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Summer Tales


Right on cue for the summer holidays, Summer Tales is a fantastic ‘beach’ or  ‘relaxing in the garden’ read.

This is the third anthology of seasonal short stories from Ruler’s Wit, following on from Winter Tales and Spring Tales.

The fourteen stories all have a summer setting, which brings them together in a united theme, but each one is very different from the others. Some of the characters from Winter Tales and Spring Tales take up new adventures as the seasons change.

The first five stories have a different, well-known saying as their title and the book opens with a dark but hilarious tale, If You Can’t Stand the Heat – you’ll never see Blackpool in the same way again.

At the Going Down of the Sun is set in July 1916 and the Battle of the Somme. It is fact-based fiction written from the unpublished diaries of a nurse and a stretcher-bearer, who both served at the front.

Sign of the Times is a fascinating time-slip story, and is again fact-based fiction set around Salcombe’s South Sands.

In All that Glitters you can find out who Alistair’s group of friends are and what he discovers.

Life on a Silver Spoon shows how manipulative those in debt can be, and tells of one young lady’s plan to embark on life on a silver spoon.

Someone Who Cares will keep you on tenterhooks; it’s dark, it’s disturbing, and only two people can prevent devastation.

Scratchcards, however, is lighter and tells of a hot summer’s night in a village community, with a twist.

A Bloody Good Innings is a beautifully written story that made me cry; I’ll say no more other than ‘it’s been emotional’.

Back to the dark side with Excess Baggage – can relationships from a one-time meeting last? Fasten your seatbelts for take off!

If you have read Spring Tales you will recognise the characters in the fast-paced story that is First Stop Venice. When tragedy strikes, a good friend will be there and take you on a holiday to remember.

More familiar characters continue their escapades in Far From Here (part 2). This Sci-fi adventure will make you smile, but there is a worrying element as to how on earth they are going to get out of this situation.

Cape Reinga is set in New Zealand, blending Maori culture and legend in this fictional tale.

Little Cuts of Film is another story based on accurate facts of the war in Iraq in July 2007.

The last story, He Said What? is about two friends who live in different continents, but care so much for each other that drastic action has to be taken.

The openings of two of the fact-based stories, At the Going Down of the Sun and Little Cuts of Film can be read on this website.

Summer Tales  has been written by Ruler’s Wit authors: Stephen Ashurst,         Karen Ette, Melinda Ingram Donna Shepherd and K. D. Parker and is available from Amazon in both paperback and Kindle.

Autumn Tales

The fourth short-story anthology from Ruler’s Wit, Autumn Tales, has an abundance of seasonal stories and is available from Amazon.

To give an idea of the genres, the stories are as follows:

The Bonfire is a tale of moving on. Who would want a Thai bride? Most appropriate for this time of the year.

Pilates, Pumpkins and Prosecco is both funny and heartwarming. It sees the members of a Pilates class preparing to celebrate, but why isn’t one member as popular as she might be?


Dave & Dave and the Halloween Surprise – Are you afraid of spiders? Find out how Dave and Dave cope in this hilarious story set around a night for tricks and treats.

Time For Tea sees strange happenings around a little girl when a new tea shop is being prepared for opening.

Chocolate Makes My Clothes Shrink Who is eating all the chocolates? Set in and around an MP’s surgery in a town library, the librarian there needs to find out as well as fending off unwanted advances.

Hunting in Plain Sight – A femme fatale finds her intended on the spookiest night of the year, but is she all she appears to be and are her intentions honourable?

Life on a Silver Spoon 2: Part Two – Amber Hawkins returns to continue her quest to marry the Lord of the Manor; will she succeed?

The Child Inside – A special little boy has a strong relationship with his child-minder, so strong that his remarkable talents draw them to a disturbing conclusion.

Lee’s Painted Dragon When Lee finds out that his life is not all he once thought, his dragon tattoo takes him to a dark place.

Medium Rare – Have you ever had your cards read? This humorous story sees two friends visit a medium to see what their futures might hold.

Retribution – A retired scientist finally perfects the invention that will change his life, but perhaps not in the way he had hoped.

A Hidden Clue – Caitlin Blake and Florence Carter have returned from their summer holiday and it seems that Caitlin’s husband’s death wasn’t without suspicion, and she is threatened as a result.

Some Kind of Sign – The luckless DI Sandbach investigates a gruesome murder without a body to be found. You may not eat bacon sandwiches ever again!

What Alice Left Behind – Based on Alice Through the Looking Glass – the Alice in this story needs to return to the party and asks the mantel clock to help her.

Keeping the Peace – What would have happened if the Armistice hadn’t been signed in 1918? Our time-travellers need to help to keep the peace.

Poppy Day – A moving story of remembrance set in the National Arboretum in Alrewas.

Autumn Tales is available from Amazon and on Kindle

Autumn

 

 Photograph by Min Ingram

 

The leaves are beginning to change colour and will soon be falling – Autumn is upon us.

The equinox has passed and nights are longer than the days. Did you see the wonderful harvest moon this year? That’s the full moon closest to the equinox. Apparently, the word ‘autumn’ comes from the Etruscan word “autu”, meaning change of season. So, as the seasons change, curling up with a good book in the evening is a welcome relaxation.

Speaking of good books, Autumn Tales will be published very soon. The Ruler’s Wit authors have finished writing and the anthology is at the editing stage.

There are some wonderful autumn stories to enjoy, encompassing lots of autumnal events and activities.

When you think of autumn, what springs to mind? Well, how about bonfires, Halloween and Remembrance? These are all subjects that the latest anthology draws upon, but not restricted to these – there are more. Quite a few tales are spookily written and many are humorous. There are also some familiar characters from earlier Tales experiencing new adventures. We also think of Harvest at this time of the year and until 1500 autumn was indeed called Harvest.

Did you know that we lose more hair in autumn than summer? Apparently it’s needed in the summer to protect the scalp from the sun. There’s still time to top up the vitamin D too – ideal to do from May to October.

There are lots more interesting autumnal facts on the Radio 4 website.

We have enjoyed writing our Autumn Tales; we hope you will enjoy reading them.

 

Permanent Puppies

In today’s blog Donna Shepherd gives some insights into being a Guide Dog Puppy Walker.Vinny

Vinny

I’ve always had rescue dogs and when we moved house, with one cat, I assumed that looking for a dog to join our family would follow. My husband, however, had other ideas and reeled out all the negatives of dog ownership. You know, the boring stuff, vet’s fees, food expenses plus the worry about where they go when you have ‘dog free’ days out and holidays.

By this time, I’d added to our cat collection – Tinks and Merlin had joined us, but the children and I were desperate for a dog so I started to look at other options. Volunteering for Guide Dogs seemed to tick all the boxes. We not only got a dog, but all of the worries that hubby had were dispelled. The food and vet’s bills are taken care of, the dog could accompany us on most days out and would be boarded with other puppy walkers while we were away. Job done!

With hindsight, what I hadn’t really considered was that after a year someone would come to the house, taking the dog away, forever.

Most people ask how I can stand to give them up after they’ve spent a year as part of the family. It’s a tough one and I won’t pretend that it is easy, but I learnt a valuable lesson with our first puppy, PJ. After he left, I shed many tears, and decided that if I was going to be able to be a puppy walker I needed to keep some sort of emotional distance.

Amazingly, I managed to keep my promise and kept in mind that Vinny, our second puppy, was simply not ours. He was a wonderful lad, bright, eager to please and always ready to learn something new. His date to go into training was confirmed as the 14th March 2016 and while I did initially panic, it was evident that he was ready for new challenges. Having learnt from PJ’s departure, I didn’t want the agony to be repeated and so with this in mind I contacted Mark, my supervisor to request a cross-over so that the family would have a new pup to focus on. Usually, I am told, the new pup arrives about two weeks before the older one leaves, giving everyone a chance to settle into a new routine.

On Monday, 1st February, Mark called to say that he had a new pup for me, and that if I wanted him he would bring him over on Thursday. This would mean that I would have both dogs for the best part of six weeks. Taking a deep breath, I accepted and Milo has joined our family.

Thursday dawned and after a long walk, Vinny and I met my parents at Dobbies for a late breakfast. As always, Vinny ensured that we visited the small animals before we went to the café. He loved to sniff round the cages before ‘dragging’ me to the treat section where he selected a couple of treats and chose a new toy for the puppy. He then happily trotted to the tills before we went to the restaurant.

Once seated, Vinny knew that a rawhide chew would be magically produced from my handbag and he settled down to munch away, leaving his humans to talk and put the world to rights.

I’ve learned a lot from Vinny. He was a bigger dog than PJ, more confident and very strong-willed. He was an intricate part of my life for a year and I still miss his smiley face. He was my daily companion for walks, at my side for the weekly shop and accompanied me on days out with friends and family. On a more personal level, Vinny was with me for my final year at university; a friend throughout the year and a comfort in times of stress. There is nothing in the world that compared to the feel of the thick fur on his warm neck.

I am immensely proud of the very handsome, intelligent dog that Vinny became and I look forward to following his progress as he starts the next chapter of his life.

I’ll tell you all about new-puppy, Milo next time.

Donna

 

 

 

One of 179 mums waiting for answers from the Chilcot Report/Iraq Inquiry.

Finally! Finally, after seven years of waiting, the Iraq Inquiry is going to be published tomorrow, Wednesday the 6th of July! Its purpose was to look into why Britain went to war in Iraq, so maybe now we’ll get some answers.
I am the mother of one of the 179 service people who died during the conflict which lasted from 2003 to 2009, and I shall be sitting in the balcony on Wednesday, wearing a t-shirt printed with a picture of my son’s face, as Chilcot releases his report. Many of the families who lost their loved ones will also be there, bearing witness and hoping for the truth.
My son, Senior Aircraftsman (SAC) Christopher Dunsmore died in a rocket attack on Basra Airport on the 19th July 2007. Two fellow servicemen also died in this incident, which impacted on so many people – family, friends, colleagues in the RAF Regiment and in Chris’s full time civilian job with Metacoat – as every event of this type is bound to do.
In order to come to terms with my grief I started writing. I now have a Masters in English and Creative Writing, and belong to Ruler’s Wit, a post-graduate writing group. Our third anthology, Summer Tales, is about to be published on Amazon, available in paperback and Kindle format.
Here is an extract from one of my stories ‘Little Cuts of Film,’ a ‘factional’ account of what happened to Chris through a friend’s eyes. It draws on the real accounts of six people Chris knew, his letters and his diary.

Little Cuts of Film

The watery sun makes streaks of orange and pink in the slatey blue sky as it begins to dip below the uncluttered horizon. Against the brightness of the sunset, and the unremitting greys of the runway and the squat airport buildings, two shadowy shapes kneel to guide the closing of the twin flaps at the rear of the C130 Hurricane. The wailing sound of the pipers’ bagpipes dies away as the four coffins we’d just carried in are swallowed into the belly of the plane.
A tear escapes from my left eye as the buglers play the last post, one either side of the huge door. At least one lad in my line had lifted his cuff to his face discreetly during the service, but I’m determined to stand firm. The whole squadron is watching; A Flight, B Flight, C Flight, Support Weapons and the Boss, with the Engineers and Admin people. Something like a hundred and fifty of us. Well, not quite that many now. Our fellow Oggies are on their final journey home, away from this relentless heat, the dust, the lines of the camp, the flat of the land and the fatigue. We’d never been so tired. So gutted. So proud.
“Parade dismiss!” We turn forty-five degrees together in the lines where we had been standing to attention, and watch as the plane takes off into the sun, waggling its wings in a final goodbye.
“Lads, lads, we did our best.” I tell them silently. We’d spent hours every one of the last three sweltering July days practicing. The drills involved in lifting the coffins, walking with them, turning, and setting them on trestles after our normal patrols. Everything had to be perfectly timed so that all four coffins moved together. Somehow it was, even though the sight of the Union Jacks had closed my throat.
I shut my eyes for a moment before walking away. I can see the chaplain, dressed in his sandy-coloured battle dress like we all were, his purple mantle draped over his shoulders. His last words run through my mind. I’m gonna remember them forever. The bit about forgiving their sins was crap. They didn’t have any to forgive and who by, anyway? I don’t hold with all the God stuff normally, but we need the ritual of giving respect. We need to feel we’ve done what we can for our brothers-in-arms. That is true.
I liked the bit he said about acknowledging their good deeds, and hoping that the beauty of their lives, rather than the manner of their deaths would be remembered and celebrated. They were all top blokes. The thing is I won’t ever be able to forget the manner of their deaths, Chris’s death, not ever. But I will celebrate his life. For sure. I’m deffo gonna do that…
© Melinda Ingram M.A.
Ruler’s Wit Publications

To read Little Cuts of Film in Summer Tales – please click here

www.chrisdunsmore.co.uk

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At the Going Down of the Sun

On the 1st July 1916, at 07.28 the Battle of the Somme began and lasted until the 13th November 1916. By the end of the battle, the British Army had suffered 420,000 casualties, including nearly 60,000 on the first day alone.

This short extract is from one of the stories that make up Summer Tales.

     Image: Creative Commons

At the Going Down of the Sun

Friday, 30th June 1916

“No, Sister, leave me be, I’m just about fed up with this splinter on me arm, and this leg – me leg’s very painful!’

Paige smiled at the man with splints on his right arm and leg that he insisted on calling splinters. “Come on, Joe, let me change your dressing,” she urged, “you’re going home today.”

“All right, Sister,” Joe submitted, “but make sure you do it right, I’ll be watching you.”

“I promise I shall.” Paige liked Joe. “But I’m not a sister,” she told him.

Above the continuous roar from the guns a tremendous bang rocked the ground and the roof of the tent beat its gigantic wings above them.

“Be careful, will ya,” Joe scolded, “I don’t want to lose my arm like he has.” He pointed to the man in the next bed with nothing but a blood-stained stump where his arm should have been.

“It’s only Grandmother sending another big one over,” a second-lieutenant with a head wound and lying in a bed opposite called over the racket.

“It sounds awfully close,” Paige said, trying to concentrate on Joe’s splinted dressing when she would really rather have been covering her ears.

“It’s a fifteen-inch Howitzer beside the railway line just behind us,” the junior officer told her. After much cursing from Joe, Paige was able to finish his dressings and move on to the next man in need of attention. Her back ached with all the bending and lifting and the tight collar of her uniform irritated her neck. Eventually Sister signalled to the stretcher-bearers, who had been sitting smoking by the tent’s entrance, to come onto the ward and begin taking these wounded soldiers to the hospital trains. As beds became empty, Paige removed soiled sheets and replaced them with cleaner ones. She was leaning over a bed at the end of the ward when she felt strong arms encircle her waist.

“Hello gorgeous,” Wesley whispered in her ear as he nuzzled her neck. “Ooh, you smell of..” He hesitated.

“Yes?” Paige answered, turning to face him.

“Antiseptic and smoke.”

“I wonder why that is! What in God’s name were you thinking, bringing us here?”

“I thought we could make a difference. You look very fetching in your nurse’s uniform.” He raised his eyebrows and kissed her cheek.

“VAD,” Paige corrected him. “You’ll be laughing on the other side of your face if Sister catches us,” she warned.

Another blast shook the Casualty Clearing Station and Paige fell against Wesley.

“Come on, mate,” a young man dressed in khaki with a red cross on his arm, the same as Wesley had, was calling to him.

© Karen Ette

You can find out what happens to Paige and Wesley on the 1st July 1916, in Summer Tales.

Hello world!

Welcome to Ruler’s Wit!

We are a group of post-graduate writers who are working on our own novels as well as coming together to create other publications. Our latest venture is a set of seasonal short-story anthologies, all available from Amazon.

You can read all about us and see our latest publications on the relevant pages.

The blog posts reflect our lives and our writing – we hope you will enjoy reading them.

 

 

 

 

 

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