ON PARIS

"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris ... then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." Ernest Hemingway

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

#IWSG JUNE 2020. The Beginner's Guide to Loneliness - Laura Bambrey on changes in the #publishing world.

This month I'm continuing my guest blogs for blogger friends who've recently published. Today I welcome Laura Bambrey. I've known Laura nearly as long as I've been blogging and was delighted when I read her Facebook post when she was in the throes of excitement at having her manuscript picked up by Simon and Schuster! Go Laura! So I got onto her right away and invited her here for IWSG day.

Click HERE to access more IWSG posts

Alex's awesome co-hosts for the July 1 posting of the IWSG are Jenni Enzor, Beth Camp, Liesbet @ Roaming About, Tyrean Martinson, and Sandra Cox!
  Be sure to visit the
Insecure Writer’s Support Group Website!!!

July 1 question - There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade?



Hi Denise and thank you for having me on your fabulous blog. It’s really exciting to be taking part in the ISWG as a debut author having been a part of the group as a blogger so many years ago - lapping up everyone’s advice and dreaming of the day!

This month’s question is a fascinating one, and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it before sitting down to write. I’ve realised that if it wasn’t for all the changes in the publishing industry over the last decade, I wouldn’t have a book coming out at the end of the month! I don’t have an agent, and yet I’ve been signed by Simon and Schuster. How? Because they hold one-day open submissions slots for their #DigitalOriginals line for various genres. Having spotted this open-call on Twitter, I submitted directly to them and was lucky enough that my manuscript caught their eye.

Of course, the explosion of social media means that the distance between reader and author is now almost invisible - just a screen separating them. From the moment The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness was announced, I’ve been chatting about it with readers, reviewers and authors from around the world. An author’s work is no longer over when they sign off their final draft and hand it over to the publisher - and that’s something I find incredibly exciting. Whether you’re traditionally published, self-published or a hybrid of the two, the opportunity to be in conversation with the book community and potential readers is right there - a couple of clicks away.

If you can get online, then you have the ability to build up a community of readers around you. But don’t worry if you’re not there yet - I’ve seen many agents and publishers openly state that it’s not a deal-breaker if you don’t have a social media presence - if they love the book, they love the book. The flip side of this is that if they love the book and you have built up your author platform as well, then - bonus!! And there’s no doubt in my mind that all these bookish conversations help books reach new readers.

So what changes would I like to see in the industry in the next 10 years? I would love for e-books to hold equal importance and respect within the industry as physical books. So many amazing publishers, including my own, pour the full weight of their creativity, talent and drive into their digital publishing arms. Awesome indie authors are riding high in the charts and have vast followings of loyal readers. It’s now time for these e-books to be recognised and included on the bestseller lists, featured in the industry and mainstream media and become eligible for literary prizes. 

Here in the UK,  changes are already afoot. 2019 saw kindle chart-topping author Nicola May championing e-books, and following a discussion between her and Philip Jones of The Bookseller - the magazine published its very first e-book chart. There’s still a long way to go - but I look forward to more positive changes within the industry over the next decade. 

A book is a book, and it shouldn’t matter how it reaches its audience.

The Beginner's Guide to Loneliness is out on 28th July and available to pre-order now!

The Blurb

The perfect feel-good read from an exciting new voice in women’s fiction, for fans of Heidi Swain, Cathy Bramley and Jenny Colgan.

Tori Williamson is alone. After a tragic event left her isolated from her loved ones, she’s been struggling to find her way back to, well – herself. That’s why she set up her blog, The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness, as a way of – anonymously – connecting with the outside world and reaching others who just need a little help sometimes.

When she’s offered a free spot on a wellbeing retreat in exchange for a review on her blog, Tori is anxious about opening herself up to new surroundings. But after her three closest friends – who she talks to online but has never actually met – convince her it’ll do her some good, she reluctantly agrees and heads off for three weeks in the wild (well, a farm in Wales).

From the moment she arrives, Tori is sceptical and quickly finds herself drawn to fellow sceptic Than, the retreat’s dark and mysterious latecomer. But as the beauty of The Farm slowly comes to light she realizes that opening herself up might not be the worst thing. And sharing a yurt with fellow retreater Bay definitely isn’t.  Will the retreat be able to fix Tori? Or will she finally learn that being lonely doesn’t mean she’s broken . . .

Welcome to The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness! Where you can learn to move mountains by picking up the smallest of stones…


Author Bio

Laura Bambrey was born in Dorset but raised in Wales. She’s worked as a trapeze choreographer, sculpture conservator and stilt walker, amongst others, and spent most of her time collecting stories from the people she met along the way.

She has spent many years as a book blogger and reviewer of women’s fiction and now lives in Devon with her very own romantic hero and a ridiculously fluffy rabbit named Mop. The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness is her début novel.

You can follow her on:
TwitterFacebookInstagram or on her Blog

Thanks Laura! It was so exciting to host you today. I've pre-ordered and can't
wait to read. Thank you for sharing your
insights into publishing. I wish you every success!

If you'd like to show the love to Laura, please TWEET!

Image result for twitter icon

The Beginner's Guide to Loneliness The perfect feel-good read https://dencovey.blogspot.com/2020/07/iwsg-june-2020-beginners-guide-to.html @LauraBambrey @DeniseCCovey #debutauthor, #publishing, #ebook,
#DigitalOriginals, #SimonandSchuster
#IWSG


And of course I can't leave without inviting you all to participate in WEP's AUGUST challenge -



JUNE'S WEP was its usual success with fascinating dark tales for the URBAN NIGHTMARE we find ourselves in! Writing during this time has proved cathartic for so many.




Wednesday, 17 June 2020

#WEPff JUNE challenge. My #flashfiction - #GROUNDZERO. Dark take on URBAN NIGHTMARE


Hey all! It's time for the June challenge at WEP. URBAN NIGHTMARE is the prompt. We've been asked to go as deep and dark as we want. I took this opportunity to write from a third-person omniscient point of view, not one I usually choose, but it worked for my flash fiction.

Of course I'm influenced by the COVID-19 outbreak and the shenanigans of those in 'control' of populations who have often been sadly let down by expediency. I liken the current outbreak to outbreaks in the past, where the people suffer and those in control seem to get off lightly.

Here is my story ... 

GROUND ZERO


The silent apocalypse began on June 17, 2050, at 3.24 in the morning.

As the sun rose on Ground Zero, the extent of the disaster revealed itself.

Death and deformity would be its legacy for thousands of years.

The town. Once a tourist mecca. Now reduced to a postcard no one would send their loved ones.

Obliterated. The earth. A smoking volcano. Alive. Lethal. A smoking sarcophagus.

Not a light brightened the darkness. No sign of life except for a red fox taking advantage of the absence of man as it loped across the desolate landscape. Silence reigned except for the chirping of birds echoing down once luxuriant avenues. Ghostly voices shouted from empty streets, auditory mirages heard only by God Himself.

Abandoned vehicles piled beside roads, in the carparks, underneath apartment buildings. The aircraft hangar contained helicopters and small planes left behind after the hasty evacuation that began at midnight when the night workers raised the alarm.

The story was told inside the apartment buildings. Abandoned meals. Unfinished board games. Clothes over heaters. Unmade beds. Photo albums. Shelves of books. 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.

The radioactivity.

It had changed the color of the trees. People who lived hundreds of kilometres away in the closest town to the disaster 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!’

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

But the people didn’t need to know.

Radiation crept further toward them with every gust of wind.

Best to keep the secret.

For now.

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. Keep the people in blissful ignorance. Imagine if they heard of the Geiger counter readings. The scientists themselves were confused enough. Maybe that latest batch of counters was faulty.

There were nuclear reactors popping up all over the world. If word spread of this disaster, a whole industry would be brought to its knees. The government wouldn’t allow that to happen. Even now “volunteers” were searching inside the reactor to ascertain the cause of the explosion.

The health of the population was way down on their list of concerns. The people 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. It was the people’s fault. They’d unknowingly set off an unstoppable chain of destruction.

Under strict orders to silence the chattering masses, Mayor Blaise called a Town Hall meeting to allay the people’s escalating fears.

The mayor puffed out his chest and addressed the townspeople gathered in the spacious hall. ‘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, interrupting his prepared speech. Her voice wavered when she asked, ‘How bad is it?’ Her baby began to cry. The mother began to cry.

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

A grey-haired man 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? Thousands of people were infected, died. They were 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. They were indeed nightmares. But Pérougé is safe as is every town, city and country outside the exclusion zone. Your 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.

Mayor Blaise lost it. He ripped his prepared speech in half and threw it onto the floor. ‘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 up. ‘Do you think I’d 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. You don't live here! I have my own Geiger counter. It’s old, but reliable. It's been in my family since Chernobyl. Depending on the wind, it surges to well above an acceptably safe level. You’re using us as guinea pigs. Safe, be damned.’

Truer words were never spoken.

Wolves howled.

Darkness besieged the gates of the town.

Soon it would be a grim black and white postcard.

With no one alive to post it.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

WORD COUNT: 994
FCA

To read more URBAN NIGHTMARE stories, go to the link in my side bar, or click HERE.


Thanks for reading.







Wednesday, 3 June 2020

#IWSG post - Lynda Young gives us the goss on WRITING SERIES and PROMOTION based on her super-successful 'Wielder's...' series.


Hi all! Welcome to June's IWSG! Here we support and encourage each other. Share our experiences. This month I've asked 'real-life' blogger buddy, Lynda Young, to spell out some of her secrets to writing series. This fits in well with the June question: What are one or two of your secrets, something readers would never know from your work. 

I hope you're encouraged by her words, especially if you write series. I asked her for this post as it's something I want to learn more about before I unleash my series onto the unsuspecting public.

Alex's awesome co-hosts for the June 3 posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia, J.Q. Rose, and Natalie Aguirre! Be sure to visit!

Take it away, Lynda!

Guest: Elle Cardy on Writing a Series

Thanks for having me, Denise.
Denise asked me to share what I’ve learned about writing, publishing and promoting, particularly a series. So here goes!



Writing the series:
When I wrote book 1, Wielder’s Prize, I didn’t plan a series. I wrote a standalone with the potential for a series. This was when I wanted to get an agent and publish traditionally. I didn’t think it was worth the time to write a full series if I couldn’t sell the first book to an agent.

When I took control of my writing career, I realized indie publishing suited me better. I liked having the power to choose my own titles, to design and create my own covers, to be responsible for every aspect of the book, with my own timing.

Why a series?
I needed a full series to get the most out of indie publishing. If a reader loved book 1 then I wanted them to buy the next one and the next. And I didn’t want them to wait too long either. That meant writing Wielder’s Curse and Wielder’s Fire before hitting ‘publish’ on book one. But, of course, I didn’t wait until they were completely finished. I have a terrible habit of misjudging the time it takes to edit and market. And then there was that wretched learning curve that needed straightening.

Pro Tip:
Amazon loves new books. For ninety days, Amazon will help you promote your new book. Once you slip out of that window, unless you’ve got a strong following or a large backlist, that book is set aside for the next shiny new book. This is another good reason to write a series. Each new book in the series promotes all other books in the series.

Because of the pandemic distractions, I let my final book slip outside my 90 day period between books. Wow, did I notice a difference in sales for books 1 and 2. Now that book 3 is out, sales have picked up again for the whole series. Phew!

So, important advice before you publish for the first time: WAIT!
When just starting out, make sure all your ducks are in that proverbial row before you send them out, quacking into the world. When everything is new, give yourself time to breathe, because it can quickly get overwhelming. Remember to enjoy yourself. Remember to celebrate. And remember that ninety day window.




How to create a series:
There are so many schools of thought on how best to write a book and create a series. First person, third? Three acts or Four? How long? How many books? Plot it or just write by the seat of your pants?

To answer these questions, research your chosen genre and listen to your story.

Fantasies are often serials, also known as dynamic series. Think Harry Potter, Game of Thrones. Lots of character development. Each book with a distinct story or theme of its own but with a larger storyline running across the series. This is my Wielder’s Storm trilogy.

Crimes tend to be episodic series, also known as static. Think Sherlock Holmes. Same main characters, different adventures. Not a lot of character development.

And then you have anthology series where the books are bound by an element other than a set of the same characters eg. a world, a location, a theme. Many romances are like this.

Did I plan the rest of the series?
Nope. I love stories with twists, and I get the best twists when I don’t plan. I had a vague inkling how book 2 would end and an even vaguer inkling how book 3 would end. After an ah-ha moment, I finished the first draft of 3 before I finished the first draft of 2. I don’t recommend that, but book 3 insisted.

Helpful tip for writing a series:
Write a document with your character names, character descriptions, place names and other little details you may need to reference throughout the series. That way you keep everything consistent.

What’s more important: The writing or the story?
The story. Every time.

If you have interesting characters in an engaging story with a good pace, then you probably have a winner. It’s that simple.

Yes, you need to learn the craft of writing. You need to read widely within your genre and outside it too. You need to understand your market. And then you need to let your baby go so others can enjoy it too.

What would I do differently?
·       I would’ve gone independent sooner. It’s truly awesome and empowering.
·       I probably would’ve waited before releasing my series. Just for the sanity and breathing space to concentrate more on the marketing. But then again, there is no faster way to learn than to get on with it.
·       I would’ve built up my newsletter earlier.
·       After getting my first fan letter, I would’ve made Wielder’s Storm a longer series. I still can, actually. Hmmm…. ;)

Biggest advice:
·       Know your market.
·       Finish your story.
·       Get it professionally edited.
·       Don’t skimp on the cover. And make sure it fits your genre and your series.
·       Get your book description right. It’s so very important. And it’s different to a synopsis.
·       Reviews are super important and not so easy to get. You’ll need to send out more advanced copies than you’d think.
·       Don’t keep tweaking multiple details of your published book at the same time. If you change anything, make it only one thing, then wait for the data to come in.
·       Remember this is a long game. Don’t expect overnight success.
·       Keep reading and keep writing.

What do you love about reading a series? If you’ve written a series, what other tips would you add?



Wielder’s Fire is the thrilling conclusion to the sweeping Wielder’s Storm trilogy.
Marooned on an island, stripped of her magic, Jasmine must find a way to mend her heart and defeat the oncoming storm.

Her secrets have been laid bare. The one who was supposed to love her, stripped her of her magic. Now she’s shipwrecked on a forsaken island with nothing but her anger and determination to keep her warm at night. Alone and defenseless against a powerful enemy, she must find a way to survive.
She will get her magic back.
She will escape the island.
She will face the enemy and defeat it once and for all.
But how can she when her heart is blistered to a crisp? One fierce step at a time.
For fans of Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo, who love exciting tales with dark secrets and unexpected twists.

Lose yourself in this epic fantasy adventure set on the high seas by clicking here: Wielder’s Fire. Or start with Wielder’s Prize, then Wielder’s Curse. They are also free to read via Kindle Unlimited.
Where to find Elle Cardy:



IF YOU LOVE IT, PLEASE TWEET IT!


Join @LyndaRYoung @ElleCardy #WRITING SERIES #SERIES #BOOKPROMOTION #PROMOTION https://dencovey.blogspot.com/2020/06/iwsg-post-lynda-young-gives-us-goss-on.html #fantasy #GuestPost #amwriting @DeniseCCovey



Today we post our WEP June 1 - put-your-thinking-caps on post for the challenge, URBAN NIGHTMARE. Go HERE to get ideas on how to approach this prompt. Or just go with your gut.


Thanks for coming by today. I hope you enjoyed Lynda's guest post. 
I hope you'll consider writing for WEP - either again, or for the first time.





Wednesday, 6 May 2020

#IWSG post for May 2020 - Writing rituals and #Sacrifice during #Covid-19..

Hello! Welcome to the May #IWSG!

The topic today is 'rituals'. I don't have writing rituals to get me into the zone. I'm always in the zone. I wish I had a cool ritual like Toni Morrison who tied a bandana tightly around her head to keep her creativity within, or something as pedantic as Ernest Hemingway - "I write every morning", but I don't. If I want to work on a plot point, I go for a walk as Stephen King recommends in 'On Writing', or even better, I discuss it with my critters. 


Alex's awesome co-hosts for the May 6 posting of the IWSG are Feather Stone, Beverly Stowe McClure, Mary Aalgaard, Kim Lajevardi, and Chemist Ken!
  Be sure to visit the
Insecure Writer’s Support Group Website!!!


Today something demands my attention more than writing rituals; the ritualistic sacrifice of the elderly. I'm sure this makes many people, writers or not, insecure. I'm deviating from my normal type of post just this once as some matters loom large in my mind and maybe I'll strike either a discordant or harmonious chord within you.

During the Covid-19 outbreak, have you noticed a shift in values, attitudes and beliefs? Or has there been an insidious change creeping into society we haven't been taking notice of? When did we take the opinion that one life differs in value to another? 

'As a white candle in a holy place, so is the beauty of an aged face,' according to poet, Joseph Campbell. 
And the Bible has something to say on the topic, also - 'Discard me not in my old age, as my strength fails, do not abandon me.' Psalm 71.

The books we write often reflect the society we inhabit. In some countries, thankfully not Australia or New Zealand, I've watched with horror a shift toward sacrificing over 60s for the good of the economy. (That's depriving many people of between 20 - 40 years of life.) Most elderly, not all - I've seen some old people speaking out and saying they're happy with this new normal - would feel rather like they're being tossed onto the scrap heap. When did 60 become old?

71 Best Old People Hands images | Hands, Old hands, People

The movie Titanic comes to mind. 

Whether you've seen the movie or not, you no doubt know the story.

In all film versions of the sinking of the Titanic, and the attendant loss of life, the rush to the lifeboats is a key moment. The cry is always the same: women and children first. When the realization hits that there're not enough lifeboats for everyone, only the old and frail amongst the men are asked to board. Able-bodied men are expected to stay and take their chances.

The Titanic- Lifeboats | Titanic movie, Titanic ship, Titanic history

This attitude embodies a principal several thousands of years old in Western Civilisation - the strong protect/give their life for the weak. We see it in war movies, disaster movies, all kinds of movies - or we did in the past.

But there's a new idea abroad. How dare we spend so much money, and subject the economy to so much difficulty, to save lives of people predominately over 60? (We're talking about the defenceless, the powerless - I haven't seen too many politicians over 60 offering to sacrifice themselves?) Hmm.

To show how the paradigm has shifted, in a remake of the Titanic, to reflect much of the debate, we would have to rewrite the lifeboat scene, The cry would go out - the frail, the sick, the old, the lame, anyone with a pre-existing medical condition - stay on the ship. The able-bodied men are boarding the lifeboats as they have the most chance of survival. 

The new ethos in some countries where the virus has swamped an often failed health system has been - sacrifice the elderly first, put an age limit on intensive care. 

After the virus has been beaten, or has disappeared, endless books will be written, movies will be made, and it will be telling if this willingness to sacrifice a portion of the community for the 'greater good' will be forever accepted as the new 'moral' code.

The old days are gone, but we never got to say goodbye. 


Acknowledging ideas raised by Greg Sheridan, foreign editor of The Weekend Australian newspaper, May 2-3 2020.


The WEP April writing challenge is over. Our very own J Lenni Dorner received the winner's gong, followed by Donna Hanton and Hilary Melton-Butcher. Congratulations to all WEPpers for steller writing.


WEP's June challenge is URBAN NIGHTMARE. I've been struggling with this concept, but no longer. I think my urban nightmare is crystal clear...Join us if you'd like to put your rituals in place and receive feedback on your writing.


Thanks for coming by!




Wednesday, 15 April 2020

#WEPff entry for #WEPApril #writingchallenge. My #flashfiction - It was Evie's Idea - a #Covid-19 story.

Whoops! This published a tad early. Never mind. WEP is live in 5 hours... 

Hello all who come by!

It's time for the #AprilWEP challenge. During this time of Covid-19 and the challenges it brings, many of us are finding strength, more than ever, in our writing. 

My flash came to me when I woke one morning a few weeks' ago, no doubt brought on by the constant inundation of Covid-19 news stories from around the world.

I hope you enjoy my story, which when I analyse it, is a love letter to Santorini in the Greek Islands where I spent a wonderful day a couple of years ago. Like my hero, not long enough.

WEP CHALLENGE FOR APRIL 2020! - OUR CHALLENGE - ANTIQUE VASE.

EVIE’S IDEA

It was Evie’s idea to holiday on the Greek Islands, to spend a day on Santorini, the insanely beautiful jewel set in the Aegean Sea.

It was Evie’s idea to walk every square mile of that island, to explore every cave where in World War 11 she told me the locals hid from the German invaders, spending days and nights huddled together, existing on raw onions and grass, all that stood between them and mass starvation.

That was until the Germans discovered the caves and the onions. There was nothing left for the island inhabitants.

They suffered.

They starved.

They died.

As we walked through the streets of Oia along the ridge overlooking the waterfront, Evie regaled me with history of the Greek Islands I never knew, history she’d kept to herself. ‘To prolong life, the islanders bartered everything they owned, everything they couldn’t eat. Their possessions were few. Just old bowls and utensils belonging to their parents and their parents before them, all the way back to antiquity. They didn’t know these relics would one day be considered valuable. All that was valuable at the time was their lives and the lives of their children.'

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Hustling along the beautifully tiled streets of Oia, Evie grew increasingly irritated by the crowds. They pushed their way along the ridge, stopping to take in the breathtaking view over the sea, cameras snapping the whitewashed buildings tottering down the cliffside.

Up and down one set of narrow concrete stairs after the other.

Where to Stay in Santorini - Neighborhoods & Area Guide - The ...

Then Evie grabbed my arm. She spied the vase. An antique vase. Perched on its pedestal. In the window of the smallest shop I’d ever seen.

‘Look.’ She pointed to the whitewashed walls, the bright blue painted door, the red checked curtains framing the windows. ‘Isn’t it darling?’

Evie thought everything was darling, except the hot mess of tourists pushing and shoving, anxious to cram everything into this island-hopping experience, anxious not to miss the ship which left in two short hours. When they looked down the hill to Fira, the capital, their cruise ship loomed like a threat.

‘Evie, let’s keep moving. There’s still a lot to discover.’

She stood gazing in the window, mesmerized. ‘I must have it,’ she said, clambering down two steep steps into the tiny hole-in-the-wall-dusty-with-desperation shop.

The vase didn’t look as good at close range as it had from the window. Its main features were covered in years of dust and grime. How long had it been sitting there, waiting? Evie’s lineage was Greek and by the rapt look on her face as she traced the delicate lines of the vase, I saw that she was transported back in time to the stories from her mother’s childhood during the German occupation, how they’d survived on a diet of onions and grass.

The old Greek shopkeeper approached, his eyes rheumy, his hair tousled and falling past his shoulders, his front teeth missing as he beamed at us.

I insisted on checking the base to see if it said made in China, but no, it seemed genuine, something we could take along to the Antique Roadshow next time it came to Yorkshire.

‘There are very few of these old vases left,’ the old guy said, lighting up a filthy-smelling cigar and blowing smoke at the vase. ‘This one I found myself in a cave high up in the hills near the caldera. Someone had buried it aeons ago. Must have been their treasure. You are the first to show an interest. Perhaps it was meant for you.’

We made it down the chairlift to the boat, bathed in the glorious marmalade sunset over the Aegean Sea.

Two Amazing Spots to Watch the Sunset in Oia, Santorini | Earth ...

Evie clutched her vase to her chest as we stood on the deck, watching the twinkling lights of Santorini disappear. Her eyes were alight with the fervour one feels when given a peek into the past.

‘We must come back soon,’ she whispered, tears running down her cheeks.


                                    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Home again

I checked in on Evie every evening. We’d share a glass of ouzo and toast to our next trip. Both being alone, we loved to travel together.

‘I must go back to Santorini,’ she said, a week after we arrived home. ‘I want to spend days, not hours, exploring. I want to know more about my ancestors. When I listened to mother’s stories, I was detached. Now I’m invested.’

As we planned our next travel adventure, she nodded at the vase in pride of place on her mantlepiece.

The vase. Evie was completely obsessed.

I had to admit it was beautiful with its classic lines, its black silhouette figures, its scrolls.

Then Evie took sick.

We’d congratulated ourselves on making it home before Covid-19 hit, but it appeared we hadn’t.

Evie tested positive.

I tested negative.

The hospitals struggled to contain the outbreak.

Evie demanded she isolate at home.

I was no nurse, so I hired one. I did everything I could. But Evie was over seventy. In the high-risk category.

Her descent was swift.

Hospital. Intensive care. Respirator. It killed me to watch her through the glass, gasping for breath as pneumonia took over her lungs.

Dressed in my hazmat suit, mask and gloves, I was allowed a minute to say goodbye.

Her bony hand reached for mine. ‘Son,’ she said, ‘Come close. Listen.’


                                      ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


After the outbreak was over, I sipped ouzo on my tiny terrace in the cave-house AirBNB in Oia, anticipating the sunset, talking to the antique vase in the center of the glass table.

‘Evie. Mother. I’m back. I brought you to your favorite place. We didn’t have much time that day. Now you have eternity.’

At sunset, as the golden-orange-pink tipped sun dipped into the Aegean Sea, I made my way down the rocky slope to the rocky shore, my arms covered in red welts from the riotous red bougainvillea growing wild, snatching at me each step I took. I reached the beach made up of black, red and white lava pebbles.

Mind Games - 1000 EUR Oia, Santorini Greece -

I uncapped the lid of the precious antique vase. ‘Goodbye Mother.’ Her ashes caught the wind.

It was Evie’s idea.

Her final resting place would be the Aegean Sea.

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WORDS: 1,010
FCA

Go HERE to read more WEP stories for ANTIQUE VASE.

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I'm writing this over the Easter weekend, eagerly anticipating Andrea Bocelli's Easter Sunday concert on youtube. Here he sings a favorite of mine. Very apt during this time of Covid-19.


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