This is an excerpt from Chapter Forty-OneA Secret Place – 2002
As the evening grew darker Gina took Caroline’s hand and led her further down the valley towards a grove of olive trees. Gina told Caroline she had a secret place where she spent many peaceful hours. It was there she found a deep pit covered with wooden planks hidden in the undergrowth. Caroline was intrigued so came prepared with a rope.
“See here, Caroline, here is the pit as I told you. The wooden lid is held down with a large boulder. Why would someone do such a thing? It could only be a water well, don’t you think?”
“I’m not really sure but whatever the reason, I am curious to see.”
“It may not be safe shouldn’t we ask the archeological dig people to look?”
“If I find some precious artifact or relic I will certainly get James over here. Now don’t worry I will be careful.”
With one end of the rope tied to a sturdy olive tree Caroline’s excitement grows. She holds a lantern over the void, before lowering herself down slowly. Gina watches as Caroline gradually disappears into the inky blackness.
The lantern hanging off her belt Caroline’s descent was slow but gradual and her eyes could pick out roots and rocks jutting out of the pit walls. Eventually she felt her feet touch ground and called up to Gina.
“I’m at the bottom now.”
“Be careful, is there no water? You don’t know what’s down there.”
Peering through the gloom Caroline suddenly gave out a cry making Gina jump and call down to her.
“Are you all right?”
“Yes, I’m fine but I’ve found a skeleton!”
Both girls exclaimed at once “Who could it be?”
“I have no idea but I’m guessing this well has been dry for quite some time.”
Caroline knew she would have to get the Professor down the well with proper equipment; it could be a wonderful discovery. For now she needed to make sure she didn’t disturb anything and made her way back up.
Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce Absolutely loved this book! Great characters, story, tension, discovery and the power of finding your true self. The descriptions transported you to the locations. I thoroughly recommend it.
My next read is Saying Goodbye is Easy – A Life in Short Stories by Kathie Sutherland.
What are you currently reading? What was your last review?
With ‘time’ on our hands many of us have been reading – which is great. However, have you returned to a favourite book (or even books?)
I have several that I have returned to over the years but one seems to be above the others. It is Ferney by James Long. When I think of the story the characters come back like old friends, which is why many of us love a book. If a character spills into your normal life then the author has done their job.
In such narratives we want the characters and their lives to continue, we imagine what happens next and where they are now. It is the same with these characters as it is with long lost friends.
If you are interested in reincarnation (as I am) then this novel is for you but it is also a lovely love story too.
When Mike and Gally move to a new cottage in Somerset, it’s to make a new start. But the relationship comes under strain when Gally forms an increasingly close attachment to an old countryman, Ferney, who seems to know everything about her.
What is it that draws them together? Reluctantly at first, then with more urgency as he feels time slipping away, Ferney compels Gally to understand their connection – and to face an inexplicable truth about their shared past.
In fact James did write a sequel some 13 years later and although the characters are following on it did not grip me like the first one. However, please don’t be put off by my thoughts. It is still a great story.
It is interesting that the first book was published in 1998 and James didn’t write the sequel until 2011…! That’s some wait for a sequel.
The other book which I reread some 35 years later (yes I know showing my age) was The Stand. I picked it up at the airport prior to flying to Canada for the first time (a long time ago) because it was a nice thick book. We’ve all been there prior to a long haul flight – right? Anyway, once I started reading I was completely hooked. This was my introduction to Stephen King and his storytelling. When I read the special complete & uncut edition all those years later, it was still gripping and sucked me into the narrative.
Just a quick sidebar – I had watched the movie Carrie years before but had no idea it was by Stephen at that time.
We all have specific tastes in literature, which equates to the genres we mainly read, but there is another reason that a book can catch our interest – something that fascinates us. Obviously, the list is vast and always changing as we grow older, gain life experiences and even move location, whether to a new town or country. These underlining interests can even stem from childhood. For instance, I was taught about the natural world around me and the globe from an early age and I enjoy books that encompass that. My children’s book, Ockleberries to the Rescue is set in a forest, where magical sprites help their woodland animal friends.
I also became intrigued with reincarnation and life after death after experiencing several incidences while nursing. My favorite novel uses this topic as it’s basis. Ferney by James Long is a book, I reread regularly not just because of the reincarnation element but also because it is beautifully written and I love the characters.
I recently found two books, with this topic. Past Presence by Nicole Bross and River of Destiny by Babara Erskine. They are spellbinding stories and well written.
I also used reincarnation in my own novel, The Twesome Loop where four characters meet their past souls in modern day. It is a romance that begins in England but culminates in a beautiful Italian villa.
What guides you to specific genres?
Do you seek out books that use a certain topic or theme?
Before Remaining Aileen was, Remaining Aileen the novel, she was an idea I had for a screenplay. A few years back, around 2014 I had this super vivid vision of a young mom, who was on a plane that was falling from the sky. All hope is lost. Her thoughts revolve around never seeing her children, or husband again, and the devastating reality that she is going to die. Until she wakes up, alive, completely unharmed- or so it appears.
This scene became the inciting incident that would propel Aileen along her journey, as well as what started me down my path of becoming a writer.
At the suggestion of my amazing husband, Aileen became a novel instead of a screenplay, and now she is about to be released into the world and I truly still, cannot believe it. Fun fact, my very first title idea was Vampire Mom, and it was going to be this light-hearted story of a mom who becomes a vampire, until I realized just how HARD it would be to actually try and be a mom and a vampire. While I do keep some light-heartedness in the story, it did end up taking a bit of a darker/ more emotional turn (which I am so excited about) than I originally was planning. But if there is one thing I have learned about writing stories, is that they seem to tell you what they want to be regardless of your original intentions. It’s best to just see where it takes you sometimes!
–How did you come up with the title?
My first idea for a title for this book was Vampire Mom, but as the story unfolded it just didn’t fit anymore. My main character Aileen really struggles with her new “life” as a vampire and does all she can to try and make her new life fit back with in her old one. So Remaining Aileen felt a little more descriptive of her goal and struggle within the story.
How much of the book is realistic?
In many ways Aileen’s story into motherhood is based on my own inner struggles I went through while learning how to be a mom, but overall, this being a vampire story, it’s not exactly realistic.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I think my characters are all inspired in some way by either people I know, have known, or maybe would like to know! But no one character is based on anyone specific.
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
I do have plans for a sequel for Remaining Aileen, Aileen still has a way to go in her story and I’m excited to share the rest of it when the time comes!
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
One of favorite character’s ended up being Ana, Aileen’s Mother-in-Law. There is just something about her bulldog “don’t mess with me or my family” attitude that I deeply admire. Ana would do anything for the ones she loves.
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
I really enjoy writing within the speculative/paranormal realm of things. While Remaining Aileen is Women’s Fiction I prefer to add a speculative twist to it rather than normal/real-life type things.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
I plan my stories. I need to have a clear vision for what my beginning, middle, and end will be before I dive in and write.
What is your best marketing tip?
I am so new to the world of marketing, so far, I don’t have enough experience to give any tips but if I end up with any I will gladly share!
-Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
I find social media to be more of a tool than a hindrance for me. It’s where I have found my support network for my writing, as well as a place I can connect with readers. I have made some really amazing writer friends through my social media platforms.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
What I enjoy most about writing is when you get that initial idea. The spark. That single immeasurable moment where what did not exist now exists and it’s such a great feeling. My next favorite moment is writing the words “The End”. I’ve never felt more accomplished then writing those two words at the end of my first finished draft.
What age did you start writing stories/poems?
I was 28.
Where is your favorite writing space?
My favorite place to write is my white oak desk my husband crafted for me. We hand selected each board that went into it together, and the fact he made it for me makes it so special.
-Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?
I started my own writing group of sorts called Writer Moms Inc., a support group for mom writers on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram. While Writer Moms Inc. mostly holds an online presence, I do try my best to meet up with my local writer mom friends and chat about all things writing and mom life, as well as encourage the members of WMI to do the same where they live!
-If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?
I have two authors actually I would love to meet, share a cup of tea with and chat about writing and life. The first is Anne Rice, because well, she’s Anne Rice! I really feel like her vampire stories were the precursor to many of the vampire fiction/movies/TV I love to watch.
I would also love to meet Stephanie Meyer. My whole inspiration for becoming a writer was because of reading Twilight, so I would love to have the chance to meet her in person and gush all about how amazing she is and how grateful I am that she put her stories out into the world.
-If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?
I actually quite love where I currently live, in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada range, however, I really love the Pacific North West so if I could live anywhere I might head up north!
-Do you see writing as a career?
I would really like being a published author to become my career. After Remaining Aileen, I will have her sequel to write, and then I have a few other novel ideas floating around I’d love to develop and publish.
-Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?
I don’t tend to eat while writing, but coffee or tea is a must!
-What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?
Usually, my rewards for reaching deadlines, or completing drafts is to stay up at late as I want catching up on all the Netflix I missed while writing!
Your prompt today is: If you could live to see an event in the future, what would that event be?
This is what came to my mind.
Projecting my thoughts to think of a future event, brought to mind seeing my great, great grandchildren’s children. Where they might live, what they enjoy, who they marry and of course what their world would look like.
Would there be flying cars, and technological and robotic advances beyond our current thinking? Would the world still be lush and green or a wasteland? Indeed will it be a happy healthy place for them to live?
I hope my journey into the future makes me happy and that my heritage lives on with love and freedom. Would that I could see future generations making a difference to their world.
Seeing children with a genetic familiarity in blue yes and dark hair. Maybe even a writer or two – now that would be a legacy to be proud of.
What future event comes to your mind? Why not share it in the comments?