Of Mice and Men – how we all wish it had ended.

Having just taught Of Mice and Men for twentieth-ish time since I began teaching, I could bear the trauma no more. I’m not suggesting this is how Steinbeck should have ended it – because that would make his whole message pointless – it is just how I wish it had ended for George and Lennie and all the others. I haven’t proof read either, so forgive any typos – I just needed to exorcise my OMAM demons!

For all the traumatised students out there, I give you:

Of Mice and Men – The Optimist’s Ending 

 

George wiped his forehead with an old towel and looked around the kitchen. A slow but steady grin spread across his face. Old Candy had a rich stew bubbling gently on the stove, the chickens were fed and fresh pail of creamy milk stood in the corner. Crooks, having finished his chores was sitting in the shade of an old cherry blossom just talking and talking and talking, while Candy sat beside him carefully listening and occasionally nodding off. Lennie was in the rabbit run again, lifting one rabbit after another and holding them against his cheek.

‘Gently, Lennie,’ George called over, more out of habit than anything else.

‘I… I’m being gentle George. I’m being real gentle!’ Lennie placed a white and brown rabbit back by the hutch as if it were made of the thinnest glass. His hand hovered just above the fur in an impression of stroking. George chuckled and stretched contentedly.

Before he could sit, there was a sudden noise. Someone banging on the door. Lennie, Candy and Crooks turned six eyes to George in surprise.

‘We ain’t expecting no-one today,’ Candy said, raising his bushy eyebrows.

George sighed, ‘Guess I’ll get it then.’

He opened the door just as Slim was raising his hand to knock again.

‘Slim!’

‘Well hey George, thought I’d call in and see how you guys are getting on.’

‘Come in… come in and see for yourself. Candy, Crooks, Lennie… look who it is!’ George waved Slim through the farm house, delighted to see his old friend again. Slim’s steady brown eyes took in the cosy front room with four armchairs arranged by the fireplace; the kitchen with its huge wooden table and welcoming warmth; through to the garden with peach trees and orange trees, a duck pond and brood of chickens; and the three happy faces of Candy, Crooks and Lennie, all too delighted to show him where they belonged.

‘Okay, okay, give the guy his arm back!’ George laughed as the others shook Slim by the hand eager to point out their own favourite parts of paradise. ‘Here Slim, set down here and I’ll fetch you a slug of whisky’. George placed two chairs in the shade of the tree and he and Slim sat and took a drink in companionable silence.

‘Well this is really something.’ Slim gazed around appreciatively before turning to look at George. ‘You don’t know where there’s another little place like this do you?’

‘’You serious? Happens I do.’ Slim turned to see if George meant it.

‘Our neighbours up the valley a little. They’re selling up and moving North to live with their daughter. I wondered if we could get it ourselves, it’s so close, but we don’t got no need for more land. This here is perfect. Why are you asking Slim? You got a stake together?’

‘Sure have. I met a girl some months back in town. Sweetest thing you ever seen and clever too. Reads all the time, can set an’ talk about real stuff, you know?’ George nodded, although he wasn’t too sure himself. ‘Anyway, she’s got a little bit of money come to her and I’ve been saving my wages. We got enough between us to swing it. She don’t want no big, fancy wedding or party. She just wants us to have our own place.’

George nodded with more conviction. ‘Congratulations Slim, she does sound pretty swell.’

‘Yeah I got lucky alright. Life on the ranch hasn’t been much fun since you guys left. You know Curley’s wife up and left him?’

‘What a tart!’ Candy mumbled as he shuffled past to refill his glass.

‘Well, I don’t know Candy. Selina was alright. Just made a few bad choices.’ Slim’s comments fell on deaf ears as the old man kept shaking his head.

‘Selina?’ George asked.

‘Sure. That was her name. Now she’s Selina the Silver Songbird! Turned out she had a great voice and the next time the travelling show came through, Selina threw a few things in a bag and stole out at night. She ran after that show and sang for the manager there and then. He loved her! She’s top billing. Curley’s so mad, you can’t even imagine!’

George exploded with laughter. ‘Oh I can Slim, I sure can,’ he managed at last. ‘I suppose show folk don’t care if she’s married, single or what. As long as she’s pretty and can hold a tune folk’ll pay to see her. They don’t live by the same rules that the rest of society do.’

Slim nodded sagely. ‘You got it George. She escaped when she saw her chance. I think seeing you four fellas make a go of this place made her even more determined. Now old Curley stomps around the ranch like a bear with a sore head. He’s so angry he’s going to make himself sick.’

‘How’s his hand?’ George asked, a shadow flickered briefly across his face as he remembered a darker time.

‘Pretty useless,’ Slim replied, ‘like its owner but his Father’s planning on retiring soon and leaving Curley in charge, so I guess he’ll feel better when he’s the big boss.’

‘You need to get out before that happens,’ George commented.

The two men shared a nod of agreement. ‘I’ll go speak with your neighbours on my way back,’ Slim confirmed.

‘You’ll stay for a bite to eat first though? There’s plenty.’

‘I will George thanks, it smells mighty tempting,’ Slim settled back comfortably in the garden chair.

‘Yeah, old Candy said he could cook and he wasn’t lying!’

George looked out over the farm. Lennie chuckled as rabbit fur tickled his nose and Crooks snored gently in the peace of the moment. The only other sound was Candy humming happily to himself in the kitchen. The setting sun sent a golden glow over the farm and bathed everything in shades of apricot and peach. And life was good.

 

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So, there you go – a tongue-in-cheek, how-I-wish-it-had-ended version. Hope it made you smile and helped to deal with the scars of English lessons past 🙂

And may all your dreams come true!

Another school year

Over year since my last post and I haven’t really changed much! Another house move managed to grind us down a bit. It wasn’t our choice. Tenants have little to no rights in the UK – estate agents can smile and nod and say it’s long term, then bang! Twelve months later the landlord wants to sell and you’re packing boxes again. Just the way it is.

Anyway, the first book of the new murder mystery series is nearly finished so it’s not all bad! The new school year is under way and it’s all go. Will try to update more often.

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Time flies!

Well, I seem to be averaging two blogs a year at the moment! Not brilliant for a writer. In my defense, we have moved THREE times this year and I’m mindbogglingly shattered. Still, I am writing – plowing on regardless – but it’s slow process. I’m still working through book 1 of the murder mystery series and trying to find new ways to promote the trilogy. If anyone fancies reading and reviewing any of the Eshla books, please let me know. I’m happy to send a free mobi file, for use on kindles, or a pdf.

It hasn’t all been hard work though – got in a few good days at the beach (with best friend in picture below) and an amazing 12 hours on the flying Scotsman in vintage luxury (strictly for historical research you understand!).

A quick update…

November since my last blog! That’s shocking. I’m in one of those tunnels of time where days and weeks don’t seem to behave like they’re supposed to. Another house move, a new job for my husband and a battle against disability discrimination with the Department for Work and Pensions (!), and here I am six months older but still writing!

Murder mystery writing, it turns out, is much slower than fantasy. With fantasy, solutions can be dreamed up from the depths of your imagination. With mysteries they have to be real and believable – the clues, just subtle enough not to give the game away but obvious enough to the reader when the truth is revealed. Add in the need for historical accuracy and I find myself triple checking every line!

In short, the first draft is going slowly. But it is still going and that, I keep telling myself, is what matters!

Here’s a picture of my desk. Just to prove I’m still working!

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I’m back! New job, new country, new hair colour, new writing project…

It’s been a long and fairly difficult, but also exciting, Summer. I haven’t blogged in ages but I’m back in front of a keyboard once again!

So first, the new family member…

IMG_9533 This is Daisy – I think the expression on her face says it all!

Then the short, dark hair (we won’t mention all the extra pounds, ahem)…

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The new country is Wales! I’ve wanted to live here for years – Land of my Mam and my lovey grandparents.

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But I had no idea how hard it would be to move 200 miles! With a four month hop into rented accomodation in Middleton, after selling my house, I felt as if my whole personality was packed into a cardboard box for most of the summer.

The new job is fantastic, and very exciting. I’m a virtual teacher now for a company called Academy21. They offer schooling for students who cannot access mainstream schools for whatever reason (like my son, with ME). It’s got me really excited to teach again.

Finally, I’m about to start writing my new novel, having researched the life out of the 1920’s! Inspired by my Gran’s antics in London as a housemaid, I am re-imagining her as a Lady’s maid turned sleuth! Much more on this in the following months. Meanwhile, meet my new protaganist (also my real life Gran!), Megan Jones…

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Meanwhile, if anyone out there would be interested in reviewing my children’s books – The Eshla Trilogy – please let me know. I’m happy to send Amazon vouchers to download them on Kindle, or send a pdf if you prefer! Thanks x

Fingers crossed!

Well, over 900 people downloaded my book from Amazon on the day it was free! 15 more people have bought it since. I’m pretty chuffed with that 😁 Now I just need to keep my fingers crossed that some of them like it!

Marketing books is a minefield. There are so many companies offering to ‘tweet thousands of followers’ on your behalf, for $10 – $60. I’m not convinced mass contact works though. I think the best approach has to be targeted. Once the second book is out I’m going to be experimenting with Bookbub and a few others who target readers Interested in your specific genre. Please comment if you’ve found anything that works well for you!

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http://amzn.com/B00NJX2DQY

FREE TODAY!

Grab a bargain! The first book in the Eshla series is free for today only.

A five star Amazon rated, middle grade/YA steampunk, fantasy, adventure!

How do you find a key that’s hidden in history itself? How do you defeat an evil tyrant, if he’s your own headmaster? How do four modern teenagers blend in to a 1920’s British boarding school?

Eshla is a steampunk, fantasy world of flying machines, mechanical contraptions and gleaming copper pipes, divided into four diverse regions and struggling to deal with its past. Whilst Eric Grayson is an ordinary fourteen year old school boy, oblivious to the dangerous adventure waiting for him at the bottom of the school field.

The incredible request made of Eric sends him, his three close friends, and a fluffy blue sausage-loving creature from Eshla, go searching through time on a mission of mercy.

Do you love to read about time travelling, science fiction quests and mysterious new worlds? ‘The Lost Heirs’ will keep you on the edge of your seat.

A five star Amazon.com reviewer wrote: “Her writing reminded me of Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia and even Dr. Seuss”

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http://amzn.com/B00NJX2DQY

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00NJX2DQY

Book recommendation

The Land of Dragor: Book 1: The Gift of Charms (Land of Dragor 1) https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1782199241/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_no8Uub0Z63PM5

A great start to an epic new series.
The Land of Dragor: the gift of charms by Julia Suzuki far surpassed my expectations.
It follows the story of Yoshiko, a baby dragon born to the Nephan clan. Yoshiko’s parents just want to be like any other normal dragon, but as he grows, Yoshiko himself becomes aware that he is special. He must decide whether to seek out his destiny – breaking the rules when necessary, or keep his head down and try to get through fire school without being bullied!
This is the first book about dragons I have ever read and I was surprised at how easy it was to feel connected to the the lives of these creatures. Julia Suzuki has created a fascinating world with instantly recognisable personalities that the reader quickly comes to care about. I found it hard to put the book down and, instead of reading it slowly over a week, ended up losing a big chunk of my weekend!
I recommend this to a much wider readership than just fans of fantasy – it has a strong ‘coming of age’ feel to it and explores relationships too – and believe it will be enjoyed by all age groups.
I’m looking forward to the sequel. 😁

Cress in Waterbee

Another fantastic book by an independent author – those agents and publishers are really missing out! Here’s my review for Amazon and Goodreads:

It’s quite hard not to go over the top when reviewing ‘Cress in Waterbee’ by Joye Johnson. As an English teacher with a literature degree I’ve read a lot of the classics, and this felt from the start like it was in the same category.
Born in America in the days of segregation, Cress – with her dark skin and pale eyes – was never going to have an easy time. It falls to her equally unconventional guardian to carve out a life for them both in the small town of Waterbee. They settle there with a supporting cast of terrible people, terribly kind people and some who are a bit of both. The plot carries you through the seasons of Cress’ life till you almost feel responsible for her yourself!
This story is original and stirring – I can’t remember the last time I was so desperate for two fictional characters to thrive and succeed.
Well written with clever twists and heartfelt descriptions, this is a novel to laugh and cry with and should certainly be around for generations to come.
Now, I have to return to a far more mundane world and wait patiently for the sequel, ‘Cress on the Bay’.

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If you are an indie author and would like to read and review my book in exchange for me doing the same, please get in touch!

Buy ‘Cress in Waterbee’ here.

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Goodreads

Today I have discovered Goodreads- yet another promotional tool available to independent authors! Thanks to Reece Evhans (author of The Seeker Series) who first mentioned it.
It took me a while to figure out how to get my book on there, and it threw me when they asked me to review it! But I eventually realised that you link yourself to the book when you join their author program. I’ve just applied now and am awaiting approval.
Has anyone else used the Goodreads promotional tools to market their work? And if so, did any have particularly good results?