Book number three in the making

For those of you who read the opening chapters of The Gateway many months ago, you’ll be interested to hear that they’ve changed a great deal since Emmeline’s story first emerged in my head. I can’t share any of it with you currently, as I have sent it for consideration to a publisher and am awaiting their response: yay or nay. I pitched the story to them last week, and was over the moon to pique their interest and be invited to submit the entire manuscript. Even if the only response I get is thank you but no thank you, that’s good enough for me, as I’ve taken the first step in getting it “out there”. 

More excitingly, as many authors find, one or two secondary characters have gradually taken on a life and journey of their own, and I’ve found myself over the past few weeks curling ideas around in my head, tasting scenarios and wondering how I could share their story. Then, yesterday, I found myself penning character traits and backgrounds, and before I knew it, a sequel had unfolded before me. I’ve just spent half an hour typing it up, and will probably spend next week doing research into the mid 1930s (that’s all I’m saying for now). 

I didn’t want to class Time For Love (formerly The Gateway, and a lot different to the original version) as a time-travel romance, but as genres would have it, it would seem that’s the category it falls into. According to Goodreads, a time-travel romance is: A novel that features time-travel or a dual-time story-line with a romance theme. This pretty much sums up Time For Love, as it’s not strictly time-travel, but is set in two different time-zones. The sequel will also follow this theme and I’m already really excited about it. I’m also nervous of the level of research required, as although it’s fiction, some aspects can’t be made-up. How I ended up weaving history into my writing is beyond me, but I really enjoy it.

On a separate note, I haven’t forgotten about my second novel, so painstakingly crafted during NaNoWriMo 2013. It’s completely unrelated to the time-travel romance books, which seem to be developing themselves in my mind. In fact, novel number two – a contemporary romance – has been printed and is patiently awaiting a redraft.

So, while I’ve been quiet, rest assured that I am squirreling away behind the scenes, and seem to have found a new addiction. I just wish I could spend all day dreaming up stories, characters and plot-lines, but real life must go on and I have some potatoes waiting to go in the oven for our Sunday roast. 

Thanks for reading, I’m off to finish making dinner, while my mind wanders to a time long ago. 🙂 

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Time for… an update

Well, I didn’t make the top 50 in the contest for So You Think You Can Write. These past few weeks have been both exciting and stressful as I’ve pushed myself to finish the third draft of newly titled Time for Love – formerly The Gateway, and then plummeted down from an intense high when I realised I wasn’t one of the chosen ones.

I think deep down I knew it was unlikely, but there was still that little part of me which hoped I’d at least final after the effort that went into the submission. Everyone who entered knows the struggle we all went through in those first few weeks, but I don’t regret entering the competition at all. The mantra was always “what do I have to lose?”. Of course the answer was nothing, as I’ve now connected with even more amazing people, a network of writers – both published and unpublished – always there to lend a sympathetic ear or bounce about with pom-poms, cheering each other on.

Since the top 50 finalists were contacted, I’ve taken a well-deserved break for a few days, while planning my next project, which I intend to write for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for you non-Wrimos, during which I wrote Time for Love last year).

Once the stress and toll of NaNoWriMo and the first (planned) draft is written, I’ll be revisiting Time for Love, polishing up any loose ends and making it as seamless as possible, then start submitting.

Because I believe there’s a home for this story somewhere, and because I’ll never give up.

Time for Love – So You Think You Can Write 2013

Time for Love – So You Think You Can Write 2013

When I stumbled across this writing contest last year and met so many wonderful writer friends and mentors, little did I know I’d be entering my own manuscript into the competition this time around. The top prize in the contest is a publishing contract with Harlequin books, leading publisher in romance novels throughout the world. While I can’t see me winning first prize, I do hope that this entry will at least be a great opportunity to showcase my work. (Of course, I would be jumping up and down and screaming for about a week if I did win!)

The last few weeks have been spent polishing the first chapter and writing a pitch for the contest, while revising and editing the rest of the novel in its third draft. It’s a really exciting time, improving the story, fleshing out the scenes and increasing tension between the characters.

For me, the best part about writing is actually living the scene for yourself, and that’s when the best of my work shines through. It’s wonderful to be able to visit another world through a story, and trying my best to deliver that world to the readers. 

Now, three days into the contest, I’m keeping everything crossed that I can make the top 50 finalists with Time for Love. It’s a nerve-wracking time, and the only thing I can do to pass that time is to keep on writing. 

Originally entitled The Gateway, I feel this novel’s new title really sums up the story. If you haven’t already read the entry, please do have a look and let me know what you think – just click on the link above. 

Huge luck to everyone else entering the contest – anyone who has written a novel knows what a hard slog it is – so a pat on the back to all of us who have come this far! 

Fingers crossed 🙂 

Prologue vs Chapter One

I attended my critique writing group last night, which was free manuscript evening, whereby we all read one of our current projects. So I took the opening chapters of my work in progress, consisting of a prologue and the first chapter.
I had some great feedback and with one suggestion in mind, I have a question:

One of the group commented on my use of a prologue and suggested I make it the first chapter, as she said some people don’t bother reading a prologue. If it’s skipped in this book, it could cause some confusion as it’s fundamental to the story, but I feel it’s too short to be a first chapter. The second chapter is a completely different scene so they’re not appropriate to be placed together in the first chapter. What are your thoughts? Do you read a prologue? I do, but thought it would be prudent to check with other fellow readers.

Look forward to hearing your responses 🙂

Progress update and news

I’ve been steadily working on editing The Gateway these past few days, now that things have calmed down on the home front. I’ve even been able to work a little on my studies, slotting in a bit here and a bit there. Although it’s quite possible I’ve overdone it slightly, trying to squeeze daily tasks and puppy walks and writing in, on top of everything else, including being pregnant. A few people have commented that I’ve been a bit quiet lately, and that is my reason. I’m now 20 weeks gone, and just starting to feel “normal” again (although slightly anaemic; but some iron tablets have rectified that). Since January I’ve been rather fatigued and was knocked sideways by a virus in February which my daughter and I both had, her bouncing back like Tigger on a summer’s day and me taking three weeks to recover from it. As I started to regain my energy, we welcomed another bundle into our home in the form of Charlie, who has certainly not been without his challenges. Patience is a virtue, they say, and I can’t say I’ve ever been the most patient of people. But when you become a mother something happens to you and you become instinctively able to cope with whatever stresses life throws at you, because you simply get on and deal with it.

We’ve had Charlie for five weeks today and I’m pleased to say that he’s settled in well. He’s nowhere near as calm as I’d like (of course not, he’s a puppy) but he’s happier to entertain himself now and with the aid of a baby gate and a puppy crate, we have a little more order in the house.

Anyway, as my father used to say, I digress.

A few more of you have been asking questions about where Chapter Four of The Gateway is. I won’t be posting any more chapters on here, as I haven’t decided whether to self-publish or try the traditional publishing route yet. However I did promise to deliver some snippets and deliver I will.

If you’ve read the first three chapters, you’ll be wondering what happens next with Emmeline and her ticket officer from the train station.

So here’s a little teaser for you…

Emmeline leaned back against the red padded leather of the booth they had chosen at the back of the club, and observed the setting before her. Round tables circled by bistro chairs were strategically placed around a modest stage, which was currently in the process of being set up for a function. Each table was covered in stark white table cloths with candelabras standing centrepiece. The club was empty of customers except for Jack and Emmeline.

‘So, you’re from the future,’ he sat back with one leg crossed over his knee, his arm resting across the back of the booth.

‘Or,’ she looked at him over her cup and saucer, searching for that glint of amusement on his features. It wasn’t there. ‘You’re from the past,’ she decided.

‘Well, Emmeline, I don’t think I am in your future right now,’ he gestured with his arm to demonstrate the very real establishment they were sat in, jazz music playing softly in the background in the absence of a live performance.

She drummed her fingers on the table thoughtfully. ‘Perhaps this is all part of your master plan to continue to mock my plight and this is actually a retro-bar, frequented ordinarily by the locals, who appear to be lacking at present.’ said Emmeline.

‘Please, excuse me for a moment,’ Jack stood and adjusted his waistcoat and jacket and disappeared to the Gentleman’s lounge. When he returned, he sidled into the booth and rested his arm behind Emmeline’s head on the back of the seat. His face was level with hers and she could hear the steady rhythm of his gentle breathing. Jack’s gaze rested on her features for what seemed like an age, until she tore her eyes away and focused on her coffee, desperate to break the intimacy. 

Thanks for reading, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to ask, I always love to hear from readers. 🙂

Read the first three chapters of The Gateway here.

The Gateway – Chapter Three

As promised, I’ve just uploaded the third chapter of The Gateway.

At present, I’m not planning to post any more chapters on the blog, but will be posting some snippets and extracts as I continue the editing process, which I hope will keep your interest until I decide on my publishing route.

If you’ve not read the first two chapters of The Gateway, or if you want to refresh your memory of what has happened so far, you can do so here.

Or, if you’ve got a great memory, you can find the next installment – Chapter Three – on this link here.

I also have a Pinterest board which I’ll be using for research purposes and adding to as I progress through the story. Pop over and take a look if you have time.

Please feel free to comment, I’d love to hear what you think.

The Gateway – Chapter Three

The Gateway – Chapter Two

Following on from my last blog post, as a little taster, I’ve made the decision to publish the first three chapters of The Gateway on this blog and also on Wattpad, after completing the second draft on each. I hope you enjoy, please feel free to leave any comments or if you think there are any improvements required.

Otherwise, Chapter Three will be up next 🙂

You can read Chapter One here.

Chapter Two

‘All aboard!!’ yelled the guard as the last of the passengers alighted the train. The automatic doors closed with a hiss and Emmeline settled back into the blue and black speckled seat, clutching her holdall on the seat next to her as the carriage shuttled her off to the coast. Hills rolled by as the train gathered speed and she felt the tension seep from her shoulders, until she noticed the shaggy-haired young man opposite her. He was staring with a strange expression on his face. Emmeline eyeballed him back but he smirked, so she turned her attention to the passing scenery and ignored him.

The last two weeks had been an eye opener. Geoff Sweetman was actually on the wagon, and Joan seemed to have had a personality transplant, bossing both of them about and taking no nonsense. Emmeline wasn’t sure which was worse – the tension from before, or being at the mercy of the imposter who had possessed her former mouse of a mother. Her eyes flickered over the fields as they sped by, and Emmeline’s thoughts drifted to her sanctuary by the sea. It was a dilapidated mess, with seventies wallpaper and grubby carpets; but it was hers and she loved it. She didn’t have much interaction with anyone there, apart from her dear elderly neighbours. But that suited her.

Less than an hour later, the train announced its arrival at Parnham Sea Station. She stood and gathered her things.

The train came to a halt and after waiting for the throng of passengers to disembark first, Emmeline stepped onto the platform inhaling the fresh, coastal air, feeling clean and carefree. Home at last.

As she meandered along the platform, a man dressed in a grey suit rushed past her, shoving her aside. ‘Hey!’ yelled Emmeline, as he ran for his train. She rubbed her shoulder and grimaced as the bruising in her ribs throbbed. Ignorant sod! Then, to her surprise, he turned to look at her, shock frozen on his face.

‘I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you there!’ he said as he continued to back away briskly, then turned on his heel and hopped on the train, pulling the door shut behind him. Emmeline blinked, sure that the doors had been automatic. The shrill blast of a whistle rang nearby to indicate their imminent departure, and she shook her head in confusion.

As she entered the station a guard tapped her on the shoulder. ‘Can I see your ticket, madam?’

She spun round in bewilderment, searching for the automatic gate, which would hungrily swallow her fare in return for letting her off the platform.

‘Yes,’ she frowned, reaching into her pocket and pulling out a thick, cardboard coupon. ‘Where are the gates?’ she asked him.

‘Gates? The station gates are where they’ve always been, at the front of the building.’

Emmeline whipped her head round, taking in her surroundings. A young platinum-blonde woman with rouge lips stood casually near the door, patting her wavy set hair with a white-gloved hand. A round suitcase stood at her feet and her other hand displayed a cigarette holder, its smoke trailing upwards as the ash burned idly.  To Emmeline’s right, perched on a wooden bench, was another young lady with black, bobbed hair tucked under a red berry cloche hat, checking her watch and fiddling with a string of pearls. On closer inspection the station was filled with commuters looking like they were dressed for a 1920s film production.

‘Is someone filming here today?’ she asked.

‘Filming? Not that I know of. I think we’d be inundated with people wanting to get in on the action.’ He chuckled and then bent his head forward to peer at her face. ‘Are you OK?’ he asked. For a brief moment, Emmeline found herself rendered immobile by the intense blue eyes which were studying her own. She tore away from his penetrating gaze and looked up at his cap, PSS – Parnham Sea Stationimprinted above the peak, and took a step back to survey his dated uniform. Sure, she’d not visited for a couple of weeks, but what on earth was going on?

‘I – um –’ she squeaked as she backed away from him. He handed back her ticket with furrowed brows and Emmeline studied his gentle mouth, perfectly set on his clean shaven face, the lines of his jaw clenching as he watched her, bewildered.

After one last glance at the ticket detective, she shot through the station, clutching her coupon, suddenly aware of its thick cardboard presence. Wasn’t the ticket she’d purchased a credit-card sized, flimsy piece of cardboard? Or had they changed them? She would have noticed when she’d bought it, surely. She thrust the little tag into her pocket and burst through the front door to the outside world, inhaling a lungful of fresh air. Either she had fallen asleep on the train and was dreaming, or something was very, very awry. A woman dressed in a pencil skirt and tailored jacket approached the door into the lobby.

‘Excuse me,’ Emmeline stood with her hands on her hips and steadied her breathing, taking in the woman’s more modern attire. ‘What is the date today?’ she asked. The other woman stopped and looked at her watch. ‘It’s 27th September,’ she smiled.

‘Thanks,’ replied Emmeline, watching the woman’s retreating back. Obviously. She bit her lip and looked around, then spotted a paper sitting on a green iron bench outside the entrance to the station and wandered over, picking it up and peering at the top. September 27th, 2012. Of course it was. She cupped her hands gently around her face and looked through the window into the station. The automatic ticket gates stood evidently at the entrance to the platform, indifferent to the little game they had just played with her mind. There was no sign of the ticket officer. She shook her head in confusion and walked over to the bus stop, and boarded the waiting bus which would take her home.

Striding up the garden path towards the front door, Emmeline made a mental note to pull some weeds up from the concrete path edge and was suddenly accosted by a silver tabby cat, snaking its way around her legs in a greeting. She dumped her bag on the doorstep and fished her keys out of her purse.

‘Hey, Herbie!’ She stooped down to collect the bundle of fur into a cuddle, being careful not to prod him with the keys. ‘I missed you too, fella!’ Herbie purred and dribbled on her wrist as she stroked his excited head. She opened the door and the cat shot through, meowing frantically and darting back and forth from the kitchen. ‘OK, OK!’ she laughed, then pulled out a tin of cat meat and filled his bowl.

Emmeline had a cat-share arrangement with her next-door neighbours. She’d fallen in love with the tabby a few months ago when the cat belonging to the Bennett’s other neighbour had had kittens. Mr and Mrs Bennett had agreed to care for Herbie during the week while Emmeline was working and Emmeline supplied the food and the cost of the veterinary care.

She climbed the worn, dull green carpeted stairs to her bedroom, hauled her bag onto the bed and proceeded to unpack her neatly folded clothes, placing them carefully into a vintage chest of drawers.  The only sound in the house was the bedside clock as it ticked away noisily. She shoved her bag across the wooden floor and took a deep breath, and then opened a window to let some fresh air in to dispel the mustiness. She sat down on the bed, fondly stroking the green gingham bedspread. The muslin curtains billowed in the breeze as she took off her shoes and socks and spread her toes through the sheep-skin rug she’d found at a flea market in Parnham a few weeks ago. Her eyes swept the room as she admired the wooden floor. Bit by bit, she was getting there. On her last visit Emmeline had been busy refurbishing the bedroom and had pulled up the carpets, hired a sanding machine and stripped the floor boards before protecting them with a light wood varnish. The curtains were her handiwork, crafted on the second-hand sewing machine Mrs Bennett had donated to her.

There was a knock at the front door. ‘Emmeline? Yoo hoo!’ Elsie Bennett’s voice called up the stairs. ‘I brought you a casserole, love! Ernie said it’s top notch!’ Emmeline left the vintage beauty of her bedroom and descended the stairs slowly, still feeling bruised and battered from the accident.

‘Elsie!’ She enveloped her in a warm embrace. ‘How lovely to see you,’ Elsie gave a little squeeze in return and Emmeline gave a small cry as she pulled away, wincing.

‘What’s wrong, dear?’ asked Elsie.

Emmeline smiled meekly at her and shrugged her shoulders. ‘I had a bit of an accident a couple of weeks ago; my car was hit on the motorway on my way here,’ She confessed as warming, pungent aromas of thyme and chicken filled her senses. ‘Mmm, that smells delicious!’ she said, changing the subject.

‘What?’ Elsie’s eyebrows shot up in a state of distress. ‘Oh my goodness, you poor thing!’ she gasped.

Emmeline waved Elsie’s concern away. ‘I’m fine, honestly! Just a couple of broken ribs which are healing slowly and a black eye – which is now yellow, underneath some cleverly applied make-up.’  She lifted the lid off the casserole. ‘That looks amazing,’

Elsie looked at the casserole. ‘Just pop it in the oven, dear, on a low heat, until you’re ready for it.’ She looked back up at Emmeline and frowned. ‘So – that’s why you haven’t been here for the last couple of weeks then?’ she probed. ‘Only we didn’t get your message until last weekend and we’ve been worried! Herbie’s missed you terribly.’ She smiled kindly.

At that moment, Emmeline wondered why she didn’t just move here permanently. She was missed. Even if only by my cat and my neighbours.  She sighed, and thought of Geoff and Joan, wondering how long this strange pretence could last before her father buckled and started drinking again and her mother crumpled under the disappointment. They needed her. How could she even be so selfish as to think that she could put herself first like that? Besides, she earned good money at work; when I’m hitting target, she thought. A picture of her boss’s face appeared and she shuddered in irritation at Louisa’s existence infiltrating her refuge. ‘Go away,’ she muttered under her breath as she mentally watched Louisa pace the meeting room, flinging buzz words and wasted enthusiasm around.

‘What was that dear?’ Elsie brought Emmeline back to the present.

‘Nothing, sorry, I’ve been in an odd frame of mind today,’ her thoughts wandered back to the confusion at the train station.

‘Well, if you need anything, you know where we are,’ Elsie studied Emmeline, concern creasing her papery face.

‘Thanks, Elsie. I think I’m just going to open a bottle of wine and enjoy your lovely cooking with some old black and white movies on the TV!’ She stretched pleasantly at the thought, feeling exhausted already and looking forward to curling up with Herbie and shutting the world out. Tomorrow was a brand new day; perhaps she might go for a browse among the second hand shops and take a stroll along the beach before tea time.

‘You enjoy, Emmeline,’ she paused, her hand hovering on the door knob. ‘Do you know, there’s something different about you today?’

‘Huh?’ She had been watching Herbie curling himself round and round, trying to find a comfy spot on the sofa.

‘I can’t quite put my finger on it,’ she tapped her lip with her forefinger. ‘You seem, I don’t know… stronger somehow,’ she said, then shrugged. ‘Well, enjoy your evening dear; holler if you need anything at all. I must get back to Ernie.’ She kissed Emmeline on the cheek before closing the door behind her, leaving them both in peace.

Stronger? Who was she kidding? Emmeline was clearly losing the plot.  She put the casserole in the oven on a low heat and lit the fire, then popped open a bottle of Shiraz and joined the cat on the sofa to see what the television had to offer.

Excerpt from The Gateway – Page 77, first 7 lines

A fellow author friend tagged me in a post today for us to help share our work. The idea is that you share the first 7 lines of either page 7 or page 77 of your manuscript, then tag 7 other authors to do the same. I can’t follow suit via my Facebook page so I won’t be tagging anyone, but thought I’d join in the fun and share a little excerpt with you anyway.
Below is the first 7 lines of page 77 of The Gateway (the NaNoWriMo 2012 novel):

I simply glared at her; feelings of fury and resentment building up until I felt as though I might explode. Then it came. I clenched my fists together and breathed quickly, trying to contain it. But the words spilled forth before I had a chance to stop them.

‘Yes, well maybe it’s time you grew a bloody backbone of your own,’ I growled at her, the tears threatening to spill down my cheeks. I gave her one last glare as she looked like I had just slapped her, and turned on my heel and ran down the corridor. I ran and ran and ran, not seeing where I was going at any point, my tears blurring my vision, then collided headlong into Joe.

Just for fun!