Wednesday, 7 July 2021

#IWSG post - Yolanda Renee on writing a #ries - and finishing it!

Welcome to IWSG for July! 

Alex's  awesome co-hosts for the July 7 posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia, Victoria Marie Lees, and Louise – Fundy Blue!

Today I've handed over my blog to Yolanda Renee. I'm not sure what she's got to feel insecure about, and she certainly would never let anything make her quit writing,  but let's find out. Because I write series myself, I'm always interested in how other authors go about writing them. 

How My Murder Mystery Series Came to Be!

Denise asked me to write a guest post on "How to Write a Series - what worked for you, kind of thing." And she said, "I'm especially interested in how it feels to have written your last book in the series."

I had several emotions at once. Immediate excitement, then relief, and finally a sense of accomplishment. However, I was also hit by a touch of anxiety. Had I released it too soon?

But I shook that off because what I really wanted to do was celebrate. Pop the cork, laugh, shout, dance, and tell the world. It felt much the same way after I published the first book, but like then, I was alone. The highs and lows of the writer's life are seldom shared.

That's why holding a launch party is so important. Even though I won't have one for this book. I did for the first, and it was a blast! But immediate gratification, that pat on the back, or 'you go girl' response, just isn't there for most writers. So, my friends, get it when you can! Like this guest post, thanks, Denise. It means the world to be able to share my experience and the results!

Keeping with the phrase 'what worked for me' - the real secret to my series, or the method to my madness, is this, pure happenstance...

Once the first novel was written, I submitted it to publishers. One even called. She said she liked the premise, and had I considered writing a trilogy? Of course, I said yes, although it was a lie. But not for long, because she'd given me a great idea. Why not a trilogy. So, before the first book, Murder, Madness & Love, was published, I'd written the rough draft of books two and three, Memories of Murder and Obsession & Murder. While it took me years to write book one, It only took me a few months to write the next two.

Once the trilogy reached publication. I was looking for ways to draw attention to it. So, writing a prequel came to mind, and since I'd mentioned the first case, Detective Quaid solved, The Snowman, in Murder, Madness & Love, the first book. It just made sense to elaborate on that. But instead of a short story, it became a novella. Now, it will become the draw for the series when I offer it free just for signing up for my newsletter. (Now under construction)

But the most shocking thing about The Snowman was the villain, Stowy Jenkins. He had a voice that wouldn't let go. I always assumed it was because he went to prison. In the other books, the villains all died at the end of the book. But Stowy lived, and because of that, he wouldn't let go. So, I had to write his whole story. (You know how it is, some characters just won't shut up.)

Therefore, book 5, Murder, Just Because came into being. Stowy escapes prison to wreak more havoc on Anchorage. It's a brutal book. Some would claim too brutal, so I couldn't let the series end there.

And now I have the perfect final book. A Passion for Murder highlights Detective Quaid's passion for his job and the murderer's provocation for his crimes. A Passion for Murder also wraps up beautifully what I consider to be an epic love story.

Now I'm off and running on the next series, thus far titled A Murder Beach Read, and the first in the series called Her Mona Lisa Smile!

 Thanks, Denise, for always being an encouragement and an inspiration during my entire writing journey.


AMAZON             FACEBOOK        BLOG          TWITTER


Looking for a new adventure, Renee recently moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. A storyteller from a very early age, an avid reader, and with an education and background in business and accounting, becoming a writer only made sense. And writing mysteries pure logic.

A Passion for Murder: Another heinous crime occurs in Alaska, and with no time to heal from the last brutal case of The Snowman, and Stowy Jenkins, Detective Quaid returns to his job. PTSD, a former lover, and an odious villain test his mettle and his sanity.


A cold pre-autumn rain fell in straight lines from the swollen gray clouds sitting over the valley. The residents of Anchorage thanked their personal deity an early snowstorm hadn't fallen. While in one lone cabin, a fire burned bright. Warmth and coziness reflected off the colorful furnishings. The man working diligently at his desk hummed his favorite rhyme.


Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe

Grab a slut by the Toe

Blonde-Blue Brown, or Green,

Who's ready to meet Killer Clean?


He chuckled as he turned the pages of a scrapbook.


Choosing from among his collection of beauties was as much fun as planning just how they would die. Although nothing could really compete with seeing them take their last breath. Except, of course, that final thrust of the knife. Still, today was a special day. Making his choice most important. He’d have to choose someone as close to the original as possible. Which meant it would be the beauty with the green eyes. Her golden hair, career choice, and availability hit all tens on his list of go points.

A perfect thirty meant she had to die today!

Here's my review on Goodreads.

Yolanda Renee is a winner when it comes to writing murder! I've loved her hero, Detective Quaid, as he solved his way through many murders during Renee's six books. Even with PTSD in book six, he still managed to solve the horrific crimes. Don't read this at night! Be warned!


Wednesday, 16 June 2021

#WEPff #June challenge - #Year of the Art - my story - Wave After Wave in Search of Freedom

Here we are. Posting for the June WEP challenge for the Year of the Art. This month we honor  Hokusai. Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), a  Japanese artist from the Edo period. His painting, Great Wave, is arguably his most famous work. My skin doctor has a huge print in his waiting room for me to meditate on each time I go.

There are so many possible reactions to the Great Wave, but I could never get waves of refugees out of my head. I hope you like my story which is a retelling of one previously posted for an earlier challenge.

Wave After Wave in Search of Freedom


Abioye looked down. African red dirt dyed his swollen, ripped feet as he put distance between himself and his desecrated village. Burned and looted, everyone he loved, dead.

 His eyes roved the roadside. He found a rolled-up old mattress, a cringing dog, a goatskin of water. For weeks, he'd been getting his swag together in the village - tins the warlords missed when they swooped into his village, dozens of them crammed in the back of dusty Jeeps painted to blend with the desert. Raiding and raping, they then drove off into the hills, automatic rifles over their shoulders. They stole the UN dried milk tins from the mothers’ tents, taking from the babies' mouths. They stole the rice, showing not a whit of conscience for the starving villagers.

 Then they took more than supplies.

 One day they returned, took the lives of everyone - all the old men, all the women, all the children. The only survivors were young men like him, around the age of sixteen, who roamed the sparse land where the grasses waved in the breeze, giving up edible herbs to those who knew the secrets of the landscape. After a day spent scavenging, he'd returned to unimaginable horror. Heart in mouth, he’d grabbed his swag from where he’d buried it under the one remaining tree … and ran. If the warlords found him, he'd be forced into the life of a boy soldier like so many others who'd disappeared.

 Abioye felt the sob in his throat. How he missed his friends, recently taken to be trained to intimidate, to maim, to murder. 

 He was what they called a refugee. Wave after wave of humans escaping privation, destitution, murderous gangs, a future without hope. Their destination? The boats. The sea. Freedom.

 Boats left from Tangier in Morocco. He'd work in Tangier until he saved the fare. He'd been given the name of a man who hired young men to escort tourists through the medinas*. He knew boats got caught in great waves of murderous seas. Many refugees died. But he’d gladly take the risk. He’d cross the water. To a free land. A land with food. A land with jobs. If all else failed, he would swim across the great waves. It’d been done. He would do whatever it took to reach the new land. Utopia.

 Excitement pulsed through him. It kept his mind off his painful feet and the sun beating down mercilessly on his rag-covered head. He sipped from his meagre water supply. He must make it last. He might walk for months and find no village, no water, no food. 

 The dog cried. He poured a little water into his cupped palm. The dog lapped, not wasting a drop. It licked Abioye's leg. He reached down and patted the mutt’s head.

 He adjusted his makeshift belt made of vines. He'd lost so much weight in the past few days, the trousers slipped over his hips. Now they flapped around his ankles. He laughed at the ridiculous situation, then stopped, afraid he was hysterical from horror or sunstroke. But it didn't matter if he laughed, cried or screamed. There was no one to hear him. He was crossing the Sahara Desert. Alone.

 Rocks tore his feet. He stumbled. Landed on his knees. Sobbed. He couldn’t help it even though he was wasting moisture. The sun. The rough road. The hunger. The thirst. The vision of his parents' burned bodies. His young sisters. His beloved -- How could he go on?

 The dog licked his face. Abioye dragged himself to his feet. He must go on. In memory of his father, his mother, his two sweet sisters, his Candis who’d been promised to him when they were children.

 His head whirled like when his father used to swing him around when he was a little boy. Falling, falling, falling, but never hitting the ground. 

 How long till he reached freedom? Surely, he must soon pass by the green plants that leaked water. Then he and the dog could drink their fill. As he dreamed, moisture formed on the tip of his tongue.

 I'm so tired. I need to sleep. Just for a little while. 

 No. He mustn't stop. To stop was death. Then there'd be no one to remember his family. No one to remember his Candis. He saw her in his mind – her wide smile, her red lips, her teeth pearly white, dazzling him, her short black hair cropped close to her scalp, her graceful long limbs, her colorful, modest dresses that brushed the red sand when she walked.

 I will never forget you, my little love.

 He took another step. For Candis.

 While ever God gave him life, he would press on. To a new life. Away from his cursed land. The land God forgot. Maybe God had turned his back on Africa but still lived in that new land where the boat would take him. Maybe God would welcome him to its shores and surround him with love and plenty. He smiled, imagining the vision.

 He'd seen mirages in the desert many times. A mirage was coming toward him. A big green tank shimmering through the waves.

 Thank you God!

 The mirage came closer. No! A Jeep. Soldiers in the back. Soldiers in the front. Guns pointed. At him.

 He spun around. Away. Away from the killers. Away from bondage. Away from death.

 He heard the dog yelp. Abioye’s throat closed over. Turning, he saw its head a bloody mess and its eyes stared sightless into the searing sky. 

 'Stop or you're next!' One of the soldiers waved his gun, then shot a machine gun round into the air. Takka! Takka! Takka! 

 ‘Don't take another step, boy. Or it’ll be your last.'

 * Medina - the old walled part of a North African town.





Thanks for coming by and reading.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

#IWSG #June - What is your #drafting process? The result of my #drafting leads me to this - sharing my first books...

Hello fellow IWSG-ers! How are you doing this month? Had a good one in May? Hope so. So let's do the rounds and see what's happening ...

  Be sure to visit the co-hosts and the 
Insecure Writer’s Support Group Website!!!

Alex's awesome co-hosts for the June 2 posting of the IWSG are J Lenni Dorner, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, Lee Lowery, and Rachna Chhabria!

 June 2 question - For how long do you shelve your first draft, before reading it and re-drafting? Is this dependent on your writing experience and the number of stories/books under your belt?

I'm not the right person to answer this question, as I have a habit of shelving first drafts, then second drafts, then third drafts, having a hard time believing I can't still improve the story. Those of you with several books published know that's really not a great attitude or process. (I console myself with the story that Harper Lee re-wrote the first chapter of To Kill a Mockingbird 60 times). But when I broke her record, I started to worry. This perfectionism or whatever it is, has certainly held back my publication process. Nevertheless, I've made a big jump this past month, prioritized my writing even to the extent of missing last month's IWSG. (((face palm)))

What WIPs have I been endlessly drafting/editing? I'm getting 2 books of short stories (many written for WEP and extended greatly) and my Paris novel, Paris Dreams and the first in my vampire series, Betrayed polished and ready to hit the shelves. All will be available on Amazon and/or through the Bookfunnel promotional site very soon. 

After all these years of gathering my collection alone, I hope you'll indulge me as I share a little peek at the stories I've been endlessly drafting. Getting covers done held up the process. I finally found an artist I could work with. Here's what I have so far. I love them. How about you?

FREE when you sign up to join my newsletter list on Bookfunnel. (If you subscribed through the MailerLite pop up, you will receive the same ebook). A second book of Paranormal short stories under the pen name Silver Tree  will be published soon.

Women's fiction. A love story beside the Seine - fashion designer meets artist. For our hero, Saskia, sometimes a new life comes at a cost.

The Paris Dreams cover is not the one I'll end up using. I'm working with an illustrator who is trying to recreate my vision. (And the author will be Denise Covey).

Pre-order Paris Dreams on Amazon

I've written the first three books in the series, so will be rapid releasing. 
I like to think of my vampire series as - glittering Renaissance vampire romances with no social distancing.

Duke Vipunin de Castellina is the hero of this paranormal romance that moves between Florence and the hill town of Castellina (where the castle in the story still sits proudly on top of the hill) in Tuscany. Underpinning the story is the duke's relationship with the powerful de' Medici family, rulers of Florence at this time in history. Book Two picks up the story in the South of France where we remain until Book Four. In Book Four, the action moves to Paris.
Watch this space.

Thank you to my writer friends who I so appreciate, who've become ARC readers for my soon-to-be-published works. I hope that endless drafting pays off.

And we know there's a ton of work to self-publishing. Adding a pen name makes it more complicated. It's taken me years to decide how to go about it. In the end, Denise Covey and Silver Tree are writing different sub genres of romance, so they'll share the one webpage and email list. Thinking about doubling up gave me heart palpitations. I have enough trouble with one lot of social media. (I will admit I wasted months creating a dedicated website for Silver Tree, but gave it up and combined what I had).

I hope you didn't mind my MailerLite pop up that popped up. It's been in the works for so long. So now I don't have as much time to draft and re-draft, I'm overwhelmed with all the extra-curricular activities which come with being the one-stop shop to ownership of your work. I hope you'll subscribe and keep me on my toes. (Don't worry if you subscribed twice. I'll sort it out). 

Looking forward to reading your stories.

And WEP has its June 1 post published. Pop by and see what we have offering this month in our gorgeous Year of the Art.


Wednesday, 21 April 2021


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



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 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.






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


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...



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


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