Monday, 31 October 2011

The Wedding Breakfast

I'm excited! I've just finished the final edit of 'The Wedding Breakfast', the second story in my first collection.

Junior has been worrying his mother. He's been silent, moody and off his food; she thinks he needs a tonic. Then Gretchen appears in his life and everything changes. It's not long before mother is organising the grand WWE (White Wedding Experience). But Junior has a secret eating disorder which will ruin her day.

I'm having difficulty deciding on the title for the collection. As I gradually reveal the titles of its contents, maybe a theme will emerge, a common thread. Or maybe not. Why not start suggesting titles to me? If I end up choosing yours, you'll receive a free copy of the e-book. Watch out for the next story here.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Melt-down !!!

Well, I've already hit the point where I'm wondering why on earth I started all this. How was it I ever imagined that I could conquer the world of modern technology to make sense of everything required to set up a blog? I'm not sure how many hours I have spent today, struggling to find instructions, understand the instructions, carrry out the instructions...... Having sent out a bunch of emails to friends asking them to support my efforts on the blog, I discovered I was unable to post a comment myself. The frustration was blood-curdling. My supporters would be there, lining up to say witty, approving things about 'Romantic Fiction', and at the first sign of difficulty with the gadget they would simply melt away, disgusted, never to return. Action had to be taken immediately.

Thanks to more technically able mates, adjustments were made, applications enabled, the problem was solved. It is now possible to post your comment, so I will thank you in advance for doing it.

How did we all manage to write anything at all before we blogged.....?

Monday, 24 October 2011

Welcome to my new blog!

24th Oct 2011

Do you remember at your Primary School, when the teacher said,
'Everyone sit down on the Story Mat now; we're going to have a story'?
Magic to my ears, the best part of the day.  As adults we are no different.  Start to tell a story anywhere, any time, and you will quickly collect an enraptured, wide-eyed audience.

Words have always entranced me.  I've used my joy of language to my advantage in many different settings: on a stage, as a Speech Therapist, as a teacher, a Group Facilitator and a Counsellor.  Oh, and not to forget as an entertainer, with my own children and family and in social settings.

I had my nose buried in a book for most of my childhood.  I can make the proud claim that I read 'Gone With the Wind' in a single sitting at the age of thirteen.  Now I run a Book Group in order to ensure that I actually do read at least one book a month.  Why?  Because writing has taken over.  Retirement has left me no further excuses for not getting on with it.  While working away on The Novel, I started writing short stories, and now I simply can't stop.

I invite you to join me from time to time on my journey towards publishing my first three story collections for Kindle.  In the meantime, I'll offer you the chance to decide whether you like the kind of stuff I write.  When I started, it seemed that everything came out on the humorous side, whether I'd intended it or not.  But now other moods and themes take me by surprise - pathos, romance, mystery, the unexplainable, shock-horror,  vampirism.

Below, you'll find my story 'Romantic Fiction' which explores steamy emotions in a bookstore coffee shop.  I was recently lucky enough to be asked to read this at Stroud Short Stories Night, which was recorded for Stroud FM.  It seemed to go down well.  Scroll down and enjoy.  Oh, and please do comment!

Romantic Fiction

If I go and get another cup of coffee, I might be able to see what he’s reading. He’d probably go for a biography or a travel book, rather than a spy novel. He’s let that cappuccino go completely cold, so whatever it is, it must be pretty hard going. No wedding ring. And no woman with a vestige of dress sense would have picked out that tie. So poignant, the way his hair keeps dropping down over his right eye. Fine, dark, straight hair. He keeps pushing it back. There it goes again. If he had a wife, a girlfriend, they’d make sure he had his hair trimmed regularly, help him make better dress choices.
Incredibly sexy mouth. Full lips like a girl’s. He’s got a tiny bit of froth stuck to the right-hand corner of his upper lip. Needs…licking away.

*   *   *   *

She’s still watching me, so I can’t risk another look at her face. Just the view I’ve got over the top of this God-awful book is making me sweat. How can an ankle and a foot in a sandal raise my blood pressure? Lord knows, I’m no poet, but I reckon even I could write a sonnet about that foot. The way little creases run up from the delicate arch. The perfect straight toes with tiny round nails like shells. The dimples either side of the ankle bones.  The whole resting in a tracery of fine gold leather straps. She’s like Helen of Troy. Anywhere but Blackstone’s coffee shop and I’d be spread-eagled on the floor in front of her, untying the golden straps, setting aside the sandal, taking the first sublime toe in my mouth and gently sucking…..

It’s gone! She’s crossed her legs the other way. All I can see now is the hem of her skirt.

*   *   *   *

Aaron. Or Blake. No....too far-out. Something old school and dependable. James, or....yes Edward. Ed-ward (not ever Ted or Eddy). That’s definitely a possible. About 27, 28? In Blackstone’s coffee shop on a Tuesday morning. So not an office job. A novelist, maybe, or a freelance journalist. Maybe an actor, between jobs. Yes, he could certainly command a stage. Eyebrows not too close together, arching over eyes I can’t see the colour of. Strong bone structure. Small ears with hardly any lobes. What did I read about that? Supposed to mean sensitivity, or an artistic temperament, or something. Divine ears, in fact. He looks quite tanned. That doesn’t suggest a struggling actor who works at night, sleeps out most of every day. Maybe he’s a film actor, just finished shooting in an exotic location abroad.
My God!....his hands. I hadn’t seen how beautiful they were till he turned a page. Such long fingers! Maybe he’s no actor at all. A classical pianist, that must be it, his hands insured for millions, fingers that stroke the white and black ivory keys of a Steinway and produce chords and cadences of incredible delight. Imagine the delicacy of the touch of those fingers, the hidden strength of their muscles and sinews, the way they could hover, rest as light as a butterfly, caress the skin, trace the curve of the velvet contour of an inner elbow, the spirals of an ear, the swell of a breast. And in the next moment crush a yielding body in a fierce, strong embrace!
I think I need that second coffee.

*   *   *   *

Helen’s feet in gold sandals have just walked past me. I could have reached out quite easily, curled my hand around her calf, allowed it to move up into the vulnerable area at the back of her knee, back down again to the angular planes of that ankle, gripped the tendon between thumb and forefinger, stroked her Achilles heel, her weak spot.
Instead, I sat like a yokel, still pretending to read this book. What is it, anyway? I only grabbed it from the nearest shelf to come and sit opposite her, when I caught the musky smell of her by Military History.  ‘Bobbin Lace Making Explained’.  Who’d have thought it!  I’m beginning to develop serious neck ache from having to look as if I’m totally engrossed in it. She’s up at the counter with her back to me. I’ll risk a proper look and stretch out my neck at the same time. As I thought....a young Goddess. Dream of a figure. Straight, blonde hair, well cut. Ughh....this coffee’s stone cold. Disgusting!

*   *   *   *

Couldn’t get a good look at the book. But he’s wearing Gioco, my absolute favourite aftershave! It was all I could do to stop myself from bending over him, taking his face in my hands and burying my nose in the curve of his neck. I could see the dark shadow of stubble just showing above his collar. If I moved my face against the roughness of it, it would be an ecstatic discomfort. I’d watch him shave in the morning, lifting that aristocratic chin as he slid the razor back and forth, back and forth….I’d stand behind him, my cool hands on his narrow hips, and watch our two reflections in the steamy mirror. When he bent to splash his face with water, his buttocks would press against me. I’d hand him a towel and he’d turn, smiling, his face still glistening with drops of water, and he’d come towards me….
That’s enough! I am, after all, in a public place. I’ll take a break over in Mind, Body and Spirit.

*   *   *   *

It’s hard to believe I’m sitting here behaving like a love-struck teenager. The obvious thing, the adult move, would be to introduce myself. ‘Hi, I’m Ed Briscoe. I’m a lounge bar pianist.’ And invite her out to lunch. I could take her to Luigi’s. We’d sit at the little table in the back corner and I’d ply her with Lou’s reserve Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. It would be blood red against the marble of her skin. When she drank, an endearing little shadow would be left at the top corners of her mouth. 
I’d offer her dainty pillows of pasta stuffed with ricotta which she’d draw from my fork with her exquisite lips. She would chew them languorously, her head tipped back, her eyes closed. I would dip strawberries in champagne and hold them, teasing her, while she tried to bite. The smoky taste of the espresso coffee would still be on her tongue when I....
God, man! Take a hold of yourself. It’s 11.40 a.m. in the middle of Blackstones! She’s getting up. She looks a little flushed. My Helen is moving away between the bookshelves. I’m not losing her now!

*   *   *   *

‘Excuse me. I hope you’ll forgive me for intruding, but I couldn’t help noticing that you look a little pale. Are you feeling faint? Can I get you a chair? A glass of water?’
‘Heavens, no. I’m really quite all right, thanks. It’s just that my mouth doesn’t seem to be working completely normally. It’s very kind of you to be so attentive.’ 
‘Now I feel guilty.  Look, I feel I should come clean with you. I’ve been sitting in the coffee shop trying to get a good look at you for nearly an hour. I hope that doesn’t alarm you. I’m quite harmless. Ed Briscoe. I’m a lounge pianist by night, a haunter of coffee shops in bookstores by day.’
‘Ed? Would that be for Edward? How extraordinary! Yes, I had noticed you, in fact. Helen Southwell, Interior Designer.’
‘Helen? Would that be of Troy?’
‘Come now, Edward, you’re teasing me.’
‘No, honestly. The face that launched a thousand ships. And yours could. You have the aquiline nose.’
‘And you have brown....beautiful brown eyes.’
‘Do you mind my asking what that incredible scent of musk is?’
‘You like it? It’s my favourite perfume. It’s called Climax.’
‘Good God!’
‘And you are wearing Gioco.’
‘You’re amazing, Helen! May I call you Helen?’
‘Yes, Edward, you may. And, in return, will you allow me to attend to something that’s been worrying me for a while?’
‘Well, of course. What is it?’
‘It’s just a small thing. If you wouldn’t mind leaning towards me just a little. Yes, a little lower....that’s it. There’s a tiny bit of froth….there. That’s better.’
‘Ahhhh....Helen, can I take you to lunch? Do you know that nice little Italian on the square, Luigi’s?’

Copyright: Stephanie Smith  2011