My Worldcon Schedule

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Dublin Worldcon Logo showing a stylised harp shaped D with a dragon and a rocket.So, between the 15th and 19th of August, I will be in Dublin for the 77th World Science Fiction Convention (or Worldcon for short). If you are also attending (apparently memberships are now getting in short supply and may not be available on the day so you need to book now if you haven’t already) you will be able to enjoy panels and talks from many wonderful people such as Diane Duane (fantasy writer) and Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell (phyicist credited with discovering Pulsars). You will also be able to attend some panels that have me in them…

Below is my final schedule as it currently stands (changes are always possible even at a late stage but this is unlikely to change now). Some of these will be moderated by me, others will just have me blethering on about stuff.

I am also planning to do some photoshoots (contact me on my photography facebook page to arrange this) and a walk around Dublin with my camera that others are welcome to join the group here to find out more.

 

Dublin 2019 An Irish Worldcon August 15 - 19 Convention Centre Dublin

Franchise characters

Format: Panel
15 Aug 2019, Thursday 14:00 – 14:50, Wicklow Room-2 (CCD)

Marvel characters are often mentioned in other MCU films, reminding us of their shared universe; DC TV shows have annual crossover events. How have these franchises – and others such as Star Trek – taken advantage of their epic canvasses to deepen characterisation? Are the in-universe reputations of some characters used to challenge our understanding of them rather than reinforce it?

How close are we to Frankenstein’s dream?

Format: Panel
15 Aug 2019, Thursday 19:00 – 19:50, Liffey Hall-2 (CCD)

Science has been making remarkable progress in rebuilding bones, growing organs, and transplants. Researchers recently succeeded in restoring a mammal’s brain from cryogenic freezing, leading to speculation about ‘head transplants’. How close does this bring us to the vision of the ‘Modern Prometheus’? What are our current capabilities and ethics behind the science?

Guiding star: discussing the Lodestar Award shortlist

Format: Panel
16 Aug 2019, Friday 12:30 – 13:20, Odeon 4 (Point Square Dublin)

Let’s gush about this year’s amazing list of Lodestar Award finalists! What do we love about these books? Who will win, who else would we have loved to see on the list, and what else are we looking forward to seeing from this fantastic group of authors?

  • The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
  • Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
  • The Invasion by Peadar Ó Guilín
  • Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

Introduction to SFF romance

Format: Panel
16 Aug 2019, Friday 15:00 – 15:50, Wicklow Hall 2B (CCD)

SFF romance is as varied and creative as the speculative genre as a whole but, along with other romantic sub-genres, has often been dismissed and undervalued. From shapeshifting billionaires to far future secret agents, vampire brides to Highland flings, this panel will provide a broad introduction to SFF romance in all its glory as well as providing a range of reading recommendations.

Things that SFF writers often get wrong: logistics

Format: Panel
18 Aug 2019, Sunday 14:00 – 14:50, Wicklow Room-4 (CCD)

That’s not how it really works! Organisational planning and logistics often get overlooked or written wrong – whether it’s the time needed to hunt and cook an animal in the forest, or to develop the cure for a disease. Timing, availability, and coordination of things often get pushed into a grey area where good logistical planning goes to die. What does it take to get these details right? When the details don’t work within the story, how does an author work around them? Our panellists share their own experiences, including what they have got right and wrong along the way.

Ytterbium Eastercon: Monday.

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Monday at Eastercon is always a weird thing. Very much about the take down and only a few items on.

My plan for this day was to attend two interesting items.

One was Aging Societies, a panel with John Scalzi and Caroline Mullen. In this, the three panelists discussed ideas about how society cold deal with the growing elderly population in the future. The solution in Scalzi’s Old Man’s War was obviously discussed as were a few other books that looked at concepts of immortality. I was surprised no one mentioned the Peter F Hamilton books (Mispent Youth  and the Commonwealth Saga) which explore this topic but otherwise it was a very interesting conversation. As a former gerontologist, I had opinions… but I may bother to put them into a blog post on aging later.

 

6C1A8520-Pano.jpgThen I went to a coffee date with Frances Hardinge. Like John Scalzi’s similar event on Sunday, this was a relatively informal chat with the author over coffee or tea and, in this specific case, biscuits.

Because, being a LRPer and it being something clearly built into the DNA of the average live action roleplayer, Frances had managed to overcater on biscuits. This many:

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For 12 people.

However, she had also been thoughtful enough to supply gluten free jammy dodgers which was a major plus in my mind and meant I could indulge in biscuits…

Discussion covered the range of her books and touched upon possible film adaptations (two of her books have been optioned – Cuckoo Song and The Lie Tree – but this is no guarantee of an actual TV series being produced), her tendency to be both weird and cruel to her characters (and how they went back to her early attempts at writing when she was 6) and the strange things young children ask authors. Overall, a very fun and interesting hour of conversation.

After that, I worked in the green room for a few hours and that was pretty much it for my time at the con other than drinking and socialising and spending the ‘groats’ I had acquired volunteering. These are special Eastercon fake money given to volunteers that can be spent on pretty much anything. The bar accepts them (as apparently does the hotel to pay for room bookings over the event etc.) and the traders at the convention will exchange books. jewellery or cat’s ears for them. I even heard a rumour that some of the surrounding restaurants were also accepting them… I spent mine on some food, some drinks and a book from one of the traders. This year, the groats had been designed by Sidney Padua – one of the guests of honour – and looked amazing. I kept one (despite it being worth £2!) for the cool value alone… I mean, look at this artwork…

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Ytterbium Eastercon: Sunday

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Sunday is, as we all know, a day of rest. Easter Sunday doubly so. Especially when Easter Sunday just happens to be the Sunday after a Saturday at Eastercon.6C1A8489.jpg

I’d originally planned a lie in and a late arrival at the con. However, fate and a chance encounter with one of the Green room staff on Saturday that led to a promise to help out on Sunday morning meant that I was now honour bound, by ancient compact and powerful dark con magic, to an earlier start than I’d had the entire con so far.

Which was fine, only I did one of my usual errors and turned up for my shift a whole hour earlier than I thought it was.

But it was fine and I had an enjoyable morning ticking people off lists and organising drinks for participants in panels and talks.

My next call was a post lunch coffee date with John Scalzi. This was 12 people  in a room talking with John Scalzi with tea and coffee available (though John Seemed happy with Coke Zero). Three minutes before the official start of this event, he told us the story that had to be left off the record about a con a few years ago (and I will hold to that unofficial gagging order but I am totes teasing you with the fact I know something you don’t know… unless you were involved or at this event…) before launching into the event proper. What followed was an hour of questions and discussion with John holding forth on many topics ranging from his work as a consultant for Stargate Universe to his work as a film reviewer, his writing career, his love of fan art on stuff from ‘Sex, Death and Robots’ and his reflections on his post about straight white male being ‘easy mode’ in the game of life. As always, the coffee events are a weird sort of mix of informal ‘hanging out with the author’ combined with a more formal interview event. This one was so popular, they had to organise a second one later in the day.

After this and a short break where I did some more volunteering, I headed to a talk called ‘The Genius of Rosa’ by our old blog buddy, Russel A Smith. This looked at the episide of series 11 of Doctor Who that was set at the time of the (in)famous Rosa Parks bus protest. Russ went into detail on the episode and talked about the history and social context of the episode. The talk was mainly focussed on tackling the opposition to the episode, the negative comments that came (it seemed) simply because it was an episode about a black woman protesting.  Each objection (like ‘the message was too heavy handed’) was answered in the talk.

 

Then there was a panel on Medicine in SF in which a bunch of medical doctors and biomedical scientists looked at concepts of medicine in science fiction and discussed the viablity of the methods. A lot of time was spent on the possibility of ‘AI Doctors’ similar to the Doctor from Voyager and what this may mean in terms of patient care and the risk of litigation (who is to blame if a medical AI makes a mistake?) but there was also time for a bit of discussion aboutpersonalised medicine,  homeopathy and the sort of medical scams that exist now and how these may be worse in the future.

 

The final panel of the day was called ‘History of Representation in Doctor Who’. This panel looked at how well Doctor Who covered issues like race, sexuality, sexism and disablism. The panel looked at examples of this and considered their own first experiences of Doctor Who and how that affected them. Highlights included Fiona Moore discussing how some showrunners were really bad at feminism if they tried to be feminist but actually really good if they didn’t try and Guest of Honour DC pointing out how Barbara (first Doctor Who female companion) was actually a really strong character for her time with a lot of agency. There was also an almost universal fanship for Captain Jack Harkness.

After this, it was time for dinner and the bar… and spending all the hard earned groats from volunteering…

Ytterbium Eastercon: Saturday

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Saturday for me was when Eastercon got… busy… there was so much I wanted to see and do today and so much I missed, plus I was busy with a lot of volunteer work too. However, as this mostly involved holding up a card to say when a panel was overunning, it was no great effort and I got to watch the panels too.

First panel of the day was “What is #Ownvoices and why is it important?” This panel 6C1A8357.jpgfeatured the wonderful Russell Smith, a regular on this blog, and a selection of other diverse voices who were there to discuss their own experiences of being seen as ‘other’ in publishing. For example, the tired old excuse of “We already have a book about [insert minoroty issue here], we don’t need another one.” An argument easily countered by “but you have half a dozen books about the experiences of cis het white males…” The panel made it clear why these were issues, whey they shouldn’t need to be an issue and discussed what is now a growing and more vocal group of #Ownvoices. In all, an entertaining panel.

6C1A8382.jpgThis was followed by an interview with Frances Hardinge, another old regular on this blog. As a guest of honour, she had certain obligations, including being interviewed. The interview ably covered the spread of her work and discussed such topics as her thoughts on over researching and the personalities of her main characters. For example, the wonderful quote as tweeted by Farah Mendledesohn on twitter: “My heroines tend to have other things on their mind: like surviving, or revolutions, or not eating people.”

Then we had John Scalzi’s interview, where Emma Newman went into detail about his 6C1A8420.jpgcareer as a writer, the popularity of his blog (Whatever) and why he is the only writer in history who does not seem to have imposter syndrome (diagnosis: he is a Mage…). This interview also covered why he is destined to be eaten by a polar bear (because, as a Mage, if he wishes it, it will happen and he did say if he were to get eaten hy any sort of bear it should be a polar bear as that is the most environmentally friendly option).

There then followed the Hay lecture where Hamied Haroon, of the University of Manchester, talked about medical imaging. My one take home message from that lecture was “Any chance of any jobs in your research group?” because it looked like awesome work I would really liked to have got involved with as a biomedical scientist with an especial interest in the technical aspects of research…

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After this, things got a little dark and sinister… with a panel about conspiracy theories called ‘Paranoid Politics and Fantasy’. This one also featured John Scalzi, who did coin the phrase ‘Trump’s Razor’ to describe the situation where the stupidest possibility is most likely true. Much discussion about various theories and the reasons they exist as well as looking at differences in past and present in terms of conspiracy.

Next we had ‘Romance in Fantasy and SF’ which did explore differences in current romance vs older romance tropes, mostly examining the change in the ethnicity and sexuality of those involved in it.

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Finally, there was ‘Creating Fantasy Biologies’ which ranged through a lot of evolutionary and paleontological theories and tried to work out how these will apply to alien or fantasy species. This was an entertaining panel that was, unfortunately, over crowded due to being in the smallest room.

In all an excellent day if somewhat tiring…

 

 

 

Ytterbium – Eastercon 2019 Friday

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Yesterday was just the fringe event, a small taster. Today, Eastercon started properly.

Also worth noting that this is the first time I have managed to actually post about the event on the day. I always promise to do day by day accounts but always end up sidetracked (usually by the bar) and don’t make it back to my hotel in a state in which I can coherently write. This time I cleverly made no promises so here is the report on time and (vaguely) coherent…6C1A8313

Day one at Eastercon is always quiet and this was no exception. As usual, members of the con were arriving all through the day in dribs and drabs. Most of the morning sessions are actually staff briefings to make sure everyone is up tp speed with conference policies and what jobs need doing. However, by 3pm, when the opening ceremony runs, a good majority of people are in place and ready to go.

6C1A8335Said opening ceremony introduced us to the co-chairs (both dressed fabulously in evening wear), discussed some of the upcoming highlights and introduced us to three Guests of Honour – Frances Hardinge, John Scalzi and DC- while explaining that the fourth (Sydney Padua) would be be arriving tomorrow. The ceremony was basic but also quick and efficient – allowing members to head off to whatever they wanted to get on with for the rest of the day.

I decided to head to the Newcon Press launch because there was free wine. There were also books discussed and some interesting new releases from Newcon are promised, including the ones on this page. The atmosphere was very friendly and open and everyone looked like they were  having a great deal of fun.

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The Newcon Press Launch… well, the wine from it…

Then I attended a wonderfully useful workshop on Anxiety as a writer by Emma Newman. This was very useful for me as it helped me to pinpoint some of the causes of my own anxiety and link these to reasons why procrastination might happen. Emma knows her stuff on this topic, mostly through having lived through it herself and, she says, having to go through the same anxieties every time she starts a new book. If you ever happen to be at a Con where Emma is running this workshop, it is definitely worth checking out if you can get a place (this event was oversubscribed).

Much of the rest of the day was spent socialising and discussing, well, books. Including a very scary conversation with F.D Lee who admitted to having read (and promising to, one day, maybe review it) Transitions. I, of course, had to retaliate by telling her I was currently reading hers (The Fairy’s Tale – read it, it is good) and enjoying it…

And that is it for Friday… Saturday currently has many more things planned including guest of honour interviews and some interesting panels…

Titans of SF: The Eastercon Fringe event…


So, I’m in London for the 2019 Eastercon (the one named after a less pronouncable element… ytterbium…) and, being at a loose end the night before it starts, decided to check out the Titans of SF event at Waterstones in Piccadilly. This event had Emma Newman, Alastair Reynolds and Temi Oh in conversation with Pat Cadigan.

As usual for anything involving Pat Cadigan, this was an amazing event. The self styled ‘recovering American’ used her usual anarchic and rambunctious moderation style to lead a discussion with topics ranging from the little details about space travel to the reasons capitalism stops us doing more in space. Topics which all the participants were vocal on.

Alastair Reynolds got to talk about his space pirates and how his career in ‘space science’ grew out of a desire to go to space. Temi Oh got to discuss her alternate reality debut novel and how, with her story being set in 2012, she ant be caught out when the future tech appears and is different to what she imagined. Finally, Emma Newman discussed her thoughts on capitalism and some of the ideas that went into her Planetfall series.

In all, an entertaining event that felt something like a mini Eastercon on the fringe of the main event….

Xander’s Heart by Scarlett Flame

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My latest book is now available for pre-order at the reduced price of 99 cents / 99 pence until the 26th of March. Publication is the 19th of March
 
 
 
 
This is a modern day Gothic romance
 
 

The Blurb:

 
Xander wasn’t your stereotypical vampire. Far from it. Living in Gothic splendour on the outskirts of Whitby. Savage and Dominant by nature he goes after what or who he wants with ardour and passion.
Especially once his eye is set on his soulmate. His chosen one … Ellenor.

A human that he has been watching and waiting to approach for years. He steps forward when he senses she is in danger from a supernatural being.

Bringing her into his world at full tilt.

A world of Domination and submission.

Spanking and bondage.
 
Of werewolves, shifters, ogres and faeries.

Of mages, magicians and sorcery.

A world where a deadly apocalyptic magical war is approaching.

Both Xander and Ellenor have major roles to play but are they up to the challenge?

A new series from award winning author Scarlett Flame.



**Sexual Content

**Suitable for ages 18 and over

 
 
 
 
First Beta Review on Goodreads
 

by 

Scarlett Flame (Goodreads Author),
Zak Jane Keir (Editor)
F 50x66

Emma‘s review 

Feb 17, 2019

 

it was amazing

 

Having read this for a honest review I was enraptured so on the edge of my seat laugh out loud great read I loved the way the characters blended so we’ll and how I’ve been left wanting more from the fabulous Scarlett Flame
 
  
You can now add this book on Goodreads
You can find Scarlett
on Goodreads
 

 

[Vampire Month] Scarlett Flame interview

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This week in Vampire Month we have Scarlett Flame who is here to suffer the painful interrogations of the Vampire month interview. Scarlett is a Manchester based writer who dabbles in many genres from Steampunk to Paranormal but all with a sexy, erotic twist. She is also the organiser of the Manchester Author signing and gig event that takes place every year in August. Details here: Manchester Author event and gigManchester Author event and gig

A ModernGothin

1)      What is the earliest memory you have of writing? What did you write about?

This is a hard one to answer really. I always kept a diary or journal from a young age so that is probably my earliest memory of writing anything significant. It was just about what happened for day to day in my life.

2)      When did you decide to become a professional writer? Why did you take this step?

I made the decision in 2013 after a discussion with friends that I used to chat to on Twitter. They were, for the most part writers and authors. on evening my friend John was talking about a book he was writing and I happened to mention that I had been writing secretly. I actually kept the writing in my bottom drawer of my chest of drawers in my bedroom.

He said to send me what I had written so I send him the first chapter of a story. A paranormal Steampunk story and he said it was pretty good and worth pursuing. Between about five of them they then came up with my author name. I loved to write so I thought, why not give it a shot.

3)      What would you consider to be your greatest strength as a writer? What about your greatest weakness? How do you overcome this weakness?

My greatest strength I think is my ability to communicate with others and drive a story forward. My greatest weakness is procrastination. I am easily distracted. Like the dog off Up that can be distracted by the word and thought of squirrels.

A Gothic Romance teaser 5.png4)      Tell us about the place where you live. Have you ever derived any inspiration from your home or from anywhere you have visited?

The place I live is a very small village on the outskirts of Manchester. It is close to moss lands and very rural. Despite being close to the East Lancashire Road. I live in a pretty mining cottage.

In my steampunk book i mention a number of places including Wales where most of my family live and my latest book is set in Whitby. Lots of inspiration came from a holiday there and witnessing the most amazing sunset with the abbey ruins as a backdrop. In fact the cover of the book shows the view I had that evening.

I derive inspiration from here and the many places that I have visited or my family has lived.

5)      Which book, if any, would you consider to be your greatest influence and inspiration?

There are a number but I think Dracula was very inspirational. I love a good vampire novel

6)      What drove you to write about Vampires?

I simply love vampires in their many guises. Dracula, From Dusk till Dawn and of course Twilight.

7)      What do you think is the attraction for Vampire fiction? Why is it such a popular topic?

I think vampires and sex are synonymous. Who could resist a sexy vampire tale of love, lust and blood?

8)      In a fight between all the greatest Vampires of fiction, who do you think would come out on top?

I think Dracula would have to come out on top.

9)      What about in some other contest such as sexiness or dress sense? Who would win that one?

Hmmm the Vampire Louis has to win on sexiness from Anne Rice’s The Vampire Lestat. I love the books by Anne Rice. As for dress sense that would have to be Dracula and his over the top dark cloaks.

10)   How well do you think one of your characters would fare against the winner(s)InstagramCapture_e8cd6ef1-7764-43ed-8c46-02db0b04b899 of the above?

I think my vampires would fare well against any other vampires as they are superstrong, fast and have other powers too.

11)   Tell us the basic premise behind your latest novel.

The story begins with a young woman visiting Whitby. Visiting her grandma in fact, on the outskirts of Whitby not too far away from the ancient Abbey. There she finally meets the resident vampire, Xander.

This is the story about how their relationship progresses and about the heroine – Ellenor, finding out that her life is about to change in ways beyond her imagination.

In magical ways and the ways of the Lifestyle. The Lifestyle being that of BDSM, bondage and spankings.

Very much 50 shades meets Twilight in some respects.

[Vampire Month] #TheRedcliffeNovels – Heart of the Vampire (A Redcliffe Novel) Book 5 by Catherine Green

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Some of you may remember Catherine Green from her interview and guest post in a previous Vampire month. Well, she is now onto her 5th Redcliffe novel and here she is to tell us all about it…

A series of Catherine Green novel covers

#TheRedcliffeNovels – Heart of the Vampire (A Redcliffe Novel) Book 5

 It is almost Halloween in Redcliffe, Cornwall, and Jessica Stone is not the woman she Heart of the Vampire a redcliffe novel coverused to be. Her summer was hijacked by werewolves, she fell in love with a vampire, and now she is learning how to be a witch, and what it means to celebrate Samhain with her new coven. Her vampire boyfriend, Jack Mason, is busy at work as a police detective, and his identical twin brother Danny, the werewolf alpha, refuses to let go of the woman he has chosen to protect his pack.

Jessica must learn about control, power, and the love that she truly feels for her vampire boyfriend and his brother.

What vampire book genre is the book?

My novel is a contemporary paranormal romance

What are the ‘themes’ of this book?

There is adult content, sexually explicit scenes and scenes of violence

What is the setting of your book series or book?

The Redcliffe Novels series is set in the fictional seaside town of Redcliffe in Cornwall, England.

What’s in store for readers?

We have come a long way since Jessica Stone fell in love with a vampire and discovered the secrets of her supposedly human friends. As #TheRedcliffeNovels series progresses, Jessica learns that relationships are far more complicated when they involve non-human creatures. She must also learn to adjust her moral code if she wants to continue living with the vampire and the werewolf.

My Vampire Boyfriend promo

Excerpt:

“You have to feed, Jack,” I insisted, “And you cannot use me. We tried that before and you almost killed me, remember?”

“You found a way to survive,” my vampire replied gruffly.

I laughed, but it was not amusement that brought such a reaction.

“I survived,” I said, emphasising the word, “because of your brother. Danny saved me. He sacrificed his wolves so that I could claw back some human strength. Maybe that’s what caused this…” I gestured to the empty space on the bed behind me, “thing with Suri.”

“Perhaps,” Jack replied quietly, “But the point is, you survived.”

Words from the Author

I have always been fascinated by the vampire myth and wrote my dissertation on vampires for my university degree. Contrary to popular folklore, I have always viewed vampires as a romantic and misunderstood creature, although I do not doubt their ability to kill and destroy. To me they represent the primitive, dangerous part of ourselves that humans prefer to ignore.

Are you Team Jack or Team Danny? Sign up now and receive your FREE story from #TheRedcliffeNovels series set in Cornwall, England.

Find #TheRedcliffeNovels series in bookshops and online and request them in your local library. For buy links and more details, visit Catherine Green at http://catherinegreenauthor.blogspot.co.uk/ You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as @SpookyMrsGreen.

Buy from Amazon UK;  Buy from Amazon US;  Buy from Smashwords;

Buy from NOOK Books (Barnes & Noble); Buy from Kobo

 

[Vampire Month] Very Nice by Terry Jackman

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Author Picture of Terry Jackman sitting in a garden chair

Terry Jackman

We open this year’s Vampire month with a piece of flash fiction by Terry Jackman, author of Ashamet and who is currently working on a Vampire novel (which I hope to feature on here when it is finally published).

Very Nice is a quirky little tale with a subtle bite… I hope you enjoy it…

Very Nice

By Terry Jackman

All those winding lanes to drive through these days. Would she ever get used to them? It was almost two o’clock by the time she got home and her feet were killing her. Still, the mirror was the first attraction. Well, what did she think now she had done it? Was it really her? Too short? Too modern? Highlights he had called them and she’d felt obliged to tell him, ‘Very nice, dear.’ And she’d asked for something different, so it wasn’t his fault.

        Then she pulled a silly face at her reflection. Nice. Such a… a safe sounding word. And what she looked like too, her Ernie would have told her.

        Then the hall clock ticked and tutted at her, reminding her that time was precious.

        Upstairs then, to change into a nice, warm woollie and her comfy slippers. Then into the kitchen; unpack all the shopping, measure out the filter coffee, fetch the tray-cloth and the rosebud china. And of course her special pastries. My, they did look tempting, pale yellow fondant squares and chocolate brownies. She knew gentlemen liked chocolate though of course she always took a lemon fondant. You would never know she hadn’t made a single cake till Ernie had passed over. But there, he’d spoiled her. ‘Go on,’ he’d say, and laugh, ‘there’s always more where that one came from.’

        She sighed, then brightened. Wonderful how one adapted, really. Six years now, six lonely years, but she’d managed. It had meant moving out of their little house in town but she liked the cottage, and the nearby village. More importantly she’d kept her strength up. It hadn’t always been easy but it had all worked out wonderfully, hadn’t it?

        Two thirty, already? She was breathless again as well; sure sign she needed to eat. At least the lounge was spotless, thank goodness she’d got up so early. The table sparkled from its morning polish. Not just a squirt from one of those spray things either. That magazine had said that beeswax made a house more friendly, that and the smell of fresh coffee when someone walked in.

        She’d been a bit doubtful about that part. Ernie had detested coffee. “Muck” he’d called it. but she’d got quite fond of it nowadays, and the magazine had been quite right; no one had refused a cup, and once they’d gone that far, well, a piece of cake was nothing, was it?

        Two thirty-five. Had he forgotten? No, there was a van outside and heavens, he was on the path already.

        Along the hall. Straighten the little brass jug that held the cellar keys. A last glance at that too-short hairdo, though perhaps she did look younger. A calming breath, and seize the handle.

        ‘Mrs Booth? I’m here to mend your washer.’

        Oh, oh yes. So young. So big. So juicy. Why, he’d last the whole of winter. Mrs Booth backed in and beamed at him. She did hope he liked chocolate.