It’s Spring – there’s Elderflowers – 31st March 2014

In celebration of Elderflower cordial – Thanks Mary Berry for Inspiring this post!

ElderflowersMy parents were both keen wine makers and I remember a day, when I lived in Worthing, West Sussex, where I ventured out on my bike and stumbled across an avenue of Elder trees, all bearing these beautifully scented white blooms. I picked several bunches, dried them out and it did indeed make a very pleasing wine. It was these fond memories which inspired a countryside scene in my latest book, ‘Pleasures’ Book 3 of my series, which I am working to have finished by the end of the year. So I included an extract below:

“Before anyone had a chance to feel melancholy, they continued their hike – where the footpaths circumnavigated a vista of undulating fields, enclosed within hedgerows. In contrast to the devastation William had witnessed before, the vegetation around them had burst into life – the hedges lush with foliage and cow parsley, whilst a profusion of creamy, scented elder blossoms graced the slender branches of trees. Lucy momentarily paused to admire them – explaining how the delicate blooms made a particularly pleasing cordial, as well as a fine summer wine. She and Joshua would be returning here to gather some, over the next few days.

Her love of the countryside was infectious and Margaret soon found herself completely absorbed, as she finally saw the landscape through different eyes. Elijah too, who had recently turned 15, found himself just as captivated. This was after all, the place he’d grown up as a boy, compelled to push aside those darker memories of a time when Eleanor sped back here – shortly followed by the nightmare of his near capture. They were approaching the woods, encircling the grounds of Westbourne House. The path wound its way towards a stile, which they clambered over in turn. On this occasion however, the woods were cleared of fallen timber; the few trees, left standing, allowed the sunlight to permeate through the gaps in long, hazy shafts, illuminating the grass, which lay scattered with a few withering blue bells.

“It looks better, than the last time we came,” William explained, as they followed the path through the wood. Eventually, it trailed its way towards the gate on the other side.

By the time they exited the wood, they could clearly see Herbert’s farm again. But the far side of the forest had now been completely excavated – the ground cleared of any remaining fauna, the earth ploughed and flattened in readiness to be sewn with grass seed.

“It’s going to be so much easier to manage,” William found himself explaining a little later.

Toby had briefly explained how they intended to use their new land for grazing stock – intent on putting some goodness back into the soil, before turning it over to crops. Then, finally, he invited them into their homely farmhouse for a drink.

Straight away, Amber had found a bottle of elder flower cordial, which she uncorked and sloshed into a glass jug. Its floral taste was wonderfully refreshing – and the kids had agreed that, if they had time, it would be a pleasure to help Lucy gather some, on their walk back to the caravan.

It was a good half hour, before they gradually set off again, this time, armed with a wicker basket, loaned from Amber – pausing at intervals, to pluck flat bunches of blossoms from the over-hanging branches. They chose a slightly different route home – and after the exertion of their steady up-hill climb, they ambled their way back along the farm track which led to the road.”

This is an early draft of PLEASURES in its embryonic stages. Hope to deliver another fast paced story soon.

 

 
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Roll up, roll up… for our 1st CHINDI Book Fair!

I have recently got together with a bunch of local authors in the Chichester area of West Sussex. But before I go on to talk about our group, I first of all want to plug our first public event, coming up this Saturday.

CHINDI BOOK FAIR - Saturday 8th March

This is a FREE event scheduled to take place at the New Park Centre Café from 9am-5pm. A group of local authors are setting up an exhibition of our published works, to talk about our books as well as our journey into self publishing. There are books from many genres: including children’s books, crime thrillers, science fiction, fantasy, mystery suspense, romance and alternative history – and of course, signed copies of the books will be available throughout the day.

For further information, check out our website www.chindi-authors.co.uk

screen grab of chindi website

We have a write up in the CHICHESTER OBSERVER this week and in addition, the Mayor & Mayoress of Chichester will be attending. But that’s not all…

To coincide with National Book Day, best selling Indie author, Ben Galley, is hosting a workshop: ‘Shelf-Help: An In-Depth Guide to Self-Publishing’, from 11am – 12pm. (Tickets for this event are £6)

Entrepreneur, Katy Lasseter and local self-published author Daniel Hobden will be offering a free talk at 2pm, on the importance of proof-reading, copywriting and marketing for the self-publishing author.

For those who like books, or are interested in writing and publishing, come along as this promises to be a great day. Refreshments will be available and we are also organising a BOOK SWAP - so any books you’ve read that are in good condition, bring them along and exchange them for another one.

How did CHINDI come about?

A little while ago I was approached by another local author, named Jeremy Good, who asked if I would be interested in participating in a book fair. It sounded exciting. I confess, public events such as book signings are something I have always been shy about – but I cannot deny I was intrigued. Just before Christmas, 5 of us met up for a drink and by the end of the meeting, I came away inspired. First, it was so nice to meet other authors face to face and share  writing experiences. In addition, we have agreed to support each other and work as a group to market ourselves as authors and get the type of publicity we deserve!

Photo of CHINDI authors

Founder Members of CHINDI L-R: Jeremy Good, Marion Kille, Christopher Joyce, Helen Christmas, Andrew Weaver

Independent authors don’t enjoy the same back up of PR as traditionally published authors. It is something we do ourselves and extremely hard work! I personally, am not really driven by sales; writing is something I enjoy and if several people get to read and enjoy my books, I feel honoured. Having said that though, it has been a lonely process. The marketing effort you can make as an individual is pretty fruitless, unless you are prepared to spend a lot of time and money on it. I see networking with a group of like-minded people, as a way forward – and hope that together, we can really make a difference to the success of our books.

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Stormy Weather – 18th February 2014

No-one could ignore the terrible weather we are experiencing in the Northern Hemisphere right now. Ever since before Christmas, the UK has been hit with violent gales, whilst floods sweep across the Thames Valley, leaving huge areas underwater. It’s scary! I have in fact been meaning to write a blog about this for a while now, though at the same time, just hoping the bad weather would stop.

It is rare to get such extreme weather in England on a regular basis – where in the past, we might have occasionally experienced a single shocking event which would be headline news for weeks! One such event was the 1987 Hurricane, which I have now included in one of the many story lines of my 3rd Book, ‘PLEASURES’ – and so the saga continues where the last one left off, as it charges towards autumn of 1987. Considering the book is set around  the area around London and Kent, it was a more a case of ‘how could I not include it?’

Anyone living in the fictitious rural village of Aldwyck would definitely have been affected, as would the idyllic mansion, ‘Westbourne House’ and the forests surrounding it. This was a notion which inspired me to do a little digging, where I was lucky enough to find an ITN News broadcast on YouTube, which chronicled the whole devastating event.

So how does this climatic event weave it’s way into my story? Well without revealing too much of the plot, here is what I have written so far: ‘He let out a deep sigh and opened his eyes – staring towards the window as it rattled in the gusts. The London Met office had predicted a storm, but they had never anticipated anything of this magnitude. The high winds had already risen to gale force, he could hear it whistling through the trees. But gradually the whistling sound was beginning to escalate into a roar. He clutched his bedclothes tighter, his whole body braced with tension. The storm spiralled upwards, building in its intensity, to the point where he could hardly bear it – yet it was nothing, compared to what was about to happen next.’

Needless to say, as the wind grows, so the devastation begins, as a hurricane now advances from the south coast, before charging its way through the woods and into the grounds. Without warning, several tiles are ripped from the roof of Westbourne House. Some slide off the edge, where they tumble to the ground and smash. While others, caught in a secondary blast of wind are flung mercilessly into the sky, before they cannon into the side of the building, smashing several window panes.

‘… it was with a growing sense of dread, that he could no longer ignore what was going on outside, especially now a hole in the window had brought the high winds coiling into his room, from where the curtains were levitated by their force. Just when he thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse, the most terrible creaking, splitting sound erupted from somewhere in the grounds. He yanked back the curtain, feeling the icy blast slap into his face – watching in disbelief, as one of their 50 foot oak trees was literally torn from the earth by its roots…’

Photo of flattened forests.

Photograph shows the devastating effects on woodland after the 1987 Hurricane.

I guess you get the idea! It is in a later chapter where I also describe the devastation which takes place in the surrounding forests. Anyone living in the south east, during this time would remember – whole areas of woods were flattened, including our local Slindon Woods. The hurricane hit London at around 3:00 in the morning. Trees were uprooted, cars crushed, roads blocked, whole acres of woodland were flattened and it brought down power lines all over the country. London was blacked out for the first time since the Blitz.

As I’ve said before, this was one single event which rocked the nation in its magnitude. So how must people be feeling, who have experienced the high winds and flooding which have been taking place, week after week? High winds have battered our coasts, ripping away huge chunks of rock, houses have been ruined and thousands have been evacuated. We have seen some devastating weather patterns which had destroyed peoples lives – now all we can pray is that, this isn’t something that will happen every winter. Otherwise the landscape and culture of Britain could undoubtedly change forever.

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Winter Sunsets – 4th December 2013

If there is one thing I really love about winter, it is the sunsets.

As a writer, I am very privileged to live in such a lovely location (although some people snigger when I say I live in Bognor Regis, West Sussex, which  is also the butt of many jokes, especially in reference to the dying words of King George V ‘Bugger Bognor’).

But when the clocks go back and the winter months arrive, I am wowed by the unusual beauty of our beach. At low tide, the sea rolls back to reveal row upon row of unusual rocky outcrops (called the Bognor Rocks after which our very town Football Club is named) and as the sand settles into ripples it gradually reflects the shifting colours of the sunset.

Sunset on the beach

This year has been exceptional. In the last week of November, the skies have been transformed into a swirling palette of shades, from soft blue to shocking pink and every conceivable shade on the spectrum in between. I love photographing sunsets and today, I decided to feature some of the best on this blog.

My walks along the beach with our dog, Barney, have also been great inspiration for my writing and I love describing things  I especially love to find ways of weaving words together, to create a canvas; and where VISIONS in particular lent itself to numerous opportunities to depict some of these amazing skyscapes.

Bright winter sunset

I’ll finish with an extract from Chapter 4 ‘New Friendships’ (Book 2 Visions)

‘As the conversation ensued, the sun sank lower in the sky, until it disappeared beneath the circle of trees. Clouds gathered and twisted themselves into weird shapes as they absorbed the fading sunlight, painting the sky into a swirl of colours, from an angry mauve to the softest peach, before a rim of fiery orange glared out from below the edges.’

We are blessed to have the pleasure of observing such magical skies in our environment.

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Visions out in Paperback – 1st November 2013

I am pleased to report, my second book ‘Visions’ is now available in paperback. The proof-reading turned out to be a gruelling process in the end, which took me the best part of a month. But I’m pleased to say, I didn’t find many mistakes – and this was a good opportunity to really improve on the grammar as well as making a few final edits. At 571 pages, it is a lengthy book but with some very dramatic story lines which I hope people will enjoy.

Same Face Different Place Book 2 Visions

Same Face Different Place Book 2 Visions

Described as a ‘dark psychological thriller’ has already attracted 3 reviews as well as being complimented for its authentic British 1980s setting. For those of you who prefer the weight of a real book in your laps, may this bring you many hours of entertainment!

Visions in paperback format is available from the following sellers:

Click here for Amazon (UK) Paperback

Click her for Amazon (USA) Paperback

Createspace: www.createspace.com/4416309

None of my reviews have been added to the paperback version on Amazon yet, but I would like to share a most recent review which I was honoured to receive from a talented book reviewer and Blogger.

To see the full review please visit the Blog ‘A Woman’s Wisdom’.

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It’s starting again…. I seem to get my best ideas when I’m walking the dog – 8th October 2o13

Well, here we go again. 

Same process – I’m walking the dog along the beach, staring at the sea, seeing the first golden hues of autumn in the clouds, as the sun sets and breathing in the salty air… and my mind starts to wander. Before I know it, I start visualising the story lines in my head for up and coming book 3, Pleasures. The feeling is familiar. This is exactly how it happened before (2010), in the months before I started writing the first and second books of the series – and it’s happening all over again.

I’m throwing Barney’s ball across the sand and he goes bounding after it. There is a spreading circle of seagulls flying above and with the gentle sounds of the waves lapping in the distance, I’m already writing the opening scenes in my head.

Image

I have two books now and a very well established cast of characters. Where the first book was an explosive start to this series, the second did involve a lot more character building. I’m already considering a similar process for book 3 only this time, I’m going to be working on the evil characters – delving into their lives in order to reinforce their ‘not so nice personalities’, as they plot and scheme, hold their secret meetings and decide how they might oppose the growing army of followers that, the story’s main character, Eleanor, has been gathering over the last couple of years.

I am already working on a new synopsis now. But when I feel as inspired as this, the first thing I do when I return home, is jump straight on to my computer and bash out all my new ideas, while they are fresh in my head. The synopsis is growing daily and it is a wonderful feeling. Books 1 and 2 took shape exactly as I hoped they might – I’m delighted with what I have created. Yet, the older synopsis I had for the 3rd book has now changed – I’m gunning for more powerful story lines, than ever before; and different to those I had originally thought of. Once I have a water-tight synopsis in place, I hope to deliver a sequel, which might even see a few bad characters in this story, finally getting their just deserts.

What is Pleasures about?

The story will start where the last book left off – there will be a concentrated fight for a piece of land, in Rosebrook – desirable land which will either allow villainous property developer, Perry to profit from yet another lucrative housing scheme – or allow, fearsome ex-gang leader, Dominic, to establish the night club he has always dreamed of – at the same time, instilling fear in the community, especially for arch rival, Eleanor and her family. Eleanor and her allies want nothing more, than the land to be passed over to the visionary community leader, Peter, to set up his own affordable housing trust for local residents. Yet, lurking in the shadows, corrupt council planning officer, Robin, will do whatever he can to manipulate matters – determined to see Peter’s plan fail, whilst Eleanor’s enemies tighten their net around her.

Book 3 will also see a return to organised crime in London. At the same time Eleanor will be gathering her evidence, to seek justice for her beloved Jake – but, where Perry’s spies will be watching her every move; and these are just the opening chapters.

At the same time as I’m planning the synopsis, I can reveal that an outline synopsis for book 4, the finale, has already been written. My rationale being, if I continue with a really well thought-out plan, as to where the next two books are heading, the rest will come easily.

I cannot wait to start writing book 3. The situation at the moment is, I am still carefully picking my way through the paperback edition of newly published ‘Visions’ but as soon as it is word perfect, it will be back to the grindstone and writing again.

So thanks Barney – our walks are as inspiring for me as they are fun for you! May there be many more on the way, throughout this lovely autumn we are having.

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The Setting for Book 2 Visions – 3rd September 2013

Over the last few days, I have been updating my website – specifically to collate as much news and information to promote my second book, Visions, from the series ‘Same Face Different Place.’ I have just written a page which depicts the setting of this story and was so pleased with it, I decided to publish this as a blog.

‘Book 2 – Visions’ runs from 1984 to 1987

Politics: Mrs Thatcher’s government brought an element of turmoil into British Politics, from the miners’ strike, to the Brixton riots. It was a decade where people started to care about the environmental, where aerosols were banned and there was a growing anti-nuclear movement. The rebellious uprising of the new age traveller movement culminated in the ‘Battle of the Beanfield’ where police attacked a convoy of vehicles at Stonehenge yet, this was also the decade of greed, with a rising ‘yuppie’ culture, especially in London.

For more visuals and sound, visit my Pinterest Board based on this novel

Some images from my pinterest board.

Some images from my pinterest board.

Fashion: the mid 80s saw a rise in sportswear and lycra, as inspired by the fitness craze, brought by Fame and Flashdance. Doc martens and mini skirts became popular as did figure-hugging cocktail dresses. The 80s trend of power and wealth also brought a passion for designer labels and ‘power dressing’ : sharp suits, huge shoulder pads and trench coats.

Music and TV: Music from the 80s is still highly memorable with indie bands such as the Echo and the Bunnymen and the Smiths. At the same time, there was something synthetic and futuristic about 80s music, typified by groups such the Eurythmics and Kraftwerk. Then we saw a surge of materialism where Madonna became a big star, as did groups such as Wham and the Petshop Boys. TV shows definitely became more interesting – from American soaps such as Dallas and Dynasty to new culinary programs such as Masterchef – plus an explosion of memorable British comedy including ‘Spitting Image’, Blackadder, the Young Ones and Only Fools and Horses.

Collage depicting the 1980s culture.

Collage depicting the 1980s culture.

Inspiration

I grew up in the 80s and in the years this book was set, I was actually studying at Trent Polytechnic. It was indeed a very influential decade, with militant left wing politics competing with a new and emerging era of wealth and materialism. Interest rates soared as did house prices – and in the year before I graduated we saw the emerging blight of ‘gazumping’ – where young people suddenly found it impossible to get on the housing ladder. The Electrification of the railway line brought an influx of wealthy commuters into rural areas of Britain, many of whom bought up properties for ‘weekend cottages’ thereby pricing locals out of the housing market and breaking up communities. This theme therefore became a very sensitive issue in my second book, Visions.

Pictures depicting scenes from my book

Pictures depicting scenes from my book

Pictures above Left – Right: A shot from ‘Spitting Image’ comedy; sterile, monochrome decor of the 80′s, (typical of Ben Hampton’s apartment); a stark contrast to these idyllic country cottages situated in a village in Kent.

For more information and links to the book itself, please visit http://samefacedifferentplace.co.uk

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