Monday 26 October 2015

Bish Denham's List Bloghop. 8 years of blogging! Travel bucket listl...

First, my thoughts go out to those in Mexico who survived Patricia's fury--the strongest hurricane on record in the western hemisphere. Thankfully the damage has been less than expected from a hurricane of this magnitude, but the storm is ongoing..

Thanks to blogger Guilie Castillo for these links: 

Easy ways to help:

Now... the WEP Halloween challenge is over bar the wrap up and judging, just in time for me to enter Bish's bloghop. The wrap up is today and the winners announced Wednesday. Heads up on next challenge--a sci-fi look at the holiday season...holidays out of this world.

This has got to be one of the most straightforward bloghops ever!

Here' what Bish has to say:

The rules are simple. All you have to do is sign up in the linky thingy below, grab the banner, and make a list. I suggest you keep your list to between 5 and 25 items long. We'll visit each other on October 26th.

You can list whatever you feel like (except for adult type content). That's it! Think about it, the ideas are endless.

You could list:

favorite trees/animals/flowers/insects/pets
favorite books/movies/actors/heroes/villains/music/concerts you've been to
places you'd like to go/places you've been to
make a bucket list
favorite food/desserts/drinks
favorite names
favorite scientists/mathematicians/artists
favorite activists/saints/prophets
favorite myths/mythological places/gods/goddesses
your morning/evening routine
important things to pack when going on vacation
what to take on a picnic
biggest fears
greatest loves
the birthdays of your family members
things you like/dislike doing
foods you don't like to eat
pictures of your cat/dog
cars you've owned
places you've lived/schools you've attended
musical instruments you play
important moments in history you've lived through
historical eras you'd like to have lived in
famous people (dead or alive) that you'd like to meet


Okay. I live to travel, so I'm listing some of the places I'm yet to visit...

Gate to the Great Wall, Beijing, China:
1. China 

PLAN: Have booked 10 days in China in 2016. Scary, but true. It's on my bucket list. Grabbed a great deal, so we have 10 days in China seeing the main sights--Great Wall, Tienanmen Square, the 'bund' district of Shanghai and more. 

2. India

PLAN: I was about to book the Golden Triangle of India--Delhi (Old and New), Agra and Jaipur for this year, but family intervened, so is still on the bucket list. When we go, we will: 
Rajasthan Colors:

  • Discover the ghost town of Fatehpur Sikri 
  • Stroll the pink-hued streets of Jaipur
  • Experience the chaotic charm of Old Delhi
  • Explore the Red Fort of Agra
  • Sit and stare at the Taj Mahal!

3. The Greek Islands

Patio in Santorini, Greece: PLAN: Okay, you would have expected an inveterate traveller like me to have lazed around the Greek Islands, lazily cruising around, swimming, eating fish by the beach, trekking into the hills. Sadly, every time I've planned to go, something stopped me--earthquakes, fires, political unrest--Greece is very volatile. Soon, I WILL go! (And I may even meet Jessica Bell, the resident famous author!)

4. Cuba

Ocean Front, Havana, Cuba:
Beach front hotel, Havana.
PLAN; Well, I was planning a trip to Cuba, incorporating Florida and the rest of the Caribbean, but Michael di Gesu is still looking for that house in Florida, so I thought I'd wait! Just kidding. And I do wish Michael all the best for his house in the sun.  I've looked at local tours, and now that it's no longer forbidden to fly in from the US, I might be able to catch a few of my American friends when I go. Maybe we could meet up in Cuba and hire one of those cool classic cars and tour around. Dreamy!

5. New York CityCentral Park covered in snow, NYC:

PLAN: Well, everyone wants to visit NYC once in their life, don't they? When I finally get to the US to catch up with blogger friends, I intend to visit this world capital. I know I'll be more than happy to jump back on a plane and hightail it outta there, but, just once, I'd like to visit all those 'best in the world' places--well, those eateries anyway (not that I'm a fan of bagels or donuts.) Food is always high on my list of things to, er, eat, when I travel. Partaking of a country's food is part and parcel of travelling. I wouldn't be able to handle American portions--we practise nouvelle cuisine in Australia--we have to use a magnifying glass to find the food on the plate, lol, but I'll take my husband to do his usual food incinerator job! While in NYC I have a dream to visit those islands--Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, and also Boston. And Ann Best is always wanting me to visit her in Virginia. They're all on the East Coast, right?

So there you go. My List. I hope you're enjoying Bish's bloghop and hop on board. To read other posts, go HERE.
  • Thank you for reading. Do you like to travel? What places are on your bucket list?

Wednesday 21 October 2015

HALLOWEEN POST for #WEPFF - Edgar Allan Poe - Annabel Lee and my fan fiction, Beauty and the Beast

Incredibly, two months have passed and it's time for the WEP October Halloween challenge!  

Part A:
          share a favorite frightening tale, movie, novel, photograph or painting that will leave us quaking in our boots, then  in a short paragraph describe how it scared you, and why it did and or still does today

Well, I like my creepiness subtle, so Edgar Allan Poe's poem (to his dead young bride), always creeps me out as the image of the broken-heated lover laying with her in her tomb by the sea is so strong. The atmospherics are to me, completely awesome. And if you read it aloud, the rhythm sounds like those 'highborn kinsman' galloping by. Not to mention the beautiful language and the fairy tale feel created by the first line...

Annabel Lee

It was many and many a year ago,
   In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
   By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
   Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
   In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
   I and my Annabel Lee—
With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven
   Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
   In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
   My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsmen came
   And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
   In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
   Went envying her and me—
Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
   In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
   Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
   Of those who were older than we—
   Of many far wiser than we—
And neither the angels in Heaven above
   Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
   Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
   In her sepulchre there by the sea—
   In her tomb by the sounding sea.

Now Part B is my own creepy tale...not exactly subtle. You'll see it's full of questions as promised in a previous post, How to Boost our Creativity by Asking Questions.

Beauty and the Beast

Once upon a time there lived a man with a beauty fetish. 

Each day he asked God why some people were born so blessed physically, while others had faces that looked as if they had been savaged by a beast.  He oft-times pondered the expression: ‘kissed by an angel.’  He’d been kissed by the Devil when he tore, kicking and screaming, from his mother’s womb.

His life lacked beauty from that moment. Many years later he learned the truth from the birthing attendant, Marjorie. “Take this Devil’s spawn from me!” his mother had screamed. “Leave him on an anthill far inside the forest. I hereby name him ‘Beast’. Let him be ravaged by his fellows.”

Marjorie saved his life, but his mother’s rejection turned him into a beast. Every time he saw his monster face--eyes black as the pitch he collected from the bog lands, his hands grossly stained with inky sludge--he hated.

As Beast clumped along the muddy laneways delivering his pitch to the rich men’s fires, he studied his features in the smudgy glass shop windows. He was thankful that his hair had been overlooked by the same Devil who had seared his face with a pitchfork. His hair was long, curled and glossy, washed by the rain and snow which fell upon him as he huddled by night in the abandoned garden near Grimwade Bridge.


Beast wakes to another day. Without rising from his damp bed, he knows the state of the weather. Real books are denied him, but these are his books, free for the taking--the colour of the sky as day dawns, the cries of seabirds as they call each other over the icy river, the noisy crackle of waves in the tide’s ebb and flow.

He runs his work-wrecked fingers through his hair and leaves his bed. He shrugs into his black leather greatcoat, stolen from some toff who lurched in a drunken dance beside the river before plunging into its icy depths. It protects him against the night freeze, but does nothing to warm his soul. 

Will he ever know warmth? 

Will he ever know the sweetness of a pure woman? 

The whores of Grimwade aside, what woman would ever welcome his cracked hands on her soft body? He needs a sweet woman to release him from the prison to which his witch of a mother sentenced him thirty years hence. 

Beast shakes snowflakes from his hair and shoulders, kicks a dead rose, then walks the icy path to the door. He salivates at the vision of hot gruel and bread from the kind mistress's hand.

He lifts gnarled fingers to the gold lion’s head and raps the bright yellow door. Clump, clump, clump

The vapour from the warm kitchen embraces him. However, the kind mistress is not standing at the doorway.  Instead…a vision…Beauty…stands before him, dressed from head to toe in silk spun from sunshine.  He beholds a wondrous face wreathed in smiles, laughing eyes and perfect white teeth. But he asks himself what lies beyond that perfect face. Sweetness? Cruelty?

He steps closer, all the better to inhale her feminine sweetness--a memory of summer strawberries in an abandoned garden.

“Good morning, kind sir.” She addresses him in a voice that transports him to the Opera House where he eavesdrops on the melodies, well hidden in the cobwebbed rafters. “My mother did speak of you, but is currently abed. I greet you in her stead.” She takes his hand and hers is soft within his rough stiff claw. Beauty blesses him with a sweet smile, one dimple dancing in her cheek as if her face itself winks at him.

Perchance she is confusing him with another. He looks behind, but sees nothing but the violent wind-tossed leaves rustling along the path, slapping around his legs. He speaks in a voice raspy with longing. “I have but pitch for sale, Mistress.”

“Yes, indeed. Our supply is low, but my mother has waited on you. She said you would return and that you never steal from us.”

She misinterprets his extended silence as he imagines by what trickery he will steal Beauty from her mother.  

“Oh dear sir, do come in. Shelter inside awhile. You must be chilled to the bone in this snowstorm, while our furnace rages day and night. When I lie in my warm bed it is like I have died and gone to heaven; I’m in a fairytale world. I never want to wake up.” She looks upon his hair. “I am too enraptured by my dreams.”

He watches as thoughts dance beneath the surface of her skin, wondering at her dreams of fashionable gentlemen astride black stallions. He flicks his long tresses so they cover the lower half of his face, hoping she will be enraptured by his glossy mane.

He follows her into the grand foyer, his hungry eyes ravished by alluring sights--tall ceilings trimmed in gold leaf; walls of green silk, the hue of the forest; furniture of the deepest mahogany, like tree branches. He wonders at the single yellow rose in a crystal vase on the windowsill. Fury rises within him at the thought of a suitor.

He drops his load beside the crackling fire while thinking--how can people live like this while I, the Devil’s spawn, live with no walls to enclose me?  His ceilings are the underbelly of Grimwade Bridge, his furniture crafted from scraps of timber he rescues from the river. Why does God choose to give all to some and nothing to others?

“Please, kind sir, stand against the fire. Warm yourself. I will bring coffee and food.” She holds out an apple. He snatches it from her and crunches it with his sharp teeth.

Soon Beast feels uncomfortably hot. He is not accustomed to a roaring fire, within or without.  It becomes just another ordeal he must suffer. But, be damned, he is done with suffering. He deserves to live. He deserves to wear splendid clothes. To sleep with a full belly each night. To bed this sweet woman.

He strokes his hair, capturing a curl with a thick finger and tugging it in anticipation. Beauty will know the Beast.

He will teach her.

Life is no fairy tale.



WEP's HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE!This story was written for the WEP Halloween challenge. You are welcome to post something creepy and link up in my sidebar or go to the WEP site. Click on the link on my sidebar or the WEP site to see other entries...

And on Sunday night, I became a self-published author when my 15,000 word novella, a paranormal romance, hit the Amazon shelves worldwide. If you like Dracula-ish stories with a soft touch, you may well enjoy it. To bring this book together I had a lot of blogger-love help. More on that later. So, if you're in the market for a Halloween tale, here are some links:

Monday 19 October 2015

The #BooktagsBlogHop - The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. And my vampire novella is on Amazon!

Today I'm participating in Toi Thomas' #BooktagsBlogHop. Right up my alley. How about you? Not too late to tag along. The link is in my sidebar.
Here's what Toi has to say:
BooktagbloghopThe purpose of this blog hop is for readers and writers to share what they are reading, have read, are writing, or have written with others. This is not about promoting free or discounted books, though some of those may be featured. This is about book lovers sharing what they love about books.  This blog hop is about the Joy of Reading and the Joy of Writing and is hosted by me, Toi Thomas, the 3rd Monday of each month.
Post No. 1 will be October 19, 2015.
To learn more, click here.
What I am reading:

First, here is my overview, then an excerpt from a favourite book I've read recently. I've read several in October, but one that stays with me is The Little Paris Bookshop. What a quirky little book about Jean Perdu who calls himself a 'literary apothecary', which translates to mean a bookseller who discerns which book/s you need/don't need to read at a given moment in your life. He lives on a beautifully-restored barge on the Seine in Paris near Notre Dame and, being a troubled soul himself, his aim is to help other troubled souls. But the person he can't cure of torment is himself. He's nursed a broken heart for twenty odd years, when the love of his life left him. When a strange turn of events pops up and he actually reads the letter his ex-lover sent him, he realises that he's been a fool--his lover was dying and was hoping he'd visit her before her death, 21 years ago. So the story gets underway when on a whim, he unhooks his barge and heads downriver to Provence, to reacquaint himself with his past. But not before bestselling author Max jumps on board. The barge trip includes many unusual adventures, a love story to France's beautiful rivers and coasts and a completely charming ending.

An extract can't do justice to what I love about this book, but I'll try. Here is an extract close to the beginning which gives you an idea of the quirkiness of the story:

'No,' Monsieur Perdu said. 'I'd rather not sell you this book.'
Gently he pried Night from the lady's hand. Of the many novels on his book barge - the vessel moored on the Seine that he had named Literary Apothecary - she had inexplicably chosen the notorious bestseller by Maximilian 'Max' Jordan, the earmuff wearer from the third floor in Rue Montagnard. (M. Perdu's apartment building). 
The customer looked at the bookseller, taken aback.
'Why not?'
'Max Jordan doesn't suit you.'
'Max Jordan doesn't suit me?'
'That's right. He's not your type.'
'My type. Okay. Excuse me, but maybe I should point out to you that I've come to your book barge for a book. Not a husband, mon cher Monsieur.'
'With all due respect, what you read is more important in the long term than the man you marry, ma chère Madame.'
She looked at him through eyes like slits.
'Give me the book, take my money, and we can both pretend it's a nice day.'
'It is a nice day, and tomorrow is the start of summer, but you're not going to get this book. Not from me. May I suggest a few others?'
'Right, and flog me some old classic you're too lazy to throw overboard where it can poison the fish?' 
'Books aren't eggs, you know. Simply because a book has aged a bit doesn't mean it's gone bad.' There was an edge to M. Perdu's voice. 'What is wrong with old? Age isn't a disease. We all grow old, even books. But are you, is anyone, worth less, or less important, because they've been around for longer?'
'It's absurd how you're twisting everything, all because you don't want me to have that stupid Night book.'
'Hello?' called M. Perdu. 'Can I help you?'
'I'm not looking for anything,' croaked Max Jordan.
The bestselling author stepped tentatively forward with a honeydew melon in each hand, his obligatory earmuffs riveted to his head.
'Have the three of you been standing there long, M. Jordan?'
Jordan nodded, and a blush of embarrassment spread to the roots of his dark hair.
'I arrived just as you were refusing to sell my book to that lady,' he said unhappily. 
Oh dear. That was rather bad timing.
What I am writing:
As well as reading, I've been writing/editing up a storm. At 8.10 pm Sunday night, I finally pressed Publish for my vampire novella which I told you about last week. Cutting it fine for Halloween. Wish me well. More later. My cover designer, Jennie, decided to have her baby early, so with my husband's help, I came up with this temporary cover. What do you think?  Now available on Amazon worldwide. I've included the most popular links...Of course, I'd love it if you bought it for the low price of 99c and wrote a short review, even though I understand that huge TBR list you have!

The WEP Halloween challenge goes live this Wednesday. Still not too late to jump onboard and share something scary that someone else created, or something you created. Submit your name and URL to your post in my sidebar.

Have a great week! 

Tuesday 13 October 2015

I've been visiting Townsville in Far North Queensland. Some photos and chit chat for you...

Hello there!

Thank you for the great response to my IWSG post re beta readers and critiquers last week. I've taken on board the advice to leave my ms in the drawer for awhile then take control of it myself. Meanwhile, I'm about ready to self-publish my first novella! Yay! I started this paranormal romance in 2010 and picked it up recently with the intention of publishing it for Halloween. I'm running out of time, but I intend to make it. Wish me well getting it on Amazon this week!

If you think I've been slack with blog visits, it's because I've been away travelling again, but this time I've remained in my home state, Queensland. It was school holidays, so I travelled to the Far North to visit my daughter in Townsville. If ever the north seceded from the south (and there is always talk of this), Townsville would be the capital city. 

This was an exciting time to visit Townsville. It was the Rugby League Grand Final, and this year it was between two Queensland teams, the Brisbane Broncos and the Townsville Cowboys. Whoa! And didn't Townsville get into the swing of it. As soon as I entered the airport, I was met with banners.

Jonothan Thurston on right, the best rugby player in the world. 
Townsville has many wonderful eateries. Maybe not as slick as Brisbane's, but in the last few years the eateries have gone gang busters. Enjoyed a fabulous breakfast at a new establishment, the Cat's Meow. Inside there was something different. The owner had sourced little Golden Books and turned them into menus. So cute.

The food was amazing too.

And the owner also sells antiques. I picked up this beautiful Italian pink art glass which will go so well in my new writing room when it's done.

Walking along The Strand is always refreshing. It was very windy so the stretch of water between Townsville and Magnetic Island was a little grey instead of the usual pristine blue, but as you see, the sky had nothing to apologise for.

And each time I visit my daughter, I read A House in Fez by Australian author, Suzanna Clarke.

Finally finished it this visit. No way would I restore a riad in the Fez medina in Morocco, but it made excellent reading. What satisfaction to go from this--

To this--

Made me homesick for Morocco. Here we are in Morocco in 2012.

Back home again. Walking around our street last night, I picked some spring blossoms which were everywhere! So pretty!

I know it's autumn in the northern hemisphere, but it's spring Down Under, but it feels like summer. Here is a whacky art sculpture at the beach on the Gold Coast, south of Brisbane.

I hope you enjoyed your brush with Queensland culture.

By the way, the Townsville Cowboys won the Grand Final for the first time ever! In the last half minute, Jonothan Thurston, dubbed the best rugby player in the world, kicked a field goal. The poor Broncos! They thought they  had it won!

  • What have you been up to the last couple of weeks?
  • Don't forget the WEP Halloween challenge! Get together something creepy by October 21! You can sign up in my sidebar!

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday 7 October 2015

Insecure Writers Support Group - #IWSG post -- Insecure about critiques

Hello Insecure/Secure Writers

Thanks to Alex J Cavanaugh and his team for the month of October -- awesome co-hosts -- TB Markinson,Tamara Narayan, Shannon Lawrence, Stephanie Faris, and Eva E. Solar! who are hosting this group think tank/whinehouse,motivational writing group.

Today at my place it's a whinehouse.

I want to say how insecure I am at the moment due to some confusing beta reads on one of my novels. Somehow I feel I've lost the plot, so to speak, by getting too many pairs of eyes over it. Now I've reached the stage I've just metaphorically dropped it in the bottom drawer and may not pick it up again, which sucks, considering I've spent so much time on it.

It would be different if all my betas/critiquers found the same lumps and bumps in my story, but no, the crits are very different and confusing. But I've learned one thing, and tell me if you disagree--you shouldn't ask people who don't write in your genre, or a genre close to yours, to run their eyes over your work.

  • What do you think? How have betas/critique partners worked for you?
  • How's things at your place this month?
Click here to go to more IWSG posts. And be sure to visit the    
Insecure Writer’s Support Group Website!!!

And don't forget to find something creepy to post for WEP's October Halloween challenge! Love to have you! Sign up in my sidebar!