Friday, 5 June 2015

A Change of Mind blog tour

I'm delighted to host Nick Wilford's blog tour today. Over to you, Nick...


Thanks for hosting me on the penultimate day of my tour, Annalisa! Today, I have something slightly different. This flash fiction piece is the first writing I did after my stepson passed away in November 2013, and has been unseen until now.



Afterwards

Claire leaned over to retrieve the garishly coloured shirt from the overstuffed rail, which wasn’t easy with an immovably heavy box in the way, full of fresh merchandise. Someone must have casually left it there and forgotten to unpack it.

She managed to locate the size the customer had asked for, but in pulling it out she dislodged a large number of precariously hung items, which fell onto the dusty floor below. With a sigh, she turned to leave with the shirt in her hand, thinking she would come back immediately after dealing with the waiting customer.

“Miss Braithwaite, why do you think your job is to make a mess of my stockroom?”

She stopped short before she barrelled into Mrs Hattenden, the store manager. It would probably be painful, not to mention a terminally bad career move. At sixty plus, she was a slight woman, but managed to give the impression of being made entirely of sinew, as tightly wound as her steel-grey bun.

Claire dithered, then gritted her teeth, trying not to let the injustice of it all overcome her. She had shown weakness in front of this bloodsucking bitch once too often, meaning she was now a permanent target. Mrs Hattenden didn’t seem to care about what had happened to her - that was if she even remembered.

“A customer asked for this shirt in a large, which we didn’t have on the floor. I found it, but there were too many clothes on the rail,” said Claire, making a supreme effort to maintain eye contact with the older woman’s pinprick-like pupils. “And I could hardly get to them because of this box.”

“Then you should have asked for assistance.”

“There was no one around, and I didn’t like to keep the customer waiting,” said Claire, her eyes shifting briefly to the door as if to indicate that this was exactly what was now happening. But Hattenden remained impassive. Actual customer service seemed less important to her than order and neatness.

“Give it to me. I’ll deal with this customer myself,” she said, extending one arm like a robot. “Get this mess cleaned up, and if there are any more incidents like this in the three hours before your shift ends you’ll be on a warning.”

She stalked off, and Claire sagged from the effort of standing up to her. She didn’t feel like she could do it for much longer. Life had been a turgid dream since Leon died; she drifted from one day to the next, with little idea of how she was actually managing to get through each one. She shouldn’t let a cow like Hattenden get to her, but her job was the main thing she had to focus on at the moment, and if she wasn’t seen to be doing it well, what else was there?

So much more, the inner voice told her. So much more. But it all felt out of her grasp.

*

She needed to see Leon that night. Sometimes, it felt like he was the one person in her life who really listened. So, after a hastily consumed dinner of microwaved macaroni cheese, she set off walking as if sprung from a trap. The graveyard felt more like home than her shabby flat did.

It was a cloudless night, but cold in the autumn air, her breath visible as it escaped her lips. She was aware of the blanket of stars stretched over her head, but kept her gaze earthbound, lost in thought with all the things she wanted to say to her brother. Only the occasional dogwalker disturbed her stride; she was glad she lived in a semi-rural town, never having been one for crowds at the best of times.

Walking past the ranks of graves, her eyes flickered over details of lives, some cut even shorter than Leon’s. She was familiar with many, having made this walk so many times over the last six months, and they felt like old friends. Hopefully, they were nice people, and good company for her brother.

She stopped at the black granite slab, with its various accoutrements of lights and vases, and just stood for a while, hands sunk deep in her coat pockets. There were lots of things she wanted to say, but it was more comfortable saying them in her head. Like why could something so brutal happen to someone like him, someone who embraced life and all it had to offer, while the narrow-minded Mrs Hattendens of this world continued to thrive?

“Leon, I’m finding it really hard,” she said out loud. “So hard. I know you don’t want me to be miserable, but what’s the point of it all? Today was an awful day at work, and it seems to be happening every day. If that’s what my life is, then I just want to seal myself in the flat and never come out... or come under there with you.”

The shiny stone only reminded her of the piercing stare of her manager. She shook her head. Maybe Leon couldn’t give her the answers after all... and if so, what was the world coming to?

She blew Leon a kiss and decided to head for home, dejected. On a whim, she looked up at the night sky and stopped in her tracks as a blinding light seemed to beam itself directly into her mind.

An old schoolfriend had registered a star in Leon’s name and given her the certificate, shortly after the funeral. Claire hadn’t thought much of it at the time, not seeing the meaning in the gesture, although she hadn’t said as much to her friend. It wasn’t going to bring him back, was it?

But she remembered which star it was and as she looked up, it had been the first one she’d seen. Leon was up there and he was watching over her, despite her doubts. She didn’t have to stay in a rubbish job forever; maybe she could try her hand again at her own fashion range, a long neglected dream.

After all, Leon had always followed his dreams, hadn’t he?






Title: A Change of Mind and Other Stories
Author: Nick Wilford
Genre: Speculative fiction
Format: Ebook only
Page/word count: 107 pages, approx. 32,000 words
Release date: 25th May 2015
Publisher: Superstar Peanut Publishing


Blurb:
A Change of Mind and Other Stories consists of a novella, four short stories and one flash fiction piece. This collection puts the extremes of human behaviour under the microscope with the help of lashings of dark humour, and includes four pieces previously published in Writer’s Muse magazine.

In A Change of Mind, Reuben is an office worker so meek and mild he puts up with daily bullying from his boorish male colleagues as if it’s just a normal part of his day. But when a stranger points him in the direction of a surgeon offering a revolutionary new procedure, he can’t pass up the chance to turn his life around.

But this isn’t your average surgeon. For a start, he operates alone in a small room above a mechanic’s. And he promises to alter his patients’ personality so they can be anything they want to be…

In Marissa, a man who is determined to find evidence of his girlfriend’s infidelity ends up wondering if he should have left well alone.

The Dog God finds a chink in the armour of a man with a megalomaniacal desire to take over the world.

In The Insomniac, a man who leads an obsessively regimented lifestyle on one hour’s sleep a night finds a disruption to his routine doesn’t work for him.

Hole In One sees a dedicated golfer achieving a lifelong ambition.

The Loner ends the collection on a note of hope as two family members try to rebuild their lives after they are torn apart by jealousy.


Purchase Links:
Amazon US // Amazon UK // Smashwords // B&N // Kobo 
Meet the author:
Nick Wilford is a writer and stay-at-home dad. Once a journalist, he now makes use of those rare times when the house is quiet to explore the realms of fiction, with a little freelance editing and formatting thrown in. When not working he can usually be found spending time with his family or cleaning something. He has four short stories published in Writer’s Muse magazine. Nick is also the editor of Overcoming Adversity: An Anthology for Andrew. Visit him at his blog or connect with him on Twitter or Goodreads.






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20 comments:

  1. I've been seeing this book all over the blogosphere today. Congrats again, Nick. I wish you all the best with it.

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  2. Nick is everywhere. I like a good flash. I wish him success with his book

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  3. What a wonderfully emotional piece. Yay for Nick! :)

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  4. Go, Nick! I love your writing!
    Thanks for hosting Nick, Annalisa!

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  5. This is an amazing story, Nick. Good luck with your short story collection and thanks for sharing this! You have good taste, Annalisa :)

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  6. What a tender piece. And to anyone who hasn't read A Change of Mind and Other Stories yet, get it straight away! It's a truly original story and a great read. Well done Nick!

    Visit Keith's Ramblings!

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  7. That's a powerful and emotional piece. I really felt for Claire.

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  8. I echo Medeia's sentiments. Powerful and emotional is exactly what it was. Thank you for sharing. And I'm so sorry for your loss.

    Hi, Annalisa;)

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  9. I entered. Nick's book looks amazing and I'm looking forward to reading it, whether I win or not.

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  10. Joanne - Thanks!

    Christine - Thanks, it was emotional to write.

    Tyrean - Thanks!

    Shell - Thanks! I felt ready to share it at this point.

    Keith - Thank you very much, sir!

    Medeia - I hope things turn round for her. Those we have lost remain with us in our hearts.

    Sandra - Thanks for your kind words.

    Vanessa - Thanks! I'm looking forward to reading Avalon. :)

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  11. Nick, I wish you all the success in the world with your new book.
    Hi, Annalisa!

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  12. This is such a touching story. Thanks for sharing, Nick. :-)

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  13. Hi Annalisa and Nick,

    A powerful, profound story, Nick. And here's to much success with your book, good sir. Stay remarkable.

    Thanks, Annalisa and Nick.

    Gary :)

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  14. I struggled with her to get that coat. Great story, Nick. All success to you.

    Hello, Annalisa!

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  15. Thank you for sharing that with us. It was an emotional story.

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  16. Nick is on a roll with his blog tour! :D

    Annalisa, I nominated you for a blog award. If you want to accept it, the details are on my blog. :)

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  17. I really liked this piece. Good emotions!

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  18. Thanks for all your comments supporting Nick. He's had a very impressive blog tour, and it was great to be a part of it :-)

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Please comment - I love a good chat!