ON WRITING

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

Monday, 15 October 2018

#WEPff - My #ff for the October challenge - Night in the Montmartre Cemetery



 Hi everyone!

Here is my ghostly story for the WEP/IWSG writing together October challenge. I hope you enjoy the read. The stories this month will all contain some scary elements. I hope I achieve this in mine. Whatever, I had a hoot revisiting Paris in my mind while writing it.



Night in the Montmartre Cemetery

Ciassia had seen a ghost. A ghost wearing black. Lurching behind her, rasping, grunting, reaching out his filthy hand, trying to snatch her as she hurried along the streets of Pigalle, Paris’s red light district.

Putting distance between them, gasping for breath, she slipped into an alley behind Moulin Rouge, as quiet as a crypt. The air was dark and thick, like a black cape had floated from the night sky and covered the earth. A beacon of light from the Eiffel Tower swept in arcs across the gloom – a sea of fog swirling like a fleeting ghost. Each time the flash passed overhead, the blanched fog and mist took on a shivering pallor, giving life to the unliving.

As crazy as it seemed, she was running from a ghost.

Creeping along the alley, touching the walls, she tried to ignore the shivers shooting up her spine.

What else might be lurking in the gloom? She pulled her red shawl tight around her shoulders. Fear gave her feet wings as she hurried through the darkness to the next corner where street lights shot a hole into the misty light.

She huddled under the streetlight, listening to the night sounds, but could hear nothing over the rasp of her jagged breathing and the blood rush pounding in her ears.

She sensed a movement behind her. 

She must leave the comfort of the light.

Reluctantly, she stepped into the darkness again. She ran, fast, faster, through the fog. One foot in front of the other, fighting the urge to run back to the crowds exiting the nightclubs of Pigalle. She fought the urge to run to her hotel and safety. To where she’d left her cell phone and purse on the night stand.

In front of her loomed an ancient stone wall wrapped in weeping moss. Montmartre cemetery. How did she end up here?

She’d seen the stone garden from a distance. In the daylight. A forest of small crypts adorned with stained glass and magnificent sculptures. The resting place of many famous bones including her idol, Simone de Beauvoir. Would hers be added to the pile? Would she sleep for eternity beside Simone?

No. Please God. No. No. No.

She huddled amongst the stone ghosts rising from the ground like resurrected souls, the darkness only broken by the beacon flashes from the tower bathing the dead faces in ghostly light, sharpening their features, sending shadows shuddering around her feet.

How could she see her pursuer in the crowded forest of stone?

Running steps. Clamping a hand over her mouth, stifling a scream, she veered off the main path. Knelt behind a large crypt with a high brick wall behind. ‘Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir’ read the headstone. Long dead. They could not reach beyond the grave to save her.

She heard a screech. A cat. A black cat. Leaping over the crypts. She forced herself to keep still. The cat sounds faded, but she stayed crouched, her heart hammering so loud she was afraid the man in black would hear it.

Such a creepy, creepy place.

She couldn’t spend the night with dead people. She had to get back to her hotel at the top of the hill. She had to get back to safety.

Gathering what was left of her courage, she stood, her eyes beacons trying to cut through the darkness.

Is he here?

Then out of nowhere she saw … not a him ...  a her.

A white dress ghoulishly radiant.

‘Are you an angel?’ she whispered. Stupid question. This vision could be nothing else. She was one of the stone angels come to life.

The angel stood in front of her, arms outstretched, beckoning her. Then she pointed a finger the way Ciassia had come.

Is she warning me?

Telling me to turn around?

Fat tears ran down Ciassia’s face. ‘Please help me,’ she said through trembling lips. ‘A man chased me through the street in Pigalle and has followed me here.’

The Eiffel Tower beacon flashed again. It passed. The angel was gone.

Another figure emerged from the fog, arms outstretched. No angel. The man in black. As black as Poe’s raven.

She screamed, turned and ran. Down the hill. Toward the exit.

Stumbling over a crooked gravestone that jutted from the earth, she hit the ground on her knees. The pain was excruciating, but she jumped up again.

Poe’s raven was so close she could smell his fetid smell, like a pit of snakes. Mouldy. Rotten.

Her boots reached out in front of her. Into nothing.

She was falling. Falling. Falling.

The ground had opened up and swallowed her whole.

She bounced off dirt walls and hit hard stone ground, the breath knocked out of her.

The hole was pitch black.

She screamed, clawing the dirt walls, her fingernails tearing, her fingertips bleeding.

A grave.

She was in a grave.

She screamed and screamed. Clawed and clawed.

Then. Footsteps.

Overhead.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

Out of the sky, dirt poured down upon her.

Filled her mouth.

Filled her eyes

Filled her hair.

Filled her.

‘Who’s there?’ she croaked, spitting dirt, trying to keep the terror from her voice.

The beacon flashed overhead revealing a tall, dark figure, arms outstretched, his cape giving the appearance of raven’s wings.

‘Help me. For the love of God. Where is your humanity?’

He grunted and tossed more dirt.

‘I lost my humanity many centuries ago, little girl.’ His voice was raspy and hollow, like he hadn’t used it for centuries.

Large clods. Then stones. Battering her.

‘Soon you will join me.’

He was a fleeting ghost.

He was burying her alive.

She screamed and screamed. Then a huge rock hit her temple, knocking her to the ground.

‘Soon your life will begin,’ the hollow voice rasped, growing faint as her consciousness fled.

 She heard his laugh. An eerie sound. Like a raven calling.



WORDS - 985
FULL CRITIQUE ACCEPTABLE.

To read more entries please click on names in my sidebar with DL (Direct Link) beside their name or go to the WEP site. 

You have until October 19th to post if you have some scary fiction or non-fiction to add to the list. It's easy to SUBMIT your name to the list.











Wednesday, 3 October 2018

#IWSG post for October. KEEP CALM and WRITE ON!

Another month has gone by -- the world is in turmoil -- earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts, bushfires, floods, political turmoil -- you name it -- we've been through it -- I survived so far. Did you?


Now it's time for the IWSG again. Is your writing in turmoil because of what's going on globally or in your family or community or in your country? Or does turmoil help deepen your writing?


Top Site for Writers
Go HERE to read more posts!

Alex's awesome co-hosts for the October 3 posting of the IWSG are Dolorah @ Book Lover,Christopher D. Votey, Tanya Miranda, and Chemist Ken! Please visit if you can!

I've never been one to set myself a daily word count which must be adhered to no matter what, (except for the 5 times I did NaNoWriMo) so I have no problem not writing if something comes up. I don't get frustrated. I don't post about it. I don't whine about it to writing friends.

Writing is a part of life. It's not all consuming although it can seem like that at times.

I just read a post by an author in a Facebook group I'm a member of. She's totally consumed by her writing. She's written 65,591 words in 10 days!! Makes NaNoWriMo look like a tootle~~! She's got a serial due in 5 days and 9 books left to write in 2018 which will make it well over 30 books for the year - egad, one every 2 weeks. I could be dispirited, but I'm not, I'm excited for her. I checked out some of her book samples on Amazon and they're well written, so go Yumoyori!

But when I think about it, I've just finished Book Three in my paranormal romance and am pushing into Book Four while I go back and finesse from Book One now I know a lot more about my world and my characters and how to write a serial. Awesome progress for me, a slow writer who takes time out when called on or when travel calls me.

So all of the above sort of answers the October question. I suspect it wasn't what the question really meant, but my reaction just flowed out --

How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

I have the news on all day. I can just hear it from my writer's den. I get upset when I see over 1,000 people killed so far in the Indonesian tsunami and Japan's death toll growing from the latest typhoon. Paying attention to these major events, not  just what's going on in my life -- shows me that life is full of turmoil and most people are worse off than I am, far, far worse off -- some things we can control, some we can't. But we must deal as best we can. Sometimes writing helps get through negative, challenging times!



Speaking of keeping calm and writing on, the new WEP/IWSG writing together challenge is now live!

It's open to freaky or non-freaky posts which would suit the prompt! Please join us if you'd like to participate with a caring group of keen, supportive writers...and your entry might just catch the judges' eyes and you could win a $10 Amazon Gift Card and get to write a guest post. How could you resist? Share an extract from a WIP, pen a poem, post a photo essay on your trip to the catacombs in Vietnam, Rome or Paris, write a non-fiction entry...go HERE for more inspiration!


The October challenge is hosted by Yolanda Renee, horror author extraordinaire. This is her final gig as my venerable co-host so please make it memorable for her. WEP adds L G Keltner to the team!! Welcome L G! Along with Nilanjana Bose, Olga Godim and help from the IWSG in the form of C Lee McKenzie, Pat Hatt and Nick Wilford, we're going from strength to strength.

Hope to see your name on the sign up later today!!

Denise



Wednesday, 5 September 2018

#IWSG post - Tripping along the publication path.

Hello all!

Time for the #IWSG again!

Top Site for WritersAugust has been an especially busy month for me, what with organizing the merging of WEP with the IWSG for the purpose of joint writing challenges. 

The inaugural August challenge is half over. We've had the sign ups on August 1, the posts on August 15, the winners announcement on August 26. The next post at WEP is the Guest Post. As well as winning an Amazon Gift Card, the winner, Tanya Miranda has been asked and agreed to write a guest post which is always a surprise treat.

If you'd like to keep in touch with what WEP/IWSG Writing Together challenges are up to, you can visit our site and subscribe to our email. If you have problems with that, email me and I'll add you manually.

On October 1, the new Halloween month challenge will go live and it's time to go through the process again.

It was great to see so many new writers join us in August. We hope even more of you will see the beauty of writing flash fiction, nonfiction and poetry to a prompt. Or taking the opportunity to get eyes on an extract of your WIP. Or just meeting a lovely, supportive bunch of writers to form new networks.

Alex's awesome co-hosts for the September 5 posting of the IWSG are Toi Thomas, T. Powell Coltrin, M.J. Fifield, and Tara Tyler!


Now, to the month's question - 

September 5 question for the IWSG- What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?

I went through the process of doing all the work myself and self-publishing with Amazon years ago just to see how it worked. It wasn't that hard, but it's not what I have planned for the future.

I'm no expert, but I'm following experts and have shared in previous  posts how I plan to publish when I'm ready...under a pen name which will be no secret. I don't want to bore you by talking about myself - my least favorite topic - but for the interests of adhering to the IWSG question, here's my pre-planned publication process. You'll note it is self-publishing. I have a contemporary novel with Avon books, but may end up self-pubbing that too. I am going to:

1. Write several books for what is called 'fast launch'. Having 1 book out there doesn't do you any favors. You need to grow a backlist quick smart (which is hard for a slow, perfectionist writer) which is why I'm writing several before I hit PUBLISH, probably using my friends at Draft2Digital.

2. Buy the best covers I can afford. As I'm writing a paranormal romance series, (I'm up to Book Three) I need to arrange for all the covers to be  made by the same artist so they look same-ish and stunning, of course. I have sketched them out...woo hoo.

3. Even though I'm a savvy editor myself, I work with 2 close critique partners mainly for plotting and structure which I suck at and have a great beta reader who's more like an editor but a fraction of the price. I'm the Grammar Police, Punctuation Police, Spelling Police, Sentence-structure Police  and the Thought Police (sorry, doing 1984 with my students) in one package, but still believe in hiring good editors. 

So, all these things cost money. Hopefully, down the track I'll see some return for the years of lackadaisical laptop joy - gosh I love alliteration don't I?

How about you, best-selling authors? I'd be interested in hearing your comments. Maybe you think I have rocks in my head. Maybe...who knows? We all make our own path in the end.

Have a great month, everyone!

If you like the challenge of a juicy horror, ghost, edgy, paranormal whatever story, or can find a way to write a 'normal' story or poem for this prompt, join WEP/IWSG Writing Together for the October challenge:


You're most welcome!

Denise 

When this goes live, I'm up in Northern Queensland visiting family. I will return the visit when I can. 




Tuesday, 14 August 2018

#WEPff - WEP August challenge - my #flashfiction - Carpe Diem.

Hello everyone!

My story for the inaugural combined WEP/IWSG challenge has a long history. I first wrote a much different version for my first #fridayflash entry in 2010 which was somewhat behind my idea to start RomanticFridayWriters, now WEP. I've since written a novel based on this original idea which is languishing in the slushpile at Avon Books. 
I present to you a snippet from the original Saskia and Raphael Parisian love story. 
I hope you enjoy my women's fiction. 

Image result for images of paris rooftops

Carpe Diem

It happens every morning. That seeping dread. Jolting her feet until they burn from toe to heel. Creeping up her limbs like a colony of ants, enflaming her throat. Finally, it settles like a leaden ball in her chest where it maintains its constant slow burn.
As the room washes with the first glimmer of light, Saskia lies in the bed of her third-floor Parisian apartment, whispering her mantra over and over – Carpe diem, carpe diem, carpe diem, willing the dread to pass.
She has always loved this golden hour when the world holds its breath, hoping the new day will disperse gifts from a benevolent god.
What will be my gift?
Will He send the angels for me today?
Or will Raphael come back to me today?
She spies a dove at the window, silvery wings fluttering, ‘Get up. Get up. Get up.’
Ignoring the leaden ball in her chest, she throws aside the sheet and pads across the carpet to the open window.
Satisfied it now has an audience, the little dove dives into the ornate bath in the courtyard, shaded by purple wisteria which creeps restlessly along the exposed ledges as if it knows time is short, that in winter it will become an ungainly skeleton.
From the spindly branches of the pretty tree, the bird begins its morning song. The joyful notes thrum like a soaring solo in a Beethoven symphony.  
Song over, the silver bird soars into the sky.
She stands at the window clutching the sill. The beat of every passing moment pulses in her ears.
Carpe diem.
She must seize the day.
I will not think of all I have lost.
Raphael. Raphael. Raphael.
I will not think of the glory days.
Raphael. Raphael. Raphael.
She puffs out a breath and decides that a pure blue sky demands a walk over the bridge in front of Notre Dame.
Today she will miss the ecstatic sounds of Eloise and her lover in Apartment 2 who like to make noisy love in the afternoon, all afternoon, reminding her of herself and Raphael in the flush of first love.
Before he had a change of heart.
Before he found someone he loved more than her.
Why does her heart still pine for him?
Perhaps she can blame Eloise.
Get out of my head, Raphael.
She studies the glorious golden sun cresting the horizon. She watches the orb creep over the beautiful old sandstone buildings like a playful giant, blowing fire onto the zinc rooftops, transforming them into molten gold.
She completes her salute-to-the-sun routine, bathed in the warming rays.
While she dresses, she glances at her bed. Their bed.
One morning she woke and his side of the bed was cold, the sheets unwrinkled. He has never shared her bed since. According to the social pages he has warmed the bed of many of Paris’ young women and broken their hearts like he has broken hers. She wonders how he finds the time.
Today, if she can manage the short walk from la Tour Eiffel, she will surprise him at his latest art exhibition at the Musée du quai Branly. She must give the gods a chance to bestow on her a last wish.
To see Raphael one more time.


Leaning over the wide cement ledge, her vision fills with the Gothic splendour of Notre Dame. The sun-bathed brick structure stands proud and golden on the Île de la Cité, her buttresses grasping the edges of the Seine. Taking a deep breath, she inhales the river smell − reedy, thick, brackish.
She averts her eyes from the thousands of glinting golden padlocks that lovers have attached to the bridge’s mesh sides, signifying undying, unbroken love.
Hers and Raphael’s lock is lost amongst the thousands of metallic clasps engraved with initials and love symbols, rusting away, short-lived like their marriage, soon to be cut loose by Parisian councilmen.
Why is Raphael clouding her mind today of all days? She closes her eyes and imagines him running across the bridge as he used to do, wrapping her in his arms, spinning her around, making her feel safe.
How she would love to feel his arms around her again.
She stands glacial, immobile, a Rodin sculpture. 
Tomorrow.
Tomorrow she will leave all this beauty to enter an entirely different world.
A world of hospitals, doctors, nurses, prodding, jabbing, priestly prayers and last of all, hope.
She steps away from the rails, Mahatma Ghandi’s words giving wings to her feet: ‘Live as if you were to die tomorrow.’
She whispers her mantra over and over.
Carpe diem.
Carpe diem.
Carpe diem.
A pain stabs her heart, throwing her against the concrete rail. She clutches her chest with both hands. No, not yet!  The ground rushes to meet her. Warm concrete slaps her face. A dog yaps.
Then black envelops her.


She hears him.
A much-loved engine purrs in the distance.  
A huge black motorbike is propped against the kerb.
Her angel. Her Raphael.
He stands at the end of the bridge, hands in pockets, watching her, his studded motorcycle boots planted firmly on the timber.
Her heart beats so loudly the sound chokes her throat.
If only she could get out from under this block of concrete and run to him.
Oh, those capricious gods!
Why is he wearing black?
He opens his arms.
She stands, but is rooted to the spot, hands pressing her heart, feeling the throbbing joy.
He beckons her … come!
She whispers her mantra over and over as she staggers into his waiting arms.
Carpe diem!
Carpe diem!
Carpe diem!
‘Saskia.’ The aching note in his voice moves her more than his words.


WORDS - 948
FCA - as per preference list below

STATE YOUR FEEDBACK PREFERENCES

This is my entry for the WEP/IWSG August challenge.

WEP CHALLENGE FOR AUGUST....CHANGE OF HEART~

Please CLICK on entries at WEP to read more stories. 

Thank you for reading. If you're not joining the WEP/IWSG challenge this month, perhaps you'd consider joining us in October for Deju Vu Voodoo - (((shiver))) (((shake)))

eyes




Wednesday, 1 August 2018

August 1 #IWSG, including the question - What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?

Hello all!

Another month, another IWSG. Thanks to Alex J Cavanaugh for this group and for a great place to turn up each month and read awesome posts!

Top Site for Writers

Alex's awesome co-hosts for the August 1 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, Sandra Hoover, Susan Gourley, and Lee Lowery! Please visit if you can.

  And be sure to visit the
Insecure Writer’s Support Group Website!!!

Most of you will have heard/will soon hear that from today, the IWSG has partnered with WEP (Write...Edit...Publish) for the bi-monthly writing challenges. I will be guest posting on the IWSG website on August 6 to tell you more about WEP and how you might like to join the writing challenge. We hope you do.

The WEP team is guest posting on the IWSG website on August 6 where we explain more about WEP. I invite you to swing by and say hello.

Here is the permalink which will go live on August 6:

 http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/2018/08/writing-together-with-wep-and-iswg.html

Sign ups begin today for the challenge, CHANGE OF HEART. I'm neither insecure nor secure about how this partnership will work out, but many in the IWSG are friends, so I see it's got the potential to make both WEP and the IWSG stronger. 

Follow this link to learn more about it, and/or to SIGN UP for the August challenge.

WEP CHALLENGE FOR AUGUST....CHANGE OF HEART~

THE IWSG QUESTION OF THE MONTH:

By writing together we can help each other avoid the pitfalls that are waiting to entrap the unwary emerging writer. Here's just a couple I've learned/am still learning...
  • Sending a work to a publisher without having it beta read/edited/edited/edited/re-written/re-written...etc


  • Self-publishing without sourcing the best cover you can afford, the best blurb you can create, flawless formatting, clever launching of bulk titles - there's Farcebook groups to help with all of these...
That's enough for now. I must race over to Write...Edit...Publish and see how many of you have signed up for the challenge!


Here's some chocolate for you while you rearrange the words in your manuscript!