Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Birthday Freebies!

 To celebrate my birthday this year, (it was yesterday, I'm a day late posting 😏)

I am giving away two of my books. 

Pool of Players - a dark sci-fi fantasy

Sleep - a psychological thriller 

Grab them while you can 

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 217

This week's picture prompt is from Italian photographer Roberta Tocco . She calles this one: "Through the looking glass and what Alice found there".

Another chance to explore Tricky's tales, and possible events. 

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.

A woman in a cream dress holding a round handmirror that is reflecting the sky - taken by Roberta Tocco

Mirror Trick

She had to be careful: if she could see them, they could see her, so she couldn’t look directly into it. She tilted it back.

It was a good idea of Nathan’s to bring the hand held mirror. It was a clever trick she’d forgotten about; how an energised mirror could reflect others in the vicinity.  He was becoming exceptionally handy to have around. She wasn’t sure how she felt about that though, and didn’t have time in this moment to analyse it, but even his boring waffle wasn’t as boring as it had been. She wasn’t ready to admit that she liked him. Yes, he was a sexy morsel just waiting to be devoured, but he was more than that – or at least becoming more. Ugh she hated all this feeling business. Oh for the emotional detachment John Thatcher had offered her, and a bit of raw, wanton sex. Those were the days! It felt like years ago, although it was only a matter of a few weeks.

Anyway, time to get her mind back on the task at hand.

She saw it in the peripheral edge; a dark sweep of movement. They were there alright. Dammit! How was she going to gain access? She needed to get in there to see if Dufray was still alive, but they had every possible way in patrolled – even the magical ones.

How the hell had they created such a gifted network? How could folk with abilities go along with Stanislov and his desire to control and hoard so much from the people – including the use of their gifts? And who exactly was it that could teach them so much? Stanislov was the first she had come across that could manipulate time like she did. Had her mother known about him? Was that why they’d been able to hoodwink her, even though he wasn’t the man she had fallen for?

She had so many questions and wanted them answered. It’s what drove her forward. She had to get to Dufray; she had to get him out. She hated being wrong about him but wasn’t about to let them stop her from doing what was right.

Bloody hell, now he’d turned her into a good guy! He had a lot to answer for. But in the meantime she needed to use her tricks to get past this obstacle – because that was all it was, a bump in the road.

She put the mirror down on the ground. She could collect it on her way out. She had no choice, she had to hope that this worked and no one saw through it. She took a breath and put the yellow piece of birch leaf against the Periodot and felt the energy around her change as she became invisible. She looked at the open hatch at her feet in the ground. This was it, now or never, saviour or fool, she was going to do this. She took each step carefully. They might not be able to see her, but they could hear her.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 216

When trying to trace this week's picture prompt, I was stunned to find it only twice online and neither credited who had created it! It's been a very long time since I haven't been able to trace an image. Should anyone know who created this piece of art, please let me know. 

No Tricky snippet this week, just a very dark tale. 

General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.

painting of red tulips flowers with long green stems


She heard him enter the apartment and throw his keys on the counter.

‘Rachel, I’m home,’ he called.

She slid slowly down the back wall of the fitted wardrobe until she was sitting on the floor among the shoes. She put a hand to her mouth just in case she made a sound.

‘Rachel? Where are you?’

She could hear him moving around from room to room, looking for her.

‘Rachel, I know you’re here.’

He was persistent; he always had been. All day every day persuading her to stay with him, wanting her close, not letting her out of his sight. He was claustrophobic, just like this wardrobe, making her feel closed in and muffled.

She needed to break free. She needed to release herself from these chains. She needed to breathe again.

She heard him come into the bedroom; the sweeping motion of his feet on the carpet locating him in the room. She heard another sound, a rustling sound, as the bed creaked under his weight.

Oh god, what did he have now? What was he going to use to manipulate her now? She wasn’t sure if she could bear anymore.

She carefully stood up and felt along the clothing rail and found a metal hanger. She lifted it as gently as possible. Any sound was muffled by the clothing either side. She took off the shirt and dropped it to the floor and began to unwind the neck of the hanger, until it came apart. She pulled it apart while she braced herself and told herself she could do this. She shuffled forward to the door.

‘Rachel? Is that you? Are you in the wardrobe?’

The bed creaked again as he got up, the rustle still present with his movements. She heard him come towards the wardrobe and stand in front of it. She held her breath.

He pulled the right side open first, and then the left, using the same hand because he was holding something in his other hand.

She didn’t waste time looking to see what it was; she jabbed the pointed end of the hanger into his throat, driving it hard. He was caught off guard and tried to grab at it, but staggered back, gargling as blood sprayed out of his neck.

He dropped what was in his hand. It landed at her feet, and she looked down at the bunch of red tulips which were now getting redder as his blood soaked them.

Oh please, not more flowers. Every day there was a new bunch. Every day he was sorry for being so needy, so insecure, so desperate to be with her. She’d found it endearing at the beginning but then it had become tiresome, eventually infuriating.

He dropped down to his knees clutching at his throat, but it didn’t stop the flow of blood. Rachel sidestepped and backed out of the room, making sure he wasn’t going to get up and follow her. Then she ran to the front door, grabbing her coat and bag as she left the apartment.

At last some air!


Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Book Review: The Discomfort of Evening, by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld

The Discomfort of EveningThe Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a bookclub book - and what a book! It certainly provided a lot of discussion as there was so much to pick apart.

Be aware that this book may contain triggers over loss of a child, incest or suicide.

We follow a character Jas at the age of 10 to 12, through her thoughts on her life and the events that happen to her and her family, which starts with her elder brother's death, and then foot and mouth disease striking the family farm. It is a stream of consciousness ramble, which goes off on tangents, some not always very clear and some disturbing as she desperately tries to process the death of her brother and the withdrawl of her parents attention, affection and care for her and her other two siblings, without being able to express her emotions, thoughts, and ideas verbally, or have a conversation with any adult in world.

The main character is part of a heavily religious farming family, who are part of a strict reformed protestant church called The Black Stocking Church. The narrative in the book is full of religious scripture which is used to keep everyone in their place and oppressed, and it is through this lens that Jas tries to filter all the events and her emotions.

I have spent the last 18 years living in a small village in the Netherlands where this church is present, along a dike and surrounded by farms, so it was not difficult for me to understand the culture and way these people live. It actually felt like an insider view on them - all be it a distressing one.

This book was disturbing in a way that I didn't anticipate. It was less shock and horror and more an insidious feelings of upset as I realised this child (and their siblings) were being neglected to an extreme degree due to their parents being unable to cope and support each other through the loss of one of their children. It showed how little support their church community gave them, in fact how they were being judged and oppressed by it - this is not a book that shows religion in a favourable light.

Some might find the interactions Jas has with her siblings occasionally perverse and edging on sexual abuse, but when three children are left unattended with no nurturing, comforting, or loving from their parents, or any adults, over an extended period of time (2 years), it can result in them seeking ways to comfort themselves and each other in ways that aren't quite right especially when left without guidance and unobserved.

Many of our bookclub members didn't finish this book as they found it too much of a struggle due to its distressing themes, and is written and formatted in such a way that makes it hard to follow. But there are lines of extreme profound observation throughout the book across many subjects, which is no doubt why it achieved award winning status.

I likened this book to The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks, which I still consider one of the most disturbing books I've ever read - and my favourite authors are all horror writers (King, Barker, Herbert) - but the elements that make The Discomfort of Evening disturbing are less cruel and more innocent. It is a book that stays with you long after you have read it, as you continue to process what you have read.

I gave it a four star as it did contain a few simple typos and could have been formatted with more paragraph breaks to make it easier to read.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 215

This week's picture prompt was a photograph taken by someone called @hasmodia on instagram. In the link to their IG page, it takes you the shot of the whole tree. It's quite extraordinary as the image has not been altered and it is exactly as they found it. 

Another perfect picture to take a dip into Tricky's adventures. A brief snippet this week which may or may not feature in the triology at some point. 

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.

A knot in a green coloured tree trunk that looks like an eye.


They had eyes everywhere, which is why she was so grateful that she could communicate with them. Without them she would be lost, both physically and figuratively. Despite her paranoia, she never minded them tracking her, particularly now, when she needed them most.

Tricky pushed through another thicket and came out into a clearing. They were all there – the trees not her pursuers – tall and strong, waiting for her to arrive.

There was a sudden flurry of movement and a branch was lowered. A small sprig growing off it moved up and down like a finger indicating for her to climb on. She didn’t hesitate, and was lifted high up into the foliage above.

Tricky felt her stomach lurch as she was raised up, and tried hard not to let her mind swoon with vertigo. She loved trees but climbing them wasn’t her thing. She liked to connect with them at their base. But she soon realised their intention when she heard voices below.

‘She was here, like two seconds ago. How does she do that? How does she disappear?’

‘She’s a master of time, Hugo, what do you expect? She can step out of it at will.’

Tricky wished she had thought of that, but she needed presence of mind and a calmness to step out of time. Since running for her life, along with the damage they’d done to her body, staying coherent enough to connect with the trees was the best she could do.

But she also no longer trusted moving out of time, not now she knew Stanislov was adept at it. The shock of that was still sinking in. She had no idea about the extent of his ability or how he had learnt the skill – although Tricky had never been naive enough to believe she and her mother were the only people on the landmass capable of mastering the skill. But he’d displayed a prowess that concerned her. It was another puzzle she had to unravel.

There were so many and she hoped to create some connecting threads soon, but only once she was back in a safe place. Despite the trees providing her with sanctuary and a respite up here in their boughs, it was far from home where there were people and tools to support and hide her while she figured it out.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 214

This week's writing prompt picture is by photographer Brett Nickeson and he calls it Mammatus Road. Mammatus is the type of clouds. Looks incredible. I think it's somewhere in North America. 

We are back again with a Tricky snippet. Not sure if this will be in Book 2 or 3, or even if it will make it into the book. But I do like exploring the characters in these flash pieces. 

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.

Clouds at sunset above a dirt road


She wasn’t quite sure where she was: present, past or future. She didn’t recognise this place at all – no, sir, not a bit. And she thought she’d been everywhere; she’d spent years travelling through other time dimensions – how else do you become a master of time? But Tricky hadn’t seen clouds like these anywhere.

And were they clouds? They didn’t move right. They weren’t shaped right. They looked like soft tentacles. They looked threatening. Then she heard a rumbling sound.

She looked back along the red-dust dirt road and saw a truck. Was it him? Had he managed to track her here? She had no idea he was so adept at time travel. She thought she’d been the only one. Her mother had led her to believe that ... or had she? Had that been Tricky’s own conceited belief? She couldn’t be sure; it was all so long ago. But if he’d followed her here she really was doomed, no matter the weather.

A splitting sound cracked the sky and shattered across the strange bobbly clouds causing them to scatter and break. Tricky could see a circle of light appearing and knew it was a portal.

She glanced at the truck heading towards her. Which contained Stanislov, the truck or the portal?

She was paralysed with fear. If she waited she was doomed, but if she jumped into the portal she could be trapped.

She let out a scream of frustration. Bloody men, always causing problems! Why couldn’t they just live in peace! Why couldn’t they just be happy with their lot and not keep trying to sit on top of the cake and dictate who got a slice? Why did they have to always kill off anyone better than them? Why couldn’t they harness everyone’s strength for the greater good.

Oh sodding hell, now she sounded like a flipping politician! She hated him. She hated him so much she wanted to murder him. And she would. She had to if there was ever to be peace again.

Would it be now? Would this be the moment? She looked around the green yet barren landscape. No, it wouldn’t be now. She had no weapon and she had no place to draw energy from. Damn and buggeration! She would make him pay!


She heard a shout from above and there in the circle of light a face appeared. The face of a man she had rejected and shunned, and always considered beneath her. But here he was, saving her arse. She could snog him. In fact, she would as soon as she got out of this shit show.

This meant the truck contained Stanislov and that meant she needed to move – fast!

She drew all the energy she could up out of the ground and flew towards the portal. She felt something tug at her, pulling her back down, causing her to dangle mid-air.

She looked back and saw Dimitry’s twisted features as he leaned out of the cab window arms outstretched trying to take the energy from her.

Tricky took in a deep breath and blew out hard towards the portal. She felt a release and an upward movement, although painfully slow.

‘Keep coming, Tricky! Just a few more inches.’ Nathan was leaning precariously through the portal, arms and hands reaching for her. She put her arms out too and watched the gap between their fingertips close in slow motion.

She took in another breath and pushed it hard out of her lungs as though someone had winded her.

It worked. Her body jerked upwards as Nathan grasped her hands and yanked her through the portal in one swift movement, turning back quickly to seal it with a sweep of his hands.

She lay gasping on the floor for a few seconds then jumped up and flung herself into his arms, their lips meeting. He responded with a passion she never imagined he contained, or at least expected would light her fuse. She’d never been so pleased to be wrong about anyone ever!

When she pulled away he looked as shocked as she felt.

‘You saved my life,’ she breathed.

‘Of course I did, you’re the love of mine.’

He said it so bluntly she could only stand and blink at him. He stepped forward and wrapped his arms around her waist. She responded by cupping his face and they went in for another session, but they were interrupted by a polite cough.

Tricky spun round. Annie and Safa looked on with embarrassed smiles. Tricky took in the room and realised they were standing in Annie’s living room. 

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 213

This week's picture prompt was taken by Helmut Meyer zur Capellen It is an old wooden storage shed door painted with birds and with a cat flap, in Simonshofen, Middle Franconia, Bavaria, Germany.

Another Tricky snippet. One that is way ahead of where I am currently, but helps me know where I am headed. 

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.

White birds painted on a small blue door in Bavaria, Germany


Tricky heard them land in the trees above her and was grateful for the sound, as she had no idea which way to turn. She hoped they’d lead her somewhere – and fast!

Two magpies swooped down and flew round her in opposite directions, then headed off in one direction, a sure sign she was to follow. She ran after them. They kept enough distance that she could see them and still watch her feet as she dodged round the trees.

With each breath she felt the trees around her lend her their energy. She needed it. Her entire face ached, the exertion putting the swollen bruises under pressure. Her hands could barely grasp her coat which she had managed to requisition before her escape, and keep it held round her naked body and away from trailing branches. She didn’t have time to use the tree’s energy for healing purposes, only to speed her escape.

She knew they had means to track her, which meant they had means to catch her again too. Tricky wasn’t one to bend easily to fear but the thought of returning to that hell hole and their torturous plans filled her with a dread she struggled to shake. If it wasn’t for the focus on the birds she would probably succumb to blind panic.

Then she heard it, something she wished she hadn’t, a loud crack, and one of the magpies fell dead to the floor. Shit! They’d sighted not only her, but her guides. She was completely disoriented and had no idea which direction led her inland and which led her out to sea. She didn’t want the Unsailable Sea to trap her and return her to their bidding.

The single magpie continued on even faster and she called to the trees to fill her with yet more energy and felt her feet almost lift off the ground. But another explosion put paid to the second magpie and Tricky wasn’t sure which way to go. She didn’t dare stop though; the second she did the second she would be lost. If she could get control of her mind she might have a chance to open a rent. And then she had an idea.

Still travelling at high speed through the forest she sought for the tiny piece of Obsidian in her pocket, the last of her collection.

Her fingers struggled to move they were so swollen, and the remains of her nail beds screamed at being pushed against the material as she fumbled the stone into her hand. The same applied when she sought the herbs in the hidden compartment under her armpit. Being much smaller, picking them up was impossible. In the end she dumped the Obsidian in with them and squeezed the entire pocket, inhaling yet more energy from the ground as she cleared her mind and pushed hard.

There was a loud pop and she tumbled forward into an empty space, quickly jumping to her feet and running a finger back along the opening to seal it shut.

She stood panting in the bubble of frozen time, trying to calm her breathing and her thoughts. She had no idea how long she was safe – with Stanislov’s new found skills it might only be a few minutes, but it gave her a chance to regroup and try and locate a means to get out of here.

Then she heard a high pitch screech, followed by successive squawks in a distinct pattern, and a smile spread across her face. She might not be able to see him, but he could see her. Safa hadn’t called him Merlin for nothing. She was saved.