Wednesday, 16 June 2021

#WEPff #June challenge - #Year of the Art - my story - Wave After Wave in Search of Freedom

Here we are. Posting for the June WEP challenge for the Year of the Art. This month we honor  Hokusai. Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), a  Japanese artist from the Edo period. His painting, Great Wave, is arguably his most famous work. My skin doctor has a huge print in his waiting room for me to meditate on each time I go.

There are so many possible reactions to the Great Wave, but I could never get waves of refugees out of my head. I hope you like my story which is a retelling of one previously posted for an earlier challenge.




Wave After Wave in Search of Freedom

 

Abioye looked down. African red dirt dyed his swollen, ripped feet as he put distance between himself and his desecrated village. Burned and looted, everyone he loved, dead.

 His eyes roved the roadside. He found a rolled-up old mattress, a cringing dog, a goatskin of water. For weeks, he'd been getting his swag together in the village - tins the warlords missed when they swooped into his village, dozens of them crammed in the back of dusty Jeeps painted to blend with the desert. Raiding and raping, they then drove off into the hills, automatic rifles over their shoulders. They stole the UN dried milk tins from the mothers’ tents, taking from the babies' mouths. They stole the rice, showing not a whit of conscience for the starving villagers.

 Then they took more than supplies.

 One day they returned, took the lives of everyone - all the old men, all the women, all the children. The only survivors were young men like him, around the age of sixteen, who roamed the sparse land where the grasses waved in the breeze, giving up edible herbs to those who knew the secrets of the landscape. After a day spent scavenging, he'd returned to unimaginable horror. Heart in mouth, he’d grabbed his swag from where he’d buried it under the one remaining tree … and ran. If the warlords found him, he'd be forced into the life of a boy soldier like so many others who'd disappeared.

 Abioye felt the sob in his throat. How he missed his friends, recently taken to be trained to intimidate, to maim, to murder. 

 He was what they called a refugee. Wave after wave of humans escaping privation, destitution, murderous gangs, a future without hope. Their destination? The boats. The sea. Freedom.

 Boats left from Tangier in Morocco. He'd work in Tangier until he saved the fare. He'd been given the name of a man who hired young men to escort tourists through the medinas*. He knew boats got caught in great waves of murderous seas. Many refugees died. But he’d gladly take the risk. He’d cross the water. To a free land. A land with food. A land with jobs. If all else failed, he would swim across the great waves. It’d been done. He would do whatever it took to reach the new land. Utopia.

 Excitement pulsed through him. It kept his mind off his painful feet and the sun beating down mercilessly on his rag-covered head. He sipped from his meagre water supply. He must make it last. He might walk for months and find no village, no water, no food. 

 The dog cried. He poured a little water into his cupped palm. The dog lapped, not wasting a drop. It licked Abioye's leg. He reached down and patted the mutt’s head.

 He adjusted his makeshift belt made of vines. He'd lost so much weight in the past few days, the trousers slipped over his hips. Now they flapped around his ankles. He laughed at the ridiculous situation, then stopped, afraid he was hysterical from horror or sunstroke. But it didn't matter if he laughed, cried or screamed. There was no one to hear him. He was crossing the Sahara Desert. Alone.

 Rocks tore his feet. He stumbled. Landed on his knees. Sobbed. He couldn’t help it even though he was wasting moisture. The sun. The rough road. The hunger. The thirst. The vision of his parents' burned bodies. His young sisters. His beloved -- How could he go on?

 The dog licked his face. Abioye dragged himself to his feet. He must go on. In memory of his father, his mother, his two sweet sisters, his Candis who’d been promised to him when they were children.

 His head whirled like when his father used to swing him around when he was a little boy. Falling, falling, falling, but never hitting the ground. 

 How long till he reached freedom? Surely, he must soon pass by the green plants that leaked water. Then he and the dog could drink their fill. As he dreamed, moisture formed on the tip of his tongue.

 I'm so tired. I need to sleep. Just for a little while. 

 No. He mustn't stop. To stop was death. Then there'd be no one to remember his family. No one to remember his Candis. He saw her in his mind – her wide smile, her red lips, her teeth pearly white, dazzling him, her short black hair cropped close to her scalp, her graceful long limbs, her colorful, modest dresses that brushed the red sand when she walked.

 I will never forget you, my little love.

 He took another step. For Candis.

 While ever God gave him life, he would press on. To a new life. Away from his cursed land. The land God forgot. Maybe God had turned his back on Africa but still lived in that new land where the boat would take him. Maybe God would welcome him to its shores and surround him with love and plenty. He smiled, imagining the vision.

 He'd seen mirages in the desert many times. A mirage was coming toward him. A big green tank shimmering through the waves.

 Thank you God!

 The mirage came closer. No! A Jeep. Soldiers in the back. Soldiers in the front. Guns pointed. At him.

 He spun around. Away. Away from the killers. Away from bondage. Away from death.

 He heard the dog yelp. Abioye’s throat closed over. Turning, he saw its head a bloody mess and its eyes stared sightless into the searing sky. 

 'Stop or you're next!' One of the soldiers waved his gun, then shot a machine gun round into the air. Takka! Takka! Takka! 

 ‘Don't take another step, boy. Or it’ll be your last.'

 * Medina - the old walled part of a North African town.

WORD COUNT: 958

FCA

PLEASE VISIT OTHER PARTICIPANTS IN THE JUNE CHALLENGE. CLICK ON NAMES IN MY SIDEBAR OR GO TO THE WRITE...EDIT...PUBLISH WEBSITE HERE.

IF YOU LIKE THE IDEA OF WRITING FOR WEP, OUR NEXT CHALLENGE IS FREEDOM OF SPEECH


Thanks for coming by and reading.




Wednesday, 2 June 2021

#IWSG #June - What is your #drafting process? The result of my #drafting leads me to this - sharing my first books...

Hello fellow IWSG-ers! How are you doing this month? Had a good one in May? Hope so. So let's do the rounds and see what's happening ...



  Be sure to visit the co-hosts and the 
Insecure Writer’s Support Group Website!!!

Alex's awesome co-hosts for the June 2 posting of the IWSG are J Lenni Dorner, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, Lee Lowery, and Rachna Chhabria!

 June 2 question - For how long do you shelve your first draft, before reading it and re-drafting? Is this dependent on your writing experience and the number of stories/books under your belt?

I'm not the right person to answer this question, as I have a habit of shelving first drafts, then second drafts, then third drafts, having a hard time believing I can't still improve the story. Those of you with several books published know that's really not a great attitude or process. (I console myself with the story that Harper Lee re-wrote the first chapter of To Kill a Mockingbird 60 times). But when I broke her record, I started to worry. This perfectionism or whatever it is, has certainly held back my publication process. Nevertheless, I've made a big jump this past month, prioritized my writing even to the extent of missing last month's IWSG. (((face palm)))

What WIPs have I been endlessly drafting/editing? I'm getting 2 books of short stories (many written for WEP and extended greatly) and my Paris novel, Paris Dreams and the first in my vampire series, Betrayed polished and ready to hit the shelves. All will be available on Amazon and/or through the Bookfunnel promotional site very soon. 

After all these years of gathering my collection alone, I hope you'll indulge me as I share a little peek at the stories I've been endlessly drafting. Getting covers done held up the process. I finally found an artist I could work with. Here's what I have so far. I love them. How about you?


FREE when you sign up to join my newsletter list on Bookfunnel. (If you subscribed through the MailerLite pop up, you will receive the same ebook). A second book of Paranormal short stories under the pen name Silver Tree  will be published soon.



Women's fiction. A love story beside the Seine - fashion designer meets artist. For our hero, Saskia, sometimes a new life comes at a cost.

The Paris Dreams cover is not the one I'll end up using. I'm working with an illustrator who is trying to recreate my vision. (And the author will be Denise Covey).

Pre-order Paris Dreams on Amazon



I've written the first three books in the series, so will be rapid releasing. 
I like to think of my vampire series as - glittering Renaissance vampire romances with no social distancing.

Duke Vipunin de Castellina is the hero of this paranormal romance that moves between Florence and the hill town of Castellina (where the castle in the story still sits proudly on top of the hill) in Tuscany. Underpinning the story is the duke's relationship with the powerful de' Medici family, rulers of Florence at this time in history. Book Two picks up the story in the South of France where we remain until Book Four. In Book Four, the action moves to Paris.
Watch this space.

Thank you to my writer friends who I so appreciate, who've become ARC readers for my soon-to-be-published works. I hope that endless drafting pays off.

And we know there's a ton of work to self-publishing. Adding a pen name makes it more complicated. It's taken me years to decide how to go about it. In the end, Denise Covey and Silver Tree are writing different sub genres of romance, so they'll share the one webpage and email list. Thinking about doubling up gave me heart palpitations. I have enough trouble with one lot of social media. (I will admit I wasted months creating a dedicated website for Silver Tree, but gave it up and combined what I had).

I hope you didn't mind my MailerLite pop up that popped up. It's been in the works for so long. So now I don't have as much time to draft and re-draft, I'm overwhelmed with all the extra-curricular activities which come with being the one-stop shop to ownership of your work. I hope you'll subscribe and keep me on my toes. (Don't worry if you subscribed twice. I'll sort it out). 

Looking forward to reading your stories.

And WEP has its June 1 post published. Pop by and see what we have offering this month in our gorgeous Year of the Art.


Ciao!
Denise 




Wednesday, 21 April 2021

#FREEDOMMORNING - #WEPAPRILCHALLENGE - MY #FLASHFICTION, 'THE BEACH HOUSE.'

Hello! Welcome to the #WEP April challenge. This is our Year of Art at WEP, and we started with a very successful challenge with Klimt's THE KISS for February. A challenge won by Jemi Fraser with Sin and Sunshine. To read Jemi's flash to give you an idea of the kind of writing that wins prizes, go HERE


This month we honor Claude Clark, an African American artist and art educator. In his bio, he said, 'As a child in the churches, the schools and the community, I dreamed of a destiny.' This dream is shared by so many today, with modern day slavery skyrocketing to numbers over 40 million. And of course, that's just a very conservative estimate. Big Chocolate, Big Coffee, Big Tabacco  -- most of the 'Bigs' have discovered how using child slaves in their plantations adds to their bottom line, even though they've promised to 'end child slavery' -- ha ha ha.

The 'Big' stories are for another day. I nearly shared Arno's Big Chocolate story, but that would have spoiled Easter for you. This challenge is perfect for one of the causes close to my heart -- arranged marriage and domestic abuse, whether mental or physical or both. These stories make me fume.

Today, I want to share Emma Dil's story. Like Claude Clark, she dreamed of a destiny far removed from her present day situation.


The Beach House

 

Image result for IMAGE OF HOUSE FALLING INTO SEA

Emma Dil was a fool to leave Paris. 

The city where she feels safe.

Where freedom reigns.

She was a fool to come back.

Here.

Here holds too many memories, too many secrets.

Memories and secrets she can no longer ignore.

She must deal with them or she’ll never reach her potential.

There. In front of her. The beach house, its timbers broken and exposed. Since she escaped, years of relentless tides have eaten away at its foundations. It now teeters on the edge of the dunes, on its knees in the sand, ready to surrender to a king tide.

Today the ocean holds no threat like it did that night many years ago. Its gentle waves lap the sand, leaving a trail of silvery froth and grit. Gazing at the peaceful sea, she almost forgets why she suppressed her memories for so long. But the mind holds onto things, remembers things best forgotten, overwhelms in the early morning hours when the body is most vulnerable.

 Confronted with the crumbling house, her mind searches its dark recesses, unearthing hidden secrets which she thought buried. Through the years, in her silent moments when the busyness of life paused, it spoke so softly in the gentlest of whispers, as it tried to speak to her of its memories. Then there were other times when her pain rushed to the surface without warning, hurtling through her like a runaway train, threatening to derail her altogether.

 She cries, falls to her knees in the wet sand. She no longer wants to carry that heavy sharp stone of hurt which has kept her caged like a helpless bird, which has stopped her enjoying the freedom of her new life. 

 She will no longer be held hostage to painful memories.

 Memories of her last terrible night in that crumbling house threaten to drown her in a tidal wave of hurt.

  ~*~


On the night she died to her old life, the wind roared, the rain poured, the waves crashed. The mighty Pacific Ocean swirled, rose and fell in a dance of wave and tide. Then the winds calmed, the moon rose and sat outside her window, bathing her in light.

 She’d been asleep, tossing and turning like the tide as she did every night. She’d opened her eyes and watched the moonlight creep across her bed like a lover’s soft caress. The sheets tangled and folded over the bed like waves. Kicking off the covers, she threw herself across the bed like a beached whale.

 The moon’s light overlooked the angry welts criss-crossing her legs. The wounds throbbed, but she had no ointments to ease the pain. But the pain she felt inside at her father’s betrayal was worse than any belting.  There were no ointments to soothe that sharp pain.

The crashing waves heralded high tide. Soon the water would rise to just below her window. The relentless pummeling against the house posts, thump, thwack, thump, thwack, thumpthwack, mimicked the sound and rhythm of her father’s belt as it cut her tender flesh while her mother cowed in the corner, praying, flinching each time the belt descended. Did she pray for her husband’s soul? For her daughter’s pain? Why didn’t she do something? Anything … But her mother was as helpless as she.

Father would not be denied his will. She was her father’s daughter. She would never give in to his demands. She would not marry the boy from Afghanistan, her father’s choice for her. She would marry the man she loved.

 A big storm had struck earlier in the night. Now the rain starts again. Relentless. Like her father’s demands. He locked her in her room until you come to your senses were his words. She hasn’t been able to communicate with Ahmed since she was imprisoned, but she was not afraid. She would escape her cage. She and Ahmet would be together. As God willed.

She knew Ahmed waited for her every night beyond the dunes. It was her hope. Her belief.

Tonight she must choose freedom.

 She wrapped her hand in the end of her sheet and smashed the locked window, thankful the pelting rain muffled the sound of breaking glass, thankful she did not cut herself on the jagged edges.

The black night sucked her in. 

Hitting the surprisingly warm water, she swam for her life, her robe tangled around her knees, dragging her under. Water filled her mouth and nose. Waves slapped her face but fell more gently than her father's hands. She fought the urge to surrender to the elements. No. She has waited too long for freedom. What was this water compared to the joy that lay ahead, a new life with her love? 

Her name meant ‘Heart’s Wish.’ She would have her wish.

A new life in Paris. With Ahmet.

Her bare feet found sand at last. Running out of the water, she held her sopping robe in her hands and sprinted toward the trees.

‘Emma Dil.’ Ahmed whispered her name as he stepped forward from his place on the dunes where he later told her he’d made a shelter and watched her window for many days and nights, fighting the urge to break down the door and drag her away from her father's abuse.

Now, at long last, Ahmed held her in his safe arms.

Freedom.

Home.

 

~*~

 

These many years later, Ahmed watches her from the top of the dunes, next to the crumbling wreck that had been her home when her family first arrived from Afghanistan. Before it became her prison. After she rises to her feet, in a few long strides he is by her side. He gently cradles her. Rocks her like a baby while she cries in his arms.

 Her tears are healing tears.

 She will be whole again.

 ‘My brave girl,’ he whispers.

 Over her shoulder the house groans and lurches, plunges into the sea. Its timbers break like skittles. The tide reaches out its greedy hand and sucks it under the waves.

WORDS: 1,000

FCA

If it's too late to join WEP this month, please consider joining us in June. We continue our Year of Art with this challenge - 



Thanks for visiting. To read more WEP stories, go HERE or click on names in the sidebar if it's up!





Wednesday, 7 April 2021

#IWSG April 2021. Risk taking in writing.

 Hello all!

Hope your month has been awesome. I'm sure this month will be interesting as we hear about risk taking in our writing.


Before I get into the question ...

Be sure to visit Alex's awesome co-hosts for the April - PK Hrezo, Pat Garcia, SE White, Lisa Buie Collard, and Diane Burton!


Here is the whole April 7 question - Are you a risk-taker when writing? Do you try something radically different in style/POV/etc. or add controversial topics to your work?


So ... what does it mean to be a risk taker? A person who tries new things. Is that you? Is that me? Do we try new things in our writing?

To me, writing itself is risk taking. You could devote twenty years of your life to it and never finish anything, never publish anything. That's okay if you just love writing, but I want my writing to go somewhere. Do you? 

BUT ... our writing can be flummoxed by so many writing 'rules' - (here's just a few that annoy me) -

* 'as' must come first in a sentence unless it's a comparison, 

* you mustn't repeat the same word in a paragraph, so you're forever looking for synonyms to, for example, 'withdraw' which may not fit as well, 

* then there's the 'you can't start a book/chapter with the mc waking up,

* show don't tell - if you use 'show' all the time, your book will be twice as long! Sometimes you just have to get to the point already! 

* then there's the - no head hopping except in a romance ... blah, blah, blah.

I'm leery of 'writing rules' because I'm an avid, prolific reader and I see all of the above 'rules' broken by popular authors constantly (oh, and don't use *adverbs! Grr). And careful with *backstory. I read a lot of women's fiction and sometimes at the beginning there are pages of backstory. Can't say I enjoy that, and sometimes I throw the book across the room wondering how they got traditionally published, but what the heck, these are popular books which are best sellers on Amazon so there's a market. Breaking that 'backstory' rule hasn't hurt these authors who I imagine just sit down and write their story using their tried and true formula which keeps them on the best seller list in their genre. Pish to the rules they must think.

So is part of risk taking author behaviour breaking the above (and plenty more) writing rules? Do the writing police read our books? I think not. 

But I think the person who came up with the question this month wasn't referring to writing 'rules' per se. 

Other than breaking 'rules', my risk taking includes tackling issues. Not everyone likes this. A lot of readers read to escape and they don't want their equilibrium shattered by issues of domestic violence, patriarchal behaviour, PTSD and so on which you're going to find in my books when I publish. But I like books with issues, so that's what I write. There's a saying, 'write the book you want to read' and that's what I do. I don't set out to be controversial, I try to be real. Who doesn't struggle with something in their lives? I love books with issues and the mc overcoming in the end.

Thanks for reading. I'm sorry for my rant on 'writing rules' but sometimes I think they're pushed on newbie writers just to slow us down and keep us forever editing and never publishing. 

What's your view on this? Do you stick to the ever-changing 'rules', or do you write the way you want to?

~*~

In a little over a week, the April WEP challenge goes live. Here is a chance to write about an issue, if you haven't yet taken that risk. If you like tackling issues, go for it...




Wednesday, 3 March 2021

#IWSG post March - #Reading preferences.

 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? 





Alex's awesome co-hosts for the March 3 posting of the IWSG are Sarah - The Faux Fountain Pen Jacqui Murray, Chemist Ken, Victoria Marie Lees, Natalie Aguirre, and JQ Rose! Visit if you can!

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

March 3 question - Everyone has a favorite genre or genres to write. But what about your reading preferences? Do you read widely or only within the genre(s) you create stories for? What motivates your reading choice?


So awesome to be talking about reading. I'm an eclectic reader of usually one hundred books a year. I absorb most, but not all, genres. My first two genres I'll publish are women's fiction and paranormal. I prefer not to read too many stories in my genre, as I've been working for years on those two genres, rewriting, editing, editing, editing ... so I reach for other genres to entertain me. 

I've always been a mad fan of psychological thrillers. I'm reading more and more of those currently, helped by a generous voucher gifted to me by one of my students. Here's my latest haul.



So many awesome authors in this genre. I've joined FB groups for UK Crime and such and am learning so much. I've got nearly half of a romantic suspense written, so learning the tropes won't hurt. Can't say that's my motivation for reading crime fiction, thrillers and romantic suspense. I just love the reading experience with suspense keeping my eyes on the page.

Have a great month all!

Thanks for coming by!


We're rocketing into April You're welcome to join us for the WEP April challenge!


Woo! Feel a challenge coming on?