Category Archives: Children

Episode: an update on this wretched book I’m trying to finish!

Yeah, I know it’s a while since I’ve blogged. I’ve been trying to get my sixth book finished!

In January 2015, I started Episode, a sort of, but not quite, loose sequel to Epiworld, again with the theme of time travel using the medium of epileptic seizures. This time the main protagonist is a teenage girl, Alisha (she was Alice but now she’s Alisha), who meets Travis from Epiworld when she is taken back in time to Ancient Greece by Iris, Messenger Goddess of Rainbows, who has been sent by Selene, Goddess of the Moon, whom the Greeks believed bestowed the ‘madness’ of epilēpsía, to escort Alisha to the ancient world to help complete a particular task.

The Roman equivalent is Luna, as in lunatic or loony and all that sort of thing. I know people with epilepsy aren’t loonies (present company excepted of course!), but anyway, there’s the connection with Selene and the Gods in general: they need a God or Goddess to explain everything good or crap that goes on in their lives!

I’m happy to report that I’m just about finished, there are another four chapters or so to go; but – and this is really annoying – it won’t be published in 2017! There’ll still be a fair amount of editing to do, because despite what I said after Epiworld, I’ve again written it in the first person present from Ali’s point of view (I did try to write it in the past tense, didn’t feel right, then with Travis telling the story, but that didn’t work, either) and overall it’s a more complex story. The research I’ve had to do has been a right pain in the arse and trying to keep everything tied up has been daunting.

With any luck it’ll be ready for publication in the New Year. Urr! Then there’s the usual fight with Him Indoors over designing the cover. Double urr! Why do I bother? Well, the only reason I can think of is it keeps me off the streets.

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My Review of Little Town on the Prairie

 

Laura is fast approaching womanhood and her family is settled in the town of De Smet in South Dakota. She’s back at school with her friends, but her sister Mary has gone to college to learn to cope with her blindness and Laura is lonely without her. Although she’s not keen on becoming a teacher, her goal is to get her teaching certificate so she can earn enough to help keep Mary at college. She is studying hard, but there are distractions: as well as socialising, there’s the reappearance of an old adversary, Nellie Oleson, and the new teacher has taken a dislike to her. Also, she’s attracted the attention of Almanzo Wilder, even though she’s only 15.

Overall I enjoyed this book. The reappearance of the repellent Nellie Oleson is reminiscent of Laura’s encounters with her in the TV series Little House on the Prairie, but I would have liked a bit more nastiness from Nellie! There are major flaws, however, not least the minstrel show performed at one of the ‘Literaries’ and the racist language around that, and Almanzo Wilder’s sister is the new teacher who dislikes Laura, but it doesn’t come up as a topic of conversation between her and Almanzo and Laura seemingly forgets the connection. Finally, the way in which Laura gains her teaching certificate comes across as unrealistic.

Review available on Amazon.co.uk and Goodreads.

 

My Review of The Marlows and The Traitor

The Marlows and the Traitor is the second in the series of Marlow books and the first I’ve read about twins Nicola and Lawrie away from their boarding school. It’s the Easter holidays and the twins are staying in St-Anne’s-Byfleet with their mother, sister Ginty and brother Peter. The traitor in question is one of Peter’s teachers at Dartmouth Naval College, Lewis Foley. Foley snubs Peter when they unexpectedly meet. When the children come across a deserted house called Mariners (which turns out to belong to Foley’s family), this sets off a frightening chain of events involving a lighthouse, secret papers, spies and a German U-boat. Set following World War II, the U-boat is a bit of a surprise, but perhaps indicates that for the Germans at least the war isn’t over.

Overall it is an enjoyable read, although I found some of the scenes with the character Robert Anquetil somewhat confusing. He and Nicola appear to be friends, but the author doesn’t say how this has come about, and the fact that Mrs Marlow decides to go and see her husband, leaving the children to their own devices, is also a bit weird.

I read the Girls Gone By edition, beautifully produced, although quite pricey at around £12.00.

 

Read my review on Amazon.co.uk and Goodreads

My review of The School at the Chalet

The School at the Chalet by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

Years ago (I won’t say how many!) I went on holiday to the Austrian Tirol with my parents and stayed in a resort called Pertisau situated by the largest lake in the region, Achensee. At that time, I was still reading the Chalet School books by Elinor M Brent-Dyer and I loved them. I guessed that her fictional location of Tiern See was based on Achensee, but wasn’t sure; fast-forward to the easy-research-at- your-fingertips world of the internet and I found I’d guessed correctly. In August this year, I went with my husband to the Tirol and we went to Achensee for a day trip. That prompted me to want to revisit the Chalet School because I came over all nostalgic and because I never got to read the entire series.

I managed to find a pdf version of the first of the series, The School at the Chalet, on Scribd, and unfortunately it didn’t hold the same magic for me as an adult as it did as a teen. My adult eyes could see the dated language, the glaring class distinctions, the prejudice against certain diverse groups, the fact that Jo Bettany’s ‘delicate’ health wasn’t much referred to beyond the first chapter and the far-fetched story surrounding Juliet’s predicament. It’s all that which prevents me from giving it the five stars I would have given it when I was 13.

That said, I’m on the lookout for the second book in the series, Jo of the Chalet School, because I want to see improvements. I know Girls Gone By publishers have reprised the series on ebook, but not this title. It is available on paperback, but I understand that the later editions published in my decade (by Armada) were abridged and I would like an unabridged version.

Time To Get Back on My Horse, Then, I Suppose

Now where was I with Episode, my sequel to Epiworld? Oh aye, chapter 7, pathetic when you consider I started writing the stupid thing a year ago! Should be plain sailing from here now, though (I just hope I’m not speaking too soon!) I’m up to the part where Alice and Travis have been thrown through a time portal back to Ancient Greece and have landed on the feast table where King Menelaus and his brother King Agamemnon are celebrating his forthcoming marriage to Princess Helen. Alice and Travis are thrown in the dungeons and Helen makes the guard free them, but Travis discovers that he’s too late to save her from a marriage she doesn’t want: she’s already Menelaus’ wife.

For anyone who knows anything about Greek literature, I’m using the story of The Iliad as a backdrop for the book, and Helen is integral to the plot, though as yet I’m not sure how. I have to kick-start my motivation, don’t I, and have some idea where I’m going with the book. That’s not going to be easy and I return to my day job on Monday as well. Can’t wait. Not.

I can’t say I’ll start tomorrow, because tomorrow never comes, so when will I start again?

No time like the present!

My New Footie Season Resolution: Don’t Be Distracted by the Football!

Yes, here we go again (or ‘we go again’ as Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool manager, likes to term it). It’s the start of the new football season and as ever my eyes will be glued to Liverpool FC’s progress this season following our God awful campaign last year. I’m pleased to report that, although we didn’t play that well, last Sunday we overturned our embarrassing 6-1 defeat at the hands of Stoke City with a 1-0 victory against them! The problem with the football being back is this: I’m trying to write my new book Episode and that can only mean one word:

Distraction!*

As if I’m not suffering with enough of that already, what with Keith and his health and my mum being poorly, it’s a wonder I’m not just hiding in the bathroom with a brown bag over my head downing a bottle of whisky, like the night in 2005 Liverpool won the Champions League in Istanbul on penalties having overturned a 3-0 deficit (well, I was in the bathroom with the door closed and the light off, pacing the floor, unable to watch – don’t do penalties – and there was no bag or whisky, but you get my drift). This time I’m determined no football is going to get in the way of my writing. There’s life after football and there’s life in my book. Even if I don’t feel like it, even if I feel down, I’m determined to write at least half an hour a day.

I’ve reached chapter five at last. As mentioned before, Episode is a loose sequel to Epiworld and focuses on Alice, who has epilepsy. She’s on holiday in the Greek island of Rhodes with her family when she has a powerful seizure. When this happens she meets someone called Siren – in Greek mythology the Sirens sit on the rocks by the sea and lure sailors to their doom with her haunting songs – but this time Siren lures Alice back in time by dragging her down through the hotel pool and she wakes up in Ancient Greece as a slave girl called Alethéia to a princess called Helen, who looks very much like her big sister Holly. Believing it to be some kind of weird dream, Alice has no idea that her seizure has caused this, until she meets Travis, our hero from Epiworld, who explains to her what’s happened. Alice doesn’t believe him, and if he’s telling the truth, just why is she there?

Now after the hassle I had when I wrote Epiworld in the first person present tense – to reflect Travis’s adventures as they happened in his timeline – I always vowed I’d never do that again because it was tough keeping it up, but I confess I’m been writing Episode that way. I’m thinking, though, that I might change it, possibly letting Travis tell the story, like Dr Watson narrating for Sherlock Holmes, but I haven’t come to a decision about that yet.

Either way, I have to write at least half an hour every day and I can’t let any possible rubbish LFC form spoil my writing (#negativealert, sorry!). Tomorrow (Monday) we play newly promoted Bournemouth at home in the evening and I have to stay off Twitter for my matchly moan until I’ve written a good chunk of my chapter!

*Update: sorry, I just got distracted! Chelsea were beaten 3-0 by Man City this afternoon! Cheered me up no end, that has! 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

Back on Track With My Writing – For Now

He had his surgery on Wednesday to remove the mass from his oesophagus, and while we wait for the outcome, we’re hopeful it will be good news, that the lymph nodes haven’t been affected and he won’t need any further surgery; and even if he does, it’s just a question of chopping that bit out and attaching the two healthy bits together.

You don’t know what I’m on about? Oh, my husband was diagnosed in March with Barratt’s oesophagus. The acid he produces has given him a little bit of stage 1 cancer, therefore making him my priority and my writing not so much really. Well, you can’t focus on something as trivial as writing when you spend half your time worrying and waiting; the waiting is the worst bit. He naively thought that after the op it would be like an episode of Holby City – that the surgeon would come and see him when he came round to tell him it had been a success. You have to be joking. This is, after all, the NHS, and we have to wait until next Monday to find out.

And so (did I not write elsewhere that I don’t like to start a new paragraph or sentence with ‘and’!) my new projects, Episode and Owen Goal, have had to take a back seat, but I’m pleased to report that I’m ready to pick up where I left off. I began Episode chapter three the other day. I’ve decided to concentrate on that for now and will put Owen Goal aside until next year. Writing two books at the same time is probably a bit ambitious, especially when other things are getting in the way. Goalden Sky is a football book and after the season Liverpool have just had I’ve kind of gone off footie for a while! The season starts again in August, though. Meh.

Of course, if it’s bad news on Monday, Episode will quite likely fall by the wayside yet again for a little while, so fingers crossed I’ll have something to celebrate and will be able to continue writing worry-free. If other authors can write with bad news on their minds, good for them. I can’t.

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