Friday 27 January 2012

#RomanticFridayWriters Challenge No 30 - Learning to Dance When it's Over. My story, 'Full Circle'

   Full Circle                                                   
    Move those bellies, ladies! Up! To the side! Down! Circle now! Yes!’
     I peer into the window of the decrepit hall. A kaleidoscope of colour meets me—a scene straight from the Arabian Nights—a circle of whirling ladies moving around a shabby timber floor, bright skirts billowing, bare feet stamping, jewellery jangling. They are urged on by a moving work of art—a red-swathed Egyptian goddess, Amy Winehouse up-do swirling, curling, shapely arms gracefully uplifted, flowing fluidly around the room.
     ‘Circles, ladies. Circles. Ah, that’s good. You can do it! Lovely, lovely…”
     What is this? I look around. There, on the jagged timber door, a little sign:

    Samira’s Belly Dance Class.
    Wednesday 7.30pm.
    Beginners Welcome.


     Belly dancing? Here? Could I be so bold? No. Benjamin’s right. I’m a yellow-bellied coward. Afraid of life.
     ‘Ladies, I said move your belly. Nothing else! Up! To the side! Down! To the other side! Circles! Do you feel it?’
     Delight gleams through the sheen of sweat on rosy faces. These ladies are feeling it all right! Smooth, sensual, erotic! I’m unloved, unlovely, abandoned and afraid.
     ‘Let it go!’ Samira urges. ‘You are beautiful! Isolate. Push! Shoulders forward! Move! Shake it! Shimmy!’
    Breasts wobble, bellies wobble, arms wobble. Samira glances at my window. She shouts in her husky voice: ‘The only restrictions are those you put on yourself!’
     She’s talking to me.
     ‘Shake it ladies!’
     Gold bells tinkle, wrist cuffs rattle, ankle cuffs clink.
     I close my eyes, visualise myself in that glorious room. Visualise myself throwing off the chains of the long miserable years of marriage with Benjamin.
     ‘No, I could never do this.’

     The dance class is over. The music stops, the stamping feet still, the clapping hands silence. I head home, lost in alone-ness.
     The crashing waves near my front door thump out a message. I lean against the deck rail and listen. Life. Must. Go. On. Hope. Dream. Imagine.

     If I drape some chiffon over my jelly belly, buy some scarves, beads and fringes…I could do this!
     I consider my life, the long painful years of being nobody, nothing. The kids have left, Benjamin has left, it’s just me left.
     Excitement bubbles up like water from a once-blocked fountain. ‘I can do whatever I want,’ I shout, surprised at the sound of my loud voice.
     'I can be free!'
     Instead of being the end of the world it could be the beginning of my world.

     I’m off to learn to dance the world’s oldest dance. Bring it on!


    Word count: slightly over 400. FCA.

    *Image - RiRi's Dance Acadamy, UK.
    Many thanks to Jules Preston, writer,
    for his series of guest prompts.
    Thanks Jules

    Romantic Friday Writers is a fortnightly on-going blogfest where writers respond to prompts or themes. It showcases the work of many fine writers who write romantic flash fiction or poetry under 400 words. You don't have to write of hearts and flowers; there just needs to be some element of romance present in your story/poem. 
    Click on the icon in my sidebar or the link at the end of my post to check out others participating today or join the blogfest yourself. You will be most welcome. Check out the Romantic Friday Writers Website. A winner is awarded the recognition of being the week's Featured Writer. It is a great place to practise the art of writing and push the boundaries of innovation.

    Wednesday 18 January 2012

    Novelist's Survival Tip and Hello from Margaret River.

    Hi all!

    I'm actually relaxing in Perth and Margaret River at the moment, but being the super duper organised freak that I am I got all my posts written and scheduled before I flew away - and I'll tell you, it's one long flight from the east coast to the west coast of Australia, over 5 hours. I'll actually be jet lagged when I get back, so I've certainly got my RFWer story written and scheduled for the day after.

    But this post is about writing our novel, right? As an avid reader of Writer's Digest, I thought I'd do my take on a  recent article I read in the January 2012 issue.

    I'll just bring up one of the 7 tips WD offered:


    • Anyone can be published nowadays with the boom in e-books, so now you don't have to bother writing a novel worth reading, right? Wrong! If you think whatever you write is worth publishing, think again. If you write a poorly-written self-published book, you may sell some books the first time round, but no one will come back for more.
    • Don't think of editors as nasty creatures if they reject your manuscript, preventing you from rushing ahead and 'being published'. You can recover from the blow, and learn from rejection and use it as motivation to write better. Sure, we all know rejection hurts, but it's part of the process. 
                   - Let it hurt for half and hour then get back to the keyboard.
                          - Learn from the critique if there is one. The publishing industry actually wants new authors.

    Here's a couple of quotes - 
    "Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go." 

    "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."

    • Is this the year you're going to find a publisher? It's one of my goals for 2012.

    Saturday 14 January 2012

    #RomanticFridayWriters - Challenge No 28- My prosetry, 'New Year's Resolution !'

    Romantic Friday Writers is a fortnightly on-going blogfest where writers respond to prompts or themes. It showcases the work of many fine writers who write romantic flash fiction or poetry under 400 words. You don't have to write of hearts and flowers; there just needs to be some element of romance present in your story/poem. 

    Click on the icon in my sidebar or the link at the end of my post to check out others participating today or join the blogfest yourself. You will be most welcome. Check out the Romantic Friday Writers Website. We are also found on twitter. We are @RFWER A winner is awarded the recognition of being the week's Featured Writer. It is a great place to practise the art of writing and push the boundaries of innovation.

    The New Year.
    I hear the fireworks explode
    I see the flickering shadows
    outside my cell-like room
    Am I having a party, you ask?
    No party for moi.
    I've found a new way to celebrate
    this special time of the year.
    I'm going to prison.
    For murder.

    Am I afraid?
    Sure I am.
    when the fear gets too large I claw my thoughts back
    to Zack.
    To what we had.
    What we shared before we did IT!
    Before we made our New Year's Resolution.

    I wish he were here with me.
    I would find strength and love in just one look from him.

    But I've never been a logical person have I?
    If Zack were with me
    I wouldn't be in this fix
    now would I?

    Zack's the reason I'm going to prison.
    They say I murdered him.
    There's no such thing as 'mercy killing' in this state.

    My 'mercy' has come back to sting me - hard.

    The rest of my life will be a nightmare.

    I'll have plenty of time
    to think about what I've done.

    But I'd do it all again.

    For Zack.

    Okay. I've written some prosetry for this entry. If you'd like to enter for the prompt, New Year's Resoluton, you have a day or two to get onto it! Check out the RomanticFridayWriters site for ideas. All writers welcome!

    Click on the image to find more stories to read to this theme.

    Well under 400-word limit. I'm no poet, so all suggestions for improvement welcome.

    Tuesday 10 January 2012

    Look what blogger has done to my site! I can't believe it! I'm leaving the room!

    UPDATE! I've fixed it. I know it still needs work, but man, is it better!

    Blogger and Google are doing a lot of fiddling in the 'sphere. This is what I ended up with - my old look blogger I started with 3 years ago. All my customisation has been lost. My three columns? Hopefully it'll be somewhere in cyberspace but for now I'm too weary to bother.

    A sad day when I should be writing! First I got messages that people couldn't comment. Which after a few hours I worked out was because Google is changing our URLs, and Australia starts with 'A' so was one of the first. This meant anything I'd added couldn't read the new URL. So some bright spark at Disqus finally solved that problem and my comments all returned.

    Just a few minutes ago I went into my blog and I saw this hideous sight! All the bells and whistles have disappeared. And strangely the Dashboard looks like the really old one. And you'll notice there's no 'Design' element. Definitely the techies fiddling!

    I write this to apologise for the pathethic-looking blog. And maybe you might be in the know and tell me where to go and slap someone!

    It's too cruel to think I have to build all over again after I'd just got my blog how I wanted it for now! At least at this stage my friend list is still hiding in the Dashboard. For how longer I wonder? But every comment I ever had has disappeared into the ether.

    And there's no 'Preview' button.

    Monday 9 January 2012

    Top Writing Blogs Award Nominee. And what improves your writing acumen?

    Well this might be a scam, but I can't see how it could do any harm. Apparently I've been nominated for this sweet-sounding award and was asked to do at least 2 things for the organiser. Her name is Brittany Behrman, in case you know her.

    This is her blurb: eCollegeFinder, an established online education resource representing over 120 accredited online institutions, began hosting a series of Top Blogger Awards in early 2010. Our goal in hosting the awards is to enrich students while giving high-quality blogs the recognition they deserve. So if you like the sound of it, you can nominate someone.

    She asked me to answer a question for her students so I flipped this off quickly then I thought I'd share it with my readers:

     What advice can you offer students aiming to improve their writing acumen?

    Having a long writing career, I found that the following help improve writing acumen - 
    • be inquisitive, be aware of what is going on around you
    • always keep a journal or an electronic device handy to jot down story ideas or great descriptions you might read in a book or magazine. You can study these excellent words and phrases later and discover why they caught your eye. Then you can practise writing something even better!
    • some say writing can't be taught. I disagree. Read every 'how to' book on your craft, attend creative writing seminars, take creative writing courses at an educational institution, but you must write, write, write. The best way to learn is to do, not just to keep learning about it. Do it! 
    • enter flash fiction competitions. I found writing flash fiction made the biggest difference to my writing. I learned to create a story then to cut it back to only what really mattered to tell the story. Flash fiction is usually under 1,000 words. The Romantic Friday Writers group I co-founded writes 400 words and under. There are some other online flash fiction challenges that write 100, or even 50 words and under. All great to improve your writing acumen.

    • What do you think? What improves writing acumen in your opinion?

    Friday 6 January 2012

    Published already in 2012! The Vine Leaves Literary Journal is hot off the press and I'm in it, as are many blogger friends.

    STOP PRESS! Vine Leaves Issue #01 is now out and it looks awesome!

    One of my goals for 2012 is a challenge I've set for myself - Write It. Submit It. Once a week. Don't go looking to sign up as there's no link - there's a membership of 1, Yours Truly. If you want to join me, fabulous. Let me know in comments! We could get a little group thingy happening!

    The first week of January is rushing towards me like a runaway train and I've yet to submit anything this week. But all is not lost. Thanks to the new Vine Leaves Literary Journal I have 2 days to write a submission for their Issue #2. Of course I have lots of other projects on the boil but they demand many, many more words!

    Thanks to the amazing efforts of Jessica Bell and Dawn Ius, the Vine Leaves Literary Journal Inaugural Issue is out today! And my little vignette is in it!

    What's different about Vine Leaves? Well, it pubishes the 'vignette.' Let Jessica and Dawn speak for themselves:

    The vignette.

    It’s rare for a literary magazine to accept the "vignette" as a publishable piece of literature. Why? Because it is not a “proper story.” We beg to differ.

    So, what is a vignette?

    "Vignette" is a word that originally meant "something that may be written on a vine-leaf." It’s a snapshot in words. It differs from flash fiction or a short story in that its aim doesn’t lie within the traditional realms of structure or plot. Instead, the vignette focuses on one element, mood, character, setting or object. It's descriptive, excellent for character or theme exploration and wordplay. Through a vignette, you create an atmosphere.

    Vine Leaves, will entwine you in atmosphere; wrap you in a world where literature ferments and then matures … 

    I've just got to share my favourite definition:

    A vignette stands on its own like an individual piece of chocolate in a box of chocolates, each looking pretty and irresistible in its own tiny compartment. 
    (This quote found in the second link at the end of this post.)

    Here is my story for the journal:

    Emerald Fields and Black Rain
    by Denise Covey

    Ciara sat on the verandah fanning herself with Pregnancy Today, wilting, weary in the Australian heatwave. She’d just read how being pregnant had raised her body temperature by less than one degree. Pfutt! She’d like that doctor to see her now, every pore oozing!
                She leaned back in the squatter’s chair, feeling snoozy. She guzzled her iced water, dripping cubes over her face.
                No more Doctor Know-It-All!
                She tossed the magazine onto the floor, picked up her latest fantasy novel and scanned a random page. Princess Edane was swooping her away to a cooler, misty clime, when she heard a sharp snap. She sat up, alert. Her book fell from her fingers and clumped beside the chair.
                She heard David’s voice booming all around her with his cautionary tales: You can’t be too careful Ciara. Always be on the lookout Ciara. The Australian bush can be treacherous Ciara.
                Well, the sky had been a washed-out blue all morning, now it was a hazy grey, but otherwise nothing had changed. A koala in the giant eucalyptus perhaps, jumping from branch to branch? On the tree David had wanted to cut down because he thought it was too close to the house. No way. She loved how it shielded the hot corrugated iron roof from the blazing midday sun. He’ll cut it down over my dead body!
                She settled back in her chair, grabbed a cushion and placed it behind her head. Ah, what else can I do but sleep? Too hot to do housework, too hot to bake, too hot to garden. Her eyelids felt heavy, County Armagh’s emerald fields were beckoning … then the rustling began.
                Was it a faery creature come to whisk her home? She stirred and smiled, keeping her eyes shut lest the faery disappear from her dreams. Maybe a breeze was coming up? She lived in hope. God, why did I move here from the mists of Ireland? Hmm. David, that’s why—my darlin’ Aussie bloke…


                Ciara woke to the noise. She gasped for breath, but the air had gone away. Her face was wet, her body slick and oily. Pain burned her mouth and chest. Her hair sizzled around her face, an electrified heated cap.
                She pushed herself to her feet and staggered to the verandah rail, one hand clutching her heaving chest and the other holding her swollen stomach.
                God oh God oh God! Dante’s Inferno! A living painting of grey mist, orange dancing fingers and black swirling shapes. She heard the screeching wail of a runaway train coming closer, closer, then the collision.
                A monstrous wall of flame threw her against the wall like she was faery dust.         Her back scorched, cinders scattered the blackened sky and fell onto her body like black rain.


    Vine Leaves will be downloadable in PDF format, for free, at the following link on Friday January 6th:

    "We are also looking into making the journal available through Smashwords, so that those who wish to use an e-reader will be able to do so. Stay tuned!"

    There is a list of contributors for Issue #1 here.

    Vine Leaves Blog is here. Check out Guidelines/Submissions.

    Twitter: @VineLeavesLJ

    If you'd like to submit to Vine Leaves, here are the submission periods:

    Submission Periods ...

    January Issue: October 1st – December 1st 

    April Issue: January 1st – March 1st

    July Issue: April 1st – June 1st

    October Issue: July 1st – September 1st

    Any submissions received outside of these dates will be deleted, unread.

    Issues go live on the first Friday of every publishing month.

    Now if you've never written a vignette before (you probably have, but didn't know it), here are a couple of great links I found:

    Let's go meet our writing goals.

    Wednesday 4 January 2012

    Insecure Writers Support Group. I feel attracted to writing...

    "If writing's therapy, let it work for you. It can't do any harm. It will do you good. It does me good. I feel attracted to writing. Maybe an odd term, but it fits. Writing attracts me, the mystery of it, the way words fit together on a page to make an image or a point or just to be there, sounding.
    Seeing my own words on the page is thrilling. There's a wonderful kind of conceit in reading them, knowing they're mine. Part of that terrifies me because it's so incredibly exciting. For so much of my life I've turned away, backed away, hidden away from anything that's frightening. Even when it's thrilling as well.
    I want to feel substantial again. I yearn for confidence. And under it all, I have a deep and nearly crushed-out delight in the fantastic. How it was nearly crushed and by whom isn't really important here. Not now that I find the glimmer of it's still there, inside me. Enough of a glimmer for me to be able to write, at least in secret..."

    Aren't these inspiring words? They say exactly what I want to say but so much better! I give all credit to Nora Roberts for this little extract, the inner thoughts of her character Jude in the enchanting novel I read recently, Jewels of the Sun, the first in her Irish Jewels Trilogy. (I'm off to get my hands on Tears of the Moon and Heart of the Sea now.

    Thanks Nora. You're always inspirational.

    • I hope you feel pumped after reading my extract. What's stopping you writing? Have you overcome your self-doubt, or does self-doubt still pull up a chair when you sit down to write?

    To read more posts from Alex J Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group click on the badge.