Thursday 1 February 2024

#WEP Get Together and #IWSG February 2024 - What turns you off on writers' blogs?

 Hi friends!

I am using this post for the monthly WEP Get Together and the IWSG. Although WEP is no longer operational, the team is tight and we're still having a meet and greet on the first of the month to share our news. Anyone is welcome to join us.


CLICK on the WEP site to read some inspiring posts!




How's the new year treating you? Any great successes? 

So far my year has made a slow start - I watch the New York news so I know the US has been battered by snow etc. Down here, Australia is battered by floods, cyclones (I got caught in one) and a long-lasting heatwave. Not an auspicious beginning to the year.

I have struggled to write amidst the mayhem. Hot, draining weather is not conducive to writing, which is why NaNoWriMo is in the Northern Hemisphere's winter. 

So my January plans of publishing two more novels has come to naught. One is ready, one is undergoing final tweaking by moi, then I'll be sending it out to betas and then an editor. Going to try a great development editor, Yolanda Renee. We've helped each other over the years. A great friendship which will continue even though we don't have WEP to hold us together. I'm playing back her kindness by showing her shingle.


See link above.


So, brings me to the IWSG question of the month:

February 7 question: What turns you off when visiting an author's website/blog? Lack of information? A drone of negativity? Little mention of author's books? Constant mention of books?

I think the question underlines what we mostly know - authors are doomed if they do, doomed if they don't. We get turned off if an author tries to sell us a book, or talks about it constantly, and if they don't, we think their marketing plan is skewiff. Hmm. Can't win. 

I think my website is unassuming. I have a Page for MY BOOKS which I'm pretty sure no one has ever clicked on. Correct me if I'm wrong. But blogging makes friends, not sales. Which, along with the constant dabbling by google and co which results in people not being able to comment etc, is why some bloggers leave for Facebook and Instagram or other socials. A lot less trouble. Do you agree?


The awesome co-hosts for the February 7 posting of the IWSG are Janet Alcorn, SE White, Victoria Marie Lees, and Cathrina Constantine!

Visit if you can!

See you in March!

Denise

Friday 1 December 2023

WEP AND #IWSG DECEMBER - WEP BREAKING NEWS - THEN 'OVER TO YOU', MY FAVORITE MOVIE - THE SONG OF BERNADETTE

 Hello there!

Welcome to my last WEP entry. What's that? 

As many at the IWSG have been involved with WEP over the years I'm placing this information before my WEP entry which is below if you'd like to read it and call it my IWSG post. 



I'm not insecure about closing down WEP; I think the team has done a great job, been selfless in the interests of our writers for such a long time. But all good things must come to an end, even something as good as WEP.





This is our final WEP challenge, as after 13 years, WEP is closing down.

 This is partly due to the stressors on the team which have been relentless since Covid and are ongoing, and partly because of the drop in the number of participants this year.  We know many WEP members are experiencing their own stressors in the form of health challenges in themselves or family members which impacts their writing time.

 After much consideration, the WEP team concluded that this is the time to finish. Not exactly on a high, but not exactly at the bottom of our game.

 For thirteen years we have been a light for many struggling with their writing life, and many of you credit WEP with the improvement in your writing and confidence when submitting your work to publishers. This is what WEP set out to do and we can be happy in that we achieved the supportive writing community we set out to create. I know we could have done better in some areas, but due to time constraints we could not follow every avenue we would have liked.

 Thank you to all who have visited our website over the years and offered us words of encouragement and thank you to those who took up the challenges which made the hard work rewarding. Our wonderful judge, Nick Wilford, attests to the quality of WEP writing when he judges each challenge, so it’s not just us.

 A special thank you to those of you who have been with us for the whole journey and we’re sorry that closing down WEP will have a great impact, but all is not lost. More info on the WEP website.

 THE FUTURE OF THE WEP ANTHOLOGY

 The WEP anthology is going ahead at this stage, for publication in May 2024, but as yet we do not have enough entries to take it forward. The end of December is the close of submissions, but if you intend to submit, please send Nila your information. We need at least 14 more submissions to make the anthology viable. It will be a precious keepsake, so if you want to see your story included for perpetuity, gain a publishing credit, send it in!


The awesome co-hosts for the December 6 posting of the IWSG are C. Lee McKenzie, JQ Rose, Jennifer Lane, and Jacqui Murray!


~*~ WEP ~*~ WEP ~*~ WEP ~*~

Now, for Over to You, we have been asked to base our story on our favorite movie. 


From the WEP Challenges Page: So...will it be a romance? action-adventure? family drama? horror? Or will it be a comedy? tragedy? thriller?

I'm not absolutely sure how to categorize my entry - it's mostly fact, partly fiction, part essay with pictures...whatever...please enjoy,

A LITTLE BACKGROUND

I watched The Song of Bernadette with my sister when we were very young. I remember we bawled our eyes out afterward, and to this day it’s a movie I can’t forget.

The Song of Bernadette is a 1943 American biographicaldrama film based on the 1941 novel of the same name by Franz Werfel. It portrays the story of Bernadette Soubirous, who reportedly experienced eighteen visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary from February to July 1858 and was canonized in 1933.  

The novel was extremely popular, spending more than a year on The New York Times Best Seller list and thirteen weeks heading the list. The story was also turned into a Broadway play, which opened at the Belasco Theatre in March 1946. 


DISCLAIMER: I am not a Roman Catholic, but I was profoundly touched by this movie. I do believe in miracles however. In these troubled times, we need all the miracles we can get!


A Song of Miracles

Based on a true story


In the quaint town of Lourdes, nestled amidst the rolling hills of southwestern France, a sense of serenity lingered in the air undisturbed by the echoes of the past that reverberated through cobblestone streets and ancient stone buildings.


Lourdes, SW France

Amidst this peaceful setting lived a fourteen-year old girl named Bernadette Soubrirous. She was an ordinary peasant girl, but the richness of her spirit made her extraordinary. Little did she or the townsfolk know her life would soon become entwined with the miraculous.

Bernadette Soubrirous

“Bernadette! Go fetch some firewood,” was her mother’s cry each evening. “Stop your dreaming, silly girl.”

Bernadette did not mind the menial task or the sharpness of her mother’s tongue. She loved to ramble beside the river, admire the wildlife and discover secret grottos nestled in its rocky banks.

It was an ordinary day when it happened.

Bernadette wandered along the banks of the Gave River collecting firewood for her family. Distracted by a strange breeze and a change in the light, she discovered a hidden grotto. Intrigued by its mysterious aura, she felt an inexplicable urge to linger. It was as if an unseen force beckoned her to stay.

Before her eyes, a vision appeared. A beautiful lady clad in white stood on a rock niche. Bernadette fell to her knees. When she looked up, the lady had disappeared.

I will come to this magic grotto every day, Bernadette whispered. As God is my witness, I will see you again.

Soon, whispers of an ethereal presence spread. Some of the townsfolk doubted Bernadette’s visions, while others believed, but there was an undeniable sense of magic in the air.

“Maman,” Bernadette said after seeing the vision several times, “I have witnessed a beautiful lady bathed in light by the river, who spoke to me with a voice as gentle as the breeze.”

“Enough of your silliness, my girl.” Her mother tossed her bright red hair. “Go fetch more firewood or you will go hungry tonight.” She grabbed Bernadette’s arm. “And stay away from the river.”

Bernadette, true to her vow, repeatedly visited the grotto despite her mother's warning.

The citizens of Lourdes stopped her in the streets as she made her way to the river. 

“Come with me. See the lady for yourself,” she told them.

On one visit, the lady asked Bernadette to drink and wash at a seemingly non-existent spring. Bernadette obediently dug a hole in the ground with her fingers and smeared her face with dirt.

“Ha! See! A charlatan, a trickster, an imbecile!” some onlookers cried, but their ridicule changed to wonder when water began to flow from the hole, and later to exaltation when its miraculous healing properties cured the sick amongst them.

Even more people flocked to Lourdes to witness these miracles for themselves.

The news of Bernadette's visions reached the ears of the town mayor, the sceptical Alphonse Lacade. Intrigued yet doubtful, he decided to investigate for himself.

“Do you truly see visions?” he asked Bernadette, trying to discern the truth behind her extraordinary tale. “I see sincerity in your eyes and you exhibit an unwavering conviction in your voice. I am truly baffled. This tale cannot be true.”

“My tale is true,” she said. “I know they say I’m just a poor girl who has never suffered. Why was I chosen to receive visitations from the Lady? I cannot explain. I only believe.”

The mayor doubted.

Many did not.

Soon the Massabielle grotto, became a place of pilgrimage. People from far and wide travelled to witness the miracles whispered to occur in Lourdes.



“Help me. Carry me to the waters,” the sick and blind cried.

“I need solace,” wept a young mother, clutching her children’s hands as she took her turn at the stream. “My husband has died. The mysterious Lady's presence comforts me.”

Bernadette watched in wonder as miracles occurred, overcoming scepticism and scrutiny.


Jennifer Jones as Bernadette


The hoards believed what they were seeing and spoke to Bernadette. “We have witnessed the inexplicable: the blind seeing, the lame walking, and the hopeless finding newfound hope. Bernadette, your song is our song.”

The grotto transformed into a sanctuary of faith and miracles, with countless pilgrims kneeling, praying, watching and spreading the good news.

“The whole world needs these miracles,” they told each other. “Look at Brother John. How long has he lay abed? Now he walks.”

Soon the kneeling believers were joined by men in robes standing behind them, watching those who could not walk, walk, those who could not see, see. They were a delegation of priests of the Catholic Church, cautious and measured, sent to investigate the authenticity of the young girl's apparitions. They spent hours questioning Bernadette and examining the witnesses, and deliberated over the inexplicable events unfolding in Lourdes.

In the end, after countless interviews and miraculous healings, the Church recognized the supernatural occurrences as genuine.

“We cannot doubt when before our eyes we see the lame walk and the blind see as Jesus promised. These visions are indeed a divine intervention. Even the mayor is now humbled by the inexplicable beauty of these miracles that have unfolded in his small town. We must see to the Lady’s canonization and build a sanctuary to The Lady of Lourdes.”

The Sanctuary to The Lady of Lourdes

The Song of Bernadette echoed throughout Lourdes, immortalizing the faith and resilience of a young girl who, against all odds, became the vessel for miracles. The grotto, once a hidden gem, now stood as a symbol of hope, drawing pilgrims from every corner of the globe.

The priests declared she must enter a convent. “You must spend your days in reflection and prayer with the Sisters of Charity of Nevers.” 

And so, in the heart of Lourdes, amidst the timeless hills and the flowing Gave River, the melody of miracles continued its song, carried on the wings of belief and the echoes of a song that transcended the boundaries of the ordinary.

Bernadette herself refused to take the miraculous waters when a tumor grew in her leg. On her deathbed, she sorrowfully maintained that she may never see the lady again. However, the lady appeared in her room, smiled, and gestured to Bernadette. Bernadette joyfully cried out to the apparition before she took her last breath.

The last words Bernadette heard: "You are now in Heaven and on earth. Your life begins, O Bernadette."

According to the RC Church over 7,000 people have been cured at Lourdes ...


 

 

TAGLINE: Do you believe in magic? The miraculous? The humble being exalted?


Thanks for visiting!


Denise


Wednesday 1 November 2023

#IWSG NOVEMBER 2023. TRADITIONAL VS SELF-PUBLISHING

 Hi all!

Seeing comments are often not allowed on my blog, thanks Google, I nearly decided not to post. I've got to choose whether to add a new comment system, or move to my Word Press blog. Neither excites me. I'm on vacation so and have no time to fiddle. 



I'm not answering the question about NaNoWriMo in full. Yep. I've done it 5 times, but I don't write that way. I choose to go slow and edit each day's work most of the time. Sure that wastes time sometimes, but I can't help myself. These days many writers have their project fully planned before Nov 1 which wasn't the original idea, but what the heck? You do what you do.


click HERE to read more - including a list of pros and cons for both which we probably all know. 


My latest book, Fijian Princess, (which I started writing in 2015! Told you I was a slow scribe). When I read it again, I liked it, so I decided to polish it up and have it edited AGAIN recently. I'd shelved it after an edit, pretty discouraged. So, about 3 editors have cast their weary eyes over it at different times and at considerable expense to moi. It looks pretty posh now and so it should. 

So do I self-publish? Or do I shop around for a traditional publisher, small or big? I can't believe I'm actually asking this question - I've been on Team Self-Publish from the outset but it's a ton of work. Not that I expect an easy ride if I actually lasso a trad publisher. Just check out Damyanti's FB posts about her latest book. She puts in the hours. 

My final editor says I have a great story, will attract readers around the world, so, hmmm, I'm insecure about this. I need your help.

I won't be doing anything with this ms or my Paris Cookery School until early 2024. The rest of 2023 is ridiculously busy mainly with travel. I'm down in South Australia momentarily and face a long trip home in 3 days.


The awesome co-hosts for the November 1 posting of the IWSG are PJ Colando, Jean Davis, Lisa Buie Collard, and Diedre Knight!


~*~

Anyone want to share their experiences with self-pub or traditional? I'd be grateful.

If you have some advice and can't comment, please flick me an email ...

den.covey@gmail.com

Thanks so much for reading/helping - 

Denise


Tuesday 17 October 2023

#WEP #October2023 - My #flashfiction, THE GHOST OF OPERA GARNIER

 Hello all!

It's time for October's WEP challenge, based on the Phantom of the Opera. For this #flashfiction, I have retold the classic story in fairytale form, using third person omniscient, not the 'person' I usually write in, but I felt it suited this story.



Hopefully, my retelling of the classic suits the October thrill fest.

 

The Ghost of Opéra Garnier



Opera Garnier showing its underground caverns


Once upon a time, in the beautiful heart of Paris, beneath the majestic Opéra Garnier, lay a world hidden from prying eyes. From the pinnacles of its rooftops to its underground caverns and lake, it was a realm of whispers and shadows. Here passion and despair intertwined like dark strands of haunting melodies.

This was the home of the Phantom of the Opera who had lived in a labyrinthine lair beneath the theater for as long as anyone could remember. Shrouded in mystery and illusion, his soul bore the weight of a thousand unspoken sorrows.

The Phantom had been a legend in the Parisian opera house for decades. He was a genius - a composer, master of disguise, violin virtuoso. His compositions, resembling fragments of a tortured soul, echoed through the corridors and enchanted every soul who heard them.

But the Phantom's true genius lay in his artistry of concealment. In the decades he had inhabited the cavernous spaces, he had never been seen by a single soul, his presence only known through the haunting letters and cryptic instructions he was wont to write.

He was hideously disfigured according to the rumor spread by members of the Belle Epoque society who floated through the opera house halls in search of the next exquisite rendition of their favorite operas.

But if no one had seen him, how did the rumor begin?

There was but one who knew him.

Her name was Christine Daaé, a beautiful, talented young soprano, the Phantom’s obsession. She was entranced by her mysterious benefactor, believing him to be the Angel of Music her father had promised would watch over her when she embarked on her new career. Her voice had drawn the Phantom like a moth to a flame. He tutored her in secret, taking her from chorus girl to star of the opera in a few short months.

One evening, as Christine prepared to perform her signature role as Marguerite in "Faust," a fragrant red rose lay on her dressing room table, accompanied by a note in elegant handwriting.


"My dearest Christine,

Tonight, the world shall hear your voice as never before. Tonight, you shall be the embodiment of perfection. Do not forget, my love, that you are mine, and I am yours. Let none come between us. Every note you sing, every breath you take, is a symphony of our shared passion.

Yours eternally, The Phantom"

 

 Christine's heartbeat tripled in speed. She knew the Phantom watched her every move, guiding her to greatness.

“I will honor you with a perfect performance, my Phantom,” she whispered, laying the red rose in the center of her dressing table.

She sang from the bottom of her heart; the audience hung on to her every note. The Phantom whirled around her, a presence guiding her to perfection.

Performance over, the applause was one almighty roar. Over and over she was called back to the stage to bask in the adoration of the crowd until she stood knee deep in red roses.

But the only red rose she cared about waited in her dressing room.




She rushed from the stage as soon as the curtain fell for the final encore, her heart pounding with the thrill of the night.

As she entered the dressing room, the Phantom stood before her, a shadow cloaked in darkness. Here he was, the man who haunted her dreams and shaped her destiny.

"Christine." His voice a mix of longing and desperation.

She approached him, hand outstretched, curiosity overcoming her fear. "You were there," she whispered, "with me on stage. I felt your presence. Are you indeed a ghost as they say?"

"Yes, I cannot deny it." His voice trembled. "My ghostly form allows me to always be with you, my dear Christine. Your talent is a mystical gift from me, a reflection of our love."

Christine reached out and touched the glittering silver mask. "Why do you hide your real self?"

He hesitated, then removed his mask. “If you reject me, I will leave his building, and you, forever.”

“I will never reject you, my Angel.”

The sight that met her eyes was beautiful and tragic. His skin pallid, his features distorted by a cruel twist of fate. But his eyes, pools of deep emotion, overflowed with a yearning that reached into Christine's soul.

"You see, my love, I am a monster as they claim," he murmured. “Unexplained deaths are laid at my door. They declare I am a master of secrecy and horror.”

Tears welled in Christine's eyes. She gazed into his face. Placed a hand on his caped shoulder. "Never call yourself a monster," she said. "You are a genius, a maestro of music, a man with a heart that loves deeply."

Tears ran down the Phantom’s ravaged face. “I expected rejection, but your words fill me with a glimmer of hope.” He touched her cheek, his gloved hand trembling. "Christine, I have loved you from the moment I heard your voice. Will you ever be able to love a man as grotesque as I?"

Christine pressed his hand to her heart. "I already do, my Angel. I love you for the music you have given me, for the passion you have awakened in my soul as no other has done."

The Phantom could not believe his ears. For so many years, he had hidden in the shadows, a ghost, believing himself unworthy of love, and now, Christine offered him her heart. He kissed her hand, trailed kisses up her arm, his lips cold, yet gentle against her skin.

Their love was a forbidden one that defied convention. But it was a love that transcended the boundaries of the world above and the world below.

“My Phantom, together we will face the challenges that lay ahead.”

“Yes, Christine, our love is a melody that will endure for all eternity.”

And their bittersweet melody echoed through the hallowed halls of the Opera Garnier for all time, a testament to the power of love and music.


TAGLINE: Love will find a way, despite exceptional circumstances.


For the month of December, you get to choose your own genre, story theme, whatever inspires you.

POST December 1 through to 15. 


WEP invites you to write an entry for their first Anthology, the theme, Gone! Gone! Gone!
Submissions Open! 
Close end December!


Thanks for reading,

Denise

 


Wednesday 4 October 2023

#IWSG OCTOBER 4, 2023 - AI - Will it assist writers or replace them?

Hi all!

Time for another IWSG post. This month I'm very interested in the question:

The topic of AI writing has been heavily debated across the world. According to various sources, generative AI will assist writers, not replace them. What are your thoughts?


Like many writers, I've been following this debate for some time, well, years really. 

AI has come too far for us to stop it, or change it to much extent. 

Sure, there are writers suing ChatGPT for infringing copyright, but that's just a drop in the ocean. There are 18,000 Australian authors and 180,000 international authors who've had their copyright infringed as AI uses our books to teach from. This is going to mean copyright laws will need to be looked at.

I understand the negative view of AI-assisted writing, but I'm afraid it's here to stay, IMO. I've toyed with it, which is why I was interested to read an ARC of an author explaining how to use AI to our advantage.


Only available in paperback


Here's the beginning of Nina's blurb:

ChatGPT: Your Silent Co-author for Successful Romance Novels.


In order to make a living as a genre fiction author, you have to create more books, preferably in a linked series, faster than ever before.

And that is where a tool such as Open AI's ChatGPT can save you days if not weeks of work.

Say Goodbye to Procrastination, Boost Your Writing Speed, and Bring Your Romance Fiction to Life in Ways You Never Thought Possible.


ChatGPT is the writer's secret weapon. Shaping Bestsellers, One AI-Assisted Story at a Time.


You might be shocked that a romance author has already published this book months ago, but there you go.

Remember when mathematics was done in your head, then we developed the scientific calculator, then the computer which can solve a maths' problem in nanoseconds which would take us hours, days, months (me, forever). Taking this attitude, I can see Nina's idea of hurrying that writing along.

It is said that AI-assisted writing is the first real change since Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1440 and it was ready for commercial use 10 years later. The printing press finally democratised writing, printing texts at lightning speed instead of the beautiful, hand-styled pages laboriously created by monks and the like and available to very few. 

Haven't we all benefited from this invention?

So, I don't have a magic wand. Who knows how much AI will take over our writing. Amazon is onto it - you have to state if you've used AI in writing your book and you're limited to publishing 3 a day! Not that Amazon doesn't use AI - they've been using it freely to do all sorts of things data-wise. As have many other businesses.

And AI can do much more than write books - it can write code, create artworks, write essays and non-fiction articles.   

HERE is a link on how to write a novel using the ChatGPT novel template.

MORE USEFUL LINKS:

https://www.geeky-gadgets.com/how-to-use-openai-dalle-3-for-free/

https://www.geeksmint.com/ai-tools/


For those who are dead against AI-assisted writing, I'll point out that it covers:

(1) PLOT AND STORY DEVELOPMENT
(2) CHARACTERS
(3) SETTING

Go on. Take a peek. (I haven't used it yet, but when I get my current 2 novels published without AI's assistance, I will experiment).

AI-assisted writing is only as good as what you feed it. You need to have ideas on the above and ChatGPT will help you refine them. Chat will come up with ideas instantly that would take a human over a week or more.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I have used ChatGPT to help me write blurbs. I suck at writing blubs and need all the  help I can get. Once ChatGPT spits out my blurb, I can use it as a springboard to improvement. I must say, Chat is not perfect - it takes a lot of editing to produce your work.

I'll be interested in what you all have to say. I firmly believe AI will assist writers, not replace them.

But I'm ready for probably the majority of writers who hate the idea.

~*~ 


The awesome co-hosts for the October 4 posting of the IWSG are Natalie Aguirre, Kim Lajevardi, Debs Carey, Gwen Gardner, Patricia Josephine, and Rebecca Douglass!


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

~*~

Please join WEP for succulent stories for our October thrill-fest hosted by our very own horror author, Yolanda Renee Stout.

POST October 18 - 20th.


Question is, did I use AI to assist in writing my flash fiction?

Thanks for visiting,

Denise