Spring reading

After the depressing images from last week’s blog about the floods in our area, I’ve taken some spring-like ones to day. New growth everywhere and the sheep grazing peacefully in the fields.

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Daffodils planted along the canal

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Newly planted flowerbed in the park

Storm Katie moved through during Easter weekend and brought devastation to other parts of the country. Here in the north we escaped with just heavy winds, some rain, and on Tuesday it snowed…a light dusting for the tops of the hills that didn’t last long enough for me to take a photo.

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Sheep in the fields

With the spring theme in mind, I’m attempting to spring into action in promoting my latest book. At one point last week, I was amazed to see The Circle Dance reach the #9 spot for lesbian romance on Amazon.com. Good going, I thought, for a book that was only released on 15 March. Plus, two reviews and both 5 star!

This is the one from Loek:

“Dealing with the pain, hurt by the betrayal, Jamie struggles to get her life back but loving again it’s not what she opted for. Getting over and moving on is not an easy thing to do. But with a little help from her friends, Jamie’s future does look promising. Yet there is an ex that could ruin everything. This is a sweet romance but not too sweet because there is enough drama, just like real life. The characters are realistic, the relationships have depth and complexity, the story keeps moving and there are several twists. It has all the ingredients for a great romance and it keeps you turning the pages. I didn’t even notice that I was already at the last page. It was sensitive, heartwarming. I would say, don’t miss this one.”

Thank you, Loek!

This reviewer has managed to put in a few sentences what I struggled with for several weeks when trying to come up with a succinct summary to submit to the publisher.

As part of the promotion process, I thought I would try recording a reading from the book. I selected a passage from Chapter One to read and only then discovered how hard it was for me to say the name Laurel without stumbling over it. Too late now to go back and change her name to Laura or Lauren. Anyway, I persevered, and this is the result. (Also haven’t mastered the art of turning pages quietly.)

Reading from Chapter One of The Circle Dance.

Should you not wish to listen to the not very professional recording, the whole of Chapter One is available to read on the Affinity website. The recording is of the seventh scene, which starts with the words: “The shower did its job, washing away the frustration of the last hour…”


 

Ebook links for The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks/Amazon US / Amazon UK / Smashwords / Apple iTunes

And don’t forget to take a look at The Starling Hill Trilogy – still available on Kindle Unlimited:

Ebook links for The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting Over: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Arc Over Time: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Carved in Stone: Amazon US / Amazon UK

 

Flood thoughts

I haven’t said much about the flooding that affected the whole of our valley and others. On Christmas Day 2015 the rain started to fall and it continued through the day into the evening, the night and the following day – and will now be forever remembered as ‘the Boxing Day floods’.

The village of Mytholmroyd, little known to the outside world, was suddenly headline news.

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The water on the left is usually a small brook flowing peacefully a good ten feet below the level of the road, on the right is the road.

We were away at the time, ironically, in the ‘Lake District’. They’d already suffered from heavy flooding with ancient bridges being swept away; people having to make big detours for what had once been short journeys. Watching the waters rising on the news reports, we knew that our house would be safe, but so many just a few hundred yards away, were inundated with floodwaters of biblical proportions.

Mytholmroyd, the name – according to one of my sources – means ‘the meeting of the waters’. It is, in fact, where the Turvin River (now called Elphin or Calder Brook) meets the bigger Calder River that runs through the valley. Through the course of the valley there is also the canal that runs between Manchester and Sowerby Bridge. Too little, too late perhaps – dredging operations are now taking place in the canal. The river is also heavily silted up.

dredging

Some businesses have recovered well. The local independent bookstore in Hebden Bridge, The Bookcase, had their grand re-opening last week. They had no insurance, having been completely flooded out in the summer flood event of 2012. Through the help of their landlord, friends, the community, and generous book donations from well-known authors, they are now back in business. Others haven’t fared so well. There are many shop premises and houses still empty, stripped back to the brickwork, under floor cavities exposed.

 

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Time stands still

The church tower in Mytholmroyd is symbolic, I feel, of the extent of the catastrophe. The clock stopped at 11:30. And it hasn’t been fixed yet. The congregation of St Michael’s church has to meet in the local cricket club’s pavilion for their services.

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One of the public houses in the village, the Shoulder of Mutton, isn’t likely to re-open until the summer. The collapsed wall behind the car park has yet to be repaired.

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The main street through the town has a gap, like a missing front tooth, where one of the buildings fell into the river. Fortunately those premises had been vacant for some time.

The valley will recover. It will take time but the surrounding hills have a timeless quality that permeates not just the landscape but also the consciousness of the inhabitants. We will endure!

 


If you want a flavour of the area, before the floods, take a look at my latest romance, The Circle Dance – set very much in the heart of the Calder Valley in Hebden Bridge.

Ebook links for The Circle Dance:  Affinity eBooks/Amazon US / Amazon UK / Smashwords / Apple iTunes

Chapter One of The Circle Dance is available to read on the Affinity eBook Press website.


Ebook links for The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting Over: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Arc Over Time: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Carved in Stone: Amazon US / Amazon UK

(All three books are available on Kindle Unlimited)

Finding the “loaded gun”

Navigating the mushy middle – I’ve always thought that would be a great title for a book. I’m at that stage with my latest work-in-progress and it seems to be the way my novel writing goes.

Other writers have a problem with deciding where to start the story. I’ve not encountered this particular sticking point yet. Starting is the easy bit. I will sit down to write once I’ve got a few characters in mind and know enough about them to set them off on their journey…which is my journey of discovering where they are going.

So where does the ‘loaded gun’ come into it. My mother reminded me of this piece of advice Chekhov gave to one of his writer friends: “One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of using it.” This theory was expanded to say that if the gun is there in the first act, it must be used by the third. Now story plotters are well aware of this device, commonly known as the Art of Foreshadowing. If they’ve placed a loaded gun on the mantelpiece in the first chapter, they know exactly when, how and why it will go off.

After talking with my mother I realised that the loaded gun theory could also be applied to my next published novel, The Circle Dance (being released on Tuesday 15 March). When I was writing this book and floundering about in the mushy middle wondering which direction the story was going, I realised I had a loaded gun, primed and ready to be used. Someone I thought was only ever going to be a minor character was waiting in the wings. She had a much bigger role to play in the story than I had envisaged when I first introduced her.

Once I’d had this revelation, everything started to fall into place. The mushy middle had been conquered. Other elements in the story came together which led to a surprising conclusion (well it certainly surprised me!).

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This no doubt seems a haphazard way of working to those who meticulously plot their novels ahead of time. I admire them, I really do. It would make my life so much easier if I could do it. I also admire, and envy, those who can write the synopsis before they start. This would also be a way not to get mired in the mushy middle and would save me several weeks of agony trying to write a decent summary to send off with my submission to the publisher.

So, back to my current WIP. I’m standing in the swamp, about to sink to my knees in the mushy middle. And I can’t find my loaded gun. I’ll need to go back to the beginning to find out where I left it. It will be there somewhere…in crime writers’ parlance…a vital clue or a red herring.

It would be good to find the gun before I end up fully submerged and abandon all hope of getting out of the bog…and being able to finish the story.

 

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Shooting arrows in the snow

I have to confess that I don’t own a gun, although I do have a recurve bow in the cupboard under the stairs and several longbows leaning against the wall in a corner of the kitchen. They don’t quite fit into the loaded gun analogy and only get taken out to shoot at targets.


Chapter One of The Circle Dance is available to read on the Affinity eBook Press website.

Ebook links for The Circle Dance:  Affinity eBooks/Amazon US / Amazon UK / Smashwords / Apple iTunes

Ebook links for The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting Over: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Arc Over Time: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Carved in Stone: Amazon US / Amazon UK

(All three books are available on Kindle Unlimited for the next 2 months)