Jonathan Hill in the spotlight.

As winner of my short story competition back in April, Jonathan Hill as earned a spotlight  on WWBB.


Hill’s clever comic novellas are awash with the crazy antics of his crazy character, Maureen. Fresh and funny (with a smidgen of real life–we’ve all met a Maureen!) he takes you to places and situations and lets you see them through the eyes of a ‘means well, really’ middle-aged battle axe Maureen. B sure to grab yourself a copy.


Maureen goes to Venice

If Maureen were real, I would advise you to avoid her like the plague. She somehow attracts disaster and farce in equal measure wherever she goes.

As she is fictional though, it should be safe enough for you to encounter her from behind your Kindle. 


Maureen had a disastrous trip to a modern art exhibition in ECLECTIC: Ten Very Different Tales. Well, now she’s back in her own feature-length adventure!


The book will give you plenty of laughs and a taste of Italy, so join hapless Maureen on her Venetian break and just be glad you’re not there with her! 



See my review here.




A Letter for Maureen

Amazon.UK
Amazon.com
“Maureen’s back! 
Run away!  Hide anything she might
break!  But this time, that might include
your heart.” (Amazon reviewer – January 2013)


When it’s Maureen’s turn to chair the local book group meeting, choosing a new
outfit turns out to be the least of her worries.  A secret confided in Maureen by a fellow
reader impacts on her life greatly over the following year.  Then comes a revelation which could change
the way Maureen lives her life altogether.


The disaster-prone Maureen, recently recovered from her comic mishaps in
Venice, stars in a story that is both hilarious and heartbreaking.
A novella of ~18,500 words.  This is the
second to be published in the Maureen series, but the book can be read as a
stand-alone story.



Jonathan Hill is also the writer of  Ecelectic: Ten Very Different Tales where in one of the stories, you’ll meet Maureen again. You have been warned!



Comment and judge on this short story: Vacation

**The winner of WWBB’s short story competition will win a review and an author spotlight. Your comments will help me decide the winner.**

by
Peter DeMarco

Henry tells the
twin girls he almost got hit by a bike.
They’re all over
the place, one says.
Like New York
City taxis, says Henry.
We’ve never been
to New York.
It’s being
cleaned up now.
The girls are in
Amsterdam on break from college in L.A. 
Henry asks if they’ve ever been on the Universal Studios tour.  That’s for tourists, they say.  But what if you like movies, he asks.  They tell him that when you’re from a place
that’s known for something, it doesn’t mean that much.
            I think I know what you mean, says
Henry.  I’ve never been to the Statue of
Liberty.
            That’s crazy, one of them says.
            See, we’re all tourists, Henry tells
them.
            Outside, they smoke hash alongside a
canal. 
            I haven’t ridden a bike since I had
an accident when I was a kid, says Henry. 
He points to his a scar on his forehead.
Someone told us
that there are a lot of bikes in the water.
Like a cemetery,
Henry says.
They smoke in
silence and stare at the water, as if the rippling current were a kind of
lullaby.
            What do you do back
home, they ask Henry.
            I go to the movies, he says.  So do you like movies, or am I asking another
stupid question.
            We like the old ones. 
            Like Charlie Chaplin, Henry asks.
            Whose that?
            He was a silent movie star.
            Not that old.  You know, from the eighties.
            Henry shakes his head. 
            The other twin asks him if he
travels a lot.  This is my first time
abroad, he says.
            Really.  You’re brave going by yourself.
            Not brave, just bored.
            The girls tell him that their
parents let them travel because it was their 21st birthday. 
            That’s sweet, Henry says.  Then he asks if they know how to say
goodnight in Dutch.  The girls shake
their heads.
            Henry waves goodbye and walks away.
_________________________
            Henry visits a prostitute in the Red
Light District.         
            Once, I came home from school, he
tells her, and heard some weird chanting or something in the living room.  I peeked in and saw my mother and some
friends with the Pastor from our parish and they were talking, but it wasn’t
words, it was like mumbling.  My mother
was sick and they were trying to heal her. 
It scared me.
            I went back outside, Henry says, and
got my bicycle.  I pedaled really fast
and wasn’t paying attention, there were tears in my eyes, and I hit a tree.
            The prostitute strokes his hair as
if he were a prize mare.
            Later, Henry rents a bike and pedals
along the canals.  He thinks about the
abandoned bicycles the girls mentioned, sturdy new chrome that once sparkled in
the sun, now rusted and disfigured.  In
school, a teacher once told the class about the Pearl Harbor memorial, how you
could see the sunken ship just beneath the water.
            There is a resting place for
everything.
 Background Noise

Amazon.UK
Amazon.com
Troubled young suburbanite Henry Walker is on a one-man mission to clean up his town, protect his property, and chase after fantasies of a better life ahead. From an alienated adolescent to a frustrated young adult, Henry encounters one disappointment after another. While suffering the loss of close family members and friends, desperately seeking companionship in the form of unconventional friendships, and becoming a victim of extreme bullying and violence, Henry ultimately becomes an outcast in the only town he knows. 

As Henry immerses himself in his past, memories become guilt, guilt becomes regret, and regret becomes obsession—until violence seems to be the only logical response.

Written as a collection of interwoven short stories, told in sparse, piercing prose, this haunting novel examines Henry Walker’s transformation from the misfit and the victim— to vengeful retaliator. But does the justice he metes out make him a popular hero or an enemy of the people? In razor-sharp prose reminiscent of Haruki Murakami, Peter DeMarco startles the mind while touching the heart.

Comment and judge on this short story: Lurking Demons

**The winner of WWBB’s short story competition will win a review and an author spotlight. Your comments will help me decide the winner.**

by 
Robert Crompton
It
was getting silly. It doesn’t matter when you’re a little kid and there are
lots of people around who believe in fairies and ghosts and giants and things.
But when you get to grammar school and nobody believes in fairies or Santa
Claus or Gulliver’s Travels, that’s
when it can be embarrassing to think of the sorts of things your family
believe.
Okay, lots of
grown-ups believe in God and Jesus and angels and maybe that was all right
though Susan couldn’t think why it was any different from fairies, but her
family believed in other stuff as well like the coming of the Lord and the
Great Climax before next Tuesday and demons and eschewing things and how
terribly wicked other people were, especially those who believed in God but in
the wrong way. And they had these phrases they were always using that made them
sound like they were reciting things from silly Gilead pamphlets, which they
were, of course. Phrases like, ‘in these perilous times’ and ‘the machinations
of the devil.’ If she heard her mother say either of those once more she would
fling her bedroom window wide open and scream all the rudest swear words she
could think of and hope they got picked up by the radio masts on Alvanley Hill
so they could echo round and round the forest for ever and always. And
afterwards, even when she was lots older, when she went walking in the forest
on a windy day she thought they were doing just that.
The demons thing got
to its absolute stupidest when she was thirteen. Some idiots started to put it
around that things, objects, could be demon-possessed. The Wise Old Men of
Gilead started it but there were plenty of others with the right sort of
Gilead-mindedness to fill in the details. The most susceptible objects were
things like antiques or any second-hand goods which could have been owned by
people who dabbled in occult arts. And children were a special target for the
demons so, naturally, toys were the obvious places for evil spirits to lurk.
She might have been
able to cope with this if it had just been other people at Gilead Hall who took
the hunt for hidden demons seriously. But one Friday afternoon when she got
home from school Alan was in the back yard tending a bonfire. When she went up
to her room she saw that Pookie, her teddy bear who always sat on her pillow,
was missing. She went downstairs and into the kitchen where her mother was
preparing vegetables.
‘Where is Pookie?’
she demanded.
Her mother carried
on peeling carrots and replied in a wearied tone, ‘Susan, you are thirteen. You
ought to have grown out of playing with dolls by now.’
‘Mother! I don’t
play with dolls. I never did. Pookie isn’t a doll. He’s a teddy bear and he’s
special. I’ve had him since before I can remember and I want to keep him.’
‘Well it’s too late.
It’s gone on the bonfire. You know very well that these things attract the
attention of demons.  We have to be as
cautious as serpents in these perilous times.’
She went back up to
her room and flung the window open and sent the swear words out. ‘Damn, bugger,
piss, bloody hell.’ And in a whisper, she added, ‘fuck.’
She might have
forgotten about the teddy bear ¨C well, eventually she might ¨C but what really
needled her was the pressure to behave as if she was always on the look-out for
lurking demons. They get everywhere in these perilous times.



Amazon.UK
Smashwords
Leaving Gilead
When
Tom Sparrow falls in love with Susan Ridley his dad insists that no good will
come of it. Her family belongs to a strict religious sect and they disapprove
of all outsiders. Against the odds their friendship develops until the time
when Tom is all set to go to university and Susan is free at last to escape
from her family’s religion and move to Manchester with Tom. What stopped her?
Why was she no longer around?

Thirty years later when he is contemplating a change of career, the Ridley’s
old house, tucked away in the forest, comes up for sale. It is just what he
wants – though he isn’t sure about Melanie, a young woman who also has an
interest in the house. Otherwise it is perfect for his plans for a new life
back where he has his roots. As he prepares to move in he discovers something
hidden away in an outbuilding and at last he begins to learn the truth of what
happened all those years before.

Leaving Gilead is the story of two women’s struggles to build new lives
after growing up in a religion that promotes irrational belief and conformity
with arbitrary rules above above personal development.

Comment and judge on this short story: Monster Race

**The winner of WWBB’s short story competition will win a review and an author spotlight. Your comments will help me decide the winner.**

by
John Hudspith
Alice settled on the warm grass, sun behind
her, breeze coming left to right; a strong breeze at that – just the thing for
a monster race because the critters go faster with the wind at their tails.

Alice didn’t have long to wait. A skeletal
dog came bounding into view in dreamy slow motion. The dragon behind had a
funny jaw, sort of hooked like a parrot, and it was stretching wider and wider.
Alice was certain the dog would be swallowed whole if it didn’t get a move on.

Too late. The bones in the dog’s neck
separated and its skull went rolling forward. Alice gasped when she realised
the rest of the dog had vanished. The dragon’s mouth was firmly shut, it looked
fatter too and went sailing past without any clue that it might be feeling
guilty at all. Dragons were sly things. Poor dog.

Alice smiled at the size and pure beauty of
the boldest, whitest horse she’d ever seen. Shame it had six legs. It reared
up, crashed down, up, down, then its hooves galloped into a roll, so fast they
became a blur. It was plain to see what made the handsome horse so speedy. A
trio of fat goblins were in pursuit, but that wasn’t the bad of the matter. No.
Behind the goblins (which now dispersed so quickly Alice only blinked and
they’d gone) came a fat grey snake, easily big enough to swallow the dragon,
never mind the six-legged horse. Alice held her breath as it neared the
speeding stallion. Its forked tongue curled out, stretched, then zapped at the
horse’s hind legs which evaporated into fine mist. The horse tumbled and broke
into bits, legs scattering like old bones thrown by a witch. Alice laughed.
This was fun.

Then came a giant. Well, Alice presumed it
was a giant. His legs and arms were normal sized but his head was definitely
bigger than Alice’s house. He didn’t move very fast – due to the small legs,
obviously. And he’d no hope of winning the race. Not unless he cheated. Alice
watched as the giant lumbered. The others way in front had gone now. This giant
was boring. He didn’t even look at her. Didn’t smile. Just rolled by with his
ginormous head.

Alice sighed and wished the giant away and
in seconds a new racer entered the game – a black rat – bigger than giant big
head. Alice clapped her hands because the rat was fast and soon nipping at the
giant’s ears. Its snout opened wide and began sucking giant big head inside.
His little legs kicked for mercy.

“Eat him all up,” said Alice, just as the
rat spread its black form upwards and outwards. Now it was a hooded figure, one
long arm extended to the racers in front.

“Ha!” Alice laughed, then the dark figure
vanished behind Ma’s bloomers.

“Watching the clouds again, sweetheart?”

“Uh-uh.”

“Think it’s going to rain?”

“No Ma, it’ll pass.”

“Who won today?”

“The man in the hood, Ma…” Alice got up and
skipped down the yard. “…He always wins.”


Amazon.UK
Amazon.com

Kimi’s secret is out – her brain is the key to successful time travel – and a ruthless greylian bounty hunter will break every bone in her body to get at it. As if that isn’t bad enough, the best looking boy in the world turns into a cannibal intent on devouring every last bit of her. Sometimes life really does suck.
Can Kimi thwart the bounty hunter, kill the boy of her dreams to save her own life, tame her greatest fear and keep herself from becoming greylian toast? Not without help. 

Tulpa Bentley returns with old favourites the famoose, Big Sue the giant with OCD, madcap mentor Stella, and chief of fuzz the monkey Rehd along with a whole host of new crazies in an adventure bigger and bolder than before.

Are you ready for a flash?

WWBB’s short story/flash fiction competition has begun. There is still time to enter, but thanks to those who have booked their slot.


In case you’re wondering, I asked writers/bloggers/funsters to write in with a piece of fiction and be entered into WWBB’s short story comp (500 words approx), which could be a spin-off from your novel or a stand-alone short story.

The closing date is 25th February, and voting is encouraged by readers of the blog (mark yay or nay in the comment section) as each story is posted.


The winner will be announced end of March when everyone has had a fair chance on the blog. There is a prize of an author spotlight in a month of the winner’s choice, and I’ll buy, read and review his or her book (doesn’t mean the review will be complimentary, I’m afraid).


Entrants so far:

John Hudspith

Robert Crompton
Peter DeMarco
Kathryn Hewitt
Christopher Savio
Sandra Bunino