Dear friends and readers,

cover_inasmallcompass_1It has finally happened: My first book, In a Small Compass – Vol. 1, was published on November 30, 2016 as a multi-format ebook by Smashwords. As many of you may know, the book comprises my first 15 (optimised!) short stories. I hope you’ll take time to check it out at Smashwords, where you can download the book for free.

In a Small Compass – Vol. 1 is available at many retailers. Mobi format is available at Smashwords.

Buy/download links:Β  books2read.com/u/m0zodW

I am looking forward to your feedback and reviews.Β  πŸ™‚

Best wishes,

Karen

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Oh. My. Dog! #35

Posted: November 13, 2016 in Flash Fiction, Oh. My. Dog!
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Mrs Cairns’ high tea was delicious – as always. Throughout the meal, I felt Bud’s watchful eyes on me. He sensed my restlessness; he presumably knew the reason why.

β€œWhy don’t we go outside, our garden is beautiful on bright autumn days like this.”

We cleared the table, then we followed Mrs Cairns to the garden. The rose-bush seemed bigger, or perhaps I was imagining things. Bud pricked his ears as we heard soft voices behind the hedge. He let out one of his silent barks and trotted to the garden gate. His joyful wagging indicated that it had to be Lynx. I rushed over to meet her. As expected she had James in tow.

I made the introductions. Mrs Cairns recognised James immediately. She greeted our visitors with a warm smile. β€œWould you like some freshly made lemonade, or would you prefer coffee?”

Lynx politely declined. β€œThank you, we’re good, Mrs Cairns. I know for a fact that James is dying to see your garden, though. Can you imagine that his father denied his studying landscape gardening? He insisted on business management!”

Mrs Cairns chuckled. β€œBusiness management studies followed by landscape gardening make for a successful future job, I suppose.”

Oh. My. Dog! #34

Posted: October 16, 2016 in Flash Fiction, Oh. My. Dog!
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Have you ever come across a gardening geek?”

Lynx looked surprised. β€œExcept gardeners? No. Besides, I cannot imagine a gardener applying surveillance devices for plants. This would rather be a nerd with botanical interests.”

β€œRight! Mrs Cairns told me about a ‘friend’ looking for me.”

Lynx was thunderstruck. β€œWhy didn’t you tell me before?”

Bud laid his paw on her knee as I admitted that it had simply slipped from my mind.

β€œI’ve seen him on campus, James something. He hardly ever talks, doesn’t seem to socialize at all. I’ve seen him watching you, though.”

Lynx and Bud held eye contact, she smiled. β€œI knew you were special, Bud.”

If there was really a camera, he might have overheard Mrs Cairns and wouldn’t dare to return.

Lynx interrupted my musings. β€œJames seems horribly shy. He surely doesn’t want to do any harm. I am going to have a little chat with him.”

We agreed that I had better stay away.

Two days later, Lynx carefully approached James after the last lecture. β€œI could kill for a coffee. Would you like to join me?”

At the Costa, it became obvious that Lynx had been right: James was shy and very lonely.

Oh. My. Dog! #33

Posted: August 21, 2016 in Flash Fiction, Oh. My. Dog!
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Leaving The Yorkshire Terrier, I considered the weather highly adequate for a jog along the river Ouse. Bud and I enjoyed the sights; really enjoying York – our new home.

+++ +++ +++

We returned at the pub with two minutes to spare. When Lynx came out to meet us, I learned that she lived less than a minute away.

Lynx unlocked the door to her flat, inviting us in with a bow. Signalling that I was to take care of the drinks, she turned to Bud, β€œAnd you make yourself comfortable and look good.” Bud grinned.

After dinner, we focussed on the ghost gardener. I told Lynx everything we had learned so far, including my theory that the ghost gardener would return once to admire the gardening work – which hadn’t happened.

β€œWhat about Mrs Cairns’ rose bush? Has the branch recovered?”

β€œNo, it hasn’t changed.”

β€œSee? The ghost gardener didn’t return, still waiting for a success.”

β€œAll right, the ghost gardener will wait until there is progress but – how?”

β€œDid you search the premises?”

I admitted that we hadn’t.

β€œThe ghost gardener might have left a camera.”

Mr Cairns handled serious cases, this one seemed harmless. Who would consider tracking a plant’s healing process?

Oh. My. Dog! #32

Posted: July 10, 2016 in Uncategorized
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β€œWe can cross off Andrew Drake; and Eileen Rivers cannot walk without crutches. This seems to be a dead end, Ken.”

I was disappointed. Perhaps the ghost gardener had not admired the rose-bush, yet.

β€œDid your friend find you, Ken?”

Mrs Cairns’ innocent question threw me off-balance. Bud lay his paw on my knee. I saw a guy about my age, I was sure I never met him. He was standing next to Mrs Cairns and – her rose-bush.

β€œI told him you were at university, he said he’d find you.”

β€œThank you, Mrs Cairns.” I felt no need to explain that I didn’t know him.

+++ +++ +++

Bud’s and my extended Saturday bike tour ended at the Yorkshire Terrier Pub. I was looking forward to a Ghost Ale, secretly hoping to meet Lynx. I was not disappointed.

β€œGhost Ale and water on the way!”

The pub was still empty and Lynx seized the opportunity for a hug and a chat. I told her about the ghost gardener. She listened intently.

β€œWow! We need to find that guy! My shift ends at eight. Why don’t you guys come over to my place?” Her dazzling smile included Bud, her kiss was just for me.

Oh. My. Dog! #31

Posted: June 28, 2016 in Flash Fiction, Oh. My. Dog!
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Saturday morning started with my ringing phone. β€œIt’s breakfast time, Ken!”

Ten minutes later, Bud and I trotted over to the house. Mr Cairns stood in the open front door – a little impatient, yet grinning. β€œThe wife is in a creative mood.” He was right; delicious smells wafted from the kitchen.

+++ +++ +++

We tucked into the delicacies; Mrs Cairns had once again outdone herself. She was the first to put away her cutlery. β€œThe rose bush, who did this? It is actually a blessing that it has been turned at that angle, I just don’t feel comfortable that someone sneaked in and did it.”

Mr Cairns cleared his throat. β€œThis ghost gardener is pretty active. We monitored some of the gardens – to no avail, though.”

This made sense. Why should this gardener return? Unless…

β€œThe ghost gardener is an expert; the main reason for returning would be to admire the achieved improvement. Did you have any uncommon guests – interested in your garden?”

β€œEileen Rivers, she was interested in the herb garden. And Andrew Drake stopped by, asking advice for his slug and snail problem.”

Mr Cairns’ face reddened, β€œAndrew Drake?!”

Bud lay his paw on our landlord’s knee. Mr Cairns chuckled.

Oh. My. Dog! #30

Posted: May 29, 2016 in Flash Fiction, Oh. My. Dog!
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‘The Ghost Gardener of York’ – this headline might have fitted the yellow press, not our reputable regional newspaper. Inwardly shaking my head, I kept on reading. For several months, someone had solved local hobby gardeners’ issues by nocturnal visits to their gardens. The home owners were mostly thrilled. ‘My orchids never really grew, they seemed limp, then, one day they were relocated, other plants planted next to them. Now they are my pride and joy….’ – ‘My apples used to be attacked by parasites. One morning, there were some odd screens; the apples grew and were delicious…’

The stories went on. Some hobby gardeners had even started a forum. I followed the link. There was more praise and – the question who this ghostly gardener might be. Some had set up photo traps – to no avail.

β€œThis makes sense, Bud. As their gardening issues were solved, there was no need to return.”

Bud glanced up and laid his paw on my knee.

I saw a dimly lit alley and a dark-clad figure squeezing through a hedge.

β€œThat’s not much to go on, Bud. These clothes offer no clue regarding gender or age. My educated guess is that it’s done with best intentions.”

Oh. My. Dog! #29

Posted: April 30, 2016 in Flash Fiction, Oh. My. Dog!
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Her words were still ringing in my ears as I took a step forward.

β€œWhat do you mean by tampered with, Mrs Cairns?”

β€œThe rosebush has been turned by about 90Β°.”

β€œHow do you know that?”

Smiling sadly, she indicated a branch. β€œYou see this strange dent, Ken. It was previously facing the footpath.”

I was confused. Why would someone dig out a rosebush, turn it, the carefully set it back into the ground? Mrs Cairns’ voice interrupted my musings. β€œLast night I had the strangest dream,” she whispered.

β€œI actually handed Bud a rose and he happily carried it away.”

She looked me in the eyes – all serious, stating β€œI would never hand a thorny or poisonous plant to a kid or an animal, Ken. Never.”

β€œI know that, Mrs Cairns.”

+++ +++ +++

I filled Bud’s bowl. Having lost my appetite, I decided on doing some research. Why were we all dreaming weird stuff? And what about this creepy rose? There were thousands of websites on dreams and roses, nothing that seemed believable came even close to our situation. I opted for giving up my research; deciding on checking the news instead. A headline caught my eyes: ‘The Ghost Gardener of York’

Oh. My. Dog! #28

Posted: March 20, 2016 in Flash Fiction, Oh. My. Dog!
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Lynx guided me to the room, even staying for Professor Darmody’s lecture. Afterwards she grabbed my hand, showing me some short-cuts on the way to the next class. One glance at my timetable sufficed to memorize it. I felt overwhelmed by all the faces, rooms – everything.

β€œTrust me, the other first-year students feel the same.”

We were having coffee and I nearly choked over my cucumber sandwich. I had hoped she wouldn’t notice.

β€œDon’t you worry, Ken. Two weeks from now, you’ll be quite at home on these premises.”

We quietly continued eating; thankfully it was not an awkward silence and I finally relaxed.

Lynx walked met to my next class-room, kissed me on the threshold, β€œSee you tomorrow.” and strode down the hall. She still had the rose; its head peeked out of her bag.

On my way home, the rush hour required my full attention. Stopping at the garden entrance, I could hear Mrs Cairns talking. Curious, I left my bicycle, following her voice. She and Bud were in front of her favourite rosebush.

β€œYou see, Bud… This does not make any sense.”

Bud looked up at her, as if urging her to continue.

“This bush has been tampered with.”

Oh. My. Dog! #27

Posted: February 21, 2016 in Flash Fiction, Oh. My. Dog!
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I had nearly reached Lynx when she looked up, smiling warmly. β€œKen, I was-”

My heart did a double-take, my brain went mushy; stammering something like ‘Hurry, Prof Darmody, class’ made me want to kick myself.

Lynx got up. β€œDarmody is never on time for the first class of the day. They tolerate it – he is inspiring, taking his students to the top levels.”

I felt myself relax a little.

β€œI had the oddest dream this morning. I was sitting here as usual; Bud appeared, carrying a peach-coloured rose. He offered me the rose and laid his paw on my knee. Then I saw you running in my direction – right as you just did. Then my alarm rang. When I got here, I saw this rose lying on the bench.”

I gulped. It was a beautiful rose, a rare shade of peach – Mrs Cairns’ pride and joy. How did the rose get on that bench?! The door and windows were always locked, Bud couldn’t or – could he?

β€œIt was a sweet dream, Ken. Bud is so cute. And I really hoped to see you today.”

Changing the subject she grabbed her stuff, β€œLet’s begin the tutoring!”