Been here?

The image shows a rotary dial pink telephone, and next to it are cards showing the answering machine messages on different cards. “Leave us a message” , “After the tone” and “Thank you”

Pacing her apartment, she waits for him to call. She stares at the phone, perched innocently on a side table. Wills it to ring. She strides to the window, grips the ledge, her fingers tightening as she views the busy street below. Couples laughing, children running, a solitary man consulting his watch. She turns away. Why doesn’t he phone? Damn him! Puts on her coat, grabs her keys. One last lingering look at the unforgiving phone.

waiting no longer
she slams the door behind her:
the phone starts to ring.

~~~~~~~~

Image credit: Tylor Heery @ Unsplash
The image shows a rotary dial pink telephone, and next to it are cards showing the answering machine messages on different cards. “Leave us a message” , “After the tone” and “Thank you”

Written in response to Sadje‘s What Do You See #129 photo prompt

This Writer’s Reading Round Up – Q1 2022

Virginia Woolf quote: For once the disease of reading has laid hold upon the system, it weakens it, so that it falls an easy prey to that other scourge which dwells in the inkpot and festers in the quill. The wretch takes to writing.

I’ve really enjoyed my first quarter’s reading this year. As I’m sure I’ve told you before, I love to read almost as much as I love to write, and I strongly believe that the more good writing I read, the more my own writing improves.

I generally choose to read books that have been recommended by other people, mostly my WP reviewer friends. Once again they’ve picked real winners. I’ve also read a couple of well-known authors whose books I’ll always turn to (Jasper Fford and Isabel Allende) and a couple of instructive books to hone my ‘word-smithery’ (Kathy Steinemann’s Writer’s Lexicon) and to improve my poetry-crafting (Colleen Chesebro’s Wordcraft).

It has long been one of my missions to read more authors from South Africa and the African continent, since I feel we are frequently under-represented in the wider world. You’ll see that my first four reads were all SA authors, after which I spread my reading wings and flew north to find Jude Italkali in Uganda.

I hadn’t read a collection of short stories for ages, but Chris Nelson’s excellent collection, The Beautiful Silence, has re-kindled my appetite. As soon as I’d finished reading Chris’s book, a reading recommendation made to me by Liz Gauffreau* on the thread of a post about Magical Realism on Jacqui Murray’s excellent site, led me to seek out a short story by Gabriel García Márquez, The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World – a delightful read! Encouraged by the fact that I found a copy via Mrs Google, I also sought out Ernest Hemingway’s The Snows of Kilimanjaro, which I’ve been keen to read ever since I began dipping into Hemingway’s Boat by Paul Hendrickson. My obsession with Hemingway’s prose continues.

Here are the books I read as the scorching South African summer mellowed into a glorious golden autumn. My next round up will find me shivering as we head into the depths of winter!

As a writer, I know how exciting it is to receive a review from a reader, and I offer a big, big thank you to my readers (and listeners, now I’ve three books published as audiobooks) who’ve taken the time and trouble to rate/review my books. That aside, to know someone has read one of my books is enough.

My reviews:
Open a New Door by Robbie Cheadle and Kim Blades
Operation Outperfect by Alex Canna
Fire Angel: Igniting the Spark by Paul English
Noah and his Solar-Powered Ark by Jill Morsbach
One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde
The Writer’s Lexicon Volume II by Kathy Steinemann
The Beautiful Silence by Chris Nelson
Ghosted: Disappearing Acts by Paula Light
Wordcraft: Prose & Poetry: The Art of Crafting Syllabic Poetry by Colleen M. Chesebro
Violeta by Isabel Allende
Realms of the Mist by Jude Itakali
Holly Ward Investigates: The Steam Train by Mason Bushell


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*A quick heads up for poetry lovers: Liz Gauffreau is hosting a live poetry event Poets in the Blogosphere, on 23 April 2022 from 4-5:30 PM ET. This is a perfect opportunity to enjoy poetry being read out loud. Just as it should be. You can find out more here.

The Jade Camel #11

Previously

Joey returned the man’s gaze; it wasn’t that he was afraid, but something about the unwavering stare and the uncompromising stance of the cigar-smoking man made him slightly wary, framed as he was by the double-leaf doorway in an otherwise blank-faced building, like the gate-keeper to a secret world.

Glancing back into the alleyway, Joey saw that the five strange little men were now huddled together; although he couldn’t make out what they were muttering, by the way they were wildly gesticulating it was apparent that they were arguing amongst themselves. He wondered if he could somehow slip past them, it was either that or face the strangely intimidating man on the other side of the wall; Joey made his decision and eased himself down into the yard below.

Whilst Joey had been concentrating on his descent, the doors to the blank-faced building had closed; Joey jogged across the empty yard, the only sign that someone had been standing in the doorway was the still-smouldering cigar butt on the ground. Beyond the peeling wood, the strum of a rhythm guitar and the boom of a steady blues beat echoed inside the building.

Drawn to the music, Joey gripped the door-handle.

next episode


Written in response to two challenges:

Di of Pensitivity 101’s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge: TIMID, WARY, AFRAID
Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge’s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt: RHYTHM

More #SixSentenceStories here!

Three things challenge and six sentence stories logos

Photo credit: illustration from a book somewhere on my bookshelves which has mysteriously disappeared🐪

Accident Report

The image shows three orange traffic cones placed on the road. There is ice on the road surface and foot prints can be seen on the ice.

Snow melt started the previous day.
Soft rain fell all afternoon.
Black ice formed overnight.
Treacherous.
Transparent.
Deadly.

The driver took the corner badly.
Wheels spun, slewed on the ice.
Vehicle out of control.
Screech.
Impact.
Silence.

In the distance
a siren wails.

~~~~~~~~

Image credit: Oleksii S @ Unsplash
The image shows three orange traffic cones placed on the road. There is ice on the road surface and foot prints can be seen on the ice.

Written in response to Sadje‘s What Do You See #128 photo prompt

Ten Years a Novelist!

http://bit.ly/2WTizJZ
Quote from my interview with Jean Lee in April 2020

It’s exactly 10 years ago today that I took the plunge and published my first novel. April 1st 2012 saw me press that big ‘submit’ button and launch The Silver Locket into the world. A momentous moment about which I basically told no-one. So lacking in confidence was I back then that I published it under a pen-name.

I’d started bits and pieces of the book during the mid-noughties, but I hadn’t come up with anything very substantial. Then in April 2010, the ash cloud from the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull delayed my flight back to the UK from a holiday in South Africa and resulted in me being AWOL from my job for a week. Rules around unauthorised absence in the council where I worked dictated that I must make up the time, leaving me a chained to my desk for 2 hours every day after everyone else had gone home for (I can’t remember how many) weeks.

It was not even as if I had sufficient work to fill the time. My risk management role had been scaled down due to governmental policy changes, and the work that I took over from other members of my team hardly filled the the normal working day.

So what to do? Twiddle my thumbs? Bring in some knitting? Nobody much seemed to mind as long as I made up that oh-so-important missing time.

And so I began to work on the novel which I’d been composing in my head during my daily commute. Apart from the time I happily spent chatting to our cleaner, there was only one occasion that I remember being disturbed. One of the field staff phoned and I was so wrapped up in my writing – see that quote at the top of the page – that it took me a minute or two to come ‘back to earth’.

Six months later, we’d emigrated to South Africa. It took us a little while to settle in, but soon I was back to writing a couple of afternoons a week between the various voluntary activities I’d signed up for. Fast forward a further eighteen months and my finger was hovering over that submit button.

I sometimes wonder whether I would ever have got down to serious writing had it not been for that volcano, but now I’ve been well and truly bitten by the writing bug and I’ve never looked back.

Five novels, three published as audiobooks, and one tiny short story collection later, what’s next? Well, here’s the nearest I get to an outline for a new novel:

Revenge of the Rain Bull, third in my Weskus Series, is about to begin…

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Image credit for the unpronounceable volcano: National Geographic

The Jade Camel #10

Previously

Joey shot across the road and hurtled down the narrow alleyway that divided the terrace of tall buildings ahead of him, the northerly aspect of the dank thoroughfare rarely allowed the sun’s rays to penetrate, and his feet slid on the slippery cobbles.

Hearing a shrill whistle behind him, Joey skidded around a corner into an even narrower passage and then another, losing himself in the maze of Victorian dereliction. Behind him, pounding feet were closing in, their speed more than a match for Joey’s; he swung around the edge of another building only to find himself faced by a huge, crumbling brick wall. He turned to face his pursuers – five unusually short, squat individuals crowded in, filling the width of the alleyway.

Joey spun round and launched himself at the wall, fingers and toes desperately scrabbling for purchase in the missing mortar between the bricks; finally, with a heroic effort, he hauled himself to the top and straddled the wall.

Joey peered down into the yard on the other side, where a bearded man leaned on the edge of an open doorway, smoking an unpretending cigar; the man stared back up at him and slowly raised an eyebrow.

next episode


Written in response to two challenges:

Di of Pensitivity 101’s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge: HEROIC, PRETEND, ASPECT
Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge’s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt: MATCH

Read more #SixSentenceStories here!

Three things challenge and six sentence stories logos

Photo credit: illustration from a book somewhere on my bookshelves which has mysteriously disappeared🐪

No future

The images shows an earthenware jug filled with red tulips. The jug is sitting on old stone steps.

Returning to the steps where first they met,
 he sits awhile, alone, bereft.
Crimson petals like blood red tears
 scatter on cold, hard stone.
His heart bleeds for her, his loss,
 a future that will never be.

~~~~~~~~

Image credit: Yana Hurskaya @ Unsplash
The image shows an earthenware jug filled with red tulips. The jug is sitting on old stone steps.

Written in response to Sadje‘s What Do You See #127 photo prompt

Listen here!

Spirit of the Shell Man cover and a pic of a women listening to an audiobook with a cat on her lap and a smile on her face.

I’m super-excited to say that the audiobook version of my latest novel, Spirit of the Shell Man, is out. Currently available on Amazon, Audible and Kobo, you’re likely to find it in most online audiobook retailers within the next week or two.

Just like its prequel, Song of the Sea Goddess, the story is beautifully narrated by talented voice artist, Terry Lloyd-Roberts, and recorded and produced by Devon Martindale, founder of audiobook producers and distributors, Audioshelf, in his studio in Cape Town.

I shared my first experience of publishing an audiobook last year. Once again, the recording process went really smoothly and just as before, I loved the way Terry’s interpretation of the characters really made them come alive.

Creating audiobooks is still quite new for indie authors and for authors in Africa in general. I’ve by no means made my money back (so far) on the three audiobooks I’ve released, but it has given access to my books to another set of readers, including language learners.

Perfect for language enthusiasts
“…If you’re looking to hone your language skills, buy the book along with the audio and use it to practice like me. Wonderful experience. I am very grateful to the author! Loved it.” ~ Audible Customer

If you’re interested in the full process from production through to distribution, you can listen to this interview with Devon who now has clients around the world, and because he’s based in Cape Town, overseas authors can take advantage of the relative weakness of the SA Rand.

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Happy listening!

The Jade Camel #9

Previously

Ceridwen was clutching her tarot deck so tightly that the edges of the cards dug into her flesh; the air around her reverberated with disharmony as she silently contemplated the brace of cards she’d just dealt – the Tower and the Two of Cups (reversed) – she chewed her lip, her first card reading had spoken of exuberant adventure, but now the cards showed something darker in Joey’s future.

Joey, meanwhile, was teetering on the edge of a roof, in peril of falling, just as the Tower card so dramatically depicted; Patterson was closing in. A movement behind his shoulder caught Joey’s attention: a tawny-coated cat sprung from the overhanging roof and disappeared, greeted by the clank of metal as it landed not far below. The jade camel vibrated in Joey’s pocket and without hesitation, he dodged past Patterson and leapt after the cat.

Joey crashed onto the roof of a low outrigger; only momentarily winded, he let himself down to the ground, ran across the yard and climbed over the back wall, to disappear down the nearest alleyway.

Aurora’s salmon-coloured cheeks turned a vibrant shade of crimson, as her blood boiled; she directed her dismay at Patterson: ‘FIND HIM!’

next episode


Written in response to two challenges:

Di of Pensitivity 101’s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge: OILED, SALMON, FLESH
Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge’s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt: HARMONY

See what other ‘Sixarians’ have written

Three things challenge and Six Sentence Stories logos

Photo credit: illustration from a book somewhere on my bookshelves which has mysteriously disappeared🐪

These our demons

The image shows a black coloured full face mask held in both hands of a person, not shown in the frame.

Your face a mask
pale against the pillow,
eyes watching
aren’t they?

Your head twitches
you turn towards the wall,
not speaking
are you?

I watch and wait
listen to your breathing,
still awake
aren’t you?

Then, the tirade
hateful words tumble out,
awareness
is total.

Lips turn upwards
this, your mischievous smile,
acting up
…aren’t you??

~~~~~~~~

Image credit: John Noonan @ Unsplash
The image shows a black coloured full face mask held in both hands of a person, not shown in the frame.

Written in response to Sadje‘s What Do You See #126 photo prompt