Hello fellow IWSG-ers! Hope your month has been awesome since we last got together. Today we're once again writing about our insecurities or securities. Which is yours this month?
Insecure Writer’s Support Group Website!!!
Hello fellow IWSG-ers! Hope your month has been awesome since we last got together. Today we're once again writing about our insecurities or securities. Which is yours this month?
Hello! Welcome to WEP 2021, the Year of Art. We begin with Klimt's THE KISS.
My story grew from a flash fiction Her Final Day that I wrote for #Fridayflash before the idea of WEP was born. It grew first into a short story of 3,000 words, then kept growing until I had 104,000 words, too much. So with help from my writer friends, it's now down to 100,000 words and I'm cutting more before it goes on pre-order.
So, if you've toyed with the idea of writing for WEP, join me and many others who have turned flash fiction into a novel. And if you have a similar story, please share in comments.
For this excerpt, I cut down a 3,000 word chapter to 1,000 words, deleting, rearranging, massaging it to suit the challenge. It's the chapter which has references to Klimt so it suited the art theme.
I hope you get the context and enjoy...
oday is the day I move into Apartment 5A of rue des Martyrs Residences in Montmartre. I’ve been too busy with coursework at the Paris Institut of Fashion to give much thought to moving day.
The day is here. Ready or not.
Raphael passes me a takeaway coffee and we toast each other. ‘Are you okay, Sassy?’ He puts a hand on my shoulder and watches me, no doubt afraid I’m going to have a meltdown.
‘It’s all good.’ I remember my exhilaration the evening I moved in and the good times I’ve shared here with Raphael since. ‘I’m both excited and nostalgic.’
He frowns, no doubt uneasy that he’s done the wrong thing convincing me to move. Throwing his empty cup into the trash, he says, ‘Let’s get into it then.’ He heaves my sewing machine from the worktable.
Tossing my cup, I grab a box of fabric samples and lead Raphael downstairs. I race ahead to the door, stepping aside to let Raphael stagger past and set my sewing machine onto the dining table. Walking across the shiny retro black and white diagonal tiles, I spy the marble fireplace with baroque trims. I put down my box. ‘Phew. This apartment is beyond gorgeous.’
‘That’s the reaction I wanted.’ He takes my hand. ‘Let’s do the tour.’
Everywhere I look there’s something amazing. ‘Wow, Raphael,’ I keep repeating. I’m staggered at how the rooms sparkle with early morning light shining through the large floor to ceiling windows and how the French doors climb up to the ceiling to pick out the adorable plaster cupids and the bunches of grapes dripping from the corners of the luscious molding. ‘I love it. Oh, those black wooden beams are fabulous against the white ceiling.’ I can’t resist rubbing my palm over the walls. With the suede effect designed by Raphael, the walls are white and soft as cheese. ‘These walls are a masterpiece.’
‘I knew you’d love them. Let’s go onto the balcony.’ He walks me past the opulent chaise he’s installed near the windows, opens the doors and with a flourish of his hand, ushers me outside.
Paris is spread at our feet. The sun turns the terracotta rooftops golden and there’s an even better view of the Eiffel Tower than from the attic. ‘Wow. We’ll share an evening drink and watch the sunset.’ I rub my hand over the scrolled steel tabletop and admire the chairs with plump black and white cushions. ‘How much furniture did you buy? I owe you.’
‘It’s a house-warming present. If you don’t like something, it can be returned.’
I grip the balcony rails and try not to resent him for buying furniture without checking with me. But his choices are perfect. Of course. He’s an artist. ‘You’ve made great choices. It feels like home. Thanks.’ I hug him and think how much I love Raphael and Paris. His generosity is not an act of control like my father’s back in New York, rather an act of love. But I would have liked black and pink checked cushion covers. Just saying.
Raphael kisses my forehead. ‘I love doing things for you.’
‘You’ve outdone yourself.’ Back inside, I marvel at the pièce de resistance, the opulent Louis X1V inspired bedroom with its luxuriant burgundy cover fringed with gold which wouldn’t be out of place at Versailles. ‘Raphael, it’s heaven.’ I turn and embrace him. ‘We’ll watch the Eiffel Tower twinkle from the bed.’
He gives me a wicked smile, takes a curl of my hair and twists it around his finger. ‘I want to see more than the Eiffel Tower twinkle.’
I take a deep breath. ‘As much as I love my attic, this apartment is brilliant.’ I want to run wild and whoop around this new space.
‘When we finish bringing down your things, Sassy, I’ll hang some art.’
I watch him hang a huge oil on the living room wall.
‘“The Four Seasons of Paris”,’ he says with a sweep of his hand, ‘a Raphael Valentine original.’
I stand on tiptoe and kiss his cheek. ‘OhMyGod. It’s stunning.’ It’s a polyptych, four gorgeous gold-edged panels. Pink flowered trees line the Champs-Elysées in spring with us sitting on a bench facing the Eiffel Tower; the Hotel de Ville beach with our easily recognizable figures embracing after playing volleyball represents summer; autumn leaves fall near the Pont des Arts where we’re picnicking on a golden rug; winter sees me wearing a long red coat walking through the snow beside the Seine towards Raphael. I’ve yet to experience a Paris spring or winter. Winter is coming. I hope it’s as beautiful as his painting promises. I’d better buy a red coat.
‘You don’t mind me choosing art for you?’ Raphael squeezes my shoulder.
My eyes flicker from panel to panel then back again. ‘Not at all. This,’ I hold out my hand, ‘is truly amazing.’ I wrap my arm around his waist. ‘I’m impressed how the brush work is more Monet than Dali, but I see a glimpse of Klimt’s “Woman in Gold” in your metallic rendition of summer.’
He grins. ‘Maybe I’m entering my “Golden Phase.” I love the way Klimt used gold, which is how I see you, my love, pure gold. You’ll be my Adele Bloch-Bauer 1.’ He spins me around and kisses me. He takes my hand and leads me to the chaise longue with its red velvet and gold trim.
‘This chaise is my favorite piece of furniture. I’ve used it to pose my muses. Just kidding.’ He sits me on the chaise and I have fun reclining like a glamorous muse against the padded end, fluffing out my long blonde hair, one arm behind my head like Klimt's muse, Emilie Floge. ‘You’re my muse, Sassy. I’m inspired to paint like never before, my own woman in gold.’
Despite my misgivings, how well we’re getting along. I’m his muse. He’s my muse. Inspired by him, I’ll create fashion which will bring Paris to its knees.
How many women are lucky enough to have a lover like Raphael before them on their knees?
Go HERE to read more entries! Or click on my sidebar!
If it's too late for you to be inspired by 'The Kiss', please consider WEP in April for our next art challenge:
Hello everyone! Welcome to 2021! Is this going to be your year? Do you have exciting things planned? I definitely do and a lot of my plans are thanks to the friendships I've made in the blogging world.
Which brings me to blogging friends. Wonderful people like Yolanda Renee, Michael di Gesu, Donna Hole, who've all critiqued my work. Then there's Joy Campbell from the old days of blogging who continues to inspire me with her productivity, to Pat Garcia who's a standout friend in the new days of blogging and kindly read my first vampire book and said wonderful things about it.
Those who've been around the blogging world for ages would probably agree that 10 years or so ago was it's Golden Age, where friendships were formed, knowledge was gained, we helped each other by reading each other's work etc etc.
Many have abandoned the blogging world for the more instant gratification of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc etc. I'm on all those, sporadically I admit, but to me I think the time spent blogging is more rewarding. I say that as an unpublished (except for a 2015 vampire novella) author. Maybe I'll change my mind when I throw myself into the frenetic self-publishing world. I'll let you know.
I've yearned to meet these special bloggers. Nas Dean was my earliest blogger friend who invited me to Fiji for 6 weeks to house sit while she and her husband Rajesh traveled to America. While there I wrote a Fijian romance which is rather pathetic but I might pick it up one day. And I wrote a horror story for Entangled Publishing, which was my first attempt at horror and was rejected of course.
Lynda Young is another blogger I've met. She moved up from Sydney to Brisbane and we met in cafes when we could and encouraged each other to publish. Well, we know Lynda did ...
I've often thought of getting Donna, Michael and Yolanda together, but that would be some task, especially in these days of covid. Australians aren't allowed to travel overseas for starters. Michael and I have talked of meeting in Paris, but that may be a long way into the future now. But blogger friends don't have to see each other face to face to remain friends. Pat Garcia and I tried to organize a meeting when I was in Paris in 2019 and she lives in Germany. Nothing worked out, sadly, but I live in hopes that one day in the future we'll meet.
Of course, there are many blogger friends I haven't mentioned. You know who you are. There's the WEP team, Olga, Nilanjana, Laura (I've already mentioned Yolanda). There are WEP members who I interact with such as the delightful Elephant's Child, a fellow Aussie who stepped in last year as an admin and helped out when needed. Space does not allow me to sing praises to you all, but know I love and value you, each and every one.
Now here's a friendship group who support each other. The wonderful world of WEP (Write...Edit...Publish) where we have formed many friendships. If you've never written for this online writing community, February would be a good time to start with our first challenge, The Kiss. (All arty prompts for 2021!) See my sidebar!
Welcome to the January 2021 IWSG posts. Welcome back those who had an hiatus over the holiday season and are now back and raring to go.
Hope your time off went well. Now we're all back with our insecurities/securities in place. As you trawl the IWSG posts, may you find support and encouragement in great measure.
I'm going to answer the question this month. And the question is:
Being a writer, when you're reading someone else's work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people's books?
Life's too short to read bad books. But what makes a book unreadable, toss-across-the-room unreadable is personal to the reader. I've deleted my original post as it sounded judgy from someone who doesn't like to be judged herself, LOL. So I decided to go lite to answer the question.
Here's what turns me off, with an example thrown in here and there:
1) CHARACTERISATION: After the first few chapters I couldn't care less about the characters and what happens to them - A Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling. Toss!
2) HORROR OVERLOAD: When I get to Chapter 3-ish and find out that the finely-cooked meat the MC is munching is actually human flesh. Urk. Hangman by Jack Heath. Rubbish collection day came just in time! I don't often destroy a book, but this one had no redeemable qualities.
3) TO ME, SILLY ROMANCE: Opening paragraph of the heroine oogling the hero's bum. Too common to mention names. Across the room it goes, bringing down a pile of books on the way.
4) PUBLISHED TOO SOON: The English teacher in me is majorly put off by the murdering of grammar, punctuation and the technical aspects of language. Not everyone has mastered these fine aspects of what makes a story enjoyable (and some argue that grammar etc is overrated - I don't agree), so that's why we have editors. Hold off publishing until you can afford one.
5) DOESN'T DELIVER WHAT COVER/BLURB LED ME TO EXPECT: For example, I have a weakness for books with 'Paris' in the title, but am ticked off when Paris is not actually in the book - it might just be a twinkle in the MC's eye. Let's not tease gullible readers with false promises.
6) STARTING WITH TOO MUCH BACKSTORY. I once began a book where I had to wait till p.45 before anyone spoke. I love dialogue, Danielle Steele. Backstory killed your book and my chances of finishing it.
I haven't been well for awhile -- this too shall pass -- and during this time my brain has been too woolly to write, but I have immersed myself in reading my favorite genre, psychological thrillers (paperback). I even commented on an IWSG FB post recently how I loved this genre, but couldn't imagine writing it. Surprise! I've been plotting in my head then putting ideas on paper and ta da! With my critters' help, soon I'll have a fully fleshed out romantic suspense novel. A new genre for me. I'm looking forward to writing it in such a way no one will throw my book across the room, LOL. And it won't have 'Paris' in the title.
Happy writing all!
If you need motivation to get writing, WEP has gorgeous prompts for 2021. All are in my sidebar. Here is February's:
I have been travelling again and missed the December IWSG. I think it's only about the second time I haven't posted in all the years! Forgive me Alex.
By popular demand, WEP is having an unstructured challenge this December. For those who'd already prepared an entry for UNMASKED or who burned to write one, we have opened it up to whoever so desires and posting our link to the WEP website.
My story is adapted from one of the very first stories I wrote for Romantic Friday Writers. I'd worked on it since and it was over 2,000 words. For this challenge, I've edited it down to 1,200+ words. So sorry it's a bit over.
During the pandemic, Australians don't travel internationally. So I'm reliving a trip to Venice. But I assure you, I'm not Anouk, my heroine. It's a bit of a black fairy tale. With this retelling I can see another direction I could go with the story, but seriously, this will have to do for now or I'll never get it posted...enjoy.
Pierrot, the Fool.
Anouk surveyed the glistening city from the balcony of Hotel Cipriani, feasting her eyes upon Venice. Darkness floated over the ethereal city, a black cape, its edges reflecting the glint of the moon. The light was a mosaic of shimmering mirrors. Gondolas floated in a fantasy world, dipping above the water like slick black swans. On the frigid night air, the gondoliers’ serenade drifted across the water like a ghostly siren call, filling Anouk’s heart with delicious anticipation.
Sipping her wine, she listened to the vaporettis' hum as they navigated the icy waters of the Grand Canal, disembodied voices of the passengers bouncing atop the waves. The baroque palaces along the canal dazzled, grand residences of past glory, now inhabited by revelers whose dancing threatened to sink them into the murky water.
Anouk was intent on enjoying this night and all the excitement that tantalized her soul with infinite possibilities. Carnevale. Hiding behind a mask, she was ready to lose herself in this ritual where the power of the mask lured revelers into lurid rites of celebration.
She lifted her crystal glass. Swirled the rich burgundy. ‘Salut!’ She toasted the heavenly hosts.
Her dream was about to unfold.
Anouk drifted outside into a frosty, starry world, a different person behind her Pierrot mask. She was tugged into a band of masked and costumed figures running through the cobbled streets, alongside the Grand Canal, past candle-lit icing-cake palazzos dusted with snow, slithering over arched bridges, heading deeper into mysterious caverns and back alleyways.
In an opulent baroque apartment, she danced with gloriously attired masked men who pressed her close to their bodies, their breath hot on her naked neck, before passing her to the next caped stranger with a flourish and an extravagant kiss to her gloved hand.
Leaving the hot apartment, she ran with the party goers down slippery, dimly-lit streets, going deeper and deeper into unknown Venice, terrifying in its other-worldly quality. She slipped and slithered at the end of the long line, her dress tugging at her ankles as if telling her to stop.
She was about to turn back when out of the foggy darkness came a man who clasped her hand. She stood, unsure whether to rip her hand from his grasp, but the crowd moved on, leaving her alone in the stranger’s grip. She recognized the perfume he wore. Creed Aventus. Her husband’s favorite. It comforted her. Was she a fool to go with this stranger in his lacquered mask of ebony? She shrugged. This was what adventure was all about, wasn’t it?
The stranger led her upstairs to an apartment where they joined a new group of dancers in a room warmed by spluttering fires, the air blue with cigarette smoke. The women were ethereal beauties in rustling silk while men dazzled in capes, tight trousers, shiny thigh-high boots and magnificent wigs of black ringlets. His curls whispering against her neck, she and the stranger swayed in a sideways rhythm to the heavenly music of a stringed quartet.
She closed her eyes and imagined the stranger unmasked. The way he ran his hands over her forehead, lifting her hair, told her he was doing the same.
So this is Carnevale! Oh, what have I been missing?
The stranger snatched a glass of wine from a passing waiter. He entwined his arm with hers and poured wine down her throat.
She spluttered as rich liquor dripped down her chin and between her breasts.
He dipped his head; licked the red trail. Her delighted shivers brought fire to his eyes.
He spoke his first words to her, his Italian rich and smooth as the wine. ‘Signorina, I’m Count de Rozario.’
‘Si. All men are counts at Carnevale.’
She bowed, not doubting his claim. ‘I am Anouk Abbe. From Paris.’
‘My servant.’ He touched her shoulder with his hand.
Her heart fluttered with desire. She looked up. He had melted into the night. How rude! Was that what Carnevale was about? Dancing? Drinking? Touching? Teasing? Then … pouf?
She pushed her way outside, trudging north through freshly fallen snow.
Men lounged against alleyway walls; smoke blended with foggy curls. Shiny black opal eyes studied her from behind black masks.
She stepped sideways, desperate to find the Grand Canal.
One of the men strode forward just as another appeared from out of the mist.
Again the comforting smell of Creed Aventus.
He covered her shivering body with his black velvet cloak trimmed with red fur, revealing a black woolen suit. With gloved fingers, he scratched away tears that had iced her cheeks below her mask.
‘My count?’ Her teeth chattered.
An imperceptible jerk of his head. ‘Come. We steal a little time.’
Through passages, beneath arches, they came upon a magnificent doorway. In the hazy light of the street lamps it appeared burnished in gold.
He brushed snow from their clothing before he led her up a flight of stairs into a luxurious apartment. With urgent strides he tugged her into a warm sitting room with log fire blazing, comfortable couches, an aura of expectation in the atmosphere. Two crystal wine glasses and a silver platter of antipasto beckoned. How sweet! Mesmerized by the warmth of the flames, she took a step toward the fire.
‘Fretta! Hurry!’ He snatched her around the waist and pulled her into a huge bedroom dazzled by moonlight, a lush Renaissance painting of red silk wallpaper, brocade and golden trims.
He unbuttoned her cape. Her dress rustled to the floor. He dealt swiftly with her undergarments but left her mask intact.
Even so, she felt unmasked.
He pushed her backwards onto the brocade spread, covering her nakedness with his.
As they surrendered themselves to the madness of the night, the mouth that plundered hers tasted like the wine they’d shared, enhanced by sea and smoke.
He tensed, lifted his head.
She heard nothing but her own whimpering.
Slipping and sliding on the varnished wood stairs. Curse words, ‘Merda. Merda. Basta.’
His feet landed on the floor. ‘My blonde beauty.’ He tugged her arm. ‘My Contessa approaches. Presto!’
He snatched clothes from the carpet, thrust them into her arms and pushed her naked onto the balcony then quietly closed the door.
Shivering with cold and shock, she huddled. The lapping water against the pylons was slaps to her freezing stupid face. The fog’s tendrils reached up and whirled around her misery.
Fool! Fool! Is this the adventure you imagined?
The Contessa’s Borsalino fragrance hung, trapped, in the freezing air. My perfume. Is that why he chose me?
‘Ah, Contessa, come.’ His seductive voice slid under the bedroom door onto the balcony. ‘I’m ready for you. Desolate we lost each other in the frenzy.’
‘I, too, Count.’ Her voice sounded a little self-satisfied. ‘Come.’
Had the Contessa been naked with a stranger in another bed? While the Count cavorted here with her? Was it a game they played on this one night of the year when there were no rules?
Tears pooling on her frozen cheeks, she struggled down the murky outdoor stairs, slipping and sliding on the ice, gripping the ornate balustrade. She entered the apartment foyer and trembled in the darkest corner. Her frozen hands fumbled with intricate clasps and zips as she dressed herself with agonizing slowness.
As she dressed, she pictured her husband back in Paris, sipping his aperitif in his favorite leather chair by the fire, wearing his three-piece charcoal bespoke suit, his crisp white Dior shirt, his Louis Vuitton tie. He’d warned her not to come. Now she knew why.
Tossing her Pierrot mask into a dirty pile of slush, she tread into the frozen wilderness. Lost in Venice's black cape.
She was Pierrot, the fool.
Currently up on the WEP website is Yolanda's post outlining the magnificent arty challenges for 2021. Please take a look. I'm sure you'll be inspired to join us even if you've never written for us. This is an example:
Happy holidays! See you next year!