Thursday 3 December 2020

#WEP December challenge. Pierrot, the Fool. (Unmasked in Venice).

Hi all!

I have been travelling again and missed the December IWSG. I think it's only about the second time I haven't posted in all the years! Forgive me Alex.

By popular demand, WEP is having an unstructured challenge this December. For those who'd already prepared an entry for UNMASKED or who burned to write one, we have opened it up to whoever so desires and posting our link to the WEP website. 

My story is adapted from one of the very first stories I wrote for Romantic Friday Writers. I'd worked on it since and it was over 2,000 words. For this challenge, I've edited it down to 1,200+ words. So sorry it's a bit over. 

During the pandemic, Australians don't travel internationally. So I'm reliving a trip to Venice. But I assure you, I'm not Anouk, my heroine. It's a bit of a black fairy tale. With this retelling I can see another direction I could go with the story, but seriously, this will have to do for now or I'll never get it posted...enjoy. 

Pierrot, the Fool.


Anouk surveyed the glistening city from the balcony of Hotel Cipriani, feasting her eyes upon Venice. Darkness floated over the ethereal city, a black cape, its edges reflecting the glint of the moon. The light was a mosaic of shimmering mirrors. Gondolas floated in a fantasy world, dipping above the water like slick black swans. On the frigid night air, the gondoliers’ serenade drifted across the water like a ghostly siren call, filling Anouk’s heart with delicious anticipation.

Sipping her wine, she listened to the vaporettis' hum 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 whose dancing threatened to sink them into the murky water.

Anouk was intent on enjoying this night and all the excitement that tantalized her soul with infinite possibilities. Carnevale. Hiding behind a mask, she was ready to lose herself in this ritual where the power of the mask lured revelers into lurid rites of celebration.

She lifted her crystal glass. Swirled the rich burgundy. ‘Salut!’ She toasted the heavenly hosts.

Her dream was about to unfold.




Anouk drifted outside into a frosty, starry world, a different person behind her Pierrot mask. She was tugged into a band of masked and costumed figures running through the cobbled streets, alongside the Grand Canal, past candle-lit icing-cake palazzos dusted with snow, slithering over arched bridges, heading deeper into mysterious caverns and back alleyways.

In an opulent baroque apartment, she danced with gloriously attired masked men who pressed her close to their bodies, their breath hot on her naked neck, before passing her to the next caped stranger with a flourish and an extravagant kiss to her gloved hand.

Leaving the hot apartment, she ran with the party goers down slippery, dimly-lit streets, going deeper and deeper into unknown Venice, terrifying in its other-worldly quality. She slipped and slithered at the end of the long line, her dress tugging at her ankles as if telling her to stop.

She was about to turn back when out of the foggy darkness came a man who clasped her hand. She stood, unsure whether to rip her hand from his grasp, but the crowd moved on, leaving her alone in the stranger’s grip. She recognized the perfume he wore. Creed Aventus. Her husband’s favorite. It comforted her. Was she a fool to go with this stranger in his lacquered mask of ebony? She shrugged. This was what adventure was all about, wasn’t it?

The stranger led her upstairs to an apartment where they joined a new group of dancers in a room warmed by spluttering fires, the air blue with cigarette smoke. The women were ethereal beauties in rustling silk while men dazzled in capes, tight trousers, shiny thigh-high boots and magnificent wigs of black ringlets. His curls whispering against her neck, she and the stranger swayed in a sideways rhythm to the heavenly music of a stringed quartet.  

She closed her eyes and imagined the stranger unmasked. The way he ran his hands over her forehead, lifting her hair, told her he was doing the same.

So this is Carnevale! Oh, what have I been missing?

The stranger snatched a glass of wine from a passing waiter. He entwined his arm with hers and poured wine down her throat.

She spluttered as rich liquor dripped down her chin and between her breasts.

He dipped his head; licked the red trail. Her delighted shivers brought fire to his eyes.

He spoke his first words to her, his Italian rich and smooth as the wine. ‘Signorina, I’m Count de Rozario.’

Vrai? Truly?’

Si. All men are counts at Carnevale.’

She bowed, not doubting his claim. ‘I am Anouk Abbe. From Paris.’

‘My servant.’ He touched her shoulder with his hand.

Her heart fluttered with desire. She looked up. He had melted into the night. How rude! Was that what Carnevale was about? Dancing? Drinking? Touching? Teasing? Then … pouf?

She pushed her way outside, trudging north through freshly fallen snow.

Men lounged against alleyway walls; smoke blended with foggy curls. Shiny black opal eyes studied her from behind black masks.

She stepped sideways, desperate to find the Grand Canal.

One of the men strode forward just as another appeared from out of the mist. 

Again the comforting smell of Creed Aventus.

He covered her shivering body with his black velvet cloak trimmed with red fur, revealing a black woolen suit. With gloved fingers, he scratched away tears that had iced her cheeks below her mask.

‘My count?’ Her teeth chattered.

An imperceptible jerk of his head. ‘Come. We steal a little time.’

Through passages, beneath arches, they came upon a magnificent doorway. In the hazy light of the street lamps it appeared burnished in gold.

He brushed snow from their clothing before he led her up a flight of stairs into a luxurious apartment. With urgent strides he tugged her into a warm sitting room with log fire blazing, comfortable couches, an aura of expectation in the atmosphere. Two crystal wine glasses and a silver platter of antipasto beckoned. How sweet! Mesmerized by the warmth of the flames, she took a step toward the fire.

‘Fretta! Hurry!’ He snatched her around the waist and pulled her into a huge bedroom dazzled by moonlight, a lush Renaissance painting of red silk wallpaper, brocade and golden trims.

He unbuttoned her cape. Her dress rustled to the floor. He dealt swiftly with her undergarments but left her mask intact.

Even so, she felt unmasked.

He pushed her backwards onto the brocade spread, covering her nakedness with his.

As they surrendered themselves to the madness of the night, the mouth that plundered hers tasted like the wine they’d shared, enhanced by sea and smoke.

He tensed, lifted his head. 

She heard nothing but her own whimpering.

Then …  

Slipping and sliding on the varnished wood stairs. Curse words, ‘Merda. Merda. Basta.

His feet landed on the floor. ‘My blonde beauty.’ He tugged her arm. ‘My Contessa approaches. Presto!’

He snatched clothes from the carpet, thrust them into her arms and pushed her naked onto the balcony then quietly closed the door.

Shivering with cold and shock, she huddled. The lapping water against the pylons was slaps to her freezing stupid face. The fog’s tendrils reached up and whirled around her misery.

Fool! Fool! Is this the adventure you imagined?

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

‘Ah, Contessa, come.’ His seductive voice slid under the bedroom door onto the balcony. ‘I’m ready for you. Desolate we lost each other in the frenzy.’

‘I, too, Count.’ Her voice sounded a little self-satisfied. ‘Come.’

Had the Contessa been naked with a stranger in another bed? While the Count cavorted here with her? Was it a game they played on this one night of the year when there were no rules?

Tears pooling on her frozen cheeks, she struggled down the murky outdoor stairs, slipping and sliding on the ice, gripping the ornate balustrade. She entered the apartment foyer and trembled in the darkest corner. Her frozen hands fumbled with intricate clasps and zips as she dressed herself with agonizing slowness.

As she dressed, she pictured her husband back in Paris, sipping his aperitif in his favorite leather chair by the fire, wearing his three-piece charcoal bespoke suit, his crisp white Dior shirt, his Louis Vuitton tie. He’d warned her not to come. Now she knew why.

Tossing her Pierrot mask into a dirty pile of slush, she tread into the frozen wilderness. Lost in Venice's black cape.

She was Pierrot, the fool.


Currently up on the WEP website is Yolanda's post outlining the magnificent arty challenges for 2021. Please take a look. I'm sure you'll be inspired to join us even if you've never written for us. This is an example:

Gorgeous, innit?

Happy holidays! See you next year!


Wednesday 4 November 2020

#IWSG November - Jemi Fraser - Pros and Cons of her publishing schedule

Hello all and welcome to the monthly write-fest that is the IWSG. Here you'll find motivation to overcome your insecurities, learn more about the writing journey, and learn the varied methods of publishing.

Alex's awesome co-hosts for the November 4 posting of the IWSG are Jemi Fraser, Kim Lajevardi, L.G Keltner, Tyrean Martinson, and Rachna Chhabria!

  Be sure to visit them and the 
Insecure Writer’s Support Group Website!!!

Once again, I've invited a guest to take over my blog. Today Jemi Fraser returns. Yes, I'm obsessed just a little with publication stories and have been from when I began blogging in 2007. I see Jemi as a pioneer as she's published the way I intend to - "now you don't see me, now you do" kinda thing! Anyway, to help other sly writers who have a truckload of books they've been writing, editing, rewriting for YEARS, I've asked Jemi to talk about the pros and cons of publishing the rapid-release way!

Over to you, Jemi! 

Thanks for having me on your fabulous blog again, Denise!

 I’m going to twist the IWSG question a bit today…Why do you publish the way you publish?


2020 has been a weird and wacky year in so many ways. Which means it was probably the perfect year for me to enter the publishing world in my own weird and wacky way.


In January 2020 I decided this was the year I was going to publish both my nonfiction book and my romance series.


I set up pre-order dates for Dancing With Dementia and arranged a blog tour for the end of March. You know, when the pandemic really hit.


It was early days in the pandemic and people were thinking we’d be more or less normal by June or July. I picked a date to release my romance series at the end of July.

I decided to release 3 books at once and then another before the end of the year. Bloo Moose has been living in my head for a while. Because I was writing a series, to me there wasn’t much point in releasing one book then waiting for a few months before releasing another. I wanted to have something else for readers to read if they liked Reaching For Normal (it’s free!).


I wanted Book 4 (Reaching For Balance) out before the end of the year - preferably within 3 months of the first 3. Apparently this is good for visibility on some retailers.


While I was finalizing 4, Book 5 started yelling at me. It was supposed to be book 6 but it changed its mind and decided it wanted to be a Christmas story.




Christmas stories sell best before Christmas so I decided November 10 looked like a good date. Four weeks after book 4.


I did mention weird and wacky, right?


What have been the pros and cons of my publishing schedule?



   Exhaustion (I’m also providing daily child care for family)

   Imposter Syndrome is Strong! (who am I to think people want to read my stories?)

   Marketing and Promo? Who has time for that?

   Pressure to keep up the pace (spoiler alert: probably not publishing 6 books in 2021!)



   Not a whole lot of time to do things like checking numbers and rankings and reviews

   There has been some reader buy-through of the series

   I’ve had people tell me they are excited about the series and waiting for more! (yay!!!)

   Readers are preordering

   Pushing myself to really focus means even more stories and ideas are knocking on my skull

   I love my Bloo Moose folks and getting to spend time with them is fun

   I have 2 new series ideas waiting their turn (con = they’re impatient & time is limited)

   I have 6 books out and about in the world!!!


Would I do it all again? Yes! Although I’d wish for less global pandemic and more time!


How about you? Anyone else save up their books to publish them together? Anyone else start publishing during the pandemic? Anyone figure out how to create more time yet?

Life is short - go for the HEA! Author of Contemporary Romance (Bloo Moose), Dancing With Dementia (nonfiction), and short/flash fiction. Variety is the spice after all!

Thanks Jemi! Let's give Jemi your reactions to her post. Or...share your own pros and cons of publishing in the comments!

Seeing you're here ... think about joining us at WEP for the Christmas challenge, UNMASKED. 


On behalf of the WEP team -

Wednesday 21 October 2020

#WEP October Challenge - GRAVE MISTAKE - #flashfiction - Be Careful What You Wish For - Paranormal Romance

Hello there!

Here's my entry for the WEP prompt for October, GRAVE MISTAKE. I've expanded a vampire tale I wrote for the A - Z Challenge in conjunction with the WEP team.

Be Careful What You Wish For


The hazy moon hovered in the inky sky, watching the shenanigans below. Two shadowy figures ran together, weaving through trees and undergrowth in the perfect silence of the night.

Her name was Enya. His was Julius.

‘Let’s go to our favorite place.’ Julius pointed deeper into the forest, where a scarcely-used track led away from what passed for a highway on the island.

‘Oh let’s. I feel the need for some excitement.’ Enya tugged his arm and dragged him under an overhanging branch.

Through the piles of musky leaves they ran, hummus flying around their feet. They jumped over huge tree trunks bent and broken through years of storm and wind.

In no time at all they reached their special stream. Stopping, they knelt and played the game. Pushing their faces close to the water, they tried, they really did. But no. Nothing. No image. No reflection. No chance of being Narcissus. Do I even exist? Enya plunged her face into the water. ‘Ohuhuh…aagh...’ Electricity shot through her body. Julius clutched her and held her while she trembled with shock.

When the trembling ceased, Enya sighed. ‘Perhaps one day I’ll see myself again.’ She bent down and scooped up a handful of shimmering water and let it trail through her fingers. A distant memory triggered of drinking from clear and sparkling waters in the hills on the little Shetland island she called home. She might be slowly forgetting what she looked like, but she’d not forgotten the past and the events that had brought her to a place where her reflection didn't reflect.

She’d made a grave mistake.

Julius wrapped his arm around her shoulder and drew her upright. That night when everything changed came rushing back with such power she felt her head would burst.


She was out with her crowd. Her boyfriend hovered attentively, plying her with her favorite white sauvignon blanc until the rough edges of her dissatisfaction blurred.

‘Why are you so unhappy?' He'd asked. 'What more could you want? Your life is perfect.'

Over the rim of her glass, she saw him. The stranger. He stood out from the raggedy crowd in his Savile Row suit and designer haircut. He oozed grooming and glamour. What she wanted.

And excitement. He oozed excitement from every pore.

She had the eerie feeling he saw right through her. He saw her boredom with her ho-hum life on the island, her desire for genuine thrills. Obviously he was "big city". Glasgow? London? Maybe he’d rescue her. Maybe he was her knight in shining armour. Over his shoulder, she watched the rain batter against the window panes of the pub. Some was rain, some was seawater from the waves coming clear across the harbor wall and crashing against the glass. The island knew how to put on a display of weather. Looking back, she realized it was an omen of dire things to come.

The stranger granted her wish. Rescued her from her life.

She thought it was part of the game when he ran her from the pub, covering her with his fancy cloak and took her driving into the forest in his sleek black Maserati. She’d never seen such a car. She was used to clanking old tractors driven by dour farmers. She thought it was part of the game when he drew her close and pushed away her long curls and kissed her neck while he murmured endearments and threaded his fingers through her hair until her whole body shivered. She thought it was part of the game when she felt a strange sensation where his lips touched her skin. But she knew it wasn’t a game when his teeth moved over her throat. And bit.

Panic, sheer panic coursed through her. Her heart hammered. Her throat burned. Her body trembled.

It was too late. The myths about strange creatures who lurked on the island were true. Why had she dismissed them like she dismissed everything else about her home ...



Finally, Enya and Julius reached the soft grasses where it’d happened.

It was as if it were yesterday. Niccolo, the stranger, turned his Maserati into the bush and turned her into a creature of the night. ‘Come, my lifeless bride. Come away with me. Be mine eternally.’

‘Remember?’ Julius took her in his arms and trailed kisses down her neck.

‘I remember.’

Julius had followed them into the forest in his old beat up Toyota.

He’d wrenched open the Maserati door and dragged Niccolo outside.

Niccolo had spung up, pounded a fist into Julian’s temple. While he lay unconscious, and while Enya lay inert inside the car, Niccolo had drunk from Julian too. He'd followed her into the Otherworld, away from her island. 

That was Niccolo’s grave mistake ...

‘You reap what you sow,’ Julius said, kissing the top of her head.

 'Payback.’ Enya smiled to herself as the forest wrapped her in its arms. When Julius grew in vampire strength, he’d overpowered Niccolo and disappeared into the night with his love, Enya. To return to the island they loved.

‘I never want to leave this island.’ Enya looked deep into Julius’s eyes. What had seemed boring and ho-hum, was now exciting and fresh. Every day brought a new wonder.

She saw herself in the villagers. She watched their comings and goings. Did she envy them their short mortal lives? She wasn’t sure. This was her new reality. She must embrace it.

It was like a song in her head:  


For your grave mistake
You can't save yourself
Or save your soul
You can't save yourself

Rage, scorn, misery
What’s the point?
Let hope, love, sanity
fill your days

  Here's to believing in ghosts
When you look into my face, you'll know.

WORDS: 956

I hope you enjoyed my ghostly little flash. To read more, go to the Write...Edit...Publish website or click on names in my sidebar.

If you can't join us for October, think about joining us for December. The prompt is:

Thanks for coming by.

Wednesday 7 October 2020

#IWSG October - Guest Post - Jemima Pett - Chapter Illustrations in books

 Hi all!

For IWSG month, I have another treat for you today. Jemima Pett. 

Alex's awesome co-hosts for the October 7 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pett, Beth Camp, Beverly Stowe McClure, and Gwen Gardner!

Illustrations in books (not just picture books) is something I like and as a soon-to-be-self-published author, something I'd like to incorporate in the formatting. I always appreciate it when authors have little chapter graphics and when short stories have an illustration to introduce each story. More work, but worth it. And I have an addiction to castles like Jemima. My Renaissance vampire series has castles all over it!

I've never read a blog post about adding illustrations (not saying that there's been none!) I hope you enjoy the post today and find it helpful if you're like minded.

Over to you, Jemima!

Thank you, Denise. 

It’s an honour to be here today. I may get around to answering the IWSG question of the depends… 

As an author, the question I often get asked is: 

Why do I do chapter illustrations for my books? 

Believe me, most times when I finish editing a book, I ask the same question. I have about 24 chapters, and I have to do illustrations for them, simply because I did in the first book. Talk about a rod for your own back! When I was little, all my favourite books had illustrations of some kind. E H Shephard did the Winnie the Pooh and the Wind in the Willows ones. They add something special to a children’s/middle grade readers’ book. And gives the reader a break! 

The Princelings of the East 

My series, The Princelings of the East, is set in a country very like the UK, but with small communities with castles ruling over them. Inter-castle rivalry is everywhere! 

 I started to take an interest in the design and structure of castles (there are loads in England!), and unearthed a prize I’d won at school which was a children’s Guide to Castles and Cathedrals! My Geography teacher must have been prescient. 

So I wanted to draw these castles as part of the setting for the books. Maybe it helped me not describe them at tedious length. 

What style? 

Wanting to draw something and doing it are two different things. For a start, do you want simple elegance and style like E H Shepherd, or something more draughtsmanlike, for the castles? I ended up somewhere between the two. 

Over the course of the books the illustrations got better, they settled into a certain style, and I learned how to put them into ebooks more efficiently. 

Images in Ebooks - the old days (c2011-12)

Images in ebooks are not straightforward. The Smashwords Style Guide gave me half the information I needed for Kindle books (all I needed for Smashwords, iTunes and the rest). 

  • The key to placing images in your ebook is to paste it into your document as an INLINE IMAGE.  
  • No fancy cropping and wrapping the words round. 
  • Place it between two paragraphs using the inline setting. 

A technical issue which I had with Kindle for years, was that a jpg didn’t work properly. Kindle liked colour jpegs but not black and white. I found this hidden in the KDP help stuff during my third book launch. It liked black and white as GIFs. Since these are also small sized files, it helped the overall size of the ebooks. 

Modern ebooks (2018 onwards) 

I get ebooks with illustrations in them which don’t appreciate the complexity of an ebook file. I read a great book recently which had a shell for all the paragraph splitters. That’s where most people might use a wee graphic in their fiction, I think. 

This book also had some lovely two-page spread pictures. Kindle shows one page at a time. Even my iPad didn’t guarantee to get the whole of the spread on a two-page view, because the left half might be on the right hand page! 

The quality of images that you can use for advanced Kindles, iPads and tablets is far better than it used to be - photo quality in fact. What if your reader is using an older Kindle, like Paperwhite or earlier, or on their phone…? 

But they can handle colour, just maybe not display it.

My process 

Using a pad of reasonable quality drawing paper, and some soft pencils, I’d get an idea for a chapter, and start sketching. Once I was happy, I’d draw in the lines I wanted with a black ink pen. I use a three size set of Pilot Drawing Pens. They’ve been great. 

The next step is to rub out (erase) the pencil sketch. How many times have I forgotten to do that? In some of the illustrations you can see the pencil marks still. 

Then it gets tedious. Scan them in, making sure all the bits from the rubbing out were off the page and the scanner clean…. One at a time. Get them the right size and dots per inch (dpi) in the scanner software. Crop if necessary. And eventually, put them into the MS file in the right place. Crop them again. Reduce the file size… the list seems endless. 

Then there was iPad 

Around 2017 I got an iPad, and an iPen soon after. Like anything new, it takes practice. I gave up trying to do the 8th and 9th book drawings on them. But I did play with illustrations for some shorter stories I’d worked on, and tried out colourised versions of them too. The versions of book 8’s Rannoch Moor chapter worked quite well, I think.


<2 moor="" pics="" rannoch=""> But for the last book in the series, I did them all on the iPad. I hit new snags of course. For ages I could not rub out something I’d done a few days earlier. 

<2 moor="" pics="" rannoch="">Eventually whatever I was doing started to work. I could find them again, and go over them with a different idea. 

<2 moor="" pics="" rannoch="">I started with the same line drawing style, but then I discovered the airbrush effect, so a lot of them had airbrush shadows and clouds. 

<2 moor="" pics="" rannoch="">It really helps when you want to both extend a castle and destroy it later in the plot! Instead of copying the detail by hand, which I did with two views of Vexstein in book 7, now I could just copy the file and erase or draw on top. I did the images in record time, and saved at least two days on the scanning and cropping part of it. 

I’m not an artist 

I think my readers like the drawings. I hope they do. I enjoy doing them, although sometimes I really think my ambition outweighs my ability. Plucking up the courage to do a new version of the inn was hard, but it really, really needed it! 

I’m not an illustrator. I’m a keen amateur painter who has sold a few pictures. I do not want to illustrate someone else’s books. But putting my own mind’s eye onto the page, that has given me great pleasure, both in words and pictures. 

So if you fancy illustrating your own books, don’t be put off. If you think they are good enough, it’s part of the charm of your book that the author has also illustrated. Go for it! 

There. Another thing for Insecure Writers to worry about! 

Jemima Pett 

Jemima Pett has been writing books since she was eight and designing fantasy islands at ten. Not seeing a career in fantasy island design, she went down the science route at school, and ended up in a business career, which was good for writing manuals and memos. Eventually she retrained and went into environmental research, where she could write articles and papers. 

 She started writing fiction because her guinea pigs told her to, and she’s been writing the story they inspired ever since. She also has a biography and a science fiction series to her name. The final book of the Princelings series is Princelings Revolution, released on 1st October. The cover is by a professional illustrator, Dani English at Kanizo Art.

Follow Jemima on her blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Amazon, on Goodreads.  

Princelings Revolution 

The planes are crashing, the people are angry at the changes and shortages. King Fred puts democracy to the test and finds it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.  There’s an organised anti-monarchy group called the Causists, and they are spreading false information which the people seem to believe. Things are bad—but they are going to get worse… 

Will he even keep his head, let alone the promise made to Lord Mariusz at the start of the whole adventure? 

Buy the paperback or ebook at Amazon, iTunes, B&N, and Kobo.

Add to your Goodreads list.

This guest appearance is part of the Princelings Revolution Launch Tour.  Click the badge to go to the tour list and Giveaway (closes 23rd October).

Thank so much Jemima for appearing today. I'm actually travelling the wide state of Queensland in a caravan (the new cruise ships apparently), so I'll check in when I can.

Here's the badge for GRAVE MISTAKE - courtesy of Olga Godim, WEP's badge maker extraordinaire! Meanwhile, have a great month (and I hope it includes writing something for the WEP October challenge, GRAVE MISTAKE. It's always our biggest meet of the year so bring on those stories or poems!

Wednesday 2 September 2020

#IWSG September - WEP results - Authors as beta partners.

Hello, and welcome to the September IWSG! For the first time in awhile I'm actually posting instead of inviting a guest poster. In October, I'm looking forward to having Jemima Pett who's about to launch her next book.

How's your month been? Before I get into my IWSG post, I'll report that we at WEP have had a very successful month again with our stable of wonderful writers who blow us away each challenge. They just get better and better. 

The August challenge was LONG SHADOW and it resulted in many poetry entries which was awesome. Our resident poet, Nilanjana Bose, had lots of company.

The winners for the August competition were chosen from our team's shortlist by the awesome Nick Wilford. So we announce Toi Thomas, Dixie Jarchow and Sonia Dogra as the outright winners. Congratulations! It's Toi's second win in a row, proof that purely heartfelt stories resonate more than any other.


Now to the IWSG. 

Alex's awesome co-hosts for the September 2 posting of the IWSG are PJ Colando, J Lenni Dorner, Deniz Bevan, Kim Lajevardi, Natalie Aguirre, and Louise - Fundy Blue! Please visit and say hi!

 September 2 question - If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?

That's not too hard. Like all writers, I have several authors I look up to and would be happy to emulate in some small way - Ernest Hemingway, Paullina Simons, Anita Shreve, Pat Conroy to name those who must have been sitting in the forefront of my subsconscious mind. I can't imagine Ernest being a very patient beta partner so I skipped over him. Paullina Simons and Pat Conroy have written two of my favorite books of all time that I return to for inspiration at least once a year so they must know something about this writing game. Paullina Simons' The Girl in Times Square - superb storyline and emotional hits. Pat Conroy's Beach Music is still up there with unforgettable characters and settings. Hmmm. Who to choose? It's pretty much a dead heat, but I think I'd go with Paullina Simons. What a writer, traveller and wordsmith. I could sure learn a lot from her.

Look forward to hearing about many fabulous authors during my rounds.

Originally published in 2004. Never forgotten.

Thanks for coming by. See you on my rounds.

From my Paris collection. Old Paris.