Tag Archives: writing

Grounded: available for pre-order!

I am delighted to announce my next romance novel, Grounded, is coming out on 20 March 2019 through Escape Publishing.

“In a world where wings give everyone the freedom to fly, an artist born wingless uses her art to show the winged world the wonder of the ground. But when she meets a recently injured police officer who finds himself grounded, they will both learn that there is more than one way to soar.”

A cover (as well as the edits) are yet to come, but I really love how this story came together, and all the world-building that was necessary for a world in which most people have wings. How do chairs work in that instance? How do clothes work? How do winged bodies work? What metaphors do they use in language?

What challenges are faced by people who can’t fly?

Huge thanks to those who read the novella version of it, especially Julia Svagonovic for her insights, and Heather Edwards for her feedback.

As a taster, here’s an (as yet unedited) excerpt:

“Tell me a story,” Clementine said as she sat in a chair opposite him, “Something true.” She used the terracotta chalk first to dash down the shape of his chest, shoulders and legs. She smudged chalk behind and in front of the outlines, filling in his wings and kilt.

“When I was about eight years old, I tried to convince Peri that I knew the secret route to Arcadia. He was six and very gullible. I warn you, this story does not cover me in glory.”

Clementine worked chalk into the sketch she was making with her fingers, adding darker charcoal lines to the details. “Oooh, a wicked tale. Go on.”

“So I led the way down to the back yard, and he followed, trusting as a duckling, until we reached the fenceline. Our wings were still growing in of course, so we couldn’t fly far, but we could fly up and over a fence without too much difficulty.”

“Should I take comfort from the fact that I already know you both survive this escapade?”

“You should. Because I flew up first and held my hand out to help him to the top of the fence. And he made it up there just fine. He was a nimble little kid. Whereas I was more…”

“Onigiri-shaped?”

Benedick laughed, his mouth dimpling in that delightful way she was rapidly growing to love. “A little ball of mischief. The thing is, I was getting him back for getting into my room on the weekend and defacing all my Kambera Wall-ball Club posters with bright red marker pen.”

“Unforgivable!”

“Exactly so. I had a keenly developed sense of justice even then. So I took him to the top of the fence by telling him the way to Arcadia was through our neighbour’s garden.”

“When does the inglorious bit start?” Clementine took up the inkpot and brush and began to add glistening lines to the chalk study, more strongly defining Benedick’s dark hair, the shape of his exposed leg, the drape of the kilt. A few strategic dabs and lines gave expression to his face. Dark eyes and dimples.

“So down he went first into Mr Whitley’s yard and I started shouting directions for him to follow the path.”

“Wasn’t he suspicious?”

“Of course he was. He was six, not an idiot. But hope won over doubt, of course. Mum read the Lady Arcadia books to us every night and we loved them. Wouldn’t you risk fraternal humiliation on the off-chance of finding the passage through?”

“Absolutely.”

“So he followed my directions down the path towards Mr Whitley’s vegetable garden, which was hedged in laurel that grew taller than our Dad. The idea was that Peri would have to squeeze in between two laurel trees and of course instead of finding the passage, he’d be in grumpy Mr Whitely’s vege patch. With luck, Peri would get stuck between the trees, get caught by Mr W and shouted at, and possibly chased with a leaf rake.”

“What a mean big brother you were.”

“It was just desserts. But I made two key errors in coming up with my strategy.”

“Let me guess. Peri was skinnier than your chubby little boy self, and he didn’t get stuck in the laurels.”

“I applaud your intelligent analysis of this whole debacle. Yes. Bento Sasaki, Stealer of Baby Carrots and Summer’s First Strawberries, had been caught in the laurels and endured a lecture on respecting other people’s gardens only the week before. Secondly, and more relevant to this sorry story of bad intent and even worse planning, is that Mr Whitely had just that week bought himself a dog.”

“Oh dear.”

“That doesn’t begin to cover it. I’m at the top of the fence, watching Peri disappear into the laurel hedge and waiting for the show to begin, when all of a sudden I hear this blood curdling baying, and Peri pops out of the greenery running like a lizard from a cat. His wings are flapping away so he keeps rising a few feet then stumbling down again, because he can’t get coordinated, and he’s not looking behind him at what sounds like an Arcadia Hellfire Hound on his heels. But I can see this dog, and it’s taller than Peri and looks like he wants to bite little boys in half.”

“What did you do?”

“What any self-respecting, justice-seeking big brother would do. I screamed at him to run faster before the Arcadia Hellfire Hound ate him, my wings flapping so hard I was hovering above the fence. I was terrified, but no way in Hades was going to jump down there and get eaten myself.”

Clementine was aware that this picture of Benedick languidly reclining on her sofa was at serious odds with the spark in his eyes and the way his wings fluttered in memory of that energetic prank.

“Did the dog get him?”

“I thought it would. It was baying and running, and Peri was running and flapping and screaming, and at the last minute he reached up to me, and I reached down to pull him up, and he flapped so hard he flew right up over my head and into our yard. Which was great for Peri.”

“And for you?”

“I went arse over pinion and landed flat on my back on the dog side of the dividing line.”

“Oh no!”

“Oh yes! The dog looms into my face, panting and howling, and on the other side of the fence Peri is screaming blue murder, and all the adults come running expecting to find me with my head split open and brains all over the pavement. And what they found was their onigiri kid on his back in the dirt being straddled by a huge, friendly and overly eager dog licking me from collarbone to eartip and wagging his tail so hard it’s making thwap thwap thwap noises on the fence.”

“Oh, poor little Bento!”

“Poor little Bento is right. I cut my arm on a stone when I fell and all I knew was that my arm was bleeding and a giant dog was eating me alive. I still have the scar.”

Clementine put the picture and inkbrush aside and dutifully went to examine the elbow he was presenting her with a soulful moue on his lips to demonstrate the woe of this bygone injury. She took his arm in her hands and tutted over the tiny white scar in his golden skin.

“That’s terrible. You might have died from your colossal injuries.”

“Yeah.”

And suddenly he was sober and they weren’t talking about a tumble from a fence when he was eight years old any more.

Clementine pressed a kiss to the tiny scar anyway.

“I’m so glad you didn’t,” she said, kissing the insignificant scar again, ignoring the deeper, worse ones that were hidden beneath the regrowth of his right wing. “I’m so glad you’re here with me.”

Grounded will be released as an ebook, and is already listed as available for pre-order at the following sites:

Grounded



Escape has previously published my erotic short story, Sky High, Bone Deep (writing as N.M. Harris)

 

Kickstarter – Sherlock Holmes: Adventures Beyond the Canon

I mentioned a few posts ago that a new Kickstarter was about to launch to fund an anthology of sequels to original Arthur Conan Doyle stories from the Sherlock Holmes canon.

The  Sherlock Holmes: Adventures Beyond the Canon Kickstarter campaign was launched on 1 August 2018, and it’s already been fully funded.

But that’s no reason to light a pipe, indulge in a seven per cent solution or go and have a flutter on the races (which was more Watson’s vice). If you back the Kickstarter, you can get hold of any or all of the three volumes, as well as back the book at higher levels and get even more Sherlock Holmes bookish deliciousness for your pains!

My story, ‘A Gentleman’s Disagreement’, will appear in the first volume of the anthology. It’s a sequel to ‘The Blue Carbuncle’ and follows what happens almost immediately after the end of the original story. It involves a second theft, some unpleasant accusations, a few incautious comments and a night in a prison cell for Dr Watson.

Here’s an excerpt:

I threw some papers from my chair onto the floor with the others, causing Holmes’s expression to spasm in disapproval, as though I had upset some order within the mess. I cheerfully ignored him as I took my seat, drew out my pipe and packed it from the Persian slipper.

I briefly felt sorry for the Countess, so unlucky in love. “His behaviour is scandalous,” I said, lighting my pipe with a match.

“You’ve forgiven her, then, for your night in prison?”

I puffed to ensure the tobacco was well lit and eased back in my chair. “It was an invigorating few hours at least,” I said magnanimously, “And the fault wasn’t entirely hers. Several of us had a hand in it.”

Holmes threw back his head and roared with laughter in that rare but wholehearted way of his, and I grinned.

“You are a diplomat, Watson,” he declared, still laughing.

“And you did apologise very handsomely for your share,” I said, saluting him with the stem of my new pipe, which he’d gifted me not long after the incident, “Though I’m grateful you secured my release before matters got out of hand.”

My friend sobered at the reminder. “Yes. Any longer in the lock-up with those old ‘friends’ of ours might have been less invigorating.”

“I was thinking more of the effect of the damp on my old wounds,” I demurred, though his evident concern, then as now, warmed me more than any apology.

The Kickstarter also includes interviews with the authors for every day of the campaign, talking about which story they chose to write a sequel to and why, among other things.

Learn more about Sherlock Holmes: Adventures Beyond the Canon or back it on Kickstarter.

Sherlock Holmes news: an audiobook and a Kickstarter

I have two excellent bits of news about some of my Sherlock Holmes short fiction!

An audiobook of a recent anthology is now out and a different anthology is launching through Kickstarter in August!

Audiobook

A while ago, the anthology Baker Street Irregulars: The Game is Afoot was published, featuring stories about Holmes and Watson in alternative universe settings. My story, ‘The Problem of the Three Journals’ puts them in contemporary Melbourne – they run a cafe called The Sign of Four, where John is a barista and he helps Sherlock, a perpetual science student, solve mysteries for their customers!

The audiobook of that anthology, which I wrote about in April, is now out through Audible and Audiobooks.com. I’m delighted that ‘Three Journals’ is being read by a New York-based Australian actor, Jamie Jackson.

(I’ve listened to Mr Jackson’s reading of my story and I can’t tell you how delightful it is to hear my words brought to life! Sherlock hilariously ruining a nasty bloke’s love life at the start is my jam!)

If audiobooks are your jam, you can get it here:

Kickstarter

In the meantime, Belanger books is releasing an anthology of stories that are sequels to original Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories.

I’ve written a sequel to ‘The Blue Carbuncle’ – I was never terribly happy that Holmes and Watson were sitting down to dinner while they knew an innocent man was still held in prison.

The three-volume anthology, Sherlock Holmes: Adventures Beyond the Canon, is being funded through a Kickstarter campaign that will go live in August.

My story, ‘A Gentleman’s Disagreement’, will appear in the first volume. I’ll post again when the Kickstarter launches, so this is just waving hello to people who like to support books through them.

For more information on the other stories and authors from the anthology, there’s a blogpost on Belanger‘s site.

The PMI Victorian History Library: a wealth of history at your fingertips

Hi I’m Ellen, the Collections Librarian at the Prahran Mechanics’ Institute Victorian History Library (PMI). Narrelle has very kindly invited me to write a guest post about the history of the PMI and how it can be useful for everyone.

We can be found at 39 St Edmonds Road Prahran and are open 930-4:30 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and 9:30-7:00 on Thursdays.

So, to begin at the beginning.

What is a Mechanics’ Institute?

Mechanics’ Institutes date back to 1799 when Dr George Birkbeck gave a series of lectures for working men in Glasgow. The idea of providing educational opportunities to the working man and woman (known then as ‘mechanics’) spread, and the first Institute was opened in Edinburgh in 1821. They provided classes, lending libraries and other educational resources.

By the early 1900s there was over 1000 Mechanics’ Institutes in Victoria. While many remain as community halls the PMI is one of only six which still provide an active lending library.

The PMI is the second oldest library in Victoria. It was founded in 1854 and was incorporated under its own act of Parliament in 1899.  It is the only Mechanics’ Institute in Victoria still governed by its own Act of Parliament.

When the PMI was founded Prahran was absolutely not an inner suburb of Melbourne. It was a remote village which was surrounded by swamp. There wasn’t a council. In fact there wasn’t much of anything, so the local community decided they wanted a Mechanics’ Institute.

The drive was led by Rev. William Moss. Moss was a local congregational minister and also played a key role in the formation of the Royal Institute for the Blind, the Victorian College for the Deaf and the Prahran Mission. All three bodies are still operational today. The PMI opened officially in Chapel Street in 1857.

The very early years at the PMI were largely trouble free, but the first real crisis came in 1868. PMI Secretary/Librarian William John Allen wrote an anonymous letter to the South Melbourne Standard, in which he was not very pleasant about one of the PMI committee members, a Reverend Potter.

Now unfortunately for Allen, the letter didn’t stay anonymous. Rev. Potter was friends with the editor of the Standard and he happily revealed the true author of the letter. Allen was summarily dismissed, but he refused to go as he believed his dismissal was unjust (and he might have had a point). What he did, though, brought the PMI to a standstill. At the time the Secretary/Librarian was a live-in position and Allen refused to leave.  He effectively squatted in the building. Ultimately the committee moved in under the cover of darkness to remove part of the roof of the PMI, thus making the building unliveable and forcing Allen out.

This wasn’t the last crisis, but the PMI has weathered all the storms to survive through to today as a thriving institute that specialises in Victorian history. The collection is nearly un-paralleled in its depth and accessibility and is vital to the preservation and promulgation of the history of Victoria.

We hold more than 30 000 items on site and it is the only for-loan collection of its type in Australia. We loan something like 90% of the collection. If an item is not for loan it is either very fragile, very old, or very valuable.

It is a growing collection, with between 100 and 200 items being added each month and we take requests from members. If the book you want fits in our collection policy, which will shortly be publicly available, we are happy to buy it in for you.

The core of the collection is made of:

  • the local histories of towns (we have information on pretty much every town in Victoria)
  • railway history
  • art and architecture
  • music, film and entertainment
  • family history
  • local history journals (we collect and index the journals of pretty much every historical society in Victoria)
  • Australian fiction.

The PMI is also the home of the special collections of the Mechanics’ Institutes of Victoria, the Cinema and Theatre Historical Society and the Australian Railway Historical Society (Vic.). Their collections are available for use by PMI members.

Membership is only $15.00 a year. The collection is a vital resource for everyone from writers to family historians, architects, professional historians, guides, journalists and people who just like reading about Australian and Victorian history.

It’s also a fantastic place to work with four dedicated staff, and I love having the chance to buy and collect the history of Victoria. So, if you’d like to be part of the second oldest library in Victoria, come down and say hi. We’re always happy to show new people around the collection and we love having the chance to track down obscure bits of history.

If you have any questions or want to know more about the PMI my email address is ellen@pmi.net.au or there’s lots more information on the website www.pmi.net.au. We’re also on Facebook and Twitter.

Ellen.

 


I visited the Prahran Mechanics’ Institute recently for a talk on manuscript assessment, and discovered the PMI is full of historical reference material that I’ll need next year for a book I want to write. Then I thought that the good news should be shared. Thanks for guest blogging with me, Ellen!