A quick one-two and some nifty footwork

Here is another excerpt from my novel Lucky Portbraddon. Ismène has been given a lift home after Christmas by her friend Nick and his nephew Noah; she has spent Christmas with the Portbraddon family and they became trapped by snow in the family home high up on the moors .

They got out of Nick’s rickety car, stepping into slush. The night was damp and had a fusty town smell after the clear air up on the tops. The thaw had set in but there were still mounds of snow, semi-frozen piles of mush, speckled with dirty grey and black.

Noah stayed in the back and she waved at him through the side window; he managed a weak smile but looked away shiftily.

“You will stay in touch, won’t you Ismène?” Nick asked as she keyed in the code on the security pad.

“I sure will, as long as you want me to,” she held the door with her shoulder so he could come in with her bags.

He made a facetious response and she replied with a joke but she had the tiniest suspicion that Nick might want to do a little more than flirt. He was lovely but she had not the slightest interest in him even if she’d wanted another relationship.

Someone grabbed her and shoved her to the floor and a man jumped at Nick and began hitting him in the face. Nick was unable to defend himself, encumbered by her bags.

 Ismène jumped up and grabbed the attacker’s arm, he spun round and it was Jaco.

 “You leave her alone, you bastard, she’s my wife!” Jaco bellowed and shoved her aside to continue his attack on Nick.

 Ismène tumbled backwards, falling over one of her bags, and sprawled across the floor again – And then there was a figure in black between Nick and Jaco. It was Noah and he grabbed Jaco, punched him straight in the face, before pushing him out of the door. He hurled him down the couple of steps then stood blocking the doorway.

Nick was on his knees, blood streaming through his fingers cupped over his face and Ismène tried to get him upright, appalled by the sudden violence.

“I’m so sorry, Nick, I’m really sorry.”

“What are you apologising for?” Nick staggered as if dizzy.

He called a muffled thank you to Noah, who cast a baleful look over his shoulder and went out, the door banging shut behind him.

Nick was wiping his arm on his sleeve, his moustache and beard a gory mess. The light in the hall was garish, Nick’s face was grey and he was certainly in pain. There were splashes of blood on the blue and green floor tiles, as if the seascape they showed had been the place of a dreadful battle.

“I didn’t realise he knew where I lived – I guess he thought you were James.”

She gathered her bags and other things, and hoping Noah was safe, she pushed Nick to the lift.  It pinged open and they hurried into its apple-scented interior.

“Long time since I’ve been in a fight,” Nick looked at himself in the mirror, touching his nose experimentally. “I don’t think it’s broken.”

“Well, it wasn’t really a fight. He hit you then Noah threw him out.”

“Oh, that’s right, spoil my moment of fantasy! In my mind I decked him with a quick one-two and some nifty footwork!”

As they stepped out of the lift Ismène’s neighbour was waiting; he cast a horrified look at Nick and hurried down the corridor to the stairs.

© Lois Elsden 2017

If you want to find out the background to this, and what happened next, here is a link:

 

Searching for Bella

Yesterday I shared an excerpt from my novel Lucky Portbraddon. The main character, Isméne has gone with her boyfriend to stay with his family for Christmas. His four cousins and their families are staying with their grandmother in her large house high up on the moors. After a perilous journey in which the car crashes and they nearly drown in a snow-covered pond, they arrive at the house and all is well. After a wonderful few days one of the cousins discovers his little girl has gone missing – she has gone out into he snow in search of Father Christmas and his reindeer.

Despite her horror of the snow after their near fatal car crash, Isméne joins the family in the search for the child Bella. She sets off with a cousin, Carla and the little girl’s adult brother Noah to a wood where Bella might be looking for Santa:

It was actually quite warm outside; there was no wind and the clouds hung heavy and full, a sinister green colour now. They crossed what must have been a lawn, Carla striding away in front. The snow in places was knee-deep and Ismène struggled through with deepening dread as she thought that however far they went they would have to come that far back. The children had played here earlier and a lopsided snowman grinned at them, an old hat at a jaunty angle. There were too many footprints to pick out the track of a little girl in search of Santa’s reindeer.

They climbed over a wall and Ismène slipped and fell into a soft cushion of snow. It was a childishly pleasant thing, funny and painless. Carla heaved her up and they continued on, climbing up a field. The wind had blown the snow into deep drifts against the hedges like berms in a desert.

“Would Bella really have come all this way?”  Ismène puffed. She had lost her fear of the snow. Within a few minutes of being out in the reality of it, her terror had subsided. It wasn’t so much the snow as the feeling of powerlessness, of not being able to do anything to save herself and James.

“It wouldn’t seem far,” Carla was striding out. “We go for walks in the wood all the time, there are fabulous spring flowers, and then later the bluebells. We go there for picnics in the summer, the children have their favourite climbing trees. No, the wood wouldn’t seem so far away.”

They struggled on, Noah, a dark, silent presence behind them. The sinking sun was peeping though a single rift in the mounting banks of cloud on the horizon, casting long sinister shadows and looking ahead, the etiolated shadows of the women seemed pursued by the dark blot of Noah. Glancing back at him he was a featureless bulk against the sliver of brightness on the western horizon.

“You alright, Ismène?” his voice instantly transformed him into a reassuring buttress.

They were approaching the trees, bounded by a snow-covered wall and the two women went one way and Noah the other. He’d hardly gone a couple of dozen yards when he called to them and they clambered over the wall following the small footprints he’d found. An obvious thought struck Ismène; Bella was Noah’s sister, no wonder he’d come with them, no wonder he’d carried Cressie so easily.

They spread out as they searched, calling her name as they wandered. It was very quiet under the trees and their voices echoed. Occasionally there was the snap of something breaking; it spooked Ismène and she remembered her sinister hallucination, and was filled with a sense of foreboding.

In the snow deadened silence, broken only by unidentifiable cracks and splintering noises, the thud and thump of a mass of snow falling, the wood seemed creepy and dangerous.

They called Bella’s name as they moved apart; the cold had seeped through her clothes in this sunless place, but the worst cold was in Ismène’s heart.

The wood dropped away steeply down into a little gully; it was as if night had come early, or as if blackness was seeping out of its depth. But in the deepest gloom there seemed to be a spot of blue.

“Carla, I think I see her!”  Ismène cried “Call Noah!”

“Careful, Ismène it’s very wet down there, there’s a stream at the bottom and a pool!”

Water! Water and snow! This was too reminiscent of the pond. She slithered down and noticed flecks of snow, white against the evening gloom. If there was a pool, a pool of icy water, if there was a pool and the child was in the pool….

With a jolt she hit a massive rock and toppled sideways and in a panicky memory of slithering into water, she jumped back onto her feet.

“Watch out there’s a big rock!”

But too late, Carla gave a scream of pain.

“Oh shit, my ankle!” Carla shouted. “Don’t worry about me, Ismène go and find Bella!”

 Ismène clambered down the slope; the bottom of the gully was in darkness and she could only just remember where she’d seen the smudge of blue. The incline flattened and she was on a muddy path by the stream; on the other side of the water was the little girl, her face a blob in the shadow.

“I didn’t see the reindeer,” a little voice came. “And now I’m stuck.” The child was unconcerned and slightly cross. “The water is there and I’m here and there’s a big bit I can’t get up.”

Trying to keep calm, Ismène asked how she’d got there.

“I walked on the ice but then it broke. I got water in my boot. Only one boot though.”

“Can you come back across the stream to me if you have your boots on?”

The child gave a defiant ‘no’; she didn’t want to, she hadn’t seen the reindeer yet. She was hidden in the gloom and seemed to be sitting on a rock.

Tentatively, against her instincts, Ismène put her foot into the water; it wasn’t deep but the bottom seemed slippy and she feared she’d fall over. There was nothing to hold onto, no hanging branch, nothing.

She was wading across to Bella when her foot plunged into a sudden hole.  Ismène clenched her teeth on a rude word, Bella was only yards away; the bank was sheer but somehow the child had found a small ledge to perch on.

“Come to me Bella, your mummy is very worried about you,” she said, stretching out her hand, but the child drew away from her. “Come along, we’re all getting cold and it’s very dark now.”

”No, I’m staying here till I see the reindeer.”

Oh for god’s sake you stupid brat, get the hell over here and let’s go home. But of course Ismène only said this in her head.

“Well you won’t be able to see the reindeer for two reasons. It’s dark, too dark to see them.”

Bella thought about this. “That’s one reason. What’s the other?”

“Well Father Christmas doesn’t let them out at night except on Christmas Eve. They’re back in their stable eating carrots.”  Ismène’s teeth were chattering now. “So we’d better go home, hadn’t we?”

© Lois Elsden 2017

If you want to find out what happens next, here is a link :

http://amzn.eu/ffjxTZo

Lost in the snow and hidden water…

Here’s a wintry episode from my novel Lucky Portbraddon.

Ismène and her hew boyfriend James are travelling to his grandmother’s house up on the moors to spend Christmas with his family.  The weather is atrocious, snowing so hard there is almost no visibility; they have just turned into the long drive heading up to the remote house when the car skids off the road. They are sliding down a bank towards a large pond when fortunately the car stalls. They decide to abandon it and climb up to the track and walk to the house.

James was shouting something but the wind swallowed his words. On hands and feet they slipped and scrambled up the bank. Creeping along the main roads, Ismène had described it as a white-out, now it was a grey-out, the light leaving what had been the day.

James pulled her upright and for a moment they clung together. He started to say something, but there was a sudden tremendous buffeting gust and they tumbled into a drift. She floundered in the snow, blinded and lost, screaming his name. Her mouth was full of snow but she knew he must have slid down towards the pond! The pond!

Afterwards she wondered how she’d had the courage, but it was pure instinct. She stumbled after him, past the mound that was the car, its door open, the light on.

He was lying face down, arms outstretched above his head as if he’d been trying to save himself as he slithered down the bank. Only his top half was visible, his legs were under the smashed ice of the water.

She grasped him under the arms and tried to heave him out but she only succeeded in nearly toppling herself in. Shouting his name she tried to rouse him; he thrashed his legs as if trying to swim and she heaved again and pulled him a foot from the water.

Later she couldn’t remember how long she’d struggled, it seemed like one long recurring nightmare…

In this bitter cold and in their light clothes there was a real danger of something serious happening, something as serious as… death. Hysteria took hold and she began to giggle uncontrollably – something as serious as death! She was shaking with laughter and James seemed to be laughing too but of course he wasn’t, he was shivering with cold.

 Ismène shouted at him, hitting his shoulders, trying to wake him to make more effort to help himself. She struggled and pulled, moving him by mere inches.

“James, I can’t do this! I’m going to the house to get help!”

She didn’t know how far away it was but she began to crawl up towards the road. She glanced back and James was gone. She slithered down and straight into the water; it was only knee deep and warm and he was floating face down.  She grabbed him, adrenalin kicking in and she heaved him onto his back and hauled him up the bank.

She began to cry… She couldn’t leave him, he was unconscious, he’d die, freeze or drown… But if she stayed she’d die too. She lost track of time… a few minutes… hours? It was completely dark now…

In a rage she began to hit him, thumping him with her fists, yelling at him. This is ridiculous! I don’t want to die! It’s Christmas!

“Help!! Someone!! Help!!” she screamed.

She pulled at James again and moved him a few inches but she could no longer feel her hands and feet, her limbs seemed strange attachments no longer belonging to her. Her thoughts were slowing and she couldn’t think of what to do. She tried to be logical, snow piling thickly on her shoulders and head… soon she’d be invisible. The light from the car veiled in snow was fading… Someone passing wouldn’t even see them, see the small mounds in the snow.

If I stay here I’m going to die. James is going to die anyway, but I’ll die with him… If only I can get to the house …

Tears began to trickle, warm, then cold, then icy…

She pulled at James again; if she could just get him out of the water, wedge him safely somehow… but it was hopeless.  Ismène stood and immediately fell over, got to her feet and screamed for help… then sunk back to James who had slipped again.

They’d met on a night out with mutual friends… Instant attraction, instant relationship, instant love? Did she love James? No, actually, but maybe one day…

She was very weak now and becoming sleepy. She tried to take James beneath the arms with the blocks of wood she knew were her hands… She pulled him but could no longer tell whether she was shifting him. The ice on the surface of the pond was covered with snow falling relentlessly in feathery lumps.

 Ismène yelled again but her voice was tiny… There was a rabbit in a clown’s costume. But it was a dream, a delusion… A dog wandered around looking for its head, glasses perched on the end of its curly tail.

People were singing… People… There were people.

“Help! Help me!!”

And there were snowmen walking across the pond, they were playing music or maybe they were just singing ‘Last Christmas’… It would be her last Christmas….

 Ismène was hallucinating, and she knew it. She bent her face to James but couldn’t feel his skin against hers, her cheeks and nose and mouth numb. Was he unconscious? Was he dead? How could it happen so quickly?

Oh for fuck’s sake if I’m going to die let me die now, don’t drag out this misery! She shouted, or maybe the words were only in her head. If she slid into the water… She was no longer cold, there was no pain… James slipped an inch and somehow she dragged him back.

The snowmen were back, walking through the night towards her, still singing…

One of the snowmen was bending down, brushing snow from her face, lifting her into his arms… But it wasn’t a snowman, it was Orson Welles.

Then more people were with her and lifting her and carrying her up to a warm car. She tried to say something about James, tell them about James, but her voice was frozen in her throat.

If you want to know what happens next, here’s a link:

http://amzn.eu/g1IIVjo

 

A nifty bit of footwork

‘ve mentioned I have a new project about to come to fruition – an anthology of work from two writing friends and me which, we hope, will soon be available!! Exciting!! It has been a busy year; in April I published ‘Earthquake’, my most recent Radwinter story (I’m working on the next which may arrive before Christmas, but is more likely to appear in January) and I also published my little writing guide ‘So You Want To Write’. As well as that this year I have been very involved with my writing groups, leading and being part of, and have had lots of exciting things in my own life, not least a six-week trip to Tasmania, and my daughter coming back to live at home after five years away!!

For some reason I thought I had also published a book which I first started writing about ten years ago or more, Lucky Portbraddon. However, that was just over a yea ago, September 2016! The idea for the Portbraddon story went back much further, had been in my mind for many years, and was inspired by – but definitely not based on, two strands of inspiration:

  • bands – having loved rock music just about all my life, and having seen at close quarters what it’s like to be in a band (my husband has been a drummer and in bands since he was about fourteen) I was fascinated by the dynamic in such groups. There is a closeness because of playing music together, rehearsing and live, and for some bands who go on the road sometimes for months at a time, there is an extra bond. However there are fall-outs and splits, and people leaving and new people arriving
  • family – I am so fortunate to be part of a great, loving and faithful family, and i must say here that the Portraddons are not remotely like my own cousins and are not based on them in any way except one – the one way that there is a similarity is the loyalty a family feel, a bond which can never be broken even if the family is broken. With my fictional Portbraddons there are major upheavals and betrayals, but even so at the end, as they constantly say ‘family is family’ and ‘family first’.

Here is an extract from Lucky Portbraddon. Ismene was the girlfriend and, she hope, fiancée to be, of one of the cousins. She went to meet the rest of the family and to spend Christmas with them in their grandma’s large but isolated  house up on the moors. They were snowed in for several days during which time Isméne’s boyfriend decided he didn’t love her and as soon as escape was possible he left to return to town.

In the following extract, Isméne has been brought home to her flat by a cousin, Nick; he is also giving a lift to his nephew, Noah, who is shy and awkward and always seems on the outside of everything. An unexpected reception awaits  Isméne.

They got out of Nick’s rickety car, stepping into slush. The night was damp and had a fusty town smell after the clear air up on the tops. The thaw had set in but there were still mounds of snow, semi-frozen piles of mush, speckled with dirty grey and black.
Noah stayed in the back and she waved at him through the side window; he managed a weak smile but looked away shiftily.
“You will stay in touch, won’t you Ismène?” Nick asked as she keyed in the code on the security pad.
“I sure will, as long as you want me to,” she held the door with her shoulder so he could come in with her bags.
He made a facetious response and she replied with a joke but she had the tiniest suspicion that Nick might want to do a little more than flirt. He was lovely but she had not the slightest interest in him even if she’d wanted another relationship.
Someone grabbed her and shoved her to the floor and a man jumped at Nick and began hitting him in the face. Nick was unable to defend himself, encumbered by her bags.
Ismène jumped up and grabbed the attacker’s arm, he spun round and it was Jaco.
“You leave her alone, you bastard, she’s my wife!” Jaco bellowed and shoved her aside to continue his attack on Nick.
Ismène tumbled backwards, falling over one of her bags, and sprawled across the floor again – And then there was a figure in black between Nick and Jaco. It was Noah and he grabbed Jaco, punched him straight in the face, before pushing him out of the door. He hurled him down the couple of steps then stood blocking the doorway.
“Fuck off shithead!” he bellowed.
Nick was on his knees, blood streaming through his fingers cupped over his face and Ismène tried to get him upright, appalled by the sudden violence.
“I’m so sorry, Nick, I’m really sorry.”
“What are you apologising for?” Nick staggered as if dizzy.
He called a muffled thank you to Noah, who cast a baleful look over his shoulder and went out, the door banging shut behind him.
Nick was wiping his arm on his sleeve, his moustache and beard a gory mess. The light in the hall was garish, Nick’s face was grey and he was certainly in pain. There were splashes of blood on the blue and green floor tiles, as if the seascape they showed had been the place of a dreadful battle.
“I didn’t realise he knew where I lived – I guess he thought you were James.”
She gathered her bags and other things, and hoping Noah was safe, she pushed Nick to the lift.  It pinged open and they hurried into its apple-scented interior.
“Long time since I’ve been in a fight,” Nick looked at himself in the mirror, touching his nose experimentally. “I don’t think it’s broken.”
“Well, it wasn’t really a fight. He hit you then Noah threw him out.”
“Oh, that’s right, spoil my moment of fantasy! In my mind I decked him with a quick one-two and some nifty footwork!”
As they stepped out of the lift Ismène’s neighbour was waiting; he cast a horrified look at Nick and hurried down the corridor to the stairs.

I hope you are intrigued and want to find out more! here is a link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/LUCKY-PORTBRADDON-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B01LWTVURP/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1507879718&sr=1-6&keywords=lois+elsden

… and here are links to my other books I mentioned:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/EARTHQUAKE-RADWINTER-Book-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B06Y18H8JR/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1507879718&sr=1-4&keywords=lois+elsden

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Want-Write-Telling-Tales-Book-ebook/dp/B074W19JK3/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1507879718&sr=1-3&keywords=lois+elsden

Don’t confuse your reader!

As you can imagine, as well as doing a lot of writing (I’ve actually set myself a 800 word a day target for the next six weeks – not counting what I write here!) I do a lot of reading, and I do a lot reading about writing. It was a mixture of these things which, on the suggestion of my fellow blogger from my other blog, the Moving Dragon, that I had a look at a site which runs a ninety day challenge – to write eighty-five thousand words (yes 85,000)

The site which is called 85k90.com, has lots of interesting and helpful articles and I came across one which really rang a bell with my writing teaching – from when I was a teacher to now when I lead several writing groups. It’s all about not confusing your readers – and in actual fact they are the most simple and obvious points – simple and obvious but very easy to forget!

Here are the five by Wendy Janes:

  1. Ensure names and descriptions of characters are consistent
  2. Differentiate your characters
  3. Handle time carefully
  4. Yes, write beautiful prose, but don’t show off your vocabulary
  5. Steer clear of using drama for the sake of drama

Simple aren’t they? Because I’ve been writing just about all my life, from almost as soon as I could hold a pencil, I’ve learned these lessons by making mistakes on all these tips. Now I really try to make sure I don’t create muddle with names – however, in my genealogical mysteries, because my main character is dealing with family history sometimes there is a repeat of names – in my fiction as in real life family trees. I do that deliberately and carefully – and sometimes there is a muddle – but that is part of the story and I very clearly (I hope) make sure the reader knows it’s an intended muddle! I also write things down in old diaries to keep track of the dates of when things happen in my stories – I want events to be sequential and to be possible!

I guess my ultimate challenge in trying not to confuse the reader with characters was my latest Thomas Radwinter mystery, ‘Earthquake‘, where there were thirteen Chinese girls at a little boarding school in the 1930’s, one of them was murdered and the other twelve were all suspects! Twelve teenage girls!! I had to work really hard to make sure my readers didn’t get in a muddle (I got a bit in a muddle at times myself, I have to say!

When I read point number four, I almost blushed… with a little embarrassment. Last year I published my e-book ‘Lucky Portbraddon‘; it was something I had written quite a while ago but I wanted to get it off my mental writing shelf and out into the world. I set to editing it, having not looked at it for about seven years… oh dear… When I wrote it I had been trying to write a literary book… some of what I had written was actually very good, but it just felt unnatural and not my style, and well… pretentious to be honest! I went through with a mighty editing scythe and whipped out all the pompous, ‘aren’t I clever, aren’t I a wonderful writer‘ bits. I slimmed it down by more than a third cutting out ‘the beautiful prose’ which was just ‘showing off’ my vocabulary. It was a lesson learned, I can tell you!

Here is a link to the article which is very appropriately entitled, ‘Avoid Confusing Your Readers’!

https://85k90.com/five-simple-editing-tips/

… and here is a link to the challenge site:

https://85k90.com/

…and here is a link to my slimmed down ‘Lucky Portbraddon’:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/LUCKY-PORTBRADDON-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B01LWTVURP/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1502443608&sr=8-3&keywords=lois+elsden

… and my twelve suspect 1930’s murder mystery:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/EARTHQUAKE-RADWINTER-Book-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B06Y18H8JR/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1502444271&sr=8-2&keywords=lois+elsden

… and here is a link to our other Moving Dragon blog:

https://somersetwriters.wordpress.com

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