It’s all over now

nanowrimo 2019

The final week shuddered to a grinding halt yesterday, with not a single word more written since Thursday. ‘Life’ got in the way. 

Never mind.

The ‘life’ bit included trying to persuade people to help themselves to the free download of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone.’ I’m pleased to say there has been some success so far, and the offer will still be running for almost another 24 hrs.

Back to NaNoWriMo. I didn’t quite reach my hoped-for word count of 30K, but I’m beyond 25K and story-wise I’m reaching the mid-point, although there are a few blank spaces in the chapters I’ve written so far. Compared to last year, I’m about two chapters shy of where I got to with Following the Green Rabbit, so I’m pretty satisfied.

Of course it isn’t all over. The story continues to drip forth. I’m hoping to have something approaching a completed MS by next Easter. Then comes the tricky bit. To paraphrase one of Mr Shakespeare’s characters: ‘To query or not to query?’

If you were participating in NaNoWriMo on any level, how was it for you?

NaNoWriMo Week #3

nanowrimo 2019

Well, I’m pretty pleased with myself at the end of week 3. I have a further six chapters more or less completed, although obviously not polished, and the story is flowing now.

My characters are fleshing out nicely: they have quirks and foibles and they’re starting to spark off one another. Yesterday I nearly fell off my chair trying to imagine what it would be like to climb up the inside of a cave, and I became quite breathless swimming along an underwater tunnel.

It’s been fun!

I’ve fallen a little behind today, as I spent all morning chatting over rooibos tea and biscuits with one friend, and half the afternoon chatting over coffee and stollen with some other friends. I must take advantage of the sudden sugar rush!

On to the final week…

Enjoy, fellow NaNo writers! My tip of the week: cake helps.

NaNoWriMo Week #2

nanowrimo 2019

Well I’d be fibbing if I was to say it was all going swimmingly. And, in a sense this is more prevarication. So I’ll keep it short.

This week two things have been troubling me:

Firstly, the story I’m working on is set in a semi-fictional part of South Africa, which I know fairly well, and it’s sort of present day, but there’s something which doesn’t feel right. I’m not yet sure what it is.

Secondly, I’m having trouble with a couple of characters. I can’t quite work them out. I’m still waiting for them to speak to me. I’m sure they will. I need more conversations!

I just checked back to this time last year. I was doing better word-count wise, but I can see there were doubts in my mind.

Oh and my laptop is on a go-slow. Must be the heat: mid afternoon, 34C in the shade.

Okay, I’m telling myself it’s going to be fine, fine, fine. Just go with the flow and enjoy it! It’s not that anyone but me is piling on the pressure.

Going back to the writing ‘happy place’ for a couple of hours…

Onward and upward, fellow Nano writers!
(as I said this time last year).

To which this year I add:
Relax. Enjoy.


NaNoWriMo Week #1

nanowrimo 2019

Okay, I can’t stop long: brain to squeeze, imagination to let fly, words to get down…

I was feeling confident to begin with; I had a bit of a head start: the main characters were waiting for me and I already had parts of their stories. Some of you might remember, young Sam and his little boat, Johannes the retired engineer, feisty Albertina, the two little aunties and shopkeeper Abdul.

So I spent a day or two reviewing and re-writing. Big mistake! I wasn’t getting the flow. No-one speaking to me, so no-one was guiding the story ahead. (You have to remember, I sit back and let my characters do the work).

Temporary crisis of confidence. Why am I doing this? There’s nothing there! NO story to tell!

But then I ran out of old stuff and started out again. Now we are moving forward. Scenes are emerging before my eyes, there is an overarching theme, there’s going to be a road trip, and I can see a little vervet monkey sitting on a book shelf. The monkey tells me he’s called Felix, but I’m not sure where he fits in yet. But he will.

Oh, and there will be mystery… and magic… and a stick fight…


Heads back down, fellow NaNoWriters! I hope it’s going well.

NaNoWriMo here I come!

nanowrimo 2019

But not officially.

I’m going to write, write and write some more under the ‘NaNo’ umbrella, but just for me, just as I did last year. That was pretty successful. I have the recently released ‘Following the Green Rabbit‘ to show for it!

I don’t do unachievable targets. I don’t set myself up to fail.

I’ll consider around 30,000 words a major success. I won’t have finished a new book, but I’ll be well on the way. And that suits me.

I’ll be touching base out there in ‘twitter-land’ and I’ll post a little weekly update to brag (or shame myself).

And for a little light relief, I’ll be continuing with the what do you see?’ challenge, which has recently been revived by Sadje.

Good luck to everyone who’s doing this! See you on the other side.


Ducking Under the Radar


Okay, those of you who’ve been following the unfolding story of ‘A Nick in Time’, my children’s novel, will know we are reaching the climax and soon the story will draw to a (very satisfactory) close.

I’ve decided to devote the next couple of weeks to doing just that, so I shall be going rather quieter than usual, although I will be popping up now and then to see what you’re all up to.

One more cliff-hanging chapter will appear here, but the ultimate finale will remain undisclosed until the story is ready for publication. Then you, loyal followers of ‘A Nick in Time’ (and you know who you are), will receive a free advance copy of the ebook. 

Bear with me. If I work hard it shouldn’t be too long.

see you soon



What will 2019 bring?


Just a teeny-weeny slightly self-indulgent post to clear the decks and set me on a whole new year of writing. Note the new theme which is perhaps a bit tidier (unlike my desk).

I have finally finished editing the novel which I was writing all last year (between other things, like paid work). The next phase is the boring and daunting bit, the publishing and marketing. I’m going to take this slowly. Deep breaths!

So now I shall be turning my attention to my new work-in-progress novel. It’s the children’s book which I roughly drafted during NaNoWriMo. It hasn’t even got a working title yet, but very soon it will take the place of You’ll Never Walk Alone which will be disappearing from the pages here.

And there will still be my weekly little fiction pieces, responses, random thoughts and that kind of thing, and of course, reading all your lovely stories and engaging with the writing community on social media. However, I will mostly be writing fiction!


The Clock’s Ticking!

the clock is ticking lunasonline Photo by Jordan Benton from Pexels
Photo by Jordan Benton from Pexels

Just to let you know that I won’t be around quite so much for the next 6 weeks. It’s nothing bad.

I promised myself at the beginning of March that I would finish the draft of my new novel by the end of October (this year), and then do something I’ve never done before, and which I’ve wanted to do for almost 10 years: NaNoWriMo.

2018 is the year.
It’s going to be a challenge because I’m going to have to plan this properly.
Starting…now! Well, soon.

I’ll be popping up for air to see what everyone’s up to, but if I don’t interact with you much, you’ll know it’s going well. If I do start wittering on it will mean I’m prevaricating which will not be so good. You might even find me crying in a corner of Twitter.

But let’s be positive. I’m going to get it done.

Wish me luck!

The writer returns

animals on the road lunasonline
Downtown Maun, Botswana

Only last week I asked the question: “Do writers really go on holiday?”

Well, just one week away ‘in the bush’ (well, not quite), and my head is spinning with ideas. Nothing concrete just yet, although I have a host of notes in my little black notebook.

I’ve been wonderfully distracted on my return today by all the stories which my writer friends have been posting while I’ve been away: you are so prolific! And, of course, I just had to stop to read some of these awesome posts. Oh, and do some paid work for my website and social media clients.

Normal service should be resumed next week…plus I mustn’t neglect the work-in-progress novel.

Breakfast at The Adelphi

Chapter 12 of my work-in-progress novel, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.
Visit to read from the start.

Much later Lucy was awoken by the bright morning light shining through the open curtains. She sat up and looked over at Pierre who was staring up at the ceiling. He turned his head and smiled.

“‘Hey, sleepy head,” he said, reaching for her hand and caressing her fingers.

“You went somewhere last night,” Lucy murmured.

“I had to pop out. I brought back a surprise for you.” He let go of her hand and leant over the edge of the bed. He plucked the leather case from the floor and laid it on the bed beside Lucy. “Let’s see what we have in here,” he said as he sprung the catches. He opened the case and took out a document holder and a large, fat envelope. “Well, go on, have a look.”

Lucy picked up the folder and leafed through the contents, her eyes widening. She looked at Pierre. “You’re going to the Isle of Man?”

We’re going to the Isle of Man,” Pierre emphasised. “Look it’s all arranged. Ferry tickets, hotel reservations and…” he picked up the envelope and opened it. “A whole stack of cash,” he announced triumphantly.

“Oh, but…” Lucy hesitated.

“No buts, my beautiful Lucy, it’ll be fun.” Pierre paused and looked up at her with his large brown eyes. “Come on, what d’you say? It’s just a couple of days… and we’ll be able to really get to know each other.” He watched her frown and then as she stroked the ruby, her expression changed.

“I say…yes. Yes, I want to go. I really want to go,” she laughed. “Why not?”

“Right, well, first things first, let’s get some breakfast.”

Lucy was frowning again. “But where did all this come from?” she asked, pointing at the case.

“I have contacts.” Pierre touched his finger to the side of his nose.

“In the middle of the night?”

“Hey, don’t worry about it.”

“Well, okay, fine.” Lucy shrugged.

Pierre was already on the bedside phone ordering half the breakfast menu from room service. Lucy threw back the sheets and padded over to the bathroom. “…and we’ll be staying another night…” she heard Pierre say as she closed the door behind her.

Lucy removed her necklace before stepping into the shower. She closed her eyes and let the hot water cascade over her shoulders. As she reached for the shower gel she stopped. What have I got myself into? Those men…? She finished showering abruptly and flung one of the thick, fluffy bathrobes around herself. Lucy wiped her hand over the steamed up surface of the mirror and stared at her reflection. Everything had happened so fast. She noticed a dark bruise on her wrist and remembered how she had felled one of their attackers. She shuddered. Suddenly, Lucy was full of doubt and alarm. Heart pounding, she gripped the edge of the wash basin tightly, trying to calm down.

The bathroom door opened and Pierre’s face appeared behind hers. He picked up the necklace and held it around Lucy’s neck. A beam of sunlight from the bathroom window fell on the ruby. Its reflection glowed in the mirror bathing both their faces in a warm red glow. Lucy smiled. All her worries melted away. She felt Pierre pressing himself against her.

There was a knock at the door. “Room service,” a man’s voice called from the corridor. Pierre let go of the necklace and grabbing the other bathrobe, bounded to the door. Lucy pulled her robe tightly around her, tucking the necklace into the pocket, and followed him back into the bedroom.

Pierre opened the door to find a large, balding man beaming at him from behind a laden trolley. “Breakfast is served, sir,” he announced, wheeling the trolley over to the table by the window. “I’m Harold by the way,” he said as he busied himself laying the table for them. Table laid, he paused with his hand on the trolley ready to go and looked deliberately at Pierre. Pierre strode across the room and opened the bedroom door. Harold tutted loudly as he wheeled the trolley into the corridor.

Pierre closed the door and joined Lucy at the table. “I think he was expecting a tip,” Lucy said as he sat down.

Pierre shrugged. “I leave him something later,” he rubbed his hands together then picked up his knife and fork. “Well, let’s dig in.”

Lucy hadn’t realised how hungry she was until her breakfast was in front of her. Pierre was the same, judging by the speed at which he was putting his food away. As they ate in silence, Lucy’s mind started to race and she lost her appetite. She put her knife and fork down and pushed her plate away.

“Pierre,” Lucy hesitated.

Pierre looked up. “What’s the matter?”

“I’m just…I don’t know…those men last night. The one I hit, I don’t know what got into me. All that blood on the floor. What if I killed him?”

Pierre stood up and walked around the table. He crouched down beside her. “We were running for our lives Lucy.”

“But why, Pierre? You said they were following you. Who are they?”

“Come and sit by me,” he took Lucy’s hand and together they went and sat on the bed.

“One of them said they were after the necklace?” Lucy’s hand went to her neck.

Pierre turned to her and took both of her hands in his. “Lucy, from the first moment I met you I knew you were special.” He took a deep breath. “And now I need to tell you the truth.” Or some of it, he thought to himself. “Those men work for someone I’ve done a bit of business with now and then. Your necklace…and it is yours…I gave it to you,” he looked at her earnestly before continuing. “I originally got it for him, but when I met you I knew it should be yours.”

“So he wants it back?” Lucy freed her hand from Pierre’s and took the necklace out of the pocket of her bathrobe.

“Listen, Lucy. I gave it to you and I want you to keep it. It’s special. And I told Chan…that’s his name…that I’d get him something else. I have people working on that now,” he finished grandly.

Lucy looked at the glowing ruby, at how it caught the light and how the six-pointed star moved over its surface when she tilted it. “You could give it back to him?”

“No way,” Pierre said, taking the necklace from her and fastening it around her neck. “I told you, it’ll be sorted by the time we get back from the Isle of Man, we just have to lie low until tomorrow. In any case, I’m sure we’ve lost them by now.”

Lucy stroked the stone, feeling less anxious. “This Mr. Chan, he knows you.”

“Sure, but he doesn’t know where to find me. And now we’re going away.”

Lucy frowned. “I’ll need to go home and get some stuff.”

“No need. I’m going to take you shopping.”

“But Pierre, nothing’s open on a Sunday. Besides, you just said we should lie low.”

“That’s where the tunnels come in handy. Come on, get dressed,” he said, pulling her to her feet.

Ten minutes later they were outside the door to their room. Pierre had put most of the contents of the leather case in the safe. Lucy had wondered whether she should put the necklace in there too, but had decided to wear it after all. She was overdressed anyway, not that anyone was going to see them, Pierre had assured her.

Hand in hand they made their way to the foyer. A whole crowd of people were checking out so no-one noticed them as they ducked through the side door into the bar beyond. As Pierre and Lucy disappeared into the tunnels, a Chinese gentleman approached Harold in the busy foyer. He said something before tucking a five pound note into Harold’s top pocket.

©2018 Chris Hall

Go to Chapter 13