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.