Lukas Novak’s life has just taken a turn for the worst. His wife wants a divorce and Lukas has had enough of being the underdog. He promises himself to start over. There is just the matter of the death of his old family friend Tibor, and his funeral to be taken care of.
But all is not what it seems at Fairhaven care home, Tibor’s last residence. With ten deaths in just as many weeks, superstitious inmate O’Daniel smells a rat. Lukas asks questions but is sidetracked by Fairhaven’s mysterious councillor Eda Enigma, who believes in the transference of spirits. Desperately seeking resolution in his own life and curious about her methods at Fairhaven Lukas enlists for a course of counseling.
Days later his research into a mysterious book with a call to invite his “Guardian Angel” into his life stretches Lukas’s own sanity to its edge.
In human psychology The HemiHelix Effect is the individual’s realisation that one has the ability to double back on oneself, whatever the circumstances.
‘The Last Convert’ is episode 1 of The HemiHelix Effect series of novels.
In 2010, when the ash cloud crippled European air traffic for a few days after the eruption of the Barbarbunga volcano in Iceland, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski was packing his bags in Poznan, Poland for a brief visit to his old band, The Hallé, in Manchester.
When he learned of the ash cloud grounding his flight he decided quickly. He hired a taxi and two drivers. 800 miles and 24 hours later he arrived in Manchester exhausted but exhilarated to be with The Hallé again.
He was 87 at the time.
On Tuesday he returns to Manchester to conduct Brahms 4th Symphony, Schumann cello concerto with our own Nicholas Trygstad and Weber’s Der Freischütz overture.
As we have become accustomed to, he will greet the orchestra enthusiastically, looking around the band for familiar faces.
Then he will explain that “this right eye is not so good these days” and “this left eye is almost blind”. Followed by “my dear friends, it’s so good to see you!”
Rehearsals will be on the short side and communication difficult at times.
Yet, once he picks up the baton the conversation will take care of itsself, through music.
The band calls him ’Stan the Man’, affectionately.
It is with awe and respect that we welcome him to Manchester again.
right: Stanislaw Skrowaczewski rehearsing at Hallé St Peter’s in 2013
Today I am releasing my debut novel ‘Match Games’out into the Wild World-Wide Winter Wonderland via Amazon. Please click here or follow the Amazon widget to the left to go straight there. Click here to read more.
‘Match Games’is available on Kindle and I will make the paperback available in the new year.
Thank you to everyone for your support and help! Without you it wouldn’t have happened.
Thank you to my wonderful beta-readers for their encouragement and honesty.
Book description: A secret conspiracy. A corrupt soul. A psychopath returned from the grave.
And the Beautiful Game, fanatically followed by millions, all over the world.
Slightly disheveled, self-proclaimed investigative journalist Lukas Novak inadvertently disturbs a hornets’ nest when following up a mysterious blog’s match-fixing allegations at football giants Mancunia FC. When the wrong people start getting hurt the hunter becomes the hunted and Lukas finds himself a non-person, on the run from a GBH charge.
Unsure who and what to trust Lukas stumbles upon answers that he hasn’t been looking for and that change the course of his investigation and his own life forever.
If you like ’Nordic Noir’ and hard-hitting, real life conflict, then this dark and gritty mystery thriller, set in Northern England, is for you.
The launch of Match Games is coming ever closer. And the question of genre is becoming evermore pressing. Amazon categories. Where to start?
How I would love to call it a thriller.
But it’s not.
Yes, it’s fast and furious in places.
Yes, there are car chases, beatings and blood.
There is betrayal, crime and backstabbing.
But, according to a lot of research, a thriller it is not.
A thriller starts with a bang.
Match Games starts with a stack of newspapers and several pints of lager.
In a thriller the audience knows who the baddie is virtually immediately.
In Match Games…well, the baddie is multi-facetted.
In Match Games we stumble along with Lukas in his laborious search.
Apparently, it’s more like … a mystery.
Like what I always thought a thriller to be.
The search for the baddie.But then there’s love.
And some romance, unexpectedly.
And now everybody shouts at me: “If there’s love and they are still together at the end, it’s got to be categorised as ’Romantic Suspense’!”
It’s definitely not some soppy romance.
Confused, I turned to my author friends online.
And then I saw sense.
Just because there’s love in it somewhere doesn’t mean that it must therefore be called romance. If a story contains humans (or even aliens), then there will be love. It’s part of life. To cut it out would make it sterile. Even Reacher occasionally feels something.
What determines a romance is the plot: if you can remove the love interest and there’s still a story, then it’s not a romance. In a romance the potential love interest is introduced almost immediately. The story is about them getting together, period. Two people, getting together, with something in the way. Match Games doesn’t do that. The first thing that’s introduced is a mystery, and a potential crime. No female in sight.
If love happens later as a result of other things, it’s not romance. It’s important to get that understanding right, because romance readers are not patient ones, and they’re incredibly vocal. If they feel betrayed, the backlash is insane, apparently. A romance reader wants a story about two people struggling to get together, and they MUST have a happy ending. Always. And that happy ending better involve the two people, in each other’s arms, happily ever after.
There is no realism or real life in romance.
With this advice in mind I will list Match Games in the following categories:
A digest from Old SlopsHop, where sheep are up high in the meadow, ears to the ground.
Les Gillespie is desperate. Lola is just not cooperating. Not at all. He has tried food, toys (Lola despises that attempt of bribery), even beer; it’s like Lola has made a pact with that bloody cat, Rasta. Les needs to have words with that Tom, but that Tom is always up in the hills. Up a long time before Les gets up and only down again when Les is already firmly installed in the pub and has forgotten all about his troubles with Lola.
And then that Marjorie comes in. Les tuts. A classical musician she is. Plays the double bass for a living in that orchestra across the hills, in Madchester. Famous they are, allegedly. World famous. They tour all over the place, apparently. Except that Marjorie says that they haven’t been much further than Blackburn in recent years.
She likes to keep herself to herself, that Marjorie. She’s a bit snooty, in Les’s opinion. But that’s no surprise, given her profession. Call that a profession, playing the double bass for a living. Playing. It’s all in the title. Tom hears her practising sometimes when he walks by her cottage. It hardly sounds professional; more like a low drone, repeated over and over. Why she has to practise music that’s that slow is beyond him. Surely with a bit of talent she should be able to play this slowly straight off the sheet.
Mindy, the landlady of the Saracen’s Head was saying the other day that that Marjorie immerses herself in the meaning of the music and in the composers’ lives. Some of that classical music is political or even mathematical, allegedly. But that just sounds like a load of old cobblers to Les.
“Why don’t you ask Marjorie for help?” says Mindy and serves him another pint.
“Why would I do that?” Les replies, grumpily.
Mindy says, that maybe Marjorie, being a musician, might be able to help Les with his whistle problem. Les tuts. But Mindy is insistent and beckons Marjorie over. Les can see Marjorie rolling her eyes. She obviously is as keen to talk to him as he is to listen to her. But then she gets up and walks over and smiles gappy smile at him, false, of course.
When Les explains his problem, the fact that Lola won’t react to the whistle, Marjorie looks at him, aghast. She tells him that she is a bass player. He says that he knows that already. Everybody knows. Then she tells him she is allergic to high pitched sounds. But now that he’s sitting here talking about the problem she won’t get away that easily. Les mentions that Lola runs away when he blows the whistle. Marjorie suggests that maybe Lola is a dog with a bass player’s heart. At this point Les is beginning to think that she is seriously bonkers and has lost her mind entirely. But it appears that Marjorie is serious. She mentions that she might know someone who might be able to help Les, herself not being able to discern or tolerate any notes above middle C. His name is Julius, she says. He plays the piccolo with her orchestra, over the hills, in Madchester.
Less squints, still dubious. But it might be worth giving Julius a try. With sheepdog trials coming up next week Les is desperate. It is not about winning, but about not losing face, like last year. Little does he know that Lola feels exactly the same.
Julius is a little bit too pretty for Les’s taste. With his flaxen hair, the slim, tall lad looks no older than fourteen to Les.
Les explains the problem with the whistle. The fact that Lola does not obey it anymore. At the mention of her name Lola’s head turns up abruptly. She sees the whistle in Les’s hand and cringes. She crouches down to the ground, whimpering.
Julius observes Lola carefully. He has seen similar reaction to high-pitched instruments by the very young, during education projects that he teaches in schools. The reason for this being that the very young and animals alike, are able to discern high-pitched tones much more accurately than those of more advanced age and walking on two legs.
In fact this ability is so much more developed in dogs and very young infants, that desperate parents often ask themselves what they are doing wrong when the child never ceases to cry; the reason for this simply being for example an over-active central heating system, generating an extremely high-pitched shriek, inaudible to the grown-up’s ear. Young infants can in fact discern overtones above otherwise inaudible pitches, and if those clash with each other their disapproval is entirely understandable: to their young ears this sounds like several band saws operating next to each other. Who wouldn’t cry?
Julius, with an inkling in the back of his mind asks to take a look at the whistle. His keen eye, used to discerning minuscule changes in pad alignment and any hairline adjustment needed to the intricate mechanics of his tiny instrument, immediately spots that the whistle is slightly out of shape. Only slightly. Only a minuscule kink in the side of the otherwise perfect cylinder.
“Blow it.” He says and passes the whistle back to Les. “Carefully.” He adds.
Julius watches Laura disappear into the next room, taking his eye off the whistle momentarily. The dissonant and entirely inaudible shriek that slices through his brain a millisecond later is entirely unacceptable and makes him drop to his knees, clawing on Les’s waistcoat, begging him to stop.
Now Les is not used to men kneeling in front of him and feels very uneasy in the present circumstance. Especially when Julius starts to cry and buries his head in Les’s lap. Les drops the whistle.
Suddenly that bloody cat is in the room. Rasta taps the whistle repeatedly until it gathers momentum, slides across the floor, Rasta behind it, tapping it on, until the whistle slides out of the open front door, across the threshold, across the terrace and straight down the open drain in front of the Saracen’s Head. Les watches all this from the bar, Julius’s head now turned away from Les’s lap, his eyes following the progress of the whistle.
Julius looks up at Les. “It was broken anyway. They are not expensive, are they?”
Les huffs and tuts and pulls the young man to his feet. “How the bugger should I know? I’ve only ever had the one.”
This concludes the matter for Les. Now he has to go over the hills to that Madchester to purchase a new whistle. Annoyed, he lifts his glass to his lips. It is only when he has taken a few sips that he notices Lola sitting by his side, wagging her tail.
NaNoWriMo Day 27 – The Novel is finished!!! 43565 words. You can read chapters 1-19 following the links below. I’d LOVE some feedback!
The final eight chapters are available for you to read too, but may I ask you to directly contact me for them, either here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up in the box at the top right or at the bottom.
Also available directly are the linking chapters between this novel and The HemiHelix Effect Episode 2 – “Displacement” (working title)
All this is for copyright purposes only, as this is an unpublished, unedited novel, I hope you understand.
I would love to have some feedback as to how you have liked the story and any suggestions you have in improving it.
With very best wishes and hoping to hear from you soon,
Here are the links: http://www.wattpad.com/79792874-rubber-band-the-hemihelix-e… http://www.beaschirmer.com/?page_id=73
In 1936 Dimitri Shostakovich first fell from favour with the Russian authorities. The Soviet newspaper Pravda described the music in his opera Lady Macbeth as “Muddle Instead of Music”.
Clearly this arrogant remark was aimed at destabilising and tarnishing Shostakivich’s image; it succeeded entirely. He received an official ban which Shostakovich was persuaded to present as a voluntary withdrawal of his 4th Symphony. Whatever the case, it seems possible that this action saved the composer’s life: during this time Shostakovich feared for himself and his family. He was forced to lay low and it wasn’t until the release of his 5th symphony that he regained favour.
“I’ll never believe that a man who understood nothing could feel the Fifth Symphony.” Was Shostakovich’s reaction to the enthusiastic reception Stalin gave the symphony.
Perseverance is the daily staple of the artist. For most, daily stretches to weekly, monthly and yearly. A classical musician in a professional symphony orchestra will have done on average fifteen years of practise, up to eight hours a day (more if you’re a pianist) to reach the standard expected in the profession today.
Pravda’s “Muddle Instead of Music” is especially insulting as it suggests that no editing process has been applied to “Lady Macbeth”; as if the opera is just a rough first draft brainstorm and has been presented as such to the audience. This arrogant assumption is what hurts the artist most; not the criticism of his art, but the assumption that he hasn’t honed his work to the absolute best that he can deliver before launching it to the general public.
Shostakovich, like any other composer, will have grown his work through a painstaking, deliberate process. Pravda’s choice of words is interesting, but back to front; applied to the works of any creative artist “Music Through Muddle” would be a more appropriate description of the creative process.
Just like Audi’s slogan “Vorsprung Durch Technik” – Advantage Through Technology – “Music Through Muddle” suggests there is a process through which a result is achieved. Or in Audi’s case, an advantage being achieved through a process.
Just like a crescendo to forte starts as a piano and is a homogenous process unless marked otherwise, any work of art starts as a muddle. Be it a music composition, a sculpture or a block buster novel with international film rights: it’s started with some diffuse idea somewhere at the back of someone’s mind.
In 1994, ex-professional pilot Armand Diangienda had an idea.
(and now I hand over to my colleague Cheryl Law for this week’s guest post):
Mention of the Democratic Republic of the Congo may evoke thoughts of a nation struggling in the shadow of civil war and poverty, but over the last 20 years a remarkable musical feat has been achieved in the sprawling metropolis of Kinshasa, Africa’s third largest city and home to 9 million people.
It all started in 1994, when former professional pilot, Armand Diangienda, launched Central Africa’s only symphony orchestra in his home, with 12 wannabe musicians and not quite enough instruments. Today L’Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste is a huge success story, with one international tour already under its belt, and its UK debut took place on 11th September 2014 in Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, in a ground-breaking collaboration with the Hallé.
For the musicians of OSK, life is not always easy. Brought together by the love of music-making, many of the orchestra’s members struggle to make ends meet. Innovative improvisation is a part of everyday life and their gritty commitment to their art is frankly admirable. There’s the viola-playing electrician and hairdresser, who is frequently called upon to fix the lights in rehearsals, and the cellist who gets up at 5 am to sell omelettes in the local market before walking for hours to rehearsals which can go on late into the evening. Some play on home-made instruments, and they ad lib when things go wrong; modelling violin strings from bike brake cables, and copying scores out by hand.
Diangienda’s dream to build a symphony orchestra has come a long way since he turned his home into a make-shift conservatoire, and last year he was awarded membership of the Royal Philharmonic Society, an honour previously bestowed on the likes of Brahms and Mendelssohn. It’s well deserved; injecting hope into the lives of people struggling with incessant daily challenges, Diangienda has, in one of the world’s poorest nations, created riches that money could never buy.
“Match Games” is still at the editors. And I am realising that this “Diary” is probably going to be more of a “Weekary” as work has started to get really busy again in the run-up to Christmas!
But progress on the adventure of the steep learning curve of presenting “Match Games” on my site is being made.
And once again I realise the importance of professional editing
The really big hurdle was the 20000 words or so I got back from my editor with the merciless order to CUT, CUT, CUT! “How?” I screamed silently in the middle of Sibelius 2nd Symphony, the loud bit. It read perfectly to me. Then I read it again. The bit in the cave. Lukas Novak’s nemesis. It was too long, she was right. It was tedious in places, she was right! It was really interesting to people who know the cave well, like myself and two of my beta-readers. But to the rest of the world? To all those people that are (hopefully) going to read “Match Games”?
It’s just another cave.
I cut it back harshly. And read it again. It hadn’t lost impact. On the contrary. It was tighter and had more pace.
Once again I told myself do not skimp on editing in the future! I had skimped on my own editing, sent it to a professional editor far too early. I should have done more edits myself. I did three. Five would have been better. Lesson learned.
Technical problems solved and ideas developed since last post
I’ve been doing an online newsletter course with the wonderful Dan Blank and a host of inspirational people. With the help I am getting on the course I have developed a much better sign-up form (still via wufoo), see right.
At the bottom of each post there now is a second sign-up possibility.
I have signed up with shareaholic and registered to unlock additional features (it’s free). As a result “share” buttons are now showing at the bottom of each post, automatically. Share buttons also now float at the right hand site of the website, which looks really neat.
A further shareaholic feature are occasional “you may also like” suggestions at the bottom of some posts. I have not worked out how and when they appear. It’s on the to-do list. I need to optimise the images used for these previews.