Saturday, 16 April 2016

Timed Out... RELEASE DAY!

Driven Press is excited to announce the release of Barbara Lorna Hudson's women's literary fiction novel, Timed Out, in paperback and e-book formats world-wide today.

Timed Out

Jane Lambert thinks she may have made a mistake putting her work ahead of love and family for so long. She’s left wondering what to do with her life now that she has retired.
Taking note of the sentiment from one of her retirement cards⎯Retirement is NOT the end. It’s a NEW BEGINNING⎯she decides it’s about time she looked for love again, and places a lonely hearts advertisement. Jane embarks on her new life, suffering disappointments and learning hard truths about herself, while never losing her gift for self mockery or her eye for the absurd.
Timed Out is a contemporary “coming-of-age” novel about different kinds of love and the search for a meaningful life.

Praise for Timed Out

Lovely lucid fiction, poignant and bittersweet. A story of late life romance told with honesty and wit.
—Adam Foulds, author of ManBooker shortlisted The Quickening Maze.

The important question of how we should live the last decades of our life is timely. Timed Out explores this question in a poignant and truthful manner.
—Michelle Spring, Cambridge novelist.


A good way to exercise your brain and meet new people is to sign up for continuing education. During those first weeks of retirement, I attended a course on the English Civil War.

Lecture number three focused on King Charles I and his family. As the audience was assembling, I caught sight of a once-familiar figure taking his seat a few rows forward from me. I guessed he’d retired to Cambridge. It wasn’t unusual to come upon people I’d known when we were students, people who somehow found their way back to Cambridge in later years, like homing pigeons released from cages far away. This man’s hair was white and his face was lined and fallen, and I noticed with sadness that he walked with a stick. He turned and scanned the lecture hall. His gaze rested on me briefly, and he turned away. I glanced down at my notebook, examined the liver spots on my hands, and then looked furtively up again and saw that he was studying me, puzzled, half-recognising me, perhaps.

His name? It was strange to have forgotten, for he was important to me once, an early Cambridge romance. We’d spent a few steamy, strenuous afternoons in bed in his college room. The name came to me at last: Peter . . . Richards or Richardson. His favourite song was “Dites moi pourquoi la vie est belle? Dites moi pourquoi la vie est gai?” And, it is true, our lives were beautiful and merry in those days. Two years ahead of me, he had left to work overseas, and we soon lost touch.

The lecture began. We were shown photos of the statues of King Charles and Queen Henrietta Maria, both of them flattered, glossy in bronze, gazing at one another from opposite sides of the quad in St John’s College Oxford. The lecturer pointed out that though they looked a handsome couple, in reality the King was very short and the Queen had a twisted spine and sticking-out teeth. Charles was a faithful, adoring husband. The royal couple commemorated their reunion after the Battle of Edgehill with a special coin. While the court was in Oxford, they spent their afternoons together; the King came out of Christchurch to the Queen’s rooms in Merton College through the small gateway they say was made specially for him. He rode at her side all the way from Oxford to Abingdon, where they parted for the last time, and she fainted when they had to say goodbye. As I looked up at the portraits of Charles and Henrietta Maria on the screen, I felt—ridiculous though it was—I felt envious. How could anyone envy a long-dead, failed, beheaded king and the sorrowing queen he left behind? Yet I couldn’t help but admire Charles and Henrietta Maria for their enduring love.

After the lecture, in order to avoid coming face to face with Peter Richards or Richardson, I hurried to the exit, carrying away those faint but pleasant memories, wanting to keep what was left of them intact. And not wanting him to see me in close-up, elderly and changed.

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A farmer’s daughter from Cornwall, Barbara Lorna Hudson studied at Newnham College, Cambridge. She started out as a psychiatric social worker before becoming an Oxford tutor. She is an Emeritus Fellow of Green Templeton College, Oxford.

After many publications in social work, psychiatry, and psychology, she has re-invented herself as a fiction writer over the last few years. Barbara has published over twenty short stories and been listed in several short story competitions. The first draft of Timed Out (written during a University of East Anglia Certificate Course) won first prize in the Writers’ Village Novel Competition and it was on the short list for the Exeter Novel Prize.

Barbara belongs to a writers’ group run by Blackwell’s Bookshop and The Oxford Editors, and she is also a regular performer at a story-telling club.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Release Day! A Keeper's Truth by Dee Willson

Driven Press is very happy to announce the release of literary romance A Keeper’s Truth in paperback and e-book formats world-wide today. 

A Keeper’s Truth

Every one of us has a soul.
Some are new, some old, and a few, the dangerous, are lost.
But only twelve know why we have a soul at all.
Only twelve remember mankind’s forbidden past.
Tess thinks she’s going crazy when only she sees the naked man in the crowded café, comatose woman in his arms. The nightmares, the visions: something’s not right. But Tess is entitled to moments of insanity. She’s the daughter of mental illness, suicide, and her husband was just killed in a car accident, leaving her an inept single mom at twenty-six.
Then Tess meets Bryce, Carlisle’s illusive bachelor who spins tales from ancient mythology with knowledge beyond his years. His truths intrigue Tess, pull her from the depths, and might just be what she needs to survive.
Compulsively readable, A Keeper’s Truth is an emotionally charged tale of fate, belief, and the power of the human mind. A story that will have you questioning everything you know about the history of mankind, and wondering if somewhere, deep inside, you knew the truth all along.


My name is Tess. I’m the daughter of a liar. And unhinged.

Tess is the name on the sticker stuck to my shirt above my right boob. I wonder why it says that, no one uses my name anymore. It should read: Oh, I’m sorry. Or the extended version: Oh my God, I’m so sorry. I’m greeted with pouty lips and sad eyes. Instant reminders . . . as if I need to be reminded my husband is dead. Meyer has been gone five months, two days, sixteen hours, and twenty-two minutes. The last two minutes only slightly better than the first.

I’m standing in my daughter’s classroom, waiting for my turn to meet her kindergarten teacher, Ms. Bubbly. Actually, her name is Ms. Rainer, but since she wears no sticker herself, I’ve taken the liberty to provide her with an appropriate title, one with more verve. I hover in the back corner, pretending to be enthralled with drawings of horses stapled to the bulletin board. Well, I think they’re horses, or ponies, or some sort of animal with four legs; they really aren’t all that easy to decipher. I’m grateful for the distraction. I’m a shell, a remnant, a shadow of my former self.

I catch a glimpse of affection, a naturally intimate gesture between lovers. His hand on her waist, her leaning into his shoulder while whispering in his ear. I draw a mouthful of air, the word widow encasing me like a tomb, and scan the crowd again, hoping to see Thomas. He’s the only other single parent I know of. He’s not here.

It must be my turn to speak to Ms. Bubbly. She reaches out and with a strained voice says, “So sorry to learn about your loss.”

Great, just what I wanted to hear. I look at my nametag and tighten my arms into their usual position, holding my insides, inside. I realize my lack of finesse a moment too late, and Ms. Bubbly drops her hand.

“So . . . Abby . . .” I can’t think of anything more to say. My mind is mush.
Ms. Bubbly briefs me on her first weeks with my daughter, nothing I don’t already know. Abby is quiet. Abby’s working on her printing skills, her b’s and d’s are backwards. Abby likes to play with Thomas’s daughter, Sofia, her best friend from junior kindergarten. Ms. Bubbly ends with, “Abby seems to be coping,” and I stare at my shoes, the word coping caught in my throat. “Yes, under the circumstances, Abby is doing well,” Mrs. Bubbly says, her animation dwindling.

I realize she’s striving for sincerity, but I can’t help but wonder which circumstance she’s referring to: Abby being fatherless or my inability to raise her alone.

“Good,” I say, because it’s Tuesday, opposite day according to the blackboard.
Ms. Bubbly’s attention wanders, and I consider revoking her title as I mumble goodbye, head for the door, and tear the name tag from my shirt. Head down, I smack my forehead into something solid, then recoil, instinct requiring an assessment of the battle wound.

It hurts already. Life just won’t toss me a break.

“My apologies, Tess,” says an unfamiliar voice. A rich, masculine voice.
My eyes follow the six feet four inches of triple-threat black—boots, jeans, leather jacket—to land on two-day stubble and a large hand rubbing the contours of a chiseled chin. Apparently life can get worse. I’ve collided with Adonis, the kind that stops your heart from beating just long enough to make you forget all the ones who came before, offering nothing but hollow promises and seasoned moves. Been there, done that, burned the shirt.

It dawns on me he said my name, no condolences.

“Do I know you?” I ask, my gaze rising from his chin to his eyes.

Wow. His gray eyes and dark lashes are . . . mesmerizing.

“I doubt we’ve met. Tess, it’s the name on your sticker,” he says, pointing to the name tag now on the floor. His hair, dark and cropped, is windblown and off kilter.

I grab the closest chair, attempting to overcome the strangest sensation, like I’m a feather, floating.

“You all right?” His European accent has an almost liquid quality, at odds with his rugged appearance. “Allow me.”

Relocating his motorcycle helmet from one hip to the other and balancing it under his forearm, he bends to collect my sticker from the floor. Something shimmers, my vision suddenly malfunctioning, and for a split second he’s draped in a luxurious white fur, a blanket of sorts, reaching for a bright colored scarf at his feet, big and bare. His movements are gentle and deliberate, but fast, as if I am watching in fast-forward. With the conclusion of one blink he’s back to normal, leather clad arm outstretched toward me.

I stand stock-still, holding the chair for support, trying to bring my eyes into focus.

“You okay?” He thrusts the sticker at me a second time, I think.

I survey body parts, grateful gravity has kept me intact.

“I’ve been better.” I squeeze my eyes tight, trying to recall what I’d seen, but it’s gone, as if wiped from memory, leaving just a weird sense of déjà vu. Man, I’ve fallen apart since Meyer’s been gone.

“You have,” he says, and my eyes pop open to stare. He’s smiling, amused. “Too much caffeine maybe.”

Have I met this guy before? He doesn’t look like anyone I know, but there is something about him, something familiar. It’s not a good feeling.

“Right, caffeine,” I say, lying. I gave up caffeine when I was pregnant with Abby and never looked back.

He grins like a hyena. “Your eyes playing tricks?”

My mother, in one of her moods, would’ve wiped that smirk away with a kiss. And he’d have let her, stranger or not. She was intoxicating. But I’m not my mother, and my brief lapse in sanity doesn’t require justification. I’m a twenty-six-year-old widow with no idea how to pull it together, so I ignore his question and settle for diversion.

“Are you a teacher here?”

“Not here,” he says. “I promised my niece I’d stop by to meet hers.” He takes my hand. “Bryce, Bryce Waters,” he says, planting a soft kiss on the back of my fingers.
Stunned, I search his face for the slightest hint of perversion, a reason to club him, but I see nothing but a gentleman in wolf’s clothing. Still, I pull my hand away.

“I’m not the teacher.”

He tilts his head. “You’re Tess.” My name drips from his lips like melted butter and warning bells sound in my head, loud and clear. “You’ll need ice for that bruise.” He points to my head. “Take care of yourself.”

A gritty moan vibrates my teeth when I touch my forehead and discover a bump the size of Mount St. Helens. It throbs, making me take note of the headache creeping in. Somewhere under the surface I’m mortified I plowed into this guy without an apology or concern for his chin. I can’t bring myself to grasp the emotion, so I draw a deep breath and say, “Always do,” as I shuffle past and without another word, walk straight out the door.

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About Dee Willson

Dee Willson felt the writer’s call at fifteen, when she penned her first novel and received her first rejection to go with it. Over twenty years later, Dee Willson has published short stories, interviews, contributed to blogs, and wrote the novel A Keeper’s Truth, followed by GOT (Gift of Travel). She currently resides in Burlington, Ontario, with her husband and their two daughters. Visit her online at and on Twitter @denisewillson