Jack Eason’s blog “Have We Had Help?” is an eclectic mix of his magical writing, book excerpts; thoughts and observations of the world around him. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly and is unafraid to stand by his beliefs. It is a refreshing space to stop for a visit, and I am grateful to have connected with him in our Global Village.
Jack lived in New Zealand for forty-two years until 2000 when he returned to his birthplace in England. As far as he is concerned, he will always consider himself to be a Kiwi. After military service in the 1960s, he travelled the world, visiting exotic lands and making many friends. Now in his early seventies, he is content to write and travel via the Internet. Besides writing novels and short stories, he contributes to his own blog “Have We Had Help?” His literary interests include science fiction, history, both ancient and modern, and humorous tales like those written by his fellow writer Derek Haines, such as “HAL”. Now retired, he lives in his hometown surrounded by his favourite books, ranging from historical fact to science fiction. His literary icons are J.R.R Tolkien, George Orwell, Arthur C Clarke and John Wyndham.
Over to Jack…
When you are writing how does it make you feel?
Tired mainly. When I’m in full writing mode, I tend to start between midnight and 1AM.
Do you have a writing ‘spot’, or do you find you can write anywhere?
Where I am as I answer your questions – in front of the TV in my ancient recliner with a laptop.
When did you start writing?
Do you draw upon the characters of people you know in your stories?
I tend to use traits and quirks observed during my lifetime.
What inspires you?
Mainly history and archaeology.
Do you miss your travelling days?
My travelling days are over.
Where do you feel your creative energy springs from?
An inquiring mind.
Do you have an outline for each book, or does it evolve as you create it?
I tend to let the story tell me where it wants to go.
What annoys you?
Don’t get me started…
Do you have a turning point in your life you wish to share?
Two – the deaths of my wife and son in Vietnam back in the nineteen sixties, and suffering a complete mental breakdown a few years ago.
Writing is my coping mechanism…
Jack’s latest book is ‘The Magisters’ a sci-fi novella with a difference.
This book is an engaging read that left me wanting more.
It challenges our accepted beliefs about ancient monuments and civilisations and the author’s imagination carries us into ‘what if’ scenarios and pins them into current situations.
We are living in times where political systems are shuddering at their foundations and ‘The Magisters’ gifts us a different way of looking at things.
Jack is a prolific writer and his other books Race Against Time, The Guardian, Cataclysm, Autumn 1066, Turning Point, The Forgotten Age, Goblin Tales, The Next Age, Celeste, The Adventures of Ursus The Bear, Goblin Tales for Adults and Onet’s Tale can be purchased from his author page on Amazon UK & Amazon.com.
For all those who wish to follow Jack and keep up to date with his latest creativity his online links are below:
I am delighted to welcome Richard Dee on the launch day for the third book in his wonderful Andorra Pett series ‘Andorra Pett and her Sister‘.
Richard has written thirteen Science Fiction and Steampunk adventure books, three of which chronicle Andorra’s exploits as a reluctant amateur detective.
Take it away Richard and may the loving energy in our Global Village lift your launch.
Title and author: Andorra Pett and her Sister Series: Book 3 in the adventures of Andorra Pett, reluctant amateur detective, published on October 15th by 4Star Scifi. Genre: Crime/mystery fiction Available at: http://mybook.to/Andorra_and_her_Sister
I’m Richard Dee and I’m from Brixham in Devon. I was never a writer, at least not for ages. I made up stories in my head, based on dreams and events in my life, but I never did much with them. Life, a wife, three daughters and now three grandchildren have kept me busy.
I spent forty years in shipping, firstly at sea, then in Port Control and as a Thames River Pilot, with adventures to match anything I could imagine. When I retired, I just moved them out into space, changed some of the names and wrote them down.
I write Science Fiction and Steampunk adventures, as well as chronicling the exploits of Andorra Pett, reluctant amateur detective. When I’m not writing, I bake bread and biscuits, cook delicious meals and walk the Devon coast.
My first novel Freefall was published in 2013, followed by Ribbonworld in 2015. September 2016 saw the publication of The Rocks of Aserol, a Steampunk adventure, and Flash Fiction, a collection of Short Stories. Myra, the prequel to Freefall was published in 2017, along with Andorra Pettand theOort Cloud Café, a murder mystery set in space, the first of a series featuring Andorra Pett. Sequels to most of them have either followed or are in production. I also contributed a story to the 1066 Turned Upside Down collection of alternative history stories. I’m currently working on more prequels, sequels, and a few new projects.
Do you need silence to write?
I used to have music in the background all the time, now I find it stops me concentrating on the action that I’m trying to describe.
Does writing flow for you and fit into gaps in your daily routine, or do you need to set specific time aside?
I try to write early and late, but I can get an idea at any time. I’m lucky to be retired, so I can pretty much pick and choose when to write. In fact, I only started writing when I retired. It was as if the voices in my head were waiting for when I had the time to listen.
What has changed for you, since you started on the published path?
I never intended to write more than one book, but I’ve found that ideas for sequels, prequels and spin-off novels keep coming along. That’s as well as new ideas. Andorra Pett started as a short story, this book is the third, I have at least two more in development. And that’s before you get to the Science Fiction and Steampunk adventures that I also write.
The fluorescent tubes flickered in their yellowed plastic fittings; the air was rich with the smells of stale alcohol and unwashed humanity. It was as unfamiliar to the lady standing in front of the desk as the surface of the moon.
“You can have one phone call,” said the uniformed man behind the desk, three stripes on his sleeve, which would make him a sergeant, she idly thought. Behind her, an assortment of people sat sprawled, drunk and bloodied, the result of another busy Friday night in Greenwich. She carefully avoided all eye contact, if she didn’t look, then they weren’t here, and neither was she.
More uniforms bustled around, the air was thick with words, shouted and slurred. She shifted from foot to foot, her soles sticking to whatever it was that adorned the worn plastic tiles; she didn’t really want to speculate on its origins.
The uniform was still talking. “Before we record your possessions and take you to the cells, do you understand the charges against you; and your rights?”
‘Oh God!’ she thought, it sounded so final, and such a surprise. When the doorbell rang, the last thing she had been expecting was the group of suited detectives, with uniformed officers in tow. They swarmed over her house and garden. Cupboards were emptied and holes were dug in the immaculate turf. Muddy boots trampled over the shag pile. Dogs panted and strained to sniff in all the corners. Her computer was disconnected and placed in a box, together with all the papers from her business. It felt like an invasion, and yet all her pleas for an explanation were met with silence. In the eyes of the searchers, she could see contempt and the world-weary presumption of guilt. In desperation, she faced one of the uniformed men and shouted into his face, “What are you doing in my house? What do you think I’ve done?”
Again, there was no answer; she grabbed the man, wanting to shake a response from him. Instantly she was spun around, her arms were forced behind her back and handcuffs were fitted, digging into her wrists.
“Don’t make it worse,” the policeman hissed in her ear, his breath hot on her neck. “You’ll add assault to the list if you’re not careful.” She forced herself to calm down, rage would get her nowhere.
The charges against her were read out as she was cautioned by one of the detectives; they were the second stage of the nightmare. Until a week ago, she wouldn’t have had a clue how they fitted into her life. All she did was run a modest shop, selling ethnic goods, cane furniture, ceramics and hand-woven fabric cushions. It was Fairtrade; for goodness’ sake!
They said that she was receiving controlled substances and laundering the proceeds of criminal activity. But she was forced to accept that they were, on the face of it at least, correct. The way she found out, had been just as bad. But she was saving that for the statement she knew she would need to make, sooner or later, so she said nothing. And now she was here.
The nightmare started a few days ago. She was unpacking a delivery when she knocked over a vase that she was putting on display in her shop. There were a few small plastic bags of something white taped together inside it, they were mixed in with the broken shards and her heart sunk. Stupidly, as it now turned out, instead of calling the police, she threw everything away, double wrapped in black bags and tried to pretend that she had never seen them.
“Who do you want us to call?” the police sergeant repeated. “Husband, partner, parents, solicitor?”
As he suggested each, she thought, ‘No, I haven’t got any of them,’ and if she was honest, even some of her so-called friends would not want to be associated with her now. And at this time of day, they probably wouldn’t answer or be too smashed or stoned to be of much use. In their world of dinner parties and liberal values, they all professed to despise the police and authority in general as instruments of the overbearing state, they would avoid being seen in such a place voluntarily if they possibly could.
There was only one person who could help her sort this mess out, and she still hesitated, even though there was no one else to call. To say that they had had their differences over the years would not be an exaggeration but she knew that she would come through, now that it really mattered. Because when the chips were down, that was what you did.
“Call my sister,” she said. “I’ll get you the number.” She fished around in the bag laid on the counter.
The policeman looked mystified. “Your sister? It’s up to you entirely but most people ask for their solicitor. You are aware of just how serious all this is?”
“That’s fine,” she answered, still desperately hoping that it was all a fuss over nothing, that in the end, common sense would prevail. “Just get her, she’ll know what to do.”
She passed him the card; in her purse so long that it was rubbed and scuffed by all the coins it had pressed against. He took it and peered at the writing.
“Is this some sort of a joke?” he asked in a puzzled tone. “AC Couture, a clothes shop in Greenwich? It’s been closed for years. And Andorra Pett, the Andorra Pett? That’s your sister? Won’t she be on that space station, out near Saturn, or wherever it is?”
The woman nodded. “That’s her. Just use the mobile number; it should still be the same. Tell her that her sister Argentia’s in deep trouble and that she should get here as quickly as she can.”
The sergeant dialled. “It’s ringing.”
As well as a special launch price of £1.99, the first two Andorra Pett adventures are currently reduced to £1.49.
I’m Richard Dee, as well as the Andorra Pett series, I write Sci-fi and Steampunk adventures.
My website is richarddeescifi.co.uk. Head over there to see what I get up to, you’ll find free short stories, regular features on writing, book reviews and guest appearances from other great authors. There’s even a bit of cookery!
I am delighted to be hosting a guest spot for the lovely Sally Cronin in her ‘Odd Jobs and Characters’ series of wonderful stories. Sally is a thoughtful and generous fellow blogger who spends a lot of her time promoting and supporting others. Please pop over to Sally’s blog and pay her a visit.
My thanks to Jane for inviting me to share the ongoing saga of my quirky jobs that I have enjoyed over the years and I hope you enjoy this episode.
Odd Jobs and Characters – Fashion Department Manager and Shop Lifters by Sally Cronin
After six months of sheep farming in Dolgellau, we returned to Liverpool to live. I needed to get back into full time employment if we were to save our deposit for our own home. David continued to go back and forth to Wales a couple of days a week, but we were now officially city dwellers.
David already had a flat that he rented, but his landlady told us that we would have to leave as it was single occupancy only. What she really meant was single sex occupancy, as she didn’t have a problem with the two girls living together in the top flat. But she assumed no doubt that the first thing we would do is to have a baby. Anyway, we were not going to argue, although there was nothing in the lease to indicate this condition of tenancy.
We found a flat in Tuebrook, which is a suburb of Liverpool, and closer to the city centre where I was applying for jobs. At this time we were pretty broke and the flat had seen better days. The fact that the corner shop protected its assistants behind security bars, should have been an indication of what we might expect. However, we reckoned that with me working we could be out of there in a year. Our lady was Chinese and charming, collecting the rent each Friday and also emptying the electric meter that we were convinced was rigged. It ate two shilling pieces as though they were chocolate buttons, and I was paranoid about running out of coins with us being plunged into darkness. Anyway, I always knew when she was coming up the bare uncarpeted stairs, as she had a wooden leg which was a bit of a giveaway.
I attended a couple of interviews and was offered the position of manager for an expensive women’s fashion brand, which rented space in a large department store in the city centre. I was only 27 and found myself responsible for a team that had been holding the fort for longer than I have been alive. Still they were very welcoming and happy to show me the ropes, although one aspect of the job I had not expected, was to be the only one young enough to chase shop lifters. If you have read my story of my first job along the seafront, you will know that this was actually listed as one of my skills!
Every three months we would receive the new season’s clothing range. This included skirts, tops, jackets, suits, dresses and coats that were the favourites of the shorter, middle-aged woman. They were classy, and we sold many outfits for the mothers of both bride and groom, and for the 1980s, they were quite expensive. This made them very popular with another kind of customer; the ones who were more interested in not paying anything for them.
There were a number of ways that our clothes were liberated from their hangers without detection. For example, a young mother with a child in a pushchair, would wend her way through the rails and then walk away seemingly empty handed. Except that the child in the push chair would somehow be now hanging over the front bars with its bum in the air. You have to be quick to grab a jacket off a hanger, fold it and tuck it under your baby or behind it.
Another way to shoplift merchandise required the assistance of the escalator up to the next floor. In their wisdom, the shop fitters had placed two rails along the wall beneath the escalator to hold jackets and suits. Three young males would get on the escalator with a couple of steps between them. The middle one would duck down, as the one at the back would grab a hanger with a suit on, throwing it to him to stuff in a black bin bag; the one in front acted as look out. Give them their due, they were well practiced at the manoeuvre; blink and you missed it.
Every morning the team and I would conduct a stocktake of the garments on the racks and shelves, and again at the end of the day. We would then compare this against incoming stock and items sold. If there was a discrepancy, we would double check, but it usually meant we had been robbed.
You only lost so many items before head office was on your case, so we had to become smarter that the thieves, as we were sustaining quite big losses. The team would split up in the department; only one person would take payment for sold items at the cash desk, leaving as many staff on the floor as possible at all times. Women with babies in pushchairs were greeted and escorted until they left the department. Despite this increased vigilance we were still losing more items than we should. Until one day, when I was helping a lady on with a spring coat, and happened to look up to see three stooges on the escalator, helping themselves to one of the new suits.
With a rapid ‘excuse me’ to my customer; leaving her in the capable hands of one of my team. I legged it over to the escalator, running up the steps behind the thieves, who were busily stuffing my expensive suit into their bin bag. I think possibly it was my colourful language that alerted them to their pursuer, and they all turned to stare down at me as they reached the top of the moving staircase. By this time I was almost upon them, and as a distraction they threw the bag with its stolen suit at me. I caught it deftly, throwing it in turn to a member of store staff, approaching to see what the kerfuffle was about.
The lads rushed over and leapt onto the descending escalator, taking the steps two at a time. They were daft if they thought I was giving up. I shot after them and down the next escalator to the ground floor. They had to cross the expanse of the cosmetic department to make it to the outside and safety, but looking around, I couldn’t see any of the security staff to call on for assistance.
The customers who were busy shopping, looked up to see these three itinerants making their escape, pushing through the crowd, and also at an obviously irritated woman giving chase. I decided to make best use of the audience, and proceeded to announce in a loud voice that I was chasing shoplifters. The crowd began to laugh as the boys finally reached the exit, pushing through the swing doors with much blasphemy and red faces. What was quite interesting, was with my announcement, several other customers made for the exits hastily!
I turned to find three store detectives standing behind me; arms crossed and disapproving looks on their faces. Apparently they wouldn’t apprehend groups of thieves, as they were usually armed with knives. My adrenaline was still up and I gave them a piece of my mind; after all it was not their jobs on the line when stock went missing. I approached the escalator to head up to the first floor and my department, only to find the general manager of the store at the top, waiting for me; also with his arms crossed.
Anyway, I of course was told off, mainly because for fears for my safety, but also for telling the customers we had a shop lifting problem. However, I did get the fixture changed next to the escalator by getting rid of the top rail, and word must have got around about the mad woman, as thefts from our department dropped dramatically.
Thank you again Jane for sharing this with your readers, I am very grateful.
All the previous posts in the series can be found in this directory with links to my host’s blog Sally Cronin – Odd Jobs and Characters
About Sally Cronin:
My name is Sally Cronin and after working in a number of industries for over 25 years, I decided that I wanted to pursue a completely different career, one that I had always been fascinated with. I began studying Nutrition and the human body twenty years ago and I opened my first diet advisory centre in Ireland in 1998. Over the last 18 years I have practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as written columns, articles and radio programmes on health and nutrition.
I published my first book with a Canadian self-publisher in the late 90s and since then have republished that book and released ten others as part of our own self-publishing company. Apart from health I also enjoy writing fiction in the form of novels and short stories.
My latest book – What’s in a Name? – Volume Two.
Our legacy is not always about money or fame, but rather in the way that people remember our name after we have gone. In these sixteen short stories we discover the reasons why special men and women will stay in the hearts and minds of those who have met them. Romance, revenge and sacrifice all play their part in the lives of these characters. Kenneth watches the love of his life dance on New Year’s Eve while Lily plants very special flowers every spring for her father. Martha helps out a work colleague as Norman steps back out into the world to make a difference. Owen brings light into a house and Patrick risks his life in the skies over Britain and holds back from telling a beautiful redhead that he loves her.
Here we all are in our ‘Global Village’: blogging away, reading each others posts and offering comments of support and encouragement. Then one of our number is brave enough to stick his head above the parapet and publish his first book.
I started following Peter’s blog a while ago now. The first posts I read related to his handling of various situations around his daughters, which he wrote with loving wisdom and much humour. I remember thinking ‘I like this man’ and a lovely friendship was started through the comments section, expanded into ‘real life’ and continues to this day.
Today, at my current ‘home’, the WiFi went down and I had a few hours peace. Perfect. I sat and read Peter’s first book ‘Living life backwards’ from cover to cover. It is a delight right down to the last word. A modern tale with finely drawn characters, brought to life through Peter’s insight, gentle wisdom and humour. I have always loved Peter’s writing style and this book was eagerly anticipated. Now I can’t wait to read the next one.
‘Go Ducky’…pants over tights and flick that cape…we’re all very proud of you and your achievement. This new chapter of yours will be a sparkly one. X