Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Caroline visits Castle Dunlaggin

Caroline has been searching for her natural mother, and thinks a lifeline has been thrown when Regina Heart gets in touch, claiming to be her birth mother. Regina has founded a pagan cult religion on a Scottish island, and persuades Caroline to visit her remote castle.

She breathed in the cool clear air and let it calm her worries. She would treat this as a holiday, a much needed break from her life. She joined in the laughter as the women scrambled from the boat onto the wet concrete ramp. She looked up at the fairytale castle, dark against the grey sky.
Every room and bunk was already booked for the solstice, so Regina led Caroline up the narrow stone steps to the unused bedroom above her own.
“I’m sorry it’s so dusty,” said Regina. “I’ll organise a work party to clean it out and make the bed.”
“I can do that myself if you tell me where things are,” said Caroline.
“No,” said Regina. “I’ll get Jocasta to do it. She finds cleaning therapeutic. I want you to begin orgatron practice right away. It’s only three days until the moon ceremony and I want you to be ready.”
“Ready in what way?”
“You could be my first high priestess, but we need to build up your vaginal power. Come, I’ll give you an introduction and you’ll see what I mean. I have a machine which can accelerate the learning process. Here, let me put this on you.”
She clipped an orgatron over Caroline’s wrist and gave her a brief instruction on the significance of the flashing colours.
“Is this the machine you were talking about?”
“All the proselytes wear the orgatron for practice. I have another machine which is only used in circumstances when time is short. Most of the women build up their orgasmic power over a few weeks, a whole month ideally. But I realise that busy people like you can’t give up a whole month, much as they might like to. That’s where the orgasmic accelerator comes in.”
She led Caroline down to the practice rooms and found Joni and Jocasta practising together spread across some large cushions. Regina made a sign and withdrew from the room. Five minutes later a flushed Jocasta emerged and bowed meekly to Regina.
“What duties do you wish me to perform, Mistress Superior?”
“Please clean the room above my own. Make sure it’s spotless. I will inspect when you have finished.”
Two minutes later, Joni emerged, panting lightly, her orgatron still flashing yellow.
“How can I serve the spirit of the orgasm?” asked Joni.
“In the best way imaginable,” said Regina. “Take this novice and show her the love of the community. Wash her and oil her, give her loose robes, then take her to GEORGe. Set the timer to one hour.”
“One hour, Mistress Superior? I understood novices began with fifteen minutes.”
“Caroline is a special case, she has great potential.”

Click on the cover for more details.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Anniversary Bash

Do you have a master-plan, or do you start something and see where it goes? Caroline always has clear objectives. To her, life is a Roman road with posts at every Roman mile. They even call them milestones in the latest business jargon. The discipline of business runs deep in Caroline's personality and carries over into our marriage. However many times events and affairs deflect her from the straight road, she somehow manages to shoehorn everything back into the grand plan.

I, on the other hand, hate to plan anything, even going to the movies. I would always rather decide on the day. So, for me, it is a particular and unusual miracle that this blog, started on a whim, has lived to see it's first anniversary. Over those 62 posts, the blog has roamed far and wide, following the adventures in publishing generated by Caroline's stories about her business colleagues. From time to time, my experiences with writers' gatherings have provided the material, and those have proven the most popular posts because people love to read something with their name in it. But in the spirit of an anniversary, I shall pour a glass of Pinot Noir, dig out three favourite extracts, and say 'Happy Birthday' to My Wife Caroline. (It's not her real birthday, but she could always have two, like the Queen).

I love it when characters answer back. Antonia Anderson said her piece when Shameless Ambition was due to be published. She wanted to explain how she came to be pole dancing in a bar in Spain.

"Robert is a lovely man but he can be cynical. I told him he wasn't being fair about career and personal development so here I am to put another viewpoint.
I am Antonia Anderson, Head of Press, PR and Social Media in Monsaint Medical Instruments. That's enough about me. Robert says he will put a picture on his facebook page. The fact is that MMI is a brilliant, dynamic company that cares about the future, and believes in nurturing internal talent. Our chief executive, Andreas Rivera-Castillo, knows that the difference between the winners and the also-rans in today's competitive environment is Leadership. Strong leaders have an undefinable edge which is why they get to the top. Belief is a big part of it. And that intensive experience in Spain with my colleagues was all about discovering the inner belief, the inner motivation that drives us to the top."  22nd March 2013.

I've had great fun collaborating the some of the other writers published by SteameReads of Australia, like when I met Tamsin Baker on a plane to Croatia.

My sleeping companion woke with a start when the refreshment trolley came past. She ordered a Bloody Mary. The plane hit a pocket of turbulence. There was raucous laughter from the seats five rows up, but my neighbour went a whiter shade of pale, grabbed my arm, and spilt some of the thick red liquid on my chinos.

"Oh, I'm terribly sorry. I'm a nervous flyer. I always think I'm going to die." She used an inadequate napkin to dab the blotch on my trousers. Her nails were painted black.
"No problem," I said, though really it was, because I was travelling ultra light. I seized the opportunity to introduce myself and asked the purpose of her journey.
"I'm Tamsin Baker," she replied. "I'm researching my next book. After Croatia, I go on to Silesia, Moravia, and Transylvania."
"How interesting," I said. "And what would your next book be about?"
"Vampires. The myths originate from that part of Europe. They really did exhume bodies and stick a stake through the heart. It's more than a myth; every society wonders what happens to people when they are dead." She looked straight at me and her eyes widened. "Don't you wonder, Robert?"
12th June 2013.

And then, of course, there was that time last year when Caroline bumped into some characters from a book by Annie Oakfield, Amber and Lucy, and went to their hotel.

By the time I'd had my shower Caroline was curled up in bed and nearly asleep. I decided to risk extreme grumpiness and engaged my wife in conversation.
"What happened next?" I asked. "You were going to tell me about the maid and the champagne."
"Oh God, Robert, I'm really tired. I didn't get much sleep last night. Can I tell you about it in the morning?"
"I didn't get much sleep last night either worrying about what you were up to."
"I wish you wouldn't worry. There's no need to. I'm not suddenly going to run off with another woman, or two other women as it turned out."
Caroline turned over and talked to the bedside table...
6th August 2013.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Warning of Gales

The legal profession knows about computers but does not trust them. The old boys, like Forbes-Brown, have a series of avoidance strategies starting with:
a) pretend helplessness and get someone else to use the machine; and
b) use that other kind of memory located inside the human brain. 
When I was worried about getting stuck on the Isle of Mura with the awful Regina Heart, I phoned Forbes-Brown for a forecast...

 “Could you look up something on your computer for me? The signal’s so poor it takes too long for the pages to load.”
“What pages? I’ve no idea what you’re talking about, Robert. Just tell me what you want me to do.”
Forbes-Brown’s office was a museum of 1980’s work artefacts. The walls were lined with leather bound books. The coffee table supported a pile of real magazines covering subjects as wide as golf and classic cars. His means of communication to the outside world was a solid lump of phone connected to Dorothy, his secretary, who sat in an ante-room wearing a silk blouse, twin set and pearls. She did his typing, translating his elegant long-hand into a suitably legal typeface. His concession to the new century was a sleek grey laptop which he used to weigh down the pile of papers in his in-tray.
“Open it up,” said Robert. “Okay? Now there should be a world icon along the bottom. Click that.”
“Sorry Robert. It’s just a dark screen.”
“Have you switched it on?”
“How do you do that?” Dorothy had offered to give him a tutorial in 2008 but he’d not got round to it yet.
“Do you want to put me back through to Dorothy?”
“She’s on her lunch break.” The routine of the Edinburgh office day was also firmly based in the past. Staff had two tea breaks with biscuits and strictly one hour for lunch. Anyone returning to their station five minutes early was letting the side down.
“There will be a button near the top with a broken round symbol.”
There was a pause, followed by a faint whirring as the machine came to unaccustomed life. There was another long pause.
“It wants to know which country I’m in,” said Forbes-Brown, “but Scotland’s not on the list.”
“Try United Kingdom.”
“Got it. Now what? It says I have to register something.”
“Have you never used it before?”
“Just ask me what you want to know, Robert.”
“I want to know the weather forecast for the Western Isles. I want to know if this is a lull in the storm or the start of a fine spell.”
“Well why didn’t you say so instead of making me mess around with this bloody thing? I listen to the shipping forecast at five thirty every morning. Let me think… There were warnings of gales in Forties, Cromarty, Forth, Trafalgar, Shannon, Rockall, Malin, Hebrides, Bailey, and Fair Isle. What are you?”
“I don’t know, Forbes-Brown.”
“What the hell do they teach at school these days? You’ll be Malin or Hebrides. In any case it was rough or very rough, becoming high in Rockall and Bailey. Moderate or good, occasionally poor.” Forbes-Brown had trained his mind to remember detail for his part two exams and the skill had never left him.
“Can you interpret that for me, Forbes-Brown?”
“It means get off that bloody island this afternoon while you can. I expect to see you here first thing in the morning.” He summarily ended the call.

This extract is from Shameless Exposure available as an ebook from Amazon. Just click the title for more info.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

White Bikini

The cover of Shameless Exposure shows my wife Caroline on the beach, wearing the white bikini she bought in a shop not far from the Avenida Atlantica by Copacabana beach. She was visiting Brazil on a business trip with the Chief Executive of Monsaint Medical Instruments, an American called Andreas Rivera-Castillo. I never met him, but by all accounts he was a complex character, driven to succeed and frustrated when he couldn't get what he wanted.

Andreas had been head-hunted for the top job at Monsaint, parachuted in to clear up the mess left by the previous CE, Melody Bigger. He left his wife Trish behind in the States. He didn't talk much about her, but hinted that she had nervous anxiety and was better off at home. In London, Andreas hung out with a bunch of American ex-pats, bankers, diplomats, and other senior executives, enjoying the Premier League soccer and the London nightlife.

When Caroline was brought back from Frankfurt and given the lead role in expanding the company into South America she thought it was a reward for good behaviour and a sign that her career was still on an upward curve. Andreas dropped hints about succession planning and the possibility of a board position for her. Bringing her back to HQ would give him the opportunity to observe her work at first hand and to mentor her in the mysterious world of the very senior executive.

The day Caroline bought that bikini was a rare day off in a trip that had taken her to all the major South American capitals. She was glad to get away from Andreas for a while. He had engineered the business trip so that it was just the two of them, and tried every technique he knew to persuade Caroline into his room. At the risk of her career, she held out against him. The company risk assessment for the trip suggested Sao Paulo, the next meeting, was too dangerous, and brave Andreas said he would go alone, allowing Caroline a day on Copacabana beach.

After a little light shopping, she took a walk along the beach then settled down not far from a lifeguard station. A boy appeared taking photographs of women on the beach. She tried to wave him away, but he was persistent, and fifteen minutes later two big men appeared, one black, one white, with a photograph of Caroline and a demand that she pay a hundred dollars US for the picture. She refused. She had been warned against taking cash to the beach and didn't have any dollars anyway.

I won't spoil the book by telling you what happened next.

 Shameless Exposure is an e-book available from Amazon. Just click on the title.

Who are these people?

The world is divided into voyeurs and exhibitionists... It takes one of each to make a good marriage.

Robert and Caroline Fanshaw are an ambitious young couple trying to make their way in a complex world.

What happens when their private affairs collide with world events and the big issues of our times? Drama, comedy and x-rated scenes.

email fanshawrobert@gmail.com