I’m not really sure where John and my paths crossed – blogging is an odd old world. Soon, though, i saw a common thread. John loves stories that are all dialogue as do I. He, too, uses a prompt but after that the story can go anywhere: dung beetles battling for galactic supremacy, super-aggressive hair gel seeking a role as superhero in a world of stylists… So when he asked me to betaread his latest book, The Last Drive that takes a fairly liberal approach to world history as his heroes duck and dive to avoid Lucifer’s blandishments, I couldn’t really resist.
Now, the book is here, and fortunately my input has been minimal. It’s worthy of your time, so I’ll hand over to John to let you know what’s in store.
I am so pleased to be with you today, Geoff. Thank you for helping spread the word about The Last Drive. All year I have marveled at the beauty of your garden. It seems the UK climate is perfect for growing an amazing assortment of flowers, shrubs, and trees. Of course, it isn’t just the climate but your hard work that makes the difference. I’m sure Dog helps as much as he can too. Having said all that I think we can agree that like the garden there is no one element that makes a good story. I’m pleased that this book is more or less a genre bender in that there are several that are visited to tell the tale.
Here is the blurb and then we can get to a short excerpt from the book.
In the sequel to Eternal Road – The final stop, Sam and James are reunited to look for two souls, Ryan and Eddie. Ryan was killed in Afghanistan, trying to avoid a schoolyard with his crippled plane. Eddie Rickenbacker, Ryan’s hero, is to guide Ryan to his Eternal Home, and now both are missing.
The higher-ups believe that there has been some interference in Ryan and Eddie’s journey by Lucifer, so Sam and James have the task of finding Ryan and Eddie to get them back on the road despite the evil interference. Unfortunately, the machinations designed to prevent Ryan and Eddy from completing their journey takes the pair to horrifying testing grounds. The places visited represent the best work of the Devil. They are the trenches of World War I in France, gladiators at the Roman Coliseum, the sinking Titanic in 1912, Hiroshima 45 minutes before the bomb, and the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1943.
This book is for you if you like plenty of action, strong characters, time travel, and a touch of spiritual and historical fiction. So, join Sam and James as they try to find the missing souls while staying one step ahead of the Prince of Darkness, who is determined to destroy all that is good.
The sergeant looks at the clipboard. “I hope you don’t mind, but we’ll stop at the field hospital first. That’s where the morgue is.”
Sam nods. “That sounds fine to us. We’re not fussy.”
The sergeant smiles. “I would say so. Given you agreed to ride with stiffs. Have a seat. I’ll let you know when it’s time.”
James and Sam stroll to a couple of camp chairs set up against another sandbag-constructed wall. James sits heavily, and Sam follows suit. Both rest with their thoughts. James breaks the silence, “I say we go to the hospital and ditch the ride.”
The artillery opens up again, and normal conversation becomes impossible.
Sam leans closer and loud-whispers, “We’re fortunate they’re going to the hospital first.”
“I know, right? It’s almost too good to be true.” James pauses. “Uh-oh.”
“Every time something seems too good to be true, it usually is. You-know-who might be moving the pieces around on this gameboard.”
“Well, it’s possible, and I wouldn’t be surprised, but this is the only way we’re going to find Ryan and Eddie. Look, they’re pilots, and it’s only natural they’ll be near the aerodrome.”
“I wonder how many aerodromes are in France?”
“Let’s not start worrying about that right now, shall we?”
James nods. “Okay, but having an aerodrome only fifteen miles from where you-know-who dropped us is rather coincidental.”
Sam looks at the ground. “Yep. You-know-who doesn’t seem that generous.”
A Link to the Trailer
The Last Drive is available in paper and Kindle editions on Amazon. Here are the universal links. The Kindle edition is on sale for 99¢ through mid-February.
John is an award-winning author who after an extensive business career began writing full time in 2012. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. He has written Six other books that are on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.
John lives in Lakeway, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.
January 30, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about the dishes. It can be the every-single-day activity, a precious collection, or any other interpretation of dishes as objects or activities. Who is stuck with the dishes and why? Go where the prompt leads!
Dish Of The Day
Little Tittweaking has thrice been invaded by aliens: once, in 693 by thirteen Soporifs who slept the whole time; and twice by the dish people from the porcelain star cluster. The first, in 1324 ended with them attacked by ravenous pottery-eating fungi, after which their spokesperson described events as being ‘spore form’; and the second, in 1954 when the visitors, in retaliation abducted Sue Plate, Little Miss TT 1953 after Little Tittweaking’s Examiner’s described her thusly: ‘Sue Plate is a real dish’. Tensions eased after both sides shared a mushroom-themed supper, with a view to moulding a new relationship.
These days Little Tittweaking is almost equidistant for each of England’s many coasts. Back when the factious period extinction event (represented by the youreavingalaugh school pinpointing the moment when satire died due to an asteroid striking Florida) bumped up against the start of the anaemic period, Little Tittweaking was surrounded by a body of water that by anyone’s standards needed a better diet and more exercise. The flaccid and flabby Sea of Incongruity eschewed normal tides and sort of splashed half-heartedly against the foreshore. Even storms and cyclones couldn’t raise a ripple and when a visiting Tsunami approached it merely lay flat and let it pass, muttering something about how sea nymphs were becoming a tad too frisky and it’d not end well.
It was rare therefor for any form of sea craft to enter the immobile waters. One might pause and note here that the Sea would have vehemently rejected the epithet ‘stagnant’ had one sought to ascribe that condition to it, when it considered itself to be a role model of pacific water bodies. Indeed the later renaming of the Notveryinteresting Sea as the Pacific Ocean had nothing whatsoever to do with the Sea of Incongruity’s lack of self awareness and more to do with a lack of imagination.
In fact, the only reason anyone knew that Little Tittweaking was historically its own island resulted from an archaeological dig commissioned by the parish council chair Doug Bones. Doug had a premonition one mildewy Wednesday that under his garden there was treasure. He did what all chairs do, beyond those from IKEA that spend their lives pulling themselves together and commissioned an excavation.
And there, nestled beneath the novelty petunias lay an enormous warship still bristling with armaments and howitzers.
Councillor Bones joined the head of the Archaeological team Roman Villas underneath the prow. ‘It’s a biggun,’ opined Roman.
‘What’s it doing here, though?’ Queried Doug.
‘Resting,’ countered Roman.
‘You’ll tell me its a parrot next.’
‘Ho ho ho…’
‘and a bottle of rum? Seriously, can we move beyond this repartee?’
‘It must have floated here.’
And there the conversation stopped for a moment, while the two men gave full rein to their imaginations. On what, indeed? Where was the liquid that would allow such action? Roman looked at the sharp rusty prow. ‘It’ll be one of them tricks of the light. You get them in deserts. A marriage.’
‘Do you mean a mirage?’
‘Isn’t that what people do when they want someone else to pay for a party they’re hosting?’
‘Maybe. But you don’t get ships in deserts.’
‘Yes, you do. My dad used to smoke them. Camels.’
‘Are we drifting away from what this thing is?’
‘Probably what it did. Drifted. Anyway, you know what this means?’
‘You’re going to tell me, aren’t you?’
‘Course. There must be sand underneath. That’s what comes after the sea. The beach. There’s your treasure.’
‘We seem to have segued from a mirage in the shape of a thirty tonne minesweeper to a significant quantity of sand and how it’ll make me rich. It’s giving me a migraine.’
I don’t know when I first came across S. Dali. Probably his red lips sofa. Certainly, I was attracted by his surrealist imagery, the stick legged heffalumps, the melting clocks. I found his religious iconography weird and unsettling and his fetishistic elements uncomfortable. But never a dull moment, and if the answer to ‘what is art’ is that it’s something that triggers an emotional response, he had it in spades. Indeed, I think hearing someone talk about his Great Masturbator was the first time I heard that word without some schoolboy sniggering.
All in all, his work is something unique, occasionally banal and glib, mostly fascinating and conceptually off kilter, demanding a level of consideration that, say, yet another chorus of fat babies from Rubens never triggers.
So it was that the Textiliste and I wended our way through Shoreditch, part of trendy East London. There’s a lot of street art around this area and never enough time. Especially as we had a fixed time slot.
The show we were going to was housed in the boiler house, formerly part of the Truman Brewery that once dominated the North end of Brick Lane. This…
It started with a jog through Dali’s career from the surreal to the quantum via an einstinian fascination with time and space. The soft clocks led to his incorporation of many particles in his work, trailling into 3D and holography. Not bad for someone with just an imagination and inquiring mind and no training.
Then, we entered an enormous room of moving imagery from Dali’s oeuvre.
These are a few clips…
And finally, headsets on, we entered a VR version of Dali’s mind, which it’s probably as well I cannot show here, but which was bogmindling in a good way.
January 23, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that is optimistic. Feel free to explore optimism in all its forms from a positive mindset to toxic positivity. Is it a heartfelt story or a devious one? So much wiggle room for the optimistic writer. Go where the prompt leads!
Beatrice Hapi started Little Tittweaking’s Optimists Anonymous after the pessimism pandemic drove optimists underground. Bea found each session hard work, trying to re-instil a cheery positivity alongside inexhaustible supplies of sugary treats. Realising undiluted glee wasn’t working she sought support to add a smidgen of cold reality while offering guidance against pre-diabetes. She found her perfect companion in Eva Afta who came to national attention with her Anti-Gloom potents and unguents that acted on facial muscles, creating a sunny disposition on even the most hardwired miserablist. They married though neither changed her name:
We went to a rather glorious central London Church, known rather egocentrically as St Mary’s London, which is near Paddington
The exterior, even on a dark and bum-bitingly-bitter January evening was delightful
the inside even more so.
The reason for my attendance inside a functioning church was not some latter day seeing of the light – ironic had that been so as everything was candle lit – but for a string ensemble playing by candlelight an arrangement of Coldplay songs.
These candlelit concerts are becoming quite a thing. Swifties, fr’instance, had the chance to pay a homage to their heroine at Southwark cathedral, which I must own is a sumptuous place.
We, two old Coldplay fans sat back, coats and four layers deep in our seats and rocked gently to the music. Here’s a clip – I gave up filming the ensemble due to the woman in front doing the same – seemed pointless to film her camera – and held the phone down just to absorb the music. Hope it gives some idea.