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Sunday, 30 September 2012

A taste from chapter 48 of Mine to Avenge

At approximately four o’clock that afternoon, a taxi drove into Adelaide Airport and stopped outside the main entrance. The male passenger in the back reached forward to settle his bill with the driver. Both then stepped from the car, the driver going to the boot to fetch his passenger’s luggage, watchful as other taxis and airport buses drove by him to their drop-off or pick-up points.
The driver reached into the boot and pulled out two pieces of luggage, one large case and a smaller cabin bag. The passenger thanked him and carried his luggage to the entrance of the terminal. The glass doors slid open and he walked into the light and airy building. He looked for the screens indicating the flights and departure gates, found his flight number, checked the departure gate, and went across to the check-in counter. He sighed in frustration when he saw the length of the queue ahead of him, and slouched wearily onto the end of the line.
He was a short, thin man, almost totally bald but for a few tufts of greying hair over his ears. He was in his mid-sixties but looked at least ten years older. His once sharp eyes were tired now, and had an almost haunted expression. He deliberately lowered his head whenever someone made eye contact, hiding his soul from potential scrutiny.
The queue moved at a steady pace and the man shuffled along with it. Each time the queue paused, the man used the break to ease the pain in his legs, transferring his weight from one leg to the other.
He tried to feel excited about this journey in the same way as he had about journeys in the past. He almost remembered what it was like—the excitement of new and unseen places—but he was unable to stay in the moment for long.
He was almost at the front of the queue now, with only three people ahead of him. Then he could check in, relax, and have a cup of coffee before his flight. He began to fumble in his coat pocket for his ID.
As he came to the counter, he reluctantly raised his eyes to meet those of the woman on the other side. She smiled at him, but he didn’t respond. He put his cabin bag down on the floor at his feet and lifted his suitcase onto the scales to be weighed.
From the other side of the counter, the attendant examined the hunched figure. She recognised anxiety of a kind that wasn’t connected with a fear of flying.
‘May I have your name please, sir?’ she asked with a smile.
 ‘Mr Vasilakis … Mr Spyridon Vasilakis.’
The man thought her smile was made more attractive by the warmth of her voice. For a brief moment he wished that he wasn’t going anywhere. He thought it would be nice just to stay where he was and listen to this woman talk. He handed over his ID, and she noticed the tremor in his hand.
 ‘Thank you, Mr Vasilakis. I see you’re meeting a connecting flight to Athens. You’ll have a bit of a wait in Melbourne, I’m afraid, because yours was a late booking. Can we assist you in any way at the Melbourne end before you connect?’
The man lowered his eyes and shook his head, then stooped to pick up his cabin bag. ‘Thank you … no. Thank you for … for your kindness.’
The attendant looked at him with concern, but was aware of the queue of people waiting behind him. She wondered if it was wise for him to be travelling alone. ‘Do you have your passport with you, sir?’ she asked quickly. ‘You’ll need it for your connecting flight.’
He straightened, his cabin bag in his hand, and patted his pocket to reassure both her, and himself. ‘Yes, thank you. It’s here.’
He almost remembered how to smile, but his facial muscles were out of practice and nothing happened. He turned away towards the departure lounges, straining to hear the attendant’s kind voice behind him, until he could hear it no more.
He stopped at the top of the escalators and wondered whether to have coffee before going through the body scanners, or afterwards. He decided to go through the scanners first and then it would be over and done with. He shuffled towards them and was pleased to see that here the queue was moving along quickly, but he worried that his slow shuffle would make others behind him impatient.
 The people behind him adjusted themselves to his pace, continuing to talk among themselves while waiting their turn. They all searched their pockets for keys, mobile phones and other metallic items to place in the plastic crates at the scanner point.
The man passed through uneventfully—almost invisibly, he thought. He picked up his bag from the conveyor belt and looked for a coffee shop. He chose the one with the fewest people, where he sat in the farthest corner to wait for the girl to come and take his order. He was relieved that she came to his table quickly, as he was very thirsty. He ordered a toasted cheese sandwich and a cappuccino.
He set his cabin bag on the spare chair and rested his elbows on the edge of the table, holding his head in his hands. He sighed deeply. The sigh seemed to deliver him some much needed oxygen and he relaxed, lifted his head and folded his arms in front of him on the table. Wondering how long it would be before his flight, he pulled up the sleeve of his jacket to look at the watch on his left wrist.
His eyes fell upon the tattoo on the skin just above his watchband. Amidst the sparse hairs of his outer forearm, was the outline of a faded crimson heart, surrounding the words Charis, Nicholas, Theodore. As he continued to stare, the painful memories overwhelmed him like a tidal wave, and the outline of the tattoo gradually blurred, as he saw it through a film of unshed tears.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Seeking advice on essential apps for author pages

 The past week has been a very exciting one in terms of the publishing journey. The biggest achievement was finally giving the go-ahead to proceed with printing. It took seven separate attempts at cleaning up the file to get to that point. The publishers were so patient, and always willing to fix up anything I found, each and every time.
I’m certainly not brave enough to claim that there will be no typos in the manuscript at all - astute readers always manage to find some. The novel underwent two complete edits by a professional editor, then there was a read-through by two objective readers with no previous exposure to the novel at all, and finally seven times through with the publishers in the quest to eliminate typos. I went through it myself so many times in between that I lost count.
I was amazed at how easy it is for the eye not to notice when a quotation mark is missing. I think the mind expects it to be there, and this makes it easy to miss if it’s not. This was by far the most common mistake I found during the manuscript tidy up, most likely caused by a cut and paste error during editing.
I finally have a Facebook author page up and running, which has been an interesting process for someone not very savvy on what works on such pages and what doesn’t. It’s still in the early stages though, and I am enjoying looking at other author pages for inspiration, particularly in terms of the apps they use. If you are an author with ideas on apps that work for writers and why writers should have them, I would certainly appreciate hearing from you. You can currently find my page at

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Six weeks to go...and counting...

It’s been good to finally have a fixed date for the book launch and to be making concrete plans. It has given me a focus and a clear goal to move towards this week when other paths in my life are now blurry and unclear.
This week has been one of those weeks of my life that I wish I could just rub out like chalk on a black-board, as if it never happened. I took a significant leap of faith in my life recently, which is not turning out as I had hoped, and my health has consequently taken a battering. I now have to re-assess ‘where to from here?’ At the moment, things seem quite bleak, but I believe that there is no such thing as a dead end road and that my hope for something better beyond this time is not misplaced.
There are 6 weeks to go now until the launch, and I have been discussing promotion and marketing with the publisher this week, including pricing for the hard copy book and e-book version. It’s really exciting after all the hard work of editing and proof-reading to be talking about purchasing options.
Please continue to follow my Novel Journey through the countdown to the launch, and I hope you will enjoy this next extract from Mine to Avenge - this time from Chapter 43:

Spyridon sat waiting until Parker appeared from the shadows of the lean-to. He pushed Spyridon over to the doorway into the house. ‘Inside,’ he said. ‘Move! And keep it quiet.’
Parker made Spyridon pause for a few minutes just inside the door. Spyridon knew that Parker was allowing the time needed for Linus to return to his suite. The boy had gone into the house only a minute or two ahead of them. When Parker was sure all was quiet, he prodded Spyridon and waved his hand, directing Spyridon towards the passage leading to the library.
Arriving at the library, Parker pushed Spyridon inside. He waved the gun at him while positioning a chair with its back to the door. He motioned to Spyridon to sit in the chair, then carefully put the gun down behind him on Spyridon’s desk, well out of his reach. He took some strong tape from his pockets and tightly bound Spyridon’s wrists and ankles to the chair. Last of all, Parker taped his mouth. Spyridon gagged as his breath was cut off, and concentrated on trying to breathe through his nose. Parker stepped back to survey his handiwork, walking slowly around Spyridon to see that all was secure.
Spyridon watched Parker as he moved in front of him, puzzled in spite of his fear and predicament. He was moving in a strange way—deliberately and slowly, with measured steps. He remembered that Parker had moved the same way earlier when they were in the garage. He wondered if it was because the man was without his walking stick. He was puzzled, too, that someone who usually walked with a stick was so physically fit.
Parker picked up the gun again, levelled it at Spyridon’s head, and then disabled the intercom system to the library. The video monitor was already switched off. With his free hand, he reached for a second chair, and positioned it in front of Spyridon. He straddled it backwards, facing Spyridon, and leaned forwards, his chin resting on his arms folded over the back of the chair.
‘Well, Spyridon Anastos, here we are,’ he chuckled, keeping his voice low. ‘Aren’t you wondering why we’re here like this? Aren’t you wondering what this is all about?’
 Spyridon’s eyes communicated the fear and panic he was unable to express.

Friday, 14 September 2012

The launch date is finally on the radar!

Finally a date has been locked in for the launch of Mine to Avenge - November 3rd - seven weeks away. It has been a long process to get to this point, given that I finished writing the story in January. It is nice now to be able to put my mind to planning a celebration party, for that is what I would like the launch to be.

Of course I would like family and friends to come along and buy my book on the day, but even if they don’t, I just want them to come and share in the celebration that my story is out there to be read by those who care to. Reading tastes are very subjective and I am well aware that there are many people, even among those close to me, who won’t like my book. One of my own sisters couldn’t even get past the first chapter because it isn’t her style. She is keen on thrillers, blood, guts and gore and my novel is certainly not of that genre. I just hope that she and others who find that it ‘isn’t their thing’ will be able to at least say to their reading friends, “I know who wrote that,” and encourage others to give it a go.

Anyway, the countdown is on so continue to watch this space for more details as they emerge. The book will be available both electronically and as hardcopy, whatever your preference.

Meanwhile please enjoy an extract from chapter 42 of Mine to Avenge:

Spyridon went to his library to listen to music and to read. He turned off the video monitor for privacy and settled in for a relaxing morning. Remembering that he hadn’t yet eaten, he ordered the housekeeper to bring him some toast and coffee.
At about 11.00 a.m. he was disturbed by the intercom. Parker wished to speak to him.
‘Yes, Parker, what is it?’
‘Excuse me, sir. I need to organise some leave urgently. Something has come up with my family. Can you please meet me at the gatehouse to discuss it?’
‘Why can’t you come up to the house, Parker?’ Spyridon asked, a little irritated by the interruption.
‘I’m sorry, sir. My sister is on the phone. She’s quite upset and I can’t leave her just at the moment, but I’ll try to be finished on the phone before you get here. I just want to reassure her that there won’t be a problem organising some leave right now.’
Spyridon had never considered that his gatekeeper might have a family, as he lived on-site.
 ‘Alright, Parker, I can do that. I’ll meet you there shortly.’
‘Thank you, sir.’
Spyridon turned off the stereo and walked through the house, exiting by the front door. He strolled along the gravel driveway, admiring his gardens as he went.
As he approached the gatehouse, he saw the blue-capped Parker wave to acknowledge him. He arrived at the door of the booth, and Parker held it ajar, inviting him in. Spyridon had only been in the booth once before, not long after it was built, in order to see that it had been completed to his satisfaction. There was no need for him to come to this part of the gardens as Parker had it all under control. He also admitted to himself that he felt unsafe and exposed when so near to the gate and the street outside.
‘Thank you for coming down here, sir,’ Parker said, spreading out a calendar on the desk. He looked out into the street, first left then right. He turned back to face Spyridon and, in a sudden deft move, reached behind his employer, locking the booth door.
Spyridon was so surprised by this manoeuvre that it took him a moment or two to notice that Parker had a gun in his hand, and that it was pointed straight at his chest. 

Friday, 7 September 2012

A Second Extract from Chapter 41 of Mine to Avenge

Please enjoy a second extract from Chapter 41 of Mine to Avenge:

It took Linus less than a minute to take the gun from the drawer, but he hadn’t thought about how he would carry it through the house unseen. The pockets of his trousers weren’t deep enough. Thinking quickly, he decided it was more important to get out of his grandfather’s room before worrying about what to do with the gun. He carefully closed the drawer, lowered the bed covers and pushed the chest of drawers back into the grooves in the carpet. He then switched the intercom and video monitors back to their regular settings before heading to the door.
Cautiously, he opened the door and looked back along the corridor towards his own suite. He left his grandfather’s suite, leaving the door ajar as he’d found it, then sped along the passage to his own room. He opened the door and put the gun on the dresser next to the plate of cheese and crackers. Then he tipped the food onto the dresser next to the gun, took the empty plate and left, closing the door behind him before strolling back to the kitchen with the plate.
The housekeeper and the manservant were together in the kitchen again when Linus went in. They nodded at him, and returned to their coffee pot and conversation. Linus went over to the sink, passing the monitor as he went. He rinsed his plate then strolled casually past the monitor on his way out, raising his hand unobtrusively to turn it back on.
For the second time in less than fifteen minutes, Linus hurried up the stairs. He went into his suite, and shut the door with relief, locking it behind him. He turned off the video monitor, knowing that this wouldn’t be seen as suspicious. He looked at his watch. It was now almost 10.30 a.m.
He sat in his room, firstly catching his breath, then trying to compose himself, and then trying to come up with a plan. He frequently looked at his watch, noting the rapid passing of time, and worried by his inability to come up with any plan of action that satisfied him.
At midday he walked over to his window, hoping some fresh air might clear his mind. He slid the window open and leaned out, supporting himself on the window ledge. As he stood there, trying to muster up a plan and the courage he needed, he heard footsteps on the gravel below and looked down. He saw the manservant and housekeeper walking along the driveway towards the gate. They were both carrying suitcases. What was going on now? He couldn’t remember his grandfather saying anything about giving his employees any time off.
A minute or so later, while he was still trying to work out what was going on, he saw the gardener following behind, also carrying a suitcase. This puzzled him but he knew he mustn’t let it distract him. Their departure at least resolved the concern he had about them witnessing his crime.
With renewed urgency, he realised that he had only two hours left to make his move. He had to act now, plan or no plan, but thought he should change his clothes first to better conceal the gun. As he was changing, the intercom buzzed by his door. He answered it reluctantly.
‘Yes, Grandfather?’ he asked.
‘Can you meet me in the courtyard, boy? Immediately. I have something I need to tell you. It’s important.’
‘Yes, Grandfather. I’ll be there in a minute. I’m just changing my clothes.’
Linus switched off the intercom, then put on a pair of baggy cargo pants and a loose lightweight jumper. He carefully tucked the gun into his waistband, pulled the jumper down over the top of the pants and checked his image in the mirror to make sure that the gun wasn’t visible. The pale face staring back at him was that of a complete stranger. He braced himself, left his room and headed downstairs, silently counting each stair as he went, knowing that each step was taking him closer to a potential opportunity to act.
With the employees gone, the house was quiet. The radio was no longer playing in the kitchen. The cement mixer was no longer tumbling at the back of the house.
He reached the bottom of the stairs, crossed the foyer and walked out into the courtyard where his grandfather was waiting for him.
‘Come on, boy … out here. I need to speak to you.’

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Extract from Chapter 41 of Mine to Avenge

I am currently going through the proofs for the second time. The first time I found over 50 errors needing correction. This time around I am just on half way through and only have 5 corrections. It has been a long slow process but I am aiming for a good quality production, and ultimately I believe it will pay off to be so fussy.
I am beginning to turn my attention to promotion and marketing and am grateful for the many experienced writers so willing to share their knowledge and expertise in this area.  I have read so many different ideas on what a book launch should look like that it seems to be an individual thing once you have a venue and a date. If anyone reading this has strong opinions on what a book launch should or shouldn’t incorporate, please feel free to comment below.

Meanwhile please enjoy an extract from Chapter 41 of Mine to Avenge:

As Linus came to the library door, he saw that it was ajar and hinged on the same side from which he was approaching. He realised that he would be able to see into the library through the crack in the door. He was certain that his grandfather didn’t know he was there. If he had known Linus was there, he would have come out by now to meet him, or called out to him to come in. He tiptoed to the crack in the door and peered through. His grandfather was standing by a bookcase against the opposite wall, his back to the door, flicking through a book.
Linus glanced up at the video monitor, on top of the bookshelf. It was turned off and he breathed a sigh of relief. He remembered that his grandfather often switched the monitors off for privacy if he was going to be in a room for any length of time. With the library monitor off, Linus knew that things were in his favour for getting the gun as soon as possible but he had to find out where the gardener was first, and he also needed to switch off the kitchen monitor.
He knew the gardener was somewhere in the grounds because he could hear the faint but distinctive hum of a concrete mixer. He continued on through the house, following the sound of the mixer, and came out into the conservatory. He went over to the window and peered through the potted palms grouped together against the glass. The gardener was shovelling dirt, with piles of broken concrete littering the ground around him. He remembered his grandfather asking the gardener to repair the concrete paving at the back of the house. Linus hoped he would be busy here for a long time yet, because the constant turning of the mixer would at least obscure a gunshot from him.
Turning, he strolled casually back to the front of the house. As he neared the kitchen, the housekeeper appeared, pushing a trolley with coffee and toast. She smiled at him and headed in the direction of the library. Food and coffee meant that his grandfather planned to be in the library for a while, and Linus breathed a little easier.