Title: Camera Obscura
Author name: Rosanne Dingli
Genre: Cultural thriller / romantic suspense
Brief author bio:
ROSANNE DINGLI has authored four novels, six story collections, two novellas, and a poetry book. Active in publishing since 1985, she has lectured in Creative Writing and English, and has held roles such as Editor-in-Chief, Columnist, and Literary Editor. This author has published with academic, commercial, traditional, and local government presses, and is a popular workshop facilitator. Her fifth novel is due for release in 2015. She lives and writes in Western Australia.
Minnie looked him straight in the eye in the same way she had when she explained she had no idea who the man on the phone was who addressed her as ‘darling’. Bart had insisted the caller knew it would be her on the other end of the line. Stay where I can find you, he had said, or something to that effect.
Minnie came up with no reasonable explanation. She could only guess, like Bart was doing. ‘I have no idea,’ she repeated. ‘The receptionist must have put the call through to the wrong room.’
‘He very clearly said Miss Cuff. No – Miss Scarf, I don’t know.’
Her bright eyes were immediately wide, then blunted. ‘Sca… Well, nobody calls me that, do they?’
‘What do they call you?
Her eyes widened. Then she turned away and giggled. ‘Minnie. Just plain Minnie.’ She laughed again, poked him playfully in the chest and started talking about something else.
Deflected once more, resigned to not knowing, Bart shrugged. Scarf, Cuff – what did it matter in the end?
Her phone pinged. Minnie looked at Bart rather than dig it out of her bag.
‘Your phone,’ he said pointedly, and remembered similar words Erin had said the night everything shifted.
She looked at a message on the screen and bit her lip. Her eyes met his, and he saw her trying to decide what to say.
‘Work,’ she said. ‘They want me back.’
‘What – now?’
Minnie smiled brightly. ‘Not instantly. Let’s go.’
He was annoyed at himself. He always ascribed too much meaning to slips of the tongue and minor errors. Perhaps he was too used to working with journalists. In Minnie’s case, it was impossible to match any of her details with anything solid, so why even try?
‘Hand me that cosmetic bag, will you?’ She called from the minuscule bathroom. Her untidiness was endearing, like nothing he was used to, like all of her. Her back was turned and he could see her regular features reflected in the lit up mirror: the dimple in her cheek, the mole close to her jaw line. The green of her dress gave her skin a dull glow. She looked Pre-Raphaelite, wild and gorgeous.
Bart searched underneath a pair of sandals, toe to heel, unusually neatly pushed into a corner of the suitcase. He felt cotton, satin, and wool with his fingers, but saw no cosmetic case. Sliding his hand beneath a folded pair of jeans, his fingers encountered a tight cylinder, solid to the feel, its rigid presence surprising him. But the cosmetic case was there, under a fold of denim, so he picked it up by its zipper tag.
‘Here you are. What’s in that cylinder?’ His tone was casual.
Minnie did not turn round.
‘There’s a tube in your bag.’
‘Oh, that. I bought a print.’ She said it a bit too quickly. ‘It’s um … meant to be a surprise. Don’t look.’ Her voice sounded disappointed in spite of the smile in her eyes. ‘Or you’ll know what I got you.’
Taken aback, Bart felt a rush of embarrassment. He did not think to buy her anything: not even a small souvenir of the island. He had seen small clay jars, fat goddesses, and colourful glassware that were quite attractive, not to mention local jewellery, in filigreed precious metals and tiny gems. Turning away and looking out on the Mellieha fields, he promised himself to duck into a jeweller’s and get her something to remember the trip by.
The car ahead of Bart took a sharp left. He followed it, when Minnie read a sign for the university, hoping to turn back when he reached a right fork. There was no right fork, merely a vacant block of land full of stony debris and litter. A sign among the litter forbade dumping of rubbish. It tilted sideways and swayed in a slight breeze in front of a bank of high reeds and a rubble wall to one side, which looked favourable.
‘Hold on!’ Bart took the car into the vacant lot and steered precariously over bumps and debris until they were completely hidden behind reeds and rubble. He killed the engine and exhaled loudly. ‘We’re going to have to wait here … indefinitely.’
Minnie nodded. She seemed out of breath: like they had escaped on foot rather than in the rental car, whose condition on return to the agency was going to pose some tricky questions. ‘The car will be scratched,’ she said, with a lopsided smile.
‘That’s what I’m thinking.’
They listened for noise, car noise beyond the reeds, but heard nothing. Tooting and the noise of tyres on bitumen came from the distant surfaced road leading to the university, which they had never seen. ‘Another traffic jam.’
‘What I can’t understand is why the guy tailing us doesn’t just come up to us at the hotel. Listen, Minnie – when you said …’ Bart turned towards her, twisting in the confines of the small vehicle. ‘You said they’d find you. You said they’d come to you. Those stamps – you dropped them off to someone, haven’t you? Someone here, on the island. Are these … is that station wagon …?’ Bart was irritated at his inability to form a complete sentence. He slapped his thigh in frustration.
Minnie put her hand over his, forcing him with her silence to be quiet. ‘No.’
‘No?’ He stopped to think. ‘Who did you mean when you said they’d find you?’ He looked around the vacant block, which was suddenly becoming darker. In the gathering dusk, the reeds would soon surround them with blackness. ‘Who are the guys following us? Come on – you must know.’
‘I’m not entirely sure, but they’re concerned with the stamps, too.’
‘Too?’ It was too much for Bart. ‘Where are the stamps now?’ It did not feel as though she had the opportunity to drop them. ‘Look – I’m in this too deep. I need to know what is going on, for the safety of both of us.’
‘The main thing is that my um ... my firm needs to have me back in um ... back. Quite soon. We have some clients who are rather anxious about ah – other consignments.’
‘Other consignments! Clients getting anxious. How do you know?’ Bart felt he sounded like Minnie did earlier, doubting all facts that were presented.
‘I … We – look, Bart, I don’t know everything.’
‘You’ve been in touch, though. You have communicated with someone, here on the island, or they wouldn’t know where we are. Have you? I really need to know.’
Minnie was silent.
‘Did you make a phone call?’ He insisted, through clenched teeth, staring out through the windscreen at the darkening rubble.
‘Yes. But it was safe – on my mobile, to my office.’
He shook his head. She did not sound convincing, but if what she said was true, someone at the office had let on. Someone wanted her, or what she was carrying, badly enough to follow them half the way round Europe. ‘I don’t believe this. Let's get out of here.'
Under cover of darkness, Minnie directed Bart’s manoeuvres and he reversed out of the plot back onto the tarred surface. The drive to Mellieha was uneventful, and they heaved sighs of real relief when they were finally behind the closed door of their hotel room.
Author: Susie Caron
Do your children complain about the things they don't have? Do they believe they are not as smart, athletic, talented, or 'cool' as other kids? Twee' does! Do you ever wish your children understood how being different makes them unique and special, with their own gifts to share? Twee' does! Read "I am Twee'" together and share the discovery! Twee' is a bit older now, but is she wiser? In this second picture book-allegory from Susie's "Between You And Me" series, this young pine tree feels useless because she has nothing to share. Twee' notices the apple trees in the valley offer many gifts, which draw children and adults to visit them. However, the people don't even see Twee', and she begins to wish she were an apple tree. After many seasons, Twee' is ready to give up, when an unusual event changes her mind. Join Twee' as she journeys to discover that by being herself and different she has something special to contribute.
This book is so cute! The story beautifully tells an important lesson for kids about self worth. Twee is jealous of the attention the other trees get and feels left out. She wishes she could be like them until one day she realises that what makes her different from others also makes her special. The illustrations are also beautiful. This book definitely gets two thumbs up from both me and my kids. I highly recommend it.
Today we're taking a look at a writing contest that will be taking place next week. Inkitt’s “Darkest Place” Horror Contest, starting 2nd Feb 2015.
What is Inkitt?
Inkitt is a free platform for writers to cultivate ideas and watch their stories grow. On our site,users collaborate with fellow writers and readers to give each other feedback and improve their work. Our vision is to help writers get the exposure they deserve and the publishing deals they covet without having to jump through the fiery hoops of traditional publishing, or wade in the shark-infested waters of self-publishing.
What is the theme of the horror contest?
"You are in the darkest place in the world." (This theme can be interpreted literally or figuratively.) We want writers who will submit their blood-curdlers, spine-tinglers, skin-crawlers, and hair-raisers; writers who will make it their duty to scare and shock their readers; writers who can really take us to the darkest place in the world.
What are the guidelines?
It’s all about fiction: flashes and shorts up to 10,000 words, written from any point of view. Entries must be posted on the Inkitt contest page to be considered eligible.
The contest opens on February 2nd and closes on February 28th. The contest is completely free to enter, and authors will retain all rights to any and all work submitted in the contest.
What are the prizes?
All entrants will have the chance to show their work to a growing community of authors and readers hungry for high-quality fiction and win the following prizes:
1st Prize $25 Amazon gift card, Inkitt custom mug, Inkitt custom notebook, custom coverdesign for the Inkitt story of their choice (created by Inkitt’s designer).
2nd Prize $20 Amazon gift card, Inkitt custom mug, Inkitt custom notebook.
3rd Prize Inkitt custom mug, Inkitt custom notebook.
For more details, check out the contest URL: www.inkitt.com/darkestplace or send the Inkitt team a tweet using Twitter Handle: @Inkitt. The official Hashtag for the contest is #DarkestPlace.
Disclosure: I'm not in anyway connected with Inkitt or the contest. just sharing the news as I thought some of you might be interested ;)
You braved the trenches of Query-land. After goodness only knows how many submissions, you were shot at repeatedly by form letter rejections and nice supportive “No thank yous” until you got that literary agent then publishing house nod or that “We’d love to publish your novel” response from an editor.
Maybe you worked through multiple rewrites, edits and the whole shebang involved in self-publishing a product you could be proud of.
Congratulations! You’ve done it! You are a published author.
For many authors, the first reaction is to jump up and down screaming with joy.
Next thing to pop into their head: What did I get myself into???
Well, take heart in knowing there are lessons every writer learns after they publish that first book.
1. Keep the buzz machine rolling – Before the book you slaved over and nurtured made it to the bookshelf or became available with one click of a button, you probably started building buzz, alerting readers and bloggers to the arrival of your baby – erm – book. Maybe you did a cover reveal and ARC giveaways. That buzz was great, but it shouldn’t slow down. Keep the buzz moving, keep the momentum going and add fuel to a little thing called “word of mouth.” Okay, it really isn’t a little thing. It’s very powerful and can be key in helping build sales of your novel. For a few statistics on the power of word of mouth, go here.
2. There is power in multi-tasking by priority – I am a single mother, employed full time, love to read and have self-published two full length novels, novellas, and participated in a few anthologies, including Untethered Realms’ Twisted Earths, since September of 2012. My schedule was hectic before I published Neverlove, my debut upper YA novel. Afterwards, multi-tasking took on a whole new meaning. I struggled, sorely, on this front, but I do the following to help with accomplishing my goals:
- Get up an hour early to check e-mail and review the marketing items I need to accomplish for the day.
- Utilize work breaks and lunch to get in reading (while nibbling on something yummy), taking care of errands, and sneaking in a little bit of writing.
- Spend time with my daughter first so I invest in our family relationship. It also provides me with a chance to communicate my writing schedule so she understands why I’m hunkered down at my desk for the next three hours.
- Make time for writing. The stories want to be told and it can’t happen if time isn't allotted for it. A timer helps. Sort of like how the pressure of a looming deadline can be a motivator.
3. Deals are brokered and broken, so keep writing – Book deals can happen, modest advances brokered, and an excellent novel released to the world. But if sales flop, it’s a hard part of the industry that the three book deal can just as quickly be canceled. Because… publishing is a business. It isn’t intended to be ruthless, but these things happen. It’s the same with self-publishing. Professional book covers, content editing, proofreading, book tour setups, etc., cost money. I could choose to do none of those things but I want to put out a product I can be proud of sharing with the world. That is also why it’s important to keep writing. If a book deal falls apart, the writing is always there. If sales just aren’t going well, the writing is an ever-present opportunity to work on something else. Things may not go perfect with the first book, but keep writing so it definitely won’t be the last.
It can be tough learning these lessons after publishing that first book, but armed with newfound knowledge, the first time author doesn’t have to be a one-hit-wonder.
Born and raised in Little Rock, AR, Angela Brown now calls Central Texas home. She's a lover of Wild Cherry Pepsi and chocolate/chocolate covered delicious-ness. Steampunk, fantasy and paranormal to contemporary - mostly young adult - fill her growing library of books. Mother to a rambunctious darling girl aptly nicknamed Chipmunk, life stays busy. Her favorite quote keeps her moving: "You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result." ~ Mahatma Gandhi
She is the author of the upper YA paranormal Neverlove and its new adult follow up They All Fall Down of the Shadow Jumpers series, Frailties of the Bond and Atone of the NEO Chronicles: Characters Revealed series, andBeacon, the first action-packed title in the YA urban fantasy series, Ripped Ties, published by Evernight Teen.
Today I'm joined by author Naomi Bellina.
What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?
I came across this quote the other day from Gustave Flaubert: "Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work." Don't you love it? It appeals to the kind of obsessively organized girl in me and also to the wild one.
What's the best thing about being a writer?
I love doing research. When possible, I like to experience locations and situations myself but that isn't always an option. Thanks to the miracle of the Internet, I can find out just about anything from the convenience of my home. Recent example, I have my hero shooting a Tazer and I wanted to know how it sounds and how the victim would react. OMG, would you believe there are all kinds of YouTube videos showing people getting Tazed? Incredible! That helps me so much when I'm writing, to get the description accurate, because I'm sure the heck not going to go out and get Tazed myself.
I'm all over the place, at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the new kid in town, Tsu. But really, the best place is my website. I do a blog post about once a week and I keep my front page updated with what's going on.
Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book?
If you like a great "opposites attract" story, this is the book for you. I had a fabulous time building the romance between fun-loving Amber and straight-laced Jaeger. It was a real challenge for me to make their relationship believable and I think I did a pretty good job. *pats self on back* I hate to read stories where the hero and heroine fall in love, for no apparent reason, because they have absolutely nothing in common and can't stand each other.
Who designed the cover?
My awesome publisher, Heart's Desire Press did. I was so excited when the boss lady let help pick what photo I wanted to use. Since I had an idea of what I wanted it to look like, having that opportunity was perfect. She came up with a design and I gave her input and voila! The great cover you see was born.
Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected?
How much fun it was to step back in time a little. (I won't say how far back in time!) I thought it might be hard to remember how I felt in my early twenties, but it all came back to me. And oddly enough, some of the crapola from that time is still around. I realize a lot of conflicts go on throughout our lives. We always yearn for love and some of us are still pursuing our dreams.
Who inspires you?
Don't laugh. Xena, Warrior Princess. One year I binge watched all the seasons, which gave me the balls to open my own business. Strong women who go after what they want without trampling others along the way, that's who inspires me.
What are your thoughts on self-publishing verses traditional publishing?
I say, both are good. Whatever works for each author. I'm not at a place in life to take on the extra duties of self-publishing at this point in time and since I've found publishers I like, I'm going to stick with that route for now. I've talked to other writers who are immensely happy they went down the self-pub path. Sadly, there is a lot of crap out there giving self-publishing a bad name, and our poor readers have to wade through it. It's going to be interesting to see what the upcoming years bring for the industry, that's for sure.
What are you currently reading?
The pile of books beside my bed is about to topple over and scare the cat. Actually, most fiction books I now read on my tablet. I'm still working my way through a Christmas box set and finding new authors to love.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'd like to say lounging on the couch, petting my cat and drinking wine, but sadly, that's not true. I have a day job but it's not evil and gives me flexibility with my schedule. I try to cook at least four healthy meals a week to keep us in good shape, which takes a lot of time. I'd also like to say I clean a lot, but don't want to get struck with lightning for telling lies.
Until this Spring I had no idea I would be writing a children’s picture book. My wife and I had recently moved to North Carolina and since I was mostly retired many of my days were filled with projects. One day I stopped and reflected on what was taking place… I was actually writing a story!
It has been a joy to write the book and I was fortunate that Halo Publishing International accepted my first manuscript I had ever submitted to any publisher. The title turned out to be easy because the story revolves around our two dogs. The writing of the story was over a number of weeks as thoughts came to me and, other than writer’s block, it flowed pretty well.
I believe the book came together for a number of reasons:
(1) Our grandchildren: we moved to North Carolina to be near two of our three children and our grandchildren whose ages are 4 and under. Their love of books is more than evident whether being read to or pulling a book off the shelf to thumb through it by themselves, studying the illustrations or photography and relating the story.
(2) Our dogs: my wife and I have a great love for dogs in general and, specifically, for own. They are an integral part of our lives. Their antics lead to writing about them. Plus they are both foster dogs.
(3) Fostering dogs: my wife for years would pick up a stray dog and either find its owner or a new home. With this passion we became involved with the Animal Welfare League where we lived in Virginia. Over a five-year period we fostered about 50 dogs at our home until each was adopted. The dogs came to us via many sources including AWL, County Pound, and, of course, strays picked up by my wife!
(4) Children learning: picture books are a great vehicle to convey a message even before a child can read. As with this story, it is so important to instill in children at a young age the importance of caring for pets…I believe it is the first step in caring for others.
Since this is my first book I had not given much thought to the tense it should be written in…present. I had originally written it in the past tense thus relating a story that had already occurred rather than letting the story unfold thus holding a child’s attention.
I have nothing but praise for my editor for she saw the potential in my manuscript but knew it needed work. At first, I thought she had wounded my “child” or maybe, more honestly, wounded me. I then realized her input made the story a better read. I believe the level of trust an author has in an editor is the most important element in the author/editor relationship followed closely by the author’s willingness to be open to the editor’s input. If an author is willing to take a leap of faith at the beginning of the relationship, it will only get stronger over time.
The best advice I can give is, “Don’t give up!” Don’t put your partially written book back in the drawer or in that file folder you have had for years. Make a commitment to yourself that this is important and set aside the time. Having a book in your hands is like having a piece of art in your hands…you are holding, touching something that you as an author created. It gives you a tangible, personal connection to the reader.
Think about the feeling of accomplishment you will have when you have your book in your hands for the first time or see your book on the shelf of your local book store or on Amazon. It’s powerful and rewarding!