My big take away from writing this particular post is that if you are to focused on a particular life plan, you can miss out on opportunities that you don’t appreciate for what they are due to being single minded. Sally is a person who has grabbed opportunities and her life has been a great adventure of ups and downs. It provides for very interesting reading and my favourite of Sally’s wonderful books is Just an Odd Job Girl which depicts a woman who was adventurous and had a lot of great jobs prior to marrying and having a family. After her husband divorces her, she rediscovers the job of living.
My review of Just an Odd Job Girl
Imogen has been rejected by her husband of 20 years. She discovers that he has been having an affair, that the woman has become pregnant and that he wants a divorce all in one go. It is devastating to Imogen who has devoted her life to building her home, raising her children and being a good wife and mother. Somehow, along the way, Imogen seems to have lost all her vitality and spunk and changed into another, less vivid, version of herself. Although she knows this, Imogen struggles to overcome her depression and feelings of inadequacy until she makes a impulsive decision to go for an interview with a placement agency for older women and find herself a job.
The man who interviews Imogen is interested in her and her past jobs and life. He spends time talking to her and draws her out of the shell she has crawled into. As Imogen starts to remember her previous challenges and triumphs in her jobs as a younger person, her resilient character and determination start to resurface. Imogen embarks on a wonderful make-over and shares her numerous entertaining jobs with the reader. They range from a young girl selling trinkets on the beach, to the resourceful manageress of a steakhouse and lastly, to the manageress of a hotel in Cornwall [which I have not been to but which sounded quite rural and remote to me and the thought of arriving on my own at such a place, by train and late in the evening, gave me the shivers], with many other interesting experiences in between. Things in Imogen’s varied roles don’t always go smoothly and her mishaps and slightly reckless decisions will have you howling with laughter.
I really enjoyed this book and reading all about the various odd jobs Imogen had in her youth. The ending is very satisfying and leaves you with a very happy and uplifted feeling.
I have enjoyed reading the poems and stories contributed for Dan’s Thursday Doors Writing Challenge. It occurred to me during the course of this week, that there are a lot of passages in my book, Through the Nethergate, that lend themselves to certain pictures. I decided to share some of these passages with a door I think is a good fit. This is just a bit of fun for me as I didn’t write these pieces specifically for the challenge, obviously. I have spent the last two weeks working on a short story about the Battle of Isandlwana that was the inaugural battle of the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879.
They entered the hall together, just in time to see the elevator doors hiss shut behind the last of Hugh Bigod’s henchmen. Henry could see that the button for the penthouse was lit up.
Henry guided Lizzie towards a door with a picture of a flight of stairs above it. He opened the door and a wave of hot air hit them. The narrow stairwell was like an oven. It was also unlit. “I’ll go first,” said Henry, “you follow right behind me, Lizzie. Stay close.”
The door swung shut behind them as they started up the steep stairs. The light was instantly cut off and they moved in complete darkness. Terrible sounds filled the blackness, sobbing and howling, as the pair forged their way upwards.
They climbed and climbed, passing doors opening onto different levels. Henry opened one and they peered into another vast hall. It looked exactly the same as the one on the bottom floor, except for a half a dozen glass-walled meeting rooms.
A group of people were seated in the closest room. A man who Henry recognised as Josef Mangele, nicknamed the Angel of Death, was writing on a whiteboard.
Henry had been fascinated by World War Two and had listened to numerous conversations among visitors to the Inn about this topic during and after the actual event. During the war, he had also avidly read any newspapers he could get his hands on about how it was progressing for Britain. The Nuremberg Trials, held for the purpose of bringing Nazi war criminals to justice after the war ended, had provided him with a lot of information about the ex-Nazi souls he could see in the glass-walled room.
Josef Mangele was a physician at the German concentration camp, Auschwitz, during World War Two. A wicked man who was part of the team of doctors responsible for deciding which arriving inmates would be sent to the gas chambers. He also performed deadly experiments on prisoners. In the room with Josef Mangele was another well-known Nazi, Reinhard Heydrich.
Reinhard Heydrich was responsible for the Holocaust involving the deportation and genocide of millions of Jewish people in German-occupied Europe during the war. It was not a surprise to find him here.
Henry shuddered. The number of ghosts in Europe had increased during World War Two. A violent and early death often led people to turn away from the White Light at the time of their deaths and end up trapped in the Overworld. Once a dying person made their initial decision to turn away from the White Light it was very difficult to escape the Overworld. These souls, like his own, ended up trapped in this no-man’s land, unable to be allocated to either Heaven or the Underworld and tied to a specific site for all of eternity. There was only one way to escape the Overworld and that was for a ghost to perform a service of such significance to either God or Lucifer that the guardians of the Overworld could motivate a reallocation of the ghost to either the White Light or to the Underworld.
It was summer and the garden of the cottage was green and lush. Her parents were looking for a new house for their family. Margaret was an active child and a garden would be lovely for her to run about and play in.
But Margaret refused to go inside the cottage. No amount of coaxing and begging by either parent made any difference; she would not set foot in that house.
“This is the fourth house we’ve looked at today and Margaret must be tired and bored. Look, the garden is fenced and quite safe and there’s no pond, pool or other running water. Let’s leave her outside for the short period of time it’ll take for us to have a quick look around the cottage,” her father said.
Left to her own devices, Margaret wandered across the manicured lawn towards a flower bed in the furthest corner of the garden. The dense, thick green foliage overflowing the flowerbed attracted her. The red berries on the largest bush and white, mauve and dark purple flowers of the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow bush interested her. She saw the other little girl just to the side of the red-berries bush. She was pretty with carefully combed blonde ringlets hanging down her back, held in place with a pale pink ribbon. She wore a knee-length dress with a lace collar, white socks and polished ankle boots. A white cotton apron that went over her shoulders, covered her dress and she had a bonnet on her head.
“Hello,” said Margaret.
The other girl smiled, showing perfect, pearly teeth and greeted Margaret in return.
“I’m Helen,” the pretty girl said. “I am pleased to meet you. I have been terribly lonely here in the garden by myself. I haven’t had any company since 1918.”
“Why not?” asked Margaret.
A troubled look crossed Helen’s face.
“That is when I died of the new Spanish influenza,” Helen said. “My mom died too, but she didn’t stay in the garden.”
“What is influenza?” Margaret asked, the conversation puzzled her.
“It is a terrible illness. Mom and I woke up in the morning feeling fine. We got sick with headaches, fever and fatigue very quickly and I was dead by tea time. I went blue.” Helen seemed proud of her accelerated and unusual death.
Helen and Margaret walked around the garden. Helen pointed out her favourite flowers to Margaret.
A short while later, Margaret’s parents emerged from the cottage. Margaret rushed over to them, planning to introduce them to her friend. When she turned back, Helen was gone. Despite Margaret’s calls, she did not reappear.
A few days later, Margaret started singing a most strange rhyme: I had a little bird, Its name was Enza, I opened the window, And in-flu-enza.
Margaret’s mother questioned her about the song and Margaret explained that Helen had taught her the words; they had sung it together as they wandered around the garden of the “looked at” cottage.
Margaret understood that her mother was upset about her friend, Helen. Her parents didn’t buy that cottage; they looked for another house on the other side of the town. Her mother asked her not to sing the rhyme again and the subject was closed.
I accidently reblogged this post on my other blog, Robbie’s Inspiration. It is supposed to be under my Roberta Writes adult writing banner so I am posting it here too. There are some interesting videos featuring traditional Zulu music and dancing and my rendition of a traditional Zulu story. Apologies to readers who follow me on both blogs.
This month, I will be sharing information about Zulu beadwork and the messages contained therein as well as a traditional story.
The Zulu people of South Africa have a rich tradition of beadwork. Originally, bone, small horns, shells and small pieces of polished wood and stone were pierced to make beads that were strung together as necklaces and belts.
When the Zulus started trading with the Europeans at the end of the 18th century, glass and ceramic beads were introduced into their beadwork.
Traditionally, both men and women wore beaded belts called umutsha to which a piece of cloth was attached to cover the pubic area. The belts have conical brass buttons that fasten the belt at both ends.
The colours and designs incorporated into Zulu beadwork hold specific meanings. Red beads, for example, signifies intense and jealous passion or eyes that are red from watching for a loved one to return. Yellow signifies contentment, pink or green for poverty or coolness, white for faithfulness and purity and black to indicate a desire to be married.
Thank you to Kaye Lynne Booth for featuring me for her Ask the Authors 2022 Book & Blog Series: Plot/Storyline.
Welcome back to the “Ask the Authors 2022” Saturday blog series.
If you missed them, you can catch the first two segments here:
Segment 1 – Introductions for Kaye Lynne Booth & Kevin Killany/Writing Life Q & A
Segment 2: Introduction for Bobby Nash/Pre-Writing Rituals Q & A
This is the third segment for this series and today I’m going to introduce you to contributing author, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, who shares her essay about her own publishing journey in the book, and bring you a Q & A on plot, or storyline, from the WordCrafter writing reference anthology, Ask the Authors 2022.
Meet Roberta Eaton Cheadle
Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a writer of young adult and adult fiction in the supernatural fantasy, historical horror, and historical supernatural genres. Under the name Robbie Cheadle, she is a South African children’s author, publishing the Sir Chocolate series with her son, Michael, and a poet with 2 published poetry books.
To date, Roberta has published two novels, Through the Nethergate, and A Ghost and His Gold, along with several short stories in various anthologies including Whispers of the Past, Spirits of the West, and Where Spirits Linger, all edited and compiled by Kaye Lynne Booth, and Dark Visions, Nightmareland, Spellbound, Wings & Fire, and Shadowland, all compiled by Dan Alatorre.
Robbie is also a member of the Writing to be Read blogging team and co-editor of Poetry Treasures (2021) and Poetry Treasures 2: Relationships (2022), two poetry anthologies with contributing authors who were guests from her “Treasuring Poetry” blog series. When she is not writing, Robbie enjoys working in the garden and creating fondant and cake artworks to be featured in her children’s books.
And now for the Q & A.
How do you feel about prologues? Love them or hate them? Why?
Mario Acevedo: I’m not a fan of prologues and as I see them as superfluous to the story. If you must include a prologue, then call it Chapter One to make sure readers like me won’t flip past it.
Paul Kane: I have no strong feelings about them either way. Sometimes I’ve used them, other times I’ve gone straight into Chapter One. I know some writers who say if you can avoid Prologues then do it and just start with the first chapter, but I think if it serves a purpose then there’s a place for one. I tend to include them in the thrillers, because it’s always an event that kicks things off – so for example in Her Last Secret, it’s the death of Jordan Radcliffe, in Her Husband’s Grave it’s the discovery of a body on Golden Sands beach, and in The Family Lie it’s a couple of campers who see a man on fire in the woods. I then split the narrative into parts, and in Chapter One I tend to introduce the main protagonist, so it might be the person who’ll be doing the investigating; someone whose eyes we’ll be seeing most of the events in the book through.
Welcome to Thursday Doors, a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).
In 2005, the old Goods Shed at the defunct Beestekraal Stasie (the old railway station near the town of Beestekraal near Brits) was converted into a restaurant. A number of little businesses sprang up around the restaurant comprising of arts and crafts shops and a small market. Terence and I visited this unique restaurant for lunch while we were in the area a few weeks ago. The boys had elected to stay behind at the lodge.
The décor is simple and yet effective and we both had an excellent peri-peri steak roll and chips meal.
The times board in the picture above has some jokes: Gatvol means Fed up, Anderkant means Other side, and Soontoe means That way (all in Afrikaans).
On our way out of the game reserve, we saw a giraffe right on the edge of the road. I got a few excellent pictures:
A collection of the author’s previously published pulp horror novellas, gathered for the first time in a single volume, Undead features three macabre tales of blood, terror and the living dead. In the first story, Exuma, a convicted seventeenth century heretic is shipwrecked along with his galley slave companions on a mysterious Caribbean island, where worse things than the surviving guards haunt the shadows. The second, The Worm at the Feast, is a darkly comedic, Gothic account of the life and misdeeds of an eighteenth century alchemist, who is also by turns a murderer, grave robber, bandit and necromancer. The final tale of historical horror, Temple of the Hyena, follows the exploits of a crew of deserters from Napoleon Bonaparte’s army in Egypt, lured into the deep desert by an ancient treasure map that promises riches beyond their dreams of avarice.
I reviewed this book in my capacity as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team. If you would like your book reviewed, you can contact Rosie Amber here: http://rosieamber.wordpress.com/.
This book comprises of three unique and interesting horror novellas. I must emphasis that these stories are horror and there is violence and some dramatically gruesome and bloody scenes but they were not out of context and suited the content and historical timing of the stories. Often real life historical events included in a story are far more frightening than the paranormal or supernatural elements.
The first story is set in 1666 in the harbour city of Cartagena under Spanish rule. The Spanish inquisition is in full swing and the hero of the story, De Castro, and his brother, fall victim to the Inquisitor and suffer terrible horrors in the dungeons before and after their trial. De Castro is sentenced to work as a galley slave for an indefinite period. He manages to form some strong friendships amongst his contemporaries and when they are ship wrecked, they assist each to the safety of an island. This is where the story moves away from being a historical novella to a supernatural horror story. The events that unfold are interesting and unique and I really enjoyed this tale.
The second story reminded me a little of The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells as it also has a young main character with a medical background. In both stories the protagonist becomes obsessed with researching a specific scientific possibility and becomes dehumanized and wicked as a result. This story also has a strong historical basis and features an interesting 18th century medical student setting with a thread about robbing graves for cadavers for experimentation purposes. It also has an alternating Dracula’s castle type setting which makes for an interesting contrast. Again, this story took an unexpected twist when it moved into the realm of the supernatural. I found this story engaging and different.
The last story is set during Napoleon’s siege of the Ottoman city of Acre which was a turning point in the French invasion of Egypt and Syria. The main character is an army doctor, Jean-Francois, who is engaged in saving the lives of men who are being slaughtered as a result of Napoleon’s foolish military decisions. He has become disillusioned as a result. When the army retreats back to Cairo after their defeat at Acre, he discovers that his fiancé in France is terminally ill. He makes a decision to desert the army and return to his homeland. A few of his colleagues decide to accompany him and they make plans for their escape. They are distracted by a rumor of treasure in a tomb some days journey from Cairo and decide to investigate. This sets them on a path of bizarre and frightening events as they uncover the supernatural elements that underpin the rumor.
All three of these stories were well written, interesting, and unusual. I would have given this book 5 stars if it didn’t have a number of spelling and other grammatical and punctuation errors. These did not, however, overly distract me from the enthralling stories.
Welcome to Thursday Doors, a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time). You can join in here: https://nofacilities.com/2022/05/12/other-cheney-structures/
During our recent short stay at the Ukutula Conservation Centre, we visited the elephant sanctuary in Hartbeespoort which offers an interactive elephant experience as well as overnight accommodation.
The entrance and ground floor of the Lodge is rather spectacular.
The four elephants at the sanctuary are older animals. This is the largest male. He is 3,5 metres high.
We spent some time with two of the elephants and were able to feed one, walk with two and pet two. It was interesting to be so close to these huge animals and we were continuously reminded by the guide that they are not tame, they are trained and must be treated with respect.
I took a few videos of our elephant experience which you can view here:
Dan is also running a writing challenge for the month of May. He has posted a selection of interesting doors and the challenge is to write a short story or poem about it.
I recently had a podcast discussion with Dan Alatorre. Dan is a USA Today bestselling author who has published more than 50 titles and is read in over a dozen languages around the world.
I have contributed short stories to a number of anthologies compiled and edited by Dan Alatorre including Dark Visions, Nightmareland, Spellbound, Shadowland, and Wings & Fire and I have learned a huge amount through working with him.
If you would like to listen to our discussion on a variety of topics including travel, interests, baking, and writing, you can do so here:
Extract from my short story Death Is About Choices which features in Spellbound
The drought was devastating the land.
“It’s terribly dry. The maize kernels are shrivelling on the stalks and the ground is cracked and parched.” The messenger shook with fear as he imparted this information to the Sapa Inca. The emperor was known to lash out in rage at the bearers of bad news.
The emperor’s main advisor, the High Priest of the capital city of Cusco, addressed the deity. “The mountain gods are angry and need to be appeased before they will send rain and restore life to our crops. A Capacocha ceremony is necessary. You must advise the chiefs to bring their sacrificial offerings to the city at once and I will arrange their distribution throughout the empire. I will lead the ceremony at which the purest and most beautiful children will be offered.”
The feathers on the Sapa Inca’s golden headdress swayed as he nodded agreement. A single ray of sunlight shot through the room, reflecting off the golden threads of his heavily embroidered clothing and surrounding him with a golden haze.
“The gods approve.” The High Priest’s face broke into a huge smile.
Juanita was not the first child, nor would she be the last, to have made this great journey from Cusco to the base of the high mountain selected by the High Priest, as the most appropriate shrine for his Capacocha ceremony.
The arrival of the ceremonial procession at the site, where the base camp would be established, was met with relief. The location at the foot of the mountain had everything the participants and the builders needed, including water, food, and access to a stone quarry.
Exhaustion was evident in the stiff and pain-filled movements of the older members of the party after travelling for many days. The High Priest had set a moderate pace to accommodate the slower moving among the accompanying priests and worshipers, but it had still fatigued them.
The journey from Cusco to the selected shrine was long and arduous. Tradition dictated that the travellers not follow the easier royal road, but rather take a direct overland route, following a straight ‘as the crow flies’ path from Cusco to their targeted camp site. The group had forged rivers inhabited by shocking electric eels and flesh-eating piranhas. Low, wet swamps greeted them, infested with the highly toxic poison dart frogs, mosquitoes, and powerful green anacondas. They struggled to pass over high mountainous terrain.
Juanita had enjoyed the monotony of the travelling routine after all the pomp and ceremony of her time in Cusco. As each day blended into the next with dreary regularity, she focused on controlling her fear.
What happens to you after you die? Will I really continue to exist as a deity, achieving divine status as a direct link between my people and the gods? Or will I just stop? Will the universe simply carry on without me as if I never existed at all? If only I knew the answers.
Dying along the journey did not frighten her. Such a death might be better than what lay in store for her and the two other children selected for sacrifice, Anku and Palla, at the end of their journey.
At least the end would be quick. Instead, I am one of the living dead with the stamp of sacrifice upon me.
The glimpses of brightly-coloured birds she caught among the palm trees and her sightings of herds of gentle Alpacas on the highland plateaus soothed her agitated soul.
The birds and animals live such peaceful lives. They don’t have to wrestle with the meaning of life and the prospect of an early death. It would be so much easier to be a bird. They can fly away from danger. It must be wonderful to have wings and be so free.
A few weeks before their arrival at the camp, the procession had passed through Juanita’s home village where, in accordance with tradition, her family had joined them. The families of Anku and Palla were already among the travellers, the procession having passed through their villages earlier in the journey.
Her father was the chief of her home village. He and her mother were incredibly proud that Juanita had been chosen for sacrifice by the Sapa Inca.
“Your sacrifice to the mountain gods will ensure a tie between your father, as chief of our village, and the Emperor. It will also bestow an elevated status on our family and our descendants. We are greatly honoured by your selection and you will be forever immortalised through your sacrifice.” Her mother’s expression of exalted wonder didn’t have the desired effect on her twelve-year old daughter.
“Your perfect beauty has been recognized.” Her mother tried another avenue of persuasion. “You are entirely unblemished and beautiful to look at or you would not have been a viable subject for selection.”
Juanita would not be coaxed into expressing gratitude or joy at her situation. She, along with two other children of equal purity, had been chosen to die.
It’s easy for her, she’s not the one whose been chosen to die. She will continue to enjoy the warmth of the sun on her face and the wind in her hair. I’m the one who is expected to be joyous about giving up everything I love.
Two of her brothers were among the worshipers, and she was comforted by their presence—although, being younger than her, she was not as close to them as she had been to her older brothers, Tupaq and Mallku.
Brushing tears from her eyes, she thought of their tragic deaths. Just a few short months before, she’d left the village to travel to Cusco to meet the Sapa Inca and attend the feast held in her honour. The victims of a hunting accident, her brothers’ mummified bodies now lay side-by-side in an underground tomb.
I wish they were here to support me through this awful time. Sometimes I think I see their faces among the people in the procession, but when I try to approach them, they disappear.
Three years ago, before she had been selected for child sacrifice, she had overheard Tupaq and Mallku discussing the practice. It was late one evening, when their parents were away attending a ritual where several animals would be sacrificed. Her brothers thought she was asleep.
“I am worried about Juanita. She is too perfect, too beautiful. She is the perfect subject for selection by the bloodthirsty priests,” Tupaq said.
“I agree and I am also worried, Tupaq,” Mallku’s, deep voice rumbled, “but there is nothing we can do to help her if she is chosen.”
A few months later, their predication had come true and Juanita had been chosen. During the months between her selection and her journey to Cusco, she had been fed an elite diet of maize and meat.
Fattening me up for the kill, she’d thought miserably. They wouldn’t want to insult the gods by sacrificing an inferior product.
Nothing could stand between her and her destiny. Following the deaths of her beloved brothers, she grew unable to eat. She became thin and pale. Her frailty had attracted the attention of the local priest who had told her to start eating again or he would order the arrest of her family and younger brothers. Juanita had obeyed.
I am a contributor to Ask the Authors 2022, a writing reference anthology published by WordCrafter Press. Kaye Lynne Booth has shared a few extracts of discussions on selected topical questions about writing and publishing from the book, including some of my comments.
Welcome to Writing to be Read, where we’re celebrating the release of Ask the Authors 2022, the writing reference anthology that features essays by ten wonderful authors who have agreed to share their writing wisdom with us, along with an extensive Q & A, divided by topics. Contributing authors are myself – Kaye Lynne Booth, Bobby Nash, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, Chris Barili, L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright, Nancy Oswald, Mario Acevedo, Jeff Bowles, Mark Leslie Lefebvre, Paul Kane, and Kevin Killiany.
“Ask the Authors is an up-to-date and broad-based compendium of advice from today’s working writers, to help you with understanding your own writing career. Great information!”
—Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of Spine of the Dragon
Every Saturday, this blog series will introduce you to one contributing author and share a portion of the Q & A session. Today you will…
Welcome to Thursday Doors, a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time). You can join in here: https://nofacilities.com/2022/05/05/cheney-brothers-houses/
Last week, I told you about our visit to the Ukutula Conservation Centre and I shared some pictures from the lodge and a few of the rescue animals. Today, I am sharing pictures of our visit to the research centre and watching lions from a small deck in the middle of the veld.
We passed through this protective gate and entered Lion World.
First, we visited the cubs:
Meet the lion cubs here:
Meet the dads. You don’t want to be up close to the moms – they are the hunters.
Have you ever seen a lion swimming?
You can watch one here:
Have you ever seen a lion in a tree?
You can watch one here:
I wrote another 99-syllable animal poem. It has absolutely nothing to do with lions.
Handbags and shoes
Stagnant, muddy water Obscures it’s presence Are those rocks? Look closer; see the baleful eyes Unmoving it wallows Waiting patiently
Thirst overwhelming sense Monkey bounds forward A single snapping crunch; the crocodile sinks Its prize will slowly rot beneath the surface
An unnatural hunter Squeezes the trigger Deadly gun terminates the cycle of life The man smiles toothily He sees bags and shoes