Prologue

I thought I’d share the prologue for the novel I currently have in first draft – the result of my NaNoWriMo participation a month or so ago.  It may or may not change – though, at the moment, I like it just fine.

Running, running, keeping the body low, his chest heaving as he pulls his feet and ankles through the thick sucking mud, the thumping sound of large ammunition landing to the right, left, front and rear of him. His heart hammering in his chest. Nothing to see except the thick smoke from hundreds of shells, explosions everywhere.  The noise, he’d never forget the noise. And the sounds, those terrible, terrible sounds that men made when they had their bodies blown to bits. The adrenalin pumping round his body was the only thing that had kept him going since he’d joined the other men and gone over the front of the trench. In the near distance he could see a tree, a tree without limbs, a tree long denuded of leaves, standing stark and alone, the only thing he could actually recognise as being of this earth. Hell had taken over and he was doomed to die here, in this god-forsaken piece of France. Another almighty thrump and the ground collapsed underneath him. He lands on his back, he cannot breathe, the landing having knocked all the air out of his lungs. He thinks he’s done for and finds some relief in the thought. But he owes someone an explanation, he has to live so that he can put right at least one of the wrongs he’s done. He hauls himself up, hands sticky with mud and blood, blood which had once belonged in a body, the one that’s lying next to him. He’d only just noticed it, noticed the twitching, heard the moans and whimpers coming out of the body’s head.

The man, no, boy, wasn’t going to survive, his injuries were too extensive. He’d be dead within a few minutes. He looked around him for help, there was no-one, no-one alive. Bodies were strewn all around him, blown to pieces, arms, legs, torsos, like a horrific nightmare. Other sounds were reaching him now, screams and shrieks from the poor bastards who were still alive out there. He looked down at the boy, still alive. He sat down and cradled the lad in his arms, gently, he didn’t want to cause him more pain than he was already feeling. He sat with him for he knew not how long, listening to the dying boy tell his story, wiping his face and talking to him when the boy could no longer speak. Eventually the light died in the boy’s eyes, his last breath so shallow. His death was peaceful, the guns were silent now. He reached into the boy’s breast pocket and felt for the letter he’d been told was there. He’d promised to return it to the sender, and he would keep that promise, just as soon as he was able.

He had so many things he had to make amends for, this boy’s death was one more to add to his very long list.

 

 

In the safety of the trench another man was still alive. He’d seen what had happened on the battlefield, the battlefield strewn with bodies, and the noise, oh the noise. He’d stayed behind, helping everyone over the top when the order came, ‘I’m right behind you’, he’d told each and every one of them. He’d hidden in an officer’s dugout as soon as he could, cowering underneath a shelf. No-one came back after the noise stopped, no-one scrabbled back over the top and down into the relative safety of the trench. He was safe – no-one would know he’d bottled out. He started to climb out from under the shelf and realised he’d been wrong. ‘On your feet, now’, barked his commanding officer, Colonel Manners, ‘You, you fucking lousy coward, get up’. He got up, slowly, holding onto his rifle, the bayonet still fixed in place. The officer wasn’t looking, blood seeping from a large gash over his left eyebrow straight into his eye. He took the chance and charged at the officer – the bayonet passing up through into his chest and piercing the man’s lung. He didn’t take too long to die, though it was noisy and the spluttering gargling and choking sound was sickening. He looked down at the body, stamped on the dead man’s face and left it to be found by someone else, German or British he didn’t care. They both paid him for his information. Heading out of the dugout he turned right, the trench looked slightly less treacherous in that direction. Eventually he made it safely out and walked over to the German line, his job done.

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Christmas, family catch-ups and book covers …

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you.

This year the festive season has been (for us), far less stressful than previous years – so far at least.  We’ve made visits to our children’s homes to see the grandchildren (the eldest one is pictured above with our new furry girl, Mischa).  We’ve been treated to afternoon tea and a pantomime whilst visiting the youngest grandson, been royally catered for whilst visiting the eldest grandson (just come back home today), entertained our neighbours on Christmas Eve and my parents on Christmas Day, and we’re celebrating another neighbour’s 90th birthday tomorrow before bringing in the New Year with our Christmas Eve guests (collectively we’re known as ‘the usual suspects’.

It’s lovely to be able to spend valuable quality time with family.  We don’t live near each other now. so the time we do spend with the families is very special.

The park pictured in the image above is in Huddersfield and it is very beautiful.  Lots of paths to walk round, plenty for all the family to do, and very dog friendly.  The perfect family park really.  There’s also a café which was open for cakes and coffee yesterday morning – very handy after playing ‘throw the ball’ for a very demanding and impossible to tire out furry girl, and a three and a half year old little boy who has walked his socks off.

Perhaps the dog walking is having a beneficial effect on my stress levels – if not my ageing joints!  I love going out in the mornings, walking Mischa along the seafront at home.  The time allows me to think about my story plots, the story and character arcs and the plot holes which need filling.  We’re very lucky as our new furry girl has settled into our home and our lives almost seamlessly.  She is very well behaved off-lead which means I don’t have to constantly be on the look-out for possible issues ahead.  She’s pretty bomb proof, very friendly and biddable.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that just having her around has brought down my stress levels!

I’m now working on the 2nd draft of a short story and will be starting a follow-up story on New Year’s Day (although I think that might depend on my alcohol intake tomorrow night – see 1st paragraph).  Once I’m happy with the first short story I’ll be publishing it through Kindle Direct Publishing – hopefully that should be towards the end of January.  Once that one’s published I’ll start on the 3rd part of the series and get the 2nd ready for publishing.  I’m feeling very excited about it to be honest, as it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for so long now.  2016 is going to be my year for taking the first steps to following my dream.

I’m thinking of using Fiverr to create the book covers for me – has anyone every used Fiverr before?  If so, could you possibly let me know how you found the process – and if you used the site to have a book cover designed I’d be especially interested to know how that went.  I’ve played around with Canva and Publisher, as well as dabbled with Photoshop, but I’m no good at designing – I’m well aware of my creative limitations 🙂   What I’m wanting is a design which I can use to run through the series, but with subtle changes for each story, and also an overall look I can carry through into other cover designs.  I guess I’m talking about branding here.  I feel it’s important to get it right from the outset but, as I say, I’ve never gone down this route before so don’t know what to expect or what I can ask for.  Any comments, suggestions, etc., on that aspect, would also be very helpful …

 

 

 

Is Writing a Real Job?

I came across a post today which resonated so fully with me.   You can find it here at https://nhwn.wordpress.com/2015/12/05/weekend-edition-writing-is-my-real-job/

I’ve always wanted to write, ever since I was a very young girl.  Unfortunately I lacked in self-confidence and anything and everything would knock the stuffing out of me.  It’s taken me many, many years to overcome this ridiculously crippling and self-defeating issue.  I really needed to get out of my own way.

I came to the realisation, some years ago, that I am perfectly capable of writing, and that I had a very good imagination.  However, it has taken me until very recently to find a medium through which to test the waters, so to speak.  For the past six months I’ve been using this blog to find my writing voice, to try out different writing styles, to stretch myself and discover what I enjoy writing.

Then, wonder of wonders, I came across numerous posts mentioning NaNoWriMo.  Well, I thought I ought to try and see if I could manage to keep up with the demands of writing a 50,000 word full draft in just 30 days.  It was daunting but also kind of exciting.  No-one would be there to tell me what I was writing was rubbish, only me, and I was quite happy with my efforts.  Now I have a first full draft which I will start working on after Christmas; a number of short stories; a whole raft of poems which I will be adding to; ideas for a series resulting from another short story (currently in 2nd draft), and plans for further short stories and novels in a notebook I take everywhere with me.

Whilst I can’t afford to give up the day job, I can afford to follow my dreams and write.

I’m still here – honest I am

I’ve just realised it’s been a week since I last posted, so I thought it was high time I brought you up to date on everything.
I’ve had a busy week, working, cooking, cleaning – the usual, but the weekend – well that’s where it all got interesting for Hubbie and myself.
For the past couple of weeks we have been waiting to hear whether or not we had been successful in adopting a new furry baby. This weekend we had our home check and, as all went swimmingly, we had a phone call an hour later asking when we would like to collect said furry baby. To say we were over the moon would be an understatement. We were ecstatic. We dropped everything and made the 90 minute journey to the rescue centre so that we could spend some valuable time with her this weekend.
We are now the proud parents of a 5 year old lab/collie cross girlie called Mischa. What a little treasure she is. I haven’t yet managed to take a decent photo of her as the weather has been pretty awful and the daylight so short. I’ll post one as soon as I can snap a good one.
I also managed to complete 51,000 words for NaNo by late afternoon today. I’ll keep writing until I finish the full first draft but I’m so relieved that I’ve managed to meet the official target. This week I haven’t been able to keep to my writing schedule at all, with three full days of no words added at all. Still, a week to go and I know I’ll finish it. Just need to verify my word count on the NaNoWriMo site now – once I’ve figured out how to do it 🐶

NANoWriMo

I’ve just signed up for @NaNoWriMo and I’m looking forward to starting the challenge on the 1st November.

What I’m aiming for is a full first draft of my first novel – though I’ll settle for almost a full draft, as long as I complete the 50,000 words!  I’ve had a novel jumping around in my head now for the past three or four months, the characters are all there, the plot is almost all there and I even know where they live – I just need to get it out of my head and onto paper, so NaNoWriMo is the perfect tool to get me doing that.  I embrace structure and deadlines – I feel adrift if there is no real need to do something.  I’m as good as the next person at prevaricating so … roll on the 1st of November 🙂