Archive for February, 2017

…as the BBC announcers used to say, before the Monty Python mob took over the catchphrase and made it a humorous punchline. In the case of this blog, the ‘something completely different’ is a complete turnaround from dark historical fantasy to something light weight, bubbly and optimistic, suitable for springtime, which I wrote about in a long-ago post: Mirabelle Leicester in a fast car.

The Flat cover 2.

Cover for ‘The Flat at Doughty Court’.

Back in 2012 I wrote some parodies of Edgar Wallace thrillers, based around the characters in Edgar Wallace’s ‘The Four Just Men’ stories — with Mirabelle Leicester, the heroine of The Three Just Men (1924), coming in as the replacement fourth just man. The first in the series is The Flat in Doughty Court, which readers of The Three Just Men may remember is the London flat where the impecunious Mirabelle and her Aunt Alma stay when they’re in London. I’ve just uploaded the story on to Amazon Kindle. Here is the cover. You can also download a pdf of the story from this blog: https://helenlerewth.wordpress.com/2013/11/26/the-flat-in-doughty-court/.

Meanwhile, my beta-reader is going to read The Retrogradus and send me some comments. She is still reading The Most Dangerous Woman in the Galaxy, and seems to be in no hurry to finish it because she’s enjoying it too much (which is lovely but means I haven’t had her detailed feedback yet!)


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I don’t know. I write in different genres. I write whatever story comes to mind.
It’s a story. Does it have to have a genre?

(Yes, because otherwise potential readers won’t know whether they will like it.)

Can’t they read the free extract?

(No, they want you to guide them by putting it in a genre. Then they’ll download the extract.)

Errr … But my stories don’t really fit into genres. I wrote a detective story about auditors in outer space; and a story about Saladin and the library at Cairo dressed up as a young adults’ short story; and a dark fantasy about human relationships with the divine dressed up as gay romance.

(That’s crazy. No wonder you don’t sell many books. You confuse your would-be readers. They never know what they’re getting next.)

I can, however, give my stories away  …

(It’s a good thing that most writers aren’t like that. Most readers want to know what they’re getting.)

They’re getting crazy stories because most of the writing I do is very, very serious stuff and I need some light relief to save me from going mad.

(So your genre is ‘crazy stuff’?)

Pretty much.

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retrogradus-2Out of 2000, in fact — yes, I wrote it sixteen years ago. Then it languished in various A4 lever arch files for many years while I puzzled over what to do with it, because the criss-crossing plot lines were a mess. Eventually, as readers of this blog know, Adelheide got on to it and she’s transformed it into something like a narrative, although there are still three plots and she admits to having ditched two others. However, I still have the ones she rejected. I’ve even got another A4 lever arch file to keep them tidy.

Now the final book of A Sword, A Star, A Flame … has at last been uploaded to Kindle and is available on Amazon.com (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06WVCTM9V ) and Amazon.co.uk (https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06WVCTM9V) and all other Amazons available to you, at the minimum permitted price. The Retrogradus has the distinction of being the only book in the series which might be suitable for a more general readership: there is virtually no sex in it.

That said, to work out what’s going on it is probably necessary to read the other stories in the series first.

This book brings us to the end of the story of the Most Holy and Chivalric Order of Our Lady of the Star. As Jan claims that he, Berthol and Karlot cannot die (they are demons, after all — unless they are angels) there may feasibly be further stories, but this is as far as Adelheide’s, Oglive’s and Karlot’s chronicles go.

Should I have a sense of achievement? I don’t — I feel sad to leave them. Having travelled with them for so long, it’s hard to say goodbye.

So this can’t be the end! There has to be more!

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I’ve checked through the text of Retrogradus again. I’ve tidied some inconsistencies and tried to get Adelheide to conclude it cleanly (she hasn’t quite, but it’s better than it was). I’ve uploaded the file to the Kindle publishing page and it’s processing. Just a final check to make on the previewer and it’s ready to launch.

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New, moody cover

Adelheide has been busy: here is a new cover for the Retrogradus (Book 7 of The Star series). But perhaps it’s a bit dull? The first version looked more colourful, but perhaps was less true to the story. So, should the author try to tempt readers with something bright and cheerful, or a moody cover that is nearer to the spirit of the story?


Previous, more cheerful cover

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When is ‘The End’ of a story? After all, real life does not have hard-and-fast endings. In real life, as fast as one plot twist is tidied off, another one arises. So how is it possible to finish the narrative of a story?

I generally think that when I can’t bring a story to a tidy ending it is time to put it to one side and do something else for a while. But some stories are long-term non-enders: the Retrogradus, for example (Book 7 of The Star series).

In short, the Retrogradus has been unfinished since 2000, and although in the last few months Adelheide has done a good job of tidying it up, it still hasn’t got a tidy finish. Odd ends keep leaping up and needing to be tidied away. And as soon as one end is tidied, another leaps out.

Perhaps I should just cut it off there — or there — and start the next story with the odd ends?

Or shove the loose ends into an appendix?

Or what? Ideas, anyone?

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