Sunday, 19 October 2014

Crowdfunding - Why?

My first novel was not exactly troubling JK on the best seller list but in my house it was a major achievement.

The problem with self-publishing is that while it is relatively easy to produce a book and make it available to the public, no one knows you have done it.

With my first novel I paid a professional to design my cover, based upon a recommendation from another author I had met through social media. This cost £65. I did look into using professional proof readers and editors by this costs between £200 and £500 and was beyond my budget.

I organised some giveaways with the cover design and some leaflets to hand out. This all cost in the region of £100. I then had to pay for proof copies of the paperback to be printed and delivered to me so I could proof it before publication.

Even without a professional editing service I spent nearly £200 getting my novel ready and trying to get the word out there that it existed. Not a huge amount of money until you consider that so far I have received less than £100 in royalties. Suddenly this hobby is starting to get expensive.

I am about to start writing my next novel as part of NaNoWriMo and wanted to give it the best chance I could, and give my readers the best experience I could. That's why I have considered crowd funding.

I am using indiegogo and they have been very easy to use. You set up your page explaining why you are trying to raise money and set your target. I originally was going to set my target at £65, enough for a professional cover. The minimum target is £500. Enough for a cover and a really good editing service. I then came up with the idea of asking all my twitter followers (5,000) for 10p. surely no one would mind giving me 10p. Unfortunately the minimum donation is £1. I worked on the theory £1 is still a fairly small amount and that hopefully I could find 500 people who would willingly give me £1.
Part of the idea of crowd funding is to offer perks to your contributors. I have set up a number of perks for people who would like to offer more than £1. These range from a signed copy of the book to being a character in the book.
The final thing to decide is whether to go for flexible or fixed funding. Fixed means you only get the money once you have reached your target, whilst flexible means you get the money as you go along and get to keep it even if you don't hit your target. The down side of this is that the fees on the flexible option are higher. I didn't need the full £500 so I chose this option.

So everything was set up and all I had to do was sit back and wait for the money to roll in. Only that's not how these things work. I still need to push this campaign on social media and make sure people know I need their help.

For the first three days all I got where people offering to support me if I paid them. I mean really, I am trying to raise £500 and one of them offer me a support package which cost $1,000.

Then things started to pick up. After 6 days I have had 6 people contribute to my campaign and I am 14% of the way towards my target.

I will spend everything I raise on the finished article and the more I raise the more professional help I can recruit. There is a lot further and a lot more pushing to be done to get to get anywhere near my goal.

If this story has hit a chord with you and you would like to help visit my campaign page here.

Anything you can spare is appreciated and a retweet or facebook share would be brilliant too.

Let me know about your crowd-funding stories and anything you did to push your campaign.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Waiting for Charlie

She sat looking out towards the sea. The water from the damp grass slowly wicking up her trousers. The trees behind her protecting her from the wind blowing off the land and out to sea. She liked sitting here. She was hidden from view by the outline of the trees and the road in between her and the beach but she knew when she saw him she could come out of cover and get to him before they got to her.

‘Megan, Megan,’ voices called from inside the woods.

She didn’t turn. She just kept looking out to sea. They would be upon her soon but she needed to concentrate. Today might be the day.

She felt hands grip her arms and pull her to her feet.

‘Megan. Come on now, time to go back. You know you’re not supposed to be out here.’

Megan slowly turned her eyes away from the beach and looked up at the young woman holding her arm. ‘When Charlie gets back he needs me. I’m his support team.’

‘Not today Megan, come on we need to get back now.’

‘No Charlie needs me.’ Megan wrestled her arm away from the woman and started to get up. As she rose the woman stood in front of her blocking the beach from view.

‘Get out of the way. I need to look for Charlie,’ Megan shouted trying to push the woman aside.

‘Come on now Megan, Charlie came out down the coast we need to go to him,’ a man appeared out of the trees and took hold of Megan’s hand.


‘Yes. You know what the currents can be like. He drifted off course and the other team have him. Come on back to the house now and we will see him there.’

The young woman looked at the man and started to say something. He shook his head and started to lead Megan back to the house. They walked through the forest one either side of Megan, both alert and talking slowly to her.

They emerged from the forest onto a large manicured lawn with an old country manor nestled on the opposite side. Five concrete steps led up to open French doors and what looked like a large sitting room. They led Megan into the house.

‘Charlie. Is he here?’ Megan looked at her two guardians. Her eyes glancing from one to the other trying to work out what they were hiding from her.

‘He’s in the house.’

Megan released herself from their hold and ran inside. She instinctively rushed upstairs to her room. He wasn’t there. Where was Charlie? Megan turned and was about to run back down stairs when a nurse appeared.

‘Megan. There you are. It’s time for your medicine.’

‘Charlie, I need to see Charlie.’

‘He is resting now sweetheart, just like you should be.’

‘But I need to see him.’

‘Once you’ve had your tablets.’

‘Not Now.’

‘Don’t be stroppy now. You want to be your best for him don’t you?’

Megan nodded, sat down on the edge of her bed and held out her hand. The nurse passed her a little plastic cup containing two tablets and a plastic beaker half full of water. Megan swallowed the tablets as she knew she must. She was asleep before the nurse left the room.



‘Morning Megan and how are we feeling today,’ the nurse called as she pushed open the door with her large backside and entered the room backwards pulled a large trolley in with her.  She was halfway across the room before she brought the trolley to a halt and looked over at the bed. In the half light of the room she couldn’t make out Megan and assumed she was still asleep. The nurse left her trolley and walk over to the window.

‘Come on sleepy head,’ she called as she quickly yanked the large curtains open. She turned and looked twice at the bed. There was no Megan, just a lump of duvet and pillows that might have been an effort to make it look like Megan, or it might have just been the way the bed linen fell when Megan got up. The bathroom door was closed.

‘Megan, Megan are you in there?’ the nurse called as she knocked on the door. ‘Megan.’

The door swung open and she stared into an empty room.



Megan walked onto the beach just as he walked out of the sea.

‘Charlie, Charlie, you made it,’ she ran up and threw her arms around him.

‘What the?’ he tried to push her off and as she stepped back he collapsed onto the sand.

Suddenly people were rushing round, ignoring her, wrapping towels and body warming sheets around him. Someone else was trying to feed him an energy bar. Megan stood still as all the people rushed around her. After a few minutes they help the man to his feet and ushered him towards a campervan park at the side of the road by the beach.

Megan stood still, ‘Charlie, please Charlie. It’s me.’

She was still stood there twenty minutes later. The man looked out the window as they pulled away. ‘Who was she?’

‘Who knows? Just some doddery old dear. Maybe she’s a fan.’



‘Megan you have a visitor,’ the nurse shook Megan awake.

‘What? Who? Is it Charlie?’

‘No Megan, It’s a young man. He says he met you on the beach yesterday. Do you remember?’

‘I went to the beach yesterday?’

‘You remember we had to bring you back again.’

‘I have to wait for Charlie. He needs me.’

‘Megan let’s get you dressed and then you can meet Ian.’

The nurse help Megan get dressed and took her down to the breakfast room. As Megan walked into the room her face lit up as she saw the young man sitting by the window at her table. She rushed over, a quick slipper shuffle. The young man stood up and helped her into the chair next to him.

‘Megan, Megan Smithson?’

‘Charlie, oh Charlie. It’s you isn’t it.’

‘No Mrs Smithson. My name’s Ian. I met you on the beach yesterday.’

‘You’re not Charlie? But I saw you coming out of the sea. Charlie was supposed to come out of the sea.’

‘Mrs Smithson. I came to see you because I was hoping you could tell me about Charlie. I have read so much about him. He’s the reason I’m a cross channel swimmer. I was hoping you could tell me about him.’

‘I have photos somewhere but the nurses, they don’t let me look at them. They say it gets me upset.’

‘How about I ask them and then I come back later and we can look at them together.’

‘Would you? That would be nice.’

‘Okay I’ll see you later.’


Ian visited Megan every day for a week. She lit up when he came into the room and only mistook him for Charlie once. They talked about all of Charlie’s swimming and how he first got into open water swimming.

‘This photo here this is on the coast of France when he was starting his cross channel swim,’ Megan pointed to a photo of a smiling man, wearing goggles on his head and covered in Goose fat.

‘Were you with him in France?’ Ian asked

‘No I was part of the back-up team here in the UK. I was waiting on the beach ready with warm blankets and food and drink.’

‘What happened Megan?’

Megan slowly stroked the photo. Gently touching the smiling face. A tear fell onto the photo.

‘I’m so sorry Megan. I didn’t mean to upset you.’ Ian held her hand.

‘He’s not coming back is he?’

‘No Megan. They lost him mid channel. Did they not tell you?’

‘They tried but I just sat there waiting. That’s why I always go back to the beach, just in case.’

‘Megan it’s been fifty years.’

‘Fifty years. Has it really been that long?’ Megan looked up at Ian and then down at the photo. ‘He’s not coming back is he?’

‘No Megan.’

‘Can you give me a minute please?’

‘Of course. I’ll fetch us some tea.’ Ian patted her hand and headed off to the lunch room to see if he could round up a cup of tea.

‘Ian. How’s Megan today?’ a tall man in a white coat approached Ian as he was pouring boiling water into the tea pot.

‘Good afternoon Dr Sheppard. I’m afraid I may have upset her a little. We talked about the day Charlie went missing.’

‘Really? She has never talked about that day before.’

‘I hope I haven’t done anything wrong.’ Ian place the tea pot onto the tray with two cups.

‘No, not at all. She has needed to talk about Charlie for a long time. Maybe she can finally get closure. Do you mind if I join you for tea?’

‘Of course not.’ Ian placed a third cup on the tray and carried the tray into the sitting room. Megan was sitting back in her arm chair with her eyes closed hugging the photo to her chest in her right hand. Dr Sheppard quicken his pace to overtake Ian and lifted her left wrist. After a few seconds he shook his head.

‘I’m afraid she’s gone.’

Ian slowly lowered himself into the chair, the tea tray still in his hands. ‘I can’t believe she’s gone just like that. She seemed so well.’

‘Maybe she did get the closure she needed. She finally admitted that she didn’t need to wait for Charlie. He was waiting for her.’

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Seaside Memories

The wind blows softly through my hair, blowing it off my face. I smile to myself. It feels good now it’s grown back. Better than the crew cut of just six months ago. The shingle digs in a little but I jiggle my bottom and it settles into a comfortable hollow. I watch as the sun slowly starts its descent towards the horizon.

The salt air tingles on my lips and the fresh sea air fills my nostrils. No dank smelling seaweed here. Each day the sea rushes in and cleanses the shingle beach.

Children call out in the distance but I sit too far away from the sandy strip and the amusements for them to be a bother.

How many times have I sat here like this? Watching the sea. The ebb and flow. Watching the windsurfers, the paddle boarders and further out the jet skiers. On the horizon a ship steams along. I assume a cargo ship bound for the Americas; I am too far down the coast for it to be a cross channel ferry.

I remember the last time we were here. You pushed me up the ramp, struggled, and gasped for air. But you persevered and got me to the sea wall. I was losing weight but the NHS don’t lend out modern light weight wheelchairs. You wrapped an old tartan blanket around my legs and tucked me in tight. The next thing I remember was you beside me, panting and dripping ice cream on my arm. You had run all the way to the stand and back. We sat watching the sea, eating our ice creams. The wind whipping round and clouds racing overhead. Winter by the sea, my favourite time.

And now I am back. I beat it. I fought it. We fought it. I couldn’t have done it without you. Always there to hold my hand, to make me feel better.

Why couldn’t I do the same for you? Why did you get a chance to fight? Were you too tired after my fight? Did you lose concentration or was it the other guy? They never said. I never asked.

And so now I sit here. Alone. Watching the sea.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

The Big Day

Brittany couldn’t believe that today had finally arrived. She had been waiting for this day for so long that she was struggling to breathe. She lay perfectly still looking up at the ceiling. Dawn was starting to break through the curtains and she could see shadows from the pattern on her curtains dancing around. She watched the dancing patterns trying to calm her nerves. She took three deep breaths and slowly pushed herself out of bed.

‘Breakfast,’ came a shout from downstairs.

‘Coming,’ called Brittany screwing up her nose in disappointment. She had been hoping to have a final look at the dress. Feel the material flow between her fingers, breathe in the clean, new smell of the silk, but now it would have to wait.

Brittany rushed into the kitchen just as if today was the same as any other day.

‘Hello sweetheart, and how are we this morning?’

‘Fine thank you Daddy. You’re up early.’

‘Big day today.’

‘What, sorry.’ Brittany stared at her father, he couldn’t know, surely he couldn’t know. It was going to be a surprise for him when he got home from work.

‘First day of my new job. You remember I explained all this to you yesterday.’

‘Of course. Sorry.’ Brittany smiled at her father and started tucking into her breakfast. She needed to be careful or he would spot there was something wrong.

After breakfast Brittany headed back to her room and dressed in her normal outfit. She would have to sneak back later after her dad had left for the day.

Ten minutes later, dressed and with her bag slung over her shoulder she started to head out of the   house.

‘See you later Daddy.’

‘Hey hold up. I’ll give you a lift.’

‘No its okay daddy. I’ll get the bus.’

‘Come on sweetie. I’d like the company.’



‘Come on then or I’ll be late.’

Brittany’s dad grabbed his bag and raced after her and she stomped towards the car.


Brittany couldn’t concentrate for the rest of the morning. She was distracted and once or twice she had to be nudged back to the present day by Mary who sat next to her. She kept checking her watch and after what seemed like ages it was finally lunch time.

‘Coming for lunch?’ Mary asked as they packed up their desks.

‘I’ll meet you there.’ Brittany said as she grabbed her bag and rushed towards the exit.



Brittany’s dad patted down the many pocket on his new hi-vis jacket trying to remember which one his phone was in. He grabbed it and swiped his finger across the screen.


‘Hello, is that Mr Jones?’


‘Mr Jones this is Mrs Baker. I am calling about Brittany.’

‘Yes. Is there a problem?’

‘Hopefully not. She was fine this morning but she went home at lunch and she hasn’t come back.’

‘She went home at lunch?’ Mr Jones said. ‘But she was supposed to say with you today.’

‘She normally goes home so no one thought anything of it. I’m sure she’s fine but I just wanted to let you know.’

‘Thank you. I will go and check it out.’

Mr Jones popped his phone back into his pocket and headed off to the site office. This was not looking good, first day on the job and he was going to have to leave to track down Brittany. They were going to need to have a serious chat once he got home.


Mr Jones ran up the drive and pushed the front door open.

‘Brittany. Brittany. Are you here?’ he shouted.

There was no response but Mr Jones thought he could hear something. He strained and tilted his ear towards the stairs. There was definitely some noise coming from upstairs.

He started up the stairs and then for some reason started to creep. He carefully stepped over the squeaky step, listening, trying to work out what the noise was.

He slowly pushed open the door to Brittany’s bedroom. Everything looked different. The bed was pushed against the wall and there were rows of seats set out. All Brittany’s toys were sitting in the chairs and Brittany was walking slowly down the central isle. At the top of the room was her favourite bear and there was a strip of white paper around his throat and a black blanket wrapped around him. The music was blaring out of her Barbie stereo. It was the wedding march.

‘Brittany what are you doing?’

Brittany shot in the air. She hadn’t heard her father enter the room.

‘Daddy. I thought you were at work.’

‘The school rang. They said you didn’t go back after lunch. What are you doing?’

‘I am getting married. Do you like my dress?’ Brittany swung round, flaring out her skirt. She was wearing her best princess dress.

‘Sweetheart you can’t play dress up when you are supposed to be at school.’ Mr Jones knelt down so he was at Brittany’s level.

‘But I had to do it soon. It was for you.’

‘For me? Why?’

‘The man. The one who came and asked for Mrs Jones last week. He made you sad because there was no Mrs Jones.’

‘Only because I miss your mum.’

‘I know. So I asked God what to do and he said I could be Mrs Jones. Mummy is an angel now so it’s my turn to be in charge. That way when the man comes you can tell him I’m Mrs Jones.’

‘Oh sweetheart.’ Mr Jones started to cry. He grabbed hold of Brittany and hugged her close.

‘I’m sorry I made you cry. I thought it would help.’

‘No sweetie. What would help is for you to go to school and not run off in the middle of the day.’

‘But you need a Mrs Jones.’

‘No sweetie. What I need is you. Your mummy is looking down on us and we can ask her when we need help. I love you so much but we can do this together.’

‘Okay Daddy. But if you need a Mrs Jones let me know. Teddy likes his vicar outfit so he can marry me if you need him to.’

‘Oh Brittany. I love you so much.’ He held her tight careful not to get his tears on her best princess dress.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

KDP – How I became a bestselling author

Sales for the Stripper of the Yard had gone well for the first three weeks but having run out of family and friends, I needed to find other ways to get the news of my book out to the world at large.

First I advertised on a number of free author platforms. Unfortunately there is no way of knowing if anyone is viewing these. Still no new sales.

Then up pops a request for me to support another author’s thunderclap promotion. I had never heard of thunderclap and for those who haven’t, it is a crowd sourcing platform. Rather than asking people to give you their money, it asks people to give you access to their social media platform. You need to get a minimum of 100 people to offer you their support and if your target is achieved at an appointed time a tweet or Facebook advert is sent out to all the connections of your supporters. I was amazed that my book was being tweeted to over 217,000 people.

My book was tweeted and while I am still hopeful, I have yet to see any new sales.

Looking for new ideas I was quite pleased to see my monthly newsletter from KDP pop up into my in box.

There at the top of the email was a link to a YouTube video of a KDP bestselling author. These appear each month and unfortunately this one was exactly the same as all the others. In the video an author sits and tells of her journey to bestselling authorship through using KDP and createspace. Yet again when it gets to the point as to how the author attracted readers she says she did nothing and that the readers came to her.

How can this be?

How does this help those of us who need to attract readers?

Why does KDP feel the need to only share the stories of people who magically sold thousands of books over night?

I do not begrudge the success of other authors but can’t we see the story of an author who struggled in the start, but has achieved greatness now. It would be great to know that one day all this hard work would pay off. If the ability to attract readers is all written in the stars is there any point pushing my book? There must be some way to let readers know I exist without being ‘traditionally’ published.

Come on KDP give those of us who are struggling some hope. Show us authors who never gave up hope and struggled to start with. Show us how the hard work is worth it.


Sunday, 3 August 2014

Mike Peters - Winning the Blue Lagoon Gentleman's Club

Mike Peters owns and runs the Blue Lagoon Gentleman's club and is here to tell us how that came about.

Gerry the previous owner was fond of the odd poker game. Often after the club had closed for the evening a few people would stay on for a high stakes game. I very rarely joined in as the stakes were too high for me. I was only a bouncer at the time.
However on this one particular evening there was a young cocky guy who had managed to talk himself into the game. He had been hanging around the club for a few days and upsetting some of the girls. He needed taking down a peg or two so I decided to sit in on the game.
Just before dawn there was only me, Gerry and this lad, Ste, left in the game. I had ten grand in front of me and I went all in, Gerry threw the keys to the club into the middle of the table and we both expected Ste to walk away.
Instead he offers me a girl. He says he owned her and I could have her if I can beat him. Can you believe that? Offers her in a card game. I nearly got up and smacked him then and there but I held it together.
After all that he only had a pair. What a knob.
He tried to welsh on the bet but I got her out of there and gave him a little reminder to make sure he left  town not soon after.

The rest as they say is history.

Find out who the girl was that Mike saved in Stripper of the Yard

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Memory Lane

‘I’m home,’ Sarah called as she wrestled the key back out of the lock, trying not drop the bags of shopping as she did.

‘I got you a present,’ she called as she bumped the door shut with her bum. ‘Paul. Are you there?’

She stood in the hallway waiting for Paul to respond but heard nothing. The house was silent.

Paul must have gone out. Whenever he was in the house there was always a radio playing, or the TV blaring out.

‘Paul, Paul. Are you there?’ Jenny dropped her bags in the hallway. Where had he gone?

She ran up the stairs calling his name as she went. He wasn’t in the study, or the bedroom. The bathroom door was closed. She went up and knocked gently.

‘Paul. Are you in there?’ she called pressing her ear against the cold gloss painted door.

She knocked again and tried the handle. It was unlocked and she slowly pushed the door inwards. The bathroom was empty. Sarah turned and ran back down the stairs. She skirted round the shopping bags in the hallway and headed into the lounge. She rushed through the lounge into the conservatory and then back through the kitchen door. No sign.

She stopped and stood by the island in the middle of the kitchen breathing deeply. Why was she so panicked? He was a grown man and he could come and go as he pleased. For the last five months he had always been there when she got home.

‘Of course the phone,’ she muttered to herself as she headed back out into the hallway. She was bent double, rustling around in her handbag looking for her phone, when she felt a breeze. She turned and looked towards the kitchen; with her head still upside down she saw a piece of paper flutter across the floor. She slowly righted herself and went to pick it up.

The paper was a piece from the shopping list she kept pinned to the wall besides the provisions cupboard, only it had been folded in half and had her name written, in Paul’s neat hand writing, across the middle.

Whatever it was going to say she knew it wouldn’t be good. Why would he leave her a note? Why would he not just call? She walked slowly across the hallway, never taking her eyes from the note, and sat down in the lounge. She took a deep breath and then slowly opened the note.


Sarah sat looking out over the sea and slowly sipped her coffee. She was shaken from her thoughts as the waitress placed a plate of fish and chips in front of her.

‘Sorry, thank you.’ Sarah said as she looked up at her.

She smiled and walked back towards the counter. Sarah pushed the food around the plate, eating a few chips and a small portion of the fish. After about an hour she was the only one left in the café and the waitress came over to take the plate away.

‘Was there something wrong?’ she asked as she went to pick up the plate.

‘Oh no, nothing like that.’ Sarah smiled.

‘Can I get you anything else?’

‘No thanks. Is it okay if I sit here a little while longer?’

‘Sure it’s not as if we’re busy is it?’ the waitress waved her hand around the café. ‘Let me get you another coffee and if you want to talk I’m on a break now.’

The waitress returned with two cups of coffee, ’I can go away if you want.’

‘No stay please.’ Sarah indicated to the chair opposite her.

‘So are you here on holiday?  I’m Jackie.’

‘Sarah. I’m not really here on holiday. My boyfriend left me three weeks ago and I had hoped a break would help.’

‘And is it?’

‘Not really he was originally from Brighton, so coming here isn’t really helping me get over him.’

‘Are you expecting to see him?’

‘No. Yes. Maybe. I don’t know.’

‘Do you think he’ll come back here?’

‘Probably not, but his letter didn’t really explain why he left.’

‘Wow, it must be difficult to know where to begin.’


Sarah was wandering through Brighton and had knocked on three doors looking for Paul but so far no luck.

She walked through the lanes, turning this way and that, not quite sure why she didn’t stop at any of the plethora of coffee shops and cafes that there was on offer. It was almost as if her feet were carrying her in a direction all by themselves.

She wasn’t meandering, her feet had purpose. She had been here before. Only she hadn’t. She had only been in Brighton three days and she hadn’t been cruising the shops, she had been out in the residential areas. How could she recognise this place?

She shook her head. These lanes all looked the same, with the little shops and the cafes. She hadn’t really been here before it was just a delayed case of de ja vu.

She turned the next corner and walked along stopping outside a newsagent. What was going on? She turned and look in the newsagents window, in the reflection she could she a large cake in the shape of a cup cake. She approached the window. Why would a newsagent have a cake in their window? As she got close to the window the cake had gone. That was it she was officially going mad. She needed to get back to her hotel room and have a lie down. She turned and there in front of her was the cup cake.

As she walked into the café, she marvelled as to how it was exactly as she remembered it. Three bar stools at a bar in the window, a long counter with large display cabinets full of different types of cup cakes along the far wall and a collection of tables covered in gingham table cloths. What was she thinking ‘exactly as she remembered it’? She had never been here before.

She was obviously exhausted and emotionally drained. She needed a rest and some food. She ordered a strawberry topped cup cake and a coffee and sat at one of the tables. There was no way she had ever been to this café before and she didn’t think she’d ever been inside one like it, but it all felt so familiar. How weird.

Sarah had finished and was debating whether she could justify another cake when a woman about her age walked in and rushed up to the counter.

‘Oh thank god you’ve got plenty left. My batch of cupcakes for the parents evening have gone horribly wrong and I don’t have the time to make anymore. Can I take a mixed box of twenty four please?’

‘Of course. I will need to go and fetch some carry boxes out of the back. If you can give me two minutes,’ the girl behind the counter said as she turned and disappeared.

The woman stood at the counter and started to look around. Sarah looked up to see the woman was staring at her.

‘Josie, Josie Kendal is that you?’ the woman said as she rushed over to Sarah’s table. ‘It is you. You remember me? I’m Mary Montford. We went to St Ignatius Primary together.’

Sarah looked at the woman, squinting to see if she recognised her.

‘I always wondered what happened to you.’ Mary continued. ‘The summer after we were six you didn’t come back we never saw you again. What happened?’

‘I’m sorry,’ Sarah muttered as she finally managed to get a word in. ‘You must have me mistaken for someone else.’

‘Don’t be silly. You haven’t changed a bit.’

‘Look I don’t know who you think I am, but I am not her.’ Sarah got up and tried to leave.

Mary stood in her way, ‘I don’t know what you mean but I know you are Josie Kendal.’

Sarah pushed passed the women and rushed out into the street. She ran along the lanes until she was out of breath. She stopped and looked around her, no idea which way she had run or where she was. On the opposite side of the road was a bench and she carefully crossed over a sat down.

She took two deep breaths and reached inside her handbag for a tissue. She wiped her eyes and blew her nose. She went to get another tissue and as she did she saw Paul’s note lying in the bottom of her bag. Everything had gone wrong since the day he left.

‘What are you doing in Brighton?’ her mother’s voice questioned down the phone.

‘I needed a break and here seemed as good a place as any,’ Sarah said, leaning back on her hotel bed. How her mother managed to make her feel like a small child always amazed her.

Sarah had never known her dad; he had died in an accident when she was very small and so it had always been just her and her mum.

‘Why didn’t you come and see me? I could have helped you. You know you can always talk to me,’ her mother said.

‘Look Mum, I just wanted some me time.’


‘I’ll come up and see you soon I promise,’

‘Okay well don’t leave it too long. I might not have long left you know.’

‘Oh mother, you’ll outlive us all. You know you will.’

‘So want did you call for? Corrie is about to start you know.’

‘Sorry Mum, I’ll be brief. I wondered if we’d ever been to Brighton?’

‘What? Why do you ask?’

‘It’s just some of the places seem familiar. And I met a woman today who was convinced she knew me, only she called me Josie.’

‘No dear we’ve never been to Brighton and if you know what’s good for you, don’t stay there too long. I need to go now.’ Her mother hung up.


The next day Sarah tried two more addresses looking for Paul, before she decided she needed to find out who Josie Kendal was.

She tried googling the name but there were too many so she headed off to the offices of the local newspaper. She wasn’t sure what she expected to find but if the girl was a local, she might have featured in the local news for something.

‘Can I help you?’ a rather haggard looking man asked as she entered the offices.

‘Is this the offices of the Brighton Gazette?’

‘Yes. Not exactly what you expected I bet. Unfortunately local newspapers struggle on with only advertising revenue to keep them in business, so we don’t get the fancy offices or huge archives the nationals have.’

‘In that case you probably aren’t going to be able to help.’

‘Try me. I have been here twenty years as a reporter and my father worked here before then.’

‘I was just trying to find out about Josie Kendal.’

‘Now there’s a name from the past,’ the man whistled through his teeth.

‘You knew her?’

‘Not personally but most locals know of her. She was snatched from the beach when she was about six years old and never seen again.’

‘Snatched? What by a paedophile?’

‘That’s what people thought at the time, but no body was ever found. Everyone always hoped she would be found some day.’

‘And do you have anything I could look at to follow the story through?’

‘Sure. Most of our big stories are on flash drive. I will have to dig it out and I’m needed at the Rodean graduation ceremony this afternoon, but if you leave me an email address I’ll pop you something over this evening.’


That evening Sarah lay on her bed reviewing all the reports that the guy from the gazette had sent her. It was exactly as he said, Josie Kendal had vanished from the beach and everyone had assumed she had been snatched. The beach had been packed on a sunny summer’s day she had been with a large group of children who were all making sandcastles together. When Mrs Kendal had gone to collect her the child had vanished. No-one knew how long she had been gone and no-one had seen anyone take her.

Sarah looked at the photo of Josie Kendal. It was almost identical to the first picture Sarah had ever had taken at school. She remembered it well as it still stood on her mother’s mantle piece.

Sarah had never questioned why she couldn’t remember anything before she was six or seven. Other people had told her it was weird and that they had memories from when they were two of three. She had always assumed that it was the trauma of losing her dad. But maybe it had been the trauma of being kidnapped.

What was she going to do now? Who should she speak too? Her mother? The lady from the cake shop? Josie Kendal’s mother?

She sat staring at the screen when there was a knock on her bedroom door. Whoever it was would go away if she ignored them. They knocked again. She sat totally still, not wanting to make any noise that would give away the fact she was in the room.

‘Sarah. Are you in there?’ it was her mother’s voice.

‘Sarah, let me in we need to talk.’

Sarah wasn’t sure what to do, but she was so shocked that her mother had travelled all the way to Brighton that she got up and opened the door. Sarah didn’t look at her; she left the door open and returned to sitting on the bed.

‘Sarah. I’ve come to talk to you about Josie Kendal.’

‘You know who she is, don’t you?’ Sarah snapped.

‘Yes I do and before we go any further you need to know that you are not Josie Kendal.’

‘But the photo. Look at it. It’s me.’

‘No it’s not.’

‘It is me. I know it’s me. I can’t remember anything from before I was six and that’s when you snatched me isn’t it?’

‘No we didn’t snatch you. We adopted you.’

‘Adopted me. Is that what you called it? It that how you justified it to yourself?’

‘Let me explain. Mrs Kendal and I had been old friends from school and you father and I used to come down here and spend the summer with her and her husband. The summer Josie was kidnapped we were here. The press coverage was awful. They camped outside the Kendal’s house and they couldn’t go anywhere. So they asked us to look after you for the summer.’

‘But… I don’t understand, if I’m Josie how could they have asked you to take me away.’

‘You’re not Josie. You’re her twin and your name is and always has been Sarah.’

‘If that’s true why didn’t you give me back?’

‘Because Mrs Kendal killed herself and her husband asked us to look after you. He couldn’t cope. He had lost a wife and a daughter.’

‘So he just abandoned me.’

‘I can’t imagine what he went through. After your father died I asked him to visit you and sent him photos and letters about how you were getting on but eventually he stopped returning my calls.’

‘Well that explains a lot,’ Sarah said.

‘What do you mean?’

‘I don’t have any memories and perhaps that’s a good thing. I knew you never cared for me like a real mother would have done. Always pushing me, never praising.’

‘I did everything I could for you. I lost my husband six months after I took you in. Jack Kendal gave up when his wife died but I didn’t have that luxury. I had to just struggle on. Maybe I didn’t want to get to close but in the end you are such a wonderful daughter that I couldn’t help but love you,’ she fished around in her handbag and pulled out a tissue.

‘Then why have you never told me before?’

‘Because one day I will die and then you will be alone again. I guess I thought if I was distant you wouldn’t be sad when I was gone.’

‘Mum what a stupid thing to say. You’re my mum, or at least I thought you were. I will always love you even if you annoy me sometimes.’

Sarah’s mum smiled through her tears. ‘Thank you. I am sorry about Paul. I guess I should have let you sort that one out for yourself.’

‘Paul. Is it your fault he left?’

‘He was from Brighton wasn’t he? I found out he worked for the local paper before he moved to London. He was using you sweetheart. He was just looking for a story.’

‘You can’t know that. Why do you always have to interfere?’

‘I do know because he told me. The day he left, I went to talk to him while you were at work. He told me he had moved to London to try and break into the dailies. He thought you were Josie and he was trying to find out what had happened to you.’

‘Why didn’t you come and talk to me?’ Sarah stood and stared out of the window, her back to her mother.

‘Because I knew you would think I was sticking my nose in where it wasn’t wanted.’

‘And you were weren’t you?’

‘No I was trying to protect you. As soon as I told him the story he started packing. He didn’t even wait for me to leave.’

Sarah turned from the window and sat next to her mum on the bed. She looked at her through tears and her mum pulled her tight and held her close. Holding her for as long as it took for the tears to stop.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Jenny Cartwright Interview

Today I am very lucky and happy to be joined by Jenny Cartwright the main character in ‘Stripper of the Yard’ and she has agreed to answer a few questions for us.

Jo Jenner (JJ): Good Morning Jenny. Great to see you here today.

Jenny Cartwright (JC): Thank you for asking me Jo although I can’t see why you want to interview me.

JJ : How like you Jenny. The folks at home would just like to get to know you a little more, so how about we start by you telling us a little about yourself.

JC: Okay. My name as you know is Jenny Cartwright, I am 35 years old and I work at the Blue Lagoon Gentlemen’s Club.

JJ: And what do you do there?

JC: I am one of the strippers. I used to be a waitress but you get better tips and touched up less as one of the dancers, so I moved over as soon as I could.

JJ: What type of establishment is The Blue Lagoon Gentlemen’s Club?

JC: It’s an old fashioned back alley strip club in the centre of Nottingham.

JJ: How did you end up there?

JC: It’s a long story, which will be partially revealed in the book, but let me just say I was brought up in Nottingham and once I left care there wasn’t really anything else I knew how to do. I started behind the bar and things just progressed from there.

JJ: Why don’t you tell us about some of the other people you work with?

JC: Of course. First of all there’s Mike. He owns the club and is just great. He has helped a lot of the girls and makes sure we keep a clean club and all the girls are safe.

In fact he won one of my best friends in a poker match. Blossom had got herself into a lot of trouble in her teenage years. She was very lucky that Mike found her when he did.

JJ: Mike’s not the only one who’s helped some of the girls get out of trouble is he?

JC: I have been involved in helping women who are victims of domestic violence. Sometimes they just need a friendly face and sometimes they need to know where to go to get help. I met Mindy, another one of the girls, while I was visiting a victim of domestic violence. Mindy is a wonderful girl and she works with me now.

JJ: Is there anyone else special in the club?

JC: Yes. There’s Carly. She’s a student doctor and she works with us to help pay off her student debts. She has a very different back ground to the rest of us, but she gelled with the group real well, and is now a key member of our group.

JJ: I think that’s all we’ve got time for today. Thank you for coming in to see us.

JC: My pleasure. I hope to see you all again at the Stripper of the Yard launch party on 3rd August
Get your copy of Stripper from amazon

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Blog Tour Day 6 - April Fool

April Fool originally started life as my entry into the 2014 April A to Z Challenge. The premise behind the challenge is that entrants post a blog every day except Sundays. This means there are 26 posts needed and each one should be linked in some way to the next letter of the alphabet.

Once I got started I realised that there was the potential to write a novella with each day being the next chapter in the story. It was a fascinating experience and written as it was I had no idea where the story was going until I wrote the following days chapter.

It got a little tricky nearing the end, trying to make sure everything come together but not until final days post.

After the project was over, I reviewed what I had written, tweaked and edited it and my novella April Fool was born.

Here is an extract from the book. Enjoy!

J is for January

I’ve been planning this since January. Four whole months and everything is going well. This has to be my best New Year’s resolution ever. I got a little low in February, when it looked like he was going to report the poison pen letters. I don’t know what stopped him, but I suppose even the bad guys have to get a little lucky every once in a while.

Everything is going to plan so far. I need to keep an eye out for that policeman but he’s no Sherlock Holmes. He hasn’t even worked out what it’s all about. He’s doing everything I expected him to do. I’m still one step ahead of him.

My master stroke was the letters. The police worked out pretty quickly the three I had sent. I can’t believe he thought the use of the student newsletter was a mistake. Does he really think I would be so stupid?

Shame Grandma rang when she did. I was hoping she would be incommunicado for a lot longer. Her living in a Spanish back water was a dream come true to my master plan. It got them out of the house and gave me the chance I needed.

The finger was harder to get than I thought. Getting it into the pile of presents was the easy bit. I’m a bit disappointed they haven’t spotted my clue on the wrapping paper yet, but you never know. Forensics takes a lot longer than you think in the real world.

Not long now and everything will finally come together. I can’t wait to see their faces when they realise it was me all along. Then they’ll realise what this is all about, but not before I get exactly what I want.


Jo Jenner started writing professionally at the age of 40 and hasn’t looked back since.

Jo still works as a certified accountant and manages to fit her writing in during evenings and weekends.

She enjoys writing short stories and a number of flash fiction stories have been published under the title of ‘So the Feeling Shows’.

Always one for a challenge Jo took on the A to Z challenge in April 2014. This resulted in ‘April Fool,’, which was written over 26 days in April, using a different letter of the alphabet for each chapter.

Jo lives with her husband on the south coast of England, her dream location, and says walks along the sea front always help generate story ideas.

Jo can be found on Facebook!/jojennerauthor

Or twitter @jojenner40

And regularly blogs on



Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Why you need Rave Reviews Book Club

So you've written a book, and you've e-published or even produced a paperback. What now?

You need to market you book and that, my friends, is a lot harder than you think.

What you need is a group of kindred souls to offer advice and to help.

That's where Rave Reviews Book Club comes into its own. At the time of writing, there were 473 members and they all have their own stories to tell. There is a peer support section where you can ask 
any question you like, related to books, writing, social media and publishing and someone will give you the benefit of their experience.

You will experience a huge amount of support by people pushing you on social media, buying your 
books and posting reviews to help your exposure. If you are lucky you will get a #pushtuesday slot. This is where everyone who is a member pushes you through social media on a particular day. When I was lucky enough to have this honour my sales rank rose from 400,000 to 40,000 and as we all know the higher up the rankings you go the more chance you have for sales.

Then there is the coveted Spotlight author section, where an author has a whole week of being treated like royalty. You go on a blog tour, are interview by Nonnie Jules herself, get a press release sent to your local paper and a live twitter interview. This is the sort of publicity money can't buy.

There is a fee to be a member but when you consider the benefits, if you are serious about your writing and getting it out to the world, you can't afford not to.

Did you enjoy this post? Make sure you check out rave review site here 
and vote for me.

If you want to see more check out my blog and my book are available on amazon

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