Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Briton and The Dane: Timeline #Drama #BookReview

Book Review by K. Meador

Date: April 24th 2014
Book: The Briton and The Dane: Timeline
Author: Mary Ann Bernal
Genre: Historical Drama

About The Briton and The Dane: Timeline

Dr. Gwyneth Franger is a renowned expert in early medieval England who is set upon learning the truth about the death of Lord Erik, the last descendant of the powerful House of Wareham. Her quest becomes an obsession, a condition that began with the discovery of a portrait of the tall and valiant warrior with which she forms an extraordinary and inexplicable bond.

Digesting troves of mildewed scrolls and source documentation only enhances her belief that Lord Erik was brutally assassinated by a cabal of traitors in the pay of William the Bastard, shortly before the onslaught of the Norman Invasion.

On an archeological dig in Southern England, her team unearths an Anglo-Saxon fortress, a vast citadel built during the reign of Alfred the Great, which she believes was Lord Erik’s stronghold. In the midst of her excitement, she is awakened one night from her slumbers by a disconcerting anomaly emerging from the site.

Dr. Franger finds herself transported back to the Dark Ages and at the side of the noble Lord Erik who commands an army of elite Saxon warriors, a swift and mobile force able to deploy quickly throughout the kingdom to ward off invaders.

Witnessing the unrest firsthand, Gwyneth senses that her instincts had been right all along, and she is determined to learn the identities of the treacherous blackguards hiding in the shadows, villains who may well be posing as Lord Erik’s friends and counselors.

Will Gwyneth stop the assassins? Is she strong enough to walk away and watch her beloved Erik die? Or will she intervene, change the course of history and wipe out an entire timeline to save the man she loves with all her heart?

US Amazon Link                     UK Amazon Link

My Review:

I found The Briton and the Dane: Timeline a fascinating approach to a historical novel. The reader receives a taste of present day mixed in with history. When you think you have it all figured out, Author Mary Ann Bernal throws another twist in the story making you wonder what is really going on. Brilliantly told story that has an unprecedented ending! In her traditional fashion of weaving a tale, Author Mary Ann Bernal does not disappoint.  I enjoyed reading this book very much and I do recommend it to others. 

About the Author

I fell in love with medieval England after I read Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe. Then came the great Hollywood epics such as Knights of the Round Table, Prince Valiant, The Black Shield of Falworth and The Vikings, to name but a few. Add to the mix Camelot and an incurable romantic Anglophile was born!

The Briton and the Dane novels are set in Ninth Century Anglo-Saxon Britain when the formidable Vikings terrorized the civilized world. The epic adventure runs the gamut of deception, treachery, intrigue, and complicated relationships during a time of war and conquest. Resource material such as book club discussion items, glossary of terms, period maps and character lists are available for download at

Other Books by Mary Ann Bernal:

The Briton and the Dane
The Briton and the Dane: Birthright
The Briton and the Dane: Legacy
The Briton and the Dane: Concordia
The Briton and the Dane: Timeline
Independent Author Index Short Story Compilation, Volume 1

Visit Mary Ann Bernal's Amazon Page

US Amazon Link                     UK Amazon Link

Monday, April 21, 2014

Love Me or Die #BookReview #Readers #Mystery

Book Review by K. Meador

Date: 4/21/14
Book: Love me or Die
Author of book: Michaela James
Genre: Mystery
Published: Sept. 21, 2011

About the Author:

Born in England, in the County of Hampshire, Michaela James is one of four children.  Her childhood was a happy one spent riding horses and traveling extensively with her fun-loving family.  A mother of three boys and a girl, Michaela spends her time writing, watching her sons play tennis, and relaxing with her husband.

Visit her website here

About Love me or Die:

Maddie Taylor is found brutally murdered in her home.

The beautiful, young mother's heart has been cut from her body.

Four men had wanted that heart.

The husband, the priest, the musician and the man she loved. All claimed to love her, yet one of these men is on death row for her murder.

A young woman visits the prisoner on a weekly basis. Will she discover who he is and why he killed Maddie? As time goes by, she becomes more uncomfortable. Not because he's a cold-blooded killer, but because she learns they have so much in common.

A story of love, deceit, passion and betrayal.

My Review:

A brilliantly written story of beauty, love, lust, hardship, sacrifice, survival, and compassion.

From the beginning there is no guessing who the victim is. You see what lies in her heart and hear her last thoughts.

You are then taken on a journey to figure out which of the four suspects killed Maddie. You are introduced to a woman who naturally attracted men to her with her cheerful and ready to please personality in addition to her physical beauty. You find yourself seeing the decisions she made and either agreeing or disagreeing with them. You find yourself drawn into her life of choices.

I found the book to be enjoyable and kept me turning the pages. At 286 pages in length, it didn’t take me long to read this story.

I highly recommend this story if you like murder mysteries.

Purchase here from Amazon US          Purchase here from Amazon UK

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Knight of the Dixie Wilds Part 2, #readers, #histfict

Hello and welcome to the third segment of Author K. Meador's spotlight. Click    to read about the author and the book description. Click here to read Part 1 of The Knight of the Dixie Wilds. 

Happy Reading! 

Click here for US Amazon             Click here for UK Amazon     Visit her website here

Three days’ travel on the old San Antonio and Nacogdoches road brought them to the Brazos River, near the site where once flourished the town of Washington, first capital of Texas. This region during an early period had been the scene of numerous battles between the whites and Indians and also between Texans and Mexicans during the war between the two republics.
            They found the river nearly level with its banks and rising. The old ferry cable, during the previous night, had broken from pressure of large drifts of floating brush and timber. In consequence of this, the ferryboat had been swept downstream by the flood waters. Not knowing when the ferry would be made passable, the Tylers went into camp. After dinner, the boys gathered in the wood for the night and fed the oxen. They had brought two of their hunting dogs all the way from Mississippi. Seeing that the brushy country up the river looked wild and good for game, Buck and King whistled up their dogs and struck out in the woods for a hunt.
            Soon, old Jeff and Sound were barking on a warm trail, followed closely by the boys. When dogs tree a varmint, their barking changes from a long sound to one that is short and fierce. When the boys heard the wild barking of the dogs, they joyously excited and hurried on. When they came in sight, they saw the dogs baying around the open end of a large, hollow cottonwood log. The boys quickly built a fire in the open end of the log and then chopped a smaller hole in the log farther up. When the smoke began to fog out of the small hole, a large wildcat sprang out. Before he hit the ground, the dogs tied onto him. The fight that followed was terrific. Seeing that the cat was getting the best of the battle, King dashed in and dealt it a death-blow with the axe.
            The boys skinned the cat while the dogs were taking a needed rest. This done, the boys sat down to view the strange scenes in the new country. Suddenly, an odd-looking character appeared from behind a nearby thicket. His clothes were ragged. He had long hair and a thick beard. Everything about him appeared dilapidated except his two big pistols. They were in perfect condition.
            “What are you doing here?” he asked in a gruff tone. “Where did you come from?”
            “From Mississippi,” Buck replied.
            “We ain’t livin’,” King interjected. “We is jist camped down by de ferry. We wuz gwyne east tel’ we foun’ dat de high watah had broke de rope at de ferry an’ let de boat git away. De Boss an’ ole Mistice wid de Chillum is down dar in camp.”
            “Was your Boss a soldier?”
            “Yasah,” answered King, “he fit de Yankees foah years.”
            The face of the stranger, sullen up to this point, relaxed now and mellowed into a smile. After a moment’s study, he said to Buck, “Go back to camp and tell your Daddy to slip away and come up here; that a Confederate soldier wants to warn him against a danger. What I want to tell him is very important, and he must lose no time in coming here.”
            The boys hurried back to camp and delivered the message. After studying the matter carefully, the Colonel shouldered his gun and walked stealthily through the woods towards the place where the boys had left the stranger.
            When he saw him, he slowed his gait and approached cautiously. After greeting the Colonel cordially, the stranger said, “There is a band of outlaws camped a short distance below the ferry. They claim to be lawfully commissioned scouts of the military, when in fact they are nothing but scalawags that were kicked out of the Yankee army about the close of the War last spring. They are still wearing the Yankee uniforms for the sake of appearance. When it suits their purpose, they disguise as ex-rebels and rob men and caravans that travel the public road. If you have money, hide it well, soon after dark, because during the night, a bunch of them disguised as outlaws, will rob you. Then in the morning, clothed in their uniforms, they will pretend to search the country for the robbers.
            ‘I am an ex-Confederate soldier. They robbed me of what little I had and ordered me to leave the country, or they would scalp me the next time we met. They were in disguise at the time, but I recognized several of them. A good friend of mine fought them to save his money. They killed him and took what he had. I am going to ambush around here until I kill three of them that I have recognized and then leave the country. Don’t fight them, there are too many of them for that.”
            The Colonel read honesty in the strange face. He thanked him for the warning, shook his hand in a brotherly way and returned to his camp. He told no one about his talk with the stranger until about ten o’clock that night, at which time he called Buck to one side and told him of the probable attack that he was expecting a little later.
            “Take this, and hide it,” he said to his son as he handed him his roll of bills. “Use your own judgment as to the place of concealment. I do not want to know the place you hide it, because they may torture me to make me tell. They will never suspect a boy knowing anything about money matters. Remember that if they come to rob us, they will search the wagons and every piece of our baggage. I will not distress your mother with knowledge of this matter now, because it is possible that they will not make the attack. If they do come and I should be killed in self-defense, get the money from where you hid it at the proper time and give it to your mother as soon as you are sure that it is safe to do so.”
The Colonel left Buck there to study up a safe hiding place for the money. Buck thought of the middle of the sack of flour, the bottom of the unused coffeepot and the ox-bell, and passed them all up as unsafe.
“Ah! I have it,” he whispered to himself. The coupling pole of the large wagon was made of a three-inch gas pipe with the rear end open. He went to the wagon, took the money, sixty fifty-dollar bills in greenbacks, twisted them into a close roll and shoved that eighteen inches back into the pipe. Behind the money, he pushed in a quart of stiff mud. This done, he walked nonchalantly back to the campfire and joined the others in a discussion of the new country.
            It was now bedtime. Everyone retired and, except for the Boss and Buck, soon fell asleep. Anticipation of coming events kept these two wide awake. Shortly after eleven o’clock, four masked men, one with a small torch in his hand, noiselessly entered the tent and commanded silence. The Queen woke, and her half uttered scream of fright blended into a low-spoken prayer. The leader of the robbers ordered all of the adults to stand up and raise their hands. When this was obeyed, he ordered the Colonel to surrender all of his money.
The latter declared that he was broke except for a few dollars in his pants’ pocket and asked that they not take all of it as he had no other resources on which to continue his travel.
            The leader answered, “You have more money somewhere. Get it, and be fast about it.”
            “No,” returned the Colonel, “I have no more money.”
            At this juncture, the Colonel gave the leader a Masonic sign, to which the robber replied, “I understand that, but it don’t go with me now. I do not belong, just now, and never expect to anymore.”
            While one of them kept the little group covered with a pistol, the other three broke open all of the trunks and searched each one thoroughly. They ripped open the mattress and feather beds. They examined the linings of wearing apparel, tore open the sack of flour and emptied the provisions-box. When they started to examine the nightwear that Mrs. Tyler had on, Buck, who had been watching their every movement from a roll of bedding, sprang out with his father’s gun in hand. Before he could use it, he was knocked down, disarmed, and kicked out of the tent.
            “You are a game little rooster,” remarked the man that kicked him, “but you had better remain where you are, or I will clip your comb the next time.”
            After they had exhausted their search for the money and found none, the leader said to the Colonel, “Old man! You have money buried or hidden around here, and you had better get it now. We are going to keep a sharp watch on you, and when you bring it out, we will kill each one of you and take the money. If you get it now, we’ll let you keep one-fourth of it and let you go. It will be better for you to keep one-fourth of it and live than to die with none of it.”
            The Colonel maintained that he had no more money, and the robbers, after a round of cursing, disappeared in the night. Galloping up to the tent early the next morning, six men in blue uniforms greeted the Colonel. Their spokesman said that he had seen a light moving about in the tent late in the night and figured that someone was seriously sick or in trouble. Colonel Tyler explained to him that four disguised men had come into his tent and robbed him of what little money he had and had threatened to kill him and his family if he did not produce more money.
            The soldiers appeared to become excited and angry. The leader declared that there was a band of ex-rebel robbers operating in that section and he was sure that it was they who robbed the Colonel. He further declared that he and his men would find and kill them. He said that the leader of the robber band was a dirty, long-haired thief, who wore a heavy black beard. He advised the Colonel to shoot him if he ever met him.
            On seeing King, the leader asked the Colonel what he was doing with that Negro boy in his camp. The Boss explained that the boy belonged to him when he was freed and wanted to remain with him—that he was an orphan with no one to take care of him. “If you have papers showing that a lawful court has given you the right to hold
him, show them to me,” the leader commanded. “Otherwise, I will take him in charge.”

            The Colonel admitted that he possessed no such papers. King, with his eyes full of distress, came forward to explain. 

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Knight of the Dixie Wilds, Part 1, #Free read, #History

Yesterday, Author K . Meador made an appearance. To read more about Author K. Meador click 

As promised, here is Part 1 Reading from The Knight of the Dixie Wilds

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Colonel Tyler, broken in health and worn from hard life in the trenches, returned from the War at its close in the spring of 1865.
He had been a wealthy planter, owning two large plantations and many slaves. His home was near Pearl River, sixteen miles above Jackson in the state of Mississippi. Before the War, his place was one of the beautiful spots in Dixie. The country was one of tall trees, crooked rivers, clear creeks, and fertile lands. In the springtime, when magnolia, dogwood, woodbine, and wild plum trees were in bloom, the forest was one continuous bouquet of beauty. Blackberries, grapes, and wild cherries were abundant in the summer. The fall with its hickory nuts, beechnuts, and ripe persimmons was no less attractive than the other seasons.
The Colonel’s eldest son, who was destined to lead a picturesque life and become the hero of this story, had not yet reached his teens. Because of his habit of rambling in the woods in search of game and other wild adventures, he had been nicknamed “Buck”. Strenuous out-of-door life had given him strength and endurance equal to that of a wild Indian.
His almost constant companion was a Negro boy named King. King was about Buck’s size, but was two years older and of stocky build. Although he had been a slave all his life, the two boys had been born playfellows ever since they could remember. Through Buck’s influence with his father, King had often been spared punishment and had obtained favors which the other Negroes never enjoyed.
While Colonel Tyler was in the War, the two boys explored every thicket on the hills and every jungle in the swamps for miles around. They spent nearly all of the days and much of the nights in the woods. They kept a pack of dogs, which they had trained to hunt the many kinds of wild animals that were to be found in the wild sections of that country.
Like thousands of other once wealthy slave owners, their sudden misfortune was too much for their pride. Furthermore, there appeared to be nothing ahead of them in the war-swept country but starvation. They decided to sell out what little they had left and leave the desolate scene. The question was, Where should they go? The Colonel wanted someplace far removed from all that would remind him of the past, to start all over again in some frontier country where land was cheap and where he could reasonably hope for better opportunities for his children.
Australia, South America, and the frontier of Texas were considered. After a lengthy consideration, they decided on Texas. There were many broken-up families in the community that held similar views. They, too, were anxious to hide their poverty and broken pride from the eyes of gloating enemies. From these, the Colonel selected a dozen families who he induced to venture forth on the hazardous trail toward the West. They turned what little property they had into cash, at less than half its worth, and purchased wagons, teams, guns, ammunition, tools, and camping outfits.
As the day of departure came near, Buck grew distressed over the thought of being separated from his life-long playfellow, King. It had been decided that none of the Negroes would be taken along, but after long and earnest pleading by Buck, the Colonel relented and agreed to let King go.
King was an orphan, and while the other Negroes had no control over him, they strongly opposed his being taken away to a country unknown to them. They used all of their power to keep King from agreeing to go. They told him that hostile wild Indians would kill and scalp him if he went with the Boss to Texas; but King was determined to go wherever Buck went, regardless of the results.
He declared that he was not afraid to go anywhere, as long as Buck and the Boss were with him. He pointed to the fact that the Yankees had been trying to kill the Boss for four years but had failed, and he felt sure that Indians were no better fighters than the Yankees.


Preparations for the long journey were completed, so they hitched the teams to their canvas-covered wagons and began saying farewell to the large assembly of kindred and friends. This was a sad hour to all. Women wept in each other’s arms, while strong men trembled with speechless emotion when they gripped hands, as they believed, for the last time in this world. They were leaving forever the land of their forefathers, the graves of departed loved ones, the dear scenes of happy childhood, the peerless Pearl River, shaded by wide-spreading beech and magnolia trees. Tear-stained handkerchiefs waved until the moving caravan was lost to view on the winding road.
            On reaching the ferry on Pearl River, they were joined by several more families, and the refugees were on the first leg of the long journey to an, as yet, unknown country. Progress was painfully slow. Much of the road was all but impassable. Washed-out bridges and high water in the large creeks and rivers caused long delays. After nearly three months on the road, they found themselves on what appeared to be boundless prairies, west of the Brazos River in Texas. As far as the eye could see, there was nothing but the monotony of a treeless country. They made a temporary camp and examined the surroundings for several days. They assembled in a camp one morning and held a council. Thomas Ratliff, the oldest man in the party, expressed himself as follows:
            “I have examined this land carefully and find it to be as rich as any in the world, and it is so near level that it will never wash away. The price of it is almost nothing. The boundless range of fine grass is sufficient for all of our stock, the year around. If we settle here, we will, in the course of a few years, grow rich with development of this matchless country. I believe it will take us but a short time to regain our lost fortunes here.”
            All of the other men, except Colonel Tyler, were of Ratliff’s opinion and decided to settle there.
            “Perhaps all of you are right in your opinions of the country,” replied the Colonel, “but I differ with you. There is no timber here for building fences. No logs or lumber with which to build houses. There is but little firewood and no running water.
            “There is not a post-office, grist mill, or doctor within fifty miles of this place. No railroad market nearer than a hundred miles. I cannot subject my family to the hardships that will follow if I should settle here.
            “I am going to head back eastward and travel until I find more timber and some marks of civilization. When I locate, I will write and give a full description of what I find, so that, in case you decide later to move from this part, you can follow me, if I have found a better one.”
            Pathetic farewells were exchanged the next morning, and Colonel Tyler and his family drove back toward the rising sun.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

The Knight of the Dixie Wilds #WritersLife #history

Who is Author K Meador?

A mother, mechanic, and author! 

For the love of words, we do sacrifice.

When K-Trina Meador, aka K. Meador, isn't writing you can find her working on aircraft. She also enjoys, hiking, photography (of said hikes, her favorite being sunsets) and snorkeling.

Published Works:
Aviation Magazine article contributor to The Air ERA
Journey to Freedom May 2010
Their Journey Begins November 2012
Transcendence December 2012
The Knight of the Dixie Wilds - May 2013
On Top of the Rainbow - January 2014
Princess Alexia and the Dragon - March 2014

About The Knight of the Dixie Wilds:

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No period in the history of the United States of America forms a field so rich with chivalry, romance and drama as the years between 1865 and 1870, the so-called days of the reconstruction of the South, during which period the Nation was born again and started on its climb to the top rung of power among the nations of the world. 

The Tyler family relocates from Mississippi to Texas for a new start after having to give up their plantation and over one hundred slaves as a result of the War Between the States. 

Buck Tyler, also known as The Knight of the Dixie Wilds, is tested in courage, strength, loyalty, endurance and love. Facing hardships, deception, enemies, prison, and death, the years of reconstruction takes a toll on his energy, body and faith.

Buck finds himself in love with two different women. Maggie, the dark skinned woman of his childhood and Kate, the delicate girl-child he found lost in the woods. 

Would he stand firm through the scenes of bloodshed, disappointment, and sorrow? Would he stand the acid test and, in the end, find victory, peace, and happiness? Or would he weaken in the strenuous struggle ahead and fall ingloriously? 

A harrowing adventure, based on true events, that is sure to leave you on the edge of your seat and thinking upon days past…

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Night Porter, Part 2, #Readers #Amazon

Two days ago, you were introduced to Author Mark Barry. A multi-genre successful author, he has graced us with his presence. To read about Author Mark Barry and his newest release click here. To read the first part of The Night Porter click

 Click here to purchase on US Amazon     Click here to purchase on UK Amazon

 Continuing The Night Porter saga….

(Click here to read Part 1)

‘I’m fine. What brings you to these parts in the dark?
‘Have you heard of the Arkwright Author Awards?’
‘I can’t say that I have, no, Cat.’
‘It’s like the Oscars, except they call it the Alfs.’
‘The Alfs?’
‘Arkwright Literary Fiction Awards. Based here.’
‘In The Saladin?’ I replied.
‘No, in the town. Down at the Memorial Theatre. Our hotel is involved, though. Exciting stuff.’
‘Is it? How so?’
‘We’re taking four shortlisted authors as guests for a fortnight in November. And I’m telling everyone here that they are to be treated like rock stars. Whatever they want, they get. It’s quite an honour for our hotel to be involved. There will be press, TV, bloggers…’
I noted that Cat had her hair in a bun, which pulled back the lines around her eyes. Alongside her formal grey suit, she resembled a librarian about to retire. She looked much better with it down, but I valued my role at The Saladin, so I filed that mental note in the cabinet labelled Observation rather than the one labelled Well-Meaning Advice. I limited myself to something bland instead.
‘That’s good news, Cat.’
‘Mate, the Awards Committee is spending an absolute fortune with us. They are hiring the four best rooms. Three meals a day. An open bar…’
‘…an open bar?’ I could see carnage on the horizon.
‘Deffo, and it will be up to you and Martin to see that isn’t abused by the other guests here at the same time. They have booked another five rooms for delegates, and judges, and VIP’s who will be coming and going throughout November and not only that, they have booked double rooms in the hotel for the week immediately prior to the ceremony – just in case.’
‘That’s a nice bit of business.’
‘You’re not kidding. And that’s not all. A press conference is planned for the hotel. Can you imagine the bar bill and the catering? The extra room bookings?’
Cat leaned over, her polo neck jumper, the colour of fresh fallen snow, the brightest thing in the ancient hotel – so bright, I nearly flinched. ‘You are going to be fundamental to the day-to-day enjoyment of their stay at The Saladin. Whatever these four want, they get.’
‘I’d do that for any of our guests,’ I reply defensively, and unnecessarily.
‘I know you would. You come highly recommended, seriously. I am not having a pop: I’m telling you how important this is going to be.’
Anyone complimenting me on my professionalism immediately finds themselves in my good books. ‘Thank you, Cat.’
‘If they want beer from the One Stop, find some. If they want cat food, hair grips, shoes, CD’s, books, find some or send Martin Sixsmith and take over the bar.’
‘Will do, Cat.’
‘The Alpine Hotel on the other side of Wheatley were lobbying like mad for this deal, and though they got a piece, it wasn’t a chunk like this. This could see us through the winter. You weren’t here last year, and we struggled. We lost money. If everything goes well, we’ll make the Board happy. Don’t forget the Dick Whittington Chain.’
The Dick Whittington Inn is a chain of cheap walk-in motels, which run with a receptionist and six cleaners. Food in the reception dispenser. No night porter. No site manager. No bar. No food. Bed and out. They had changed the face of hotels in Britain and everyone in my profession feared them because they kill jobs faster than a speeding bullet and make any notion of professionalism in the hotel world redundant.
‘What about them?’
‘Kevin told me that they’ve been having a look at the books. Head office said if we have a bad winter – ’
‘Say no more. I’ll be on the alert.’
‘And keep an eye on Kerry, Gavin and Sixsmith. They’re all local.’
I noted her comment with a simple nod, and she continued. ‘We’re lucky that Joshua Arkwright lived here. Victorian Philanthropist. Colossal amount of money. Usual stuff. Textiles. Mining in Africa. All that King Solomon’s Mines Empire thingy.’
‘And his Trust owns the theatre?’
‘Plus several of the Prebends and that gorgeous old summerhouse behind the clinic opposite The Three Steeples. Lot of fuss there last year. A fire and an explosion with several dead.’
I nodded enthusiastically. ‘Yes, I heard about that.’
‘No one ever got to the bottom of that. They own thousands of acres of farmland and the Articles of Association of the Trust means that they can spend money around the world, but 51% of it must always be spent in Wheatley Fields. Mary Beth, the lady who organised the booking, was very informative. Please her, and we’ll keep the parasites away,’ Cat said, revealing a layer of passion I didn’t know existed. I always thought she wanted out, a bigger job. I might have been wrong.
‘You must like it here, Cat.’
She picked up her papers and smiled for the first time.
‘I do, yes. I’m going to make it secure before I go if it kills me. But that’s later. I’m off. Been a tough one. Mrs Purefoy in eight has been a pain. Says she’s lost loads of cash and that Magda has taken it. Pure racism if you ask me, but don’t get involved, okay? Refer her to me, yeh?’
‘I won’t. And I will.’
‘Laters, mate.’
‘Sleep tight.’
I still read newspapers, and I follow the arts, but I don’t read books. Or write. I’ve never written anything outside work, a memo, a note. Had I sufficient ability, I would have liked to paint still life paintings. The Saladin has many on its ancient walls, and I can stare at them for hours. However, I can barely hold a brush to gloss the skirting in my flat, so art was out as a career option.
Is writing art?
I settled back with my chocolate muffin and poured a cup of black coffee from my flask.[1] I thought about what it meant to be an artist, for no other reason than I could.

[1]Hot drinks are free here, of course, they are, just boil the kettle, but I prefer to take a special brand of coffee that I buy in a half-pound bag from The San Salvador Coffee House – rich, and dark, and black as the eyes of the devil, as my mum used to say, bless her.

Click here to purchase on US Amazon     Click here to purchase on UK Amazon

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Night Porter, Part 1, #Free Read, #Amazon

Yesterday, we met up with Author Mark Barry. In movie style drama he lavishes us with a production of his latest new release The Night Porter. Click here to read about Author Mark Barry and The Night Porter. In this blog post we get a sneak peak at the beginning of The Night Porter.

Click here to purchase on US Amazon     

Click here to purchase on UK Amazon

I am a night porter.

I am the night porter.

I have always been a night porter. I have had no other position, even as a young man. I will make a prediction and say I shall always be a night porter. I am a hard worker and thus, have no dreams of retirement: I like work. I am sure that many of you reading this picture a night porter as an elderly gentleman (perhaps a slightly raffish figure, or a greying chap with spectacles, squinting over his register; or an immaculately dressed ex-Batman from the war, or perhaps, a brilliantine-groomed ex-butler retiring from service in the Shires), and while you would be mistaken in my case, there is clearly nothing stopping a professional night porter from continuing to port well past retirement age. 

I am a young man, not an old one. I am middle aged, actually, in terms I grew up with, but now, there is no such thing. Erikson is dead. You know, the fellow who talked about the Seven Stages of a Man’s Life (in those sexist days of the forties and fifties).

Nowadays, you are young, or you are old: There is no in-between. I consider myself young, though there are many people of my chronological age who have taken shelter in the other camp and are more than happy there.

Biography leaves me cold (and lucky for you, so does autobiography), but it is important to mention that I became an apprentice night porter as a student in a hotel in Plymouth called the Continental when I was nineteen.

That’s sixteen years ago, if you must know. I was a student in Devon and was working part time in the kitchens at night while I studied something dull and pointless in the day.

I would like to say I had a plan, a structured approach to eventual night porterdom, but I started out on my journey with a moment of fortune, even if it resulted from the misfortune of another.

Early one evening, the hotel’s incumbent night porter – an urbane fellow in his fifties called Neil – came to work as usual, offered his colleagues a pleasant greeting, changed into his uniform, let himself into one of the hotel’s three hundred rooms and blew the back of his head off.

To do this, he used his grandfather’s old service revolver (which had seen service at Tobruk), and because Neil made a terrible mess of the wallpaper, the room had to be taken out of commission for a good three months.

It was one of the best rooms in the hotel and had been freshly decorated. Management was furious (hotel management being a brutally unsentimental and occasionally, clinically psychopathic state of mind), and the Continental’s higher echelon believed that Neil did it on purpose. As a protest. As an industrial thing.

I will never forget Marie O’Gorman, the top woman there, a real shoulder pads and high heels type, lamenting his decision to come to work to shoot himself, as if it was the most selfish thing that a man could do. Not once did she offer condolences to his friends in the hotel. Not once did she express sympathy. She openly described Neil as a man whose selfishness had cost her around ten thousand pounds, which meant she would have to spend good management time creating an Emergency Financial Plan for presentation to the Directors in Chicago. I remember being shocked at how harsh she was, but nowadays, older, wiser, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid. I’ve met hotel managers who make Marie O’Gorman look like Mother Teresa. They all do it for effect, I’m sure. The higher you go, the harder these people perceive they need to be. I suspect (with the exception of the clinical psychopaths among them, who have no feelings one way or another) that they are much softer at home, and much of their callousness is an act.

Anyway, I digress. The unfortunate business of Neil’s suicide left the hotel without a night porter, and when Bill Dixon, the night manager, was beating himself around the head wondering what to do, as he was a busy man and couldn’t spend his entire night sitting behind the reception desk, I seized my chance. I happened to be in his office listening to his endless mutterings as he sorted out some wage underpayment issue or other. Seizing the moment, I volunteered for the post. It was one of those moments I instinctively knew I would regret forever if I missed it, and so I went in for the kill.

Dixon looked at me askance. With a patronising tone, he asked me whether I had experience. I said no. I didn’t have much experience in anything, I said. I was young, enthusiastic and full of potential and best of all, I liked working in the darkness, I liked being up late at night, and I liked listening to people’s stories. That doesn’t make you a night porter, Dixon said to me dismissively, and I replied firmly, yes, it does, that’s exactly what being a night porter is all about. That is the core of it. That is the essence of it. You can train me to do the rest, I concluded, which surprised me, as I was not – and am not – particularly strident or assertive.

I must have been convincing because without much fuss, he told me to take off my KP whites and get upstairs to the changing room. In there, was a spare uniform, which fitted. A pressed white shirt. The hotel livery on a pale lemon-striped vest waistcoat, grey trousers (slightly big for me, but I was wearing a belt on my jeans, and I got away with it), and incredibly shiny black shoes.

Dixon gave me an hour’s training, and then went off with Forensics, and to calm down the shaken elderly couple unfortunate enough to be next door to 247 when Neil’s gun went off. I would have been shaken, too, the sound of the gunshot. The metal crushing bone as it escaped the skull, the shriek of the dead. Not what you expect at an expensive, full service hotel – though now, after sixteen years, after all my experiences as a professional night porter, I can tell them that suicide and death are the twin subtexts of the narrative behind every hotel, though you never see that discussed in the brochures.

You would never see that as an agenda item at a Chicago Board meeting.

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