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.

Much love!IMG_2287

Start of a new teaching term – feeling all fresh and shiny!

This summer has been filled with lots of great things, none of which have been very disciplined! Time to get a regular writing schedule, exercise schedule and healthy eating plan. I’ll start after this next gin.

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Seriously though, I keep seeing that quote everywhere – the one that says if you always do the same things, you’ll always get the same results. Stuff like that normally annoys me, but there is a valid point here. I definitely need to make some changes!

If you’re planning to get organised too – good luck! Check back here occasionally and hold me to account please 🙂

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

Powering a Planet!

One of the most enjoyable aspects of creating Eshla was deciding what was going to make the world tick! This type of creative writing is quite unique to fantasy/sci-fi writing and I wanted to take full advantage of it.

Firstly, it was important that Eshla was sustainable. I didn’t see it as a smoky industrial world, but I didn’t want something that felt medieval either. The challenge was; how can I create a technologically advanced civilisation without destroying its natural resources? The answer was to create a kingdom where the humans worked alongside the flora, utilising their natural resources in a way that didn’t destroy or over-use them. Here are some of the special plants that Eric came across:

Ignis – The leaves of the Ignis plant, when pulverised, create a tremendous heat which is carried around rooms by pipes under the floor and blasted out into the air via the trumpet. The crushing process releases pollen which is pushed up and out of the castle via the main duct. The wind catches it and carries it back to Jarmuthe where it takes seed and grows more Ignis.

Goleuni flowers – They give off a strong golden glow that can be used in the same way as an electric light

Hedfan – Little blue flowers that are always trying to fly away, unless cold air is blasted on them, in which case they close. These were used by the inventor Drake Owren to power flying ships

Buwun – Legend has it the Buwun tree was the first plant on Eshla. They grow mainly in Cedwigod and supply light and energy throughout the forest region, via luminous green tendrils which stretch out for miles.

Cufithum – A plant with pollen that has a direct impact on a person’s auditory senses, enabling them to hear whatever language is being spoken, translated into their own tongue.

Gats stones – Possibly the most important natural resource on Eshla, thanks to the Bradwar family. Gats is used to stop evil tyrants from controlling people’s minds with Bel-Arayba stones.  It is created when you smelt down Bel-Arayba and mix it with Meddul soil. This scrambles the mind-controlling Mennif rays and makes them completely useless.

Kussgull – A flower which grows in Jarmuthe. In powder form, it sends people to sleep almost instantly for at least eight hours. Great for sneak attacks!

A Busgot – A large see through leaf used in fishing. You hold it in the water and when you see a fish swim under the leaf, pull hard on the stem. The Busgot curls up and traps the fish which you can then pull out.

Gwella – A fantastic healing plant, which sends the patient to sleep while their wounds heal.

There are a lot more plants and natural resources on Eshla to discover – you’ll have to read the books to learn about them all!

Jarmuthe

Reviewers urgently needed! 

It’s an eternal problem for authors – how to get people to review your books! Most people just don’t realise what a difference it makes. 

Now I have three books out, it’s even harder – if I want someone to review book three, I’m asking them to read three whole novels! I have 17 reviews for The Lost Heirs, 4 for The Second Stone and none yet for The King’s Chamber. 

So, if anyone out there would be willing to read and post reviews for the trilogy, I’ll love you forever 😁 

I can send the books in a pdf format, or send an Amazon gift card so you can buy the kindle edition, or even post you a paperback copy if you prefer?

Thanks! From a struggling author xx 

 

And time marches on…

It’s been an amazing year – in the last twelve months I’ve hit the ‘publish now’ button three times… and the series is complete!

The Eshla Adventures were supposed to be for my son – just four when I began the first book – but lack of confidence stopped me from finishing that book for twelve years! I don’t know what changed, but I’m, glad it did; writing Eric’s adventures in Eshla have seen me through a difficult year career wise and shown me what I really want to do with my life.

The next project is already well underway – a cosy (or cozy for US readers) murder mystery set in the 1920’s – but meantime, here are the links to the Eshla Adventures. If you would be willing to read them and write a review, please get in touch through the contact form and I will send a copy.

Many thanks x

Book 1 – The Lost Heirs

The adventures begin, as Eric Grayson – an ordinary fourteen year old schoolboy – discovers Eshla and begins a quest to help Prince Joel rescue his trapped brothers. Things get complicated when the villain who imprisoned them turns out to be closer to home than Eric expected, and the location of the missing key is lost in time!

Armed with friendship, bravery and a fluffy blue alien creature from Eshla, Eric rises to the challenge!

The Lost Heirs US – Link: http://amzn.com/B00NJX2DQY

The Lost Heirs UK – Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00NJX2DQY

Book 2 – The Second Stone

In the second installment, the quest continues with Eric, Corbin, Rose and Lydia trying to release the next prince from the Bel-Arayba Cave. The four friends have some tough decisions to make while looking for the second stone in 1842, and things are getting pretty tricky in their own time too, as Lowick Bradwar, masquerading as their head teacher, steps up his plans to get back to Eshla.

Meanwhile in Eshla itself, things are far from peaceful, as the malicious Galed continues her campaign against the Arwain family.

The Second Stone US – Link: http://amzn.com/B00TDR1YRE

The Second Stone UK – Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00TDR1YRE

Book 3 – The King’s Chamber

Time is running out for Eric and his friends to release the lost heirs of Eshla! With the final prince, and true King of Eshla, still trapped within his icy blue chamber, the lost stone must be found before Lowick Bradwar can return to wreak havoc.

Eric, Corbin, Rose and Lydia (and not forgetting Espog) find themselves mingling with Jane Austen’s polite society in 1795, whilst desperately hunting for the missing key. As they get caught up in the lives of people from the past, the four find themselves beginning to consider their own options, and how Eshla has changed their futures forever.

The King’s Chamber US – Link: http://amzn.com/B00XUO0XGE

The King’s Chamber UK – Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00XUO0XGE

theend

Mailing list?

I have a quick question for any other indie authors out there: do you keep a list of email addresses for people interested in your book? I keep reading articles that mention the importance of having a mailing list, but how do you develop such a list? And don’t people mind if you keep sending them emails?!

As ever, I’d appreciate any feedback. Thanks!

three books