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Letters from Elsewhere will not appear today, but it will be back next Friday, and before that, on Tuesday, there will be a special post. So, keep tuning in and have a great weekend!

And remember:

WeNeedToTalkAboutSocialAnxiety

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Letters from Elsewhere

Well, this is a first for Letters from Elsewhere. There have been letters to the dead before, but never one that crosses millennia – seventy-four of them! Here’s the letter from today’s visitor, Dr Eloise Kluft, who has joined me from the pages of Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton.

Dear Sarah

I believe it’s high time to give poor old Charles Darwin a break and address one of my heartfelt epistles to you instead. But how does one begin to compose a prehistoric ‘thank you’ note? Perhaps in your time this would have taken the form of a gesture, or maybe a chant or a song? But as one of our own contemporary songs goes, I’m afraid that all I have are words. While it’s difficult to know how to thank you, I am nevertheless compelled to do so, and this feels not only appropriate but natural… instinctive. I cannot know what form of communication, verbal or otherwise, you may have used, but I feel that even 74,000 years ago the concept of thankfulness, and the ability to express it, would have been an inherent quality – a vital aspect of what made us human. Gratitude is a universal language, after all?

I will never forget the day I heard the rumours, the whispers that something very special, something that might add another crucial piece to the human puzzle, had been found in the ice on Mt Kenya. I still count my blessings every day that you came my way. Into my laboratory, into my care, under my gaze. Oh but you made us work so hard to unravel your secrets, my girl! And as much as you were celebrated and cherished, you were feared by those who could never accept such a challenge to their own cherished beliefs.

But for everything you carried with you on this last stage of your journey, all the revelations, all challenges and, yes, even the dangers, I thank you, Sarah. (I hope you do not mind the name we’ve given you in our time?) Who knows how, or why, you fell into that glacier, but I thank you for falling into my life, in your rare, fractured, mysterious and ancient form. By allowing me to flesh out your life using both science and imagination, you have brought me back so thrillingly into mine. To all its wonders and to a new appreciation of everything I have to be grateful for.

Whatever your struggles, whatever your joys, I sense that you met them with courage and curiosity. You may have gone hungry too often in your lifetime, but I wonder, did you also stay hungry for life itself? Did you love, did you lose, did your heart break? And, if so, how did you pick yourself up again? What did you learn in your walk upon this planet – and perhaps more importantly, what did you teach, what did you pass on?

You have taught me so much. Much that I hope to share with the wider world – and with any of your surviving ‘children’ –  if they walk among us yet today. But above all, I have read your message from the past as a reminder that I should live my own life as fully as I can, right here and in the consciousness of the present moment. With a mind open to every possibility but also with a heart that’s brave enough to open up once more … to whatever may come.

Thank you, thank you, my dearest Sarah.

Yours

Dr Eloise Kluft

About Bone Lines

StephanieBrethertonBoneLines

A young woman walks alone through a barren landscape in a time before history, a time of cataclysmic natural change. She is cold, hungry and with child but not without hope or resources. A skilful hunter, she draws on her intuitive understanding of how to stay alive… and knows that she must survive.

In present-day London, geneticist Dr Eloise Kluft wrestles with an ancient conundrum as she unravels the secrets of a momentous archaeological find. She is working at the forefront of contemporary science but is caught in the lonely time-lock of her own emotional past.

Bone Lines is the story of two women, separated by millennia yet bound by the web of life.  A tale of love and survival – of courage and the quest for wisdom – it explores the nature of our species and asks what lies at the heart of being human.

Bone Lines is the debut novel from Stephanie Bretherton, out from Unbound in September. A genre-fluid dual narrative, it spans the space between literary, speculative-fiction, ‘present day’ sci-fi, historical fantasy and ‘women’s interest’ with its pair of fascinating female heroines.

Although partly set during a crucial era of human history 74,000 years ago, Bones Lines is very much a book for our times. Dealing with themes from genetics, climate change and migration to the yearning for meaning and the clash between faith and reason, it also paints an intimate portrait of who we are as a species. The book tackles some of the big questions but requires no special knowledge of any of the subjects to enjoy.

You can find more information or pre-order special editions here.

About Stephanie Bretherton

Stephanie BrethertonWho do you think you are? A daunting question for the debut author… but also one to inspire a genre-fluid novel based on the writer’s fascination for what makes humanity tick. Born in Hong Kong to expats from Liverpool (and something of a nomad ever since) Stephanie is now based in London, but manages her sanity by escaping to any kind of coast.

Before returning to her first love of creative writing, Stephanie spent much of her youth pursuing alternative forms of storytelling, from stage to screen and media to marketing. For the past fifteen years Stephanie has run her own communications and copywriting company specialised in design, architecture and building. In the meantime an enduring love affair with words and the world of fiction has led her down many a wormhole on the written page, even if the day job confined such adventures to the weekends.

Drawn to what connects rather than separates, Stephanie is intrigued by the spaces between absolutes and opposites, between science and spirituality, nature and culture. This lifelong curiosity has been channelled most recently into her debut novel, Bone Lines. When not bothering Siri with note-taking for her next books and short stories, Stephanie can be found pottering about with poetry, or working out what worries/amuses her most in an opinion piece or an unwise social media post. Although, if she had more sense or opportunity she would be beachcombing, sailing, meditating or making a well-disguised cameo in the screen version of one of her stories. (Wishful thinking sometimes has its rewards?)

You can find Stephanie on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Letters from Elsewhere

I’m visited today by an anxious character, who longs to be like the rest but needs to hold back. No, this isn’t social anxiety. Skye has a troubled past and is trained to leave nothing behind. Writing a letter isn’t something she would be able to do very often and she’d have to be under a lot of stress to write one.

Skye is the main character in Ninja School Mum by Lizzie Chantree. Here’s her letter:

Reece, my love.

You left me. You made me stay behind. Your actions saved our son, but we’ve had to hide ever since you died. Why can’t you have found a way out?

I move around a lot. I don’t make friends and they probably don’t even notice when I’m gone. Each new town brings a new name, a new career, but Leo is tiring of the game. He wants to settle in one place, for us to stop running. It’s been years, but I’m scared that if they found you, they could find us. I’m lonely. I miss you.

I’m trying to be a good mum but it’s hard on my own. You’ll remember that my cooking is really bad, but our son never complains. He’s a good boy. You’d love him… if only you were here.

I’m going to try and stop scowling at the parents at Leo’s new school, for his sake not mine. He wants us to stay here in the cottage I’ve found. Maybe I can become the mum you always said I could be, before this, before you were gone. The fire in the hearth is warm tonight and I’ll send this letter up to you in the flames, as I can’t leave it here. Something has got to change. I need to change. I’m tired of being alone. I’m sorry. I love you.

Skye.

I hope Skye succeeds in changing, for her sake as well as for her son.

About Ninja School Mum

Ninja School Mum by Lizzie ChantreeObsessive-compulsive school mum, Skye, is a lonely elite spy, who is running from her past whilst trying to protect the future of her child. She tries hard to fit in with the other parents at her son’s new school, but the only person who accepts her unconventional way of life is new mother, Thea.

Thea is feeling harassed by her sister and bored with her life, but she suspects that there is something strange about the new school mum, Skye. Thea has secrets of her own and, although the two become unlikely friends, she hesitates to tell Skye about the father of her own child.

Zack’s new business is growing faster than he could have dreamed but, suddenly, he finds himself the owner of a crumbling estate on the edge of a pretty village, and a single parent to a very demanding child. Could he make a go of things and give his daughter the life she deserved?

When three lives collide, it appears that only one of them is who they seem to be, and you never know who the person next to you in the school playground really is.

About Lizzie Chantree

Lizzie ChantreeLizzie is an award winning author, inventor and businesswoman. She founded her first company at the age of 17 and has been creating products and driving her family mad ever since!

Lizzie appeared on Sky News, ITV Lunchtime News, This Morning, The Big Breakfast, BBC’s Worldwide Radio Service, amongst others for becoming one of Fair Play London’s Female Innovators and inventing a ‘ladder’ stop spray for hosiery.

Lizzie lives with her gorgeous family and a very unusual dog in the English countryside. In between the school run and baking cakes (or burning them!), she sits in her rooftop studio writing contemporary romance novels and daydreaming about new product designs. Lizzie’s books often feature unusual businesses and entice you in to the romantic life of the slightly eccentric entrepreneurs that run them!

 

Sorry, there’s no Letter from Elsewhere today but you can read my thoughts about comfort reads today on the blog of Rosie Travers, author of the soon-to-be-released The Theatre of Dreams. I love this cover!

The Theatre of Dreams

I’ll leave you with this amazing quotation I came across today. It’s by Milton Berle and I saw it here.

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.

Letters from Elsewhere

Today’s visitor, Ursula Grey, has a special reason for trying to mend matters with her stepdaughter, Lallie. Her husband is angry with his daughter because she foiled his plans of getting a share of her inheritance (which Lallie doesn’t even know about) by marrying her off to a crony of his. But Ursula sees advantages to Lallie’s secret marriage to the Hon. Hugo Tamrisk M.P. Through her new family, Lallie may be able to advance the prospects of their children: Eleanor, Beatrix and James.

Ursula comes from the pages of Perception & Illusion by Catherine Kullmann.

                                                                                                            Alwood Hall
                                                                                                           Sussex
                                                                                                           12 December 1813

The Honble. Mrs Tamrisk,
Tamm Manor,
Devonshire

My dear Mrs Tamrisk,

I was indeed relieved to learn of your recent marriage and to know that you are safe and well. While I continue to deplore the misunderstandings that caused you to leave the protection of your family, we can justly say all’s well that ends well. In Mr Tamrisk you have made an excellent match and I extend to you and him my heartfelt congratulations and good wishes for your future happiness.

I imagine that by now you are settled at Tamm. I did not have the privilege of advising you before your marriage as a mother should. I will say nothing about your marital duties—the time for that is past—but I hope you will permit me to offer some general counsel and you should know that in the future you may always turn to me if you are in need of advice.

Mr Tamrisk struck me as a fair-minded gentleman when we met in September and I hope that he proved generous when drawing up the marriage settlements. If so, you now have more funds at your disposal than you have ever dreamt of having. I need not urge you to be circumspect in your expenditure, I know, but strongly recommend that you acquire the habit of setting aside, say, one tenth of your pin money each quarter. You will soon have accumulated a private little nest egg for which you need account to no one and will always have in reserve in case of emergencies.

And, while we speak of financial matters, never let yourself be lured into playing for high stakes or into any other sort of wagers. It is a sure road to ruin. You have led a very sheltered life, first with your grandparents and then here at Alwood with me but now you will be moving in different circles and must be alert to such risks.

But enough of that. As you can imagine, your marriage caused no little chatter in Alwood. I am charged to express the good wishes of everyone you can imagine, even the squire’s lady. She first remarked how unexpected it was but I just shook my head and said, ’Not at all. We have known Mr Tamrisk and his sister Lady Malvin for some time. Of course, their father, Lord Tamm, is of an advanced age and not in the best of health’. Mrs Neville swallowed her chagrin and said everything that was proper but you could see the words tasted sour to her. Neither of her daughters made as good a match, after all and neither her son nor his heiress can compare with the heir to the oldest Barony in the land.

Your sisters miss you sadly, as you will imagine. I have not yet found a new governess and they say I am to assure you that they are doing their best to keep up their lessons with my assistance. They each send you a little gift; Beatrice embroidered the sampler herself according to Eleanor’s design. Eleanor also painted a watercolour of Alwood village so that you will not forget us. I hope that you will accept the enclosed fan as a token of my affection and esteem.

With the exception of some old gowns which are not suitable for your new station in life, you will find in this trunk all the personal belongings you left at Alwood— your books, music and sketch-books as well as the few trinkets and ornaments you brought from your Grandmother’s to Alwood.

The ladies of the literary circle send their felicitations and beg you will accept the volumes of Pride and Prejudice as a memento of the happy hours you spent together. When she gave them to me, Mrs Hersey remarked that you appeared to have found your Mr Darcy—is he a character in the story? Judging by her smile, he must be an eligible parti indeed. She has invited me to join the literary society, and I propose to do so after Christmas.

Mr Grey joins me in sending you the compliments of the season. It is our earnest wish that the confusion of last September will not result in a permanent breach within our family. Eleanor and Beatrix send their fondest love, as would James if he knew I was writing to you.

I remain, my dear Lallie—I trust I may still so address you,

                  Your affectionate stepmother and friend,

                               Ursula Grey

About Perception & Illusion

Does a fairy-tale ending always guarantee Happy Ever After?

Perception and Illusion

England 1814: Brought up by her late grandparents after the death of her mother, Lallie Grey is unaware that she is their heiress. When her father realises that he will soon lose control of his daughter’s income, he conspires to marry her off to his crony, Frederick Malvin in ex& Illusionchange for a share of her capital. But Lallie has fallen in love with Hugo Tamrisk, heir to one of the oldest titles in England. When Hugo not only comes to her aid as she flees the arranged marriage, but later proposes to her, all Lallie’s dreams have come true. She readily agrees to marry him at once.

But past events cast long shadows. Hugo resents the interest his three elder sisters take in his new wife and thinks they have turned her against him. And then there is his former mistress, Sabina, Lady Albright. As Lallie finds her feet in the ton, the newly-weds are caught up in a comedy of errors that threatens their future happiness. She begins to wonder if he has regrets and he cannot understand her new reserve. A perfect storm of confusion and misunderstanding leads to a final rupture when Lallie feels she has no choice but to leave. Can Hugo win her back? Will there be a second, real happy end for them?

“Deliciously romantic with wonderful characters, elegant writing and perfect period detail. Hugely enjoyable!” Nicola Cornick. Winner of Chill with a Book and Discovered Diamond awards.

About Catherine Kullmann

Catherine KullmannCatherine Kullmann was born and educated in Dublin. Following a three-year courtship conducted mostly by letter, she moved to Germany where she lived for twenty-six years before returning to Ireland. She and her husband of over forty years have three adult sons and two grandchildren. Catherine has worked in the Irish and New Zealand public services and in the private sector.

After taking early retirement Catherine was finally able to fulfil her life-long ambition to write fiction. Her debut novel, The Murmur of Masks, published in 2016, is a warm and engaging story of a young woman’s struggle to survive and find love in an era of violence and uncertainty. It takes us from the ballrooms of the Regency to the battlefield of Waterloo. It received a Chill with a Book Readers Award and, in 2017, was short-listed for Best Novel in the CAP (Carousel Aware Prize) Awards.

In Perception & Illusion, published in March 2017, Lallie Grey, cast out by her father for refusing the suitor of his choice, accepts Hugo Tamrisk’s proposal, confident that he loves her as she loves him. But Hugo’s past throws long shadows as does his recent liaison with Sabina Albright. All too soon, Lallie must question Hugo’s reasons for marriage and wonder what he really wants of his bride. Perception & Illusion received a Chill with a Book Readers Award and a Discovered Diamonds Award.

In her new book, A Suggestion of Scandal, due in August 2018, governess Rosa Fancourt finds her life and future suddenly at risk when she surprises two lovers in flagrante delicto. Even if she escapes captivity, the mere suggestion of scandal is enough to ruin a lady in her situation. In Sir Julian Loring she finds an unexpected champion but will he stand by her to the end?

You can find out more about Catherine at her website where, in her Scrap Album, she blogs about historical facts and trivia relating to the Regency, or on her Facebook page.

Catherine’s books are available worldwide from Amazon as e-books and paperback.

 

Today, instead of Letters from Elsewhere, here’s a post about me, to catch up with some of the things I’ve done since… whenever.

The other day, I wrote two new verses to an old song. They’re inspired by a strange phenomenon: rain.

Look what they’ve done to my June, Ma

Look what they’ve done to my June, Ma.
Look what they’ve done to my June.
Well it’s the only thing they could do half right,
And it’s turning out all wrong, Ma.
Look what they’ve done to my June.

Look what they’ve done to my sun, Ma.
Look what they’ve done to my sun.
Well, they took some clouds and made them black
And covered up the sun, Ma.
Look what they’ve done to my sun.

Yes, it’s been raining heavily in various parts of the country, but not so heavily in Jerusalem. There has been flooding. One of the most afflicted towns was Sderot. You’d think they’ve had enough to contend with without the weather joining in.

It never rains in June in Israel. Don’t they know that?

If you don’t know the original song, I’m sure you can find it on Youtube. “Look what they’ve done to my song.”

I’ve appeared on a few other blogs:

Author

Topic

My Post

C.J. Sutton

Fear

A Fear of People

Carrie-Ann Schless

Diary Entry

Noname’s Diary

Megan Mayfair

Espresso Tales

Coffee with Miriam Drori

Val Penny

My Writing Story

If you’d told me I was going to be a writer

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I’ve hosted two authors on the social anxiety blog: Jo Fenton and Val Penny.

I hosted characters on this blog in Letters from Elsewhere:

Character

From

By

Tina

The Brotherhood

Jo Fenton

DI Hunter Wilson

Hunter’s Chase, Hunter’s Revenge

Val Penny

Joseph Flynn

Heart of Stone

John Jackson

Anne

The Road to Newgate

Kate Braithwaite

Harriet

Harriet of Hare Street

Angela Rigley

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And I was delighted to receive this from a grateful customer.

Me with Chasing the Case

Yes, I was the editor for this lovely novel: Chasing the Case by Joan Livingston.

And I have lots of new and exciting ideas for my writing. If I stop sleeping, I might be able to put them into practice. Who needs sleep, anyway?

Happy reading! See you next Friday for another Letter from Elsewhere!

Letters from Elsewhere

I think today’s visitor is my youngest ever. She’s only thirteen and comes from Victorian London and the pages of Harriet of Hare Street by Angela Rigley. Harriet has brought a letter to her father, who has just died. I believe she wants some answers.

Dear Papa in Heaven,

I miss you so much. Why did you have to die? Mama has not told me how it happened. Not the real circumstances. She just said that you fell off a bridge. Well, dear Papa, why did you not hold on tighter? I am sorry William Henry died. We all are. But were you so upset that you jumped off? I am sure that is not the case, but some people seem to think that was what happened. Anyway, Father Lane would not have given you a Catholic burial if he thought so. I would hate to think of you burning in Hell.

What is Heaven like? I wish you could tell me. I wish… but anyway, dear Papa, I hope you are happy up there with Jesus. Say hello to him from me and tell him I vow to be a better person.

I am sure you know about the twins. Mama says William Thomas is a glutton, and she is hopeful that little Winifred will thrive, although she is still very weak. Please look after them for us, and put in a good word with God and the Virgin Mary. Have you met her yet?

Well, dear Papa, I must go. I have a job now, but you must know all about it. Do you like my window arrangements? I don’t suppose you remember teaching me how to make stars. Well, I do, and that is how I made the hanging one, covered in shiny paper, so when the light catches it, it sparkles like a real one. Just for you.
I will write again soon,
Love and kisses,
Your dutiful daughter,

Harriet.

Oh, you poor girl. I do hope things turn out well for you.Harriet of Hare Street by Angela Rigley

About Harriet of Hare Street

Living in a run-down area of the East end of London in the late nineteenth century is hard enough, but when thirteen-year old Harriet Harding opens the door to a stranger, who thrusts a baby into her arms, she cannot imagine how her life will change. How can she cope with a baby? And what will her parents say when they return?

You can find Harriet of Hare Street on Amazon UK or other Amazons.

About Angela Rigley

Married to Don, with five children and nine grandchildren, Angela lives in Derbyshire. Her hobbies include singing in her church choir; genealogy, having traced ancestors back to 1520; gardening; flower arranging; playing Scrabble; Sudoku; meals out; family gatherings; and, when she has any spare time she loves to read. She is the treasurer of Eastwood Writers’ Group.

Find her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and on her website.