Little Inspirations: a gift

An enlarged view of my ‘Silver Locket’

This little pendant was given to me by Emma, my lovely mother-in-law, many years ago. It’s a pretty piece, which might have originally been a broach. I’ve worn it on a chain a few times but the loop which it hangs from is so worn that I’m scared of losing it.

It’s about the size of my thumbnail, very light and it tarnishes ever so quickly. There is no hallmark, so it’s probably not actually silver. It looks like a locket, but it doesn’t open, although it looks as if it might. Don’t you think that one, or maybe a particular combination, of those decorative pins around the edge might spring it open? But sadly, no.

However, it did spark my imagination.

Spool on a couple of decades and my little pendant was transformed. Now a fully functioning locket with a strange little face engraved inside, it became the eponymous star of my debut novel, The Silver Locket which I wrote under the pen name, Holly Atkins. My pendant even took pride of place on the cover, flanked by photos of family members on Emma’s side, whose identity has disappeared in the mists of time.

I often say, ‘never let a good character go to waste’, and followers of my most recent micro-fiction series, The Jade Camel, will discover a bit of backstory to two of its characters who first entered my literary world in the scene below.

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Excerpt from ‘The Silver Locket’

“So,” said Ceridwen, pushing back her long red hair, “you have something to show me.”

Laura reached into her handbag and drew out the locket.  She slipped it out of its wrapper and held it out to her.

“I found it…” began Laura.

Ceridwen held up her hand.  “No, don’t tell me anything about it yet.  May I hold it please?”

Ceridwen took the locket, as she did so she avoided touching Laura’s hand.  She drew in a sharp breath and closed her eyes, running her thumb gently over the face of the locket.  She sat there, motionless for several minutes, then clasping the locket in her fist, she opened her eyes, leant over and switched on the lamp which stood on the table beside her.

“Now Laura, I’d like you to tell me all you can about the locket.  Where you found it, what you’ve observed about it, what it means to you.”

Laura paused.  “It’s complicated.”

“Take you time, my dear.  Start with the facts.  Don’t worry if your story seems strange or fanciful.  That’s why you’re here with me now.”

Laura recounted all she could from finding the locket to the most recent dream in which the little face had been different from the one Laura knew.  While she was speaking, Ceridwen was carefully examining the locket.  As Laura finished speaking, she was studying the oval mark inside intently.

On the window sill, Cullen uttered a low, menacing sound.  Laura could see his silhouette through the blind, his back arched, head erect.

“Would you mind going to see what he’s growling about?  It must be something in the park outside.”

Laura went to the window and raised the edge of the blind.  A solitary figure in a brown coat was looking up at the window.  The figure was too far away for Laura to make out her face, but it looked awfully like the old woman from the churchyard; the same woman who had appeared outside the jewellers and whom Laura had seen hurrying away from the station.

Cullen continued to growl.  The woman turned and hurried away.  Cullen sat back down on the window sill and was quiet again, his fur settling back into place.

Laura returned to her seat.  “It’s strange, I keep seeing this woman in a brown coat.  It’s as if she’s following me.  But when she sees I’ve seen her, she rushes off.  Maybe I’m imagining it, but I’m sure that was her again, just standing there looking up at the window.  I couldn’t see anything else which might have disturbed your cat.”

“She could be following this.”  Ceridwen held up the locket.

“Why?  What is it?” Laura looked at Ceridwen.  “The little face inside… it’s starting to scare me.”

“Well, let me tell you a little about the charm within the locket.  Please don’t worry. I’m quite certain that there is no need for you to be afraid of the locket or its ‘little face’, as you call it.”

“You say it’s a charm of some kind.  That’s what the jeweller told me yesterday.  A charm or a talisman, he said.  What does that mean exactly?”

“These little pieces are very rare, although long ago they used to be quite widely made and circulated amongst the Roma peoples of Eastern Europe.  It is said that charms or amulets of this kind actually originated in Ancient Egypt and were part of their magical rituals or heka.  The oval shape certainly does resemble the cartouches from Egyptian hieroglyphs.”  Ceridwen paused.

“But that need not concern us.  Your locket with its hidden amulet doesn’t date back quite that far, although it could be as much as two hundred years old.  Who knows where a young gardener would have obtained such a precious object.  He can’t have known what it was, or paid the true value.”

Ceridwen went on: “An amulet is essentially something which is designed to bring good luck or to offer protection to the wearer.  It need not be made specifically for the wearer, but the wearer will benefit from the powers imbued in the amulet.  From what you’ve told me, and what I can feel from holding it, his amulet is a special one, known as a ‘reflector’.  A reflector amulet not only gives the wearer protection, it also mirrors emotions, usually from its wearer, but also from people around her, particularly if they are antagonistic or threatening towards her.  This amplifies the power of the amulet, offering the wearer even greater protection.  It is said that the expression on the amulet’s face will change according to the prevailing emotion.  I’ve never seen a one before, but I believe that is what you have here.”

“Oh,” exclaimed Laura, “do you think I have upset the amulet by finding it?”

“I doubt it, but tell me, Laura, have you been wearing the locket.”

“Only for a few days.  I started wearing it after I first found it, because it kept disappearing.  It fell behind the dresser and then between the cushions of an armchair.  But I haven’t worn it since I took it to the jeweller’s and he opened it.  I guess I’ve been a bit wary of the expression on the little face.  I’ve kept it close to me though, either in my bag, or on my bedside table.”

“May I take your hand now, Laura?  Please, come and sit by me.”  Ceridwen patted the seat beside her.

Laura perched on the chaise-longue and Ceridwen took her hand in hers.  She closed her eyes, gently massaging Laura’s hand, much as she had done with the locket.

Opening her eyes she said gently: “I sense that there is some turmoil in your life.” Ceridwen smiled.  “I detect that you doubt someone close to you.  You also have some important choices to make.  Am I correct my dear?”

“How you would know that?”  Laura pulled her hand away.

“I am sensitive to people’s emotions.  I can feel things just from a touch…”

~~~~~~~~~~~

The Silver Locket in paperback and ebook with the quote 'I enjoyed it so much that I read it in a day'.

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Location, Location, Location #28

Wide angle view of the Gare du Nord, Paris
Location No. 28 – Gare du Nord, Paris

Welcome to Paris, where we find ourselves just outside the Gard du Nord, the imposing railway station in the north of the city, for another stop on our literary tour through the pages of my novels. You may remember that we previously visited the ‘city of lovers’ almost a year ago, when we caught up with Laura and Greg from The Silver Locket in the Père Lachaise cemetery.

As I explained then, Paris was as special to Laura, as it is to me, and I drew heavily on my own experiences of visiting that wonderful city when I was writing the book. Paris was the first overseas location to which I travelled with my husband, back in 1985, when we were very, very young. We visited the city during the Easter Weekend, travelling by ferry and train, and stayed in the two hotels mentioned in the excerpt below – for the very same reason.

~~~~~

Laura was just opening a tin of soup for her lunch when the phone rang. It was Greg.

“Hi, Law, what are you doing next weekend?”

“I’ve nothing planned, Greg.  Why?”

“Come to Paris with me. I’ll send you the plane ticket.”

“What, Paris, for the weekend?” Laura had to admit she was excited at the prospect.  This was more like the old Greg. “That’s a bit extravagant, isn’t it?”

“The thing is, I’m down to go to a conference there the following week, but I thought if I arrived early, you could come over and we could make a special weekend of it. I know you love Paris, we could stay in that same hotel by Gare du Nord.”

That would be fabulous, really, Greg.”

“Okay then, it’s settled, I’ll sort out the tickets now. You should get them mid-week. Just make sure you get yourself to the airport in good time.”

“Yes, Greg, of course, listen I…”

“Sorry, Law, gotta go, duty calls.” He rang off abruptly.

Laura looked at the receiver. Well, that was a surprise, a very nice one too. Laura did love Paris, and it was special to her and Greg too. Their first trip away together had been to Paris. They’d gone for a week. They’d spent the first two nights in the Hotel Apollo, opposite the station, but couldn’t afford to stay there longer, so had moved to a cheaper hotel round the corner. She couldn’t remember its name, but she did remember the very squeaky bed. Laura shook her head in embarrassment, her face feeling flushed even now. Everyone had stared at them smirking at breakfast, or at least that what she’d thought at the time.

~~~~~

Ahem. On with the tour…

The glass pyramid outside the famous Louvre Museum hadn’t been built when we first visited Paris, although it was finished by the time that Laura and Greg went there in 1989, several years before Dan Brown made it really famous in the Da Vinci Code.

I’ve always enjoyed visiting museums and galleries, but one of my biggest disappointments in the Louvre was the size of the painting of the Mona Lisa, which we, like Laura, found was surrounded by a tightly-packed crowd of tourists. As I remember, Leonardo’s La Giaconda was encased in a thick glass cabinet, making it even more difficult to see. Still, there were many, many other wonderful exhibits to appreciate, as well as the gift shop!

~~~~~

Laura showered and dressed. There were still several hours before she was due to meet Greg, but she was quite keen to have another look around the Louvre, particularly since Greg’s attention span for such places was considerably shorter than her own. She remembered she needed to get a present for Helen; there was sure to be something suitable in the museum shop and if she still had time to spare she could always wander around the nearby gardens.

Laura drifted around the museum. Normally in a place of this size she would be systematic and plan a route around the things she really wanted to see, but today she was too preoccupied with her feelings about Greg and whether she really did want to go with him on this new posting. He’d not really convinced her about the job she’d be doing, although it had to be better than the one she had in Brussels. No one seemed to miss her from it anyway. There had certainly been no problem extending her leave of absence. The decision was really about her relationship with Greg. Yesterday, up on Montmartre, she’d convinced herself that she they had a promising future together, but now he’d gone off to this urgent meeting, and she’d had time to reflect on her own, she wasn’t so sure.

She found herself behind a group of Japanese tourists. Laura smiled to herself. They would be jostling for position to view the Mona Lisa. Laura mingled with the crowd, moving gently through them to the thick glass cabinet which contained the famous portrait.

~~~~~

And so to ever-so-romantic Montmartre, with its galleries, artists and cafés, and probably the most expensive gin and tonic in the world.

Place du Tertre, Montmartre

In June 1993, budget airline, Easyjet started flying from Liverpool to Paris, and with Liverpool’s John Lennon airport just down the road from where we lived, we decided to treat ourselves to a weekend in Paris. On this particular trip, we decided to enjoy an afternoon drink after visiting the wonderful Salvador Dalí Museum and Gallery. We naïvely selected a pavement café on the edge of the main square above, ordered two G&Ts and discovered the cost was €12 (about $13.50) – pretty pricey now, extortionate then!

We made our drinks last, and it was suppertime before we moved on. I can’t remember where we ate, nor specifically where we finished our evening, but it was in a small, softly-lit bar where a pianist serenaded us, the only customers. He played several songs we recognised, including one of those ‘our tunes’. Some of you might recognise the Tom Robinson version, ‘Yuppie Scum’, but listening to the tune being played on the piano in that Parisian bar that night makes this clip seem far more appropriate for me to share with you.

That concludes our little tour for today, but even though I may never return, my memories of that wonderful city will continue to be a source of inspiration to me, for like Bergman and Bogart, We’ll Always Have Paris.

~~~~~

The Silver Locket in paperback and ebook with the quote 'I enjoyed it so much that I read it in a day'.

The Silver Locket
(written under pen name Holly Atkins) is available in paperback and ebook from Amazon.

USA UK ~ ESP ~ CAN ~ AUS ~ IND ~ the rest of the world

Image credits: Gard du Nord – MarcusObal (Wikimedia Commons); Louvre – Irina Lediaeva on Unsplash; Mona Lisa – Werner Willmann (Wikimedia Commons); Montmartre – talktraveltome.com

Location, Location, Location #13

Location No. 13 – my former house in South Liverpool

On today’s stop on our literary journey through my novels we find ourselves outside the house in Liverpool where my novel writing journey began. It was here that I started writing The Silver Locket. Built in 1911, the house was pretty run down when we moved there in November 2000. It didn’t even have a kitchen, although it did have a ghost.

It had been rather a grand house in its time, owned by a widow of the Irish Free State and then by a master mariner, prior to the family we bought it from purchasing it in the 1950s. It even had a flagpole out the back. One of the upstairs rooms still had a push-bell to summon the housekeeper. She would, no doubt, have lived in, and the attic rooms at the top of the house would have been the servants’ quarters at one time.

I believe our ghost was that of the former housekeeper.

There was no ghostly apparition, but there was definitely a presence; a warm, benevolent presence that I would sense when the house was quiet and I was upstairs, usually in the day-time. She’d descend from the attic, traverse the landing, passing the two front bedrooms, then turn to go downstairs, at which point the feeling of someone being there would evaporate. The cats were aware of her too. If one of them was in the bedroom with me, they’d look up and follow her progress. Even my husband couldn’t deny that there was ‘something’.

Over time, I came to think of her as Hodge the Housekeeper, who graced the pages of The Silver Locket. Subsequently, as a younger women at an earlier time, she turned up as the housekeeper in Following the Green Rabbit (you can’t waste a good character).

Photo found on Pinterest

We spent several years doing up the house, finishing with the little attic room with the dormer window (top left in the photo), which had a little white-painted fireplace, very like this one. It was this old, untouched room that I translocated to the house, 20 miles away in Rufford, which Laura inherits at the start of The Silver Locket.

The Prologue begins:
“The silver locket hides beneath the loose floorboard in a small attic room. Sunlight streams through the window pointing towards the tarnished trinket which waits patiently for its secrets to be unlocked.”

There was, indeed, a loose floorboard by the little fire place, but sadly there was no tarnished trinket to be found in that hidey-hole. I was so disappointed! But where my locket came from is a different story.

Now, let us join Laura who, having settled back in the old leather armchair and closed her eyes, has the first of her mysterious dreams, which seem to be connected to a little locket she’s found.

Excerpt from ‘The Silver Locket’

Laura is in the little attic room. Sunlight and birdsong stream through the open window. She looks around. The room is simply furnished, with a table and chair in one corner and an overstuffed couch facing the window. A large chest has been placed under the window and a small silver framed mirror is propped against the wall on the mantelshelf over the fireplace.

She approaches the fireplace, intrigued by the metal fire surround. Someone has started to decorate the raised sunflower pattern in yellow and green paint. Then she notices that she has a paint brush in her hand. It is she who has been carefully painting in the flowers on the dull metal.

She looks in the little mirror and is surprised to see another face reflected in the glass, the face of a young girl, her long dark hair drawn back in a thick plait. She is wearing a white cotton pinafore and the front of it is stained with yellow and green paint.

“Miss Cathy! Miss Cathy! Are you up here? What are you doing?”

The face looks guilty and turns toward the door.

The woman appears in the doorway, her face flushed from climbing the stairs.

“There you are… and look at the state of you,” she says. There is an Irish lilt to her voice and although she is frowning, she doesn’t seem cross.

Laura feels the girl’s guilt and puts the paint brushes in their water jar, which is balancing on the narrow mantelshelf.

The woman is well-built and dressed in a stiff white blouse and long black skirt, Laura judges her to be in her thirties. She advances into the room and stands next to her, viewing the newly-decorated fireplace.

“That looks much more cheerful, so it does. This little sitting room of mine could do with a spruce up, not that I have time to use it.”  The woman turns and smiles. “Now come and get cleaned up.  Your mother’s ready for her afternoon tea.”

As she is gently escorted from the room, Laura catches sight of her reflection in the little mirror. The face looks pleased, but her eyes look sad.

Obediently she follows the woman down the narrow stairs onto the landing. The house is familiar, but the furnishings are different and the layout wrong in some way, which Laura can’t identify. The woman takes her into a bedroom and pours water from a heavy-looking jug decorated with dark blue roses into a matching porcelain bowl.

“Now wash those hands while I find you a clean pinafore. You know how a mess upsets your mother.”


The Silver Locket
(written under pen name Holly Atkins) is available in paperback and ebook from Amazon.

USA UK ~ CAN ~ AUS ~ IND
the rest of the world

Psst! – Fancy a look inside my old house? This site still has the photos from when were selling it.

Location, Location, Location #3

Location No 3 – Preston, Lancashire

Preston, in the north west of England, is not the loveliest of towns, although it has some hidden gems. Too much 20th century development has trampled over the heart of the place, which dates back to Roman times. Preston came to prominence as far back as the 12th century, but the city’s history is not why this location is important to our literary journey today.

Once again, we’re delving into some of the background to The Silver Locket.

I was working in Lancashire County Council’s offices in Preston when I started writing the novel, and working in that public sector environment somehow led me to Laura’s occupation: a translator for the EU in Brussels (remember we’re back in 1989). It was my daily commute there from Liverpool through Rufford that really kick-started the novel. Driving fifty miles each way gives a writer lots of thinking time, in between listening to Radio 4, and I wrote many scenes in my head whilst on the road. Naturally, I couldn’t resist a little nod to the city in which I was working.

My desk at County Hall overlooked the Lancashire Records Office, which Laura visits to find out more about the family who lived in the house she’d inherited. It’s a strange building, elevated on stilts. I never did find out why. Nor did I actually visit the place. My knowledge of its operation came from a friend of mine, who was training as an archivist at the time. That’s Jo.

Real people, or sometimes just their names, do occasionally find themselves recreated fictionally in my books. The surname of the Reverend who married Cathy’s parents was borrowed from a colleague. He was rather pleased when I told him.

But back to our setting and the jeweller’s shop that Laura visits. Conveniently, there is (or at least was) a tiny jeweller’s shop, almost exactly as described in the book. Rather dark and mysterious, it had just the kind of owner who’d have the right connections to point Laura in the right direction to solve the mystery of her locket. More about where that takes her another time.

You’ll also notice I make references to the weather. Preston must be the wettest and windiest place I’ve ever encountered!

Excerpt from ‘The Silver Locket’

Twenty minutes later, the train pulled in at Preston. The station was larger and grander than Laura expected, with its curved wrought ironwork and glass roof supported on ornate columns which harked back the Victorian age of steam. From what Laura could see, Preston itself was rather less impressive than its railway station, although she was pleased to see a large Debenhams store on the corner. She might call in on the way back. Now she’d decided to stay on at the house for a while, she could do with a more extensive wardrobe than the suitcase-full she had brought.

Laura followed the directions given to her by the archivist she had spoken to at the Records Office on the phone the previous day. As she passed the solid square building of the county council offices, Laura imagined the staff inside scratching away at piles of bureaucracy, much like their counterparts in Brussels.

The Records Office was as described: an oblong building on stilts. Maybe the building was so strangely elevated to protect the records from flood, although despite the volume of the recent rain, it seemed unlikely that flood waters would ever reach such a height.

The archivist, Jo, who she’d spoken to on the phone, was an attractive young woman with long blonde hair. She was a great help, setting her up with the microfiche records of baptisms and burials from St. Mary’s church. Laura scanned through the records. It didn’t take her long to get used to navigating through the closely written text. Laura knew that the date of Cathy’s baptism had to before 1912. If Peter had been 22 when he’d died, as it said on the gravestone, he would have been born in 1890, just over a hundred years ago. Cathy was obviously his younger sister, so she should start looking at the entries after 1890.

And there it was: Catherine Emily Martland, baptised 31st March 1897. Her parents’ names, Thomas Edgar and Sarah Elizabeth, of Rufford, Lancashire. The ceremony performed by the Reverend Josiah Blackburn.

At last, here was the proof that Cathy had existed. This had to be the Cathy who experiences she had lived out in the two dreams, she’d had. Dreams that had been so vivid, it had been as if she was Cathy herself. Laura had never had dreams like these before. She wasn’t exactly disturbed by them, but it was strange. Maybe it was as Helen had said. She was just so immersed in the house that she was bound to dream about it. But still, why wasn’t she dreaming about her aunt? Why were the dreams taking her back to an earlier period in the house’s history?

Laura exchanged the baptisms sheet for the burials one. There was no record of the burials of Thomas or Peter. The woman in the churchyard had said that they never found Thomas’s body. Maybe Peter’s body had been lost too. Sarah’s burial was dated 18th July 1916.  She and Cathy had already moved out of the house, of course, as Lucy’s husband had purchased it in 1913. Laura wondered where they had gone. She continued to scan the records, but she could find no entry for Catherine. Her eyes were getting tired, and anyway she had found out what she really wanted to know. One final scan and her eyes found the name James Clayton, Lucy’s husband. He had died in 1925. Poor Lucy, though maybe if he had been so badly shell-shocked, it had been something of a relief.

Laura returned the microfiche sheets to their box and took them back to the counter.

“Any luck?” asked Jo.

“Yes, thanks,” Laura replied. “I found what I was looking for.”

“Well, if you need anything else, you know where we are.”

Laura headed back towards the station, passing the entrance and heading for the ugly Fishergate Centre which housed Debenhams. A quick coffee and a slice of cake fortified her for some proper retail therapy. Although not a particularly keen clothes shopper, Laura was happy enough browsing the displays and picking out some practical additions to her currently sparse wardrobe. She also splashed out on a duvet and a pretty cover, since she was missing the comfort and ease of a quilt, being no longer accustomed to the sheets and blankets she was using now.

As she left the Centre she noticed a small jeweller’s shop on the opposite corner. She still had the locket fastened around her neck and it would be the ideal opportunity to have it examined. The bell on the door rang loudly as she entered.

“Be right with you,” called a voice from the back room of the shop. Presently, a man emerged.

“Could you take a look at this for me?” Laura asked unfastening the ribbon and handing him the little necklace. “I think it should open, but I’m afraid of breaking it.”

He turned the locket over in his hand. “I’m a bit busy just now, but I can certainly look at it tomorrow if you want to leave it with me.”

Laura hesitated. Somehow she didn’t want to part with the locket. But that was stupid. She could easily come back on the train tomorrow. She nodded and took his card.

Fortunately the train wasn’t crowded and Laura was able to secure sufficient space to accommodate her purchases. As the train pulled into Rufford station, she recognised the woman in the brown coat again. She had just left the platform and was heading over the level crossing. Laura was keen to speak to her. She hurried off the train, dragging her carrier bags with her. The woman turned into the churchyard. Laura tried to quicken her pace, but the wind which had replaced the rain, caught the unwieldy bags and slowed her down. By the time she reached the church the woman had vanished. Maybe she had gone into the church? Laura went to look, but the door was locked.


The Silver Locket: available as a paperback, ebook and on KindleUnlimited

Image credit: visitpreston.com

Location, Location, Location #1

Location No. 1 – St Mary’s Church, Rufford

Come on a journey with me…

The setting is very important to a novel: the sense of place, time and social environment contextualizes the story so that the reader can visualize and experience it.

I thought it might be fun over the coming weeks for us to go and visit some of the places where my novels have been set. Each time I’ll give you a little of the background as why these locations were important to my story and important to me, and you can read how they fit into the narrative of the book.

We’ll begin in Rufford, a little village in West Lancashire, England, where my debut novel, The Silver Locket, is mainly set.

My route to work each day took me through this pretty little place with its traditional houses, surrounded by flat, fertile farmland. In the evening, I’d see a hawk hovering over a field, then swooping down to catch its prey, and through the early morning mist, a bright barn owl would fly low across the road, almost touching the windscreen.

Near the centre of the village, there is a big, brick-built Victorian house, set back from the road, in large grounds. I was particularly drawn to the huge old oak tree in the garden. It grew in my imagination and over time, the house and garden became the perfect location for my heroine, Laura, to begin her ‘journey’ through the pages of my story.

Early on in the book, Laura visits St. Mary’s, the local church in Rufford. Here, in the churchyard, we learn some important clues about the past inhabitants of the house that Laura has recently inherited, and we meet a new character, about whom there is a definite air of mystery.

St. Mary’s Church, Rufford, is a real place, although its resemblance to the church and churchyard in my story is no more than a passing one. However, I do share Laura’s passion for visiting old graveyards…

Excerpt from ‘The Silver Locket’

Laura was keen to explore some more of the village. She walked down the twisting side road towards St Mary’s Church. Laura had always loved old graveyards; there was something about the hint of past lives engraved on old lichen-covered gravestones which she found curiously satisfying. As Laura worked her way through the headstones reading names and dates it occurred to her that the inhabitants of Rufford had been a particularly hardy bunch, all living to a ripe old age over the last couple of centuries.

One grave stood out to contradict this. It belonged to the Martland family. She leant forward and read the inscription: ‘In memoriam: Peter, beloved son of Thomas and Sarah, aged 22 years, died in a storm off the New Hampshire coast, 28th April 1912.

Then beneath that: ‘Captain Thomas Edgar Martland, aged 49 years, lost with his ship “Ariadne” and all her crew, 14th April 1913.’ There was a poem:

‘Safely moored amongst the peaceful dead
And from his labours rests his weary head,
With Neptune’s waves many times he’s fought,
Yet the blow was struck when least was thought.’

and underneath that…

‘Rest in peace: Sarah, loving wife and mother, died of a broken heart, 15th July 1916, aged 45 years.”

“So sad,” someone said softly behind her.

Laura started. She hadn’t heard anyone approach. She turned to see a big, powerful-looking woman with thick greying hair drawn up into a bun. She wore a brown coat and sturdy-looking shoes.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.” She spoke with a trace of an Irish lilt in her voice. “So sad, both Peter and the Captain gone and Peter’s first time at sea too.”

“They died within almost a year of each other,” said Laura, looking at the dates.

“That’s right. Peter was on his way back from his first trip to New York and the Captain, he was lost at almost the same time the following year. His poor body was never found. Mrs Martland was never the same again, losing them both… and then…” her voice trailed off. The woman shook her head, gazing beyond the gravestone into the distance. “Sad, so sad…”

“You remember them?” But how could she, thought Laura. The captain and his son had perished 75 years ago. “No, surely it was too long ago?”

The woman smiled back her, her expression far away.

“Do you live round here?” asked Laura. “I’ve just moved into my aunt’s old house in the village.”

“So you have,” said the woman in agreement.

Laura looked at her, wondering how she knew. News travelled fast in a small place like this she supposed. Memories too, would be in the psyche of the village.

“It was my home once.” the woman replied. She reached inside her coat and consulted a small silver fob watch which was pinned to her dress.  “I must go now.” She turned abruptly and walked away, her upright figure disappearing behind the west wall of the church.


The Silver Locket: available as a paperback, ebook and on KindleUnlimited

Freebie this week!

 

Well, it’s that kinda week…

Just a reminder that my novel, ‘The Silver Locket’ written under pen name Holly Atkins, will be available to download onto your Kindle (or phone with ‘app’) for the rest of this week.

Please do help yourself to a copy!

If you get the chance, I’d really like to hear what you think about it. All feedback and reviews are welcome.

Ellie Scott did and I really appreciated her review. Here’s what she said: Ellie Scott’s book review of The Silver Locket

Offer closes Friday 30th November at 11:59 PST (Saturday 1st December 07:59 GMT)

Climbing on the Black Friday Bandwagon

black friday lunasonline

It has to be done. A FREE OFFER!

Actually it will be Monday 26 – Friday 30 November.

My novel, ‘The Silver Locket’ written under pen name Holly Atkins, will be available to download onto your Kindle (or phone with ‘app’).

Please do help yourself to a copy and let me know what you think, if you have the time, like the lovely Ellie Scott did: Ellie Scott’s book review of The Silver Locket

Save it to read after NaNoWriMo, if that’s what you’re doing. I have a stack of books waiting for me.

So, from Monday 12:00 PST (08:00 GMT) this is where to go for your freebie:

Marketing books to the local community

 


A few weeks ago I told you about a little marketing initiative which I cooked up with my writing buddy, Paul English, involving a donation of the first two published books in his
Fire Angel Universe series to a school library. Giving a Fellow Author a Plug!

Article in Bolander Paul English-page-0Now I’m pleased to say that the article I submitted to our local newspaper, The Bolander, was published yesterday, both online and in print. ‘This is a long established popular community title which is distributed to 31 150 readers’ homes. Readers receive hyper local content with a focus on community news, including local personalities, advice and editorial columns, reader’s letters and sport.’  So it’s a good place in which to be featured!

Here’s the link to the online article, which Paul and I have shared far and wide (so you might even have seen it already): Author Unleashes Fire Angel Series.

We also have print copies of our books out there: Paul has some in a local art gallery and in our favourite local bookstore, Bikini Beach Books.

I have some signed copies of The Silver Locket in our local Mexican Deli, Senor Onion, (thank you,  Karen), they do great food by the way! And yesterday I presented a signed copy of Sextet to my podiatrist who promises to put it on top of the magazine pile in the waiting room after he and his receptionist have finished reading it (thanks, James)!

Wouldn’t these look nice on your bookshelf?

 

 

 

From my first novel…

The Silver Locket by Holly AtkinsHere’s the Prologue from ‘The Silver Locket’…

The silver locket hides beneath the loose floorboard in a small attic room.  Sunlight streams through the window pointing towards the tarnished trinket which waits patiently for its secrets to be unlocked.

The locket has a history.  It has a past forged in passion and suffering; bought in the hope of love and put away in despair.  A gardener’s boy, aspiring to the love of his master’s young daughter Cathy, bought it from a traveller at a local market.  The traveller had assured him of the mystical powers of the locket which he said had been wrought in a far off land, where dreams come true.

The boy had spent a whole week’s wages on the locket; taken it home and polished it lovingly.  He’d removed the faded photograph it contained and replaced it with a drawing of a little rabbit, ears pricked and nose raised as if sniffing a scent on the breeze.  Cathy had been so delighted when he’d brought her the baby rabbit he’d found in the orchard that bright May morning.  Together they’d taken it to the far side of the meadow and watch it scamper away, safe from the murderous eye of Mr. Stebbins, the head gardener.

A few weeks later, he gathered his courage and presented her with the locket.  The traveller’s magic worked.  She smiled up at him and kissed him quickly on the cheek.  He took her lightly in his arms, the calloused skin of his hands stroking the soft fabric of her gown.  He had captured her heart, just as he’d captured the little rabbit.

But as the sun rose high in the sky that summer, the locket, once so proudly displayed, disappeared from view.  For a while longer it was still tenderly worn, pinned to the young girl’s under-bodice, close to her heart.  But a year after its giving, the locket found itself gently put away, hidden in the under-floorboard darkness, waiting to be found.

Now read on…click here