Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Story: Set In Paris in World War II

I wrote this short story to read to the Uxbridge Writers' Circle for April's "Word Challenge". (The words I had to use are in italics). I based this story on historical facts - based on some research. (I find this subject truly troubling - I can't fathom what human beings did to each other during this war). 

Holding Her Head High


The hunger pains were like arrows that pierced her stomach, but Marie held her head high. The small brim of her hat rippled in the breeze and her grey dress fluttered about her legs. She chose not to look at any of the German flags that hung on, or flapped above, nearly every beautiful old stone building in Paris. And she’d grown accustomed to the presence of the rigid, expressionless Nazis who guarded the doorways to these familiar places.
            That didn’t mean she accepted the foreign occupation of her beloved country. To her mind, it wasn’t an occupation, it was a plunder and rape of France. But what pained her most of all was that this feeling was not universal. Many of her co-patriots assisted the Nazis. They squealed on their friends, neighbours and even their families. The Vichy Government believed that the Germans would be the victors in the war, and so did many of her friends. They thought it was prudent to be on the winning side, and that it was pointless to show any resistance. In fact, it would be dangerous to do so, they pointed out, since the Germans had become more and more brutal as the months and years passed.
            Marie had just heard, first thing that morning, that François, a fellow member of the resistance, had been shot. She’d found that out through the underground communication network – a complicated, crucial web of informers. François had been caught cutting telephone lines. He was only eighteen.
Although she was devastated by the murder of François, and her legs wobbled, Marie continued her walk, doing her best to act as if she was a nonchalant pedestrian, so as not to attract attention. She couldn’t let any of her feelings show.
            She’d recently made her dress out of a summer bedspread, using a small white linen tablecloth to make the collar and cuffs. She did all that she could to look chic. She wouldn’t allow herself to contribute in any way to the satisfaction of the Germans. No shampoo? Stuff your hair under a hat. Clothes worn-out or stolen? Make new ones from other things. Do not look shabby. Maintain your dignity. Don’t let them get you down.
            She swung her handbag a little as she walked past the café, which now had the atmosphere of a morgue – cold and lifeless. Two years ago, she’d had a glass of wine and shared a joke with her brother as they sat at one of the ornate metal tables outside. But he had been taken by the Nazis and was now a slave in Germany.
Her face must not betray her. She must complete her important mission. The two forged passports were hidden in the lining of her handbag, and the one-page news bulletin, cut into eight pieces, had been sewn into the hem of her dress.
            Two German officers marched towards her. They laughed and pointed at her. She averted her eyes, but one of the men grabbed her arm as she attempted to pass. She understood little German, but deciphered enough to realize that they promised her food in exchange for sex. She laughed, and said “non” three times. The officers became more belligerent and the grip on her arm tightened.
            A woman pushing a pram on the other side of the street, stopped, pulled out a MP-40 (stolen from the Nazis) from under the blankets and shot the Germans before they had a chance to register what happened.
            Marie ran – adrenalin gave her the strength and stamina to navigate the streets to safety. She didn’t hear what happened to the woman. Perhaps she’d been assigned by the resistance to protect her and what she carried.
            A couple of days later, the Gestapo murdered twenty innocent French people in reprisal. Marie’s outrage at the cruelty and brutality of the occupiers made her even more determined to make a difference. She wanted, ached, to be more than a courier. It was her duty to her brother, to her country and to François.
            The news bulletin that she had delivered to an underground printer, contained a short article on a couple of acts of sabotage that had created significant disruption in the manufacture of supplies for the Nazis. Sabotage. That’s what she wanted to do.
            Marie’s determination and stubbornness, as well as her courage, led her to being accepted into a small group that planned to sabotage strategic railway lines which the Nazis used to move supplies for the war. Under cover of darkness, Marie’s group removed the bolts which held track lengths together. Sometimes this would disrupt trains for a few hours, but sometimes it resulted in derailments and more serious set-backs for the enemy.
            Although her brother didn’t return from Germany, Marie survived the war. She was an unsung hero, as many French women were. Although she didn’t receive recognition for her work, she knew she’d done what she could. She held her head high until her death at eighty-nine years old.

Vicky Earle Copyright 2019

PS and check out a micro-story called "The Bridge": The Bridge

Friday, 1 March 2019

Spring Promotion of Meg Sheppard Mystery Series E-books!


For the month of March, the first two e-books in the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series are available at reduced prices for those of you who haven't had a chance to read them yet.

Why?

Because I'm editing my third book in the series and I'm sure that once you've read the first two, you'll want to read the third!

Here are the links which will connect you to each book at your favourite e-book retailer:
What Happened to Frank? 
Over Frank's Dead Body

And please leave a review!

If you prefer the soft-cover version, they'll continue to be available at Blue Heron Books, Uxbridge Ontario until mid-April. Also, Books Galore in Port Perry has a couple of copies.

Happy reading.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

First Draft of Third Book in Meg Sheppard Mystery Series!

Here are the first two paragraphs of the first draft of my third book in the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series:
"The grass is growing at last and the horses are nibbling its fresh, brilliant-green blades. Just Eagle and Bullet are home at my farm. Rose and Speed are back at the racetrack where optimism and spirits run high as a new season of thoroughbred horse-racing begins. I miss them, but I'm looking forward to seeing them train and race. 
Instead of leaning on the oak-rail fence watching and listening, I could be packing to leave for a vacation with William. But we had our first passionate disagreement this morning and there's a residual shiver tingling along my spine: like an aftershock. He told me that he got a fantastic deal on a last-minute booking. He bought a short vacation at a resort in Cuba for both of us, as a surprise. But it was more like a bolt out of the blue for me. And the surprise for him is that I'm not going."
Wish me luck as I work on the slow and careful process of editing over 80,000 words! Don't feel sorry for me though - I enjoy all aspects of writing a novel, including editing!
And I love to write short stories. I have posted two more which I wrote to share at recent Uxbridge Writers' Circle uxbridgewriterscircle.blogspot.ca meetings. You can find them here:Short Stories
And if you still haven't read the first two books in the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series, they are available at Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge and at Books Galore in Port Perry, and as e-books at all your favourite e-book retailers!
Happy reading!

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Ten-minute Writing Challenge!

Instead of using a picture for a prompt for the ten-minute writing challenge during our recent meeting of the Uxbridge Writers' Circle, I used the first sentence of "Irma Voth" by Miriam Toews (a great book!).. This is what I wrote:

Jorge said he wasn't coming back until I learned how to be a better wife. The Trouble was, I didn't know what that meant. I'd been raised by my Uncle Edwin, Earl of Cavendish, who had so many servants I didn't have to lift a finger.
Breakfast was served on silver platters and in heated silver dishes with ornate knobs, lined up neatly on the sideboard. I had no idea how the food was prepared.
My dresses were made for me. I knew you had to pin and then baste and then sew, but how - I had no clue.
Then came the war. And the London Blitz. The large mansion was many of the victims of incendiary bombs. Uncle Edwin believed that his home wasn't near any of the key targets, so we wouldn't get bombed. But we did.
The Germans bombed everything, it seemed to me. Devastation everywhere.
Uncle Edwin was sitting in his favourite armchair when the bombers came. I had gone to the air-raid shelter with the servants. Jorge was the chauffeur. We struck up a friendship which, a year later, led to marriage.
But the adjustment to living in a small, damp cottage, albeit in the beautiful Cotswolds, was too much. I had no clue how to be a housewife and look after the cottage, and feed my husband, and darn his socks.
So, I left before Jorge had the chance.
That's when I believe my life really began.

Vicky Earle Copyright 2019


Thursday, 13 December 2018

Meg Sheppard Series Now Available As E-books!

Both books in the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series are now available as e-books.

You can find them on Amazon Kindle, Apple i-books and Kobo, as well as others.


To make it easy, here are links that, when you click on them, will give you the icon for each book at your favourite e-book retailer.


For "What Happened to Frank?" (the first book in the series): Universal Link to Book 1

For "Over Frank's Dead Body" (the second book in the series): Universal Link to Book 2

Enjoy and please leave a review!

N.B. Both books are also available in soft-cover at Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge; blueheronbooks.com; and at Books Galore in Port Perry; booksgaloreportperry.com
They make great gifts!!

Happy reading!

Thursday, 29 November 2018

"Operation Caper": a story

I wrote this story as my submission to our monthly "word challenge" _ the words I had to use are shown in italics. I had some fun writing this: a departure from the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series (I should be editing my third book!).
Hope you enjoy this!



Mitch was sure he was about to die of boredom as he pushed the tea trolley along the interminable length of the shiny corridor, towards the secret, underground offices of the MI32. The clatter of the cups on the saucers rebounded off the walls and he was pretty sure any enemy of the state could pick up the racket anywhere in the world, given today’s technology.
            A hand dove around in front of him and grabbed his badge.
            “Hey!”
            “It’s okay. It’s me. You can have my badge in exchange.”
            “Come on, don’t be nuts. What’s going on?” Mitch watched with his mouth gaping as his brother, Joe, took off his suit.
            “There are cameras everywhere,” Mitch reminded him.
            “I’ve seen to that,” Joe said. “Now give me your uniform.”
            “What’s going on, Joe, for Pete’s sake?” Mitch could get muddled, but even his brain could tell something was amiss.
            “I’m Mitch now. You’re Agent Joseph Fond, just for one day. Nothing’s going to happen, I promise. Just a routine day at the office. All you have to do is sit at my desk and stare at the computer screen. You’ll be fine.”
            “What about everyone’s tea?”
            “I’ve arranged for Tinman to take over. He’s coming now.” They turned and watched the slow, ponderous metallic robot whirring and creaking. “He’s programmed to deliver the tea, and he knows who wants sugar.”
            “He’ll do a better job.”
            “Yes, he probably will.”
            Mitch smoothed down his hair as Joe gave the black shoes a buff with a bit of spit and a rub with the sleeve of his brother’s uniform.
            “Okay, you’re ready. My badge works the same way as yours, but it gets you in everywhere except the dungeon.”
            “The dungeon’s where they keep the Elephant server.”
            “Only two people have access to the Elephant and I’m not one of them. So, don’t go down there.”
            “Why am I doing this, by the way?”
            “So I can play a round of golf on that new course up in Scotland.”
            “I thought it’d be something important.”
            “It is for me. See ya.” Joe sprinted back down the corridor.
            Mitch soon caught up with Tinman. He had an urge to spray some oil into the robot’s joints. What with the rattling tea trolley and the clanking robot, Mitch could feel a headache coming on. It wasn’t helped by the fact that he sensed eyes on him and that these eyes would know that he’d recently failed all of the MI32 analytical examinations and that he didn’t have the fortitude to be an agent. 
            He accessed Joe’s office without a hitch and sat in the chair which adjusted itself to fit his back, legs and arm lengths, as well as his distance from the computer screen. The sensation of being positioned by the chair made Mitch nauseated and he glanced around to see if there was a waste paper basket. None. No paper anywhere either, he noted.
            “Ah, glad I found you here.” A large man with an incongruous moustache, deep gravelly voice and thick lenses in black-framed glasses almost filled the doorway. “Joe, you must leave immediately. You’ve been assigned to “Operation Caper”. You’ll be briefed by Agent Barking.”
            “Operation Caper?”
            “Thanks, old chap.”
            I’m not old, Mitch thought. He dared not move for fear of the chair re-positioning him again but he would have liked to look in a mirror to check if he’d aged dramatically since he got out of bed that morning.
            “Agent Barking here. We’ve not met.” A lithe woman with long blond hair and sparkling blue eyes grabbed Mitch’s hand with such vigour he reckoned he should ice it afterwards. He moved and the chair started purring, so he sprung up.
            “Oh, is your chair faulty?” Agent Barking asked.
            “I think it must be. Tell me about ‘Operation Caper’.”
            “This is of the utmost importance and, of course, top secret.”
            “Top secret.”
            “We must leave within the hour to fly to Paris.”
            “To Paris.”
            “We must retrieve the stolen data which was collected by the Bubble Telescope and stored in the Elephant.”
            “The Elephant.”
            “Were you aware that the invaluable pictures of AMIS training camps had been stolen?”
            “No, I don’t think I was. Was I?”
            “Probably not. That’s top secret too. Pick up your bag and follow me.”
            Mitch saw a bag in the corner of the office and followed Agent Barking, clutching it to his chest. He wondered if everyone got their tea. He hadn’t seen any sign of Tinman outside his office.
            “Look as relaxed as possible at the airport,” Agent Barking said. “We have special clearance, so there shouldn’t be a problem.”
            It was a pretty short flight across the Channel but Mitch was disappointed that he wasn’t flying business class. He wanted to ask Agent Barking so many questions about “Operation Caper” but she was snoring. He could hear her rumbles above the engine noise.
            They landed safely.
            “Once we get to the hotel,” Agent Barking told him, “we must be very cautious. There is a change of clothes in your bag. We have to lie low and not draw attention to ourselves.”
            His room was nice but not extraordinary. Weren’t MI32 agents given suites? He found a pair of jeans and a shirt in the bag, as well as socks and loafers. He changed and made sure he was in the lobby to meet Agent Barking at the precise time she had instructed him to be there.
            She walked towards him wearing slim black slacks and a red, silky blouse. Her make-up highlighted her shimmering blue eyes and bright smile. She grabbed his arm.
            “We need to look like a couple.”
            “A couple.”
            She led him to a pair of imposing, dark-oak doors.
            “We have to meet some important people in here,” she said.  She opened the doors. It was dark. Lights flashed on and a room full of about seventy-five people yelled “surprise!” and then “happy birthday!”.
            Joe bounced over to Mitch and gave him a bear hug.
            “It’s not every day you turn forty and I thought this should be an extra special celebration. I can never thank you enough for saving my life in that op. I know things have been rough for you since then, because of your injuries. Just want to say thanks and many happy returns of the day!” Joe handed him a glass of beer.
            They all lifted their glasses and cheered, breaking into “for he’s a jolly good fellow”. Mitch beamed at them, but deep inside he yearned to be Agent Mitch Fond again, speeding after the bad guys in his Aston Martin, switching on the jet propulsion, firing his missiles and bringing those devils down. But his muddled brain was uncertain as to whether that memory was real or not. He looked around the room and decided that he’d best enjoy this party in Paris. Life is short.
            Agent Barking poured him another beer.

Vicky Earle Copyright 2018
           

           
           

Thursday, 22 November 2018

First Book in Meg Sheppard Mystery Series Available on Kindle

"What Happened to Frank?", the republished version, is now available from Amazon Kindle, ibooks, and many other ebook retailers. If you haven't already read it, you're missing a good mystery!
Bill Bells says "This book reminded my of why I like a good "whodunit". The tight writing and fast pace quickly drew me in and didn't let go of me until the last page. Move over Hercules Poirot and Inspector Banks - there's a new sleuth in town!".
Another review by "Mamoset" says "Thoroughly enjoyed it. The plot and multiple subplots certainly keep you guessing along with the characters - hard to put it down even when my eyes were telling me to sleep."
Danielle Crean says "A terrific read. I loved that every suspect had a secret, making the twists and turns very intriguing."
Please leave your own review at your favourite retailer.
You can find the ebook by clicking here: Universal ebook link to "What Happened to Frank?"
Enjoy!
The second book in the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series will also be released as an ebook soon.