Thursday, 5 January 2023

#IWSG POST - MY WORD OF THE YEAR!

 Happy New Year everyone! I wish you every happiness in 2023! May your insecurities disappear and your securities grow! 



This is a short post. Don't get much time to open the laptop these days, but hoping that will improve soon!

January 4 question - Do you have a word of the year? Is there one word that sums up what you need to work on or change in the coming year? For instance, in 2021 my word of the year was Finish. I was determined to finished my first draft by the end of the year. In 2022, my word of the year is Ease. I want to get my process, systems, finances, and routines where life flows with ease and less chaos. What is your word for 2023? Why?

The awesome co-hosts for the January 4 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pett, Debs Carey, Kim Lajevardi, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, and T. Powell Coltrin!

I saw the question and right away decided my word was  -  

Persevere 

Some of you know that we had a bit of a discombobulation at WEP toward the end of 2022 where it seemed each of the team members had life issues that were impacting on their ability to run WEP. Due to life throwing me lemons, I felt I had no choice but to give up my baby, but I didn't want to see it disappear as I believe WEP serves an important purpose - a creative corner of the blogoverse where  members can write 6 times a year and improve.

So when our first plan for a takeover tanked, Team WEP brushed themselves off and decided to continue despite issues, some with a lesser role, but with a strong core to ensure WEP continues to offer writers a chance to participate, to imagine, to create and to surprise themselves each challenge.

So, Persevere I say. Decide what to prioritise and go for it. Life will always throw us lemons, but we can make lemonade instead of collapsing in a heap.

And I just posted an article, #How to become a novelist by our December 2022 winner, Pat Garcia, at the WEP site. Her writing is going ahead in leaps and bounds.



And for all past, present and future participants in WEP, here is our first challenge in February 2023.


Remember, it's all about what inspires you:

GWTW can be the springboard for a million ideas- civil war, love, the definition of beauty (‘Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful but men seldom realized it..’), racism, slavery, strong women, gun violence, plantations, breaking conventions, the bond between fathers and daughters, mothers and daughters, the love for a piece of land, a lament for a vanishing society…alternatively, even an essay on the stars or the film director or the author Margaret Mitchell or some aspect of the making of the film...endless opportunities for creativity.

Post-February 15 to the 17th 2023








Thursday, 1 December 2022

#WEP 2022 DECEMBER CHALLENGE - MY #FLASHFICTION - YOUR FACE, YOUR FACE, YOUR FACE.

 Hello there!

If you're looking for my IWSG post, for practically the first time ever, I'm missing it. Clashes with the WEP challenge and life is super busy at this time of year, anyway. See you in January.

Seeing you're here, I'd be delighted if you'd read my meet-up with the two MCs in my latest novel...and answer my question at the end.

_______________________________________________________

For the WEP challenge this month, I've edited the scene from my 'women's fiction with romantic and suspense elements' Paris Cookery School novel where my two main characters meet. It's over the limit at 1053, so sorry, but it fits the prompt perfectly, especially with reference to Roberta Flack's song. 

Something has been lost in the editing process, but hey, I might use this shorter version in my WIP. 

To pre-empt comments, I'm a member of the FB group, Ask a Book Editor, (highly recommended) and I was told the latest preference for foreign words is to italicise the first usage, thereafter don't, as italics get annoying after a while. I drink to that.

Angélique runs a cookery school. Charlie is a new student. Thus begins the romance which is the heart of the novel. 


TAGLINE: More than cooking goes on in the kitchen.




Your face, your face, your face

 

Angélique


A very dishy dish stands at my kitchen door – handsome, tall, and very English. After lugging his suitcase up five floors, his cheeks are flushed. And those eyes – I’m lost. They’re the color of the sea on a cloudy day, pale green flecked with gold. Mon Dieu. So hot.

 

His charcoal pin-striped suit is too dressy for my cookery school. Although with his glossy black hair, groomed hipster beard, and devastating smile, who am I to judge?

 

Entrez.” I sweep my arm in a gracious lady-of-the-manor gesture. “Welcome to Le Petit Paris Kitchen Cookery School. I’m your host, Angélique Ravello. You’re Charlie Byron?”

 

His mouth is luscious and with that quirk at the edge, he’s permanently smiling. He holds out a hand. “Yes. Enchanted, I’m sure, Angélique.” His phone pings. “Pardon.” He reaches into his pocket, silences it.

 

There's that hand again.

 

His fingers are long and strong like a piano player’s. If his smile turns my legs to water, what will happen if I touch him? Sucking in a breath, I take those fingers in mine. I swear the earth moves in my hand.

 

We both laugh. Did he feel that powerful surge of electricity? Or am I going mad?

 

Enchanté, Charlie.” Neither of us breaks the grip. His fingers tighten on mine. When did we move so close? It’s like our bodies are magnetized. Now I can fully appreciate his handsome bearded face with cheekbones to shame a supermodel. And his délicieux cologne duels with délicieux cookery smells.

 

His smile dimples his face. “Thank you, or should I say merci?”

 

Behave yourself Angélique. I break the grip. Rub sweaty hands down my thighs. “English is fine, unless you prefer—”

 

“English then.”

 

His eyes rove my face. “You look like Amélie from that fabulous film everyone watches before coming to Paris.” He slaps his head. “No doubt you get that all the time.”

 

“I do.” My heartbeat whooshes in my ears. I won’t risk my cookery school’s reputation by flirting. I’ve already disgraced myself with my over-the-top reaction to his gorgeousness.

 

He inhales rosemary lamb while he gives my kitchen a good going over with those goldy-green eyes. “Uhmah. Something smells good.”

 

And something looks good. I’m lit up inside, my veins thrum. I haven’t felt like this since I met Alexandre at lycée.

 

“Everything okay?” His head tilts to the side while I check him out with one side of my brain while the other tells me to behave.

 

I drag my eyes from his face. “Oui, oui. Parfait.” I’m trembling like a leaf shaking in the Mistral in the South of France.

 

“So, what’s the verdict on my kitchen?”

 

He frowns like it was the last question he expected. Well, my man, it was the last question I expected to utter.

 

“Hmmm.” He raises a perfectly-groomed eyebrow, no stranger to a brow bar.

 

“Well, Charlie, you’re a BBC presenter, interior designer, and builder of bespoke kitchens. How does mine rate?”

 

“Right.” He scratches his beard. “I’m surprised to find such a modern kitchen here.” He drops his leather man bag on his luggage, kicks it to the side, steps forward for a closer look.

 

At me? Or the kitchen?

 

He rubs his hands together. “This is one beautiful kitchen.”

 

“Thanks.” Not as beautiful as you. I let go of the counter and surprisingly don’t drop to the floor. “I couldn’t afford an interior designer. How did I do?” That’s me, digging for compliments. Shameless.

 

“You did great.” He quirks his lips in a cute smile. “Your expansive workspaces are state-of-the-art. Those picture windows and balcony doors let in so much natural light it’s magical. Your furniture is sympathetic to the baroque window moldings. And I appreciate what you’ve done with color.”

 

“You like the color?” My voice squeaks. My maman and I pored over a thousand paint catalogues to recreate the warmth that sharing a perfect meal brings.

 

“I do. To use a food reference, those walls are raspberry macarons dipped in custard cream.”

 

Yum. This Englishman totally gets the vibe. “Exactly. What I aimed for.”

 

“You achieved it. Those rosy walls are a perfect foil to your blue and white Moroccan floor tiles, Italian marble workbench, and top-of-the-range Lacanche cooker. Brilliant.” He’s on a roll. “You’ve achieved that lived-in, much-loved feel rarely found in London kitchens. But I must say, those cooking smells beat all …” He kisses his fingers.

 

I’d like to hug him for his generous critique, but of course I don’t. He’s from London, I’m from Paris. Nine days of rubbing shoulders and he’ll be gone.

 

I smooth my chignon to keep my hands busy. “Thanks. A welcome drink, Charlie? Champagne?”

 

“Just the ticket. Do you mind if I nose around?” His phone chirps again. He glances at the screen, frowns, silences it.

 

“Not at all.” I lift a bottle of Champagne la Maison Garnier from the ice bucket and am tempted to plunge my face into the chill. While he opens cupboard doors, checks out Grand-mère’s antique china, watches the street theatre, I fill two crystal flutes. I breathe deeply to get control of myself, join him on the balcony, hand him a frothy glass, drown in his dreamy eyes, “Salut, Charlie.”

 

“Salut, Angélique. Hmmm. Del-ic-io-us.” He watches the bubbles fizz. “Like the view.” His voice is as smooth as his silk Hermès scarf slung oh-so-casually around his neck.

 

“I’m aware of how lucky I am with what I have.” And nearly lost when Maman died.

 

“Bloody hell! Uh, excuse my French. The Eiffel Tower.” He leans forward, eyes aglow. “How cool to have people come from all over the world to share this view while they learn to cook. Epic.”

 

“I agree.” I gulp my champagne faster than I should. My head spins. Fizz tickles my nostrils. Is my frozen heart thawing like the snow which fell in Paris this winter? No matter. My new mantra – ‘be always professional.’

 

“So,” Charlie says, “who else is coming?”

 

Merde. I’d be happy to stand here for the rest of the night and breathe him in. “Three women - from Ireland, Australia and Alaska.”

 

“Brilliant.”

 

It’s a tight squeeze on my balcony and I deliberately push my hip against his. He brings back memories of happy times I’ve spent here with Alexandre.

 

But Alexandre is gone.

 

~*~~*~~*~


In my latest novel, out in 2023, drama, romance, and passion are layered, flavoured, tasted and left to simmer, not unlike the traditional French recipes scattered throughout the book.

WORD COUNT: 1050

FCA


Anyone a whiz at choosing book titles? I'm struggling with this one. Here is what I have so far ... can't move forward with the cover until I settle on one.


1. Le Petit Paris Cookery School 

2. The Taste of Love

3. A Feast of Food and Love

4. The Cookery School of Second Chances

5. The Recipe for Second Chances

5. Other?

 That's it for 2022. It's all over bar the shouting! It's been a great year for WEP with some beyond fabulous writing. Thanks to my wonderful team, and all who participated, either by posting entries, reading entries, and supporting Team WEP. And a big thank you to Nick Wilford for his judging expertise. 

Raspberry macarons with custard cream - yum! 
Can't wait to taste them again!


Denise



Wednesday, 2 November 2022

#IWSG post - NOVEMBER 2022 - #NANOWRIMO - To do or not to do that is the question.

 Hello there!

Here we are again. Another month gone by, chock-a-block with writerly activities for many of us. 


The awesome co-hosts for the November 2 posting of the IWSG are Diedre Knight, Douglas Thomas Greening, Nick Wilford, and Diane Burton!


I'm sorry I didn't get back to those who commented here last month, but unfortunately my husband had a bike accident and ended up in hospital with a broken back. Not fun. He is slowly recovering, but our lives have certainly been disrupted and will be for some time. 

So, I'll answer the suggested question today - November is National Novel Writing Month. Have you ever participated? If not, why not?

I was an enthusiastic NaNoWriter years ago, but no longer do it. I mean, the  idea used to be that you cranked up the laptop on Nov 1st, and started writing, preferably without a plan. Since then, writers use it more specifically to finish a book, edit a book, plan a book etc etc rather that what the original expectations were. That's all fine. Many things start off one way and end up being something else.


Yeah, this was my whaling novel, Ruby. Had a look at it the other day ... and cringed.

I have a total of 5 rubbishy books I penned in a frenzy in my early NaNo days. I doubt I'll ever get back to them. Maybe I could take the story ideas from them, as the ideas are good, but the writing is what NaNo writing was once supposed to be - rubbishy first draft.

So no, no more NaNo for me. The only thing I remember fondly was it was a great excuse to hit the laptop every day and pen over 1,000 words. And connecting with other writers. But I can do that without NaNoWriMo.

Have a great month.

Oh, and while you're here, WEP finished an awesome October challenge and is primed to have their final challenge in December. Join us if you feel like following our dreamy prompt -



Denise





Wednesday, 19 October 2022

#WEP OCTOBER 2022 CHALLENGE - MICHAEL JACKSON'S "THRILLER" - MY #FLASHFICTION

 Hello there!

It's time for the WEP October thrilling challenge where writers are asked to respond in any way they choose to Michael Jackson's "Thriller". The options are there for those who resist reading or writing horror in any form, so some entries might be 'thrilling' in other ways. Myself, I'm rather attracted to vampire stories, so of course that's the direction I took my entry. 

For the second half of my entry, I incorporated lyrics from the song, mindful that there is copyright on lyrics, so I changed them. No copyright on titles, thankfully. I also had some useable pics in my picture folders that I hope enhance the 'thrilling' experience.


I hope you enjoy my 'thrilling' entry:



 “Run, Sadie, Run.”

Sadie slithered down the freezing drainpipe, and bam, her ballet flats hit the ground. Creeping cold seeped through her shoes, her toes turned to ice. She slapped her face. Got the blood flowing. Idiot! She should have worn that ugly sheepskin coat her mother gave her, but she wanted to show off her milky white shoulders in her red silky dress. To whom? She was about to find out.

Lucretia, her BFF at her new school had told her about a ceremony happening at midnight deep in the woods. How could Sadie miss that?

She shivered along the snowy path into the wood behind her house. Should have worn a cloak, not this thin shawl. "Yes, Mom, I'm a stupid cow."

“We moved here to get you away from those weirdos in Washington State. But you never listen. Don’t whine to me when disaster strikes.”

“Don’t go walking in those woods at night”, Lucretia had warned her, “especially on Halloween”.

“Especially under moonlight.” Her new boyfriend Xavier added on several occasions while they made out in her room. As he spoke, his eyes gazed at her soulfully, eyes flecked with red which sorta scared her. “Never, never, never enter those woods.” He thumped the pillow. “Evil lurks.”

Sadie had almost laughed. Xavier was so quaint of speech, like he was from another age. But she wasn’t doing trick and treating with the class like she was some stupid little girl. She was going to be a scientist. Scientists don’t believe anything they can’t prove.

She passed an abandoned shack by a frozen stream. She was close.

 Full moon. All Hallow’s Eve. Pagan festival of the dead. Her favorite time of year. Ghosts, vampires, ghouls, zombies and what the heck else come out to toy with humans. She wrapped her arms around herself; snowflakes teased her bare shoulders. Her hair whipped into her mouth, her eyes. Was that ghosts she heard ooh-ing and aah-ing? Turn back, freak, she told herself, but no, she was determined to see if the stories about creepy creatures had merit.

Close to a grassy glade, a circle of trees. Then … she saw it, a sight that almost stopped her heart. Horror hooked her between the eyes like an arrow from a gifted archer. She opened her mouth to scream, but terror stopped her voice.

Black-clad figures wearing white gloves, sang in falsetto while they gyrated, their movements strangely elegant, “Thriller, thriller.”

My God. Who were these copy-cats singing Michael Jackson’s biggest hit? Her heart hammered so loudly her ears throbbed. Were her weird new friends playing tricks on her?

The fake-Jacksons swiveled, booed her, like they saw through the huge tree where she hid.

“Come out, girl, we need your sweetness.” They sang, clapped, made Michael Jackson moves, bodies jerking. “You’ll be thrilling, thrilling, our lips will drip with sweet, sweet blood.” They high-fived, smacked their lips, whirled in the air so many times it made her dizzy. How long had they practiced to get that right?

Some friends, she thought. Ugh. How could they scare her like this?

“Run, Sadie, run.” A familiar voice. A familiar touch. She spun around. No one.

The dancers shot their hands in the air, their claw-like fingers spasming.

“Come to us, little one.

We need your sweetness.”

“Run, Sadie, run.” An awakening fear nailed her feet to the ground.

“We crawl in search of blood.

You are the one we crave.”

A cold hand wrapped around her neck, sharp fingernails pinched her bare shoulders. A creature. Behind her. These creeps were real! She’d read Twilight; she knew what came next. Razor-sharp teeth would rip her apart.

“Midnight is so close at hand.

Jaws of death are in the land.”

Oh, no, no, no. Cold dread crept throughout her body. Then … pfft … maybe … if she opened her eyes, she’d be in her warm bed in her warm room in her warm house with her cold parents.

But no.

“We demons, we’re closin' in on every side.” Voices now deep baritone, they formed a ring around the tree, her prison. In time to the words, they stomped their feet, flew into the air, their robes flapping around their bodies.

“Darkness falls across the land.

Thriller, thriller night.

We will take your sweetness.

Take you to a better world.”

Woodland creatures squawked and squawked, wolves howled, then suddenly stopped, adding to Sadie’s terror.

Deep baritone voices seared her soul. “We will possess you.” And they did, their hands all over her, imprinted her body with ice. “This night we'll open your eyes to the knowledge you seek.”

Sadie couldn’t see their hooded faces, but she smelt foul breath, felt rough tongues, teeth, huge, monstrous, grazed her shoulders. Her knees gave way; she fell into a heap.

“Your body shivers, twitches, but your cries are feeble. Give up the fight.”

“Leave me alone,” Sadie cried, wrapping her hands around her neck. “Go scare someone else.”

“Stand and face we hounds of hell.” They tugged at her hands, exposing her neck. “Let us hold you tight. Thrill us on this thriller, thriller night.”

They hauled her to her feet like she was made of air.

She kicked and screamed, but fingers tore her skin.

“Give in. Give in.

This is the end

we commend.

No mortal can resist our evil.”

“This mortal can.” The familiar voice again.

The foul stench screamed a collective falsetto, ‘Ooh-ooh-ooh’, backed away.

 “Xavier.” Relief coursed through her. “Save me.”

“If I don’t take you, they will.” He stabbed a finger at the demons, their white gloves circling the darkness, their falsetto voices creeping her out big time. “Ooh-ooh-ooh, oh Master.”

WTF? “Master? Xavier?” She tried to pull out of his arms, but they felt like iron bands.

His eyes sparkled with red flecks. “Stay away from these woods, I said, but you didn’t listen. If I let you go now, you’re dead. I’ll change you; you will live with me forever.”

Sadie felt woozy as Xavier’s teeth bit her neck. Oh the exquisite pain of discovering the truth. She heard falsetto voices: “Ooh-ooh-ooh, please give us a go.”

Mom, you were right. I am a stupid cow.

 


TAGLINE: Mom is always right!


WORDS: 1039

 FCA

 STOP PRESS!

For this challenge, WEP is offering Amazon Gift Cards to three winners to the tune of $20, $15 and $10. If you have a story that meets the guidelines, join us!



I hope you enjoyed my ghoulish story. Please click on my sidebar to read more entries.


While you're here, I'll tell you about WEP's December challenge. We'll tone it down a bit from this month. 


Roberta Flack said -  I think it's the kind of song that has two unique & distinct qualities: it tells a story, and it has lyrics that mean something....Because of [its meaningful lyrics] the [song] can be interpreted by a lot of people in a lot of different ways: the love of a mother for a child, for example, or [that of] two lovers. 

Go HERE for more inspiration.

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to read and comment on my post.

 

Denise  




Wednesday, 5 October 2022

#IWSG OCTOBER POSTING - What I like about my 'favorite genre.'

 Hello all!

Welcome to the October IWSG. Hope you've had a good month - writing, reading, collaborating, selling books, advertising books, promoting books, blogging, facebook-ing- whatever is your jam. 

My month has been busy as always, what with trying to fit everything in - by everything I mean I just want to write new copy, but there are so many other demands on my time. How about you? How do you prioritize your writing?

Anyway, onto the October question - What do you consider the best characteristics of your favorite genre?


This is a rather long post for IWSG, so just skim, pick out points of interest. If there are none, my bad, but I hope you can find something!

I don't want to confuse you, but I have eclectic tastes both in books and music. Sometimes in music I'm into Beethoven and classical music, at others, U2, Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams and others of their ilk, then there's my fascination with Abba which never wanes.

Same thing with 'favorite genre'. My 'favorite genre' varies over time. I'm a voracious speed reader who often DNF a book if it doesn't get going. If a day goes by and I don't read ... oh, well, don't think that's ever happened since I was like 6 years old.  I go through phases - 

* Nora Roberts type Romantic Suspense. Why? I like to be intrigued. Jemi Fraser does this well, too. 

* Feel good women's fiction set in Cornwall and gentle England, but I'm done. A flooded market. 

* Classic vampire tales of old, like Dracula. Sure, I've read the modern, sparkly ones, and those set in a modern office, but give me an old-fashioned blood sucker any day. 

* Classic books by the likes of Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen et al which probably wouldn't be published today.

And I could go on, but I'll cut to my current 'favorite genre'...

RIGHT NOW ... and for several months, and off and on all my reading life, I choose Thrillers, especially Psychological Thrillers over any other genre. Why? Along with intriguing settings, it's because the Title, the Tagline, the cover/and/or the blurb hook me in. With this genre, you always know what you're getting and you're getting a good read, a page-turner. And it's dastardly difficult to write. I know. I'm trying.

Forerunners were series like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Steig Larsson and standalone Smilla's Sense of Snow, by Peter Hoeg, but moving along ...

I just grabbed a few of my recent favorites off my overflowing new bookshelves my hubs built me ...

* "Can you save her? Will you survive?" - Harlan Coben's Run Away - he's the king of twisty thrillers. Think I've read all his books and watched on Netflix those which have become series (16 so far and more to come).

* The Ice Twins, S.K. Tremayne - "Unbearably gripping and suspenseful." (An understatement if ever there was one!!!). "Beautifully paced, teeming with psychological shivers." This could describe the Murder series by Yolanda Renee (((shiver, shiver)))

* Clare Mackintosh, I Let You Go. "A past you can't escape." I challenge you to ever find a creepier ending. "Chilling ... with a killer twist." Yep.

* Cross Her Heart, Sarah Pinborough. "...it's about three interesting women and some nasty men." Got me right away.

But when it comes to psychological thrillers, I'm reading my way through those set in Scandinavia and deep into the night when I'm too tired to write, I watch Netflix sub-titled scandi thrillers set in those frozen lands which seem to lend themselves to bleak, scary, witchy stories. Probably the best to me is The Killing, on Netflix and all 3 books by David Hewson (a fave writer of crime thrillers set in Rome). Let's just say, I love Scandi-noir at its powerful bleakest. Currently reading my second by Camilla Grebe, The Hideout, "A razor-sharp, complex mystery." (I loved her The Ice Beneath Her).

Want to know more? Join the Psychological Thrillers Readers Group on Facebook where there are tons of recommendations. I hope someone recommends my first thriller one day. It's half written! Yay!


The awesome co-hosts for the October 5 posting of the IWSG are Tonja Drecker, Victoria Marie Lees, Mary Aalgaard, and Sandra Cox!



And talking of thrillers, WEP is about to be swamped by thrilling stories starting October 19, based on Michael Jackson's THRILLER. Can't wait! 
You're welcome to join us! Share in the fun!


Thanks for visiting. I'd love to hear your comments.

Here's an excerpt from my thrilling story for October's WEP - I'm definitely  influenced by those Scandinavian settings!

Sadie slithered down the freezing drainpipe, and bam, her ballet flats hit the ground. Creeping cold seeped through her shoes, her toes turned to ice. She slapped her face. Got the blood flowing. Idiot! She should have worn that ugly sheepskin coat her mother gave her, but she wanted to show off her milky white shoulders in her red silky dress. To whom? She was about to find out.


Denise