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, 3 January 2018

#IWSG post - What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

Happy New Year and welcome to the first IWSG posting for 2018! Here we encourage each other monthly on our writing journey.


The brainchild of Alex J Cavanaugh, his awesome co-hosts for the January 3 posting of the IWSG are Tyrean Martinson, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Megan Morgan, Jennifer Lane, and Rachna Chhabria! Please visit if you can.

Today I'm going to answer the set question:

January 3 question - What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

I apologize in advance if this is a bit garbled. I had a very small window to get this done...

My writing schedule is pretty awesome at the best of times, and woeful at the worst of times.  Soon the Christmas holidays will be over -- for me the end of this week -- so I can begin my routine of heading to my office (called Den's Den) early in the morning when I'm at the beach and going early to the State Library on teaching days when I'm in Brisbane. Usually this gets me up to 4 - 6 hours a day at the laptop.

But it's not just about the writing, is it? I also have to factor in sending my work to beta readers, editing, paying an editor, rewriting, attending meetings with my critters and sending them chapters routinely to be discussed together. I'm never going to be one of those writers who write a book a month. How do you do that if you edit/rewrite? Please do tell. 

And then there's the reciprocal critiques I do for other writers. 

This year I need to factor into my schedule more book reviews of blogger books.

I'm planning to de-list my vampire novel on Amazon and republish in its new-beaut version through Draft2Digital who now have Amazon on their list of distributors, too!! My critters have been too busy over Christmas to re-read, but I have it with one beta reader who has already made suggestions, good ones.

  • So, my Paris romance (75,000+ words) is still with Avon and Tule. Waiting to hear.
  • It seems to be generally accepted that you need to self-publish more than one novel or it's not worthwhile, so I'm also working on getting the next vampire novel in the series finished and at least Chapter One on the third before I publish. We'll see.
  • I've decided to go with a pen name for my vamp trilogy. I checked out the top-selling vampire novels on Amazon and the authors have very apt names. I started a thread in the facebook group I mention below and got 250 useful comments on the ways and means of pen names. So that means an author page on facebook, and a newsletter I guess, (jury's out on this one), all to garner interest before I self-publish.
I've been haunting the 20Booksto50K Facebook group which is a boon to see what successful authors are doing re self-publishing and marketing. A great place to lurk and learn. Can't sing their praises highly enough.

So, I won't hold you up. You can see I have a plan for 2018. You need to head to more posts for the IWSG. Go HERE for the list...

And over at WEP we have announced the winners for those who wrote for us in December. Please visit and congratulate them if you can. Also check out the awesome challenges for 2018! 

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

Now I'm looking forward to hearing all about your writing goals for 2018!

And please, if you have a newsletter, would you answer the following:

  • who did you choose to go with? 
  • how did you grow your reader base?
  • how often do you send out your newsletter?
  • er, do you actually recommend a newsletter? I know heavyweights like Anne R Allen say it's old hat, but that's not what I'm hearing elsewhere.
Thanks a mille!!




Monday, 18 December 2017

December WEP challenge - The End is the Beginning - another story set in Paris.

Whoa! December already! Time for holiday celebrations a'plenty. Also time for the final WEP (Write...Edit...Publish) challenge for 2017. We've already prepared all the challenges for 2018, so if you enjoy a writing challenge, go HERE to read all about it. We'd love to have you.

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

The December WEP challenge is The End is the Beginning. Pretty open, wouldn't you say? The blurb said: 
A flashback? A new start? A cascading change? A branching off point? An end and a beginning? Celebrate year's end with us!

Here I am, all fuelled up after my latest sojourn in Paris, so of course, my flash fiction is set in that beautiful city. It's probably more suited to Romantic Friday Writers, but, heck, what's wrong with a bit of romance? My story offers a new start, an end and a beginning,


               The City Where Love Lived and Died


It’s our wedding day. May 25, 2011. The most romantic day of my life is finally here and I’m spending it in the most romantic city in the world. Ooh la la! Can I take it all in? Everywhere I look there is beauty – Notre Dame's aged bricks and soaring buttresses being kissed by sunset – the lock-filled bridge, the Pont des Arts that joins the Left Bank and Right Bank – lovers sharing wine and baguettes, dangling their legs in the Seine and throwing bread to the ducks. 
As I walk beside the river, my candy pink dress with its French Poodle embroidery flares around my knees. Pink satin heels complement my black net stockings. I clutch the tiny posy of white roses which my darling Mitch handed to me on the steps of the town hall, known here as the mairie. Their scent envelopes me as I walk arm in arm with my beautiful man feeling oh so French.
Mitch, so handsome in his black suit, kisses the white gold and diamond ring on my finger – Could this day get any better?
‘Let’s do it!’ he says.
We walk to our chosen spot midway across the Pont des Arts. Mitch reaches into his pocket and flips the copper lock in his hands.
We gaze at the token as if it were made of solid gold. 
‘I had it engraved,’ he says.
Wrapping my arms around his waist, I read the inscription – ‘Capt'nFlynn, Mastarata  25-May-2011’.

Yes, this day could get better. 'You used our special names.'
We loop the lock over the wire and click it shut. Mitch reaches for me and we kiss. I hear a passing tourist snap our photo. I giggle, wondering if they'll give it a caption: The Kiss.
‘Let’s come back every year to celebrate our wedding anniversary,’ I say.
‘I can’t think of any better way to celebrate our love,’ Mitch says. 
We kiss again to seal the deal.

☁☁☁


As I cross the bridge between the Latin Quarter and Notre Dame, I think to myself how apt it is that the skies are all smudgy, not that brilliant Parisian grey-blue of two years ago.
Nevertheless, I came here for a reason, no matter how painful. I hold my breath as I stand on the timber deck of the Pont des Arts once again and search through the multitude of love locks. It’s a wonder the bridge doesn’t collapse under this weight of metal. 
Finally, there it is - still bright and shiny in the gloom. I pick it up and rub my thumb over our pet names.
Ironic.
I attach the tiny plastic envelope to the lock handle, then I collapse onto a bench and sob for our fractured love.

Darling Mitch

I could have trusted you instead of showering you with jealousy.
I could have travelled with you instead of putting my career first.
I could have forgiven you instead of throwing you out without listening to you.

Your Dearest Polly

We were meant to be together, forever. 
 I stroll along the Seine, then order mussels in garlic cream sauce at what was our favourite restaurant in the Latin Quarter. When the attentive waiter brings the bowl of dark, half open shells, pours my wine and places the bread basket before me, I cannot eat or drink. 
It’s futile to retrace steps from the past; those steps have been obliterated with time.

                                       ☁☁☁
The 17th Century Hotel le Relais is not at all romantic without Mitch. Climbing the winding stairs is just a leg-numbing chore. Surely they could install a lift. 
The fifth floor at last. The Romantic Room with the etched carvings on the ancient door. From the window I’ll be able to gaze at Notre Dame and watch the old lady turn golden in the sunset, watch the tourists snapping pictures, watch the thousands entering her Gothic doors, hoping to find solace as they gasp at the beauty of the rose window.
I take a deep breath and rattle around with the ancient key. 
The door opens before I find the slot. I step back in fright, clasping my chest and breathing jerky breaths.
‘Mitch! What are you doing here?’
‘Same as you, I imagine.’
‘But—’
‘I read your letter.’
‘Then you—’
He holds out our wedding album. 
I'd left it on the desk under the window. 
‘I saw this. How could I have put what we have at risk? I’m a fool.’
‘Marrying you was the happiest day of my life. That album reminds me of our special day.’
‘I’m sorry sweetheart. It wasn’t you who needed reminding, it was me. I’ll do better. What I did was despicable, but...will you take me back? I’m so sorry. I love you...I love you...’
I entwine my arms around his neck and soak his beautiful white shirt with my tears.
‘I love you Mitch. I don’t want a life without you. I've missed you so...’
His arms feel so right, around me where they belong – could this day get any better? 
It’s about to.


NOTE: The ‘love locks’, despised by most of the French population, were removed from the Pont des Arts on June 1, 2015. When I returned this visit, I was happy to see that Pont Neuf is now adorned with ‘love locks’. Obviously, the City of Love didn’t want to be known as the City Where Love Died.

WORDS: 844
FCA

Love locks on the Pont Neuf - corridors and corridors of them leading down to the Seine.
Taken by moi in September, 2017.

PLEASE click on names in my sidebar which have DL next to them for more entries.

Thanks for reading.
Happy Holidays!

Denise




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...