Some might see ‘Time after Time’ as a worn-out phrase but I saw it as both the inspiration and title for a new venture—a collection of tales related to ‘Time’.
I first considered a personal anthology of short stories using ‘Time’ as the theme and then it occurred to me to widen the net—offer the idea as a platform for fellow authors. I first had guests contributing original tales when I produced The Welcome: and other Sci-Fi stories, a ‘genre-based’ collection.
This new anthology is not genre-based but ‘theme-based’ which means that authors had the freedom to use any genre with which they were comfortable (except erotica), but the story had to be original and related to ‘Time’.
Occasionally, an author will be attracted to a theme and in this case, a couple of my guests provided more than one story. This is a win-win. It first provides the reader with a larger volume of entertainment for the same low price of 99p/99c. It also gives the author the opportunity to showcase more of their talent in their new work.
Why is a collection of 19 stories being sold at only 99p/99c?
My reason for producing these ‘guest author’ anthologies is not to make money, but to provide a platform for my fellow scribes and me. Short stories are one step above poetry at the lower end of eBook sales but for those who enjoy a selection of coffee-time tales and like a bargain, it works well.
For the benefit of both readers and guest authors, there is a short bio and links included for all who have submitted stories. A unique feature in this anthology is a foreword about Time by etymologist, Millie Slavidou, one of my guests. I believe the brief introduction into the subject creates the right mindset before delving into the tales.
I wrote six original stories specifically for this collection and they appear at the latter end of the book. As I’ve done for my guests, I’ve included a bio and links for readers to check out my other literary efforts.
I hope you feel motivated to give this collection a try and you are entertained. As with all eBooks I publish, this one will be available to read free on Kindle Unlimited.
If you do try the book, please consider leaving a review.
My interview with erotica author, Katya Cumming, has been promised for some time, so with great pleasure, I’d like to introduce you to the new girl on the (writing) block.
Q1. Katya, I respect your decision not to provide a profile picture because of certain types of people. Would you be kind enough to give us a brief description of yourself and your background?
Two descriptions attributed to me have been curvaceous and statuesque, and I like both. I’m a thirty-something brunette from Edinburgh, Scotland, who works in fashion retail. Relationships are for those involved, so that’s where mine will stay. In my quieter moments, I read and write, and sometimes those things are done while I travel which I also enjoy. To keep in shape I swim, jog, cycle, and do aerobics.
Q2. What type of books did you read when you were younger?
While very young I loved adventure stories, but by the time I was a teenager, I’d progressed to romance. It was while babysitting for a neighbour I first discovered books with more interesting topics. The first erotica book I read was sci-fi, but it just made it more fun for me, imagining the things the aliens could do with the human body. It captured my imagination.
Q3. What attracted you to writing erotica rather than any other genre?
I was a fan of romance, but I needed more grit, and moved up to steamy romance. It didn’t take long before curiosity got the better of me and erotica was next. A couple of authors were okay, but most stories were more like plot-starved, sexual fantasy than erotica, so I decided to try my hand … if you’ll pardon the pun.
Q4. How long did you write before publishing?
In terms of time, probably about two years. I’d written some poetry and short stories which were well-received in writing groups, but novels are a different discipline and frightening at first. Over quite a long time I produced the early stages of three novels but I left them aside, adding to them occasionally.
Q5.How long does it take generally from starting a story to seeing it published on Amazon?
I would suggest a minimum of four months. Once I have an idea I make a few notes and leave them aside to consider from which start point it might best evolve. I also tend to leave the manuscript aside regularly to let me work on something else. The Mistress, which is my shortest story so far was my quickest first draft. It took me fourteen days and I stopped at fifty-thousand words. I reduced it to forty-seven thousand words.
Q6. How many titles do you have available at the present time?
Now that my latest, ‘His & Hers’ is released, I have five books out there, all on Amazon KU.
Q7. Many authors depend on experience for their subject matter—how much of your work is a direct result of personal experience?
Small segments in different stories is the best answer. This is where the male of the species is different from the female I suppose. A guy who sleeps around for a while is sowing his wild oats and is a bit of a lad, but if a girl plays the field she’s a tart. In my mid-teens, I had two relationships with girls, but by the time I was eighteen, I’d confirmed I enjoyed a roll in the hay with a girl or a guy. I’ve been involved in a threesome twice.
Q8. Feminisation and strong female characters are prominent in your work—could you explain why you lean in this direction?
Sexuality is a deep subject. When you delve into the area of ‘gender-benders’ as they’re so cruelly labelled, there is a myriad of areas to explore. Crossdressing is a multi-layered topic and well-suited to the erotica genre. The why and wherefore create a story. Whatever men tell you, and you should know, if a woman is attractive and dominant it’s more likely to add spice to a sexual encounter, rather than be seen as threatening. What that dominant woman wants, she will get one way or the other. Only a chauvinist or a dyed-in-the-wool alpha male would think otherwise.
Q9. What is your response to those who say that erotica is simply literary porn?
If they’re describing a book which is no more than page after page of explicit sex scenes then I’d agree with them. However, if those explicit sex scenes are integral to and supporting a cohesive story, then it is not porn, it is strong erotica.
Q10. Do you believe there is a place in the market for erotica, and strong erotica in particular?
Yes, of course, or people like us wouldn’t be spending weeks and months developing a story to convey the activities of our characters. I’m an advocate of allowing people the freedom to read whatever they please, and if for example, a person has difficulty forming relationships, has an unsatisfactory sex-life or simply enjoys a bit of titillation, a graphic erotic novel might be a release for them, in a manner of speaking.
Q11. What’s your opinion of those who profess to be erotica authors but produce regular, small volumes of badly-written, graphic sex stories?
First of all, the only way they can be called authors is due to having composed the material. They are not necessarily creative people. A graphic description of sex is not particularly creative in itself. Secondly, many of these people rely on no more than three or four plots, usually involving a cash-strapped person, an experiment, or pure fantasy. There is little or no research and no substance. In my opinion, lazy writers are despicable because they are money-grabbers who also affect the reading public’s view of indie authors who are working hard.
Q12. Who are your favourite indie authors?
You are obviously one, Tom, and that’s not simply because of this interview. I’m also a big fan of Sarah Stuart who writes steamy romance, and Lesley Hayes who is just an incredible writer. For the joy of a true storyteller, I like Patrick ‘Max’ Power, Rebecca Bryn, Lucinda E. Clarke, and Mike Billington. I’m a massive fan of the Indie Author Support and Discussion group; all talented international authors. It’s handy to have something to frighten the pants off me so for that I depend on Anne Francis Scott.
Q13. Which, if any, other genres might you consider writing in the future?
I have a yearning to write something in the sci-fi arena, but I’m not sure yet whether I’d go with dystopian, apocalyptic or outer space.
Q14. Can you tell us about your cover designs and how they came about?
I feel that if not from a scene in a story, the cover should at least highlight one aspect or provide a hint of what lies beyond the title. You know as much about them as I do since you’ve made the effort to produce them for me.
Q15. Why have you avoided being interviewed until this point?
Again this is an area of which you have a good grasp. For your benefit and to aim for credibility, I didn’t think it was fitting to be revealed until I’d produced at least five titles in my name and achieved significant sales. I felt that for a long time I was locked away, waiting. When you decided to bring my work to the fore, create my character, my name, and give me my own website it meant so much to me.
Thank you, Tom, for this interview and for bringing me and my work to the attention of the wider public. I do understand how difficult it has been for you to maintain this secret aspect of your life as an author while you’ve worked on my development.
Thank you for opening up to me, Katya. Please, finish your coffee before you get dressed. It’s been great working hand in glove with you and I look forward to your next in-depth tail … oops, I mean, of course, your next in-depth tale. I’m happy we finally have your personal story out there.
And to all who are interested in Katya’s naughty tales, here are links to her work.
The Dandelion Clock is a story of young lovers torn apart by war. While Bill fights in Gallipoli, Egypt, and Palestine and endures the hardships and tragedies of war with his beloved horse, Copper, Florrie fights her own war at home in England and dreams of marriage to Bill.
Florrie’s widowed father is an abusive and violent drunkard, and she is bringing up her six siblings as best she can with rationing, poverty, and the loss of her menfolk – a mirror of my grandmother’s young life.
In times of self-doubt, Florrie turns to her dandelion clocks, ‘He lives; he lives not – he loves me; he loves me not.’ Can Bill survive to keep his promise to Florrie to marry her, and can he bring his old warhorse home safe? Will Bill and Florrie’s love survive five years apart?
The Inspiration for this story, by Rebecca Bryn – the author
The Dandelion Clock was inspired by some old photos I found when moving house. My grandparents, Bill and Florrie were a huge influence on my young life and the photos brought back both happy and sad memories. Here was Grandad mounted on his beloved horse—a horse that took him to Egypt and Palestine during the First World War and carried him into battle. His love of horses was something I inherited and which dominated my life for many years, so it was natural, when I began to tell Bill’s story, that his horse would play as important a part as his sweetheart, Florrie.
Researching and writing The Dandelion Clock opened my eyes to the sacrifices my grandparents and those of their generation made. It opened my eyes to the suffering and the hardships endured by both man and horse in the scorching heat of a waterless desert, and the freezing snow of Gallipoli.
“I marched with the Royal Buckinghamshire Hussars across the salt flat before Chocolate Hill with no cover and Turkish guns on the hills around them picking them off like shooting fish in a barrel. I watched men and horses die of heat exhaustion in the Sinai Desert and learnt to stab, twist, and pull a bayonet. I watched the light go out of the eyes of men I had no cause to hate for a war I didn’t understand, and I came home to a country I barely recognised with wounded men begging on the streets, poverty, and few jobs, and wondered what I’d fought for.”
War changes people, as it changed my grandfather. The effects are far-reaching, far beyond the 40,000,000 casualties, of whom 20,000,000 of these died, and 11,000,000 of the dead were civilians. That leaves some 9,000,000 military deaths – young men, some volunteers but mostly conscripted who downed tools and marched to war never to return. The Dandelion Clock seeks to honour the men and horses of the Great War and the women who waited at home ‘keeping the home fires burning’ through rationing, poverty, and loss of their menfolk.
Royalties go to two charities:
ABF The Soldiers Charity
I felt the need to honour the courage of the soldiers of The Great War in some more charitable way, so I asked around some ex-military friends and was recommended a charity that supports both serving and veteran soldiers and their families. Half the royalties from pre-orders and sales of The Dandelion Clock up to Remembrance Day Centenary on November 11th 2018 will be donated to ABF The Soldiers Charity, a charity that supports soldiers, military widows, and their families through their darkest times. Their youngest beneficiary is 2-years-old and their oldest 106-years-old. With so many wounded men, some suffering shellshock, and many bereaved families, this is a charity that would have been greatly appreciated in 1918.
A hand up, not a hand out – “In 1944, around 3 million British soldiers were at war, notably in France, Italy and Burma, but with the end in sight, the Army Board realised that the State would not be able to provide for all the needs of those who would soon return to civilian life. The Army Benevolent Fund came into being on 15th August 1944. The “Fund for the Soldier” is, as The Times said, “an object none can question” because the soldier is what it is all about. In its first year, the Charity was ‘pump-primed’ with the huge sum of £1.5m from the NAAFI’s profits, enabling the Charity to make much-needed grants. – ABF The Soldiers’ Charity has a well-established and substantial grants programme of support to charities and organisations that provide lifetime support to soldiers, veterans and their immediate families. We will normally fund up to 100 charities in a given year which deliver support on behalf of the Army and ourselves.”
The other half of my royalties will go to Brooke. It wasn’t until I reached the part in my story where I sought a way to bring Bill’s horse, Copper home, that I discovered the horrific end many of the faithful and courageous warhorses suffered. The Brooke is a charity that now rescues horses, mules, and donkeys in some of the poorest parts of the world.
Every horse remembered– “On arrival in Egypt in 1930, Dorothy Brooke was determined to find the surviving ex-warhorses of the British, Australian and American forces. These brave and noble horses were sold into a life of hard labour in Cairo when the conflict ended.
Searching for them throughout Cairo, Dorothy was appalled to find hundreds of emaciated and worn-out animals desperately in need of help. She wrote a letter to the Morning Post (which later became the Daily Telegraph) exposing their plight.
The public were so moved they sent her the equivalent of £20,000 in today’s money to help end the suffering of these once proud horses.
Within three years, Dorothy Brooke had purchased five thousand ex-warhorses. Most were old, exhausted and had to be humanely put down. But thanks to her compassion, they ended their lives peacefully.
Dorothy Brooke knew thousands of hard-working horses, donkeys and mules still suffered so in 1934 she founded the Old War Horse Memorial Hospital in Cairo, with the promise of free veterinary care for all the city’s working horses and donkeys. The Brooke Hospital for Animals was born.”
I also donate money to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum each year from sales of Touching the Wire – a story of the women of Auschwitz – to honour the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. Go to https://www.ushmm.org to help further Holocaust education.
It feels wrong to make money from the suffering of others, but in relating their stories, I hope to keep their memories alive, and donating is one way I can give something back to charities that would have been close to their hearts.
About the Author
Originally from Kettering, in Northamptonshire, Rebecca Bryn lives in West Wales with her husband and dog where she paints the fabulous coastal scenery and writes historical, mystery, and post-apocalyptic tales with a twist. She believes you shouldn’t judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins and to date has a 100% success rate at surviving. :
My personal view of the story
Try if you will, to go without food for a day, or a decent hot drink, or sleep … having worn the same clothes for days on end in a range of temperatures. What could be worse? Place yourself in adverse conditions and introduce a few ground-shaking bombs and an enemy firing at you.
Have you considered the ability to clean and service your rifle and equipment?
How about aiming and firing back at the enemy from a water-filled, muddy trench.
Combine these things with the remorseless ‘duty-bound’ attitude of your leadership—now you have a tiny vision of life in The Great War.
Be rewarded for playing your part
If you’d like to help Rebecca support these charities and get a wonderful book to read, you can pre-order The Dandelion Clock. The eBook is currently available on pre-order at the special price of 99p/99c until September 4th. On release, September 5th it will be priced at £1.99/$2.99.