ON WRITING

Remember writing doesn't love you. It doesn't care. Nevertheless, it can behave with remarkable generosity. Speak well of it, encourage others, pass it on. A. L. Kennedy

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

#WEPff challenge - UNRAVELED YARN - My yarn, A Thirst Before Dying.

It's time for the Write...Edit...Publish challenge again. Open to all, this month the prompt is UNRAVELED YARN.


I've chosen to re-post a story I wrote for #FridayFlash several years ago. I've done some re-imagining as I thought of it right away when I saw the challenge.
A Thirst Before Dying is a TALL STORY set in the Queensland outback. I was actually born on the edge of the Queensland Outback, so I love writing about it.
I've added some images of Australia for you, which will be helpful if you know little/nothing about our culture, especially our indigenous culture.

Indigenous Australians are not only the most profoundly disadvantaged group in Australian society, some say in the world, but they're certainly the most discriminated against because they're misunderstood. 
There are some references in this story you may not get, but suffice to say in Colonial Australia, Aboriginals were often referred to by a collective title, 'Jacky-Jacky' and Aboriginals used to wryly call themselves 'King George' after the English king at this time. Of course, Indigenous Australians ran rings around the 'white ghosts' when it came to surviving the outback. 
If you want to know more about surviving in the outback, watch the Australian movie, Rabbit-Proof Fence, the true story of three little girls who followed the outback rabbit-proof fence for nine weeks, covering 1,500 miles (2,400 klms) to return to their community after being snatched during the Stolen Children debacle.
So, here's one of my favorite stories, told in a sort-of stream-of-consciousness way...
Aboriginal Rock Art

A Thirst Before Dying

You don’t want me to stay with you?

No. I’d prefer to be alone.

I could stay…until…

No, it’s best to leave now, Herb. Find a way out of this god-forsaken country.

Look, Paddy, there’s water down the valley. I know it. I’ll come back with some.

Don’t worry about me, matey. Listen to me croak. Let’s invent our own bush lore — every man for himself. None of this laying down your life for your mate…

I feel bad…

No need, Herb. Just go and let me get on with it. You’d be a silly bugger to stay here. You’re the lucky one. You know I haven’t got a snowflake’s chance in hell of surviving. I’m roasting from the inside out. I’m done for…

But…Paddy…

Go, you ugly bugger. Wipe that doleful look off your face.  Get on with it. At least one of us silly buggers will survive.

Look, it’s my fault. I was the one who got us lost. I thought I knew where I was...

Turns out you didn’t, but we aren’t the first and we won’t be the last to be tricked by the Australian bush. We broke every rule—walking away from the car, not enough water, then I go and break my bloody leg to boot. No chance of me getting out of here. Think about it. Go!

***
I woke to throbbing in my busted leg. I screamed as I rolled over, took deep breaths, tried not to pass out. How fat it’d gotten while I drowsed. I lay there, trying to will myself to feel nothing even though the sun was frying me like an egg on a car bonnet.

How will it feel to die of thirst?

I read in National Geographic about an old salt who survived seven days in the Arizona desert without water. Well, it’s about three days for me so far and I know I’m not going to break Mr Valencia’s record.

I ran my tongue around my mouth…saliva thick as paste. My tongue clung to my teeth and the roof of my mouth. A golf ball in my throat. My head and neck throbbed like I'd been hit with a golf club.

I started working on the strokes to perfect my golf handicap. A completely useless activity, but it helped take my mind off the pain.

My face felt like a full moon and my skin was like crackly parchment. Before long I’d be a raving lunatic. Hallucinating. Please don’t let me be around when that happens.

It was a tossup between pain and thirst. 

Which would kill me?

***
I’d fallen to my side while I slept. Was I going to die lolling around like some old abandoned guy in a nursing home? With a few grunts and groans I managed to heave myself up and prop my back against the red sandy rock.

The dry valley spread before me, shimmering in the heat. I swore I saw water, but I knew a mirage when I saw one.  The red and ochre of the steep gorges soothed me, taking my mind off the possibilities of that inland sea.

I’ve always loved this country, especially the outback. Unforgiving though. Only the toughest survive. Add smartest to that. Not smart to get lost, run out of petrol, run out of water.

Old Herb. I hoped he’d been smart enough to find water by now or he’d be propping up a rock too, or roasting in the sand like a pig on a spit.

***

My eyes were just slits, but I watched a pair of wedge-tailed eagles fly between the harsh blue sky and the ochre cliffs like children at play. I kept vigil like a protective parent.

It was a brutal world out here in the desert. I waved my arm around the red valley: I hereby name you ‘Tarrangaua’. It meant ‘rough red hill’ in Aborigine. I smiled to myself, feeling smart as King George.

A thick pain punched my chest. There was a whooshing in my ears. 

Here comes the deafness...

A crunching sound reverberated around my head. I swear the rock shook, so I must have reached the hallucinating stage. Didn't even need a pill! Gave them up years ago. I grinned, feeling my gums and teeth protrude like some zombie's.


‘What you doin’ sittin’ here in the sun, you silly bugger? Hardly Bondi Beach, you bum.’

My time had come. Looming over me was the Grim Reaper. A wobbly outline of a face. I blinked and it morphed into the ace of spades…with hair and beard white as snow. Topped with an Akubra hat with silver studs glinting in the sun.

‘Jacky-Jacky?’ Every Australian knows an Aboriginal tracker is called Jacky-Jacky, even a city slicker like me.

‘No mate, I’m not Jacky-Jacky. I’m Mr Theodore White, but who’s askin’? Looks like you could use some help before you turn into one tough piece of steak.’

‘Hey, I’m King George,’ I said only half-joking. Who am I again? 

‘That's my line. He died long ago, mate. You don’t wanna be him.’

He cradled my head in one of his massive black hands and let me take a few sips from his coolamon.

Coolamon
The water tasted real enough. Its coolness was the most beautiful thing. But I had trouble slugging it past that golf ball in my throat.

‘That’s enough, King George. Only a drop at a time or it’ll kill ya.’

I tried not to cry like a baby when he took the bottle away.

‘Found ya old mate.’ He tended my leg with ancient Aboriginal lore guiding his hands.

‘What? Who?’ I rasped. Oh no. Old Herb.

‘Poor old bugger. Roasting in a dry riverbed down there.’ He pointed into the red valley. ‘Musta gone to sleep thinkin’ he was in the water, seein' a mirage. No savin’ him. His face was burned to a crisp. But looks like you’ll make it. Ain’t you the lucky one? No one should die alone.’

I hope you enjoyed my story. Please click on names at the top of my sidebar with DL (Direct Link) after the name. This means the story is up and ready.

Thanks for reading and commenting and sharing if you would be so kind.




Wednesday, 6 June 2018

#IWSG post - BOOK TITLES or CHARACTER NAMES - Nah, let's promote much-loved blogger C. Lee McKenzie's new book instead!

Hello all!

Welcome to the #IWSG for June. Hope your month has been awesome and you got plenty of writing done, whether outlining your next book, writing your current book, or planning your series. 

Thanks to Alex's awesome co-hosts for the June 6 posting of the IWSG are Beverly Stowe McClure,Tyrean Martinson, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

Thanks for taking the time to help out, team. I hope you get lots of visitors today.

So much to do, so little time. Which brings me to the June 6 question - What's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names.

Well, my response to that question was a bore a minute, so I was waiting for some inspiration for my post, when I caught on L Diane Wolfe;s FB timeline that C. Lee McKenzie, that much-loved blogger has lost her husband just as she launched her latest book. Several bloggers have come to the rescue as C. Lee is hardly up for book promotion.  I'm honored to do something that may help C. Lee (I call her Clem) at this time.


Image result for some very messy medieval magic


SOME VERY MESSY MEDIEVAL MAGIC

By C. Lee McKenzie

Pete’s stuck in medieval England!

Pete and his friend Weasel thought they’d closed the Time Lock. But a young page from medieval times, Peter of Bramwell, goes missing. His absence during a critical moment will forever alter history unless he’s found.

There’s only one solution - fledgling wizard Pete must take the page’s place. Accompanied by Weasel and Fanon, Pete’s alligator familiar, they travel to 1173 England.

But what if the page remains lost - will Pete know what to do when the critical moment arrives? Toss in a grumpy Fanon, the duke’s curious niece, a talking horse, and the Circle of Stones and Pete realizes he’s in over his young wizard head yet again...

Juvenile Fiction - Fantasy & Magic/Boys & Men
$13.95 Print ISBN 9781939844460
$3.99 EBook ISBN 9781939844477

C. Lee McKenzie's Profile Photo, Image may contain: C. Lee McKenzie, smilingC Lee McKenzie has a background in Linguistics and Inter-Cultural Communication, but these days her greatest passion is writing for young readers. When she’s not writing she’s hiking or traveling or practicing yoga or asking a lot questions about things she still doesn’t understand. http://cleemckenziebooks.com



Available now - Some Very Messy Medieval Magic by @cleemckenzie Barnes & Noblehttps://tinyurl.com/y8lessr9 iTunes https://tinyurl.com/yaz4sqb6 Amazonhttps://tinyurl.com/y92g67q5 #middlegrade #magic
Now I hope you'll give C. Lee's new book a look!

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your loved ones at this time, C. Lee.


If you feel like a writing challenge to refresh your writing, please join us for the June WEP challenge which opened for submissions on June 1st. 


Unraveled Yarn! No, we’re not necessarily talking knitting and crochet.  A yarn is a long and rambling, often improbable, story. But we’re not talking long and improbable, a crisp and convincing flash in whatever genre you choose is what we’re after. We are open to everything, except erotica.

Serenity, meet Disaster. A lie found out, the unpicking of a tall tale. A crime taking an unexpected turn. A bad-hair day. An ordinary walk spiraling into a crisis. A romantic encounter ending in chaos.   Take your pick with the unpicking. And have fun! And get feedback on your writing!


PHOTO INSPIRATION: SUNSET OVER NICE IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE, ONE OF MY FAVORITE PLACES IN THE WORLD,





Wednesday, 2 May 2018

The #IWSG - My post - ALL THOSE LOVELY RESOURCES OUT THERE TO HELP WRITERS WRITE AND PUBLISH.

Hello all!

Time for the May IWSG. Eagerly anticipated by many, it has become for some, the only time they post these days, often me included.

Thanks to Alex J Cavanaugh, bloggers, whether twice-weekly, weekly, fortnightly or monthly get together and catch up with each other in the context of 'insecurity.' A good context. Who's ever met an author who is not insecure?

Alex's awesome co-hosts for the May 2 posting of the IWSG are E.M.A. Timar, J. Q. Rose,C.Lee McKenzie, and Raimey Gallant!

I'm not going anywhere near the question of the month. Spring? That's in one half of the world. It's autumn in the other half.  Down Under we write all year round. It's always hot except for a couple of weeks a year, so we can't let the weather keep us from our laptops or we'd NEVER write.

Now this post just sprung out of my head. Unplanned. I just started talking to you, and look how it ended up. Now retrospectively, I will give it a title.

ALL THOSE LOVELY RESOURCES OUT THERE TO HELP WRITERS WRITE AND PUBLISH.

Best selling authors have a charmed life compared to mid list, bottom feeders and one-book wonders. I'm addicted to reading Acknowledgements at the end of all the best sellers I read, (about 100 a year). By the time  I count the author's thanks to his/her agent/s, editor/s, researchers, early readers, experts and so on, some authors acknowledge that over 40+ people have been crucial, in some way, to birthing and selling their novels. A bit like the credits at the end of a movie. You think, wow, no wonder it was so good, or I wonder why it wasn't better?

We bottom feeders (or however you categorize yourself) are pretty much alone in birthing our books. But WE ARE NOT ALONE. This is who I acknowledge so far on my wobbly journey toward multiple publication in between reading a copious amount of books.
  • Craft websites such as K.M. Weiland or Kristen Lamb and others, too many to mention, who offer golden nuggets to authors for FREE or offer reasonably-priced online courses. Sure, some of the advice can be contradictory, and some craft posts are for writers at certain stages of their career. But there's always a take out from these generous souls.
  • Bloggers who have guest authors or agents who freely share their journey/advice/encouragement. Literary Rambles and Nas Dean come to mind. You are very generous, Natalie and Nas. Golden Blogger Award!
  • Bloggers who have published multiple books. I find you intriguing, seeing the different ways you promote yourselves. And what a surprise when one of your books turns up in my local library all the way Down Under. Thinking Susan Kelley...
  • Depending on where you are in your writing career, Facebook Groups (I hate to mention this greedy global spy but it does have its uses) can be worth their weight in gold. I've only ever self-published one novel and only on Amazon and left it there to die a natural death, but due to haunting FB sites like 20booksto50k (I've mentioned it here before), I learn that it could be advantageous to have several books available (suggested number is 6) before hitting Publish. Joanna Penn said the same thing when she came to Oz last year. Draft2Digital is awesome with their advice and how they will promote you on as many platforms as you like. They've just added Amazon to their list! Of course I'm in many other FB groups - groups where you can order covers, where you can get feedback on that all-important cover, groups who will help you with your blurb, your synopsis...everything you need to self-publish, really, or to polish your submission to a traditional publisher.
  • Beta readers. I've found a fabulous, wild, Uk-based beta reader, who's more of an editor, really. She reads through my stories like a reader and yells at me (with my permission). She takes no prisoners. No point in a beta reader who isn't honest and she's certainly made me question every word I write and every plot point and then there's structure. Phew! 
  • Critique partners. I've struggled to find good critters for years. People who get me and my work and who are timely. At a Margie Lawson immersion class, Margie hooked me up with two other writers in our group and said we should become a critter team. We  help each other create our stories and we are relentless with our work ethic and Track Changes editing and face-to-face meetings. These two have done more for my writing than ANYONE mentioned above. They helped me create my Paris novel which is with Avon and they're currently helping me write my paranormal romance trilogy. 
So, when I have my 6 books ready to publish under my pen name, I'll have a few acknowledgements. But 40 helpers would be sooooo nice.

Thanks for coming by. I hope you found a takeaway here. 

Have a fabulous writing month!

Here's a bonus pic for coming by - Pommery Champagne House, Champagne region, France. Where else? A trip through their cellars inspires me every time.


Denise 





Friday, 13 April 2018

#WEP #flashfiction, my story, LOVE SUCKS. Vamps in Paris.

Hello all!

How's your April going? I hope those participating in the A-Z Challenge are having a ball. I've enjoyed reading many of your stories, but this coming week it's all about WEP (Write...Edit...Publish) for me. The prompt is Road Less Traveled and it's a mixture of prose and some sort of poetry.

Maybe it's because I'm working furiously on my paranormal romance trilogy at the mo', but my mind flew straight to a funky little flash I wrote for Romantic Friday Writers (400 words) in 2015. The characters have haunted me, LOL, so I dragged them out of their coffins, dusted them off, and let them tell a little more of their story. They will probably find themselves on a page or two in a flash fiction book I intend to write one day!

I'm early with my post, but a few have begun to post so I'm anxious to get my little ole story on the page. Hope you enjoy...



CAST OF CHARACTERS

Top left: Drac-Kulah, Top right: Dracula
Bottom left: Ruby Black, aka Snow White, Bottom right: Doc Marten.


 When you’ve lived for as long as moi, you crave change. Sometimes, you’ve just gotta find another way, another road. I’m done with sleeping all day in a room with velvet drapes drawn, hiding from you-know-what, microwaving blood when the street food lets me down. 

What’s a vamp to do all century? 

I know what you’re thinking:

Go haunt the streets, you sicko,
Suck the tourists dry.
Drink a few homeless. 
Who’s gonna miss ‘em?
Who's gonna cry?

Been there, done that. I need to shake things up a bit. I need another path. One less traveled.


As the sun dropped down from that oh-so-sicko-blue sky, I exited the hotel and sashayed down Montmartre’s glitter strip, feeling ever-so-hipster-ish.

Black cap sideways,
Baggy black trousers,
Black T-shirt under my
black shiny coat.
Hiding my black heart.
You get that I dig black, right?

Love Montmartre. My current Parisian area of interest. Well, current, doh. It’s been my favorite for a coupla hundred years. Is about the only suburb not razed by that sicko Baron Haussman. I like old things. Love Montmartre.

Tourists gawking,
Homeless hawking,
Blackboard artist chalking:
"ETERNITY".

We’re on the same page, honey-childe.

Then suddenly, next door to that garish pretending-to-be-old reinvented mill, Moulin Rouge,


I see it: ‘A VENDRE’ – (‘FOR SALE’) if you haven’t mastered the fourteenth-most-popular language in the world. 

But I digress. What happened next? Hang with me. Or not. 

My synapses zapped.
My planets aligned.
A contract to sign.

Oh, happy day! Time for a moonwalk! Slip. Slide. Slap.

I’ve accumulated a tidy sum over the centuries, you know, so I can easily afford Parisian real estate. Compound interest compounds I read somewhere. No business degrees 400 years ago.

So before you could say,

‘More blood.
I’ll take it to go.
Make it quick, you know?’

The business belonged to moi. If you don’t know what moi means, pfft. Work on your language skills or get outta here.

The little bar was perfect -- vamp chic –

Blood-red carpet,
Black walls, (or they will be)
Red bar counter,
Black halls.

Suited my little black er, heart. 


The pictures clinched the deal –

Horror-movie posters
Murder and mayhem
on every wall.
Go me.

Buying this joint means I’ll no longer have to prowl the mean streets. The gendarmes can move on. Fight real crime. But now I got me my own gloomy little hidey-hole. 

Let ‘em come to me.
Bar flies are tasteee
Full of good ole whiskee
au go go.

‘Ya not going to run this place by yaself, are ya?’

I jumped from dreaming of bar flies and admiring my Dracula poster which was so like looking in the mirror – Just kidding!


Black cloak,
Super handsome face,
Super handsome long locks
I’m ace!
Not that dude.

But like, wow! This chicka! Will you look at her! Just promenaded down my 15th Century wonkedy-wonkedy stairs! Right into my Venus fly trap.

Flowing black tresses,
Lush curves poured
into little black dress,
Black fishnet stockings. 
Oh so shocking!

‘You offering your services, er, miss?’ I licked my lips. Tried not to look too obvious.
 “Ya, moi, who else? Ya blind or somethin’? I thought those black glasses ya wearin’ were, ya know, to hide ya red eyes.’
 This chicka was something else. If only she knew. Something more serious than the old chanvre (look it up!) going on here. 
‘You look, like, twelve years of old. Shoot me some ID.’ I sunk into my oversized red leather chair.
 She whipped out the plastic.  ‘Looks can be deceivin’, busta. Ya look, like, nineteen, but ya might have baggy eyes behind those shades.’ 
 She winked at me, cheeky minx. I took them off so she could admire my handsomeness.
 I flipped the ID back at her, watched it twirl in its arc and land in her white little dewdrop hand. Fake as, who cared? 
 I licked my lips, again. Gotta stop that. I ran my tongue around my teeth, getting ready for the big suck. I want this girl-child. She’s def on the menu tonight.
 ‘What d’ya think, Monsieur Slim Shady? I bin workin’ bars for many a yaah. Know sum tricks, I do.’
 ‘It’s not that kind of bar. It’ll be a clean operation. And speak English or French or something. You’re a cross between American Western and Eliza Dolittle.’
 ‘Forgit the pop culture, Pop. A clean operation?’
 ‘Drinks, tapas, music…’
 ‘Rap? Classical? Country? What do French people like?’
 ‘Never mind. Too long a story for now. What’s your name?’ I clasped her black-gloved hand. ‘I’m Drac Kulah.’
 ‘Really? A dark character.’ 
 ‘Really.’ I hope she digged the deep, dark tone.
 ‘Well I’m Ruby Black, but I go by—’
 ‘Let me think. Snow White?’
 ‘Right on Drac. Hilaarrious. Aren’t we a pair!’
 ‘You’re hired. No funny business or you’ll be out on your pretty butt.’
 ‘My butt’s pretty? I don't think ya s'posed ta say that anymore.’ She twirled.

Black lacy dress flowing
like waves
around her thighs.
A tantalizing glimpse of
shapely snow-white leg and
a flash of lacy black knickers.
But her Doc Marten’s are kickers.

‘That’s not all I got.’ She sidled up and grabbed me around the neck, her gloved fingers tugging my black 'do.
 Who needs to go hunting? This tasty morsel’s mine. Right here. Right now. A gift from er, the gods. An entrée before the main.

Woo hoo to me.
Boo hoo for her.

Taking her in my steely arms, I aimed my sharp little popping-down fangs at her jugular, then…wow! Where’s her throbbing pulse! Where’s my drink?
‘Ha, I knew ya were the Real Slim Shady, you dark, evil, blood-suckin’ sicko.’
 I knew the minute she walked in, but you probably think I’m lying. As if a vamp would lie. I’ve learned a thing or two in 400 years. I know everything. I’ve read all the literature on the planet. Just wanted to see how this new road played out. Like that Robert Frost guy said in a poem I read on the internet, "two roads diverged". Then whammo!

WORDS: 994
FCA


Hope you had as much fun reading this as I had writing it. This is a WEP (Write...Edit...Publish) post for the April WEP challenge, Road Less Traveled. After leaving a comment please click on other participants in my right-hand sidebar with a DL (Direct Link) after the name. This means they've published. Or travel over to WEP and sign up there.

WEP CHALLENGE FOR APRIL....ROAD LESS TRAVELED