31 December 2019

BOOK and COVER of THE YEAR 2019

Our Annual Awards
 (no prizes, just the praise!) 


The winner is chosen from 
the books that were selected as Book of the Month
and are a personal choice by Helen Hollick, 
founder of Discovering Diamonds

For my own enjoyment I want a book to be entertaining, not necessarily amusing - a novel that can make you think or even cry is a novel worth reading. I look forward to meeting new (and old!) fictional friends and becoming engrossed in their worlds which are sandwiched between the covers of books, (or in my case, on my Kindle.) What I want is a good story with believable characters enacting believable situations, even if these are fantasy, alternative or set in the distant past. My choices for Book of the Month are the novels that I enjoyed for the story/adventure and for the 'what happens next'? For Book of the Year I have chosen the one that left me thinking about the characters and the situations they had been in - and those thoughts stayed with me for a long while...

Book of the Year 2019
My choice for 2019 is a novel set in post WWI. It was not an action, fast-paced story. There was no breath-taking adventure, no high-speed drama. There were no murders, no derring-do or desperate romance. In fact, it was a gentle stroll through a couple of months one summer, narrating the day-to-day of the main characters as they went about their lives together. Each character had their own background and story, each with new friendships that blossomed and flourished. Each with their own secrets, their own fears and hopes.

A simple story with believable, likeable characters doing ordinary everyday things - and yet the story was not slow or boring. More than any other novel that I've read that deals with WWI, this one brought home the tragic consequences of war for the ordinary men and women, be they soldier or civilian. Eavesdropping on the characters as they went through the summer of 1920, the detail of the every day, the dreadfulness of the trenches and the aftermath of WWI was portrayed so well that the characters came alive. It was quite a shock, at the end, to discover that the author had made them up, and that he had not, personally, been there - a tribute to the research he undertook.

This novel really brought home the tragic deaths and awful injuries suffered by so many young men. Of the trauma that stayed with those who survived, of their wondering why they had survived and even regret that they had. How the grief of a son or husband who would never come home broke the hearts of so many. As a second layer, it told of the pioneering work of surgeons who helped put severely damaged men back together again in the years before we had plastic surgery and state-of-the-art prosthetics. The 'Tin-Nose' surgeons.

And then there was a third, factual, layer to this novel. While the characters went about their daily routines and struggled with their individual troubles, the real story of how the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior came to be placed in Westminster Abbey  was revealed.

I cried at the end. An evocative book, beautifully written.

My choice for Book of the Year 2019 is:


read our review
The Great War is over but Britain is still to find peace and its spirit is not yet mended. Edward and William have returned from the front as  changed men. Together they have survived grotesque horrors and remain haunted by memories of comrades who did not come home. The summer season in Margate is a chance for them to rebuild their lives and reconcile the past. Evelyn and Catherine are young women ready to  live life to the full. Their independence has been hard won and, with little knowledge of the cost of their freedom, they are ready to face new challenges side by side. Can they define their own future and open their hearts to the prospect of finding love? Will the summer of 1920 be a turning point for these new friends and the country? 

* * *


Cover Design of the year 2019


cover design by Katie Anderson
Read Our Review

Honourable Mention Cover of the year for 2019:


Designer Unknown
Read Our Review

* * * 
Cover Designs Reviewed in 2019 designed by our judges, 
 that were excluded from judging
so deserve a mention instead

Designed by Tamian Wood
Read Our Review
Designed by Cathy Helms
Read Our Review
Designed by Cathy Helms
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Designed by Cathy Helms
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Designed by Cathy Helms
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Designed by Cathy Helms
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Designed by Cathy Helms
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Designed by Cathy Helms
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Beyond Design International

Avalon Graphics
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL
click HERE for previous winners

**************

30 December 2019

River Mud by Cryssa Bazos - Our Final; Story Inspired By A Song


Read the Story
Guess the Song
here's a clue...
Image may contain: sky, cloud, tree, plant, outdoor, nature and water

The letter. That damned, bloody letter.
Nathaniel Lewis felt every contour through his mist-soaked cloak as he navigated his horse along a steep incline. It plagued him throughout his solitary journey from London to the Welsh highlands.
He should have burned it. Lord knew, he had already committed every word to memory. Their latest cipher had been compromised, the letter read. A worrying concern, but no cause for alarm even though this had been the second key to be deciphered this half year. Cromwell had a gifted cryptographer in his stable; Nathaniel had to find a way to lure the man over to the king’s side.
No, it wasn’t the breach of a new cipher gnawing at Nathaniel’s gut. What chased him away from the comfort of Lincoln’s Inn to the wild and barely passable Welsh countryside were the final words in the missive. “Meet me in the hamlet of Blaenau Ffestiniog on the next full moon. You will find it.”
Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Nathaniel didn’t need to enquire about the small hamlet which eluded all maps. He knew it and well. Fifteen years ago on a fierce, howling night, he turned his back on the place of his birth, intending never to return.
His grip tightened on the reins.

Horse, Animal, Head Animal, Head Horse

Now the question haunted him: how did this intelligencer, a faceless, nameless man known only to Nathaniel by the code name Mister Moss know of Blaenau Ffestiniog? No one knew anything about Nathaniel’s past—he made sure of that.
Nathaniel’s first sight of Blaenau Ffestiniog hit him in the gut—nothing had changed. Slate-roofed cottages still lined the main road while pigs rooted in muddy lanes. Dirt, rocks, and peat smoke everywhere. Slate thrust from the rutted ground like broken bones poking through lacerated skin. And the shadow of a jutting rock stretched across the mill road like a gnarled, accusing finger.
The smells of river mud and decomposing weeds struck Nathaniel, making his blood pulse faster. He could taste it at the back of his throat. In the distance, the rushing of a waterfall roared through his head. Panic gripped his throat—the urge to turn his horse around overwhelmed him, meeting be damned.

Pig, Sow, Domestic Pig, Livestock

 A weathered sign hung over the inn’s door and swung on the wind. The Hammer and Anvil. Nothing soft and furry like a fox or firkin. Not here, where existence was bleak and death bleaker still.
Nathaniel crossed the inn’s threshold, and all heads swivelled in his direction. Greedy eyes eager for any gossip fodder. For a heartbeat, Nathaniel was once more a half-starved youth praying he’d not to be chased away. Sharply, he lowered the brim of his hat and claimed a table tucked into the corner.
A serving maid pounced to take his order. Though she was young, there was something about her flat face that reminded Nathanial of the landlady who once kept this place. A daughter perhaps?
“A flagon of your best wine.” Nathaniel peeled off his riding gloves and placed them on the table.
The wench didn’t move. Instead, she studied Nathaniel with a vague frown. “Have you been at the Hammer before, my lord?”
Although she spoke to him in Welsh, Nathaniel answered in English. “The wine?”
With a small huff, she spun on her heels. In a thrice she returned with a flagon and pewter cup. Still preoccupied with trying to identify him, she sloshed several drops of wine on his glove. Nathaniel stared at the blood red wine seeping across the soft leather like pools of blood. His stomach clenched.
My apologies, sir.” The maid dabbed at his gloves with a cloth. “That should do it. No harm done.”
“Enough,” Nathaniel said, his voice hoarse. “Leave me in peace.”

Antique Pewter Pint Tankard

Nathaniel waited, carefully scanning the room, dreading to see a familiar face. Another quarter hour passed. His attention shifted to a thin lad feeding the peat fire. Several hounds flocked around the boy, and he nudged them gently out of his way. Everyone else ignored the lad, as though he were of no account.
 “Dirty weather, this,” a reedy voice said in English. “Mind if I have a tipple?” In his distraction, Nathaniel hadn’t realized that they had been joined by an old man until the old gaffer slipped into a chair across from him.
Nathaniel took in the man’s bare cloak and tattered hat that landed beside the flagon. “Go away, old man. I have nothing for you here.”
The man gave a lopsided grin. “I could use a draught to warm my innards. Tell you what—in exchange for a cup of wine, I’ll read your fortune.”
Nathaniel moderated his breathing to school his temper. “Beg a drink elsewhere.”
The gaffer rubbed his salt-laced beard. “Shame—and with you coming all this way to find answers.”
Nathaniel’s eyes narrowed. “Who are you?”
“Deep questions, aye, but that is a story for a long winter’s night. Some call me Moss, but everyone here knows me as Teithiwr.”
Nathaniel’s brow quirked. “Calling yourself traveller? As you wish.” He passed Teithiwr his untouched wine. “Why did you want to see me?” Nathaniel toyed with the onyx ring on his finger.
The man smiled benignly and accepted the offering. “First your fortune, then my news. Your palm, if you please.”
Chiromancy? I’m not having my palm read.”
“Come now, you’ve journeyed far as it is.” The gaffer grinned over the rim of the cup.
The hairs lifted on the back of Nathaniel’s neck. “Curious meeting place you’ve chosen.” He carefully moderated his tone to sound bored. “You’ve been posted in Caernarfon, have you not?”
Teithiwr’s smile did not fade. “You were going to show me your palm?”
Nathaniel exhaled slowly. He understood the art of deflection—in fact he was a master of it. He could play this game. “Very well, if that will loosen your tongue.”


Man, Hand, Relaxation

The gaffer bent over Nathaniel’s outstretched hand, tracing various lines with his grubby fingernail. “River mud. Deep in your pores—seeping into your veins.”
“You’re blind old man. My hands are clean.”
Teithiwr ignored the comment and continued his exploration of Nathaniel’s palm. “Very interesting lines.” He turned Nathaniel’s hand to catch the light of the candle.
Nathaniel’s gaze shifted. By now a crowd had gathered close, all to hear what the old fool had to say. Rank foolishness. This intelligencer was a liability.
Teithiwr tugged on Nathaniel’s ring finger. “You’re a traveller too. You’ve journey far yet nowhere at all. Saturn is strong in you. Careful, he’s an exacting master.”
“Have you seen enough?” Nathaniel tried to disengage himself, but the old man locked his wrist.
“See this line?” Teithiwr poked at the fleshy part below Nathaniels thumb. “This is where we see how pure a life you’ve lived. Sodomy? Illegitimate children? I see none of those. But divers lovers, aye. No attachments. Wonder why?”
 Nathaniel held the man’s gaze, forcing himself not to flinch. The gaffer’s words disguised a sharp edge. “You tell me since you claim to know my past.” There—he laid the challenge on the table.
The gaffer shrugged. “The past is wherever one chooses to look for it. But the future—that requires skill. Have you the stones to learn of your death? It’s all there in your palm.”
“By all means,” Nathaniel said. “Tell me.” 
A duel,” Teithiwr continued. “And this other line shows you are no coward. The duel will involve your heart. Ah! A duel of honour.”
Murmuring approval spread through the spectators.
Nathaniel had enough, and he yanked his hand away. “Very well, you have divined that I am no sodomite or a man to spread my seed indiscriminately. Instead, I would be well-advised to practice my swordplay with renewed diligence. Scatter these crows so we may conclude our business.”
This all had been a lark, and that knowledge caused relief to sweep over him. This Teithiwr knew nothing—couldn’t possibly have been so canny as to have ferreted out Nathaniel’s secrets. He was foolish and sloppy and drew far too much attention to himself.
Nathaniel waited for the crowd to disburse then lowered his voice. “I’ve journeyed several days travel to reach this godforsaken place and you have squandered my patience. What. News. Do. You. Have. For. Me?”
Teithiwr covered Nathaniel’s hand with his own and pressed a curled paper into Nathaniel’s palm. When he lifted his hands, Nathaniel’s fist closed over the contraband. “A new cipher. To be used for all future correspondences,” the old man said, all trace of humour gone. “There’s a counterspy in our midst. Start with the Postmaster.”
Nathaniel nodded his gratitude. Tossing several coins on the table, he said, “Stay, enjoy your tipple on my account.”
“Good journey, friend.” 
Good riddance.
While the inn’s lad ran to the stables to fetch his horse, Nathaniel waited by the horse trough. The rain had finally ceased and a clean breeze began to shred the low bank of clouds clinging to the hills. With the old man’s words smarting like an ulcerous sore, Nathaniel faced the hills.


A stream tumbled down the hillside, swelling to a waterfall before collecting into the river below.
Exactly as Nathaniel had last seen it—except that the water ran clear of blood. The river’s flow was no longer blocked by the body of a man lying face down in the water, his cassock bunched up over his broken knees. And Nathaniel was no longer the frightened boy hiding amongst the rushes, looking in horror as the lifeblood of the one soul who had shown him any kindness stained the water wine-red. The rushing of the water mingled with the remembered whooping from those who had left him there. For Nathaniel to find.


The mountain’s accusing finger stretched to Nathaniel. Marked him as one of its own. No matter the years. River weeds and blood were in his blood. Perhaps he hadn’t fled far enough.
“You don’t remember me, do you?” Teithiwr appeared at his side, his boots barely making a sound. “You’ve shut out your past, or so you think.”
The rest came flooding back. Five men drunk on blood-lust, one a stranger—a slimy bastard from Caernarfon visiting for the summer. That one had led the troop, and the sword he gripped shone bright with blood.
You killed the priest.” Nathaniel didn’t bother keeping the disgust from his tone. The anger surged like the rushing waterfall. It had been an amusement to them, of no more account than beating a mangy cur. But they had taken something vital away from a fatherless boy.
Teithiwr tipped his hat before walking away.
Nathaniel watched the man saunter down the lane. Teithiwr had awakened dormant memories inside him and now they would no longer be put to rest. Was vengeance and justice really any different?
Nathaniel tipped his own hat to the retreating figure. “Until we meet again, Mister Moss.” 

© Cryssa Bazos 

Did you guess the title?
Adele - River Lea
live at Glastonbury: including Adele forgetting the lyrics -
Even professionals get things wrong sometimes! :-)



An aside from Helen: I too grew up near the River Lea, and I assure you it looks nothing like the image for the video! Adele (and myself) would have known the river as it neared London and the River Thames (see the clue image for our view of it!) where the land is flat, marshy and doesn't have mountains! One of the highest points would be a few miles from Waltham Abbey atthe edge of Epping Forest overlooking the Lee Valley Pole hill is 91 metres (about 300 feet) above sea level ... so definitely not mountainous! And just to add to confusion: the Valley is the Lee Valley, the river is the River Lea... 

Image may contain: sky, cloud, tree, plant, outdoor, nature and water
The Lea near Waltham Abbey
© Lesley Midda Essex Life Facebook

(permission requested)

Cryssa Bazos is an award-winning historical fiction author and 17th-century enthusiast. Her debut novel, Traitor's Knot was selected as DDRevs Book of the Month, the Medalist winner of the 2017 New Apple Award (historical fiction), a finalist for the 2018 EPIC eBook Awards (historical romance) and the RNA Joan Hessayon Award. Her second novel, Severed Knot, is a B.R.A.G Medallion Honoree and was longlisted for the Historical Novel Society 2018 New Novel Award.

Reviewed by Discovering Diamonds
For more information visit Cryssa's website at cryssa.bazos.com


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This was our last story - we hope you have enjoyed them all.
if you missed any, the full list is below. 
or just follow the arrow 

The Full List of Authors

December
2nd   M.J. Logue   First Love 
3rd   Richard Tearle Chips and Ice Cream
4th    Helen Hollick Promises, Promises
5th    Paul Marriner Memories
6th    Pam Webber One Door Closing
7th    Louise Adam Hurt Me Once
8th    Barbara Gaskell Denvil Sticks and Stones
9th    Judith Arnopp Secrets
10th  Erica Lainé  Silk Stockings
11th   Anna Belfrage Hold Me, Love Me, Leave Me? 
12th  Annie Whitehead Frozen
13th  Tony Riches Alas, My Love
14th  Clare Flynn, Zipless
15th  J.G. Harlond The Last Assignment
16th  Elizabeth St John Under The Clock
17th  Alison Morton Honoria’s Battle
18th  Jean Gill The Hunter
19th  Patricia Bracewell Daddy's Gift
20th Debbie Young It Doesn't Feel Like Christmas
21st   Ruth Downie  Doing It Properly
22nd Nicky Galliers What God Has Joined
23rd  Elizabeth Chadwick The Cloak
24th / 25th Christmas Break
26th  Helen Hollick Ever After
27th   Barbara Gaskell Denvil Just The One... Or Maybe Two
28th   Deborah Swift Just Another Day
29th   Amy Maroney What The Plague Brings
30th   Cryssa Bazos River Mud
31st  HAPPY NEW YEAR



 Note: There is copyright legislation for song lyrics 
but no copyright in names, titles or ideas

StorySong graphic by @Avalongraphics 
additional images via Pixabay accreditation not required

29 December 2019

What the Plague Brings by Amy Maroney - A Story Inspired By A Song


Read the Story
Guess the Song
here's a clue...
Purse, Wallet, Money, Finances

Whenever Ramón de Oto’s father returned from a violent spar with enemies in Cerdagna or Vallespir, the boy was flooded with an odd mixture of relief and excitement. Relief because his father had come back to him alive. And excitement because his father was a very fine storyteller. Without fail, within a day or two of his return, the baron would call for his son and the two of them would savor an evening in front of a blazing fire.


Blaze, Fireplace, Bonfire, Burn, Coal

Ramón’s favorite was a ghoulish tale about the plague. The story was downright terrifying, especially when it spilled from the lips of his fierce-eyed father, enthroned on an oak chair before the massive hearth, a wolf-pelt draped over his shoulders. There was something eminently comforting about sitting on his father’s knee, watching the flames dance, listening to words so familiar he could recite the entire tale himself—and often did, when his father was away at battle.
 During the first wave of the Black Death, his father would begin, their family had managed something extraordinary. Thanks to their ancestor Baron López de Oto, the house of Oto had not only survived the plague, it had soared to a dizzying pinnacle of power.
The disease had destroyed the very fabric of society all over Aragón, Ramón’s father explained. Thievery and murdering became the norm. There was no end to the violence, and no way to bring criminals to justice. Any fine house that was shuttered during those dark days would soon be looted.  It became commonplace to see street urchins parading around in stolen finery. 



Castle, Knights, Fortress, Walls


But in their remote mountain castle, the de Oto family lived as they had always done, out of reach of these horrors. And perhaps they would have escaped the plague unscathed if the baroness had not gone to visit Lady Almaz, the wife of one of their vassals, who was expecting a new baby. When the baroness did not return as promised a month later, Baron López de Oto sent a pair of guards to bring her back. But they failed in their mission, saying the ferryman refused to transport them across the river that lay between the baronial lands and the Almaz home. The town on the opposite river bank had been struck by the plague, the guards explained. Fires burned day and night there, incinerating corpses and sending a nauseating stench across the land.
 López de Oto armed himself and ordered the men to return with him to the river. Promising the ferryman a pouch of gold coins (and liberally applying the sharp point of his longsword to the man’s chest), he led his horse aboard the craft and bade his guards to follow.


Cave, Monk, Boat, Lantern, Water

 Once across the water, they learned from one of the town’s few survivors that the magistrate, the bailiff, and the notary had all perished. Quickly they spurred their horses south along the dusty roads, not pausing until the stone walls of the Almaz home rose up before them. No guards blocked their way. Indeed, the massive oak doors of the house were ajar and no servants were about.
 The scent of death hung in the stale air as López and his men stalked through the silent corridors. Striding upstairs to the bedchambers, López discovered corpses that had already begun to rot in their beds, their bodies covered with the pus-filled boils that were the hallmark of the Black Death.
 In her oak bedstead, Lady Almaz lay dead, her baby still in the womb. López stood over her, tempted to cut it out with his dagger to see if it was still alive. He had heard the story of a long-ago king of Aragón who emerged from his dead mother’s womb in this fashion. A band of lance-wielding Moors had attacked the royal party as they were passing through a peaceful valley, and the pregnant queen was left dead on the road. A quick-thinking baron cut the baby free after happening upon the scene of the massacre. Judging from the corpse on the bed in front of him, Lady Almaz had been dead for days. There was no chance any life still pulsed within her womb.
 He moved from room to room until he found his wife. She lay contorted on top of the bedcovers, her face twisted in a macabre grimace. The sight of her disheveled nightdress and the tangled hair that lay across her face made him shudder with distaste. She had borne him several sons, but he had never held the woman in his heart. After all, she was from Béarn, over the mountains, a foreigner who had been traded to his family in return for prime grazing lands in the Pyrenees. He would soon find another, younger wife.
  Hastily he rolled her body inside the bedsheet, heaved it over his shoulder, and lugged it outside. Within an hour López de Oto and his men had removed all the bodies from the house, piled them in a stubble field, and lit them on fire.


Fire, Flames, Bonfire, Sweden, Night

Watching black spirals of smoke sail into the cloudless sky, López folded his arms and waited for the charred skeletons to crumble into ash. Then the wind shifted and dark smoke coursed toward him. Eyes watering, he wheeled and returned to the house. Standing in the empty hall, he eyed the wooden chests that squatted against the stone walls. They were locked. He strode to the armory and pulled a battle-ax off the wall. With two decisive strokes of the ax, he smashed the iron lock on the first chest and flung it open. It was jammed with silver plates and cups. He decided to carry the family’s valuables back to his own home for safekeeping. 

Treasure, Jewels, Pearls, Gold, Silver

And so began the baron’s struggle to safeguard the possessions of Aragón’s noble houses. He began a regular practice of forays through plague-stricken lands, flanked by guards wearing battle armor. While the epidemic raged and more families were struck down by its horrors, López grimly patrolled the fields and valleys, checking on widows, finding homes for orphaned children. In the case of a family being completely obliterated, he would dismiss any surviving servants and collect all the valuables he could find.
Time went on. The baron remarried and sired more sons. In his later years, he quietly loaned the royal family funds to prop up the foundering kingdom of Aragón and was gifted land, castles, and ships in return. When the plague was only a distant memory, López de Oto looked back at his actions through a pragmatic lens. He had simply rescued the wealth of fellow nobles from the grasping hands of thieves and murderers. The loot was, of course, returned to those families whose heirs survived. But when entire families had been wiped out, there was nothing to do but keep their possessions. Without any heirs to claim it, the wealth belonged to no one.


Pipe, Smoke, Man, Beard, Addiction

Despite the obvious heroism displayed by their ancestor, Ramón’s father always concluded it would not do to speak of the man’s deeds to anyone but a son of the house of Oto. Each time he told the tale, he ended it the same way. He would lean so close that his beard brushed against Ramón’s cheek, and he would growl into his son’s ear. Some things, he warned the boy, were best kept within the family, passed down from father to son. And this tale was one of those things. 
Shuddering with dread at his father’s menacing tone, Ramón always nodded shakily and vowed to keep the story to himself.
Then his father would ask him, “What did you learn from López de Oto, my son?”
And in his best imitation of a man’s strong voice, Ramón would reply, “Fortune favors the bold.”
His father would smile in satisfaction and drape an arm around the boy. At this moment, when the time for talking was over, Ramón always experienced a deep peace that he rarely encountered again during his lifetime. Relaxing against his father’s warm bulk, he would drowse until bedtime, the companionable silence broken only by the crackle of fire and the faint moan of wind slipping through chinks in the castle’s stone walls.


Masonry, Stone, Stone Masonry, History

© Amy Maroney

Amy Maroney is the author of the Miramonde Series, which tells the story of a Renaissance-era female artist and the young scholar on her trail. She lives in Oregon, U.S.A. Her latest novel, A Place in the World, was published by Artelan Press in September 2019. Learn more at amymaroney.com


Did you guess the title?
Chris De Burgh - Don't Pay The Ferryman


website amymaroney.com
Amy Maroney grew up in a family of bookworms and was happiest perusing the shelves of her local library, checking out the maximum number of books each week, and harboring dreams of writing her own novels one day. She studied English literature at Boston University, and worked for many years as a writer and editor of nonfiction. Now she lives in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. with her family. When she’s not diving down research rabbit holes, she enjoys hiking, drawing, dancing, swimming in mountain lakes, and—of course—reading. She is the author of the Miramonde Series, a historical mystery trilogy that tells the story of  a Renaissance-era female artist and the young scholar on her trail. 



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The Full List of Authors


December
2nd   M.J. Logue   First Love 
3rd   Richard Tearle Chips and Ice Cream
4th    Helen Hollick Promises, Promises
5th    Paul Marriner Memories
6th    Pam Webber One Door Closing
7th    Louise Adam Hurt Me Once
8th    Barbara Gaskell Denvil Sticks and Stones
9th    Judith Arnopp Secrets
10th  Erica Lainé  Silk Stockings
11th   Anna Belfrage Hold Me, Love Me, Leave Me? 
12th  Annie Whitehead Frozen
13th  Tony Riches Alas, My Love
14th  Clare Flynn, Zipless
15th  J.G. Harlond The Last Assignment
16th  Elizabeth St John Under The Clock
17th  Alison Morton Honoria’s Battle
18th  Jean Gill The Hunter
19th  Patricia Bracewell Daddy's Gift
20th Debbie Young It Doesn't Feel Like Christmas
21st   Ruth Downie  Doing It Properly
22nd Nicky Galliers What God Has Joined
23rd  Elizabeth Chadwick The Cloak
24th / 25th Christmas Break
26th  Helen Hollick Ever After
27th   Barbara Gaskell Denvil Just The One... Or Maybe Two
28th   Deborah Swift Just Another Day
29th   Amy Maroney What The Plague Brings
30th   Cryssa Bazos River Mud
31st  HAPPY NEW YEAR

 Note: There is copyright legislation for song lyrics 
but no copyright in names, titles or ideas

StorySong graphic by @Avalongraphics 
additional images via Pixabay accreditation not required