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Summer and winter on the Yorkshire moors, plus a new uplifting Christmas anthology

It’s time for our August authors’ round Robin, and author Rhobin Courtright has set us the perfect summer topic…

round robin, helena fairfax, freelance editor

Give an excerpt from one of your books dealing with travel and/or a holiday

Rhobin is an American author, and her original title mentions  a ‘vacation’, but I’ve translated into the British ‘holiday’ for my post. There are lots of American words and sayings I love (‘that’s the way the biscuit crumbles’ sounds nothing like as good as when the cookie does it), but ‘holiday’ for me personally has a happy feel. It’s always signified the release from work or school, and I used to look forward so much to the school holidays that the word always feels joyful to me.

For my excerpts, I’m choosing two short, separate passages that are not so much about a holiday, but about travelling through the Yorkshire moors, where I live. The passages feature very different characters, and different times of year, and show the concerns of the protagonists and the changing landscape.

helena fairfax, yorkshire moors
The Yorkshire moors looking green and bright in summer

My first extract is from The Summer of Love and Secrets (titled A Way from Heart to Heart in the US/Canada).

My heroine, Kate, has lived in London all her life. She’s never been to the countryside, and she’s taken a group of teenage girls on a trip to the moors. It’s August, and there is a heatwave.

They left straight after breakfast, travelling through twisting roads and climbing higher and higher. Gradually the houses and villages fell away, and the gentle, rolling moorland became more rugged. The scattered clumps of trees dwindled to just the occasional lone rowan dotted here and there. Up here, exposed to the elements, the soft green of the fields was tinged with a barren grey.

The coach rumbled past dark, brooding stretches of water, climbing steadily up onto the tops. Here, their way became just a narrow ribbon of tarmac, undulating over the hills into the distance, with the vast moorland spreading out for miles in every direction.

helena fairfax, the summer of love and secrets
Blues skies in July

For the whole journey, Kate pressed her nose to the glass, drinking in the beauty of it. Chloe was right. This week away from London was a break from all her worries. Even her mother’s bitter words seemed to dry up and frizzle into nothing under the bright blue sky. At first sight, the moors seemed empty, but as they travelled deeper into the heartland Kate could see rabbits hopping away as the coach passed, and pheasants collecting in pairs on the dry stone walls. Occasionally Paul would reach over her shoulder to point out a red kite, wheeling in the sky above them. And once they even startled a short-eared owl out hunting by daylight. It flapped away from the trundling coach, disgruntled and magnificent.

They left the narrow road to bump down a long potholed track and finally arrived at the farm. The girls hung back, letting Chloe, Kate, and Paul alight first.helena fairfax, freelance editor, author

‘Do people really live right out here?’ one of them asked Paul as he passed.

He gave her one of his funny, downturned smiles. ‘Yes. Maybe it’s quiet compared to London, but lots of people like it here.’

‘But what do they actually do?’ Sarah, the girl who loved fashion, and who was such an excellent artist, was gazing out, totally bewildered.

A lot of the other girls seemed to wonder the same thing. They were murmuring and peering through the windows as though they’d just landed on another planet. A planet with no bars, clubs, or signs of civilised life.

*

The second passage is from my story in Christmas at Miss Moonshine’s Emporium, a new anthology by nine members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

My story in the anthology is called Make My Wish Come True. The main character is very different to Kate. Alfie is a sixteen-year-old boy living on a sheep farm with his dad, in 1912, in the heart of the moors. It’s December, and winter has come.

Here, Alfie is on his way to town in his horse and cart, to see Miss Moonshine.

helena fairfax, freelance editor, author
Snow on the moors

The next Saturday, Alfie hitched Molly to the cart for another trip to Haven Bridge. It was his first day working for Miss Moonshine. The snow had made good on its threat, and a light, white blanket sparkled over the moors, as far as the eye could see. But now the clouds were gone. The day was bright and clear, and the sky a heavenly blue.

Alfie held the reins lightly, humming a cheerful tune as they clopped down to town. At last he’d be earning some money. He thought of the look on Mary’s face when she unwrapped the white mittens. Then his thoughts faltered a little. How was he to get to see Mary more often? She worked all day in the mill, and he worked every hour on the farm. The only time he ever saw her these days was in chapel on a Sunday, but that was only to nod a greeting, and they were always surrounded by people.

Hardy sheep in the snow

He gazed ahead, frowning. Before his mother died, Alfie had been an optimistic soul, always sure things would turn out right. Now he knew different. Things didn’t always happen the way you wanted them.

The cart jolted round a corner, and there, low on the horizon, was the Morning Star, shining silver against the blue. At least, Alfie’s mother had always called it a star. When his dad, ever practical, had told them her star was in fact Venus, and a planet, his mam had just laughed.

‘Planet or no planet,’ she said, ruffling Alfie’s hair. ‘I’m still going to wish on it, whenever I see it.’

Alfie took this as a sign. He closed his eyes. ‘I wish I might find a way to see more of Mary.’ He opened them again, feeling a little foolish. The planet twinkled and shone, and he and Molly continued on their way into town.

Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

Two very different protagonists, and two very different stories, but both in the heart of the moors.

I’m very excited to say that Christmas at Miss Moonshine’s Emporium is now on pre-order on Amazon, and will be released on October 4th 2019 for Kindle and in print. And here is our lovely cover, designed by one of our authors, Mary Jayne Baker

helena fairfax, miss moonshine

This was a fun post to write! I’m looking forward to reading excerpts from stories by the other authors in our Round Robin. You can find them on the links below.

Do you take a vacation every year, or do you go on holiday? Do you have a favourite piece of travel writing? If you have any questions or comments at all, please get in touch. I’d love to hear from you!

Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Marie Laval http://marielaval.blogspot.co.uk/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1GK
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com

20 thoughts on “Summer and winter on the Yorkshire moors, plus a new uplifting Christmas anthology

  1. It wasn’t until Rhobin gave us our topic that I realised I’d written two contrasting passages in these two stories! It’s getting on for autumn now, so perhaps I should consider setting one in this season :) Thanks very much for dropping in, and for your comment!

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  2. Enjoyable (and I just shot up and down to Shifnal through the English countryside, including a blustery route high over the Lake District and up upon what I call the roof of England on the A6 between Shap and Kendal); but reminding me there’s a lot of travel in DEAR MISS LANDAU, it being largely a real modern American road trip taken in the wake of Kerouac…

    Or at least that’s how it felt.

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    1. It can certainly be blustery up on the A6, James! It’s a very different route to your American road trip. Yours is a great travel book, both literally and metaphorically. Thanks very much for dropping in, and for your comment!

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  3. Yorkshire is beautiful! I’m looking forward to heading up there for the world road cycling championships in September.

    I got into a very amusing Twitter chat with some of my friends the other day where we tweeted in character as a particular travel writer and others guessed who we were pretending to be. My favourite was Paul Theroux (in real life, too, though I’m sure I have yet to discover many more favourites!)

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  4. That’s very clever to impersonate someone with so few characters. I’ll have a look on your Twitter feed and see if I can guess any! I was trying to think of any travel writers I’ve read apart from Bill Bryson and Paul Theroux. Then I remembered I’ve read quite a few – Tony Hawks, Chris Stewart and Billy Connolly, for example. But no women writers. I don’t know why. Now I’m going to have to look for some!
    I hope you have great time at the cycling championships. There are some spectacular places for cycling through. It’s a shame I’ll be away that month. Hope the sun shines for it!
    Thanks very much for dropping in!

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    1. Thank you, Skye. As I mentioned in a previous comment, I hadn’t thought about how I’d described this setting at two different times in these two separate stories. I’m glad Rhobin set this topic as it brought it to mind. Thanks for dropping in, and for your comment.

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  5. Great post, Helena. Yorkshire is a beautiful place, with so many different landscapes, whatever the season… although perhaps not so much in the rain!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Bob! Alfie and Mary only feature in a short story, so there’s no room to develop their relationship fully – but as to whether Alfie gets his wish, you will have to read the story to find out! :) Thanks for dropping in!

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  6. I enjoyed your post with its contrasts of weather and characters. Your photographs are always a delight, too. Looking forward to the new Miss Moonshine book, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hey, Helena. Love The Summer of Love and Secrets. Your writing in both of these excerpts is wonderful. Your descriptions of the moors super. Can’t wait to read the Moonshine book. Best to you and the others with it.

    Liked by 1 person

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