Category Archives: Collins, Patsy

Slightly Spooky Stories 1 by Patsy Collins

A Cartoon Ghost

A Cartoon Ghost… looks more like a seal!

Twenty-five lovely short stories, some quite long for their genre, and others shorter, all with a very light ghostly theme. In fact, in some of the stories, the spooky bit is very light indeed, such as hypnosis treatment (‘Brainwashing Barbara’), whereas in others ghosts and the dead are the main characters (‘Can’t Take It With You’). My favourite was ‘Working in the Bookshop’, which featured a young lad looking for first job and finding one in very old fashioned bookshop. At every point, he is prompted by a mysterious old lady, and not just him but everyone else around him

Patsy writes from the first person and the third and all her stories include a lot of dialogue, which brings them alive. This is Patsy doing what she does best, getting inside the characters of ordinary people and crafting their problems into a tight story. Great stuff, but not for those who you want horror, ghouls, zombies and vampires, forget it.  Fortunately, Dear Reader, I don’t!

Amazon link

Review of 'Firestarter' by Patsy Collins

Animated fireAlice Bakewell has a thing about being rescued from a blazing building by a hunky fireman, using a fireman’s lift – obviously.  “But I’m so over it,” she tells her sister, Kate.  Well, maybe.  When Alice and Kate meet ex-schoolfriend, Hamish, on the Fire Service stand at the New Forest Show and he offers to ‘rescue’ Alice as part of his demonstration, she declines, because she is in a relationship with Boring Tony and it wouldn’t be right.  However, when she dumps Boring Tony and romance kindles between Alice and Hamish, a series of false alarm calls are sent to the emergency services.  Alice and Hamish wonder if Tony is responsible. In addition, Alice has her job to worry about, the lack of orders and the mysterious new contract which boss Miles promises.  On top of that, there is Louise, Hamish’s jealous bird-watching friend, who threatens to kill Alice – in gory and imaginative ways – every time she sees her.  Alice‘s fantasy is eventually realised, only not featuring Hamish – until he stages another ‘rescue’ especially for her.

This is an excellently constructed story, with a water-tight plotline, with no stray ends and no unresolved bits.  Characterisation is, likewise, well-defined.  Alice and her sister, Kate, are a couple of likable girly girls, absorbed in clothes and boyfriends, even though Alice strives to prove she is tougher and doesn’t mind getting dirty, when she joins Hamish bird-watching.  Hamish is suitably hunky, although, as we find out, he is not all fireman, and Tony is an interesting bore, who shows, ultimately, that he is more than his laptop and his job.  Alice and Kate’s father brews unspeakable home-made wine from vegetables in his garden.  (We’ve all encountered Dads like him, I’m sure.  My own dad (long since passed on, bless him) made wine from Boots concentrate, which always looked like urine.)   Interestingly, Patsy, who has not described proper sex acts in her previous novels, includes a very steamy sex scene in Firestarter.

So, Dear Reader, a full recommendation.  Do read Firestarter.  Well up to Patsy’s best standard.

I was very chuffed to learn, earlier this week, that my story, Not a Proper Evacuee (set in World War 2 – no, never!) has achieved third place in the Alfie Dog International Short Story Competition, also that Stars in Your Eyes, written by my fellow-blogger, Julie Wow or Wittering, achieved fourth place.  Sadly, you cannot read Not a Proper Evacuee because I’ve already entered it for a Words With Jam comp.  (Hope the WWJ judges are reading this!)  The second-placed story, by Susan Eames, is entitled Licking an Ant’s Bottom.  The mind boggles.  I do hope that one is put up on the main Alfie Dog site, so I can read it.

I will finish with two ACW (Association of Christian Writers) pleas.  Plea 1:  As you may know, I am now ACW competitions manager.  If you also happen to be an ACW member, please turn to page 4 as soon as you receive Christian Writer, which should come bouncing through your letterbox any day soon, and enter the Bible Story Comp.  (The comp is for ACW members only – sorry.)   Plea 2:  If you happen to live in Suffolk (or nearby), we are attempting to set up a – real, face-to-face – ACW Writers Group based near Bury St Edmunds.  Please look at the ACW Facebook page.

Do enjoy the animated gif, all 2.2mb of it.  On the other hand, hope the page loads for you!

Firestarter is available from Patsy’s website.

Review of 'Up the Garden Path' by Patsy Collins

Below is my Goodreads review of ‘Up the Garden Path’.

Up The Garden PathUp The Garden Path by Patsy Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As well as being a much-published author, of magazine stories and of three published novels, Patsy Collins is an enthusiastic gardener, something which comes across in this collection of twenty-four short stories. Published by Alfie Dog, this collection is Patsy at her best – people-centred, accessible, well-constructed and written in good English.

My favourite, I think, was ‘Watchdog’, which was about an illusive Intruder, who turned out to be nothing of the sort. I should have seen it coming, especially as the mc could well have been me. The petty-criminal mc of ‘Mrs Dalrymple’, however, got his come uppance – you should never underestimate the acumen of older ladies! ‘Easter at Eleanor’s’ was poignant, about an aunt, who on being asked to look after her niece’s children, planned some good healthy and jolly old fashioned activities to entertain them. You think you can guess what happened next? Well, read the collection of stories to find out.

Patsy is now working on a fourth novel, ‘Poppyfield Farm’.
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'A Year and a Day' by Patsy Collins

This is the third of Patsy’s recently published novels, the other two being ‘Escape to the Country’ (which I have reviewed for The Copperfield Review) and ‘Paint Me a Picture’.  After the seriousness of ‘Paint Me a Picture, ‘A Year and a Day’ was pure escapism.

Stella and Daphne, two girly girls down to Stella’s pink slippers, visit a fortune-teller, who tells them what’s going to happen during the next year.  Daphne believes every word but Stella not a word of it.  As the story works through the fortune-teller’s predictions, at various points one or both of the girls, and Daphne’s brother, John, contrive to make the predictions come true… for good reasons to do with the story.  Whether helped along by her prescient powers or not, Stella and Daphne move a long way, from being two emotionally young girls to becoming wives.

Although the story is written entirely from Stella’s point of view, it is as much about Daphne as Stella.  Both characters well-depicted, very likeable and also quite different. What carries the story along is their unshakeable friendship, which takes into its stride what, for any other two chums, might have been contentious issues – such as both of them going out with Luigi (at different times!) and Stella having been dumped by Daphne’s brother.  However, we are never told how the two got to know each other in the first place.

Some serious subjects are touched upon, such as Stella having been a foster child and being unable to re-make contact with her natural parents, but she finds comfort in the warm welcome always given to her by Daphne’s family.  Stella is a strong, and very focussed, woman, who gets on with things.  Finding she has a sound head for business, she also sorts out Mr Clover’s flower shop, where she works.

Daphne’s brother, John, is the most complex, and probably the most interesting, character… as well as starting off the book as the most irritating, to Stella, and to me, the reader.  A policeman, who doesn’t seem to be able to help himself checking window-locks in Stella’s flat or making sarcastic comments about her slippers, he grows on us as we start to see the hurt and confusion inside.

Would I recommend you read ‘A Year and a Day’?  Yes, definitely.  Great fun!