Well its taken a blooming long time and 5 false starts but......

I think I have found something to write about and I'm feeling very excited.

As usual I had to buy myself a present to get things moving - if you remember last time it was my second hand MacBook, this time it's a copy of Scrivener, which I have enjoyed using. You don't feel obliged to write things in order and it's great for research and plotting.

So...... onto the tightrope without a safety net - below is the prologue - it has shades of Cold Sunflowers, though the book will be quite different. Remember this hasn't had any editing. Last time, my editor reduced Cold Sunflowers by 10,000 words, so things will change, but it's a first attempt and I am pleased with the idea and wanted to share it.

Hope you like it - speak again in a year's time !!

Ps. I wish I had called my website MarkSippings - what am i going to do now - that was a mistake doooooh!


‘Quickly,’ she said, and we ran along the narrow streets, her head long and hurtling, me a reluctant companion keeping any show of excitement hidden beneath my cloak of dourness. She seemed to know exactly where we were going. Sure footed, she dragged me along, tiny giggles echoing off the walls as we rounded each corner, my arm twisting as she turned. Then, close to the river, we stopped. I could hear the water and her breath, deep and long as she rested, hands on her knees looking up at me

‘It’s going to happen; I can feel it can’t you?’

‘No….. What’s going to happen?’

‘The rain.’

‘The rain?’ I said feigning disinterest, not wanting to surrender to her excitement but ashamed of my indifference.  ‘I don’t want it to rain.’

‘It’s beautiful and this is where it stops.’


‘This is where the rain stops.'

‘What are you talking about? Come on let’s get back.’

‘Wait I can smell it, it’s coming, just wait, please, you’ll see.’

I sniffed the air and there was a freshness to the world as though it had been reborn and everything was new and washed and clean with possibilities. I had been lost, labouring in my lab, writing into the small hours, head down oblivious to everything but my research. I loved my work; there was excitement, often an adrenaline rush but I missed the joy of my childhood . And now, here I was - running - fast - gasping - pulled along by this strange girl. The first time I had worn spectacles I was amazed by the sudden clarity they produced when the blurred lines of my parent’s lino became straight. Millie had the same effect - there were no blurred lines in life just a bursting need to live it. I was being rearranged. 

My eyes were becoming accustomed to the darkness and I could see her still holding my hand. Though night time should have dulled the colours, everything was vibrant - her red hair pulled back at the sides with curls beneath cascading over her shoulders, her yellow coat with the big blue buttons, the dainty gloves, leopard skin faux fur tickling her wrists. I couldn’t help myself - I smiled. It felt peculiar and I wondered if it looked like a grimace. I made more effort to bend my lips and without warning I began to laugh, quietly at first and I quickly closed my mouth in a desperate attempt to muffle the sound, but it was impossible and it burst buzzing through my lips  - a strange chuckle and then hiccuping laughter. Millie laughed too and then held me tightly, her head on my chest and my head turning into a chest of wonders.

I looked around and could just make out the river fading into the distance, the starlight broken by the ripples and the moon long and lean. Above me the leaves of an old oak tree began to rustle. There had been no breeze but now I could feel it whispering against my face. 

Millie smiled, 

‘Quickly’ she said, and held my hands, taking a step backwards so we were stretching and now at arms length .

Then I heard the pattering drops of rain dancing silver on the road. It had been dry for weeks so the water stayed on the hard surface unable to find a retreat and tiny splashes exploded around us. I looked at Millie - she was wet, her hair matted, water running down her face to her smiling lips. My hands were wet in hers but the rest of me was perfectly dry. I looked upwards, thinking the branches from the oak tree were shielding me but above was a dark and empty sky. Millie was laughing hard now - joyously.

‘I told you this is where the rain stops - it’s the edge of the rain.’

My brain tried to process this information. Logic told me there must be a point where the rain ends - there must be an edge but……. I laughed and in one swift movement I swung Millie around so I was in the rain and she outside, then I pulled her close to me and  kissed her. I had never kissed anyone on the lips before and waited a fearful moment to see her reaction but she laughed and kissed me again and we began a wild country jig, one of us in the rain the other not, wet then dry faster and faster twirling twirling twisting and  twirling ………… 


  1. Meri Hanlin
    25/10/2019 / 4:00 pm

    Dear Mark, what a joy to have picked up your book on a whim. I find myself lost for words of praise that would do it justice. One of the best novels it’s been my pleasure to consume this year. I am currently taking ‘The Work In Progress’ course at Faber Academy, and we have the luxury to introduce three novels not on the recommended reading list. I am going to use ‘Cold Sunflowers’. Hopefully, to introduce you to a group of like minded writers. I’m sure you won’t object. You have a serious fan here. You (excuse my swearing…I’m Canadian…we do that a lot) pissed me off, in that you could write a first novel of world class. I should be so lucky. No. I hope I have enough talent like you obviously do. All the best. Get writing mister. You’ve got an addict on your hands. What an honor to meet you. Even if it is over the web. I live in the Algarve if you care to do any promotions over here. Regards and respect. Meri Hanlin

    • marksippings
      27/10/2019 / 6:39 pm

      Hi Meri

      Thank you for your lovely comments – you made my weekend – and even bigger thanks for for adding Cold Sunflowers to the reading list.

      As a Canadian you may have heard of one of my favourite bands – Rush – they wrote:
      “For the words of the profits
      Were written on the studio wall
      Concert hall
      And echoes with the sounds, of salesmen”

      I think word of mouth is way more important than any advertising I could do, so again – THANK YOU.

      As for some promotion in the Algarve, what ever ideas you have would be brilliant (and I think the weather is a bit better than here the UK ) – I have just started selling in Germany so things are progressing slowly.

      Lots of people helped me along the way with Cold Sunflowers – so if you need advice in the future please give me a shout – I am no expert, but there is almost too much information out there and I can at least let you know what worked for me.

      Best of luck with your course and happy writing.


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