The handsome vicar and the runaway child

I didn’t realise four years ago when I took on the National Novel Writing Challenge that the 50,000 words i was attempting to write would become the start of the next six books… I began to tell the story of Thomas Radwinter and his three brothers, Marcus, Paul and John, of the ups and the down of their lives and their families. As well as their own lives, the stories also include ‘investigations’ which Thomas undertakes, seemingly harmless research into genealogical mysteries which lead him into all sorts of difficulties.

This is the beginning of the third novel, and here it seems as i the family are united and happy and all will go well for them… However, Thomas’s investigations into his own history cause upset, and his investigations into a woman who just disappeared from a busy street lead him into danger…

But this is the start – a very happy day for Thomas:

I looked up at the vicar standing on the steps of the nave, and he smiled down at me. He’s very handsome this vicar, and in fact he’s my brother. All my brothers are handsome men, and Marcus, the Reverend Marcus Edward Radwinter, is no exception; he has a strong angular face, and today his wild eyebrows and bushy beard and flowing grey mane of hair have been neatly trimmed. The most arresting thing about him is his eyes, his piercing blue Radwinter eyes, and as I looked up at him, they crinkled in a smile.

He glanced down the aisle and I looked at my other brother John, standing beside me; he was beaming too, and well he might. He is engaged to the most beautiful woman, Justyna, and they were expecting their baby in three weeks’ time. We’d had a few jokes about maybe it would come early and arrive today, and then there could be a christening as well as a wedding here in my brother’s church.

As well as a wedding… not John’s wedding, but mine. Yes, today I was marrying Kylie…

A little brown face peeped at me round John’s shoulder, my little man Kenneil. He was very excited, I can tell you, but being very good… so far. He looked so cute in his little kilt; my nephew Tom was holding him in his arms. John was my best man and Tom and Kenneil were my groomsmen…

“Ahem,” Marcus nodded towards the church doors and I realised that my other nephew, Django, was playing the bridal march; he and his band had been vamping some incidental music while we waited.

“Can I look?” I whispered.

“Of course you can,” Marcus replied, he looked so happy.

I turned and there, there was my beautiful bride.

Kylie was wearing a white and gold dress and she looked like an Aztec goddess… well, actually I don’t know if the Aztecs had goddesses, but she looked exotic and wonderful and she shimmered as she walked towards me, her arm resting lightly on that of my brother Paul who was escorting her. He looked very handsome, I thought once that he looks like a silver lion; he has that strength, that confidence and pride in his family.

Kylie’s hair was drawn back from her face and had been woven into plaits with golden ribbons and jewelled beads threaded through… She had feathers in her hair, gold feathers, and her veil came down just to her nose, and there were little sparkly stars on it. Behind her I could see her three bridesmaids, my nieces Paula and Sarah, and Kylie’s sister Reneasha.

Kylie’s dress was short at the front, not too short, and her long elegant legs strode out… in a way she looked quite fearsome… but these days I think she looks magnificent with that determined expression, not terrifying as I used to think…

There was fumble beside me, and I heard Tom say, “Kenneil, come back! Oh, sorry Thomas!”

Kenneil had somehow escaped and was running down the aisle to his Mama. We‘d gone to the suit shop to hire suits for John and Tom and he‘d spotted a kilt and although he has no known connection to anything Scottish, he is in fact three-quarters Tobagoan, he insisted…and he is so adorable, I just gave way. I could hear the congregation all go ‘aah’ as he sped towards Kylie.

Her face broke into the widest smile and she bent to him, and Paul leant over and picked him up and carried him on his arm as they continued to process down the aisle, Kylie and me grinning at each other…

I had never felt so confident and sure of myself in all my life; this really was the start of a new and wonderful adventure with my family beside me!

Here is a link so you can find out more, what family secrets Thomas uncovered and whether he found teh vanished woman:

http://amzn.eu/dgMp8bx

2017 NaNo update… 50,053…

So the national Novel Writing Month draws to a close, and although I fell behind and at points thought I might never catch up… I did!! I managed to write 50,053 words during the month of November.

I am now going to put my story to one side for a while , and finish off some other things, but I will come back to it and I will finish it!

Here is something to celebrate with:

Day thirty of NaNoWriMo…

The last day is here, the last day of the challenge… the target day which once seemed a distant speck on my writing horizon and then gradually began to loom… On November 1st I took up the online challenge to write 50,000 (yes, fifty thousand words) this month. This is my fifth year of doing it, and to be honest, although my writing has gone well, really well, this year it has been a struggle. It’s been a struggle because November has been a very busy month and lots of quite ordinary but nice things have come between me and my writing.

This is what I wrote here on the first day of the challenge, reporting back under a post tile ‘Went the day well?’

I was all set up with what I was going to do; I have a character called Gus and I’ve written about him several times, and I decided I wanted to pull his story together and NaNoWriMo seemed the ideal vehicle for my attempt. So… I had a busy day yesterday, lots of things happened, some planned some unexpected, some good, some really not good at all.
I sat down first thing and opened a new document… and blank… Gus had wandered off… he obviously didn’t think he was ready to share his story. There would be no point in forcing it I knew, that way difficulty lies! I have so many other things I am doing at the moment, probably too many, that I knew Gus would prove recalcitrant and reluctant.
I did have a back-up plan; after I finish writing my novels quite often the characters’ stories continue in my head and I sometimes actually write down what happens next – this doesn’t develop into a sequel, but some of the ideas might lead to something new (what happened to the characters in ‘Farholm’ resulted in an idea which developed into ‘The Stalking of Rosa Czekov‘) However, when I tried to find a couple of these ideas I wanted to pursue I couldn’t locate them; I have an awful feeling that when I was doing my mass clear out and tidy that they went into the recycling bin)
So at eleven o’clock last night, I addressed the empty page. I started something completely new, something which had just been a vague idea floating around… I don’t know whether it will work, but it’s started and I managed to write 1076 words before midnight!!

Well, I’m thankful that the vague idea took off with a mind of its own! So by Day 3 I was into the swing of it, but still very much feeling my way and not really knowing where it would all go… This is what I wrote here:

This is the gist of it so far:
A mystery woman with an undisclosed past has got a tiny flat in a small seaside town (my imaginary Easthope) it’s told from her point of view at the moment and I hope the reader (well, if it gets that far) will be wondering ‘why is she here?’, ‘why is she living in such a tiny place?’, ‘what’s she running away/hiding from’?, ‘is she escaping an unhappy relationship?’ etc, and then the reasons are gradually revealed. The woman is doing a lot of writing which is shared with the reader, and it’s about her past, but she talks about ‘the city’ rather than naming it, and ‘the river’ etc so even in her writing she is circumspect…
On day 1 she didn’t have a name – that’s how new the whole idea is! Day 2 and I knew her name was going to begin with a B or an M… and in the end it is M – Milla. I am a little behind – not quite making the 1667 per day = 3,334 words in two days – I am up to 3,152, so not too far off target, especially so early on in the challenge when I haven’t got into my stride yet.
Today which is Day 3 I am going to write some of her writing, which I think will be a memoir of when she was a student in the anonymous city…

By day 4 (in Milla’s story as well as mine) things were moving on, but slowly… This is what I wrote here about my progress:

On the first day a mysterious woman appeared, recently moved into a bedsit – or what is now called a flatlet apparently, and it was only on day two that her name was revealed, Milla. It has become apparent that she is trying to build a new life… and yesterday, day four, she became involved with someone who might later become a friend.
This makes it sound as if I am reading a story, rather than writing one… well, sometimes it is almost like that! A surprise on every page, a new character, a new scene, a new difficulty!
The new character takes a tumble…
She set off back to the steps to leave the beach. An elderly man had crossed the road, pulled by his dog, maybe the old man and dog she had exchanged greetings with a couple of days ago.
It happened almost in slow motion – whether the pulled, eager to run on the beach, whether the man tottered or slipped on the sandy steps, whether he had some sort of seizure but he fell, lurching towards her and she sprang to try and catch him but he went sideways. The dog dragged him, and then the man’s hand released the lead and he went down, the side of his head hitting the stone with an audible ‘crack’!
Milla went down on her knees beside him, calling out something to him, something silly, inane, panicky are you alright? Are you ok? Don’t worry, I’m here!

I thought I would write a daily update here… I haven’t had time for that! It wasn’t until Day 12 that I managed to write another NaNo blog:

So… how has NaNo been going? I’ve mentioned that I intended to write about a long-standing character in search of a story… however he has wandered off, and instead I am writing about Milla who has come to my imaginary town of Easthope. She is a woman with a mystery past, which has not yet been revealed to the reader. Over the twelve days I have been writing about her, her character is gradually developing, especially as she is coming into contact with other people – the other people who live in the house where she’s renting a room, people in a café where she’s been working part-time, other people from around the town.
She has created what amounts a set of runes, which she is ‘reading’ each day, by taking one at random and bearing it in mind as the day progresses. In order to do this I do have a made up set of images which I am randomly picking out – so in a way the writing of the story is guided by chance. I have got to a point now, where I feel as if something has to happen… there has to be some action and movement to keep the reader engaged because otherwise this will just seem like the diary of an uneventful life – and even if there is some strange secret in Milla’s past, by the time it is revealed the reader won’t be reading any more!
Another thing has struck me which I must have a good think about – if I have time to think as I pound away trying to reach my target… Milla’s character. To be sure she is mysterious, but she is gradually changing into a stock female character without an actual character – she has no personality!
So that’s my task for the next few days, to discover her character, and make sure she is interesting and different!

So day 30… the last day… and 2,938 words to write… I’d better get going!

Three of my last four NaNo journeys made it into print… here is a link to all of my books:

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

25,000 done, 25,000 to go!

You may be a person who looks at the title of this blog and knows exactly what I mean – or you may be baffled!

The 25,000 refers to words – since November 1st I have written twenty-five thousand (and 42) words as part of the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge… it’s an on-line challenge, there are no prizes except knowing you have completed the challenge and achieved the goal!

So I am halfway through, and as you may realise today is the two-thirds mark… so I have ten days to write the remaining 25,000 (well, 24, 958 to be precise) words… Can I do it? I hope so, but it will be head down!

The thing is, as well as writing my story – which is about a woman with a mystery past who arrives in the small coast la town of Easthope – as well as writing about my mystery woman, I am also writing here every day, and writing for the blog I share with two friends, The Moving Dragon Writes… plus other stuff as well, of course! To be truthful though, during this stressful and busy time (I’m also doing an on-line course on submarine archaeology) I have shared some blogs which I wrote several years ago, with introductions and added comments, but some of the things I’ve written have been quite long…

So supposing each thing I have shared here over the last month (sixty of them) and the ones I have shared on the other blog, (say ten of them) was on average 400 words long (a conservative estimate) then that make an approximate total of about 28,000 words… so if I added that to my NaNoWriMo total… wow! I’ve made it, 53,042!!!

Obviously, I am going to try to complete the challenge by writing 50,000 words about my mystery woman, but ti just shows how much i actually do write… No wonder i don’t have tome to do the dusting!!

If you want to read the fruits of my labours, I have published thirteen novels (one in paperback), three reluctant reader stories, one writing guide, an anthology with my Moving Dragon friends, then here is a link – I’m sure you will enjoy them, pleasae let me know what you think!

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

and a link to the Moving Dragon blog:

https://somersetwriters.wordpress.com

We’ll be having some fun…

I’ve been writing this as part of my NaNoWriMo challenge; my character, Milla is using my memories as hers – maybe I’ll change it later, but for the time, this is what Milla – and I – remember from the summer at the end of our first year at Uni::

So in that wonderful summer, they had sat their exams and had received their results while they were still in college – maybe they were expected to be working on their dissertation or something, she couldn’t quite remember, only that unbelievable amazement and then pure joy that she had for once in her life come top in something, come first!

However… before the results were published, on the day of their final exam, the gang of her friends had come back to the room she shared with her house-mate, the lovely room which had been wrecked and the deposit lost, they had come back with bottles of wine for an impromptu afternoon party.

Suddenly they realised that it was raining and they had run out into the quiet road, bottles in hand, and danced barefoot  on the steaming tarmac. It seemed they had been drunk, not on wine, but on joy, exuberance, the wonderfulness of life. They were young, they were leaving their childhood behind, they were free, they had finished their exams they could do no more until next year!

They had galumphed about shouting, singing – maybe the window of their room was open and the music of the Drifters was pouring out from the record player.

Not the original… but still brings back so many memories…

Trying to swim…

I’m making slow progress with my attempts to write fifty thousand words of a new novel in November – this is part of the National Novel Writing Month challenge. It’s my fifth year of doing it and although I think I am doing better in terms of what I’m writing, I’m getting too far behind for comfort. It isn’t that I don’t want to write, or can’t think of what to write – it’s just that, at the moment, time seems filled up with other things!

As usual I’m not sure exactly where my story is going… Milla is the main character and she is a bit of a mystery at the moment. In the episode I’m going to share, she has decided she needs to get fitter… and she isn’t working at the moment so needs something to do… so what better than swimming? Someone she has met has offered to teach her to surf next summer… so it’s in her mind to improve her swimming for that:

The changing room was crowded, there were no private cubicles, so she changed discretely in a corner, put her things in a locker, band and key on her wrist, through the showers and into the pool.

When she had come before it had been quite noisy, now there was an absolute din… She refused to be put off – she had paid her money, she didn’t want to waste it, nor waste the time spent actually getting here.

There was a dancercise class in one half of the pool up the shallow end, swimming lessons at the other end which involved a lot of shouting and whistles and screaming from the children, and there was an absolute turmoil of people in the half of the pool where the public were able to swim. There were two lanes, one seemed to have a lot of people walking in the water and standing, and the other, the faster lane was crowded with swimmers trailing up and down. Milla would have to go in this one.

There was music from the dancercise class, and the usual music from the pool’s speakers – wouldn’t you think one would be turned off? As Milla slid into the warm water, dodging out of the way of a man who was doing an ostentatious and actually quite dangerous tumble turn, she was beginning to compose a letter of complaint…

Well, she was here now, twenty lengths and then, unless there was a sudden exit of most of the other pool users, she would get out and grumpily change and leave.

It was not a pleasure; she had to swim too fast, or too slow, people ploughed past her or seemed to grab her heels as they caught up with her and wouldn’t overtake until she stopped and pressed against the lane dividers. When she got near the end, there was such a jam of people that she turned round and swam back without touching the wall. She wasn’t fit enough yet to keep on swimming without stopping and she felt buffeted and oppressed by the speedy swimmers…

She reached the shallow end and ducked under the divider into the slow lane. Here was a crowd of people all standing, so she stopped for a moment and stood too. This was annoying chaos, and dangerous too.

She would have one more go in the faster lane and then if it was still impossible she would have to make do with the slow lane. All her positive energy from the morning had disappeared… hmmm, getting fit to go surfing? Impossible if she ever came to the pool at this time of day again.

She ducked under the dividers for what she hoped would be the last time, and set off, front crawl up the pool. She almost swam over someone who had stopped dead in the water, and when trying to swim round her, the man with the tumble turn – she recognized him by his neon orange swimming cap, swam right over her so she was submerged and kicked in the shoulder.

Furious she apologised to the woman who was still standing there, complaining as if it was Milla’s fault, and set off in pursuit of neon cap. She reached the end without mishap, able to at least touch and turn on the wall, and swam back without incident…

She remembered swimming when she was young. She couldn’t remember a time when she hadn’t been able to swim, at first in the summer at the open air pool, and later when the ‘new pool’ was built, almost every day. Her social life had been the swimming club, she had swum dozens of miles a week training – at that time she wouldn’t have been able to imagine another life when swimming a couple of lengths would wear her out… When she had come last time and swum without interruption, she had tired and had struggled…

She just got to the end and someone, not neon cap swam over her and she came to the surface coughing and choking, and furious – but the woman – it was a woman this time was speeding back up the pool.

Well, sod it, she would go into the slow lane and do a few lengths and then give up. Late Monday morning was not a good time to come, that was for sure.

The slow lane seemed wider, and she got into a train of swimmers slowly chugging up towards the deep end. Someone was perpetually touching her ankles – she was tempted to kick hard, but then breaking an old woman’s nose or giving an old fellow a black eye would not be wise… so she carried on.

There was a mass of people at the wall again, and she swam through them.

She reached the wall, turned and began to make her way through the others and suddenly she was under the water, pushed down… she was among a forest of bodies and legs and hadn’t taken a big enough breath before going under, not expecting to be steam-rollered over…

She tried to fight her way up but it was a nightmare of bodies and legs and feet she was coughing choking and pulling more water into her throat and lungs and… the strength seemed to be going from her limbs, there were black spots in front of her eyes

Then suddenly she was grabbed by the shoulder and heaved to the surface… she was almost fainting, almost unconscious and didn’t even feel pain as she was dragged up over the tiled edge and flung to the floor and… and … and…

© Lois Elsden 2017

Here is a link to my paperbacks and e-books:

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

Day 12… NaNo update…

I was going to preface my update by saying it’s been such a busy time in my life… well, it seems these days all the time is a busy time! 2016 was the year of throwing things away – not into the rubbish (although some things did go there) but to charity shops, given to others, recycled… I cleared the decks of much clutter and our usually untidy home had some sort of order restored.  As with many families these days, children who fled the nest have, or are in the process of, returning – so suddenly all our lovely space is being filled up with … things! We are delighted to have them home but it just takes a little organising, to cram three households of stuff in together.

On the writing front I and my fellow bloggers on our Moving Dragons blog have been putting an anthology together, which is now published and available (and we would welcome your comments and reviews on Amazon), and I have at last made my reluctant readers books available on Etsy as actual books, and on Amazon as Kindle e-readers.

As well as my blog here, the Moving Dragons blog and the National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, which I shall tell you about in a minute, I am continuing to try to finish my next Radwinter book, in time to be published spring 2018… I am also hoping to produce my second Radwinter book as a paperback.

Oh, and there’s the rest of my life, including the creative writing classes I lead, the writing groups I go to, the French class and the Saxish class I attend… oh and meeting friends, going places… the usual stuff!

So… how has NaNo been going? I’ve mentioned that I intended to write about a long-standing character in search of a story… however he has wandered off, and instead I am writing about Milla who has come to my imaginary town of Easthope. She is a woman with a mystery past, which has not yet been revealed to the reader. Over the twelve days I have been writing about her, her character is gradually developing, especially as she is coming into contact with other people – the other people who live in the house where she’s renting a room, people in a café where she’s been working part-time, other people from around the town.

She has created what amounts a set of runes, which she is ‘reading’ each day, by taking one at random and bearing it in mind as the day progresses. In order to do this I do have a made up set of images which I am randomly picking out – so in a way the writing of the story is guided by chance. I have got to a point now, where I feel as if something has to happen… there has to be some action and movement to keep the reader engaged because otherwise this will just seem like the diary of an uneventful life – and even if there is some strange secret in Milla’s past, by the time it is revealed the reader won’t be reading any more!

Another thing has struck me which I must have a good think about – if I have time to think as I pound away trying to reach my target… Milla’s character. To be sure she is mysterious, but she is gradually changing into a stock female character without an actual character – she has no personality!

So that’s my task for the next few days, to discover her character, and make sure she is interesting and different!

Here is a link to our anthology:

The Moving Dragons Write:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Moving-Dragons-Write-Dragon-Writes/dp/1549881809/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1510513816&sr=8-1&keywords=Lois+elsden

And to my ‘Can read, won’t read series’:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/550200668/lois-elsden-reluctant-readers-collection

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Run-Blue-books-reluctant-readers-ebook/dp/B0771HH6HW/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1510513816&sr=8-16&keywords=Lois+elsden

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Screaming-Harry-books-reluctant-readers-ebook/dp/B0771G968M/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1510513816&sr=8-13&keywords=Lois+elsden