Foggy

It’s foggy today… well, being by the sea we might talk about a sea-fret or haar but I’m not sure technically that is what we have here now… I can’t find the origins of ‘fret’ used in this way, it seems to have arrived in the nineteenth century, so perhaps is a colloquial word from somewhere… a haar is a very specific east coast winter sea fog… although now I think it is used everywhere by the sea; it is of Dutch/Germanic origin, so no doubt Dutch and German traders brought it to the east coast of England and now it has spread across to the east coast, so that any cold nasty fog coming off the sea is a haar!

A few synonyms I came across while looking it up: mist, mistiness, fogginess, haar, smog, murk, murkiness, haze, haziness, gloom, gloominess, sea fret, pea-souper, brume, fume and i am sure there are many more, and many, many more dialect words.

Fog is a useful device for writers, and I think I have used it twice.

In the first novel I published, Deke is staying on Farholm Island and she goes exploring; she reaches a village up on the top of the hills and then the fog comes down:

Deke hobbled swiftly down the stable, flung open the door and rushed out into the fog, she would go back to the cafe and phone someone, anyone to rescue her, to take her back to her cottage and she would pack and run away. The fog was thicker than anything Deke had ever experienced, it was quite frightening, like a disembodied entity pushing up against her face, its cold breath chilling her skin and dewing her hair.
She blundered on and she heard Michael somewhere calling her, his voice oddly directionless in the obscurity. She came up against a wall and followed it, passing an unlit window and came to a door. She banged but there was no response, it wasn’t the cafe. Michael was still calling her name and then she heard other voices. Quite close at hand a woman said
“Who is it?”
“Its me, Deke,” she answered because the voice sounded familiar.
“Where are you?”
Deke stumbled on to where the woman seemed to be. There was grass beneath her feet, she had strayed out of the confines of the village. She was very frightened. Something moved in the fog in front of her and thankfully she hurried towards it only to collide with a startled cow. She turned and tried to go back the way she had come. She had no idea which way she was facing, towards the village or away and into the hidden wilderness.
“Where are you?” said the woman again.
“Here.”
She stumbled on and unexpectedly her crutch sunk into mud. She was on the edge of a pond, the pond she had seen in the photo of the children. She had staggered into the cow trampled ooze and she slithered and stuck, her crutches pushing down into the smelly slime.
“I’m by the pond,” she called, her voice sharp with panic and fear.
“Which side? Can you see across it?”
Deke looked across the dull grey water and could just make out a clump of reeds. She was shoved violently and she slipped and fell with a great splash. She floundered and thrashed desperately as a foot pressed down on her back, between her shoulder blades. Then it was gone and she turned onto her back, hacking and coughing as she tried to sit up. Then the pond seemed full of other people and she was pulled up, hawking and spitting.

If you haven’t read my book, Farholm, here is a link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/FARHOLM-Lois-Elsden-ebook/dp/B007JMDAFO/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1464093893&sr=8-5&keywords=lois+elsden

and In The Double Act, Genet hurries out to find Dr Herrick who she desperately wants to speak to:

Genet stood on the back doorstep smelling the early morning and the salty milky air. She had a peculiar urge to walk out into the wetness and she gave into it and stepped barefoot onto the terrace and onto the lawn. The fog was so dense she couldn’t see the top floor of the hotel.

Her feet were cold but it was perversely pleasant and she had an urge to lie down on the wet grass. Her skin was cold and droplets had formed on strands of auburn hair hanging down her forehead. She remembered standing by the sea wall with Dr Herrick, shivering and pressing herself against him.

Footsteps crunched down the drive; he was going to the sea. She hurried back to the house and ran into the bedroom, then ran out of the hotel and had to follow the hedge and the neighbour’s garden walls, the fog was so dense. She walked along the wire fence of the little park and playground and came to the white walls of the coastguard cottages. She crossed over to the sea wall but could see nothing but the grassy banks leading down to the beach. She followed the wall round until she came to the slope down to the little harbour and the fisherman’s huts.

Through the dense fog came voices.

“Hello,” she called. The bait shop was open and a couple of men sat on the step.

“It’s Genet, isn’t it?” It was Heath’s father, his boat somewhere out in the mist.

“Hello, have you seen someone come down here to swim?” she asked breathlessly.

The two men were wearing waterproofs, two old geezers smoking their pipes and talking fish.

“Yes, he comes every morning. He’s over on the other side, he swims off the end of the point and across the bay to Green Rock. Does it every day. Swims like a fish though I told him not to go out today, too dangerous in this fog,” Heath’s father lit his pipe.

“I don’t think he cared, he looked suicidal. If he doesn’t come back I won’t be surprised,” added the other man gloomily. “One of those moody types if you ask me. What is it, manic-depressive is it?” He puffed on his pipe. “First he used to come down he hardly said a word, nodded and that was it. Then we’ve had a sunny couple of months, him whistling as he walked and chatty as anything. Now the last few weeks his face has been as black as sin.”

If you haven’t read, The Double Act, here is a link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Double-Act-think-romance-story-ebook/dp/B01349UBHA/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1489055000&sr=8-7&keywords=lois+elsden

So near the end!

It seems a long time since I began writing my latest Radwinter story, which I’m pretty sure is going to be called ‘Earthquake’. I started writing it last year while I was working on editing the last book I published which was ‘Lucky Portbraddon’. I had finished LP as I called it, about ten years ago, but had never got around to properly editing it – I was still working, my children were still at school, and life was very busy. Once I stopped working and could concentrate on writing full-time, I began to work through what you might call my back catalogue – completed novels which needed re-editing and tidying up so I could publish them as e-books on Kindle.

All was going very well until one autumn, I decided to accept the write-a-novel-in-a-month challenge – the National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo; the idea is to start a new novel and write 50,000 words of it in the month of November. I started and wrote the first 70,000 words of a completely new book, Radwinter. I completed and published it, and my first ever sequel began to formulate in my mind, and that is what I moved onto next… to my utter surprise, four books have now been written in the series!

Although I had more Radwinter ideas, I decided I really ought to get ‘Lucky Portbraddon’ off my virtual bookshelf, so I began work on it; it was a monster book, nearly 300,000 words – far, far to long even though it was a complex story. Editing is actually quite tedious, so I began the fifth Radwinter book as a little light relief. LP, much much abreviated and much better for it I hope, was published last autumn and now I am so nearly finishing Earthquake… the first draft… then will come a period of editing, checking, rewriting.

Earthquake is a genealogical mystery, but as well as investigating the past, Thomas Radwinter, my main character also accepts present day mysteries to unravel. This time he is trying to find out who killed a little girl in 1931 – he has twelve suspects, the child’s classmates! he is also trying to explain who or what is responsible for the supposed haunting of his ex-wife’s hotel, as well as having to deal with an unexpected addition to his family. I just have one plot line to finish unravelling, and a few unexpected twists, and then it will be to work getting it ready to publish!

Here is a link to the first Radwinter book:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/RADWINTER-Lois-Elsden-ebook/dp/B00IFG1SNO/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1487631751&sr=8-2&keywords=lois+elsden

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.

… and its sequel:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/MAGICK-RADWINTER-Book-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B00OHV4MR0/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1487631751&sr=8-4&keywords=lois+elsden

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…

… book 3:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/RADDY-SYL-RADWINTER-Book-3-ebook/dp/B00WAN0YD8/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1487631751&sr=8-7&keywords=lois+elsden

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.

… and book 4:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beyond-Hope-Radwinter-Book-4-ebook/dp/B01AKU9XMK/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1487631751&sr=8-3&keywords=lois+elsden

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.

… and Lucky Portbraddon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/LUCKY-PORTBRADDON-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B01LWTVURP/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487631751&sr=8-1&keywords=lois+elsden

“Lucky Portbraddon… a rather rascally ancestor of my late husband, or so family legend has it, was a favourite friend of the Prince Regent, apparently, but Lucky made, not lost, his fortune…”
A few days before Christmas, as the Portbraddon family gathers at their grandmother’s big house up on the moors, the last of the cousins drives through a blizzard to join them:
…There was a severed dog’s head stuck on the gatepost. There’d been a few seconds pause in the driving snow and in those few seconds, lit by their headlights, she glimpsed the wolf-like creature, maw gaping, tongue lolling, teeth bared in one final gory snarl. Then the blizzard obliterated the stone beast and everything else in a seething maelstrom…  A near-death experience does not seem an auspicious start to their family get together, but the cousins determine to celebrate as they always do.  However as the old year ends and the new begins it seems their good fortune is about to run out. An unexpected death, a descent into madness, betrayal… and as the year progresses other things befall them, a stalker, attempted murder, a patently dodgy scheme for selling holiday homes in a dangerous part of the Caucasus… Maybe the Portbraddons are not so lucky… except there is also love, a new home, reconciliation, a spiritual journey, music… One thing remains true, whatever difficulties arise between them, whatever happens, family is family, family first… “They’re like a big bunch of musketeers, all for one and one for all!”

Something happened…

Many years ago I wrote a story called ‘A Strong Hand From Above’; I’ve not published and not sure I will – I may completely rewrite it, take the plot, take some of the characters and rewrite the whole thing. The end of the story is – I hoped when I wrote it, quite exciting, escape from death, a shoot up in the depths of a Welsh forest, but there is a misunderstanding between the two main characters, which is eventually righted on the last few pages.

When I finished it, all those years before, I kept on following the characters story in my head… and rather than it be happy ever after, it occurred to me that after such shocking events, and even with the happy ending, in reality the two main people would be quite traumatised, and it would probably effect their relationship. Their lives couldn’t go back to how they had been in the before, because they would always remember the horror.

I didn’t write a sequel to ‘Farholm’, another of my novels and the first I published, but again, the story of my characters, in this case Deke and Michael carried on – and I actually wrote quite a lot of it down. I was tempted to follow their lives – ad maybe I will one day… or maybe I will just take the idea of what happened to them and write about that with new characters.

In ‘The Stalking of Rosa Czekov’ I did write about the afterwards – before the novel begins Rosa is in a hostage situation, and the man who has taken her is shot dead, standing right beside her with a gun to her head – I’m not spoiling anything by revealing this! My story explores the effect of this on Rosa, her husband, her friends, and the person who may be stalking her – or is she imagining it, haunted by what she experienced?

I saw these swans and their cygnets…

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… and seeing them swimming along towards the little bridge was like the action in a story – and look there I am, the shadowy observer!

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… and after they have gone, there is just the merest trace of their trail through the duckweed, the event happened, and it left its trace!

Farholm…

Over the last two weeks I have shared excerpts from my novels about Thomas Radwinter who traces his  family history, and then later investigates other people’s stories, and not just genealogical ones, but mysteries in their everyday lives.

For the next month I am going to share excerpts from my other novels, starting with the opening chapter of ‘Farholm’, the first novel I published:

Friday 27th September

If this bloody boat hits one more bloody wave then I am going to throw up.
It hit a wave. She held on….
Which is more than the woman next to her did.
With a groan of despair, the green faced woman vomited all over the legs and feet of the man sitting beside her.
Ignoring the potential danger of such a move, Deke hoisted herself on her crutches and lurched to the side, shoving a fat boy out of the way. She hung over the rail, clinging onto the slippery edge, staring down into the slick sliding grey green water.
A half-remembered line from childhood sang in her mind ‘the great grey green greasy Limpopo.’ Oh my God, and her stomach churned and heaved. She retched and her mouth flooded with saliva, and sweat stood up on her top lip.
Deke held on and stared towards the horizon and the island.
She shut her eyes.
She was beneath water looking up and there was someone between her and the sun, holding her down, holding her down.
She opened her eyes and opened her mouth to gulp air.
She was on the ferry to Farholm Island.
I could swim there, it’s so near I could swim there. Keep looking at the bird shit stained cliffs, keep your eye on a fixed point.
The island was maybe a half dozen miles long humped up at one end like the shoulders of a beast and dropping down towards the east where the crested tail twisted round enclosing the harbour.
She could hear the angry voices of the spew soaked man and the green-faced woman’s husband.
“What the hell am I supposed to do?” one of them yelled, interspersing his words with expletives.
“I don’t bloody know and I don’t bloody care!” yelled the other.
Deke risked looking over her shoulder. A half-naked man was striding barefoot towards the back of the boat where the toilets were. The woman’s husband was holding out a pair of jeans at arm’s length, his wife still puking into a pair of trainers she held in her lap. It was so bizarre that Deke laughed, and then the port side rose up towards her on a huge wave then smacked back down and Deke gagged and turned away to hang over the gunwale, her crutches, heavy, awkward wooden props, slipping from her.
Her throat constricted and her stomach churned. She closed her eyes again and the vision flashed, under the water, under the water, holding her breath and under the water as she was held down.
“No, bugger it no,” and she opened her eyes, controlling the desire to throw up and clung on, staring at the rocky cliffs which hardly looked any closer.
“Want a mint?” said someone.
“Thanks,” she replied through gritted teeth, not daring to shift her gaze from the land ahead.
“Nearly there, only twenty minutes,” the man who had handed her the mint restored the crutches to her. He was big and blond and had a red scarf tied round his head. He looked like a pirate. He walked off and up the companionway to the bridge.
The rolling stopped as the boat turned and headed straight at the little harbour. Deke stared at the huddle of buildings beyond the harbour and the single storey cottages spaced around the bay towards the end of the island where the castle was. Above the clustered buildings was the church, its graveyard spilling down the hillside, the gravestones like a congregation standing waiting for a sermon to commence. On the western side of the harbour the land gradually rose into steep cliffs and there were only a couple of buildings, the last appeared to be a Swiss Chalet with brightly coloured flags hanging limply over the balustrade.
Her eyes filled and she sucked hard on the mint, thinking of the dozens of times she had crossed the English Channel or had been sailing and never once felt as awful as she did now in this forty minute crossing. She had vomited this morning at the thought of coming here, throwing up with nervous dread; now was trying not to be sick again.
Her view was blocked as someone pushed between her and the fat boy. It was the man who had been spewed on. His legs and feet were bare, the blond hairs snaking over them glistening where he had washed. His face was set and angry, he was not amused.
“Watch where you’re putting your feet, you little get,” he snapped at the fat boy.
“Don’t you speak to my son like that,” the boy’s mother snapped back.
The boat turned again and rolled as it hit a large wave and spray flew over them and the line at the gunwale staggered, mother, boy, man and Deke and her crutches went again and she couldn’t keep upright and she slipped and fell onto the swimming deck.
Oh let this end, let this end or let me die.
The man heaved her to her feet and the boy retrieved her crutches and then they were into the harbour and chugging peacefully across still water.
“Oh thank God we’re here!” Deke exclaimed to the man as she thanked him.
He didn’t reply but marched back to the seats and picked up his backpack and swung it onto his shoulder.
“What the hell do you want me to do with these jeans and trainers?” asked the green woman’s husband angrily.
There was a grinding screech as the boat drove up onto the slipway and a shudder as the ramp crashed down.
Deke waited for the first rush of passengers to pass before she hobbled her way to the chair where she had left her bags. There were no fixed seats, only metal and plastic chairs, reminiscent of school. She looked round for the young woman who had helped her board. She caught sight of a bright pink top and shining silver blond hair as the girl walked up the slipway beside the bare-legged man who’d pushed himself to the front. Women and children first? He didn’t care, what a pig.
Everyone was shoving to get off, most of them holiday makers, eager to get onto firm land. Deke let them go, there was no point in trying to negotiate her way until there was room to manoeuvre. She watched the families gather their children, the seasick to gather themselves. Now she felt reluctant; coming here was stupid, the whole scheme, conceived in anger, planned with revenge in mind seemed a bitter and futile gesture.
She sunk into a trance, staring back across the channel towards the mainland, and when she blinked the boat was empty.
She couldn’t manage her two bags at the same time. The taxi driver had carried them from the flat and then to the station where a guard took over. At the other end he had helped her to another taxi and the driver had organized her at the ferry terminal.
She took her bag and held it awkwardly, trying to grasp the crutch. She couldn’t do it so she tried to manage with one crutch like Long John Silver. The bag was too big and it unbalanced her. Why had she not realised this? It had been so easy when taxi drivers and railway guards and the silver haired girl who had helped her. She would have to leave the bag, get ashore and try to find someone she could send back for it. She stood on one leg to get her backpack over her shoulders.  The straps interfered with the crutches but she would have to put up with the pain.
The tip of one of the crutches skidded in a pool of sick. She swore obscenely. Right, god damn it, she would leave both bags, get off this sodding boat and send someone to get her things. She slid the pack off her shoulder onto one of the seats.
“You still here?” it was the blond sailor who had given her a mint just in time to save her from projectile vomiting into the water. “I’ll give you a hand, m’dear. I’ve just got to wash down the deck then I’ll be with you.”
She sat where he directed and watched him with the hose and brush. He whistled as he sluiced the deck, glancing up at her every so often. He finished, reeled the hose, stowed the brush and then ran up the companionway.
He was back in a few minutes with a couple of men.
“See you in a couple of hours!” he cried to the other two and slung Deke’s backpack over one shoulder and picked up the bag.
With his free hand he grasped Deke’s elbow firmly and helped her towards the open front of the boat. She staggered as the boat rocked and the ferrule of her crutch slipped on the deck.
Her companion stopped as she steadied herself. Deke staggered again and bit off an exclamation as she put weight on her left foot. The man slid the backpack onto the deck and dropped her bag. Without warning he swung Deke into his arms, her crutches, still wedged under her arms, sticking out preposterously. There were shouts of laughter from the other men and ribald comments.
Deke was carried off the boat and set down on the concrete slipway.
“I’ll get your bags,” and he strolled back onto the boat grinning at the catcalls and insinuations.
Deke was embarrassed and angry. How dare he make a fool of her! On the other hand, at least she was off the boat.

Here is a link to Farholm:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/FARHOLM-Lois-Elsden-ebook/dp/B007JMDAFO/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1482493049&sr=8-6&keywords=lois+elsden

… and here is a link to my other e-books:

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

Thinking about blurbs…

Apparently, and I may have mentioned this before, the word blurb dates from 1906 and was invented by Brander Matthews – meaning the notes on the inside of a book jacket. Well, sadly, as yet, I have had no books actually published as real actual tree-books with jackets – only self-published as e-books. However, I am not complaining, I have been very pleased, delighted and somewhat surprised at the success I have had in my own way! I am in control (which may be a good or not so good thing) and do the covers and write the blurbs.

Blurb writing for your own work is really difficult – it sounds a bit big-headed to say how wonderful your own work is, how exciting, interesting and the best thing a prospective reader should choose… but on the other hand, sometimes one should look at what one’s achieved and be proud of all the effort, and look objectively and see that it has merit.

This is what I wrote for my first published book, Farholm:

Devastated by the death of her young husband, Deke Colefox is determined to find out all she can about the man she married, Niko Nicolaides and decides to go to his family home on Farholm Island. Dr Michael Cabus has his own secret reason for visiting the island; he too wants to find the truth about a beloved stranger.
Deke and Dr Cabus arrive on the same ferry as a beautiful girl who then disappears. The islanders fear the worst as two other young women were horrifically murdered the previous year.
Deke and Michael each have a personal interest in finding the missing girl, and finding her before she meets the same fate as the other two. Their desire for answers leads them to face uncomfortable truths and their lives are put at risk in an unexpected and terrifying way.

Because the two main characters I was anxious that people shouldn’t think ti was going to be a romance; it isn’t – Deke and Michael become friends, but no more. There is a romance in ‘The Stalking of Rosa Czekov‘, but it is very much a suibsidiary story-line, so I didn’t mention or even hint at it:

Rosa Czekov is an ordinary person who, through an extraordinary act of courage, brings herself to public attention. Rosa is modest and private, and this unwelcome publicity attracts a stalker who makes her life a misery and brings her to the verge of a breakdown.
Her cousin, Tyche Kane, has a mission to discover who is tormenting Rosa and bring him or her to retribution. In the course of her pursuit, Tyche uncovers many secrets in an effort to prove Rosa was not just imagining her persecutor.However, her quest not only puts her own life at risk, but endangers Rosa’s friends and family and leads to the murder of someone very close to her.

The title of ‘Loving Judah‘ might lead a reader to think it is a love story – well that is a strong part of the book, but Judah is the main character’s step-son, who dies before the book even starts:

The tragic death of Aislin McManus’s adored step-son Judah is a catastrophe; the fact that his father, Peter, blames Aislin almost breaks her heart.
Her attempts to mend the breach between her and her husband are failing and when Aislin meets someone else who is blamed for the death of his best friend she resolves to do everything she can to reconcile him with his family, even though she puts herself in danger by doing so.

night vision‘ is about relationships – between Beulah and her husband, and the childhood relationship of him and his brother:

Beulah and Neil Cameron return to his childhood home of Easthope to try and repair their damaged marriage. Neil is profoundly and wrongly jealous of Beulah’s best friend; however Beulah discovers that Neil has his own secrets which may damage their marriage more permanently. The disappearance of his fifteen year-old brother Patrick thirty years ago, casts a long shadow, and despite Neil’s opposition, Beulah is determined to find out what happened to him.

Flipside‘ is set in the 1990’s and is about PTSD; I had to write a blurb which didn’t give away too much, but yet had something which would entice the reader to read it:

Jaz has moved from Bristol to be with her recently widowed brother; she is a teacher and she has moved from a high-flying head of faculty post in a top school to take a lowly temporary position in a challenging school in the north of England. She is up to the challenge, but she does not expect to find her life is in danger from a man who has already butchered three women; she has met the love of her life, but is he, could he possibly be, the murderer?
She discovers some brutal truths about her beloved brother, he seems on the verge of a breakdown, convinced there is a conspiracy surrounding his wife’s death… but where does he go on Fridays, and what does he do?
“I was alone, utterly alone. I thought I’d been brave running away from my life in Bristol, my friends and familiar places; I was pleased to be so daring and impetuous, and so certain of my love for David when our eyes had met in the Lees Spa Hotel. But I hadn’t taken him home and made love to him in order to enter a violent world of fear and hate and danger.”

Then came my Radwinter series; I had never intended to write a sequel, let alone a whole series, but after the first book about Thomas Radwinter, his story just seemed to continue naturally:

  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.
  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…
  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.
  4. 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.

The blurbs are getting longer… is that a good thing? My other book is ‘The Double Act:

Easthope is a quiet, slightly old-fashioned seaside town; nothing ever seems to happen, and Genet McCauley and her friends lead lives almost unchanged since they left school. Genet, married to mercurial Lance and running their small hotel, sometimes feels trapped and often feels bored, but she loves Lance and in most ways is content. Their friends call them the great double act; Genet without Lance? Lance without Genet? Impossible!
But then the McCauleys take on new tenants in a bungalow they own; is it a coincidence that as the enigmatic Dr Herrick and his disabled wife arrive in the small town, a series of acts of vandalism and arson is committed? At first they are, small, petty events, which seem to centre on the group of friends; however, before long they escalate to violence and attempted murder.
When the Herricks come to Easthope, Genet’s life and that of those closest to her, changes for ever. Don’t think ‘The Double Act’ is a romance, this may be a love story… but the other side of love is dark love.

… and my most recently published book, Lucky Portbraddon:

“Lucky Portbraddon… a rather rascally ancestor of my late husband, or so family legend has it, was a favourite friend of the Prince Regent, apparently, but Lucky made, not lost, his fortune…”
A few days before Christmas, as the Portbraddon family gathers at their grandmother’s big house up on the moors, the last of the cousins drives through a blizzard to join them:
…There was a severed dog’s head stuck on the gatepost. There’d been a few seconds pause in the driving snow and in those few seconds, lit by their headlights, she glimpsed the wolf-like creature, maw gaping, tongue lolling, teeth bared in one final gory snarl. Then the blizzard obliterated the stone beast and everything else in a seething maelstrom…
A near-death experience does not seem an auspicious start to their family get together, but the cousins determine to celebrate as they always do.
However as the old year ends and the new begins it seems their good fortune is about to run out. An unexpected death, a descent into madness, betrayal… and as the year progresses other things befall them, a stalker, attempted murder, a patently dodgy scheme for selling holiday homes in a dangerous part of the Caucasus… Maybe the Portbraddons are not so lucky… except there is also love, a new home, reconciliation, a spiritual journey, music.. .
One thing remains true, whatever difficulties arise between them, whatever happens, family is family, family first… “They’re like a big bunch of musketeers, all for one and one for all!”

If you have any thoughts, comments or kindly criticism of my blurbs I would welcome them – if you read my books, I would really love to have your opinion of them!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_2_11?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+elsden%2Caps%2C150&crid=LWT3KKEA48CN&rh=n%3A341677031%2Ck%3Alois+elsden

 

Blurbs… enough but not too much

Blurbs are the most difficult thing to write! To entice your prospective readers, to draw them into your book but without giving anything away! To hint at plot lines and narrative twists without spoiling surprises, it’s a fine balance between saying enough but not too much.

I’ve self published quite a few books now, and it doesn’t get any easier… in fact perhaps I think too much about it now and make it more difficult for myself!

Here are a selection:

  • Farholm – Devastated by the death of her young husband, Deke Colefox is determined to find out all she can about the man she married, Niko Nicolaides and decides to go to his family home on Farholm Island.
    Dr Michael Cabus has his own secret reason for visiting the island; he too wants to find the truth about a beloved stranger.
    Deke and Dr Cabus arrive on the same ferry as a beautiful girl who then disappears. The islanders fear the worst as two other young women were horrifically murdered the previous year.
    Deke and Michael each have a personal interest in finding the missing girl, and finding her before she meets the same fate as the other two. Their desire for answers leads them to face uncomfortable truths and their lives are put at risk in an unexpected and terrifying way.
  • The Stalking of Rosa Czekov – Rosa Czekov is an ordinary person who, through an extraordinary act of courage, brings herself to public attention. Rosa is modest and private, and this unwelcome publicity attracts a stalker who makes her life a misery and brings her to the verge of a breakdown.
    Her cousin, Tyche Kane, has a mission to discover who is tormenting Rosa and bring him or her to retribution. In the course of her pursuit, Tyche uncovers many secrets in an effort to prove Rosa was not just imagining her persecutor.However, her quest not only puts her own life at risk, but endangers Rosa’s friends and family and leads to the murder of someone very close to her.
  • Loving Judah – The tragic death of Aislin McManus’s adored step-son Judah is a catastrophe; the fact that his father, Peter, blames Aislin almost breaks her heart.
    Her attempts to mend the breach between her and her husband are failing and when Aislin meets someone else who is blamed for the death of his best friend she resolves to do everything she can to reconcile him with his family, even though she puts herself in danger by doing so.
  • Night Vision – Beulah and Neil Cameron return to his childhood home of Easthope to try and repair their damaged marriage. Neil is profoundly and wrongly jealous of Beulah’s best friend; however Beulah discovers that Neil has his own secrets which may damage their marriage more permanently. The disappearance of his fifteen year-old brother Patrick thirty years ago, casts a long shadow, and despite Neil’s opposition, Beulah is determined to find out what happened to him.
  • Flipside – Jaz has moved from Bristol to be with her recently widowed brother; she is a teacher and she has moved from a high-flying head of faculty post in a top school to take a lowly temporary position in a challenging school in the north of England. She is up to the challenge, but she does not expect to find her life is in danger from a man who has already butchered three women; she has met the love of her life, but is he, could he possibly be, the murderer?
    She discovers some brutal truths about her beloved brother, he seems on the verge of a breakdown, convinced there is a conspiracy surrounding his wife’s death… but where does he go on Fridays, and what does he do?
    “I was alone, utterly alone. I thought I’d been brave running away from my life in Bristol, my friends and familiar places; I was pleased to be so daring and impetuous, and so certain of my love for David when our eyes had met in the Lees Spa Hotel. But I hadn’t taken him home and made love to him in order to enter a violent world of fear and hate and danger.”

Reading them through now, there are certain little tweaks I would like to make, certain things I would like to emphasise more, or refer to in a more subtle way, and a couple of things I think I should have included… maybe…

If these tempt you, here is a link:

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

Are my heroines me?

I’m thinking of pulling together and publishing a guide I wrote to writing – originally for my students when I was teaching and preparing them for their exams, and more recently for my adult friends in my creative writing groups.

As well my little guide to writing, I am thinking of including some of the posts I have made here on WordPress about writing, and my personal writing.

This is one of the posts I think might be interesting to include:

Are my heroines me?

Sometimes people ask if the main character in my novels is based on me… well no; I might wish I were like some of them, as brave and as fearless, but others of them put up with situations I wouldn’t tolerate. None of them look like me, although some have dark hair as I do, and I’m not really sure I would like to look like them either, even though they are mostly taller and slimmer than I am!

  1. Deke Colefox in Farholm: Deke and her sister Blaine have a book-shop and deli. Deke has been changed by the loss of her husband, and she appears in the book  as someone angry and bitter and wild with grief. She is prickly and aggressive, and yet she is also tenacious and brave.  I don’t think I would have reacted like she did in her situation, when she finds that her husband had lied to her so profoundly; I might have been angry but I don’t think I would have been so wild… although maybe when I was her age, who knows how I would have faced what she did?
  2. ‘Rosa’ Czekov in The Stalking of ‘Rosa’ Czekov: ‘Rosa’ has an art gallery, and is not a particularly noticeable person, although her husband Luka fell in love with her the first time he met her when she was a chubby fourteen year-old. She has brown hair, is plumpish, has no great interest in fashion or style, and likes to fade into the background. She is an observer, a watcher, and may seem passive and accepting, but behind her beautiful grey eyes there is a much more complex person. She shocks everyone, including Luka by her actions when faced by a gunman during a botched bank raid. I’m not passive like she is, although I do sometimes sit back and observe others; I like to be with the crowd, unlike ‘Rosa’, although I’m quite happy on the side-lines too.
  3. Tyche Kane in The Stalking of ‘Rosa’ Czekov: Tyche is not a bit like me, except she is sometimes – well quite often, quite zany. She is slim and blonde and very athletic and strong; she runs miles, she trains at the gym and works out every day. She is the sort of person who everyone would notice, she really would stand out in a crowd by her blond hair, blue eyes and wonderful looks. Just in case someone doesn’t notice her, Tyche is a show-off who does everything she can to draw attention to herself  This is not a bit like me… although I do have my crazy side, it’s on a much lower level than Tyche’s. She is an absolute one-off, but people really have no idea what her real character is and have a tendency to underestimate her. This is a mistake; Tyche is every bit as courageous as her cousin and has a core of steel. I think maybe in the past people have underestimated me, especially when I was a teacher I nearly always achieved what I wanted but by quietness and subtlety.
  4. Aislin McManus in Loving Judah: like me Aislin is a teacher, and some of her experiences in the classroom are similar to mine. I think of all my characters she is most like me, but she is also very different. I don’t think I could have married someone like her husband Peter Whitamore; I think I would have found him frustrating and his hobbies would have driven me mad… on the other hand, the presence of his wonderful son Judah was the clincher when it came to becoming a couple. Superficially Aislin might have looked a little like me, except more athletic, and a different build to me, but she too has dark hair.
  5. Beulah Cameron in Night Vision: Beulah is actually very good-looking, tall, slim, dark hair, flashing eyes, but her real charm is that she doesn’t realise it. Again, like me she is a teacher, but she teaches adults at a college in Manchester. Everyone likes Beulah, she is just a really nice, loving person, full of character. I wouldn’t be so immodest as to say I’m like her, and I am definitely unlike her in the way she has tolerated her husband over the years. He adores her but he is very controlling; I don’t think I could have accepted that, but maybe it just developed as the years of their marriage went by.
  6. Jaz (Jaswanti) Paul in Flipside: another teacher and with a similar career to mine, working in supposedly rough schools. Jaz is half Indian and is stunningly beautiful; she has a tendency to end up with the wrong men and has a terrible history of unfortunate relationships. Jaz tends to subdue her personality as she struggles with accepting who she really is, but she has a stubborn streak which doesn’t allow others to ride over her. She stands up for what she believes, and defends those she loves…  I guess that might be me too, although I don’t think I would be quite as out-spoken as she is.
  7. Genet McCauley in The Double Act: Genet has long rippling red hair and a sprinkle of freckles ‘like pale tea leaves’ across her nose, so physically she is nothing like me at all. She was brought up by an aunt and married her husband Lance when she was eighteen and they have a small seaside guest-house. He is a larger-than-life character and she is in his shade. She is passive, meek, timid, and when her group of friends are talking about each other’s characters, who is the cleverest, who is the funniest etc. she is described as ‘nice’ which secretly horrifies her, ‘nice is nothingy, nice is wishy-washy’. However like my other heroines people are wrong to underestimate her… when things get tough, when horror and mayhem disrupt her life, she proves to be strong, resilient and courageous. I think Genet and I are very dissimilar, although I think she would be a good friend if she really existed!
  8. Mal Stirling in A Strong Hand From Above (unpublished): Mal is an artist and illustrator and is a dreamy but independent person. She is quite happy to love her life with or without attachments, maybe because she was orphaned at an early age and brought up by a kindly step-father. She is maybe a little too trusting and falls into a situation where her life is at risk. I think I’m probably more cynical and hard-headed, and definitely am a person who likes to be with other people and in a steady relationship.
  9. Erin in The Story of Frederico Milan (unpublished): Erin is small with dark hair which shows some premature grey. She lectures at what was Strand Tech, and is the best friend of Frederico. She is a person who keeps her private life very private, even from Frederico. Although she could be described as ‘sensible’ she does make unexpected and perhaps irrational decisions, and has an almost self-destruct mode when it comes to relationships. Erin might seem superficially similar to me, but in fact she is completely different – except perhaps in loyalty to her friends and having a best friend who is a bloke.
  10. Ismène Verany in Lucky Portbaddon: Erin’s father was French/Vietnamese and she has inherited his dark hair, shape of face and features. She was in a difficult marriage for many years and is very tough and resilient, but her divorce and the death of her mother has changed her; now she is full of adventure and fun and ready to live life to the full, catching up on her missed years. I think I may have become like her if my life had been different, but I’m no good at dancing and don’t have lots of men falling in love with me!

The title of this post is ‘Are my heroines me?’ but the person who I write about who is most like me isn’t a heroine at all… he’s a hero – a male character. Just looking at his character, nothing at all to do with gender, Thomas Radwinter really is the most similar to me of all my ‘leads’… so I shall include him on my list:

11. Thomas Radwinter in Radwinter, Magick, Raddy and Syl, Beyond Hope and Earthquake (unpublished): Thomas is fat, ginger, bearded, and a man – so in that sense he is not at all like me! However he has different sides to his character, unbelievably shy and lacking in confidence  (an aspect of myself when I was much younger); he is absent-minded and gets in muddles, but actually through a natural wit and good luck, he succeeds in the end. He’s often laughed at which he works to his own advantage, and is much tougher than anyone would guess. People do tend to underestimate me, and think because I am so forgetful and get in muddles, that I won’t or can’t achieve my purpose. Well, like Thomas, in my muddly way, I do usually get where I want to be and I hope like Thomas I’m loving and kind and generous.