• Rosa Temple

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Publication day draws nearer! In just two months Dear Anybody? will land on Amazon and I'm giving away copies in exchange for reviews.


If you're a book blogger, book reviewer and a lover of contemporary fiction then drop me a line and I'll get a copy off to you. All I ask of you is for the following:


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Dear ... Anybody?

Blurb

Local newspaper journalist, Sydney, is like many women. Bored at work, bad hair days, karaoke nights, loving boyfriend and a fabulous best friend. But a huge discovery sends her whole world spiralling downwards and things will never be the same again. She’s lost her job, her boyfriend and, well, everything.

Unlike most women, Sydney’s answer is to resort to binge eating, binge drinking and never leaving her bedroom.

An unexpected job offer comes her way and Sydney leaves London for the tiny village of Bridley to become editor of a countryside magazine, not realising that part of the job means becoming the magazine’s Agony Aunt.

Resolving to make her mark as an editor and to set the problematic lives of Bridley villagers to rights, Sydney uncovers hidden truths, secret loves and the possibility of romance lies in wait behind the counter of her favourite coffee shop.

Is it that easy to turn your life around? Well, maybe not for Sydney …


Extract

Chapter 1

Today of all days it has to rain. I had my hair all planned. Bone straight like the woman in the perfume advert, the perfume Helena said Leon bought her for her birthday and that she didn’t like. The perfume may not have been up to much, but I couldn’t help hoping my unruly hair would be up for the job today. I needed perfection. The perfect look. It only had to last long enough for me to deliver my speech and then my hair could do whatever the hell it liked, the way it usually did.

Helena had told me to relax, things have a way of working themselves out and that I’d look fabulous whatever. Easy for her to say. Not that I’m not knocking Helena, she’s a wonderful best friend and an equally wonderful person but her beauty is as natural as it is perfect. It isn’t jealousy that has me ogling her splendour when she isn’t looking, I’m just so amazed at how effortless it is for her to look stunning. Helena’s hair has the ability to just sit there looking luscious, thick and curly and full of life, even though hair is supposed to be dead. My hair knows it’s dead and doesn’t pretend to be otherwise.

I’d seen Helena a lot in the run up to her month-long holiday to Brazil because I knew I would miss her like hell. The trip to Brazil was another birthday present from her ever loving, ever rich, fiancé, Leon.

Helena has been a supportive friend since I met her at university, but despite what she said, I knew more than anyone I needed to get up early for the big day and sort my look out.

I blink upwards to the skylight at the cloudy sky, the first in ages since the London heatwave. It’s September, it’s been hot and humid, tempers are short and London has been like the inside of a hot air balloon waiting to explode. They talked about a rainstorm hitting us on the Six O’Clock News all week but the rain had kept us guessing. Until last night, that is, when the heavens opened. It had been thundery through the night. Rob slept through it, snoring a symphony of snorts and puffs, as if the storm outside wasn’t enough to keep me awake.

It’s no wonder I’m anxious. I haven’t slept a wink. The rain is drumming a timely rhythm on the glass and I curse the weatherman for sealing the doom of my hair.

‘You getting up already?’ Rob’s head is under the pillow. As is usual for the summer months Rob isn’t under the sheets. His naked body is in the recovery position, one arm is hanging off the bed, his buttocks facing me.

‘It’s the big one,’ I say to his glutes. ‘I’ve got to start getting ready.’

Rob grunts as I get out of bed. The poor thing must be sick and tired of me going on about the promotion at work. Geoff, the sub-editor gave in his notice and as the most senior of the writers on the newspaper I was sure I’d be promoted into the corner office. Not only that, when I was leaving to go home yesterday, Danielle, my editor, grabbed my arm and told me she needed to talk to me at some stage the next day. It’s Geoff’s leaving do tonight so she obviously has to make the announcement today.

The staff at the local paper total eight and only two people have their own office. Danielle’s office is a proper one with walls, a window and a door. Geoff, whose room is a partitioned section of the main, open plan office is constructed with hardwood and glass but it has its own door, so it is a real office to me.

I’ve been at the Kilburn Times, a weekly newspaper, for six years. I progressed from selling ad space for commission to a salaried position writing features. I’m not sure how much longer I can last without going completely mad. I don’t hate my job, I just thought the journalism course I took at night school would have paid off by now and I would have gotten further in my career. My degree in Media Production hadn’t paid off. After university I managed to get a job as a runner in a production company and worked my way up to general dogsbody in the script editor department. I was enjoying it a lot until, as luck would have it, the company closed down. I was out of work for a year. I saw the advert to sell advertising space for the Kilburn Times and applied in desperation. Later came the journalism course, and later still came the need to find a better job in journalism. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve pitched articles, features and column ideas to the nationals. I was turned down every time.

Years ago, I’d told Rob that if I couldn’t make it onto a national paper by the time I was thirty, I’d leave journalism and become a best-selling author instead. Now I’m thirty-one, still at the local paper and I’ve not come up with one single idea for a best-selling novel. So, if the best I can ever do is become a sub-editor for a weekly rag, then that will have to do.

As I’m carefully de-tangling my hair in the shower, Rob stumbles into the bathroom for a wee. Holding his penis with one hand, propping himself up with the other on the wall above the loo, he takes the longest of slashes and I’m annoyed because the sound of urine is messing with my Chi. I’d convinced myself that if I thought calm thoughts the rain would stop and my hair would behave. All I’d need to do was wave the hair straighteners at it, giving my hair fair warning that I needed results. No odd waves here and there among the smooth bits. Rob washes his hands and yawns. Through the steamy glass door, I see him raise a thumb at me which is morning talk for ‘I’m making coffee, are you in?’

‘Yep!’ I shout in case he can’t hear while still in his morning coma. There used to be a time when Rob was all systems go in the morning and we’d end up in the shower together. But just a short time ago, while we were making love in the shower, I slipped on some Herbal Essence shampoo and banged my head on the taps while Rob grazed his back on the shower gel holder. Since then we stopped being sexually active in the morning. In the shower anyway. These days, if we do make love in the mornings it is at weekends only, in our bed. Things are a little routine between us, I must admit, but we’ve been going out for five years, living together for three of those. I’m not complaining about our routines, in fact I find them charming. I love how we read each other like a book. For example, Rob knows it’s going to take me the best part of half an hour to go at my hair with the straighteners so he leaves my coffee on my bedside table as he gets ready for work.

‘Don’t be late,’ he reminds me when I’m almost ready and he is already about to leave. He’s looking immaculate in his suit and tie, ready for another day at the solicitor’s office in St Paul’s.

‘I’m there,’ I say. But I’m not there. I still have to find my amber earrings and decide on shoes.

‘What time you home tonight, again?’ he asks from the bedroom door.

‘Late. You know what that lot are like when there’s booze around. I expect Geoff to become extremely loud and rowdy and Rani will probably suggest a nightclub after the bar.’

‘Well, enjoy it and good luck for today.’ Rob scoots back over to the wardrobe mirror where I’m trying to meditate my saddle bags away using body scanning methods so that my trousers fall better. No one in history has ever reduced saddle bags in this way but I’m convinced that it’s working in my mirror. Rob goes to kiss my cheek and I turn my head and offer him the corner next to my ear so he doesn’t ruin my foundation.

‘Thanks darling,’ I say. ‘Don’t wait up. I’ll tell you all about it in the morning.’

It’s not my imagination, my inner Chi has stopped the rain and my hair looks fabulous. I can now leave. Shit. Ten minutes late. But Danielle has to drop her son at nursery every morning anyway and doesn’t turn up until at least nine-fifteen. I should make it in time before her if I walk like I’m in the Olympics to the bus stop.

Sub-editor here I come, I think, as I skip my way down from our top floor flat, out of the main door and down the front steps of the house. I’m on my way. In less than a split second a large white van comes screeching up my road. I turn as I hear its wheels on the slicked tarmac and think nothing of it as I hurry myself along to the corner of the road. In no time the white van is about to be parallel to me. I turn to see the driver, a woman with frizzy hair and a scowl. She speeds past me, screeching and lurching. In super fast motion, I look from her frizzy hair and scowl to the logo on the van door and then at the huge puddle I’m right alongside. An enormous wave of oily rain and sludge sprays in my direction and I can’t escape it. My raincoat is ruined by black splodges. My shoes are a write off and the tips of my hair are soggy and already starting to revert to blandness. I wave a fist at the driver. Then I close my eyes and take in a long deep breath. I need to find my Chi. Quick. Before I start jumping up and down, crying. There is no time to go back and fix this. Today of all days I must be at my desk working before Danielle gets in.

Rani is the first one to comment on the straggly tips of my hair. She asks if I was going for a new look but I shake my head at her, take off my raincoat and hang it on the coat rack by the door. Mine is the only one there, I notice, because somehow the heatwave is back on and the world has gone back to normal. I am the only one in the office who looks like a drowned rat.


Thank you for grabbing your copy of Dear ... Anybody? and helping me to spread the word. Publication Day is April 16th 2020 and I can't wait to hear what you think!

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©2019 by Rosa Temple Author