is the incomplete work.
I have a half finished science fiction book. I think it has a rather good plot. I’d got to an ending … except as an early reader pointed out I give away the ending on the third page! That, he pointed out, makes reading the book rather pointless.
On re-reading after that blow, I discovered that I also break an established rule of the universe I set it in, which was very silly.
I still hope to return to this one and straighten out the mistakes.
So, No Waste
As you’ll see from the examples above I hate waste! It doesn’t mean that I don’t have old ideas, half paragraphs and unfinished stuff floating around. While some writers may discard work, I don’t; everything is recycled eventually.
Ruth is a young woman, she is on the verge of her divorce from a controlling husband. She sees her divorce as a liberation, her D-Day! The day she regains her freedom. A day worth celebrating. A day for sticking two fingers up at her soon-to-be absolute ex!
Her first decision is how to mark all three days in one action.
The story of D-Day for Ruth was inspired by the cover image (used with kind permission) by @nudismnu.
I had asked on Twitter for a cover image for the next NBL Solutions story. This missed the brief by a considerable margin. Melody is a lady of a certain age and generous proportions. Ruth in the image is much too slim, young and agile. The image needed a different story. This is it!
Once again I found myself writing in a female voice, something I feel comfortable doing. I’ve not been criticised for my tone or phrasing by a female (yet). I read several segments of this as a work in progress to the Creative Writing Group (thank goodness for Zoom!) and the lady authors all managed to empathise with Ruth!
D-Day for Ruth is a Novelette, 10 000 words long. Amazon included it as a 90-minute read. Which makes it ideal for a day’s commute, a flight, while ignoring the TV News or just lounging around the pool!
A short read … for those quiet few minutes that occur every Christmas.
A Short Story
I walked into a bar. Well, I couldn’t very well ride my bike through the door.
In truth, it was a café; my summer holiday, a cycle tour of the South of France had degenerated into a café-crawl. The intense heat, that arrived with the rising sun and lasted until well after it had set, meant my original fifty-k-a-day plan was in ruins. I knew that five minutes after leaving this place, I’d be looking forward to my next drink break.
Inside it was dark, cool and pretty quiet. A small group sat around a table, not watching the pop music videos playing on the television, passing the odd comments to and fro. There was a solitary man, propping up the bar, a half-finished beer in front of him.
“Bonjour!” I greeted him, while I waited to be served.
“Nothing bon about today mate!” He continued to stare at his beer.
The Proprietor arrived, I looked at the clock, nearly midday. Lunchtime; I allow myself a longer break for lunch and it would be too late by the time I’d climbed the hill to the next village.
“A large bottle of cold water and a beer, please. What is the plat du jour?”
“Confit de canard, avec frites et salade.” He put the beer down in front of me.
“His duck and chips are good.” The eyes were still on his beer, condensation running down the glass.
“Can I buy you another?” I point at his glass. One of the problems with cycle touring solo, it is a bit lonely. A conversation with an English speaker over lunch would be pleasant.
“Yeah, why not. Thanks.”
“Seeing as you know about the food here, I guess you live locally.”
“Lived. Sold up and I leave this evening, going back to Kent. My wife has found a houseboat on the Medway that we can afford to rent while we search for a house we can afford.”
“Oh, didn’t you enjoy ‘la vie française,’ I have always quite fancied the laid-back way of life here.”
“I used to really enjoy it, but it has all gone wrong.”
I sense a story worth listening to, so I offer to buy him lunch and a pitcher of wine. He readily accepted.
“So, what has gone wrong?” I ask, as we move to a table ready to get our starters.
“I cocked up. I mean I made a disastrous mess of things.” I pour us both a glass of water, we were nearing the end of the beers, and encourage him to continue.
“We moved here two and a half years ago; I was going to write my great novel. Ha!” He drained his beer glass. “I’d spent the last few years of my working life writing bids for government funds, I was good at it. Bids I wrote often attracted the funds they were supposed to. The sad thing from my point of view was that most of them were totally fictitious, I assembled a set of stock phrases and buzz words and used to arrange them into a coherent story. I thought if I can do this, I can do the great book too. We sold up and moved to this beautiful place.”
Our starters arrived, along with the wine. He poured a glass of the rich, red, liquid and held it to the light. He took a sip and sighed. We sat in silence for a while, eating our melon with ham.
“The move here was an interesting experience. We met some of the locals and eventually we hooked up with an ex-pat group. We started going out to lunch with the local British group almost at once. Over lunch, we would all exchange anecdotes and war stories about the idiosyncrasies of French administration, laws and drivers. Imagine, thirty boozy Brits sat around a table, the banter, witticisms, laughter and gossip. It was an incredible source of material. I started plotting my version of ‘A Year in Provence,’ based on what we were hearing at these lunches. Ah, the duck!”
Our main course had arrived. He had been right when he said it was good, the confit de cerise tasted just like a genuine home-made cherry jam.
“You were telling me about your idea for Not A Year in Provence,” I prompted my companion.
“Ah, yes. I had all these snippets and anecdotes but no real theme to hang them all from. With that in mind, I invented a couple, retiring to France and wrote it so that almost everything happened to them. It wasn’t autobiographical, apart from a chapter about the useless estate agent, that was based entirely on our Immobilier. No problem. I wrote the whole thing, both my wife and I proofread the manuscript, several times. We corrected the spelling and changed the point of view of some scenes. Once we were happy, I posted it to Amazon as a Kindle book. Then I made the mistake of turning it into a Print-on-Demand paperback.”
“Doing a paperback was a mistake?” I asked, as I used a piece of crusty bread to wipe up the last of the tasty sauce on my plate.
“Hindsight is wonderful; if only you could have it before you make the mistake.” He took a sip from his glass. “I was excited about having my first book published and I wanted to share it. I ordered several copies of the paperback and sent them to the family. Hoping they would write nice reviews. Some did, some didn’t.
“The Kindle sales were steady, low, but steady at two, maybe three, copies a week. I got on with writing my great novel. It was tough work, each sentence made up of the very best handcrafted words. Arranged and rearranged until they were all in a perfect sequence, leading smoothly from the preceding sentence to the succeeding one. Paragraphs that took what the last one had said, and building on it, passed the narrative forward. Or some such bollocks!” He paused to pour the last of the wine into his glass.
“All the ex-pat group knew I had retired here to write; they would ask time after time about how things were going, blah, blah, blah. Slowly, I’d reply and leave it like that. The conversation would move on to a new topic and my writing would be forgotten about.” He raised his hand to attract the Patron. “Dessert? Tarte Tatin avec crème anglaise s’il-vous plait.”
That sounded like a good idea, “Apple pie for me too, but with vanilla ice-cream instead of custard, please.” I placed my order.
“As I was saying, the Great Novel was slow work. Writing a serious book was nothing like as much fun as that first book. Then, just for a giggle and to make the sales look better, I bought a copy of my own story for my Kindle. Then one wet and windy autumn evening, some months later I started to read it. I was surprised to find myself laughing at some of the tales. That was when I found the error.”
“You found the error? Why was it such a disaster then?”
“I’m coming to that. I needed someone, a character that would know everyone, to let a semi-secret about a couple, who were only part of the group during the summer months, out of the bag. Someone in a position like the organiser of our little lunch group. I changed his whole personality, writing him as a short, posturing, bombast, a cross between Colonel Blimp and Captain Mainwaring of Dad’s Army fame. Nothing like Jerry, who is the group organiser. I needed a name for this character so I used Jerry as a placeholder and had never got around to changing it.”
Our desserts arrived and we ordered coffees to follow.
“So, you found your mistake, what happened next?”
“Ah! That was easy. One of the joys of ebooks and Print-on-Demand is you can make almost instant changes to the manuscript, repost it to the website and within hours the new version takes over. I went through the file on the computer, I took out all the references to ‘Jerry’ and replaced them with ‘Charles’, reposted and went to bed. The next morning, I had emails telling me the ebook was updated and later, that my paperback had been too. Job jobbed.” He scraped the last of his custard up onto a spoon and popped into his mouth. “That is my last taste of real French food. I don’t think I’ll ever persuade my wife to come back to France.”
I raised an eye at that.
“She couldn’t stand it any longer, she went back to England to sort out somewhere for us to live. I had to stay while I dealt with winding-up everything down here.”
“What happened? It sounded like you had a pretty good life here.”
“We were ostracised, dropped from society. People stopped inviting us to dinner, to barbeques, even the emails telling us where the next ex-pat lunch was stopped coming. My wife told me she was ignored and even snubbed by our former friends in the supermarket. She is a far more sociable person than me so it was very hard on her.”
Our coffee arrived, he paused while I paid the bill. “This is on me, call it a leaving present. Did you find out what had caused your fall from favour?”
“Yes, my wife eventually trapped one of the other women and forced it out of her.”
“And?” We were both toying with our spoons in the coffee saucers.
“It was the book. My wife had tired of me evading questions about my writing. She had passed a copy of my book onto one of the other women at the lunch club. They had read it a few weeks after that, then passed it on, in anger. My wife, unaware of that grievous error, had introduced a ‘first edition’ copy of my book into circulation. Eventually, they all agreed that what I had written, was if slanderous, not only about Jerry, but the characters that they imagined were other people in the group. Mind you, I think that it says more about how they see each other than anything I would have put on paper. In the end, the book got to Jerry and the rest is, as they say, history.”
We both picked up our cups and toasted each other with the bitter taste of coffee. We both stood up, I went to buy another bottle of water for my onward journey. The writer headed for the door. By the time I’d paid and stepped out into the solar furnace, he had gone. I strapped the bottle of water to my luggage pannier. A quick check of the tyres and brakes and I was ready to go. I clipped my helmet straps together, then looked up at the road that lay ahead as the Proprietor emerged from the kitchen door carrying a bundle of ready meal cartons to the bin.
“Au revoir, Monsiuer.” he called as he stuffed the frozen chip and heat and serve Confit de Canard packages into the overflowing trash receptacle.
“C’est triste!” I gestured towards the bin with the bike wheel. I was bitterly disappointed to see another bit of French culture going down the chute.
“Oui, Puis, il raconte la même histoire tous les midis!” With a gallic shrug he turns back to the kitchen. I point the bike up the road and start to peddle in the blistering heat.
I’d gone about a kilometre up the road when I started to unravel that parting comment from the Proprietor. I’d caught the bit about the same story every lunchtime and accepted that. ‘Puis, il raconte …’
Finally, I got it. “Then, he tells the same story every lunchtime.” The cunning old scroat!
Two new publications for November in the Year of the Great Plague .
The first new book to get published is brand new tale about Melody, the NBL.
Problems in the Pyrenees
Publishing 1st November 2020
Melody is on an early summer holiday on the Mediterranean coast of France, when she gets a call from her ‘Head of Research’. They have a new set of problems to solve, just a few kilometers away in the foothills of the Pyrenees.
Generous with her time, the generously proportioned Problem Solver swings into action.
The other November publication is an old favourite.
The Uncovered Policeman: The Whole Story
Rags, The Uncovered Policeman finally gets the collection treatment, all twelve (Yes! 12) of the mainline stories from the Uncovered Policeman (the original novella) through to A New Home in the Sun in a single paperback volume.
There wasn’t room in the binding for the short stories!
even so, the collection turns out to be quite a tome; 330 000 words, 655 A4 pages and weighing in at almost 2kg.
All for little more than the price of the series in Kindle e-book format!
The Whole Story joins The Uncovered Policeman: Secret Casebooks in November, in time for Christmas. Sadly it wont be available in the Bookstore because the shipping costs are outrageous.