Historical Fiction Short stories

Pearl Harbor and More: Meet the Authors


December 7th this year marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Pearl Harbor and the subsequent entry of the United States into World War II. Eight of us who write wartime fiction have published an anthology of stories to commemorate this pivotal event – Pearl Harbor and More: Stories of WWII – December 1941.

Some of the stories are set at Pearl Harbor, in other parts of the United States or in Singapore. Others are set in Europe – France, Germany and Northern Ireland. They show that few people’s lives were unaffected in some way by that day in December 1941.

On this day of commemorations, meet the authors of this wide-ranging collection in the order their stories appear. Click on the book above to read summaries of their stories.

Historical Fiction Short stories

Cover Reveal: Pearl Harbor and More – Stories of World War II: December 1941



I’m involved in a collection of short stories to be published in early November to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Pearl Harbor, which took place on 7th December 1941. The devastating surprise attack by Japanese fighter planes on the U.S. naval base in Hawaii led to America’s entry into World War II.

Author interviews Fiction Short stories

On the Chaise Longue with Vanessa: Meet Author @JuneGundlack

On the Chaise Longue with Vanessa: Meet Author @JuneGundlack

Author June Gundlack
Author June Gundlack


My guest today is another Crooked Cat Publishing author whom I had the pleasure of meeting at last year’s CC get-together. Despite working full time and commuting to London, June finds the time to write short stories and novels. And her amusing observations from her commuting experiences have regularly been in a mainstream newspaper’s ‘Scribbler About Town’ column. Let’s find out how she juggles all this.

Author interviews Fiction Historical Fiction Short stories Writers Abroad

On the Chaise Longue with Vanessa: Meet Author Louise Charles @LouCwriter

Author Louise Charles
Author Louise Charles

This week it’s my great pleasure to welcome my virtual friend, author Louise Charles (whose real name is Jo Lamb). Louise is a talented author and founder of ex-pat writing community Writers Abroad. She self-published her historical novel, The Duke’s Shadow, in 2014, which was shortlisted as one of the finest eight novels in the Writers Village International Novel Award in summer 2014. 

Fiction Short stories

Leroy and the Camel – A Short Story for Christmas

Christmas with Crooked Cats

Continuing the Christmas with the Crooked Cats seasonal feast of literary offerings, here is a short story about a Santa with a difference.

Apologies for the possible lack of political correctness. Not to be taken seriously.

[P.S. Check out our books at the Crooked Cat Bookstore – plenty of Christmas ideas there.]

Leroy and the Camel

It was Leroy’s 25th year in the store as Father Christmas. He hated it a bit more every year.

When he applied for the job, Ralph, the Toy Department manager, had sucked his teeth.

“I don’t know; a black Father Christmas. Mmm. Well, why not? It’s a novelty. Might well draw in the punters.”

Warming to his theme, he mused out loud, “Since you come from Africa, we can’t have a reindeer. What do they have down there? Lions – no that’ll frighten the kids. Elephants – too big. I know – a camel!”

Leroy sighed. He’d never been to Africa. He was born in England; he was just as British as Ralph. But he needed the extra money at Christmas.

Leroy and the camel had been together for a quarter of a century now. It was a real baby camel that had died in captivity at the zoo. Embalmed, stuffed and mounted, a sleigh was attached to it with a harness.

Instead of a frozen grotto, Leroy’s empire was a desert oasis, complete with plastic palm trees and a trickling fountain that went wrong and sprayed the customers from time to time.

Just my luck, thought Leroy, I didn’t get any belly dancers to go with it.

But Ralph had insisted on retaining some of the traditional trappings. So Leroy sweltered under his nylon beard in his Father Christmas outfit.

The camel was a bit motheaten, the result of generations of kids climbing on it, but Leroy camouflaged the bursting-out stuffing with tinsel and plastic palm leaves. He had grown fond of it.

“We’re both a bit long in the tooth,” said Leroy to the camel, “but we go along well together. I wonder how much longer we’ve got.”

The camel’s glassy eyes stared into infinity.

Ralph had been right. The first few years, people flocked to the store to see the exotic Father Christmas. Then the numbers fell off a bit, but Leroy and the camel had managed to keep their jobs so far.

The kids have changed in that time, thought Leroy. Now their parents let them get away with murder. And they can’t sit on my knee any more – I’d get arrested.

He’d had problems already this year.

“You aren’t Father Christmas. He comes from up north and he isn’t black,” one kid had said, the previous week.

“Well, you see,” replied Leroy, “the chief Father Christmas has a lot to do these days. There are so many more children than when he started out five thousand years ago that he has had to take on helpers from all over the world. I’m one of his main helpers.”

The kid scowled and wandered off to look at a Play Station.

Yesterday there had been the little girl and her older brother.

“There isn’t a Father Christmas,” said the boy. “Our teacher says it’s religious bogitry. Anyway, it’s my Dad who brings my presents into my room. I stayed awake last year so I know.”

His sister’s face crumpled and she sat down on the floor and wailed. Their mother, who had been tapping away on her smartphone, looked up.

“What have you been doing to my little girl?”

“He says he isn’t really Father Christmas,” said the boy.

Leroy opened his mouth, but the mother glared at him, picked up her daughter and strode towards the exit.

The boy smirked at Leroy and slouched after his mother.

Leroy looked up from his reverie. A small boy with an angelic face stood in front of him. Leroy smiled.

“What would you like Father Christmas to bring you this year, sonny?”

“I’m gonna tell my mum you’ve been touching me.”

“Tell her what you bloody well like, son. I’ve had enough.”

Leroy dragged off his red robe, threw aside his cushion padding and made for the store exit, his beard still attached.

“Here, Leroy, where are you going?” Ralph dashed up behind him.

“I need some air. It’s too hot in here,” Leroy lied.

“You get back to your oasis right now,” said Ralph, his finger jabbing Leroy’s chest. “This is one of our busiest days before Christmas. You can’t just go wandering off.”

His shoulders sagging, Leroy turned and shuffled back through the store.

The next day, he found an envelope pinned to the camel. The management regretted…economic situation…appreciated his long years of service…but had to dispense with his services next year.

Ralph shrugged. “Sorry, mate, you know how it is. Tell you what, though, you can keep the camel.”


Fiction Short stories

Christmas with the Crooked Cats

Christmas with Crooked Cats

Crooked Cat Publishing authors are running a Christmas promotion on Facebook starting on Saturday 29th November and continuing until Friday 9th January.

During that time, we’ll be posting on our blogs/websites and in the Facebook group. You can read stories, poems, non-fiction pieces, jokes, etc. – all with a Yuletide theme, some light-hearted, some a little more sinister.

What’s more, there’ll be freebies, giveaways, competitions and other promotions of our books. So if you’re short of ideas for presents, or looking to fill up your Kindle or spend that Amazon token post-Christmas, look no further.

Crooked Cat covers a variety of genres, including romantic, historical, contemporary fiction, crime, thriller, mystery and young adult. So there’s something for everyone.

I’ll be posting on this blog and linking to the Facebook group on the following days:

  • Friday 5th December – “Bertie’s Buttons”, a short story about a strange event on the Western Front at Christmas 1914.
  • Wednesday 17th December – “Leroy’s Christmas”, a short story about a department store Santa with a difference.

**And look out for a competition featuring my novel, The House at Zaronza.**

Fiction Short stories Writers Abroad

Ex-Pat Writers – Contribute to a New Anthology

Writers Abroad

The online ex-pat writers’ group, Writers Abroad, of which I’m a member, will be publishing its fourth anthology this year, with the working title of Far Flung and Foreign. We are looking for other ex-pat (or former ex-pat) writers to contribute. Here are the details from our Call for Submissions:

Fiction Short stories

National Flash Fiction Day 16th May 2012

Tomorrow, 16th May, is National Flash-Fiction Day (NFFD) in the UK, celebrating this short story form.

What is flash fiction? A very short but complete story, normally 500 words or less. It usually has an unexpected twist at the end which resolves in some way the problem posed at the beginning for the main character.

FlashFlood, the NFFD journal, will be publishing flash fiction stories throughout the day from midnight. They have selected one of my stories, ‘Chronicle of an Ending’ to appear on their site between 18h00 and 19h00 UK time.

Submissions close at 23h59 UK time tonight if you fancy having a go. Details are on the FlashFlood site.

For some reason the link will not appear. So here it is disguised against spammers.  http://flashfloodjournal[dot]blogspot[dot]co[dot]uk/

Short stories Writers Abroad

Opportunity to Contribute to a New Expat Anthology

My online, expat writers’ group, Writers Abroad, will be publishing its third anthology this year, Foreign Encounters. We are seeking submissions of short stories, non-fiction pieces and poetry on the general theme of relationships around the world. Contributors must be expats or former expats. The anthology will be print-published and later available as an e-book.

Articles Fiction Short stories Writers Abroad

Foreign Flavours: A New Anthology from Writers Abroad

The online writing group I belong to, Writers Abroad, published last week a new anthology of short stories and non-fiction articles, entitled Foreign Flavours. The theme of the anthology is food, drink and recipes from around the world.

It is a tantalizing collection of fiction and non-fiction, full of spice and flavour and sprinkled with mouth-watering recipes. The wide-ranging, sometimes bittersweet, contributions show how adaptable an ex-pat has to be to leave familiar dishes behind and venture into the culinary unknown.

Two pieces of mine are in it: ‘The Beekeeper’, a short story set in Corsica, and ‘When to Eat in Corsica’, a non-fiction article.

This is the second anthology published by Writers Abroad. All the contributors are, or have been, ex-pats living in places around the globe. Alexander McCall Smith, acclaimed author of The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series and himself an ex-pat, has written the preface.

Foreign Flavours contains 64 contributions. Thirty-four are non-fiction articles and 30 are short stories. The anthology also includes 33 recipes.

Contributors live in and have written about the following places: Albania, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Corsica, Cyprus, England, Fiji, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Malawi, Mallorca, Morocco, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Wales.

All proceeds from the sale of this book will go to The Book Bus, a charity whose aim is to bring literacy and the joy of reading to children in the developing world. 

The paperback print version of Foreign Flavours is available from Lulu from today, Monday 24th October, price £9.60 (€10.99). At around 250 pages, it’s great value. An e-book version will be available soon.

To find out more about Writers Abroad and our publications, please go to our website.