“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, 21 June 2017

Write...Edit...Publish JUNE challenge -- BRIDGES. My flash fiction, A Bridge too Far.

Here is my flash fiction for the WEP BRIDGES challenge for June. Open to all creatives who wish to join us. I've literally re-vamped a previously-published story to fit the challenge.

It's Shakespeare time again in my teaching schedule. Othello and A Merchant of Venice are on the menu. If you're a fan of The Bard you'll probably recognise some references. I've chosen names from random Shakespearean plays, but of course, Macbeth is always my favorite.

A Bridge too Far

‘Take me with you, Dad.’

‘Sorry, sweetheart. If there was any other way, we wouldn’t leave you here.’

Here was the International School of Exchange, one of the best Norweyan schools—big, ostentatious, gothic. 

‘Listen, sweetie, look at our separation as just another bridge to cross on your journey towards world domination. And, uh, it’ll be good for you to mix with humans for a change, to see them in another light.’

Dad so got it wrong. 

Bellona is loitering at the top of the stairway with her group of besties looking for all the afterworld like a row of creepy gargoyle statues. I have to pass these weird sisters to get to my next class. But, hey, they can’t put the fear of God into me. Bellona I can handle, but flanked by Portia and Nerissa, she looks scary indeed, even without a beard. I will need all my craft to survive.

‘Something bothering you, Emilia?’ Bellona’s voice wafts down the stairs like fog and filthy air. ‘I was just telling the sistas that something wicked this way comes. You look like you’re going to puke. Come along up. Wouldn’t want you to choke.’

I massage the banister knob with my left hand, feeling the silkiness of the aged wood smooth under my magnificent marble skin. I could glide up the stairs and float right through the lot of them, bitch slapping them while I pass, but my cred would be shot if I took that route. 

Maybe this is a place where I can belong, but there's a bridge to cross before that happens. 


In my Adolescence That Never Ends, I’ve discovered every school has its ghoul!

‘Come on up, you swine,' she says. 'New girls have to pass the test.’

‘What test?’ Why didn’t I keep my big mouth shut? Now she can't wait to get her long claws into me.

‘The test to see if you belong.’

Why do they suspect I don't belong?

Hmm. I shouldn’t have deliberately stepped on her shiny black Doc Martens when I cut her off at the classroom door. But that was pretty tame considering the way she’d baited me all the way through the Shakespeare class, jealous little warhorse. Not my fault I knew all the answers to Lady Macbeth’s questions (well, Ms Opine acted like Lady Macbeth in her sleepwalking stage, floating about the room in her long skirt, stroking her long red tresses, curling her dark red lips in disdain at the students’ stumbling answers to questions about Macbeth’s motivations). To tell you the truth, all she was missing was the candle in her hands.  

'Hey, Ms Opine,' I imagined myself saying. 'I knew old William personally, dig that? We used to chat after the shows in the Globe. I even suggested a few characters in history he might use for his next play. Where do you think he got the idea for Macbeth and King Duncan, hmm?'

Yep. I know every one of the Bard’s plays by heart, Ms Opine, in ye Olde English, not the modern crap you let students read these days. Like which sounds better--'Killing pigs' or 'Killing swine'? No contest.

‘Get off my boot, you weirdo,’ had been Bellona’s reaction to my little stomp attack after ckass. ‘Take that!’ She’d swung her long blonde mane (yes, she was very horsey. I thought it unusual in a Norweyan public school) and delivered a stunning blow to my solar plexus.

‘Ouch!’ I’d yelled, surprised at the power in her dainty little fight move. 

She gave me a strange look. 

Did she feel my flesh as hard and bony as her elbow? Is that what gave me away? Still, I couldn’t resist another stomp on her boots, grinding my rubber soles as hard as I could without breaking her foot. 

If you’ve ever tried to hurt someone by stomping on their Docs, you’d know it takes a lot of girl power. Those babies have pretty good toe protection. I put as much oomph as I dared behind that stomp/kick/grind. Bellona’s face turned as white as mine and her jagged breath concerned me for a minute as I wondered if I’d gone too far. The tears in her big baby blues were a bonus, looking quite dramatic hovering on her smoky fake eyelashes. But she was a tough chick for a human, or kinda human. 

Now, she’d rustled up reinforcements. I was facing a Birnam Wood Comes to Dunsinane moment.

Oh, great! An army gathered against me. I have to think fast or my first day will be my last day here. If I use too much power, I’m out. Too little, and these weird sisters and their cronies will make my life a misery just like the hags did to poor old Macbeth.

Was it worth taking the ‘test’, or should I refuse to listen to them, get back on my metaphorical charger and gallop away?

As Bellona and I played at outstaring each other, I thought of another school, another Bellona. Turned out that chick was a vamp like me. She didn’t want any competition. There could only be one Queen Lilith, so she demanded I take the test. I’d refused, but lived to regret it. I could have beaten that wispy vamp in a heartbeat, um, well. Well, I don’t have much choice this time, do I? I can't always run away. I’m here forever. If I’d passed the last test I would have been Head Girl at Cawdor by now. Hmm.

Avaunt! I race up the stairs, two at a time, holding my ridiculously long serge skirt like I'm some simpering Regency heroine. Those weird sisters step back as if they’ve seen a ghost. Well, you have, stupidos. Bet they’ve never bullied a ghost before.

Soon I’ll be Head Girl of the International School of Exchange. Pretty cool.

Hey, Dad, sometimes we’ve just got to decide which bridge to cross and which bridge to burn.  

WORDS: 995

I hope you like my story for the WEP BRIDGES challenge. Anything goes, as you can see. You have until June 21 to post - flash fiction, non fiction, poetry, artwork...The entry that catches the eye of the judges wins a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

Please click on the names in my right sidebar with DL (Direct Link) next to the name, or go to the WEP website limked in previous paragraph.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

IWSG post - 'I quit!'

Welcome to June's IWSG frenzy of posts. 

The purpose of the IWSG is to share and encourage each other. We can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. The IWSG is a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Alex J Cavanaugh's awesome co-hosts for the June 7 posting of the IWSG are JH Moncrieff, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Jen Chandler, Megan Morgan, and Heather Gardner!

Pay each a visit if you can!

June 7 Question: Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

Now to the question. I'm not someone who suffers from writer's block. I wonder how that is even possible, but one day I might find out then I'll get it. No, I've allowed other things to block me...

George Charles Beresford - Virginia Woolf in 1902 - Restoration.jpgI started writing ages ago, in late teenager-hood and into my twenties. Then marriage and children intervened. I shake my head in amazement at those gals who say they write at the dining table with the kids screaming around their legs, but I've always been a Virginia Woolf believer in that writers need a room of their own. I blogged about Virginia HERE in my 'Are you too old for a writing career?' post.

So after managing to send off a few short stories (one accepted, one rejected), I decided I didn't have time for writing at that stage of my life. Not only the family pressures, but I felt too ignorant. So when the kiddlies grew some, I went back to university and learned more stuff. Even though 'they' say writers don't need a great education, being an avid reader of bios I've yet to come across a successful author who writes the big meandering books I like (think Gone With the Wind) who doesn't have a few degrees in creative writing and such after their name. 

Okay, so in about 2007 (where did those years go? Oh, that's right, I was gathering life experience), I decided to unquit and start writing again. I could handle the short stories, the flash fiction, but the Great Australian Novel is a lot harder than I thought, even with a nice tumble of letters after my name. 

But I'm learning. 

Thanks to some very giving writers who've mastered James Scott Bell, Michael Haugh, and the Donald Maas heroes etc 'rules' of plot and structure I'm learning the difference between short story writing and novel writing. Don't get me wrong--I have all the books, just that...

I didn't 'get it.' 

I didn't like making my characters suffer. Gulp. My critters have helped me chase my main characters up a tree and throw rocks at them (James Scott Bell who attended the University of California where he studied writing with Raymond Carver) which I must admit has added oomph to my stories which is where I am in my unquit phase. One day soon, I'll gather a few more bags of rocks and finally finish one of the five novels I've partially written.

And for those of you who didn't see my last post, I'm only posting for the IWSG and WEP for the next months, so I can actually complete and publish said novels.

I'm loving this new phase of writing even though coming to grips with plot and structure is hard.

I hope things are going great for you, too. I'd love to hear your story in the comments. 

And speaking of WEP, we have our BRIDGES challenge open. You can sign up in my sidebar or trot over to the WEP website where you'll find more helpers for this challenge. We're loving these challenges dreamed up by Nilanjana Bose and the badges created by Olga Godim.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Famous writers' tips on writing -- 10 Writing Tips from Joyce Carol Oates

Hello there!

I'm glad you dropped by. I can't leave Yolanda Renee's guest post up forever so...I'm blogging to tell you I'm not blogging much any more.

I've been blogging since 2007 (((gulp))) and have never really taken a blog break, even when I've been travelling. It's time.

It's only a kinda blog break, because for now: I'll be:

Why am I doing this?

Like many who've left the blogosphere or have taken a long break, I'm having trouble fitting everything in. Coming up with posts is super fun, but I don't believe in posting then not returning comments which is what takes a whackeroo amount of time.

Things I've got going:

- I'm on the final round of rewrites for my Paris novel which I've been working on chapter by chapter with two wonderfully savvy critique partners - we swop chapters, print them out, then meet face to face every month. Wow. It's made such a difference to me and my writing. 

- I've rewritten my paranormal romance, have got a new cover design, now I have to decide if my books are going to be published under a pen name...which means a lot of work but may well be worth it...some advise against the pen name, pointing out that I've got all this social media capital under my real name, but I've discovered that the people who follow me on social media don't buy my books, so what's to lose? 

- I'm doing a great deal of study of writing, especially in plot and structure.


I came across these at Authors Publish and would like to share them with you. If you visit the link, you will find tips from other famous writers.

  1. Write your heart out.
  2. The first sentence can be written only after the last sentence has been written. FIRST DRAFTS ARE HELL. FINAL DRAFTS, PARADISE.
  3. You are writing for your contemporaries — not for Posterity. If you are lucky, your contemporaries will become Posterity.
  4. Keep in mind Oscar Wilde: “A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.”
  5. When in doubt how to end a chapter, bring in a man with a gun. (This is Raymond Chandler’s advice, not mine. I would not try this.)
  6. Unless you are experimenting with form — gnarled, snarled or obscure — be alert for possibilities of paragraphing.
  7. Be your own editor/critic. Sympathetic but merciless!
  8. Don’t try to anticipate an ideal reader — or any reader. He/she might exist — but is reading someone else.
  9. Read, observe, listen intensely! — as if your life depended upon it.
  10. Write your heart out.
  • Did you like the writing tips? 
  • Any tip stand out for you?
  • Do you practise any of these tips?

Thanks for coming by!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

#IWSG day is the day for The Snowman blog tour--my guest, Yolanda Renee! 10 Top Warning Signs for when your publisher is not into publishing. And 5 things NOT to do when publishing your book.

Hi Yolanda. After that gory introduction above, welcome to my blog today. Today, it's IWSG day, but on my blog, it's all about you. I'm beyond thrilled you've decided to go with this hot button issue which I know has caused you a truckload of insecurity over many months. The best we can hope for is that this cautionary tale will prevent other authors falling into the trap.

The IWSG is Alex J Cavanaugh's dream child. His awesome co-hosts for the May 3 posting of the IWSG are Nancy Gideon, Tamara Narayan, Liesbet @ Roaming About, Michelle Wallace, and Feather Stone!
Thanks Alex and ladies. Readers, please visit them if you can.

Top 10 warning signs your publisher is not into publishing.

1.     Professional edits are not performed.
2.     Proofreads are not completed.
3.     Book signings are not scheduled.
4.     News releases are not released.
5.     Correspondence is not answered.
6.     Promised markets are not delivered.
7.     Continuous excuses are made.
8.     Staff changes constantly.
10. Royalty checks get ‘lost’ in the mail.

Today, anyone can open a business, even a publishing business. It only takes minutes to get an EIN - Employer Identification Number. This is required in the US to open a business – it’s different for each country.
And if you have the patience for formatting you can publish your book, or someone else’s book – Amazon makes it simple!
I reissued all three of my formerly published books, after regaining the rights, on Amazon as a Kindle, and then as a paperback in one week! Note: I had experience with self-publishing and knew the process. But Amazon gives explicit instructions, and anyone can do it!
If you can do this, you can become a publisher, and sadly, this is what is happening daily. Many new publishers are popping up overnight, and with just these simple skills they can take 50 to 60% of your profits – royalties, and give you pennies on the dollar – deducting for so called edits, proofreading, cover design, etc.!
Anyone can apply to Ingram Spark and other book release sites. These steps are simple and while time consuming – once learned, very simple.
The point – anyone can open a publishing company, and many have. The list above is just a small sample of the things that can go wrong when the company is only in the business to make as much money off a novice writer as possible.
If a company has opened its doors overnight – you may get a professional looking contract, but if the actions on that contract aren’t followed, you have a piece of paper and nothing more.
My advice, learn the process, self-publish at least one book on Amazon and see for yourself how simple it really is. This is eye opening and empowering. Good luck!

I would be happy to discuss my personal experiences further with any of you.  Contact me: yolandarenee@hotmail.com

Top 5 things not to do when releasing a new book.

1.     Do Not Decide to Sell your house!
2.     Do Not Sign up for the A to Z Challenge.
3.     Do Not Re-publish your first 3 books in a week.
4.     Do Not Hold two - 3-day long garage sales to get rid of all your crap.
5.     Do Not Schedule a blog book tour covering 30 days that require your undivided attention and multiple guest posts!

Yes, I did all this during the month of April. Believe me – you DON’T want to follow my lead!

Denise, thank you for hosting me during the Snowman tour. Readers, thank you for coming by and reading. I hope I've helped someone who might be going through what I did.

Denise's review: 

If you don't mind sending your heart rate sky high, if you don't mind trying to read with your eyes closed, if you don't mind feeding blood-fuelled nightmares, The Snowman is the book for you. 
At the other end of the spectrum, if you like a roller-coaster ride of mega proportions, if you like a fast-paced psychological thriller, if you like to delve into the criminal mind, this is the book for you. 
Excellent racy writing by the author, Yolanda Renee. Well edited - don't those two words bring joy to my heart!
 A joy to read, even with your eyes closed...oh, and I think there's an audio book coming just in case...

And there's more...

There's a GIVEAWAY you can enter, HERE...open until June 6.

Should you love The Snowman, Yolanda has 3 books in the Detective Quaid series she's recently republished on Amazon.


May 1 – Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit – Author Guest Post

May 2 – Romance Under Fire – Review & Excerpt

May 3 – Denise Covey – Review & Author Guest Post              
                                                 Random Thoughts – Excerpt

May 4 – The Silver Dagger Scriptorium – Excerpt & Author Guest Post

May 5 – Julie Flanders, Writer – Excerpt

May 8 – Alex J. Cavanaugh – Top 10 List
                  Christine Rains – Writer – Author Guest Post

May 9 – Mello & June, It’s a Book Thang – Feature

May 10 – Pat Hatt Books – Author Q&A

May 11 – A Bluestocking’s Place – Feature

May 12 – Lexa Cain – Feature
                   Elizabeth Seckman, Author – Author Guest Post

May 15 – Just Us Book Blog – Excerpt
                   Writers & Authors – Author Guest Post

May 16 – Reading for the Stars and Moon – Excerpt

May 17 – Pat Garcia Book Reviews – Review

May 18 – The Bookworm Chronicles – Excerpt & Feature

May 19 – I Think; Therefore, I Yam – Interview with Stowy

May 22 – The Five Year Project – Author Guest Post

May 24 – Bound 2 Escape – Excerpt

May 25 – Reviews by Crystal – Author Q&A

May 26 – J Bronder Book Reviews – Review

May 29 – FUONLYKNEW – Review

May 30 – Mason Canyon

May 31 – Celticlady’s Reviews – Excerpt

June 1 – bookworm1102 – Excerpt
Scattergun Scribblings – Author Guest Post   
                 Rainy Day Reviews – Review & Excerpt

June 2 – Cheryl’s Book Nook – Review  
                  Libby Heily – Review & Excerpt

Thanks for coming by today!

  • Has your publisher ever let you down?
  • Have you read any of Yolanda's thrillers?