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

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

P is for Poetry. Write...Edit...Publish -- April challenge -- Peace and Love -- my flash fiction. Peace and Love and Pomegranates, set in Afghanistan.

Hello! It's time for the Write...Edit...Challenge. Today, you'll find some bloggers who participate in the A-Z, using their 'P' day to write to the WEP prompt, PEACE & LOVE. April is poetry month, but we're not asking people to write poetry if that's not their forte. It's certainly not mine; I'll leave it to the experts.

Today, my flash fiction is inspired by the poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, the poem which is the inspiration for the WEP challenge. With a light hand, I've sprinkled some of the sentiments throughout my story.

I'm a day early, but WEP likes early entries so the reading is spread over the week. So, here we go...


PEACE AND LOVE
There are two angels, messengers of light,
    Both born of God, who yet are bitterest foes.
    No human breast their dual presence knows.
As violently opposed as wrong and right,
When one draws near, the other takes swift flight,
    And when one enters, thence the other goes.
    Till mortal life in the immortal flows,
So must these two avoid each other's sight.
Despair and hope may meet within one heart,
The vulture may be comrade to the dove!
Pleasure and Pain swear friendship leal and true:
But till the grave unites them, still apart
Must dwell these angels known as Peace and Love,
For only Death can reconcile the two.
Poetical works of Ella Wheeler Wilcox. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox 
Edinburgh : W. P. Nimmo, Hay, & Mitchell, 1917.


Peace and Love and Pomegranates

I dedicate this story to all those caught up in war, terrorism and other atrocities, to whom peace is a distant dream.

Daily Mail UK

Outside was a sun-baked, bright-skied Afghan day, the kind where Hallie itched to be outdoors. She dreamed of driving her beat-up Toyota to the green-folded mountains that surrounded the city of Kabul. From her vantage point overlooking the valley, she wouldn’t see the scars, the emptiness, the bombed-out places.

She smoothed her purple satin bedspread, then dusted the candlesticks in their hand-blown glass containers and placed them beside her bed. Then she knelt, head in hands and prayed. Would her prayers be answered today? It’d been weeks since he left on his clandestine mission of peace in a country that had never really known peace.

She hurried downstairs where the lunch crowd was multi-tasking—gulping espresso from colourful demitasse cups, sipping mint green tea from long glasses, wolfing down Shari’s food, while scanning newspapers for the latest news on those opposing forces, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and the Taliban.

She despaired of this Islamic republic achieving peace in her lifetime. This was a land of warriors. Warriors needed wars.

She stood at the bottom of the stairs and chewed her thumb, admiring the brown door Bosco had built for her before he went away to investigate the latest bomb blast in Kandahar.

“It has to be at least a foot thick,” he’d said, “or the NGOs will no longer authorise you as a safe restaurant.” He’d hammered in the last nail, then stepped back to admire his handiwork. She knew he wanted her safe, but they both knew the only protection between her café and the treacherous streets of the city was a flimsy wall. Just last week her front windows had been shattered by a random blast at the nearby food markets. The gaping holes mocked her—You’re next, they whispered.

The room hushed. Westerners in suits and jeans and locals in shalwaar kameezes and turbans turned towards the brown door which her security man, Asmaan, pushed open. They studied the new arrival as he ambled towards the counter like he was taking a casual stroll through Central Park. He looked exotic in this setting—tall, blond hair, dressed in black, eyes hidden behind wraparound Ray Bans. A machine gun hung over his shoulder, a sidearm swung from each hip and who knows what was hidden in his boots.
                                                                                                
Maybe he’d come for a plate of Shari’s Qabli Pulao, or perhaps some qorma, a platter of melon from Mazar-e-Sharif? No, more likely pomegranates from Kandahar. 

Hallie clutched the counter until her legs stilled. “Hey there cowboy!” She held out her arms. “Can we trade? Guns for lunch?”

He was so close he could touch her.

He crushed her in his arms, kissing her breathless…hmm, imagination was a wonderful thing.

He scoped the room, then handed his armoury to Asmaan, who stashed it under the counter. Behind his shades, Hallie felt his eyes daring her to search him for the knife and pistol she knew he had strapped to his thigh.

“Now, what’ll it be, cowboy?” Hallie gestured to the table near the door, where he liked to sit and watch the comings and goings. As they walked, she pressed closer to him until his leg brushed hers. His black shirt strained at buttons her fingers itched to rip; those broad shoulders…she longed to massage away the knots; that bronco belt buckle, oh Lord... She dropped into a chair, breathing in short gasps, pushing her heart back into her chest.

He sat opposite, grinning. He knew her so well. He pushed his shades on top of his head. His black eyes lingered on her freshly-washed hair which fell to her shoulders in a mass of red curls she hadn't tried to straighten, then moved to her breasts, which pushed impertinently against the bodice of the floaty dress she’d bought at the market.

“I’m not hungry for food, Hallie,” he growled, shuffling his chair closer to hers.

“No? Look at everyone stuffing their faces. Ta da!” She snapped her fingers. “The best food in Kabul. A fresh shipment of pomegranates arrived this morning.”

"I brought you some." He seemed enthralled by her twitchy hands. He couldn’t touch her here with the local men watching their every move through slitted eyes, but even so, she could feel his fingers closing over hers, the strength of his grip, the warmth of his breath mingled with hers.

“My darling,” he whispered in that sexy tone she loved. “’The heavens set your appetites in motion’, Dante says. My appetites can’t be slaked by Shari’s food.”

“Is that right, cowboy?” Hallie wanted out of here, wanted his hands on her. She pushed away her chair and walked towards the stairs...fast, feeling every male eye boring into her back.

Asmaan stood, gun across his chest, guarding the stairs. “May Allah hear your prayers,” he said. Hallie blinked at him. He winked at her.

As soon as they reached the landing, Bosco scooped her into his arms and ran with her into the bedroom. The sound of his boot kicking the door charged the air with their need.

This was why she stayed. Hallie had followed him to one of the most dangerous countries in the world, terrifying her parents, her friends. But she’d never leave while Bosco was here...

***

The muezzin’s call to prayer woke her. She could still feel Bosco all over her—the desperation in his kisses, the pressure of his arms wrapped around her, the delicious scent of him.

She clutched the silken sheet around her shivering body. Night was falling, shaking the last light from the dusty air. The cooing of laughing turtledoves in the rooftops clashed with the wop-wop-wop of helicopters overhead.

He was gone. Like the pomegranates they’d fed each other in her bed. She was as empty as the champagne flutes that had overflowed with sparkling stars as they’d toasted those angels of peace and love, while knowing that only death could reconcile the two.

Salaamat! Hallie joined her prayers with thousands across the troubled city. “Be safe, my darling.”

Then, the bomb.

Close. Too close.

Her windows shattered.

The acrid smoke burned her lungs.

She clutched her heart.

You're next!

Oh, the pleasure and pain.

                            Image result for blog dividers graphicsImage result for blog dividers graphics

I hope you enjoyed my story for Poetry Month. Click on the links with a DL (Direct Link) after the name in my sidebar for more entries in the April WEP challenge or go to the WEP website.  


Product DetailsAnd thrilling news! Yolanda Renee's new story, The Snowman, is out on Amazon in e-book and print. If you love detective thrillers, you'll love Yolanda's book. Go HERE to read a free sample, then make Yolanda's day -- BUY! 






Wednesday, 5 April 2017

#IWSG post - Do you use a pen name?

Time for the April IWSG. Thank you to Alex J Cavanaugh and his side kicks for the month--Christopher D. Votey,Madeline Mora-Summonte, Fundy Blue, and Chrys Fey! 

Man, did I ever get a nasty surprise this morning when I checked whether my IWSG post had gone live--it'd disappeared. You can imagine my frustration. I'd prepared it a few weeks ago so I could clear my slate for an April write fest.

I really don't have the heart to redo the whole thing with pictures etc, so I'll just get to the question of the day--no, not the suggested question about whether I've ever used the A-Z to market a book--my question today is 'what do you think of pen names/pseudonyms?' I've been thinking of republishing under a pen name after attending a Joanna Penn workshop--she publishes under Joanna Penn for her non-fiction and as J.F. Penn for her fiction. She says it helps Amazon to target readers for the different genres.

So then I started researching, as you do, and was quite surprised at the authors who use more than one name. Who would have thunk?
Image result for images for pen names
  • Stephen King (his real name) writes Horror. He also writes as Richard Bachman, Eleanor Druse, Steve King, and John Swithen. Check them out!
  • Jack Higgins (his pseudonym) writes Mystery. He also writes as Martin Fallon, James Graham, and Hugh Marlowe.
  • Issac Asimov (his real name) wrote Science Fiction. He also wrote as Paul French and George E. Dale.
  • J.K Rowling (her real name) writes her Cormorant Strike detective series under the pen name Robert Galbraith -- that secret was soon revealed!
  • Barbara Michaels (her pseudonym) writes gothic and supernatural Thrillers. She also writes as Elizabeth Peters.
  • Nora Roberts ( born Eleanor Marie Robertson) writes as J. D. Robb for her Death series and under the pseudonym Jill March. She calls herself Sarah Hardesty in the UK. Fascinating!
  • Alistair MacLean (his real name) writes Mystery. He also writes as Ian Stuart.
  • Eboni Snoe (her pseudonym) writes African-American Romance.
And of course, there's many, many more...

  • So, the question is -- why do these successful authors use pen names? I'm sure they're not insecure about too much. Why then? Is it just about different genres, or are there other reasons? 
  • Do you think the extra work involved (new blog, new social media etc) is worth it to write under a pen name? I've had people tell me yes, people tell me no.
We at WEP would love it if you sign up for our challenge on April 19th - "P" day for the A-Z. You can so do both...sign up in my sidebar or over at Write...Edit...Publish.

WEP CHALLENGE FOR APRIL, FITTED TO THE A - Z CHALLENGE.

Thanks for taking time in your busy schedule to visit me!





Saturday, 1 April 2017

It's time for cyclones in Queensland, the A - Z Challenge...and...Write...Edit...Publish challenge!

It's April!

Not the time I should be sitting out the tail end of a cyclone (hurricane, typhoon, whatever name you call it). They used to hit in Queensland at Christmas, but now with the changing climate and our summers dragging on for six hot months instead of three, they can hit for a much longer time. So I'm listening to rain and wind and watching things flap around. The schools are closed, the shops closed at midday and some towns have been evacuated. The worst is supposed to be over by midnight tonight, so only 9 hours to go, LOL. Much of the Queensland coast has been damaged badly, but as always, we're resilient--have to be. The clean up has already begun north of me in the hardest-hit areas and the good news is that as far as is known, nobody has been seriously hurt. (UPDATE: one woman has drowned...)




Time for a different kind of fast and furious if you're doing the A-Z...planning themes, planning posts, posting posts and the furious round of commenting.

All a bit much for me, I'm afraid. But I applaud you for your diligence and I know you just love it! I participated in the early days, but now I spend April working on my writing projects. I've put up a whiteboard in my writing room to keep track.



Many of you who participate in Write...Edit...Publish (WEP) flash fiction, non-fiction, poetry, photography challenges are also doing the A - Z and this year have asked specifically to do a "P" post on April 19, "P" day for the A - Z. So we've listened.

In my sidebar you'll see today is the day to sign up for the WEP challenge, whether or not you're in the A - Z. April is also Poetry Month, so we've chosen a poem called PEACE and LOVE for our inspiration, paying particular attention to the lines: "Despair and hope may meet within one heart."

And we offer a $10 Amazon gift card to the entry that catches our eye:



I know most of you will have your A - Z posts pre-scheduled, but if you can find a way to link it to the WEP, go right ahead. If you'd like me to visit you during the month, in the comments tell me your theme and I'll do my best to pop over.

WEP APRIL CHALLENGE - "Despair and Hope May Meet Within One Heart."


Thank you for coming by.

I wish you a fruitful April--meet and follow new bloggers, learn stuff, but don't exhaust yourself too much.

Another exciting happening is the We are the World blogfest where bloggers are taking over social media with positive posts. I found a sign up list HERE at Writer in Transit, Michelle's blog. Her first post is HERE.