Carrot Ranch #FlashFiction ‘My Mother’s Cottage’ #99Words #SundayBlogShare

This post was written in response to Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch’s weekly #99 word Flash Fiction Challenge. This week’s prompt is to write a story about variations in property values. Check out other entries or take part yourself!

My Mother’s Cottage

I wished I hadn’t inherited the beautiful, but run down cottage from my eccentric yet inspirational mother. I’d have preferred to hear her reading extracts from her bestselling novels, but she finally succumbed to a long illness and donated everything else to Cancer Relief.   

It didn’t feel right to sell her home, but I couldn’t afford the maintenance, until I met Jason, who contacted me on Facebook. He was the first to offer to pay for spending a few hours in my mother’s study.  

Now we’re married, the cottage is fully booked for years and the value has tripled.

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Exterior view of the Emily Dickinson Museum with Dickinson’s bedroom visible on the second floor.CreditGreg Miller for The New York Times

We all enjoy visiting an author’s House-Museum with all the other visitors and tourists, but what would it be like to spend a week, a day, or even an hour alone, in the same room where one of your favourite writers penned their novels? Imagine sitting on Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, Daphne du Maurier, or Ruth Rendell’s chair, at their desk, in their study. Would it be inspirational, scary, or life changing?

I visited Emily Dickinson’s homestead in Amherst, on several occasions, the last one in 2007. It’s a beautiful house with a delightful garden. I peeked into her bedroom, where she cut herself off from the rest of the world writing her cryptic poems, rarely leaving its confines. Much has been written about her mental frailty, some scholars have suggested the possibility of agoraphobia.

The Dickinson Homestead was certainly atmospheric, and I can imagine that time alone, in her room, would prove inspiring, and it’s now possible to rent her room for private visits, by the hour.

I recently came across an article about Emily Dickinson’s Museum in the NYT by a reporter who had paid for the privilege of spending an hour, alone in her room. The idea of such a possibility inspired this week’s flash fiction.

If you are interested in ghost stories or paranormal events, the reporter narrates a very spooky experience in Miss Dickinson’s bedroom. Follow this link to read more about it.    

Emily Dickinson’s bedroom in the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, Mass., with a replica of one of her famous white dresses.CreditGreg Miller for The New York Times

Which author’s house-museum’s have you visited?

Which is your favourite?

Would you enjoy spending time there alone?

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This week I asked my older grandson to colour a picture of a cottage, while I wrote a story about one.

#Writephoto ‘The Letter’ #FlashFiction #100Words

This 100-word Flash Fiction was written in response to Sue Vincent’s weekly photo prompt.

The Letter

‘Your Grace,’ said the maid, curtseying. ‘A letter.’

The Duchess snatched the envelope.

‘Anything else, Your Grace?’

Amelia waved her hand towards the door. ‘Leave.’

She read the letter, smiled and watched it blacken, shrivel and slip between the large oak logs in the fireplace.

We must be careful.

That night, stepping into the tree tunnel to meet the man she loved, she shivered as she remembered the place, six months earlier, where she had kissed her groom, the elderly Duke of Highcliff.

A branch snapped.   

‘Amelia, you’re just on time,’ said the Duke, pointing his gun at her young valet.

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writephoto

Every week, Sue posts one of her pictures as a prompt for inspiration in whatever form we choose. Use the image to create your own post and link back to Sue’s post.

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#FridayFictioneers ‘The Ransom’ #FlashFiction #100words

It’s Friday, time for another Friday Fictioneers Flash Fiction story featuring Alice Pendragon and her family!

Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting the challenge, and to Courtney Wright. for submitting the photo prompt by a photographer who prefers to remain anonymous.

The Ransom

Alice! Are you alright?’
Alice held her throbbing cheek, too dazed to speak, and heard her father’s distorted voice coming from the kidnapper’s phone.
‘Her pretty face is still in one piece, for now, Kevin’ he said.
‘What do you want from me?’
‘My boss just wants to see his girlfriend.’
Clara shook her head and put her finger to her lips.
‘Clara drowned. It was on the news.’
The man laughed. ‘We found the pair of worn shoes by the cliff, but we know she faked her death.’
Kevin watched Clara wipe her tears.
‘My boss wants his money back.’

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To be continued…

My ‘Alice’ flash fiction written for the Friday Fictioneers Challenge can be read as standalones, but if you’re interested in reading previous stories of Alice’s adventures, here they are!

A quick recap of the two previous episodes: Alice and her mother, Marsha, caught Kevin on a date with another woman. When Alice confronted her father, she discovered the woman was her father’s half-sister, Clara, who was in serious trouble. Last week Alice was kidnapped, and this week the kidnappers have made their demands.

Follow my blog so you won’t miss next week’s episode!

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#TuesdayBookBlog ‘The Cellar’ by Minette Walters #BookReviews #AmReading #Audible

I became a fan of Minette Walters in the nineties, after reading her first novel, The Ice House (1992), I also r

ead The Sculptress, The Scold’s Bridal and many more.

I didn’t write reviews at that time, but I loved her carefully crafted crime thrillers, the way the characters came to life, the unexpected twists, and how there was also a hint of romance. If you haven’t read them yet, and enjoy detective fiction, check them out.

I hadn’t read any of her novels in over a decade, and when I came across The Cellar, published in 2015, I decided to read what she was writing almost 23 years after her first novel.

Blurb

The terrifying Hammer novella by Minette Walters, bestselling author of The Sculptress and The Scold’s Bridle

Muna’s bedroom is a dark windowless cellar and her activities are confined to cooking and cleaning. She’s grown used to being maltreated by the Songoli family; to being a slave.

She’s never been outside, doesn’t know how to read or write, and cannot speak English.

At least that’s what the Songolis believe.

But Muna is far cleverer – and her plans more terrifying – than the Songolis, or anyone else, can ever imagine …     

My review

The Cellar is not a long novel, at about 250 pages, but I wouldn’t call it a novella. I didn’t feel I was reading a short story or brief account. It’s a fully fleshed novel from start to finish.

Although crimes are committed in this novel, and the perpetrator is unknown until the final part, I did find it very different to her original crime novels, whose main interest was solving a crime. The Cellar is not concerned with how the detectives discover the culprit or how this person is brought to justice and equilibrium is restored. The Cellar points a finger at all of us, because it is concerned with why and how events occurred and no one even cares enough to take notice.

The Cellar is an extremely dark, psychological thriller, bordering on horror. At the same time, it’s a  contemporary account of cultural misunderstandings and the challenges of immigration on both immigrants and the receiving country. It also deals with sensitive topics such as sexual and emotional abuse, domestic abuse, parenting, corruption in our legal system and psychological illness.

Ultimately, it raises more questions than it answers, about our welfare state, our consciences, and how we protect the children living in our modern western countries, independently of their country of origin.

It’s not an easy read due to the subject matter and because there’s no one to root for in the long-term; main and secondary characters were all unlikable, uncaring, inefficient, unstable or downright evil.

And yet, it’s a terrific novel. I was totally immersed in Muna’s dreadful world. I’m glad Minette Walters disturbed me enough to make me think and rethink about the complex and controversial issues the novel brings up.

I listened to the audio version, which was brilliantly read, right to the chilling ending.

Buy Links Minette Walters novels US

Buy Links Minette Walters novels UK

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Minette Walters has recently published a historical novel set in the 14th century, The Last Hours, which I’ve just Downloaded onto my kindle, and is currently bestseller on Amazon UK.

Buy link The Dark Hours 

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Have you read any of Minette Walters’ novels?

#Writephoto ‘Fallen Lovers’ #Tanka

This Tanka was written in response to Sue Vincent’s weekly photo prompt.

Fallen Lovers

Light dances on rocks,

Fallen in shady forest.

Lovers turned to stone,

Trapped in eternal prison.

Summer breeze sings their lament.

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writephoto

Every week, Sue posts one of her pictures as a prompt for inspiration in whatever form we choose. Use the image to create your own post and link back to Sue’s post.

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