Writing Matters #8: from puppy dogs to angels

My fundraising book ‘Born to be a Life Changer’ is patiently waiting for the cover and the e-versions to be done, but this is no time to relax. As the title of this blog says, I need to move on from puppy dogs to angels!

My next novel is a new edition of my humorous fantasy ‘Orders From Above’, first published in 2012. It received terrific reviews, but the publisher wasn’t doing much with it so I took back the rights in 2018 to bring it under my own imprint, just as I’ve done with ‘Flight of the Kingfisher’ and ‘Walk in the Afterlight’. Rachel Lawston of Lawston Design, who designed the gorgeous covers for my previously mentioned books, has created yet another fabulous work of art.

Publication date is 1st June, by which time the paperbacks will be available to order from Amazon and all retail outlets, and e-versions will be available from Amazon and Smashwords to cover all e-readers. LiterallyPR, who did such wonderful things for the first edition of ‘Flight of the Kingfisher’, will once again be doing wonderful things with ‘Orders From Above’.

I spent most of the lockdown time last year editing and publishing the new editions of work already written, which is relatively easy because the hard work is done, but now it’s time to turn to a brand new work, the sequel to ‘Orders From Above’ which is called ‘Orders From Below’. I very much admire all the prolific authors out there, and wonder how they manage to write so many books, because at this stage, when I’m embarking on a new story, I always think I’ll never be able to do it. Write another 100,000 words with coherent plot lines that flow and weave together to their conclusion, believable characters who use realistic dialogue, then go through interminable revisions and edits, while throughout the process my mood flips between pleased-with-myself and doubting-myself. Impossible! But not impossible, of course.

So there will be another book about mischievous angels Gabe and Nick wreaking havoc by the end of this year, and there will be a third paranormal drama featuring psychic medium Alex Kelburn after that. But ‘Orders From Below’ is first in the queue, because having delved so deeply into the story lines and characters of ‘Orders From Above’ in the past few weeks, it’s all fresh in my mind. Added to that, the characters are furiously nagging me to carry on telling their stories in this sequel! As of today, I know the beginning, I know the end. I know bits of the filling in the middle. And I know that the rest will come to me over the coming weeks during long dog walks with my dog, frantic typing at my laptop, and frequent sleepless nights. The sleepless nights have already started, in fact, for last night I just could not shut my mind down and get to sleep – the characters were having a party in my head! Not only that, when I did eventually fall asleep around 4am, I dreamt they were partying on my driveway and I came wide awake again at 4.30am knowing I had to get up and fetch my notebook to scribble everything down. Deciphering my scrawl is going to be challenging.

I look forward to being able to tell you about the PR campaign for ‘Orders From Above’ as it rolls out, about how the fundraiser ‘Born to be a Life Changer’ is doing once it’s released for sale, and my progress with ‘Orders From Below’.

~~~~~~~~

Walk in the Afterlight: extract

“Your mum is a patient here?” asked Beth with sympathy. “Gosh, she must be young.”

Kallie smiled. “She’s not far off seventy. She was nearly forty when she had me. But dementia can strike at any age, even in children, so I understand. Mum’s in great health physically, so she could be here for a long time.”

Beth asked where Kallie’s mother was now and she explained again about the safe room.

“I won’t see her again today, because she’ll walk herself to exhaustion and they’ll put her straight to bed. She was only here a matter of weeks before her memory became severely affected and it wasn’t long before she didn’t recognise me any more.” Kallie looked rueful. “Sorry, you don’t want to hear all that when you’re probably going through the same thing. It was nice to meet you, though I’m sure we all wish it was under better circumstances.”

Kallie gathered up her coat and bag and left the lounge, giving Alex, Beth and Anna a small smile and a wave of her fingers. Alex followed her with his eyes.

“I know that look,” said Beth. “Does she have someone with her?”

“Two people,” he replied. “Her grandparents, I think. I could sense them when she and I were talking, but either they weren’t aware of me or just didn’t want to communicate. I think they’re just watching out for her.”

“Maybe Kallie’s mum is their daughter and that’s why they’re here, watching over both of them?” Beth squeezed his hand. “Why don’t you go outside for a bit, Alex?”

He set off to find his favourite bench, the one hidden from the lounge windows but with a good view of the striking water sculpture.

Once past the area that had been laid out as a giant checkerboard, Alex was pleased to find there was no-one else around. He sat down and contemplated what he’d just witnessed inside, allowing the gentle, musical sound of running water and the little tinkling bells to soothe him. He decided he didn’t know nearly enough about dementia in general and Simon’s condition in particular, and needed to do some research. If only he had the time! He shouldn’t even be here now, but he’d come for Beth’s sake and he was glad that he had.

“Would you mind if I sit here?” a friendly voice asked, bringing him out of his reverie. “It’s my favourite place as it can’t be seen from the house and I can get a precious few minutes uninterrupted.”

Alex looked up at the slender figure in front of him, delighted to see that it was Erin, and invited her to join him.

She sat down beside him, her knees audibly clicking. “Sorry about that.” She laughed. “My knees have always clicked and the years of bending and lifting takes a terrible toll on the joints, even when you’ve been trained to do it right. Shame Simon had to go into one of his strops just as you and Beth were walking in. Is Anna okay?”

“She’s fine and you were marvellous, as always. It amazes me how you stay so calm. Would you like to be alone? I’d say you deserve some peace and quiet after what you’ve just had to deal with, but I suppose it’s all part and parcel of the working day for you, isn’t it?”

He made to rise but Erin placed her hand on his arm and gently but firmly prevented him from leaving.

“Actually, Alex Kelburn, I’ve been stalking you!” She laughed, making her face look years younger. “I’ve seen every episode of your TV show, I’ve read your book, and whenever you’ve come to the hospice to give one of your inspirational talks I’ve been sure to be there. Everything about you is absolutely fascinating to me and since your wife’s grandfather came in I’ve been waiting for an opportunity just to talk to you! Can I ask you a question?”

She bit her bottom lip and a slow blush rose from her neck upwards as she waited for his response. He assumed she was going to ask if he could give her a message from a late member of her family or a friend, so he nodded, more than willing to help someone who worked as hard and as compassionately as she did.

Everyone noticed how kind, how gentle she always was with the residents, and the dementia lounge seemed a much duller place when she wasn’t on shift. She asked her question but it wasn’t at all what he expected.

“Where do they go, the patients who no longer seem to be aware of themselves or their surroundings? I mean, take Simon. One moment he’s angry and shouting, the next it’s as if he’s simply left his body behind and gone somewhere else. Some of the patients are like that all the time, never having lucid moments at all, and I’ve always wondered… where do they go?”

Alex smiled at the question, glad that it was one he could answer. It might even help her.

~~~~~

Want to know more? ‘Walk in the Afterlight’ is available in paperback and kindle formats from Amazon, for all e-readers from Smashwords.com, and to order from all bookshops.

(This is a revised and re-edited version of ‘The Waiting Gate’, published 2017)

Writing Matters #2: the leaf

In my first Writing Matters blog I wrote about how I had taken back the rights to my novel ‘The Waiting Gate’, thoroughly revised it and published under my own imprint with a gorgeous new cover and a new title: ‘Walk in the Afterlight’.

Although I felt I had done the right thing, there was always a little niggle at the back of my mind that maybe I hadn’t. I belong to a fantastic support group, Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) and when I posted on the forum about changing the title of a published book I had mixed responses. Some said go for it, some had actually done it and considered it the right thing to do, others said it was a risk. As you know, I decided to go ahead and I’m very proud of the result. But still… that niggle wouldn’t go away. Until I got a little message that convinced me I had done the right thing.

At the beginning of this month I was fortunate enough to visit our Greek home for two weeks, a place of tranquility and beauty where I always find it easy to write. Every morning I set my laptop up on the marble-topped table on the patio, work on and off throughout the day, then pack up for the evening and watch the sun go down (yes, lucky, lucky me!).

On this particular morning, I’d gone into the house to make coffee, and when I came out I noticed a leaf. It is a large patio, but there was just the one leaf. A couple of feet from my chair.

Study that for moment and then look at the cover:

It literally sent shivers up and down my spine.

Jane, 19 October 2020