Great news! Sally Cronin has a new book out. If you follow her blog you’ll have read some of her short stories, and she’s publishing the first volume of a new collection. Thanks to Tina Frisco for her interview and for bringing us the good news.
Sally Cronin is a prolific author and blogger, a nutritional therapist, an ardent supporter of indie authors, and has worked on radio and Internet television as producer and presenter. She is origi…
As you know, Fridays is a day I dedicate to guest authors or new books. It’s always a great pleasure for me to bring you new books by authors who’ve graced by blog before, and even more so when I’ve read and shared my opinion of their work before. This is the case with today’s offering.
I read and adored ‘Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads‘ by S. R. Mallery (here you can check my post) and when I saw the author had published another collection of short stories, I could not resist.
Tales to Count On
Curl up and enter the eclectic world of S. R. Mallery, where sad meets bizarre and deception meets humor; where history meets revenge and magic meets gothic. Whether it’s 500 words or 5,000, these TALES TO COUNT ON, which include a battered women’s shelter, childhood memories, Venetian love, magic photographs, PTDS fallout, sisters’ tricks, WWII spies, the French Revolution, evil vaudevillians, and celebrity woes, will remind you that in the end, nothing is ever what it seems.
Los Angeles author S. R. (Sarah) Mallery since her graduation from UCLA has enjoyed a varied career as a professional production artist, editor, ESL teacher, and tutor – but she also has been significantly involved as a classical/pop singer/composer working in clubs and churches while composing for educational filmstrips, having her own calligraphy company, a twenty-year quilting and craft artist and business, and now she devotes her time as an historical fiction writer, writing short stories in particular, as challenging a writing skill as any. She is a member of ASMWG (Authors’ Social Media Support Group) and has been published in both collections of her own works as well as anthologies with other writers published by Scars Publications, Chitra Publications, and House of White Birches. Her current publisher is Mockingbird Lane Press. Having read three of her books, now, likely classifies this reader as a Mallery addict.
Quite cleverly Sarah presents the reader with the Word Count conundrum – whether the length of a story is commensurate with the impact – and then proceeds to offer her wonderfully diverse tales in ascending order – shortest to longest. And to prove her point he first story GOOD ADVICE in a couple of pages relates an in control therapist in a women’s shelter, admired by all for the calm with which she handles her telephone please for help only face a abrupt situation of the terminal category at story’s end. In an equally brief tale – A PHOTOGRAPHIC MEMORY – a visit to a zoo finds a tiger (Rudolfo) inadvertently picking up a discarded cigarette and out of rage having retribution by the discarding smoker. And another -THE KITCHEN – a nightmare of filth faces a maid whose employer has simply stepped out for a trip to the bank – or to her bed, a sanctum from her disengagement with the real world.
The stories grow linger but still corrupt reason in Sarah’s inimitable manner of imaginative tales: GIFTS – `In 1935, Peter was too young to know better. Dim lights, he figured–yes, it was the dim lights, the root of All Evil, that had done him in. Everyone else understood that maneuvering past the row of Stage Right columns, even well lit, wasn’t an easy task for anyone, much less a six-year-old claiming he couldn’t see. Just shy of Stage Left, he would often trip, catching himself on either his mother’s or his father’s arm. It was then that he finally wised up. He learned the inevitability of one of his parents sticking out their right toe to snag him as he went by–one night it might be his father’s, the next, his mother’s. They seemed to take turns. “If only I didn’t have to wear this eye patch,” he muttered from time to time, but his father’s, “Keep it on, Peter! Remember, that’s a big part of the act, kid!” haunted his every move. At first, he would turn to his mother–her theatrical makeup softening like a candle outside on a hot August day–the same mother who always stood helpless as her sweaty, rum-soaked husband returned home night after night, stumbling up their back steps and heading straight for their only child cowering in the farthest corner possible.’
That is the flavor of her alchemy with words. Or as the synopsis phrases it, `Whether it’s 500 words or 5,000, these TALES TO COUNT ON, which include a battered women’s shelter, childhood memories, Venetian love, magic photographs, PTSD fallout, sisters’ tricks, WWII spies, the French Revolution, evil vaudevillians, and celebrity woes, will remind you that in the end, nothing is ever what it seems.’ And not a one of these stories fails to satisfy.
But what the reader takes away from these compelling stories is that Mallery is a brilliant wordsmith – a unique artist who has mastered her medium! Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, April 15
As you know Fridays is guest author day. I met Amanda Green through social media a while back and I’ve read about her writing and her experiences and have been corresponding with her for a while. We have exchanged thoughts on mental health and a variety of other topics and I finally managed to squeeze some time to read her first book ‘My Alien Self‘ recently. I convinced Amanda to come as guest and thought it would be an excellent chance to also share the review of that book. Amanda is also kindly sharing some of her tips on writing.
Here is Amanda:
I am Amanda Green, author of six inspiring, self published books.
Outside of writing and social networking (yes I spend far too long each day on the computer!), I spend a lot of time with my pets; a handsome cat called Titus, a pretty hamster called Molly and tropical fish. I strongly believe in pet or animal therapy as being good for our mind, body and soul and I promote the fostering and adopting of animals as opposed to private breeding and purchase, as there are too many surplus animals desperate for homes. I detest animal cruelty.
I love eating out and reviewing restaurants, travel, days out, campaigning for the precious Orang-utan and the issues of unsustainable palm oil production and seeing my family. I also enjoy reading, theatre, films, TV and cooking and when I can calm my mind down, just relaxing!
I gained 9 GCSE’s at school and have travelled on/off across the world, taking in twenty five Countries – living and working at times in Japan, Thailand and Australia. I have enjoyed work in the field of Hotels, banking, property management, recruitment and Office management gaining many skills and qualifications along the way.
I run six personal websites for which I write all copy and articles and provide all photography. I learn as much as I can fit into my life
I have had my writing and photography work published in various magazines and local newspapers. I enjoy the challenge of getting published and very much enjoy doing my own PR, learnt through my varied working background.
‘My Alien Self: My Journey Back to Me‘ is my self published memoir of my journey through mental illness to recovery. I want to inspire others that it is possible to recover and have a life worth living.
My aspirations are to continue as a full time writer/photographer. I intend to be successful in fact/fiction storytelling in the mental health/relationship genres. I have unique ideas, and a very thick skin. I attended various writer’s retreats and short writing courses to further my writing, and learnt a great deal from the editor’s/literary consultant’s who worked with me on my memoir project. I am 40 years old.
The first two of my books, ‘My Alien Self: My Journey Back To Me‘ and the sequel ‘39‘, are both memoirs, the rest are fiction short stories, a novelette and a novella.
My second memoir’39’ is about what happened afterwards; the year before reaching the prime age of forty, family relationships, love and memories.
Other books – fiction…
‘Behind Those Eyes: A Novella’ (An Amanda Green Novella) – Two homeless men, a successful brother and sister, a woman falling in love, a man with family problems and a whole lot of twists in this ‘sliding doors’ style novella. It’s a story about people and adversity, love, friendship and stigma. Will you work out what they have in common?
‘Living the Dream – A Novelette’ (An Amanda Green Novelette) – Essentially a psychologically twisted style story, this book contains some offensive language and is suitable for adults only. It touches on sexual and domestic abuse of women, mental health and features three women, in East London, linked through adversity with twists and turns along the way.
It is a work of fiction, however this type of thing could be happening near you – two very important subjects we should be aware of.’
‘What I Know and two more short stories’ (Amanda Green’s Short Stories) – ‘What I know’, ‘The Coach Trip’ and ‘The Best of Friends’ make up this trio of short stories about relationships. Read how each character chooses a different path…
‘The Woman Who Lives Next Door – A Short Story’ (Amanda Green’s Short Stories) -How well do you really know your next door neighbour? Mary is yet to find out…
I have just finished Counselling skills level 2 at college and am waiting to hear if I will be accepted on the level 4 course. I would love to be able to help others facing issues and adversities, so fingers crossed!
I want to inspire others that it is possible to recover and have a life worth living. Because I grew up with my mother having severe Schizophrenia, who had been incarcerated in psychiatric hospitals for years, and felt the bullying and loneliness that stigma can spread, I campaign to ‘stop the stigma surrounding mental illness. I also felt the wrath of stigma when I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality disorder. Many people do not understand mental illness, so judge people unfairly. So I created www.amandagreenauthor.co.uk where I publish articles on the topics covered in my story, including self help, depression, bankruptcy, Alcohol/drug abuse, family and relationships, sexual, physical and mental abuse, anxiety, anger, Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), self harm, Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), Anorexia Nervosa/Bulimia, mindfulness, panic, rape, Schizophrenia, psychosis, Suicidal thoughts, , paranoia, dissociation, mood disorder, thyroid issues and psychology.
I love photography, writing and looking after my many websites, and have had my work published in magazines. I enjoy the challenge of getting published and very much enjoy doing my own PR, which is why I chose to self publish to kindle in this first instance.
I will be working with mental health charities, magazines, newspapers, social networking and other PR projects, actively making people aware of this disorder through every means possible through the media. But also, I hope that my books will help other sufferers and their families and friends to understand BPD and mental health and how to help oneself to feel better. I want to raise awareness to the general public about mental illness and the stigma sufferers have to deal with.
I hope that Doctors and the medical industry involved with mental health will benefit from reading my stories, as they unfold what it is like to suffer from debilitating mental illness from the inside out and how it manifests itself.
But I have also written my memoirs in a style that I hope will be compelling and sometimes shocking reads for anyone interested in memoirs with a twist, so that I can reach more people.
I really hope to encourage more celebrities to come out about BPD or other mental illnesses.
I am going to continue writing through fact and fiction storytelling, on the genre of Mental Health and life adversities – facing and combating adversity as the main point.
Author of ‘My alien self – my journey back to me’ and the sequel ’39’
My Alien Self by Amanda Green. Memoirs, mental disorder and finding your path to recovery
I am a psychiatrist and as such I do have a professional (as well as a personal) interest in personal/first-hand accounts of mental illness (or disorder) and not only professional or text-book descriptions. Of course over the years I have heard many patients/clients/service-users (choose whichever you prefer, I won’t enter the heated debates on which is the best term to use) talking about their experiences, but those have been mostly in response to specific questions, rather than their own preferred expressions or commentaries, and mostly at times of crisis.
I have also read a number of more literary versions of mental illness (sometimes recommended by people I was working with, including patients, like Silvia Plath’s ‘The Bell Jar’, others I’ve discovered myself when reading some of my favourite writers: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Crack-Up’ or Virginia Woolf’s ‘Mrs Dalloway’). They are great works by fantastic writers and well-worth a read, even if the subject of mental health is not close to your heart.
What Ms. Green’s book provides is not only an account of a mental disorder sufferer (despite the diagnostic difficulties that as she observes plague the field), but a memoir of her life, her quest for finding her true self and the process of her re-discovery. And her life is far from boring. Travelling far and wide (across the UK, Spain, Japan, Australia, Borneo…), with interests as varied as the creation and management of websites, property development, Orangutan, the entertainment industry…dabbling in drugs and alcohol, complicated family relationships and a difficult love life, Ms. Green’s account is gripping stuff in its own right. And her writing expresses well the ups and downs and the subjective nature of the narration.
Having worked as a psychiatrist in the NHS (National Health Service in the UK, the same one the author seeks help from) I can see things from a professional perspective (and although the system tries hard to avoid the ‘us and them’ dichotomy it’s not easy). I fully understand why she might not have received more intense help before. Mental Health Services struggle to provide support and care for people who cannot cope even on a basic level and who present an immediate and major risk to self (people repeatedly attempting suicide, severe self-harm or severely neglecting themselves) or others (threatening to harm others or doing so) for lengthy periods of time. It is less than an ideal situation; the services are stretched to the limit and mostly dealing with crises, but that is a true reflection of affairs. There is hope that service-user led movements and the voluntary sector will help to fill in the gaps, but prioritising is difficult.
The nature and characteristics of Borderline Personality Disorder with its difficulties in trusting people, impulsivity and inconsistent engagement (well reflected in ‘My Alien Self’) cause problems of its own not easily managed by the psychiatric services as they are currently set.
The author of ‘My Alien Self’ has managed to find herself, to create her own combination of therapies (learned over the years, including mindfulness, CBT, CAT, yoga, medication…) and more importantly she has had the courage to go through her life, collecting and reliving her experiences and having a hard look at her past, the most difficult part of any therapy.
‘My Alien Self’ is a book difficult to read for anybody with mental health issues and also for professionals, but precisely because of that it’s a book that needs to be read. I salute Ms. Green for her guts and congratulate her for her achievements. And I agree with her. It is a battle that has to be fought every day, but I’m sure she’ll win the war.
As you know I have started offering my services translating books, posts…from English to Spanish and viceversa. Javier Haro Herráiz is a Spanish writer who has visited my blog often but whose work has not yet been translated to English. We talk often about writing and about horror (that I love to read but so far is not one of the genres I’ve frequented as a writer). To offer a translation sample and because I like horror, we decided I’d translate one of his short stories. Miradas (Looks). In my opinion it’s a psychological thriller/horror (and it has a psychoanalyst on it, so how could I resist?). Let me know what you think about genre. First I leave you the English version and then the original in Spanish (I’ve changed one of the details in English after discussing it with the author, but it does not change the meaning of the story). This story is published in ‘From J.H.H.‘ and for those who’d like to try their Spanish, I leave a link at the end:
Como sabéis empecé a ofrecer mis servicios traduciendo libros, artículos… de español a inglés y viceversa. Javier Haro Herráiz es un escritor que ha visitado mi blog muchas veces, pero no tiene ninguna de sus obras traducidas al inglés. Hablamos a menudo de la escritura y del género de terror, que a mí me encanta leer, pero por motivos desconocidos no he frecuentado mucho como escritora. Discutimos la posibilidad de traducir una de sus historias cortas y compartirla aquí, y Javier sugirió Miradas, publicada en su libro From J.H.H. (en la que aparece un psicoanalista, así que no me pude resistir). Yo creo que es una historia de terror psicológico (on un thriller, según cómo lo veáis). Os dejo primero la versión inglesa (cambié un detalle mínimo después de discutirlo con el autor, cosas de la profesión) y luego la española, y un enlace al libro.
Mr. Jefferson rose from the chair in the waiting room and after saying goodbye with a polite nod to the woman who had just gone out through the glass door, he entered the room she’d just left.
“Good morning. Mr. Jefferson.” Dr Sinclair, sat up just enough for the man to shake his hand.
“G…Good morning, Doctor” greeted William Jefferson taking a seat on the uncomfortable metal chair.
Sinclair rummaged through the drawers of his desk, until he found a white cardboard folder, where in large black letters was written: ‘PSYCHIATRIC HISTORY OF WILLIAM JEFFERSON (12/03/48).’
“All right, Mr. Jefferson?”
“Huh?” Jefferson, who had been looking around with a frightened expression, seemed startled.
“Is everything well?” the doctor repeated quietly.
“Oh , ye…yes …” nervously, the man tried to fix his eyes on the psychoanalyst’s face, “everything is going…pretty…w…well.”
“Good” David Sinclair pulled out a packet of “Marlboro” and offered a cigarette to his patient, who, with a trembling hand, took it and put it in his mouth. “Do you want to talk, Mr. Jefferson?”
“I…I need to talk!” the man stammered. “I need to tell someone …”
Doctor Sinclair just nodded, as he switched on the little pocket recorder, placing it on a pile of folders.
“Is it necessary to record w…what I’m go…going to say?”
“Don’t worry. This recording won’t leave this room.”
Not very convinced, William Jefferson began to speak. To his own amazement, he did not stammer once.
“It started when I was a kid … My mother loved paintings, especially portraits. My God! The walls of our house were covered in portraits…faces, nameless faces, watching me, following me and spying on me…Until that day, the day of my thirteenth birthday. My mother, and behind my back! She had ordered to have my portrait painted. How I hated her for it! But I sorted it out …That afternoon, I took a knife from the kitchen and, one by one, I slashed the portraits, over twenty including mine that my mother had collected over the years. I slashed their eyes.
“How did you feel after that?”
“Wonderful…” A glow of intense pleasure crossed Jefferson’s eyes.
“My mother, poor soul, nearly suffered a heart attack when she discovered my feat. Needless to tell you that my punishment was exemplary…and painful, so much so that for three days I could not sit down. But at least I got rid of Mum’s obsession for collecting portraits. After that, my mother started buying birds. Small feathered animals that filled the house with their songs. I hated them with all my being! I managed, barely, to control myself. But then, everything got worse. My mother insisted on letting the birds out of their cages (canaries, parakeets) to fly freely all over the house…I was seventeen.”
“What happened to your mother’s birds?”
“One night while my parents were asleep, I picked them all, one by one, and with a needle, I took their eyes out.”
“Why did you do that Mr. Jefferson?”
“The birds spied on me, and then went to tell my mother everything!”
“What happened then?”
“My parents started taking me from one psychiatrist to another; from one therapy to another, and for a time it worked. I even managed to have a more or less normal life. I met a wonderful girl. We got engaged and after three years of dating, we got married. I was thirty. I was the luckiest man on Earth.”
“Thirty years old?” Sinclair touched his greying hair with his fingers. “That’s thirteen years without suffering a crisis. Not bad.”
“Yes, everything was wonderful until Marion, my wife, had the fantastic idea of buying a puppy… She said it was to help her not to feel alone in the house while I was working…But it was a dirty lie!” Jefferson clenched his fists so tightly that his nails dug into the palms of his hands. “The dog was watching me. The damn dog was watching me! Every time I came from work, there it was, looking at me accusingly. “Are you sure that you’re coming from work?” it would ask with its dark and lively little eyes. “Or are you coming from frolicking with your secretary?” The bastard knew it! I couldn’t let it tell Marion about it. So, that afternoon, taking advantage of my wife not being home, I took the pooch’s eyes out, and buried it in the garden. Unfortunately he managed to dig itself out from under the soil…” The man sighed deeply. “I guess it would have been better to kill the dog.”
Doctor Sinclair offered Jefferson the packet of cigarettes again.
“Thanks” the man took another cigarette, lit it, and inhaled its sweet scent.
“When Marion came home and discovered what I had done with her pet, she reported me to the police, and went to her parents’ house. I felt so alone…”
“What did you do next?”
“Nothing. I was tried and sentenced to be detained in a mental hospital until I was no longer dangerous. I had just turned thirty-four. That was twenty years ago.”
“What now, Mr. Jefferson?” Sinclair switched off the recorder. “Do you think that you’re fully recovered?”
“Yes, honestly.” William Jefferson offered the psychiatrist one of his best smiles. “Although I would not reject any help offered, of course.”
“That’s fine” Sinclair wrote some notes in the file of the little man. “See you next month.”
“See you next month, Dr Sinclair.”
William Jefferson left David Sinclair’s office, and headed home.
He walked with a firm step, with determination.
“Yes, everything is better now, much better” a smile lit up his face. “I just have to fix this one thing.”
And he arrived home…
And, humming a song, he entered the bathroom. He had two sharp pencils, one in each hand.
And, smiling, he stood before the bathroom mirror.
“I just have to fix this one thing.”
Mr. Jefferson se levantó del sillón de la sala de espera y, tras despedirse con un cortés cabeceo de la mujer que acababa de salir por la puerta acristalada, entró en la misma.
―Buenos días. Mr. Jefferson –el Doctor Sinclair, se incorporó sólo lo suficiente para que el hombrecillo pudiese estrechar su mano.
―B―buenos días, Doctor –saludó William Jefferson tomando asiento en la incómoda silla de metal.
Sinclair rebuscó en los cajones de su escritorio, hasta dar con una carpeta de cartulina blanca, donde había escrito con grandes letras negras: “HISTORIAL PSIQUIÁTRICO DE WILLIAM JEFFERSON (12―3―48).”
―¿Todo bien, Mr. Jefferson?
―¿Eh? –Jefferson, que había estado mirando a su alrededor con aire asustadizo, saltó en la silla.
―¿Qué si va todo bien? –Repitió el médico con voz serena.
―Oh, s―sí… ―con gesto nervioso, el hombrecillo intentó fijar la mirada en el rostro del psicoanalista―, todo va…, bastante b―bien.
―De acuerdo –David Sinclair sacó una cajetilla de “Marlboro”, y ofreció un cigarro a su paciente, quien, con mano temblorosa, tomó un cigarrillo, y se lo llevó a los labios―. ¿Desea hablar, Mr. Jefferson?
―¡N―necesito hablar! –Balbuceó el hombre―; necesito contárselo a alguien…
El Doctor Sinclair se limitó a asentir con la cabeza, al tiempo que ponía en marcha la pequeña grabadora de bolsillo, que descansaba sobre un montón de carpetas de cartulina.
―¿Es n―necesario grabar l―lo que v―voy a d―decir?
―Tranquilo, esta grabación no saldrá de aquí.
No muy convencido, William Jefferson comenzó a hablar. Para su propio asombro, no tartamudeó ni una sola vez.
―Todo empezó siendo yo un niño… A mi madre le encantaban los cuadros, sobre todo retratos. ¡Dios! Las paredes de nuestra casa estaban cubiertas de retratos…, de caras…, rostros sin nombre, que me miraban, me seguían y me espiaban… Hasta ese día, el día de mi decimotercero cumpleaños. Mi madre, ¡a mis espaldas! Había mandado hacerme un retrato. ¡Cómo la odié por ello! Pero yo lo solucioné…, aquella misma tarde, cogí un cuchillo de la cocina y, uno a uno, desgarré los más de veinte retratos que mi madre, incluido el mío, había ido coleccionando a lo largo de los años. Les destrocé los ojos.
―¿Cómo se sintió después de aquello?
―De maravilla… ―Un brillo de intenso placer cruzó la mirada de Jefferson.
―Continúe, por favor.
―Mi madre, pobrecilla, casi sufre un ataque al corazón cuando descubrió mi hazaña. No hace falta que le diga que mi castigo fue ejemplar…, y doloroso, tanto que, durante tres días no pude sentarme. Pero, al menos, le quité a mamá su manía de coleccionar retratos. Después de eso, a mi madre le dio por comprar pájaros. Pequeños animalitos emplumados, que llenaban la casa con sus trinos. ¡Yo los odiaba con todas mis fuerzas! Pero lograba, a duras penas, controlarme. Mas entonces, todo volvió a empeorar. Mi madre se empeñó en dejar sueltos a los pájaros (canarios, periquitos), para que revoloteasen libres por la casa… Tenía yo diecisiete años.
―¿Qué pasó con los pájaros de su madre?
―Una noche, mientras dormían mis padres, los cogí a todos y, uno a uno, con una aguja, les saqué los ojos.
―¿Por qué lo hizo, Mr. Jefferson?
―¡Los pájaros me espiaban, y luego le contaban cosas a mi madre!
―¿Qué pasó entonces?
―Mis padres comenzaron a llevarme de un psiquiatra a otro; de una terapia a otra, y durante un tiempo, aquello funcionó. Incluso pude llevar una vida más o menos normal. Conocí a una chica maravillosa. Nos comprometimos y, tras tres años de noviazgo, nos casamos. Yo tenía treinta años. Me sentía el hombre más afortunado de la Tierra.
―¿Treinta años? –Sinclair se pasó una mano por el canoso cabello―. Eso hace trece años sin sufrir una crisis. No está mal.
―Sí, todo fue maravilloso, hasta que a Marion, mi esposa, le dio la fantástica idea de comprar un perrito… Decía que era para no sentirse sola en casa mientras yo estaba trabajando… ¡Pero era una sucia mentira! –Jefferson apretó los puños con tanta fuerza, que se clavó las uñas en las palmas de las manos―. El perro me espiaba. ¡El maldito perro me vigilaba! Cada vez que llegaba de trabajar, allí estaba él, mirándome acusador. “¿Seguro que vienes de trabajar?” Me preguntaba con sus oscuros y vivarachos ojillos. “¿O vienes de retozar con tu secretaria? ¡El muy cabrón lo sabía! No podía dejar que se lo contase a Marion. Así que, aquella misma tarde, aprovechando que mi esposa no estaba en casa, le saqué los ojos al chucho, y lo enterré en el jardín. Por desgracia logró salir de debajo de la tierra… ―El hombre lanza un profundo suspiro―. Supongo que hubiera sido mejor matar al perro.
El Doctor Sinclair volvió a tender a Jefferson la cajetilla de tabaco.
―Gracias –el hombre tomó otro cigarrillo, lo encendió, y aspiró su suave aroma.
―Continúe, por favor.
―Cuando Marion llegó a casa y descubrió lo que había hecho con su mascota, me denunció a la Policía, y se marchó a casa de sus padres. Me sentí tan solo…
―¿Qué hizo usted después?
―Nada. Fui juzgado y condenado a ser internado en un sanatorio mental durante veinte años. Acababa de cumplir los treinta y cuatro.
―¿Y ahora qué, Mr. Jefferson? –Sinclair apagó la grabadora―. ¿Cree usted que está totalmente recuperado?
―Sí, sinceramente –William Jefferson mostró al Psiquiatra una de sus mejores sonrisas―. Aunque no rechazaré ninguna ayuda, por supuesto.
―De acuerdo –Sinclair tomó algunas notas en el historial del hombrecillo―; hasta dentro de un mes.
―Hasta dentro de un mes, Doctor Sinclair.
William Jefferson salió de la consulta de David Sinclair, y se dirigió a su casa.
Caminaba con paso firme, con decisión.
“Sí, todo está mejor ahora, mucho mejor “―una sonrisa iluminaba su rostro―. “Tan sólo queda solucionar una cosa”.
Y, llegó a su casa…
Y, tarareando una canción, entró en el cuarto de baño. Llevaba dos afilados lapiceros, uno en cada mano.
Y, sonriendo, se colocó ante el espejo del lavabo.
As I’ve been doing recently I share today two recent works by a guest author that you should follow. S. R. Mallery is a writer I met through one of the groups of writers I belong to and must admit I was fascinated by the title of one of her works. Now that I’ve read it (and I include the review in this post), the title reflects well the inventiveness, breadth and quality of the work. And, as a special surprise, the author is running a giveaway of Sewing Can Be Dangerous… in Goodread, so I leave you the link (you only have time until the 12th April, so don’t waste any time!)
But let’s the books talk for themselves.
Unexpected gifst by S. R. Mallery
Can we learn from our ancestral past? Do our relatives behaviors help mold our own? In Unexpected Gifts, that is precisely what happens to Sonia, a confused college student, forever choosing the wrong man. Searching for answers, she begins to read her family’s diaries and journals from America’s past: the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and Timothy Leary era; Tupperware parties, McCarthyism, and Black Power; the Great Depression, dance marathons, and Eleanor Roosevelt; the immigrant experience and the Suffragists. Back and forth the book journeys weaving yesteryear with modern life until finally, she gains enough clarity to make the right choices.
The eleven long short stories in “Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads combine history, mystery, action and/or romance, and range from drug trafficking using Guatemalan hand-woven wallets, to an Antebellum U. S. slave using codes in her quilts as a message system to freedom; from an ex-journalist and her Hopi Indian maid solving a cold case together involving Katchina spirits, to a couple hiding Christian passports in a comforter in Nazi Germany; from a wedding quilt curse dating back to the Salem Witchcraft trials, to a mystery involving a young seamstress in the infamous Triangle Shirt Factory fire; from a 1980’s Romeo and Juliet romance between a rising Wall Street financial ‘star’ and an eclectic fiber artist, to a Haight-Asbury love affair between a professor and a beautiful macramé artist gone horribly askew, just to name a few.
And my review of Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads
Women, sewing, history and storytelling.
Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads by S. R. Mallery is an extraordinary collection of 11 short stories with a common ‘thread’, sewing and allied crafts. The stories have an incredible breadth, not only because of the variety of the plots (and they are all very different) but also because of their well-researched and vivid historical settings, and their diverse genres. We go from immigrants in early XX century America, to the slavery period, from mid-Western pioneers, to the Salem witch trials, from the Zodiac serial killer in San Francisco, to a quilting teacher turned sleuth in a cruise, from the Germany of the Nazi era to modern time Native American reservations and everywhere in between. I’m not an expert in quilting (although I’ve always wanted to learn, now even more after reading the book) but this book is a quilt of stories, where each piece and patch brings its own memories to create a complex design, not a crazy quilt but something more than the sum of its parts.
At the heart of the stories are the women, who might use their skills to make a living, to survive and create a better future for those they look after, to express their artistry, to pass on cultural and spiritual traditions, to get revenge, to escape, to fight… Because it’s not only the big gestures that make the society we live in, but each small stich is a piece of the puzzle that is life.
S. R. Mallery brings to life a fantastic array of characters and recreates vividly the historical periods where the stories are set. The reader gets dragged into the moment and shares with the protagonists their unique experiences. If I had to choose one I’d go with ‘Precious Gifts’ that I loved and took me completely by surprise.
I recommend this collection to everybody, whichever your genre of preference, no matter if you like sewing or not. Go and read it. You’ll be amazed and feel better for it.
Thank you for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it, like, share, comment and CLICK!
Since that post I’ve had a chance to get to know Lucy better, and we’ve talked not only about writing (believe it or not, writers talk about other things…sometimes), but of such varied subjects as yoga (because Lucy practices and teaches Yoga, and I’m seriously considering attending one of her courses maybe next year…), spirituality, work, spare time (what is that?), hobbies (Lucy has green fingers and loves growing things… I just eat green things)… By the way, if you want to keep up-to-date with new authors, don’t miss Lucy’s blog (see link below) where you can get to know the most talented writers through Lucy’s fabulous interviews (yes, I’ve visited her blog).
But of course, Lucy is a writer, that’s how I met her, and today she brings us her new book, a collection of short stories with a very suggestive and inviting name ‘A Menu Of Death’. And don’t forget to check the giveaway!
by Lucy Pireel
A collection of stories centered around vengeance, obsession, cravings, and life.
Pick one item of the Menu or devour the entire buffet
Make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew
Read, but not with greed
for Death awaits, ready to come and collect its due
These eight short stories revolve around obsession, revenge, craving, love, and Death.
A woman in need of rescue, a man who hungers for his wife, a demon lost, or wishes coming true, all characters want something.
You can’t always get what you want, but you might just get what you need.
About the author
Lucy Pireel is a writer who doesn’t let herself be restricted to any one
genre. She loves to write in whatever direction her current story
When she’s not writing, or reading, she is practicing or teaching yoga,
her other passion. Or she could be on a long hike somewhere in the
beautiful British nature.
Being an author it is almost a given she has a great love for chocolate and
coffee to live on while writing, but she doesn’t shy away from trying
to prepare intricate dishes, for cooking is another thing she enjoys.
Should you want to follow her she can be found at:
If you want to keep track of what she is reading follow her on BookLikes.
For now I’ll let you read a small teaser from one of the stories in this Collection,
They had walked for days without seeing any of the lush greens the others had said he’d be able to eat. Gwars hadn’t had any food before they left, because a part of the initiation had been a fast and now his beast clawed at his bindings. Flesh, red, fresh meat, bloody, alive, ready to grab and devour. He shook his head to rid these thoughts.
“When will we eat?” Gwars asked Twark.
“You’ll eat when we are back. Be strong, prove you are worthy to be in our coven. It’s not much further before we will be at our destination.”
Puzzled Gwars recognised the street they had started out from and looked around to see if he was right. At that moment the sound of a rift closing caught his attention and he turned.
And then we come at the end of things, where all that is left is the Giveaway! Yay!
Stuff to win:
1 $25 Amazon Gift Card
One of five digital copies of Red Gone Bad by Lucy Pireel
One of five digital copies of Shadow People by Jo Robinson
One of five digital copies of African Me by Jo Robinson