Don’t Sign!

A warning from Stevie, based on her own experience!

Stevie Turner

This is a scheduled post and I will answer any comments tomorrow.

Recently I read a blog from a self-published author who was thrilled to bits to gain a publishing deal. She had signed the rights to her book over to the publisher, and of course now looked forward to the royalties from many future sales.

However, I’ve been on a steep learning curve over the past 8 years regarding the integrity of small publishers. In order to satisfy my own curiosity I went on to Google and typed in ‘Writer Beware‘ and the name of the lady’s publisher. As I suspected, there were many complaints about this particular publisher regarding the amount of ‘set up fees’ needed and the lack of any royalties.

I’m sure most of us have been taken in by small publishers at one time or another at the beginning of our writing careers…

View original post 347 more words

My Bundle Of Joy: Part Six

This is the sixth part of a fiction serial, in 759 words.

I had two days off to cover the house move and had the weekend in between. Olly had taken the whole week off, with good intentions to sort things out. The moving men stacked most of the boxes in the garage, except for the kitchen stuff and some bits we needed left out. The main problem was the sofa. It had come up in the large lift in the flats with no problem, but when we got to the thirties house that morning, it wouldn’t fit through the front door. They said there was no point taking the door off, as it would still be too big.

After a lot of head scratching, Olly gave them an extra ten quid each to carry it around the side into the garden, and bring it in through the old French windows. But from the dining room, it was never going to make the turn in the hallway to get into the living room.

So there it stayed, for the time being.

Olly’s main concern was getting his huge telly inside in one piece. There was going to be a delay getting the Internet and satellite service connected, but once his giant screen was in pride of place at an angle in the front bay window, he was happy.

No doubt most of you will have moved house at some time in your lives, so you don’t need me to tell you how stressful it is. Luckily, Olly is a master of the mobile phone, and was arranging for people to come in and do things next week, even before the removal lorry had left. I had managed to put my parents off coming to see the house on day one, as I could never have coped with them fussing around too. To be honest, I was worn out by it all, even though I hadn’t carried so much as a side-lamp.

Starting back at work the following Tuesday, I had my first taste of proper commuting. Almost fifteen minutes to walk to the train station, then packed in like sardines for the ten stops into the city. At least I could walk to the office once I got there, and didn’t need to take a bus. Olly would have to do that though, and he had talked about getting a folding bike. As I looked around the crowded carriage, I wasn’t happy at the thought of having to tell him he had zero chance of getting a bike in there. And I was also very aware that I would soon be heavily pregnant, with little chance of getting a seat on the way to work.

When I got home that night, Olly ordered takeaway pizzas, and told me that he had agreed for an electrician to start on Thursday, and the new central heating to be installed the week after. We were going to have to leave them a key of course, as we would be at work.

I talked to him about shopping. We had been used to a selection of shops close to the flat, including a decent-sized supermarket, and some nice delicatessens. Now we faced a four mile drive to an industrial estate, where two huge supermarkets provided the only local opportunity for groceries. Alongside a Pets At Home, Toys-R-Us, one car dealership, a tyre and exhaust centre, and two large DIY chain shops.

He agreed that we should go shopping on Saturday, but I could see from his face that he was dreading the big-shop routine already.

As far as me being pregnant was concerned, I did finally have some bloody awful morning sickness that resulted in me not going into work. But part of me had to admit that I wasn’t enjoying the trains, and also not too happy about the fact that my feet seemed to be swelling over the sides of my shoes, and even the cheap leggings were starting to feel tight. How could I have fat feet? My boobs were definitely uncomfortable, and on more than one occasion I had told Olly to forget it, when he had turned over in bed with that glint in his eye.

Then all of a sudden, I got bigger, and I started to pee. A lot. And when I needed to go, I took no prisoners. It had to be there or then, or I would definitely piss my pants. I knew I was supposed to be happy, and feeling broody and motherly.

But all I could think of was piddling, and having stupid fat feet.

Significant Songs (79)

Reblogging a post from 2015 about a very old song that I love so much. Apologies to those who have seen it previously.
I was thinking about this song today, and it is in my head.

beetleypete

Pennies From Heaven

This song originated as the feature track from the 1936 film of the same name. Originally sung by Bing Crosby in that film, it was later recorded by almost every famous singer since. The list of those who covered the song is too long to write here, but it includes Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, and Sarah Vaughan. For me, this is best heard sung by a ‘crooner’, and the sadness underlying the central message of hope comes over well if it is recorded in a somewhat plaintive tone.

In 1978, the BBC produced a landmark television series of the same title, written by Dennis Potter, and starring Bob Hoskins, Cheryl Campbell, and Gemma Craven. The song featured heavily of course, and the version used was by Arthur Tracy. This was also made into a -best forgotten- Hollywood film adapted by and starring Steve Martin. The TV series…

View original post 133 more words

My Bundle Of Joy: Part Five

This is the fifth part of a fiction serial, in 750 words.

After a lot of arguments about what to take to the new house and what to recycle to charity shops, Olly decided we would take the lot, and sort it out later. He got some estimates from removal firms, and decided to splash the cash on one that came in and packed everything carefully into boxes. To be honest, that was a relief for me, as I was now getting to the stage of feeling unreasonably tired when I had done next to nothing.

When the paperwork started to come through regarding the sale and purchase, it was something of a revelation. Moving to a cheap house in the suburbs was going to make us comparatively rich. Don’t get me wrong, we were already lucky enough to not only cope well, but live a very comfortable life. But our mortgage was going to be less than half of what we were paying then, a lot less than half, once we used some of the crazy profit from how much our flat had increased in value.

With the move imminent, I was starting to feel a tightness in my clothes, and noticing the considerable bump appearing above my knickers. As well as the natural weight increase allowed for carrying an admittedly tiny baby at the time, I was eating as if the world as going to run out of food at any moment. And with Olly resisting the urge to complain about eating crap like doughnuts and pretzels, I was stuffing myself like somoene heading for a gastric bypass.

Leggings became my friend too.

Once I realised that skinny jeans and pencil skirts were no longer going to cut it, I went down the route of ‘comfortable’ flared skirts and maternity tights. That didn’t last long, and soon I was embracing cheap leggings like a single mum of four on a council estate in Manchester. And then my only maternity craving kicked in, when I least expected it. I thought it had arived too early, but my mind and my mouth both told me it was the perfect time.

Fish and chips. Something I hadn’t eaten for years, and certainly not since meeting Olly. Not only the fish and chips, but the huge gherkins and pickled onions that went with it. Then I covered the whole lot in salt, until it looked as if I had dropped my dinner at the beach. I could scarf the lot down like I was a refugee or something, and it wasn’t unknown for me to add a battered sausage to the order. I was sure our little girl was depriving me of fat and salt, and it was very easy to ignore Olly’s head-shakes of disapproval as he slowly ate a sensible salad.

I didn’t give a shit.

Of course, names came up. My mum was delighted at the prospect of a granddaughter, and knew enough that it would not be named after her. She tried the names of so many relatives on me, I asked if she was just reading them out of her address book. To be fair to Olly, he said he would leave it to me. But only after I rejected his suggestions based on female names in The Lord of The Rings. I wanted something short, and easy to call out. I mean, who do you hear shouting “Stop that, Philomena” in a supermarket? Unless you live in Chelsea or Weybridge, I suppose.

One morning, I woke up, and had the name in my head. Leah. You couldn’t really abbreviate it, and it was easy to say. Not that it was that rare, there were quite a few small Leahs around. But it seemed to me to be perfect. Olly actually liked it, even though he thought it didn’t go with the double-barrelled surname. “Leah Mackie-Woodman, does that work, Ang?”

I replied instantly, in the affirmative. “Works for me, Olly love”.

My mum loved it, Olly’s sister loved it. And my brother couldn’t pronounce it when he saw it typed on a text message.

When the men arrived to start packing up the stuff, they said we could go and leave them to it. But there was no way someone like Olly was going to let that happen. It took hours, and when we were finally following their huge truck into the suburbs, I decided it was time to give Olly the bad news, something I knew he was dreading.

“This Citroen has to go, Olly. It’s just too unreliable”.

My Bundle Of Joy: Part Four

This is the fourth part of a fiction serial, in 735 words.

The person who bought our flat didn’t even come and look at it. In fact they didn’t even live in the country, and had bought it purely as a rental investment, so the agent told us. Full asking price, no haggling, and only awaiting legal stuff and a survey. That gave us a possible moving date of six to eight weeks, and as soon as he got home from work the next evening, Olly started stacking up all the books ready for packing.

My mum was less than delighted when I told her that we would be moving almost thirty miles from her, and ended the call earlier than usual, claiming to have to get dinner ready to serve. My comment that both her and dad had cars and could easily drive over to see us hadn’t gone down well. She had snapped back with what I suppose she considered to be a warning. “Wait until you are at your wit’s end with a baby, and need some help. It’s going to take me well over an hour to drive to that part of town”.

That night in bed, we both had something serious to talk about. Olly grinned. “Ladies first”. I wanted to make sure that he was okay about knowing the sex during the second scan. It had suddenly become important to me, though I had no real explanation as to why. He gave in so easily, I wondered what it was he wanted to say. For a split second, I had a terrible feeling he was going to say he was leaving me. That must have had something to do with the hormone changes I had been warned about.

But it was nothing so dramatic, though still reasonably serious.

He wanted to talk about marriage, and surnames. We had always thought marriage was unnecesary. If you love someone, and are committed to them, why the need for some socially-acceptable formalisation? Besides, we knew enough couples who had been divorced already, and national divorce rates were approaching fifty percent. I went back over that old ground in reply, and he nodded as I reminded him of everything we had said four or more years ago. Then he wanted to know what the baby’s surname would be, when it came time to register the birth. Would it be his, Woodman? That wasn’t his father’s name of course, but his mother’s maiden name.

I could tell from his expression and tone that this was important to him. I cast my mind ahead to arriving at school with a child that had a different surname to mine. My surname was Mackie, a legacy of my paternal grandfather originally coming from Scotland. I had few memories of him past a wizened-looking, rather scary man who had a hacking cough every time I ever saw him. Olly was leaning forward like a Heron about to take a fish. He obviously wanted an answer. I settled for the best I could come up with when I was ready to get some sleep. I agreed to hyphenate it, Mackie-Woodman.

It was obvious from the way he turned over and switched off the lamp that this hadn’t been the answer he had been hoping for.

Not long before the second scan, I started to notice a few changes. Some tenderness and fullness in my boobs, though I wasn’t sure if that was psychological. And even though I had not had anything like the morning sickness everyone told me to expect, I was getting hungrier and eating a lot more. The think I disliked most was an occasional bad taste in my mouth, and what felt like velvet covering my teeth. I started to take more calcium supplements, and stopped drinking so much fruit juice.

Then my hair started to get oily and lank. I was never that vain about my looks, in all honesty, but I had always liked my hair. Now it began to look as if I had dipped my head in the deep-fat fryer before leaving for work. And I convinced myself it was getting thinner too. I would end up as a bald mum with foul breath and velvety teeth, I had no doubt.

The cheerful woman doing the ultrasound scan was from Northern Ireland, judging by her accent. She turned the screen around so we could see, and beamed a dazzling smile.

“It’s a wee gurly”.

For Readers of Romance (FREE TODAY!)

FREE BOOK! ONE DAY ONLY!
A romantic novel by Stevie Turner available via a link on the original post. Free on Sunday the 10th only.

Stevie Turner

BookFunnel are running a promotion for January which features 53 books/free samples for fans of Romance. I have added a FREE sample of ‘A Rather Unusual Romance‘ to the promotion, which you can check out by clicking the link below. The book itself is FREE just for today on Amazon:

https://books.bookfunnel.com/january-all-romance-kindle/nhuvkpdqry

Description:

Erin Mason, divorced and with two teenage sons, finds her world begins to fall apart when she undergoes what is termed a “life event”, and is diagnosed with cancer. Not too far away somebody else, Alan Beaumont, is also suffering a similar fate. Their paths slowly come together in this inspiring and humorous tale which is partly based on actual events, and shows how love can flourish in the most unlikely of circumstances.

Review on Amazon by Thom Stark:

Stevie Turner’s A Rather Unusual Romance is exactly that. It’s unusual because its primary characters are middle-aged…

View original post 58 more words

My Bundle Of Joy: Part Three

This is the third part of a fiction serial, in 764 words.

What followed was what I started to think of as ‘the quiet time’. I had a scan appointment to look forward to, which immediately started the debate with Olly about whether or not we wanted to know the sex of the baby, if it was obvious to the person doing the scanning. Olly couldn’t even contemplate not having a son. Someone to take to football, and buy tiny football kits for.

He was an unusual football fan, in many respects. Something of an intellectual, he looked like a nerd, and favoured a duffle-coat for attending the matches. He was in charge of all the non-fiction output for one of the most famous publishers in the country, and when he wasn’t going on about football, he usually had his head in a book. Or many books.

But he had grown up without a father, and I always believed his obsession with ‘his’ team from a young age had given him the feeling of belonging to something. He made no friends in the crowd, and didn’t socialise with any other supporters though. His being a fan was a very personal thing.

We finally agreed not to know, at least until the second scan. But I told him I thought it was just practical to know the sex these days, as people were sure to buy gifts based on gender, whether or not we wanted them or asked for them. And we would obviously be buying things for baby’s room in the new house. I also quizzed him on whether or not he would be disappointed if it turned out to be a girl. He just smiled. “Girls play football too, you know”.

Determined to never live close enough to my mum for her to be able to walk to our house, we started looking at the suburbs to the east, the opposite side to my parental home. Five minutes with our local estate agent left us reassured that he could sell our flat for the inflated asking price in the same day it went on the market. “I have a list of people wanting flats in that building, Mister Woodman. They will snatch your hand off to buy it, and no haggling”.

That meant we could find somewhere we liked the look of, knowing there would be little delay in selling. I didn’t want to end up having to rent while we looked, moving twice in the same year, so I told Olly to decide on an area, and we would choose a house there together.

Names came up next. I didn’t even have a bump showing, and everyone wanted to know what we were going to name what I still just called ‘It’, or ‘baby’. My parents had all sorts of crazy suggestions, ranging from the names of long-dead grandparents, through to some favoured by members of the Royal Family. Olly went all literary on me, suggesting names like Emile, for Zola, and Simone, after de Beauvoir.

I told him we should wait and see what sex it was, and maybe even wait until he or she was born, then see what inspired us. His mother had told him that he had been named Olver after the Swiss actor Oliver Tobias. She said she had a one-night stand with him back in the day, and thought he might be the father.

But she had put it about a bit at the time, and couldn’t be sure.

We got a good feeling in only the fourth house we looked at. It was one of those solid nineteen thirties houses, in a side street where they all looked the same. Bay windows, small garage, and a decent-sized garden at the back. Semi-detached, but even the third bedroom was a good size, as it was built over the garage. I didn’t like the small galley kitchen, but Olly was full of ideas about opening it up into the dining room, bi-fold doors onto the garden, and ending up with a nice open plan family room.

It was cheap, and cheap for a reason. The old lady who owned it had gone into a care home, and nothing much had been changed in the house since the fifties.

Work would be needed. New central heating for sure, and probably a rewiring job too. But it had marvellous parquet flooring throughout, and a stained glass sunburst in the window above the front door. We put in a cheeky offer, and were pleasantly surprised when it was accepted immediately.

Late that afternoon, we put our flat up for sale.

Ollie And The Mud

I have written before about the amount of mud we have to endure on our dog walks. Following the frequent heavy rain we get in Beetley, the mud persists until it is either frozen by a long period of extreme cold, or finally dries out sometime in late May or June.

I have become an expert on mud. I used to think there was just ‘Mud’, but there are a great many varieties.

There is the obvious churned-up ‘surface’ mud. You look ahead of you, and can see a muddy area. If it cannot be avoided, you squelch through it with a depth of just a couple of inches appearing on your boots.

Then there is the ‘slick’ mud. It looks black and oily at first glance, and is rarely deep. That’s because it is sitting on firmer ground, and hasn’t sunk in. Close to the riverbank, this type of mud can often be left behind after local flooding. Walk on that at your peril, as it is as slippery as an ice-skating rink.

The other one best avoided is the ‘boggy’ mud. What might just seem like very wet grass can conceal mud up to three feet deep. That can not only get over the top of your boots and inside them, but also deliver enough suction to pull the boot off completely as you try to extricate it from the quicksand-like grip.

Despite all this, Ollie returns from our walks relatively clean. I have to wipe his paws on one of his dog towels, and clean off some splashes under his belly. Given that we have just spent almost two hours trudging through all the types of mud listed above, you would imagine that my dog would be caked in it up to his hips.

There are two reasons why Ollie can avoid the worst. For one thing, his relatively low weight stops him sinking in too deep. At 28 kilogrammes, (Just over 60 pounds) he is able to distribute that weight over all four legs instead of two.

And there is the way he walks. Best described as ‘prancing’, he does the whole dog walk on the eqivalent of his tiptoes, adding a bounce effect from his strong leg muscles that prevents him from sinking in too deep.

Unlike me, Ollie seems to have been perfectly designed for mud.

My Bundle Of Joy: Part Two

This is the second part of a fiction serial, in 786 words.

Olly was driving me mad, right from the start. A man who used to have to be bribed with the promise of sex to run the dry-mop around the laminate flooring had become a clean-freak almost overnight. He was bleaching surfaces constantly, and even cleaning the loo every time one of us used it.

When our flat started to smell something like an operating theatre at the hospital, I had to sit him down and tell him to stop.

And I couldn’t win with the phone calls. My sister in law seemed to forget the time difference, waking me up one night just after I had dropped off into a sweet sleep. I had to tell her to check the fact that Vancouver was eight hours behind us, before ringing my mobile at one in the morning. Olly said I was sharp with her. Well, maybe I was. My mum rang me at work in the mornings to make sure I was feeling okay, then she rang me as soon as I got home from work to make sure I was still okay. If I ignored her call, she rang Olly on his phone, to make sure there was nothing wrong.

Luckily, my brother didn’t ring at all. The novelty soon wore off for him.

The doctor had referred me to the local hospital, and I had to go in for blood tests. They also went through the routine that I could expect; including scans, a chat with the midwife about healthy habits, exercise, antenatal classes, infections, and vaccinations. I got a ‘Maternity Record Book’ that I was supposed to keep near me at all times, and a surprisingly elderly midwife also spoke to me about anxiety, depression, hormone changes, and what she called ‘natural worries’.

I left the appointment with enough leaflets to paper a large wall, and the feeling that I had just jumped onto a rollercoaster ride that was going to last for the rest of my life.

On the way home on the bus, I suddenly realised the enormity of what was happening.

I was having a baby, and nothing would ever be the same again.

The weekend after that, Olly didn’t go to the home match for the first time since we had lived together. He seemed very serious, and said he wanted to talk about moving, as our flat might be perfect for us, but it was totally unsuitable for raising a child in.

He did have a point. When we bought our trendy canal-side flat three years earlier, it cost a small fortune, but we just presumed it would be our dream home. Converted from old warehouses, it had a small balcony overlooking the canal, large windows that let light flood in, and it wasn’t overlooked. We had a lift, an entryphone video system, and all the things we had wanted. Wood floors, two-person shower, separate kitchen with room for a big table, and our own car park space underground for Olly’s ancient Citroen Dyane. It was easy to walk to the shops, and a selection of buses ran down the main road nearby that enabled us to get to anywhere in the city.

But the main room was open-plan. The selling agent called it ‘New York Loft-Style Living’ in the brochure. That meant we spent most of our time in one huge room with a very high ceiling, which was sectioned off according to our requirements. A sofa that was bigger than our car dominated one area, in front of the fifty-five inch telly that Olly loved to watch his football on. Then we had our so-called office space, with two desks opposite each other for our laptops, a printer, and small filing drawers. There was no bedroom as such, just a built-in division of glass bricks in an L-shape. We had our king size bed and two shabby-chic wardrobes behind that.

Olly was right. Top floor, no outside space except a potentially dangerous canal path, and no separate room for a child to have as their bedroom. It might be alright as long as baby was in its cot, but it would be best to think about selling up and moving to a proper house sooner rather than later.

I made the mistake of mentioning it to my mum that Sunday night. Her reply made me turn and look at Olly, sure that there had been some collusion between them.

“Well for what you could get for that luxury flat, Angie, you could buy a house back here, and have a much smaller mortgage. In fact there is a three-bed detached for sale at the moment, only four doors down from here”. I told her I would think about it.

Like that was ever going to happen.