Wednesday, 5 January 2022

#IWSG January 2022 - Regrets, I Have a Few, But Then Again, Too Few to Mention ... (let's get this musical year underway!)

Hello all!

Let's get this new year underway with our first IWSG post. I didn't have a break from writing as I had a pre-order up for The Dark Side, second in my Renaissance vampire romance series, for 8th January and I hadn't polished the manuscript. But despite everything else needing my attention, I got it back to Amazon yesterday, 20 hours ahead of schedule. What fun! Not! My heart rate is still coming down!


Alex's awesome co-hosts for the January 5 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, Olga Godim, Sandra Cox, Sarah Foster, and Chemist Ken!



So, thanks, Alex J Cavanaugh for this platform to whinge, whine or hoot and holler. Hmm. Which brings me to the January 5 question - What's the one thing about your writing career you regret the most? Were you able to overcome it?

So, I guess my biggest regret is waiting so long to publish, but there was always something calling on my time, namely my children and my teaching career. But hey, I've overcome by writing a rather large backlist and am now able to keep publishing on a regular basis. I'm having fun.

Here's to a great 2022!


Had to show off my cover for The Dark Side. Groovy!

WEP is on a holiday schedule. We've chosen the shortlist, refined it and sent it to Nick Wilford. We're all a-twitter waiting for his decision in a day or so. So, if you entered WEP's December challenge, Narcissus, you'll soon learn if you won a prize!

And soon it'll be February! We are soooo excited to be entering The Year of Music. We love our music, so choosing six songs out of the millions of songs out there was our biggest challenge! We kick off with ...


Wow! Can't wait to write to this one!
How about you?


For those who indulge, here's to endless coffee and cake for 2022 - countered by lots of exercise! (Had to spoil it, didn't I?)

I hope 2022 goes well for each of you. I started off with a covid scare in the family, which thankfully ended up being a negative result. Like in many countries, Omicron is raging, and we've never seen such high numbers in Australia. I'm fully vaxxed and boosted. Not much else you can do except stay out of the public as much as possible and mask up.






Wednesday, 1 December 2021

#WEPff NARCISSUS, by Caravaggio. My #flashfiction, A LIttle Reflection Can't hurt. And it's time for the December #IWSG and the delights of writing!

Hello and welcome to my blog!

Wow! I missed last month's IWSG cuz I was just so busy with everything writing related. Much the same this month. But I'll answer the second half of the suggested question - what delights you (about writing). I love everything about writing except sweating over the first draft - that's where my critique partners come in, but once I have my story down, it delights me to rewrite as many times as it takes, then share with betas and editors. But, added to that, I love that I'm a member of the blogosphere where we love to interact and help each other. So, when Damyanti asked me to put an article together on self-publishing, I was less than keen as I'm pretty new to the game, but I'm glad I chose to go ahead and do something for Damyanti who gets so many queries from her followers about self-publishing...so...

Damyanti is hosting me on her site. After you read my entry for WEP, Damyanti and I would be so happy if you drop by to read my article, A Beginner's Guide to Self-Publishing. Add to the conversation! 



Now, let's get WEP underway!

Welcome to WEP's final challenge for the year of 2021, Year of the Art. We've all thoroughly enjoyed being inspired by art prompts and honestly, I'm a bit sad that it's over. But, good news, 2022 is the Year of Music, where we're inspired to write by music titles and lyrics. Super exciting! 

The Year of Music kicks off in February 2022. 

Let's get down to the Art...Caravaggio's Narcissus. In my story, I've gone for Narcissus and Narcissa. I've strayed into vampire territory. Couldn't restrain myself. 

I hope you enjoy my flash! Those with sharp memories will recall I've taken the bones of a previous WEP entry and with some tweaking it was perfect for the challenge.

And a new innovation at WEP is that we write our own taglines - such good practise for submitting to agents/publishers/magazines/on book covers ... so ...

TAGLINE: Be careful what you wish for; you might just get it.




A Little Reflection Can’t Hurt

 

In perfect synchronicity, in the perfect silence of the night, two imposing figures ran side by side, shooting like arrows through trees and undergrowth. Moonbeams shone upon them, bathing them in surreal light.

Her name was Alessandra. His was Eduardo.

Eduardo took Alessandra’s hand and tugged her to a halt. ‘Before we feed, let’s go to our favorite place.’ Eduardo pointed deeper into the forest, where an abandoned track led away from the highway. The old path was pitted, potholed and pathetic, but it didn’t faze them. Their swift feet flew above the earth, propelled them into the sky whenever they craved the sheer joy of using their newfound powers.

Alessandra jerked his arm, dragged him under an overhanging branch of a Downy Birch. Despite her awesome powers of strength, intuition, enhanced sight and hearing, she was always nervous when Eduardo invited her to their favorite place. But her nerves coupled with a frisson of excitement. She thought of saying “no” for a nanosecond, but she hated to disappoint Eduardo after he’d been so good to her. ‘Oh let’s.’ She sucked in a deep breath. ‘I must try one more time before I give up.’

Eduardo wrapped his arm around her shoulders, drew her so close she felt his marble-hard body pressed against hers. ‘You are the most beautiful thing that ever happened to me, my darling,’ he said. ‘I’m so glad you’re mine for eternity. What a gift I have been given. I always loved Christmas in my human form, now Christmas comes every day I spend with you.’

Alessandra knew he was buttering her up to ease the disappointment she must surely feel when they reached the magical place. ‘You are the most perfect gift ever, Eduardo.’

As she ran, Alessandra’s mind returned to that night when everything changed…

~*~

…She was out on the town, such as it was. Her boyfriend hovered attentively, plying her with white sauvignon blanc until the rough edges of her dissatisfaction blurred.

Why are you so unhappy? he'd asked. What more could you want? Your life is perfect.

That’s what you think.

Over the rim of her glass, her eyes flew from her boring boyfriend and locked with a new arrival. Helloooo stranger. Few strangers came to this weird little island plonked in the middle of the North Sea. In his Savile Row suit and designer haircut, he oozed glitz and glamour.

And excitement.

As he stared at her, trembling possessed her whole body like an alien force had taken her over. Her boredom with her ho-hum life on the island was about to end. He was "big city". Glasgow? Aberdeen? Her knight in shining armor had come to rescue her.

The stranger did indeed rescue her from her life.

She’d clutched her glass of white wine until the stem broke, cutting the tip of her finger. Seawater jumped clear across the harbor wall and crashed against the glass windows. She sucked her finger and wondered if the glass might shatter and tip them all into the North Sea.

She thought it was part of the game when he ran her from the pub, covering her with his fancy cloak and took her driving into the forest in his sleek black Maserati. She’d never seen such a car. A change from clanking old tractors driven by dour farmers.

She thought it was part of the game when he drew her close, sucked her bleeding wound then threaded his fingers through her hair. Her whole body shivered as he murmured endearments. Oooohhhh.

She thought it was part of the game when she felt a strange sensation where his lips touched her neck.

But she knew it wasn’t a game when his teeth bit her throat. ‘Come, my lifeless bride. Come away with me. Be mine eternally.’

Her heart hammered. Her throat burned. Her body trembled.

Too late.

The myths about strange creatures who lurked on the island were true. Why had she dismissed them like she dismissed everything about her home? But who’d expect one of those creatures would drive a Maserati?

But thankfully, her boyfriend, Eduardo, had followed them in his beat-up Toyota.

He’d wrenched open the Maserati door, dragged Niccolò off her neck, pulled him outside.

Niccolò had spung up, pounded a fist into Eduardo’s temple. While he lay unconscious, and while Alessandra lay inert inside the car, Niccolò had drunk from Eduardo, then roared into the night after tossing her on the ground. 

Gods be praised, her boyfriend followed her into the Otherworld. 

~*~

Through mountains of musky leaves, she and Eduardo ran, hummus flying around their feet. Occasionally, just for thrills, they flew to the treetops, using their sharp vision to check out the distant landscape of gray sea and green hills, so beloved.

Alessandra smelt it before she saw it.

Their special stream. They knelt before the pristine water and played the game. Would it be different this time?

Pushing their faces close to the water, they tried, they really did. But no. Nothing. No image. No reflection. No chance of being Narcissus or Narcissa even with all their extraordinary powers. 

Disappointed, Alessandra plunged her face into the water. Do I even exist?  ‘Ohuhuh…aagh...’ Electricity shot through her body while Eduardo held her while she trembled with shock.

When the trembling ceased, Alessandra sighed. ‘Perhaps one day I’ll see my reflection.’ She bent down and scooped a handful of shimmering water, let it trail through her fingers. She might be slowly forgetting what she looked like, but she’d never forget the past events that brought her to a place where her reflection didn't reflect.

‘See yourself through my eyes, my love.’ With his long fingers, Eduardo traced the shape of her face. ‘Your hair is like black silk, and it is my never-ending thrill to run my fingers through it; your face is a heart, so dear to me as you gaze at me with your heart in your eyes. Your lips are soft and red,’ he followed their outline with a fingertip, ‘while your ears are two delicate white shells attuned to my love words.’

Alessandra was moved beyond words. ‘My love, I see myself reflected in your words. What need have I for any other?’

_____________________________________________________

WORDS: 1040

FCA


You'll find this announcement everywhere I hope! Here are the WEP challenges for 2022, the Year of Music. If you've never written for us, accept the challenge in 2022. You can find a complete list of the music challenges HERE.


                             We'll rock on with All You Need is Love in February. How perfect!



And a reminder ~

Please drop by to read my article, A Beginner's Guide to Self-Publishing on Damyanti's blog. Add to the conversation! 


A large part of my author promotion is through BOOKFUNNEL. They are great for selling books and growing newsletters. If you click on this link in one of my current promos, GIFTS GALORE, it will lead you to a passel of books to choose from in various genres - Romance, Historical, Western, Suspense. Try it! 

GIFTS GALORE

PARIS DREAMS THROUGH BOOKFUNNEL

                               

Thank you!



Wednesday, 20 October 2021

#WEP #OCTOBER #CHALLENGE for #TheScream - My #flashfiction - 'The Child'

 Hello friends!

Two months have gone by since the last WEP. Here we are again, nearing the end of the year. 

October is our scream-fest, but it doesn't have to be if horror isn't your thing. 

Talking about horror, most of us watched in horror at the allies' retreat from Afghanistan after 20 years of occupation. Images of those poor people running in front of departing aeroplanes is seared into our collective memory. 

I'm telling this story before it's completely out of date. The story of an Australian soldier who failed to understand  the challenges of going on patrol in Kandahar province, the area where the Australians were stationed.

I gleaned most of this story through research (I've written a book set in Afghanistan, as yet unpublished) and sprinkled it with a lot of imagination, thinking it suits The Scream for sure.




­­THE CHILD

 My first mission in Afghanistan. As we marched out in single file, my head thumped with the headache from hell. Ahead, the desert, pitch-black, silent. The only sound the Call to Prayer ringing across the Baluchi Valley, punctuating the silence with staccato bursts. The feral dogs joined in and soon their barking matched the cacophony of sound.

 I struggled through cool sand, so thick around my ankles it sucked at my regulation boots.

 I followed the soldier in front of me, his form a shadow in the darkness. Exhaustion threatened to overwhelm me. I’d had no sleep the night before, so terrified was I at the spectre of marching into the unfamiliar mountains and deserts of Kandahar province in one of the most treacherous countries on earth. The lead soldiers were obviously a lot fitter than I, a newly arrived recruit. I fought the sand – my knees screamed, my thighs burned, my lungs were on fire.

 I was in another world, a world where I’d been warned that nothing was as it appeared.

 Who was friend?

Who was foe?

 Making the wrong choice could result in death.

 I was on covert foot patrol with Australian and Afghan soldiers.  We were outside the wire, scaling rocky hills under the pressing weight of body armor and supplies. The altitude was an unwelcome foe. I hadn’t had time to acclimatise to the blistering temperatures.

 I tripped and fell onto my knees, thankful that the sand cushioned the fall.

 No one stopped to help me. On patrol, to stop would jeopardise the mission. I dragged my feet from the sand and hurried back to my position. No princesses here! In uniform everyone is treated the same.

 How I prayed for sunrise.

~*~

 After what seemed like hours, the lead soldier signalled with his crooked finger, pointing to our surroundings, then holding a finger to his lips. Word whispered down the line. Silence. Kuchi camps. Bedouins.

 We moved on again, soundlessly into the night, every sense screaming.

 ‘Police checkpoint’, someone whispered.

 In briefing I’d been told even if we had nothing to hide, these checkpoints were best avoided.

 No one even breathed as we crouched and duck-walked close to the ground, swinging our weapons from side to side, holding tight, hoping to elude the inevitable searchlight.

 A screech, a huge spotlight shone down on us, blinding us in white light.

­­Someone screamed ‘Drescht! (Stop!)’. We froze, startled deer, clutching weapons to our chests.

 Two policemen yelled at us in a language I didn’t understand, but the meaning was clear. They motioned us to our feet.

 We stood. Statues. I fought to control my bladder. We could be shot right where we stood.

 Our leader yelled, ‘Australians!’

 The police muttered to each other, came close, pointed weapons in our faces, checked papers, nodded, then motioned us on.

 Shaken, we headed further into the desert darkness.

 ‘The guards were skittish because just yesterday they confronted insurgents in Kakarak across the river. Shots were exchanged,’ hissed the soldier behind me.

 ‘Thanks,’ I muttered, but it didn’t comfort me. My eyes saw insurgents behind the rocks, across the river, in the mountains.

 I was weak with terror after my first date with danger. My legs collapsed. I fell out of line. Sat down in a dry gully, sucked air into my parched lungs.

 Back on my feet, I rushed to join the line again, terrified of being left behind.

                                                                   ~*~

 Sunrise.

 A glorious orange orb broke over the mountains, into the valley, and lit up the shock of green land we were heading toward, the green belt.

 In the near distance I saw a small boy, no more than six years old, shepherding his family’s goats through the pastures. He could be my son, but my little boy slept in cosy comfort, surrounded by stuffed toys and his father’s love. More children hid shyly in the doorways of simple rammed-earth homes.

 Watching. Watching. Watching.

 First stop. A meeting with the elders of the tribe. They were guarded, constantly looking to see if they were being observed. Not everyone would be happy to see them talking to Australian soldiers. They risked death for having a conversation with us. We kept it short to minimise the danger, then moved on.

 Over broken bricked walls, through crumbling aqueducts, we waded towards the village of Sorkh Morghab where coalition forces had built a school, market and medical centre. Yet, despite all our efforts, I’d been told it was hostile.

 We wandered through the village, apparently casually, weapons held across our chests, trigger fingers ready. We progressed through the market area, where men and young boys showed us their shops and tried to sell me a burqa. I was just a woman, one who needed to cover herself.

 One little boy approached me, hand outstretched. He, too, about six years old. I thought again of my son, but this little boy’s eyes reflected a man, an angry man. I shivered at the hate in those big black eyes.

 A soldier pulled me backward. ‘Step away,’ he said. ‘Nothing is as it seems.’

 I brushed him off. Reached into my pocket. Pulled out two lollies for the poor little boy. He was only a child.

 The child smiled a toothy smile, but it didn’t reach his old man eyes. He dived into his pocket and pulled out what looked like a large apple.

 We smiled at each other in what was a very easy but powerful gesture. No words needed.

 I saw the apple had gone black with age and looked rough and mouldy. It looked like a … it couldn’t be...

                                                                  ~*~

‘Nooooooooooo …’ someone screamed, a voice full of pain and regret.

 I felt the fire on my lips, the fire in my belly.

 I tasted the fire as it burned down my throat.

 I heard voices and the staccato bursts of gunfire.

 I heard the cry of a child.

 Then I heard … nothing.

  

THE END


TAGLINE: Trust is not a given. Sometimes you reach for an apple and are handed a grenade. 


WORDS: 997
FCA


Thank you for reading my entry for The Scream 

Please click on names in my sidebar to read more entries in this writing competition.

Please consider joining us for the final challenge for the year - Narcissus








Wednesday, 6 October 2021

#IWSG October post - Language choices in novels.

 Hello all! 

Welcome to the #IWSG for September! Hope your month has been awesome! I'm on a week's break after a gruelling publishing schedule. Now I've moved onto a keyword hunt using Publisher Rocket and Amazon ads with the help of Mastering Amazon Ads by Brian Meeks, but of course my laptop always travels with me!



Alex's awesome co-hosts for the October 6 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pett, J Lenni Dorner, Cathrina Constantine, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, and Mary Aalgaard! Try to fit in a visit if you can!

  Be sure to visit the
Insecure Writer’s Support Group Website to see the latest posts!!!

October 6 question - In your writing, where do you draw the line, with either topics or language?

I think this month's question will bring forth some good discussion. I'll keep mine short and sweet.

The question caught my eye because the language part is something I've struggled with. 

I don't use *bad* language in everyday life, but the lives of those I write about are a different matter. In Paris Dreams, I decided the two romantic leads, being in their twenties and early thirties, with no religious background, would not necessarily speak as cleanly as those of us who were threatened with having our mouths washed out with soap if we uttered a *bad* word in our parents' hearing. 

So I struggled with using a smattering of *bad* language in my novel and I feel it makes my story authentic for the circles my characters move in - fashion and art. That said, I only use 2 *bad* words - the ubiquitous "f*#k" and "b*^%$#d". Not gratuitous at all. Only one of my beta readers objected to the *bad* language. After my initial reluctance, I'm relaxed about it. So out of 102,000 words, to have about a dozen *bad* words, I can live with that. What do you think? 


How about you? Is *bad* language a no brainer for you or are you conflicted?

~*~

Want a #free Halloween read. Book 3 of my Fast and Furious Short Fiction, HALLOWEEN, is #free on an #Amazon promotion from Oct 1 - 5. Er, with time zones, I think it should be available if you hurry. Grab your copy now. 


~*~

More good news! This month's WEP October thrill fest for the Year of Art went live on October 1. Come join the fun. I'm sure we've all got something to scream about - not necessarily a horror story, maybe something tamer. What do you think? 

We love new writers, or past writers returning to give WEP another shot. Come share the fun! You've got until the 20th October to post. There is a critique prize for the winner and a chance to guest post/promote your book!





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