ON PARIS

"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 April 2021

#FREEDOMMORNING - #WEPAPRILCHALLENGE - MY #FLASHFICTION, 'THE BEACH HOUSE.'

 Hello! Welcome to the #WEP April challenge. This is our Year of Art at WEP, and we started with a very successful challenge with Klimt's THE KISS for February. A challenge won by Jemi Fraser with Sin and Sunshine. To read Jemi's flash to give you an idea of the kind of writing that wins prizes, go HERE


This month we honor Claude Clark, an African American artist and art educator. In his bio, he said, 'As a child in the churches, the schools and the community, I dreamed of a destiny.' This dream is shared by so many today, with modern day slavery skyrocketing to numbers over 40 million. And of course, that's just a very conservative estimate. Big Chocolate, Big Coffee, Big Tabacco  -- most of the 'Bigs' have discovered how using child slaves in their plantations adds to their bottom line, even though they've promised to 'end child slavery' -- ha ha ha.

The 'Big' stories are for another day. I nearly shared Arno's Big Chocolate story, but that would have spoiled Easter for you. This challenge is perfect for one of the causes close to my heart -- arranged marriage and domestic abuse, whether mental or physical or both. These stories make me fume.

Today, I want to share Emma Dil's story. Like Claude Clark, she dreamed of a destiny far removed from her present day situation.


The Beach House

 

Image result for IMAGE OF HOUSE FALLING INTO SEA

Emma Dil was a fool to leave Paris. 

The city where she feels safe.

Where freedom reigns.

She was a fool to come back.

Here.

Here holds too many memories, too many secrets.

Memories and secrets she can no longer ignore.

She must deal with them or she’ll never reach her potential.

There. In front of her. The beach house, its timbers broken and exposed. Since she escaped, years of relentless tides have eaten away at its foundations. It now teeters on the edge of the dunes, on its knees in the sand, ready to surrender to a king tide.

Today the ocean holds no threat like it did that night many years ago. Its gentle waves lap the sand, leaving a trail of silvery froth and grit. Gazing at the peaceful sea, she almost forgets why she suppressed her memories for so long. But the mind holds onto things, remembers things best forgotten, overwhelms in the early morning hours when the body is most vulnerable.

 Confronted with the crumbling house, her mind searches its dark recesses, unearthing hidden secrets which she thought buried. Through the years, in her silent moments when the busyness of life paused, it spoke so softly in the gentlest of whispers, as it tried to speak to her of its memories. Then there were other times when her pain rushed to the surface without warning, hurtling through her like a runaway train, threatening to derail her altogether.

 She cries, falls to her knees in the wet sand. She no longer wants to carry that heavy sharp stone of hurt which has kept her caged like a helpless bird, which has stopped her enjoying the freedom of her new life. 

 She will no longer be held hostage to painful memories.

 Memories of her last terrible night in that crumbling house threaten to drown her in a tidal wave of hurt.

  ~*~


On the night she died to her old life, the wind roared, the rain poured, the waves crashed. The mighty Pacific Ocean swirled, rose and fell in a dance of wave and tide. Then the winds calmed, the moon rose and sat outside her window, bathing her in light.

 She’d been asleep, tossing and turning like the tide as she did every night. She’d opened her eyes and watched the moonlight creep across her bed like a lover’s soft caress. The sheets tangled and folded over the bed like waves. Kicking off the covers, she threw herself across the bed like a beached whale.

 The moon’s light overlooked the angry welts criss-crossing her legs. The wounds throbbed, but she had no ointments to ease the pain. But the pain she felt inside at her father’s betrayal was worse than any belting.  There were no ointments to soothe that sharp pain.

The crashing waves heralded high tide. Soon the water would rise to just below her window. The relentless pummeling against the house posts, thump, thwack, thump, thwack, thumpthwack, mimicked the sound and rhythm of her father’s belt as it cut her tender flesh while her mother cowed in the corner, praying, flinching each time the belt descended. Did she pray for her husband’s soul? For her daughter’s pain? Why didn’t she do something? Anything … But her mother was as helpless as she.

Father would not be denied his will. She was her father’s daughter. She would never give in to his demands. She would not marry the boy from Afghanistan, her father’s choice for her. She would marry the man she loved.

 A big storm had struck earlier in the night. Now the rain starts again. Relentless. Like her father’s demands. He locked her in her room until you come to your senses were his words. She hasn’t been able to communicate with Ahmed since she was imprisoned, but she was not afraid. She would escape her cage. She and Ahmet would be together. As God willed.

She knew Ahmed waited for her every night beyond the dunes. It was her hope. Her belief.

Tonight she must choose freedom.

 She wrapped her hand in the end of her sheet and smashed the locked window, thankful the pelting rain muffled the sound of breaking glass, thankful she did not cut herself on the jagged edges.

The black night sucked her in. 

Hitting the surprisingly warm water, she swam for her life, her robe tangled around her knees, dragging her under. Water filled her mouth and nose. Waves slapped her face but fell more gently than her father's hands. She fought the urge to surrender to the elements. No. She has waited too long for freedom. What was this water compared to the joy that lay ahead, a new life with her love? 

Her name meant ‘Heart’s Wish.’ She would have her wish.

A new life in Paris. With Ahmet.

Her bare feet found sand at last. Running out of the water, she held her sopping robe in her hands and sprinted toward the trees.

‘Emma Dil.’ Ahmed whispered her name as he stepped forward from his place on the dunes where he later told her he’d made a shelter and watched her window for many days and nights, fighting the urge to break down the door and drag her away from her father's abuse.

Now, at long last, Ahmed held her in his safe arms.

Freedom.

Home.

 

~*~

 

These many years later, Ahmed watches her from the top of the dunes, next to the crumbling wreck that had been her home when her family first arrived from Afghanistan. Before it became her prison. After she rises to her feet, in a few long strides he is by her side. He gently cradles her. Rocks her like a baby while she cries in his arms.

 Her tears are healing tears.

 She will be whole again.

 ‘My brave girl,’ he whispers.

 Over her shoulder the house groans and lurches, plunges into the sea. Its timbers break like skittles. The tide reaches out its greedy hand and sucks it under the waves.

WORDS: 1,000

FCA

If it's too late to join WEP this month, please consider joining us in June. We continue our Year of Art with this challenge - 



Thanks for visiting. To read more WEP stories, go HERE or click on names in the sidebar if it's up!





Wednesday, 7 April 2021

#IWSG April 2021. Risk taking in writing.

 Hello all!

Hope your month has been awesome. I'm sure this month will be interesting as we hear about risk taking in our writing.


Before I get into the question ...

Be sure to visit Alex's awesome co-hosts for the April - PK Hrezo, Pat Garcia, SE White, Lisa Buie Collard, and Diane Burton!


Here is the whole April 7 question - Are you a risk-taker when writing? Do you try something radically different in style/POV/etc. or add controversial topics to your work?


So ... what does it mean to be a risk taker? A person who tries new things. Is that you? Is that me? Do we try new things in our writing?

To me, writing itself is risk taking. You could devote twenty years of your life to it and never finish anything, never publish anything. That's okay if you just love writing, but I want my writing to go somewhere. Do you? 

BUT ... our writing can be flummoxed by so many writing 'rules' - (here's just a few that annoy me) -

* 'as' must come first in a sentence unless it's a comparison, 

* you mustn't repeat the same word in a paragraph, so you're forever looking for synonyms to, for example, 'withdraw' which may not fit as well, 

* then there's the 'you can't start a book/chapter with the mc waking up,

* show don't tell - if you use 'show' all the time, your book will be twice as long! Sometimes you just have to get to the point already! 

* then there's the - no head hopping except in a romance ... blah, blah, blah.

I'm leery of 'writing rules' because I'm an avid, prolific reader and I see all of the above 'rules' broken by popular authors constantly (oh, and don't use *adverbs! Grr). And careful with *backstory. I read a lot of women's fiction and sometimes at the beginning there are pages of backstory. Can't say I enjoy that, and sometimes I throw the book across the room wondering how they got traditionally published, but what the heck, these are popular books which are best sellers on Amazon so there's a market. Breaking that 'backstory' rule hasn't hurt these authors who I imagine just sit down and write their story using their tried and true formula which keeps them on the best seller list in their genre. Pish to the rules they must think.

So is part of risk taking author behaviour breaking the above (and plenty more) writing rules? Do the writing police read our books? I think not. 

But I think the person who came up with the question this month wasn't referring to writing 'rules' per se. 

Other than breaking 'rules', my risk taking includes tackling issues. Not everyone likes this. A lot of readers read to escape and they don't want their equilibrium shattered by issues of domestic violence, patriarchal behaviour, PTSD and so on which you're going to find in my books when I publish. But I like books with issues, so that's what I write. There's a saying, 'write the book you want to read' and that's what I do. I don't set out to be controversial, I try to be real. Who doesn't struggle with something in their lives? I love books with issues and the mc overcoming in the end.

Thanks for reading. I'm sorry for my rant on 'writing rules' but sometimes I think they're pushed on newbie writers just to slow us down and keep us forever editing and never publishing. 

What's your view on this? Do you stick to the ever-changing 'rules', or do you write the way you want to?

~*~

In a little over a week, the April WEP challenge goes live. Here is a chance to write about an issue, if you haven't yet taken that risk. If you like tackling issues, go for it...




Wednesday, 3 March 2021

#IWSG post March - #Reading preferences.

 Hello fellow IWSG-ers! Hope your month has been awesome since we last got together. Today we're once again writing about our insecurities or securities. Which is yours this month? 





Alex's awesome co-hosts for the March 3 posting of the IWSG are Sarah - The Faux Fountain Pen Jacqui Murray, Chemist Ken, Victoria Marie Lees, Natalie Aguirre, and JQ Rose! Visit if you can!

 And ... be sure to visit the
Insecure Writer’s Support Group Website!!!

March 3 question - Everyone has a favorite genre or genres to write. But what about your reading preferences? Do you read widely or only within the genre(s) you create stories for? What motivates your reading choice?


So awesome to be talking about reading. I'm an eclectic reader of usually one hundred books a year. I absorb most, but not all, genres. My first two genres I'll publish are women's fiction and paranormal. I prefer not to read too many stories in my genre, as I've been working for years on those two genres, rewriting, editing, editing, editing ... so I reach for other genres to entertain me. 

I've always been a mad fan of psychological thrillers. I'm reading more and more of those currently, helped by a generous voucher gifted to me by one of my students. Here's my latest haul.



So many awesome authors in this genre. I've joined FB groups for UK Crime and such and am learning so much. I've got nearly half of a romantic suspense written, so learning the tropes won't hurt. Can't say that's my motivation for reading crime fiction, thrillers and romantic suspense. I just love the reading experience with suspense keeping my eyes on the page.

Have a great month all!

Thanks for coming by!


We're rocketing into April You're welcome to join us for the WEP April challenge!


Woo! Feel a challenge coming on?




Wednesday, 17 February 2021

#WEPff FEBRUARY - 'Woman in Gold', Inspired by 'THE KISS', Gustav Klimt.

Hello! Welcome to WEP 2021, the Year of Art. We begin with Klimt's THE KISS.



My entry today is taken from my to-be-published-in-2021 novel, Paris Dreams. We at WEP often share how many writers who've written a flash fiction for WEP go on to write a full-length novel. 

My story grew from a flash fiction Her Final Day that I wrote for #Fridayflash before the idea of WEP was born. It grew first into a short story of 3,000 words, then kept growing until I had 104,000 words, too much. So with help from my writer friends, it's now down to 100,000 words and I'm cutting more before it goes on pre-order. 

So, if you've toyed with the idea of writing for WEP, join me and many others who have turned flash fiction into a novel. And if you have a similar story, please share in comments.

For this excerpt, I cut down a 3,000 word chapter to 1,000 words, deleting, rearranging, massaging it to suit the challenge. It's the chapter which has references to Klimt so it suited the art theme. 

I hope you get the context and enjoy...


 

T

oday is the day I move into Apartment 5A of rue des Martyrs Residences in Montmartre. I’ve been too busy with coursework at the Paris Institut of Fashion to give much thought to moving day.

The day is here. Ready or not.

Raphael passes me a takeaway coffee and we toast each other. ‘Are you okay, Sassy?’ He puts a hand on my shoulder and watches me, no doubt afraid I’m going to have a meltdown.

‘It’s all good.’ I remember my exhilaration the evening I moved in and the good times I’ve shared here with Raphael since. ‘I’m both excited and nostalgic.’

He frowns, no doubt uneasy that he’s done the wrong thing convincing me to move. Throwing his empty cup into the trash, he says, ‘Let’s get into it then.’ He heaves my sewing machine from the worktable.

Tossing my cup, I grab a box of fabric samples and lead Raphael downstairs. I race ahead to the door, stepping aside to let Raphael stagger past and set my sewing machine onto the dining table. Walking across the shiny retro black and white diagonal tiles, I spy the marble fireplace with baroque trims. I put down my box. ‘Phew. This apartment is beyond gorgeous.’

‘That’s the reaction I wanted.’ He takes my hand. ‘Let’s do the tour.’

Everywhere I look there’s something amazing. ‘Wow, Raphael,’ I keep repeating. I’m staggered at how the rooms sparkle with early morning light shining through the large floor to ceiling windows and how the French doors climb up to the ceiling to pick out the adorable plaster cupids and the bunches of grapes dripping from the corners of the luscious molding. ‘I love it. Oh, those black wooden beams are fabulous against the white ceiling.’ I can’t resist rubbing my palm over the walls. With the suede effect designed by Raphael, the walls are white and soft as cheese. ‘These walls are a masterpiece.’

 ‘I knew you’d love them. Let’s go onto the balcony.’ He walks me past the opulent chaise he’s installed near the windows, opens the doors and with a flourish of his hand, ushers me outside.

Paris is spread at our feet. The sun turns the terracotta rooftops golden and there’s an even better view of the Eiffel Tower than from the attic. ‘Wow. We’ll share an evening drink and watch the sunset.’ I rub my hand over the scrolled steel tabletop and admire the chairs with plump black and white cushions. ‘How much furniture did you buy? I owe you.’

‘It’s a house-warming present. If you don’t like something, it can be returned.’

I grip the balcony rails and try not to resent him for buying furniture without checking with me. But his choices are perfect. Of course. He’s an artist. ‘You’ve made great choices. It feels like home. Thanks.’ I hug him and think how much I love Raphael and Paris. His generosity is not an act of control like my father’s back in New York, rather an act of love. But I would have liked black and pink checked cushion covers. Just saying.

Raphael kisses my forehead. ‘I love doing things for you.’

‘You’ve outdone yourself.’ Back inside, I marvel at the pièce de resistance, the opulent Louis X1V inspired bedroom with its luxuriant burgundy cover fringed with gold which wouldn’t be out of place at Versailles. ‘Raphael, it’s heaven.’ I turn and embrace him. ‘We’ll watch the Eiffel Tower twinkle from the bed.’

He gives me a wicked smile, takes a curl of my hair and twists it around his finger. ‘I want to see more than the Eiffel Tower twinkle.’

I take a deep breath. ‘As much as I love my attic, this apartment is brilliant.’ I want to run wild and whoop around this new space.

‘When we finish bringing down your things, Sassy, I’ll hang some art.’

***

I watch him hang a huge oil on the living room wall.

‘“The Four Seasons of Paris”,’ he says with a sweep of his hand, ‘a Raphael Valentine original.’

I stand on tiptoe and kiss his cheek. ‘OhMyGod. It’s stunning.’ It’s a polyptych, four gorgeous gold-edged panels. Pink flowered trees line the Champs-Elysées in spring with us sitting on a bench facing the Eiffel Tower; the Hotel de Ville beach with our easily recognizable figures embracing after playing volleyball represents summer; autumn leaves fall near the Pont des Arts where we’re picnicking on a golden rug; winter sees me wearing a long red coat walking through the snow beside the Seine towards Raphael. I’ve yet to experience a Paris spring or winter. Winter is coming. I hope it’s as beautiful as his painting promises. I’d better buy a red coat.

‘You don’t mind me choosing art for you?’ Raphael squeezes my shoulder.

My eyes flicker from panel to panel then back again. ‘Not at all. This,’ I hold out my hand, ‘is truly amazing.’ I wrap my arm around his waist. ‘I’m impressed how the brush work is more Monet than Dali, but I see a glimpse of Klimt’s “Woman in Gold” in your metallic rendition of summer.’

He grins. ‘Maybe I’m entering my “Golden Phase.” I love the way Klimt used gold, which is how I see you, my love, pure gold. You’ll be my Adele Bloch-Bauer 1.’ He spins me around and kisses me. He takes my hand and leads me to the chaise longue with its red velvet and gold trim.

 ‘This chaise is my favorite piece of furniture. I’ve used it to pose my muses. Just kidding.’ He sits me on the chaise and I have fun reclining like a glamorous muse against the padded end, fluffing out my long blonde hair, one arm behind my head like Klimt's muse, Emilie Floge. ‘You’re my muse, Sassy. I’m inspired to paint like never before, my own woman in gold.’

Despite my misgivings, how well we’re getting along. I’m his muse. He’s my muse. Inspired by him, I’ll create fashion which will bring Paris to its knees.

How many women are lucky enough to have a lover like Raphael before them on their knees?

 

WORDS: 1014

FCA


Go HERE to read more entries! Or click on my sidebar!

If it's too late for you to be inspired by 'The Kiss', please consider WEP in April for our next art challenge:



You can see how diverse our challenges are.

Thanks for coming by, reading and commenting,




Wednesday, 3 February 2021

#IWSG post, February 3, 2021. Launching into the New Year. All about blogging ...

Hello everyone! Welcome to 2021! Is this going to be your year? Do you have exciting things planned? I definitely do and a lot of my plans are thanks to the friendships I've made in the blogging world.


Alex's awesome co-hosts for the February 3 posting of the IWSG are Louise - Fundy Blue , Jennifer Lane, Mary Aalgaard, Patsy Collins at Womagwriter, and Nancy Gideon!


February 3 question - Blogging is often more than just sharing stories. It’s often the start of special friendships and relationships. Have you made any friends through the blogosphere?

Question:  Have I made any friends through the blogosphere?


Have I made friends in the blogging world? You bet! I've been blogging since 2007 with a travel blog, which morphed into a writing blog. I wonder how many thousands of words I've published here? As Ray Bradbury said and I paraphrase, get the millions of bad words out before you write good words. By taking my time publishing, I hope I've already used up my "bad words".

Which brings me to blogging friends. Wonderful people like Yolanda Renee, Michael di Gesu, Donna Hole, who've all critiqued my work. Then there's Joy Campbell from the old days of blogging who continues to inspire me with her productivity, to Pat Garcia who's a standout friend in the new days of blogging and kindly read my first vampire book and said wonderful things about it.

Those who've been around the blogging world for ages would probably agree that 10 years or so ago was it's Golden Age, where friendships were formed, knowledge was gained, we helped each other by reading each other's work etc etc. 

Many have abandoned the blogging world for the more instant gratification of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc etc. I'm on all those, sporadically I admit, but to me I think the time spent blogging is more rewarding. I say that as an unpublished (except for a 2015 vampire novella) author. Maybe I'll change my mind when I throw myself into the frenetic self-publishing world. I'll let you know.

I've yearned to meet these special bloggers. Nas Dean was my earliest blogger friend who invited me to Fiji for 6 weeks to house sit while she and her husband Rajesh traveled to America. While there I wrote a Fijian romance which is rather pathetic but I might pick it up one day. And I wrote a horror story for Entangled Publishing, which was my first attempt at horror and was rejected of course. 

Lynda Young is another blogger I've met. She moved up from Sydney to Brisbane and we met in cafes when we could and encouraged each other to publish. Well, we know Lynda did ...

I've often thought of getting Donna, Michael and Yolanda together, but that would be some task, especially in these days of covid. Australians aren't allowed to travel overseas for starters. Michael and I have talked of meeting in Paris, but that may be a long way into the future now. But blogger friends don't have to see each other face to face to remain friends. Pat Garcia and I tried to organize a meeting when I was in Paris in 2019 and she lives in Germany. Nothing worked out, sadly, but I live in hopes that one day in the future we'll meet. 

Of course, there are many blogger friends I haven't mentioned. You know who you are. There's the WEP team, Olga, Nilanjana, Laura (I've already mentioned Yolanda). There are WEP members who I interact with such as the delightful Elephant's Child, a fellow Aussie who stepped in last year as an admin and helped out when needed. Space does not allow me to sing praises to you all, but know I love and value you, each and every one. 

***

Now here's a friendship group who support each other. The wonderful world of WEP (Write...Edit...Publish) where we have formed many friendships. If you've never written for this online writing community, February would be a good time to start with our first challenge, The Kiss. (All arty prompts for 2021!) See my sidebar!



Thanks for hanging with me. Hopefully see you on February 17 when the WEP entries go live. Be in it to win a critique on your work!



                                                                                                           who will soon be publishing as 




Wednesday, 6 January 2021

#IWSG post for January 6 - What stops me from finishing reading a book.

 Hi!

Welcome to the January 2021 IWSG posts. Welcome back those who had an hiatus over the holiday season and are now back and raring to go. 




Hope your time off went well. Now we're all back with our insecurities/securities in place. As you trawl the IWSG posts, may you find support and encouragement in great measure.

Alex's awesome co-hosts for the January 6 posting of the IWSG are Ronel Janse van Vuuren , J Lenni Dorner, Gwen Gardner Sandra Cox, and Louise - Fundy Blue! Visit if you can!

I'm going to answer the question this month. And the question is:

Being a writer, when you're reading someone else's work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people's books?


Life's too short to read bad books. But what makes a book unreadable, toss-across-the-room unreadable is personal to the reader. I've deleted my original post as it sounded judgy from someone who doesn't like to be judged herself, LOL. So I decided to go lite to answer the question.

Here's what turns me off, with an example thrown in here and there:

1)  CHARACTERISATION: After the first few chapters I couldn't care less about the characters and what happens to them - A Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling. Toss!

2)  HORROR OVERLOAD: When I get to Chapter 3-ish and find out that the finely-cooked meat the MC is munching is actually human flesh. Urk. Hangman by Jack Heath. Rubbish collection day came just in time! I don't often destroy a book, but this one had no redeemable qualities.

3)  TO ME, SILLY ROMANCE: Opening paragraph of the heroine oogling the hero's bum. Too common to mention names. Across the room it goes, bringing down a pile of books on the way.

4)  PUBLISHED TOO SOON: The English teacher in me is majorly put off by the murdering of grammar, punctuation and the technical aspects of language. Not everyone has mastered these fine aspects of what makes a story enjoyable (and some argue that grammar etc is overrated - I don't agree), so that's why we have editors. Hold off publishing until you can afford one.

5) DOESN'T DELIVER WHAT COVER/BLURB LED ME TO EXPECT: For example, I have a weakness for books with 'Paris' in the title, but am ticked off when Paris is not actually in the book - it might just be a twinkle in the MC's eye. Let's not tease gullible readers with false promises.

6) STARTING WITH TOO MUCH BACKSTORY. I once began a book where I had to wait till p.45 before anyone spoke. I love dialogue, Danielle Steele. Backstory killed your book and my chances of finishing it.

ENDNOTE:

I haven't been well for awhile -- this too shall pass -- and during this time my brain has been too woolly to write, but I have immersed myself in reading my favorite genre, psychological thrillers (paperback). I even commented on an IWSG FB post recently how I loved this genre, but couldn't imagine writing it. Surprise! I've been plotting in my head then putting ideas on paper and ta da! With my critters' help, soon I'll have a fully fleshed out romantic suspense novel. A new genre for me. I'm looking forward to writing it in such a way no one will throw my book across the room, LOL. And it won't have 'Paris' in the title.

Happy writing all!

If you need motivation to get writing, WEP has gorgeous prompts for 2021. All are in my sidebar. Here is February's:



Thanks for coming by!