They say not to judge a book by its cover but I need you to do just that. If you liked the cover of my book The Eight of Swords, please vote for it in the ‘Cover of the Month’ contest on AllAuthor.com by clicking on the link below. There’s not long to go before the first round is over, just a day left to vote!
Read below what reviewers had to say about this suspenseful short story.
If you haven’t read The Eight of Swords yet, it could be the perfect read for you . It’s a short story with plenty of drama and intrigue.
Here is what some of the reviewers on Amazon have said…
Really enjoyed The Eight of Swords, the storyline was original and kept you guessing! Rich descriptions throughout and really quite evocative … It divides opinion too, perhaps like me you will side with the story teller and then as the story unfolds your heart leaps in-between!
I downloaded this to my phone- which was a bonus as I couldn’t put it down; it was engaging and made me think of what I would of done, how I would have dealt with the same situation- it was intriguing to follow
Just finished reading this short story – it kept my attention from beginning to end (no mean feat!) and I enjoyed reading about Jayne’s reactions and feelings about the family who had moved into her home. Looking forward to reading the sequel.
The Covid-19 pandemic sure threw a spanner in the works for all of those singletons out there who were going out on dates and looking for the next Mr/Miss Right. Overnight everyone had to isolate and give up any hope of amorous adventures for the foreseeable future.
Recently I found a big box of old letters from my younger days, some of which are from friends detailing their romantic lives at the time. We all took it for granted we could go out and meet whoever we wanted. Oh, how we complained and revelled in the ups and downs of our youthful adventures, no clue of what the future might hold. In one letter a friend says her boyfriend complained about having to wear a condom, if only he had known that by 2020 a condom would be the least of his concerns!
Fast forward quite a few years (no, I am not going to say how many) and suddenly single people found themselves having to not only date online but having to have virtual dates rather than real ones. Previously, those home alone were used to online dating sites like Tinder and Grinder, they knew that they could meet the dates in real time if they wanted to. Covid-19 changed all that. While they might find someone they liked online, now they could only see and talk to them online. No meeting up at a restaurant or bar. No first kiss. No one nightstands. No holding hands on romantic walks, no weekends away.
The whole conversation about ‘protection’ came with a new aspect to it. Not only are sexual diseases an issue; The Virus is a major problem too. We are all wearing masks and keeping our distance, all physical intimacy quashed. It’s all very bizarre and lonely for the singletons right now.
One of the stories in my new book The Isolation Sex Stories takes an older couple on a first date via Zoom, it is a fun story but I can imagine all the lonely people who have been in need of companionship. It’s an exciting date for the lady in the story but will she be thrilled to find a new companion? There’s only one way to find out…
All of the stories in my new book are quirky and different, let me know which one(s) you like best.
Tell me your lockdown story – a free signed copy of The Isolation Sex Stories could be yours if it gets published on this site.
It’s time for you to tell me your funny lockdown stories… I am you must have some!
I will choose five of my favourite stories to publish on this website and if your story is chosen, you will win a free signed paperback copy of The Isolation Sex Stories. (Please note the book is meant for 18+ only as it is adult content. )
Please keep it to 300 words max, 150 words minimum. If the story involves real people, please obtain their written permission before sending the story. I can’t publish without their consent to do so.
Sorry but this competition is restricted to UK entries only and will close on April 1st.
The story can be about anything that has happened during lockdown over the past year. Did you lock yourself out during lockdown? Did your baking efforts go spectacularly wrong? Did your pets get confused by you being home all of the time? I’m sure you must have had some funny experiences. Please do share!
You will need to subscribe to my website with your email address to enter.
All of the stories in The Isolation Sex Stories are entirely fictional, I have a very vivid imagination. They are saucy, sometimes dark but always meant to amuse. This has been a difficult time for most people so hopefully funny stories will lift spirits and help folk see the lighter side of lockdown.
One of the best things I have done in the past year, without a doubt, is to give up having a TV. When I moved to my new apartment just before lockdown no.1 I decided to do without one. I have not looked back or regretted a single minute of it.
Sometimes people go a bit quiet when I tell them this. I admit, there was a time when if someone I knew said they didn’t watch TV I thought they were a bit boring or odd. If they didn’t know about the latest TV shows or watch the news, what did they do with their evenings?
My timing as it happened was excellent. As the UK went into lockdown, I broke free of the daily COVID briefings, the figures, the charts, the daily doom. I’d dip in to see what was happening via the Internet then break free back into my own world again. Instead of worrying and fretting, I read more and began to write again. My head clear of the daily jargon and politics, I could concentrate on things that I could change, not the things I could not. Suddenly I was working more productively and feeling much stronger and happier.
That isn’t to say I didn’t watch anything, I still have Netflix on my Mac and I would watch an episode of whatever took my fancy once or twice a week but I didn’t feel that slave like draw to switch on the TV at the end of the day. It’s an amazing freedom. I honestly thought I’d cave in after six months but here I am, still enjoying the lack of a big black box in my living room. The living room is more aesthetically pleasing without it too.
It has been a year where I’ve been able to produce a book, take more photographs (albeit only very locally), learn how to code (a little), read non-fiction (not usual for me), learned the rudiments of sailing, and I’ve rediscovered a passion for cooking. Plus I’m fitter because I used my bike more. Instead of slumping in front of a TV, I took to two wheels to spin around the city in the evening. I meditate a few times a week and have increased my repertoire of yoga poses (no I’m not going to show you).
Not once did I miss anything or feel ill informed because I don’t have a television. My only regret is that I didn’t give it up years ago.
In other news, a few people have asked if I based my first story – The Clap, in The Isolation Sex Stories on myself just because I live in an apartment now and the main character lives in an apartment. The answer is a definite NO! I did use living in an apartment block as inspiration but that, I can assure you, is as far as it goes. I can sympathise with the character but in addition to all my other new healthy living behaviours, not a drop of alcohol passed my lips for around two months. Having said that, I’m not quite so saintly now…
In case you didn’t already know, I launched a new book on St Valentine’s Day. It has ‘sex’ in the title. When I named the book, I didn’t really think about the repercussions this might have. I titled the book The Isolation Sex Stories because all of the short stories mention sex in some form or other. It is not a sex instruction manual, nor is it particularly graphic. It’s nothing like Fifty Shades of Grey! It’s a bit saucy, humorous, somewhat dark at times but mainly it is meant to amuse.
Yesterday, as part of my marketing plan, I tried to create an Amazon ad. Up came the message ‘At this time, books that contain mature or erotic content are not eligible for advertising.’ Great. So I took to Facebook where pretty much the same message came across. So here I am with a new book I can’t advertise on two of the most powerful platforms.
Facebook goes on to explain that according to their research people get offended by such titles. I’m not sure my title is that offensive? OK the stories might be a bit too risque for some people but if you read the book blurb, you can pretty much guess that if you are easily offended, this might not be the book for you.
Two of my favourite TV shows Fleabag and Killing Eve are far more extreme (I think) than my new book and yet they are both award winning shows. Granted my book isn’t a TV show (yet) but I think that if people have enjoyed these shows (millions have apparently) then they are unlikely to be offended by my stories.
This kind of setback doesn’t stop me, it spurs me on. I have created different kinds of ads to help people find my books. Where there is a will, there is a way!
I’m not easily offended myself. I have only written to the BBC once to complain and that was about Ricky Gervais’s Extras. As I remember it, it was a reference to rape. Maybe I misunderstood but I didn’t like it and never watched the rest of the show.
When I wrote The Isolation Sex Stories, my primary desire was to entertain but also to make people think about the emotions we have all been going through during lockdown. One of the themes is loneliness. Weather Girl is a story that particularly highlights this, as does Puppy Love to some extent. The human condition is a never ending source of fascination to me. We all have our weaknesses, our desires, our faults and all of this has been exacerbated during lockdown. What people get up to behind closed door is up to them but given we are in a pandemic, the human condition is highlighted more than ever.
The Isolation Sex Stories sits above Sex And The City when you search for it on Amazon. Another of my favourite shows. It does explain why, when you search Amazon, you don’t find Sex in many titles. Other authors must have wised up to the issues of using it. Then again, look how popular SATC has been.
After all the hard work that goes into a book, finding you can’t advertise it in the most obvious ways is a bit of a blow but hey, it won’t stop Petra Kidd!
In a few days I will be sharing my new short story book with you. I spent most of the summer writing stories. My imagination ran riot… It’s amazing what you can achieve when you have peace and quiet!
Some of you will have already read The Eight of Swords and The Putsi so you will know something of my writing style. This new book is very different but I hope you will find it amusing and a little light relief in these troubled times.
I won’t say too much about it here because I want the launch on St Valentine’s Day to be a surprise. I can’t wait for you to see the cover and hear me read the first story in the book, live on Facebook. I’m not used to presenting in public but I think it will be fun and I hope you will join me. More details of the launch are at the end of this post.
This is a book of firsts for me: It’s the first time I’ve created a cover illustration. It’s the first time I’ve created videos to spread the word. It’s the first time I will go ‘live’ on Facebook. It’s the first time there is a paperback version available as well as an ebook and within the next month I will narrate an audiobook, all of which will be available via smile.Amazon.co.uk. Please use the smile link as it gives you the opportunity to donate to charity when you make a purchase.
My chosen organisation for the new book is The Samaritans, so I hope you will support them. There will also be a PDF version of the first story available when you subscribe to my blog and donate to a GoFundMe page for sufferers of Long COVID.
The professional advice is that you should never design your own cover for your book. I’ve always been interested in graphics and design and I had a strong idea in my mind what the cover should be so I decided to go with my instinct this time. I will be interested to see what you think…
I’ve had tremendous support in the making of this book. Family and friends have been incredibly encouraging. My mother was shocked by some of the more adult references but it didn’t stop her reading it avidly cover to cover! Mum is my harshest critic and although she pulled the odd face and had a little moan about some of the language, it also made her laugh. She could hardly be offended when she has watched Fleabag and Killing Eve throughout and roared with laughter at some of the most outrageous moments.
All I can do now, is sit back and hope you like it. If you do, please tell your friends, write reviews and keep in touch.
Join me live on Facebook PetraKiddWrites at 9pm on Sunday 14th February. Grab a glass of wine or a drink of your choice, sit back and enjoy!
My blog has been quiet for the past week as I have been making final preparations for the launch of my new short story book.
Writing a book is, in a way, the easy bit. I’ve been agonising over the cover design, proof checking (with the help of a great proofreader), creating illustrations for marketing, and recording audio and video clips.
It is fun and interesting but nerve wracking too!
This book is very different to The Eight of Swords and The Putsi. I wrote those stories nearly ten years ago. The new stories are born out of the times we are in. I’ve injected my usual humour and quirkiness so I hope you will enjoy them.
The launch will be on Sunday 14th February at 9pm when I will do a live reading of one of the stories via my Facebook page. So in addition to all of the above, I am now practising my ‘reading out loud’ skills.
It’s not enough to simply be a writer when you are an indie author. I’m having to learn a whole lot of new skills. Luckily I love social media so that’s not such a trial, but for many years I’ve been self-conscious about my voice. There was a period when I lost my voice and had to go for speech therapy, then to a voice lab in Nottingham where a group of specialists diagnosed me as having a condition known as Spasmodic Dysphonia. This condition causes the voice to break and have a strained or strangled sound. It can make me sound croaky or nervous, when I don’t feel nervous. They told me it would get worse, not improve. Apparently only botox injections into the throat, could improve it, yikes! I opted out.
The suggested condition has, over the years, been a blessing and a curse. I’ve struggled to make myself understood on the telephone many times. People want to know if I’m upset or if I have a cold. The plus side with this is that whenever I have needed a GP appointment, the receptionists have been very sympathetic!
Fortunately with patience and care my voice has improved. You probably won’t notice the occasional straining around vowels. I’ve learned to breathe better, take my time and not get too hung up on it. Public speaking may not ever be my thing but maybe one day I will be forced to face that too. For now I am practising with the videos and reading so I feel at last, anything is achievable.
It’s good to remember that however easy anything looks for anyone, you never know what they’ve had to go through to achieve it. The voice thing has been my bugbear for nearly twenty years. You never know how important something is to you, until you are under threat of losing it altogether. I imagined myself mute by now (which may have pleased a lot of people) but thank goodness with quite a bit of work, I’ve been lucky enough to improve.
Come join me on Sunday 14th February at 9pm. Whether you are loved up on St Valentine’s Day or on your own, please tune in and have a glass of something you enjoy while you listen.
Right, back to reading practise!
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Note: There are affliliate links wihtin this blog to Amazon products that I recommend. This means I receive a small percentage of sales with no extra cost to you. I only recommend books I personally have read and enjoyed or written.
As a young teen I, along with my best friend, for some reason best known to ourselves, used to like to borrow Jilly Cooper books from the library across the road from our school.
Well, that’s what libraries are for aren’t they?
The thing is we didn’t do it the conventional way. We thought it much more fun to sneak in, nick a book without getting it stamped, read it and return it. I can’t honestly remember whose idea it was to do this but no doubt it was mine. We never ever kept a book, they were always returned in perfect condition, so it’s not exactly a crime is it? It felt naughty enough and gave a frisson of excitement getting past the reception desk and out again with no one spotting us. Far from on a par with robbing a bank but enough to make us feel a bit on the wild side. You can tell it was a long time ago…
I remembered this today when in the midst of clearing my old house I came across my riding hat. The riding hat reminded me of Jilly Cooper’s book Riders. We started with reading her books titled with women’s names, I can remember Imogen and that’s the only one that springs to mind but progressing to Riders some years later was quite an eye opener, the others were tame by comparison. Imogen funnily enough, happened to be a librarian, maybe that’s why it’s the only one I recall.
We took it turns to read the books out loud to each other in the common room, trying to guess what the characters would get up to next. They were a whole world away from our text book reads, dictated by the English teacher.
Surprisingly, it’s not Jilly’s racy imaginings that made me want to ride horses later on in life, that goes back to my childhood longing to be a cowboy.
Many years later I went to see Jilly Cooper give a talk at Jarrold’s in Norwich. I wanted to go and tell her the impact she had on me as a young teen but sadly I felt too shy. Besides, I still felt a bit guilty we hadn’t actually bought her books. I know now an author gets paid a little every time their book gets borrowed from a library but since we didn’t do our borrowing the official way, Jilly may not have been happy we deprived her of even that tiny income.
This week I revived my Linkedin account and out of the blue a complete stranger messaged me to say that even though it had been many years since she’d read my short story The Eight of Swords, and had read hundreds of books since, the story had stuck with her, she said it was wonderful and hilarious. I mention the last bit so you know that the story stuck with her for good reasons!
Her kind words made my day. All you want when you write something is for someone to enjoy it or/and identify. Writing is a very special connection and I am grateful to Jilly Cooper for her impact on me as a young teen, bringing back that lovely memory of fun teenage times, inspiring our imaginations and I’m thrilled that I impacted one of my readers that strongly too, in my own small way.
My new book of short stories is scheduled for launch on 14th February. A date you are not likely to forget! Look out for updates coming shortly.
‘Do different’ is Norfolk’s motto and so it makes perfect sense to me that I have always felt so at home here because I have always ‘done different.’
I’ve never been one to worry about what other people think. My dad always taught me that it doesn’t matter what status anyone has, what matters is whether they are a good person and kind to others and that stuck with me. Wherever I went, wherever I worked, I never felt phased by the seniority or fame of anyone (well apart from Peter Cook). We are all simply human with different doses of luck and ability, no one is better than another, other than by how they behave.
Dad’s occupation was personnel officer for the Co-operative Society. He had a big whacky RAF style moustache, always wore a blazer or a suit, half moon glasses to read with and sometimes used his MCC tie as a belt and more often than not you’d see him with a big fat cigar in his mouth. People loved him. His father was a Colonel in the Royal Pioneer Corps who wrote novels, he was also a fundraiser and events co-ordinator with his own colourful history, my stylish Grandmother mingled in High Society. When their marriage broke up the wealthy lifestyle they had led came to a pretty abrupt end. Their story is worthy of a novel in its own right.
However, I should get back to the point of ‘do different.’ My father once said to me ‘tell me what you want to do and I will see if I know anyone who can make it happen.’ I didn’t know what I wanted to do. When the careers advisor at school asked me, I said the first thing that came out of my head ‘an actor.’ I didn’t want to be an actor at all and I have no idea what made me say it other than I’d heard other girls at school say they wanted to work in a bank, one wanted to be a tax inspector. Both those occupations sounded incredibly dull to me so maybe that’s why I said actor. I honestly don’t know why but I sat there dutifully while the careers master told me all about RADA. It sounded interesting but the thought of performing in front of anyone shrunk this shy young teenager back into the seat of her chair.
Once my exams were done, my plan was to escape to Greece. One of my English teachers had always been enamoured with Greece and listening to her made me really want to go. So instead of going straight to college to do my A’Levels, I answered an advertisement in the local paper and joined an Anglo Greek family in Athens for a year, which turned out to be of the best years of my life. It wasn’t so much a job (I was hired as an au pair to two lovely little girls) as like joining a new family. At first I was homesick and their Grandpa gave me whisky to cheer me up and it worked! I loved Greece, I loved the weather, the people, the beaches, the excitement of living in such an amazing ancient city and most of all I loved the family.
Then tragedy struck. I had known my father was unwell before I left but nothing could prepare me for him being diagnosed with dementia. I asked to go home but my mother assured me that there was nothing I could do and told me to see out my year in Greece. My father wrote me letters asking when I would come home. I was torn. My life in Athens was idyllic but I really wanted to be back with my own family too and my plan was to go back to college when I returned.
I saw out the year. Typically for me, I decided to return by bus. My last little adventure before settling down back into what was supposed to be some kind of normal. I sobbed all the way out of Athens, I was only 18 and had no idea if I’d ever return.
My whole family came to greet me at King’s Cross station. I will never forget it. After an exhausting two days with no sleep, I stepped off the bus to embrace my father and he had no idea who I was. The Dementia had already taken hold. He stared at me with confusion and I felt my heart snap.
This man who had held me in his arms to comfort me so many times, who had been my buddy through all of my childhood, who had entertained us with his humour and funny ways simply stared at me with his now empty brown eyes. The thought of this moment makes me sob even now.
I went to college and got on with my studies. It wasn’t easy coming back after a year’s break but I enjoyed the studying and met my lifelong best friend there. At home my father’s health grew progressively worse and it became quite a challenge coping with his illness while trying to live the normal life of a teenager. I rarely had boyfriends and if I did, I met them at the end of the road so they didn’t see how my father was. One of my college lecturers unexpectedly turned up on our doorstep to give me a present for looking after his house while he was away. I grabbed the present and shut the door before he could see my dad who by now was constantly confused and always disappearing on long walks where occasionally he got into trouble because people didn’t understand that kind of illness in those days. Not that many do now but it is better known.
In a way we had to cut ourselves off from the outside world to cope with Dad’s illness. My mother became my father’s carer, to this day I think about how incredible she was. She had some help from my sister and I but she tried to protect us from it all, however, there came a time near the end when we had to step in and make sure she didn’t go under herself.
One of the things we share in my family is a wicked sense of humour and somehow it got us through all of this but as a young woman this whole period really took its toll on me. My father died on my sister’s birthday and just a couple of months before my 21st. I made a vow that should my mother ever need my care, I would step up and eventually I had to.
I hated my first job, it was part-time and I didn’t like the people. My mum came to visit me one lunch time and told me in no uncertain terms that if I didn’t like it I was to give it up because life is too short to be miserable. The assistant manager told me I’d never find another job (bitch), within in a week I was in a job I absolutely loved. That taught me never to be trapped where you don’t want to be. I learned the lesson with work but never in my personal life until much later.
While I always ‘put my all’ into any job I had, I also sought adventure. I married too young and lived to regret it. Eventually I escaped and lived in London awhile but Norfolk pulled me back with it’s wide open spaces, quirky inhabitants, incredible beaches and ancientness. It is where I feel most at home in the world and I’ve been fortunate enough to travel quite extensively.
Eventually the office jobs were stifling me so I decided to set up my own business where I definitely ‘did different’ and it is there a whole new story began but more of that another time…
‘…this corner of England which once it holds your heart is more lovely than any place on earth. Beautiful with a hint of secrecy which haunts it, as the memory of a dark and tender sadness clouds the brilliance of a summer day.’
Every writer has a different method to creating their characters. I’ve read quite a bit on the subject. There are writing courses galore, software you can get to help you plan your protagonists, internet advice abounds.
You will see in novels a disclaimer that says, ‘no characters in this book were based on living people,’ or something along those lines.
Of course you can’t take someone you know and implant all their characteristics into one of your fictional characters because quite frankly, that character wouldn’t be fictional now would it? That much is obvious. And the last thing you want is a lawsuit.
All I can tell you is how my characters come about.
I don’t sit down and create a character by listing how they look, their age, their weaknesses, their strengths, their political leanings, their occupation etc. I don’t do this because for me it simply doesn’t work. I have tried it but by the time I come to put them into a story I’ve lost interest in them because I know all about them. It is like creating a robot you are going to control to the nth degree and from what I’ve read you can’t even do that with a robot.
If you are a writer reading this and do use that method please don’t take offense. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use that method, I’m purely saying it doesn’t work for me.
The idea for The Eight of Swords came to me from a newspaper article. Once I read the article I couldn’t get it out of my head. It isn’t uncommon for fictional stories to be created from real life events because how else would stories be created? They say truth is stranger than fiction and this is very much the case. However, in this instance I created something strange, dramatic and exciting out of something pretty mundane. I know it wasn’t mundane to the real life lady but the outcome was pretty mundane to my mind.
The article described an immigration officer who came home to find her house overtaken by gypsies (well they may simply have been squatters I can’t remember now but I decided in my story they would be gypsies). In real life, the lady in question used the law to have them evicted within 24 hours or maybe even sooner. I’m a little hazy on the details because I didn’t keep the article and we are talking nearly ten years ago.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it for some time. Then out of the blue I was struck down with Pleurisy and became very ill. I didn’t realize it was Pleurisy, I just thought it was a bad cough. After a few weeks I went to see a doctor who suggested I buy myself some flowers and chocolate and to prepare myself to put up with it for six weeks. My protestations that I had a business to run fell on deaf ears. I ignored her advice and tried to carry on with my daily life but I became more and more poorly and suddenly experienced sharp pains in my ribs so sharp I could barely breathe. I went to see another doctor who told me I’d probably cracked a rib coughing. By the next day I knew I was in serious trouble, not all of my ribs could be broken surely?
By now I wasn’t really well enough to leave the house but another doctor told me to get in a taxi and visit a GP who specialized in respiratory matters. He at last told me I had Pleurisy. This time I went home to my bed and stayed there. I couldn’t just lie there and try to get better, my body might have been in trouble but my mind needed to be kept busy, so everyday I dragged myself into my office and I started to write about an immigration officer who came home to find her home taken over by Romanian gypsies.
I became Jayne Patchett, I could imagine how she might feel, a woman perhaps my own age, coming home and not being able to get through her own front door. Unlike the reality of the article I had read, Jayne had far more trouble dealing with the intriguing family who now inhabited her home. The characters all came to life vividly and the story progressed as if it were actually happening to me in real time. If I had been reading the story instead of writing it, I would not have been able to put it down and that’s what pretty much happened when writing it, I struggled to leave the keyboard until the fatigue of my illness forced me to.
The gypsies were addictive to me, I loved learning everything about them: their way of living, their attitude, their beliefs, and mystique. I researched how Romanian gypsies lived and Jayne became as intrigued by them as I was. In the story she gets drawn into their world and begins to question her own.
So my characters developed organically if you like. They came out of nowhere and took over my mind and my story. I found them leading the way. My decisions on what would happen next belonged entirely to them. I could never have planned the story from start to finish. I had no idea how it would end, what would happen to Jayne or any of them and exactly the same thing happened when I came to write The Putsi.
And again, with my new book of short stories, it is the characters who have dictated how the stories unfold. I don’t think I have ever started a story knowing where it will end up. Perhaps that’s why writing is as much a pleasure to me as reading is. I love to be surprised.
I know I am fortunate to have such a fertile imagination. It developed as a young child. My siblings were much older than me so for much of my childhood I entertained myself and lived in my own head and for a while alongside my imaginary friend Bert, who I suppose was the first character I ever made up.
That’s pretty much all I can tell you about how I develop my characters. The truth is they develop themselves. They are real to me even though they are entirely fictional.
Tomorrow I will tell you more about my imaginary friend Bert, who has a story all of his own.