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Karen J Mossman writes an interesting article about missing people and how their stories have inspired her to write fiction based on the same theme.
By Karen J Mossman
Like many people, I enjoy a good mystery. Stories where you need to know what happens next. Tales that pique your curiosity, and keep you turning the page to get to the end.
Over the years, I’ve found missing people intriguing. Why did they disappear in the first place? Was it an accident or something more sinister? Is there a happy ending or does it end in tragedy? Also, just as importantly, how does it affect those left behind?
Before I thought about becoming a published author, many of the stories I’d written over the years involved this mystery.
Did you know there are 300,000 people reported missing each year in the UK alone? That works out at almost 900 a day.
The first high profile case I recall was that of Lord Lucan in 1974. His wife claimed her husband had attacked her, and murdered…
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When my youngest son was two, he could recite every nursery rhyme I knew. So, I visited my local library to find some new ones I could teach him. Although I did find a few more that were suitable, my hubby and I couldn’t stop laughing when we read the one below.
I put my finger in the woodpecker’s hole,
And the woodpecker said, “God, bless my soul.
Take it out, TAKE IT OUT!”
Well, do you think it’s suitable for a child, or is it just a reflection of how our minds work? Since it’s been turned into different versions of songs which can be found on Google, I don’t think it’s just us.
Funnily enough, by the time my son was 12 , he could hardly remember any of the nursery rhymes I taught him. Maybe he was too young.
I’m not very observant! How do I know this? It was brought home to me one day, many moons ago, while out shopping on my own.
Minding my own business walking to the next shop I wanted to visit in the high street of a busy town, a lady with a clip-board and pen blocked my progress and spoke to me.
“Tell me everything you’ve just seen and what you think just happened,” she said, her pen poised ready to record my answers.
“Pardon?” I was stopped in my tracks and taken aback by this interruption out of the blue. “What do you mean?” I was now on my guard as I didn’t know what was happening and why this strange woman was asking me these odd questions. My mind was occupied by the items I’d just seen and the possibility I might find a better match to my requirements in the next store.
Raising a well-defined arched eyebrow, she continued, “You must have seen the man in a mask running out of that shop and heading off down the street.” She gave me a quizzical, unbelieving look as she pointed in the direction the man had taken.
I didn’t have a clue what she was going on about, but she went on to explain they were staging a robbery to test how observant passers-by were. I’m afraid I failed miserably. I never even saw the man, nor heard the shocked gasps of other shoppers who had seen him. I just stood there feeling such a fool.
It did teach me a lesson though and I’m much more aware of my surroundings nowadays when I’m out and about. This was in the days before mobile phones. Now people are texting while out and about, I wonder how many of them would actually see an incident happening around them.
Have you ever missed something you should have seen? Tell me about it.
Yes, we all have the same problem. In my case, hubby is home 24/7 with me and wants my company. he really doesn’t like me going into a different room with the laptop, but being in the same room, the lounge, means the TV is usually on. I have trouble now getting in the writing zone.
Many, if not all authors know writing is never straight forward; I am not talking about the technical aspects or grammar, but about finding the time to write when your mind is focused, when it is in the ‘zone’ for ‘that part’ of your story.
The Holy Grail of writing is when your thought processes are at a peak and you have the time, the undisturbed, uninterrupted time, to transcribe your contemplations cohesively into your manuscript.
Finding this Holy Grail has been an elusive search for me over the last year or so, regarding the novel I am currently working on.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not speaking of writer’s block, that is something I do not suffer. It is also nothing to do with finding the time; I have written and published three books in the past year and I am working on three more as I write…
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Here is a fellow author’s thoughts on what he misses most about New Zealand now he’s an ex-pat.
Grant (here with his wife, Thess) As an fellow ex-pat, I was interested to hear about his new life. The booky links are at the bottom for his work!
Do you miss New Zealand? If so what in particular?
Perhaps I should feel guilty, but the truth is I don’t miss a lot about New Zealand at all, except for people, especially my son, who I haven’t seen now for over eight years. Excitingly, though, he is scheduled to come here next February, so we’re all hyped up about that. I remember before I came here, sitting in my lounge in Gore, in a freezing, winter southerly and saying to my son; “what person in their right mind would choose to live in a freezing, god-forsaken, hell-hole of a place, like this?” From time to time, when the temperature becomes too hot for me here, I wistfully long for one…
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ELIZABETH (ALKER) SMITH 1918 – 2012 – AN ORDINARY WOMAN LIVING IN EXTRAORDINARY TIMES.
During the Great Depression, in the same 1936 year George Orwell was conducting his social study in Wigan, Lancashire, Elizabeth, just 18, discovered she was pregnant. She was an unmarried, only child, and this unfortunate news came after a traumatic few years when she’d lost all her close family members apart from her mum. Elizabeth’s situation was exacerbated by the fact her mum, Ellen, had also been ill for several years. Ellen was suffering severe breathing problems due to inhaling in the fibres prevalent in the Lancashire cotton mill where she worked.
Knowing she would die prematurely due to her poor health, Elizabeth’s mum dearly hoped her daughter would marry the young man from Liverpool she’d been courting, especially now she was with child. Fulfilling her request, Elizabeth and her young man, George Smith, from Liverpool, married right away. After their marriage, Elizabeth moved to Liverpool where her husband had found them lodgings. At last, she felt protected, less vulnerable should the worst happen to her mum.
She didn’t feel bad about leaving her mum in Wigan because she was not on her own. Her mum had taken in George’s family as lodgers a few years earlier when, due to the economic depression, George’s father had found difficulty obtaining work in Liverpool. He soon found a job in Wigan, and his wife and three other teenagers got on so well with Elizabeth’s mum, they all became really good friends.
Life seemed settled for both Elizabeth and her mum until just two short years later, a few weeks after Elizabeth’s twentieth birthday, her mum finally lost her battle for life. As if that tragedy wasn’t enough, eighteen months later, Elizabeth’s young husband, George, had to leave her when WW2 was declared. Now, she was totally alone except for her young child, in a strange, war-threatened city . She’d never felt so utterly bereft.
From her own autobiography, see how she fares in the war torn city of Liverpool on her own. Rooted in tragic events, her story also has lots of humour. Told in her own words, you’ll marvel at how her soldier husband got lodgings for her as he was stationed in various places around the country. Her experiences with the various landladies wasn’t always pleasant, but a wonderful family in Cambridgeshire became her surrogate family for a while. So much so, she stayed on with them while her husband moved elsewhere. She even put her young son in school there and found a job for herself. Those were brilliant times and you’ll laugh at her exploits in the jam factory where she had some memorable moments.
She was just an ordinary woman living in extra-ordinary times. A true-life story with a tragic start, yet it becomes rib-tickling funny in places. Why not give this autobiography a try?
For family historians with Lancashire ancestors, why not delve into this today? There are several back pages of referenced end-notes with linked family trees and many Lancashire surnames. GET YOUR COPY NOW!
#Lancashire #FamilyHistory #autobiography
“I’m on a diet”. How often we hear these words spoken nowadays, yet as a nation we’re all becoming increasingly heavier.
Could we be the victims of faulty reasoning? When we hear the word “diet” we automatically think of all the things we can’t eat; cakes, biscuits, crisps, chocolate, ice cream, puddings, pastries and sauces, and our hearts sink. Automatically, we are doomed to failure since it’s impossible to keep depriving ourselves forever from the things we love to eat.
Most of us have been on a diet more than once. We start our new regime enthusiastically enough; proudly refusing to eat all of the above during the first couple of weeks when our weight loss is at its highest peak. Just a few short weeks or months down the line, however, when the rate we lose weight seems to slow right down or even stop, we’re ready to give in when tempted by the foods we love but know we shouldn’t eat.
No wonder we fail! Gradually we slip back into eating these foods from “Just one won’t hurt me” to eating them on a daily basis. Yet, maybe it’s our perception of “diet” that’s causing our failure to lose weight. “Diet” used to generally mean the sum total of what an individual generally ate. It did not relate to foods an individual was banned from eating, only to those foods available to an individual owing to geographical and social constraints. Everybody has a diet, not only those who wish to lose weight.
If we were to abandon this negativity and spend our time more positively; striving to eat more of the healthier foods, we would probably find ourselves gradually losing weight anyway. Packing in the recommended daily minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables can be quite filling, even more so now it’s been upped to seven portions. Add to this eating more nuts, seeds, whole grains and pulses and we’d soon find our appetites fully satisfied, especially when we realize there’s no maximum recommendation. We can eat as much as we want of these types of food and it’s good for us. Stop buying specially prepared diet meals and seek out the huge variety of exotic fruits and vegetables displayed in supermarkets nowadays. Prepare more of your own meals and be inventive when cooking. Try alternative methods of cooking that use less fat, or fruit instead of sugar. Bake with whole wheat flour and sugar substitutes incorporating lots of fruit.
Once our mentality changes from “can’t have” to “must eat more of ….” The urges will lessen, especially once we’ve told ourselves no foods are forbidden. Yes, we can have the odd piece of chocolate or whatever we fancy, just make it a small portion only once in a while of foods high in calories. When we know we can have it whenever we want it, we stop needing it so urgently. We may even find with our new healthier eating habits, the urges for unhealthy stuff diminishes. Wouldn’t that be great!
We always had great fun with our oldest granddaughter when she was little. Her mum went back to work when she was six months old and we looked after her two days a week from 7.30am until 5.30pm. We left our household chores on those days to spend the time playing with her and taking her out.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time spent with her and often played games such as ‘The farmer’s in his den’, using her doll, rabbit and teddy for the wife, child, and dog characters in the game. Sometimes, we’d dance around the dining table to the song ‘Hey, Mickey’.
As we were then in our sixties, she exhausted us, but it created some wonderful memories. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss those times for anything even though we were also caring for my elderly parents at the same time.
When she was 10-year-old, our granddaughter told her granddad he was ‘COOL’. As his chest was swelling with pride she qualified her statement by saying, “yes cool, Constipated – Overweight – Overrated – Loser”. It was instant deflation on his part. Good job it was only a joke! She has a great sense of humour.
We’re so pleased we spent time with her when she was so young. Sadly, our other grandchildren live too far away for us to have day to day contact with them.
Many years ago, when my children were small, I bought a chunk of land. It is land of great historical importance as it’s the land where William the Conqueror’s army first set foot on English soil. I say a chunk of land, when in fact I mean 100 square centimetres. No, don’t laugh! I own a plot of land 4″ x 4″ square and I have an overwhelming urge to put a plaque or flag on it.
It all began in 1981 when I was on a caravan holiday at Burnham-On-Sea, Somerset, with my husband and three sons. I was looking through a souvenir shop for something to take home as a reminder of the time we spent there, when I spotted it. They were selling a plot of land for only £1.00. Yes, One British pound!
At first, I didn’t know how big, or should I say tiny, the plot of land was but nevertheless, I was interested anyway.
This land was part of Anderita Park, very close to Pevensey Castle, in Sussex. The shopkeeper told me that the land had been split into tiny parcels and sold up and down the country, so no-one would know who owned the land. This meant it could never be built upon.
Well, I thought, so what if it’s not genuine? The paperwork was worth that amount of money and it was something different to show everyone at home. The documents are quite impressive. Despite the colourful official deeds, everyone laughs when I show them my souvenir. I’m thinking of getting it framed purely as a talking point.
What unusual things have you brought home from holiday? I’d love to know.
Most of us like to look our best for special occasions, like parties, weddings, and Christmas. We believe our looks dictate how others see us and we’ll sometimes go to extreme lengths to improve our appearance and prevent our looks from fading. This line of thought has spawned a huge, billion-pound beauty industry and it is often claimed this trend has gone too far.
Most parts of our body can be altered by surgery or exercise, Our skin can be peeled and plumped, teeth improved and whitened, and our eyesight corrected with laser surgery so we don’t have to wear glasses. These are only a few treatments and procedures available, and while some people have achieved a slightly more youthful look by employing these methods, others have not. A great deal depends on the skill of the surgeon. They don’t all have the same skills.
While some facial procedures may show an improvement in appearance, we should be aware that as we age, there are certain features of the body that can’t be improved successfully. No matter how trim our body or how improved our facial features, the way an older person stands, moves, bends, walks, sits, lies down, or runs (if they still can), will instantly give their age away.
Many individuals try to combat the ageing of their bodies by exercising it. Keeping your body active is often advertised as the best way to keep our bodies young and fit for longer, but professionals argue over how much exercise we should be doing. Some enthusiastic individuals pack in as much exercise as they possibly can, but could be doing more harm than good. Many doctors now believe short periods of moderate exercise are best for us.
Regardless of how much exercise we do though, have you ever seen an older person, dancing or running. We can’t get away from the fact that age is a dead giveaway when you look at the moving body. Is it futile then to try to stave off the effects of time on our looks?
While it does feel good to be looking your best, we humans should aim to be more than just something lovely to look at. When we interact or build relationships with others, we expect far more than someone who worries all the time about every line or wrinkle, or whether their eyebrows or eyelashes need a treatment. We are complex humans and as such, we have many sides to our personalities. Others warm to us because of who we are rather than how we look.
Think of people you know who have some of the following characteristics, and how you feel about them. Is it true you can be drawn to people with certain character traits even if they are not particularly good looking?
positive or negative attitude
inquisitive or disinterested
thirst for learning new things or contented with how things are
Enjoy the company of others or we are a loner
a giver or a taker
independent or dependent
An honest person or dishonest person
friendly or unfriendly
non-confrontational or argumentative
peace-keeping or disruptive
This list is only part of who we are as individuals. Our attitudes make up the largest part of who we are and have a far greater impression on people we meet than how we look. Someone who offers us a kind word when we’re feeling low makes a far greater impression on us than the aloof beauty who doesn’t even notice how we’re feeling.
Those who have had all the expensive beauty treatment may well look prettier than those who haven’t, but living life to the full is far more than looking pretty. It’s joining in and giggling madly when everyone’s having a snowball fight without worrying about your facial lines getting deeper if you laugh hysterically. It’s grabbing the ball your child threw at you, or pulling the sleigh without fearing your expensively manicured nails will break.
Life is meant to be lived, not spent in the beauty parlour.
Published today, the June issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine, our retro issue!
* An exclusive interview with Blue Peter legend Peter Purves
* Travel articles about Ireland and Athens
* Barbecue ideas
* An exclusive interview with rock duo Fleesh
*Life on an oil rig, and so much more
Read or download your FREE copy here!