It’s A Man’s Man’s World… Why I love When Music Inspires Writing. #newrelease #amwriting #music

I ‘m up late tonight doing what us writers do! This song came on Jazz FM radio, here in London just now.  I felt so proud, this song was a writing prompt for Didi and I when we created one of the bonus stories, It’s A Man’s Man’s World, for The Suspenseful Collection Volume One. As soon as the dun dun duuunnnn! Kicked in on the beat, I did a wicked cackle of laughter, smiled and shook my head. When the song finished I headed straight to You Tube, to listen again to his voice.

What a song, what a legend he was… and what a story we have for you :).  Thank you for the inspiration Mr. Brown, your legacy lives on  fifty one whole years after you performed this! You inspired us in 2017.

Let’s go back to 1966 y’all! Give it up for James!

Blurb:

 

Contemporary Fiction: It’s A Man’s Man’s World:

A beautiful modern tale showing the love and appreciation of a woman. James Brown said it right when he said, “it’s a man’s man’s world, but it would mean nothing without a woman or a girl.”

Romance Writer’s Blogging Challenge Wk #28: Life Lessons In My Books #MFRW #amwriting

I’m late again, damn-it but I’ve arrived! This week romance writers were asked, to talk a bit about the lessons within their stories. Hmm, let’s see well quite a lot are in mine! I like to write about life dilemmas and real issues within romance. When it comes to crime and thriller, I try to have this spin on it too.

Here’s a lovely four star review I received this week, with feedback on this very subject. Thank you reader. Your feedback let’s me know I got it right… I wrote it right.

havana Heat

This is an interesting story because it shows the problems of trying to find love when previous relationships always rear their ugly head and seem to spoil what could be promising new beginnings. The couple in this story have to face just such problems before they can try to get together. I enjoyed the authors take on this dilemma and how she dealt with it. This is a really good beginning to a series.

So what are your messages and lessons Kim?

Well, I always touch on real life issues no matter what I’m writing. Be it a heart felt romance or a gritty bit of crime/thriller/suspense. Here’s a quick break down of what I was thinking when I wrote these stories.

A Stranger in France: This story touches on many things, jealousy, emotional abuse, life changing decisions a woman can make, and survival. All wrapped up around loooooove. The life lesson I guess in this story is that relationships are about give and take, and should never be one sided. Love can be found in the most random places, at the most unexpected time. When we find it, go with it.

 

Not Just For Christmas: Aww I loved writing this novella. It’s such a realistic story-line it could happen in real life. How far would a person go to find love? Many use online dating. This is online dating with a cute twist. The message in this story I guess is to take a leap of faith, sometimes when things don’t work out it happens for a reason. If you find something that could be worth a try, give it a go. A leopard can change its spots.

Havana Heat: This books is steamy. 🙂 But like the reader who left me that review said, Sometimes the past needs to be buried fully before we can move forward. If not you may miss that second chance love. I loved writing this novella too.

Lover’s Retreat: This is a lil’ steamy too. 🙂 Well, this one is all about personal growth. Sometimes we need to make a journey in life, that we may not know we have to make to be a better person. Once we make it we always end up in a better place. No matter how shit we feel at the time, while making the journey to self discovery. Also, we must love ourselves before we can love others.

The Suspenseful Collection: Volume One (with Didi Oviatt): Ha!! This anthology I loved writing every second of with her. It started out as nothing more than writing buddy challenges. It went well! It’s like we morhpe into each other, and create one great story it’s so scary when I read them back!! … And yes if you’re wondering we will be returning to the weekly writing challenges, and engaging with you all at the end of July.  In this anthology of tales there are a lot of strong women, quite vivid male characters too. We have some crazy ones, a bad boy, a love able mature Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome.  I guess the message in this anthology, is really about taking  readers on a journey. Placing readers in the character’s shoes whether they are sane… or not so sane in some stories.

Overall, I’d say my stories are always based on some kind of realism or life situation. I like to give my character’s issues, good and bad, make them grew and turn out better people. After all, that’s what we all want as people right? To be the best we can be.

badge-blog-challenge-updated

Wk #6 Short Story: The Ones Who Live At The Bottom Of The Ocean, Come To Surface. #fantasy #kdsuspense #amwriting #amreading

Three Day Quote Challenge 3

 

“The ones who live at the bottom of the ocean come to the surface.” 

Fantasy Week!

 

AUTHOR ONE: SCENE ONE

 

It’s approaching midnight here at Chania’s Port, Greece. I’m not usually one to stay up late on a school night, but I just moved to the area. Learning a new language has really been kicking my ass. I’ve been studying the Greek language for months. I thought I was doing great, until we actually made the move. The people talk so fast here, their words spew together in thick choppy waves. I’m completely lost. That’s not to mention the embarrassment of having a translator follow me around like an eager puppy. He’s trying to please my father no doubt, hoping for a bonus.

I need sleep, I don’t function well without it. Not like other sixteen year old girls do, anyway. My friends used to tease me about it all the time, calling me names like Zombie Zoe every time we snuck out at night. God, I miss my old friends. I’d never actually tell them, or my family for that matter, but I blame my dreams for the weird necessity I have of sleep. They consume me, rejuvenate me, and without sleeping deep and long enough to have them, my body wakes up lacking. My friends are really the only thing I miss about Canada. Well, them and the dry air. It’s only been a week since we settled in, and this damn humidity has already enlarged my pores and permanently shortened my hair with unmanageably tight frizzy curls.

My father is a businessman, he was born and raised in New York, and my mother is the daughter of a very prominent Import and Export leader of China. They met in secret during a business merger, and of course I was born just over nine months later. It goes without saying, I’ve never met any of my mother’s family. She was disowned after the news of her pregnancy by an American stranger. His African American ancestry made no difference. The affair all was a disgrace. She was sent away with the first plane ticket available, never to be seen or spoken of again. In my opinion we’re all better off, especially my mom, it sounds like my grandma was a real dick.

I power down the Greek tutorial that’s blasting into my head from a You-Tube lesson on my iPhone, and pull out my earbuds. If I put off bedtime any longer then I won’t have enough time. I need my fix, to see my little monster babies in my sleep, or else I’ll be completely useless tomorrow. I open my window to let the sound of the ocean waves chopping against the shore make their way into my room. I love that my father chose a Venetian Island to expand his business for the next several years. The water here matches the color of my eyes perfectly. I feel more at home in the darkness of night than I have my entire life. The sounds of my ocean whisper to me from outside of my window, cradling me, like a familiar lullaby. It’s pure, and I feel it deep inside my bones. The way the moon lights up the sand on my beach, and the way the night breeze here in Greece blows a calming song into my lungs. It tells me that I’m finally where I’m meant to be. My mom claims that I have an ‘old soul’ whatever that’s supposed to mean, but for some reason I’ve felt the truth of her statement on the beaches here in Greece.

I lean slightly out of the window and pull in a long draw of the thick salty air, and listen. The voice from my dreams always sings in the most delicate tone, it’s smooth and flawless. Since our move I’ve heard it whisper that name while I’m awake too. Every night before I doze off she speaks to me, calling me the name given by my dreamed sea beasts.

Ceeeettttttooo”, her voice is beautiful. It’s high in pitch and as soft as the breeze, as if sung by a Goddess flowing around me from every angle. Automatically, my mind wanders to the thought of a Dietie whispering the name underwater. The sound matches that of my dreams, and of the voice calling to me from the night air swirling atop the water, it’s perfectly distorted.

            I smile a little with contentment. It’s exhilarating to hear that intoxicating sound outside of my ulterior consciousness. I crave it like a drug, it fills my veins and leaves me to linger in a joyous question, and a sleepy pull to the monsters calling me from sleep. I love them, they’re mine. At night when I place down my head, I come alive in a distinct way. The way I care for the bottom dwelling sea beasts in my sleep is intimate in a maternal way. Every night I feed them, I sing to them, I even rub the fins on their toes and fingers the way a mother would tickle the back of her toddler’s neck to relax them. Finally, I open my eyes and reach for a hair-tie before taking a seat in front of my make-up station.

I take a long look at the reflection staring back at me from the large mirror, with a Victorian antique finished edging, that’s mounted to the wall of my new room. I have a lot of my mother’s small dainty facial features, with high cheekbones and a distinctly square jaw line. My skin is very lightly kissed with a smooth darkened tone, compliments of my handsome dad. My distinct look isn’t as exotic here as it was in Canada. In fact, if it weren’t for the language barrier I’d blend right in.

My looks make absolute sense given the polar opposites that my parents are to one another. I’m a perfect blend of the two, as is my little brother. The only part of me that doesn’t quite fit are my eyes. They’re almost fully round and blessed with extremely long, thick lashes. They radiate a deep sapphire and are outlined with a bright lime green border. Even I can get lost in them if I stare for too long. Sometimes, the color in my eyes seem to move like waves on the water. I can’t be sure, and maybe it’s only me who sees it, but I swear there’s even been a few times that I’ve noticed a half white circle appear in them. It moves around the color, like the kind of wave a surfer would spend his whole life waiting for an opportunity to ride. As I run my long skinny fingers through the mess of hair on my head, there’s a light knock at the door. It’s followed by a tiny sound that’s hardly audible.

“Zoe?”

My little brother’s timid voice can barely be heard through the thick cedar of my door.

“Yeah?”

“Are you awake?” He whines.

I smirk in adoration, I just love the little guy.

“Yeah, it’s okay Drake, come in.” I tell him.

There’s a twelve-year gap between my brother and I. He was a ‘woops’, as my father calls it. With the amount of traveling he and my mom do, I’ve picked up the role of Drake’s primary go-to. I’m the one he seeks out when there’s a scary thunderstorm, and it’s always been my lap he climbs onto when he wants a story or a snuggle. I don’t mind. He makes me feel needed. Much like the sea beasts that I care for in my sleep. They love me, they’re mine, much like Drake.

He pushes the door open slowly and stumbles in, half asleep. Drake is small for his age, he’s most likely inherited our mother’s size too, just like me. His skin is a shade darker than our dad’s, and his lips are identically as full and luscious. I welcome him onto my lap and wrap his light silk lined blankie around his shoulders, to shelter them from the breeze blowing in from my window.

“Sing me song?” He asks, batting his eyes sleepily.

“I’d love to.”

A tight ringlet on the back of Drake’s scalp practically calls to me. My hand complies by twisting and circling each finger through his hair. He snuggles in close, and then rests his head sweetly in the comforting dip, between my neck and shoulder. The same secretive song that I sing to my beasts flows out of my mouth, matching the tone of the voice from the wind. The Deitie’s tune from underwater is mimicked and it doesn’t take long for Drake to doze off in my arms.

“Hush my Scylla, son so handsome. Rest your rage and sleep.

Quiet Sirin, daughter so. Soon revenge is yours to reap.

And to you my favorite Triton, locks and binds will fall.

Kraken keep you anger still, for when I wake it’s you I’ll call.”

 

I look down at Drake’s peaceful little face. There’s so much innocence and love. I hug him tightly to my body and carry him to bed before slipping on some loose cotton shorts, and resuming my place at the window. Hopefully I can hear her voice again, one last wakeful time before I retire and let it consume my sleep.

My window faces the most beautiful light house. A rock wall snakes through the waves, leading up to its tall white rock facing. Tonight’s full moon kisses everything it touches and forces the lighthouse to leave a shadow reaching all the way to the beach. The view is stunning. Again, I close my eyes and let the feeling of home resonate deep inside while I listen. The voice blows in, but with more than the name Ceto I’ve grown so comfortable with. The words are shocking and the sound of them send a lasting jolt of painful energy through my veins.

“It’ssss tiiiiiime Ceto, to waaaaaake them.”

My eyes snap open and an ice- cold chill runs slowly through every part of me. It feels like I’m being frozen from the inside out. Pain courses in my fingers and toes, I look at my hands to see the joints popping in and out in a pulsating pattern. The burning ice in my bones rushes outward and escapes from my skin. I try to scream out in pain, but only silence escapes me. After only a few short moments of the pulsating cold liquid ache in my body I crash to the floor.

I pant for air and peel myself from the plush carpet that cradled my fall. I feel different. Like myself only stronger. I’m not afraid, it seems right, like I’m exactly where I need to be and my water home is calling me. Colors are more prominent, and I can feel the humidity in the air absorb into my rapidly drying skin. I look down to see that my legs no longer hold the healthy mocha glow that they had this morning. There is a shimmery film covering my skin, no thicker than paper, and it’s slightly tinted with a turquoise shine. I feel strong, but my lungs are pulling breath at an alarming rate. I’m thirsty, I need salt.

I glance into the mirror, I drink in the beauty of a Goddess. She looks just like me, only older, and is surrounded by an iridescent light. The waves in her big round eyes dance violently. She speaks to me in that voice, the voice of the wind, of the ocean, of the dreams, my voice.

“It’s time Ceto. Let’s go and wake our babies.”

I nod at her with an involuntary compliance. I’ve been waiting all my life for this comforting moment.

It’s time for the ones who live at the bottom of the ocean to surface”.

AUTHOR TWO: SCENE TWO

The voice rings back at me. Is it in my head, or is it me talking? I can’t make out what’s real or not. Looking in the mirror I still can’t believe this is me. I study myself some more. My short frizzy hair has relaxed itself into perfect dark ringlets, around my shoulders. My turquoise skin has small raised bumps, my eyes are alive with their natural green color intensified.

“Ceto… let’s go.”

I look around my room, Drake is still fast asleep on my bed. Before I even know what I’m doing my feet take on a mind of their own. They walk me over to the open window. I look out at the deep navy-blue sky, scattered with stars. The ocean’s waves calmly roll back and forth over the shore. Ordinarily, I’d never feel brave enough to leave the house on my own, especially not this late at night. And as for jumping from a second-floor window, never in my wildest dreams would I do that. Tonight, I feel like if I jump I’ll land and be perfectly safe. My body feels different in a good way. I take the risk and I leap out. On the ground, I land on all fours. Our house is set back a short distance from the beach. Strangely, I don’t automatically

go to stand up and walk toward the shore. My first instinct is to walk along as I am on all fours, so I do, toward to ocean that’s calling me.

***

From the dark attic with just a candle for light, I watch my daughter’s slow and steady pace across the sand toward the beach. I knew this day would come, the day I’d be forced to explain to my only daughter exactly what she is. It irritates me that the day has come so soon, only by chance as Dane decided to relocate to Greece for business. The day he announced proudly the whole family is set for an adventure in Europe, I held my breath and hoped for anywhere but Greece. Mine and Zoe’s true home, if you believe in Greek mythology. Snatching up the phone, with a sigh I dial China’s international dial code.

“Nǐ hǎo.”

“Mother, it’s me.”

An uncomfortable silence passes between my mother and I over the phone line. In the background, I hear familiar sounds. It’s the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong’s market waking up. It brings back childhood memories.

“May- Li nǐ wàngle shuō zhōngwénle ma?”

“No mother I have not forgotten how to say hi, or speak Chinese.”

I try my hardest to suppress my annoyance at mother’s question. She raises her voice to me again. Her broken English meets my ear in a rage. I pull the phone away.

“Then where manners and respect child? Why you call this early in morning? I left strict instruction no contact… until time come.”

“Mother, I-”

“May- Li, there better be good reason for call.”

“It’s time Mother.”

I listen to my mother mutter and curse in rapid Chinese. Once she comes to her senses she addresses me in English.

“Hmm, okay, tell truth to child. She be okay and stay far from water.”

“But Mother, I-”

She places the phone down before I can finish, the line is dead.

“Pìyǎn!”

I curse her out, in Chinese. Yes, mother dear, I still remember my mother tongue. What an ass hole. My mind drifts back to my first ever calling. I was at my aunt’s house in one of rural China’s farming towns, I was just twelve years old. A few years younger than Zoe or Liu -San I like to call her by her Chinese name. I remember I was playing by a stream and running in and out of the long grass, as my aunt watched from a distance while she inspected the crops. I remember her standing there in her large straw sun hat and kimono. It was one of China’s usual hot humid days. At times it was so hot, women would use umbrellas to shield themselves from the strong midday sun. The water spoke to me in a way that it had never before. It almost felt like it sang to me, enticing me to come closer. When I edged closer to the stream and gazed down, all I saw were fish, rockery and then a set of eyes staring out at me. Bright green eyes, that did not belong to any human. That night as I tried to sleep my aunt came into my room. She started telling me stories about the sea and what’s beneath it. I remember she spoke to me about myths, folklore and legends that have been around for thousands of years. She schooled me on each one, and how the manhunt for the truth lives on. She was preparing me for what was ahead. She was right to, a few nights later I looked in the mirror and never recognised myself. My poor baby probably experienced the same thing tonight.

It was Mother’s decision to send me way from Hong Kong, once I fell pregnant with Zoe. It was more out of anger and punishment, for diluting what little was left of our heritage as sea monsters. She planned for me to marry “one of our own kind” to keep our bloodline strong. I upset her and that was unforgivable. As the wife of one China’s leading men, she always got what she wanted. Sue-Li was never crossed by anyone in all of Hong Kong. According to her I was damaged goods, no respectable Chinese man of our bloodline would look at me now that I had a child. She paid me off with a million Yen and I was disowned. I decided I didn’t have much choice but to head to New York with Dane. Life has been good, we made a home in Quebec, Canada once Zoe turned one. I went back to school did a master’s degree in Linguistics and became fluent in French, Russian, Spanish and Italian. I started working as an interpreter, even though Dane’s business thrived I never needed work. Once Zoe started day care, I had an urge to exercise my brain and feel useful.

Dane has no idea about mine and Zoe’s heritage. I’ve managed to keep it away from him. I’ve learned to control myself around lakes and rivers. Something Zoe will need to learn too. I look out the window across the beach, I search the ocean for a sign my baby is okay.

***

All around me I see darkness, the deeper I swim under the sea the darker it becomes. I’m shocked at how strong a swimmer I am, and how far ahead of me I can see, it’s almost pitch black. My body quickly takes on a new form. My legs disappear completely and morphs into a beautiful fin. It whips behind me as I swim deeper toward the sea bed. I move quickly through the water. I have no idea where I’m going, but I’m pulled to the sea bed for some reason. I’m comfortable, it feels right, as if I’m driving a familiar road home. I reach the bottom, it’s pitch black, but I can see clearly through the darkness. The little sea creatures rushing toward me all speak in a strange high- pitched scream. The language feels familiar like I’ve heard it before, but where? My gosh, it’s Greek, these small tiny creatures call to me.

“Welcome home, you’re home.

I understand it, for the first time Greek feels like a comfortable language for me. I hear myself respond to the small creatures in fluent Greek.

“What am I doing here? And why do I dream about you each night?”

“You mean you don’t recognise us?”

“Recognise you? I don’t even recognise myself, where am I and how come I can speak Greek so well?”

“You’re home … Mama. But we were calling Ceto, we thought you’d bring her too.”

“Mama?”

“Yes, Mama. You don’t remember us? It’s good to see you but you better get back and ask Ceto’s daughter to explain.”

I watch the tiny turquoise creatures swim off into the distance. I try to follow them but I lose them. I slowly make my way back up to the surface, I pass sharks, fishes and mysterious looking creatures lurking at the bottom of the sea bed. They don’t bat an eyelid at me as I move quickly through the water. I better speed up, Mom may notice I’m gone.

****

I open the attic window and breathe in the salt air, she’s okay I can sense it, but she’s confused. I keep watch for her petite figure making her way up from the sand. My enhanced vision will seek her out regardless of the dark navy sky. Two minutes later I see her. I close the window, open the large chest of draws in the corner, and then dig out my precious but tattered book on myths and legends. The same book aunt Jia- Sun showed me when I was twelve, back on the farm in rural China. Holding the book close to my chest I then make my way to Zoe’s bedroom, and wait.

“Mom, what are you doing here? Please don’t be mad I sneaked out, I…”

I cut her off and address her in Chinese, using my “mom voice.” You know the one all moms reserve to calm children down, or lay down the law. I only speak to her in Chinese when there’s no time to play. Having spent all her life in Quebec, Canada, on an everyday basis we speak French mainly at home. In firm Chinese, I tell her to sit down I must share something.

“Zuò xià wǒ yǒu dōngxī kěyǐ gàosù nǐ.”

Mom, what’s wrong?”

“Liu – San, sit now!  I won’t tell you again!”

I sigh as I make use of her Chinese name too. Back in Canada she started to call herself Zoe to fit in. With her exotic looks and green eyes. It’s not often you see a child of mixed heritage with a Chinese name. Dane and I agreed for her to have an English name too. I open the large tattered book and place it between us on both of our laps. I revert to Chinese as I question her, this is serious business.

“Do you know who this is?”

I ask pointing at a picture of a woman under water with turquoise skin, four arms, a fin for her legs and black Medusa type hair whipping around her. Liu- San responds respectfully, with a small nod of her head in perfect Chinese. One thing Chinese culture boasts is a natural respect for elders. My heart swells I feel proud of her and her ability to pick up  Chinese and address me properly when she hardly speaks it. She’s been practicing somehow.

“Yes mother. This is Ceto the Greek Goddess of the sea.”

“Good. What else do you know?”

“Well she’s a myth apparently, we learned about her at school. Just some old folk tale.”

I fix my dear naive daughter with a stern stare. The Chinese language spills out of me with a loud shrill, high pitch voice. I sound just like my own mother… Ceto herself.

“No Liu -San. Ceto is not a myth, this is your Grandmother. You’ve never met her. She’s alive and well in Hong Kong.”

She lets out nervous laugh. Out of respect Liu- San tries to respond in Chinese. This time it’s not perfect but I understand.

“Mom, stop kidding around.”

“Liu- San, I know where you have been and I know what happened to you tonight. Your body changed it happened to me too when I was a few years younger than you.”

She looks into my eyes and I can see the tears threaten to spill over. I place an arm around her and point back at the picture of my mother, Ceto.

“Your descent is more than you think Liu- San, your biology also makes you part sea monster. Those tiny creatures you saw tonight are your children. My Grandchildren and Ceto’s great Grandchildren.”

“What? Mom I’m sixteen how can you say that?”

“It’s true. For thousands of years many have thought Ceto is a myth something to be dismissed. She’s a powerful woman. Both in her sea form and human form. She rules the land underwater and Hong Kong for that matter. Your father knows nothing of this, and it’s to stay that way. It’s been too many years.”

Liu- San looks down at her lap. In a muffled voice that threatens to break with tears, she tries again in Chinese. I can just about make out what she’s saying.  Now I see she can understand the language better than she can speak it. This must change.

“Mom, I’m really scared.”

I hug my baby tight.

“I know, I was the same. Tomorrow night you’re taking the evening off from your studies. I will call the nanny over. Once Drake is in bed and your father’s at work,we’re heading to the beach. I’ll explain more and I will take you to Hong Kong’s sea underworld.”

“Mom, we’re going to Hong Kong?! How? we need a plane.”

“Hmm. Yes we’re going. And no, we will get there faster than any plane. You’ll see tomorrow.”

“Mom, why did you keep this from me?”

“Because I was not sure if your time would come, your father is full human. I never knew if my genes were strong enough for tonight to happen. I had to wait it out and be sure.” “Get some sleep I know you’re tired, tomorrow all will be clearer.”

Liu-San gets to her feet and bows neatly toward me, before she hops into bed.

“But Mom, what that just happened to me?”

I stand up, smooth over my red and gold kimono, before I adjust the chopsticks in my hair in the mirror. I walk toward the bedroom door and turn slowly to Liu- San on the bed. In basic simple Chinese, so she can understand fully, I explain to my first born…

“Life sweetheart, that was life. You must learn to live a double life. When the urge calls you to the sea you can go, but you must never get caught. You’ll end up in some researcher’s laboratory, for years. Those who believe in Ceto’s myth have been searching for evidence, and you’re it. We are the ones who live at the bottom of the ocean and come to the surface, now you know who you are.”

Thank you for voting and thank you for reading our first attempt at writing the fantasy genre. We hope we’ve somewhat done all our author/writer friends of this wonderful genre proud!  Didi  and I both love to read this genre.

Who wants part #2 of this story?…. Didi and I are kinda feelin’ this story :).  We enjoyed writing our scenes. I think we can whip up a few more scenes in Hong Kong.

Don’t forget... this is the last story for Kim and Didi’s Suspenseful Collectionfor two weeks! We have a new twist, all will be revealed when we return with week #7’s writing prompt voting poll. If there are any stories you’d like to read part #2 of , please leave us a comment. We know Lisa Vanacilli has a lot of votes for part #2 for the story  “It was the first time I killed a man.” Thank you!

 

Read week one- six stories here, click me.

This interactive writing challenge is simple and insanely creative. It’s a group effort and we are so glad to have you join in the writing fun!!  I hope you’re ready to challenge Didi and I by choosing which prompts we can transform into stellar suspense!  Give us your best shot!  You vote on our weekly prompt, and we provide the entertainment. It’s that simple!  The super easy steps are as follows:

STEP ONE: Every Wednesday we’ll post a voting poll with a few prompts to choose from.
STEP TWO: With the click of a button, you cast your vote on a prompt. (voting will stay open for three days.) Once the winning prompt is announced you can join us and write a story too. Use #kdsuspense to link in.
STEP THREE: READ AND ENJOY!  Every week on the following Tuesday we will post the short story that transformed from the very winning prompt.
 
All comments on the story posts will be open. We love feedback, and I’m willing to bet you will never guess who wrote what!! Therein a challenge of your own! (Yes, one of us writes with  British English spelling, and one of us in American English spelling. We are well aware, and ready for some trickery. Trust me, we are brilliant at adapting styles.)

Kim and Didi's Suspenseful Collection

 

 

 

I’ve signed up to #NaNoWriMo. Can I write 25,000 words in July & complete book #3 of my Romance Set In Paradise series?? #amwriting #romancenovels

nwm.pngThank you fellow author Kristina Stanley for posting her sign up! You reminded me about Camp NANOWRIMO (that’s national novel writing month). I joined in last year also. This is my second time. If you’re an author/ writer will you also sign up? And try to pen a short novella or finish off your current one in July?

 Book #2 is released in July. My goal is to write book #3 of my Romance Set in Paradise Series  In July. I cooked up my idea for the story over the weekend, something just came to me for the next stand along story.  I noted it down in my notebook as always and thought I’ll come back to this story for book #3. As the Romance Series is short novella length books, my goal is about 25,000 words max to write in July. Could be less but around  25,000 that is a good length for short stories. (if you’re a novel writer) this seems short!

Good luck if you join in. Leave me a comment if you do, I’d love to connect with fellow participants again this year.

Daily Prompt: Fortune Wheel Of Life. #amwriting #excerpt #romancenovels

via Daily Prompt: Wheel

Wheel

I’ve not done a WordPress writing prompt for what feels like ages. Today’s word is wheel. For Yasmin life is like a wheel of fortune… here’s an excerpt from Lover’s Retreat released in July. More excepts can be read here.

CHAPTER ONE: FORTUNE WHEEL OF LIFE

Yasmin sits uncomfortably on the stiff chair in her late mother’s solicitor’s office, in Victoria central London.  Her hands are folded in her lap and her gaze fixes firmly on them. She can’t believe the news she has just heard, she is rich, very rich. Her mother left her entire estate to her only daughter.

Yasmin’s mother passed away in a restful sleep, she was diagnosed with lung cancer five years ago. It was a miracle to her and her family that her mother held on for so long. Mr. Daniels breaks the silence.

“Ms. O’Neil are you okay?”

Yasmin looks up from her lap.

“Oh yes, sorry I’m a little shocked. Have I understood right? Fifty thousand pounds cash and the four bedroom house?”

“Yes, correct Ms. O’Neil. Your mother had the house valued just before she passed, you can include three hundred thousand pounds for the house also.”

Mr. Daniels fixes Yasmin with a concerned look. He imagines a thirty something year old female who receives news that she is more than financially stable, would be over the moon with happiness. Yasmin’s body language is reserved and hard to read.

“Okay, thank you for the confirmation. So what happens next?”

Mr. Daniels removes his round framed glasses and leans back in his chair.

“Well it’s completely up to you Ms. O’Neil, you are the only beneficiary your mother was very clear in her will, you have access to the money. As for the house you decide how you wish to proceed.”

“Right, thank you. For now I think I’ll keep the house I’m…  was I should say living there with Mum. I’d like to hold on to it.”

“As you wish, my secretary will give you a call by Friday with an update. In the meantime, here is your copy of your mother’s will.”

Yasmin reaches over the large oak desk as she nervously reaches for her mother’s will.

“Thank you Mr. Daniels. I’ll see myself out.”

“It’s a pleasure, take care.”

Mr. Daniels offers Yasmin his hand which she shakes timidly across the large desk.

Yasmin rises from her seat and smooths over her brown curls, slightly frizzy from the afternoon drizzle and damp air.

Once outside on the pavement Yasmin is greeted with the hustle and bustle of London. City workers and tourists spring from all directions. She feels dizzy and suddenly hot, even though it’s December and less than ten degrees today.  For comfort she unzips her tattered old winter coat, and ducks her head under her coat from the light rain starting to fall again. Glancing around she quickly crosses the main road, she keeps an eye out for taxi drivers whizzing past the station. Once she is safely across the road, she heads inside Victoria station and makes her way over to Starbucks for a Latte. As Yasmin opens the door of the busy coffee shop she’s greeted with Christmas cheer. The décor inside reflects the holiday season with tinsel and Christmas songs playing softly in the background. The warmth from the coffee machines and human bodies are welcome in contrast to the crisp bitter December winds outside. Joining the queue, she looks around and wonders what she will do for Christmas this year, now her mother has passed. Is there much point in celebrating? She wonders.

“Hello madam, what can I get you today?” A tall, eastern European male smiles at Yasmin from behind the counter.

“Just a small Latte please.”

“Coming right up, is it to have here or take out madam?”

“I’ll have it here please.”

“And your name madam?”

“Yasmin.”

“Thank you it’s on its way.”

Yasmin watches him place her name on her cup. She pays for her drink and stands by the side of the till, she watches the baristas make quick work of her coffee, and hand over a steaming cup. Yasmin spots a seat over in the corner by the window and heads over. The warmth of her Latte and the caffeine hit relaxes her, as her mind starts to race over the last five years of her life. She was married and separated by the age of thirty two, technically she is still married. After just three years of a short lived marriage her husband up and left her. He was heartless and blunt in his reasons for deserting her, for two and a half years the pair had tried to conceive a child, test after test concluded that there was no fertility issue with either of them. Yasmin just could not fall pregnant. It put a massive strain on their relationship and marriage, their communication broke down and Yasmin became the nagging wife. Her and her husband’s lovemaking became a routine operation, with an aim of reproducing rather than for enjoyment. A month later her mother was diagnosed with cancer. It was a terrible time for Yasmin, she lost herself completely as she threw herself into her new role as sole care giver for her ill mother. Her work suffered, she disconnected with her friends, her appearance took on a life of its own. Most importantly her love and passion for dance slowly disappeared, she no longer had the time or desire to attend dance classes, or polish her ballet technique with a terminally ill mother.

On the odd occasion when she did somehow carve out the time or find the desire to attend the dance studio, she experienced blackouts of sound. This is what disturbed Yasmin the most, she feared she was losing her hearing.

Over the years her fear has materialised, she now is almost deaf in one ear. For five years, she has been hiding it as best as she can.  Quite soon after her blackouts started she learned to pay attention to lip movement when she is spoken to. She made up every excuse in the book internally for not going to the doctors. She was too busy, work was demanding, her mother’s care was more important.

For five years Yasmin put her mother’s care and needs before her own, now it shows physically. She feels less confident than she was eight years ago aged twenty nine when she married David. Back then she was proud of her toned ballerina’s figure, her petite five foot five frame would stand confidently, she wore the latest fashions, figure hugging dresses, sky scraper high heels and make up. These days she’d barely run a brush through her hair or put on some mascara. Life took a toll on Yasmin in a mean way. She faced all her life changing experiences alone mainly out of choice, she did not want to feel as though she was a burden on her girlfriends.

Looking out of the coffee shop window Yasmin’s mind reverts to her mother’s funeral. The day was grey and overcast, it drizzled as she stood by her mother’s open grave as her casket was lowered into the muddy soil. She feels she has done her mother proud, by giving her a send off that she would have wanted. An intimate service at the local Catholic church her mother attended each week without fail for the twenty years she lived at the same address in south London.

The service then moved over to the local cemetery in Nunhead for her burial and final goodbyes. Close family and friends attended on the day, they did their best to comfort her as her mother’s only child. Yasmin started to grieve heavily over her loss and lack of siblings to turn to.

“What am I to do now?”

Yasmin whispers out loud to herself in the corner as she sips her coffee and mulls over life.

Friday afternoon Yasmin stares at her laptop screen, she is now fifty thousand pounds richer than she was last night. Her mind boggles over why her mother never shared with her how much she had in savings. She glances away from her screen to look around the large kitchen, her late mother was so proud of it. With modern tiled floor, white work tops and fitted appliances, one thing her mother was known for is quality. Everything Mona did was done with style and flare, that was her mother. Yasmin’s phone buzzes on the glass table next to her, she smiles as she places the phone to her good ear.

“Hi Sebrina how are you?”

“I’m well Yas, but how are you? I’ve not heard from you in a while.”

“Yeah I fine, just taking each day as it comes.”

“Hmm, that’s the best way. Some days will be harder than others but you will get through it.”

“Thanks.”

“You’ve got to look forward now. A lot has changed, what are your plans? You must have a bucket list of things you’d love to do.”

“Funny you should say that, I’ve had a bucket list of things to do for as long as I can remember. I actually dug it out the other day.”

“Wow, interesting and what’s on the list?”

“Well, travel, dance goals and motherhood stuck out at me.”

“Great, there’s two there from the list you can work on right away, with the motherhood part don’t let the past turn you crazy.”

“Oh believe me I’m not! I don’t even have a man to work on that part of the to do list with.”

Both women chuckle down the phone.

“Yas I’m so glad you can see the bright side of life.”

“It’s either that or go crazy, I know which one I’d rather. But as it so happens I think I need a break, a long one too. The last five years I’ve been tied to London and the same routine. Not that I am resentful at all for caring for Mum.”

“Absolutely, no one can ever say you have been selfish for taking a break, no matter how long.”

“I’m thinking of going travelling for a while.”

“Where too? Sounds great.”

“I have no idea, that’s what I’m trying to work out, the world is a big place! But I could do with a beach, some sun and relaxing. The December weather is doing nothing for my mood.”

“So you won’t be around for Christmas?”

“I doubt it, who do I have to spend it with?”

“You’ve got me!”

“Thanks Sebrina but you have a husband and family, you don’t need a third while hanging on.”

“No way, don’t think that. You’re one of my oldest and dearest friends.”

“Aww, thanks all the same but I think I’ll pass.”

“Okay, your call.”

“If you need anything Yas, anything at all you just call okay?”

“Thanks of course I will, but I should be okay once I know where I’m heading. I’ll keep you posted.”

“Excellent, it’s just a quick call as I’m on lunch at work, I better get going I’ll talk to you soon okay?”

“Perfect speak to you soon.”

Yasmin put the phone down with a smile, what does the future hold for me runs through her mind. She contemplates the future fifty thousand pounds richer. Glancing at her bucket list she looks at the first point on the list, travel. Yasmin’s life has been more than isolated over the last five years, the last time she set foot on a plane was on her way to St. Lucia for her honeymoon with David. She smiles again, not at the honeymoon itself, anything to do with David is still painful, however her memories of the paradise she experienced in St. Lucia remain fond memories. The sounds, smells, feel and pace of the Caribbean makes her mouth water, as she recalls the ten days she spent on the island.

It had been her idea to visit the island, to seek half of her heritage from this exotic place. Her mother was born and bred in St. Lucia she came to the UK in her early twenties as a qualified nurse. A profession her mother loved to the core. Her father was a Scottish born doctor, he owned his own general practice in Hammersmith west London. The couple met while working in the medical profession when her father moved to London. The pair had spent a wonderful twenty years together, through thick and thin regardless of the stares and racial slurs they experienced while out together. In her mother’s day back in the sixties and seventies it was rare, and even frowned upon to enter an interracial marriage. Her father suddenly passed away following a serious heart attack. She was only young at the time, but she remembers her mother’s heartache as well as her own.

Yasmin opens a Google page and then types in “places to relax and discover yourself.” In the heat of the moment following her reflection on her life over the last five years, failed marriage and death of her mother she realises just how much she has lost touch with herself.  A list of potential links pop up, scanning through them she clicks on the third link “spiritual retreats in paradise rediscover one’s self.” The loaded webpage offers Yasmin a wealth of information of spiritualism, mediation and reconnecting with nature. She spends almost an hour reading through the information. She clicks on a link that directs her to a list of spiritual and self discovery retreats. The list is endless with locations in Thailand, Seychelles, China, and Sri Lanka all grabbing her attention. Her eyes settle on Sri Lanka, her mouth falls open as she gasps at the beauty of the island. The water is light aqua green with soft gold yellow sand, healthy green palm trees are scattered around the beach.

As she clicks again a second picture pops up showing a stream with a large grey elephant basking in the water, a local Sir Lankan sits on the back of the elephant smiling at the camera. A warm feeling comes over Yasmin as she smiles at the picture.

Pushing her chair back she heads over to the kettle and fills it with water, as she waits for it to boil she looks out the window. London’s weather has nothing new to offer this afternoon. The December weather is grey and dull, looking out at her mother’s pride and joy garden there are no flowers in bloom and the grass in wet. Flashbacks of her mother pulling up weeds, neatening hedges and organising plant pots spring to Yasmin’s mind. It pained her mother whenever she was too ill to tend to her pride and joy. All she could do was sit out and observe the garden. Yasmin would watch as her mother made note of what needed to be done, as soon as she could get on her feet. Yasmin turns her back with a sigh and starts to brew her tea, then heads back over to her laptop on the kitchen table.

She clicks on the “about this retreat” page and starts to indulge in the island of Sri Lanka. Before long she has learned about the country’s diverse inhabitants, religions and rich Buddhist heritage. She’s drawn into the country’s potential as a place to visit. As she reads on a link advertising self discovery retreats catches her eye.

Reconnect with yourself and nature at the At Peace with One’s Self retreat, in south Asia Sri Lanka. Guests will spend five days in Sri Lanka’s small coastal market town Dickwella South, within a small group of twenty guests all on a spiritual journey to self discovery, rest, reflection and reconnecting with their inner person. Dickwella South is home to the largest Buddhist statue at one hundred and sixty feet tall. Guests will have a chance to visit so please bring your cameras! During the retreat, you’ll be introduced to the Buddhist practice mindfulness, mediation, and practice self awareness activities with your peers. There will be time for fun and social activities, the retreat is located on Dickwella South’s long sandy beach. Retreat dates for the rest of 2016 are as follows:

 

1st – 5th December 2016- full

7th-12 December 2016- full

14th -19th December 2016- full

21st- 26th December 2016- limited spaces

28th -2nd January 2017- spaces available

 

Cost: £500.00 per person which includes a private room, all meals and drinks included, free materials, books, DVDs and a tour of the market town. Please note this is an over eighteen’s only retreat for single people. If you are a family or under eighteen please click here for other retreats.

Contact the below email or number for more details on the At Peace with One’s Self retreat. atpeaceretreat@gmail.com 0207 645 9548 – John (retreat leader).

Yasmin can’t believe her eyes a small price for such an amazing experience. She flicks back to her online banking page, to look again at the number of zeros on her balance. Smiling to herself she grabs her purse from her bedroom, and quickly rushes back to her laptop. She clicks on the 21st- 26th December 2016 date and books herself a place. She does not fancy a lonely Christmas, and over the last few days as she reflected on life, her new found fortune and sudden freedom she decides it is time to rediscover herself and have some fun.

Her boss has been very accommodating during the last five years, due to her care responsibilities Yasmin often requested time off for doctor’s appointments. Toward the end of her mother’s illness she’d often called in with little notice and informed him she will not make it into work, as her mother was too unwell to be left alone.

Yasmin’s job as a junior accounts manager for a women’s retail store is enjoyable most days, but if she had her way she’d be a dance teacher or a dancer touring all over the world showcasing her skill.

Glancing back down at her bucket list beside her, she has a sudden urge to take advantage of her new freedom, and desire to travel more widely comes over her. Travel is the number one item on her bucket list she wrote many years ago, as a fresh faced newlywed. After five years’ service with her employer she has the benefit of long term leave via a sabbatical or career break. Chewing the inside of her lip Yasmin picks up her cup of tea and ponders the possibility in more detail. It is a work related benefit, I won’t be asking too much of them runs through her mind. Glancing at the calendar she has just seven days until she leaves for Sri Lanka, her agreement with her boss on her return to work date following a period of compassionate leave to organise her mother’s funeral and pull herself together is open ended. She simply requested that she get in contact with an expected return date, once she has some time to adjust.

Yasmin firmly places down her cup of tea, glances outside the kitchen window to her right at the rain starting to fall. With a small smile she opens her email account and starts to draft an email to her boss. In her email she confirms she would like to cash in her work related benefit of sabbatical, and use half of it from the 21st December 2016 – 21st June 2017. Then return to London refreshed and ready to take on the world again. She apologises for the short notice, but given the circumstances surrounding her mother’s death and five years as her sole carer she hopes that he would understand.

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Released July 2017

We Have A Winner & Final Week For Kim and Didi’s Suspenseful Collection…. #kdsuspense #amwriting

“The ones who live in  the bottom of the ocean,come to the surface.”

 

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Thank you for voting, it’s fantasy week people. Yours truly is a bit on edge but excited about this week. This is one genre I know I love to read, but find it hard to write! So thanks for the challenge. I mean that from the bottom of my heart, it’s all about growth as a writer.

In other news, Didi and I will take a very short pause. This is the last story!

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 Don’t worry we will be back. This is the quiet before the storm…Kim and Didi’s Suspenseful Collection has a new twist. Ummm hmmm! We’ll see you Tuesday for week six’s short story. We’ll be back in about two week’s time with week seven’s story and a new twist. Join in with us for week six, write a story using the prompt you all voted for and #kdsuspense,  when you share it on social media, so we can find you. Or post your link to the story post on Tuesday.

See you soon thank you for voting!

Kim and Didi's Suspenseful Collection

 

HOW #kdsuspense WORKS:

This interactive writing challenge is simple and insanely creative. It’s a group effort and we are so glad to have you join in the writing fun!!  I hope you’re ready to challenge Didi and I by choosing which prompts we can transform into stellar suspense!  Give us your best shot!  You vote on our weekly prompt, and we provide the entertainment. It’s that simple!  The super easy steps are as follows:

STEP ONE: Every Wednesday we’ll post a voting poll with a few prompts to choose from.
STEP TWO: With the click of a button, you cast your vote on a prompt. (voting will stay open for three days.) Once the winning prompt is announced you can join us and write a story too. Use #kdsuspense to link in.
STEP THREE: READ AND ENJOY!  Every week on the following Tuesday we will post the short story that transformed from the very winning prompt.
 
All comments on the story posts will be open. We love feedback, and I’m willing to bet you will never guess who wrote what!! Therein a challenge of your own! (Yes, one of us writes with  British English spelling, and one of us in American English spelling. We are well aware, and ready for some trickery. Trust me, we are brilliant at adapting styles.)

Read our previous stories here and see who is author one and two for week one-three.

 

 

 

Romance Writer’s Blogging Challenge wk# 25: What’s On Kim’s Must Read List & Kindle #MFRW #amreading

I ask myself week after week if I will ever be on time with this challenge? I think the answer is NO. But better late than never. So this week, romance writers are asked what we like to read. What a GREAT topic.

Before I became a writer, if I can call myself that now, with four books under my belt and number five and six dropping in July! I ran a book club here in London for about almost five years. It was a book club for women only. The feel of the club was that it’s our space, our time and place to forget the kids, husbands, work, bills to be paid, and the endless to do list we have as busy working mums, career girls, or stay at home mums. When I set up the club online I wanted to attract women from all walks of life, ages and backgrounds. And that I did! I surprised myself it grew to well over one hundred members. All I wanted was a get away once a month, and to speak to people who loved to read as much as me. I never imagined it would last almost five years and beyond if I  stayed. Not all one hundred members attended each month, but turn out was good and it’s how I met my good friend and now editor. About twenty or so of us each month met up, after we read a choice of two books per month. We met in one of London’s famous book stores in central London, on a Saturday afternoon. Drank wine, talked about books, had lunch and gossiped the afternoon away. It was A LOT of fun. I met some really lovely friends. I only gave up running the club as I scored my first publishing deal, and found it hard to read, meet deadlines with writing, juggle a family as I became a mum and work. I miss it with all my heart. I remember when I was heavily pregnant I’d still fit my fat ass on the bus, and waddle up to the book store in crowded and busy central London protecting my bump, every month. Or I’d talk to the girls and participate via loud speaker on the phone, if I could not make it. Sometimes I feel like starting it all over again.

When it comes to reading, I read a lot and like to read believe it or not genres I don’t write and can’t write. Even if I tried I could not craft a paranormal or sci-fi book. I just don’t have the creativity in that respect. But I love to read it! I also love to read historical fiction. I can turn my hand to a bit of this as a writer. I also love of course romance, suspense, thriller and a good dose of crime fiction. Also urban romance or African – American fiction.

I like books that push boundaries, and I also really love first person story telling, especially in thriller and suspense. Some call this “amateur writing” whatever! It’s not easy to be consistent with it. I like to get up close, and be right next to characters even bad guys. I wrote a blog post on one of my favourite books that inspired me as a writer with this style. It’s Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, Gillian writes first person so so well. I wrote this well over a year ago I think, you can see it here.

Here is a list of my favourite books

  1. Gone Girl- Gillian Flynn
  2. A Thousand Splendid Suns- Khalid Hossani – I read this while in hospital during the birth of my son. I finished it during my labour and stay in the maternity ward. Such a wonderful book.
  3. Americanahh- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – now this lady writes it how she likes it! And she really is herself one of the things I love about her.
  4. Purple Hibiscus- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie .
  5. Half a Yellow Sun-Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
  6. Deadly Embrace- Jackie Collins- my inspiration to write my first romantic suspense! Wonderful writer.
  7. Faceless- Martina Cole- great British crime writer, I buy her books whenever she releases them.
  8. Me Before You- Jo Jo Moyes- I’ve read a lot of her books always enjoy them.
  9. Necessary Lies- Diane Chamberlain- Wonderful writer I’ve read a lot of hers.
  10. The Coldest Winter- Sista Souljah- A classic African American story.
  11. Midnight- Sista Souljah- A great love story between an African American immigrant boy and a Japanese girl.
  12. Memoirs of a Geisha- Arthur Golden what a classic.
  13. Women of the Silk-Gail Tsukiyama – my gosh I have never been so blown away by historical fiction.
  14. Language of Threads- Gail Tsukiyama- the follow up to the book above I loved it.
  15. The Seamstress- Maria Duanas – Fantastic historical fiction. This book highlights the strength of  female character set in the backdrop of war. The story spans across north Africa and Spain. Totally engrossing story but a good 500 pages long.
  16. Fifty Shades of Grey all of them- Yeah I went there. No matter what people say about this author’s “simple writing style” Christen Grey totally does it for me!
  17. Crimson Rooms- Katharine McMahon I read this book YEARS ago, and remember it like I remember my own name. Historical fiction featuring a strong woman trying to solve a “problem” of the era.
  18. Jane Eyre- I love Jane!
  19. To Kill a Mocking Bird- Harper Lee…. Need I say more! It’s a classic. One I will make sure my son (who is only three) reads and understands.
  20.  The Colour Purple- Alice Walker- A classic.

I have many more but these are the first twenty that came into my head, while I wrote this writing prompt. I think I will re-read numbers ten – twelve and the follow up stories. Maybe even number five and twenty again.

Can you list twenty or less of your favourite books at the snap of a finger? Share them with me and leave a comment.I’d like to find new books to read.

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