ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Monday, 30 May 2011

Ann Carbine Best's memoir In the Mirror is released - e-book and print!

Click on the image to order print version.
Sixteen months after Eric was born, I got home from work and found Larry talking on the phone. He looked startled when he saw me. Megan was on the couch, coloring in a book. I assumed Eric was asleep since he usually slept all morning for his father.

“I’ll see what my wife says,” Larry said. He paused a moment then hung up the phone.

“Who were you talking to?”

“A counselor.”

“You’re seeing a counselor?”

“Yes. A man on campus.”

“Why? Is there something wrong with me?”

“No. It’s me. Will you go with me?”

It was the end of April, the long winter was ending, the children might be well for a while. I wanted to enjoy the sun and the blossoming scenery. I didn’t want to see a counselor, which made me shake my head at myself. I was the one who needed to talk, not Larry. When our second daughter was a baby, I felt overwhelmed with marriage and went to a counselor. On the second visit Larry agreed to go with me. We took some tests and found out that he didn’t need to talk, or didn’t want to.

“He says we need a marriage counselor,” Larry said.

Again I asked, “Why?”

“I have a problem,” he said, avoiding my eyes.

*

The counselor was Don, mid-thirties, married with two children, a slender man with light brown hair that was a contrast to Larry’s darker and very curly brown hair. Always more comfortable in a room with women, I sat uneasily in a room with one man I thought I knew fairly well and one I didn’t know at all.

I asked Don, “What do you know about Mormons?”

“They put a lot of emphasis on education,” he said.

That was all he said.

In the next session, he suggested that we read sensual books, go to sensual movies, and use devices for sexual stimulation to improve our marriage. Obviously, he didn’t know how morally conservative we were. I cringed and glanced at Larry who nodded at Don, and a few days later came home with The Sensuous Woman for me and The Joy of Sex for both of us. I was mesmerized by the books, and uncomfortable. How was filling my mind with these images helping Larry with his problem, whatever his problem was? I was even more confused and stunned when Don said that adultery could sometimes be a good thing. What was he suggesting? When I finally told him how uncomfortable I was with his suggestions, he said he had been waiting for me to speak up.

“Do you realize what you do?” he said. “You assume you know what we’re thinking.”

“She does do that,” Larry said.

He looked at Larry. “That lets you off the hook.” He looked at me. “He knows if he makes a few simple comments he can sit back while you take the ball and run with it.” He turned to Larry again. “You let her do this, you know.”

Larry nodded.

“That way you don’t have to say anything.”

“It works, doesn’t it?” Larry said with a grin.

“I’m sorry,” I said to Don. “I’m just so confused. I don’t know what’s going on.”

“I’m trying to help you,” he said. “Larry’s more frightened of emotions than you are.”

Larry nervously tapped his fingers on his thighs. Was this true? Was he afraid to say what he felt?

“This week I want you to share secrets,” Don said.

“Secrets? I don’t have any secrets,” I laughed nervously.

“Just see what happens,” Don said.

In the Mirror, a Memoir of Shattered Secrets by Ann Carbine Best is the story of a woman who planned on her marriage lasting forever. When Ann marries Larry in September of 1961, she’s certain he will be that eternal companion. Eleven years later, she’s devastated when he confesses that he’s been having affairs with men. She wants to help him. She wants to save her marriage. However, powerful emotions pull Larry away from his family, and eight years later their marriage ends. As a single parent, Ann is now faced with four grieving children who do not want to leave their father and their home in Utah Valley. She wants to start a new life in a new place, and moves two of the children with her to Virginia. When she graduates with her master’s degree, she wants to teach literature, but her daughters are in a catastrophic accident. Change of plans. More trials. How will she take care of her children, especially her brain injured daughter? Will she be able to stay in Virginia, the place she now loves? William Faulkner once wrote: “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.” In the Mirror is a story of a woman determined to make peace with the past, a story of hope and survival and love.

Ann Best is a great friend and author. Let's support her in the release of her long-awaited memoir. She will need reviews as many won't buy a book without seeing at least a dozen reviews. Help our Ann! I will review Ann's book when I've read it. I am still waiting for my pre-ordered copy to arrive! Meanwhile below is an excerpt from Karen Gowen's review...you can read Karen's full review and many others on Ann's blog, Ann Best Memoir Author.

The writing style is intense in its simplicity, ideal for In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets. I got drawn right in and read the story straight through in a day and a half...In the beginning, it's a tale of shattered dreams and betrayal. In the end, a story of hope and determination, survival and love.

In the Mirror, NOOK.


In the Mirror, KINDLE, $3.99




Friday, 27 May 2011

#Romantic Friday Writers - Third Challenge - Glitz and Glamour theme - my story, Satin Sheets.


Well blogger is playing up again so I know even if you are reading this you may not be able to comment. Let's hope blogger gets its act together soon! I've been reading your posts but only manage to get a couple of comments in a day before it crashes on me...I am posting my story while I can...

 Here is my third story for the Romantic Friday Writers challenge. Thank you to all the participants and all the readers. The standard has been high and we are really letting our imaginations run riot with the themes. So far we've had many 'Dire Moments', many sad stories for 'Lost', and this week, maybe there'll be some over-the-top glitz and glamour, or will these flash fiction writers tease us? I hope you will read and critique my story then read many others. Find them @ #RomanticFridayWriters on twitter, in your blogger roll or by clicking on the badge in my sidebare for the linky of participants...


SATIN SHEETS

Satin sheets to lie on


Satin pillows to cry on

Still I’m not happy can’t you see?


‘Turn that maudlin rubbish off!’

‘What’s wrong with country music?’

‘It shows too much about you, where you come from.’

‘That’s the meanest thing you’ve said to me for, like, ten whole minutes.’

‘Only ten? Well get over it. Enough of your teary eyes and dreamy looks. We’ve got a party to get to.’

‘I’m not going!’

‘You are. I brought you something to wear.’

‘Again?’

‘Well we can’t have anyone outshining you my dear. Lady Peekles will be there.’

‘And I care?’

‘Well, time you started to care about what I do. What keeps you in satin and diamonds.’

‘I don’t care about those things.’

‘Oh but you do. They suit you. You’re the perfect model for the fine things of life, little Glamourpuss.’

‘Is that the only reason you married me Antoine?’

‘And to save you from that long-haired, guitar-strumming cowboy.’

‘Randolph?’

‘You’re still pining for him. Ha! As if he could ever afford to deck you out in the best. You’d still be wearing your torn jeans and scuffed boots.’

‘What was wrong with them? I can remember you walking into the bar and heading straight for me, torn jeans and all. You couldn’t keep your hands off my torn jeans.’

‘And Rudolph didn’t like it, did he? Not one bit. But what could he do? He was too busy strutting his stuff. All that wailing country music. All those women falling at his feet. You stood out from the crowd.’

‘So did you with your business suit and polished shoes.’

‘You forgot the bow tie.’

Antoine reached into the pocket of his tux and drew out an exquisite red satin box tied with a white ribbon scrolled in gold with the Cartier logo.

‘Open it.’

Angelique reached for the box. It sprung open to reveal a gorgeous necklace of sparkling diamonds. The whole room took on a fairytale cast. She looked at Antoine and was stunned to see the adoration in his eyes. Did he really love her then? Was all his bluster just because he couldn’t convey his love except by offering her glitz and glamour?

A tear rolled down her cheek.

‘Don’t cry darling,’ he said tenderly.

‘Why? Or I’ll spoil my perfect make up? Offend Lady Peekles?’

He stepped close, lifted her blonde curls and gently hung the diamonds around her neck.

‘No, my love, you’ll terrify me that you’re really going to leave me, go back to that guitar-strumming poseur.’

‘Lead me to your Cadillac, Antoine. I’m not going anywhere but to this party.’
‘But I know how that song ends. You play it often enough.’

‘How’s it end?’

‘You want me to set you free.’

‘And walk away from all this?’ She swished her red satin skirt, reached for her white fake-fur stole and clattered across the room in her black satin party shoes. ‘Why would I want to be set free? To go and starve with Randolph?’

But Antoine had heard the catch in her voice.

She was leaving him…though he’d given her everything that money could buy.


I hope you liked my story. When I thought of the theme, 'Satin Sheets' by Dolly Parton got into my brain and wouldn't leave until I'd written a story. Those of you who know the song will get a few more of the innuendoes. I appreciate you reading and commenting.

And congratulations to J.L. Campbell who was honoured as our first Featured Writer for her 'Dire Moment' entry, and to Roland D Yeomans, who is the Featured Writer for the second theme, 'Lost.' You will see this badge on their blogs:



Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Missouri Misery. Second prize in the Lost on the Rock Short Story Competition. New competitions - prose and poetry...and more...

I offer my heartfelt sympathy to the people of Joplin, Missouri, who have lost loved ones, their homes and much of their town with that twister/tornado yesterday. What a shocker. We have watched amazed at the images over here in Oz. As a country well used to natural disasters, we feel your pain. Breaking news: now we see Oaklahoma and Kansas are threatened...

Thank you Alan Davidson from Conversations from Lands Edge and Laurita Miller from Calling Shotgun for hosting the Lost on the Rock short story competition. The winners were announced on Sunday on both Al's and Laurita's blogs and I was placed second. Today, if you want to see my interview, go to Laurita's blog, and to read my story go to Al's blog. I hope you will drop by when you have a moment. Starting yesterday, all four winners will have their stories/interviews posted daily. I've read the first-place winner here. You won't want to miss Angel Zapata's story. Flash fiction at its best!

I'd really love feedback on my story. This is the direct link. It is set in Paris and Baghdad and focuses on two women with very different, yet disturbingly similar stories.

Sylvia Ney from Writing in Wonderland has a 1,000 word short story competition just announced. You have until May 29 to come up with a story based on this photo:

Go to Sylvia's for more information.

Another contest, this time for poets. Narrative magazine is running a competition. If you haven't heard of Narrative, it's a very high-quality online writing mag, with published and previously unpublished writers submitting. There is a short story competition currently running, along with other challenges. You have to pay a small fee to enter, but for the Poetry Contest there is a $1,500 first prize. with a total of $3,300 in prizes. I don't write poetry, but if you do or know someone who does, go here for the guidelines.

The Romantic Friday Writers are growing steadily with a band of dedicated members and followers. As of Thursday this week, a linky will be available on the Romantic Friday Writers site to link directly to your story. So, member or no, you are invited to write 400 words or less on the current theme, Glitz and Glamour, and post your direct url on the linky here. You will find all the information you need re submitting, joining etc.

I need your help.There have been several blog posts recently about making your blog easier to load. I know I've been a bit top heavy with photos, links, gadgets etc. If you have any hints for myself or others to streamline their blogs, please leave a comment. Do you have any trouble loading/leaving comments on this blog? Apparently some do. Please tell me...




Friday, 20 May 2011

Romantic Friday Writers Second Challenge - LOST. My story, Lost in France.


Lost in France


Have you heard from Jake, Anna?’

The wine glass tipped from her nerveless fingers. The violent splash of colour seeped like blood onto the pristine linen cloth.

Absently, she dipped her finger into the spilled liquid and brought it shaking to her lips. She tasted its sweetness, sharp on her tongue.

‘Anna. What is it? You’re as white as a ghost.’

She looked across the table at Jason. Her cheeks grew warm as if the wine had set a fire inside her.

‘Anna?’

She stumbled to her feet, knocking her chair over in her haste to escape.

‘Anna!’

Safely in her room, she turned the lock. She stumbled to her bed, wrapping herself in the quilt. Too numb to cry, she huddled in a ball, drowning in humiliation and misery. She imagined the turn the conversation had taken the minute she'd left the room. She’d heard it all before.

‘A nervy piece.’

‘Perilously unsocial.’

‘Can’t handle her wine.’

‘Wouldn’t you think she’d accept he wasn't coming back by now?’

‘He’s lost to her.’

‘She says she’ll wait forever, foolish girl.’

‘Never marry a soldier I always say.’

‘It’s a long time to be missing in action. Maybe he’s found a mademoiselle in one of those little French villages. Maybe he just decided not to return. Grass is greener and all that...’

She crammed her hands over her ears to stop the voices. She lay motionless, watching the moonbeams on the water. Remembering the feel of Jake in her arms, their bodies entwined in sheets, kissed by starlight. Oh, Jake, why did you have to go?

She reached for her Bible and opened it to the page where she’d hidden it. The letter was crisp and strange in her hands. She knew she’d have to tell them, but not yet. Let them wait. She reached for the picture of Jake she kept by her bed. She touched her lips to his then lay it down gently. She picked up the letter again and began to read...

Dear Mrs Adaire



I regret to inform you…

She began to sob, harsh racking sounds.


Jason stood outside the door, listening.

‘Ah, my girl, he’s not coming back, is he?’ he whispered.

‘Go away Jason,’ she cried.

‘I can wait you know. I’ve waited a long time already. I’m a patient man.’



I hope you enjoyed my story. There are more like it. Click on the Romantic Friday Writers badge to read more. Or click on one of the pretty faces in the sidebar ('cept they're not all showing up!) Or go to #romanticfridaywriters on twitter to find stories.

Image: discountpostersale.com



Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Blog Tag - A few things about me you didn't want to know...and I'm not an alcoholic!

  • If you're looking for my Romantic Friday Writers story, go to next post.
  • If you'd like to read about Seoul, Korea, the first stop on my next overseas tour, go here.
  • If you'd like to join Romantic Friday Writers, click on the badge on the right. Theme for Friday 20 (this coming Friday, is LOST.)

I've Been Tagged

I've been tagged by my dear friend Ann Best Memoir Writer. Then I'm to tag three of my friends. Watch out!

I love connecting with the friends I've made through blogging, and Ann is one very special blogging friend. Thank you, Ann, for trusting me with these questions. BTW I can't wait for Ann's book to arrive! I have it on pre-order. Check it out in my sidebar .

Here are the questions:

If you could go back in time and relive one moment, what would it be?

Flying up the Cote D'Azur on a dazzling winter's day. The pilot cruised over the French Riveria while I was jumping up and down in my seat with excitement as I noted the jewelled cities down below after we'd cross the snowy Alps and southern Provence - there's St Raphael, there's St Tropez, there's Cannes, there's Antibes, there's Nice, there's Monaco, back to Nice. Woo hoo! I relive that perfect moment whenever I go into my dreamy travel zone.

If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?

Hm, I don't want to be incredibly boring. I would like to come up with something excruciatingly funny or with shock value, but I live by the philosophy that no experience is wasted, so everything I've done, whether considered bad or good has gone toward making me who I am. (I was going to study journalism after school, but went into teaching instead. What a fantastic experience! And I studied journalism externally just a couple of years ago - who said you can't have your cake...)

What movie/tv character do you most resemble in personality?

I've always thought I was a bit like Meg Ryan in type, but I'd much rather she grew old disgracefully rather than succuming to the needle or whatever she does these days. Pressure! Pressure! Maybe I'm channelling Diane Keaton whom I also adore - 'This is my face. Get used to it!' (from the movie The Women with Meg Ryan.)

If you could push one person off a cliff and get away with it who would it be?

I'm sorry, there's no way I could even consider this. I couldn't even throw a robot off a cliff (unless he didn't do the vacuuming properly, then I might consider it, hmmmmmm.)

Name one habit you want to change in yourself.

Oh this always leads me to food and drink. I've conquered my alcohol addiction, ha ha, now I wish I could conquer chocolate, but how can I? That's asking a bit much!

I'm adding a disclaimer! Some people have taken me literally, whoops! No, I've never been an alcoholic. I've just cut down my one glass of wine a day by half by adding tonic water, big drinker that I am! You can hold off the AA books for now...thanks for your concern...that's what I get for being a joker!!!

Describe yourself in one word.

Kind.

Describe the person who named you in this meme in one word.

Inspirational.

Why do you blog? Answer in one sentence.

I originally started blogging when I returned from overseas travels in 2004 and wanted to write about my experiences with the view to writing a travel memoir/narrative in the future, but of course now I blog because I love the friends I've made and I learn so much and this had to be a very long sentence.

Now I have to name at least 3 people to send this meme to and inform them. I have so many lovely bloggers I could pass this onto, but I'll pass it onto 3 Romantic Friday Writers who have supported me in mine and Francine's latest project of getting romantic flash fiction out there on a regular basis.

kittiehoward

Joy Campbell

Laura Bambrey 

Looking forward to what you have to say, ladies, and everyone else who'd like to tell me about themselves. How would you answer these questions?



Saturday, 14 May 2011

#Romantic Friday Writers First Challenge - my dire moment entry, Moonlight and Venice.

Hey, here's my first Romantic Friday Writers post! Like most blogspot clients around the world I've had no access to blogger for 2 days! So my Friday post is actually on Saturday! Judging by your emails many of you have given up and will try again next week. Please still post! You spent all that time on your Dire Moment and blogger gave us one suitable to the theme!

Let's get lost in Venice. I was reminded I had this story in my archives when I wrote about Venice on my L'Aussie Travel blog for the A-Z Challenge, so I dusted it off, took the delete key to it and edited it down to a small snippet to fit into the 400-word criteria. I hope you can get lost in Venice with me.....
 Moonlight and Venice

Darkness floated over the city like a black cape, its edges reflecting the glint of the moon.

She dressed in mask and costume then drifted into a white, starry world. She was ready to lose herself in Carnevale where the power of the mask lured revellers into lurid rites of celebration.

Running through streets with bands of masked and costumed figures, she was led past candle-lit palazzos dusted with snow. In the cold of the floating city, she felt time burning as she danced with masked men and drank wine that flowed incessantly in a hothouse of pleasure.

She ran down slippery, dimly-lit streets, going deeper and deeper into the unknown Venice.

A party of people carried her along a narrow and treacherous path.

Out of the darkness, a man grabbed her hand as fireworks exploded high above the Grand Canal.

The stranger led her upstairs to an apartment where they slow danced. The party was so crowded that they simply swayed from side to side in a room blue with smoke. The masked women were ethereal beauties in rustling silky gowns while the men dazzled in capes, tight trousers and shiny boots. Her man was masked but her imagination raced to fill in every detail of his features.

‘I’m Count de Rozario,’ he said.

‘Truly?’

‘All men are counts at Carnevale.’

She bowed. ‘My count.’

‘My servant,’ he said, then disappeared.

She walked again through the snow, her feet freezing. Men lounged in alleyways, smoking, watching her from behind lacquered masks.

A man appeared from out of the mist, alone.

‘My count.’

‘Come.’

He took her hand, hurrying her through passages and beneath arches until they came upon a magnificent doorway. He led her up a flight of stairs to a large bedroom, dazzling in moonlight, its rich red furnishings and lush brocade setting her senses on fire.

His mouth tasted like wine, sea and smoke as they surrendered themselves to the madness of the night.

He tensed.

Footsteps on the stairs.

‘My contessa comes. Go.’

He thrust clothes into her arms and pushed her onto the balcony where she huddled, shivering with cold and shock.

The contessa passed by so closely she could have reached out and touched her.

‘Ah, Contessa, come, I’ve been waiting.’

‘I, too, my count.’

Tears running down her frozen cheeks, she tiptoed down the stairs into the bewildering night, lost in Venice's black cape.



I hope you liked my Dire Moment. If you'd like to write a romance story of this length (400 words) on a Friday, go here to the Romantic Friday Writers blog to read how...

Photo source here.


Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Announcing the Post of the Week for Romantic Friday Writers - Challenge No 1 - theme, Dire Moment

Firstly I apologise that this is basically the same post you will find here on the Romantic Friday Writers blog.

Hello members, stalkers and all romantic fiction writers! Just a short post to encourage you to post a romantic story on your blog on Friday 13 May. The first of the weekly challenges is on the theme, Dire Moment. It doesn't have to be all wine, roses and kisses, but there must be a strong romantic element.

Your entry can be any romantic work of fiction - a new Flash Fiction, an excerpt, a poem etc, all including at least one dire moment.

Word limit is 400 words. It is good to get used to adhering to a word limit as many competitions ask for a specific number of words. Sometimes it is exactly the number, sometimes it's a few words over. I'd be hoping all entries can be maxed out at 410 words or less.

I've been working on an old story I've had written for some time that fits the criteria. I've cut it from over 2,000 words to a 420 word exerpt, and hope to have 400 words by Friday 13. As you edit, you get to see what really counts. That's why I adore flash fiction! Great writing exercise.

So, please don't be confused. You don't actually have to be a member to post a story (but we would love it if you commit to our group.) Think of Romantic Friday Writers as a weekly blogfest which you don't always have to enter, if that helps! Simply write and edit your story to 400 words and post it on your blog as per our guidelines (posting our linked badge etc) on Friday 13, any time zone (Aussies will probably be first!) That gives readers the weekend and early next week to read/critique/give feedback to EVERYONE!

Remember to put Romantic Friday Writers in the Title bar and advertise on twitter if you have a twitter account - just tweet that you have posted your #romanticfridaywriters story and include your link. Don't forget the hashtag, no spaces and your web address. You can also leave a comment here today, or at Francine's Romancing the Blog, or on the Romantic Friday Writers blog to tell us you plan to post and leave your blog address. Just find a way to make it clear to us that you have a story out there waiting to be read!

Francine and I are so looking forward to reading your stories/poems. Go Romantic Friday Writers, Go!





PS - Now we have to get our heads together for next week's challenge - announced Friday 13!



Sunday, 8 May 2011

Happy Mother's Day! Well, in Australia and America and in your country?



It's Mother's Day In Australia, so Happy Mother's Day! I was quite surprised to learn it is in America also, even though our Father's Day is in a different month (September in Oz.)
Mother's Day is celebrated with great zeal and fanfare around the world, including Australia. For those who dislike hoo ha, I think a special day marks an excellent opportunity to thank and express the deep felt gratitude to one’s mother, the leading lady of the family. These days there are a lot of different family configurations, but there is probably a mum in there somewhere. Mum/Mom should sit back and relax on this particular day, and children (if they're old enough) take up their responsibilities, like bringing Mum burnt toast and sugary tea slopped over the breakfast tray. The little red rose in the chipped coffee cup makes it all extra cute.

My Mum is now passed, so I reflect on our times together on this special day (and every day.) So my days of spoiling my mum are over, sadly.
Mother's Day is an excellent time for children to 'surprise' their mums with gifts and tokens of appreciation. Traditionally, gifting fresh flowers has been considered the best way to articulate the feelings. Being a mum, I am quite taken with a bunch of flowers, especially when accompanied by a box of chocolates and a hand-made card. Going out for lunch is also great, which is what we're doing today. Often mum is given a red rose by the restaurant on Mother's Day.

So, burnt toast, a bunch of flowers, a box of chockies, a lunch at the beach. What could be better? Tell me.

What are you up to for Mother's Day?

Denise<3


Thursday, 5 May 2011

The A-Z Challenge is successfully behind us...Now I give you... Romantic Friday Writers - c'mon all you romance writers out there!

http:
Romantic Friday Writers Badge
  Well, I guess I've been a bit quiet since the A - Z Challenge finished, and I've noticed many others have been also, zzzzz. It was a real blast posting on my Travel Blog every day, but it took up more hours in the day than God gave me. But I've been doing other stuff behind the scenes, even during the A - Z.  Francine Howarth from Romancing the Blog and myself, have been dreaming up a special Friday group of writers who will write to a romantic theme.
I'm sorry to add to my list of blogs, but there is a dedicated blog here, Romantic Friday Writers, beautifully crafted by Francine, where you will find all the details and the sign-up thanks to inlinkz seeing Mr Linky now charges annually. I couldn't even name our group on the remaining free tools.

So, now that Rachael's crusade is over for another year, I'm hoping this new group will attract all of you who enjoy the challenge of writing or polishing a short piece of prose or poem to a specific romantic theme/topic weekly. After the A - Z Challenge it should be a walk in the park.

Click on the Romantic Friday Writers Badge, or the badge in my sidebar, and get on over and read all about it and sign up! Once Francine gets out of bed we'll finalise the first challenge and it will be announced on our twitter hashtag - #RomanticFridayWriters and on our dedicated site. Woo hoo, our first challenge falls on Friday 13. I wonder what the theme could be?

So if you're a romance writer, amateur or professional, I invite you to write with us.

I'm pretty excited!

Leave me a comment. What do you think about it?