The other side of love

I have been sharing excerpts from my e-books, and today I have an episode from ‘The Double Act’, published in 2015; the bye-line is: Don’t think ‘The Double Act’ is a romance, this may be a love story… but the other side of love is dark love.

The blurb says: 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!

Here is an extract from the third part of the story, entitled ‘Joost’. Joost has escaped police surveillance and is trying to find somewhere safe to hide from them while he considers what to do next:

Joost considered where he could go; he couldn’t live rough, although able to, he wanted to be clean and fed and rested. He wanted time to work out what was going on, because he was sure he had all the answers if only he could put them together.

He followed the line of the hedge downhill until he reached the bottom of the field. He wasn’t familiar with the geography but had a rough idea of the direction he should go. Colin had confused him as well as his pursuers but he guessed he should be heading northwest to reach Easthope.

He followed the boundary away from the lane, found a break in the fence and entered a small copse. He moved through the undergrowth using the sun to guide him until he came across a damp watercourse. He sat for a while in the cool shade, then followed the line of the brook downhill. He came to a stream, a sluggish trickle of water which he tracked until it met a ditch by a field full of cows. A man was wandering among them with a clipboard.

Keeping low and among the trees Joost followed the ditch until it ran into a culvert under a narrow lane. He sunk down and waited, listening for vehicles or voices. When he was sure he was safe he climbed over the wire fence, forcing his way between the brambles and blackthorn and into the lane. There was no way he could get through the other side to continue following the water, the hedge was too thick.

He ran up the lane looking for a way in, then retraced his steps. He stopped as he heard the sound of a tractor coming along the road. He ran back to the stream and looked over the low wall along the edge of the culvert; there was a drop of about eight foot. The tractor was coming closer, he couldn’t wait and vaulted the wall and dropped into the stream and crouched in the dark tunnel entrance. More water flowed now, the stream must have been joined by others. The tractor rumbled overhead followed by a couple of cars.

When the only sound was the water and birds singing in the brambles, Joost stood and waded downstream. He hadn’t replaced his smashed watch and had no idea of the time or how long he wandered through the countryside, following the meanders, climbing through culverts when he could, dashing across lanes and roads when he couldn’t.

The sun was sinking in the sky and his priority was to find somewhere to shelter for the night; he had to rest and sleep. He found a round concrete structure facing north; Joost didn’t recognise it as an old World War 2 pillbox. It reeked of urine and another unidentifiable stench but it was dry and safe.

The night seemed unending as he dozed and roused and slept and started awake. He was roused by the sound of outrage, and when he crept from his hide he found himself on the banks of a river where two swans were attacking each other.

It must be the River Hope. He walked along the banks where he could, scratched by briars, stung by nettles, and back into the water when there was no choice There were houses and for a while the river ran beside a main road but Joost cautiously pressed on along the bank, hungry and thirsty and tired, his head-ache pounding. He was joined by a dog for a while, cars passed him, but no-one on foot, no faces at windows, no fishermen.

The river narrowed, the banks steep, a wall atop one, a rackety fence along the other and Joost realised where he was. On the other side of the wall was the night club he and Genet had visited in search of Lance and her birthday guests. He rounded the bend, swimming in the waist-deep water, and there was the old watermill. Ahead was the bridge over the river where he’d leant several nights ago, the same night he ended up in Genet’s bed, the same night Monique Sands was attacked.

There were voices and music from the old watermill, tables with parasols set up outside for lunch. He walked back to where he could get out of the water and scrambled up the rubbish strewn bank. He shook the fence to see if it was safe to climb but as he grasped the panel, the rotten wood gave way and he fell backwards, dropping back into the river. For a second he let the water push and carry him but then he got to his feet and waded back to the bank. Despite the noise of splintering wood, no-one had come rushing to see what had happened.

Wearily he climbed up the bank into the narrow alley. The back walls and fences were anonymous and Joost struggled to remember which gate he wanted. It wasn’t locked and he went into the back yard, the troughs of summer plants brilliant in the midday sun. Suddenly exhausted he sat on a dustbin; now he was here he was suddenly nervous of his reception.

Something flew through the air and landed at his feet. A cork. He looked round; there were others lying about the yard.

© Lois Elsden

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Double-Act-think-romance-story-ebook/dp/B01349UBHA/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1500756612&sr=8-10&keywords=lois+elsden

When nothing happens

Like many people I’m on Linkedin (which for a quite a while, for no reason, I thought was called Lindlekin ) I rarely use it at all but occasionally I get notifications and today it was from a writing group, and it was a question “When nothing happens – Do you like stories that have ambiguous endings or stories in which not much happens? For example, instead of being plot-driven, a story can be character-driven?”

Now that’s a very good question! I actually don’t like stories where nothing much happens… I’ve written before about my reading habits, and how I think in some ways I am not as good a reader as I used to be – although recently I’ve had string of successful ‘reads’, so maybe I’m improving! I used to be able to wade through anything and persevere to the end… now ‘when nothing happens‘ I tend to give up! A friend in our reading group loves beautifully written books, loves the language of them… but I’m afraid I want some story line, I want some sort of action! I don’t mean that there has to be a punch up on every page or a chase or a romantic development, but I want to feel as if there is some sort of progression.

It’s the same in my writing, I like to have some sort of progression, people change, relationships begin or end, events occur – unexpected, unlooked-for, sometimes unwanted! I guess I like plots! Characters are everything, and setting, but there must be a plot… and endings… satisfactory endings are vital! A satisfactory ending is not necessarily a closed, completed ending, it can be open or ambiguous – but it must conclude the proceedings! I have a very good friend who very kindly tells me honestly what she thinks of my stories, and I always take great heed of her suggestions and advice; on one occasion she commented that an ending (of Flipside) was too brief – everything was wrapped up and concluded too hastily and although the mystery was solved, the characters were left sort of hanging about! So in the next book I worked very hard on the ending – and I’m delighted to say she approved!

Just to briefly look at the endings of my novels…

  • Farholm – the puzzle is solved, the mystery revealed, but for the characters there will continue to be difficulties after the conclusion – grieving will continue, an unhappy relationship struggles on, and another relationship will never even start
  • The Stalking of Rosa Czekov – the stalker is revealed, but  a new relationship based on a rather precarious foundation begins on almost the last page
  • Loving Judah – a resolved ending, but I hope I have pointed the reader towards realising there will be a rocky road ahead for two of the characters
  • The Double Act – a complete conclusion – but when I came to do the final edit, I had to add an extra bit – an epilogue I guess you could call it. The dramatic action had ended in a flourish, but the reader needed a come-down, so I added a final piece when the two main characters are visited by the investigating police officer some months later; readers can imagine an optimistic onward journey, I hope
  • night vision – all the secrets are revealed, and the main character is overwhelmed with happiness and relief, but I hope the reader will see that in actual fact, her optimism might be misguided
  • Lucky Portbraddon – for some of the Portbraddon family, their lives seem settled and hopeful at the end of the book; for others there are unresolved issues, but I hope it is a satisfactory ending since the characters all seem in a position to deal with an unsettled future
  • The Radwinter stories – the first novel, Radwinter, was supposed to be a stand-alone story with a complete conclusion and a short epilogue to pull everything together; it could have remained like that but I realised only half the story was told, and so a sequel appeared… and then it seemed somehow a series emerged. I hope each one is also stand-alone, and I try to tie up the different narrative strands satisfactorily

So to answer the original question – I don’t like books where nothing happens, I don’t mind an ambiguous ending, but it must be a satisfactory ending!

Here is a link to my books:

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

Promoting my stuff

If you’re just an ordinary person, bragging about yourself is totally alien… If you’re an ordinary British person, it’s even more so. We’re not good at receiving compliments, modesty and self-deprecation are qualities ingrained, so now for me, when I want to reach an audience for my books, it’s tricky to balance overcome my natural unwillingness to blow my own trumpet. I guess that’s where agents come in, agents can promote work, and get it out there in an expert way. However, I don’t have an agent, and in a funny sort of way, now I have been self-publishing and self-promoting for five years, I sort of like it – every success is down to me! Oops, am I blowing my own trumpet?

Why do I want people to read my stories? Why do musicians want an audience? Why do artists want the world to see their work? Why do actors get up on a stage rather than prancing around in front of a mirror? For me, being a story-teller is natural, it’s what I am, in my every day life I’m for ever going on about something or another, something that happened to me, something I saw/did/heard/learnt/took part in. When I was a professional teacher, the kids would always say ‘oh no, not another story’, when I launched into something – I think (hope) they actually liked my ramblings… I did it almost without thought, my mind leaping from the subject in hand to something which happened to me or a friend or a cousin, or something I just randomly made up to entertain.

An example of the ‘made-up’ stories I told my students, apart from ‘the ghost of the fourth floor’ which became a college legend, was about my teaching assistant, Sally. I can’t even now remember how I got onto talking about what we had done in our lives apart from working in schools, when I went into a lengthy description of Sally’s past life growing up in a circus, being a trapeze artist with spangly tights and revealing costume, how in her free time she was exceedingly modest ad wore long dresses, and her future husband fell in love with her when she was looking after the coconut shy and he caught a glimpse of her ankle as she bent down to pick up a fallen coconut…

So back to my trumpet blowing… Yes, I want people to read my stories! yes I actually think they are not too bad – self-deprecation alert – they are quite good! So… if you haven’t read any yet – here is a really brief fanfare for each:

  • Radwinter – Thomas finds out more about himself and his own family than about his ancestors… who actually had quite a dramatic time, fleeing 1830’s war-torn Warsaw and jumping ship in Harwich
  • Magick (Radwinter 2) – the rather terrifying father of Thomas’s step-son comes in search of ‘his boy’
  • Raddy and Syl (Radwinter 3) – mysterious Moroccans preying on an old woman, a disappeared woman who may not have even existed, and shocking truths about his own family – Thomas has quite a difficult series of event to deal with
  • Beyond Hope (Radwinter 4) – Thomas meets a dangerous psychopath, and somehow gets involved in people smuggling
  • Earthquake -(Radwinter 5) – a haunted hotel, an eighty year old mystery which brings danger to the present… Thomas is really under pressure
  • Farholm – who  killed young girls on the island of Farholm? Is he still on the loose, or was a recently widowed woman’s dead husband responsible?
  • The Stalking of Rosa Czekov – who stalked Rosa to her death… and has s/he moved on to a new victim?
  • Loving Judah – can Aislin and her husband Peter ever get over the death of his son Judah?
  • night vision – a thirty year old murder is discovered
  • Flipside – is a war damaged veteran responsible for a series of dreadful murders… or is he a victim pf more than his war service?
  • The Double Act – Don’t think this novel is a romance, this may be a love story… but the other side of love is dark love
  • Lucky Portbraddon – perhaps the Portbraddons are not so lucky, murder, drugs, madness, modern slavery… but also unexpected love

Are you tempted? They are all available as e-readers, Radwinter is also available as a paperback

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=a9_sc_1?rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Alois+elsden&keywords=lois+elsden&ie=UTF8&qid=1499501921

 

Piecing it together

I guess each writer has their own way of working, and what seems the most obvious and straightforward and sensible thing to do for one person, seems eccentric to say the least for someone else. Some people like lists  and flow charts, tick sheets and filing cards and have planned the whole thing meticulously before they even start writing the introduction, others just plunge in completely randomly and make it up as they go along… I am not exactly a plunge right in at random person – but neither am I a plans and lists person.

I guess I do a lot of planning before I actually start (most of the time – but there have been stories which I just randomly started writing!)  but my planning is mental, I spend car journeys, or waiting in queues, or pondering as I drift into sleep, I think of characters, and situations, and puzzles and coincidences, and weird things which happen to ordinary people. During this period I might do a little bit of prospective writing, maybe a few pages, maybe a few chapters; usually these embryonic starts are abandoned, sometimes they get rewritten, sometimes they become something else completely, sometimes they are included almost as they were first written.

As my writing proceeds I do occasionally do jottings on paper – when I wrote my first Radwinter novel I had huge sheets of paper with family trees, because it was so complicated – for me, not the reader, I hope! I had tried to follow the pattern of a lot of families, with recurring names – names from parents, grandparents, ancestral and maternal surnames included, but I had to make sure it was clear in my mind, in order for it to be clear to the reader!

In the sequel to ‘Radwinter’, ‘Magick’ – the maternal line of the family, I also had mighty sheets of paper with family trees, because at one point a family changed its name, there were several branches of the family which interwove, there were all sorts of complications – for me – once again, I hoped the story was clear and uncomplicated for people reading it!

In the new, as yet untitled Radwinter novel, which I’m getting into, there is a genealogical investigation, but it is quite linear and so not too complicated (although there are mysteries, of course!) but I have another task which needs to be sorted out before I get full-on with the actual writing. You see, in my previous book in the series, ‘Earthquake’, there were as usual several story lines – but a couple too many! I had done a lot of writing, so, with the wonders of modern technology, I was able to cut out the extra storylines, and save them for another time.

This is what Earthquake was originally:

  • a family tree/history/genealogy
  • the mystery of a school girl who died in 1931, and her twelve classmates
  • an earthquake (of course, since it’s the title of the novel!)
  • a new arrival in the Radwinter family, a new arrival who has an unhappy history
  • two of the four Radwinter brothers struggling in different ways with what I guess you could call ‘personal issues’
  • a young woman with amnesia
  • a haunted hotel
  • the everyday story of Thomas Radwinter and his family
  • an old cake-making gentleman

… so you can see it would have been far too long and far too complicated! The main stories I cut out were the family history  story, and the girl who had lost her memory. I had written nearly forty thousand words on these, so you can see it would have been a very long book indeed.

Now, in my new Radwinter story, there is plenty of room, to use these story-lines, much slimmed down I have to say, but there are also other new ‘adventures’ too!

  • one, if not two stalkers (of different characters)
  • house-hunting
  • obsessive jealousy/possessiveness

Because most of my stories are set in the small imaginary seaside town of Easthope, it has struck me that characters from different novels must ‘know’ each other. The manager of the bookshop (owned by a character from ‘The Double Act’) in the town, must know or at least know of, the most famous local writer who was a main character in my 2016 novel, ‘Lucky Portbraddon’… and somehow in this new novel, characters from ‘Night Vision’ have started to appear! I don’t know how they sneaked in!!

So… back to my weaving!

Here are links to my books:

Radwinter:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/RADWINTER-Lois-Elsden-ebook/dp/B00IFG1SNO/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1496132827&sr=8-3&keywords=lois+elsden

Magick:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00OHV4MR0/ref=series_rw_dp_sw

night vision:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/night-vision-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B00BMZ6UWY/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1496132827&sr=8-5&keywords=lois+elsden

The Double Act

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Double-Act-think-romance-story-ebook/dp/B01349UBHA/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1496132827&sr=8-7&keywords=lois+elsden

Lucky Portbraddon

https://www.amazon.co.uk/LUCKY-PORTBRADDON-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B01LWTVURP/ref=pd_sim_351_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=H7BX6ANG1G2CJJHPG62N

…and all my stories:

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

 

 

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

The Double Act…

Over the last few 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. I’m now sharing excerpts from my other novels. This excerpt is from ‘The Double Act’ with the subtitle: “Don’t think ‘The Double Act’ is a romance, this may be a love story… but the other side of love is dark love.”

This chapter from later in the book is not a spoiler; on the first page the first scene describes how, unexpectedly and completely out of character Genet McCauley has a romantic encounter with the new tenant of the bungalow she and her husband are renting out. She loves her husband, has never ever been unfaithful before, nor even thought about it; Dr Herrick, the new tenant lives with his disabled wife and has asked Genet’s cousin Lyndsey if she might be a companion for her.

The Double Act

Lance and Genet

Chapter 5

Although Genet had so much to do in case some casual visitors responded to the ‘Vacancies’ sign in the window, she stayed with Gawain after breakfast, pouring coffee for the guests before they left, and taking money for her biscuits and cakes. She wrapped Viennese shortcake, golden oaties, a couple of cakes and a couple of jars of jam and marmalade. Pauline had gone home and Lance had mysteriously disappeared so Genet helped carry the cases and put them in the minibus.
Gawain drove his writers away to the station and Genet was alone and able to collapse on the settee. She was utterly drained; she would sit for five minutes before hoovering the guests’ lounge, changing the bedrooms. The sheets, pillowcases and towels would soon be flapping on the line, drying in the bright March sunshine.
The bell rang… it might be guests. It might be Herrick.
The bell rang again. It was Lyndsey.
“Why ring the bell? Why not come in the back, for heaven’s sake,” snapped Genet, sick with the ebbing tide of emotions which had flooded as she’d rushed to the door.
“Oh… er… I’ll go away if you’re busy, Gen, I thought your people would be gone,” Lyndsey grinned, flushing and bright-eyed with embarrassment.
She was wearing one of her more luminous shell suits under a camel duffel coat and the fluorescent pink seemed to reflect off her broad face. Her dark curly hair was wild as if she had forgotten to brush it, tufts and wisps standing up at odd angles.
Genet’s mother had died shortly after giving birth to her only child, her father was unknown and a kindly aunt had brought her up with her cousin Lyndsey; no-one knew anything of Lyndsey’s parents, and no-one had ever liked to ask the big, good-hearted,  bumbling woman about it.
“I’m sorry, Lyndsey, come in. You can make me a cup of tea, I’m absolutely shattered, and then you can help me do the rooms.”
Lyndsey stuttered as she followed Genet into the kitchen. “I say, Gen, Chrissie has been talking to me…”
“Oh, about Pamela? Money for old rope if you ask me,” Genet had automatically put the kettle on and found the tea bags.
She tried to keep her mind on Lyndsey and what she was saying. Concentration was a problem for her all the time now, her mind would wander away and when she returned to reality she had no idea where she’d been, only who she’d been with.
“So will you, Gen?” pleaded Lyndsey, as if repeating herself. “Will you speak to Dr Herrick for me?”
“Oh, Lyndsey, you’re hopeless!” she was exasperated. “It’s nothing to do with me. Look, they’re only at the end of the garden, why don’t you go and see if they’re at home?”
“Oh, I couldn’t, I might be interrupting something, oh, I couldn’t. Please, Gen, couldn’t you…” Lyndsey was so keen but as usual, had no confidence.
After much encouragement, she agreed to go and see the Herricks, if Genet rang them first. In the end it was easier, and kinder. Perhaps Herrick wouldn’t be at home. She dialed the number, surprised she knew it and he answered on the second ring, giving his name.
She had convinced herself Pamela would answer and was taken aback at the sound of his voice.
“Mrs. McCauley. Good morning,” his voice smiled.
She began to explain that Lyndsey would come down and see him and Pamela but stopped as Lyndsey gesticulated violently. “Excuse me a minute. What’s the matter, Lyndsey?” she hissed.
“No, no, I don’t want to talk to him!” Lyndsey looked alarmed.
Genet raised her eyes to heaven. ‘Don’t be stupid,’ she mouthed.
She apologized to Herrick, and flushed with a strange sensation as she said his name.  He and Pamela would be pleased to see them, he said, the smile still there.
“If it’s convenient, but otherwise we could arrange another time.”
“Really,” and he laughed as he had done when Chrissie was flirting with him and rang off without another word
Genet leant against the table, on the verge of fainting and murmured to Lyndsey that they’d go in a minute.
“Oh, no, Gen, no. I don’t like him, I thought I’d see Pamela, really, I’m sorry, ring him and tell him I’ve changed my mind,” Lyndsey looked close to tears.
“Lyndsey, don’t be such an idiot!” Genet was more than irritated; this was ridiculous. “Pamela will be there, and anyway, he’s perfectly pleasant.”
But Lyndsey was terrified. She was five foot ten, as broad as a door and as timorous and shy as a mouse. Whenever Genet thought of herself as timid or gauche she only had to think of her cousin to know she wasn’t. They had grown up together and Lyndsey had always been like this, so, reluctantly, Genet agreed to walk down with her.
“You knock at the door, Gen,” she whispered as they approached.
Herrick was at the front of the bungalow with the boot of his car open, unloading large ceramic pots and a huge bale of compost. He was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, but even so informal, his jeans were immaculately pressed, the t-shirt spotless, his trainers as clean as if he was wearing them for the first time.
“Good afternoon, Mrs. McCauley,” he was as courteously as usual. “Hello, Lyndsey. Pamela is in the sunroom with the doors open, having a breath of fresh air, she’s all wrapped up and enjoying the sun. Why don’t you go round?”
Lyndsey squeaked a nervous greeting.
“I don’t know where it is, Gen,” she whispered.
“I’ll say hello to Pamela, if that’s alright,” Genet was looking at the pots and not at him.
“Pamela wants me to plant some things for the patio,” he lifted the compost easily.
Genet stared at his arms, mesmerized by the contrast between his tanned skin and the white sleeve. This is stupid, get a grip for heaven’s sake.
“Do you want a hand?” she asked briskly, and mentally giving herself a shake, she picked up a large square container, Prussian blue with Chinese characters etched into the glaze.
Pamela was sitting in the warm spring sunshine, a fine lacy shawl round her shoulders over the sheepskin coat and a soft pale blue blanket across her knees. Her long blond hair was loose and rippled over the back of her chair.
She greeted them with delight, glad to have company. Genet put down the blue pot and replied with a mix of emotions, guilt, and pity. The more she liked Pamela the worse she felt and the greater was her intention to be a good friend to her, if that was what Pamela wanted.
“I’m sorry, Pamela, I really can’t stay, I have so much to do,” and she promised to come another time.
“Poor Genet, always so busy, not a lady of leisure like little me,” Pamela’s laugh tinkled. “But I think I will relax on the lounger, this perambulator is comfortable enough but no good for enjoying the sun! Darling,” she called to her husband who was on the patio. “Genet has to dash but I will take advantage of the lounger. If you could…” and she held her arms up to him.She glanced at Genet as her husband came to her, smiling sweetly as if mocking her own predicament. He squatted to take her feet from the footplates and fold and twist the rests out the way. He took Pamela’s hands and pulled her upright from the chair. She wound her arms around his neck embracing him as he lifted her, her beautiful hair shimmering like a silken sheaf hanging over his brown forearm.
“Thank you, my darling,” her voice was small and apologetic.
He said nothing but carried her to the lounger and laid her gently down. She thanked him again looking appealingly up at him but he turned and left the sunroom, disappearing round the side of the bungalow.
“My poor husband,” she whispered. “It’s so unfair on him; he hates any kind of sickness. God’s will. You see, it’s something I’ve done, or something he’s done and he suffers for it,” she spoke regretfully.
“So unfair on him? It’s so unfair on you!” exclaimed Lyndsey, her voice unusually strong and forceful with indignation. “He isn’t suffering! He’s a doctor; he should be used to helping people!”
Genet winced at her blunt words, but Pamela wasn’t offended.
“He’s not that sort of doctor, but that’s so sweet of you, Lyndsey, it’s so nice to hear sympathetic words,” she didn’t add ‘for once’ but it was there.
Genet suddenly didn’t like her as much.
“Well, God is loving and kind, Jesus helped the sick; if he’s so religious he should try and emulate our Lord,” Lyndsey was still indignant.
“I’m afraid my husband is more of an Old Testament man, Lyndsey; Gentle Jesus sweet and mild isn’t his cup of tea. Come and sit by me, Lyndsey dear, and talk. My husband will make us a drink, come, sit down.”
Genet was effectively dismissed; she was going anyway, slightly nauseous, whether at Pamela’s words or the sight of her held tightly in her husband’s embrace. She turned and bumped into Herrick.
She had no desire to stay; she’d come to a sudden conclusion that she didn’t like either of the Herricks, neither was what they seemed.
And he’d lied to her; something had happened between him and Monique. Genet was hot and embarrassed for all her silly thoughts. She never wanted to see him again. He’d taken a craft knife from his pocket, slid out the blade and squatting, cut into the bale of compost.
“Oh Genet, Genet,” Pamela called her back “I think I left my reticule in your sitting room when I was there the other day.”
“Your what?”
“A little bag, I think I left it in your sitting room, it’s not important…”
“I’ll have a look for it, Pamela, if I find it I’ll bring it back.”
“My husband will come with you and see if he can find it. Darling, go with Genet, won’t you?”
Herrick was frowning blackly at his wife.
“Please, darling, it has some of my things, you know… Please?” Pamela pleaded.
Herrick closed the knife and slipped it into his pocket, brushing the compost from his hands. Genet wanted to protest, she didn’t want to be manipulated by Pamela, but it was such a little thing to make a fuss about; so accompanied by Herrick she walked back to the hotel.

You can find ‘The Double Act’ here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Double-Act-think-romance-story-ebook/dp/B01349UBHA/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1482709142&sr=8-11&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 it 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 subsidiary 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