The Girl From the Sea – Chapter 1

Welcome to the first installment of The Girl from the Sea by me!  It’s the result of lots of inspiration going back several years; a couple of short stories; and a lot of hard writing!  It is a children’s adventure story based at 7 to 10 year olds and has a brilliant and courageous young heroine who witnesses a horrible crime. Her longing to escape to see lead her on a terrible and exciting adventure!  Tune in every Thursday for the next installment. 

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The Girl from the Sea – Patricia Chubb

Frankie hitched up her trouser legs and waded out of the river with a clutch of trout in her grasp. A good day’s fishing always brought a smile to her face. It was so peaceful along the river and none of the boys bothered her. They were used to her by now. She headed home whistling a jaunty little tune. Her hair was piled up under her father’s second best cap and she wore her brother’s old clothes rolled up to the knee and a shirt rolled up to the elbow. It was so much more practical for fishing than a dress!

She burst through the front door with her prize. “Fish for dinner Ma!”

“Frances Louise!” The exclamation brought Frankie up short.

“What on earth are you wearing? Where is your dress? Please tell me that nobody saw you outside in that condition!”

“Only the fish!” Frankie retorted.

“That’s enough cheek out of you miss. I’ve just about had enough of this nonsense Frances. Go upstairs and take Anthony’s clothes off. Wash off that dirty river water as well. Anyone would think you were a boy with all of the nonsense that you put me through.”

“But…” Frankie interrupted.

“Don’t but me. I’m fed up with it. I had hoped for at least one of my children to be a girl and the one girl that I do have is a worse behaved boy than the real boys! I cannot worry about you, wondering where you are every second of the day, while you’re traipsing around the countryside without a care in the world. I’m tired of it Frances. You are a young lady and it’s about time that you started behaving like one.

“Perhaps it’s my fault and I’ve been too lenient with you all these years – letting you play rough with the boys.” She paused as if she was expecting Frankie to interrupt her. Frankie knew better than to say anything.

“Frances, I want you to have the best opportunity of improving yourself, of making something of yourself, so I would like you to consider going to stay with Aunt Margaret and cousin Cecily so you can have some female influence over you. It’s not forever, but at least for the holidays.”

Mother paused again. Frankie’s mind was whirling. She couldn’t bear Sissy or Aunt Margaret. Sissy was a pristine china doll with perfect hair and ribbons which stayed in. To spend the whole of the holidays with them would mean tea parties and sewing. Sissy had a tutor in the holidays too which meant study. No outdoors, no fishing, no fun! She couldn’t see a way out of it. She needed to buy some time. Mother was looking at her expectantly.

“You want to get rid of me?!” exclaimed Frankie, putting a quiver in her voice and a tremble on her lip.

“On the contrary, Frances, I want you to make the most of yourself, and don’t think that the fake waterworks will work on me. I know that you don’t cry.”

“But I can make the most of myself here,” she protested without any sign of tears.

“No, absolutely not. My mind is made up. I obviously don’t have the correct influence over you.” Ma sounded sad, but Frankie hardened her heart – Ma obviously didn’t want her around any more and was sending her away. Away from everything she loved. She tried one last time.

“Ma, I’m sorry that you’re disappointed in me. I will try harder – please don’t send me away.” Begging was her last resort.

“I have tried, Frances. Again and again, but you don’t listen to me – only to your brothers. You need to be away from here and away from their influence. You’ll never learn to be a lady from them – you may learn how to keep a boat clean and tidy but not a house.”

“There are worse things I could learn,” thought Frankie who had been out with her older brothers on their fishing boat several times already. Her brain was churning with thoughts about how to get out of this – she needed time.

“Can I think about it at least Ma?” she implored.

“Very well Frances. I shall expect your answer in the morning. Upstairs, now and for goodness sake put something else on before the boys get in. We’ll have your fish for our tea – your last catch for us!” Mother’s eyes glinted with success – she thought she’d won.

Exciting News!

I just wanted to mention to everyone that I’ve finished my first novel!  Yes it’s done (fist pump and celebratory dance!).  Absolutely blasted it out in about a month…I guess that once the idea came it just came. So I’m not laying myself open to criticism or anything like that but in the spirit of getting the words out there, I’ve decided to release a chapter a week to you lovely people on a Thursday.  Tune in next Thursday for the first instalment of “The Girl From the Sea”.  Pop your email in the box on my page to receive the notifications.  

A person with a very excited expression, holding her hands to her face in excitement

Bursting with excitement

(Photography by Carine Roberts)

The Garage

And yet more writing practice from my favourite app!  I’m noticing that all my timed practices tend to have an element of the macabre about them…perhaps I need to start writing happy endings.  Have you noticed any themes that you weren’t aware about in your writing?  In my novel in progress I have the words “rotting death” which was the point at which my husband stopped reading.  To be fair it is a children’s story so he needs to man up a bit, but I don’t think “rotting death” would terrorize a child – if I’d gone into the details and described everything down to the last drop of gore I would be concerned.  I think that a frisson of fear is good in a story though :).  What do you think? 

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Here is my writing practice for this week – The Garage: 

The garage stank of oil and diesel, and washing powder and the warm smell of tumble dried clothes. I couldn’t help it but I liked the mixture of dirty and clean. In amongst all the smells were household memories that had long since accustomed themselves to being resigned to the garage. “Open the damn box!” she thought. Nothing is going to jump out at you. Her dream was that the contents had disintegrated a long time ago and there was only a pile of ash inside. She heard her mothers voice saying, “Come child come. There’s nothing to fear from the past.”

She began to speak in a quiet voice to herself. “Just a box. Nothing to it. You can do it.” And it repeated over and over again. “Where did you hide it? In the box. You have the box. Open the box and destroy it. Once and for all.”

Geography

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of geography in a novel is the fantastic map at the start of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy.  I have to say that I’m not a natural cartographer though (as far as I know!), so I’m not sure if I could create such a work of art. 

Geography and maps

Geography and maps

So how do you set about creating your world.  A very useful mind map which came from my crime writing course was all about location and sense of place.  Is it going to be a real place or made up?  Does it evoke any emotion in me or the reader?  Is it a place that lots of people will know?  Can the reader visualise what you’re describing? 

Location and Sense of Place

Location and Sense of Place

I seem to have started with bits and bobs from my travels which inspire the stories themselves.  So I’ve taken the quayside from Venice, transported it to a beach in West Wales and added the town in.  My novel is turning into a bit of a murder/adventure story which involves sailing, so there will be a fair amount of coastline to consider, which in my mind is currently the south coast of England.  There will have to be the girl’s home town which she runs away from and the place she ends up.  So we need to factor two towns/locations in.  I don’t envisage these places being hundreds of miles apart though – I would like them to have the same sort of feel to them.  Perhaps, identikit fishing villages along the Cornish or Devon coast?   

What I am finding though is that I’m having to move people around a lot in my head so I think it might actually be easiest to draw a physical map just so I can see where each character is at any given time – I wonder if this is what Tolkein realised??  Has anyone tried this??  Maybe it would be like those old WW2 movies, moving planes around with a pointer 🙂

A Macabre Writing Challenge

On my Writer’s HQ course that I’m currently doing, there is a recurring theme of “just get writing”.   So I revisited my lovely Writing Challenge app which does exactly the same thing, and here’s what came out this time.  

It’s slightly macabre – I wonder what is going on in my head sometimes! I suppose this is what happens when you switch off the planning and switch on the writing.

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He returned to the cemetery to finish what he started. It wasn’t a pleasant job but he had begun and you should finish what you began. He flew in with his cape flapping in the wind. He landed with a gentle whoosh as his cape billowed out around him like a black jellyfish.

“I don’t want to leave it like this, I must make it right,” he muttered to himself as he gathered himself together. He looked around the cemetery to hunt out what he needed. Graveyards held no fear for him. He rather feared the living more than the dead! There was no magic about him – he may look like a magician, but he was all about the hard work rather than swishing a wand and making it all disappear. The burial had been a work of art! A headstone, flowers, candles, fireworks – the lot. But the magic was gone. They had buried the wrong thing.

He peered into the chapel to make sure the chaplain had gone to bed, grabbed his shovel from the coal shed and headed over to Persephone’s headstone. He jumped over the fence which had been erected to protect her and knelt down in the wet grass. He felt around the headstone and to the right was a soft mound of earth. His beloved Persephone would remain safe and sound but he needed her accomplice, and she had been buried with Persephone.

“You have changed my love,” he crooned. “What did we do to you?” He brushed the earth from her small round face and blew over her in a figure of eight. “What did we do to you?” As the breath revived her and she took her first breath in two days all he could think was that she looked so tired. 

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