Tag Archives: USA

My Citizen & Echo column: Oi! Mitt! No binders in the US elections, please.

Welcome to “Monday is the new Saturday” where I pop the link to my Weekend magazine column ‘The Last Word’ from the Gloucestershire Citizen and Echo…

In my Weekend column on Saturday I take a wry look at this week’s US presidential elections and why Mitt Romney should never put me in a binder full of women. Or any binder, for that matter…

I’ve stuck the column on my Citizen column page here so you can have a read.

You can also catch me each week on the Citizen and Echo Weekend magazine website. There’s lots of other lovely weekend stuff on there, too. 

The Citizen & Echo Weekend magazine comes out every Saturday. 

Binder or  no binder? What’s your take? Is sexism in the workplace still rife?  Let me know.

**Look out for Wednesday Wafflings on, um, Wednesday, where I post my weekly entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author**

My new Weekend column: Why do mums feel so guilty?

Welcome to Weekend Friday, a new post where I pop the link to my Weekend magazine column ‘The Last Word’ from the Gloucestershire Citizen and Echo…

In my Weekend column last week I said hi (hi!) and asked why us mum’s feel so blooming guilty all the time.

To read it, simply click here You can also catch my next column in the shops tomorrow via the Weekend Magazine in the Citizen and Echo.

Are you a mum? Do you feel guilty a lot? or are you a dad who feels the same way. Or is parental guilt just a whole load of bobbins?

**Look out for Wednesday Wafflings on, um, Wednesday, where I post my weekly entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author**

Friday fiction: Part 2 of The Journey (The Dakota Duels trilogy)

It’s “Friday Fact or Fiction”,  where I write a little something for the weekend for you to read, be it fact or, um, fiction. This week, it’s ‘fiction’, with part two of a 1st chapter competition entry – this time it’s young adult fiction.

The Journey (The Dakota Duels Trilogy) – Part 2 (final)

 The train flashed into daylight and Hannah could see her cell. Her fingers moving fast, she tracked her calls, searching for the number. Nothing. Caller ID withheld.

            She thought of the voice – a river, a bolder. It sounded like her father, Isaac, her father, leader of The Order, leader of their group of Christian followers, the group who had been chosen by God, who were the divine righteous ones, who would one day see The Plan God had for them, for all, even for the sinners, the doubters, the non-Christian ones who spat and scorned.  Pressing together her lips, she slipped off her shawl and, folding it four times, she placed it on the table. Outside the Dakota terrain washed by, a watercolour of trucks, land, outhouses, fields appearing like a mirage through the sun. Picking up a discarded pamphlet, Hannah fanned her face, thinking, when her cell vibrated. A text. Bolting, she grabbed the phone and scanned the message.  She felt her mouth drain dry. Four words. Leaning sideways, she glanced up and down the carriage, then back to her cell. Four words: They are watching you.

Her pulse fast, her palms sweating, Hannah opened her rucksack and, seizing the parcel, rammed all her belongings into the bag and zipped it shut. In the seat ahead, a man turned and smiled. Hannah froze. The four words flashed across her eyes. Suddenly, everyone, she felt, was looking at her. This was crazy. Seconds, minutes passed and as her final destination came nearer, she tried to slow her breathing.

            ‘Devil’s Lake next stop,’ announced the tanoy.

            Her cell shrilled. She stared at it. It shrilled again. Hand shaking, she took the call. ‘Hannah!’ the voice shot. ‘It’s Noah. Don’t hang up. The man, the Pilgrim Director you are to meet, he is not who he seems. You are not who you seem. Don’t go with him. When the train pulls in, run, run far. I will contact you when it is clear.’

            ‘But-’

            The line cut and the train creaked to a halt. She’d arrived. Leaping up, Hannah tried to think fast. Should she listen to him, this Noah? Stumbling forward, she kept her head down, shivering until she heard the whoosh of the door and felt the heavy heat surge in. Disembarking, she stepped on to the platform, pops of sweat trickling down her back. Within three seconds she caught sight of the Pilgrim Director, and, smiling, she began to walk towards him when something made her stop. He was flanked by two unfamiliar men. They are watching you. Something wasn’t right. Truth, she suddenly thought, the ugly truth. Without warning, the two men sped up. Hannah’s breath quickened. Ahead, the Director lost his smile and strode towards her. Noah. Who was he?  Should she run? What was wrong? Turning, she bumped into a passenger, but instead of helping her, he gripped hard.

            ‘Let go!’ she yelled, ripping away from him, her rucksack flying to the ground. Just as she grabbed it, she spotted them, the men, running now towards her. Scrambling upright, she spied the exit and without looking back, she ran as fast as she could.

Copyright © Nikki Owen 2012

Thanks for reading!  I’m on holiday at the moment and will post more fiction when I get back. Have a great weekend!

 

Friday fiction: Part 1 of The Journey (The Dakota Duels trilogy)

It’s “Friday Fact or Fiction”,  where I write a little something for the weekend for you to read, be it fact or, um, fiction. This week, it’s ‘fiction’, with part one of a 1st chapter competition entry – this time it’s young adult fiction.

The Journey (The Dakota Duels Trilogy) – Part 1

Earlier, life had been lighter. Getting on the train at Fargo was fraught, but then it always was when the sun hit 34 degrees and your skirt stuck to your legs like glue after you’d been sat squashed on a bus with no air conditioning for five hours.  Peeling a hair from her mouth, she yawned and flipped open her cell. No messages. She sighed and gazed out of the window.  The Empire Builder. What a strange name for a train. Stretching out her hand she patted the seat to check if the parcel was still there. The envelope rustled under her palm and, reassured, she resumed her gazing. South Dakota was the only state in North America without an Amtrak train service, and for the life of her she couldn’t understand why.

            ‘It is the way it is, Hannah,’ her mother had said to her at the roadside as she prepared to board. ‘After the bus, the train will take you on to North Dakota.’

            Hannah frowned. ‘But why me? Why now?’

            Her mother, a whisper of a woman, reached up and adjusted Hannah’s collar so the white starch circled her neck in the way it was expected. ‘Now, now. We’ve been over this. Your father needs you. You are 18 now, a woman, and as such The Order requires you to make the journey to the annual pilgrimage early, cast your eye on the eligible men.’ Hannah blushed. ‘And besides,’ her mother continued, picking a speck of dust from her daughter’s skirt, ‘you need to deliver the parcel from your father to the Pilgrim Director. Remember your name, Hannah. Remember what it means.’

            ‘Grace of God, mama.’

            ‘Good.’

            Hannah chewed on her lip. ‘Why can’t he mail it?’

            Her mother smiled. ‘Because it is too important.’

            ‘And he trusts me?’

            She nodded. ‘He trusts you.’

 As the train sped forward, Hannah let her eyelids droop, the jostle of the carriage and the crank of the air-conditioning lulling her to sleep.  Around 3p.m. her cell shrilled. Waking with a start, Hannah blinked, then grabbing the phone, she picked up.

            ‘Hello?’

            ‘Hannah?’

            ‘Yes. Hello?’

            ‘My name is Noah…I’m your-’

            The line crackled. ‘I’m sorry,’ said Hannah, one finger in her ear, ‘you’re breaking up.’

            ‘I’m Noah,’ came the voice again.

            Noah? Hannah frowned.  ‘I’m sorry, but, I don’t know a-’

Without warning, what sounded like a gunshot blasted through the line. Hannah jerked up. ‘Hello?’

 ‘Hannah, listen!’ tore the voice. ‘I’m your brother. They’re coming for us. You’ve got to-’

            The carriage suddenly went black and the signal cut. Overhead the lights flickered as the train shot through a tunnel. Hannah’s heart banged against her chest. Brother? He said brother. But why? She had no brothers, church colleagues, yes, families she had grown up with since birth, but no brothers.

Copyright © Nikki Owen 2012

Thanks for reading!  Part two is out next Friday. Have a great weekend!