Tuesday 20 December 2016

#WEPff entry--flash fiction for Utopian Dreams--Venice's Black Cape

Greetings of the season to you! Those of you who haven't shut down for the holiday season, thank you for coming by. Write...Edit...Publish (WEP) is happening this month when we post our responses to the prompt, Utopian Dreams.
I hope you will enjoy reading my response, a flash fiction set in Venice at the time of Carnevale. 

Image result for venetian carnival masks images

Venice’s Black Cape

 ‘Francoise, I’m going to Carnevale. Every year I dream of the parties, the dancing, the beauty of Venice, but you refuse to accompany me. This year I’m going. Alone.'

Ma chérie? Your home is here in Place Vendome. Is Paris not enough for you?’

‘Paris is a dream which I’ve achieved. Venice is a dream I’ve yet to attain. My Utopia. I’ve read so much about Carnevale. I must experience it for myself.’

Ma chérie, I beg you, stay.’

‘Pouf! I’m going.’

‘But Anouk, I must warn you. I went one time before I met you. The men…’ He took out a handkerchief and rubbed a spot from his Ferragamo loafers.

Anouk refused to let this man in his three-piece charcoal bespoke suit, his crisp white Dior shirt, and his Louis Vuitton tie, prevent her from reaching for her dreams. 

     Darkness floated over Venice like a black cape, its edges reflecting the glint of the moon. Anouk watched from her hotel balcony as gondolas floated as in a fantasy world, dipping above the water like slick black swans. The gondolier’s serenade drifted across the water, calling her. The vaporetti hummed as they navigated the icy waters of the Grand Canal, disembodied voices of the passengers bouncing atop the waves. The baroque palaces along the canal dazzled, grand residences of past glory, now inhabited by revelers. Anouk shivered. She was part of this night. Her dream was about to unfold. 

Image result for image gondolier on grand canal

     She dressed in her purple and silver satin gown. The fabric rustled deliciously as she flounced her skirts. Glancing into the Murano glass ornate mirror next to the door, she admired the way her long blonde hair curled past her shoulders, entwined with silver ribbons. Then, the pièce de résistance, the mask, decorated with ermine, gems and feathers to which she added a deep purple floppy hat trimmed in lace. Slipping her feet into black satin slippers, she spritzed herself with her favourite Borsalino perfume.  Opening her black lacquer fan, she swished it over her face, a face hot with excitement.

She was decadence itself. 

Anouk drifted outside into a frosty, starry world. She was ready to lose herself in Carnevale, where the power of the mask lured party goers into lurid rites of celebration. Tonight, no rules applied. 

Masked and costumed figures ran through the cobbled streets, tugging her into their band. They hurried alongside the Grand Canal, past candle-lit icing-cake palazzos dusted with snow before stepping over an arched bridge, heading deeper into mysterious caverns and back alleyways of the city. 

The happy band entered a baroque apartment, so opulent Anouk gasped. Lifelike black statues stood in homage around the pillars that edged the magnificent vestibule. The cold of the floating city melted away in the heated rooms as she danced with a succession of gloriously-dressed masked men who pressed her close to their bodies and plied her with wine from silver goblets. She was passed from caped stranger to caped stranger with a flourish and a kiss.

Back on the street, she slipped and slithered at the back of the long line, ignoring her damp dress that threatened to trip her up.

The line stopped to watch fireworks exploding above the Grand Canal. With each burst, light traced patterns across the inky sky. Then out of the foggy darkness came a man, a man who clasped her hand and drew it to his chest. While she stood uncertainly, the crowd ran off, leaving her alone with the masked stranger. He began to run, tugging her along in his wake.

Through passages and beneath arches they ran until they came upon a magnificent doorway which appeared burnished in gold. He brushed snow off their cloaks and shoes before he led her up a flight of stairs to a luxurious apartment. He hurried her through a warm sitting room where a log fire blazed. She longed to sit close to the fire and thaw her numb hands and feet. Instead, she was tugged into a huge bedroom dazzled by moonlight, its rich furnishings the colour of the Burgundy she’d been drinking all night. 

The stranger unfastened her buttons and her dress rustled to the floor. She would offer herself to the allure of Carnevale and her mysterious seducer. This was her dream. Her fantasy.

They fell naked onto the bed, bodies now warmed, hungry, fired with the lust that decadence brings. They surrendered themselves to the madness of the night. The mouth that plundered hers, tasted like the wine that had flowed all night, enhanced by sea and smoke.

Then he tensed. 


Slipping and sliding on the stairs. 

The occasional curse word, ‘Merda. Merda.’

‘My Contessa comes,’ he said. ‘Go. Presto! Presto!

He gathered her clothes from the carpet, thrust them into her arms and pushed her onto the balcony. Shivering with cold and shock, she huddled, uncertain. The lapping of the water against the pylons were slaps to her freezing face. The fog’s tendrils reached up and whirled around her misery. Fool! Fool! Is this the dream you imagined?

The Contessa’s Borsalino fragrance hung, trapped, in the freezing air. My perfume. Is that why he chose me?

‘Ah, Contessa, come, I’ve been waiting. I’m desolated we lost each other in the frenzy of the chase.’

‘I, too, my count.’

Is this a game they play on this one night of the year when there were no rules?

Tears running down her frozen cheeks, Anouk struggled down the dark stairs, gripping the ornate balustrade. She hid in the darkest corner of the carpeted foyer and dressed herself with agonising slowness. Her frozen hands fumbled with the intricate clasps and zips. What a joy it'd been to fasten them earlier tonight. Now, her joy had become terror and abandonment.

Wrenching the heavy carved door open, her ruined slippers stepped into the bewildering night.

Stepped into a nightmare. 

She was lost in Venice's black cape.

WORDS: 984
If you'd like to read more entries for the WEP challenge, click on the names on the list at the top of my sidebar with DL (Direct Link) next to their name or go to the WEP website.

Thanks for coming by.
Merry Christmas!
Happy New Year!


Wednesday 7 December 2016

#IWSG--Where I see myself and my writing in five years' time, God willing.

Hello visitors!

I didn't think I'd get to post for the IWSG this month, but, cliche alert, where there's a will, there's a way. So I'm flying down to Sydney and the Hunter Valley tomorrow (Monday) and in between throwing a few clothes and toiletries in my bag, I'm penning my post. Usually I come up with my own ideas, but in the interests of time, I'm going with the official question--
In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

So, people, let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Let's post away and tweet on @TheIWSG and hashtag #IWSG

Alex's awesome co-hosts for the December 7 posting of the IWSG are Jennifer Hawes,Jen Chandler, Nick Wilford, Juneta Key, JH Moncrieff, Diane Burton, and MJ Fifield!

So, that half-full luggage bag is waiting while I  ponder the question.

Five years? 

That's a long  projection. Who knows if I'll even be alive by then? Hopefully I will dodge the Grim Reaper and I'll reach my publishing goals. I've turned a corner from 'dabbling' in writing, to being deadly serious. I've hardly ever submitted anything except to the lucrative magazine market, so I don't know much about rejection except from all the agonising posts I read. (I'll probably become quite well acquainted in the next five years!) I did have one from Harlequin awhile ago which hurt. They praised my pretty writing, but from what I've learned since then, publishers would rather a badly-written piece with a great storyline, lots of conflict, stressed-out characters, over pretty writing any day. Okay, I hear you squeal--no, no, you're wrong, but really, they do. I know enough editors (who actually edit) who say they can fix bad grammar, punctuation and clunky phraseology, but they're not into fixing a story which lacks conflict and page-turning-quality, exactly my weakness.

Now, my turn-around point was when I was pointed ('scuse the wordplay) to two critique partners who shared a Margie Lawson writing retreat with me. All three of us are 'romantic' writers, not so much 'romance' writers, (although one does lean in that direction) in that we have romantic elements, rather than the whole story revolving around the hero and heroine. Well, think Gone With the Wind (romantic elements with a lot happening other than the romance) compared to a Danielle Steele or a Barbara Cartland novel. Not that I'm dissing romance writers, just saying we're not that writer, at least on our current novels.

So, my two critique partners are relentless in helping me with my conflict, my plot...so many suggestions for making my story better. In five years' time, I hope I have several novels accepted by a publisher, who'll like my conflicts, my character motivations and my story AND my pretty writing.
My crit partners Tania and Sheila (a crazy American!) are such fun, even though they're relentless in pursuit of plot and structure.
Currently, I'm working on Carpe Diem, Art and Love in Paris. It will be my first published novel, I know it. I already have most of the second novel written. It's on a Paris cookery school. Yum.

So, aren't I an optimistic little writer? Why not? Otherwise, why bother? And my plan to get there--write every minute I can and listen to my critters and rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. (Margaret Mitchell rewrote her Chapter One of GWTW 60+ times, so the story goes...I'm sure I can outdo her~on that point, at least).

Now, instead of opening up my WIP, wondering which chapter I'll fiddle with each day, I'm powering on, rewriting and editing Carpe Diem. It's delicious.

Click HERE for more IWSG posts. 

GOOD NEWS!  I met one of the IWSG admin team in person two days' ago. The venerable Lynda Young has moved to Brisbane (as if you didn't know) and we finally managed a meet up at one of my fave Brisbane eateries, French Martini. What a lovely lunch. Here we are finishing our wine and about to sink our teeth into creme brulee. Afterwards, I gave Lynda a walking tour of more of my fave eateries on the South Bank and showed her my hallowed teaching room at the State Library. Finishing off with a boutique-brewed apple cider at The Charming Squire, it was a perfect day, if exceedingly hot. WELCOME to Brisbane, Lynda. 

.Thanks for coming by? I'll be interested to hear where you see yourself and your writing career in five years' time
  • Meanwhile, I'm enjoying seeing the sights of Sydney and sampling the wines and great food in the Hunter Valley. I hope you're having fun, too. I'll come by and comment when I'm sober, LOL!

And in case you missed it, Write...Edit...Publish is rocking and rolling again. Final challenge for the year--Utopian Dreams. Please, if you have a moment or two, please join us. Not a bad sign up so far considering the time of year. Some new writers have joined us. I hope you'll come along and have some fun!

Thanks to Olga Godim for creating the WEP badges.