Knuckling Down to Writing Again

Since my last post I’ve followed my own advice, pursuing my dreams

To be more specific WIP, Lethal Ties, is no longer an outline synopsis with a list of characters. I have bashed out the first six chapters and near to completing a 7th. This is a brand new work with a whole new cast but I admit, it took a little while to get into it.

I imagine this must be the same for many authors, where the biggest hurdle getting to know your own characters. Yet the more they develop, the more I find myself mentally engaging with them and more importantly, developing the rest of the plot. Characters are so important though, they form the nucleus of the story and through their actions and emotions, the story can often write itself.

Lethal Ties is a psychological thriller mystery, based on kids in care, while tackling issues such as homelessness, historic child abuse, conspiracy and police cover ups.

Abstract view based on Maisie’s fear of forests.

Talking of characters however, I haven’t lost sight of the Rosebrook Chronicles, a work of fiction I finished earlier this year.

The book is not yet published and this may not happen until August. The reason is, I have to give my beta readers plenty of time to to read it and from the feedback I have received so far, there is still some work to be done but this is not a bad thing. The feedback has been amazing and with really constructive comments on how I can improve it.

“Loved the characters and the common themes that linked them. Great plot, great writing with some really wonderful touches…”

“The way you portrayed the separate journeys of the principle characters was really engaging and the denouement was very satisfying as you pulled all the strands together.”

It’s lovely to know I am on the right track and written something  worth reading.

Rosebrook Chronicles is a deeply moving tale based on the lives of three characters growing up in the 60s and 7os. A blend of social history and domestic noir.

So it feels like an exciting time. I haven’t published anything new since concluding my ‘Same Face Different Place’ series with ‘Retribution End Game’ in 2017. But who knows I may have two new books coming out soon and with a third idea in gestation.

 

 

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Beautiful Spring Sunshine and Fresh Ideas

February has been an unexpected month full of highs and lows

Let’s start with the lows. I’ve been shocked to hear sad news from a few friends concerning unforeseen health problems, some life threatening. It makes you realise how temporary and fragile life can be, never knowing what is around the corner. I must confess the thought of that ‘split second life changing event’ terrifies me more than anything. Makes me thankful of each day I wake up healthy, especially in the aftermath of an intense bout of flu that put me out of action for the best part of a week, but hey, at least I am still here. The saddest news of all was the unexpected death of one of our walking group this week, a vibrant, lovely man who was fighting fit the last time we saw him. He and his wife were on the verge of emigrating to Australia to start a new life with their children. What a cruel blow fate can play!

It’s hard to feel positive in the light of such a tragedy but life must go on. On a more positive note, we’ve enjoyed some gorgeous walks of late with plenty of Spring sunshine. Work is good and on the writing front I have lots of fresh ideas.

This year I completed my latest work of fiction, Rosebrook Chronicles.

This book is a series of interlocking stories which fuse into a suspenseful saga, a contemporary blend of social history and domestic Noir. It follows the lives of three children, abused as teenagers, who strive to repair their broken lives. Each has their own story from battling past traumas to pursuing their dreams, to find love and re-establish broken family ties. But it is the inner stories of these characters that drive the plot, intended to keep the reader emotionally engaged and rooting for them to the end.

The book won’t be available for a while as it is currently being beta read, but a big thank you goes out to those who have offered to do this.

New Fiction

And while all this is going on, I am already plotting my next novel, a psychological thriller about three kids brought up in care, who share a secret. Twenty years later two characters, Maisie and Joe, meet again. Now in their thirties, they have never forgotten the bonds of friendship, nor the chilling disappearance of their friend, Sam. Consequentially, they are desperate to know what happened to him. I even have an idea for a cover, as shown in this creepy photo of trees.

Then believe it or not, I was driving home from Emsworth after a successful client meeting, when out of the blue popped up another idea for a book. Sophie’s Legacy is very much a concept at the moment but a project I cannot wait to start plotting (and only after I have written ‘Lethal Ties’ of course.)

What I am trying to say is cherish what you have and follow your dreams while they are fresh because you never know what tomorrow might bring.

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Dipping into #Historic #Fiction with Rosemary Noble

Historic fiction is one of the many genres I enjoy and this month, I am enthralled to invite author Rosemary Noble to be a guest on my Blog.

Photo of historic fiction author Rosemary NobleRosemary is one of many writers in West Sussex I have met and networked with over the years as a result of CHINDI (Celebrating and Helping Indy Authors). Last year she completed her ‘Currency Girls’ Trilogy, so it is my pleasure to introduce her and find out what lies at the heart of her writing.

Hello, Rosemary and may I start by asking when you first started writing?

I wrote my first book in my teens and then nothing until I retired. It wasn’t even in my retirement plan. I’m still amazed that I have four books written in five years.

The problem is that it’s rather taken over. I need to give myself and my husband a break. He’s getting fed up that I’m so busy.

What made you choose historical fiction as your genre?

I’ve always love history. If my A levels had been good enough in the 60s, I would have studied history at university. But now I have the opportunity to indulge my love with something creative too – the best of all worlds.

That sounds wonderful. Can you describe your novels in 10 words?

Gritty family sagas, real people leading extraordinary and interesting lives.

Just the sort of stuff I like to read, which leads me to my next question. When and where you prefer to do your writing?

I like an early start. Sometimes the ideas come to me when I’m trying to sleep (always annoying) but it means I’m itching to get going not long after dawn. I write in a comfortable chair, with the laptop on my knees.

Same here, I’m an early riser and instead of lying in bed thinking, we might as well be writing it down instead. Where did you get your ideas from?

Family history – simple as that. I like to research the social conditions of the time and that provides me with the settings and framework for the stories.

That is so inspiring – so are your characters based on real people or people you know?

Search for the Light by Rosemary NobleSo far, they have been based on real people with other supportive made-up characters.

The made-up ones are totally imaginative and that means you can make them whatever you want them to be. I had fun in my latest book making a couple of characters quite dark. Sometimes they write themselves, like Sarah, in Search for the Light.

Everyone else in the book is in the third person, but she wanted to tell her story in the first person. I was happy to let her.

Writing in first person is quite different isn’t it? The character has more voice. With this in mind, who is your favourite author?

That is the most difficult question. I have several favourites. I always look for any new books by Sebastian Barry; Rose Tremain; Tracey Chevalier and Margaret Atwood.

I have heard of Rose Tremain, as she is quite famous isn’t she? Following on from that, what is your all time favourite book and why?

Probably Poisonwood Bible by Barabara Kingsolver. It was the first time I had come across a book with some many different and distinct voices. It’s the story of an American Missionary with his family in Africa. It’s narrated by each daughter as the family descends into the chaos caused by the father’s hubris and their government’s duplicity.

That sounds like an intriguing story. But going back to your own books, How much research do you need to do?

Lots. I have written three books set in the nineteenth century, so I read contemporary accounts often freely available on Google Books. I use a lot of newspapers too, occasionally historical journals and the internet, of course, but that I take with a pinch of salt Sometimes I need to visit libraries and museums, specific to the setting. Some local newspapers are still not on-line in the UK.

I guess it is essential to get it right when writing historic fiction. Just imagine if one or more of your stories were made into films. Who would you like to see playing the lead character in your book and why?

In my new book I would choose Sarah Wiseman who played Carolyn Bligh in A Place to Call Home. My husband and I loved the series. He found it by serendipity and then we couldn’t stop watching it. It’s a fascinating representation of the land-owning class in 1950’s Australia, as well as being a great story.

Sounds good. With this in mind, do you work out a strict plot or just start writing?

I have a framework. I know I have to get from A-B via C. However, I also like to see where the writing takes me. For me, that’s a lot more interesting and exciting.

What’s the best advice about writing you were ever given?

Keep in your character’s point of view

And lastly, what are your future plans for writing and what are you working on now?

My eight-year-old granddaughter is desperate for me to write a children’s book. I have one lined up ready to write. She gave me the time-frame and the names of the characters. We brain-stormed a few ideas and then one night the plot came to me around midnight and by three, it was all planned out.

Ranter's Wharf by Rosemary NobleSomething quite different then. I can imagine that will be a lovely new challenge for you and look forward to seeing the end result. Best of luck, Rosemary, this has been a really interesting chat.

To conclude, I have read one of Rosemary’s books, Ranter’s Wharf and was completely engrossed in the story as well as learning about a piece of history I didn’t know.

For further information about Rosemary, you can read her biography below, connect with her via her social networks and check out her author’s page on Amazon, which also lists her books.

Rosemary’s Biography

Rosemary Noble lives in West Sussex and worked as an education librarian.

Books have been her life, ever since she walked into a library at five-years-old and found a treasure trove. Her other love is social history. She got hooked on family history before retirement and discovered so many stories that deserved to be told.

Her first book, Search for the Light, tells the story of three young girls transported to Australia in 1824. Friendship sustains them through the horrors of the journey and their enforced service in Tasmania. The Digger’s Daughter tells of the next generation of gold-diggers and a pioneering woman who lives almost through the first hundred years in Victoria. The third in the trilogy, Sadie’s Wars takes the reader to the fourth generation and into the twentieth century. The trilogy is based on the author’s family. It tells of secrecy and lies, of determination and grit and how all can be done or undone by luck.

Rosemary is a member of CHINDI independent authors and is involved in literary events in and around Chichester. She also loves to travel, especially to Australia and Europe and not least, she loves spending time with her grandchildren, one of whom is a budding author herself.

Check out Rosemary’s Books via her Amazon Author page 

Author Links and Social Networks

Blog: https://rosemarynoble.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/chirosie

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RosemaryJaneNoble/

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Bright ‘n’ Breezy 2019

How Traditional High Street Shopping can be a Feast for the Senses (re-blogged)

Brighton Pavilion

January is a pretty dismal month for all of us but if there is one highlight for us, it is the Bright ‘n’ Breezy 2019 backgammon tournament. My husband plays in the tournament. But for me it is a perfect excuse to enjoy a day’s shopping in Brighton. This weekend I mooched around the North Lanes near the Station and discovered sensory overload.

But as more and more people are seduced my online shopping, I cannot resist extolling the merits of supporting local shops.

Knitwear on showSo here are a few things I discovered that the internet simply cannot match:

  • You might like the look of an item of clothing but you cannot pick it up and hold it up against yourself.
  • You cannot feel the softness of the wool, the weight of the fabric nor appreciate the colours in a different light.
  • I would never have imagined how much the stones sparkled on a brooch I found in a Bric a Brac shop called Snooper’s paradise. I didn’t even know such shops existed any more.
  • Furthermore there were shops selling crafts, paintings, books and vinyl. How cool is that?
  • With lots of food shops and delicatessens to visit, there is an array of local and hand made goodies to sample. You would never be able to taste that cheese on a website.
  • Added to the flavours are a medley enticing smells be they garlic bread, mexican street food, home made cakes, perfume, patchouli oil and many more.
  • You cannot feel the breeze on your face or the warmth of the sun when it breaks out from behind a cloud.
  • Last of all, you cannot hear the buzz of conversation or see the smiles on people’s faces.

Online shopping has changed our lives but I hope we never lose the personal touch, that part of us that reminds us we are still human when we visit our high street.

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Rosebrook Chronicles (The Hidden Stories)

As 2018 is drawing to a close, it is time I revealed a little more about a new book I’ve been writing this year.

The concept of this book of stories arose in Yorkshire, over 2 years ago, whilst visiting the Parsonage Museum in Haworth. Gazing across the writing table where Charlotte Brontë created her world famous masterpiece, Wuthering Heights, I felt a calling, an eerie feeling this was to be my next project. The feeling was so overwhelming I decided there and then that I would do it (once I had finished the ‘Same Face Different Place’ series.)

It gives me great pleasure to announce that the book is now written.
So allow me to introduce the thinking behind
‘ROSEBROOK CHRONICLES (The Hidden Stories)’

A bright moon is a prominent influence in one of the character back stories.

Rosebrook is the fictitious town I created for my series. It is based south east of London in a rural area of Kent, between Bromley and Swanley.

Before I had finished the series, I figured there were some powerful back stories hidden behind the scenes and one or two characters who never quite made it into the story.

This book is not a thriller, more a collection of character driven short stories following the lives of various people, from childhood to adulthood.

The one thing they have in common is they were all abused as children and it was interesting to explore the psychology behind each one of them.

To drop a hint, Peter was a prominent character in my series but his younger sister made a brief appearance in the last book. Due to the complexity of the series, her story was very much glossed over, as I didn’t want to wander off on a tangent. Only later did I realise I could develop an intriguing back story behind her character.

I would describe Rosebrook Chronicles as a combination of social history and domestic noir.

So to date I have a complete draft, a synopsis and an idea for a cover. There are 24 stories featuring some lesser characters at different stages of life, from university and work to forming relationships. But the paths of the characters begin to interweave. I am in editing mode at the moment and working hard to get my draft as polished as possible. Whether to self-publish or not is the next question but given the interest I have picked up, I think the next stage would be to get it out to a few beta readers. After that who knows.

In the meantime, I am battling a stinking cold and getting ready for Xmas but I hope to get a more ‘Christmassy’ post written during the festive week, so Seasons Greetings for now!

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Let’s Talk about #Books

It’s been a busy year for authors and I am no exception.

Whilst busily writing a compilation of new stories, I can proudly boast that I have probably read more books than ever before in 2018. It’s good to discover new authors and all the while I’ve been devouring books, I’ve been developing my own writing skills along the way.

books.jpg.pagespeed.ce.0q-g1HhA8d

Before I list my favourites though, I’ll make one announcement. My debut novel, Beginnings is now permafree on all ebook platforms. Not a time limited promotion. It really is FREE. After a thrilling blog tour in January I read enough positive reviews to realise Beginnings had potential, so for anyone who fancies a dark thriller set in London’s criminal underworld of the 1970s, go download a free copy now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble (Nook), Kobo, Apple i-Books, Playster, Scribd or 24 symbols.

But without further ado, I will now list the books I most enjoyed throughout the year; let’s just say that these are the stories that stayed with me long after I finished them.

Six StoriesSix Stories by Matt Wesolowski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Most books I read build up to a momentous storyline. In this book however, that ‘event’ has already happened. The beauty in the story telling is in the unravelling to discover what actually DID happen. A mystery retold through the interview podcasts of an investigative journalist.

I will add that this book was so good, with such amazing insights into the human psyche and teenage dynamics, I listened it on audio book too!

See more of this review

The Towers: DS Connolly - Book One (East End Noir Series)The Towers: DS Connolly – Book One by Natalie Hames
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From the moment I started reading this I got straight into it the plot. It was fast, gripping with some really compelling characters. The main storyline involves two brothers, one who is easily led, the other more feisty and determined to stand up against bullies. This novel depicts the true predator and prey environment of people forced to live in high rise tower blocks; a story of conflict, organised crime and fighting for the underdog.

I really enjoyed this so much, I read the whole series back to back.

See review

Billie JoBillie Jo by Kimberley Chambers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve heard lots about this author and this book was great. The characters felt so real they almost leapt off the page and combined with an amusing East End dialect throughout, it was a pleasure to read. I would describe it not as a gangland thriller, but a deeply moving story in a gangland setting. The central character, Billie Jo is one I really came to care about, with scenes that stirred my emotions.

See more of this review

Silent VictimSilent Victim by Caroline Mitchell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Last year I read ‘Witness’ which blew me away. Once again, Caroline’s writing skill comes beaming out of the pages with every chapter. It shook me to the core with its intense plot and intricately woven characters.
The concept of grooming can be a harrowing topic but it is handled sensitively, intelligently from the perspectives of both victim and sexual predator.

See more of this review

I See YouI See You by Clare Mackintosh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed Clare’s first book ‘I Let You Go’ immensely though the domestic abuse left me chilled. This book on the other hand, ticked so many boxes. For a start, I love the setting of the London Underground (having researched it myself for scenes of suspense) so I felt right at home. For me, this was a suspenseful thriller that reeled me in and had me gripped to the end.

See More

The Purrfect Pet Sitter: A heartwarming romantic comedy, filled with friendship and loveThe Purrfect Pet Sitter: A heartwarming romantic comedy, filled with friendship and love by Carol Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was saving this for my holiday and so pleased I did. It turned out to be a great choice, filled with romance, laugh out loud humour, lots of amusing animal/pet sitter anecdotes, and a heartwarming friendship.

I am so pleased I saved this for my holiday, a perfect companion to enjoy whilst lazing by the pool in the sun and sipping cocktails!

See more of this review

Some others I would recommend:

Ranter's WharfRanter’s Wharf by Rosemary Noble
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This stirring tale of ordinary folk set in 17th C Lincolnshire is passionate, inspiring and a joy to read. It tells of the struggles of a rural community and the various reforms which control their lives.

This book portrays many human emotions from jealousy, love, anger, fear and compassion, it is well researched and beautifully told and I learned an interesting piece of history as well.

Connectedness (Identity Detective Book 2)Connectedness by Sandra Danby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An intriguing story on many levels. This is the story of an artist, whose past is filled with trauma. In between the modern day setting is an underlying story set in Malaga, with beautiful descriptions that capture the essence of Spain.

Another YouAnother You by Jane Cable
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mystery suspense interwoven with interesting war-time history in an atmospheric Dorset setting. The emotions of love, hate and passion weave their way around this cleverly written novel, a very good book overall with spooky undertones.

Everybody's SomebodyEverybody’s Somebody by Beryl Kingston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Atmospheric, beautifully written with characters who feel like real people. From the day Rosie starts work in domestic service aged twelve her eyes are opened to the harshness of life. A moving tale of love, loss and heartache, coupled with the horrors of World War I. Very thought provoking read so far and I have yet to finish it.

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

So those are my top ten for now. I chose them as much for the author’s skilful writing, as well as the characters and plot and have much to learn from these fine authors.

Next year I hope to bring out a new book of my own. Currently titled Rosebrook Chronicles (The Hidden Stories), these are very character driven stories and quite different from my thriller series. Next month I hope to publish a synopsis and perhaps a cover reveal but there is much work to be done yet!

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A Shaggy Dog Story

For something a bit different, I wrote this piece for Good Dog Magazine, an online blog promoted via Twitter. Sadly, they seemed to have disappeared, so I hope they won’t mind if I immortalise our best 4-legged friend on my own blog.

Barney

Are Collies a Writer’s Best Friend?

Anyone who understands dogs will know how clever border collies are as a breed and as a writer, I can vouch for them. They give so much. After hearing a sad piece of news concerning more than 20 collies abandoned in a house, only to end up in a local dog sanctuary, it seemed more than a coincidence that we were considering getting a dog of our own. It stimulated an idea… So we did our homework. Hopeful we were making the best choice I looked up as much information as I could find about border collies. Described as intelligent, interactive and in need of regular stimulation, exercise and playtime, we knew what to expect. Keen to discover more, we made enquiries. Sure enough, we received a call regarding a pair of border collies in need of a home.

Although the brothers were destined to be separated, from the moment they trotted through the door, I caught Barney’s eye and knew he was the one. We had the pleasure of walking them and Barney was without a doubt the more submissive. His brother was stronger and more boisterous. Yet my husband too, developed a fondness for the gentler, more timid of the duo and on the same afternoon, he travelled home with us.

The Friendship of Collies

The one thing we discovered in Barney more than anything, was he improved our quality of life. As the research suggested, he did need loads of exercise and playtime. As a relatively young 2 year old, we took him out three times a day for at least half an hour. We’re blessed to have a large park close to home and live a short distance from the sea, where dogs are allowed on the beach. Having a dog got us out more than before, where for the first time in our lives, we actually made the most of our outdoor living space.

Barney

Then something else changed. In 2010 I was wandering along the beach with our dog when I began to develop the idea for a story. I say, I’m a writer but I had never written a full length novel before and discovered my true calling. This is something I include in my author’s biography because it marked a pivotal point. The threads of my story evolved while I was walking Barney along the water’s edge and as time progressed, that book developed into a series.

A Writer’s Best Friend

This is how I started life as an author. I often wondered if it hadn’t been for that special time, meandering along the beach with Barney, throwing his ball, those ideas might never have come to me. I began my debut novel in 2011 after I had figured out the entire synopsis. But Barney’s intervention didn’t end there…

Border Collie, Barney

I’ve always been an early morning person which is the time, I do most of my writing. Once the novel was underway, I found myself waking up earlier and switched on my laptop at around 6am. Barney always followed me into the office. The one thing I’ve noticed about border collies is they form an attachment. They are not solitary dogs, they like company and somehow, Barney became an essential part of my writing ritual. If he wasn’t curled up on the floor next to me, I couldn’t concentrate; he became my muse. The time I really noticed his absence however, was in 2012 when he needed an operation.

Knee Surgery

Sadly, Barney ruptured a cruciate ligament, which is not uncommon. Being such lively dogs, running, spinning, jumping for the ball and doing a little pirouettes are a frequent cause of this injury – it is common among footballers too! Barney had to be put to sleep for his operation which involved fitting an implant to repair the ligament. It meant an overnight stay, which was a morning I really missed him. Fortunately he made a full recovery. It is regrettable that we had to cut his walks down from three a day to two. Yet it was always the same. Whether we were playing in the park or enjoying the tranquillity of the seafront, the ideas for my series kept flowing during these special times…

Fellow Writing Companions

Barney (now 11) had both knees operated on in the end. He is also showing signs of arthritis. Sadly, he’s a shadow of the dog he was; not nearly as energetic but still a great companion. Since my writing journey began, I met some fellow authors, such as Carol Thomas, who has written a children’s book, ‘Finding a Friend.’ Her family adopted a puppy last year, which was perhaps the inspiration for her story; when I asked her what she thought about me writing an article for ‘Good Dog Magazine,’ she replied as follows:

“As a sixteenth month old Labrador Hubble is great at making sure I don’t have lots of odd bits of paper around me, my notes have to be organised and kept in a book or he would eat them! When it comes to writing on my computer he settles down next to me and keeps me company. I love dogs and have featured Labradors in all of my stories to date.”

I suspect all dogs can be great writing companions…

My five-book series, titled ‘Same Face Different Place’ can be downloaded as an ebook or at local book fairs in the Chichester area. Since completing it, I’ve started writing a book of short stories and one begins through the mind of a dog.

Barney in the autumn woods

An Update

We don’t know how much longer we will have Barney for but his health has started to deteriorate. With various things wrong, it is regrettable we’ve had to cancel our  insurance with Virgin Money Pet Insurance (who used every excuse not to help us with his healthcare) but we’d be better paying that money into a separate fund now.

Yesterday evening, I was delighted to take him for another walk along the beach in the sunshine. I seem to have lost my inspiration lately but it came back just when I needed it, and in time to finish a first draft of my new book. So I will end with a little extract…

Buttons lurches forwards, his nose twitching. Damp clothes, cold skin and a subtle trace of sweat almost mask the impression of a person lying there. The whimper in his throat rises to a wail.
“What is it boy,” his owner gasps, “what have you found?”
Closer and closer he shuffles to the source, the scent getting stronger. Something salty arises out of the mist, something almost pitiful; it is the smell of blood. Another tug on his lead makes him start, the darkness heavy as the face of a child peeps out from a circle of bushes.
“Oh, dear God…” he hears his owner groan.

Rosebrook Chronicles is a Work in Progress and coming soon.

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