Ta dah! Finished!

Darlings

Writing for HOURS today.

And it’s done.

First draft of The House On Church Row.

All 82,000 words and ideas and strange magical-goings-on-of it.

Beyond tired.

But so happy.

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Must have been that walk in the late sunlight we took earlier and the strong cappucino at a wondrous outdoor terrace and the many-chandeliers spotted en route.

Everything helps….

But mostly it’s knowing You are there.

view through the trees

darlings

we went to see friends up in the Hollywood Hills for a long moment of reflection and quietness on a sunday evening and just before we turned into the driveway we thought “let’s take a walk first”.

so we parked the car.

got out on foot (sometimes we Do think we’re the last of the walking-people walking in L.A) and took the trusty camera and swooned under orange blossom and peeked through trees.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAyou see we spent Much of yesterday (after our lovely brunch at the Apple Pan with @mamzellev) WRITING and we needed to get back into corporal realm (we get quite dizzy and in-the-Zone when we Write).

we wrote 2 x articles (we’ll post their Links here when they arrive on the interweb at Los Angeles, I’m Yours during the week) AND (almost) 3000 words of The House On Church Row.

we’re Almost Done.

a mad trip to the Seaside and the whole plot will be tied up neatly as if it’s a brown paper parcel fastened with string and given to Mr. Postman as he does his rounds of the Village of a morning.

71,098 words!

a slim(ish) volume (we prefer those).

it feels astonishing to see the world unfold like this.

may we share a few lines?

you are Most Kind.

What could she do? You couldn’t interfere with the laws of the universe. When someone was dead, they needed to stay dead. But Elyse was so full of life and longing. It had never occurred to Marion that the chains of family could keep you close to the earth, not going, not leaving, not at peace. Distracted from her piece of paper, it started to unfurl open. Both Annabelle and Kelly looked at the same time, but Marion scrunched it up, lit it and threw it into the air.

It just hung there. Smoldering but oh-so-slowly. Not burning up. Not moving. Marion sighed and exchanged glances with Elyse who cheered up slightly for a moment. It wasn’t easy being metaphysical sometimes. She reached up to the paper and flicked it with her middle finger and thumb and then closed her hand quickly around it. By the time she opened her hand again a split second later it had gone.

“Was that a magic trick?” said Annabelle, admiringly.

Marion was irritated by that remark. “I don’t do tricks,” she said, shortly and broke the circle by getting up to find a bottle of Jack Daniels in the kitchen cupboard.  By the time she returned the mood was broken. Lydia had found the bit of paper with the closing incantation and everyone’s paper had burned up, rattles had been used to break up the energy and feathers piled on top of one another in the fire.

Rather pleasantly drunk, the seven women drifted into the garden to enjoy the full moon and a surprisingly large number of twinkling stars for Hampstead. Elyse hung back and noticed Libby watching them through the fence. She knew these were her last few hours on earth and she had a pang – one of the first in her life/death – that she would not get to know her niece. Libby pressed her hands onto the fence and thought she could still make out the shimmering ghost of her aunt Elyse. She leaned her forehead on the night warmed wooden slats and wished she could get to know Elyse. She seemed like someone who would understand what it was like to be Libby.

Leaning against the trunk of the largest tree, Annabelle felt full and beautiful and sexy and glorious. She smiled beatifically at Marion who looked wryly back. It was amazing how congenial straight women were when they were tipsy.

“It’s a beautiful night,” breathed Annabelle, looking up to the top of the trees and the stars beyond.

“It certainly is,” smiled Marion. She touched the trunk of the tree with the tips of her fingers and all the twinkle lights in the garden suddenly lit up.

Diana clapped her hands. “Oh! How pretty!” Lydia crossed over to Annabelle and Marion and put her arms around them both.

“Marion, that was very thoughtful of you,” she said.

“I can be,” said Marion, “When I want to be.”

“I don’t believe you are as manipulative as you make out,” said Annabelle, flirting openly now.

“Your naivety is most seductive,” replied Marion, catching Kelly’s eye across the garden. Kelly saw her looking and thought sod it, even if the English rose is hanging around like a bad smell, I still like flirting with Marion. Marion raised an eyebrow and grinned. Kelly walked over, purposefully and then suddenly stopped. She looked at the trunk nearest Marion. There was no switch there. Kelly walked back over to the tree on the left. She touched the switch and the lights went off, very briefly. She looked around at Marion who put her fingers to her lips.

The full moon ceremony went late into the night. They drank, they talked and they danced, a little (but not to Joni Mitchell – Marion drew the line at that, despite Diana’s plaintive pleading). They talked some more and gently sunk into the dewy grass as the dawn started to break. Dead Can Dance was on the vinyl turntable, very low and insistent and gorgeous in its tonal quality.

we have a Mixed day ahead.

1. a new doctor to get an update on Our Situation after you-know-what

2. some work-related tasks

3. a swoon-y afternoon at The Library with our Requested Materials from the Special Collections (couldn’t be Happier at the prospect of quiet hush, pencils-only, notebook, white gloves, archival materials)

and then a celebration this evening of a fabulous friend’s milestone in life by candlelight which is always delicious.

*smileshappilytocamera*

oh yes.

and we’ve decided to take Personal Responsibility for the curves.

the scared bitchin’ about the you-know-what-and-subsequent-curve-emergence has Got To End.

yes, yes, it was horrid (can you believe it was TWENTY MONTHS ago now?!)

and yes, the medication is nasty (better than the original two they tried us on – synthetics have never Been Our Thing)

but we ate a lot of Cake (bagels/toast/jam/butter/cream/) over our scared feelings and Day Job stress and do-we-have-cancer-waiting and can-we-get-back-to-the-Other-Coast and will-the-Green-Card-Ever-Arrive *waiting12yearslater* (yes! it did!)

and we’d like to admit that.

sort of (like is a strong word).

so here we are – *waving* with coffee cup with non-fat milk and looking forward to those Bran Flakes.

this shall not become a diet blog (we never diet)

and there may be Cake from time to time.

but not as a regular thing.

movingswiftlyon.

because we’re Here now.

Starting Again with life.

and that’s delicious.

the 3rd book is Almost complete.

and then we need to decide what to write next.

we heard about this Clever “app-ness” called Atavist where one can Publish one’s Short Stories and add in maps and pictures and so on and so forth.

because we have a lovely short story called “Malachy’s Inn” and we’re Ever so Keen to share it in a creative way.

maybe we’ll pop that one into this little app-shop-wonderland and see if people would like to buy it.

here’s how it starts…..

The bleak road to Belfast airport was the last place on earth you would expect to find solace. But there it was, an old-fashioned inn, white-washed on the outside and a lamp burning to the right of the heavy door.

Kathleen had woken up at dawn to leave that miserable hotel, driving faster and faster until she could breathe again at the edge of the world. Away from the lonely old-fashioned room with that flocked wallpaper, strange tasting milk, burgundy threadbare carpets and bad coffee.

She had flown from New York to Ireland for a wedding. But perhaps the wedding was just an excuse to get out of her life. The wedding was beautiful but she barely recognized anyone. Everyone had children under six who ran screaming. Labradors slumped, depressed, by the grand fireplace. Fiery burning torches lit the gravel driveway where she scraped her hire car door trying to park in the near darkness by the flint wall. Driving down the gravel driveway she noticed a decadent lane of writhing couples pressed back into the yew trees, watched by a growing crowd of small boys, their eyes open wide and mouths in a little red o.

There was one really touching moment. Just as she picked up her coat, the bride appeared from behind a long red velvet drape in the anteroom leading to the house. Swaying, lost in her own bliss, she tried to place Kathleen. With a heavy heart, Kathleen realized she was no longer part of this world.

ah yes.

we’re Very Fond of this story.

and we’ve been writing and re-writing it and sending it out and now it’s time (due to the shocking lack of response) to Publish it Ourselves.

most exciting.

have a beautiful monday, darlings.

we’ll be thinking of you most warmly.

 

overcast like an out-of-season bank holiday weekend at an english resort town.

darlings

tis very strange and grey/gray/overcast outside the window – it doesn’t look like los angeles at All – more like an out-of-season bank holiday weekend at an english resort town.

*lookstocamera*

oh.

wait.

all the bank holidays are In Season, right?

but still terrible weather if we recall rightly.

back to the simile and metaphor and meta-ness.

so today has got us in mind of a day inside a (3 star) hotel at a english coastal town, hands up against the window (“take your grubby hands off the window and go and wash up”) nose pressed to the glass, trying to find the beach through the raindrops and wondering if it’ll clear up long enough to build a sandcastle and maybe eat an ice-cream (rum and raisin in those days or a 99 with a flake from the vans with the tinkling italian music).

perhaps it’s because The Persephone Biannually arrived in the post yesterday.

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we devoured it after breakfast (bran flakes, 1 per cent milk, coffee – 2 x cups).

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gosh!

well.

we stopped in our tracks Instantly upon reading this.

you see at the age of Eleven we went to school in eastbourne (although we re-named it Charstleymead in our novel called “Emerald”*) and spent Many Hours lingering in Old Town (waiting for the bus which went along the coast road – in the times when we weren’t boarding – we only got to stay when we were Doing A Play, sadly.)

will you indulge us?

She had no idea she still believed in magic. As if expecting the stone to transport her back, as if by closing her eyes and wishing it so hard that her heart felt it might break again, she could wake up in the Upper IV dormitory upstairs, tucked in tightly by matron under thick white cotton sheets. A faint smell of lavender from the linen water used to smooth out the pillowcases at the local laundry service. The casement windows open to the elements, birds singing outside and the clatter of kitchen staff frying sausages and making endless rounds of buttered toast.

But it was not possible. She knew that – even if she wished and wished and wished so hard. There was no way of returning. She whimpered in fright at the thought of returning to London, to her horrible cold life in that terrifying building.

Earlier that day, on her way to interview the actor, the rest of Charstleymead had looked the same. The beach still had pebbles, not sand. The same line of striped blue and white deckchairs sat waiting on the promenade, their linen blown out by the sea breezes. The Devonshire Park Theatre was doing its umpteenth revival of Noel Coward’s Private Lives and the old art gallery still showed watercolors by talented local painters of the surrounding chalk cliffs and Sussex Downs. Charstleymead was the same but it had no place for Emerald.

Suddenly she saw someone sitting on the wall over by the Lawrence College playing field. Emerald wanted to run across the old grass lawn now worn in places and in need of fertilizer and love. Automatically, the bit of her that was still Emma ran down through the punishment list:

1. A nuisance mark for using the wrong entrance.

2. An untidiness mark for having hands covered in rust from the gates and not having brushed her hair for at least three days.

3. An order mark – if not two – for being caught smoking.

4. And definitely disapproval for not being a good sport and loyal Old Girl who showed up to support Harcourt Hall over the past decade.

There was a girl, about fourteen, she guessed, scuffing the backs of her school shoes by hitting them on the other side of the wall, rhythmically, angrily – and, noted Emerald with a wry grin – smoking.

*no update yet From New York City on the reading of Emerald (our own literary agent – such a lovely phrase – said it was “poignant” and “very good” and has passed it on to another to “co-read” as the Other Agent is a Special YA – young adult – Agent – still waiting with crossed fingers – only metaphorically so or we couldn’t finish the newest novel, of course).

talking of writing we always find it Difficult With Jet Lag – so we need to nap a little more and Build up our strength before we get-back-to-it. 
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luckily we have lavender spray from The National Trust (doff cap) from William (darling – a Lot of Hairy Chests on that tumblr we note ;-) to put us in the English bank holiday mood.

because we really Miss Annabelle and Marion and Lydia and Charlotte and Simon (he’s making tea in the kitchen next door and wondering if Marion really is a Witch just as the BBC camera crew have left).

lots happening.

we hope they wait for us to get plenty of rest so we can come and watch and write-it-all-down.

are you having a delicious sunday?

what are you Up To?

do. tell.

we love to hear your news.

Annabelle gets a job (in the house on church row).

darlings

who we are in RL needs to be Up Early and driving-north for a lovely work-thing so we have no time to write (need to make her a packed lunch and some of those organic carrots chopped up in a little ziplock bag) – but we wrote yesterday – a LOT – we wrote our new column for next wednesday (previous – prior? – ones are here), and a submission for KINFOLK (crossed fingers that they like it) and 2000 (!) words for The House On Church Row (up to 60,000 words now – a Slim Volume at last – and one very fast-paced exciting chunk to complete – we Are enjoying writing this one) – then, much later on, we met with friends on a hilltop overlooking Hollywood for a 20 minute meditation at dusk – because That’s the sort of things people do Here (isn’t that just delicious and Inspirationally Isherwood?)

firstly – a floral Moment (farmers’ market find yesterday):

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and now back to our friends at The House On Church Row:

He liked taking care of Annabelle. She was so appreciative and pretty and liked to giggle and spend time watching him while he watched sports on the television. She had a thing about Ritz crackers and would eat them very slowly while sipping Earl Grey tea with milk. Their sofa was full of Ritz crumbs in those days.

As he dropped his mother off at Paddington he saw there was a late night grocery shop open at the back of the terminal. He walked around and picked up some milk and then, on a whim, some Ritz crackers. It felt good to remember what his wife liked to eat. And then he remembered that she had just had surgery on her throat and Ritz crackers might hurt. He put them back and picked up some butterscotch Angel Delight instead. Annabelle had waited up for him last night. Or so he thought – maybe she was just too excited to sleep before her first day in an actual office.

They made the Angel Delight and took it upstairs in sundae glasses to eat in bed. And then carefully and slowly he kissed his wife all over until she got tingly and started to unbutton his pajama top. Thinking about it now, on the Northern Line, about to change at Bank, he almost blushed behind his copy of The Telegraph.

Back in the kitchen, Libby tried to get details. “Where are you working?” she said. But Annabelle told them they’d be late and anyway she wanted to start this new job life slowly and would tell them more about it when she felt settled. Mark went upstairs to get his school bag and football kit and bumped into Libby on the landing.

“I’m suspicious,” said Libby.

Mark really didn’t want to have a conversation with his sister before school. She could be really prickly and he had double Chemistry and was dreading it, he could not for the life of him remember the entire Periodic Table. He smiled sweetly and pointed at his watch. They were going to be late. But Libby wasn’t letting him get away that easily.

“Did we become poor all of a sudden?” she said, worried that there wouldn’t be enough money for her to go to sixth form and then university somewhere as far as possible away from here – like Sydney, Australia.

Her brother was less prone to dramatics and more practical in his thinking. “I believe she just wanted something to do,” he said, slipping past Libby and rushing down the stairs. Libby stared after him. Why on earth would you want something to do if you didn’t have to earn any money? Her mother called up the stairs that they were going to be late. Libby walked slowly and thoughtfully down the stairs. This would require some processing. A lot was changing around here since her mother had that nervous breakdown or cancer or whatever it was that gave her the scar on her throat that no one was talking about.

Once the children had gone, Annabelle checked the clock in the hallway. It said seven forty-five. She had no idea what time a creative agency started work but it seemed as good a time to get going as any. She grabbed her navy blue wool coat, which was remarkably similar to the one she had worn at boarding school and took an umbrella from the stand. This was it. She was going-to-work. It all felt tremendous.

The morning passed really quickly. Annabelle had a small office next to Dorian’s and was shown around by Kelly who seemed a bit angry for some reason. Dorian finally showed up at eleven o’clock and stared at her for a long time. Then he decided she’d do and showed her the latest mock-ups on his computer. Annabelle was impressed – she hoped she could learn to use the computer like that.

yes.

yes.

you May have noticed there’s a scar and tumo(u)rs that slipped into this Tale.

we didn’t intend that to happen.

it. just. did.

as these things tend to do.

we’re leaving that in the book rather than sharing it online as we Do Feel we shared Rather a Lot here before – from you-know-when.

but isn’t it Exciting that Annabelle has got a job?

we loved writing that bit, most especially.

the democracy of self-expression.

darlings

we have an Early Start today so while the sun rose we picked up email and GB sent the most Splendid clip of Patti Smith which Most enlivened and encouraged and warmed and engendered deep happiness – it’s here because we thought you’d love it too.

especially the bit where she talks about the democracy of self-expression and being able to get your work out Into the World and bypass the large corporations’ control to connect and speak and share and listen to others……………..and just concentrate on building and keeping a good Name – yes.

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and now we must write a thousand words before breakfast (well, we already snuck in a large cup of coffee and a plain Italian cracker, just to keep us going) of The House on Church Row because Charlotte is wearing a Burberry Macintosh, armed with an umbrella (it’s a very English novel, you see) and is having a conversation with the ghost of Annabelle’s dead sister in the churchyard – no, we had No Idea that would happen either – but it’s jolly good fun.

and then we will return to Wrestle with a PayPal button so we can launch our little shop (of our photographs as poster prints) before our Show in NYC and enjoy the fruits of the democracy of self-expression, as it were.

here’s where we Left our scene – we shall return….(sorry about the use of cigarettes et al but they just started lighting up, we had no control over them and certainly cannot dream of censoring the characters now they’re talking up a Storm)

The cigarettes burned down and Charlotte carefully scrunched it out on the bottom of the fence and handed it ceremonially to Marion who disposed of it. Charlotte was about to walk away and then she decided she could not resist. “How’s your ghost problem?” she said, wickedly. Marion just laughed. So the Agency tracking machines were even more sophisticated than she remembered. And then a chill ran through her veins. Why was the Agency bothering to update their tracking machines to denote the supernatural? What were they getting into?

Charlotte went back into the house and could hear voices outside. She opened the front door and saw her son and daughter-in-law huddled on the doorstep. “Did you get locked out?” she said, imperiously.

“Shut the door mother,” said Simon, firmly.

His mother was so shocked that she just closed the front door. Annabelle looked up at Simon lovingly. “I’m still going to get a job, even if you become deliciously masterful around your mother.” Simon sighed and hoped that it would pass. Annabelle had never had a job. She had no idea how boring it was to go to an office and endure the politics and the sucking up and the machinations of hideous power plays.

“What kind of job?” he said, suddenly wondering what on earth she was going to do for a living.

Annabelle looked into the middle distance. It was not the right time to tell him that she’d accepted Marion’s offer to become Art Director on Dorian’s creative team. They’d have breakfast first. The bandage around her throat suddenly didn’t feel so restrictive. Her scar was healing nicely, like the rest of Annabelle Jones.

Upstairs Charlotte was packing a small bag with her Agency tools and deciding which shoes to wear to meet a ghost. She decided on a pair of dark moss green clunky shoes from Hobbs. They went well with her dark Macintosh. She tied a headscarf under her chin but then removed it – slight overkill on the Miss. Marple look.

Annabelle and Simon were eating breakfast in the kitchen so she slipped past, left a note on the credenza that she’d be back for supper, and grabbed an umbrella by the door. It did look like it was going to rain, after all. But she also thought she might need a weapon.

Elyse was lying on an unmarked gravestone at the far end of the Churchyard. She did not want to die. She knew she was already dead. But not dead like these poor bastards. Not six feet under some stone monstrosity that one’s family picked out. In the morning sunlight she was completely translucent. Her visibility was fading fast as the moon waxed. She had a day left. Better make it count. Her eyes were closed so she did not see Charlotte approach brandishing an umbrella.

“You must be Elyse,” said Charlotte, a little unsure as to the correct opening gambit with a ghost.

Elyse sighed. What fresh hell was this, as her heroine Dorothy Parker, used to say? Actually that thought made her feel better. If she was really truly dead, she might get to meet Dorothy Parker. She turned over on her stomach and looked up at this Home Counties vision in sensible shoes and an even more sensible Macintosh. “Are you threatening me with that umbrella?” she laughed.

It broke the ice. Charlotte smoothed down her Macintosh and sat down on the grave and eyeballed Elyse. “Why are you here?” she said.

“Who wants to know?” said Elyse, warily.