I jump into worlds that I know little or nothing about and write about them like I've lived in them all my life.

Monday, September 15, 2014

THE BIG C BLOG HOP FOR MELISSA BRADLEY - My cancer story, After the Storm.

Hi everyone!

Today is a sobering post. I responded to the call on Michael de Gesu's blog to write a cancer story to be included in an anthology. All sales will benefit blogger Melissa Bradley's fight, as with losing her job and undergoing chemotherapy, the cost of staying alive is sky high. She  needs our help. There is also a medical fund to help raise money for the expensive treatment. Go here if you feel you could spare a few dollars for Melissa.

Melissa is fighting cancer with a very upbeat spirit, a heavy dose of sass. I admire that as I follow her journey on facebook. Now, Michael and Melissa would prefer funny stories, and I tried, but funny and cancer is like an oxymoron to me. We have the choice to be inspirational and uplifting too, so I think my story fits somewhere around there.

The story came to me as I lay in bed thinking about Melissa, then thinking about all the lights in the house for our various electronics. That got me started...and I always like to write about the beach. With a bit more time I may have polished this to say exactly what I wanted it to say about the beach/thunderstorms/journey, and I know it doesn't quite. However, I hope it's entertaining and fits the bill for the cancer anthology.

Perhaps you could suggest ways I could improve it for the anthology. I'd love that.


That night, a thunderstorm struck. 

Sitting up in bed, Ellie clutched her hands over her heart, pushing it back into her chest. Each clap felt like the judgment of an angry God. But she was the one who was angry. At God. And scared. Her own ragged breaths, in and out, in and out. She leant forward and smothered her face in the pillow beside her.

Thunderstorms were her biggest nightmare. Or her second biggest. Her biggest was losing Steve. But…how could all that power in the heavens not strike her little home, sending what was left of her shattering to the four winds?

The wind moaned, rattling her windows, driving sheets of rain against the glass. A bolt of yellow struck the old wreck near the beach, sending sparks to the heavens. Would she be next?

Night turned to day with another humongous flash. Outside, the waves crashed again and again, eating hungrily at the rocky headland. Tomorrow the beach would be different. The dunes would be pushed back. The torn grasses and broken branches would be floating adrift on the tide. 

Everything looked different in the morning.

What a night!

There was a time when Steve held her. With his strong arms around her, she always felt safe. But now the terror was hers to deal with alone. Steve was gone. Two years ago today. She should have died with him. Anything but being left alone here by the beach, in a house that could topple into the water with the next gigantic wave, just like she wanted to topple out of her life…

Between lightning flashes, her room was as black as the inside of a cave, especially when she squeezed her eyes shut. The fear on her tongue was a metallic fluid, killing her drop by drop.
Was this all that remained of her life? Cringing in her bed, paralyzed by fear, alone?

She opened her eyes. No. It wasn’t pitch black. There were flickering lights throughout her room—the white light from her modem in the corner, her mobile phone flashing messages in blue pinpoints of light, her laptop showing green, fully charged—comforting her, showing her that life goes on. She wasn’t completely disconnected.

Staring at the flashing lights, it brought Steve’s hospital room into full focus,  and the terror threatened to overwhelm her again as it did that night. The machines beeped, the lights flashed, the green figures showed what was happening, until, finally, there was just a long green flat line…

They dragged her away in the end. They didn’t understand that she couldn’t leave Steve there, all alone. Doctors, nurses, social workers—all tried to reason with her, but who could reason with someone who had lost her reason for living? She couldn’t take it; she’d died with Steve, just like she’d lived with him. Twenty years together. That’s a lot of years to get over.

Another thunderclap sent her darting under the covers. She held the sheet over her head and prayed. Please God, take away my fears…of thunderstorms, of being alone, of unbelief. Forgive me for thinking You didn’t make me strong enough to go on. I will go on. Starting now.

Maybe her beach house would fall onto its knees into the water, but that was out of her control, like Steve’s cancer. Maybe she’d have to move away, start a new life…whatever. She would if she had to. Steve would have wanted that. He’d whispered to her before he left her: ‘Wipe away those tears. Don’t let cancer claim us both.’

Her phone beeped. She checked the messages. Several, all from the same person, Tom, the coastguard who lived in the next cottage:


She messaged back:


 Please click on the links here, on on the badge in my sidebar for other cancer stories. Monday 15th is well underway in Australia, so you may have to wait until tomorrow for most of the posts.

Thank you for reading my story.  Please consider posting a story if you can manage it. I'm sure the anthology will take some time to be collated.

And any suggestions for improvement, I'm open.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Poet Adura Ojo writes about breaking eggs. 'Life is a Woman Breaking Eggs' is here!

Hi everyone!

I have someone very interesting for you to meet today if you haven't already had the pleasure. I've known Adura Ojo since she first starting submitting her wonderful poetry to the prompts at RomanticFridayWriters, the precursor to Write...Edit...Publish (WEP). You will notice the amazing cover--that is the work of Kiru Taye, irrepressible author and artist, who also wrote for RFW.

I read recently that one way to improve our prose is to read poetry. I do. But I don't always understand it. However, Adura's poetry is accessible, even to me, after I read it through a few times. It can't be hurried.

I hope you will read Adura's post, read her poem, and consider buying her wonderful book of poetry which comes highly recommended by me.

Poetry and Me - Adura Ojo

Hi there. I am the author of 'Life is a Woman Breaking Eggs'. It gives me great pleasure to be featured on Denise's blog once again. We've been friends practically since the first day I identified myself as a writer and clicked away happily on my laptop.

My Life

I was born in London. My parents were studying in the UK at the time. When they were done, we moved back to Nigeria where I was raised with four siblings. My childhood was happy. I did my first degree, English Studies, in Nigeria and returned to the UK at age 21. Life can be tough as an 'immigrant.' Although I was born in the UK, my Nigerian identity and accent make me an 'immigrant' in the eyes of British society. I describe some of these experiences in the book.


Poetry and music are my muses when it comes to embracing life with all its joys and madness. I love Maya Angelou...a poet who lived in every sense of the word and taught the world so much. I'm also a fan of Warsan Shire, EE Cummings and Sylvia Plath. I write poetry as therapy. It is therapy like no other. I find that I can manage some of life's demons through poetic expression. A lot of 'Life is a Woman Breaking Eggs' is autobiographical; it is also reflective of the experiences of people I have been fortunate to meet on my journey and how their experiences have impacted on me.

How I Write

I'm an instinctive writer. I don't have a time slot, routine or ritual. I write mostly at night when it's quiet and there are no distractions. I'm a night owl so it's more productive to write at night.


Poetry to me is an offering that's accessible to its readers. It's a great way to tell a story and to access emotions. I want non-poetry readers to read my work and feel that poetry isn't bad after all. That would be great!

'Window' is a poem from the book that I'd like to share with you. When I read 'Window' again this afternoon; I saw a completely different story to the one on my mind when I wrote it a few years ago. The power of interpretation is one of the things I love about poetry. I wonder what your interpretation would be?


Looking over the window
pains the soul
desire dripping rain
going nowhere
eyes of unseen sun
eclipse of moons gone

I’m waiting for a windfall
spare me the tsunami tears
don’t you know
our eyes are closed to the world?

save your drowning swim
for cheap vodka
bought with our future

be happy, my love
our numbers came up
in silent breath
clear as glass

embrace the cardboard mirror
blowing kisses of hopelessness
at your Oscar worthy tsunami

no threading back
hope’s canvas
our shreds like hot coals
walk in light’s night

©Adura Ojo, Life is a Woman Breaking Eggs (2014)

Available in Kindle and Paperback.

Thanks for reading.

Like my author page
Follow me on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on 'Life is a Woman.'

Thank you, Denise, for your gift of friendship and for hosting me on your blog.

Adura, it's been wonderful reading this post. I wish you good health and happiness!

  • Do you read poetry? 
  • Who are your favourite poets? 
  • Has any specific poet influenced your life?
  • Do you like the sound of Adura's poetry?

Sign ups are open for the WEP September challenge. You are welcome to submit flash fiction, non-fiction, poetry, artwork, photos. Please join us.

Here is a sunflower for blogger Tina Downey who passed away recently. RIP Tina


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Insecure Writers Support Group Post - Encouragement

Hi fellow IWSG posters!

Hope everyone's going to have a great week. It's Spring in Australia so we have months of glorious sunny skies to look forward to before Summer hits us with its jet engine blast.

Thanks to those who visited my post at Richard Hughes' blog and told me how much they enjoyed reading about My Place, Queensland. Some of your comments were lost, as Richard changed over from Google+ comments after I posted and so many of my followers complained they couldn't comment.
Click here to access more posts...

I'm feeling encouraged today as I read something that encouraged me--and isn't that what IWSG is about? Sharing both our insecurities and encouragements.

NOW... have you ever been writing away, then before you even get halfway through your novel, one of your subplots or subcharacters becomes a lot more interesting than your main plot/characters? They want to take over the whole book. You actually get bored when you try to return things to the way you planned them when you outlined your book.

If so, you're in good company. *When Melville wrote a large chunk of Moby Dick, he thought that the pivotal figure was a man named, er, Bulkington. If you read the first couple of chapters you'll  notice all the build up about dear ole Bulkington, who then gets abruptly washed overboard the first day the Pequod leaves harbour. Naturally he's never heard of again.

What just happened? Melville had discovered a character named, er, Ahab. Melville wasn't a tidy writer like we are, so the original beginning is still there. Oh, poor Bulkington, RIP.

Did you know JRR Tolkein had a similar experience? A third of the way through The Fellowship of the Ring, some ruffian named Strider strode in, confronted the hobbits in an inn, and Tolkein was in despair. He didn't know who Strider was, where the book was going, or what to write next. Strider turns out to be no lesser person than, er, Aragorn, the unrecognised, uncrowned king of all the forces of good, whose restoration to rule is, along with the destruction of the evil ring, the engine that moves the plot of the whole massive trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. Go figure.

Melville and Tolkein were mere mortals just like you and me, well sort of...

Fiction is like life--it nearly always changes under our hands, takes on an atmosphere, a feel, a will of its own. Our subconscious sends us smoke signals. Ideas come out of nowhere and flash onto the page. Sometimes, like in the case of Ahab and Strider, that's for the good.

But our subconscious sends up not only smoke signals, but smoke screens that can obscure, distort, and sometimes threaten to destroy our vision of what we are trying to create, so watch it.

Outlining a story in great detail has never appealed to me. I've tried, but my stories refuse to fit into my outline and I think that's the point. Writing is a process of discovery (that's the new term for pantser--a discovery writer), as it's one of invention. The more serious we are about our writing, the more complex the story, the more likely it is to start creating itself in unexpected ways.

But don't discount these unexpected changes--examine them, and use them to create.

  • How about you? Have you had similar experiences to Melville and Tolkein?
  • The Write...Edit...Publish prompt for the month is CHANGING FACES. Post your flash fiction, non fiction, poetry, photo essay, artwork...that encapsulates the prompt. All welcome. Post on your blog from September 22-24.

High School students enthusiastically buying books and getting them signed
on the second day of the Brisbane Writers Festival
held at the Brisbane State Library where I work. Can't wait to attend my
three sessions on the weekend.

*I've generous used information I gleaned from the book, PLOT, by Ansen Dibell.

Monday, September 1, 2014

I Come From a Land Down Under -- Writing and Living in Paradise -- my story and photos.

Hi everyone!

Richard Hughes is running this great series on his blog -- he's asked bloggers to answer some questions about where they live (and write if they are writers). I was honoured when he approached me.

If you want to read about my home/s, please visit Richard's blog. Lots of bright photos!

September 1st is the first day of Spring in Australia. It's a super glorious day here.

So Richard and myself would be very pleased if you popped over there to say hello.

And don't forget if you can in any way support Melissa Bradley financially, please use this link to access the Melissa Bradley Medical Fund. Not only is Melissa undergoing treatment for aggressive cancer, she is unemployed. She needs our help! There is also an e-book anthology to raise money. Click on the badge in my sidebar for this one.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

BOOKS I've been reading - is your book on my list?

Hello everyone!

Thanks to you all for reading my Macbeth-ed up flash fiction for the WEP challenge. I had a lot of fun writing it and apparently those who read it thought the mean girls were a hoot.

I've been reading up a storm as usual. So many good books, both e-book and print. I can't talk about all the ones I loved in one blog post, so I'll talk about just a few today. I'm not even going to mention the James Patterson's, the Jeffrey Deaver's, and the very excellent Richard North Patterson's THE RACE, which is recommended reading for anyone interested in behind-the-scenes US elections. Woah! Boy, does it mess with your mind.  Sorry...I did mention them...

Talk about un-put-downable! The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards. I devoured it in a few gulps! Imagine you hide a life-shattering secret your whole life. By witholding it you sour your marriage, your relationship with everyone around you--your life is lived by hiding behind the lens of your camera.

But secrets will out in an altogether heart-wrenching way.

Mesmerizing, beautifully written, a tale of regret and redemption.

This lady can write! I've known Cathy since my days writing for #FridayFlash. Some of her stories never leave you, so haunting are they. So when I bought her debut novel, I wasn't disappointed. She's a crack up and her book is mighty funny...but also surprisingly poignant.

In the interest of time I'll paraphrase the Amazon blurb: You think you've got the world by the woo-hoo, don't you? Happily married? Oh yeah. Good kids? Uh huh. That's what Weezie Polk thought until one day the man who would never cheat on her (never, never, oh no, not him) was caught massaging bare boobies ... and they weren't hers!  I've just bought 'Friday Girls', her book of short stories.

I'm planning to go to Cuba next year if the world hasn't already gone to hell in a hand basket -- Los Angeles, Mexico City, Cuba, then a bit more of the Caribbean, before checking out Florida or New Orleans before heading back to Oz. Cuba is the main focus, so to get the research started (well, I did read an excellent book, last year-- The Island that Dared, by Derula Murphy), I picked up blogger Jo Carroll's book. She visited Cuba early this year and already has her book out. In Jo's book I found very un-Lonely Planet up to date info. peppered with personal stories from Cubaneros she met. I'd recommend this to anyone heading to Cuba.

I emailed Jo and asked her a question to accompany my shout out--

Denise: Jo, what is the difference between a tourist and a traveller?

Jo:  ...a tourist is generally on holiday. The focus is on the destination - he/she may be deeply interested in where they are, eat local food, listen to guides etc - but this journey is a pause in their normal way of being.

A traveller is more likely see the journey as part of who they are. They could no more stop travelling than chew an arm off. A tourist would miss holidays. But a traveller cannot imagine not dreaming of the next trip.

Check out Jo's blog  if you like travel books and tales.

I've been reading some sci-fi/romance lately, and this is one of the best. Written in collaboration--bloggers Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. This YA book has won some prestigious awards, including:

  • The Aurealis Award - Australia's most prestigious science fiction and fantasy award for Best Young Adult Novel.
  • And it has been optioned for television by Haven star Eric Balfour and Off the Grid Entertainment. Can't wait for this.

I'm currently reading it with a Year 9 student and we both love it. 
Here's a taster from the website

It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.
Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.
Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver finda strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?
Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.
The first in a sweeping science fiction trilogy, These Broken Stars is a timeless love story about hope and survival in the face of unthinkable odds.

And it's a wonderful story. 

So that's just a few of the amazing books I've read lately. Of course my Kindle is groaning with many others. Until next time...

  • What have you been reading lately? 

Image result for images of hearts and flowersAnd congratulations to Deniz and Ryan Bevan on the birth of their daughter!