Sometimes you need to smile.

I belong to a writing group called “Out of Africa” and twice a month we are given the first line of some piece of writing and are asked to make up our own story, using that line. I thought you may like to read my contribution for this month.

THE PERFECT FOIL

Lynn grabbed the closest thing she could find as she kept her eyes fixed on the front door. She could see the lock and door handle moving around as the little noises came from outside. She knew without a doubt that somebody was trying to break in.

Here she was alone, with nobody to help her. The telephone was as dead as dead could be, It had been since last Friday and they were now fast approaching midnight of  Monday. She had not even had an acknowledgment of her complaint because the telephone company did not work over weekends. The lock movement grew louder as she watched and she became a little more rattled with each movement.

There had been instances of robbery and armed robbery in the neighbourhood lately. It seemed that their area was being targeted by criminals. What was she going to do? Should she scream out and let everyone know that she was being attacked, or should she stay quiet and pretend the house was empty and that he would give up and go away? Not that screaming would help much, the properties were quite a distance form one another. That had bought here because of the sense of being out in the country.

She was convinced it was a man because to her knowledge  women weren’t normally housebreakers and burglars.

She felt fairly sure that the lock was a pretty substantial one that would not submit without a fight. The salesman who had sold it to her had assured her that it could withstand everything including a bomb-blast. Silly her for believing everything the salesman had told her. She was far to gullible.

She waited, clinging on to her weapon, standing directly behind the door jamb so that once the thief opened the door she would, for a moment, be hidden by it. This she hoped would give her a few moments of grace, to lift her weapon and hit him fairly but squarely on the head. Maybe it wasn’t going to be ‘fairly’ but ‘unfairly’ but then it would serve him right for breaking into her house.

A thin beam of light shone through the keyhole. Huh, she thought,  he had even brought a torch with him, the cheeky swine. She felt her heart beating a hundred beats a second in her chest. To her it sounded so loud she wondered if he could hear it out there. Then the small ray of light disappeared and the banging and jiggling continued.

She was beginning to think that running away would be the better option. Maybe she should escape through the back of the house and alert her neighbours. But on the left, Maisie and Bill were away. Had the burglar already been there, she wondered?

If he knew that they too were gone he was certainly not going to go away in a hurry. He would then know that he would not be disturbed. On the right were the Lamonts, but there house was set so far back and had such high walls around it they would never hear a thing.

She slid down the wall to her haunches, still hugging her weapon of choice. Yes, the children had been right. They had told her to move into a secure housing estate with security controlled entrances and exits. But, she was always too stubborn to give in without a fight. She didn’t want to move. That was the thing. Having lived here with Dick for all these years, bringing up the children here, knowing the neighbours, knowing the area, she didn’t want to move to somewhere safe where the neighbours would be so close they could hear her pass wind in the loo. No, she didn’t want that sort of closeness. Although at this very moment she wished she had opted for that lifestyle. She would then have been able to press a button and have a horde of security guards after the nefarious thief who was intent on taking her precious belongings from her.

It seemed the thief was now making some progress, she could hear him hammering at the lock.  He had stopped being cautious. He knew he wasn’t likely to be interrupted.

Lynn suddenly, clearly and with sudden inspiration realised she did not have to be the victim in this senseless assault on her personal property and probably on her body too.

She tiptoed away from the door, towards the kitchen. There she put her weapon down on the table and looked at it. How stupid of her!  She hadn’t even realised what she was clutching in her fear. She almost burst out laughing. Instead she went to the radio which she always had on in the kitchen. It was playing so softly that she could almost not hear it, but when she listened closely, she smiled.

This was the perfect anti-dote to her burglar. She went back to the door, stealthily, taking little soft steps. Once there, she turned the radio on to full volume.

“Well, sergeant, we will soon put a stop to this,” boomed a voice from the radio. They were broadcasting a play about a detective. There was a clatter outside, and she flung open the door, armed with the courage that had fled from her earlier, to see a young teenager disappearing down the driveway as fast as his scrawny legs could carry him.

She sat on the step outside and laughed. She could imagine the headlines in the local paper, as she dropped her weapon of choice.  “Burglary foiled by a cucumber.”

 

THE END.

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WHEN EMAILS GO WRONG

I have had a bit of a week.\Four days without internet due to a fault on my router/modem because Telkom was working on limited services for the weekend. And added to that was a little problem of having somebody hack me and send out thousands and thousands of messages on my behalf that were returned as undeliverable. So when I finally got to my emails I had to wait for hours for these messages to come through. That was awful awful awful. I saw on one day that there were over 20000 (yes – twenty thousand).

My current  computer man said  “Don’t worry they will eventually dry up”. That was not reassuring at all.  My other computer man did something constructive.He closed my email down for 24 hours and then changed my password. I guess I am going to be making some changes.

And this led me to thinking that those of us who can just manage to do the basics, send out email and so on are very much a captive audience by the so called boffins who know all about computers, or at least profess to know it all. We have to take what they say as dinkum fact and accept what they say.

I must confess that I am beginning to think there aren’t very many who really know what they are doing out there, and often we are victims of their arrogance and ignorance in like measure. So when you find a gem – hang on to him or her. In fact how many ‘hers’ are there out there?

My other experiences have led me to question why I am so gullible too. I have launched two books, sent out notices to all. Some professed to be so impressed by the fact that I write and want to read my books, others say hoorah and well done. Yet others say they must have a copy. And there I sit, with my list of items sold for the month at 0, zilch, nothing. So obviously nobody out there wants to read them despite the people who I gave proof copies to who went into raptures.

Now, the conundrum is this: are the books a load of rubbish and not worth putting out there, or are people  just making pretty noises to mollify me? I wish I could work it out.

Is anybody reading this? or am I writing to please myself? Probably the latter. Writing is what I have always done, or at least I thought I could do. And as nobody is reading this except me, maybe my little ego is a tad deflated.

Never mind, I like putting my fertile imagination to good use. It is far better I suppose than setting rumours alight about everybody I know.

That’s it! A light-bulb moment. I am going to become a gossip columnist.

 

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EYES OF EVIL

At last! Eyes of Evil has been reshaped, re-read, and had its multitude of errors attended to. It went live yesterday and by tomorrow the ebook and Kindle versions will also be available. It has been quite a mission for me as, although I have lived through a multitude of technological changes, I am still daunted by computers and the wonderful things they can do, and the wonderful screw ups I can make when trying to be au fait with it all. Trying to act nonchalant when you don’t really have a clue what you are up to can be a lesson in humility.

So there it is. The other books on the shelf at Amazon are all gong to receive the same treatment. I will no longer subject my readers to such blatantly stupid errors. They deserve better.

I envy the writers of old in some ways. They either penned their stories by hand, and got somebody to type them or else they typed right onto the typewriter. However, even that had its drawbacks. Imagine, writing or typing a whole book of a good  few thousand words to find that there was a mistake on page ten which affected the whole story. Not nice, to have to do it all again. So, may be I should say thank you for a computer which allows one to make a myriad changes with not as much effort.

Eyes of Evil, was a labour of love for me. My husband, when reading the story long after it was written said it was ‘too involved’ for him. Others though have spoken about the story keeping them up at night as they had to read to the end and that they really got to grips with the character. So, don’t hold your horses. Read the story, and once read, depending on which camp you find yourself in, there is a sequel in the making. Leonard Lanfear would not let me put him to bed finally. He wanted another round, which I gave to him with my latest rendition, which is at the moment only using a working title.

Just to whet your appetite, Lanfear goes off as he says he will, but not to Outer Mongolia. He covers his tracks very well, or so he thinks, until a man called John seems to be following his trail, and it is John who leads him into his new predicaments.

This business of writing is a strange thing for me. I love the way stories evolve in my head, but I often lack the stamina to put it all to bed and in a nice organised way. My nature is a little too slapdash – I want, once I have come to the end of a story, to just leave it there, but then think it deserves a bit more. Yet, I lack the discipline to fully do it justice.

I am hoping that this exercise I have just gone through will make it worthwhile and that I will have the courage to set the wheels in motion properly for all the others. Be with me on the journey if you will.  I don’t think it will be boring. I don’t do boring? Or do I?

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Up to Date?

The launch of my new book is about to take place. That is “Eyes or Evil”, which was part of a Nanowrimo exercise two years ago. But with a move, and another two books down in the interim, I have been so slack about keeping my blog up to date.

Hopefully this year will remedy that situation. You know it’s a bugger to be poor. You can’t do the things you want to do, efficiently and properly. Launch a book on a shoestring? Possible, yes, but launch a book when the shoestring is broken in a couple of places, means that nothing is tied up properly.

I must say that I do have some good friends though. Diane Maleczek was wonderful. An editor of note she undertook to edit my latest offering and did a marvellous job gratis! I am so indebted to her. But the proof copies came back and I asked another friend to go through it, but unfortunately he has been a little tardy so months later I am still waiting. And I can’t say patiently. However I am determined that this is where I have to do things for myself. Guess what I am going to be doing tomorrow?

And of course I got myself into a whole bunch of new activities that have dug into my writing time too. Nobody to blame but me. Then we have a 50th wedding anniversary looming later in the year. Can’t believe we have been married for that long, but there it is. Of course it deserves celebrating too.

Okay, so tell me I am just making feeble excuses for not acting professionally, and I will agree with you one hundred percent. But give me a break.

Just one more chance will do. I am determined to see out this year with a real push and a shove and some success. Will you be back to see that I keep to this promise? Please help me, by nagging me every now and then. I would so appreciate it. Thank you.IMG_20180102_190833_BURST002.jpg

 

 

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DAYS OF RAIN AND FIRE

We here in the Western Cape have been rendered helpless and hopeless. We have had a week from hell.

We had a bad storm, but not the mother and daughter or father and son of all storms. In my over thirty years of living here but bad enough with loss of life and homes and a little water to relieve some of the drought situations, but not enough yet. A lot of mopping to be done in the aftermath, but grateful that it was no worse.

Worse though was the devastating fires that raged through the Knysna, Sedgefield and Plettenberg Bay areas of the Western Cape with extensive loss to property, animals, and human life. It was such a sad thing to have happened. We are now crying with our friends there. We have all been touched my this. Everyone knows someone who has been affected. A friend’s family , a family member, or a friend or relative somewhere in that area has seen the disasters but has also, and more importantly seen the wonderful help that has been forthcoming from so many wonderful people. Municipalities sent volunteers firemen and women, and full-time employees too. All dug in. Strangers helped each other. The towns became united in their misery.

This morning the worst of the fires are over, and mopping up operations continue, and now is the time for us to really be there in support of these people. The spirit of the people  in the area is great though. They are sitting up and saying, ‘we are open for business as usual. Come now, come and visit, spend your money in our towns. We need your help.’ And they do.

For And what of those who have lost everything? I tried to put myself in their shoes, but was overwhelmed by the mere thought of where to start. Imagine that you have, the clothes you stand up in, and nothing more… A few days ago you had a roof over your head, a car in the garage, a job to go to, and bills to pay. Now? You don’t even have a utility bill to prove who you are, and perhaps not even an identity document.

What about the man who has lost his wife, his children and his home and car? What does he do? Well, one in particular, it was reported, got up, dusted himself off and went to help fight the fire. What a hero!

Two firefighters lost their lives in the tragedy, one a volunteer, one an experienced and valuable member of a firefighting team. Unsung heroes all of them. A young family died, amongst others, a little boy celebrating his birthday and his mother waiting for a new baby to arrive. There will be no happy ending to their tale.

We went down to our local fire-station yesterday where bemused firemen were still collecting goods to take to the people up there who needed our donations. They, too, were just shaking their heads in disbelief. They, too, could not believe what has happened.

Well, we can’t sit by and just shake our heads in disbelief. We have to be positive, do something positive, no matter what. We must support each other.   This is our own private ‘war’ we are fighting. We are fighting the elements and these elements of nature have no mercy.

And no matter how small the helping hand you offer, it is and will be appreciated. Just DO IT.

 

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WHAT ABOUT THE WEATHER

We have been warned that there is a storm to beat all storms headed our way and to batten down the hatches, lock up everything that moves or floats or is in any way not fixed to something solid. According to the weather experts this was supposed to take place today. Schools have been closed for the day. Now, I don’t know what it is like other than what I have heard on television and on radio, but I think we have lived through far worse in the past.

Here in my little neck of the woods, actually a very rocky little knoll, this storm is turning out to be a pussycat.  Yes, there is wind blowing, but not at hurricane force, and yes we are getting some rain, but only in short little spurts, and certainly not enough to cause major flooding.

I listened to the news bulletins, and yes, there are reports of some trees down here and there, and rockfalls in areas where they always have rockfalls, but this is not the mother of all storms. We have endured far worse.  People have been moved to higher ground in areas where the slightest shower causes major flooding – in places where they should never build in the first place. That is normal. That is part of a Cape winter. We should be used to it by now.

At the moment as I look out of my window I can see blue sky and a garden glowing in sunshine. May be worse is to come, yet the barometer, although it has moved some, is not showing a storm brewing.

So, my question, is therefore: Why do we pay people to predict the weather? They invariably get it wrong. I think the old story of one’s arthritis telling you about weather changes is far more accurate. Of course, there are many web sites which will give you this information, one a little better and a little more accurate than the other, but in the end Mother Nature has a way of making a fool out of each and everyone who decides they know what is going to happen.  Looking out the window is probably of more use than listening or reading about the ‘predictions’.

Yet, if I must be quite honest, it isn’t every day that I phone a friend to hear that his car has been crushed to a few pieces of useless metal by a falling tree. He certainly feels that this is  a monster of a storm, and no doubt so does his insurance company.

And maybe, just maybe by tomorrow I will be singing a different tune when the storm really hits us hard. Perhaps, this is just a fore-taste of what is to come. And for once I hope that I will be proved wrong.

Watch this space. I will be back.

 

 

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NEW TECH BEATS ME

I am really feeling the effects of my advanced age these days. I had thought I was up with technology, but as a writer who now wants to set up a profile to interact with my readers I find I am sadly lacking in skills. The terminology used has me beaten, hashtags and metatags and various other words mean very little in my mind. The ways to market myself and my books are even more formidable. Everything is so different. I can no longer just write a letter and post it. Oh no, too easy. I have to use something called Mailchimp and it has its own set of rules and regulations as to how to format my mail list, how to insert a special form so that they can opt in or out of my mailings (see, I can’t even remember the terminology. But, I am not one to give up. I am going to master all these things. I will conquer my own Everest. Nothing will stop me except death itself and I hope that is a long way off. The reason I am doing all this is because I can’t afford to buy professionals’ time for these chores, and I need to do all this so that I will be able to afford their time, all of which is like a dog going around and trying to catch his tail. You know, I, like all my compatriots have lived through typewriters that had to be pounded with heavy fingers to make an impression on the paper, to conventional electric typewriters, to more sophisticated golf ball typewriters, telex machines with no pre=typing available, to telexes that you could prepare to avoid mistakes , to fax machines, to computers that took up a whole room, to desktop computers to laptops, to tablets, to smart phones. Now those are one heck of a lot of changes in about fifty years. And we have lived through them all. So you young folk out there, don’t laugh at my ignorance. Rather please give me a helping hand.  And my two new books, “Eyes of Evil”, and “The Lies They Lived” are apparently only coming live on my promo piece as they hadn’t linked them to my previous book Hanna’s Home, and Dust Devils Dance is not their either. No wonder sales have been limper than a week old lettuce leaf in a fridge.

Hope to see you soon.

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