Writing Update

Hi there! It seems a while since last I posted about my own writing, so I thought I’d give you an update of how I’m progressing with my next novel.

For What it’s Worth is about a married couple whose marriage is under stress because of two main factors: Hugh is out of work and Yvonne is working too hard; and despite years of trying, they have been unsuccessful in their efforts to start a family. Two problems many people face, sometimes even together. So Yvonne and Hugh’s story is one many people can relate to. But we all deal with things in our own unique way, don’t we? So, although you might know someone who has been in their position – you might even have been in that position yourself – I haven’t written their story, or your story. I’ve written Yvonne and Hugh’s story. It’s about how they handle the stress, how they decide to move forward. You might not agree with their choices, but I hope you’ll be cheering them on.

This novel is not part of The Reluctant Detective Series, but it is a spin off from it. Yvonne is Mirabelle’s sister. If you read the series, you’ll probably remember that Mirabelle was the main character – and quite a character, quirky, eccentric and unpredictable – and she has a part to play in this new novel, but as a supporting character.

She was too much fun to write about to let her go 🙂

If you’re a writer, have you ever found it hard not to go on writing about a certain character even after their story has been written? It’s like keeping in touch with an old friend.

For What it’s Worth has been drafted, redrafted, edited, beta read, edited, redrafted, edited and is now with some more beta readers. Depending on their feedback, it will hopefully not be too long until the final proofread and polish before publication.

Tell me, when you read a book, do you like to think of the writing process that book had to go through before it landed on your bedside table? I must confess I love reading author interviews and profiles, learning as much as I can about the author and their work. I find it helps me understand where the story might have originated, and so enhances my understanding of it.

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To learn more about me as an author and about The Reluctant Detective Series or any of my published novels, please check the sidebar or click on my Amazon Author page.

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#FridayReads ~Reviewing my favourite books from 2016

What a wonderful surprise to find one of my books on a reviewer’s list of her favourite books from 2016! And in such great company! Thank you Lizanne Lloyd. I feel honoured, and I’m delighted.

Lizanne

According to Goodreads, of the 65 books I have read this year, 21 are contemporary stories, 18 historical fiction, 7 crime novels and 5 mysteries. In addition, I chose to read 5 non-fiction history books, 3 steampunk novels, 2 travel books, one young child’s book, one dystopian novel and one of literary fiction. Only one is specifically a romantic novel, but of course romance often turns up in historical novels or mysteries too and definitely in most contemporary stories. There is a lot of blurring at the edges.
The number of books in each category does not surprise me, but perhaps next year I should try self-help, vampire books or maybe return to fantasy or science fiction. I’m not promising!
These are my highlights of the year.

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Midnight Sky Cover LARGE EBOOK

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Rusty

AB Bamboo Island

Lake House

I could list more, but I will stop with these chosen few from my favourite genres; historical, contemporary and mystery.  If you click…

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Introducing a Revamp

We all know that hard work generally brings the best result. You can only get out of something what you put into it, can’t you?

And, of course, that’s no different for writers.

If we want to get better at it, it isn’t just about writing more and more words, it’s about studying how to write, reading about writing, reading the work of other well-acclaimed authors, putting in the hours, weeks and months of hard work editing and polishing. Writing the first draft of a story is often the easiest part. In my experience, it is always the easiest part.

For some time now, I’ve been thinking about how my writing has developed and, I like to think, improved over the years I’ve been working at it. I’ve certainly put in a lot of hard work. So I went back to the first book I published and cast a critical eye over it. I was pleasantly surprised with how happy I was with the development of the story. But still, I published Family Matters as a paperback in 2008, followed that up with the eBook in 2013 – so – time for a revamp.

I decided Family Matters needed a new cover, then a bit of fine-tuning. I asked my artist daughter-in-law, Michelle Campbell, to come up with some art for the cover. Once again, she didn’t disappoint. I love the new cover she designed. It’s more modern and relevant to the subject matter – subject matter that I scrutinised and checked until I felt happy.

Next step? I thought I’d share the result with you in the following video. If you haven’t read Family Matters, perhaps you’ll enjoy the excerpt I’ve included.

Thanks for watching, folks. Hope you enjoyed the video. Hope you enjoy the book.

Here’s the link if you wish to purchase it or to READ IT FOR FREE with Kindle Unlimited.

And the link to my Amazon Author Page if you’d care to check out my other books.

Thank you.

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Why not share in the comments what you think of the cover? Or the book?

And do share your stories of the hard work you put into the things you do.

Do you think hard work does pay off?

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Tunnel Vision

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I’ve just emerged from a tunnel and I’m blinking in the light.

Goodness, what a lot I have neglected!

I see it now.

But I was quite happily engrossed in my tunnel until it came to an end.

It wasn’t the kind of tunnel that plunges you into total darkness. More like a tree tunnel, with light getting through but no way to see beyond the trees to what’s going on outside. You know the kind, I’m sure. A pleasant tunnel to be in.

I’ve had tunnel vision before. It happens with irregular regularity, each time I’m engaged in writing a novel. Because I am in the habit of writing every day, it’s been quite some time since I suffered from writers’ block – if I ever truly did. Most times, I think the trouble was that I was out of the way of writing, my writing muscles were sleepy and had to be prodded awake each time I felt like adding to my word count, and that was much harder when it had been a long time since I wrote.

Having said that, a few years ago I didn’t write anything other than the occasional blog post for almost a year after my mother died. It had been a traumatic time – not just because she died, but more to do with other things that happened around her death – and I went into a very different tunnel for quite some time – a long dark one that blotted out the sun and most of the joy it can bring. When I emerged from that tunnel, it took me a long time to adjust and I found that my creativity had all but dried up.

I was recently reminded of a blog post I wrote about what helped get me writing again after one such longish phase of losing my creativity. You can read it here if you choose.

When I’m reading a good book I get tunnel vision too. You know that way, when you can’t put a book down and you read well into the night in order to finish it, then you close your eyes and can’t stop thinking about it for ages. When you finally open your eyes and look around, you blink in the light. You realise life has gone on while you were happily in that pleasant tunnel with the book.

I had a lovely review for Rusty Gold just recently when that seems to have happened to one of my readers:

“I really enjoyed the Rusty gold series. I just couldn’t put the 3rd book down. I was desperate to see how it ended so was stirring the soup with the book in my hand! Off to bed early to read in peace and quiet and, of course ,when it was finished I wished that I had made it last longer. Now, that is the sign of a really good read. It would make a great T.V. series. How good would that be?” ~ Barbara R.

Needless to say, it’s very encouraging to receive reviews like that. It always makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, and I can’t thank my readers enough for them. If ever I meet one such reader, I’ll give her the hugest of hugs.

So, you know what I’m talking about – that kind of tunnel vision.

And, like I said, I’ve just emerged from such a tunnel.

I’ve been busy writing another novel, and what a happy tunnel I’ve been in. I got so caught up with my characters, I found it hard to leave them.

This WIP is now in the hands of some beta readers, and I must wait to get their feedback before I can write the final draft, but, meanwhile, I find I’m still thinking about Yvonne and Hugh, and their story. I’m having to hold myself back from writing the next part of their story – because that’s for another book, another tunnel.

This one, called For What it’s Worth, is not quite another in The Reluctant Detective Series, more a kind of spin off, and while Mirabelle and Sam feature in the story, the main protagonist this time is Mirabelle’s sister, Yvonne.

Yvonne only featured peripherally in the three books of the series, but the dynamic of her and her husband, Hugh, kept asking to be explored, so I did, and have written their story – so far. I say, ‘so far,’ because just as our lives don’t stop when we settle into a routine after some great adventure or happening in our lives, so too, characters can seem so real that I just know their story could continue on. And my mind is already buzzing with what happens next in the Yvonne and Hugh saga.

Meanwhile, I have to see to all the things I neglected when I was so engrossed in writing For What it’s Worth – blog posts, promotional posts, guest posts, interviews, lots of interesting things like that. No matter how bonnie that tunnel of trees in, no matter how beautifully the sunlight dapples through the branches, I don’t want to hide inside it for ever. I look forward to driving through another one soon, but for now, other writing tasks need attention, there is other fun to be had, other vistas to view.

How about you? As a reader, do you get so engrossed in a good book that you can hardly bear to put it down? Do you emerge at the end blinking in the light?

As a writer, is that how you feel about the first draft of a new novel? The second? The third? And all the rest…

Please do tell me if you have felt like that when reading or writing – or doing anything else. I’d love to hear about the books you’ve read that held you entranced and why.

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You can find the three books of The Reluctant Detective Series and four more of Christine’s novels here on Amazon

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Authors Spotlight : PattyWiseman.

I thought I’d share this author spotlight on Dave Mayall’s blog with you today. In the spotlight is Patty Wiseman, a delightful lady and author, and her series set in 1920s Detroit.
This series looks good and is on my To-Be-Read list. According to the great reviews it’s been getting, I’ll need to set aside a bit of time because it sounds like I’ll not want to put these books down once I start them.

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An Unlikely Arrangement by Patty Wiseman.

Young and rebellious, Ruth Squire defied her parents to live the high life of young people in 1929 Detroit. Handsome and responsible, Peter Kirby worked diligently to make his family’s life easier. Rich and powerful, Eric Horton held the fates of many families in his hands.
These three lives intertwine through the differing worlds of high society, middle-class life, and organized crime, culminating in an engagement, a kidnapping, a misunderstanding …
… and a murder.

Watch the trailer click here

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

I really enjoyed this story. I am not normally a historical romance person, but I loved the characters in this story, and it kept giving unexpected twists and turns. Plus the author obviously put a lot of time in…

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Smorgasbord Summer Reading – What Tim Knows and other stories by Wendy Janes

It is my pleasure to reblog Sally Cronin’s Summer Reading post. The book featured today is ideal Summer Reading, perfect for lying back with on the beach or in the garden. Six short stories with a subtle link. I can heartily recommend this book by novelist Wendy Janes, having read it and thoroughly enjoyed it already.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

smorgasbord Summer ReadingToday the featured book is a brand new release this week. What Tim Knows and other stories by Wendy Janes takes you on a journey with six stories across five decades.  As well as showcasing her new book today, Wendy also shares her thoughts on linking stories.

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A gallery-owner’s quest for beauty; a dancer in danger; a new mother struggling to cope with her baby; a sculptor’s search for inspiration; a teenager longing to live in the perfect family; a young boy lost and confused by the rules of life that everyone else seems to understand.

Six stand-alone short stories, spanning five decades. Each capturing a significant moment in the life of a different character.

Separate lives linked in subtle ways.

Linking stories

I’ve always enjoyed reading books where characters in one novel pop up in another. While a well-written sequel or…

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Launch Day

Three … Two … One … We have lift off!!

Released today!

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The third novel in The Reluctant Detective Series.

‘Find her,’ Agnes Donald begged. ‘Find my daughter.’
The words of a dying woman force Mirabelle to take on another case for the unofficial Missing Persons Bureau she runs from her Edinburgh flat.
Along with her assistant, Kay, she heads for the island of Skye where Esme Donald was last known to be. But is someone else looking for Esme too? And could Mirabelle’s own daughter, Summer, be in danger?

Rusty Gold is available as a paperback and an eBook on FeedARead,  Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Waterstones and can be ordered through most bookshops.

Get your copy today.

Enjoy!

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New to The Reluctant Detective Series?

Here’s a bit of a catch-up.

Mirabelle had thought she and Summer were happy. Being a single parent may not be ideal, but they coped well with their situation. Sure, bringing up a teenaged girl on her own was hard work, and they had their ups and downs, but they were pals as well as mother and daughter. She might not have planned her, but she was certainly glad she had Summer, and would not have liked to be without her. They’d built a life together, sorted out some kind of routine, and were happy. On a day to day basis, Mirabelle reckoned that’s all you could ask for.

 Then Summer disappears one Friday night and Mirabelle is left searching for her daughter, not knowing if Summer is alive or dead, went of her own accord or was taken against her will. Casting all other concerns aside – food, sleep, work, relationships – in her desperate need to find the answers, she takes to the streets of Edinburgh in search of Summer. Searching along wynds snaking behind old buildings, through ancient doors and tiny spiral stairways, showing Summer’s photograph to everyone she meets in shops, museums and nightclubs, Mirabelle becomes a reluctant detective, gathering clues, trying to make sense of them in order to find her missing daughter.

Meanwhile, Mirabelle gains a reputation for finding missing people and reuniting them with their loved ones. As people turn up on her doorstep asking for help, her kitchen becomes the hub of an unofficial missing persons agency.

Traces of Red, the second in the off-beat Reluctant Detective Series about Mirabelle and missing people, is the sum of several interwoven stories about an abandoned baby, two missing young women, a missing husband … and a dead body. Why did one of them abandoned a baby in an Edinburgh pub? Which one of them lies face-down in the river? Mirabelle finds herself running an unofficial Missing Person’s Bureau from her flat in Edinburgh, and DI Sam Burns seems happy to use her expertise to help him find these people, and learn how their stories interlink.

In Book One of this series, Mirabelle’s search was centred in Edinburgh, widening out to include the Scottish countryside further North in Book Two. Now, in Book Three, Mirabelle is off to the Island of Skye.

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BUTTERFLIES KEEP FLYING – A Guest Post about Epidermolysis Bullosa…

Today’s guest with the Story Reading Ape is Ali Pfautz who was inspired to write her wonderfully illustrated book Butterflies Keep Flying by her friend’s daughter Ella’s condition. Do head over and read the post and also find out more about ‘Butterfly Children’ who have the courage to face the world each day with the crippling skin disease epidermolysis bullosa. Inspiring little girl..

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Hey Everyone! 

Like all of you, I’m always so appreciative of Chris and his willingness to let us share our book news, tips etc. So here’s my latest…

Butterflies! Spring and summer make for the perfect time of year to talk butterflies, but my new book offers a metaphorical twist on the annual topic. BUTTERFLIES KEEP FLYING follows a gentle butterfly who, tired of being small and fragile, imagines what life might be like if she could be a different creature, one who’s bigger, stronger, and doesn’t fly all of the time. Eventually, she reminds herself that her delicate wings play an important role in helping her face life’s challenges. My friend’s daughter, Ella, who is a “butterfly child”, inspired the character.

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Ella has a rare skin disease called Epidermolyis Bullosa, EB. Often called the “butterfly children,” boys and girls living with EB have extremely sensitive skin that…

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May I have Your Attention Please

When I was enjoying my daily perambulations one day last week, I caught the attention of some of my neighbours. These particular neighbours tend to be interested in whatever is going on in our garden and they meandered over to see what I was up to. I had a brief chat with them then scooted off to fetch my camera, thereby learning an important writing lesson.

Having captured our readers’ attention, it is tremendously important to hold it for long enough that they will want to hang on in and see what happens.

I had not done that with my neighbours and when I returned with my camera, they had lost interest and wandered off to seek diversion elsewhere.

So, when they returned the next day, I was prepared. I had my camera at the ready, having not only caught their attention but having also found a way to hold their interest.

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It really is that important.

Writers know that you, the reader, have to be persuaded to read our book, so we try to come up with that captivating first sentence, that intriguing first paragraph, that riveting first chapter, but it can’t end there.

As soon as we get boring, you get bored.

It’s as simple as that.

So every chapter has to hold your attention. Ideally, we want you not to be able to put our book down until you’ve finished reading the whole thing, staying up all night if that’s what it takes. Sorry, I know that’s pretty mean of us to cause you to lose your beauty sleep, but just think of the rewards. You can have our story buzzing about in your head for days afterwards. You might well feel you’ve made some great new friends of our characters.

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My granddaughters made friends with my neighbours. They even got to know them better than I do, exchanging names and contact details. Daisy is just off to the left there, and she likes to be whistled over. Primrose prefers a soft mooing sound.

Another lesson learned. It is important to connect with you, dear reader. I want to know who you are, what you like about my writing, what interests you, where I can find you, how I can reach you.

So why don’t you pop your head over the hedge and chat to me – or simply add a comment in the comment box below. I love when you do.

Dirty Laundry

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A good day for hanging out the washing. I love days like this when I can get the washing dried outdoors. It always smells so nice and I like that it’s more eco-friendly than using my tumble drier. Plus, I just love to see clean laundry on the line. Well, it would be a bit weird if I hung out the laundry without washing it, wouldn’t it?

Mind you, I’ve seen it done. Have you ever noticed that in films or television dramas, even the soaps, when someone has to hang out a washing, it’s rarely actually wet? That annoys me no end. If you’re gonna have that scene in, then go for authenticity. Do it right. Give the character a basket of wet washing. It can’t be that hard to organise, can it?

When enjoying my thankfulness walk round the garden today, I found myself smiling at the laundry being gently blown dry by the light breeze as well as the warmth of the sun.

And I got to thinking about writing …

When we write about our characters we do the opposite of what I was talking about just now, we hang out their dirty laundry.

We expose their faults and flaws, their bad decisions, their mistakes.

Of course we do. That’s what makes them and their story interesting. Why? Because life’s like that. Things happen. We don’t always make the wise decision, the right decision, or the caring decision. We make mistakes. All of us. Nobody is perfect.

Why would we want to pretend our characters are? Why would we have them always get things right? That would make for a very dull story. It’s the fight against their flaws, the attempts they make to put right their mistakes that give us their story.

Then, when outside calamities and misfortunes hit them, we can see they are made of stern stuff. If they can battle against their inner demons and come out victorious, they are far more likely to prevail when things get tough.

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Just look at those plants growing through the slats of the bridge in our garden. When the bridge was built, it would be easy to assume that any plants underneath it would wilt and wither. After all, they were now deprived of direct sunlight and water. They have to survive in difficult, dark conditions.

But guess what! The hardy ones prevail. They fight their way up through every obstacle. Not enough sunlight? Who cares? They take the little they get and aim for where they know there’s more. Not enough water? They take what runs their way, soak it up and lift their heads and stretch out their roots to where they know they’ll find refreshment.

If we build good, strong characters, characters who are real, authentic, with their faults and flaws to battle with, then they’ll be the same. They’ll find their inner strengths when they need to, they’ll overcome the obstacles. They’ll prevail.

But we, the authors have to give them a bit of backbone.

Today, I thought I’d share with you the beginning of Searching for Summer. This is where it all started to go wrong for Mirabelle, when her bad habits began to catch up with her. This is when her struggle with her inner demons starts.

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Searching for Summer

The letter had finally come and Mirabelle suggested they should go out for a meal and to the cinema to celebrate.
She gave Summer a quick one-armed hug while shoving her bare feet into floppy sheepskin boots and preparing to rush out the door to work. “After all, not every day a girl gets accepted into uni,” she said, giving her daughter a kiss. “Imagine! A lawyer in the family.”
“Yeah, well, don’t count your chickens and all that. I might never graduate.”
“You will, chicken. I know you will. You always finish what you start. Not like me,” Mirabelle laughed. “Scatty as they come.”
“And proud of it,” Summer muttered. “That would really stick it to Aunt Hannah, though, wouldn’t it?” It was said with a sneer. “Snotty besom!”
“Summer! That is my sister you’re talking about.”
“No worse than you think about her. And don’t think I haven’t heard you and Yvonne say more or less the same thing.”
“That’s enough!”
“What was wrong with your mother anyway? Three sisters, three dads. And you bang on to me about morals.”
“I said, that’s enough! I will not have you talking like this about my mother or my sisters. Right?” She chose to ignore the sulky look she got in reply. Gathering herself and her bits and pieces together, she took a count of five and composed her face. “Anyway, honey, don’t let’s spoil the day.” She gave her daughter a smile. “Celebrations are in order.”
Summer scowled. “Yeah. Big deal.”
“Now, you know I’ve never been much for throwing a party. Love them. Think it’s the Jamaican in me. Always up for a bit of carnival.” Hands in the air, bracelets scurrying down plump brown arms into the folds of loose sleeves, Mirabelle gyrated her large hips to an internal rhythm of the Caribbean. “Love, love, love a party.” The rows of beads trailing from her neck bobbed and swung, a colourful waterfall of sound. “Just no use at organising them.” One last shimmy in defiance of the look of disgust directed at her wobbling boobs, and she handed Summer her schoolbag and urged her towards the door. “But we absolutely have to celebrate somehow.”
“You’ll definitely be home from work in time?” Summer asked with a sigh.
“Of course I will.”
Summer stood her ground, blocking the doorway. “There’s no of course about it, Mum. You’re never home before eight o’clock. The film starts at seven-thirty. If we’re to get something to eat, you need to be home six at the latest.”
“Okay. Okay. I can do it. Don’t get your knickers in a twist.”
Summer gave her a scathing look. “Ugh! That’s so yesterday.”
“Well, I’m a yesterday girl. Could’ve been a great flower person in the sixties.” Mirabelle held out her long, multi-coloured skirt and spun around on the spot. Her many rings and bangles sparkled in the light cast by the ornate, crystal-encrusted chandelier in the tiny, over-bright hallway. “Being a teenager in the nineties just didn’t have the same cachet.”
“You didn’t need the sixties.” Summer scowled.
“True. Oooh,” she cooed, stroking her daughter’s cheek. “Look at your pretty wee freckled nose all scrunched up there.” She tapped it gently. “Do I embarrass you, my petal?”
“All the time, Mother.”
Mirabelle shrugged. “Well, get used to it, kiddo. I’m unlikely to change.” Words tossed behind her with the kiss she blew as she grabbed a shawl from the back of the door. Draping the material round her shoulders, she picked up her big floppy bag and danced past Summer, out the door and down the communal stairs.
‘Unlikely to change.’
Words she’d later long to take back.
To rewind that day, push herself away from her desk, away from the stack of papers. Step crazily backwards, her shawl flying from the back of her chair into her hand, draping itself round her shoulders. Retreat through the office door, pulling it closed in front of her, her feet faultlessly finding the flight of stairs behind. She’d back down them, seeming to sink into each step, her knees straightening and flexing, straightening and flexing. Then walking backwards out into the street, her head bobbing as she took back morning greetings from colleagues and strangers.
Press rewind again to speed it up. The bus rushing in reverse, passengers seeming to get on, flying effortlessly up the step, their backs to the open door, ignoring the ticket machine, ringing the bell as they sat in their seats. Passengers seeming to get off, seeing only what they were leaving, strange knee-bent drops from the opened doors, taking their money from the ticket machine, catching it as it was spewed up from the top of columns of coins to jump into their palms. Mirabelle herself taking the leap behind her, leaving go of the handrail as her feet found the pavement.
Back, back. A reverse salsa at the bus stop, taking back the sharing of her joy at the good news of her daughter’s acceptance at Edinburgh University, smiles disappearing into closed, reserved strangers’ faces.
Backwards, backwards. Dancing down the street and up the stairs, rushing, rushing, unusual lightness in the ascent. Up the stairs and through the door and, there and then, standing beside her daughter, “I’ll change,” she’d say. “If you want me to, I’ll change.”
But, with no rewind facility available, no benefit of hindsight in play, Mirabelle neglected to change old habits. She came back from the office, late as usual, with the customary flustered apology ready on her lips and a placatory tub of ice cream in her hands as she laboriously climbed the stairs to their flat. She had got lost in the clutter that was her desk at work, writing reports about the safety or otherwise of other people’s children.
“Sorry, pal,” she said as she pushed through the door. “Not too late, are we?” She didn’t shrug out of her thick woollen shawl, though it was damp from the drizzle she’d hurried through. “Ready to go?” She pushed open the living-room door. “Summer? You there?” she said to the empty room.
Still holding the ice cream, a possible cause of the shivering tinkle her bangles made, she stuck her head round the door of her daughter’s bedroom. “Summer?”
Expecting to find her lolling across the bed or sitting at her desk tapping away on her computer, Mirabelle walked in, the ice cream held out before her as a peace offering. But the bed, duvet neatly pulled up as Summer left it every morning, was untouched, the computer unopened. Summer wasn’t home.

~~~

Will Mirabelle prove strong enough to cope with losing her daughter? Will she be strong enough to do something about finding her?

Well, you’d have to start reading the Reluctant Detective Series to find that out.

The Reluctant Detective Series

Searching for Summer ~ Traces of Red ~ Rusty Gold, coming soon

All available on Amazon in paperback and as ebooks, along with the rest of my novels.

 

http://author.to/ChristineCampbell

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