‘A New Life’ by Sorcha O’Dowd ~ A J.A.Mes Press ‘Rebirth’ Anthology Submission.

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A New Life
by Sorcha O’Dowd

 

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My submission for #J.A.MesPress ‘Rebirth’ Anthology

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 Title: A New Life
Word Count: 983
Author: Sorcha O’Dowd
Book: Yes

The road was rocky, causing the pony to struggle over the cobbles, its jerking movements leaving Maria and the driver bouncing up and down on the trap. She held a hand to her head, making sure the hat pin was doing its job of securing her hat in place.

It was growing dark when they finally reached the main square, a lone light shone from the single lamp post that stood in the far corner by the baker’s.

The small village of Tucker’s Prior had changed little in four years. Where London had been overtaken by sights of war; news sellers on every corner holding papers aloft, with a new figure captioned, “10,000 CASUALTIES IN FIRST SURGE”, Tucker’s Prior showed no such changes. The grocer’s stood where it always had, the only difference from 1913 being the faded notice in the window; the one that was handed out at the beginning of the war which explained the rations allowance.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to drop you somewhere nearer home, Ma’am?” the driver asked her, looking cautiously around at their dark surroundings before offering his hand to help her down.

“No, thank you.” Maria replied with a soft smile as she hefted her bag from the back of the trap. “I’m near home.”

He nodded, although still unsure. “You take care of yourself Ma’am.”

Holding her bag in one hand she watched the driver give one more concerned look around before turning and urging the pony back along the cobbles. She smiled sadly as he rounded the corner, the retreating trap signalling the end of her journey.

After taking a moment to deliberate, she let her feet take her away from the path leading home. She guiltily thought of her mother, most likely in her rocking chair waiting to welcome her eldest daughter home. Maria pushed the guilt away, knowing her Mother would understand if she knew her plan.

But, would he want to see her? Would he still think her as selfish as he once did?

She could feel the heavy carpet of her bag brushing against her skirts as she walked. Reaching a stile she hoisted the offending hem and stepped over, trying to avoid covering the bottom of her skirt with the slimy mud that was quickly coating her boots.

She felt a quick smirk grow on her lips.

“Welcome back to the country,” she murmured.

But despite her bravado, her limbs felt weighted with her every step, as though her body was trying to dissuade her traitorous heart as it led her onwards. It wasn’t until she turned the corner, spotting a light at the end of the road that her confidence waned.

It was the light that should have told her she was home, that she was safe, that she wasn’t alone.

Instead it gave her a rush of memories, memories buried in desperation by a broken hearted girl.

She forced herself to walk on; trying desperately to push their last meeting from her mind, but his heated words flowed over her, cracking her heart a little more with every remembered word.

“I need to help. I refuse to stay here in this tiny village doing nothing! I have to go.”

“No Maria, you’re not going off for your country. You are going off to escape. You just needed any excuse to escape from the fact that I’m in love with you.”

She pushed the tears away that were threatening to flow, and approached the farmhouse. The house was in darkness, unsurprising as it was past midnight, and when Maria lifted her hand to knock on the door she hesitated, suddenly unsure. Memories of Sarah Darling kissing him as his platoon left for the front flashed through her mind, and she blanched.

“What was I thinking?” she thought desperately. “He wouldn’t still be waiting for me.”

Suddenly a light from her right caught her attention and she turned curiously, seeing a thin strip of dull light spilling from the barn door which had swung open.

She moved without thinking, heading straight towards it before her courage failed her.

Her heart stopped as she peered around the corner.

He was there.

Unlike the village which remained frozen in a previous life, time and the war had changed him. His once dark hair, was now speckled with grey strands, despite him being not yet thirty-five. His shirt sleeves were pushed up above his elbows, displaying the strong muscles built from long hours working on the farm, and the years fighting in the trenches.

It was Robert.

The sound of an animal bleating redirected her attention, and only then did she notice the sheep that lay before him. Its back legs jerked as she gave birth, and enraptured Maria watched Robert as, frowning with concentration, he reached low, hands entering the lamb and pulling hard. A split second and it was over, the lamb slipping from its mother’s womb and flopping onto the straw covered ground.

Not once had he lost a lamb.

“You’re back.”

His words jolted through her and she jumped back, but there was no malice in his face as he moved to standing, leaning heavily on one leg; his limp, a momentum from the trenches, now obvious.

“That was my first lamb this spring,” he said quietly. “Hopefully means the birth of better times to come.”

Her head shot up, and at the soft smile on his face the flood of tears she’d held in for years finally fell.

“I’m so sorry,” she whispered, as he moved closer looking down at her tenderly; his fingers still messed from the birth stopping a breath away from her cheek.

“No!” He exclaimed, a small light in his weary eyes. “It’s behind us. It’s a new beginning, a new life.”

“Together?” She dared to ask as hot tears dripped down her cheeks.

He nodded.

“Together.”

 

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Blog Stop ~ My Writing Process

Last week, I was tagged by  author K.R. Green to take part in the writing process blog tour.

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I’m really a rather boring author, but here’s a little about me. Feel free to answer the questions yourself in a comment.

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1. What am I working on at the moment?

Ah, how difficult it is when I have somebody ask me what my current writing project is. As I think any writers will know, there is a never ending bombardment of thoughts, ideas and characters that infiltrate into your mind all day, everyday. I find it really difficult to stay focused on one writing project when I have ideas for others, but I am hard at work on my novel ‘Poppy Field’ at the moment which I am determined to give my full attention until I have it finished.

Poppy Field is a really special story to me, as it is set during the German occupation of France during World War II, and therefore has the potential to remind readers, young and old, of the hardships that our previous generations went through in order for us to live the lives we do today. Poppy Field tells the story of a young French girl who falls in love with the ghost of a dead English soldier whose spirit wanders the Poppy Field that marks his final resting place after his death in WWI’s battle of the Somme. However, the story isn’t his, it’s about the girl trying to make sense of the feelings for a dead man whilst fighting for her country’s freedom in the French Resistance.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My novel is a strange one. I remember talking to ‘Chocolat’ author Joanne Harris about the genre of her books, and she’d said that she is in one of her own, where her books don’t fit into any fixed genre when it comes to publication. I find that similar with Poppy Field. Whilst there are fantasy/paranormal elements, this is very much something that is in the background. The story does not revolve around how this man is a ghost, but on our heroine’s feelings and actions in the French Resistance which are very much rooted from her deep love for this man and her need to fight the German regime almost in revenge for his death.

 3. Why do I write what I do?

I can’t remember a time that I didn’t write. As a young child I remember writing a story about two young identical twins (blatantly stolen from the ‘Home Farm Twins’ book series), and about their father who was working nights storming out of his bedroom and running down the stairs in his underpants ranting that they were making too much noise when he was trying to sleep. Whilst it is definitely not bestseller material, I knew from that young age that I wanted to write stories that people could connect to and say ‘Oh yeah, that happened to me too.’

With my current works-in-progress, especially Poppy Field, I just can’t not write it. The characters seem so real to me, with their pain, heartache, desperation and strength in a hopeless time, that I feel I have to tell their story. It’s something that I hope any readers who were alive during WWII will connect with and say ‘In other circumstances, this character could have been me.’

Everything has to have emotional meaning for me to write it. I can never write something if I don’t feel the emotion seeping through me just at the idea of it. I love a cathartic cry, and reading or watching passionate, heartbreaking scenes is something that drives me on. I always connect to the characters who have the longest, hardest journey, the relationships that slowly burn until the last few pages, and the power of love keeping people afloat during times of crisis.

4. How does my writing process work?

As I suffer from chronic fatigue, my writing process is very unconventional. I write when I’m awake (which isn’t a lot of the time), but usually end up needing a nap after half an hour of writing, so I barely make a dent in my word count, before doing the same at night after I get home from work, when I’m wide awake. I find my best work comes from me writing in the middle of the night. I’ve always been this way, at University the essay’s I wrote at night were the ones that got the best marks. There’s also something really atmospheric about writing at night. On a windy night you can hear the wind howling through the trees, and the rain hitting the window, and on a still night I can hear foxes, monkjacks and owls calling out.

I tend to write until the words don’t flow anymore. I hate to force words out in sake of a higher word count, because my best writing comes from deep emotion and pain seeping through my fingers. I’m also one of those authors who loves to write by hand by a single lamp, especially when working on my historical novels as it helps me feel closer to that time period where they’d work by hand with only a single dull light to see with.

The one thing I hate more than anything is word counts. I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo for the last four years, and whilst it’s been an amazing experience I really do notice a difference in the quality of my writing at the beginning and end of my NaNoWriMo project. The beginning flows well, but then becomes stilted and forced later and the characters become different to how I want them. The most important thing about my writing process is that it takes time, it flows naturally and I don’t add words for the sake of a word count. It’s something that I have to constantly remind myself, but for me it really works.

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Next Monday (12th May), one of my fellow writers will be posting their answers to this blog tour. Don’t forget to head over and see how their process differs from mine.

 

Katie Jennings is the author of eight full length novels, including the popular fantasy series The Dryad Quartet as well as the bestselling family drama series The Vasser Legacy.

~ Katie Jennings ~

 

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Book Blitz ~ ‘Fifty First Times: A New Adult Anthology’

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Fifty First Times: A New Adult Anthology
Published by: Avon Impulse
Publication date: February 25th 2014
Genres: New Adult
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SYNOPSIS

You always remember your first time…


Whether it’s the couple who decides not to go through with it, the two boys who finally aren’t ashamed, the newlyweds whose wedding night could very well be their last night together, the deaf pair who have no choice but to take body language to a new level–or, of course, the two young lovers fumbling and laughing, getting everything wrong. These are the memories that will never fade.
Join nineteen fantastic authors as they pull back the curtain and give you a peek inside that one intense moment in their characters’ lives when everything changes and nothing will ever be the same again.
Featuring stories from some of the hottest names in New Adult, Young Adult, and Romance including New York Times Bestselling authors J.Lynn/Jennifer Armentrout, Molly McAdams, Sophie Jordan, and Carrie Ryan.
NOTE: These stories are works of fiction. If you want to know about our first times, you’ll have to buy us a pet monkey first.
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Enter below for the chance to win the brilliant Grand Prize Set.

Prizes (US only) – all to 1 winner:

$25 gift card for either Amazon, Apple, or B&N (winners choice)
e-copy of Fifty First Times gifted through Amazon Kindle*below books will be paperback unless only hard cover is available, also note some books including the featured title are for readers 17-18+
Entire Tempest trilogy by Julie Cross
Letters to Nowhere by Julie Cross
Hourglass by Myra McEntire
Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Be with Me by J. Lynn
Gone Gone Gone by Hannah Moskowitz
Stealing Harper by Molly McAdams
Catching Liam by Sophia Bleu/Genn Albin
Need You Tonight by Roni Loren
A Little Too Much by Lisa Desrochers
Foreplay by Sophie Jordan

~ A Rafflecopter Giveaway ~

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My Story

The first time we met was when we stood at the altar.

Now I know what you’re thinking, but really it wasn’t like that. I was the Best Man, she was the Maid of Honour. I know, cliché as anything. It’s something we are teased about even now, five years later.

“Should have been you two getting married that day.” Their friends said, “Probably would have lasted longer than the ones who actually tied the knot.”

Sadly, it was true. The happy bride and groom captured within photos and distant memories of that day were no more. Divorced, and arguing over custody of their two children.

Maybe our story won’t seem so special to others. Maybe the promise of a passion-filled love at first sight, where lustful looks are exchanged in the lead up to the most exhilarating sex of their lives, is what draws people in more, but that wasn’t us.

We met at the altar where our best friends were being tied together for what should have been the rest of their lives. She was wearing purple, something she till moaned about when she looked at the photos, and I was uncomfortable in a too-tight shirt and a cravat tied smartly around my neck.

It’s true when people say those suits make you feel like a penguin.

I don’t actually remember the ceremony. I just remember watching her as she fussed over the flowers that the bride had flung her way, and how she’d focused hard on keeping upright as she wobbled in the highest and thinnest pair of heels he’d ever seen.

(As soon as the photos were finished, she’d kicked them off and replaced them with a pair of flip flops she’d hidden away in her handbag. I remember it well because she’d leant onto my shoulder as she reached to pull the offending heels off her feet.)

I remember everything about that day, the day I met my future wife, standing at the altar smiling shyly , not lustfully, when she caught me looking. No promise of mind-blowing sex in celebration of our friends marriage. Just a shy smile from a beautiful woman.

That was the day I’ll always remember as the day I met my wife.

 

Author’s Note: I took the prompt for this story a little differently, as I’m really not a very exciting person, and this lovely guy in my head just wanted the story of how he first met his wife told.

I hope you enjoyed.

 

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Julie Cross (creator)
J. Lynn
Molly McAdams
Sophie Jordan
Roni Loren
Tracy Wolff
Lauren Layne
Andrew Shaffer
Cole Gibson
Myra McEntire
Carrie Ryan
Mark Perini
Gennifer Albin
Lisa Desrochers
Hannah Moskowitz
Lyla Payne
Alessandra Thomas
Melissa Landers
Melissa West
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Book Blitz organised by Xpresso Book Tours.
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New Release ~ ‘Tales by the Tree: An Anthology of Holiday Flash Fiction’

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Hello everyone! I have some very exciting news!

Today is the release day of the debut anthology from J.A.Mes Press Publishing Company in which one of my short stories is available.

‘Tales by the Tree’ is a collection of 75 Christmas holiday-themed short stories and flash fiction by a team of 40+ authors, both published and newbies, and it is designed by the wonderful team at Blue Harvest Creative.

All royalties from this project benefit the Mount Rose Elementary School library in Reno, Nevada.

Please do check out this anthology. It is available now on Amazon in both Print and on Kindle (and if I know you in the real vs. virtual world I’ll sign my story for you :P)

My Story is entitled ‘Teething Troubles at Christmas’ and is under the ‘Holiday Humor’ Category.

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~ Amazon UK ~ Amazon US ~

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Teething Troubles at Christmas ~ A Short Story for ‘A Merry Minion Christmas: Assorted Tales from the Realm of the Dark Fairy Queen.’

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Teething Troubles at Christmas.

Genre: Romantic Comedy         Author: Sorcha O’Dowd         eBook Yes

ONCE UPON A TIME

Scarlett was exhausted. She’d been summoned from one house to another all night, dutifully fulfilling her job of exchanging small milky teeth for a shiny fifty pence piece that barely fit in the pocket of her overall. Honestly, whoever thought that being the Tooth Fairy was a romantic notion was, quite frankly, stupid. It was the least romantic job in the world and the fact that she barely reached thirty centimetres in height and therefore had very little space on her person to put a fifty pence piece was to be honest, more troublesome than you’d think. But in the grand scheme of things that was actually the least of her worries, for the teeth themselves were more often than not a complete burden.

Couldn’t the children at least clean the tooth before they put it eagerly under their pillow? It wasn’t the nicest of sights or the most enjoyable of jobs having to pick up the milky tooth, large enough that she had to hold it with both newly manicured hands, when it was covered in ripped flesh and drying blood.

And she supposed no one thought of her welfare when it came to this job. She saw the other young fairies give her envious glances when she flew from the Fairy Queen’s palace in the evenings ready for a night of work. So many times she’d been tempted to yell at them that it was hardly the most glamorous of jobs, and that having to carry such a large number of fifty pence pieces in the oversized pockets of her tiny work coat meant she had agonising back problems when she finally returned home before sunrise and collapsed into bed.

It was also a real killer on her social life. Whilst everyone else in the Kingdom was out partying at night, she was stuck collecting blood covered teeth. Lovely!

“God I’m tired.” She yawned as she finally returned to her room, her eyes drooping and her lips pouting as sleep called to her. She fought the sensation briefly and focused on unbuttoning her coat, giving a relieved sigh as she stretched her back and felt it realign itself with a satisfying crack.

As she clambered onto her bed, and looked out at the sunrise peeking through her bedroom window, she sighed wearily catching sight of the celebrations going on below in the Palace courtyard.

Whilst she’d been out having to fly around the entire planet in the space of twelve hours, everyone here at the castle was celebrating Christmas.

She watched as the fairies danced down below her, the sounds of joyful music filtering through her open window and she felt jealousy rise up within her.

Funny really. You expect the Christmas Fairy and his little minion elves to be working hard on this day, but people tend to forget that the Tooth Fairy is an all-night-every-night job. There’s no Christmas for her, just like there’s no Easter.

Feeling annoyed at herself for her dull thoughts, Scarlett shook her head and reached up to firmly close her open window, feeling a little more cheerful as she shut the sounds of her fellow fairies out of her bedroom and her mind.

Now, where was that book she had been looking forward to reading before bed?

*

Throughout the Fairy realm there was a saying used all too often; ‘Don’t Ever Wake A Sleeping Dragon’. For some reason unbeknown to Scarlett the saying ‘Don’t Ever Wake A Sleeping Tooth Fairy’ hadn’t ever caught on. (She couldn’t fathom why. She’d almost scared a poor servant to death when he’d woken her too soon, and sent him off screaming into the day.)

As this proverb had never been spread throughout the Kingdom, you would think that a fairy would be slightly more alarmed when facing Scarlett’s wrath, screaming and raging at him merely forty-five minutes after she had fallen asleep.

But no.

This fairy was Kyle, and Kyle never looked outwardly alarmed, for that would mean that his annoying (and Scarlett would never admit it, but rather handsome) smirk would have to cease. So instead he merely grinned lazily as Scarlett hovered before him, her face red with fury.

“I had a LONG NIGHT. I was TIRED! TIRED, Kyle! Now, I know that is not something that you would understand seeing as you’ve never done a hard night’s work in your life. But SOME PEOPLE need sleep to function properly.”

“Woah! Chill Scarlett!” Kyle laughed as though the entire situation was a great joke to him, and Scarlett turned away from him in a huff, hating how great he looked when he curved his lips into that gorgeous smile of his. ‘NO Scarlett! Focus.’ She silently scolded herself.

“Well?” She asked, forcing  her voice to remain stiff and punishing as she turned around to face him again, folding her arms crossly. “What was your reason for waking me up at the crack of dawn when I’d been up all night, unlike everyone else in the entire…”

She didn’t see him fly towards her in the space of a second, and only caught up with his movement as his lips quickly dropped to hers and she felt him give her a soft kiss. Soft, but meaningful.

He pulled away as quickly as he’d moved in, and Scarlett opened her mouth to scold him only to find that no words would leave her lips.

“Happy Christmas, Scarlett.” Kyle grinned at her, a twinkle in his eye, and before she could even utter a syllable, he flew and disappeared out the door in a swish of arrogant gracefulness.

“Idiot.” Scarlett finally managed to spit out, even as a shy but bright smile grew on her face, and she literally floated back to bed.

“Best Christmas ever!” She sighed happily as she fell back onto her bed, a content smile on her face as she drifted off to sleep.

THE END

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So Many Books . . . So Little Time!

I appear to be in a rather pensive state of mind at the moment, so thought I’d put my rambles out into a blog post.

My Goodreads to-read list is getting longer and longer with every passing day. My bookshelves are creaking and groaning a little more every time a new paperback is lovingly placed on top (there’s no space actually on the shelves). My Kindle is getting a little closer to the 3,500 book limit every day, despite half of the books having not been read yet. But despite all that, I still always find myself reading this book again (I lost count of the number of times I’ve read it after it got to about 20+).

Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling

I think that is the magic of a good book, something that you can go back to so many times and still feel the thrill you felt the first read, even 20+ rereads later.

J.K. Rowling is my greatest inspiration as a writer. She gave me the best part of my childhood and gave me a world to escape to when the one we live in became too much. That she could round her characters so well, and make every one of their actions seem believable is awe inspiring. Maybe that is why I became a writer too. The desire to create my own world where I could escape to when reality lets you down, is a driving force of my writing, even if the story isn’t fantasy. We can give our characters the happy endings they deserve, and gives hope that there are people in the world like those characters we’ve created that give you hope for humanity.

So this is a rather rambly blog post that probably made very little sense, but was my way of expressing my thanks to J.K. Rowling, and all those other authors that gave me the best childhood, without which I wouldn’t be writing my own characters happy endings today.