This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts, and concerns about our profession. By the way, all writers are invited to join in!
1: Amazon KDP select is my best option at the moment.
I decided to go wide in summer 2021. I signed up with Draft2Digital, and although they are professional and helpful, I’m going back to working exclusively with Amazon. Going wide is not worth the extra work at this stage of my writing life and writing career. I have only sold six books, and it is probably my fault for not advertising with the other book sellers more actively, but I don’t have the time. I need to simplify my life and at the moment Amazon exclusive is my best and simplest bet.
2. A solid morning routine is beneficial for my life and my writing.
I used to get up at seven and go to work, but when I took early retirement in 2019, I had some difficulty adapting to a new writing routine. I had never written in the mornings, as I was working as a teacher. I used to write in the evenings and weekends. After reading The Miracle Morning for Writers in 2020, I decided to implement the routine in my new life. I’ve discovered that the first three hours of writing, from 7-10 are my golden hours. I’m more creative and productive.
3: I’m a plantser
I started out as a pantser. I had four clearly define characters and an idea and I started writing to see where the characters would take me. It was a wonderful experience. I had the time of my life writing my sequel to Jane Eyre and new characters and plot lines grew so much that one novel became and trilogy and then a series. However, I soon realised I needed a structure to tie all the strands, so I read plenty of books on plotting, which helped me structure and finish my novels. I recommend Save the Cat for Writersas one of the most useful and practical books on the topic. And I thought I had become a plotter, but it was just a phase!
Now I’d describe myself as a plantser. I start with a few characters and a conflict which I explore and when I have about 10,000 words and a good number of scenes, I write a loose outline, to help me stay focussed, and write. I allow the characters to drive the action and the outline gradually meanders, so I feel I’m exploring as I write.
4. The Eyre Hall Series will have many more installments.
I’ve written three new books and one novella in the series this year. I’ve also reedited three novels in the series, that means I’ve worked on seven books this year! So my morning routine is definitely working for me! I have lots of ideas to continue and expand the series even more. I’ve also planned other novels in the series and revised a contemporary thriller I had written a few years ago.
5: Writing is my lifesaver
Throughout these two difficult years of Covid plus numerous personal issues, writing has helped me wake up feeling optimistic and energetic enough to carry out a healthy morning routine, write, look after my family, make time for friends and hobbies. My novels have been my lighthouse in a dark, stormy sea.
6: I still love blogging
I’ve been doing more creative writing than blogging this year, but I’ve realised I don’t want to stop blogging. I enjoy having a little window to the world where I can be seen and heard, and interact with other bloggers. I hope to have more time to blog in 2022.
7: The more I read the better writer I become
I’ve been reading widely this year; fiction as well as non-fiction. I especially enjoy thrillers and historical novels, but I’ve also read science fiction, memoirs and non-fiction books this year. I’ve incorporated many books on personal growth which have helped me immensely. I’ve shared many of them in my #MondayMotivation posts. Everything I read helps me improve my craft.
What lessons have you learnt as a writer in 2022?
If you want to find out more about my novels check out my home page, and if you want to find out about my new releases and special offers, subscribe to my newsletter below.
Please, Lord, do not let me lose my mind in this dreadful place. Help me preserve my sanity. I must return to Michael and Helen at Eyre Hall. I have been removed to this terrifying house in a fraudulent manner, deprived of my freedom, and caged in an infernal cave like an animal.
I was dragged to this disturbing place and ensnared in a cage twelve nights ago by a group of armed men who barged into Eyre Hall while I was alone. I resisted, but they forced me into a carriage and brought me here in the dead of night. I do not know where I am, except that it is over four hours’ drive from home.
I have been maliciously confined, and even if I managed to escape, I do not know in which direction I should flee. There are thick woods to the north, east and west, and I have no idea what lies to the south, as I have not yet seen that part of the house or grounds. Although I have only been here for a short time, my captivity is already proving unbearable.
My first days were distressing. I was not allowed to wash or wear clean clothes. They said they were waiting for my trunk, but I told them I did not want a trunk, because I wanted to go home, and they brought me a grey flannel dress, which was so long that the skirt dragged along the floor and so coarse that it scraped my skin like sandpaper.
When I asked Mrs Mills, the person who seems to be in charge of us, if I could wash, she laughed and said the showers were only for those who caused trouble. I was given a basin and some cold water; no soap or ointments. My face was dry and my lips were parched, so I asked for the toiletries I was accustomed to using, and that was when I discovered where I was. Mrs Mills laughed again and told me it was not a guesthouse, but an asylum for the mentally insane.
I was shocked when I heard the sinister nature of my abode of horror. Why had I been removed to this mansion of despair? Could it be a nightmare conjured up by my wondering mind? How could I suddenly find myself in this sea of misery and madness?
My first visitor had been a tall, angular man with a sallow face and weary eyes who said his name was Dr Stevens.
“Where is Dr Carter? He is my doctor.”
He made some notes in a worn notebook and sighed. “I am a special doctor for people who have your particular type of malady, madam.”
“Thank you for your visit, Doctor, but I assure you I am not ill. However, I am missing my home and my family.”
He looked up with a brief smile which didn’t reach his eyes. “We can start there to ascertain your health. Who exactly are you missing?”
“Michael, my betrothed, and Helen, my daughter. I miss them terribly.” I used the damp handkerchief in my hands to wipe away fresh tears, but I breathed in deeply and made sure I kept my composure.
He pursed his lips and wrote more words in his notebook. “Fabrications, madam.”
“I don’t understand, Doctor.”
He left his pen on the table beside his notebook and looked at me as if I were a poor beggar who had asked for a morsel to eat.
“The man you mentioned, Michael Kirkpatrick, I believe is a servant who was once in your employ but is now a convict.”
“That is not possible. What has he been convicted of?”
“Theft and assault. Before his departure, he stole belongings from Eyre Hall and he assaulted you.”
“You must be mistaken. Michael and I will be married on Christmas Eve.”
“You are a widow, and you cannot remarry without your son’s consent, madam, and in your present condition, he cannot agree to such madness.”
I realised this doctor would not help me, so I did not argue. When I left this dreadful place, I would speak to John and clear Michael’s name.
“And where is Helen?”
He looked at his notes. “Yes, Helen. She is a servant at Eyre Hall, the same as Michael. They have both conspired to rob you of your reason, and it seems they have succeeded. You have only one son and his name is John Rochester.”
A throbbing at the back of my head spread to my temples and forehead as I tried to make sense of his words. It was a nightmare, and I had to wake up. I flew to the small window and grabbed the iron bars; they seemed real, but this could not be happening. I needed to get out of this terrifying place.
“Dr Stevens, I need to go home.”
“You cannot leave here until you admit that it has all been a fabrication of your feeble mind, Mrs Mason. Michael is a servant who seduced you, robbed and attacked you, and Helen is another servant’s daughter who you have imagined is the stillborn child you lost ten years ago. The sooner you admit it, the earlier you will leave.”
Someone must have given him this false information. I had to find out who was behind this conspiracy. “May I ask you who has informed you of this?”
“Archbishop Templar has always taken an interest in Grimsby Retreat, where you are now staying. Your son has asked him to take care of you and his late father’s estate in his absence until he returns from his visit to America.”
Was it possible that the archbishop had fabricated the lies and convinced these people that I was a madwoman? What was his purpose in confining me and imprisoning Michael? I could not yet fathom the answers to these questions. But it would seem the bishop had become our worst enemy.
“Where is John? When can I see him?”
“In due time, when you are recovered. We will take good care of you, Mrs Mason. Your confusion is understandable. You have lost two husbands in just over a year, your only son left home, your miscarriages and stillborn child have added to your sorrow.” He patted my hand and smiled. “But worry not; we will take good care of you.”
I raised my hands to my hair and felt for my hairpins. I knew Michael was as real as the little silver butterflies with crystal pendants I was wearing. They were his favourite. I stroked the long pin which, being firmly fixed and covered by my dishevelled hair, had not been removed. I imagined that as long as I could feel it, Michael would find me. I smiled demurely at the foolish doctor and thanked him kindly. What else could I do while I prayed Michael and Helen were safe?
The following days merged into endless hours of misery. The house grew colder and gloomier every minute. In the mornings we had breakfast in a large hall where there was a small fire covered by a huge grate, insufficient to heat the chill room. Porridge, gritty brown bread and tea were passed around the long table. I drank the tea but hardly touched the food. Dinner was tasteless and tough, stewed meat and soggy boiled vegetables which did little to encourage my waning appetite.
I was required to spend the mornings in the icy room with the other residents on my floor. There was nothing in the behaviour of these women to suggest that they were any more unstable than I was. They were all well-dressed and reasonably groomed, although they moved with heavy feet and cautious eyes, which I supposed was due to our bleak surroundings and Mrs Mills’ bad temper.
There were six other ladies on my floor. Mrs Pengilly was a quiet, elderly lady who told me she had been admitted by her husband to mend her nerves. She liked to sit by the fireplace with Miss Short, a stout, middle-aged spinster whose father was worried about her habit of reading and eating too much. Miss Fowler was a tall young lady with bulging eyes who spoke in a loud voice with a Scottish accent; she sat alone in a corner reading one of the tattered copies of the Bible from the sparse bookshelves. Mrs Black was a widow who was usually found knitting by the window. She told me her brother brought her here every year in December and January, because she refused to take part in the Christmas celebrations. Miss Craft, a fine-looking and smartly-dressed woman, rarely spoke. She occasionally played the out-of-tune piano in the corner. A young girl called Katy, who refused to eat or speak, drew pencil sketches of angels and demons. I had seen no one else, but I knew there were more prisoners on the other floors, because I heard their cries at night and fits of demoniac laughter echoing from below during the day.
As one monotonous day rolled into another, I began to sink into despair. I felt as if I had been buried alive, unable to eat or sleep, until I realised that these first days had been a holiday. Chaos was about to send Satan on his way to ruin me. I prayed Michael would find me soon, or I would die in this godforsaken inferno.
One morning when I heard Katy crying, I approached her and asked if she would like to talk to me about what ailed her, but she shook her head fiercely. “Be quiet. Don’t tell anyone,” she chanted.
That evening, I heard sobs coming from Katy’s room, which was across the hall from mine. I jumped out of bed and listened behind my door, which was locked on the outside. I heard her feet dragging along the floor. “Not to the shed, please,” she said, and a man’s voice answered, “Be quiet. You know the rules.” I listened to her muffled cries until they ceased. I peered out of my window and waited. Minutes later I heard more cries and saw two figures crossing the garden towards the shed, but it could have been the wind, or wild animals. The noises ceased, and I hoped I had imagined that Katy was in trouble, because there was nothing I could do to help her.
The following morning, when Katy was not sitting at the breakfast table, I asked Mrs Mills if she was unwell.
“Unwell? Not at all. She has been discharged. Her parents took her back home yesterday evening.”
Miss Craft raised her hands and moved her fingers in the air, playing an imaginary piano. “That’s good news,” she said and dropped her hands back to her lap.
“I’ll miss her,” said Miss Pengilly, and Miss Short nodded.
Miss Fowler’s terrified eyes glanced at Mrs Black, who shot up, knocking her chair to the floor. “She didn’t say goodbye. She should have said goodbye. I knitted her a scarf. She was my friend. Friends say goodbye when they leave!”
Mrs Mills made eye contact with each one of us before speaking. “Silence, or I shall call Dr Stewart. He will not be pleased.” She paused, stabbing me with her eyes. “I had not realised you were such a troublemaker, Mrs Mason. You will stay in your room until further notice.”
The following days were short and gloomy, merging into one long night. I watched the motion of the moon glide under the clouds, and I imagined I saw a shadow in the grounds. I whispered Michael’s name and cried bitterly; little did I know that the real inferno was about to begin.
It started with a knock on my door one stormy afternoon some days after Katy’s mysterious disappearance. I had found a worn copy of David Copperfield and took pleasure in stroking its weathered pages, for I had trouble focusing on the words. Bitter tears spilled from my eyes, smearing the ink, as I remembered my conversations with Mr Dickens at Eyre Hall.
“May I intrude, Jane Eyre?”
I jumped out of my chair and turned abruptly, surprised to hear my maiden name in a voice I did not recall. Neither did I recognise the large, overfed body or bulging blue eyes which stared back at me.
“Good afternoon, sir. Are we acquainted?”
“You do not remember me?”
I would not have forgotten his bulging reptilian eyes, which did not blink. “I’m afraid not, but please sit down. It is not often I have company, sir.”
I waved towards a rickety chair by the writing desk and sat down again myself. My visitor nodded and obliged. His corpulent presence and repulsive odour filled the tiny room. I coughed and held my handkerchief to my nose.
“I hope you are comfortable here, Jane Eyre, for that is your name, is it not?”
“I am Mrs Mason at present.” I wanted to tell him that soon I would be Mrs Kirkpatrick, but I remembered the doctor’s words. “My husband died over a year ago.”
“You were once called Mrs Rochester, I believe?”
“Yes, Mr Rochester died over two years ago. Did you know my husband, Mr—?”
“Yes, I met both your husbands, madam. Mr Rochester and Mr Mason both employed my mother’s services at Thornfield Hall. Do you not remember me? My name is Poole, Mr Daniel Poole.”
I looked at him more carefully. His veined cheeks, bushy grey eyebrows and fuzzy beard suggested he was Richard’s age. I tried to imagine what he might have looked like twenty years earlier, but no one came to mind.
“I’m afraid I cannot recall having seen you at Thornfield Hall, Mr Poole.”
“I visited my mother on one occasion. You were the governess at that time.”
“Poole?” Could Grace Poole, Bertha’s drunken keeper, be this man’s mother? I was reminded of a grim, unfriendly woman with a prim cap perched on her large head and a coarse, gloomy face, wearing a brown stuff dress and white apron. Mrs Poole had spent most of her time in a low-ceilinged, oaken chamber on the second storey of Thornfield Hall, where she sat and sewed, and drank port, gin, or whatever spirits were available.
I jumped out of my chair at once. “You are Grace Poole’s son?”
“The very same. I was already employed at Grimsby Retreat, but of course, you wouldn’t remember the likes of me. You were too busy enticing the master of the house, weren’t you?”
“What do you mean?”
“Funny isn’t it, how the wheels of fortune turn unexpectedly? You were a quaint little thing. An ethereal waif, tantalising all the men in sight.”
I trembled in the realisation that he had not come as a friend.
“You wouldn’t have noticed me then, would you? I wasn’t good enough for you, was I? Answer me.” His eyes bulged even more as he leaned towards me.
“I’m afraid I have no recollection of your visit to Thornfield Hall, Mr Poole.”
“Well, it so happens I’m the superintendent at Grimsby Retreat, where you are presently in residence. Your stay here is in my hands. I’ll have you know I’m not a rancorous man at all. I’ll forget how you ignored me and demeaned my mother with your haughty airs, and I am prepared to make your stay here much more pleasant.”
He held out his hand, but I recoiled. “Come, Mrs Mason, don’t be shy. I mean you no harm. Let us take a walk. I want to show you the rest of the retreat.”
I had no choice. I was trapped between a thick wall and a grated window behind me, and a massive man with a repulsive grin before me. He crushed my hand in his fat, sweaty palm.
“Your hand is cold, Jane. Come.” He pulled me towards the door. “You don’t mind if I call you Jane now, do you? I’ll show you to your new rooms. You’ll be much more comfortable there.”
I had to run to keep up with his long strides as he dragged me across the main hall and up a winding staircase to another floor.
“These are the best rooms, reserved for our special guests. I also live here with my wife. Fortunately, Mrs Poole is unwell.” He smiled, revealing uneven grey teeth. “She won’t bother us.”
Despite the blazing flames and well-furnished room, I shivered, as if ice water were trickling down my spine.
“You’re cold. Don’t stand in the doorway, Jane. Come inside. This will be your room from now on. I want you to write a list of the food you like to eat, and the clothes and other personal items you’d like to have.”
“Why?” I whispered.
“Isn’t it obvious? I’ll look after you while you’re here and, in return, you’ll be my mistress.”
I held my breath. “Why?” I repeated, trying to make sense of this bizarre situation.
“Because I want you, and I am in a position to have you.”
“I’d like to return to my room, please.” I tried to sound assertive, but my voice was unsteady.
“There is no going back, I’m afraid. You will stay here and oblige me. You’ll find I’m easy to please.” He took my limp hand and pressed it to his mouth. The room swirled like a tornado, sucking me into its twisting eye.
When I woke up, I was in my new bed and the doctor was taking my pulse. “You must eat, Mrs Mason, or you will make yourself ill. Do you want to be force-fed?”
He showed me a long tube and motioned it towards my mouth. I shook my head energetically.
“Then you must eat everything on the tray before Mr Poole returns. There is nothing else physically wrong with you.”
The food on the tray, cheese, cold meat, and fruit, would have looked appealing in any other place, but my lips felt as if they were glued together. I managed to pull them apart to speak to the doctor.
“Could I see my son or Archbishop Templar, please?”
“No visitors are allowed for the moment.”
“When can I have visitors?”
“Perhaps in the spring, when you’re feeling better.”
I asked for a Bible. I was anxious to re-read the Gospel according to St Matthew in the hope that it would give me the strength to endure Poole’s designs on me as our Lord had suffered on the cross. Why had I been forsaken?
The Bible gave me little comfort. I cried for the wretched treatment I was enduring and wished for a quick death instead of the slow poisoning awaiting me. I remembered Michael’s words. “No one will keep us apart,” he had promised. I closed my eyes and recalled the joyful moments we had experienced a few months earlier.
**** The End of Chapter One ****
Thunder Moon will be priced at $0,99 until 5th November, so grab you copy now!
By the way, did I tell you I’ve gone wide? That means Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall is available at most international retailers find yours by following this link:
Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall is the fourth volume of The Eyre Hall Series, which chronicles the lives of the residents of Eyre Hall from the beginning to the height of the Victorian era.
Following the death of her second husband, Richard Mason, Jane is finally engaged to the man she loves. However, her eldest son, John Rochester, will do everything in his power to stop the wedding and take over Eyre Hall and the Rochester Estate, with devastating consequences for Jane.
Romance, mystery and excitement will unfold, based on the lives of the original characters in Jane Eyre, and bringing to life new and intriguing ones, spinning a unique and absorbing narrative, which will move the action from the Yorkshire countryside to Victorian London, and magical Cornwall.
Readers will have a more enhanced reading experience if they read the novels in the following sequence: Resurgam: An Eyre Hall Series Novella (Book 0.5) Blood Moon at Eyre Hall #1 All Hallows at Eyre Hall #2 Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall #3 The Eyre Hall Series Volume I (Books 1-3 plus bonus Novella: Resurgam) Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall #4 Snow Moon at Eyre Hall #5 to be released in 2022 Midsummer at Eyre Hall #6 to be released in 2022
If you haven’t read books 1, 2, and 3, or the Novella Resurgam, from 28th October to 4th November, the box set with these four books will be on a special launch offer of 2.99!
Relive the mystery and magic of Jane Eyre in The Eyre Hall Series
As always if you’d like an ARC, just let me know in the comments.
I’ve just received an email confirming that my latest publication, Resurgam: An Eyre Hall Series Novella has been accepted as a New Release Alert on BookBub! It’s my first BookBub deal and I’m really excited! It means my US followers, will be receiving an email from BookBub today with information about my book launch which was two days ago on 20th September!
Nine years after her marriage to Edward Rochester, Jane has everything she ever wished for. She is married to the man she loves and they have a healthy eight-year-old son. They live in a grand house, Eyre Hall, built on the grounds of Thornfield Hall.
Jane has the family she longed for and all the comforts money can buy, and yet she is discontented. Mrs Rochester is dissatisfied with her opulent lifestyle, and she is tormented by cryptic nightmares in which Helen, her deceased best friend from Lowood Institution for Orphans, begs Jane for help.
When another friend from Lowood, Mary Anne Wilson, appears unexpectedly at Eyre Hall with distressing news, Jane realises she will not recover her peace of mind, fortitude, and passion unless she finds a way to keep the promise she made to Helen when she was a penniless orphan.
Resurgam is a standalone novella which can be read as a prequel to The Eyre Hall Series. The events narrated take place between 1853 and 1854, eleven years before Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, Book One of The Eyre Hall Series.
Helen Burns died in my arms on the night of the eighth of June. I cradled her frail body in Miss Temple’s room at Lowood until our beloved teacher removed her corpse from my embrace in the early hours of the morning.
On that same date, seven years later, I married Edward Rochester. I had often wondered if it was a macabre coincidence that the most devastating event of my childhood and the most joyous event of my adult life were to be celebrated on the same day. I should have felt sad, because if I didn’t, I would be betraying a dear friend’s memory. Yet I should have felt happy, because if I didn’t, I would be tarnishing my wedding day and being a disloyal wife.
Every anniversary had been hard, but this year, following my second miscarriage, it was devastating. Nightmares had been plaguing me for weeks. The latest compelled me to wander around the house and gardens, under the vigilant sliver of waning crescent moon, shining like a fading beacon in the dark sky.
Helen’s vivid image, wearing her plain white nightdress, hands joined in prayer, implored me, “Save all of us, Jane. All of us.”
When I asked, “Who am I to save, Helen?” she repeated her request like a chant, and I fell on the grass and wept.
“What is the matter, Jane?”
Edward was standing before me in his nightshirt, bearing a candle which was no longer needed. Morning had broken beyond the horizon.
“Come inside with me, Jane. You will catch cold.”
I followed him into Eyre Hall. He insisted on asking questions I could not answer. I fell into our bed and closed my eyes, hoping I might sleep, but Edward had other plans.
“Let me warm you, Jane,” he said, covering my shivering body with his. Desire was the last thing on my troubled mind, but I complied because it meant he would cease his interrogations.
The following morning, Edward and Dr Carter stood at the foot of the bed with grim faces.
“Mrs Rochester, you are behaving recklessly. You are still weak after your last miscarriage, yet you refuse to eat, and Mr Rochester tells me he found you sleeping on the lawn, chanting deliriously about saving someone.”
I sighed and closed my eyes, because I couldn’t tell them that I had been speaking to my deceased best friend from school.
“I suggest you take laudanum and rest for five days.”
“What about Sunday’s anniversary dinner? We are expecting guests.”
I didn’t care about the dinner party, but I hated taking the dreaded drops; they made me drowsy and clumsy.
“Your health is more important than a dinner party. Dr Carter and I have decided that you will rest.”
I sat up and forced myself to smile. “I had a nightmare, but I’m feeling better today.”
The doctor shook his head. I turned to Edward. “It won’t happen again. I promise.”
When the doctor left, Edward sat beside me on the bed. “Jane, what is wrong?”
He squeezed my hand and kissed the tips of my fingers. I used my free hand to drink some water, hoping to relieve the swelling in my throat.
“It saddens me that I can no longer make you happy, Jane.”
I returned the glass and covered his hand with mine. “You do, Edward. You make me very happy, but…” I hesitated.
“But what? I must know why my wife is not contented.”
I wished I had an answer that wouldn’t displease him. I couldn’t tell him Helen spoke to me in dreams, or that I despised the shallow life I was leading, or that I missed my two unborn children and felt a miserable failure for losing them.
Edward demanded an answer. “Jane?”
I responded in a way I imagined would be easier to explain and forgive. “I would like more children.”
His jaw tightened. “Well, at least one more child,” I added.
He sighed. “Jane, it may not be part of God’s plan. You should be grateful that John is a healthy boy who will honour our legacy.” He squeezed my hand and searched my troubled eyes. “It does not become you to demand more than your share of happiness, and it makes me feel lacking.”
I had no right to wish for more, especially as I knew the hardships most people had to endure. “I’m sorry, Edward. You are right.” Tears swelled up from my troubled soul. “I have been blessed with a sturdy son and the perfect husband. I should not want for more.”
“You are still upset, but you will recover and realise it was for the better.”
I returned his kiss. I wanted to believe him with all my heart, but when I closed my eyes, I saw Helen in her white chemise, her feet bare, holding out her frail hand and asking me to save all of them, and my heart shattered into a million pieces.
From the Blurb
Relive the mystery and magic of Jane Eyre
Nine years after her marriage to Edward Rochester, Jane has everything she ever wished for. She is married to the man she loves and they have a healthy eight-year-old son. They live in a grand, new house, Eyre Hall, built on the grounds of Thornfield Hall.
Jane has the family she longed for and all the comforts money can buy, and yet she is discontented.
Mrs Rochester is dissatisfied with her opulent lifestyle, and she is tormented by cryptic nightmares in which Helen, her deceased best friend from Lowood Institution for Orphans, begs Jane for help.
When another friend from Lowood, Mary Anne Wilson, appears unexpectedly at Eyre Hall with distressing news, Jane realises she will not recover her peace of mind, fortitude, and passion unless she finds a way to keep the promise she made to Helen when she was a penniless orphan.
Resurgam is a standalone novella (Twelve chapters and 21,000 words), which can be read as a prequel to The Eyre Hall Series. The events narrated take place between 1853 and 1854, eleven years before Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, Book One of The Eyre Hall Series.
I am sure I was not the only impressionable teenager who read chapter IX of Jane Eyre and was haunted forever by Charlotte Bronte’s description of Helen Burns’ death in Jane Eyre’s arms, where Helen’s corpse rested, nestled with Jane until the following morning.
Helen Burns was Jane Eyre’s best friend at Lowood Institution for Orphans, where Jane spent seven years as a student and two as a teacher. Helen supported Jane through the public humiliations Mr Brocklehurst imposed on her, and helped a non-conformist Jane to understand and adapt to the teachers and routine at Lowood. In case you don’t remember, you can read a flash fiction summary of chapter VIII, in which their friendship is explained, and chapter IX, which deals with Helen’s death.
Chapter IX ends with a few brief lines about Helen’s burial in an unknown mass grave. Forty girls, half of the pupils at Lowood, died of typhus that summer. As most of the girls were orphans, few of them had families, and those who did could not afford to pay for a headstone.
Resurgam is dedicated to my grandmother, Rafaela Fernandez, whom I never met because she was killed in an air raid in August 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, and buried anonymously in a mass grave. My mother, who was seven at the time, was sitting on her lap. Miraculously, she survived.
No doubt that is why I was especially sensitive to Helen’s death and anonymous mass burial. When I decided to write an Eyre Hall Series Novella, Helen’s death scene, her anonymous mass grave, and the word Resurgam were constantly on my mind.
In Jane Eyre, Jane tells her Dear Reader, that she returned to the cemetery fifteen years later, when she was married to Mr Rochester and had a son, to lay a headstone on her friend’s grave with the word, Resurgam.
Why Resurgam? Resurgam is Latin for “I shall rise again.” It is found in the Bible referred to the resurrection of Christ on the third day. Helen was fervently religious, and stoically accepted her death. Helen also influenced Jane’s religious beliefs and faith in God, especially regarding life after death, which Jane firmly believed in. Her faith was the reason why she wanted her friend to have a headstone to remind everyone who saw it that they would rise again after death.
I wrote Resurgam to capture the moment Jane returned to Brocklebridge cemetery and erected Helen’s headstone. The plot explores the reasons Jane did so at that precise moment, and how the event came about. The novella delves into the themes of friendship, honouring our past and our deceased friends and relatives, as well as love, marriage, motherhood and social concerns.
Naturally I reimagined Jane, some years into her marriage, with her young son, John Eyre Rochester, while she was living at Eyre Hall, the house she built on the site of Thornfield Hall, with her uncle John Eyre’s inheritance.
Readers of Resurgam will see how the Rochesters’ marriage developed over the years and the way in which Jane adapted to her new life as the wife of the wealthy owner of the Rochester estate, as well as the reasons and way in which the word Resurgam finds its way to Brocklebridge Church graveyard.
Writing Resurgam was cathartic for me and my Jane Eyre. It was written at a challenging time, which led to a personal reflection about the life we lead, the dreams we achieve, and the people and life we leave behind, because we can’t have it all, or can we?
The events narrated in Resurgam occurred eleven years before Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, Book One of the Eyre Hall Series, so it can be read as a standalone or as a prequel to the series. Some of the main characters of The Eyre Hall Series, such as Michael, Susan, Mrs Leah, John Rochester, Bishop Templar (who is Archdeacon), and Isaac das Junot, appear in this 22,000-word novella. Check out yesterday’s post for the blurb and more information about Resurgam.
If this sounds intriguing, why not preorder here. It’s available on Amazon and other book retailers at a special launch price of one dollar click on the image below.
As always, if you would like a complimentary ARC in exchange for an honest review, just let me know in the comments or sign up for my newsletter by following the link below:
Book One of The Eyre Hall Series will be live in two day’s time! On Sunday 22 of August!
Relive the Mystery and Magic of Jane Eyre in Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, the first novel in The Eyre Hall Series, the Sequel to Jane Eyre.
While Jane is coping with Mr Rochester’s illness…
And a Malevolent prophecy hangs over Eyre Hall, built on the site of Thornfield Hall…
The unexpected Romance…
Richard Mason, the first Mrs Rochester’s brother, returns from Jamaica to reveal more secrets from the attic at Thornfield Hall.
Why Has Mr Mason returned to Eyre Hall? What new and devastating secrets will he disclose? And how will Jane cope?
Find out what could have happened twenty-two years after Jane Eyre married Edward Rochester in Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, Book One of The Eyre Hall Series.
Readers who have already readThe Eyre Hall Trilogy can skip directly to Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall, available in October 2021. If you have any questions about the reading order of the series, just let me know in the comments.
HappyWeekend and Happy Reading!
By the way, if you haven’t signed up for my newsletter you can do so by clicking on the following image! Find out about upcoming releases, updates and special offers of The Eyre Hall Series.
It was with sadness that I clicked on the ‘unpublish’ button on My KDP Bookshelf yesterday morning. So now, if you go to my Amazon Author page you will not be able to purchase my novels in ebook format any more. But, fear not, remember, ‘All’s well that ends well’!
This was the banner I created in 2016, when I published the third and final novel in my series, Midsummer at Eyre Hall. It’s been almost five years since that happened, and seven years since I published my first novel, All Hallows at Eyre Hall. It’s been a wonderful journey as an independent author, improving my writing skills, learning about self-publishing, blogging, networking with other authors, readers and reviewers, and marketing, because an indie author has to do it all, and/or outsource to others.
When I started writing All Hallows at Eyre Hall, my sequel to Jane Eyre, I had four characters, Mrs Rochester (nee Jane Eyre) Mr Edward Rochester, Mr Richard Mason and Miss Annette Mason, in a setting, Eyre Hall, in Yorkshire, rebuilt by Jane, on the site of Thornfield Hall, after it was burnt down and she married Mr Rochester, on a specific date, twenty-two years after their marriage in October 1865, while Mr Rochester is on his deathbed. I had a very vague plot; Richard Mason was to bring Bertha Mason, Edward’s first wife’s daughter, Annette, born in the attic, while she was imprisoned at Thornfield Hall, back to England, from Jamaica, where she had been living, under his supervision, to blackmail Jane Eyre.
Plotter, Pantser or Plantser?
I began my first novel as a ‘pantser’; I sat down and wrote All Hallows at Eyre Hall, with no attention to plot structure or character arc. I had my characters, location and one specific plot line, and I wrote with the naïve confidence that it would all work out in the end. I started writing, during my summer holidays in 2013 (I was working as a teacher at the time), by September, I realised it would be a trilogy, because although there was one main plot, there were plenty of linked sub plots, and over twenty characters had come into play.
I also realised I needed a plan to keep all the plot lines, character arcs, and events in place, so I decided to plot my novels, but I didn’t become a plotter, I became a plantser. This means I prepare an outline of my novel, with scenes and chapters, and then I write, but I’m not a slave to my plot. The plot guides me to a destination, but my characters decide if they want to follow the plan or rewrite it with their own ideas. I literally go with my character’s flow. The end product looks like the original plot, but it’s never the same, and that’s the beauty of plantsing; you get the best of both worlds.
All Hallows was a learning experience. Writing this novel taught me my strengths and weaknesses, and learning from them helped me become a better writer. It’s not my favourite novel (yes, I do have a favourite, and some of you already know which one it is), but it is the most special, because by writing this novel, I discovered the best writing process for me.
I wrote and published a book a year after All Hallows. By trial and error I found two great editors, one in the UK and one in the US, several fabulous cover designers, I learnt something about selling and marketing books, and a lot about the self-publishing business, thanks to many generous people on YouTube, specialised blogs and other social media. I learnt to format and upload my books as ebooks and paperbacks on Amazon, and dabble in a bit of marketing, at a very basic level. It has been an exhausting, but hugely rewarding enterprise, I had never even imagined lay ahead of me when I started writing.
Everything changed in 2020
So, what happened in 2020? Actually, it all started in 2019, when I took early retirement from teaching in September and decided to write full time. I expected to have more time for my literary pursuits, but starting in December 2019, everything went downhill. It was a very complex year for personal and family reasons. There were births, illness, marriage and divorce in the family to cope with, as well as Covid-19, and although ideas were bursting to be written, they were put on hold, as I attended to the urgent matters in my family’s lives.
Everything changed again in the autumn of 2020. Suddenly, I had all the time in the world to write, due to partial lockdown, and the personal and family issues were well on the mend, so I resumed my neglected writing career with full force. This means that The Eyre Hall Trilogy has gradually become The Eyre Hall Series, an idea which had been in my mind, and partly on paper, for some time.
The first new instalment is Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, The new Book One in the series.
This led to a third edition of All Hallows at Eyre Hall, which has become Book Two. The series continues with a second, revised edition of Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, which has become Book Three of the Eyre Hall Series.
I reached a major hurdle when it came to Midsummer at Eyre Hall, which covered over ten years and has now become three books: Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall, Book Four of The Eyre Hall Series.
And finally, Midsummer at Eyre Hall is now Book Six in the Eyre Hall Series.
So The Eyre Hall Trilogy has become The has become The Eyre Hall Series with six books.
The first four novels are complete, but in various stages of editing and formatting. The last two are still in early drafts. I hope to publish Book One, Blood Moon at Eyre Hall in July, and the following books will be published one a month until the whole series and Box Set will be complete by December, 2021.
This being the case, I thought it best to unpublish the original trilogy. For those who have read The Eyre Hall Trilogy, I suggest two options; you could reread the whole new series (The box set of six books will have a very special price). Otherwise, if you remember the plot, you can take up the story after Twelfth Night, because there are no major changes up to the end of this novel, and read the last three books, which are new. If you’re still not sure, drop me a line at the email below, or in the comments.
Finally, if any of you would like to be the first to read Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, Book One in The Eyre Hall Series, please let me know, so I can get in touch personally, either in the comments below, or email me at email@example.com so I can send you an ARC.
Hi again! Sorry if I seem persistent, but this will be my last post reminding you that my novel, All Hallows at Eyre Hall, the sequel to Jane Eyre, and Book 1 of The Eyre Hall Trilogy, is free today, for the last day.
So, if you were thinking of purchasing it, hurry because today is your last chance! Follow this link!
I’d also like to thank those of you who have already downloaded your free copy, because thanks to you, All Hallows at Eyre Hallhas reached third position on Amazon’s Best Sellers for Historical Thrillers in the USA.
It has also reached second position on Amazon UK for the Victorian, Historical Romance category of free books, so I’m naturally thrilled.
In Spain it’s number one in Romance in English, right next to Jane Eyre, which is a real treat for my eyes!
I’m also thrilled that it’s in third position in Canada in Victorian Historical Romance, which is a wonderful discovery. I was in Montreal, some years ago and loved the city, but I have no friends there at all, so it’s a lovely surprise to know I have readers in Canada!
So, it’s been a really great promotion as far as visibility and publicity goes. Fingers crossed buyers will also be readers and hopefully reviewers!
It’s not easy being an Independent author, there’s a lot of work to be done which has nothing to do with creative writing, such as formatting, promotion and marketing, but it’s also empowering to make your own decisions and control the process from writing the novel to reaching the readers’ kindles and hopefully minds!
If you’ve read it or are in the process of doing so, I’d love to know about your experience as a reader of All Hallows at Eyre Hall.
This post was written in response to Charli Mills’ weekly fiction challenge at Carrot Ranch.
This week’s prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rock in the road. It can be physical, adding to a plot twist, or it can be metaphorical for a barrier or hardship. Go where you find the rock. All writers are welcome!
As usual, the prompt has taken me back in time, to Victorian England, once again.
Cracking rocks and other chores
‘You’ll get up at 5, carry hot water and light the hearths in all the bedrooms.’
‘After breakfast, you’ll empty the latrines and make the beds.’
‘Then you’ll prepare lunch and do the laundry.’
‘Such a pretty girl, but so frail.’ He smiled maliciously. ‘The master may use you for other chores.’
Let him try, I thought.
He wasn’t to know I had worked cracking rocks with a heavy hammer all day, until I splintered the forman’s skull when he put his hand down my breeches and discovered I wasn’t frail at all.
Children from the age of eight were exploited sexually and in the workplace in Victorian England. It wasn’t unusual for young girls to disguise themselves as men in order to do male chores, or escape male attention. On other occasions, it was the men who were disguised as women to do women’s chores. In any case, children, often abandoned orphans, trying to survive in large cities, had to learn to fend for themselves from an early age, or perish. This is another post, including flash fiction, I wrote about Oliver Twist and the subject of child labour and orphaned children in Victorian England.
In this flash, the narrator is a girl, who had been disguised as a boy while she had worked cracking rocks. She reverted to her female role and clothes to escape being caught as a murderer. Her new master would do well not to believe she’s unable to defend herself!
In The Eyre Hall Trilogy, my sequel to Jane Eyre, Susan and Michael Kirkpatrick were orphans, who Jane Eyre employed at Eyre Hall, when they were 14 and 16, respectively. They had been living in a workhouse in London, as many orphaned children at the time. The following paragraphs are taken from All Hallows at Eyre Hall.Michael narrates this passage some years later, as an adult, recalling how Jane, like many other wealthy people living in rural areas, was unaware of life in a London workhouse.
It’s a moving and important extract, because Michael also describes the moment he fell in love with Jane, when he was a young boy. Although Michael had been obsessed with Jane from the first time he saw her at the age of fourteen, Jane didn’t fall in love with Michael until he was an adult and her husband lay on his death bed. Their love affair brings great heartache and trauma to both of them, but they manage to overcome all the emotional and physical demons they face.
“Have you ever worked?” she asked us, and Susan told her we had done the workhouse chores, such as oakam breaking, which made our fingers bleed. She had not heard of it before, so Susan told her how we had to tease out fibres from old ropes to produce lots of thin loose fibres. “Whatever for?” she asked, quite aghast, and Susan told her the strings were later sold to shipbuilders, where they were mixed with tar and used to seal the lining of wooden vessels.
Susan told her I was a strong boy and used to hard work, because I often cracked granite rocks with a heavy hammer ten hours a day. Again she asked, horror-struck, for the reasons, Susan told her the chippings were carted away by older men, who were not strong enough to crack them, and were then probably used in construction works. Susan proudly explained that with the pennies earned, usually not a shilling a day between us, we were able to buy food, some clothes, and borrow books and magazines to read by candlelight.
When she asked how long we had been there, Mrs. Rochester was again appalled to hear we had been there for two years, since our mother had died. She asked her about our life prior to our mother’s death, and Susan explained we had lived in a rented room in Morton.
She looked at me sadly and asked if I did not speak, and I could only gaze at her face and think how very kind and beautiful she was. Susan told her I was shy, but that I spoke, read, and wrote very well, because our mother had taught both of us to do so. My mistress put her hand up to my face, lightly touching my cheek, and sighed, looking straight into my eyes, as if she were searching for something. It was the moment I fell under her spell. No one had ever touched me like that before, with such concern and affection, not even my mother, who had been too sad and overworked to bestow such warmth. Then Mrs. Rochester spoke to Susan and said someone would teach us our new jobs at her house.
Today is Charles Dickens birthday (February 7th, 1812). I’m not going to praise him yet again, because you all know how important his work is for World Literature and my own literary mind. He also makes a personal appearance in Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, and is a vital part of Jane’s recovery in Midsummer at Eyre Hall,although he is no longer physically present.
Here I am beside Charles Dickens’ portrait at the National Portrait Gallery in London, a few months ago.
There are so many things I could say and so many words I could quote to honour Charles Dickens’ memory today, but I’ve decided to include the following quote, which is not my favourite, but it’s appropriate for a happy day like today!
Hope you’re all having a wonderful 7th of February!