A Story of Snow

A Story of Snow

A Story of Snow

It snowed yesterday, the first time this winter; I could smell it coming for days. I’ve always found snow magical, a transformational thing, but this snow before Christmas reminded me of other times of snow that have been transformational.

As a young mum, back in the 90s, I managed to wear out my hyperactive toddler at a mum and baby group, sufficient that both she and I could take a nap. It was February, in the north east of England and there was heavy snow that had laid, and I lived in a little street house with no central heating, so I huddled under the duvet and fell asleep. I woke with a pounding heart and tears streaming down my face after a dream that was so vivid it even included a soundtrack: Winter, from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. The dream was a short story that I then wrote down, entranced by its power and its vision. Later that year we moved to the Midlands where my husband began his theological training, and still so haunted by the dream and by that story that I realised it was not a stand-alone short but the first chapter of a novel. Writing in the evenings and when my daughter was at playgroup, I scribbled it down, longhand and when it was finished, I began querying publishers. The novel (entitled Winterborn) garnered plenty of interest, and a good number of publishers asked for the whole thing, but ultimately, it all came to nothing but tears and tantrums from me. I still have it somewhere, in both manuscript and typescript.

But that dream and that story, of snow and fear and heartbreak, stayed with me, and eventually came back to me in a newer, more powerful form, and with a complete tale (which Winterborn had been a shadow of) that gripped me and forced me to write it down, word for word as an inner voice dictated it to me. It took seventeen days of frantic, manic, painful (I got blisters) writing that I still count as some of the best days of my whole life. I discovered later that the process itself was called hypergraphia, and later still understood that it had not come out of nowhere but rather out of undiagnosed bi-polar disorder (bi-polar II for exactitude) that I now manage (more or less) without either drugs or medical support.

That novel, too, went round the publishers, with a significant degree of interest, and then failed to find someone who would take it on. Eventually, I published it myself five or so years ago, and while it has garnered almost exclusively wow reviews, it has never sold as well as other novels of mine. Despite that, it’s the novel that I most believe in, as having something extraordinary about it. I still believe that it ought to have been a huge success. But it hasn’t and that may be why the two sequels (both written, one needing only minimal editing before I could think of starting the process of bringing it to publication) still remain unreleased. Dr Johnson once said that no-one but a blockhead ever wrote a book without being asked to, and I am surely a blockhead for writing those sequels.

But it snowed yesterday and the smell of the air and the look of the sky reminded me of the book that still holds my heart. At this time of year, the virtual (and real) bookshops are jam-packed with happy, feel-good, heart-warming tales, usually romances, set in snowy locations and cosy corners of cafes, all written to enhance the festive season and give busy, stressed people a holiday from gritty reality. This is emphatically not such a book. I make no apology for that; the Christmas books I’ve mentioned are generally not books that appeal to me. But this nonetheless is a book about overcoming adversity and tragedy, though it’s almost the antithesis of a romance, and it might suit others who share my predilection for gritty reality and will take you on a journey that has stayed with almost everyone who has read it.

I’m going to share the first few paragraphs here:

He woke with no memory of the recent past, just a cold blank tiredness and a vague sense of disorientation. Lying still in the shadowy vestiges of sleep he tried to place himself in time and space, and as returning sleep rose to drown him again he noticed the blue-white clarity of sound in the cold room, the near fluorescent glow of the light through the partially shut curtains and the muffling of traffic sound on the distant road which all told him that the promise of those few tentative flakes the previous evening had been fulfilled. With the recognition that it had, unbelievably, snowed so heavily before Christmas, came the flood of memory that made a return to sleep impossible, and he sat up, eyes wide, in a room that was only partially familiar, with his heart thumping uncomfortably.

Outside, a layer of snow inches thick reduced a familiar landscape to a white featureless expanse, the leafless trees black against a dirty white sky that promised more snow on top of the already frozen layer. He touched the radiator by the window. It was having a negligible effect, despite being almost too hot to touch. The house felt icy cold when he went downstairs; he kept checking radiators just to reassure himself that the heating was on, that the boiler had not gone out in the night. High ceilings and large rooms took a lot of heating to achieve anything like modern standards of comfort, and much of the house had been built for people who would have lit large fires and worn heavy clothing of wool and fur at this time of year. He had lit no fires yesterday; the drawing room felt so icy he expected to see his breath in wreaths of mist.

The kitchen was better, the Rayburn still warming the large room. He drank water so cold it hurt when it hit his stomach, and then filled the kettle, craving heat. It wasn’t fully light, the reflective surface of the snow making a false dawn, and the bright strip light just seemed to make the shadows sharper. He made coffee, holding the mug with both hands, but while his skin warmed from the contact, it hardly touched the deeper chill. There was a gnawing emptiness his head recognised as hunger, but the thought of food made him feel slightly sick, so the hunger was ignored. He left the mug in the sink and went round to the front of the house where the car stood parked at an angle, marks in the snowy gravel showing hasty braking, and realised with horror that he had not shut the door properly, that the courtesy light was still on and in all probability the battery was flat. It was. A minute of turning the key in the ignition produced sad noises from the car and silent swearing from him.

He locked the car and went inside again, hands now numb from the cold. He could phone for Home Start, he supposed, but decided he couldn’t face it, couldn’t face waiting, so he fetched coat and boots, stuffed a few essentials into his pockets and set out for the bus-stop where the early bus took people from the villages into town. It was inevitably late, driving slowly over impacted snow that the gritters rarely reached on these back roads. Round and round the winding slippery roads, barely faster than a brisk walk, till the main road was reached, startlingly black after the white packed snow of the country roads. Then a few minutes till his stop; the hospital almost picturesque with its domes and humps of snow on insulated roofs, flowerbeds like plump white eiderdowns between salted paths.

To celebrate the start of Advent, The Bet is on offer at £1.99 (or worldwide equivalent) https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bet-Vivienne-Tuffnell-ebook/dp/B009ISHLYI/

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An Advent offer

An Advent offer

I’m cutting the cost of one of my books for December/Advent, because the book starts just before Christmas.
It’s also, in my own opinion, my best book. Sadly, this is not reflected in sales. It falls between the cracks of genre and that’s never a place to be. Young male protagonist, a plot that is almost the antithesis of romantic fiction. However, it also contains a *villain* that some readers reckoned worse than Joffrey, a hero who’ll break your heart and characters you’d like to spend time with and who will all haunt you long after the book is ended.
Talking of which, there is a sequel, still gummed up in the works, but which I’d love to see out there next year. Needs a polish, a cover and some oomph from me to get it out.

The Bet is available in all Amazon stores, currently at £2.99 or local equivalent: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bet-Vivienne-Tuffnell-ebook/dp/B009ISHLYI/. It’s also in a nice chunky paperback that would make a good Christmas present to someone who you think would enjoy it or even (dare I say it?) to yourself.

All but one of my books are in paperback. I’d hoped to get Square Peg out in time for Christmas in a paperback edition, but life has been..interesting. I’m hoping to release a new novel, Little Gidding Girl sometime early next year, and also a new collection of poetry; that’s being fiddled with to ensure it’s as good as I can make it. The poetry will (probably) only be in paperback, because it’s a much better way to publish poetry. You can dip into a paperback of poems much more readily than an e-book.

Reviews also very welcome, of any of my books. I’d love to see Away With The Fairies make it past 50 reviews by New Year; the myth has been that the Mighty Zon promotes books more once this milestone is reached, but while I suspect this is a myth, I’d still love to test it out.

Advent blessings to you all.

The Bet on Countdown

No, not the afternoon quiz show.

It’s six months since I last did a special offer for The Bet.

Here’s the blurb:

“Jenny likes a challenge and Antony is the biggest challenge of her life…

“Boys like you get preyed upon,” Antony’s father tells him in a rare moment of honesty and openness, but Richard can have no idea just how vulnerable his eighteen-year-old son truly is. From a family where nothing is quite as it seems and where secrecy is the norm, Antony seems fair game to the predatory Jenny. Her relentless pursuit of him originates in a mean-spirited bet made with her colleague Judy, Antony’s former history teacher, who has challenged Jenny to track him down and seduce him. Jenny is totally unprepared for Antony’s refusal to sleep with her or to have any sort of relationship other than friendship. She’s never met anyone quite like him before and her obsession deepens the more he rejects her. She’s no idea what he’s already been through and as far as she’s concerned it’s irrelevant.

Pretty soon, for both of them it becomes a much more serious matter than a mere bet and the consequences are unimaginable for either of them.”

The book will be a mere 99p for three days, before the price rises to £1.99 for three days, and then reverts to the original price of £2.90 (which I think is very reasonable anyway)

This is as close to free as I go. Have a read of the reviews because there are a good few where the reviewer says they didn’t think they’d like this book but as soon as they started they found themselves staying up too late just to read another chapter. I’ve had folks says they missed bus stops, were late for work, stayed up all night, reading it.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bet-Vivienne-Tuffnell-ebook/dp/B009ISHLYI/ref=la_B00766135C_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1452585867&sr=1-2

 

(A small plea from me: please, please, please share this post widely if you can, wherever you feel it’s worth sharing, on FB, in FB groups, Twitter and other social media, or direct to friends you think will enjoy the book. I have no budget for advertising and any help is greatly appreciated. Thank you.)

 

Summer Solstice Sale

Welcome to midsummer.

Long days and short nights

Reading in the shade, reading on the beach.

Reading on the train or on the ‘plane.

Reading by the pool, reading in the garden.

Just for a few days, The Bet is on sale for a measly 99p. You can’t buy an ice lolly for that, and an e-book won’t melt in the sun, but perhaps the hero might melt even the coldest of hearts. It goes up to £1.99 in a couple of days; you can buy a lolly for that but it might last 15 minutes if you try. Then it goes back to its original and very reasonable price.

Give it a try!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bet-Vivienne-Tuffnell-ebook/dp/B009ISHLYI/ref=la_B00766135C_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1434874039&sr=1-8

PS For those who have read it and loved it, I’d really appreciate passing on this post by reblogging or tweeting or just mentioning it to friends, and reviews are always welcome.

 

Special offer for The Bet- very limited time offer

Over the next forty hours , The Bet will be on a Countdown sale on UK Amazon.

As a result of changes to VAT regulations (it’s complicated and so far I’m not entirely sure how it will work) coming in from the first of January, prices for e-books will probably be going up to compensate for the 20% VAT. This also means it may not be feasible to do these sorts of offers often if at all.

It seems insane to me that e-books are subject to VAT when paper books are not; I am hoping that this may change but as things stand it’s another thing that is chipping away at the earnings of authors.

Grab it now, if you haven’t already. And if you can pass this on to friends, family, Facebook, Twitter and other social media, I would be very grateful indeed, as I would be for reviews (good ones for preference!)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bet-Vivienne-Tuffnell-ebook/dp/B009ISHLYI/ref=la_B00766135C_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1417680397&sr=1-8

Stop the press! The Bet now available as a paperback!

Do excuse the excited tone but I wanted to share the fact that almost two years after it first appeared as an e-book. The Bet is now out in paperback.

I did a fair bit of hair tearing because it proved a bit tricky to get the print size right and the cost as low as I could. I wanted to make sure that the print was of a size that didn’t mean reaching for the magnifying glass but my first attempt, though glorious, was too big really and therefore cost more.

Then I discovered that the title and my name on the original cover picture done for my by the talented Andrew Meek wouldn’t work as the cut-off point where art gets trimmed when the book is produced was well into the lettering. Thankfully I had both the original picture and an earlier version of the cover. I am considering whether to find a new cover as I’m no longer sure this one gives the right message about the book, but for the time being, I’m content with this one.

The Bet is available from Amazon UK  and all other Amazon stores, just change the UK in the URL to .com, . de etc.

Jenny likes a challenge and Antony is the biggest challenge of her life….

“Boys like you get preyed upon,” Antony’s father tells him in a rare moment of honesty and openness, but Richard can have no idea just how vulnerable his eighteen-year-old son truly is. From a family where nothing is quite as it seems and where secrecy is the norm, Antony seems fair game to the predatory Jenny. Her relentless pursuit of him originates in a mean-spirited bet made with her colleague Judy, Antony’s former history teacher, who has challenged Jenny to track him down and seduce him.

Jenny is totally unprepared for Antony’s refusal to sleep with her or to have any sort of relationship other than friendship. She’s never met anyone quite like him before and her obsession deepens the more he rejects her. She’s no idea what he’s already been through and as far as she’s concerned it’s irrelevant.

Pretty soon, for both of them it becomes a much more serious matter than a mere bet and the consequences are unimaginable for either of them.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bet-Vivienne-Tuffnell/dp/1500430315/ref=la_B00766135C_1_5_bnp_1_pap?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1406802442&sr=1-5

Limited time offer for The Bet ~ US only

From today, The Bet will be on special offer on Amazon.com for a princely sum of 99 cents for 3 days, before going up to $1.99 for another 3 and then returning to its very reasonable normal price of $3.

Because I can’t see the price in the US (Amazon won’t show me!) please keep checking until it does show the reduced price and the Countdown box.

Get it while you can, as I probably won’t be doing this again.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009ISHLYI