The Importance of Reviews

Firstly I have to point out that this is not a way for me to make myself seem important. I’m not. I love reading. I don’t always enjoy the same things as everybody else. It frustrates the hell out of me when an author I really enjoy reading suddenly stops releasing books because nobody else has bought them. This post is from my point of view as a reader and lover of books. I don’t pretend to understand the arcane and dark mojo that is the publishing industry. I just love the output.

So what can I do? I review books on my blog and copy them to a couple of places. Most authors if pushed will tell you that any reviews or comments on their work is really important. Publishers take notice of these things. I write my simple little reviews because I want to keep reading books I enjoy and because I wanted to see reviews that made sense to me. Hopefully somebody has found some kind of benefit from reading one of my reviews.

What can you do? If you enjoy reading a book you can head over to Amazon or Goodreads or wherever you like really. Once there give it a star rating that matches your opinion of the book. Then say something about the book. It doesn’t have to be eloquent (mine aren’t). It can just be a simple comment on how much it made you think. Or even just a simple “Awesome book. Can’t wait to read the next one.”

That isn’t much effort and it might actually be the difference between getting to read another book my a favourite author or wondering whatever happened to them. Support your favourite authors. Chances are they don’t make much money and your one minute of time supporting them could make all the difference in the world.

Do it now. Pop on to your favourite online book store and find the book you’ve enjoyed the most in the last month or two. Rate it and say something nice. That’s it. Job done. You are a star.

 

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The Prison of the Mind by Tony Lane

I saw this prompt on the Flash Fiction Friday site and I knew exactly what I wanted to write. I’m not sure if it works but I deliberately left the ending open because I thought that fitted in with the spirit of the prompt.

Prompt: Write a story about a convict and his new found freedom, whether from an escape or parole.
Genre: Crime, though you are welcome to mash genres. Who knows when or where the story’s set.
Word Limit: 1,700
Due Date: Wednesday, April 17th at 9:00 p.m. ET
Instructions: Please post the title of your story and a link to it in the comments of this post.
I was trapped and alone.

I wasn’t on my own, but I was alone. Apart from those around me, all of us stuck in the same hell. The area I was in contained ten of us. I couldn’t help but wonder if that was deliberate. I wondered a lot. There was little else that I could do to maintain what was left of my sanity. Ten fingers, ten toes, a base ten monetary system. Ten seems to be as important in modern society as 1.618 is in nature. I’ve had a lot of time to read, and think. The Golden Ration it is called. Sometimes shown as the Greek letter phi, but you don’t care about that. You haven’t had to sit here looking at the same windowless walls for hours on end broken only by a solitary hour outside to break the monotony. Anyway, I’m digressing again. It is hard to keep a train of thought going sometimes. Some people are called naturally beautiful but what that really means is that their bodily proportions are slightly closer to the perfection that is the golden ratio. When I do get to go outside and squint in to the sun I look for the trees. In my mind I measure the spacing of the leaves along the branches. I marvel at the perfection of it. The simple and irrefutable truth of it.

There were beatings. The rules forbade any kind of physical altercations but people are sneaky and more importantly in this instance people are selfish and aggressively nasty when it comes to defending their own self-proclaimed empire. The psychological warfare and verbal barbs hurt. They made me retreat in to myself. Hide in my own little corner. It wasn’t long before I disappeared inside myself. Found a space where I could escape what was going on around me. Nobody could really hurt me when I was there. I felt no pain. I was dead inside. I spent months, or maybe it was years like that. I didn’t track time. I didn’t mark off a tally. I just hoped that it would end. Every day I just wanted it to end.

It was one day no different from any other that my reverie was broken. My one break from my depressing existence ruined by the jangling of keys and the tuneless humming of a guard that I decided that I’d had enough. I had to get out of there. Time was on my side. I had hours and hours every day to sit and brood. To plot and plan. I couldn’t risk a hasty exit. The humiliation I would feel after be forced back amongst the rest of these soulless drones would be unbearable. I’d finally have to admit that I was one of them. Doomed until the meat grinder finally decided to free me.

I had to do this on my own terms.

In my own way.

I had to escape.

I started to plan. I didn’t trust anybody around me and I certainly didn’t feel safe from the intrusion of the establishment. They had rules that allowed them to search any area of their domain in the name of safety. In that respect I had no rights. I was a faceless number forced in to servitude in the name of improving our society. I didn’t believe it then and with the benefit of hindsight I haven’t changed my mind. From the first day I got there I had to fight their constant attempts to break me down and make me like the rest. That always scared me. I have never wanted to be like the others. I only ever wanted to be me. Unfortunately some poor choices when I was younger left me in a situation that I couldn’t walk away from. At least not for a while.

That is what they thought.

My plan started to take shape. I’d quickly established a solid plan for phase one. That was the easy part though. That only covered getting out and far away. It was phase two that was more problematic and ultimately more important. Where would I go? What would I do? How could I make ends meet and escape the clutches of those I’d be working so hard to avoid? It took me months but I finally had a plan.

I knew exactly what I was going to do.

All I had to do was initiate phase one. So I did.

The Surprise Party

This is another piece of Flash Fiction written for Flash Fiction Friday. I don’t like parties. It probably shows. I’ve never tried to write anything from the perspective of a woman so this was hard for me and I’m not sure if I have actually made it sound like a woman and mother.

Prompt: Write a story about planning a surprise party, and let us know the outcome. Make sure you share with us how it turns out not only for the ‘surpris-ee‘, but for the ‘surpris-er’ as well.

Genre: Open

Word Limit: 1,500 words

Deadline: Wednesday, January 23, 2013, 10:00pm CT

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Most surprise parties lose their edge because the person the party is being held for knows it is coming. The clever party planner ensures there is some aspect of the party the is unexpected and sure to surprise. The theme for this party was going to be Murder on the Orient Express. It was a lot more literal than one may expect. Why did I do this for my husband’s birthday?

Being a single mother is tough, the whispers and snide looks that follow you. The constant feeling of having to be better than anybody else just to prove that you are not a burden on the system. Most men see this as an invitation for a one night stand. After all we must be “gagging for it”. The prospect of a small boy hanging around seems to scare most away. So when Charlie showed an interest in me and my precious little Marky I was over-the-moon. There was no pressure for sex, eventually I had to make the first move. I assumed it was just shyness and respect and I loved him for it. I probably should have known better but I was in love. Charlie was an orphan with no family and had only just moved down south from Yorkshire. There is something so disarming and trustworthy in the voice of a Yorkshire man. No baggage and no obvious flaws. A keeper was how my friends described him.

The first few months of being with Charlie were probably the best in my life. Then I started to get a nagging feeling that something just wasn’t quite right. At first I thought it was just jealousy that Charlie was spending so much time with Marky, but it wasn’t just that. The way he showed affection towards me never felt as intense as what I could see when he spent time with Marky. That’s when I decided to do a little digging in to Charlie’s background. Charlie didn’t exist. Everything he’d told me was a lie. Everything except for the town he lived in. That’s when I saw his picture in a local paper and my heart broke. I was sickened, repulsed and scared. I made up a story to get Marky to spend a week with my mum so that I could work out what to do. That’s when I found the forum. A place for victims. Each board in the forum had a name. The name of an abuser. A destroyer of innocence. Alongside each name was a picture. Charlie’s picture was there. Except his name wasn’t Charlie. It was Gregory Charles Mainwright III. I was sick right there at my desk. I ran to the bathroom with my bin in hand.

I sat shaking in the shower for an hour before I could bear to get up again. I had to look, to find out more. To see what might have been if I was just a little bit less paranoid. I started with the oldest posts. They mostly consisted of parents saying that their child had been abused by this person. A few went in to the horrible details that their children had been subjected to. My heart broke. I phone mum and arranged for her to look after Marky for a few days whilst I sorted out some issues at home. She picked him up half an hour later and I wondered what I should do. I went back to the forum and started reading the latest posts. One of them was asking if they had any idea where Gregory Charles Mainwright III was now. I didn’t want to openly post so I registered and sent a private message to the author of the post saying that I knew where he was. That was the start of the conversation:

SallyB: I know where Gregory Charles Mainwright III is living.

Margie67: How? Who are you?

SallyB: At the moment I am the a heartbroken mother wondering who my partner really is.

Margie67: OMG!!!! You mean you live with a monster? Do you have any children?

SallyB: I have one boy who I’ve just sent away to his nan’s house for a few days whilst I find out what is going on. I still have trouble believing he is who this forum says he is.

Margie67: Go look at the Harrogate Herald from the 25th April ten years ago. It has a long piece on the crimes and the trial.

I used my Google-fu to find the article in question. It was devastating. I could feel it as a knot in my stomach that was twisting and tightening the more I read.

SallyB: I’m really sorry about what he did to your boy. I’m fairly certain he hasn’t touched my Marky yet, but I don’t know how I can keep him away.

Margie67: There is a way…

SallyB: How?

Margie67: We make sure he can’t hurt anybody ever again. Some of us have discussed this and have an idea.

SallyB: Are you talking about killing him?

Margie67: Do you want to know the answer to that question? If we tell you then you are an accessory before the fact. If on the other hand we just ask you to arrange a meeting between us then you have not broken any laws.

SallyB: You are right. There is only one way I can be sure that he will not hurt marky.

Margie67: So here’s the plan.

That was it. I was committed. Margie and her friends would never come to terms with allowing their children to be abused unless they could take some action themselves. The plan was both simple and yet subtle at the same time. My part in the plan was simple. Charlie had a birthday in a couple of days. He had a passion for steam trains so I booked out a train for a private party. All I had to do was get him there in a pliable state. The Rohypnol and ketamine solution that arrived by special delivery the next day would help me with that. Meanwhile Margie and her friends were decorating the train carriage. I say decorate but what I really mean is that they covered every single surface with a double lining of plastic sheeting.

I delivered Charlie in a seemingly inebriated state to the train. What happened after that I’m not entirely sure because the results of ten years imagining your revenge on a child molester is best left to those that can actually relate. I’m fairly sure of where Charlie is now by the postcard of a land fill site that I received in the mail a couple of weeks later. I told my friends and family that we had a massive argument and that Charlie would not be around anymore. They all said it was a shame because he was such a nice man. I cried.