A Winner is Announced

Not, as Agatha Christie wrote, ‘A Murder is Announced,’ but a winner of the short competition to suggest characters for the Christmas anthology, currently titled ‘Christmas Shorts.’ (I’ll give you the name of the winner in a moment when I also put it on my FB page.) The book won’t be called ‘Christmas Shorts’, that’s just the name of my folder, and in it so far, I have:

  • 01 In the train before departure
  • 02 Will tale 01
  • Author’s notes
  • Barbary Fleet 01, 02 and 03
  • Index
  • Limehouse crime story
  • Premise and rough outline
  • Suggested characters
  • The Stranger’s Tale

The file that interests us today is ‘Suggested characters’ because that was what I asked readers for; to suggest characters who would each tell a story making up a collection of five, which has now become six.

I can now reveal some more information.

The stories are tied together by a journey, and it’s from London to Larkspur on Christmas Eve, 1892. Because of the date, I can’t use some suggestions, because those characters are dead. However, I can use them because the stories take place in the past. I’m not going to tell you who else appears in the tales told by the five, but I can tell you who is telling the stories as they journey westwards for Clearwater’s Christmas Ball.

Here’s the list of who was suggested: Professor Fleet (the most popular vote), Andrej (Fecker, the second most popular), Silas, Jake O’Hara, Mrs Norwood, Joe Tanner, Dalston Blaze, Will Merrit, James Wright, Jasper Blackwood, Barnaby Nancarrow, Frank Andino, Bertie Tucker, Thomas Payne, Lord Clearwater, Tripp.

It’s great to see who your favourite and memorable characters are, and even better that they include characters from the Clearwater prequel right up to the current Delamere mystery, so, they come from all three series set in the Clearwater world. Maybe I will write another of these collections for next year and ask for more suggestions, but I had to have a limit of five for this, my first venture into short stories.

They are/will be shorts but contained in one overarching story of the journey, not that much happens on it until the end. There is a sixth character in the train, but the person’s identity is a guarded secret, and you won’t know who it is until you either get your free copy (by being signed up to the newsletter or being part of Jackson’s Deviant Desires) or until you buy the book, which will be on sale after Christmas.

As for who the five are who meet in the carriage and pass the time telling stories in the manner of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (but without the Anglo-Saxon poetry), you can expect to read tales from:

Will Merrit

Andrej (Fecker)

Mrs Norwood

Joe Tanner

Barbary Fleet

The Stranger

And the Winner is…

As for the competition, the winner of the Clearwater calendar 2024 is Tony Barone Pisacano. If you’re reading this, I’ll tag you on FB, or you can send me a private message or an email and I’ll arrange delivery.

Bravo Mr Random Draw, and thank you to everyone else who left a comment, sent an email or dropped a private message with suggestions.

Everyone in the know will be a winner as the eBook will be free (in PDF format). To be eligible for a copy, you need to be on the newsletter mailing list or a member of our private group on FB, Jackson’s Deviant Desires.

See you there!

Work In Progress: 5.03 The Larkspur Legacy

I am up and running on ‘The Larkspur Legacy’, the seventh and last Larkspur Mystery, due out in spring 2023.

I’ve been working on this for some time, making notes and plotting plots while writing ‘Starting with Secrets’, so I am already up to 40,000 words. The title of ‘Starting with Secrets’ refers to the start of a great adventure, Lord Clearwater’s hunt for his mother and godmother’s great ‘treasure’ and ‘secret’, and although the story starts in book six, it is left unfinished and continues in book seven.

As usual, I’ll give away no spoilers, but I can tell you I am currently in a Falmouth shipyard inspecting a schooner barque. For my research, I have been reading books about merchant schooners, studying rigging plans, and looking up all kinds of interesting facts about sailing ships of the late 19th century. It’s a whole new world, and, more exciting for me, a whole new language. I’m also looking up what I call ‘sailor speak’ to get the terminology the sailors in my story would have used, while also looking into mysteries of the past, European travel of the time, Thomas Cook escorted tours, and other related matters.

Falmouth Harbour

Talking of spoilers, I used to outline my plots to Neil, as it is always useful to have someone to bounce ideas off. However, there is such a big twist at the end of ‘The Larkspur Legacy’, I must throw around my ideas in code, so I don’t spoil his reading for the first draft. He won’t get to see it until next year, but if I can continue at the pace I am, I should have it ready for him to beta read around February. Having said that, comparing the current word count to the basic plot outline, I am only about one-fifth of the way through. Either I will end up with a novel at 200,000 words, or I will have to cut some ideas and slash the draft when completed. ‘The Clearwater Inheritance’ came in at 150,000 words, and I am aiming for the same for ‘the Larkspur Legacy.’

You will note, perhaps, a similarity in the titles (Inheritance and Legacy). Both end a series, and both involve something left behind for another. There is always a double meaning in my titles.

I will say no more, except to remind you to take part in with my Advent quiz via my Facebook page. 26 books, 25 days, 25 chances to win a special prize soon to be announced (and it won’t be a book, but a one-off… something that only the winner will receive).