"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris ... then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." Ernest Hemingway

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.

Julian 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 Julian reached the soft grasses where it’d happened.

It was as if it were yesterday. Nicolo, 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 Nicolo outside.

Nicolo had spung up, pounded a fist into Julian’s temple. While he lay unconscious, and while Enya lay inert inside the car, Nicolo 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,’ Julian said, kissing the top of her head.

 'Payback.’ Enya smiled to herself as the forest wrapped her in its arms. When Julian 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 Julian’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 month...it 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 jemimapett.com, 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.

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

#WEPff AUGUST - LONG SHADOW - my entry - Thoughts on a Dying Evening

Hello all!

Welcome to WEP for August, the prompt, Long Shadow. This past month I've been immersing myself in poetry. I believe poets are the cleverest of writers. The best prose is poetic. So I decided to go with a short entry using stimulus from three poets. You will recognize at least one, I'm sure.

Thoughts on a Dying Evening.

I walked in solitude down to the lake that fronted my cabin.

Evening shrouded me. The last gleam of sunshine faded on the hilltops, stabbing long fingers of shadow along the valley. 

Sunset’s last leaf of gold glimmered, vanished.

I sat. I watched. I meditated upon the sorrows of the world, upon the oppression and pain.

People out for their nightly stroll walked by with a harsh bewildered rhythm. There is something in this landscape that dries the speech in your throat.

The solemn coloring of night drew on, the seep serene of the gumtrees, the long shadows of the mountains thrown across the grey trunks, dimly visible as they touched the farthest shore, the prancing harbor.

The voluptuous smooth hills beckoned and taunted. They have not a care.

Unlike me.

I wished for the moon, but she was dark to me, silent, hidden in her vacant interlunar cave.

I sat until the stars spread smatterings of diamond dust across the universe. I absorbed the agony without end.

It is time. 

I wrenched open the door to my cabin. Fisted the remote. Flicked on the news.

Same sad story. We can’t go back. We can’t move on.

The pandemic has cast a long shadow. But unlike the shadows from the setting sun, this long shadow will not disappear come evening.

WORDS: 225


Thomas Gray - poet
Craig Powell - poet
Walt Whitman - poet


The end of the day is near when small men make long shadows. Confucius

When Small People Caste Tall Shadows, It's Evening Time

You can't anticipate history. It's only when you look back you see what the Romans did, and what various other empires did, what the British Empire did. We're now beginning to see the long shadow that it created, so one must be hopeful and say that what's going on in Asia, that what's going on in the Middle East, that all these various areas of conflict, that they will pass and move onto another area. But it would seem that the natural order of things is there is this cyclic behavior of destruction followed by a calm period. Roma Tearne

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