Wednesday, 1 March 2023


 Hello fellow insecure writers. Is there any other kind? 

"As writers, we falter more often than not. We struggle to find narrative clarity, struggle with the purpose of why we write, struggle with beliefs that writing comes easier or more naturally for others, struggle with allowing who we really are to come through in our work, or that who we are, as we are, is enough. Sometimes words from other writers offer a lift."

And that, my friends, is the combined wisdom of best-selling authors of the ilk of Margaret Attwood, John Grisham, George R.R Martin et al from the inaugural Santa Fe Literary Festival (above)If these guys struggle, what chance do we have to be secure in our writing career? (If you have advice for me to the contrary, please drop it in the comments! I'd love to hear from you!)

So, peeps, it's April already. April is so busy with the A - Z challenge where writers gamely write every day. No thanks! Used to, but those frenzied days are over. I admire each and every one of you who succeeds. If you also write for WEP, you can find a way to combine both challenges.

The awesome co-hosts for the March 1 posting of the IWSG are Diedre Knight, Tonya Drecker, Bish Denham, Olga Godim, and JQ Rose!

March 1 question - Have you ever read a line in novel or a clever plot twist that caused you to have author envy?

Are you kidding?????

I am a super voracious reader, and always make time for it no matter how frenetic life is and it's more than frenetic atm, so I am full to overflowing with author envy and magical words that feed my soul. Those who're waiting for a review may understand me more. Sorry. That phrase you wish you'd thought of, that word, unique, (Pat Conroy is the master!) or that plot!! I'm especially devouring thrillers atm (along with womens' fiction and vampire books) and plotting in thrillers, especially, must be sooo hard unless the author has reached the level where they appear to use a formula and repeat it with different characters and settings. Readers don't mind, do we? Well, maybe sometimes. I don't read certain authors anymore as they so obviously repeat themselves. But usually when we admire an author they can't shoot out those books quickly enough for us. I hope I'll reach that level one day! But I'm definitely a sloooow writer. How about you?

I don't like to just mention one author/plot twist that still has me thinking months after I finished the book when there are several, too many to mention. Oh boy! But I Let You Go  by one of my fave thriller writers, Clare Mackintosh, has left the biggest impression on me and obviously a lot of people. Just saw she's got over 40,300 reviews! Crikey! I'm struggling to reach double figures). I'm shivering just thinking about her plot twists. Spoiler alert! Stop now if you're going to read it on my rec.

Somehow the author convinced the reader (or was it just dumb me?) she was talking about one person, but as the book rushes on you realize she's talking about a completely different person. (You're aware of them both.) That's pretty hard to pull off! It did me in. There is this vicious person out to kill one of these people. Shiver. Shiver. Police finally come to the starkly remote creepy beach in England where most of the story takes place. (I've noted in thrillers that the police are painted as pretty useless so the hero has to save themselves). Yeah, after a terrifying tussle she's already killed the killer by the time the cops arrive (girlpower!) - but the last line of the book has you asking - has she really? 

The killer has tracked her down where she's been eking out an existence writing and photographing Hallmark-type cards in the sand. Hmm. With him dead, finally she can reclaim her spot of beach without shaking in terror. So after she returns from hospital after being bashed to within an inch of her life by the killer - she finds -

"Jennifer - (her name of course)...

The sea doesn't falter. The next wave breaks over the marks in the sand, and they are gone. A gull gives a final sweep of the bay as the tide comes in, and the sun slips beneath the horizon.

And then it is dark."

I've already re-read to see where I missed the clues, but can't find it. Clare Mackintosh has done a great job. Author envy!!!!!

Have a great month, everyone! We at WEP have just finished our Gone With the Wind first challenge of the year. Currently on our blog the 3 winners are announced and have received their Oscars - Damyanti Biswas, Beth Camp and Dolarah (formerly Donna Hole).

You could receive an Oscar next. We'd love you to write for us in April ... check this out ...

Leave a comment and I'll get back to you!


Wednesday, 15 February 2023


 Hello all!

WEP is back! After some kerfuffle, Team WEP has come together again. We temporarily lost a team member, Laura, but gained one in Sonia Dogra. This year is going to be Bigger, Bolder, Better! We thank Alex J Cavanaugh, IWSG Ninja, for promoting our first challenge for the year and will continue to do so, and C Lee McKenzie from the IWSG for her Facebook promo posts.

Olga Godim, badge maker extraordinaire, has been busy since December, dreaming up badges and creating a new header for our new-look website. 

All team members have been involved in many creative discussions regarding how WEP will look going forward. Read all about our changes and new structure HERE

This enduring supportive online writing community contest is here to help writers hone their writing muscles by regularly writing to prompts. Bring us your WIP, your non-fiction, your poetry, your flash fiction! Get instant feedback on your writing or if you're the outright winner for a challenge, you receive a critique from an editor or published author. February's prize is a first chapter critique from IWSG's L Diane Wolf. Also, bonus - all three winners each prompt will be invited to submit to a WEP Anthology of the Best of WEP, 2023. 

So, today we get this year-long party started. This is the Year of Movies at WEP. 

As it's Valentine's month, our first prompt is based on the movie, the controversial Gone With the Wind. If you'd like to submit to the challenge, go HERE for ideas. You've got until February 17 to post an entry.

So, here is my entry, an op-ed, something different to my usual flash fiction. 

From deepest darkness comes enduring light.

Gone With the Wind - Love and loss, a nation mortally divided, a people forever changed.


A sign in my local library says – “A truly great library has something in it to offend everyone”. That is true of the novel, Gone With the Wind (GWTW). Some find it offensive, some find it wonderful. At its core, it is a turbulent love affair between a manipulative, brave, woman, (Scarlett O’Hara) and a rogue, (Rhett Butler) against the fiery backdrop of the American Civil War.

The author Margaret Mitchell lived in Atlanta where at one time, 1 in 5 residents were slaves. A journalist passionate about American history, over ten years she gathered war stories from the Civil War. The result? GWTW. In its first year, it went through 31 printings and sold over a million copies – that was 60 years ago. For decades it has trailed only the Bible on best-seller lists, so it endures like Scarlett O’Hara.

For this WEP prompt, we’re using the film version, the biggest grossing movie of all time (adjusted for inflation), and Academy Award winner for 1940. Producer, David O Selznick, faithfully followed the book's premise - not to yield, suffer or be beaten down.

I will survive, says Scarlett.
Getty Images

GWTW is one of my favorite films. There. I. Said. It. A blogger once attacked me for my view, citing its glorification of slavery. I thought, hang on, it doesn’t glorify slavery, rather it has shaped popular understanding of the American Civil War and Reconstruction. It is never okay to buy and sell human beings, but the book and movie reflect a time when not everyone shared this view.

A handbill advertising a slave auction in Charleston in 1769 - courtesy of Weekend Australian newspaper.

That blogger wasn’t alone in her view. 80 years after its release, the “Woke Ness Monster” arose from the deep to announce GWTW, the movie, had given slavery a cinematic gloss-over and should be "canceled". No. We learn from the past; we can’t just erase it. GWTW opens a window to how things were in America at the time of writing. The North against slavery; the South passionately for it. Generally.

Slavery. What word describes such a blight on humanity?

Evil is one word that comes to mind. Impossible not to make comparisons with the Holocaust which saw over 6 million slain, yet today we have a movement denying it ever happened. Cancel culture at work. It is believed that 12 million Africans were abducted as part of the slave trade and few deny how hapless human beings, if they survived the trip, were used by white settlers themselves enslaved … by greed.

But from deepest darkness comes enduring light.  

We’ve seen in movies how the plantation slaves sang Negro spirituals, songs like He's Got the Whole World in His Hand, to motivate them. Life on earth sucked, but they believed in redemption.

As did one white British slave trader.

Did you know that John Newton, who penned most everybody’s favorite hymn, Amazing Grace, was part of this vicious trade in the 1700s? Thankfully, his carefree acceptance of slave trading waned; his guilt led to good and his journey to redemption. He studied for the priesthood, and in 1773, gave the first rendition of the world’s most readily identified hymn. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me…” he intoned in his ordination sermon. The song stemmed from his third and final voyage servicing the Triangle Trade where he decided without doubt that slavery was evil.

We know slaves were used as free labor on cotton plantations, sold and put to work across long days with avoiding brutal punishment and starvation their only motivation. Slaves on the Tara plantation were generally happy and loved their masters. This was not altogether uncommon, with many slaves reluctant to accept emancipation at the end of the Civil War. 

Getty Images

Mammy, (Hattie McDaniel) who won Best Supporting Actress, was certainly the boss of Scarlett!
She famously said - I’d rather play a maid for seven hundred dollars a week than to be one for seven dollars a week.” 

Understandably, many African Americans took offense at the image of happy slaves and brought their protests onto the streets in front of theaters where GWTW was playing. 

Credit - Afro American Newspapers

Back to Newton. On his redemptive journey, he worked tirelessly to have the slave trade abolished in Britain. In the words of Prime Minister William Pitt, “The greatest stigma on our national character which ever yet existed, is about to be removed!” Newton achieved this, along with peers like Wilberforce and Pitt, in 1792.

Newton died months after Britain abolished slavery, but his redemptive song endures.

Meanwhile, in America, abolition was not so easy. The issue of slavery drove four bloody years of Civil War. The last Confederate slave was not freed until 1865. The Civil Rights bill was not enacted until a century after the war, but equality still eludes many black Americans to this day.

A dozen years after the Civil War, Edison invented the phonograph, and Amazing Grace was recorded. A thousand versions followed, unifying the music and the words, twice reaching million-seller status.

But perhaps the most famous rendition was begun by Barack Obama in 2015 as he gave the eulogy for South Carolina senator Clementa Pinckney, the youngest black man to be elected in that state – some believed he might one day be president – who was shot after he pleaded for police to be fitted with body cameras after the brutal shooting of black man Walter Scott. Overwhelmed by the sadness and waste, Obama twice spoke the words “Amazing Grace”. His mellow baritone then intoned the five notes that make up those words and the audience rose as one to complete Newton’s 1773 sermon. I saw it on live television and will never forget it. So recently we had the eulogy for Tyre Nichols, who, despite police body cameras, was brutally slain, this time mainly by black police. Is equality gone with the wind? Or can we believe and hope that somehow out of darkness can come a thing of beauty.

WORDS: 1009

FCA - have your say!


The Long Battle over Gone With the Wind – New York Times

Gone With the Wind: Is it really Nostalgic? – The Saturday Evening Post

Song of Redemption - the Weekend Australian, January 7 - 8, 2023

I hope you weren't offended by my article. I'd love to have your opinion.

If you're enjoying the February WEP, consider joining us in April. Get ideas HERE. If you do the A - Z, you can merge it with the day's letter. Plenty have done this.

Thanks for coming by!


Wednesday, 1 February 2023

#IWSG February post - Book covers

 Hello all!

Our second posting for the year already. Hope you're all diving into 2023 with renewed vigour and hope.

February 1 question - If you are an Indie author, do you make your own covers or purchase them? If you publish trad, how much input do you have about what goes on your cover?

The awesome co-hosts for the February 1 posting of the IWSG are Jacqui Murray, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Pat Garcia, and Gwen Gardner!

The question for the month of February is pretty simple - BOOK COVERS.

As a self-published author, I listen to my much-published friends who variously offer advice on what has worked for them.

Fiverr is cheap for beginning authors and a bit dodgy, so it helps to have recommendations. I admit I'm not overly happy with any of my Fiverr covers, but once I find my author feet I'll redo them all. 

I settled on designrans on Fiverr for my vampire novels.

Continued with pro-ebook covers on Fiverr for my first three books of short stories.

But found it difficult to find an illustrator for my Paris Dreams women's fiction novel. Finally, through a friend, I happened upon Kim Killion of The Killion Group.

I'm super happy with her cover and will use her again for my next Paris novel with the working title - Le Petit Paris Kitchen Cookery School. And as a bonus, you can pay for a blurb. Read some examples HERE.

All my covers can be seen HERE.

We're told ad infinitum that the book cover is super important as yes, we do judge a book by its cover. A good cover should reflect the genre. This is enhanced by the right fonts. I look for a great tagline which tells the buyer so much.

Next most important. Flip over to the blurb. Most of us find the blurbs excruciating to write. I get a lot of help with mine and am still unhappy with all of them. But the blurb needs to sit nicely on the back, whether there is an image in the background or colors to match the front cover, the text needs to be clear. At times the blurb gets lost in the back image.

Anyway I'm no expert, but I hope there is a little takeaway within my ramblings. Looking forward to reading what you have to say.

And if you lack funds for cover artists, there are free Canva and other programs. I'm a little too impatient and find Canva a bit annoying, but I did rush one for a Book Funnel promo of a short story. My story had hundreds of downloads which added to my newsletter list, so the amateur cover didn't put readers off too much. But I won't repeat the experience as I believe even a free book deserves a professional cover. That said, I know authors who use the paid Canva option to create amazing covers and a wide variety of clip art for formatting the inside. Go you beautiful  people!


WEP (Write...Edit...Publish) starts today with a bang! Please join us this Valentine's month for the first of our 2023 prompts based on a favorite movie of each Team WEP member.

February's prompt is the controversial film:

Details are published on February 1 on our new-look website. Come across and have a sticky beak!

Posting of entries is between Feb 15 -17.

Submit Flash Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry and Photo Essays

Winners this month receive a critique from the IWSG's own L Diane Wolfe ... and ...a DRUMROLL ... place in WEP's anthology of the best of WEP in 2023, published early 2024.

Here is a mock up of a cover, simply used as a placeholder. 

Until next time!


Thursday, 5 January 2023


 Happy New Year everyone! I wish you every happiness in 2023! May your insecurities disappear and your securities grow! 

This is a short post. Don't get much time to open the laptop these days, but hoping that will improve soon!

January 4 question - Do you have a word of the year? Is there one word that sums up what you need to work on or change in the coming year? For instance, in 2021 my word of the year was Finish. I was determined to finished my first draft by the end of the year. In 2022, my word of the year is Ease. I want to get my process, systems, finances, and routines where life flows with ease and less chaos. What is your word for 2023? Why?

The awesome co-hosts for the January 4 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pett, Debs Carey, Kim Lajevardi, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, and T. Powell Coltrin!

I saw the question and right away decided my word was  -  


Some of you know that we had a bit of a discombobulation at WEP toward the end of 2022 where it seemed each of the team members had life issues that were impacting on their ability to run WEP. Due to life throwing me lemons, I felt I had no choice but to give up my baby, but I didn't want to see it disappear as I believe WEP serves an important purpose - a creative corner of the blogoverse where  members can write 6 times a year and improve.

So when our first plan for a takeover tanked, Team WEP brushed themselves off and decided to continue despite issues, some with a lesser role, but with a strong core to ensure WEP continues to offer writers a chance to participate, to imagine, to create and to surprise themselves each challenge.

So, Persevere I say. Decide what to prioritise and go for it. Life will always throw us lemons, but we can make lemonade instead of collapsing in a heap.

And I just posted an article, #How to become a novelist by our December 2022 winner, Pat Garcia, at the WEP site. Her writing is going ahead in leaps and bounds.

And for all past, present and future participants in WEP, here is our first challenge in February 2023.

Remember, it's all about what inspires you:

GWTW can be the springboard for a million ideas- civil war, love, the definition of beauty (‘Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful but men seldom realized it..’), racism, slavery, strong women, gun violence, plantations, breaking conventions, the bond between fathers and daughters, mothers and daughters, the love for a piece of land, a lament for a vanishing society…alternatively, even an essay on the stars or the film director or the author Margaret Mitchell or some aspect of the making of the film...endless opportunities for creativity.

Post-February 15 to the 17th 2023

Thursday, 1 December 2022


 Hello there!

If you're looking for my IWSG post, for practically the first time ever, I'm missing it. Clashes with the WEP challenge and life is super busy at this time of year, anyway. See you in January.

Seeing you're here, I'd be delighted if you'd read my meet-up with the two MCs in my latest novel...and answer my question at the end.


For the WEP challenge this month, I've edited the scene from my 'women's fiction with romantic and suspense elements' Paris Cookery School novel where my two main characters meet. It's over the limit at 1053, so sorry, but it fits the prompt perfectly, especially with reference to Roberta Flack's song. 

Something has been lost in the editing process, but hey, I might use this shorter version in my WIP. 

To pre-empt comments, I'm a member of the FB group, Ask a Book Editor, (highly recommended) and I was told the latest preference for foreign words is to italicise the first usage, thereafter don't, as italics get annoying after a while. I drink to that.

Angélique runs a cookery school. Charlie is a new student. Thus begins the romance which is the heart of the novel. 

TAGLINE: More than cooking goes on in the kitchen.

Your face, your face, your face



A very dishy dish stands at my kitchen door – handsome, tall, and very English. After lugging his suitcase up five floors, his cheeks are flushed. And those eyes – I’m lost. They’re the color of the sea on a cloudy day, pale green flecked with gold. Mon Dieu. So hot.


His charcoal pin-striped suit is too dressy for my cookery school. Although with his glossy black hair, groomed hipster beard, and devastating smile, who am I to judge?


Entrez.” I sweep my arm in a gracious lady-of-the-manor gesture. “Welcome to Le Petit Paris Kitchen Cookery School. I’m your host, Angélique Ravello. You’re Charlie Byron?”


His mouth is luscious and with that quirk at the edge, he’s permanently smiling. He holds out a hand. “Yes. Enchanted, I’m sure, Angélique.” His phone pings. “Pardon.” He reaches into his pocket, silences it.


There's that hand again.


His fingers are long and strong like a piano player’s. If his smile turns my legs to water, what will happen if I touch him? Sucking in a breath, I take those fingers in mine. I swear the earth moves in my hand.


We both laugh. Did he feel that powerful surge of electricity? Or am I going mad?


Enchanté, Charlie.” Neither of us breaks the grip. His fingers tighten on mine. When did we move so close? It’s like our bodies are magnetized. Now I can fully appreciate his handsome bearded face with cheekbones to shame a supermodel. And his délicieux cologne duels with délicieux cookery smells.


His smile dimples his face. “Thank you, or should I say merci?”


Behave yourself Angélique. I break the grip. Rub sweaty hands down my thighs. “English is fine, unless you prefer—”


“English then.”


His eyes rove my face. “You look like Amélie from that fabulous film everyone watches before coming to Paris.” He slaps his head. “No doubt you get that all the time.”


“I do.” My heartbeat whooshes in my ears. I won’t risk my cookery school’s reputation by flirting. I’ve already disgraced myself with my over-the-top reaction to his gorgeousness.


He inhales rosemary lamb while he gives my kitchen a good going over with those goldy-green eyes. “Uhmah. Something smells good.”


And something looks good. I’m lit up inside, my veins thrum. I haven’t felt like this since I met Alexandre at lycée.


“Everything okay?” His head tilts to the side while I check him out with one side of my brain while the other tells me to behave.


I drag my eyes from his face. “Oui, oui. Parfait.” I’m trembling like a leaf shaking in the Mistral in the South of France.


“So, what’s the verdict on my kitchen?”


He frowns like it was the last question he expected. Well, my man, it was the last question I expected to utter.


“Hmmm.” He raises a perfectly-groomed eyebrow, no stranger to a brow bar.


“Well, Charlie, you’re a BBC presenter, interior designer, and builder of bespoke kitchens. How does mine rate?”


“Right.” He scratches his beard. “I’m surprised to find such a modern kitchen here.” He drops his leather man bag on his luggage, kicks it to the side, steps forward for a closer look.


At me? Or the kitchen?


He rubs his hands together. “This is one beautiful kitchen.”


“Thanks.” Not as beautiful as you. I let go of the counter and surprisingly don’t drop to the floor. “I couldn’t afford an interior designer. How did I do?” That’s me, digging for compliments. Shameless.


“You did great.” He quirks his lips in a cute smile. “Your expansive workspaces are state-of-the-art. Those picture windows and balcony doors let in so much natural light it’s magical. Your furniture is sympathetic to the baroque window moldings. And I appreciate what you’ve done with color.”


“You like the color?” My voice squeaks. My maman and I pored over a thousand paint catalogues to recreate the warmth that sharing a perfect meal brings.


“I do. To use a food reference, those walls are raspberry macarons dipped in custard cream.”


Yum. This Englishman totally gets the vibe. “Exactly. What I aimed for.”


“You achieved it. Those rosy walls are a perfect foil to your blue and white Moroccan floor tiles, Italian marble workbench, and top-of-the-range Lacanche cooker. Brilliant.” He’s on a roll. “You’ve achieved that lived-in, much-loved feel rarely found in London kitchens. But I must say, those cooking smells beat all …” He kisses his fingers.


I’d like to hug him for his generous critique, but of course I don’t. He’s from London, I’m from Paris. Nine days of rubbing shoulders and he’ll be gone.


I smooth my chignon to keep my hands busy. “Thanks. A welcome drink, Charlie? Champagne?”


“Just the ticket. Do you mind if I nose around?” His phone chirps again. He glances at the screen, frowns, silences it.


“Not at all.” I lift a bottle of Champagne la Maison Garnier from the ice bucket and am tempted to plunge my face into the chill. While he opens cupboard doors, checks out Grand-mère’s antique china, watches the street theatre, I fill two crystal flutes. I breathe deeply to get control of myself, join him on the balcony, hand him a frothy glass, drown in his dreamy eyes, “Salut, Charlie.”


“Salut, Angélique. Hmmm. Del-ic-io-us.” He watches the bubbles fizz. “Like the view.” His voice is as smooth as his silk Hermès scarf slung oh-so-casually around his neck.


“I’m aware of how lucky I am with what I have.” And nearly lost when Maman died.


“Bloody hell! Uh, excuse my French. The Eiffel Tower.” He leans forward, eyes aglow. “How cool to have people come from all over the world to share this view while they learn to cook. Epic.”


“I agree.” I gulp my champagne faster than I should. My head spins. Fizz tickles my nostrils. Is my frozen heart thawing like the snow which fell in Paris this winter? No matter. My new mantra – ‘be always professional.’


“So,” Charlie says, “who else is coming?”


Merde. I’d be happy to stand here for the rest of the night and breathe him in. “Three women - from Ireland, Australia and Alaska.”




It’s a tight squeeze on my balcony and I deliberately push my hip against his. He brings back memories of happy times I’ve spent here with Alexandre.


But Alexandre is gone.



In my latest novel, out in 2023, drama, romance, and passion are layered, flavoured, tasted and left to simmer, not unlike the traditional French recipes scattered throughout the book.



Anyone a whiz at choosing book titles? I'm struggling with this one. Here is what I have so far ... can't move forward with the cover until I settle on one.

1. Le Petit Paris Cookery School 

2. The Taste of Love

3. A Feast of Food and Love

4. The Cookery School of Second Chances

5. The Recipe for Second Chances

5. Other?

 That's it for 2022. It's all over bar the shouting! It's been a great year for WEP with some beyond fabulous writing. Thanks to my wonderful team, and all who participated, either by posting entries, reading entries, and supporting Team WEP. And a big thank you to Nick Wilford for his judging expertise. 

Raspberry macarons with custard cream - yum! 
Can't wait to taste them again!