Finding out

When I first started writing, and I mean writing properly as opposed to writing childhood fantasies and adventure stories based on books and comics I’d read, all my work was based on personal experience and observation and imagination.

I used to write short stories and I actually had five of them published in a woman’s magazine called Honey, now defunct. One story was about a relationship between a young woman and the man she loved, who didn’t love her but relied on her in times of crisis… which gave her false hope of a future together; another was about a young couple who moved into a haunted house; a third was about a shy young woman who was asked out by the most popular boy in the school.

Another was based on holidays spent in Menton in the south of France, with that lovely town as the backdrop to the break-up of a relationship, and one story was about a cleaner who worked at an airport. Both of these were based on personal experiences – of being in Menton and of working in an airport – although I wasn’t a cleaner but was on the information desk.

I began to write novels and the first couple were pretty dire. One charted the complicated family relationships of a the step-children of a famous actor (embarrassingly awful!) and a second about a young man who goes back to the family farm of a girl he met in the South of France (Menton again) as the farm is engulfed by devastating floods. This one had a little more merit, but nothing salvageable! The next was set in Manchester where I had lived for a long time, and much of the action (and there was action in this one, rather than people talking and arguing with each other!) Finally… another better novel… one which I may rewrite but with a different and more dramatic and unexpected ending, about a young woman artist who returns to her family home having been estranged from them for many years, and tries to unpick the past relationships with her two step-brothers.

As I mentioned, these short stories and the four novels, were all based on personal experiences and imagination. When I was writing these it was before the internet was the wonderful gift we have since received. I have now written and published five novels which are still based  on my experiences and imagination, but have been enhanced by research I can do from home. (I have also published three children’s novels, based on my experiences teaching!)

Up until recently, while I was writing, I  worked full-time and had a young family; I was not financially free to travel  to research, or to visit archives in different towns and cities. On-line research has been the only possibility. With my three published Radwinter books, my genealogical mysteries, the internet has featured almost as a character, as the story revolves round research done to trace a family history. (I have three other finished but not edited novels, and two unfinished novels – so I have plenty of work to do!)

I am very careful with my research; I read, I think, I digest the information. I look at different resources, I check facts; I don’t copy, I don’t plagiarise, I don’t steal other people’s work. If for some unimaginable reason I no longer had access to the internet for whatever reason, I would still write – I can’t imagine ever not doing so, and once again, my stories would be based on what I remember, what I have experienced and what I can imagine

Here is a link to my published work:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

Frustration!

I hoped to be making an exciting announcement about my children’s books which I am publishing as actual hold-in-your hand books but grrr…. things are not going according to plan! There have been unforeseen complications and although the books are there printed and looking lovely, I can’t promote them yet. This is so infuriating and frustrating but I guess I’ll just have to be patient, and not waste my time and energy being annoyed or irritated.

I wrote these books as stories for my students because there didn’t seem to be anything commercially available for them; my students were 15-16 years old and perfectly competent readers, fluent and literate, and intelligent. However they just didn’t want to read, they had no interest in it and saw no point in it. They needed to read because they needed to be practised for their forthcoming exams, so how to get them to do it? They didn’t mind reading for a purpose so I presented them with what they thought was a comprehension exercise… but the passage had a cliff-hanger ending. Why were three men chasing the boy? What was in the envelope he took from his secret hiding place? Where had his dad disappeared to? The following lesson I presented them with what appeared to be another comprehension with grammar exercise, but was in fact chapter 2 of an ongoing story.

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They twigged straight away but they didn’t mind because they wanted to know what was going to happen. The story ended up as twelve chapters, and when we had finished it, they asked what was next… so another story was devised!

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These two stories became my books ‘Run, Blue, Run!’ and ‘Screaming King Harry’. Another thing they needed to practice was writing in different ways, for different purposes and in different styles; so again I wrote something especially for my students, a short novel told in a variety of  ways, a diary, a news report, a children’s story, a myth, a TV broadcast… all went together following a narrative which became ‘The Story of Rufus Redmayne’. These stories are not easy readers; they are not meant for kids who can’t read, but kids who won’t read!

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My students were the first to suggest I published my three short books, and after a few years of lulling it over, that’s what I did… It is so frustrating now that I can’t properly launch them yet…

Watch this space, they will be coming… and if you’re interested, get in touch, I might have a special offer for you!

Exciting news!

I am almost ready to launch my children’s ‘can read, won’t read’ books – aimed to encourage reluctant readers! More details later but here is the flyer I’m sending out:

Can’t read, won’t read… a problem… but CAN read, won’t read?

I solved the problem of KS4 students who were perfectly capable of reading but had got out of the habit of doing so by writing my own stories for them… quick, pacey, relevant and with each chapter ending on a cliff-hanger.

I was teaching bright, clever but disengaged young people not in main stream education; we had one year to turn them round and get them through their GCSE’s, but how to re-engage them? How to prepare them for the work needed to pass English with a good grade? Get them reading.

They might not want to open the set texts, but they did want to know who the sinister men in black were chasing Blue, they did want to know who shot the head of English, Harry King, and they did want to know what sort of monster lurked in Camel Wood and abducted young girls.

Blue is a fifteen year old in ‘Run, Blue, Run!’  Someone has trashed the trailer home where he lives with his father, someone is after him and it’s not the evil Goode twins after rent.

Jo-Jo has seen her English teacher taking money from a dodgy-looking man with a pony tail, then she finds him shot and bleeding on his classroom floor. Graffiti across the front of her parents pub warn her to keep quiet… she’s in danger. ‘Screaming King Harry’ starts with a shooting and ends with a deadly chase across town as Jo-Jo searches for answers.

Young people who are willing to opt back into GCSE work may struggle with the set tasks in examinations. ‘The Story of Rufus Redmayne’ is told through newspaper reports, myths, diaries, first and third person narrators, one-scene dramas, and conventional story-lines and offers different examples of pursuing a narrative, of telling a story.

Something is lurking in Camel Wood, something is killing local farmers’ sheep, ripping their throats out and leaving their entrails scattered in the field. Someone or something has abducted Rufus’s grandmother, and has chased him and his friend Naimh through the woods. Something has taken Naimh…

 

I have been head of department in an inner-city Manchester school, head of faculty in a large comprehensive in Oldham, and for the last ten years teaching in a KS4 PRU in Weston-super-Mare. I wrote these stories for my students, and now I am able to share them with you.

Your advice needed….

I have mentioned before that I am going to publish my stories fr reluctant readers and I am now thinking about the sort information I need to give to anyone (especially teachers) who might want to buy them for their young people, young people who can read but don’t want to do so.

I would be most appreciative of any comments on the following, which I have written as a sort of introduction to my work which I would send to schools or other people who might want to buy and use my books:

Can’t read, won’t read… a problem… but CAN read, won’t read?

I solved the problem of KS4 students who were perfectly capable of reading but had got out of the habit of doing so by writing my own stories for them… quick, pacey, relevant and with each chapter ending on a cliff-hanger.

I was teaching bright, clever but disengaged young people not in main stream education; we had one year to turn them round and get them through their GCSE’s, but how to re-engage them? How to prepare them for the work needed to pass English with a good grade? Get them reading.

They might not want to open the set texts, but they did want to know who the sinister men in black were chasing Blue, they did want to know who shot the head of English, Harry King, and they did want to know what sort of monster lurked in Camel Wood and abducted young girls.

Blue is a fifteen year old in ‘Run, Blue, Run!’  Someone has trashed the trailer home where he lives with his father, someone is after him and it’s not the evil Goode twins after rent.

Jo-Jo has seen her English teacher taking money from a dodgy-looking man with a pony tail, then she finds him shot and bleeding on his classroom floor. Graffiti across the front of her parents pub warn her to keep quiet… she’s in danger. ‘Screaming King Harry’ starts with a shooting and ends with a deadly chase across town as Jo-Jo searches for answers.

Young people who are willing to opt back into GCSE work may struggle with the set tasks in examinations. ‘The Story of Rufus Redmayne’ is told through newspaper reports, myths, diaries, first and third person narrators, one-scene dramas, and conventional story-lines and offers different examples of pursuing a narrative, of telling a story.

Something is lurking in Camel Wood, something is killing local farmers’ sheep, ripping their throats out and leaving their entrails scattered in the field. Someone or something has abducted Rufus’s grandmother, and has chased him and his friend Naimh through the woods. Something has taken Naimh…

 

I have been head of department in an inner-city Manchester school, head of faculty in a large comprehensive in Oldham, and for the last ten years teaching in a KS4 PRU in Weston-super-Mare. I wrote these stories for my students, and now I am able to share them with you.

OK, this is the final one!

img027This is my final cover for my book for reluctant readers. It has come out paler than I wanted… but it is the best I can do. The font is Harpune, which I have used for my three children’s books, I wanted a consistent look to them. This, by the way, is the story of a boy who is pursued by three dangerous looking men dressed in black; he doesn’t know what they want but he has had such a run of bad luck recently he can’t imagine it is anything very good. I wrote it for young people aged 12-15 who are perfectly good readers but just don’t like doing so.

A big adventure!

I went to meet my publisher, Raye at Honey Pot Press today. I am going to publish my two stories for reluctant readers, and my story which forms a guide to writing for young people, or anyone really who wants to look at different forms of narrative.

There, I said it! Quite calmly as if it was something I did frequently “I went to meet my publisher”… whoohoo! I am so excited! I have self-published four novels as e-books for Kindle, but my children’s stories will be real  in my hand, actual, with pages, made out of paper, books! they will be for sale in books hops! I will try and get them into schools! I will be able to pose with them, write dedications in them, send them to friends and family… It really is the beginning of a thrilling adventure, and if in ten years time, I am sitting here with piles of unsold copies of ‘Run, Blue, Run!’, ‘Screaming King Harry’ and ‘The Story of Rufus Redmayne’, even if they end up in the remainder pile in a bookshop, or on a shelf in a charity shop, I won’t mind, because I will have published my work!

Visit Raye’s Honey Pot press site here, it’s really interesting!  http://hpp5.moonfruit.com/

 

I hope you can tell a book by its cover!

Almost a year ago I mentioned that I had been in touch with a publisher about three short novels I had written for reluctant readers – young people who could read but were not keen to do so. It is such a handicap, especially at school, if you can’t be bothered to read, or, because you are out of the habit of doing it, are slow and unpractised.  In exams in particular, time is everything!

A week before I went on holiday with the family, I met the publisher again because I was about ready to get my work to her. Having had a most helpful,, interesting and enjoyable meeting with her, I came away and redesigned my covers. I also created back covers too,, because of course, the reverse is important too. I can’t yet share the covers with you, but I can at least share the picture I used with the cover I struggled with most.

‘Run, Blue, Run!’ is about a lad pursued by three sinister men, and at the end of every chapter he takes off to escape them.

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