I've written myself to a standstill but I can actually see the finishing post now. It's no longer a distant glint on the horizon, instead it lures me ever forward, the ticker tape stretched in front of me. All I have to negotiate is the terrible trap of discovering that my new computer came with a deadly procrastination device. Pinball Next to bingo - Pinball is my great weakness. Must resist temptation and finish this last 5000 or so words. Must not give in to the siren call of the bumpers and flipper bars, wormholes and hyperdrive. Argh.
aka Animal Instincts. I'm determined to finish my draft this week. I do tend to write a fairly clean first draft which means I have to get the story pretty much as I want it first go around. I should be on the penultimate chapter now and technically I am, but I have a lot of story to finish if the ending isn't to feel rushed. So instead of having one and a half chapters left to go I suspect I may end up with about three more. I knew this would happen - it always does when your characters take over.
Courtesy of The Black Country Bugle from Feb 10th 2005
It was late on a Saturday evening in 1881 when the Rev. James Yates Rooker, vicar of St James's in Lower Gornal, left the back door of his vicarage. He had heard voices in the back yard, and was understandably concerned. He had been tending his Gornal flock since 1848, and he was well-loved by the villagers; there was scarcely a social improvement made in the village without his instigation, and during the bloody and frequent wage disputes which often hit the local nail and coal industries, he could always be looked upon for support.
However, the Rev. Rooker knew more than anyone how easily some of his flock could be tempted from the path of righteousness. Only two years before, he had been crossing The Green, near the church, when he encountered Charles Hartland, a former member of the church choir. Hartland had been in trouble with the police, and Rev. Rooker, as a local magistrate, had done everything in his power to help the man, yet Hartland had sworn revenge. On that fateful day he intended nothing less than murder, and had shot the cleric in the head. It was only by a miracle that the vicar's life was saved, and it took him a full twelve months to recover from his terrible injuries. However, Rooker had not borne any bitterness towards his would-be assassin and one time friend, and his faith in his Gornal parishioners had been justified when they clubbed together to donate the huge sum of two hundred pounds to send him to Royal Leamington Spa to recuperate. Although he was now fully recovered, despite the fact that the bullet was to remain lodged in his head for the rest of his life, the shooting incident was still a hot topic of conversation throughout the parish. Several villagers claimed to have seen the shade of Hartland lurking about St. James' graveyard after dark, even though Hartland himself was firmly locked up in prison. Others claimed to have seen a ghostly figure walking the field between the vicarage and the churchyard, performing strange antics, and subsequently more Gornal folk came forward, telling of hearing ghostly voices at night emanating from the God's Acre. The rumours that the graveyard was haunted spread through the village like wildfire, and such was their effect that people became frightened of walking past the churchyard for fear of being attacked by this nameless horror themselves, and soon even loyal female members of the choir refused to go to the church after nightfall unless protected by male escorts. The police kept an eerie vigil in the churchyard over several nights, but came no closer to the truth of the matter. A group of stout-hearted village lads banded together and swore to protect the vicar and his family, and also kept watch on the good reverend's house. However, on the very first night this almost ended in violence, when one of the party arrived to take his own turn at sentry duty. Not being recognised, the hue and cry that he was the would-be assailant was raised, and it was only by running into the backyard of a house that he escaped! The Rev. Rooker was a rational man, his faith unshakeable, yet these rumours still unsettled him; so on this night, and hearing the voices outside, he wasted no time in flinging open the back door by way of a bold challenge. To his alarm, the poor reverend was immediately seized and blows were rained upon him. As he pummelled his fists into the unfortunate cleric, the attacker shouted, "Yer've come to kill the vicar, 'ave yer? Ah've sworn to kill yer, yer villain, an' Ah'll do it quick!" The Rev. Rooker's own personal vigilante committee, along with the police, had already been alerted by the same voices in the yard that had disturbed the vicar, and now came rushing to the scene. Holding up their lanterns, there was a sigh of relief when they found that the assailant was no ghost nor, indeed, the doppelganger of the avenging Charles Hartland. He was in fact a neighbour who, having enjoyed more than a drop of the local strong brew, had heard voices and come rushing to the vicar's aid, then mistaking him for an attacker! Despite the farcical events of the vigilante patrols, the parishioners were still living in mortal fear of attending church, and the now-recovered Rev. Rooker was at his wit's end. In desperation, he consulted one of the villagers, who had the reputation of being a "wise woman". The woman advised Rev. Rooker to cut a four inch square piece of turf from the grave of a young man whom, she said, could not rest in his grave due to a guilty conscience and was caught in limbo, wandering the scene of his burial and moaning his woes in a ghastly voice. The square of turf, in accordance with the custom, was placed under the communion table in St. James's, where it lay for four days. Following this, promised the wise woman, the man's soul, as well as those of any other spirits caught in earthly limbo, would be laid to rest in peace. This form of exorcism appears to have echoes of an eleventh century Anglo-Saxon ritual known as the "land ceremonies charm". This ritual combined Christian and pagan elements, and aimed to ensure the fertility of farmland. The ceremony involved cutting four pieces of turf from a field, which were then anointed with oils and runes and then taken into church. A Mass was said over the turves, which were then taken back to the field and replaced. Whatever its origins, the charm appeared to have worked, on the superstitious parishioners at least, as reports of supernatural activity seemed to abate. However, it was only after they had ceased for sometime that the dark churchyard ceased to inspire terror among Gornal folk at night time, and moreover, now and again the churchyard is reported as the scene of more ghostly activity, even after long spells of quietude.
(apologies for lack of a pic but Blogger doesn't want to play today)
I have a new chair in my office at home. This is very exciting for many reasons. 1) I only just restarted using my office since my laptop broke and I'm back on a desktop and 2) I have never ever had a new office chair before. Not at home, not at work, anywhere. Now I have a new one that I chose myself and Mr Nell has built it. It goes up and down and swivels and tilts, it has arms. It's black pretend leather and is all shiny new. It doesn't make strange noises or threaten to dump me on my back if I lean back too far or have a hole in the seat where small fingers have picked out the foam. I have a brand new seat and it's all mine - mine I tell you bwahahaha Nope, not excited at all.
By strange coincidence the weather today has mirrored the scenes I've been writing in Animal Instincts. Swirling mists, drizzle and low cloud. I may just finish this draft this week - yay! It always takes time finding any loose ends and tying them all together. There are lots of clues and trails in the plot, foreshadowing of events that are all coming to a head along with Clodagh and Jack's feeling for each other. I also have Immi and Marcus to sort out too. I'm longing to get going on my bigger book again and I have a great story for another Little Black dress if I get the chance of another contract. Lots of fun research to do on it but a cool story. The heroine is clamouring in my head to tell it - sure sign that Animal Instincts is almost done.
This story is reproduced from The Black Country Bugle - a local paper which carries many fascinating stories. The tale of Vanishing Violet appeared in March 2004 The Strange Case of Vanishing Violet We all love a good mystery, whether it’s a gripping detective yarn, or a real event. So when people suddenly go missing, speculation inevitably runs riot. Remember the respective disappearing acts of Lord Lucan, and Midland M.P. John Stonehouse? The media ran wild with weird and wonderful theories.
Back in Edwardian times, such cases attracted the same media interest. So when a former Wolverhampton resident disappeared, in odd circumstances, tongues were set wagging. In January 1909, an incident known as the “Welsh Cliff Mystery”, involving the disappearance of former Wolverhampton socialite, Violet Charlesworth, seized the public’s attention. The whole country wanted to know what had happened to Violet. The real-life Edwardian mystery was enough to baffle even Agatha Christie’s great fictional detective, Hercules Poirot! At its heart, was pretty, young Violet Charlesworth, reported to have been involved in a tragic car accident in Wales. In the early hours of a moonlit January morning, Violet was said to have been hurled to her death, over the cliffs near Penmaenmawr. But, despite a thorough search of the area, there was no trace of Violet’s body. And the explanations given by the “survivors” of the accident just didn’t add up. The papers went into feeding frenzy, as the plot thickened. Violet was supposed to have been travelling with her sister and her chauffeur, both of whom suffered only minor injuries in the alleged accident. Suspicions were further aroused since the car had only suffered “trivial damage”. So what had really happened, and where was Violet? The stories given out by the sister and chauffeur were extremely shaky, fuelling widespread rumours that Violet had faked her own death. Soon, there were countless reported sightings of her across the country as gossip about the vanishing lady reached fever pitch. Violet was said to have been seen boarding a ship at Holyhead, obviously fleeing abroad. Other reports told of sightings in Ireland and Sussex. Then, a man called Roberts came forward with an alleged eye-witness account. Roberts claimed he’d been in the vicinity of the alleged tragedy when he heard the sound of an approaching car engine. He described seeing the car on the brink of the cliffs. The next minute he heard the sound of breaking glass. He also claimed that Violet’s sister told him there had been an accident, and that a lady had gone over the cliff. Roberts said he searched the area, but no body was found on the rocks below, or in the water. Violet was something of a shadowy character, so it’s little wonder her disappearance caused such speculation. Originally from Stafford, she was well known in Wolverhampton social circles. Wulfrunians described her as always being smartly dressed, with a pretty figure. But few really knew much more about her. For a while, she lived in Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton. Apparently, in some style! She was known as “lady of wealth” and had a reputation for speculating, on a large scale, on the Stock Exchange. Whatever her circumstances, Violet was a familiar figure in the Tettenhall Road and Whitmore Reans areas of Wolverhampton. She was frequently seen out walking with her inseparable companion, a massive St Bernard dog. By all accounts she was friendly, often stopping for a chat with local tramworkers. Sporting the latest fashions, the attractive young woman cut quite a dash, with a faint air of romance and mystery about her. Which, on its own, was enough to get her noticed. And, to the delight of local gossips, it was generally thought she’d inherited a great fortune. But, as time passed, and Violet was nowhere to be found, uglier rumours surfaced. A Derby woman claimed Violet had borrowed £500 from her, on the strength of a will she was expecting to come into. So was Violet a clever con artist, on the run from her victims, and other creditors? It seemed Violet may have owed vast sums of money. She certainly had lavish tastes, and maintaining her expensive lifestyle, and cars didn’t come cheap. After her disappearance, a London stockbroker claimed she owed him more than £10,000, which she’d lost on dodgy business deals. Not surprisingly there were many rumours she was on the run, and heading for a new life in Australia! Vanishing Violet was shrouded in mystery, and public speculation ran wild. There were rumours of a secret and shameful romance. And, in those distinctly “unliberated” times, when women weren’t even allowed to vote, as a wealthy, young, single female on the loose, she was seen as a threat. Was she a calculating con artist, a goldigger on the make? Or did she simply run up too many debts with her taste for the good life? Did she really plunge to her death in Wales? Or did she fake a fatal accident, to start a new life elsewhere? We’ll probably never know. The only certainty is that Violet’s creditors were asking the same questions. Just weeks after her disappearance, a 25th birthday party for the missing Violet was held at her last known address. Creditors and other interested parties filled the house in St Asaph, in Wales, but they waited in vain. Violet never showed up. Disgruntled creditors seized her household possessions. But with Violet’s debts amounting to £13,000, money from the sale of her furniture barely covered the rent she owed. According to one of her friends, Violet had an artistic streak. Apparently, she was a songwriter, with enough confidence in her work to send a song, entitled “Come Back to Scotland”, to the King. Another copy was sent to famous Scottish comedian, Sir Harry Lauder. But this tiny glimpse into her character is just one piece in a puzzling jigsaw of a life. And the vanishing lady remains an enigma.
My companion and I had a very busy and nice day out in Cardiff. The millenium centre is a very lovely building and I itched to go on a tour. Methinks I may have to go back another day. After the conference we went in search of a Torchwood souvenir for the eldest belle but drew a complete blank. We went into one of the public buildings next to the Senedd and had to put our bags through a metal detector while we walked through the arch. My colleague went through just fine but as my bag went through the man doing the scanning got all excited and called his companion over. 'Theres a suspicious object' Scan man 'where?' other official 'There, see that?' scan man 'It's a toy car.' other official What? Doesn't everyone carry a metal dinky car in their handbag? I have lots of weird crap in my bags including my coffee sticks. What's the oddest thing you carry?
Finally on Charlie from MandB and as you can guess it's not good. Yep, it's an R. A nice R and an offer to work with an editor and to keep submitting. Hmmm, I'll have to have a think about that. Writing for MandB has been my ambition since I was thirteen. I love Jessica Hart, Liz Fielding, Kate Hardy, Michelle Styles, Fiona Lowe, Julie Cohen, Kate Walker, Robyn Donald, Helen Bianchin and Betty Neels books and many others too numerous to mention. The editors I've worked with there are lovely people and I have great deal of admiration for Karin Stoeker but... You knew there was a but. I don't know if it's time to re-evaluate my dream. I've been fortunate in finding wonderful homes for my stories with Little Black dress, Samhain, Moonlit Romance and The People's Friend. I know my stories are richly peopled and my plots are - well - different so it was always going to be a stretch to fit comfortably into readers expectations of a line. I think I may just have to carry on building a new dream and simply enjoy reading MandB instead of writing them. I need to think.
As I shared the song for Animal Instincts the other day I thought I'd share the song that for me is a soundtrack for Blue Remembered Heels. There are a couple but this is one of them. Got to love the girls hair in this video
I finally managed to sit down to write some more of Animal Instincts today. I finished off a couple of crits that I'd had for a while and sent them off and mailed a package to Lis. I caught up with my lovely editor at Moonlit Romance and with one of my best friends. With any luck I should get a nice chunk of Animal Instincts done tomorrow as I have the house to myself - sheer heaven. I am quite a sociable person but only if I get chunks of time when there is just me, by myself, alone. Mr Nell took me to look at some show homes today. We aren't thinking of moving, we were just curious. I hate this new trend for three storey houses. No land with them and tons of stairs everytime you want a cup of coffee. Hideously expensive too and I don't know who had done the interior design but it was a migraine inducing mess of turquoise and aqua patterns. I'll stick with my shabby and faded look instead. Very interesting for book research though.
My word/office prog that is. Now all I need is the data from my disk and my email glitch to be sorted and normal service will be restored. I'm not certain when exactly as i've a busy week this week. I'm going to Cardiff on Wednesday for work purposes and that will take a huge chunk out of the week mainly because Great Western Trains schedule doesn't exactly match mine. I hate changing trains - I have this paranoia that I'll miss the change slot or get on the wrong train. In my normal life Boo has a netball tournament this morning and it finishes at exactly the same time that I need to collect Shaggy from ballet. Naturally the two places are twelve miles apart - mmm, looks like I'll be late or early for one of them. The start of the new term has also bought a fresh round of money demands from the schools. So Far it's £30 for a trip to LLandudno for Boo and La, £12 for the science museum for Shaggy and £25 installment for her weeks residential art course in July. £38 for guitar lessons for La and then there are guide fees and brownie fees for the term. Sigh - I'd better hurry and write faster, I need more money.
My friend's husband is coming round tomorrow to put my programmes on the new computer so I can finish my book. Yay!!!! I can't wait to get stuck back into Animal Instincts so I can wrap this one up. I can tell I'm near the end because I have a lovely idea whispering in my ear for the next one. I just might have to give in to the voices and scribble a long hand outline to make them go away so I can finish writing Clodagh and Jack's story. Lis sent me a cool link today showing Blue Remembered Heels up for pre order on Amazon Canada - squee!
Well, I have a new computer. I'm busy reinstalling stuff and hoping my friends dh will come over and put my missing progs on for me so I can upload all the stuff from my flash and from my disk of saved the data that the computer man managed to save for me. I need to get my email addy book imported and then I might even get some of my missing emails back. Yay!!!!!! The good news is that Jess has been her wonderful and fantastic self and managed to crit my chapters to date of Animal Instincts. I've been busy layering and writing on the very old craptop and I'm getting there - if I could just decide how it ends and who the bad guy/girl is I'll be done. Hopefully, all being well I'll be typing the End in a couple of weeks. Then comes the next few rounds of layering and polishing.
Well, the verdict is in. My lovely HP laptop is officially dead at only fifteen months of age. The computer man has managed to put all my data onto a disk ready for when I have a new computer to load the info onto. In the meantime I have to struggle on with my ancient Compaq. Thankfully my wip was all up to date on my flash drive and I've been beavering away trying to get Animal Instincts finished. I'd hoped to have it done while I was away but it wasn't to be. I have about four chapters or so and a whole load of layering to add in. It's going to be a longer book than Blue Remembered heels, probably a similar length to Things To Do. Tomorrow is my first official day at the new job. I'm so excited, there is tons of work to be done but it's such a wonderful project with such a lot of variety that I can't wait. I feel a bit like the new girl at school, as it's silly things like not knowing where the stationary is or how to work the copier or who to pay the coffee money to that will take me a while to get used to.
Nell is an award winning author living in the heart of the Black Country with her husband, three children, a tank of tropical fish, a crazy Cockerpoo called Teddy and whatever is left of her sanity. Welcome to her world...