Wednesday, 1 September 2021

#IWSG Septenber 1 post - What makes a successful writer amongst other things?

 Hello all! 

Time to rock the writing world, or give it a bit of a shake, eh? Let's hear what you've got this month.


Alex's awesome co-hosts for the September 1 posting of the IWSG are Rebecca Douglass, T. Powell Coltrin @Journaling Woman, Natalie Aguirre, Karen Lynn, and C. Lee McKenzie! Pop by and thank them for giving their time!

  Be sure to visit the

How has your month been? Success with submissions, angst from agents,  peanuts from publishers ... or have you defined your writing month by your own terms? 


You've been in a little cabin at the beach with the water at your toes and your fingers on your laptop, haven't you? No interruptions. Isolated. Freedom to create. Lots of wine, coffee or tea at hand to celebrate finishing that novel. Ah, sorry, got carried away. That's my fantasy. You may be happier writing at the kitchen counter with your family raging around you.

September 1 question - How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

There's nothing uniform about writing or writers. We all write with whatever time/place/talent we have and can't control everything. And if I interviewed everyone of you who came by today, success would be something different. I follow a lot of FB posts where authors take a photo/video as they open a box of their published books. I find that scintillating. Their pride resonates with me. But I'm not there yet.  

I think all the questions this month are legit. Some writers post about their submissions for the month. That's cool. I'm not a submitter, preferring to tap away doing my own thing. Save myself the angst of rejection, LOL. 

But there's nothing wrong with making a bit of money from this writing gig and that's one of my goals. Whether you look at your writing as a profession, a career or a hobby, I totally believe in financial rewards, however small. But unless you have bucketloads of luck, even though you have it all sorted - the writing courses, craft books, beta readers, alpha readers, editors, cover artists, formatters ... phew ... wringing a few dollars out of our books is hard ...(someone I know with about 20 books on Amazon reckons they've made 45cents when he/she deducts expenses). Who'd work for that wage?

...which is why I'd like you to give me a few tips on your most successful marketing tool. I'd greatly appreciate it. Currently I'm building my mailing list through Bookfunnel which has been ultra successful, and now this month I'm trying out their sales promos. Will let you know if it's successful in gaining new readers who're willing to pay for one of my books rather than get them for free. All part of the process.

So, here are my questions to you. Choose one/all ...

* what has been your most successful marketing tool? 

* have you built a mailing list and if so, how?

* what is your favorite marketing book?

* what is your process in writing a book - ideas, premise, writing/self-editing, beta readers, editors, cover artists? 

* what authors do you currently admire - classic? modern? risk takers? genres?

~*~

Just letting you know  - I FINALLY have my first in my Renaissance Vampire Romance series up for pre-order and about to go live - on September 8. There are at least 5 books in the series, have written 3 in full (as I'm a slow writer).

HERE is the link to BETRAYED.


Let me take you on a trip to Florence, that insanely beautiful jewel in the center of Italy. A city of art and architecture thanks to the ruling family of hundreds of years, the de' Medici, who feature in Book One. #historicalfiction, #paranormalromance,#vampires ...



And the fun doesn't stop here. WEP's October challenge is near. Our Year of Art continues with Munch's The Scream. How could you fail to be inspired by this work of art made fetchingly into a badge by Olga Godim



Join us HERE. We LOVE new writers! It's a chance to get feedback on a WIP or a story before submission. There's a critique prize for the winning entry. Our prize for August is a first chapter critique or query/synopsis critique from our very own Jemi Fraser, our most recent recruit to the WEP team.

Happy writing!
Denise



Wednesday, 18 August 2021

#WEPAUGUSTCHALLENGE - FREEDOM OF SPEECH - MY #FLASHFICTION, The Silent Apocalypse

 Hello everyone! Thanks for coming by to read more WEP entries for #YearoftheArt!

I'll start with the awesome news that we've added Jemi Fraser to the WEP team. Jemi has been such an enthusiastic member since she discovered us. Her magic pen has placed in many challenges. I'm sure her enthusiasm will translate to a positive working relationship with the WEP team and the many enthusiastic writers who turn up every two months and share golden gems.

The WEP August challenge, FREEDOM OF SPEECH. 

Some people have let me know they are afraid of this subject. Maybe it is a little much following FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Nevertheless, I hope you will craft an entry which allows you to say what you want without being too worried about offending anyone. 

My story is one I posted a year ago, but the second half I've re-written to reflect this challenge. I tried to come up with something different, but my mind kept flashing to this story which was inspired by the series, 'Chernobyl'. Of course there are many parallels with the pandemic. During every disaster, there is a tug-of-war between the powerful and the powerless. At the moment, the innocents in Afghanistan are front of mind.

Without further ado here is my offering for FREEDOM OF SPEECH.


The Silent Apocalypse



The silent apocalypse began on June 17, 2050, at 3.24 in the morning. As the sun rose on Ground Zero on Day One, the disaster revealed itself.

 The town. A tourist mecca. Obliterated. Reduced to a blackened postcard.

A smoking sarcophagus 

No sign of life except for a red fox loping across the desolate landscape. Silence reigned except for ghostly voices shouted from empty streets, auditory mirages heard only by God Himself.

 Abandoned vehicles piled beside roads like discarded toys, in carparks, underneath apartment buildings. The aircraft hangar was empty of helicopters and small planes used in the hasty evacuation that began at midnight when the night workers raised the alarm.

 The story was inside the apartment buildings. Clothes draped over heaters. Unmade beds. Abandoned books on nightstands. Each room, an empty stage set at the end of a play. Waiting for the next act. The raised curtain.

 But the curtain would never rise again.

 Radioactivity.

 It had changed the color of the trees. Those who walked around the perimeter of the exclusion zone on Day Two dubbed it the Crimson Forest because of the foliage and the blood-red tape which looped from tree to tree, its nuclear symbol flapping in the gentle breeze. ‘Keep out! Danger!’

 Day Three. Dawn. Site inspection. Scientists in hazmat suits. Geiger counters emitting rhythmical electrical sounds like a coded message from another dimension.

 Radiation leaked out of the exclusion zone with every gust of wind, a silent killer.

 The people did not need to know.

 Best to keep the secret.

 Assured via their digital devices that it was business as usual, the people of Pérougé continued their life outside the exclusion zone, oblivious to Death already seeping through their bones, their cells, their blood. They enjoyed the amenities their town offered – restaurants, cinemas, theatres, sports centres, amusement parks. They were proud of their shiny new hospitals, little knowing they’d soon be overflowing with those presenting with suppurating sores, weakness, unexplained bleeding.

 The authorities downplayed the accident. Of course. That was the way things were done in 2050. Had always been done, really. In this world you were either the powerful or the powerless. People must be kept in blissful ignorance. Imagine if they knew the Geiger counter readings. The scientists were confused enough. Maybe that latest batch of counters was faulty.

 Nuclear reactors were being built in every powerful nation. If word spread of this disaster, a whole industry would be brought to its knees. The government would not allow that to happen. Even now “volunteers” were searching inside the reactor to ascertain the cause of the explosion. “Volunteers” were expendable.

 It was the people’s fault. They had demanded nuclear power when renewables failed them. No one wanted to shiver through darkness when the sun refused to shine or the wind refused to blow. Fossil fuels were yesterday's news.

 Under strict orders from the government to silence the chattering masses, Mayor Blaise called a Town Hall meeting. He needed to put out the fires begun by people showing symptoms of nuclear radiation.

 The mayor puffed out his chest and addressed the townspeople. ‘People of Pérougé, this is not another Chernobyl. Our knowledge of nuclear plants has grown exponentially since the 1980s.’

 A woman hugging a tiny baby to her chest stood, coughing, interrupting his prepared speech. Her voice wavered when she asked, ‘My name is Madame Buci. How bad is it, Monsieur Mayor?’ Her baby began to cry. The mother began to cry. Coupled with her coughing, it was a terrible sound.

 ‘Only one reactor has been compromised, Madame Buci. Stay outside the exclusion zone and no harm will come to you or your little one.’ The mayor wiped his forehead on a large handkerchief kept expressly for the purpose of wiping away his sins.

 A grey-haired man with a patchy red face pushed himself from his chair and stood unsteadily, using two walking sticks for balance. ‘What about Chernobyl? I heard—’

 ‘Chernobyl! Chernobyl!’ The crowd surged to their feet like an angry sea, fists pumped the air, faces suffused with anger. ‘How long did the authorities hush that up?’ A young man with a deathly white face screamed. ‘Don’t you think we study history! Thousands were infected, died, sacrificed on the altar of political malfeasance.’

 The mayor held his hands in the air until the crackle died down. ‘Don’t put credence in urban myths – Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima... Nuclear disasters of a past time. Pérougé is safe as is every town, city and country outside the exclusion zone. Your new apartments are safe. Stay inside. Shut your windows until the radioactivity at Ground Zero recedes. We assure you, the radioactivity is contained.’

 ‘Bullshit!’ A man with fiery red hair called from the back of the hall, fighting off two burly security guards who tried to drag him outside. Even from a distance, anyone could see the red welts on his face and arms.

 Mayor Blaise ripped his prepared speech in half. ‘Sir, sit down. Listen. Did you see a nuclear cloud? No! Proof that modern technology is working to keep you safe.’

 The red-headed man refused to sit. He tugged and pulled and resisted all efforts to shut him down. ‘My name is Benoit Gabriel. I go on record as a proponent of free speech.' His gaze took in the crowd. 'This town will have its say. Every citizen deserves to be heard.’

 The crowd chanted: ‘Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!’

 ‘Do you hear that, Mister Mayor?’ Benoit asked. ‘We demand our right to be heard.’

 Mayor Blaise puffed out his chest. ‘There are occasions when freedom of speech is dangerous. This is such a time. I am the mayor. My committee is behind me! Sit, Sir. You have had your say!’

 Benoit pumped his fist into the air. ‘Hear me out. We, the people, do not trust you and your fancy committee in your fancy suits feeding us a barrel load of lies. You’re in and out, a whistle stop tour.  What do you care? I have my own Geiger counter. It’s old, but reliable. It's been in my family since Chernobyl. The readings have surged to astronomical levels. We’re guinea pigs. Safe, be damned.’

 Truer words were never spoken.

 Wolves howled.

 Darkness besieged the gates of the town as the silent killer spread its poison.

Soon the landscape would be a grim black postcard.

                                                   

                                            ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

WORDS: 1045

FCA


Thank you for reading my entry. If you like the idea of writing to a picture prompt, please join us for our October challenge where some let horror rip, while others manage to write without delving into their dark side. So what is your take on Edvard Munch's The Scream? We love to meet new writers! Our challenges are open to all!





Wednesday, 4 August 2021

#IWSG August - Question: My favorite #writingcraft book?

 Hi everyone!

This month at the #IWSG, we're discussing #writingcraftbooks.


Here is the complete August 4 question - What is your favorite writing craft book? Think of a book that every time you read it you learn something or you are inspired to write or try the new technique. And why?


The awesome co-hosts for the August 4 posting of the IWSG are PK Hrezo, Cathrina Constantine, PJ Colando, Kim Lajevardi, and Sandra Cox!

My contention is that writing books that are inspirational are the ones that speak to where you are in your writing journey at the time. Which is why a recommendation often falls flat as you're just not ready for that advice or you've moved well past it. Like I never understood From First Draft to Finished Novel when I bought it years ago. Perhaps now I will. 

Sometimes craft books just wait too long to get to the point. But also reading craft books causes a brain freeze for me. I'm just glad one of my critique partners missed her calling as a writing coach. Boy does she know her way around plot and structure and Story Genius (more later).

The first writing book I found useful was David Maas's Writing the Breakout Novel and its accompanying exercises. Well, we're all going to write that breakout novel, aren't we? Has eluded me so far gotta say! The most useful thing about Maas's book was his writing exercises. He'd give you a starting point/topic, and away you'd go. I think this is probably where I developed my love of #flashfiction. I bought his Writing 21st Century Fiction but don't remember much about it except that he'd gathered all these experts who all had different ideas. 

Nevertheless, they look nice on the shelves, don't they? If only I could spare more room!


I've read/partially read the books I just know will turn up this month. No authors. They'll be a cinch to find on Google:

Save the Cat

Take off your pants

On Writing

James Scott Bell 

Goal, Motivation, Conflict etc etc.

But these 14 or so years since I decided to teach myself to write properly, my go-to books are:

Manuscript Makeover

Secrets of a Best-Selling Writer...and...

Story Genius (ever since a big publisher advised me to know everything about my characters from the time the Tooth Fairy first visited. Ha, I jest, but just about. So now I 'story genius' my characters so they are more intriguing in their motivations. I hope so, anyway.

~*~

Speaking of #flashfiction, WEP's August challenge is up on the site -


Please join us!

And how do you like my little group of lovelies? I've been pretty busy putting all those writing craft books to good use!

    CHECK OUT MY BOOKS  ON AMAZON


And I just created my first FB ad on Book Brush! Yeah, it needs work, but here we go...


CLICK ON IMAGE TO PRE-ORDER

SO THAT WAS TOO EASY! HOW ABOUT ANOTHER?




Wednesday, 7 July 2021

#IWSG post - Yolanda Renee on writing a #ries - and finishing it!

Welcome to IWSG for July! 


Alex's  awesome co-hosts for the July 7 posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia, Victoria Marie Lees, and Louise – Fundy Blue!



Today I've handed over my blog to Yolanda Renee. I'm not sure what she's got to feel insecure about, and she certainly would never let anything make her quit writing,  but let's find out. Because I write series myself, I'm always interested in how other authors go about writing them. 

How My Murder Mystery Series Came to Be!

Denise asked me to write a guest post on "How to Write a Series - what worked for you, kind of thing." And she said, "I'm especially interested in how it feels to have written your last book in the series."

I had several emotions at once. Immediate excitement, then relief, and finally a sense of accomplishment. However, I was also hit by a touch of anxiety. Had I released it too soon?

But I shook that off because what I really wanted to do was celebrate. Pop the cork, laugh, shout, dance, and tell the world. It felt much the same way after I published the first book, but like then, I was alone. The highs and lows of the writer's life are seldom shared.

That's why holding a launch party is so important. Even though I won't have one for this book. I did for the first, and it was a blast! But immediate gratification, that pat on the back, or 'you go girl' response, just isn't there for most writers. So, my friends, get it when you can! Like this guest post, thanks, Denise. It means the world to be able to share my experience and the results!

Keeping with the phrase 'what worked for me' - the real secret to my series, or the method to my madness, is this, pure happenstance...

Once the first novel was written, I submitted it to publishers. One even called. She said she liked the premise, and had I considered writing a trilogy? Of course, I said yes, although it was a lie. But not for long, because she'd given me a great idea. Why not a trilogy. So, before the first book, Murder, Madness & Love, was published, I'd written the rough draft of books two and three, Memories of Murder and Obsession & Murder. While it took me years to write book one, It only took me a few months to write the next two.


Once the trilogy reached publication. I was looking for ways to draw attention to it. So, writing a prequel came to mind, and since I'd mentioned the first case, Detective Quaid solved, The Snowman, in Murder, Madness & Love, the first book. It just made sense to elaborate on that. But instead of a short story, it became a novella. Now, it will become the draw for the series when I offer it free just for signing up for my newsletter. (Now under construction)

But the most shocking thing about The Snowman was the villain, Stowy Jenkins. He had a voice that wouldn't let go. I always assumed it was because he went to prison. In the other books, the villains all died at the end of the book. But Stowy lived, and because of that, he wouldn't let go. So, I had to write his whole story. (You know how it is, some characters just won't shut up.)

Therefore, book 5, Murder, Just Because came into being. Stowy escapes prison to wreak more havoc on Anchorage. It's a brutal book. Some would claim too brutal, so I couldn't let the series end there.

And now I have the perfect final book. A Passion for Murder highlights Detective Quaid's passion for his job and the murderer's provocation for his crimes. A Passion for Murder also wraps up beautifully what I consider to be an epic love story.

Now I'm off and running on the next series, thus far titled A Murder Beach Read, and the first in the series called Her Mona Lisa Smile!

 Thanks, Denise, for always being an encouragement and an inspiration during my entire writing journey.

 

AMAZON             FACEBOOK        BLOG          TWITTER


Bio:




Looking for a new adventure, Renee recently moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. A storyteller from a very early age, an avid reader, and with an education and background in business and accounting, becoming a writer only made sense. And writing mysteries pure logic.
 

A Passion for Murder: Another heinous crime occurs in Alaska, and with no time to heal from the last brutal case of The Snowman, and Stowy Jenkins, Detective Quaid returns to his job. PTSD, a former lover, and an odious villain test his mettle and his sanity.



Excerpt:

A cold pre-autumn rain fell in straight lines from the swollen gray clouds sitting over the valley. The residents of Anchorage thanked their personal deity an early snowstorm hadn't fallen. While in one lone cabin, a fire burned bright. Warmth and coziness reflected off the colorful furnishings. The man working diligently at his desk hummed his favorite rhyme.

 

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe

Grab a slut by the Toe

Blonde-Blue Brown, or Green,

Who's ready to meet Killer Clean?

 

He chuckled as he turned the pages of a scrapbook.

 

Choosing from among his collection of beauties was as much fun as planning just how they would die. Although nothing could really compete with seeing them take their last breath. Except, of course, that final thrust of the knife. Still, today was a special day. Making his choice most important. He’d have to choose someone as close to the original as possible. Which meant it would be the beauty with the green eyes. Her golden hair, career choice, and availability hit all tens on his list of go points.

A perfect thirty meant she had to die today!

Here's my review on Goodreads.

Yolanda Renee is a winner when it comes to writing murder! I've loved her hero, Detective Quaid, as he solved his way through many murders during Renee's six books. Even with PTSD in book six, he still managed to solve the horrific crimes. Don't read this at night! Be warned!

 





Wednesday, 16 June 2021

#WEPff #June challenge - #Year of the Art - my story - Wave After Wave in Search of Freedom

Here we are. Posting for the June WEP challenge for the Year of the Art. This month we honor  Hokusai. Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), a  Japanese artist from the Edo period. His painting, Great Wave, is arguably his most famous work. My skin doctor has a huge print in his waiting room for me to meditate on each time I go.

There are so many possible reactions to the Great Wave, but I could never get waves of refugees out of my head. I hope you like my story which is a retelling of one previously posted for an earlier challenge.




Wave After Wave in Search of Freedom

 

Abioye looked down. African red dirt dyed his swollen, ripped feet as he put distance between himself and his desecrated village. Burned and looted, everyone he loved, dead.

 His eyes roved the roadside. He found a rolled-up old mattress, a cringing dog, a goatskin of water. For weeks, he'd been getting his swag together in the village - tins the warlords missed when they swooped into his village, dozens of them crammed in the back of dusty Jeeps painted to blend with the desert. Raiding and raping, they then drove off into the hills, automatic rifles over their shoulders. They stole the UN dried milk tins from the mothers’ tents, taking from the babies' mouths. They stole the rice, showing not a whit of conscience for the starving villagers.

 Then they took more than supplies.

 One day they returned, took the lives of everyone - all the old men, all the women, all the children. The only survivors were young men like him, around the age of sixteen, who roamed the sparse land where the grasses waved in the breeze, giving up edible herbs to those who knew the secrets of the landscape. After a day spent scavenging, he'd returned to unimaginable horror. Heart in mouth, he’d grabbed his swag from where he’d buried it under the one remaining tree … and ran. If the warlords found him, he'd be forced into the life of a boy soldier like so many others who'd disappeared.

 Abioye felt the sob in his throat. How he missed his friends, recently taken to be trained to intimidate, to maim, to murder. 

 He was what they called a refugee. Wave after wave of humans escaping privation, destitution, murderous gangs, a future without hope. Their destination? The boats. The sea. Freedom.

 Boats left from Tangier in Morocco. He'd work in Tangier until he saved the fare. He'd been given the name of a man who hired young men to escort tourists through the medinas*. He knew boats got caught in great waves of murderous seas. Many refugees died. But he’d gladly take the risk. He’d cross the water. To a free land. A land with food. A land with jobs. If all else failed, he would swim across the great waves. It’d been done. He would do whatever it took to reach the new land. Utopia.

 Excitement pulsed through him. It kept his mind off his painful feet and the sun beating down mercilessly on his rag-covered head. He sipped from his meagre water supply. He must make it last. He might walk for months and find no village, no water, no food. 

 The dog cried. He poured a little water into his cupped palm. The dog lapped, not wasting a drop. It licked Abioye's leg. He reached down and patted the mutt’s head.

 He adjusted his makeshift belt made of vines. He'd lost so much weight in the past few days, the trousers slipped over his hips. Now they flapped around his ankles. He laughed at the ridiculous situation, then stopped, afraid he was hysterical from horror or sunstroke. But it didn't matter if he laughed, cried or screamed. There was no one to hear him. He was crossing the Sahara Desert. Alone.

 Rocks tore his feet. He stumbled. Landed on his knees. Sobbed. He couldn’t help it even though he was wasting moisture. The sun. The rough road. The hunger. The thirst. The vision of his parents' burned bodies. His young sisters. His beloved -- How could he go on?

 The dog licked his face. Abioye dragged himself to his feet. He must go on. In memory of his father, his mother, his two sweet sisters, his Candis who’d been promised to him when they were children.

 His head whirled like when his father used to swing him around when he was a little boy. Falling, falling, falling, but never hitting the ground. 

 How long till he reached freedom? Surely, he must soon pass by the green plants that leaked water. Then he and the dog could drink their fill. As he dreamed, moisture formed on the tip of his tongue.

 I'm so tired. I need to sleep. Just for a little while. 

 No. He mustn't stop. To stop was death. Then there'd be no one to remember his family. No one to remember his Candis. He saw her in his mind – her wide smile, her red lips, her teeth pearly white, dazzling him, her short black hair cropped close to her scalp, her graceful long limbs, her colorful, modest dresses that brushed the red sand when she walked.

 I will never forget you, my little love.

 He took another step. For Candis.

 While ever God gave him life, he would press on. To a new life. Away from his cursed land. The land God forgot. Maybe God had turned his back on Africa but still lived in that new land where the boat would take him. Maybe God would welcome him to its shores and surround him with love and plenty. He smiled, imagining the vision.

 He'd seen mirages in the desert many times. A mirage was coming toward him. A big green tank shimmering through the waves.

 Thank you God!

 The mirage came closer. No! A Jeep. Soldiers in the back. Soldiers in the front. Guns pointed. At him.

 He spun around. Away. Away from the killers. Away from bondage. Away from death.

 He heard the dog yelp. Abioye’s throat closed over. Turning, he saw its head a bloody mess and its eyes stared sightless into the searing sky. 

 'Stop or you're next!' One of the soldiers waved his gun, then shot a machine gun round into the air. Takka! Takka! Takka! 

 ‘Don't take another step, boy. Or it’ll be your last.'

 * Medina - the old walled part of a North African town.

WORD COUNT: 958

FCA

PLEASE VISIT OTHER PARTICIPANTS IN THE JUNE CHALLENGE. CLICK ON NAMES IN MY SIDEBAR OR GO TO THE WRITE...EDIT...PUBLISH WEBSITE HERE.

IF YOU LIKE THE IDEA OF WRITING FOR WEP, OUR NEXT CHALLENGE IS FREEDOM OF SPEECH


Thanks for coming by and reading.