ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

#IWSG post -- If you could backtrack anything in 2017, what would you do differently?


Top Site for Writers

Hello all! Remember me? Probably not, so I'll be chatting to myself. I've missed the past two IWSG posts, being busy meeting writing deadlines and travelling. So I'm glad to be back and look forward to reconnecting and doing a great lot of reading.

Alex's awesome co-hosts for the December 6 posting of the IWSG are Julie Flanders,Shannon Lawrence, Fundy Blue, and Heather Gardner! Try to visit if you have the time.

I'm so rusty at this, I actually went to the IWSG Page and checked out the question of the month, something I don't usually do, but I think it's a great idea when you're stumphhed for what to be insecure about, LOL!

So here's the December 6 question - 

As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?


There is always the benefit of hindsight, but if I had known I'd have 2 publishers asking for my full manuscript for my 'American in Paris' women's fiction, I wouldn't have planned a 5-week holiday right after the RWA conference, which left me scarcely any time to write. 

But it was kinda cool working on my story from my cruise ship balcony as we powered through the Aegean and Ionian Seas passing by the Greek Islands. I'll never have that experience again. So, no matter if I was tardy delivering my manuscript to Avon and Tule, and they toss it in the rubbish bin because it took me 2 months to get it to them, I had a magical time.



No matter what, I'm a writer, so I'm insecure. I've plenty of projects to work on while waiting on the powers-that-be. I'm revamping my paranormal story, getting a chapter done of book two, so I can include it when I re-publish my Under the Tuscan Moon as Vampire Obsession.

  • So, now tell me, are you insecure about anything?
  • What would you change about 2017 if you could?
Thanks for coming by...


Now, a shout out for WEP (Write...Edit...Publish). We posted our December challenge on Dec 1st. If you'd like to write something for us, we post on Dec 20th or before. You can sign up here in my sidebar or visit WEP and check it out. We also have all our challenges prepared for 2018. All is revealed HERE.

WEP CHALLENGE FOR DECEMBER ............THE END IS THE BEGINNINGS




Tuesday, 17 October 2017

WEP October challenge - my #flashfiction - The Strange House in the Woods.

Well, I'm back! Thanks to those of you who followed my trip on Facebook, but I mostly posted on Instagram. Was a wonderful five weeks, so now I'm struggling with jet lag which is particularly cruel this time. I'm getting about two hours of sleep a night, then teaching through the day which is a real hoot.

It's time for WEP again. Every October we host a Halloween challenge and we're ready to go. If you have a Halloween story in your files, you may like to post to the thread. Just click 'Submit' in my right-hand sidebar or go to the Write...Edit...Publish site. Love to have you.

Here goes...through the eyes of a child...

Inspired by a true story I read about what happened to those assisting foreign powers in war-torn countries.

The Strange House in the Woods



Yasmina hated being in these strange woods without her Dada.
By the time she and Mama reached the house, darkness was catching them. The house was big and black and trees stood all around, trying to hide the house from them.
Looking up at the sky, Yasmina saw a heap of tired old clouds with raggedy edges ripping apart, falling onto their heads like grey angels. The snow exploded while she danced around, arms in the air, catching snowflakes. Soon her gloves were soaked, so she ran across the frozen grass to the door. If they didn’t get inside it’d be dark. She hated the dark.
Mama was trying to stab a big key into an old lock, but she couldn’t budge the door. She was taking a long time, so Yasmina slapped her ears with her wet mittens and watched the snowflakes scattering.
‘Stop it!’ Mama yelled.
Even though she was freezing in the big coat the kind Red Cross lady had given her when she got off the aeroplane, Yasmina tried to stand still so Mama wouldn’t be angry.
‘Help me,’ Mama said.
They pushed and pushed against the door, grunting and groaning. Creak! Suddenly they both fell inside on top of each other. Yasmina laughed, but Mama said a bad word.
Mama hurried back outside and grabbed their suitcases. Dropping them onto the carpet, she said another bad word.
Snow had followed them into the house, blown in by the wind which howled like angry ghosts, swirling, tossing snow into their faces.
Bang! Mama kicked the big old door shut, then hopped around the room holding her foot and yelling lots of bad words. Finally, she stopped hopping.
Yasmina ran to the window and looked up the road where they’d walked from the car into the woods. Was Dada coming soon?

***

When she and Mama had walked the long and lonely road to the house, the trees scared her. They lined up along the road in black rows like the soldiers when they came to their village and took the fathers and boys away. She’d jumped with fright when clumps of snow dropped off the branches and fell to the ground, exploding like bombs. Mama had pulled her from her hiding place underneath some prickly bushes and she’d hit Mama, screaming, ‘I want my Dada!’
Mama wiped her tears and whispered, ‘I want Dada too.’
‘Why did Dada go?’
‘The bad men took him.’
‘Will Dada come back, Mama?’
‘He will never leave us, my child.’

***

Akham!’ Mama cried, slumping in the big stuffy chair near the fireplace.
Yasmina ran from the window and patted Mama’s twitchy hand. ‘Don’t cry Mama. Dada’ll never leave us.’ Finding an old blanket on the sofa, she covered Mama’s shaking shoulders.
Patting the flashlight in her pocket, she decided to explore the house by herself coz when Mama got the sadness for Dada it was best to leave her.
The room where Mama sat was big, bigger than their whole house back home, but not as pretty. The house where they'd lived before Dada went away with the bad men had coloured rugs on the walls and soft mats on the floors where they ate. Here, everything was brown, the colour of the bad men’s uniforms.
Pushing open a door, she entered a creepy room, with windows looking into the dark woods. There was a great big table in the middle of the floor with two lonely brown chairs. Opening the refrigerator, she saw food—not much—but Yasmina was hungry. Better not eat or Mama would be even angrier with her, so she took an apple from a bowl. Yasmina couldn’t remember when she last ate. Was it breakfast at the strange place where soldiers marched in rows outside? Or was that lunch? She couldn’t tell. The food had been strange.
Mama had whispered: ‘This is a hamburger. It is what Americans eat. We will get used to it.’ Yasmina’s stomach rumbled and hurt when she pressed it. Now she wished she had tried the brown meat bun.
She walked up the stairs, crunching the red apple which made a loud crack. She could walk to heaven. Maybe that’s where Dada was. The stairs groaned and cried louder than Mama. Spiders were knitting in the corners, trailing their threads down into the hall, their beady black eyes watching her.
She pushed open a door at the top of the stairs. Inside, there was a big cobwebby window in the roof and snow whirled around the black treetops and—she dropped the apple—there was a shadow in the corner. 
She screamed, but Mama couldn’t hear with the wind howling and her howling.
But maybe…maybe…
‘Dada?’ She ran towards the shadow, but the ripped carpet tripped her.
‘Dada!’ Her flashlight clunked onto the floor. She grabbed it and switched it on, but when she shone the light around the room, Dada had gone…again.
In the middle of the room there was a big high bed with a fat lumpy quilt. She was so tired after the long walk, she jumped under the covers.
The mattress was so soft, it felt like she was sinking to the bottom of the earth on a puffy cloud.
‘Goodnight Dada,’ she whispered. ‘Come back. Mama needs you. I need you.’
The snow whispered and rustled through the roof window. She pulled the quilt higher over her head so she couldn’t see the branches shaking angry fists at her.
She was nearly asleep when she heard a voice – ‘Alima...Alima…Alima…’
Dada! 
Who else would know Mama’s name?
Dada had come. Like Mama said.
Then she felt it.
A hand crept into her hand.
She wasn’t frightened.
Dada.
His hand felt cold. His fingers shook and curled into her palm, tickling, like when they played games at their home in the mountains.
She smiled in the dark, feeling safe. She’d been feeling scared for such a long time.
Dada's home.


Thanks for reading. Please click on the list in my sidebar with DL (Direct Link) after the name. Feel free to join the challenge!



Wednesday, 6 September 2017

IWSG post. Hello and Goodbye for a little while! RWA conference pitching results are in! Overseas travels ahead!

Hello friends!

This is a hello and goodbye post. In my last IWSG post, my mind was full of the opportunities on offer at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Brisbane and full of insecurities over the pitching opportunities.


Top Site for Writers
Well, the conference was amazing. Such great workshops. International Australian author, Kate Forsyth was outstanding. She's won a new fan in me. What an advertisement for dedication and hard work leading to success.

I attended every session from the Draft2Digital boys who flew in from Oklahoma and somehow we managed to sit together for lunch every day. The CEO of D2D, Kris and his sidekick Dan, hosted amazing sessions, and are they growing opportunities for their authors. I've always planned to go hybrid--to publish my paranormal stories and my flash fiction collections with them while trying to find a traditional publisher for my novels, so that's still my plan.



I'm inviting D2D to guest post here in the future. If you have any questions you'd like to ask them, ask them in the comments here and I'll include them in the question and answer format.

So, what else is news? Well, I'm getting to it.

I pitched to Avon Books and Tule Publishing and both asked for my full manuscript for my Paris novel. Carrie Feron from Avon wants me to edit it so it's more women's fiction, then to send it to her. Like me, she's crazy for books set in Paris. I'd certainly be honored if she offered me a contract.

I'm going crazy getting it tweaked before I leave for overseas in a coupla weeks. (I do have a problem ever letting go--you know, it can always be improved...) I'm spending 9 days in Paris checking out locations that are in my novels. Good excuse for another visit.

I'll tell you more about my trip in another post, but my itinerary is: London, Paris, Arles in the South of France (Vincent van Gogh sites - I have an airbnb with the same view of the Rhone as below where Van Gogh painted his first Starry Night! Okay, I'm a bit of a fan and he does turn up in my novel).



I'm proud of the story I wrote from Van Gogh's POV for a WEP challenge...

Then back to Nice, one of my favorite spots in France, then onto Milan where this time I'm going to see what's left of the original Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.


Then onto delicious Venice where I'm joining a cruise to Montenegro, Croatia, Corfu and other Greek Islands. Back in Venice I'm celebrating my birthday with my daughter who's currently living in London. Big,  big celebrations for a couple of days there, before heading to Rome and the flight home. 5 weeks of travel bliss over for the time being.

I fly out at 1am tomorrow, so won't get much time to return comments until I'm in London. I appreciate every comment and I'll eventually get back to you.

Meanwhile, I  hope things are going super for you. Hope some of you in the US caught the eclipse! And I hope you stayed safe during Harvey and do stay safe with the next hurricane (Irma?)

There is a post at WEP announcing our winners for the August REUNIONS posts. What qualities entries! Our next challenge is DARK PLACES for Halloween in October. Start imagining those dark stories!



Please join us.

Thanks for coming by! Appreciate it!

Where will I be for the next IWSG? Cruising the Greek Islands...but who knows? I might get something written...






Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Write...Edit...Publish August challenge - REUNIONS. My #flashfiction, The Reunion.

It's time for Write...Edit...Publish again. This month of August, the challenge has been set by Nilanjana Bose--Reunions. I've asked for early posts as I'm busy with the Romantic Writers of Australia conference, then packing for a trip to Europe soon after. So...I'm posting early myself!

I've been inspired into a magical foray for this one, a flash fiction piece, as always. My first thoughts were of The Kiss by Rodin and checking out the backstory for all those The Kiss statues in various places--St Pancreas station, Times Square, Milan, Paris--but the stories weren't what I was looking for. Here's my story instead ... sorry it's slightly over 1,000 words ...



The Reunion

Charlotte scarcely remembered the long bus ride from the city through the rugged countryside, so focused was she on seeing Jack again.

‘We’re here,’ the driver said. ‘You’re being met?’

‘Yes,’ Charlotte said, as she slashed her lips with the bright red shade Jack loved.

Slinging her black tote over her shoulder, she thanked the driver who’d come to the door to help her alight.

‘Are you sure about this, lady?’ he asked. ‘People who wander into the bush often never wander out again.’

‘I’ll be fine.’

‘No luggage then, love?’

‘Not this trip.’

‘Are you sure you’re at the right place? There’s no one here.’

‘He’ll come.’

‘But no one lives here. All the houses were bulldozed years ago. There’s nothing left.’

Charlotte smiled and turned away, slipping a pill under her tongue. ‘Thanks for bringing me this far, young man. I know it’s out of your way.’ She handed him a tiny red rose from the posy she carried.

He twirled the flower. ‘I’ll come back. One? Two hours?’

‘Thanks, but no. You can be on your way now.’

Charlotte walked away, tugging her bright red coat around her shoulders. The last leg of her journey stretched ahead.

The track was once a well-maintained gravel road and there’d been shacks amongst the trees, but now it was no better than a goat track.

It was hard going, but she made it to Gulliriviere, the tiny settlement where she once lived with Jack. It’d been named by Irish ex-convicts who were used to plentiful rains in their home country. How flummoxed they were by a river that bore nothing but gravel year after bitter year.

Further into the bush she trudged, her steps slowing, away from the desolation of the little street where houses were sacrificed for a lumber mill that was never built.

Logging.

Controversial even then.

As she passed by, the eucalyptus trees rustled their arms in salute.

Home.

But home had left. Only the scraggly beauty of nature remained. Where once their cabin stood smugly, framed by the white picket fence Jack built and the fragrant flowers she planted and lovingly tended, there was … nothing.

‘Jack,’ she whispered, ‘there’s no clue we ever lived here … Oh … but I’m wrong. Look!’

Charlotte creaked to her knees before her tatty rose bush, hanging on after all these years. She tugged out weedy grasses, revealed tiny closed buds, then inhaled the earthy smell. ‘Not everything’s gone, my darling Jack.’ She lay the posy beside the rose bush, memories flooding her head.

She recalled her twenty-three-year old self following her love to his rough-hewn shack in Outback Queensland. It was two hours’ drive to the nearest town and a light plane trip to Brisbane twice a year. She loved the koala who lived in the tree nearby, she loved the solitude and yes, she even loved the big red kangaroos who nibbled the green shoots in her garden, looking cheekily at her over their shoulders as they loped away.

She’d set her easel amongst the trees and paint miniatue bush flora until the sun set on the faraway horizon. Her paintings would hang in art galleries in Australia and the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris long after she was gone.

Living in the bush had been good.

Leaving it had not.

After their cabin had been razed to the ground, they’d relocated to Byron Bay. Plenty of flora for her to paint, but Jack had to fly in/fly out to continue his work on the western Droughtmaster grazing property.

‘Hello, Madam Charlie,’ Jack would greet her at the airport. Tossing his duffle bag in the *boot, he’d hurry to the passenger door, wrench it open. ‘Come here,’ he’d growl, kissing her over and over much to the delight of the traffic inspector.

Their only argument was over his retirement.

 ‘No, Charlotte, I won’t retire. I’m only sixty-five. Our experiment with the new Droughtmaster breed is ongoing. Perhaps when it’s done …’

***

Midnight.

Phone call.

Frank Mangin, Jack’s boss.

‘I’m sorry, Mrs Sandilands ... Jack’s gone ... Heart attack.’

The bed caught her as she fell.

‘He wasn’t alone. We were working in the study.’

Only garbled noises came out of her mouth.

‘Can I call someone?’

Clunk! The phone hit the floor, but she could still hear Frank screaming at her. 

‘Mrs Sandilands? Im calling someone.’

‘No!’ No one could put her back together. 

‘Mrs Sandilands! Jack had a message for you. He said, and I wrote it down—um—Tell Charlie to come to the shack.’

‘Are you sure?’

‘Yes. I know your home at Gulliriviere is long gone. But that’s the message.’

‘Thanks, Frank.'

If Jack wanted her at the shack, then to the shack she would go…

***

Still kneeling at the rose bush, she took the gold fob watch out of its pouch and let it drop into her palm. She’d bought it years ago to give to Jack when he retired. It was a work of great artistry, with minute patterns painstakingly etched into every chain link. She read the inscription: 
To Jack, my wild Colonial Boy! Yours ever, Charlie. XX

She brought it to her lips, kissed it, just as the first pain hit.

***

The rose bush bloomed with blood-red roses. The fragrance enveloped her as it mingled with sweet summer smells.

‘Charlie!’

With the sweet fragrance of roses whirling around her, she ran through the tall grasses, trailing her fingers over the white, silky flowers. He’d be waiting by the creek just ahead, beyond the grey houses.

She hesitated at the stand of weeping willows, their lush tendrils like dishevelled hair as they caressed the surface of the water.

Then she saw him—her Jack—running through the willows, pushing aside the graceful drapery. He hurried towards her—arms outstretched—welcoming her home.

She held out the fob watch and beckoned her love.

They gazed into each other’s light-kissed eyes, marvelled at their sun-painted limbs, overjoyed at the beauty they saw in each other. He took the gold object from her soft, smooth hand, then they strolled away hand in hand across the sparkling water, fading from sight in a gentle swirl of silvery mist.

 *trunk


The End

Words: 1037
FCA

©DeniseCCovey2016
  
WEP CHALLENGE FOR AUGUST, REUNIONS.
Thanks to Olga Godim for the badge!

If you would like to join us, sign up in my sidebar or at the Write...Edit...Publish website. Click on entries with DL (Direct Link) after the names.

Don't forget--our next challenge is in October--Halloween! Wooo hooo...



  



Wednesday, 2 August 2017

#IWSG day -- Sure I'm insecure, who isn't? AUGUST IS BIG, SO BIG FOR ME!

Hello friends!

I missed last month's IWSG as my favorite aunty took ill. Unfortunately, she passed away, so I was too busy to think about posting on my blog.


But I'm back for August's post. I love the August question: 

What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

I'd rather not get started on this one -- but really, I'm always against all the rules for emerging writers which the big guys break all the time. 

And these broken rules don't hurt the story. 

Lately, every book I've picked up has got a Prologue (you know what we get told, right? Wrong. I love prologues but I'd be afraid to write one.) And backstory--you know how we get told to just insert it like splinters of glass--hey ho, I agree. Several books I've read recently start with a lot of backstory, whoa, pages and pages, yawn, yawn. Yeah. Readers don't really want to be bombarded with lots of the old stuff that happened pre-story, they want to keep ploughing along in the moment. Except those who read best-sellers, apparently, LOL!

Thanks to Alex J Cavanaugh and his team for keeping the IWSG on the road. This month he has the assistance of several luminaries:

Christine Rains, Dolarah @ Book Lover, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Yvonne Ventresca, and LG Keltner!

If you have time, do pay each a visit.

So, what am I insecure about this month?

Well, August is very important to me and my writing.

It actually starts today (July 27th when I was writing this post) with the IWSG pitch contest. Well, Australian time it's 10 pm tonight - 10am tomorrow. Insecurity to the max and black circles under eyes, anyone?

Hey, I totally suck at selling anything, but I'm giving it a shot. 


HAVE A GO!!!!!!!!! PITCH TO AGENTS!!!

It's all over by now. I know some of you got 'favorited' by editors/publishers. I got 'favorited' by a publisher who I later found out was a vanity publisher who wanted money up-front. I hope no one else got taken in by them. It disturbed me that they were allowed in the pit. Now, moving on...



The next scariest thing happens from August 11 - 13th. This is the Romance Writers of Australia's conference, luckily held in Brisbane -- just a short stroll across the river from where I live when I'm in town. It's going to be MASSIVE for me as I've just finished my Paris women's fiction. Well, as finished as it can be before 600 more rewrites. And my next trip to Paris in September to check my locations for my sequel...

So, I've written a Synopsis with the help of my critters, touched up my bio and air-brushed my photo (just kidding) and sent my manuscript to the Director of Avon Romance/William Morrow who's attending the conference. I've paid for a 15-minute session where she's going to assess my manuscript. Altogether terrifying and wonderful. This is what she's looking for in case any of you are sitting on a ms that might suit Avon. They do take unsolicited mss for their Avon Impulse digital first line. 

CARRIE FERON - AVON
Executive Editor, Senior Vice President
1. Which areas/imprints are you actively acquiring for?High concept historicals, historical romance, psychological suspense, women’s fiction
2. What subgenres are you currently seeking?Single Title, Contemporary and Historical
3. What kind of writing will especially pique your interest?I love writing with a very strong voice.
4. What are you not looking for, so we don’t waste your time and ours?Literary fiction, SF, YA
5. What would you love/hate to see pitched to you?Something with a great hook.
So, here's hoping my story is just what she's been searching the globe for. Now added to the session with Carrie Feron,

  • I have a 5-minute pitch to Tule Publishing
  • A session with a publisher with only 9 attendees
  • 15 minutes with Google
  • 15 minutes with Draft2Digital
and 3 days of fabulous workshops with fabulous people in between.

So, you get it? My August is going to be OUTTA THIS WORLD (even if Carrie says no thanks)!

And there's more:

JOIN WRITE...EDIT...PUBLISH FOR THE AUGUST CHALLENGE!


I haven't neglected my Write...Edit...Publish friends. (Well, maybe just a little...)

We have a new challenge which opened yesterday. If you'd like to try your hand at flash fiction, non-fiction, poetry, photography, artwork, join our REUNIONS challenge. An excerpt from a WIP is totally fine if it suits the prompt. I know we're going to get our heartstrings tugged here.

CLICK on the SUBMIT button in my right-hand sidebar or trot across to WEP and add you name to the list. There you'll find some extra help to participate in this awesome prompt, dreamed up by Nila Bose and the badge created by Olga Godim.

C'mon. Make my August and yours even better!