I’m writing this blog to share some of my writing. You’ll find stories, poems, reviews and updates on my books. I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. Do leave comments and I’ll try and reply.
This year I thought I would wish all the children who follow my site a Happy Christmas with the gift of a story. (I have actually recorded this story but wordpress want more money for me to upload the recording.) If you’d like a copy of the recording send me an email. I hope you enjoy it and wish you a happy, safe, socially distanced, hand sanitised, Christmas.
The Tamarisk Tree by Penny Luker
She stood tall and proud in a dry sandy area; not quite a desert. A small community of houses surrounded her.
Jacob loved her beauty. She provided shade during the hot months and a focus for the local people, who would often sit beneath her branches. There was not much for an eleven year old to do, so he would pick up any small twigs that she dropped and whittle away at them with his knife.
‘Thank you for your gift,’ he would always say, as he sat beneath her branches, practising his craft. He made tiny statues of people who lived nearby or characters he’d read about in books. In his way Jacob was content, although he would’ve liked more children to play with.
Matthew was a young teenager, who lived in the same village. He was angry at being stuck in what he considered to be this hell hole. The heat was oppressive. There was nothing to do and no-one of his age to hang out with. His parents worked at the observatory in the desert and he was often on his own. He watched Jacob sitting under the tree and sneered at his efforts.
‘I’ll show you how to carve something properly. I’ll be back but you’ll have to move.’
A few moments later Matthew came back with a saw and told Jacob to get out of the way.
‘You mustn’t damage the tree,’ said Jacob. ‘She provides us with shade and beauty.’
‘She provides us with shade and beauty,’ Matthew mimicked. ‘Move!’
Jacob stood back, helpless. Matthew was much bigger than he was.
He ran to his home to fetch his mother, but she was busy and told him to keep out of the way of that nasty boy.
When Jacob got back to the tree one of its beautiful branches was on the ground and Matthew was about to chop another.
‘Wait. Why not carve the branch you’ve cut before you take more from the tree? That is, if you can actually carve and not just hack branches off,’ shouted Jacob from a safe distance.
‘Of course I can carve. I’ll show you,’ and Matthew marched off in the direction of his home, with the large branch.
Jacob ran to the tree and wrapped his spindly arms around the trunk.
‘I’m so sorry I didn’t protect you,’ he cried.
He went indoors and came back to the tree with a small jar of honey and spooned a little onto the cut on the tree.
‘I don’t know if this will help but my mother always gives me some when I’m poorly,’ he said.
When Jacob’s mother came out to see what the fuss was about she was extremely angry that the tree had been mutilated and marched straight round to Matthew’s house. There she found him sweating and swearing at the wood as he tried to shape it into a statue with a large blunt knife. She left him in no doubt that she’d be speaking to his parents tonight.
Jacob sat back down under the Tamarisk tree and fell asleep in it’s shade. Soon he was wakened by Matthew.
‘I’m going to be in dead trouble with my parents because of your mother. You better make this branch into something beautiful so they think my cutting the tree was not such a bad thing. Here. Get on with it or you’re dead meat.’
‘I couldn’t do it even if I wanted to. Such a large branch would take months to carve. With my tiny pieces of wood it takes a few weeks. I’d be happy to show you how to carve a small piece, but only with wood that the tree offers you; the bits you can pick up from the ground.’
Matthew stomped off, dragging the branch behind him.
Later Jacob said to the tree, ‘I am sorry that he’s hurt you so much,’ as he went indoors for his supper.
In the morning he was outside with his mother, when he looked up and saw his beloved Tamarisk tree covered in pale orangey- pink flowers.
‘Look how beautiful the tree is!’ said Jacob. ‘I thought it might die with that damage.’
‘No, she is strong. I’m sure she’s going to be fine. Matthew might have hurt her but someone showed her kindness – with my best honey, I believe.’
Jacob looked up but his mother was smiling.
As for Matthew, his parents were indeed cross with him. They gave him the perfect punishment. He must carve a statue of the Madonna and child and work on it everyday until it is beautiful, when it will be donated to the village. He has promised he will never damage the tree again and can often be seen sitting with Jacob underneath the Tamarisk tree, learning his craft.
I invited Rebecca to tell us about her writing life and the inspirations for her work. I’m sure you’ll enjoy finding out about this amazing author.
I spend far too many hours a day at my laptop. It’s not the writing that takes the time; I rarely write more than a thousand words a day and sometimes none at all, it’s research and marketing. Once I had a published book, I had to promote it. The more books, the more time needed in marketing, and the less writing and research gets done. Such is the lot of the independent author – a jack of all trades. That said, I have control over my books and my life, which is far more important to me than writing to deadlines and travelling to book signings, etc. as I might were I a traditionally published author.
Since beginning my writing career, some fifteen years ago – quite accidentally, by the way – I’ve completed thirteen novels, ten of which have been published. The accident arose after proof-reading for a friend and my husband asking me why I didn’t have a go at writing, too. I told him I wouldn’t know where to begin. I had no ideas, and no imagination.
Tip number one. Begin at the beginning. One day, I sat down at my desk and typed Chapter One. Jem frowned and scanned the horizon with absolutely no idea where the story was going or what it was about. It evolved over a number of years into Where Hope Dares, a fantasy.
I still tend to approach a novel in the same way, though I do usually have a theme in mind. Once the characters begin to develop in my mind, they take over and write the tale for me. It’s their characters and their reactions to situations that drive the story.
Ideas – inspiration – occur quite randomly and have included TV articles and news reports, family history, two elm burr boxes, the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, the release from prison of Angela Canning, a doll sitting in the bedroom window of an empty house, and a cheese sandwich.
Tip number two. If an idea occurs to you, write it down before you forget it and let it stew for a while.
As for imagination. I really don’t have any. I write from my own experiences, regrets, loves, hates, and passions and my settings usually include places I know well. One reason I find myself writing mainly historical fiction is because there’s a thread of solid fact that runs through each story on which I can hang my characters and the plot – in fact, the historical timeline usually determines much of the plot and I enjoy working a tale within the constricts of historical accuracy.
Most of my main characters are strong women who are much braver than I am, so I can live a few fantasies about what I might have done in their situations, were I braver. But I’m not brave, so I have an understanding of the cowardice and guilt some of my characters also exhibit.
I’m a sucker for stories of social injustice and the underdog, and most of my novels explore social or criminal injustice and bigotry. The women of Auschwitz, the wrongful imprisonment of women for ‘cot deaths’ in the seventies, the women of the 1800 and 1900s who had no rights in marriage, no rights over their own bodies or children, no right to earn the same rate of pay as a man for the same job, no right to vote…
In fact, it’s impossible to write historical fiction from a woman’s point of view and not be appalled by the inequalities women have endured over the centuries, and these are grist to my mill – never more so than in my latest historical series, The Chainmakers.
This series was inspired by an article on the TV program FLOG IT! When they visited the Black Country Living Museum in the English Midlands and talked about the women chainmakers and their fight for a living wage in 1910, the term the white slaves of England made my social iniquity nose twitch, and I began researching the area and the period. I was appalled at what I unearthed.
The Chainmakers’ Daughter was born – Rosie, a ten-year-old girl in 1901, is working twelve hours a day making chain for starvation wages but is determined to better her lot and that of her family. Enter Mary Macarthur, a political activist fighting for women’s rights and Rosie is swept along on a current of industrial strife. And the story would have ended in 1910 with the end of the strike action but for a reader who wanted to know what happened to Rosie and her husband, Jack, up to and during the Great War.
I began researching again and was drawn into the fight for women’s suffrage – votes for women. Again, the inequalities women faced, and the resistance they faced from men and the struggle they had to press their cause by one inch of ground made my blood boil. Naturally, Rosie’s social conscience made her the perfect vehicle to show the truth behind the sanitised popular myth of the suffragettes – another huge eye-opener for me. And so The Chainmaker’s Wife came into existence. I am resisting book three at the moment…
I think The Chainmaker’s Wife is one of the quickest books I’ve written, probably because of being in lockdown for almost all of it, but it’s also been one of the trickiest to research – I was totally out of my comfort zone. But for finding a wonderful website http://www.Jutland1916 and contacting the site owner Gerry Costello, I would have come to a full stop. What a knowledgeable and generous man! He answered my every question, and there were many, with well-researched and detailed information that let my story unfold in the direction my characters wanted to go.
As an artist as well as an author I love designing my covers though they usually go through several versions before I settle on a ‘final’ one. I’ve also written a ‘how-to’ book on painting watercolour seascapes.
I think my books will appeal to anyone who is interested in an insight into the lives of ordinary working-class men and women and how we won the freedoms we take for granted today.
The Chainmaker’s wife is now available to pre-order for only 99p/99c at http://mybook.to/Chainmakerswife
The Chainmakers series
For Their Country’s Good Series
Non-Fiction by my alter-ego, Ruth Coulson
http://mybook.to/WatercolourSeascapes – a step-by-step guide to painting seas in watercolour.
If you like short stories, you’ll love these and there are 99 for you to enjoy. Here’s my short review.
This book is a treasure chest of well crafted short stories. Their subject matter is varied but there is a sense of justice running through a lot of the stories; it may not be conventional justice though. The characters spring to life, which is a gift in quick tales. Highly recommended to any adult reader.
Paperback is £7.99 in UK and $9.99 in US. Kindle version is £0.99 and $0.99.
Enjoy some free children’s e-books. This weekend only.
Desdemona, the dragon without any friends and Picnic in the Park are for younger children (2-5 years) Enjoy reading and discussing them with your child.
The Green Book, Tiny Tyrannosaurus and Pablo the Storytelling Bear are for older children. (5-11 years) Enjoy sharing the books with your child or they may prefer to read alone.
Reviews on Amazon and Goodreads always welcome.
The Truth Finder is a story about Earth in the fifth millennium and a young man, left on his own in a dangerous world, but he has a gift. He can read people’s minds. His gift is both a blessing and a curse as it can help him out of trouble but also put him in danger.
The ebook of The Truth Finder is free from 2 to 6 September. Why not download your copy here?
The Visualizer is a story about Earth in the fifth millennium and a young woman who is searching for her family and place in the world. She has a gift which others want to exploit, so she must keep it hidden from all, except those she can trust? But who can she trust?
The ebook of The Visualizer is free from 2 to 6 September. Why not download your copy here?
Why not check out some of my other books? I’d love to know what you think.
Here’s my author page. All my books are free on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited and many are also available in paperback.
Short stories allow us to escape from real life in those precious moments when we are not working, looking after children, running errands and doing chores.
My first book of short stories was Missing. The title story was about a child who was not cherished by her mother, but can she find happiness? The book, recently revised, has tales in many genre. The next book was Pebble on the Beach. The title story is about a family who find a way through the grief of a loved one. Other stories will take you away from reality and explore many situations. My third book is The Mermaid. The title story won third prize in a writing competition. It’s about a man who is dealing with his own problems and thinks the owner of the hotel, where he’s staying, looks like a mermaid. Is it his imagination and can she help him?
All these ebooks are going to be free on Friday 31 July to Sunday 2 August (inclusive). I’ve kept them down to $0.99/£0.99 right through the summer. In these times we all need a bit of escapism. Why not grab a copy?
All my books are free on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited and most are available in paperback.
Pebble on a Beach
Come and meet the animal friends, Petunia, Isabella, Cyril and Nathan. What did they find when they went to visit their local park? Picnic in the Park is a short story for younger children to enjoy and explores litter in our local environment.
You can find the ebook here.
It’s $0.99 on Amazon.com and £0.77 on Amazon.co.uk. Of course it’s free on Kindle Unlimited. It’s a very short story to read to a younger child.
Tom Benson is running this new website where a lot of ebooks are listed for a mere 99p or equivalent. Check it out here.
All authors submitting their titles to this site are doing so with a view to reducing the expenditure of readers during the current international pandemic; (Coronavirus) Covid 19
At present, the intention is to maintain the site and all books at 99p/99c until at least 1st July 2020. Dependent on the situation it may continue beyond that date.
Many of the 99p/99c titles on this site may be available free on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited if you are a subscriber.
This site will undergo continual amendment until the Admin feel it is user-friendly for visitors. Some titles may now be at the new price.
The books will be shown in a gallery to the left of the main page … All Titles.
Useful links and links to the author websites will be supplied on the right of the screen. Authors are also listed on the main menu.
The titles will continue to be linked to their Amazon page as we progress with the website. You may browse the books in the main All Titles list or try the individual genres.
If you are an author with the IASD and would like to become a part of this venture, please get in touch using the Contact form.
Thank you for your patience.
All my children’s ebooks are free on 28-29 March. If you’re in the middle of reading another book with your child why not download these and save them for later?
Desdemona the dragon without any friends is a charming children’s picture book to read to a younger child. Desdemona is looking for friendship and she learns that friends don’t have to look like you.
My other children’s books are chapter books. Each chapter can be read as an individual story and they make up a longer story. These are ideal for children to read themselves or to share with their favourite adult.
The Green Book is the story of Alana, who discovers a magic book. Alana has many adventures with her friends and the magic book. She learns ways to solve problems whilst having loads of fun.
Tiny Tyrannosaurus tells about Isaac’s life with a magical tiny tyrannosaurus. They have many adventures and learn about staying safe and not being greedy, among other things.
Pablo the storytelling bear is my latest children’s book and tells the stories of two polar bears. One is in captivity, but has some magical adventures and the other is free and struggles to survive. This is certainly an opportunity to help children learn about our fragile Earth and how animals can become extinct, but it is a fun book to read.
Nature’s Gold and Autumn Gold are collections of poetry on varied subject matter. Shadows of Love has LOVE as the theme but it’s not all mushy love!
These two books of short stories will entertain with quick reads.
Remember all my books are free on on Amazon’s kindle unlimited all the time.
When this offer is over all my ebooks have been reduced to 99 pence or equivalent for the next few months.
Hope you find something to enjoy.
All my books are always free on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited but if you don’t have that The Truth Finder and the sequel, The Visualizer, are free as e-books today and tomorrow.
The Truth Finder is the story of Vrail, who has a wonderful gift; the ability to read minds. But his gift is a double edged sword and puts him at risk of exploitation in an unstable world. Earth in the fifth millennium is recovering from wars that made large parts of it uninhabitable. With few people to help him, he must learn who are his friends quickly.
The Visualizer tells of Seek’s journey from exploitation to freedom and finding her way in a troubled world, where war is on the horizon. She too has a gift; the ability to change her form and her surroundings. Can she help her family and Vrail survive?