Stepping back in time

It does feel like going back in time, stepping onto the site at Vindolanda or any of the fort sites available to view on Hadrian’s Wall. Tomorrow I will be there again as I mentioned in last week’s blog.

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Seeing this photo brings to mind thoughts of my first three published novels, now known as the Starling Hill Trilogy. I really hadn’t expected to write a trilogy. Starting Over, my debut novel, was complete in itself. But when I thought about what to write next, it was clear to me that there was more to explore… particularly in the development of the budding relationship between Professor Kathryn Moss and the journalist, Denise Sullivan.

They didn’t get off to the best of starts in the first book, and although they both claimed they were fine with a long distance relationship, when I started writing the second book it was obvious that wasn’t an arrangement Den was going to be happy with for much longer.

I’ve been told that the second book, Arc Over Time, hasn’t proved to be as popular as the first book because readers didn’t like Kathryn. I’m sorry about that, not because I desperately crave more sales, but because I have a soft spot for her. She’s not the easiest person to get along with and she doesn’t even have the only child excuse for not having learned at an early age how to socialise. Archaeology was a good career choice for her, dealing with the detritus left behind by people who lived thousands of years ago.

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It was after I had taken part in my first dig at Vindolanda that I wrote this for inclusion in the story, to give some explanation as to why Kathryn did choose her profession:

Deciding to use her free Sunday for a busman’s holiday, she had made the hour-long journey from her hotel to visit some of her favourite archaeological sites. From Vercovicium it was only a mile or so to Vindolanda. The ongoing excavations there were always fascinating as each year they uncovered more artefacts from the second and third centuries and incredibly, more of the writing tablets that had given historians valuable insights into the everyday lives of the soldiers and their families here on the furthest frontier of the Roman empire.

Walking amongst the ruins she was reminded of the many Sundays during her childhood spent roaming the moors above Sheffield with her father, often venturing into the Peak District. Her first sight of a stone circle had inflamed her imagination and she was hooked then. Luckily her father shared her passion for the early history of the British Isles. She had moved through the ages and finally settled on the Roman period as her favourite. When it came to choosing a future path, it was archaeology that beckoned.

Later on, in the third book, Carved in Stone, Kathryn and Den’s relationship is still in a state of flux. Den proposed to Kathryn at the end of Arc Over Time and in book three she moves to Durham to live with her. It’s a period of adjustment for both of them and at one point Kathryn attempts to explain her unease with the situation:

They stood facing each other. As usual, Den was finding it hard to gauge Kathryn’s mood. The professor broke the silence after a few minutes.

“Den. I’m sorry. This marriage thing. It’s going to take me some time to get used to the idea. I just never thought this was something I would have to even consider. I always thought it was one of the bonuses of being a lesbian. And now, just because we can, it doesn’t mean we have to. Lots of straight couples just live together…”

“I know. I never thought about getting married before either. When it wasn’t an option, I didn’t think it was important.”

“What’s changed?”

“I’ve met someone I want to spend the rest of my life with, and I want people to know. To show the world that our relationship is just as valid as anyone else’s.”

Kathryn twisted the ring off her finger. “I want to be with you, Den. But we both know I’m not ready for this step. Take this and ask me again at Christmas, if you still want to by then, that is.”

Den tucked the ring away to an inside pocket of her jacket. She pulled Kathryn close and whispered, “I will always want you.” Their lips met and Den was overwhelmed by the intensity of Kathryn’s response, her teeth opening to accept her tongue.

I enjoyed writing the second and third books of the trilogy, and I hope in time, they may appeal to a wider audience.

Meanwhile, it’s back to digging into the past for the next two weeks.

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Buying options for ebooks:

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books /Smashwords Apple iTunes

Arc Over TimeAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Carved in StoneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/Smashwords / Apple iTunes

Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK /Barnes & Noble /Bella Books / Smashwords /Apple iTunes

Christmas at Winterbourne is in print…available on Amazon: Amazon UK / Amazon US


 

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Writing a weekly blog

I’m not very good at this. You would think it would be easy, being a writer and all. But actually, it’s really hard. Almost as hard as writing a synopsis for a novel or the back of the book blurb (I’m thankful to have a publisher who helps me out with that!).

The synopsis though, I have to write myself. After all, this could be the deciding factor in whether or not the publisher is willing to take a look at the novel. What’s so hard about it? You’ve just written a novel of 60,000 plus words and you can’t come up with a 400-word description of what it’s about?

I’ve seen various bits of advice about how to do this. One absolutely brilliant idea is to write a synopsis before you write the book. But that pre-supposes the concept that I will know what I’m going to write before I write it.

You can gather from this statement that I’m not a great plotter. My stories start with a few characters, a location, a situation…and go from there.

Pretty much like this blog. I started with the title and started writing.

Some people write fantastic blogs. I look forward to reading these. Fellow Affinity author, Annette Mori is particularly good at writing about her life, adding in funny memes and photos. I feel rather inferior by comparison.

(Stop reading this and head over to Annette’s blog. She may even have some cute kitten pictures to share as well.)

So, surprise, surprise! I’m going to fall back on promoting my next book. This is called Carved in Stone and it’s the third book of a trilogy (good that…trilogies come in threes, don’t they?).

Carved in Stone

Up front and personal – Queen Cartimandua and her lover get top billing!

My publisher had some reservations about publishing this. Book I sold well, Book II not so well, so why should they take a chance on the third? Especially as I no doubt submitted a crap synopsis.

Well, I’m pleased to say they did decide to go with it and the first two books are being re-released along with the third one on 5 February. They will all be available on Kindle Unlimited…so if you’re a subscriber, get in there!

What’s the book about? Now you’re asking. When I pitched the idea to them, it went like this:

The title is Carved in Stone. If you’ve read Arc Over Time you’ll know these are the last three words in the book. CiS starts immediately after the end of Arc. Jo has been left at the farm to look after the chickens and the cats while Robin and Ellie are at the Cartimandua exhibition in London. Awake in the night and hearing strange noises, she finally phones 999. One officer shows up to check things out and she becomes Jo’s love interest in the story. Interesting for Jo, as with her travelling lifestyle she’s never had a girlfriend with a proper job.

Meanwhile, Robin’s concerned about Ellie, who ever since seeing the reconstructed head of Cartimandua at the exhibition, has been ‘talking’ to her. Ellie says that the queen wants a proper re-burial with a monument. When it’s pointed out to her that this will cost a lot of money, the queen says that’s not an issue as there is a hoard of coins buried at the farm. (Venturing into the paranormal here!)

Kathryn and Den have their problems as well. Den realizes that Kathryn’s not ready for engagement, let alone marriage. Den huffs off to London and while she’s away Kathryn adopts an abandoned kitten (and the ice queen starts to melt, a little).

Robin decides to support Ellie’s conviction that she’s communicating with the long dead queen, and makes an effort to find the hidden hoard. She also hatches a cunning plan to get Den and Kathryn back together.

Max Fleetwood comes into it briefly as she attempts to reclaim Jasmine. So Steph and Jas go on a road trip up north – visiting both the farm and Durham.

And throughout all this, Jo and Ash (the police officer) are tentatively finding their way to love.

Carved in Stone has romance, adventure, a treasure hunt, and happy endings for all.

Some of this rambling made it into the back of the book blurb – see earlier note about how bad I am at writing these.

I don’t have a reservoir of cute kitten photos to fall back on, so this will have to do. She is the inspiration for the kitten in the story and was found on the doorstep shivering from the rain. (Unfortunately we couldn’t keep her because we’re both highly allergic. But we found her a good home…couldn’t leave you without a happy ending!)

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We named her ‘Piddles’ because she had no control – but I’m sure her new family renamed her.

5 February 2016 – make a note – Starting Over, Arc Over Time, Carved in Stone – all available from Amazon and on Kindle Unlimited too!