#writephoto: The rose at the heart

Well, this one obviously follows on from last week’s image. Thanks Sue 🙂

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A sound breaks the hush of the chapel and Aoife is dragged out of her reverie. Her hand reaches out to the red rose protectively as she feels the air vibrate, murmur, like flowing water. The sun breaks through the cloud and pours through the rose window inundating Riseárd’s image with soft colours. She blinks in the bright light that fills with lilies. She hold her breath and the lilies group, bunch, form a loose bouquet that is at once the face and the flowing hair of a woman.

A tear slides down her cheek and she brushes it away, quickly before the ghost woman sees. She faces her defiantly, her fingers curled around the stem of the rose. Even now, she rages, the woman, if she is truly a woman, dares to impose herself, after all she has done, the intrigue and the deaths. The face turns and Aoife is caught in the blue gaze of her eyes and the shimmer of brimming tears.

Forgive. I loved him too.

The world shatters into sharp, elusive pieces. Nothing will ever be the same, love, children, gone, like thistledown in the wind. Yet Aoife cannot find it in herself to hate the pale woman. The vision blurs, behind a veil of tears, until all that is left, vibrant and glowing is the thorny red rose on Riseárd’s breast.

Three Line Tale: A letter II

The sequel to Sonya’s Three Line Tale.

Photo ©Kirsty TG

 

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The road was empty again; the silent horseman a memory of dark mist and the gentle waving of tree branches.

With trembling finger I traced the familiar handwriting before easing open the envelope and unfolding the sheaf of close-written pages.

By the light of the moon, through a blur of tears, I read some of the lifetime of words of tenderness he would have told me, he said, had he not drowned so far away, when our dream was still a fledgling that would never spread its wings and fly.

Flash fiction: White Feathers

I had intended to write a short story for Valentine’s Day but the story I wrote turned out not romantic at all, so I’m reposting a short story that was originally published by Woman’s Way magazine. This one is romantic.

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She walked along, her hands stuffed in her pockets, eyes unfocused but cast in the direction of the pavement. She wasn’t looking where she was going because she didn’t care. Didn’t care about anything. Not anymore.

Behind her eyes, the same scene played over and over: the café counter, the coffee she couldn’t swallow, his hand on the zinc counter next to her hand. But his fingers were not curled round hers; they curled defensively round a cigarette, brandishing it like a weapon between them. The smoke too had curled, up into her eyes. Smoke drifted over the scene making her eyes water. Perhaps it was tears.

It was over; he’d said so, in the dim morning light, the light too pale to show the details of his face, even if she had dared to look. She wanted to take away no last memory of his blank face, the cold lips saying the terrible word: over. The echo rang in her head like a tolling bell.

Coffee steamed, the smell of other people’s breakfast. A sticky spill, a small dark pool. The greasy sleeve of the customer next to her. The strong, sweet smell of deodorant. She had felt sick, wanted to scream. Instead, she had picked up her bag and turned away, still not looking, leaving without a word, hoping her refusal to break down, to say goodbye tearfully, beg for a word of hope, hurt him just a fraction of the way it hurt her. She couldn’t tell if she had wounded him, had not looked at his face, just the hand clutching the smoking cigarette.

He hadn’t had the nerve to tell her at home, had waited until they were on one of their romantic weekends. He hadn’t wanted the bitterness of the situation to spoil fond memories. He was probably thinking of his fond memories not hers. Memories, not happiness: that was crushed out of existence now; just memories that wouldn’t go away, buzzing and stinging like horse flies.

She had no idea where she was, had never been in this town before. She walked, kept to the same pavement, following where it led, round corners, past shops. Just walked. There was no point trying to work out what would happen about ‘home’. She didn’t have one anymore. He had smashed it into tiny unmendable pieces.

Her bag hung heavy, full of objects that had lost all their meaning. They belonged to her life when they were a couple. There was a before and after now, even for a stick of chewing gum or an old bus ticket. Her eyes blurred. She tried to concentrate on now, tomorrow, the rest of her life. But there was nothing. She retreated into the watery blur and cried inside.

The pavement widened, brought her to another corner. People passed. She kept her gaze retracted like a snail’s horns. Crowds. She wanted solitude, looked about in a daze for an exit, as if she expected a door to open in front of her, and beyond for there to be peace. Cars roared irritably along a busy road. At the other side stretched the railings of a park, trees, grass, perhaps calm.

Before, she would have found a little peace beneath the trees. She would have listened to the birds until the painful beating of her heart calmed. That was before the goodbye. Goodbye destroyed hope, took the light from the sky and the warmth from the sun. It took the beauty from the day, and the blackbird’s song was no sweeter than the croaking of a crow. She stared at the park, and the trees beyond the railings stood like ghosts, silent and otherworldly.

She hesitated, poised on the edge of the curb, suddenly unable to bear the idea that people might be looking at her and reading the pain in her face. A man, staring at his phone jostled her. Nothing beckoned, nothing called to her, just the desire to make it all stop. She stepped down from the kerb.

A flurry of wings before her face startled her, making her step back onto the pavement. Car brakes screeched. White feathers drifted past her eyes from a vibrant blue sky, a slowly drifting veil of glittering whiteness. A face lunged, grimacing, from a car window. Feathers drifted and lay like petals at her feet. A voice, from the thrusting red face, roared at her in a fury. She didn’t listen, just gazed in wonder at the soft rain of white feather petals, drifting, drifting.

Someone took her arm.

“Are you okay?”

The voice was deep and rich and full of concern. She looked at the hand, her sleeve, and the scattering of white petals, or were they feathers? She raised her face. Eyes, blue as a rain-washed sky looked into hers. Dark hair framed the face, fine features. The corners of the eyes crinkled as the mouth curled into a smile. She found herself smiling back.

“I think so.”

In the distance, she heard the first notes of a blackbird’s song.

Flash fiction: Not drowning part III

1280px-'Helen_on_Waialua_Beach,_Oahu'_by_D._Howard_Hitchcock,_1917

For the rest of the summer she went down to the cove every day, and every day she met the boy who belonged to the sea. Every day they lay together in a hollow between the rocks and the dunes, and she learned the contours of his foam white body by heart. In sunshine or in shadow they lay in one another’s arms, warmed by their body heat, rocked by their hearts’ pulse.

When the sun dipped low he kissed her and pulled away. Though clouds obscured the sky he always knew when it was time. He never showed her the sealskin and he always made her leave before he took it from its hiding place. But every evening, as the sun sank beneath the horizon, from the top of the cliff, she watched far out to sea, until he surfaced.

The last of the light spread over the water and silhouetted the black point that was his head, and the other black points that circled, dived and played around him, that were his kin. With the last of the light, last of the day, last of the summer, she made her silent farewell to the sleek black shape, and wondered if he thought of her, the girl in the cove who could never leave the land and share the deep green realms of his ocean. She kissed a pebble and dropped it into the waves.

Remember.

The breeze from the ocean washed over her and she listened to its whispering reply.

Always.

Always a heartbeat and an ocean away. They had come so close to happiness but the last door would always be closed. Turning away, she let the salt tears fall.

 

WIP update

I’m going great guns with the WIP I’m working on at the moment. 34,000 words into the first draught. Here’s a bit from the opening.

Agents and editors for Big 5 publishers please form an orderly queue. I’ll give all offers fair consideration.

Selkie (working title)

It was a bright September morning, and I was starting my last year at sixth form college. The sun was shining, and although we were settling down to a tedious session of French grammar, suddenly the sky seemed more luminous, the air sweeter. I heard a blackbird sing, and my gaze was drawn out of the window to the white clouds sailing seawards. Somewhere close, something momentous had happened.

I found out what it was later, at the end of the afternoon as I made my way to the bus stop.

“Hi. Is this the right way for the bus station?”

I turned. Something in my blood, a distant memory perhaps, knew what I would find. I almost recognised the tall, golden-haired boy walking in step beside me. I must have stared.

“Is it?”

My throat was dry. I swallowed and nodded. “That’s where I’m going.”

The boy smiled. “That’s great. Mind if I tag along with you, then? I’m Ronan, by the way.”

I knew. His name was already dancing around inside my head as if it lived there. I smiled back, hoping I wasn’t blushing as much as I feared. “Course not. I’m Tara.”

He looked at me, green eyes, or were they blue? I never could decide. Lashes the colour of autumn leaves. He looked and saw right through me. “If you say so.”

My name wasn’t Tara at all. But up until then, I was the only one who knew it.

“What are you studying?” I asked to change the subject.

“Science stuff, engineering an’ that. You?”

“Modern languages. We won’t be seeing much of one another by the looks of things.” I smiled, but I didn’t mean it.

“Ah, you never know,” he said and gave me another of his golden smiles. I didn’t know, but I could guess. Tara Dwyer, the lonely only child was about to enter the most intense relationship of her life.

That was it. That was how it started, as simple as that. Ronan had looked at me through russet eyelashes and the world had started to turn. He looked at me and I knew that this was what I had been waiting for. Until this moment my life had been hanging in suspense. Now it could begin.

That is how it should have begun. It was how the stars shining in the ocean told the beginning of my story. But that’s the trouble with human lives; nothing we do comes without strings. They might lead the way to the future, but they also tie us to the past. So many people with their strings. Sometimes I think of it more like a net, a mesh so tight nothing can ever fall through. When I met Ronan, something new began, but it wasn’t so easy to break free of all the backstory. So many people and places with claims on me.

“You’re spending a lot of time with Ronan.” Mandy’s voice was matter-of-fact, but I could hear the acrimony in it. It was true. I did see a lot of Ronan, and it was obvious that Mandy resented it, as did half the girls in the class.

“I like Ronan.”

“Don’t we all? I bet Aidan loves him to pieces too.”

Aidan was one of the strings of my past, a string that was turning into a nasty, tangled mess.

Selkie

While I’m waiting to get stuck into my second round of edits and haul myself back to the shopping centre at the end of the world, I’ve been treating myself to a burst of my WIP. It’s romantic and slightly fantastic and I’m loving writing it. I’m up to 22,000 words, and this is the last bit I’ve written. Thought I’d post it because it’s mine, and I can.

The painting, by Franciszek Zmurko is a favourite of mine.

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“Hiya! Will you slow down so a poor crippled lad can catch up with you?”
Ronan’s voice was infectiously cheery and dragged me out of my misery. For a second I lit up. He must have seen it because he beamed back at me. But it was only for a second. I couldn’t have Ronan. I belonged to Aidan—he has proved that to me. The smile faltered, too difficult to hold, and Ronan’s grin too faded. He moved closer, walking in step with me, his arm touching mine.
“What’s up?” he asked. “You look as sick as a plane to Lourdes!”
I tried to smile, but I wanted to cry. My lips trembled and I clamped my mouth tight to stop the sob leaking out. He knew though, and put his arm around me. “Hey,” he whispered. “Don’t be after embarrassing the both of us in the street.”
We walked quickly—me with my eyes fixed on the pavement, Ronan probably watching me. I was certain I could feel his gaze boring into the side of my head.
“It’s okay,” I said. “I’m just feeling sorry for myself.”
“When you have me to walk you to the bus?” Ronan feigned astonishment.
I lay my head briefly on his shoulder. “I’m not sorry about you…”
“Tara,” he said, a hesitation in his voice, “…would you come out with me?”
“What d’you mean? I already go out with you.”
“I mean, can I take you away somewhere? Just the two of us? Just for the day?”
I smiled to myself, allowing myself the luxury of imagining Ronan and me by the sea, lying in the sand, dancing our wild dances among the waves.
“It’s February,” I said finally. “Where do you want to go in February?”
“I can borrow a car,” he said and I stared at him, unpleasant memories drowning the idyllic picture of Ronan taking me in his arms in an underwater embrace. “It’s half term next week. We could go to the coast. I know a place. There’ll be nobody there at this time of year.”
“Too bloody cold, that’s why!” I said, venting some of my anger with myself on Ronan.
“We don’t feel the cold though, you and me.”
“How do you work that one out?”
“We’re special,” he said, with that daft grin. “We’re sea people.”
I laughed, and the feeling of despondency lifted. When I was with Ronan it seemed possible to believe in a future that did not involve Aidan’s oppressive presence.
“I don’t feel special,” I said. “Unless you count specially stupid.”
He kissed the top of my head, so quickly and lightly I hardly felt it, like the brush of his body against mine when we swam together.
“Well you are. You’ll see. Soon.”

Promote Yourself: Linzé Brandon

My weekend guest author is Linzé Brandon, a prolific writer as you can see from the number of book covers in the gallery. Here is Linzé to tell us a little about herself.

Teaching herself to read before she went to school, it was the start of her life long love affair with books. Trained as an engineer, Linzé has worked as an export consultant and is presently a project manager at a company that designs and manufactures products for the military industry. Although she still loves to read, she also enjoys counted stitch embroidery, archery, fly fishing, painting abstracts, her husband’s medal winning photographs and watching Manchester United play.

She is one of the moderators of the Google+ group, Writer’s Rabbit Hole, and leads the Pretoria Writers Group, consisting of ten members, seven of which are published authors in various genres.

Linzé Brandon lives in Pretoria, South Africa, with her engineer husband and German Shepherds who are convinced that the world revolves only around them.

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Linzé writes in an extensive range of genres, and the book she has chosen to share today is the second volume of a fantasy romance series.

Keeper of the Dragon Sword_Cover_KINDLE

Keeper of the Dragon Sword – The Dragon Masters https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/301923

Synopsis

It was definitely not her week. Her uncle had been murdered, her life had been threatened, an old school friend had re-appeared, she had two body guards and a new home. Elizabeth L’Emery was not having a good time as the new owner and chief executive of the largest fabric manufacturer on Xa’an.

Randall Storm had missed his best friend from school, but he had so many secrets that staying away from her had seemed to be the only solution to keep her safe from the uncontrollable lust for blood of his dragon half. But when he was assigned to her protection detail, he didn’t want to be anywhere else.

As they search for ways to control his magic that didn’t enslave him – and didn’t kill her – more threats came to try and pull them apart. When the opportunity arises to put a weapon of incredible power into her hands, Elizabeth has to decide if the violence of the blood ritual would be worth the sacrifice of becoming the Keeper of the Dragon Sword.

Attacks, magic and sword battles ensue as they continue to fight for her life but in the end it might come down to the ultimate sacrifice of the dragon to keep his vow to serve his master with his life.

Was their partnership strong enough to survive the choice of enslavement to prevent a war against their people or a ritual that could kill the woman he loved?

Excerpt

Feeling a little depressed and exhausted by all the new happenings in her normally quiet life, Elizabeth fell straight into bed not even bothering to undress.

She woke the next morning with her heart pounding. It took a moment to recall the dream that was responsible for the aroused state of her body. It took another to realise that the tingling sensations in her left shoulder that would normally accompany her stimulated body, were not present.

“Oh hell,” she muttered, and threw back the covers.

There was no time for getting dressed. On silent feet she searched the bathroom. Nothing.

A search of the men’s bedroom and the other bathroom revealed no dragon either.

A hiss and a growl made her run for the main room. A hard arm held her back when she rushed towards the noise.

“Shh,” he whispered in her ear.

It was only Randall’s calm assurance that stopped her from pulling away. “She is fine.”

“What happened?”

She felt his arm loosen its tight hold on her waist, but he didn’t let go all together. “Your dragon surprised me. She must be producing mating pheromones, because my dragon was awake and on the floor before I had a chance to comprehend what was going on.”

She watched the two dragons circle each other, hissing and growling in turn. The mare was smaller than the dragon, but appeared unintimidated by the new addition to her territory. If nothing else, she seemed fascinated by him. Watching his every move. Her tail made slow sweeps behind her, as the two of them danced the introduction of meeting a potential mate.

Elizabeth took a better look at the dragon. He was red and black like her own dragon, but he had the most amazing blue eyes that dominated his face. They practically glowed with lust at the sight of the mare. But he was wary. Dragon mares didn’t submit to mating unless she was ready, or accepted the dragon. Dragons mated for life, but Elizabeth couldn’t be sure about hers. The dragon mare was part of her, but she couldn’t shift into its form. She was more like an alter ego, a primitive form of herself, than an actual independent entity.

“Will they mate?”

Randall tensed at the question and tightened his arm around her. He too watched as the dragons sized each other up. “I don’t think so. Dragons seldom mate at a first meeting. But we cannot take the chance that they will fight. Just keep still and let them decide,” he replied in the same quiet tone.

That was a surprise. “Why would they fight?”

She felt his chest move against her back. “Dragons of both sexes can be territorial. She must sense that I am a blood dragon, and that can put any female on edge.”

She frowned and turned her head to look up at him. In bare feet, he towered over her, head and shoulders. “You are a blood dragon? What does that mean?”

His expression froze into determined blankness.

Follow Linzé online:

Blog (Butterfly on a Broomstick) http://www.linzebrandon.blogspot.com
FB author page http://www.facebook.com/LinzeBrandonAuthor
Twitter http://www.twitter.com/LinzeBrandon

Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/LinzeBrandon

Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/LinzeBrandon

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6035313.Linze_Brandon

Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/+LinzéBrandon

Wattpad http://www.wattpad.com/user/LinzeBrandon

Book Links

Science Fiction

Don’t Call Me Sweetheart – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/383111

Erotic Romance

Their +1 – http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/360607

Erotica

Bubble trouble – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/364605

Pixie Dust, Boots and Reindeer https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/391625

The Third Gender Series (Sci-fi Romance)

reGENESIS – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/430285

Hunger – http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/213647

Perfect – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/269278

The Nations of Peace Series (Fantasy Romance)

Géra’s Gift – The Grandmasters – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/238397

Keeper of the Dragon Sword – The Dragon Masters https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/301923

Contemporary

The Cutting Horizon – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/430313

Thank you Linzé and best of luck with your newest release.

Book review: Better than Perfect by Tricia Drammeh

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Better than Perfect

Better than Perfect is a fairy tale running parallel with a nightmare. On the face of it, Karlie doesn’t have a lot going for her. Between juggling her college classes, her job, the house she lives in alone since her parents died and keeping an eye on her elderly neighbour, she doesn’t have much time for making herself look gorgeous and hunting for boyfriends. She gets by, but the memory of her parents’ death keeps her curled up in her shell and prevents her from really ‘getting herself a life’.
When things start to happen to Karlie, they happen with a vengeance. A guy in her psychology class with the face of an Adonis starts to notice her. Her neighbour and surrogate grandmother/mother/father/family has her fourteen-year-old twin grandsons to stay for an unspecified time. This is where things start to go wonderfully right and horribly wrong. At the same time.
How Karlie copes with the frantic rhythm as her life charges along like a train out of control is nothing short of heroic. I was crying with weariness in sympathy. She is the kind of girl usually despised for being gullible, a sucker. Kevin, her boyfriend, is the epitome of success. But as the story rockets along and the reader is wondering just how is she going to prevent her life crashing into the buffers…Well, that would be giving the story away, but some pretty wonderful things happen.
This is the feel-good novel par excellence. I loved every minute of it. Between wanting to give the twins a good slap, Karlie a big hug, and Kevin a boot in the hole I experienced a whole palette of emotions. In Better than Perfect, Tricia Drammeh treats us again to her sensitive style of writing, understated but packed with feeling. This is romance the way I like it—two people sharing problems as well as pleasure, and supporting one another when things get hairy. If you need something to put a spring in your step, this is your book.

http://www.amazon.com/Better-than-Perfect-Tricia-Drammeh-ebook/dp/B00KMGU6MO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1403881305&sr=1-1&keywords=Better+than+Perfect+by+Tricia+Drammeh

Lupa has a review!

Thank you Tricia Drammeh for this uplifting review. I wanted Lupa’s story to have a happy ending and it was hard to see how that was going to happen. That’s why the ‘short’ story ended up so long. I’m glad Tricia thought the manoeuvering worked.

http://www.amazon.com/Lupa-Jane-Dougherty-ebook/dp/B00KZHXSVQ/ref=la_B00FMR7Y0U_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402906557&sr=1-8

http://www.amazon.com/review/R1MIQVRB8OJMSO/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00KZHXSVQ&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=133140011&store=digital-text