My recent post on Indie Book Banter – thanks guys. x
I was sitting in the garden, chilling after a long walk and wondering what to write next.
I probably should have started book three in my ‘Aliens’ series. Ideas were swirling round in my head but nothing tangible yet. I saw movement on the ground and looked down. An army of ants were going about their business. Some headed in my direction. As one neared my foot I lifted my thumb to squish it, then hesitated as I had a fleeting thought. Looking up to the sky I wondered if anyone up there was poised to ruin the day or life of an innocent human who had taken a wrong turn, or perhaps found themselves caught up in one drama or another.
This got me thinking about death, religion, the afterlife and the eternal battle of good versus evil. I left the garden and started writing straight away. And the ant? He or she lived to fight another day. Not so the many others who pushed their luck and moved into the house shortly after. No mercy was shown to this lot.
My Afterlife series is about the eternal fight of good against evil. I wanted the good guys to win but it wasn’t always easy and that doesn’t reflect real life, unfortunately. I believe in reincarnation and have always liked the idea of Karma with the hope that we reap what we sow. When some of my baddies got their just desserts it was important that they felt the pain they’d inflicted on their victims. My overactive imagination was a great help in this process. I spent some time wondering what would be really horrible but plausible (to my story) and took it from there.
When you’re dealing with the afterlife, heaven, hell or whatever you like to call it, almost anything is possible.
In this series, when there is absolutely no doubt, the really bad souls are taken to the dark, merciless world of cruelty and demons. They either serve their masters or are subjected to pain for the amusement of the demons – sometimes both. When their masters tire of them, they are returned to earth in various guises to suffer extreme levels of humiliation, pain and degradation. If they’re lucky, those in charge may return these souls to earth as humans, to carry out their evil.
This is why the innocent suffer.
Where there is doubt, the final destination isn’t so simple.
That’s the situation in which Claire finds herself and more about this next time.
Over the moon to be the winner of Ultimate Fantasy Books Best Book Cover Contest 2017. The fantastic cover was designed by the multi-talented Jessica Bell. Big thanks to my friends, and friends of friends, for getting me through to the final.
My ‘Beyond Death’ blog tour runs from 22 May to 2 June. Click here Beyond Death Blog Tour to discover more or here Headtalker Beyond Death Book Tour to support the tour. Let me know if you have any questions and I hope to see you there.
Dearest People Parents,
The stress of the past few weeks finally caught up with me on Wednesday. The endless stream of visitors arriving empty handed and leaving with some of our cherished items over the past month or so has been very unsettling. But, if that wasn’t enough, seeing your cases dragged along Molly’s driveway and the hidden tears as you said your goodbyes just about finished me off. I’m not being overly dramatic when I tell you that your departure left me totally and utterly devastated. Neither Scruffy nor Molly could cheer me up as I watched Allan’s car depart. Not only were you both leaving me, but you were also taking my foster folks!
As soon as the car disappeared from sight I turned to food for comfort and ate as many treats as Molly would allow. Feeling both physically and emotionally yucky I then lay down to contemplate what was to become of me.
It seemed like an age later that Scruffy alerted me to the sound of an engine in the distance. I hoped with all my heart that you had returned to me, but alas not. Still, Allan and Deb walked in and it was great to see them both. They drove me to their home and eventually I settled in – I must admit that it took a few more treats and kind words before I started to feel anything like my old self.
And then I remembered!
I could have kicked myself. You told me a few weeks ago that we were going to live in Spain but that you were going to Victoria’s graduation first. I would follow a week later and you would meet me at the airport. With all the hassle of the last month, I totally forgot! So, as much as I’m having fun with the foster folks, I’m really looking forward to seeing you both next Wednesday. I must admit that I’m not looking forward to the flight but then I’m no different to lots of other nervous fliers. I hope you’ve arranged for the vet to give me a little something to help me sleep because unlike you Daddy Derek, I can’t have a few pints before I board. Or can I?
And talking about a little something, I’m looking forward to being spoiled rotten when I arrive in Spain – remember you said you’d make it up to me?
I’m off to do some cycling now to work off those extra calories from yesterday. Have fun at Victoria’s graduation and give her a big sloppy kiss from me.
Hasta la vista to my very favourite people parents, until next Wednesday when we all begin our new adventure. x
Hola amigos. Remember I told you last time that we’re on the move? Well, they’ve had that little chat with Kara and I and if you haven’t already guessed, we’re off to Spain next month. But before I share my thoughts on this, I just have to tell you about my latest dating experience.
I know I said I was committed to singledom after a string of dating disasters, but that changed when I received a message out of the blue from a cute-looking spaniel. What did it for me was the uniform. She said she was a major and looked so good in her little combat jacket, so I agreed to a date. She was good company but very hyper – aren’t all spaniels? She told me she worked as a sniffer dog but wouldn’t go into any details when I asked questions. How exciting! I can’t say there was a massive spark but I was seduced by the romance of a lady in uniform with such an exciting sounding job, so agreed to a second date. Anyway, the following day I received a pm from her partner for life (his words not mine). It turns out she’s actually unemployed and has never even been in the military! He says she has issues (really?). We had a bit of a blokie chat and actually got on quite well. Poor dog, he obviously adores her but I don’t think she’s any good for him. Close shave for me though.
Anyway, back to the move. Not yet sure how I feel about it but I’ve decided to go along with it. A change is as good as a rest and all that. The cat has been a bit chilled over the last few months, due to finding a couple of mates to hang out with. But she’s back to her old paranoid self since the news of the move. She doesn’t like change and now she knows we have to fly, she’s doing my head in. ‘What if we crash? What if it gets hijacked? What if I’m air sick?’ She says all this while pacing about and has taken to crossing herself with her front right paw. She also looks upwards as if waiting for some sort of heavenly intervention – I think she’s turning into a born again something or other but am not quite sure what.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly cool about being propelled into the air at 150 miles an hour or so, but having done a little research, flying still seems to be the safest way to travel (isn’t Google wonderful?) And, between you and I, I expect to be upgraded due to being just a little bit famous since starting this blog. I have tried explaining to Kara how safe flying actually is. Problem is she won’t stay still or keep quiet long enough to listen. I think I’m going to have to administer brandy or something the next time the people parents are out in the hope that this will calm her down long enough for me to allay her fears.
I’ll let you know how it all goes as soon as we have a decent connection.
The two main protagonists in Unlikely Soldiers are Michelle (nicknamed Mouse) and Guy. I mentioned in the last post that some of the things that happened to Mouse are based on my experience in the Army. Not so with Guy. I didn’t want these books to be about Allan (my husband) and I. I took advice from a good friend who’s an ex Royal Military Policeman, and lots of Guy’s life in book one is based on my friend’s own experiences.
Allan’s Scottish but Guy’s not. He’s from North Yorkshire and without giving away too much of the plot, has been brought up in a dysfunctional family by a mother who doesn’t give a damn. He’s the eldest of a number of children; his father is absent (for reasons explained in the book) and let’s just say that his mother has problems. In my early Army days in the late seventies/early eighties, I met so many people who’d had it tough as youngsters and had joined the Army as a means of escape. It’s no exaggeration to say that the Army was the making of them.
Guy does have a stabling male influence in the form of an elderly neighbour who has his own interesting past. Guy hoped to be the first in his family to leave school with a decent education but a chain of events beyond his control put paid to that. The neighbour convinces him that if he doesn’t get away from home, he could end up being a parent substitute to his siblings. As much as he loves his brothers and sisters, Guy doesn’t want this; he’s also worried that he might turn out like his father. That’s his worst nightmare so he decides to enlist.
It takes him a while to get used to the strange new Army regime, but he fits right in. His trade training is tough – remember that this is the nineteen seventies and life was very different back then. Guy learns to look after himself and to keep his mouth shut. He also encounters personal tragedy early on in his Army career, which changes his outlook on life. He’s determined to make the most of his life in the Army so tries to deny his feelings when he’s attracted to anyone.
Fate does its job and Guy and Mouse eventually meet – under testing circumstances. They both have baggage and life back in the day came with its own complications. Many women were still fighting hard for equality and some men refused to take the aspirations of career-minded women seriously.
Their Army careers are important to both Mouse and Guy, and there are also other people who could come between them.
The path of true love is seldom a smooth one, especially in the Army where the chain of command always have the final word…
I usually love Sunday mornings. The people parents are always in, instead of rushing off to work or out gallivanting like they do on weekdays. Derek might clean the pool or tidy the garden and Lilia sort the washing or potter about the house. Kara the cat usually annoys me less when they’re about which is a bonus. Sometimes I join in with the activities, others I lie around doing nothing. Whatever I’m doing, I simply enjoy just hanging with the family.
That all changed last Sunday.
I sensed something wasn’t right as soon as I opened my eyes, and my nose started twitching. Smoke! The lazy day vibe completely disappeared as Derek made a quick call to the neighbours. Their curtains were closed and I listened as he explained that a fire was heading our way!
We all did a search for Kara, to no avail. The decision was made to evacuate and it was only then that I realised I quite like the old girl. Yes I know she’s a pain and we enjoy winding each other up, but she’s our pain.
It was lovely at the beach where the people parents had their breakfast. But it was still a worry not knowing whether we and many others would have a home to return to, and whether we would discover a charcoaled cat.
Derek made some calls a little later and after a family discussion, it was decided that it was safe to return. The fire fighters, helicopter/plane pilots and some helpful civilians had done a marvellous job. The fire had been contained and as far as I’m aware, there was no serious damage to person or property. But what about the cat? I later discovered that Kara decided to have a sleep over with one of the neighbourhood toms (they’re just friends by the way, she’s not that sort of cat). She sauntered into the kitchen with not a care in the world, which is very unlike her as she’s a serial worrier.
It was a worry for all of us and I’ve taken some photos this morning to show you some of the damage. So sad looking I think you’ll agree.
I would love to say that everything’s back to normal now, but not so in our house. We’ve had more visitors than usual and some of the furniture has disappeared. I hear talk of pastures new but they haven’t sat me down yet and told me exactly what’s going on. I’ll let it ride for a bit. After last Sunday I know they wouldn’t go anywhere without me and as long as my little family is together – except Victoria who’s working in London – I really don’t mind where we live. I will miss this place and a number of people (especially Allan next door, who’s such great fun). But the world is a global village and I can always use Face Time to keep in touch.
Until next time folks, keep safe.
I thought it was going to be just another ordinary day in our home but there was more activity than normal. Something was going on but I couldn’t quite put my paw on precisely what. I nodded off while waiting for the people parents to come home from work. She took me for a walk and I assumed he was out for a pint and would return later – he’d finished his week of call out duty and was likely to be chilling in a local hostelry. Bedtime came and went and I refused to go up those wooden stairs with the lovely lady of the house, so settled on the sofa.
She sighed, gave me an affectionate pat, and off she went. Some time later I realised he wasn’t coming home. I walked up those stairs with the weight of the world in my little legs. Where was he and why hadn’t he come home?
It took a while to get off that night and when I did, I dreamt of the Wendies. For those of you who don’t know, Wendies live in the dark recesses of the planet Largo. The indigenous aliens use them to bribe and scare their offspring, much like humans do with their children. Wendies are the equivalent of the bogeyman or maybe Father Christmas (I sometimes get those two mixed up). Suffice to say that it wasn’t a pleasant dream. I’m glad I woke up before the Wendies spirited me away.
I wasn’t the only one who didn’t sleep well and she was a little short with me the following day. I forgave her though; she was obviously missing him too. I wondered when he was coming home?
The days passed slowly and I started to think he might be gone for good. I even went to his favourite place in case he’d been delayed there, but still no sign of him.
Night times were always worst when I had to resign myself to the fact that another day had passed without him and it was such an effort to walk up those stairs at the end of each day.
I always enjoy my walks but instead of the usual human accompaniment, my surrogate auntie from next door joined me and my lady. I was left to daydream as they chatted about women’s stuff – no, please don’t ask for details! We occasionally met other dogs and their human companions, and I must confess to a hint of jealousy as I watched some four-legged strangers bask in the love of the human couples they were with. These occasions were tinged with sadness and I couldn’t even be bothered to make friends with these dogs, or have a quick sniff of their nether regions.
Then yesterday I sensed a strange atmosphere. She’d been shopping so the cupboards and the fridge were replenished. There was also some recently purchased beer in the house and a new spring to her step; call me Sherlock Holmes if you will but I know she’s not the type of lady who drinks beer.
My hopes were dashed when she went out in the car when it was dark. Another social function perhaps? Could I have misread the signs? I sighed and fell asleep.
Not sure what time it was when I was woken by the door opening and something else. Yes, it was that familiar Geordie accent. He’s home! My little family is almost reunited (miss you Victoria) and all is well again in my world.
It was great while it lasted, but some things just aren’t meant to be. Pretty much from day one in our relationship I noticed that Teddy drew loads of attention. Don’t get me wrong, people love me too and I get my fair share of cuddles. But with Teddy it was different. Everywhere we went they wanted to admire or touch her. She lapped it up of course but for me, it became a little tedious.
As well as having to cope with this, a few dogs tried their luck (what a cheek!) but Teddy graciously told them that she wasn’t interested and I was her one true love. My heart swelled.
A few weeks ago we were playing ball at the dog beach. As an aside I was a little disappointed to discover that people are allowed on our beaches, but we’re not allowed on theirs. What’s that all about then? Anyway, we were approached by an older looking female Pug who introduced herself as Lola. She had the gift of the gab and it was obvious early on that she was an astute business dog. (I googled her later and was proved correct). She smothered Teddy with compliments, telling her that she was adorable and believed she would make a fab model. She told her about the glamorous life and the travel involved and I could see the faraway look in Teddy’s shining eyes, until she looked at me. Teddy smiled at me, and then turned Lola down. The shine seemed to have disappeared from her eyes and, much as I adored Teddy, I couldn’t let the opportunity of a lifetime escape her.
We had one final date the next day and as we sat holding paws and watching the magnificent sunset from the beach, we vowed to stay in touch and be friends forever. I hope she’ll remember me when she’s rich and famous.
Seeing me a bit down, my people parents decided it was time for an overnight break to take my mind off what could have been.
Off we went to Latchi to stay with some friends in a lovely villa and it was simply wonderful! The weather was sunny and we had lots of fun on long walks, fishing and just shooting the breeze. The people parents and their friends overdid it that night and while they drank and put the world to rights, I spent some time chasing the local cats. They were all a little delicate the following day – the people, not the cats – but I was as right as rain.
I got on with the new people friends, two lovely men, like a house on fire. So well in fact that I’m beginning to wonder if there’s another reason that Teddy and I weren’t right for each other.
One other pleasant surprise during the weekend was the new music. I absolutely loved the Justin Bieber vibe and am pleased to announce that I’m now a Belieber!
That’s all until next time folks. Be good.
This is going to be my last post for a while, I’ll tell you why a bit later on. But firstly, I’m back home from my holidays now. I had a marvellous time but to be honest, I’m glad to be back with my people parents and into my usual routine.
I thought the holiday would be a great opportunity to get back into shape. I’ve been a little sluggish during the winter and haven’t kept as fit as I like to, so I’ve put on a little weight. My plan was to eat salads along with my usual food, not drink very much and go for long walks every day. I’ve never been a gym bunny so long walks suit me fine. I prefer cat food to dog food – I know, let’s just say that I’m different – so a few small bowls of cat food mixed with some dry biscuits and a couple of treats during the day and I’m well happy. I don’t know if it was the trauma of my dating experiences, seeing my people parents drive away, or getting used to the new environment that made me really hungry. The idea of salads went straight out of the window once I got my nose around the delicious smells coming from the kitchen. Braised Steak in Onion Gravy? Don’t mind if I do thanks. Bit of Sunday dinner roast pork or lettuce and tomato? Hmm, let me just think about that one! I did go for walks but shorter than I intended. I haven’t quite worked out whether I’m one of those emotional eaters or if I just love my food. The bottom line is that I returned home a little bigger than when I arrived and now the hard work of getting in shape really starts.
There’s also another reason why I want to get fit. We haven’t gone public yet, but look who I’ve met.
Her name’s Teddy and I think you’ll agree that she’s absolutely gorgeous! Teddy could have any dog she wants but she’s chosen me, I’m so blessed. These days I don’t feel the need to bark at the postman or strangers, bird song seems oh so sweeter and I just can’t stop smiling. I’m loath to use the ‘L’ word due to my other dating disasters and it is early days yet. But I’ve got a good feeling about this, a really good feeling.