Writing about your family history (iii) … the journeys they made…

It’s a bit of a fallacy that people in the past never travelled further than the nearest market; in fact, as you probably know from your own research, people moved about almost as much as we do, if not more – and probably for the same reasons, work, family, opportunities, marriage, business… Writing a family story from the point of a journey is a way to create a contained narrative, with a beginning – in one homestead/village/town/city and after staying temporarily in other places, the settling in what became the family home.

On my dad’s side of the family, the Elsdens were all ag labs, agricultural labours, working in Suffolk on farms for generations. They may have come from Norfolk, and before that from Scandinavia, but they stayed in the Suffolk area throughout the eighteenth and first part of the nineteenth century, moving from village to village, no doubt finding work on different farms. When the railways came they moved from the land to work initially on the tracks in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, but later into the engine sheds and driving the big steam engines. The sons of the family moved out of labour and into commerce, opening a fruit and vegetable shop in Cambridge, then holding the license of a pub… and so we became a Cambridge family.

On my maternal side, my Jewish forebears left their commercial business in the hands of their brothers and cousins in London, and travelled round the other side of the world to Tasmania where they started an import export agency – they had ships travelling across the Pacific and all round the South China Sea. Eventually they returned to London and settled in a house on Regent’s Park, they were extraordinarily rich… this was an actual journey, but there followed a journey of a different kind… a journey from riches to a more modest way of life.

My character Thomas in my Radwinter stories follows his ancestors lives, tracing his family back to war-torn eastern Europe, and following their journey from their arrival in England in the 1830’s, across southern England to Easthope, where the family still lives… “I followed the story of the Radwinters, and discovered where we came from… and what an interesting journey that was. I mean journey for me in a non-literal way, but it was an interesting journey for the Radwinters, literally”.

Here is a link to the first  book in the series:

http://amzn.eu/iaeUMrD

Thomas in his new office…

Here is another little excerpt from my next book… Thomas is very proud to have his own office:

My office

I sat at my desk and twiddled a bit in my chair, clicked the mouse a couple of times, then another couple of times and smiled to myself. I have an office! I have an actual office!
It’s only very small, it’s what used to be the upstairs flat of the veg shop run by my friend Val, but now the small sitting room is where I might meet any clients, three easy chairs but uprightish (some of my clients are a bit elderly) a coffee table and then to one side a desk with a couple of chairs in case we might have to look at some papers. It is very plainly decorated, so it just looks nice and clean and light, and I think it looks quite professional – well, I am a professional! There are a few black and white photos on the wall by a young photographer I know, Niqqi (I’m sure she is really Nicky, but never mind) and there are nice blinds at the window.
The small room which used to be the bedroom is now my office, and this is where I was, sitting in splendour. I have bookshelves for my law books, I have a filing cabinet because some things still happen on paper, and I have three computers, yes three, and another big table where I can do my family tree stuff… because as well as being a solicitor I do people’s family trees.
The veg shop down below is very small – it’s the end of a row of other shops and whether the builder ran out of land or whether he wanted a small shop, or whatever, it is much smaller than the others, which is why the flat has just one bedroom, a miniscule bathroom, and an even more miniscule kitchen… The kitchen, empty of any cooking stuff, apart from a kettle, microwave and a fridge, is just there to make tea and coffee.
Hmm… my first day in my new office… well, half a day. I have to collect various kids from various places and then I’ll be home getting dinner ready for us all and doing dadly things… perfect!
There was a ‘dong’ and I enquired through the entry phone who it was, feeling rather full of myself – I’d only been here an hour on my first day; I had plenty to do, and wasn’t expecting anyone, but here was a client…
My optimism deflated like a punctured football – I’d been playing footie on the beach with Kenneil and Terri and I confess I rather booted the ball, it hit a rock, bounced off and then sat there deflating…
“Come up, Inspector Graham!” I said with false heartiness. I slapped down a feeling of anxiety, I had nothing to be anxious about, I’d done nothing wrong… well, nothing that anyone apart from my friend David knows about.
Last year I was involved in a rather nasty incident which ended up in two people being dead… I’d spent rather more time with the police than I wanted, and had to go to court – well two courts, a coroner’s court and a Crown Court. I had a few nightmares after that, I can tell you… a period of insomnia, and altogether an unpleasant few months… But I battened it all down, locked it all away and got on with being a dad and a husband…
“Thomas, good to see you, I hope you don’t mind me dropping in without an appointment,” Graham said as we shook hands. I greeted him as enthusiastically and normally as I could and he asked me to call him ‘Charles’ which I took to be a signal that he wasn’t here on police business and my heart rated slowed back to normalish.

If you haven’t yet had the chance to read about Thomas Radwinter and his adventures, here is a link, and if you are kind enough to buy any of my books, I would really appreciate you visiting my Amazon page and writing a review!! Thank you in advance, and here is the link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/RADWINTER-5-Book-Series/dp/B072HTG366/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1518045012&sr=8-16&keywords=lois+elsden

A sneak preview, and a catch-up with Thomas

I’m working on my next Thomas Radwinter novel, possibly to be called ‘Saltpans’ – although I have a dilemma; the title is perfect except it gives away a crucial element of the plot, so maybe that will be book VII… unless my readers become fed-up with the story of Thomas!

Here is the opening chapter – maybe you could call it a prologue:

My name is Thomas Marcus Pemberton Radwinter; I was born in 1980, so I’m thirty-seven. I’m about five foot nine and I have grey-hazel eyes and dark reddish sort of hair and a beard.
I live in Easthope which is a small old-fashioned seaside town, with my wife Kylie who’s half-Tobagan, and our five children, Terri-Ann who we adopted last year and is eight, Kenneil, six, Casimira, two, and our year-old twins, Vitalija and Marko.
Kylie works full-time and I used to say I’m a stay-at-home dad, but so many things have changed in our lives. I still do lots of stuff at home, and most of the cooking, but I also now have a small office in Easthope, a room above the veg shop. I’m a solicitor and I work independently, doing conveyancing and will-writing and stuff like that, but I also do genealogical research for other people.
Over the last few years, I’ve been commissioned to do other things … like finding people, a vanished woman, a dodgy Moroccan, and a mysterious and manipulative Tibetan Lama … Most recently I was asked to investigate a haunted hotel… yes really… This ‘adventure’ if you want to call it that, nearly cost me my life – it sounds as if I’m exaggerating, I’m not. Fortunately, at the time, everything happened so quickly I didn’t realise, but afterwards, afterwards I had to think about things a great deal.
There are four of us Radwinter boys, Marcus who’s fifty-eight, Paul who is fifty-one, and John who’s forty-four…  And then there’s me, the youngest.  In 2013, Paul asked me to find out about our family history and I followed the story of the Radwinters … and what an interesting journey that was. I mean journey for me in a non-literal way, but it was an interesting journey for the Radwinters, literally.
I use a genealogical site, MyTimeMachine, and when I looked into us Radwinters, I went about it in a sort of back-to-front way. I guess most people would start with their parents, and find their birth details, and their marriage record, and then move back to their grandparents and so on. It’s not too difficult, especially if you have an unusual name like we have, but even if it isn’t unusual, you can still soon become a real genealogical detective and find your way back into the past.
I did it the other way round; I found my namesake Thomas Radwinter in the 1841 census and worked forward. John has the middle name of Magick, and that’s our maternal line and in 2014 I followed that side of our family… and it led me to some very dark places I can tell you, but eventually I found the truth about my Magick family.
I continued to investigate the people who brought us up, Edward Radwinter and Sylvia Magick, and through this journey into our recent family history, I discovered what caused us to have such traumatic childhoods. Maybe it’s because of this we’ve had to think about our own lives, Marcus and Paul in particular.
In my Radwinter story I discovered some difficult truths about myself as well, which really changed me in ways I can hardly describe. Looking back to me four years ago, I really do feel like a different person now; I think I’m strong and confident… even though I’m still a bit of a bumbling, wittering idiot sometimes…. Well, a lot of the time to be honest! After last year’s dramatic and traumatic events, I’ve had to reassess the sort of commissions I undertake, I’m Mr. Boring now!
So… now our history is closed, and our lives seem settled, well, as much as anyone’s can be!

If you haven’t yet caught up with Thomas and his adventures, here is a link to my books:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/RADWINTER-5-Book-Series/dp/B072HTG366/ref=sr_1_15?ie=UTF8&qid=1518005713&sr=8-15&keywords=lois+elsden

Swords and stabby things

I guess all of us get irritated when we are reading a novel, or worse watching a TV programme or film and see something which is just wrong! It might be an unintended error – a glimpse of a Roman gladiator wearing a watch, or visible train tracks before trains were invented, that sort of thing, or it may be carelessness or ignorance when especially these days it is much easier to check because we have the vast resources of the internet available.

There has been correspondence in the newspaper recently about whether in Edwardian times, someone eating a meal, for example afternoon tea, would lift their plate from the table and eat from it held in their hand… Some people said it absolutely would not have been done, others say, well, actually, it jolly well was done! I got a bit miffed when watching the series ‘Grantchester’ set in the fifties, men embraced each other to say goodbye – well, no… men absolutely would not have done that in those days! A firm hand shake, a clap on the shoulder or a grasp of the upper arm, that would have been it. However, did it really matter to have such a tiny inaccuracy? Did it affect my enjoyment of what was a very engaging fiction? No, no it did not!

However, if you are an expert in something, say swords and sword fighting, you might really cringe if you see stupid and careless errors in the prop department… such as the wrong sword! Wrong in terms of date, in terms of the type of sword used for a particular sort of fighting, in terms of how it was used, in terms of which country’s swordsmen were using it, in terms of whether there ever actually was a sword such as the one the character was wielding so dramatically.

I came across a very interesting video, which picked out five crashing errors in swords:

The 5 worst movie swords:

  1. Braveheart – a film not really known for its historical accuracy
  2. El Cid – the Hollywood version
  3. 300 – based on a graphic novel – but also a true event!
  4. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc – a fun spoof
  5. Robin Hood Prince of Thieves – even if there wasn’t a real Robin Hood, there was a King John and a King Richard

This little video is really interesting, and is explained in a lighthearted way which even someone who knows nothing about it might find engaging – and even humorous (‘why is there a lack of armour, why are the Spartans so naked, they do seem to like wearing their little pants and not much else‘) It is informative and explains about the development of weapons, and how they were designed for specific types of fighting and warfare.

I know nothing about swords really, but my character Thomas Radwinter came across one in my novel ‘Beyond Hope’:

My phone had been buzzing from time to time and in a quiet corner of the hall, leaning against the newel post I glanced at it and saw Tanya had been trying to ring me, several times…
I was feeling quite hot so I opened the front door and escaped the racket to ring her; I walked into the middle of the front lawn and looked back at the house, full of all the people I love, and who were celebrating Paul’s birthday with such joy… and all the unpleasantness and uncertainty was in the past.
I stared up at the sky, full of stars, looking like Kylie’s face…
“Thomas! Where are you?” Tanya almost screamed at me. “Marius is coming looking for you! I’ve tried to ring the police but just have people taking messages… Thomas!”
“Good evening, Mr. Radwinter… I have a score to settle with you, my friend!”
Oh… fuck… Marius Hix was standing between me and the house and he had a spade in his hands…  A spade! He could do a lot of damage with a spade, he could do me a lot of damage with a spade!
“Now, Marius… I think you need to put that spade down… I think we need to talk about this…”
“I’ve done enough talking, thank you, you – “ and he called me the rudest word. “I’m going to kill you, Radwinter, just like you killed my dreams and my life!”
What could I do…? I couldn’t run away, he’d be quicker than me, and his glasses were glinting in a really sinister way… this man is mad… and everyone is in the house and no-one knows  I’m out here…
Even as I was working out my options, he made a stab at me, lunged at me with the spade as if he wanted to dig out my heart. I dodged out the way and he swung it round like a battle-axe and I ducked and I seemed to hear the blade whistle over my head… this man was going to kill me with a garden spade!
I was yelling now, yelling for help but I could hear Django’s electric guitar whine as his band began to play – no-one inside would be able to hear anything. Marius was taller than me, fitter than me, angrier than me and certainly crazier than me.
I daren’t turn my back on him and run…
I was dodging about, getting caught on rose bushes and screaming for help. The spade sliced down and honestly it would have cleaved me in two – clove me, cleft me… I tripped over and landed on my bottom as he was trying to wrestle the spade out of the ground.
“Here! Take this boy!” there was an old man beside me, a bundle of old coats and strange scarves, but I didn’t bother to take in what exactly he was wearing, just grabbed what he was giving me and sort of sprang to my feet… I am much niftier now, and I was terribly frightened and fear can make you do extraordinary things and I didn’t want to die and leave Kylie and our children, I didn’t want to leave my brothers and Marcus – I know writing this now it seems hilarious and cartoonish – I assure you it wasn’t, my life kept repeatedly flashing before my eyes and I really thought I was going to die, really, I’m not joking now… and fuck, I was very angry, very, very angry!
I rushed at Hix as he heaved the spade out of the ground showering soil and bits of plant everywhere and I thumped him straight in the face with my fist wrapped round the handle of a … of a scimitar… what? What the fuck? The old tramp had given me a scimitar…
Hix reeled back and blood was everywhere and he swung wildly with the spade and for the first time it made contact but luckily only the shaft, whacking me painfully on the shoulder.
I thumped him in the face again, and something crunched, his nose or his teeth and he was screaming at me, spraying blood which looked a weird colour in the light from the street lamps – where was everyone?
I daren’t look away from Hix but I could hear the old man shouting help, somewhere up near the house, but there was such a racket going on..
Hix thrust me away and I tumbled backwards landing on my bottom again. he lunged at me with the spade and I lashed out with the bloody sword thing as I rolled away, and there was a great crack and the spade broke in two as he jabbed it into the ground where I had been a moment ago… he might not have a nasty sharp blade any more but he had the splintered end, like a broken stabby thing.
Well, he could stab at me all he liked but I wasn’t going to have it… I was on my feet I don’t know how and I rushed at him sweeping the shattered spade handle aside with my weapon and then I slashed at him… and this is going to give me nightmares I know, I sliced into his arm and he screamed but actually at that moment I didn’t fucking care, and I bowled him over and straddled him, punching him in the face and anywhere to hurt him, to hurt him… and maybe to kill him…
“Enough, boy, enough,” and the tramp grabbed my arm… he was old but he had a strong grip and it brought me to my senses and I knelt there on top of Hix who was moaning and swearing but at least not killed by me… that really would have complicated my life, murdering someone…

Who is Marius? Why did he want to kill Thomas? Find out –

http://amzn.eu/8fxKOY8

And to find out about swords in movies –

 

 

Taras Radwinski to see Mr. Swarbrick

The main character of my Radwinter stories, Thomas gets himself – as he would say – ‘into some pickles’ . From being a very nervous and unconfident person he undergoes a personality change – or maybe becomes the real him when he marries and becomes a father. Here he takes his friend Hollis with him on a mission to recover what’s owed to his brothers, calling himself Radwinski

I left the car in Portsmouth… the parking would be a lot but I didn’t want to risk taking our car over. Hollis was wearing dark trousers, a rather tight longish black jacket in an old-fashioned style and a white collarless shirt… he looked rather like how I imagined a Lutheran minister or a Russian priest with his long beard and mournful face. We hadn’t spoken much to each other… what did we have in common to converse about? Barely anything. However, I did detect a certain contained excitement as we got on the hovercraft…

The taxi dropped us at Swarbrick’s gate and I arranged for the driver to pick us up in an hour, just down the road. I gave her a rather hefty tip, and a quick puppy eye, and she said all right me duck.

The great thing about Hollis was that he asked me nothing; he was a silent, and I have to say, a very reassuring presence beside me as we walked up the drive. My thirteen year old self would have been astounded if he could have known this, had he been able to see into the future.

The door was opened by the pale, weak looking old man.

“Taras Radwinski to see Mr. Swarbrick,” I said firmly.

“Ah, yes, of course, and you are…?” he gazed anxiously at Hollis.

“This is Father Spyridon,” I told him and felt a quiver of something from Hollis but I knew his impassive face would give nothing away.

We were led through to where Mr. Swarbrick waited, and I turned to the pale man and effectively dismissed him. I introduced ‘Father Spyridon’ and when Swarbrick, looking taken aback asked in what capacity he was here, I told him that he was ‘my spiritual adviser’… why on earth do I say such ludicrous things? Really… this was serious… I could get arrested… gulp…

I organised a couple of chairs for Hollis and me in front of the desk; then, and I hadn’t planned this, I took out my phone, fiddled with it as if I was turning on some app, and laid it on the table between us.

I told myself I was doing it for my brothers, I was doing it for us…

I had explained everything to Swarbrick before, I said; I’d asked him to do what he should… but he hadn’t and now I coldly laid down in black and white exactly what he had to do, what he had to give me and what I would do if he didn’t…

“I don’t believe you, I’m calling the police…” he bleated… I hope he didn’t have a heart attack or anything, that would be very awkward.

I stood up and picked up Swarbrick’s phone and dialled.

“Oh good, morning, is that Hampshire Police, I wonder if you could tell me who I should speak to as regards the suspected misappropriation or misuse of money or property, financial irregularities, you know…”

I handed the phone to Swarbrick who stammered and bumbled and eventually put the phone down.

“I will go to the police Swarbrick,” I said seriously as I sat again, and Hollis nodded lugubriously but in a way which was really quite intimidating…

“Maybe we could come to some compromise…”

“No, we are not going to come to some compromise. I have told you what I want, and I’m not threatening you, I am telling you; if I don’t get it within a week, that is by the Monday – and I don’t mean the Tuesday – if I haven’t received what I want, then I will be calling the police, and this time I will speak to them.”

Hollis leant down towards me and murmured “Check-mate, Thomas,” and then to my surprise crossed himself, and what struck me more was that he did it the eastern way, right to left with his three fingers together, not the left to right catholic way.

“Thank you, Father,” I said out loud and he inclined his head slightly.

Something in this had disturbed Swarbrick because he was staring at us, his eyes bulging.

I stood up and held out my hand which he was very reluctant to shake. His hand was sweaty and trembling. He was even more reluctant to shake Hollis’s hand, and looked as if he had been cursed when Hollis impassively murmured ‘bless you, my son’ in a strangely threatening way.

Without another word we left Swarbrick; the pale man was hovering in the hall and we said goodbye and shook his hand too, and again Hollis blessed him menacingly.

We walked down the drive without speaking and then I turned and took out my phone and took a photo of the house, I don’t know why.

We went through the impressive gates and walked along in silence until we saw the taxi waiting for us. Hollis asked why I’d taken the photo… I wasn’t sure, sometimes I do things without knowing why I do them. He said he thought it showed them that we weren’t scarpering… that we meant business… I didn’t like the sound of that… did he mean I might be suggesting I would show the photo of the house to someone who might come along and ’help’ Swarbrick to make up his mind?… Oh dear…

Hollis made a strange noise as he got in the car and I realised he was laughing.

“Father Spyridon, I must remember that,” he said and chuckled some more.

If you want to find out how Hollis and Thomas came to this, and what happened next, and whether Swarbrick does give him what is owed, then here is a link to my book ‘Beyond Hope’:

http://amzn.eu/5OoeNQw

 

My 2017: March

After the travels and excitement of January and February, March was a quieter month – although we did travel to Portsmouth for a college reunion which was great fun. On that weekend we took several taxis, and each driver was an interesting person with great stories to tell, a Syrian who seemed to make it rain wherever he went on holiday, an Albanian who was passionate about Charles Dickens, a bloke who had a great interest in the art and life of L.S.Lowery and another who told us about the history of Gosport. We had our usual classes (creative writing, family history writing, French, modern art, ukulele, rock band, book clubs etc) and our usual little trips out and about to different places, including National Trust properties.

From a writing point of view, March was when I finished my latest Radwinter novel, and although I didn’t publish it until April, I wrote this about the series:

I’m not sure when I first thought I might write about a family of brothers, but I know why I did. I’m forever saying about strangers in the pub, people in the street, faces on the TV, ‘gosh doesn’t s/he look just like so-and-so‘; I thought I identified a similarity in the faces of a TV baker, a famous chef, and a bloke who works in our local bookshop; mostly it was something about the eyes, and the unnerving stare (although bookshop bloke has a friendly stare) The thought of writing about them came and went until I was out with my cousin and we were driving through Essex, not far from the pretty town of Saffron Walden when we saw a sign to the village of Radwinter – and I had my name!

This was some time ago, and over several years I played about with ideas and thoughts and then in 2013 began to write what became the first book in an unexpected series, about the Radwinter family. The narrator was a new arrival, a fourth brother who looked nothing like them, When I started writing, I little knew that there would be a whole series of books, and now I’m just doing the final editing of number 5!

  1. Radwinter – Thomas Radwinter goes in search of his family roots; using the internet he traces his family back to war-torn eastern Europe, and follows their journey from arriving in England in the 1830’s, across southern England. However, the more he finds out about his family’s past, the more he sees his own family, his brothers and his wife differently. His relationship with them changes… and he begins to understand his own character, and to find out as much about his present life as his family’s history. https://www.amazon.co.uk/RADWINTER-Lois-Elsden-ebook/dp/B00IFG1SNO/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1490867200&sr=8-2&keywords=lois+elsden
  2. Magick – Encouraged by his success in discovering his Radwinter ancestors, Thomas Radwinter sets out to investigate his maternal line, starting with the mysterious and alcoholic Sylvia. His life has been somewhat dysfunctional, but now, gaining confidence through his new loving relationship with a beautiful young woman and her son, he is able to confront his own past.
    His genealogical searches take him into the tragic histories of his family and other ordinary people who lived and worked under the appalling conditions of the Victorian age. His skills in finding people from the past encourage a friend to beg him to try and trace her long-lost daughter, a woman, who, it seems does not want to be found. He accepts her request, little realising this will lead him into danger.
    Then the father of his partner’s son arrives; he’s come for his boy…       https://www.amazon.co.uk/MAGICK-RADWINTER-Book-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B00OHV4MR0/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1490867200&sr=8-3&keywords=lois+elsden
  3. Raddy and Syl – Thomas Radwinter continues his journey into his ancestor’s history; he has followed his paternal line of the Radwinters, “and what an interesting journey that was. I mean journey for me in a non-literal way, but it was an interesting journey for the Radwinters, literally”.
    He traced his maternal ancestry, the Magicks, “I followed that side of our family… and it led me to some very dark places I can tell you”.
    Now he has to find the history of those closest to him, “in my Radwinter story I found some amazing truths about myself. My childhood was difficult to say the least, and when I started to follow the Magick story, I had to begin to face my past, and confront some of my fears and nightmares. To finish my story I have to look at Sylvia Magick and her husband Edward Radwinter, the people who brought me up… sort of… I think of them now as Syl and Raddy, because it’s easier and less painful.”
    During his search Thomas also seeks a woman who vanished seemingly into thin air from a car stopped at a road junction, and he tries to solve the mystery of Badruddin, the Moroccan an elderly female client brought back from a cruise…
    Thomas little thinks that he may be risking his life to find these different truths.   https://www.amazon.co.uk/RADDY-SYL-RADWINTER-Book-3-ebook/dp/B00WAN0YD8/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1490867200&sr=8-6&keywords=lois+elsden
  4. Beyond Hope – Beyond Hope is the fourth in the series of books following the life and genealogical investigations of Thomas Radwinter; in previous stories he has followed family’s history back several centuries and also found some uncomfortable and very painful truths in more recent times.
    In ‘Beyond Hope’, Thomas decides to share with his three brothers what he has learned about their mother and father… but telling the truth can be damaging, the truth can hurt, and as Thomas later reflects, “I know at first hand, a very, very painful first hand, how old secrets have the power to wound and how sometimes those dogs snoozing away should be left doing exactly that, sleeping dogs should sometimes just be let lie.”
    His revelations cause the close family ties to be tested which doesn’t help Thomas as he struggles with the other commissions he is being paid to undertake; he has been asked by a very elderly lady to find out who leaves lilies on a grave she visits, he has undertaken to investigate a mysterious lama who has a dangerous power over a hard-working teacher and devoted father, and he continues his search for the daughter of a friend who has become involved with a very dangerous man… And all the while his own little family has to face difficult decisions. The fall-out between Thomas and his brothers may only be healed if he can find out what happened to their father who disappeared thirty years ago. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beyond-Hope-Radwinter-Book-4-ebook/dp/B01AKU9XMK/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1490867200&sr=8-4&keywords=lois+elsden
  5. Earthquake – (published April 2017) Thomas Radwinter’s life seems settled and content as he juggles working as a free-lance solicitor, genealogist and house husband. However a new arrival in the family puts extra pressure on him as he has to balance looking after them and earning some money. A commission from an elderly gentleman to investigate a mysterious death at a little boarding school in 1931 seems intriguing and harmless; a haunted hotel he’s asked to visit seems just to be over-imaginative guests and maybe a less than honest manager. However, during his investigations he has to confront a violent verger, an unbalanced conchologist and a very strange friend from the past… Thomas took on his commissions, little realising when he began his investigation that he would be putting his life and that of a friend in serious danger… “I tried to work out what was going on, and what to do, and what might happen to us – trying my hardest to keep my thoughts well away from a terminal conclusion to events… ” https://www.amazon.co.uk/EARTHQUAKE-RADWINTER-Book-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B06Y18H8JR/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1514650978&sr=8-3&keywords=lois+elsden

…and here is a link to my other books, Farholm, Flipside, Loving Judah, Lucky Portbraddon, Night Vision, The Double Act and The Stalking of Rosa Czekov

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

 

A writing list

A writing chum told me has made a 2018 writing list – things he intends to tackle next year… I’ve got some priorities in my head, but as for a list, well, I hadn’t thought of it… so what would be on my list should I make one?

I think it goes without saying that I will continue to write here, sharing my thoughts, ideas, memories and my writing. I must also get back seriously or seriously get back to finishing my next Radwinter novel, which has been marooned three-quarter way through since the beginning of November when I tackled the national Novel Writing challenge of completing 50,000 words in a month. So finish Thomas Radwinter’s next story provisionally entitled ‘Saltpans‘, and I have an idea for another for later on in the year probably called ‘Alone‘. On the Radwinter front, I also want to publish as paperbacks at least two of my e-books, ‘Magick’ and ‘Raddy and Syl‘, and if all goes extremely well, then also ‘Beyond Hope‘.

In January and February I must prepare for a talk and two workshops I’m giving in February; the talk is on writing about family history, as I mentioned yesterday, and the workshops are on the process of writing and blogging.

I also have my unfinished stories – ‘Gus’, ‘Dancing in the Road’, ‘And the River…’, ‘Hamazasb and the Missing Shoe‘, and a couple of other bits of writing I started. There is also the story I began this year for NaNoWriMo, about Milla. Of those, I think there’s only a couple which I might actually tackle, others are very much on the back burner, as well as some I wrote many years ago which would need a total re-write.

I have completed five NaNoWriMo challenges, every year since 2013; they have been a great way to really get to grips with a new story, but they are also a great drain on time… the idea is also quite additive, though, will I be able to resist the challenge? Or maybe should I use it to get to grips with ‘Alone’? That actually is a good idea!!

I mentioned at the start my commitment to writing here; I also share another blog with two writing friends (which is actually open to anyone to contribute to!) From that we published an anthology last year and are hoping to publish a second next year. That is more a case of pulling together already written pieces rather than creating anything new but it still involves work. On our other blog we have challenged ourselves to write about subjects from a list we discovered with seventy-three suggestions of topics. We are doing really well with it, and have had a thought that maybe they could be edited and published – in three volumes!! There would just be too many words for one book!

So that I guess is my writing list… but then of course, something new, a whole new story might bob into my mind!! Inspiration happens in the most unlikely places and with the most unexpected ideas!

So, maybe like my friend I should write a list… should it be a calendar/diary/timetable?

  1. January – finish first draft of ‘Saltpans‘, prepare for family history talk and writing workshops. Begin to edit ‘Magic’ for paperback publication
  2. February – deliver family history talk and writing workshops, work on editing ‘Saltpans‘, also continue to edit ‘Magick‘ as a paperback – this takes much longer than you might think!
  3. March – prepare and publish ‘Saltpans‘, prepare first draft of seventy-three blog anthology, book I.
  4. April – work on ‘seventy-three’ maybe start thinking about next story for me – perhaps ‘Dancing in the Road’, but maybe something new will spring into my mind! Publish ‘Magick’ as a paperback’ and start of paperback editing of ‘Raddy and Syl’.
  5. May – publish ’73’, continue work on whatever new/old thing I’m writing
  6. June – writing, writing, writing, publish ‘Raddy and Syl‘ paperback, start preparing ‘Beyond Hope’ as a paperback
  7. July – more writing, writing, writing, continue with ‘Beyond Hope‘ paperback
  8. August – as for July but publish new paperback
  9. September – complete whatever I started new in April (maybe it will have got to the editing stage by now) Begin to look at second anthology with my two writing friends, to publish November/December
  10. October  – ditto September
  11. November – new Nano challenge, but also some light editing and pulling together of the April book, publish anthology II with friends
  12. December – maybe publish new book? Maybe continue what I started as Nano?

Writing it down like this makes 2018 look a massive challenge – however, a lot of it is editing and working on old things. This year I have felt that creativity has been pushed into the corner by other stuff I’ve been doing; I really want to make sure it isn’t the same in 2018. It’s all about balance.

2017 has been a great year, and I’ll write about in the next few days, but if I have any resolution for next year, it is what I mentioned above – find balance!