Family Recipe – Patsy Collins
2000 words Feel Good
The mixing bowl has been in the family for generations, handed down from mother to daughter. I want to continue the tradition but, as I have twin girls, I can’t without dividing either it or them. My family is already too fractured for me to take that risk.
I fetch the ceramic mixing bowl from the garage. It’s too heavy for everyday use, so for most of the year it’s put away. It only comes out when I mix together the Christmas pudding ingredients. My grandmother used this bowl to make her Christmas puddings before she passed it on to my mother. The bowl is mine now. I’ve taught my own daughters, Sally and Carol, to make puddings according to the family recipe. As I run water to clean it, before making this year’s batch, I’m reminded I can’t keep doing this for much longer.
Famous Names – Patsy Collins
Edna loved the idea of holidaying with celebrities. Her children weren’t so sure the trip would be quite what she was expecting.
Edna Montgomery and her family had lived on Downing Street, in fact Edna still did. Although not at number ten and not in London, the address pleased Edna by being similar to the more famous version. She’d wanted the best for her kids, so she’d named them Norma Jean and Jamie Lee. She’d bought a scrap book and pasted in the announcements of their birth that appeared in the local paper. Over the years she added more local press cuttings and photos. “You can change it if you like, love,” she’d said when a young Jamie first realised he was named after Ms Curtis. He hadn’t needed to as no one other than Mum connected his name with the actress.
Fiona’s Kitchen – Patsy Collins
When they’d had so much trouble getting the decorating right she’d told Ian the kitchen was the heart of the home. He said she was the heart of his home. Now the kitchen was bare, Ian was gone and the colour of the paint on the walls no longer seemed important.
It had taken them three attempts to get the colour right. They’d chosen a shade of paint called, ‘Honeysuckle’. She’d loved the name and the warm, welcoming shade on the colour chart. Once on the walls it had been more of a hard cold yellow. Ian had never been too bothered about the finer details of interior decorating, but when he saw she was disappointed, he cheerfully bought another tin of paint and put on another coat. That turned out to be bright orange.
Forget Me Not – Patsy Collins
825 words Romance
A brooch, even one with the history of Mazie’s forget-me-not jewel, can’t really bring true love. People can’t point the way to happiness after their death. It’s all just coincidence.
Every time I see the picture of Gran, I wonder about the brooch. It’s a pretty little silver thing, shaped like a forget-me-not and decorated with tiny blue glass beads. Despite what’s happened, I don’t see how it can influence anything. Gran gave it to me after a boyfriend dumped me. Only Gran and my friend Chris seemed to care. It’s a shame they never met, they’d have got on so well. “Real love is worth waiting for,” Gran reminded me.
From Story Idea to Reader – Patsy Collins & Rosemary J. Kind
From Story Idea to Reader is an easily accessible guide to writing fiction. Whether you are brushing up on your writing skills or starting out, this book will take you through the whole process from inspiration to conclusion. No matter if you are looking to submit your work for publication, enter a competition, or want to self-publish, this practical guide will help you every step of the way.
Between them, Patsy Collins and Rosemary Kind have sold hundreds of short stories, written sixteen published books and produced numerous articles for Writing Magazine and similar publications. They’ve both judged writing competitions and run workshops, and Rosemary has read and edited thousands of short stories and published dozens of books for other writers.
With the information, help and encouragement in this book, you too could see your work in print.
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Girls’ Night Out – Patsy Collins
1500 words Feel Good story
Emma is late. Again. This time it’s different; we’re hoping it won’t be the last time.
When I walked into the pub, the others were already at the bar; except Emma. After our conversation the day before, I’d hoped she’d have made an effort to be early. “See you in The Frog and Bucket tomorrow?” I’d said. “There again? Can’t we just do something spontaneous?” Emma had asked. “Like what?” “I don’t know. If we decide now, it won’t be spontaneous, will it?” “No, but if we leave it to you, we’ll be spontaneously hanging about waiting until it’s too late to go anywhere.”
Good Looking With Bacon – Patsy Collins
Susie could tell a lot about people from what they had in their shopping baskets and one particular customer seemed perfect for her.
“Thanks, Susie, see you next week,” said her attractive customer. Since she’d started work on the checkout, Susie had got used to strangers addressing her by name, but was still pleasantly surprised ‘Mr good looking with bacon’ had bothered to read her badge. Usually it was elderly customers who took the trouble to learn her name. Susie was always pleased to share a few words of cheerful chit-chat with them. She’d never win the prize for the fastest check-out operator, but there was more to life than that. Susie was always pleased to chit-chat with good looking young men too, but the supermarket didn’t have many customers in that category. Not that it mattered, one would be enough, provided he was the right man.
Granddad’s Cushion – Patsy Collins
645 words Feel Good
Granddad’s magic cushion helped Sue learn to roller skate, settle into Uni and through a difficult pregnancy. Then just when she needed it most, she discovered it wasn’t special at all.
One of my earliest memories is Granddad teaching me to roller skate. I wasn’t scared; I had Granddad and his magic cushion. When Granddad produced that deep red square of padded velvet and his old leather belt, I knew everything would be just fine. Once he’d strapped the cushion round my skinny hips and pulled the belt as tight as one of his hugs, I was ready for anything.
Granddad’s Snowman – Patsy Collins
1000 words Women’s Fiction
I almost left it too late to appreciate both my grandfather and my childhood.
This story is included in the collection A Wish for Christmas
I place my grandfather’s blue hat onto the snowman’s head, as carefully as if I was placing it onto that beloved scabby skull instead of this grey ball of compacted snow. I wrap Granddad’s tatty scarf gently around the union between the icy head and shapeless body. Standing back I view the result, there is a smile on my face and tears in my eyes. “We’ve done it, Granddad, we’ve built your snowman.”
Hanging Up My Boots – Patsy Collins
1200 words Humour
Alec was big and strong. He said it like it was a faced up to things. This time though, he wasn’t sure that he could.
I can’t be paralysed. My wife nursing me, what sort of life will it be for her? I don’t want the children seeing their big strong father withering to nothing in his wheel chair. My army pension will be enough to live on but not to compensate for my lack of dignity. If I’d been wounded in battle things might be different. I’d have some pride then. A medal on my chest distracting eyes and minds from the wheels on my chair. This wasn’t caused fighting for queen and country but the Army’s honour at rugby, and we weren’t even winning. “Alec! Say something mate.”
Having Your Cake – Patsy Collins
2000 words Feel Good
Wendy joked, not entirely truthfully, that she had no interest in looking like a meringue. Eating one was a different however – and no joking matter!
Wendy had been having that dream again. She sighed as got out of bed, what a state to be in; dreaming of chocolate éclairs. Was that what happened when you reached middle age? The exciting dreams of youth were replaced by the desire for a cream filled pastry. The worst part of it was that she knew that, just like her dreams of a glitzy career or fabulous wedding, this one wouldn’t come true. She tried to console herself that at least she’d had the pleasure of a huge corner office, floating down the aisle in a frilly confection and eating an éclair, even if they had all happened in her sleep.
Helping With Enquiries – Patsy Collins
700 words Christmas / Humour
After all the effort I’d put into the job, a cup of tea while the police questioned me was a nice break.
“Come on, Mrs Read. Why not tell he truth and save everyone a lot of time and trouble?” For a moment I was tempted to tell the constable the facts. Telling lies isn’t in my nature, but what choice did I have? My family had expectations; I couldn’t let them down. I sipped my tea wondering how they’d got on to me. I should have realised I’d be found out.
Holiday Temptation – Patsy Collins
We can dance and drink, lie in the sun or walk in the shade, go off on our own or join the crowd; whatever you like. Come get hot and sweaty with me and I promise you a holiday to remember!
Holidays are great. I don’t mean mine, I never take one, but I do so enjoy those taken by you and your friends. Everyone relaxes; no matter how prim or sensible they usually are, everyone lets down their guard a bit when they escape to the sun for a week or two. Skirts will be shorter, tops cut lower. Sensible shoes and socks swapped for light airy sandals. You stay out later, take a little less care, ignore a few of the rules.
Home Port – Patsy Collins
2000 words Women’s Fiction
The child waiting for his father’s ship to come into harbour could be my grandson and I wouldn’t know. How could I have been so stupid for so long?
There was quite a wind as we waited along the sea wall. I was glad of it as that would explain my tears, though why I’d be worried I couldn’t say. Nobody would be looking at me. Those wives and sons, mothers and sweethearts would all be looking away from shore. And they wouldn’t notice my tears anyway, or if they did they’d take them for joy or relief that the ship, all its crew safe, was pulling into harbour. A little boy tugged at my sleeve. I smiled down at him. “Daddy be home soon.” “Leave the lady alone, Jamie,” a woman, presumably his mother, told him.
I wonder Who It’s From? – Patsy Collins
1000 words Romance
Last year Dad sent me a Valentine’s card. He only did it as he knew it’d be the only one I got. This year things are different … aren’t they?
Mum held the envelope to the light and peered at the postmark. “I wonder who this could be from?” Why the drama whenever she gets a letter? She checks handwriting, postmark, even looks for a return address. “Just open it, Mum.” “I can’t, it’s not mine.” She slid it across the table. It was addressed to me. I picked up the cream coloured envelope. It felt like a card; who could it be from? Before I ripped it open, I just happened to notice the postmark was local. Inside was a Valentine’s card; the second one I’d ever received.
In the Eye of the Beholder – Patsy Collins
1700 words Women’s Fiction
Cecilia kept making excuses for the man on the bus, but it was time to face up to reality. His and her own.
Cecilia blinked as the early morning sun fell on her face. She pulled shut the huge oak door of her house, being careful not to leave unsightly marks on the highly polished door knocker. She slipped on sunglasses, hoping it would make her less recognisable to the paparazzi, and draped her cashmere shawl over her shoulders as she sauntered elegantly down the worn granite steps and through the rows of formally clipped box trees. As Cecilia negotiated the cobbled driveway which swept down to the road she didn’t teeter on her designer heels. In just a couple of minutes she rounded the corner and took her place in the queue for the bus.
In the Pink – Patsy Collins
700 words Women’s Fiction
Susan has almost given up trying to live up to the high standards set by her perfect sister Jo. She’d tried everything to impress her – well everything except sheer incompetence.
I’d thought I’d heard a thud as I ran more hot water into my bath, but told myself it was just air in the plumbing. Ignoring the sound of someone walking down the hallway wasn’t so easy. Half an hour’s relaxation was undone in an instant. Every muscle in my body tensed. There was only one person it could be.
Inside – Patsy Collins
1000 words General Fiction
Life is difficult and dull when you’re trapped inside 24 hours a day.
It’s harder still when those you love can’t understand why you’ve allowed it to happen.
I circle the room, trying to invent things to do. I rearrange the already tidy books, alphabetically by title instead of by authors as they had been. The Library service comes every month; they bring a selection of books to my door and ask what I would like next time. “Anything, anything at all,” I tell them. The staff are always kind. They will sit and talk for a few moments. Sometimes they suggest books they think I will enjoy, or that might offer hope. I always accept the suggestions.
It Could Be You – Patsy Collins
1000 words Women’s Fiction
Molly has plenty of luck – all of it the kind that sees her arriving dishevelled and bleeding for a much needed job interview.
“Ouch! sh sh shuttlecocks,” yelps Molly, rubbing her shin. Drops of blood are forming in the graze that has ripped her tights. Her shin is already beginning to bruise. She kicks the ‘A’ sign that caused her injury. ‘It could be you,’ is the slogan over the giant pointing finger. She had been dreaming of a big win rather than watching her step. “Well that’s your opinion,” she mutters.
Just a Job – Patsy Collins
1900 words Women’s Fiction
I’d assumed my colleagues on Lister Ward had chosen their vocation for different reasons than mine, until I told them about the frail little girl with blue eyes.
It was 3am on Lister Ward. That’s when the patients were usually asleep and we could talk. We talked about anything, dates, diets, shoes, astrology. Well, Pattie and I talked; Michelle’s a bit shy, she just listens usually. That night, we were actually talking about work. Pattie had started it by asking why we’d each become nurses and if we thought nursing was a noble calling or just a job. “It was a sick little girl I saw one day, made me decide,” Pattie explained. Michelle twisted her hair in her hands; the way she did when she was nervous.
Just Two Little Words – Patsy Collins
Matthew would do anything reasonable to make Sonia happy. Sometimes he’d done unreasonable things too, but this time he wasn’t sure he could do as she’d asked.
Matthew stood at the altar gazing at his gorgeous, beloved Sonia. He only had to say, ‘I do’. It wasn’t much to ask, but his chest was so clogged with emotion he wasn’t sure he’d be able to force those two little words into his throat. Sonia looked up at him, showing just a hint of nerves and Matthew remembered the first time he’d seen her. She’d been in her ‘room to grow’ school uniform and gazed up at him from her huge blue eyes.
Last Shot – Patsy Collins
700 words Women’s Fiction
He was desperate for money. She was desperate to get rid of her husband and could pay. He hated to do it, but he accepted the job.
I opened the post; bill, bill, final reminder, bill, bailiff’s letter and a cheque. This last was one of my own, returned due to insufficient funds. Leaning back in my chair, I stared at the framed graduation photograph on the office wall. My own face looked back; young, confident and sure of success. The camera never lies; but it rarely shows the whole picture. Sadly it can’t predict the future either.
Lest we Forget – Patsy Collins
It feels strange for Martha to visit the cenotaph and take her place in the Remembrance commemorations with only Billy at her side. She’s torn between trying to forget her worries for Jeff’s safety with Billy’s need for companionship and the chance to communicate.
Martha balled the tissue in her hand. She’d picked it up intending to wipe Billy’s chin; a trickle of saliva dribbled from his mouth. She resisted the temptation to dab it away. Billy wasn’t a baby and she mustn’t treat him as one. If the dribble worried him he could wipe it away with the back of his hand. He often did. “It’s cold out, Billy. I think we’ll need hats and gloves as well as our coats.”
Life Isn’t Fair – Patsy Collins
Katy thought she’d come to appreciate the advantages of having no children and come to terms with her disappointment until she discovered she was about to be an aunt.
Katy glared at the phone, wondering why she wasn’t using it to call Melanie. What was wrong with a woman who couldn’t phone her kid sister to congratulate her on her pregnancy? Jealousy, that’s what. Katy couldn’t have a baby herself, but life expected her to watch her sister experience the joy of motherhood. “Life isn’t fair,” Katy had told her mum when she rang to pass on Melanie’s news. “I know, love,” Mum said. “But remember it’s not Melanie’s fault. She didn’t call you herself because she’s worried you might be upset.”
Listen to Me – Patsy Collins
Geoff knew that, as a writer, he should listen to people. So why, when his wife told him she had an incurable disease, had he been thinking about Oklahoma and missed the terrible news?
“So, how did it go, Geoff?” Lisa asked her husband, as he let himself into the house. “Yes please, love,” he said. He noticed her puzzled expression. “Sorry, I was thinking about my writing group. The speaker was really interesting.” “Oh, you listened to him, then?” “Of course. Writers have to listen all the time; that’s one of the things the speaker was saying. Ideas can be anywhere. I don’t know where you get the idea I don’t listen.”