It’s Cover Reveal Time! Shelf Life by Rob Gregson

A long awaited work by my author friend, Greg

Mirror World Publishing

Rob Gregson is a new addition to the Mirror World family and we are ever so pleased to bring you his comedic fantasy/literary mashup, Shelf Life: The Book of Better Endings.

This book has it all: action, adventure, comedy, other worlds! And it’s another one of those books that really encompasses what we’re all about here at Mirror World. It’s a wacky adventure through the realms of literature that is both funny and thought provoking. And it all starts with bookseller, Cathy Finn.

Young bookseller Cathy Finn is having a bad day. First, there’s the assassin’s bullet. Then comes the realisation that she’s been living in a work of fiction. Worse, she wasn’t even the main character.

Cathy’s quiet, bit-part life may be over, but her troubles are only beginning. Her last day on Earth is also her first as a citizen of New Tybet. For over four hundred…

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A Crime Writer? Who? Me??

When I started writing in 2010, I did what many of us do, I drew on my personal experiences in life and came up with The Sixpenny Tiger, which was about a little boy abused by his step-mother. I set the book in Hereford, which is where I’d worked in a children’s home in the late 1960s.

Hereford wasn’t my first home; I was born and raised in Cromer, on the Norfolk coast, so I wanted to write a book set there and so my novella, Bell of Warning came into being. There followed Rosa and the Castell Glas Trilogy – The Hiraeth, Bronwen’s Revenge and Yr Aberth (The Sacrifice) – all of which were sort of ghostly but in different ways. And then I wrote Aunt Bea’s Legacy, which was a kind of mystery/romance, again with just a wee touch of a ghost, in the form of the departed Aunt Bea.

Well, that was okay. Having had some paranormal experiences in my life, it was almost inevitable that I’d write such stuff, although I never delved into the downright scary – with the possible exception of Bronwen – now she was a very nasty, murderous ghost!

What I didn’t bargain for, because I’d intended Aunt Bea’s Legacy to be a one-off, was for a story to come through me so quickly that I was astounded at how fast I wrote it – in less than a handful of weeks! It was By the Gate, a story of a seventy year old murder that came to light because a farmer dug a hole in the edge of a field because a fence fell over in a gale. It involved the community of Sutton-on-Wye where Lucy had come to live in Aunt Bea’s house – and the field belonged to her! So, the detectives that featured fairly lightly in Aunt Bea’s Legacy suddenly had front stage as they investigated this very old mystery. Oh my! I did enjoy writing it and loved the research I had to do for it. But it meant that my story of Lucy and her aunt’s house had suddenly become the first of a series – and a crime series no less!

After By the Gate, came Fear Has Long Fingers – and boy! That was, I think, my crowning glory! I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to write something better. It took me by surprise – and that of my readers. When I started to write, I never dreamed I’d end up writing crime – not ‘crime thrillers’, for I’m told that mine are ‘cosy crime’, which is a daft concept to my mind, for crime is never ‘cosy’, is it? But that’s what it has to be, for although I have detectives on the cases, my stories aren’t hard thrillers, although they certainly have a dark twist which mar the peacefulness of the Herefordshire village of Sutton-on-Wye.

Now I’m writing book four of the series; it involves murder and a runaway boy. I’m not sure it will be as riveting as Fear Has Long Fingers, but I’ll do my best.

In the meantime, if I think too much about what I’m writing, I clap my hand on my head and say to myself ‘me, a writer of crime? I must be crazy!’ But of course, all writers know that we have to be a little crazy or we wouldn’t be writers…

Lynn Miclea – “Window to the Future”

A short write with a touch of mystery and truth

Writers Unite!

Welcome toWrite the Story!Each monthWriters Unite!will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone.WU!wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms.Pleasecheck out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!

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“Window to the Future”

by Lynn Miclea

Aliya brushed the hair out of her face as she walked up the grassy incline. She had wanted to climb to the top of the hill in her neighborhood and see the view for months now. Her breathing heavy and ragged from exertion, she was finally here. A shiver of anticipation ran through her as she neared the crest.


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The Other Side of Mothers Day


Today, in the United Kingdom, it was Mothering Sunday, or Mothers’ Day, as it is now referred to. I’m happy to say that I was thoroughly spoiled by my own five children, who gathered here in our home with their own children, to bring me gifts and cards but more importantly, to spend time together as our family. How blessed I am and I know it.

I turned on Facebook and of course it is full of my friends paying tribute to their own mothers, still living or passed on. Indeed, I posted a couple of photos of my own dear departed mum. My thoughts turned back to my childhood and life with parents who never had that much but always gave me and my sister all the love and protection that parents should and I had a happy childhood, secure in the knowledge that they loved me.

This week, however, I’ve had much cause for reflection. Our eldest daughter, Joanne, is a mature student at Derby University, studying Criminology. Because my husband, Tony, has worked in a Secure Unit (a prison for young offenders under adult prison age) and has also been a prison chaplain for our church, visiting regularly four prisons in our area for ten years, he was invited to give a presentation to the students on Joanne’s course. I went along with him at his request and I was very proud of how well he did. Of course, being a teacher of long standing, he is a natural and immediately had the young people engaged and kept them so until the end. I knew he had much more he could have shared with them, had time allowed, after all, hadn’t I spent hours listening to him after his visits, telling me about some of the heart-rending stories of the prisoners he’d visited? Not of the crimes they’d committed, but of the treatment they had received at the hand of our so-called justice system and the way they were still suffering, basically because no one cared; many who should have been freed years ago but the system continually failed them. (Apart from the unfairness to the prisoners, but also keeping a person in prison costs the taxpayers a lot of money – so stupid when they actually don’t need to be there.)

One point Tony was trying to make was that the greatest majority of these men, and the children in the secure unit, had all had similar starts in life; broken homes, put ‘in care’ by the system, no one who really cared about them, drugs given to them at an early age by the very people who should have been protecting them, and also being led into prostitution and other drug-related crimes. Many have learning difficulties or have simply never had a proper education. He spoke of one nine year old girl in the secure unit, who had been sold into prostitution to feed the drug habit of her mother. Totally shocking, and yet this kind of thing goes on all the time, and with children much younger even than that girl.

Since I’ve been a user of Facebook, I’ve come to ‘know’ quite a few people who have had less than happy upbringings for various reasons. I know that alcoholism and abuse has been prevalent. I personally know people who have had very bad backgrounds involving things that I could never have imagined in my childhood. Years ago, I worked in a children’s home and although we loved the children there during my time, there is no doubt that some of the home’s residents did not have good experiences in the care system, some being passed from one foster home to another and some went home again to face life with an abusive step-parent. These are common stories I know – sad, but true.

I would imagine that ‘Mothers’ Day’ means something quite different to so many. They have no cause for celebration; recalling their childhood means experiencing pain and heartbreak. And yet, many still think of the mother they had and in spite of everything, there is still some love, some longing, for something they could have had but never did. It is those people I’m writing for today. I know I’ve barely touched the surface, can never really know the suffering of a painful childhood, but I want them to know that I think of them in sympathy and admire those who have been strong enough to overcome their terrible starts in life in order to become good mothers and fathers today, bringing up their own children in a way they never experienced, in love, security and the protection they deserve. These people are today’s true heroes.

My Review of ‘Future Confronted’ by Louise Rule

I bought this book at least a year ago. Frankly, I was avoiding reading it because I felt it was going to be a traumatic experience, knowing it to be a true story. This weekend, however, I took the bull by the horns and decided to go for it. I thought it would be hard to read but actually it was very easy. The author wrote it in a style that made you feel that she was talking to you personally, as if sitting in the same room, sharing a pot of tea.

I have always said that it would be the most terrible thing if one of my children died before me but I am fortunate indeed that all of my children are still alive; as yet I have not had that experience. It’s hard to know exactly the anguish that Dave and Louise Rule went through, seeing their beloved son die the way he did; as a mother, I can understand some. Louise tells their story in such a way that it’s almost dispassionate but we can feel that this is not a woman who will scream and shout and make everyone know her pain. One felt for her desperately that she didn’t get the help that she so needed when she finally saw the bereavement counsellor – what point is a counsellor like that? The reader is also confused and angry at their consultation with the registrar.

Somehow, I managed to read most of it dry-eyed, except one bit had me in tears. I shed them because I felt Rob’s trauma, his realisation, and Louise’s pain. Very moving. I was reading this book at a time when I was myself ill and it left me thankful that my illness was nothing. I knew I would get well; Rob didn’t.

At the end of the book, Louise talks about organ donation and her investigations into skin donation, something she had never heard of and neither had I. A very worthwhile book and I wished I’d read it sooner.


Moving Experiences – Or Not…

From time to time I write my memories of my childhood living in Norfolk. I call these my ‘Norfolk Reflections’. Here is the latest:

Moving Experiences (or Not)

We have just been away in our caravan. Compared to our first caravan, or even our second, this one is the lap of luxury for us. This is because it has a bathroom, with a sink, shower and a working loo, something we never had with the other vans. However, the loo, which all caravanners of this age will know, is a chemical one that has to be emptied periodically down a ‘grey waste’ place on the site. To lessen the number of times hubby has to do this, we always use the on-site facilities, at least during the day. Our little one in the van is for in the night and emergency use only. Emergencies such as when the site one is closed for cleaning and your body insists you have to ‘go’.

As I was walking back from the site loos yesterday, my mind suddenly cast itself back to when I was a child. We lived in a house that had no bathroom. Baths were taken in a tin bath brought into the kitchen and filled with hot water from a free-standing boiler with a tap in it. This was also used on Mondays for the washing (the boiler, not the bath). To go to the loo, we went outside to the door next to our back door. Hence our expression ‘the back door trots’ when one got diarrhoea.

From that, which was at least a proper loo that flushed by pulling a chain, (I still say, have you pulled the chain’ when I mean, ‘have you flushed the loo?’ Fortunately, even the younger members of my family know what I mean) my thoughts wandered onto the Silks’ Farm in Southrepps. My sister, Cheryl, was friends with their daughter, Audrey Silk, and we sometimes got invited to pay them a visit. This was absolutely fine; the farm was an interesting place to be and Audrey’s parents were very nice to us and always gave us a fine tea.

The drawback was the loo. To use it, this involved going across the garden and walking carefully through a narrow path, with nettles waiting to attack your legs. When you reached the toilet, a very glamorous name for what was essentially a small shack, inside there was a wooden seat with a hole on which you were required to sit to do your business. It wasn’t a flushing loo like the one we had at home, but was simply a bucket or something under the wooden seat. I had no idea where the body waste went to after it had been expelled. What I did know was it stank to high heaven. Cheryl and I both hated it. Even when the Silks later had a bathroom put into the house, they still required us to use the outside one. With the inevitable result that Cheryl and I tried to avoid going at all costs and would ‘hold it’ all the hours we were there until we got home and then it was a toss-up who would get into the toilet first! Being younger and smaller, I usually had to wait. Sometimes our next-door neighbour would let me use hers if I was desperate.

I have a vague notion that Mrs Silk did once take pity upon me and allowed me to use the inside one, but the memory of the Stinking Shack has overridden every other memory of being on their farm.

Another abomination in my world of toilets was the ones that were at Cromer Junior School. In an outside toilet block, they were the prime place for disgusting girls who liked to write rude things on walls and doors, and even worse, those who took a delight in stuffing a whole roll of Izal loo paper piece by piece down the loo, bunging it up so that, when flushed, the water would flow over the top, bringing any solid bits of body waste with it – ew! I was exceedingly grateful that I went home for lunch, which meant I didn’t have to ‘hold it’ all day, because there was absolutely no way I was going to use those terrible facilities.

Just a little word about Izal; who remembers that appalling stuff? What was the point of it? It was non-absorbent, so it did nothing but spread the wetness around. Mum used to hold both ends of the pieces and rub them together vigorously to make it softer, in the hope of inducing it to do a better job. It was far more useful as tracing paper; us kids felt it would be better employed in the classroom than in the loos. Thank heaven for Mr Andrex, whoever he is.

Combine these memories with Coeliac Disease and you will understand why I have a toilet fetish. I cannot stand to be somewhere without a toilet nearby. Just a few days ago we went to a lovely beach, smooth sands, few people, calm seas, blue skies. Was I completely happy? No. Why? Because I knew that the toilet block that had once serviced that beach was now closed and boarded up. Okay, so I was able to stay on the beach for a few hours but in the end I insisted we had to go because I couldn’t trust my body any longer. Even after all these years, hubby doesn’t really understand this insecurity. He sort of does, but not completely. I always end up feeling like a baddie because I’ve dragged him away from a lovely place because I can’t stand the thought of not being able to ‘go’ when I need to.

Oh! I’ve just remembered another appalling but amusing toilet incident. Years ago, when my oldest two children were small, we went to stay with my friend Diana in her very nice flat in Plymouth. One day, she said, would I like to visit a friend of hers who lived just over the county border into Cornwall? She warned me that the house wouldn’t be very nice; her friend and the husband were very poor but had managed to buy a house that was pretty much a shell and didn’t even have proper floors in it as yet. That was fine, so we went. The house wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d imagined and all went well until I needed to ‘go’. There were some public toilets on the opposite side of their road but they were shut by that time, so I was directed to the garage, with the rather strange instructions: ‘Mike is in there working on a car, just sing, so he knows you’re there.’

In the garage, Mike looked up as I went in and pointed me to what looked like a sheet of corrugated iron standing on one end. I walked around it and found the ‘convenience’, which was in fact, a bucket, surrounded by three sheets of corrugated iron, forming three ‘walls’. The thing that concerned me most was the fact it was open at the front, and if anyone walked around it, they would see me on the bucket in all my glory, underwear and trousers around my ankles! I knew that Mike knew I was there, which was good because I really didn’t feel like singing. I took my courage in both hands and sat down. Well, no matter how long I sat there, I just couldn’t go. The knowledge that I was exposed, that Mike was in the garage not far away from me and the fear of making a smell, rendered me completely incapable of using these luxurious facilities. In the end, I gave up and exited the garage, waving to Mike on the way out and rejoined everyone else in the house. There my memory ends, for I can’t remember if I coped or not until we got back to Diana’s. Perhaps it was so bad that it’s been wiped from my brain, but I’ll never forget that Bucket in the Garage. I fervently hoped that they did manage to get a bathroom in their house and that their children were never tainted by a loo fetish like mine.

Since I developed more aggressive symptoms of Coeliac, there were many times when poor hubby has driven all over the place to find me a loo when we’ve been out and I’ve ‘been’ in all sorts of unlikely places; the most recent being in a toilet in a gay bar after having just eaten in the House of Commons dining room (which I was assured was perfectly safe for me) but something went drastically wrong so Jeanette spent some considerable time in that loo, being completely unaware where I actually was but grateful to be there, while my friends, one man and several women, had to sit around a table drinking and waiting for me. No doubt a man with a harem of women were somewhat out of place in a gay bar full of men!

At least I can never say that I haven’t had some moving experiences in some interesting places…