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.’
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....