My characters are tugging at my sleeve… again

‘Another new book? I say, Ms Hall, that is admirable.’ Connor raises his whisky glass in my direction and takes a long pull. ‘And you’re already onto the follow up novel. You’re becoming almost as prolific as The Poet!’ He strikes a dramatic pose from his position by the fireplace.

I smile politely as my eyes travel around Cynthia’s sitting room. Cynthia is lounging languidly on the battered silk chaise-longue. Her eyes are shining over the large glass of red wine she’s sipping. ‘Song of the Sea Goddess; it’s a lovely title,’ she smiles at me encouragingly. ‘Do you have a copy for us?’

I’m still waiting for them to ship from the printers. ‘Next time,’ I promise.

Gina is sitting in the armchair opposite her. Her left hand rests on her knee and the light is catching the diamond in her ring. She sees me looking at it.

‘We decided to put the wedding off for a bit.’

‘I hope you weren’t waiting for me to…’ I stop in mid-sentence, feeling awkward.

Gina laughs. ‘Only Ma and Auntie Marie are bothered. You know what they’re like!’ She shakes her head. ‘No, I’m concentrating on my career.’

‘Good for you,’ I say, raising my glass and taking a sip. The pleasant taste of the cheap Bulgarian Cabernet Sauvignon takes me straight back to the early 1980s. A sudden thought occurs to me. ‘Where’s Gary?’

‘Oh, he and Bob have gone to the match, nursing their New Year hangovers.’ She grins. ‘Fingers has become quite a celebratory at Anfield.’

‘I can imagine,’ I say, smiling back.

Gina’s expression darkens. ‘Your new book’s set in South Africa, isn’t it? She raises a disapproving eyebrow. ‘You do know we’re boycotting everything South African*.’

Connor clears his throat but says nothing and Cynthia shifts awkwardly on the chaise-longue.

‘Yes, I know. I did the same.’ I reply, remembering short supermarket dilemmas. ‘But things have changed. The country celebrated 25 years of democracy last year. Apartheid is over. Nelson Mandela became the first president.’

‘Well I never.’ Connor stares thoughtfully into his glass. ‘But I suppose we’re part of history now.’

‘I’m afraid so.’ Strange as it still seems, the 1980s are history. It feels to me like only yesterday.

‘Oh, but Ms Hall, you bring us to life.’ Cynthia casts a theatrical gesture in my direction.

‘Which is what’s happening to us now,’ says Gina determinedly. She shifts in her seat and pulls a crumpled postcard out of the back pocket of her jeans. ‘This came from Lucy last week. She and Pierre are working on a cruise ship now. He’s a DJ and she’s a croupier in the casino.’

That makes perfect sense.

Connor interrupts my thoughts. ‘As a fellow writer, I understand you have to go where the muse takes you, as it were.’ He strides over to the sideboard to top up his glass. ‘But I thought there might be at least one more historical fiction book in you.’

Our sequel?’ Gina waves the postcard at me.

I glance down and see my notebook has fallen open on my lap. I look up at their expectant faces. I guess there’s no harm in jotting down a few more notes…

*For a long time, Nelson Mandela and the issue of South Africa under the Nationalist apartheid regime weren’t widely discussed in the UK. When this song hit the UK charts in 1984 more people started asking questions, which contributed to the issue rising to national prominence. The rest, as they say, is history.

Side Note: I vividly remember my flat-mate, who makes a tiny cameo appearance in ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone, dancing round our kitchen singing this!


Many of you will know that the characters from You’ll Never Walk Alone are frequently tugging at my sleeve. One day, I will give them their wish and write their longed for sequel. They’ve certainly come up with a few good ideas to start to shape the plot. Meanwhile, my new novel, Song of the Sea Goddess, is coming very soon.

And finally, a Happy New Year
to one and all.
Keep safe, keep sane, and let’s hope for a better 2021!

NaNo Update #4

November is drawing to a close and another NaNoWriMo with it. Mine hasn’t been the all out marathon slog and final race to the finish as, once again, I’ve played by my own rules.

There’s one more day to go, but with that in mind, how have I done?
Not bad. Not bad at all.

  • My target of 30,000 words won’t be smashed. But I’ll be close.
  • Twenty chapters? I’ll be a chapter short. Not a problem.
  • Have I enjoyed it. Certainly!

I have lots of flesh on the bones of my main plot and I’ve a couple of subplots bubbling away nicely. My characters have been chased up several trees and fires set under them. I still don’t know quite how it will end, but where would be the fun in that?

Now, like any good brew, I shall leave it to stand for a little time before launching into the second half of the book, which I hope to complete by next (southern hemisphere) spring. In the meantime, the novel I started last November, Song of the Sea Goddess, will be released in early January 2021.

My conclusion:
November is a good month to start writing a novel.

NaNo update #3

Week 3 came to an end all too quickly but I’m still almost on track to achieve my personal target for this ‘dedicated’ writing month. I’ve dropped a chapter behind, but it’s not a train smash. The story is shaping up nicely and a few unexpected elements have emerged. I love these kind of surprises!

Meanwhile this week, I launched the ARC for Song of the Sea Goddess – do help yourself to a copy, there are still some left. Since it’s the sequel to Sea Goddess that I’m writing now, I’ve been truly immersed in my imaginary world on the west coast. It’s an exciting place to be.

Eight more writing days left to the end of NaNoWriMo2020. I wonder what further surprises lie ahead? Apart from a planned interruption to the electricity supply for the whole of Tuesday, which is really not going to help. Ah well, this is Africa!

Have a wonderful rest of the weekend – whatever you’re up to!

Nano update #1

The first week is over – already! All is going well (so far). Words are flowing, characters are cooperating, and lo, I’ve even done a little bit of ‘panster planning’.

I’m embarking on the sequel to my soon-to-be-released novel and it’s certainly easier working with a core cast of fully-formed characters. New ones too, are appearing from the wings and it’s exciting getting to know them.

Here’s the mind map I’ve been scribbling, which is supplementing the jottings of my developing thoughts in a notebook. Don’t try to read my terrible handwriting. I blame it on years of note taking.

So, in summary, how am I doing?
Five chapters (almost) completed
7169 words written (all of them good ones)

Verdict: Just a handful of words shy of my target. I’m happy with that!

To NaNo or not to NaNo?

Shall I? Shan’t I? This is what I’ve been asking myself over the past few weeks. I think I vowed not to do this again at the end of last November. I’d made hard work of it, although I didn’t need to; not that I signed up for the ‘real deal’, just a modest target of 30,000 words. However, in the end, I did get half a novel almost completed within the month.

So it was worth it!

That novel is now complete. Song of the Sea Goddess is due for release early next year and, in the meantime, I shall be offering advance reader copies to any of you who’d like to read it and review it. More about this soon.

So, NaNo again?

You bet! But on my own informal personal terms like last year and the year before:

– Target 30,000 words.

– Write at least 5 chapters each week.

– Enjoy it!

That won’t be a whole novel. It will be a good start.

~~~~

and Sinead and Moonsprite’s saga will continue too!

My Monday warm up with Sadje’s What Do You See will continue

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Good luck to all NaNoWriMo participants!
Especially those who have committed to doing it properly.

It’s all over now

nanowrimo 2019

The final week shuddered to a grinding halt yesterday, with not a single word more written since Thursday. ‘Life’ got in the way. 

Never mind.

The ‘life’ bit included trying to persuade people to help themselves to the free download of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone.’ I’m pleased to say there has been some success so far, and the offer will still be running for almost another 24 hrs.

Back to NaNoWriMo. I didn’t quite reach my hoped-for word count of 30K, but I’m beyond 25K and story-wise I’m reaching the mid-point, although there are a few blank spaces in the chapters I’ve written so far. Compared to last year, I’m about two chapters shy of where I got to with Following the Green Rabbit, so I’m pretty satisfied.

Of course it isn’t all over. The story continues to drip forth. I’m hoping to have something approaching a completed MS by next Easter. Then comes the tricky bit. To paraphrase one of Mr Shakespeare’s characters: ‘To query or not to query?’

If you were participating in NaNoWriMo on any level, how was it for you?

NaNoWriMo Week #3

nanowrimo 2019

Well, I’m pretty pleased with myself at the end of week 3. I have a further six chapters more or less completed, although obviously not polished, and the story is flowing now.

My characters are fleshing out nicely: they have quirks and foibles and they’re starting to spark off one another. Yesterday I nearly fell off my chair trying to imagine what it would be like to climb up the inside of a cave, and I became quite breathless swimming along an underwater tunnel.

It’s been fun!

I’ve fallen a little behind today, as I spent all morning chatting over rooibos tea and biscuits with one friend, and half the afternoon chatting over coffee and stollen with some other friends. I must take advantage of the sudden sugar rush!

On to the final week…

Enjoy, fellow NaNo writers! My tip of the week: cake helps.

And they’re not even in it!

pimms-lunasonline.png

At first, I think I’m having a flashback. I’m sitting on Cynthia’s garden bench and the sun is shining. A bead of moisture runs down the glass I’m holding.

“Cheers, Ms Hall!” Connor raises his glass to me. “Here’s to another great review of our book!”

Cynthia smiles at me. “It’s so nice to see our author doing well.” She sips her drink and leans over to stroke Asmar, her beautiful Abyssinian cat, who is lounging by her feet. “And even darling Asmar gets a mention.” Asmar pricks up his ears at the sound of his name. “Well, he was rather a hero, wasn’t he?” Cynthia continues. Asmar rolls over and looks up at me, the suspicion of a smug smile behind his long whiskers.

I stretch out my hand towards him, nodding in agreement.

Next I hear a familiar screech and Fingers bounds up to me from the side gate where Bob and Gary have just appeared. The little monkey launches himself at me, chattering excitedly. Bob hurries to retrieve him. “Sorry about that luv, but he’s dead excited about being in a book review.”

Connor refills he glass from the jug of Pimms which is sitting on the little wrought-iron table. He sits back down and leans towards me. “I understand you’re running a wee promotion on that first book of yours?”

“Marketing eh?  Sound.” Gary gives me a ‘thumbs up’ sign. His face lights up as Gina appears at the French doors. “We got any beers upstairs, luv?”

Gina rolls her eyes and sits down next to him, ignoring his request.

“I’ll go,” says Bob, lowering Fingers into Gina’s lap.

“And bring some crisps,” Gary adds. Fingers chirrups in agreement.

The Silver Locket, it’s a lovely romantic book with a touch of mystery and magic,” says Cynthia.

“Oh yes, it’s dead good,” chimes in Gina. “Just the kind of book to read sitting in the garden on a sunny afternoon. Like that nice Ms Scott said.” She sighs. “They even go to Paris! Wouldn’t that be wonderful, Gary?”

Gary pulls a face, he’s not one for ‘abroad’. “How do you two know what’s in the book anyway?” He glances at me, frowning. “She wrote it a while before ours.”

“Ah,” Cynthia reaches for her glass. “Gina and I, and Lucy too, were in a short story Ms Hall wrote, even before that.”

“That’s right,” Gina continues. “We had to wait ages for her to write our book.” She looks at me and smiles, fiddling with her engagement ring. “You could take us to Paris…”

Connor clears his throat. “Interesting idea, this downloading, Ms Hall. Not really sure I understand. I suppose it’s something from the future which we haven’t been written into yet.”

Was that another hint?


kindle edition cover

Mystery, romance, ghosts and dreams: perfect reading for a lazy sunny afternoon!

Get your ebook freebie of The Silver Locket,
written under my pen name Holly Atkins by clicking on the links below.

Offer runs until Fri 23 August:
USAhttp://ow.ly/Px5t50vD8nT
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Canhttp://ow.ly/cUgu50vD8nV
Other countries, such as South Africa

 


And if you really want to do it properly…
although Cynth would probably add a large shot of gin to the mix!

how to mix a perfect pimms lunasonline
Source

The Characters’ Wish

promotional items for YNWA lunasoline

‘She’s been making cards and stuff all afternoon,’ says Gina in a confidential whisper to Cynthia.

‘Cards? I thought it was a book launch? Anyway, how do you know what she’s been doing?’

‘We’re her characters; we’re in her head, aren’t we? So, of course we know what she’s doing; especially if it’s about to Our Book.’ Gina nods her head meaningfully.

‘Oh, I see,’ says Cynthia. ‘I’ve never noticed. It seems a bit impolite poking about in her head, though.’ Cynthia pauses. ‘But why the cards?’

‘Marketing,’ says Gary, joining them at the little table in the back garden. ‘Giveaways, contact details, that kind of stuff.’

‘Look at you, eh, Mister Marketer,’ Gina gives Gary a playful prod in the arm. ‘Ever since he left the Social Security and went to work in that posh insurance company in town,’ she glances down at her new engagement ring and smiles, ‘he’s come over all ”private sector”. He’ll be voting Tory next.’

Gary pulls a face at her.

‘Connor showed me that lovely review she received, from that nice young lady In Sheffield…what’s her name?’ said Cynthia.

Ellie Scott you mean?’

‘That’s right, darling. I though she caught me rather well, don’t you? I’m sure she didn’t mean to imply I was something of a lush.’

‘That would never enter anyone’s head, Cynth,’ says Gary, almost managing to keep a straight face.

Cynthia glares at him frostily and stares toward the bottom of the garden where Connor is gesticulating animatedly. ‘Who’s he talking to now? Or is he just declaiming to that old rosebush again?

Gina follows her gaze. ‘It’s her,’ she hisses. ‘It’s our author! Look, they’re coming this way.’

‘Oh well, in that case…’ Cynthia leaves her sentence unfinished and disappears through the French doors.

I follow Connor back up the garden. He’s been reading to me from his latest slim volume of poetry. Perhaps I’d like to include some of it in my next book. My next book?

‘Ms Hall and I have been talking,’ Connor announces as we approach.

‘Are you going to write another book for us?’ Gina asks, eyes widening with excitement.

‘Like that nice young woman suggested,’ adds Cynthia, emerging from her French doors carrying a tray of glasses and a bottle of wine.

What’s this? My characters are at it again!

Connor gestures to me to sit down on the garden bench which has been moved to a sunny spot near the little wrought iron table where they’re all gathered. I sit and Asmar, Cynthia’s beautiful Abyssinian cat, jumps on my knee, purring his head off.

Cynthia pours the wine. ‘We do hope your book launch party goes well on Friday, darling,’ she smiles at me.

‘Hear hear, old thi…Cynthia,’ Connor adds, picking up a glass from the tray and raising it to me. ‘Cheers.’

We hear a noisy old vehicle rattle to a halt outside. Moments later Bob appears at the side gate with Fingers on his shoulder who immediately starts to chirrup excitedly. Tony Wong is behind them in what looks like a new suit. He has an air of someone who’s come into money and has plans.

‘Well, Ms Hall, the gang’s all here,’ says Connor. ‘What’s our next story?’

I take the glass which Cynthia is holding out to me. Maybe. I lean back and close my eyes. Let’s see…

asmar


If you’ve no idea who these people are, or what they’re talking about, you’d better read the book!

The Characters’ Verdict

youll-never-walk-alone-by-chris-hall-proof-copy.jpg“Here it is!” I hold up the proof copy of You’ll Never Walk Alone to Cynthia and Conner, who are sitting outside in the little garden wasteland outside Cynthia’s flat. It is pleasantly and unseasonably warm for an April afternoon in mid 80s Liverpool.

Connor stretches out his hand. “Let’s have a look then.”

I hand the pristine proof over to him. He turns it over in his hands and nods. “Look rather fine, I must say, Ms Hall. Worth the wait, so it is.” He flicks through the pages and frowns. “Print’s a bit small.”

Cynthia takes the book from him. She riffles the pages, holding it up to her face. “I love the smell of a new book.”

I nod and grin enthusiastically. “What do you think?”

“It’s very nice, my dear.” She looks at the pages more closely. “Oh look, Connor, there’s a little drawing of a cat here.” She holds the book out to him, open at the title page. “Is that my clever boy, Asmar?” 

As if on cue, Cynthia’s beautiful Abyssinian cat emerges from the bushes and stretches languidly in front of us, mimicking the pose in the drawing.

Cynthia turns to the back cover. “Nice photograph of you, Ms Hall.”

“Thank you!” I smile delightedly.

“It must’ve been taken quite a while ago.”

I wince. Cynthia leans forward and pats my hand. “Well why not? None of us is getting any younger.”

Before I have the chance to reply, we hear voices coming around the side of the house. It’s Gina and Lucy. As soon as they see me, they call out in greeting. I hold up the second proof copy I have ordered for my household of characters.

“She has our book!” Lucy and Gina say together. Never mind that it’s my book. Whose name is on the cover?

They take it from me and sit down on the tatty wooden bench next to the wall. They exclaim in delight at the opening paragraphs. Lucy and Gina are, of course, in the opening scene. They start to read and for once they fall silent. After a couple of pages they look up. I can see in their eyes that they approve.

asmar


You’ll Never Walk Alone‘ a novel by Chris Hall will be published next month (we hope).