I first got into writing when I was about eleven and in the midst of my ‘horsey’ phase. Many early stories involved a girl rescuing a neglected pony and nursing him to health, before riding to glory at the local gymkhana, in the process just happening to beat all the snooty types who’d sneered at her second-hand riding clothes. No prizes for guessing the wish fulfillment there! In many ways, that’s the point of stories. They’re somewhere we can escape to, to switch off and dream for a while. Then I moved on to more traditional, classical literature and made the mistake of trying to emulate the masters. It didn’t take long to realise that I wasn’t the next Charlotte Bronte. Discouraged, I instead wrote long, chatty letters, something almost impossible to imagine in our age of social media. I was also still reading obsessively, never going anywhere without a book. For me, Hell is being stuck somewhere with nothing decent to read. Adult life, marriage and family took me to different places, all sparking off different ideas and experiences. It was only after moving to Leicestershire some years ago, though, that I really started writing again. I joined a local writers’ group, relieved to find that I wasn’t the only mad person around! Once I got started, I couldn’t stop, gradually having pieces accepted for small anthologies and then – finally! – The People’s Friend. It took time, but now I write regularly for The People’s Friend, as well as Woman’s Weekly, among others, with Alfie Dog being my first foray into the world of digital publishing. Most of my stories are feel-good, still with a touch of the old wish-fulfillment, a place of escape. Some are inspired by favourite places, so I can often picture where they happen. It’s no coincidence that several of my published stories, including three with Alfie Dog – ‘A Perfect Day?’, ‘A Secret Place’, and ‘Lakeland Romantics’ – are set in the Lake District. I even have a Lake District novel sitting in a box, waiting to be finished, as well as a young adult novel set on the moors of my native county, Lancashire. But stories are about people, too. Many involve families, hearth and home, matters close to the heart both of myself and, I imagine, many readers. Inspiration can spring from just about anything. ‘Hallelujah’, one of my two Christmas stories on Alfie Dog, is based on nostalgic memories of our school choir performing a shortened version of ‘The Messiah’ in an old, draughty church, watched stoically by an audience of long-suffering parents. The other – ‘The Year’s Midnight’ – is based on a quote from the poem ‘A Nocturnal upon St Lucy’s Day’, by John Donne. As for the horses? Well, I haven’t ‘rescued’ any lately, and somehow I don’t think I’ll ever ride in a gymkhana, but one or two of our equine friends still manage to make the occasional appearance, for old times’ sake.
A Perfect Day? – Rebecca Holmes
2400 words Humour / Romance
Heather eagerly anticipates a day out in the Lakes, visiting her sister and brother-in-law. Her best clothes have nothing to do with the fact that Edward will be there. They meet her at the station, equipped for fell-walking. From there, it's downhill. Or should that be 'up mountain'?
“You, Heather, are the original hopeless romantic.” My sister’s words ran through my mind as I checked my appearance in a handbag mirror on the final stage of my journey. I’m not normally vain, but today I wanted to look my best. Luckily the other passengers had disembarked at a previous station, so that I had the compartment to myself, as the train puffed towards Westmorland and the scenery became more hilly with each passing mile. I was used to hills, of course, coming as I did from a Lancashire town surrounded by moors. But, much as I loved them, they couldn’t compare to proper mountains, especially on a day like this, with a clear blue sky. At least my sister wouldn’t be able to joke about me having my head in the clouds.
A Secret Place – Rebecca Holmes
2000 words Feel Good Fiction
The tarn, hidden away behind the trees, is a magical place of Jen and Richard. Sometimes it's easy to forget that it's still there in between their visits, with its own life, season after season, and year after year.
Not many people visited the tarn, tucked away as it was behind the trees. After all, it was hardly the most scenic in the Lake District, especially compared to those surrounded by dramatic mountains and the wild beauty of the fells. It also didn’t help that reaching it involved several miles’ walk along a stony track, through line after line of tall, ruler-straight pines and, even then, found only by those who spotted the faint path branching off, following it over a small rise, to be rewarded by the water opening out before them like a dream.
By My Side – Romance Collection
Two 5* reviews on Amazon
By My Side brings you 20 of the best romantic stories from writers around the world.
Be transported to the past in the war-torn Three Months of Summer and back to the present in the gentle modern everyday situation of The Pool Doctor. Feel your heart racing through the ethical dilemmas in Would you Shoot Me? and the danger and drama of Run From the Sun.
These stories will transport you to a world of love and romance and leave you breathless. In far-away locations or in everyday situations there really is someone for everyone.
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Hallelujah – Rebecca Holmes
2000 words Humour / Romance / Christmas / Feel Good Fiction
Seventeen-year-old Sophie joins the school choir's performance of The Messiah, confident that her match-making plans for her music and English teachers are about to come to fruition, with help from her friend David and some mistletoe. The path of true love, however, is more complicated than that.
The sopranos had got the giggles again. With all the wisdom of her seventeen years, five of them in the school choir, Sophie could understand they were nervous. But, really, why was it always the sopranos? Altos, herself included, never succumbed. She could see her parents in the audience. Dad had taken time off from wallpapering the lounge ready for Christmas, even though he hated this kind of music. “Can’t you do something I can tap my foot along to?” he’d grumbled, good-naturedly. “Or some carols, with a couple of fancy songs to please that crackpot music teacher?”
Lakeland Romantics – Rebecca Holmes
2600 words Historical / Romance
Young gentleman Edward, besotted by Grace, a Lakeland shepherdess, tries teaching her to read and appreciate poetry, though finds she teaches him more about the mountains. But there's her childhood friend, Dan, to contend with. And then his father demands his presence at home in the family firm.
This story is included in the collection By My Side
Edward lay back on the springy turf and concluded there could be nothing better than a Lakeland hillside on a sunny day. Even with his eyes closed, he could picture the mountains and crags, with a china blue sky perfectly reflected in the lake below. No wonder Wordsworth, Coleridge and the other great poets of the age revered the place. “Gyp! Get back here.” Excited barking shattered his musings. He barely managed to sit up before a black and white dog knocked him down again, adding insult to injury by licking his face. Apparently satisfied, the ‘Gyp’ creature stayed by him, bushy tail waving, to await his owner.
Year’s Midnight – Rebecca Holmes
2000 words Feel Good / Romance / Christmas Story
Jenny's first stay at her fiance's parents' large house in the country coincides with the winter solstice, a turning point in the year when the earth starts tilting back towards the sun. Coming from a more 'humble' background, it's also a turning point for her, as she wonders how she'll fit in.
Deck the halls with boughs of holly I didn’t think people did this in real life, but Tom’s family seem to go the whole hog on these traditions, and his father has dragged us out on a walk to gather holly. I say ‘dragged’, but I didn’t really need to be. I love walking on the moors near home. I love their wildness and bleakness. When you look down and see the rows of terraced houses, it isn’t what you’d call pretty, but I don’t mind. I know it’s full of life. The countryside here is gentler, green and rolling, with hedgerows and patchwork fields, and a church spire in the distance.