13 May 2014

Where Angels Tread

My Tuesday Talk Guest... Loretta Livingstone

Let me start by thanking Helen for inviting me over to guest on her blog. [My pleasure Loretta!] 
It's a huge honour, especially as the book she invited me to talk about is my first story. I've written books before, but not of stories. I've always been a poet, and never intended to write anything else! But hey, don't you love it when you thought you were going in one direction, only to find you've wandered off onto the most interesting sidetrack? That's what makes life so exciting.

Anyway, here's how it all came about.
For several reasons I got the compulsion to try my hand at very short stories. Nothing long or challenging because I'm not a story writer... am I?

Halfway through the short stories I was writing, up popped one about a guy begging on the streets. Suddenly, part way into his story I remembered a young girl I'd met whilst on a city break with my husband many years ago. Something rather unexpected had happened. We had been appalled by the number of homeless beggars. Out in the city centre one day I saw a young girl, maybe in her late teens. Thin, lonely, hopeless. I became overwhelmed by a strong compulsion to go and speak to her and share some of my good fortune. I had so much more than her, surely I could give her a little something? Nothing like that had ever occurred to me before. It was almost as though the hand of God was pushing me over there. Very weird.

That was over 15 years ago. Never totally forgotten but hiding in a corner of my mind, suddenly she appeared, briefly, in my story. The story was only meant to be about 1500 words, one of a collection of very short stories. I called my street-girl Jeannie - not her real name and not the girl I'd met, just inspired by her. 

Off went the story to my beta reader. I sat back and started to think about the next story.

My beta-reader, Heidi Peltier, herself an author, had different ideas. "I can't wait to find out what happens to Jeannie," said she.

What? I had no plans for Jeannie! What did happen to her? Why was she on the streets? What happened next? I shook my brain and Jeannie's story started to emerge. Characters popped up and took on lives of their own. So, whilst I am very sure this is not the story of the young girl I met so briefly all those years ago - it could have been. A novelette, my first ever, was born.

Not having written stories before, and never intending to, I now had a lot to learn about technique and formatting. As "luck" would have it, my story was in its polishing stages when I noticed Helen had posted a review of a book! Hmmm! I could learn something here.

Off I went to read it! Eeeeek! She mentioned the sins of erroneous line spacing, non-justification and a whole host of issues I knew nothing about! I mentioned it to her on her blog, and she emailed me recommending her book, "Discovering The Diamond" which I have no hesitation in recommending to other fledgling novelists.

Whew! I discovered her own diamond in the nick of time. Presentation, and so much other useful information about how to produce something polished and ready for public consumption. I dived into it whilst cooking, and promptly burnt my dinner! I can honestly say, although without having read her book my story might have been just about ok, I'm hoping that now, with such solid advice, my little pebble will have some of the twinkle of a genuine diamond, rather than being fool's gold.

I can't tell you how grateful I am that Helen suggested I read her book. Also for the help and advice of Heidi and my other beta-reader, another author, Marie Godley.

I'll leave you with the blurb, and a short passage from the book:

Jeannie - innocent and shy, kicked out by her mother, Rita.
Matt - predatory and dangerous. Is Rita really who he wants? 
Rod and Carla on a romantic city break and Jeremy, just seven years old, out with his dad.
And who exactly is Mike? Could there be more to him than meets the eye?
Strangers whose lives are destined to cross more than once and change forever.

Running to the corner, Rita peered anxiously around it. Shocked, she watched him heading towards...her daughter! She couldn't believe her eyes. Jeannie hadn't seen him coming. She looked awful. Still beautiful, but skinny, shabby and oh, so cold, with a haunting vulnerability that made her heart ache. Why hadn't she seen it before? She must have been blind! For a moment Rita's heart stood still. She'd had no idea Jeannie was on the streets, assuming she'd stayed with a friend. She didn't have many, goodness knows, but surely she'd had one.  
Stunned into horrified stillness, she watched Matt storming over there. A young, quite pleasant-looking man crossed his path. Matt seized him and slammed him up against the wall, shouting abuse at him. Amazingly calm in the face of his antagonist, the young man just gazed steadily at Matt, who suddenly shrank away from him, almost cowering. He turned back the way he'd come. She panicked; he was headed in her direction. He'd see her!

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  1. Thank you so much for stopping by, Purple Lady, and thanks also for sharing. :)

  2. Thank you, once again, for inviting me, Helen. It has been such a thrill for me.


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