Tuesday, 30 June 2015

OK I promised I would post a chapter of my novel 'The Metamorphosis of Elissa Brown' each week.

This is THE EVENT where the boy Elissa dreams about actually lives up to one of her dreams and does something strange and unprecedented - this is the start of her adventure. (I'd like to add a musical fanfare of somesort there to add emphasis - I can't so please imagine something exciting is about the happen!)

This book can be purchased at http://amzn.to/1dZKxes

Any feedback, comments, reviews would be fabulous...

The Event

Elissa had plain orange hair, the kind of orange that had absolutely nothing going for it. It was not a flame of wondrous shimmering locks or a fantastic pillar-box red, she was no auburn haired temptress, she was plain orange and nothing more.
She was thin and pale with a vivid imagination. Her mind perpetually roamed through many dreams where her uneventful life was full of wonders, magic, love and adventure.
With all this in mind it was hard for anyone to believe or understand what happened to Elissa on a dark winter afternoon, an incident which had rumours rife and which would signal the change of everything about her and her life forever.
Jaret was the most sought after man in college, and to add salt to the pounding, wounded teenage hearts of his adoring fans, he only ever dated girls from outside the college. No girl could resist his startling blue eyes, ruffled unkempt mop of deep brown hair and his roguish charm. Light hearted, popular and sporty, he smiled easily, exhibiting dimples to die for and a flash of beautiful white teeth. So everyone was completely shocked to hear that Jaret had pinned Elissa Brown against the wall in a very passionate manner.
Now, rumours do have a habit of being exaggerated and embellished, so it’s sensible to disregard the wild allegations that he virtually had sex with her in the corridor. However, there had been an altercation where Elissa had been singled out for his attention in a manner that no other girl could ever lay claim to, and it had caused quite a stir.
Though Elissa and Jaret had lived next door to each other all their lives, their paths barely crossed. Indeed Jaret would did know anything about Elissa other than her name and her scars.
J: A ripple has been detected, a change that signals the beginning of it all. She does not know it yet, but we are watching and waiting….
Naturally Elissa, Alex and Dora, had to meet after the event to analyse it in minute detail.
The meeting place was Elissa’s little cottage home, which she shared with her grandmother Beatrice.
Upon arriving home, Elissa went straight to the bright little kitchen with bumpy white washed granite walls. At one end, by two wonky steps that lead out into a snug lounge was a bright red, shining Aga set back in its own granite alcove. There was always an array of drying herbs, flowers, fruits and spices festooned about the flue. A half drunk cup of tea sat on the hot plate, keeping warm for Beatrice. She would never waste a thing, so the tea would be left to simmer gently on the Aga until she deigned to retrieve it.
Beatrice was not interested in cooking and left much of it to Elissa. Elissa’s plan this particular afternoon was to make a large pan of beef stew. Their garden had brought forth a mountain of vegetables all at risk of rotting and so Elissa’s first half hour was spent chopping and plopping vegetables into a simmering stock.
The event popped into Elissa’s mind with a jolt. She paused to soak up every second of it, relishing that snapshot of…well what was it? Here her hands stopped peeling, parsnip poised above a mountain of multi-coloured vegetable peelings.
It had been an average lunch hour spent with Dora, Ben and Alex. They had all feasted in their usual picnic style, each contributing a dish of something tasty, except for Ben, who just helped himself to their proffering. There was roasted vegetables with garlic piled on lemon infused couscous with hummus and pita bread. Elissa gorged herself as usual.
As they staggered to their next lessons, there was a sudden whooshing in Elissa’s ears and the feeling that her boring orange hair was sweeping about her as if in a gale. Just as she thought that was probably the most life her dull hairdo had ever had she saw him. His face was so close she could make out each eyelash framing those captivating blue eyes. He stared fiercely as if pleading with her to provide an answer to some tormenting question. She thought for one heart stopping moment that he would actually kiss her and at the same time, lamented eating so much garlic. She blinked once and he was gone, so quick that she couldn’t make out his retreating figure among the thronging students all staring at her. But why?
The back door swung violently open to reveal Beatrice, clad in black gardening gear. In one hand she braced herself with her trusty walking stick, in the other she held trowel and gardening gloves, all encrusted with soil. ‘What are you doing to that parsnip?’ Beatrice asked in her well spoken manner. Looking at her hands Elissa realised that, whilst dwelling on this afternoon, she had gradually whittled the poor vegetable down to naught more than a pencil.
She did not wait to hear Elissa’s reply about the parsnip. Beatrice dumped the gardening items on the side, seized the tea from the Aga and departed from the kitchen, walking stiffly and clonking her cane on everything she passed. Laughing at her antics Elissa shook off the bewildering thoughts of Jaret and reached for another parsnip. From upstairs she could hear the faint rumble as Beatrice ran herself a bath. There was also the muffled voice of the small radio that she carried about the house, forever tuned to Radio 4.
Hearing these familiar sounds filled Elissa with warm comfort that translated into floppy butterflies flapping languidly about in her stomach.
Upstairs, swathed in a fluffy pink towel, Beatrice sat on the edge of the bath pouring copious amounts of rose bubbles into the water and singing snatches of songs in a warbling manner. Outside the bathroom door a figure stood listening before silently moving along the landing and into Elissa’s bedroom.
Just as she had sliced the last leek and plopped it, Elissa heard the front door open and shut, closely followed by laughter and the rustle of shopping bags. Dora and Alex bustled into the kitchen smelling of frosty air and joy. Immediately they dropped their bags and came jumping around Elissa like frogs at a wedding laughing and hugging her.
Oh my goodness,’ beamed Alex, unusually bubbly, ‘something amazing and extraordinary has happened to our Elissa.’ She even had tears in her eyes, though, if asked she would say it was the winter wind.
We must make tea!’ squealed Dora, aiming straight for the kettle. Alex picked up the bags and began setting everything out onto the kitchen table.
Dora and Alex had a plan to make money selling posh fairy cakes. Their endeavours were now employed in baking a large batch intended for the next Church fĂȘte. They would get people interested before going national and making their millions.
Such plans of sky rocketing aspirations were often dreamt about but rarely made it off the ground. As yet nothing had transpired in the manner that they had hoped. Deep down Elissa knew they would all be eating fairy cakes from now until Christmas.
Listen, I say we get the buns in sharpish, I am in desperate need of tea and cake,’ Elissa announced seriously.
Too right’ agreed Dora, ‘Jaret grabbing a nerd, outrageous!’ She seized a bag of flour. Alex and Elissa froze momentarily. Dora looked at them both in turn before saying sheepishly, ‘Sorry, I take that back.’ Dora frequently said something rude before she could stop herself. The phrase ‘I take it back’ had become a standard apology.
Dora was an enigmatic person, not technically right for a geeky gang. She was striking and attractive, always dressing in a bright, captivating fashion. Today her ensemble consisted of turquoise welly boots with heels, turquoise mini dress and a matching beret placed at a rakish angle. Her white blonde, tufty hair would make a pixie proud. As was her custom, her pale face was highlighted with a blood red slash of lipstick. As far as nerds go, Dora did not fit the bill. She was cool with long, shapely legs. Many suitors had approached her and been rejected.
So,’ Alex suddenly said. She was weighing out soft butter; her deep brown eyes twinkled mischievously.
Elissa suddenly, and for the first time, felt shy in front of her life long friends. Heat inflamed her cheeks. On her alabaster skin blushing blossomed in hot pink blobs, creating a clown like look. ‘So… what…?’ Elissa squeaked, trying to sound nonchalant.
You know what!’ chipped in Dora from the sink where she was cracking eggs into a bowl, then she shrieked ‘Jaret!!’ so loudly that Elissa actually believed he heard it next door which made her gut feel full of squirming eels.
Shhhh’ she hissed at them both.
Well you are sixteen,’ said Dora, hopping off the kitchen work surface. She had sat in a sticky splodge and was mortified to find it smeared all over her favourite frock. Wiping her buttock with the dishcloth as she spoke Dora continued, ‘Isn’t this the age where we all start burgeoning or something?’
Alex and Elissa immediately burst into laughter.
Oh you know,’ continued Dora distractedly still trying to get the mark out of her dress. She was unaware there was also butter daubed on the other side of her bottom. ‘Getting all hot and bothered, thinking about sex and hormones and all that.’
Alex chirruped, ‘Oh yes, I woke up on my sixteenth birthday and thought… hmmmm hormones, now there’s an interesting thing.’ She placed the bowl carefully in the large, white sink and handed Dora a piece of kitchen paper.
Anyway,’ sighed Dora, then added quietly ‘idiots’ and ‘I take it back’ all in one breath before taking the proffered paper towels. ‘Never mind all that, what about Elissa and Jaret eh?’ She dug her gangly friend playfully in the ribs causing Elissa to hug herself shyly.
Honestly though, what was that?! I mean, one minute I am walking to English Lit and the next minute someone grabs both my arms and pins me against the wall and I realise it’s Jaret and he’s staring right into my eyes, and then, he’s gone like the wind, and I am left standing there with everyone staring at me.’
She held her arms out entreating them, ‘I am completely flummoxed by this,’ she was met by a pair of bewildered expressions.
So what did it feel like?’ Dora asked eagerly.
Alex snorted rather derisively at this and said, ‘Like Elissa felt anything, we don’t live in a romantic novel you know.’ Alex was always pragmatic and therefore the notion of romance was a completely alien thing to her. Romance for Alex was reading a good detective novel and guessing who the murderer was before the culprit was revealed.
Actually, I did feel something,’ Elissa admitted. Both friends were speechless. ‘I felt a sort of tingle, a shudder or … something.’ There had been something ‘electric’ between her and Jaret. She was sure she didn’t imagine it. A sort of sparkly, jittery connection. It was a strange mixture of excitement and something else – surely not fear?!
I know this sounds weird,’ said Alex, staring intently at Elissa, her eyes magnified in the thick lenses of her glasses, ‘but you do kind of look different.’ She turned to Dora, ‘Don’t you think?’
Dora launched into an impression of David Attenborough, walking towards Elissa and squinting as if examining a new species. ‘Hmm, this is a particularly rare flower that changes when a sexy man grabs her. She immediately thinks of boys and hormones.’ Through the resounding cackle of laughter, Alex could be heard continuing in her usual dogmatic manner.
Seriously, you look more…’ Alex hesitated trying to put her finger on the right word, ‘…attractive,’ she finally managed to say, a little hesitantly.
Thanks’ laughed Elissa, ‘so I was a gross before eh?’
Yes - I take it back!’ stammered Dora all in one breath. Elissa threw her a look of mock annoyance then turned her attention to the stew. Seizing a tea towel in each hand, she heaved the big pot off the stove and pushed it into the bottom oven of the Aga and closed the door, pushing it too with her foot.
You move differently too,’ observed Alex, her magnified eyes scanning Elissa repeatedly up and down like an owl. ‘Sort of graceful, smoother,’ Alex continued to muse. ‘Your eyes seem brighter too; in fact you seem more radiant all round.’ She paused before daring to ask, ‘Are you really… in love?’
     Elissa stared at them dumbfounded. Dora was now sitting on the worktop by the kitchen sink elegantly licking cake batter off a wooden spoon. Alex returned to the kitchen table to begin licking out the bowl. They finally, after a few arguments about baking techniques and bun flavours, pushed the last tray of batter into the main oven of the Aga.
Elissa remained frozen in her defensive pose staring at the empty space previously occupied by the analytical Alex. ‘Am I in love with him?’ she pondered internally. Notions of being romantically involved with Jaret had plagued her imagination for a long time. She was obsessed with him. If there was any small encounter where their paths crossed she would repeatedly rake over every detail desperately trying to glean something deeper, something which indicated there was a connection between them.
Alex and Dora were still licking their cake mix and occasionally glancing at Elissa who had frozen into a statue, still clutching the tea towel to her chest, her lips uttering silent words. They all knew each other's idiosyncrasies and merely waited patiently for normal activity to resume. After a few minutes they were rewarded with Elissa’s question, ‘I mean, why did he do that?’
Perhaps he suddenly felt overwhelmed with desire for you.’ Dora replied flatly, dumping the spoon in the sink. ‘He took one look at the hummus on your face and wanted to lick it off - I doubt it was your appearance that attracted him.’ Alex and Elissa waited. Three, two, one Elissa counted mentally before Dora said, ‘Sorry, I take that back.’
Seriously?’ Elissa blurted this out in exasperation.
Dora muttered, ‘Seriously, I am very sorry, I only meant that you aren’t exactly his type, you’re far too unusual and amazing for him, he normally goes for ditsy brainless birds.’
Not that Dora, I know exactly what you meant, I mean, seriously, what was it all about?’ Elissa with her head of muddy orange hair, tied messily back with an elastic band stood before the Aga in a pair of old black leggings that were now more a mouldy grey colour and so saggy round her nether regions that she could only wear long tops to cover the ever drooping bum hammock beneath. Elissa firmly believed that even her time honoured friends would have to concede that she was certainly no goddess that demanded to be ravished.
To confirm this, Alex said stoically, ‘No there must be another reason.’ Her dogmatic tone sent Dora and Elissa off into peals of laughter, leaving Alex completely bewildered by what they found so funny. She was unaware she had cake batter on her forehead and some in her fringe.
They cherished these moments, being together, sharing time and Elissa leaned back to feel the warmth of her trusty Aga behind her. The little plops and hisses coming from the pan and the sweet smell of cakes rising soothed her. ‘It’s all so very strange,’ she mused wistfully, already finding herself yielding to the world of daydreams.
Alex had finally polished off the cake batter in the mixing bowl and was meticulously wiping her glasses clean with a soft cloth. She resembled the slightly nerdy know it all in Scooby Doo. She had a brown bob of dense straight hair that reached her chin and skin the colour of rich cocoa and suffered bouts of acne. She wore thick-rimmed glasses and could always to be trusted to give a rational, logical perspective on any given situation.
So why did Jaret pin me against the wall?’ Elissa beseeched them again. She so longed for it to be an urge of desire on his part, goodness knows she had imagined it enough.
Both Alex and Dora looked back at her with ominous expressions. ‘What is it?’ Elissa asked urgently. ‘Have you heard something?’
Clearly reluctant to answer, her friends shifted uneasily in their seats before Dora finally muttered, ‘Well we heard some gossip about Jessica. Apparently she’s ‘gunning for you’ over what happened with Jaret.’
Elissa tried to remain calm, ‘I’ve had plenty of abuse off her in the past. I doubt she can do anything worse to me than what she’s done before.’
Like the time she stole your underwear at swim class and threw it all over the bus.’ Dora said nodding in a sympathetic manner.
Yeah,’ replied Elissa.
Or the time she spread the rumour that you had head lice,’ Alex chipped in, in the manner of someone offering helpful advice.
Yes,’ Elissa responded her voice hardening in annoyance at such reminders.
Oh, what about the time she locked you in the gardening shed at school and poured silage through the window.’ Dora remembered excitedly, as though this were now a competition as to who could identify the worst times Elissa had been bullied by Jessica Albright. ‘You really stank that day – sorry I take that back,’ she added.
Alright!’ snapped Elissa, ‘I get it, I am in for a whole lot more crap from the worst bully at college – great.’ Her face fell into a grim expression of woe.
Suddenly the oven timer emitted a burring noise, the cakes were ready. The ensuing hustle and bustle of getting oven gloves, cooling trays and cakes in place distracted them from the discussion.
A little spat erupted between Alex and Dora regarding the decoration of the cakes. As usual, Dora wanted hot pinks, poppy reds and fluorescent yellows whilst Alex wanted a more neutral palette. Whilst they were bickering back and forth, Dora seeming to say ‘I take it back’ incessantly, Elissa once again found herself slipping into a reverie.
She stepped back from her two friends, their ranting voices quietened. Elissa felt a composure mixed with control wash over her.
As Elissa watched her friends in this dreamy manner, she was keenly aware of a strong sense of knowing them inside out. As she stared at them their bodies became transparent. Their outlines were still present, moving about prettifying their collection of buns, but their clothes, skin and muscles had melted away. Within their outlines she could see webs all lit up, some more than others as they transmitted messages to different areas, all the time moulding, interpreting and transforming their personalities and their physicality.
As Elissa tried to work out whether this was real, thoughts of Jaret floated into her consciousness. She saw his inner ‘self’ too, only his was red, with a focus on veins and the blood pumping through those veins, fizzing and popping and….
Oh for crying out loud Dora!’ Alex’s shout snapped Elissa back to the present, the kitchen, the smells, the people of her life all startling and clear, causing her to blink rapidly as though a bright torch shone in her eyes. She could no longer see their inner selves; they had vanished, fizzled away, like butter in a hot pan. Alex stood back from the table, a look of disgust across her face and a large bright pink stain down the front of her white jumper as well as a smattering of it across her jeans. Dora was standing opposite her, poised over the mixing bowl with a dripping tube of pink food dye pointed like a gun at Alex. Dora’s face was a mask of amusement mixed with concern as Alex stiffly shuffled to the sink to try washing it off.
      Conversation reverted back to the hot topic, hotter than the hot pink Dora continued to squirt into the icing mix.
     ‘Do you think Jaret now has feelings for you?’ she asked beating the silky icing briskly, her beret teetering dangerously over the stained mixture.
Thinking long and hard, Elissa could only reply, ‘I honestly don’t know,’ and she sloped across the kitchen to put the kettle on to make a brew.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Funny little Tiddly Winks

My little ones found a moth in their bedroom this morning. It had clearly seen better days and was missing a leg.

I gently scooped it onto a piece of card and said, 'I wonder what he's doing inside.'

My little girl immediately said, 'Perhaps he came back to look for his leg.'

Bless the little ones. I was ordered to put him gently on the window outside so he could find his way home.

This is where little white lies come in handy as a parent.

Unfortunately a puff of wind swept him off the ledge and blew him into the garden many feet below.

Seeing their shocked little faces I found myself saying, 'Oh he must have spotted his leg and flew down to get it.'

Monday, 22 June 2015

I've been out the social media loop!!

I would like to say that my absence was due to having many adventures with a whip cracking, Indiana Jones figure, but no. It is due to the more mundane reason of being very busy with house and children and the chicken pox.

I have revisited my first novel to finally get it to behave and think I have done it.

It's available to download at:    http://amzn.to/1dZKxes

I will be posting a chapter a week on my blog to see if folk like it. The opening paragraph and prologue are posted below - eek!

If anyone wants a free download to review this for me I would be tickled pink and happy to send it to you.

I never thought I was someone that could make a difference, any kind of difference, let alone change people’s lives forever. Some people are born great, others achieve greatness, I, well, I had greatness thrust upon me…and it was great. In fact it was amazing, it altered my life and the lives of those around me. We all changed, we revelled in our greatness, we soared above everyone else, champions of the world, until, like little Icaruses the sun scorched our wings and we fell to the earth.’

  1. Prologue

Melanie Smythe was a quiet girl with few friends. She spent most of her time with her freckled nose firmly in a book. Elissa Brown found her in just such a stance, one hazy summer afternoon in the topmost turret of a castle.

School was coming to the end of its summer term. This would be the last class trip before everyone scattered to pastures new having come to the end of secondary education.

The class had travelled from their small school to Baylin Castle. The castle itself loomed tall, balancing on the edge of a cliff that fell sharply away into a large bay that fed out to sea. The tide was ebbing out revealing a bleak landscape of molten mud and sharp rocks.

Elissa was a day dreamer. When she sat with her two friends, Alex and Dora, to lunch on the grassy centre in the castle ruins, she realised she had left her bag somewhere.

When did you last have it?’ asked Alex, cheeks bulging with ham and pickle sandwich.

Elissa’s heart sank as she recalled leaving it in the tallest turret of the castle. Jaret had squeezed past her in the thickset doorway. She remembered the scene. He had actually been within a hair’s breadth of her, emanating a musky scent. In that moment she would have forgotten her own name, so her bag flopping off her shoulder to splat onto the floor was easily overlooked. She had clutched the moment to herself, willing it to last, willing this time to be different yet, all the while knowing it would not be.

Funny saying, ‘hair’s breath’ isn’t it?’ mused Elissa, still seated with her head tilted towards the sky, eyes squinting into the sun.

It’s not hair’s breath Elissa, hair doesn’t breathe, it’s ‘hair’s breadth’,’ corrected Alex in her usual peremptory manner.

You’re barmy as a box of frogs Elissa,’ muttered Dora. Her words were muffled through her sandwich but still loud enough for the other two to hear. Both heads swivelled round to look at Dora. ‘Sorry, I take that back,’ she said, and bent her head once more to take a bite.

Weren’t you supposed to be retrieving your bag?’ Alex reminded Elissa, her hands ferreting about in her large lunch box.

Oh yeah,’ replied Elissa and, sighing heavily, she unfolded her long legs out from under her, stood tall then stalked off to get it.

Her route to retrieve her bag took her past Jessica Albright and her posse of perfectly tailored, heavily made up manikins. ‘Oh bugger,’ Elissa inwardly said as she proceeded with dread.

Just as she thought she had managed to pass them unnoticed the familiar high pitched squawk of Albright piped up. ‘What was the idea behind today’s ensemble Elissa, stick insect crossed with scarecrow?’

Elissa bowed her head a little lower and quickened her pace. She was not quick enough to miss Albright yelling after her, ‘Freak show!’ Their laughter grew fainter as Elissa embarked upon the steep flight of steps towards her mislaid bag.

It was here in this tiny turret room, bathed in sunshine illuminating many disturbed flecks of dust, that Elissa found Melanie. Dressed in a bright yellow cardigan and red tartan skirt, Melanie cast a lonely figure, hunched over a battered copy of ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird.’ Elissa’s bag was where she had left it; she picked it up, slung it over her shoulder and turned to go. In the low doorway where, less than an hour ago, she came closer to the love of her life than she had ever done before, she paused.

Now Elissa could have continued on her way and nothing would have changed. She could have ignored the strange girl as usual, leaving Melanie alone to finish her book and live the rest of her life unaltered and alive. Unfortunately she did not. Instead, she felt a pang of empathy for the little figure, diligently reading about lives that were infinitely more interesting than her own. In a few weeks they would all escape for the summer. This might be the last time she saw Melanie before she was taken off into the mists of the future.

Elissa turned and approached Melanie, ‘All right?’ she asked brightly.

For a moment it appeared that Melanie was going to ignore her. Just as Elissa turned to go, Melanie looked up from the book with an expression one might have when first waking up and said dreamily, ‘Oh, hi, sorry, I was miles away, soaking up the atmos.’ As she said this she let loose a wide unabashed grin that lit up her face. Elissa suddenly wondered why she had never really spoken to Melanie for, in this moment, she seemed like such a nice girl.

Elissa approached her once more and sat next to her. ‘I know what you mean, it’s pretty impressive isn’t it and such a perfect day to look round.’

I imagine what it must have been like actually living here all those years ago, so different from today,’ Melanie said dreamily.

Yeah, they would probably be roasting a huge pig now and firing arrows at folk, maybe even have a dragon in a moat somewhere.’

Melanie laughed and threw her head back lightly touching Elissa's shoulder. Elissa shivered, though it was not cold. ‘Well, I better get back before the lunch break is over.’ She stood, retrieving her bag again. At the doorway she stopped, looked back and said, ‘You’re welcome to join us?’

Melanie did not reply. She did not look round but sat still as stone staring out over the wall that gave way to the sheer cliff face. The wind picked up a little and just as Elissa thought to go, Melanie stood up and, in one swift movement stepped towards the wall, clambered onto it and stood, arms outstretched.

Elissa’s heart leapt into her throat in an instance. Surely, Melanie did not intend to… but Melanie was leaning forward, bracing herself against the sudden stiff gale.

What are you doing?’ shrieked Elissa darting forward to pull the girl back. Her long fingers clutched at air. Melanie leapt from the wall, leaped forcefully so that she seemed to momentarily fly. She uttered something that was whisked away by the wind and was gone.

Elissa stared, rigid with shock, leaning over the battlement. The figure of Melanie Smythe, resembling a crumpled canary, was just discernible in the mud below. The bent pages of her book ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ fluttered like trembling angel wings on the flagstones by Elissa’s feet.

Next week is 'The Event' - Jaret does something weird and unexpected that has rumours rife and everyone shocked as to why he did it....