Book Excerpt ‒ Cogrill’s Mill by Jack Lindsey

August 15, 2019

He stood glumly on the pavement and stared at the shop window.  It contained prominently displayed photographs of weddings as well as portraits of an assortment of people, children and domestic animals.  He agonised for ten minutes and then with great determination strode to the door, opened it and walked inside.

A bell sounded as it swung shut behind him.  The shop was deserted.  In front of him was a small counter, behind which was a stack of filing cabinets.  He approached the counter and looked around him.  More photographs, similar to those in the window, adorned the walls.  To the left of the counter a small door led to a back room and to its right, a wooden flight of stairs led upwards.  There was a clatter of feet on the stairs and a very pretty golden-haired girl descended.  She stepped behind the counter.  “Can I help you?” she asked in a polite soft voice.  Her eyes were bright blue and her smile sparkled.

George was mesmerised by her beauty but he managed to summon up some words. “I … I wish to speak to Mr Gloam,” he stammered.

“There is no Mr Gloam,” she replied.

George was confused but he blustered on. “The sign says V. Gloam.”

She nodded, still smiling.  “That’s me … Victoria Gloam.”

“I was looking for Victor Gloam,” George continued.

“Victor Gloam was my father. He died two years ago.”

George felt a surge of relief.  “Oh really,” he breathed.  Fate was on his side again.

The girl’s smile changed to a frown.  “Well there’s no need to look so pleased about it,” she said.

George’s face reddened.  “I’m extremely sorry, I didn’t mean …”

“What did you wish to see my father about, Mr … er … um?  What did you say your name was?”

“Oh, er … um … Smith,” replied George and added hastily, “I was asked to look your father up.  I’m sorry to have troubled you, good-bye!”  He turned quickly for the door.

“Good-bye, Mr Smith!”  Victoria Gloam called after him.

Once outside, George hurried across the road to a telephone box.  Life was pleasant once more. He could hardly contain himself.   He snatched open the door, grabbed the telephone receiver and quickly dialled his aunt’s number.  His call was answered by the butler. “Hello, Gumage,” said George, “is my aunt there?”

“I will see if I can find her, Master George.”

Some moments passed and then Aunt Jane’s harsh voice sounded at the end of the line.  “Hello, George,” she said.

“Hello, Aunt Jane!” George said breezily.  She would be pleased that he had acted so speedily and successfully.  “I’m calling from Tidburn!”

“Oh yes.”

“Yes.” Then George remembered to lower his voice and tried to sound not so joyful.  “I’m afraid Victor Gloam is dead.”  There was silence at the other end of the telephone.

“Did you hear me, Aunt Jane?” asked George

“I heard you, George.”

“So I can’t give him half my inheritance.”

“I realise that, George.”

“Well, I thought I ought to let you know as soon as possible.  Now I had better be going as I am phoning from a call box and I haven’t much change.  Good-bye, Aunt Jane.”

“George!”

“Yes, Aunt Jane?”

“Did he leave any family?”

George felt his heart sink. “Family, Aunt Jane?”

“Yes, George, a wife, children.”

George began to stammer. “I’m … I’m not sure.”

“What do you mean, you’re not sure?”

“I’ll … I’ll have to check.”

“Well make sure that you do, because if there are any relatives then they’re entitled to get what should have gone to Victor Gloam.  Is that clear, George?”

“Yes, Aunt Jane,” said George sadly. “Good-bye.”

“Good-bye, George.”

George slowly put the receiver down.  Well that was that.  He would have to see the girl again.  It was now clear that his quiet comfortable life would definitely change.  Well, it could not be helped.  He crossed the road and entered the shop once more.

http://peatmore.com/cogrills.htm

Photograph : 123RF konstantin32


Writing Courses

July 29, 2019

A friend recently asked me if I could recommend any creative writing courses.  I have never signed up for one myself.  There are so many it is hard to advise anyone where to start.  There are plenty advertised online and several academic courses run by Universities and colleges, one of the most famous being the MA in Creative Writing run by Malcolm Bradbury at the University of East Anglia in the 1970s and attended by both Ian McEwan and Kazuo Ishiguro.

I dabbled in writing fiction in my teens and studied various forms of biology at technical colleges and University up until middle age so I felt I knew how to write basic English and had no pressing need to follow a writing course.  But I have attended writing workshops and found them useful in gaining tips has they helped with character development and overcoming writer’s block.  Where they really come into their own is in meeting fellow authors and learning about the challenges they have faced in the course of their writing life.

Writing fiction is a solitary endeavour and to swap experiences with those who follow the same path is invaluable and so I recommend those setting out on a fiction writing career to join a local writers group.

Keith Jahans


Write what you know

July 16, 2019

This is a good maxim for any fiction writer because when one does not know a fact there is a big temptation to make it up.  Even fantasy writers base their stories on some element of knowledge which can be scientific or more commonly mythological.  As a former professional scientist I sometimes place some science into my narratives.  In the early days of my writing, I consciously steered away from this as I did not want the science I published to be confused with my fiction.  I even published my fiction under two pennames to make doubly sure that this confusion did not happen.  But now more than ten years have passed since I retired from my microbiology job so I have started to write under my own name.  This is not only because I want to be recognised by what I have achieved but it allows friends and family to easily find my work.

I am used to research and I know where to go to find the information I want.  The internet is a brilliant tool to enable this.  In my younger days I spent hours in a library to research a topic before embarking on an area of scientific study and even after the study was completed I had to spend more library time in checking that the references I used in my written reports were sound.  Then later on time spent doing this on a PC made the whole process simpler and quicker.  There is now a whole growing branch of study involved with this known as Informatics.

But the best way to seek the knowledge needed for a piece of written work is to utilise your own experience.  This may be by recalling the geography of the area where you were brought up or by remembering the characters you have met.  The latter should be carefully portrayed to avoid offence and the best way to do this is to only select some of their traits, to mix these with those from others and never use the real names of people you know.

Keith Jahans


But if: a rich man meets an invisible man

July 9, 2019

A 9 minute cautionary tale written and read by Keith Jahans

https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/But-If-Audiobook/B0182SIT7C


Medical Thrillers

June 13, 2019

Writing medical or techno thrillers requires a great deal of background knowledge.  But it has not got to be comprehensive as science is evolving constantly.  As soon as a scientific discovery is published it can already be out of date.

There are advances that are fundamental science such as the now established structure of DNA which has lead to the identification of individuals (microbes, plants, animals and humans) through genetic fingerprinting.  A number of crime writers get round having to deal with modern scientific forensic techniques by setting their stories in the past, usually before the 1960s when genetic analysis was not fully developed.  Even today separate forensic laboratories in various countries use different methodologies and these will change over time.

Novelists and short story writers have the perfect get out if the science described in their work is incorrect or outdated in that it really is only fiction.  But what they must ensure if they wish their work to satisfy the expectations of their readers is that it has to be believable.

 

Keith Jahans


Writing Reviews

June 5, 2019

I read a great deal and fit my reading around the time I devote to writing and promoting my own books.  I review books I have read on my own blog at http://wordpress.peatmore.com.  Most of the books I now read are written by lesser known writers.  As a writer myself, I know a positive review can give a boost to someone’s confidence and even help promote their work.  Most of those I read are talented at what they do and deserve a wider audience.

Writing is a lonely business so the mere fact that it is obvious that your work has been read and somebody has taken the trouble to write about it is a reward in itself.  But a bad review may have the reverse effect in which case the writer must be philosophical about it.  The fact that not everybody is going to like your work is a fact everyone working in creative art is aware of so a few poor reviews amongst many should be expected.  Most authors even those who have become quite famous have had their work rejected at some point, myself included, when trying to follow the traditional path to publication.  Rejection is part of the job.

Many of the books I have reviewed have been written by people I have met and some have been by those I consider as friends.  The question then arises about how objective I should be and the short answer is that I should be objective as possible.  After all, I am reviewing the work not the person who wrote it.  I find that most of what I read turns out to be extremely enjoyable, some not so, so the extent of my enjoyment is reflected in my review.  But if I think that a piece of writing is particularly bad, instead of writing about it, I will point out my concerns privately and don’t publish the review.  This may be considered to be a copout but I know how soul destroying completely negative criticism can be.

I think now is the time for me to share with you the worst review I have received and have pasted it below.

“Utter Disappointment”

Wasted time and money on this crappy short “book”. I wish I paid more attention to the description

This is pretty damming but I assure you that I have received many more excellent reviews – honest.  But you can judge for yourself by checking out my books on my website at www.peatmore.com.

Keith Jahans

 

Previously posted as Guest Blog for Jagged Edge Reviews on 23 May 2018
at http://klearsreviews.blogspot.com/2018/05/guest-post-keith-jahans.html?m=0


Book Review – The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci by Belle Ami

May 29, 2019

This is a well crafted thriller with a supernatural theme.

The narrative describes the hunt for a hidden painting by Leonardo da Vinci.  It spans countries and time zones and follows the fortunes of the main protagonists, art historian Angela Renatus and art detective Alex Caine.

Angela has several hallucinations, the first of which sends her spinning across time to when Da Vinci first created the painting.  Alex also experiences hallucinations, but these are clearly linked to Angela’s and are not so intense.  Angela’s part of the story opens at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, where she was working for the director, Albert Scordato who has been abusing her and becomes the central villain of the narrative.  Scordato has been secretly videoing her, witnesses the hallucinations and realises she may be a link to finding the missing painting which being by Da Vinci is worth a fortune.

The hallucinations are also witnessed by Alex, who falls in love with Angela and persuades her to leave the Getty and come with him to Italy to unravel the mystery behind her hallucinations.  Scordato follows, recruiting henchmen along the way, with the intention of ceasing the painting and doing the protagonists harm.

The author gets the feel of the different time zones in story right.  The dialogue used by the characters in the past times may not be strictly accurate, but this does not matter as it describes how they must have reacted and felt at the time the actions take place.  Belle Ami has obviously done a great deal of research about Da Vinci and the Renaissance.  She seems to know the period well.  The love she has for the art of this time clearly comes across in the book and made me want to revisit what I already knew about Da Vinci and the time in which he lived.  I am not so sure that the description of events in Florence during World War II ring as true.  But I will need to research that period myself to be sure of its accuracy.

The hallucinations and the time shifts they cause are expertly described.  The love scenes between Angela and Alex are also very well written.  The love they have for each other and food make the story extremely sensuous.  The character of Angela is well portrayed and believable.  She comes across as impoverished and downtrodden.  Alex, on the other hand, seems too good to be true.  He is a rich ex-military hero with a liking for fast cars and is an expert in the use of small arms.  Sordato appears to be almost a cliché of a James Bond villain.  There is nothing wrong with that as I love the James Bond books and films, but I would have liked a bit more originality here.

But despite these minor critisems I enjoyed the story and the originality behind the plot kept me reading right until the end.

Keith Jahans


Available as a paperback, ebook and audiobook


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