July’s Pot Luck Club

So for the second time in three months, we have five Mondays in the month. So, I offer you another helping from the Pot luck Club. This time, I’m going to give a quick update on Deception!; look forward to next month’s visit to Swanwick; and finish with another bit of flash fiction ‘wot I wrote’.

Work In Progress

As anyone who is friends with me on Facebook or follows me on Twitter can’t have failed to notice, the manuscript for Deception! flew off to the printers last week. Once again, I’m using the wonderful Hedgerow Print from Crediton. Gary, Michelle and the team always do a great job and are flexible enough to deal with any last-minute wobbles. The official launch is on 19th September, but I’m hoping to have copies available before 12th August; see below for why that date is significant.

I’m also finalising the CreateSpace version this week and setting up the ebooks for the various distribution platforms. So the ARCs will be ready to go out within the next couple of weeks. Then it’s full steam ahead with the pre-launch marketing and a count-down to the day itself. There will be a virtual party online during the day. I didn’t do one of those for Counterfeit!  but it was always a big part of launching any of the short story collections, and we had such fun with the party for Gorgito’s Ice Rinkso I thought I’d resurrect it this time around. Keep an eye out for invitations and news of competitions and give-aways coming up shortly. 

And then it’s everyone up to Chudleigh Church for the physical book launch in the evening. Last time, my book was set in Africa; I wore a zebra-patterned dress and we had African drumming and singing. This one is set in Brazil. Now where did I leave my Carnival costume?

Off To Swanwick… 

Next month sees the annual writerly jamporee that is Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. Nearly 300 writers all together in the Hayes Conference Centre from Saturday 12th to Friday 18th. There will be courses, guest speakers, quizzes, singing, dancing, fancy dress and talking – so much talking. And of course, there will be the chance to write. I always use the week as an opportunity to review the achievements of the past year and plan for the coming twelve months. For the past few years, I have also written a daily blog for those Swanwickers who for one reason or another are unable to make it. I’m hoping to do the same again this year, although it might be short of words and long on pictures this time around.

In the Swanwick Facebook group, some people are counting down the days to the start of this year’s summer school. Many of the old hands (although at only 11 years, I’m not sure I’m qualified to describe myself as such) have been counting down since Friday 12th August last year!

And Finally…Skimming Stones With Dad

The front door slams behind me with a noise that I’m sure I would find satisfying if I wasn’t so damn angry! I wrench the gate open, throw myself through and yank it closed behind me. I swear I’m never going back in that house again! The man’s just too stubborn for his own good. Always thinking he knows best.

I’m halfway down the road, and the red mist is just starting to clear, when my brain gives me something else to think about. A sharp biting feeling in the side of my heel each time I put my foot to the floor. I stop striding along, and stand on one leg, shaking the other foot and flexing my toes inside my boot. I feel something small dislodge and slide down to the front where it lies trapped by the soft leather. I try a few steps but the object lodges against my big toe and starts stabbing me once more. There’s nothing for it—I’m going to have to take the boot off and eject the foreign object before I walk any further.

I sit on the wall of Mrs Johnson’s front garden. She’s been a neighbour of ours forever and has been wonderful with Dad in the past few months, since Mum passed away. She won’t mind me sitting here.

As I unzip the boot and pull it off, I am hit with an unexpected wave of déjà vu. It’s the way the boot tilts and the stone rolls out, falling to the floor and rolling away. I suddenly see a river bank, a gently flowing current of water—and me, sitting on the side of the bank, sniffling. We’ve been skimming stones for ages, Dad and me. He’s much better than me and although he’s been patiently trying to teach me, I still can’t manage more than two hops before my stone sinks to the bottom of the water. Now it’s time to go home. As I turn away from the river, I feel a sharp stabbing pain in my toe. I cry out and sit down with a bump.

“Something bit me, Dad,” I whine;”it really hurts.” I’m such a drama queen. I blink really hard and force a lone tear down my cheek. I doubt if Dad is fooled, but he gently takes off my shoe, removes the stone, and then rubs my foot to make it better. Then he helps me put the shoe back on and holds my hand all the way home. After a while I forget to limp and the incident of the stone in the shoe is also forgotten—until now.

And then, with a rush, other memories return: Dad picking me up when I fell off my scooter; Dad stroking my hair and singing me to sleep when I’m scared of the thunder. Dad, always there, always looking after me.

I stand up and retrace my steps. I walk quietly through the gate. I open the front door and close it gently behind me.

“Dad,” I call, “it’s me. Where are you, Dad? Let’s talk about this. What can I do to help?” 

Skimming Stones With Dad was published in Flashing on the Rivieraa collection of flash fiction available to download for free. 

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