Fact & Fiction in Nothing to Lose – Reality Bites (fact#2)

Reality bites – this sounds like a pun in very bad taste. You will see what I mean if you carry on reading. It is time for my second revelation relating to the storyline in Nothing to Lose: anorexia.

In Nothing to Lose Gillian watches her daughter Tara shed pounds like they’re going out of style. Being a detective, she snoops into Tara’s life (and bedroom) to discover a battery of slimming products. This confirms every mother’s worst fears – that her child is spiralling into an eating disorder and starving herself to death. It is a fearful prospect because it is more a disease of the mind than the body. You can’t cure an anorexic – not until they are ready to accept food and keep it in. And that moment may never come. Anorexia is a catch-twenty-two: the more you try to control it, the more it controls you. Any external intervention against your will meets with a wall of resistance. I know. I’ve been there.

Just like Tara, I was about eighteen, in my first year of university. I had just moved from the sleepy, tranquil world of my childhood in the country to a frenzied, crowded city. I didn’t know what hit me. Life overwhelmed me. It had spun out of my control. I was lost. I was surrounded by strangers; no space to hide, no holes to crawl into. The speed of my life was nauseating. I could not keep up with it. I could not control it. The only thing I could control was food. It wasn’t about dieting, not in the beginning. It was all about re-introducing order into my life. Only later did I start to count calories, and after that, when I stopped counting, I simply couldn’t bring myself to eat. The mere smell of cooking made me feel sick. I think that was where I crossed the line – the point of no return.

Just like Gillian, my mother was beside herself with worry. At first, she thought I was on drugs, but she quickly realised it was all about food. She would find sandwiches buried in the drawers of my desk, steaks languishing on the compost heap, attracting vermin. Once I even managed to pour soup out of my bedroom window right onto my father’s head. My father was in the garden, pruning roses. The soup was bean soup. My mum went into a spasm of hysteria. But even that had no effect on me.

Only when I saw a photo of myself in a bikini did I finally realise I was a walking skeleton. With clothes on, my sharp edges and protruding ribs were well camouflaged.

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But without my clothes… look at this at your own risk.

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I was horrified! I started eating: tentatively and with frequent relapses into 6 ½ stone. You’re never quite out of the danger zone. You’re never quite fully recovered. Any emotional trauma, any change of circumstances, any heightened anxiety and you’re back to square one.

In Nothing to Lose, Tara suffers a similar fate after she is rejected by that good for nothing Charlie Outhwaite.

Nothing to Lose is the second book in the DI Marsh crime series, available now on Amazon and from major bookstores. The book is available at a promotional price of £5.59 at WHSmith

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Only 20 days until ‘Nothing to Lose’ is released. It is the second book in the DI Gillian Marsh mysteries. I have two signed copies of the first volume, Swimming with Sharks, for those who would like to catch up with the series. To be in to win, please like my FB Author Page

https://www.facebook.com/AnnaLegatAuthor/

Medicinal value

My teapot and I have suffered minor contusions of late: I’ve been constantly knocked down by bouts of colds and flu, and my teapot’s lid was dropped (by me) and a chunk of it chipped off.

My mother always told me that there was nothing a plaster could not cure, so I plugged the crack in my teapot with a strip of waterproof plaster, and voila it is as good new! See?

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Unfortunately, no amount of plasters could stem my runny nose… Perhaps a bandage? Has anyone tried that remedy?

Ageing disgracefully and with style

I put on the skates, and I am a little girl again: eight or ten at the most. The blades of my skates slice through the ice. I can hear a clank and a swoosh, the wind in my pompom, cheeks burning, cold air in my nostrils, expelled in rapid vapours, forming frosty droplets on my scarf. I’ve lost my gloves – again. My fingers are red numb claws. I perform a pirouette, the spikes of one of my skates are the pivot and I draw a circle with the other foot. The air can’t keep up with me. I halt, let it catch up, and proceed backwards, knees bent slightly, bum defying gravity as I draw curvy patters on the ice. Another twirl, and I launch forward. I used to be able to do this – I lift one leg, an arabesque begins to form, a bit floppy, like a penknife that I can’t quite fully open. But I gather speed – I’m a bird swooping down-

-and down I go.

The spikes on my blade catch on something; I am catapulted – briefly, given just enough time to realise that I’m going face down, crash landing into the unforgiving ice. Just enough time to twist in the air to save my face. Hip first. Knee caught halfway through a protective kick. And then the ribcage slams down.

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Someone asks me if I’m all right. I nod, but I’m lying. Too embarrassed to admit that my vision is blurred and the blood has drained from my brain, leaving me lightheaded and faint. Daughter drags me to a bench. ‘You told me to fall on my bum. Why didn’t you?’

Where was my big, cushioned bum when I needed it…

Today, the day after, I am no longer a little girl of eight or ten at the most. That girl would be back on ice despite those minor bruises. She wouldn’t even remember that fall. She has run away and I am left on my own: an old woman and her swollen knee, her cracked ribcage that hurts with every intake of breath, and a huge purple bruise on her hip. I can’t recall where and when the hip came into it.

Husband offers an anti-inflammatory painkiller and I say no. I refuse to grow old gracefully. Whenever would I take a painkiller after scathing a knee when I was eight! I am not going to start now. I suffer my debilitating aches and pains in dignified reticence.

I will be back to the ice rink next week. Wearing knee pads.

O Come All ye Faithful to Malmesbury Abbey

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On Saturday night, I feasted on music, gorging on the angelic singing of Malmesbury Community Choir, and delighting in the heavenly voices of the Westonbirt Girls’ School Chamber Choir. It was quite a treat and it conjured up Christmas on a count of four!

I tried to join in with some of the singing, alas my sheepish bleating failed to rise to the occasion. God and all His Saints must have been cringing up in Heaven at my tragic rendition of O Come All ye Faithful.

The beautiful Malmesbury Abbey was packed and bursting at the seams, so we had to find a place to sit beside King Athelstan’s tomb, on – as it happened – a very cushy little sofa, left there for the sole purpose of accommodating late arrivals from the far end of the county. We also had an unorthodox view of the goings-on. We were looking at the conductors, observed their animated faces and even more animated bodies.

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Watching a conductor in action is something else! The male conductor’s hands were in constant motion as if he was kneading dough: squeezing and stretching it, massaging it with his fingers, pulling, flicking and leaving it to rise. The lady conductor was like a weaver: picking thin strands of wool and dragging them through the air, then feeding them into the body of the melodic fabric, extracting loose ends on the other side, tying them into small knots and snipping the frayed bits at the end. It was all like some mysterious sign language that only the singers could understand, and respond to with their song.

And then at the end, the conductor put his finger to his lips. Motionless silence.

I sang carols all the way home, just like the fifth little Piggie, to my poor husband’s utter dismay. All stars ran away from the firmament, leaving only one crestfallen Moon and one disoriented Star.

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The importance of being idle

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I am not a natural early riser. My alarm clock and I aren’t the best of friends; more like cats and dogs. Every morning the bloody thing growls at me, digs its teeth into the delicate fabric of my dreams and shakes me awake, my dreams shattered in an instant. I fight back, best as I can. I kick and scratch, I hiss, but I stand no chance. In the end the damned yapping ankle-biter wins. I hate the bastard.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There are my Fridays: late-rising days. The yapping ankle-biter is where it belongs – in a dog-house. I sleep. Dreams seep into my slowly unfolding reality. Ideas form in my well-rested brain, come and go, sometimes vanishing without a trace, leaving only a hint of themselves, a niggling something that follows me around like a scent of something I once knew, a long time ago, in my childhood. Books and stories write themselves before my closed eyes, and they are out of this world – unique, one-and-only, unimaginable. If only I could remember them…

I love my late-rising days. Idleness breeds creativity. A well-rested brain busies itself with its own occupations, because let’s face, one is never quite perfectly idle. There is always some activity. Only when we go about our daily routines, imposed on us by the circumstances of our everyday obligations, we lose that subtler, more refine side of us, that side that is so ethereal and so elusive that it evaporates on contact with the hard-biting reality (in my case, my hard-biting alarm clock), like camphor. I so love capturing it on those blessed Friday mornings. It feels like stealing, like catching beautiful butterflies in a net. It is bad and frowned up by our labour-intensive reality, but God, it feels amazing!

I can understand now why great writers need to take the risk of abandoning their day-jobs to be able to write. Writing is a take-it-all occupation, which requires late rising and altogether a form of firm detachment from time and place. It is a risky affair, an affair with impropriety, a costly affair at that! But that is the choice one has to made: forsake one’s financial security to capture those elusive snippets of dreams and stitch them into a grand new story. I bet Jane Austin never had to use an alarm clock. I don’t believe Stephen King does, either.

What speakers do best

I am a proud owner of the first draft of Wide Angle, a Gilbert and Alice mystery. It is a light-hearted look at crime, something one would call cozy crime, the sort you’re not afraid to take to bed with you at night. Murder happens, naturally, but amidst all that bloodshed there is room for quirks and oddities, eccentricities of the highest order and outright silliness – generally speaking: my life and the people that populate it.

Don’t let any writer tell you that any similarity between the characters in their books and any living (or dead) persons is purely coincidental. No such thing as absolute fiction!

To give you an example of the kind of real life incidents you may find yourself cosied up to in bed when reading one of my books:

Yesterday, I asked Daughter to carry a pair of heavy speakers to Husband’s study. My back, you see, is shot due to a spot of aeroball. She obliged (grudgingly) and placed the speakers oddly in the doorway, kind of facing each other, like so:

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I was intrigued and confused by that awkward positioning, but you see, I shouldn’t be at all, because the speakers were doing what speakers do best – they were speaking to each other!

You can see it, can’t you?

 

KAREN KING – you are what you read

A big welcome to Karen King, a romantic novelist, writing guru and, naturally, a ferocious reader. Let’s find out what lurks on the shelves of her bookshelf…

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I’ve always loved reading. I was lucky enough to live around the corner from a library when I was young and would take out four books a day in the summer holidays (the maximum limit then). I read every book in the children’s section and had to start reading them all over again. I’d read anything (apart from horror) but my favourites were funny books and adventure stories. I loved the Just William books by Richmal Crompton. I used to laugh out loud when I was reading them. I’d love to be able to write humour like that myself but it’s not my forte although I do write joke books, and there is some humour in my new chick lit ‘I Do? – or Do I?’ recently published by Accent Press.

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I loved Enid Blyton’s books too, especially the adventures of The Secret Seven and The Famous Five. These inspired me to set up my own detective agency with my two brothers when I was about ten or eleven. We called ourselves The Blue Lamp Detectives and made ourselves badges and membership cards. We toured the local area with our notebook and pencils looking for criminals and crimes to solve. Then one day we spotted a man that looked just like the photo we’d seen in the newspaper of a murderer who’d escaped from prison. Terrified, we legged it home. We lost our enthusiasm for being detectives after that.

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As I got older I read the Saint books by Leslie Charteris and Agatha Christie’s books, so my love of detective stories continued. It was this love of detective stories that inspired me to write a podcast detective series called The Amy Carter Mysteries for Top That publishing.

 

As I grew older I enjoyed reading books with feisty heroines such as Scarlet O’Hara in Gone With The Wind. I like to read about flawed characters who are basically good at heart – to me these are more credible and easier to relate too. People who mess up without meaning to. Like Cassie in my chick lit ‘I Do? – or Do I?’ and Sapphire in my YA Sapphire Blue.

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I don’t have so much time to read now, I wish I did, but when I get chance I’m quite an eclectic reader and will happily immerse myself in a variety of genres providing they’re not too wordy. I don’t want to be reading a book with a dictionary by my side. Some of my favourite authors are Sophie Kinsella, Maeve Haran, Marian Keyes, Sue Moorcroft, Mandy Baggot and Sharon Shinn – I loved her Samaria series.

My latest book

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I was over the moon when Accent Press wanted to publish my chick lit ‘I Do? – or Do I?’ and contracted me to write two more, as well as publishing my back list. Basically, ‘I Do? – or Do I?’ is – to quote Accent Press – ‘a hilarious take on Monster-In-Laws, disastrous weddings, and love triangles.’

Here’s the blurb

Local journalist Cassie is getting married to hot-shot lawyer, reliable Timothy, and his mother, Sylvia, who Cassie has nicknamed ‘Monster-in-Law’, wants to plan the entire wedding. When Sylvia books the exclusive ID Images to take photographs of the extravagant do, Cassie has no idea what she’s walking into.  The elusive JM, ID Images’ newest photographer, just so happens to be Jared, Cassie’s first love and ex-fiancé, who broke off their engagement to travel and take photos of far-reaching wonders. He’s back to pay for his next wild adventure.  Cassie decides it’s best to pretend not to know him, but when she’s asked to write an article for her newspaper, she’s tasked with a column surrounding all things wedding related. When Cassie jokingly writes a column meant for herself depicting her situation, a co-worker submits it in place of the real article and it’s soon making headlines, with readers asking the age old question – Who Will She Choose?

Buy Links

Amazon – http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01CGKLOKQ

Waterstones – https://www.waterstones.com/book/i-do-or-do-i/karen-king/9781910939345

Book Depository – http://www.bookdepository.com/book/9781910939352

A bit about Karen

Karen King is member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. She writes sassy, contemporary romance just right for reading on the beach. ‘I DO – or Do I?’ is her first chick lit for Accent Press. She’s been contracted to write two more for them.

Karen has had two other romance novels, several short stories for women’s magazine and 120 children’s books published.

Karen loves to inspire both children and adults to read and write. She is a writing tutor and a Patron of Reading for Blessed Edward Catholic College, Worcester.

When she’s not writing, Karen likes travelling, watching the ‘soaps’ and reading. Give her a good book and a box of chocolates and she thinks she’s in Heaven.

Author links

Website: http://www.karenking.net/

Twitter: @karen_king

Karen King Romance Author Facebook Page

Karen King Children’s Books Facebook Page

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/karenkingauthor/

My writing process: the art of premeditation

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I am about to start a brand new notebook. It’s a historic event, not only because the notebook is strikingly pretty and it lay in my drawer in a virginal state for about five years, but also because that means I have to tear myself away from my old notebooks – and that’s just like taking out my own tonsils with a butcher’s knife.

My notebooks are the mirror of my soul. They are the first tangible step in my writing process. They help me capture those rare moments of creative genius and commit them to paper before they elope from my mind with all those dirty thoughts and unrealised desires that never quite stay long enough to come true.

Planning is every writer’s secret weapon. It can only be equated with solid and thorough premeditation in the near-perfect crime to be committed. It requires a clear purpose, means and an opportunity. When you write crime thrillers like I do, you can’t allow your reader the slightest glimpse into your planning. So it must be cunning and subversive. It has to play with the reader’s mind.

Did I mention that it was my husband who introduced me to methodical planning? I captured his professionalism in the planning department in this cartoon, which I named The Art of Strategic Planning:

art of strategic planningBut going back to my planning. And MY beloved notebooks. They come in all shapes and sizes and they kept me company through many drafts and re-writes, serving mP1060007e faithfully as the mental and emotional dumping ground for all that has been littering my poor head while I was trying to focus on writing.

I wonder how other writers record their research and keep track of their planning, but I can be meticulous in taking down every detail and plotting the storyline in endless bullet points. I relish the moment when I can tick them off. Done! Next one, please: number four! Except that, despite all that diligent planning, the storyline has a habit of running away from me and taking strange turns, at which point my old planning gets the sack and my new planning goes to a new page where it is recorded in numbered points with every confidence of this being the final version of events. Only to be hijacked once again by some unruly character. So I have pages and pages of plotting the same storyline. Sometimes those pages become so crowded that I can’t read my own writing, but because we are on the same version, I simply cannot allow myself to move to a brand new page. So some pages become a little bit schizophrenic with many voices arguing for supremacy.

P1060008And sometimes (I hate to admit this) sometimes I lose focus and my planning notebooks turn into a graffiti wall with bizarre creatures turning up from nowhere and claiming some sort of executive-planner status. Take a look at these. Don’t ask me who they are and where they came from. I don’t know, but they are in my notebooks. They came to me when I could think of nothing, when I couldn’t write or plan – I just sat there with my pen in my hand. And they came along… They are my imps and my muses and that makes them an integral part of my planning process.