Tag Archive: self-publishing


http://afstewartblog.blogspot.com/2011/08/fantastic-fantasy-review-of-on-dark.html

Loving this review and the comments – but not at all intimidated by it, ohhhh nooo….

Thanks so much for the review, AF – now all I have to do is hope and pray the next one won’t let you all down….
JAC

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The countdown begins!

In case any of you have escaped notice so far, “On Dark Shores” is currently going free at Smashwords – BUT this deal only lasts till the end of the month.

So if you want to read a copy – or  do fwd the link on if you have friends who like fantasy – go to http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/46488 and input this special code

SSWSF

which is also written at the top of the Smashwords page, and you should be able to simply download all 45k words of it (ish) without having to pay a solitary penny! Bargain, huh?

And if you enjoy the read, please

a) consider leaving a review – Smashwords, Amazon, the Apple story, Goodreads, anywhere the book is, you’ll find other readers who want to know what you thought of it.

b) if you want to know what happens next, sign up to the mailing list using the rather snazzy new “Get the gossip” button to the right. Book 2 (The Mother) is currently in editing but work is going apace – and you KNOW advance review copies will be offered to reviewers of book 1 and to those on the mailing list before it’s advertised anywhere else!

c) if neither of those appeal, but you enjoyed the book, just go tell someone – preferably someone to whom you think the book will appeal rather than your dog, a small child or your religious advisor, maybe (depending on the religious advisor), but word of mouth is an incredibly powerful thing.

Anyway, the count-down continues – and if On Dark Shores isn’t your thing, check out some of the other books available there. Most have a downloadable sample so you can try before you buy in order to check it looks interesting, and there is some really unusual work out there.

Hope at least some of that will be helpful – and as always, have a great day, peeps!

JAC

 

Hi all – just a quickie in case any of you missed Barbara Silkstone’s guest-blog on the differences between marketing in the UK and the US, with reference to various indie authors including Ali Cooper, Sibel Hodge and myself, among others…

Check it out at http://markwilliamsinternational.com/2011/07/10/swimming-the-atlantic-naked-barbara-silkstone-investigates/

and do leave a comment if you have a view!

JAC

 

Hey all:

Just a brief blog – check out

The Smashwords Top Ten Bestsellers in Epic Fantasy List

This morning I found that ‘On Dark Shores: The Lady’ was up at no. 8, which was very exciting – so I came back to it this evening and would you believe that it’s up to 7th place?

I suspect that this is mostly because it’s free at the moment and I went in to put the price back up to 50% off – but I might leave it another day now, and see if it goes up any higher….

HOW cool is that though?! Exceedingly chuffed!

And as always, if anyone would be prepared to RT on Twitter or Facebook, I’d really appreciate that.

Thanks for your support, all – you know I wouldn’t have got this far without you.

JAC

And here it is:

http://historicalfictionobsession.blogspot.com/2011/06/on-dark-shores-lady-by-ja-clement.html

Kimberly has a blog at http://historicalfictionobsession.blogspot.com/ on which are many other interesting reviews, so do go and have a look, and if you get there before 21st, enter for her giveaway of The Ghosts of Melrose by Buzz Malone.

Pretty pleased with the review though! Have you read ODS? Did you think the same, or did you pick up on other parts of the story? Leave a comment, and let’s have the discussion…

Hope you’re all having a good week, anyhow – no guest post this week but should be one next week, though not sure who will finish their first, so still tbc!

Catch you later, people;

JAC

Morning all:

For this week’s blog we are lucky enough to have been in touch with the multi-talented Lexi Revellian.  Her books are both residing in my Kindle and having read and enjoyed both I can  heartily recommend them. They are not easy to categorise but appeal to most, with their mixture of humour, action, believeable characters and (in Remix) some really kick-ass rocking horses!! If you’ve read them, you’re probably already looking forward to the rest of this post; if you haven’t read them, you should – you’re in for a treat.

On which note, I shall leave you with the details of Lexi’s books, and hand you over to her for the rest of the post.

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Title: Remix

Genre &  format: Mystery/Romance e-book and paperback

One-sentence blurb: A chance encounter with an attractive stranger, and Caz Tallis is drawn into a search for the truth about a rock star’s murder from three years ago…

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Title:  Replica

cover for Replica by Lexi Revellian

Genre & format: Thriller/Romance in e-book (paperback coming soon)

One-sentence blurb:  Beth Chandler is replicated in a flawed experiment; Beth Two tries to survive on the run, while the original Beth, unaware of what has happened, becomes involved with the spec op hunting her replica.

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Lexi Revellian

One-sentence biog:  Lexi is a jeweller/silversmith in London, and has written four books, two of them available to buy.

Website

Blog

Twitter: @LexiRevellian

Facebook

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Writing Replica

January 2010 my bike slipped on an icy speed cushion, and I hit the kerb and broke my shoulder. That accident changed my life for a while. Unable to cycle or drive, I walked between home and work, brooding. It was bitterly cold, and I wondered what it would be like to walk those dark and icy streets with nowhere to go, particularly if people were chasing you for some reason; how someone would react to suddenly losing her place in the world, how she would survive. I’d often thought, as a single mother running a small business, it would be handy if there were two of me. These ideas merged, and I started notes for Replica; biographies for the characters, snippets of dialogue, scenes, ideas, and photographs of locations. I researched the Royal Marines – later cut from the book – and the Security Service, also known as MI5, on the internet. The internet is a godsend to writers. I’m particularly fond of Google Street View, a way of visiting places without leaving my desk. (On the subject of research, I’m lucky that my daughter is a Jitsu blue belt and can help me with fights, and one of my friends is a doctor.) It’s interesting to look over these notes now, and see how much I didn’t use.

Once I knew the start and the finish and some of the characters, I started writing. Replica’s plot is one that could go many ways. The main male character, Nick Cavanagh, wasn’t in my original plans. The man Beth falls for was to have been much nicer, a disabled Marine, one of the Fubars seconded to the government research institute where she works. But he got elbowed aside by Nick (typical of him, I may say) who began by needling his boss in a briefing, and then got more and more important in the story until he became a main POV character. I also changed the end; I realized the ending I’d been heading towards was too obvious and anticlimactic.

The toughest thing about writing Replica was caused by my decision to write alternating chapters from the point of view of replica Beth in first person, while the other chapters are in third and varying POVs. I did this so the reader would never be in any doubt which Beth he/she was reading about, and it works, but every time I got on a roll I’d have to switch POVs with a crash of gears. It wasn’t an option to write all Beth Two’s chapters in one go, either, because I didn’t know what was going to happen.

My method is to think hard about a scene or chapter (the bath, driving or walking is good for this) then write it. If I get stuck, with no idea what to put next, I find bullet points have a miraculous ability to order my thoughts. I list what could happen, what I want to happen, what frame of mind the characters are in and what they want at this point. I like bullet points.

Replica’s setting is London. I prefer to use real places, so if anyone wants to do a Beth tour of central London, it’s possible. The derelict flat she lives in is real; I trespassed there while walking to work. Slightly unnerving, as it was vandalized and inhabited by a couple of squatters. I heard a cat meowing through a locked door as Beth Two does. The flats have since been bought, finished and sold. In my mind’s eye, I have a very clear image even of places I’ve made up.

About self-publishing

I think we are incredibly lucky that, just as mainstream publishing closes its doors to almost all new writers, we have this incredible opportunity with e-publishing on Amazon for the Kindle. Anyone can offer a book for sale, and discover whether people want to read it. There are no setting up charges. I don’t think it’s a problem that some badly-written books are being published this way, as they will sink out of sight. It’s more of a problem to get readers to notice a good book…

I’ve done all the usual things to promote my books, given that I don’t have a great deal of time to spare. It’s not possible to say which work and which don’t – possibly it’s all cumulative. I have a blog and a website, I tweet and struggle to understand my Facebook page, and I go on sites like KindleBoards, Amazon forums and KUF where each of my books has been chosen as Book of the Month. Word of mouth is the best way to sell a book, no question. I use Google Alerts to try to keep track, but that doesn’t tell you everything. Publishing has so many ups and downs, it’s a mistake to take the whole thing too seriously. If in doubt, write another book.

For both my books, I’ve done everything; editing, proofreading, formatting and designing the covers for e-books and paperback (I’m working on Replica’s paperback now). Most of this I’ve enjoyed, though it’s been a steep learning curve. My covers are getting better as I get to grips with Adobe Photoshop 7.0 – its potential is vast, its instructions incomprehensible, and I love it when it’s not driving me nuts. I’m really quite hot at lettering these days.

I’m fortunate in that I have a background in design, and all jewellers are nitpicky and precise by nature and training. I love being in control of artwork, blurb and pricing, and having access to all the detailed sales information Amazon provides. I would strongly recommend going it alone rather than publishing with a small e-publisher. A small e-publisher may seem the easy option, but you lose the main advantages of self-publishing without reaping any reward in the form of publicity. There is plenty of help and advice on the internet from people who have successfully self-published, and most indies are happy to share.

Since August 2010 I’ve sold 27,000 e-books, something I’d have found unbelievable a year ago. You need luck in any form of publishing, and I’ve been lucky. It’s fantastic to think of so many people buying, reading, and enjoying stories I’ve written. That thought always brings a smile to my face.

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So there you have it, people! Thanks to Lexi for her blogpost and thoughts on publishing – and what about the rest of you. Do you agree or disagree? Are you a firm believer in small presses for epublishing or do you have other experiences to share with us? Please comment below and let us know if you do. If you want to know more about Lexi, her books, her silvercraft (is that a word?) and see the fabulous pictures of her work, do check out her website.

Lastly, if you’re about before 10th June, check the previous post on this blog for a massive multi-book giveaway on Misty’s blog Unwritten; and with that I’ll leave you. Next week’s post is still tbc but rumour has it that author Lisa Hinsley might have something interesting to put our way, so watch this space!

In the interim, have a great weekend – and see you same time next week…

JAC

Hi all:

This week I’ve been lucky enough to be able to show you an extract of The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters

by Barbara Silkstone.

I’ve read this book myself, and was much entertained by the updating of the Alice-in-Wonderland premise into modern gangster-ridden Miami – can recommend, especially to John Cleese fans who will empathise with Alice’s quest for her very own personal Cleese-alike….

Secret Diary is available from Amazon for the princely sum of 69 of your English pence – and if you enjoy it, don’t forget to leave a review – helps other readers know you liked it, and tells Barbara what you thought worked!

Have a good weekend, all, and watch this space for hints on who will be guesting here next week…

JAC

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The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three quarters

The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters


            ~ Thursday May 13

 

Alice had never been in a court of justice before, but she had read about them in books,  and she was quite pleased to find that she knew the name of nearly everything there. That’s the judge,” she said to herself…

 

 

7:00 a.m.  “The condemned ate a big breakfast,” I told myself while I prepared a mushroom omelet. It tasted of England and made me think of Nigel and the fun times. A tear found its way into my left eye.

I washed down the last of the egg with strong coffee. “Here I come, Leslie.” I was wearing my black suit with pencil straight skirt, the collar of my gold satin blouse just showing at the neckline. My hair was pulled back in a serious black barrette and I kept my makeup to a minimum. I looked very lawyerly. I kissed a sleeping Lily and whispered “later” to Dana. I left to face Leslie and his goons knowing what had happened to Sunglasses could be my fate as well.

8:30 a.m.  A power surge went through me when I entered the courtroom. Maybe it was the Xanax kicking in or was it the mushrooms in the omelet? I looked over my right shoulder at Leslie’s lawyers; they were edgy waiting for their boss to arrive.

The courtroom was larger than I expected. It was all polished wood and money-green carpet – a theater of theatrics. My table was on the left side of the room. Leslie’s gang had the table on the right.

Ron looked hunky as he carried my set of exhibit books and laid them down on our table. There were four evidence books from opposing counsel. Each book weighed at least fifteen pounds and was full of stuff and nonsense designed to overwhelm me with useless paper work. I was thankful for his moral support and grateful for his physical strength. I could never have carried the books from my car into the courtroom in one trip.

I smiled at Ron using the eye contact for an excuse to sneak another look at Leslie’s team. Opposing counsel’s table was every bit as large as ours and crowded with disheveled lawyers. Yuck. Surely Leslie could have done better. His lead gun, Dallas Little, was the only one of the pack who dressed with any style.

George Glick was hired by Leslie to represent Algy Green. Glick weighed in at over three hundred pounds. His coat failed to button by at least a foot, and it was too short to cover his rump. Whenever he bent over, which was frequently, his trousers wedged into his butt cheeks.

“Glick is clueless. They call him Bubba,” Ron whispered to me.

Bubba? Marisol-of-the-gold-teeth dated a married lawyer called Bubba.

8:55 a.m.  Leslie arrived, wearing a suit that must have cost ten-thousand dollars. He still looked awful. The jacket hung on his bony frame. Crime or Metamucil, something was draining him. He walked over to me. “I hear you’re without a lawyer,” he smirked.

I forced a confident smile. “I know what you did.”

Leslie blanched and turned away.

“What are they writing?” said Alice.

“Why they’re putting down their own names,

in case they forget them before the trial is over.”

 

 

9:00 a.m.  A bell rang and Leslie moved to his seat. The bailiff called the Court to order and the judge entered. We all stood.

The judge was female, about fifty-five, with a stubby body. She wore a long white wig like the judge in Alice in Wonderland. Bum luck pulling a lady-judge. I’ve learned that women are usually less compassionate with other women. She wasn’t going to be sympathetic to my flights of fancy. The worst part was she was probably in Leslie’s pocket.

As I slipped into position at our table my straight skirt rose up my legs. I tugged at the hem catching my bracelet on my pantyhose at mid-thigh. I struggled to free the gold links from the tougher than steel fibers of my run-resistant hose. My every movement succeeded in tangling me with myself. My right wrist felt permanently attached to my right thigh eight inches short of being obscene.

As the true horror of my situation sank into my brain, I watched the lawyers take turns going up to the podium to announce their names and whom they represented. Dallas Little was attorney for Leslie Archer. Glick waddled up to the stand, “George Blackstone Glick for the plaintiff, Algernon Green” he said in a big, booming voice.

“And for the Defense?” the judge asked.

I was sweating. I couldn’t stay in my seat. You had to walk up and announce yourself. I edged out of the chair bent over, hobbling, wrist on thigh, and skirt way up where it shouldn’t have been. I tried to act as professional as I could under the circumstances. I flashed the judge a self-deprecating smile.

“Alice Harte. I am here today in my own defense, Your Honor. I am pro se.” I couldn’t reach the microphone on the podium, so I spoke as loudly as I could considering my face was on my stomach.

The courtroom was silent; you could have heard a lawyer drop.

The judge looked flabbergasted. “Are you mocking me?” she snapped.

“Your Honor I have a problem. May I go behind the bench?”

“The correct terminology is ‘May I approach the bench?’”

I hunched forward, pigeon stepping toward her. There were twitters of laughter in the courtroom. The judge banged her gavel. “Silence.  Ms. Harte if you are attempting to make a mockery of this court, I will not take it lightly. Now straighten up.”

The judge’s bench was a good three feet taller than my head. I waddled as close as I could and mouthed the words ‘Panty hose are stuck.’ She didn’t get it.

I figured if I could get behind the judicial platform I could take off my panty hose and roll them up with the bracelet and be done with it. The bailiff was one step behind me as I slipped around the bench and under the judge’s chair. I guessed he’d never seen anyone act that way in court before because he stood there dumbstruck and then broke into gales of laughter. The spectators joined him. The noise was so loud the judge’s gavel-banging couldn’t be heard. It was twenty minutes before they all got quiet and I felt secure enough to walk out from under the judge’s chair. I did so with all the dignity I could muster. I pretended I was Joan of Arc going to the stake.

“We will recess while the court regains its composure. Ms. Harte, I trust this is not a sign of things to come. I will not tolerate tomfoolery.”

I sat down next to Ron. “Ricky…”

“Welcome back, Lucy.”

The judge trounced back into her chambers with Dallas Little at her heels.

I turned to face a courtroom of laughing faces. The joke was on me. So far things were not going as smoothly as I had hoped.

10:00 a.m.  Thirty minutes later the judge popped back in the courtroom with no further mention of my pantyhose debacle.

The roll call of witnesses was announced. My witness list was small. Ron would be my character witness. Salli would testify to Leslie’s style of doing business. My heart froze when I heard Nigel’s name pronounced. I held no hope for his appearance. The last name on the list was my own. I would have a chance to speak my mind and clear my name.

Glick placed a revised copy of their witness list in front of me.

“Elizabeth Channing? What does she have to do with this?” Her name was two lines down from the top of the page.

“Object,” Ron whispered.

“She could actually work in my favor. ‘The Mad Woman of the Mail Slot’ might ruin their case.”

Algy Green’s name was called out. I scanned the room to see if he was there. I was looking for super-glued ears and talcum powdered hair.

Glick jumped up. “Your Honor, Mr. Green is obviously the witness coming from the furthest distance since he is coming from London. If I may ask, Your Honor, if it is possible to work around his limited schedule?”

“Within reason, Mr. Glick, can you give me a time frame to work with?”

“Yes, Your Honor, he will be here at two this afternoon. He has to fly back to England on a four o’clock flight, Your Honor.”

“He’ll be on the stand for less than an hour? That’s perfect. Ms. Harte, do you have any objection to allowing Mr. Green’s testimony this afternoon?”

I composed myself and walked to the podium. “Your Honor, I do object. I haven’t been allowed to depose Mr. Green. I have no idea what his testimony will be. That’s not fair.”

“It’s much too late for fairness, Ms. Harte.” The judge smiled. “Discovery is over.”

“But I never had a chance. Dallas Little and Mr. Glick ignored my requests. I’ve filed a Motion to Dismiss because they – opposing counsel – won’t cooperate with me.”

“I haven’t seen your Motion to Dismiss.”

“Well, I filed it with the court, Your Honor,” I extended my arms palms up in the air and shrugged.

“Well, I can’t find it… dear,” the judge said sarcastically then turned to Bubba. “Mr. Glick, are you confident you can complete your questioning in that time?”

“I see no problem, Your Honor.”

“And what about Elizabeth Channing?  At what time do you expect her?”

“I believe she will be arriving at the same time, Your Honor, but she is more flexible. She’ll be available all week.”

“Oh, great,” I whispered to Ron. “The stalking starts again.”

The judge smiled malevolently, overruled my objection and called for the first witness.

Little stood and cleared his throat. “We call Leslie Archer.”

Leslie walked to the witness stand looking like a salamander, his large pale eyes rotating in his skull. He was sworn in and we were underway.

“Explain your business with Alice Harte,” Little prompted.

“Alice Harte entered into a contract with Archer Resorts to sell golf course villas. She tried to walk away from our agreement.”

“And she is guilty of?”

“Alice Harte conspired with Nigel Channing, her boyfriend, to commit a fraud. She passed herself off as the owner of my property, Lizard Links, and sold it to Algernon Green. She kept the deposit money in the amount of five hundred thousand dollars.”

Dallas Little grasped his throat theatrically. “Five hundred thousand dollars.”

Leslie glared at me. “When this trial is over, I’m going to seek criminal charges against Ms. Harte.”

“Your witness, Ms. Harte,” Dallas Little said.

I rose and walked to the witness stand. Leslie tried to break me with his eyes. I stared back at him for all I was worth. I was a flower in the center of a hurricane. I felt strangely calm as if I’d taken one too many Xanax. I just didn’t give a fig anymore.

Hey all –

‘On Dark Shores: The Lady’ just got a 5* review on Amazon.co.uk

Review reads:
5.0 out of 5 stars
Oh, you’re just teasing us,
18 Mar 2011
By Gingerlily (Ireland) – See all my reviews
This review is from: On Dark Shores: The Lady (Kindle Edition)

This book feels like its not nearly long enough, and I can’t wait for the next part to come out. It’s great fantasy, quite dark and gripping.
Most of the action takes place in one small town, it’s a very intense and claustrophobic setting, but near the end it starts to open up and you get a feeling of all sorts of wider story happening around the little knot of characters that you have got so involved with.
Don’t read this if you want light and frothy stuff – there is some violence in it that would be distressing if it were described in any detail – it isn’t or I wouldn’t have been able to read it!
There are all sorts of suggestions left here for the next book, and very few threads are tied up, there is a sample chapter for the next book at the end, but I didn’t read it as I wanted to wait for the full book to come out. When it does I will be pouncing on it with great anticipation.

=========
How cool is that?! I’m really pleased….

On Dark Shores: The Lady is available for Kindle on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com as well as on Smashwords for other ereaders or reading on the PC – the sample is free to download…

Main blog will come later in the week, when with a bit of luck I’ll detail how to convert a word file into a fully-functioning ebook WITH toc.ncx file…

Watch this space…!

JAC

Laydeeez and gentlemen, I give you:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/46488

Yup – we are live on Smashwords! And if you get there before the end of Saturday it’s still part of Read An Ebook Week which means that if you input the voucher code you find on the page there you can download it for free!

Amazon uploads are still a work in progress due to the whimsical nature of constructing the files for the active toc. Toc, for the uninitiated, is short for Table Of Contents but while there will be one at the front of the book which is part of the file, the active toc is a separate file written in html but saved with an .ncx extension (I did know what it stood for but I forget). This file allows you to tab through the book with the 5-way button on the Kindle, so that if you want to check something in the last chapter, you hit the button and it jumps back to the chapter’s first page. It is useful surprisingly often and Amazon guidelines now state that their ebooks should have one. 

This is fine except that adding one is quite finicky, and altering the two other files to tell them how to use it – well, that’s proving so tricky that so far the conversion has been done and deleted six – yes SIX times over! Turns out it doesn’t like spaces in file names though, so hopefully this time it might work better….

So: for non-Kindle readers and those who want to read it on their PC, go have a look at Smashwords because until Saturday it’s yours for free!

For those of a more Kindlish persuasion, there is a file on there that you can read, but if you want to wait for the Amazon version you’ll have a tab-able version with the all-new and improved TOC. Hopefully should be early on next week or in about 3 weeks’ time according to where you are in the world (different iterations of Amazon); but watch this space and I’ll keep you posted!

PS as soon as I have a mo I’ll make an extra page for O-D-S where all the relevant links can go – but you KNOW I’ll be rambling on about it all over the blog in the meantime….

Have a great weekend!

JAC.

During the course of my edits, I have had to cut various parts of “On Dark Shores”, not because they weren’t good enough to go in, but because they were flashbacks or other backstory. In most cases leaving them in slowed the story down and, as my editors pointed out, the important bits could better be told in a few sentences that kept up the pace. Although I think both editors were right, knowing a bit of the backstory might enrich the novel for you, so rather than throw them away, it occurred to me that I could do a quick edit myself and post them up by way of a taster of the story and an introduction to some of the characters; however, do be aware that  these are the bits that have NOT been curated by editors / proof-readers and beta-readers – just myself!

“On Dark Shores” Sample 2

The following snippet was initially the opening of the whole book;  the first 5 paragraphs in italics (up to the = line) are actually the very first half-page that I wrote, the initial download of that sense of desolation and sadness with which I woke up one day in 2002 after a nameless dream. It’s probably a bit adjective-heavy as in its original incarnation I was intending to make it a poem, but it just wouldn’t play. It knew it wanted to be a story long before I gave up trying different line-breaks!

In the finished version this is all boiled down to about 4 paragraphs and comes a bit further into the text, but for curiosity value I thought you might like to see the initial download and subsequent expansion.  Compare and contrast to the new and improved beginning a couple of posts ago, and see what you think….

JAC

PS (It’s not all this bleak, I promise! …er, don’t think it is, anyway…)

=============================================

It was raining hard. The sky was grey, grey, always grey, it seemed to her as she made her way wearily through the muddy alleyways. It had been a long day. For all that Copeland told her, for all that she’d been stealing for him since she was barely grown, she’d been brought up honest and she was quite sure she’d never stop hating it. If it wasn’t that she had to keep Mary and herself somehow she’d run away tomorrow, she told herself; but these days she didn’t even believe that any more. They were stuck, the two of them, and there didn’t seem to be any way out. The weeks and months all blurred into each other  until the only point of reference in the whole year was –

She stopped suddenly. It was today: eleven years ago today it had happened, and she had not been up to the cliff-top yet. How could she have forgotten? She made her way down the spray-slick stairway which led down to the beach.

Mary would have already been there. Her sister never forgot, though she had been too young to remember anything of that terrible day and the bewildering slide from their old life into this desperate, scrambling existence.

She bent to pick up two smoothed stones, each the size of a fist and varnished with water. As she straightened, a memory seized her; of standing here a little while after it happened, bewildered by the speed with which all the mainstays of her life had been swept away. She remembered…

 …Normally this was the height of the kindly summer which warmed these temperate parts; but not this year. This summer had seen one of the most terrible storms in living memory; and then rain, and rain. Only once in a while came a dry day, and those were wind-bitten and desolate as dust and old bones.

The wind mourned along the beach, quiet but chill enough that she shivered under the old woollen shawl she wore. The grey waves spilled over into hissing spray, the pebbles rolling and receding as if they were determined to gnaw away all the land until the world was washed clean of it, and only restless water remained; until all was silent except for the ocean’s ceaseless whispers…

She wondered what it would be like to swim out into the shifting sea, past the harbour walls and the little scatter of rocks out in the bay; to be washed away by the currents until the tall crags behind her sank beneath the horizon, and all her world was wide flat sky, the unknown depths gaping unseen beneath her, and the pale speck of her face, lost and insignificant in the vast bleak endless waters. She shivered at the thought.

They said that drowning was an easy way to go; but it haunted her, the thought of swimming out, far past returning, and then at the very last having doubts and trying to fight hopelessly back to life, against an unforgiving sea.

A shock of cold dragged her back to herself. She found she had moved right to the water’s edge, and as she stood, another wavelet threw chill tendrils around her toes. She jumped back then, shaking her foot as if to rid it of something unclean. There was nothing more to be done here. The water was seeping through the worn sole of her shoe, and she was cold; not just her feet or her hands, but cold through and through, cold and tired and dead and empty.

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All that was left now was to go back; but back to what? A bare house, stripped of furniture and  memories; not even to be theirs any longer if Uncle Copeland had any say in the matter. Which he did. After her parents’ death, Uncle Copeland had arrived to “sort out their business interests” and now he said that they had no money left, though where it had all gone she did not know.

At first he had got rid of the servants and sold off all the horses in the stable, and then odd bits of land they had owned, followed by piece after piece of furniture until the house was empty; and still they seemed to have no money. Now Uncle Copeland said there was no point having a whole house in the best part of town just for two children. And really, he had added, at fifteen she was too old to be considered a child now.

She was not sure what he had meant her to do, but if nothing else there was always Mary, only four years old and unable to understand what had happened., Mary was the one thing that could never be taken from her, she had sworn it by everything she held dear; for now there was no-one to take care of them except Uncle Copeland…

She sighed. That sort of reminiscence did no good; the only difference that eleven years had made was that now even the house had been sold. She was standing in the downpour like a fool. Following in the steps of her past,  she walked wearily back up through the town; but where her memory-self went along the wide gracious street that led to what had been the family townhouse, she turned aside to climb the worn and crumbling path up to the cliff top. There she made her way between the cairns, some old and overgrown, others new and bare, to a place a little apart from the rest. There along the neat line of mounds she came to that familiar one, large enough not for two bodies but for the memories of those two. There were already two pebbles added to the cairn; Mary had not forgotten.

Silently she stacked her own alongside them, and paused a moment; but there was nothing to be said, no memories which had not been leached of colour and joy by the past eleven years, and so with nothing more than a brief nod, she left the cliff top and turned towards home.