The Girl From Balga

If someone had told me, when I was in high school, I’d be successful one day, I would have laughed at them. If anyone told me, “Michelle, you’ll be a brave and headstrong woman, who’ll marry your soulmate – a Burmese immigrant, named Valentine – raise six children and write a book,” I definitely would’ve choked on my bubblegum!

I’m from Balga; “underprivileged” was a word I remember being used to describe the area I lived in. Government housing, low income families and government funded schools were all I really knew of my home in Balga. My mum was a single parent and we did it tough at times,  but, everyone I knew had a similar life to me and similar futures planned. It was the 80’s, so we didn’t have social media or smart phones, which I guess made being poor a little easier. I grew up believing in Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, but not in myself. I was awkward, shy and completely convinced I’d marry my high school sweetheart (when I met him), and be a mum; something simple. Sure, I had fleeting, silly dreams of being a lawyer or teacher, with minimal resources and even less encouragement, a mum was a more suitable career choice. I’d have at least two kids and live in a house with a white picket fence, and have a marriage where we didn’t fight or divorce like my parents. I’d be a mum. Yes, a safe and simple plan.

I can confirm The Girl From Balga succeeded in becoming a mum. I can also confirm I’ve had my house with a white picket fence and have a marriage without divorce (although there have been plenty of fights). But, The Girl From Balga didn’t stop there.

The girl from an “underprivileged” area with minimal resources and even less encouragement graduated Balga Senior High School and kept climbing; my fear of heights stopped me from looking down.

At the ripe old age of forty, I completed a diploma in Library Technician Studies and had helped my Burmese immigrant soulmate raise six gorgeous, socially aware kids. I had grasped the idea of succeeding with both hands – I was addicted to achieving goals! While I was constantly encouraging my children to use their talents and chase their dreams, I was pushing myself to lead by example. My love of the arts, literature and our beautiful world, unleashed my long dormant imagination and passion to travel; I wanted to to learn about different cultures and help people to smile. I bit the bullet and booked a family holiday to Bali. Absolutely petrified of flying (I kept my bible firmly grasped on my lap during the flight) we submerged ourselves in the beautiful “underprivileged” island of Bali and it’s humble people. We met Balinese people who appeared to have so little, but were rich beyond measure, with the most generous hearts and widest smiles. On returning from this island paradise, I soon after took an even bigger leap of faith. My mum and I had spoken of travelling to Europe for years, but I couldn’t see around all the obstacles; my fear of flying being the biggest one. With some convincing from my husband and kids, I booked the trip of a lifetime. Mum and I set off to London, Paris, Belgium, Amsterdam, Florence, Venice, Switzerland, through Tuscany and the Vatican and larger-than-life Rome. All the places I’d visited in the books I’d read, and I was there! It sparked a flame of passion and eagerness I had no idea I had. My studies showed me I  could be a mum and have a career; so, I applied for and achieved a job in one of Perth’s largest hospitals. My heart had been broken more times than I could count, but my soul was on fire! With my imagination running wild, my travel experience growing and my family feeding me immeasurable encouragement, I began to write.

I wrote of love, of magic, of wonderous places and broken hearts. I wrote like a girl who had come from an “underprivileged area” and made it her strength. When I’d written two manuscripts, I stepped way out of my comfort zone and joined a local writer’s group, where I found more people just like me. I wasn’t alone in being totally and utterly captivated by literature. I wasn’t alone in being passionate about words and learning. And when I stopped doubting myself and where I’d come from, I realised I’d made it. I’d become successful.

The Girl From Balga had grown into that brave and headstrong woman. I’d married my soulmate – the Burmese immigrant, named, Valentine – raised six children and written a book. Being underprivileged didn’t hold me back, it pushed me forward. Success isn’t about being wealthy or famous, and it doesn’t have an expiry date. Success is what you want it to be. With every battle I face and overcome, I succeed. 

And my success story is to be continued…

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        I’ve been working on the sequel to to Wolfbaene for quite some time; much longer than I anticipated . I could say it’s because I’ve been too busy to sit still long enough to listen to my characters, but in all honesty it’s absence of being part of a writer’s group that has dulled down my ability to stick to a deadline.

When meeting up with a group of writers, who are just as crazy as yourself, to discuss characters and progress, one really gets a sense of achievement. There are critiques, positive from all angles, and opinions on things that might’ve caught your writing flow on a snag. 

When I began my writing journey, I joined a local writing group. I had already jotted down the first rough draft of three books, and had no idea what to do with them – other than leave them in a box. 

I was welcomed into this group with so much enthusiasm and encouragement, I felt like nothing could hold me back from my dream of publishing my work. Each fortnight I submitted a chapter for critiquing and critiqued the work of my fellow writers, pushing myself to move forward and really listen to my characters.

After a few months had passed, I was ready to publish the book I’d scribbled in a notebook. I wanted to self-publish through Amazon, to really enjoy the experience of planning my cover, working closely with my editor and be involved in the process of formatting. It was such a thrill.

If you’ve been writing and feel like you’d like to eventually publish your work, I implore you to join a local writers group. From forming friendships, learning about social media promoting and of course writing, it’ll give you a wonderful experience. 

Here’s the first chapter of my current WIP – unedited. I hope you enjoy it!
                            Chapter One 

Thomas surveyed the room from where he lay sprawled across his bed. He liked this room. His polished black boots were thrown against the stone wall. His clothes of silk and fine cotton hung untidily over an old wooden chair. His ruby-studded gold candelabra stood in the corner with dusty, spent candles. And his blue velvet drapes blocked out the annoying morning sun, just the way they should.

As he yawned and stretched lazily, the memory of his sixteenth birthday celebrations swam through his mind causing a wide grin across his handsome face. He still couldn’t believe that lords and ladies had come from distant lands to meet the new King of Chermside and his Gifted brother. He had danced with the prettiest girls in the land, drank cider with some of the most elite knights under his command and laughed with his lords – those of whom he may one day have to sit in court with. The year since he was whisked away from the world he thought he’d belonged in had passed so quickly.

With this thought lingering, Thomas glanced over at his sword leaning against the end of his bed and was reminded of the night his brother had sacrificed his life for him. He cringed a little at the thought of having that sword pushed through his shoulder and having to watch William battle with Wolfgang; feeling completely useless. He had kept the sword which had almost taken his life, so it would serve him now, but he had refused to take the king’s chambers. That room belonged to William and his new bride-to-be, Emma; he had nobody to share an enormous four-poster bed with anyway. In fact, he was glad he didn’t have anyone to share a room with; nobody to boss him around or make him do romantic things for. He had no cares at all – he was the king! Yes, he really liked this room.

Thomas swung his feet over the side of the bed and rubbed his bare chest. ‘Hmmm, not bad, not bad at all,’ he grinned. He now had the chest of a young warrior, not just a soccer player – bearing the scar from where Wolfgang had thrust his sword through his shoulder. The constant reminder had almost disappeared, with the help of Orrin’s toad dung and lily sap concoction, but it still felt tender. He frowned.

His stomach growled. He was hungry. ‘Well, I’ll have some breakfast and see where the day takes me. Hopefully nowhere near the wedding couple; they’re beginning to make me sick with all their ewey-gooeyness.’

He washed his face in the wash-bowl beside his bed, before putting on leather pants and a loose white cotton shirt. Turning to the old mirror hanging slightly crooked on the wall he used his damp hands to tidy his hair. It had been trimmed recently, but it still hung over his eyebrows and ears, falling across his forehead to one side in a not-so-royal manner; but he liked it.

Without further ado, he headed down the corridor to the grand staircase and could hear the castle staff scurrying around as they shouted, ‘The king is awake! The king is awake!’

Thomas sighed. Did they have to run around like that? He wasn’t Wolfgang. He couldn’t care less if they didn’t lay fresh lavender on his path. He didn’t want them to rush to him waving huge palm leaves so that the air kissed his face. And he really didn’t care if the long stone table was set with shining silver or goblets of red wine. He just wanted some bacon and eggs; and lots of it.

Thomas stood at the top of the stairs and stared down at his castle staff, nervously awaiting his orders. He shrugged with indifference and made his way down; stopping half way.

There was Gilbert, standing in the shadows of the main entry pillars. His golden scales glittered slightly with the reflection of sunlight. He and Gilbert didn’t exactly get off on the right foot, but they were good mates now – er, king and dragon.

‘Hey Gilbert!’ Thomas waved.

‘Your Highness,’ the dragon replied with a tilt of his huge scaly head.

Thomas grinned and followed the smell of bacon through an archway. He had no idea why Gilbert was being so formal with him; he was still the same Thomas. He didn’t even wear the king’s crown – that was locked away in a glass cabinet somewhere, secured by one of William’s spells.

When Thomas strolled into the dining room the first thing he noticed was Paddy sitting bent over some kind of map; he didn’t look up as Thomas pulled out his chair, scraping it on the stone floor. Their knight’s captain looked worn-out. The lines on his face almost matched the scribbly lines on the map. The second thing Thomas noticed was that William was sporting a new haircut; short back and sides and left a bit spikey on top – it looked, well, sophisticated, in William’s own dorky way.

‘Nice hair-do, bro.’ Thomas couldn’t help his snide remarks any more than he could help his good looks.

‘Hey, thanks Thom,’ William said, quite cheerfully, until he noticed his brother’s wicked smirk. ‘Oh, well you’d do well to get your mane tidied up too – if you want to impress anyone enough for them to actually consider accompanying you to the wedding.’

‘I don’t need to impress anyone, and stop using big words this early in the morning, you’re making my head hurt.’

William only raised his eyebrows, watching Thomas pile his plate high with bacon and eggs like an ape.

Paddy began to roll up the map as he said, ‘You’d also do well to take your position here at the castle seriously – we have much to discuss about securing our borders and re-assessing the taxes our good people have been paying. You’ve had plenty of time to adjust to our ways, Thomas.’ He was looking at Thomas with a stern glare, which made Thomas squirm in his seat; then Thomas remembered he was the king.

‘The only position I’ll be taking seriously is a quiet place where I can work on toning some muscle.’

‘Toning muscle?’ Paddy’s face turned a shade of tomato and William felt his heart skip a beat.

‘Mmmm… yeah,’ Thomas replied through his mouthful of bacon. ‘You know, tone up and look good when I take my shirt off?’

‘Look good?’ Paddy looked livid. ‘Thomas you have important tasks to tend to, you don’t have time to squander…’

‘Ah, ah, ah, Paddy, remember who you are speaking to – I’m the king and I can do what I like,’ Thomas said, waving his fork at his knight’s captain.

Paddy’s face now went a dark shade of purple. He threw William a look that would have startled a dragon, shot the same look at Thomas; who had gone back to devouring his breakfast, and then he stormed out of the room.

‘Thomas, you can’t speak to Paddy like that!’ William was flabbergasted.

‘Oh, he’s alright, he knows I was only kidding around with him,’ Thomas replied with his usual swagger. He swung back in his chair wiping his mouth on the table cloth. ‘I’ll go and see if he wants me to help him with that map thing when I’ve had time to wake up.’ He really couldn’t see what all the fuss was about, life was free and easy now that Wolfgang was gone and everyone needed to chill out.

‘Well, I’d be working pretty quickly at waking up if I were you,’ William said, pushing his chair out and leaving his brother to his own big-headed company.


You can check out my books over at Amazon too!

https://www.amazon.com/Michelle-Dennis/e/B00E6K1YKU

Books Mirrored in Real Life 

When I wrote my Infinity series, it was just a love story that had been bursting inside me. 

Initially, it was my character Sam who was the most prominent voice, as I’d recently lost my brother, and Sam’s larrikin personality lifted my spirits. Although, book one, Infinite Completion, was being told in a serious first person narrative by Abbie Bennet, her brother, Sam, provided some lighthearted relief and introduced me to a social issue I’d never really explored.

Through Sam, I met Patrick and Zane, giving a whole other avenue to Abbie and Valentine’s love story. Set in 1994, when homosexuality was at the peak of discussion; hatred, fear and ignorance being the fuel. During the late 1989’s and early 1990’s Aids was rampant and was dubbed the, “Homo Desease”, and homosexuals were being abused and discriminated against. 

When I wrote my Infinity series, I had no idea the ignorance, fear and hatred for homosexuality would raise its ugly head again. It seems parts of my Infinity series are being played out in current life “issues” and I’m more than glad I took the time to write Abbie’s story. 

My Infinity series is on Amazon Kindle for under $5 

❤ Infinite Completion ~ How Abbie met Valentine 

http://ow.ly/1FQM309BW3W

❤Absolution ~ How Valentine loved Abbie 
http://ow.ly/zUBZ309BW3X

💋 Have an absolutely gorgeous day and please share with your friends! 

Wolfbaene – Michelle Dennis YA Fantasy 

                         Chapter Seven 

The air still held a slight chill, but as the sun peered over the top of the distant mountain peaks, it seemed to offer promise of a warm sunny day. Lichen hung from the enormous trees, resembling long white beards. William’s eyes grew wider and wider, when he noticed the bluebell flowers turn into tiny fairies as they fell from the vines that twisted up the tree trunks. Forest flowers of every colour peeped out from the tall green grass, which grew on either side of the track they followed – and strangely, he felt very comfortable, the same feeling he got when he climbed into bed at night.

Fury was proving to be quite easy-natured; at odds to his name and appearance. William quickly learned how to hold the reins and after each tumble and the arrival of a new bruise, he understood the name of his horse; it was a strong name and he liked it. He gradually adjusted himself to the horse’s rhythm.

Orrin led the two boys along the winding track, which led through ravines and deep tunnels and gave them passage into the looming mountains.

Eventually the dragon came to a stop, panting quite heavily – obviously not used to walking such a long distance.

‘This is where I shall leave you,’ he said, moving his wings as he spoke. ‘I will meet up with you later.’

‘Where are you going?’ asked William.

Here’s the kindle link;

Absolution – book II – Michelle Dennis 

I remember The Morning After Losing Dillan like it was yesterday. I recall opening my eyes and staring at the ceiling; my heart still racing. Swallowing the lump in my throat and feeling the sting where the salty tears had dried against my skin. The world was suddenly and painfully silent – my world, anyway. There was no colour, no noise, no Dillan.

I waited.
Waited for him to make a noise. A cough. A burp. A snide remark about how Katie Fischer would scream if she ever saw me first thing in the morning.

I waited for him.

But he didn’t come.

All I had was a big black hole in my chest.

Eventually – after the funeral – the noise came. Dillan came. With shattering glass, screaming people, flashing lights, sirens and car horns; all at once. An avalanche of noise. Especially at night, alone in my bed. I found myself wanting these moments, just to see him. To see if I could fix it. To tell him I was sorry.

Eventually Mum’s crying grew quiet and Dad’s movements slowed. They adjusted to just having me and we all accepted that staying in Ireland was going to be too hard for any of us to deal with.

The noise had returned, but not the colour. Even after moving half way around the world. There was nothing that would change the grey. I found alcohol and drugs took me back to Dillan with a renewed vision; clear and confronting – and I liked it. I needed it.


Book link – 

Infinity Series – Gripping Romance 

The Infinity Series, in essence, is themed on love and the many layers of it – particularly self-love – and with a diverse contemporary romance composition, this series is sure to have something for everyone.

Infinite Completion – Book I of the Infinity Series, is the telling of a young woman’s first love. Abbie Bennet is a twenty-one year old bookworm, quite happy wither well-balanced life, until she ventures out of her comfort zone wither friends and comes face-to-face with Valentine. This reckless and stormy love affair leaves her completely unbalanced. 

Kindle link for Infinite Completion

ow.ly/3e1V3097hiQ


Absolution – Book II of the Infinity Series, is a gritty and confronting telling of a young man’s battle with depression, loss, love and guilt. Valentine Hewitt is on a collision course. The darkness of tragedy and guilt taints his life, but he wants this darkness; he needs this pain and guilt, so he won’t ever forget.

Now, Abbie has burst into his world with a blinding brightness that threatens to light the dark shadows of his heart and he’s not ready for absolution.

Kindle link for Absolution‬

‪ow.ly/271D3097hiR‬

My 5 Must Read Romance for this month 

Between my hectic lifestyle and writing my own wonderous tales, I read. I read fantasy, paranormal and romance – okay, mostly romance, because I’m a sucker for love. 

Here’s my top 5 Romance novels and I’ll warn you to make sure you have lots of tissues and chocolate nearby!

1. The Little Antique Shop Under The Eiffel Tower – Rebecca Raisin 

Escape to Paris and prepare to be swept off your feet…

Anouk LaRue used to be a romantic, but since she had her heart well and truly broken her love life has dissolved into nothing more than daydreams of the perfect man. Retreating to her extraordinary Little Antique Shop has always been a way to escape, because who could feel alone in a shop bursting with memories and beautiful objects…

Until Tristan Black bursts into an auction and throws her ordered world into a spin.

Following your heart is a little like getting lost in Paris – sometimes confusing and always exciting! Except learning to trust her instincts is not something Anouk is ready to do when it comes to romance, but the city of love has other ideas…

2. Love at First Flight – Tess Woods 

What if you met the love of your life and he wasn’t your husband? An AusRom Today People’s Choice Award winner that will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty, viewers of Offspring, The Good Wife and movies like Up in the Air.
Mel is living the dream. She’s a successful GP, married to a charming anaesthetist and raising a beautiful family in their plush home in Perth. But when she boards a flight to Melbourne, her picture-perfect life unravels. Seated on the plane she meets Matt, and for the first time ever she falls in love.
What begins as a flirty conversation quickly develops into a hot and obsessive affair with consequences that neither Mel nor Matt seems capable of facing. As the fallout touches friends and family, Mel’s dream romance turns into a nightmare. She learns that there are some wounds that never heal and some scars that you wouldn’t do without.
LOVE AT FIRST FLIGHT will take everything you believe about what true love is and spin it on its head.


3. Contrasting Lives – Leah Dempster

Detective Matt Pendleton is still reeling after the death of his wife. Now a single father to his four children, time evaporates between working and caring for them. Desperate to make a connection, he takes his friend’s advice and hires an escort. 
Emily Coulter is beautiful, charismatic and the daughter to an influential family. While she has a submissive side, she’s also fiercely independent and determined to make her own way in the world, after escaping from an abusive relationship with a vicious Dom. 
When she and Matt rendezvous for sex, both are blindsided by their attraction to one another. While their initial meeting is a disaster, Matt finds himself incapable of forgetting the beautiful young woman. Can two people with such contrasting lives discover a way to overcome their differences and find love? 


4. Stationmaster’s Cottage – Phillipa Nefre 

The Stationmaster’s Cottage – debut novel for Phillipa Nefre 
A place where love is eternal and time is no barrier — The Stationmaster’s Cottage

 

Christie Ryan believes her extraordinary life has everything she could ever hope for. She travels the globe as a make-up artist, working in the exotic locations of the movie business. In between assignments she lives on the glamorous waterfront of Melbourne with her fiancé, Derek. Their relationship may not be perfect, but she has finally cultivated the stability that was absent to her throughout her childhood. Life is good.

 

But time had different plans for Christie. The death of her estranged grandmother draws her into a mystery fifty years in the making and takes her to a small cottage in the seaside town of River’s End. She seeks help from enigmatic artist Martin Blake, but their aims clash as she pursues the answers that he is determined to keep hidden. As the secrets of the past begin to unravel, however, so does the safe world Christie has built around her.

 

The Stationmaster’s Cottage is a rich and beautiful romance set in two eras. Its unforgettable characters weave a story of fiercely protected secrets, courage, betrayal, redemption, and everlasting love.


5. The Shape of Us – Lisa Ireland 

Four different women. The same big problem. One magical solution?
Despite excelling at university, Mezz has ended up the second-choice doctor in a two-doctor town, and won’t be winning Mother of the Year any time soon. Miserably overweight, she knows it’s only a matter of time until her gorgeous husband starts to stray…
Jewels runs a successful business and lives in her dream house. All she needs to make life complete is a baby. She’ll do anything to lose weight and become a mother… just as soon as the Tim Tams are finished.
Ellie’s life looks perfect on Facebook. But unlike the sunny snapshots, her world in Canberra is dull: she left everything behind in London, and the woman she sacrificed her life for is hardly ever home. Her ever-increasing waistline is testimony to just how small Ellie’s life has become.
Kat’s baby is her world. As a Bosnian refugee, she wants nothing more than a stable, happy life for Ami, but Kat’s relationship with Ami’s dad is collapsing. If she could just lose the ‘baby weight’ maybe Josh would look at her the way he used to.
When Mezz, Jewels, Ellie and Kat meet in an online weight-loss forum, a common goal accelerates their friendship. As the kilos start to disappear but their problems don’t, they begin to realise that weight-loss might not be the key to happiness, but that supporting and believing in the ones you love, and yourself, just might be …


Enjoy!

Xx Mich