Writing Grief – Michelle Dennis 

I’ve heard it said, quite often, it takes a tragedy or a dark period in life to truly get to know your Self. I guess this makes perfect sense that a writer would write far deeper when submerged in grief or emotional turmoil, because they’re thinkers. I’ve also heard of writers not knowing they’re writers until tragedy or illness strikes.

For me, this is true. I wrote a medieval adventure for middle-grade kids (and adults who love a good fairytale) – when I injured myself and had nothing better to do while the kids were at school. I was house-bound for months and when reading, housework and midday television wasn’t enough, I started to write down story plots and characters – jotting down things that crept into my imagination. I found it quite liberating; like writing in diary of sorts. I finished two manuscripts by the time my injury had repaired, I discovered there was more to come. I had started writing a romance novel – just for my own eyes and used it to re-discover my young Self. Between school drop-off, studying to be a Library Technician, school pick-up, mum duties and wifey stuff, I wrote a story of love, depression, cancer, bereavement and family. I wasn’t experiencing any tragic periods in my life, but I drew on some of my past and delved into the character of a twenty year old girl on the brink of finding the love and lesson of her life. Infinite Completion was born.


 

Almost two years later my world tipped upside down, with the death of my brother. And whilst I had just started the sequel to my romance novel, it brought out some very dark writing moments, for sure. My heart was shattered, and with this came grief, anger, and a lot of questions.

I wrote a lot. I wrote to complete my sequel, but I also wrote my feelings and muses during the weeks of my brothers passing – like I had to get to out of my head and onto paper – literally written on paper, in scrap books and note books, and any piece of paper I could find. Writing made sense. It helped me see in the dark. I started to take notice of the flaws in people, in our society and of course, my characters. Valentine, my brooding, handsome, singer of a local pub band opened up and boy was it messy. His story was Absolution – something neither of us were ready for.

I’d stumbled into writing kids adventures, with friendly dragons and grumpy knights – and as my newly awakened passion emerged, I found more of my Self as I worte about romance and real life stuff. Then, in my darkest hour, I uncovered a strength to pull apart my thoughts. To take each piece and develop Valentine’s character even further. I wanted to adress social issues and make the reader think. Really think. To say this was hard is an understatement. Writing Absolution drew out my pain and displayed it in someone else’s voice. It was pushing my boundaries and making me work harder. Then, as I had the finish line in sight, my husband had a severe stroke, miles away from home. My world, my children’s world and his world spun on its axis. With months of therapy; for us all, I really felt I’d never write again. I could feel it calling me, but I just didn’t have time. My every waking hour was about my husband, our kids and my Self.

Nonetheless, as time went on, I found time to sit. And think. And write. I was drawn back to Valentine and his world – where I submerged in his grief. I could have drowned myself in alcohol or drugs – at times I felt like it. But, I was a mum and wife. I wasn’t going to give in. I could, however, write without causing any harm to myself or anyone else.

I eventually finished Absolution and on October 10 2016 it went live on Amazon.com.

I am working on another couple of manuscripts, and wouldn’t wish dark times on anyone, but I know writing is my answer to grief and its many layers.

Is this something you do as an artist? I’d love to have some feedback from other writers or artists about what drives their best work.

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HELP OUR KIDS WITH BOOKS

🦋IT’S MENTAL HEALTH WEEK🦋
I conducted my first public fundraiser recently, to raise money and awareness for mental health, cancer and children’s charities. I was saddened and shocked to be told that kids as young as FOUR suffer with anxiety and almost every teenager will go through some level of depression – as parents, teachers, guardians, we can only support and provide them with tools to make life easier.

I find writing children’s fantasy/magical adventures helps my anxiety and I share my crazy imagination in the hope of making kids happy.

If your kids are into reading on their kindle, Wolfbaene is only $4!

It’s a story of bravery, friendship and achievement💕


ALL PROCEEDS FOR OCTOBER GO TO PERTH CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL FOUNDATION 




What’s Your Favourite Part?

I’m always up for a challenge, and when Fate plays her hand, I graciously accept. 

Taking on the challenge of writing my first book was probably the craziest thing I’ve done, and to delve into the world of magic and children’s literature, has been a life-changing journey. I grew up in a time of Pete’s Dragon and Peter Pan, with a wild imagination and a passion for books. I was fortunate to have a mother who encouraged me to read and learn. But, reading your favourite Golden Books classic and writing a children’s noteworthy adventure are as different as Paddington Bear and Cinderella. 

However, as a woman heading into her 40’s, I took up my pen and paper, opened my dusty imagination and met some wonderful characters. 

I met Miles Tissle, the elf who’d be unwillingly challenged to save his village, with the help of a stubborn and courageous faery, Audrey Appleby. I uncovered adventure after adventure, writing it all down. Until I finally stumbled across William and Thomas, who showed me a world of medieval fantasy, dragons, werewolves and castles; and here my heart exploded. 


Wolfbaene became my first published book.  Two boys, two dragons, a werewolf and a magic book – promising an epic adventure. It brought me out of my comfort zone and gave me new experiences as I visited primary schools and attended festivals, reading and sharing my children’s book with others. 

Now, I’ve been invited to read part of Wolfbaene at an upcoming medieval festival in November, and I need your help. 

I’m running a COMPETITION for one of my readers to win a $50 Dymocks voucher (Australian residents only). And this is perfect for the kids!

To enter 

1. Share this competition on your Facebook, & twitter (tag me @wolfbaene)

2. Send your favourite part of Wolfbaene to wolfbaene12@gmail.com

Entries close on November 10, so if you haven’t read Wolfbaene yet, here’s the kindle link;

Happy reading!

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…

        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

Don’t Mean a Thing Author: Renee Conoulty

“Here are all the bedrooms. The other girls are at work, so I’ll introduce you later. This is my room.” Rachael pointed to a door with the number two on it. “And here’s yours. We’ll be next door neighbours.” She beamed at me. I tried to grin back.
“Thanks, Rach.” I slid the key into the lock and cautiously turned it. Click. As excited as I was to see my new home, what I’d seen so far had dampened my spirits. I pushed open the door, glanced around, and sighed. Well, it could be worse.
The room seemed clean and smelt better than the kitchen at least. Whoever had cleaned the room and left the linen had also left the window open to air it out. I was glad for the fresh air but ecstatic to see the air-conditioning unit set high on the wall. Rachael pushed past me and dumped my suitcase in the middle of the floor. I followed her into my room and set my other bag beside the first.
Rachael reached for the air-conditioner remote, switching it on. “There you go. Just shut the window, and it’ll cool down in here in no time.”
Thanks, Mum. I closed the window and stood there for a moment, not sure what to do. I wanted some time to myself, just to relax after that long flight, but my room still felt like a sauna. I wasn’t sure what was more suffocating, the air or Rachael’s constant chatter. I decided I could cope with ten more minutes of Rachael.
“Can you show me the rest of this place while my room cools down?” I asked.
“Sure,” Rachael said, “Not much more to see, though.”
The bathroom was at the far end of the central hall. I’d be sharing with seven other girls. At least it wasn’t a co-ed dorm, so I didn’t run the risk of sitting on the cold porcelain bowl in the middle of the night. Enter memories of my ex-boyfriend leaving the seat up. Did the porcelain actually get cold in Darwin?

Book Information

Title: Don’t Mean a Thing

Author: Renee Conoulty

Series: Got That Swing #1

Release Date: November 2, 2016

Genres: Chick Lit, Romantic Comedy, Women’s Fiction

Publisher: Kindred Ink Press

Summary

What if you finally took the lead, but life refused to follow?

Thirty-year-old introvert, Macie Harman, has finally found a career she is passionate about, and after months of training, she’s begun her new job in the Royal Australian Air Force. Leaving behind her family, friends, and the life she knew, Macie has travelled to the other side of the country where the only person she knows is Rachael, the extroverted girl she went through basic training with. Everywhere Macie goes, Rachael is there too.

While looking for a way to widen her circle of friends in her new town, Macie discovers a local swing dancing class. The jazz music captures her heart, and Matt, the sexy swing dancer, sweeps her off her feet. Matt has claimed the tropical Northern Territory as home and has no plans to leave. He loves his teaching career with its predictable routine and has a great bunch of friends. All he wants now is the right girl to make his house a home. 

Military life is tougher than Macie expected, and not everyone can deal with the inevitable separations and last minute changes. Is this exciting but unpredictable life something Macie wants to fight for, or could she give it up and put down roots with Matt? 

Giveaway

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Book Links

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32219339-don-t-mean-a-thing

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M4RFBS6/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01M4RFBS6/

Amazon AUS: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/B01M4RFBS6/

iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1171945608

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dont-mean-a-thing-renee-conoulty/1125165298?ean=2940157140847

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/don-t-mean-a-thing

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/678344


Author Biography

Renee Conoulty is an Australian Air Force wife and mother of two. Her debut chick lit novel, Don’t Mean a Thing, is now available through Kindred Ink Press.

When she’s not devouring books, reviewing and blogging on HeySaidRenee, or writing her own stories, Renee can be found swing dancing. Or possibly napping. She tweets about reading and reviewing @HeySaidRenee and about writing, military life and dancing @ReneeConoulty, but hasn’t created a handle for nap talk yet.

Sign up for Renee’s monthly newsletter for her highlights on blogging, reading, writing and life. http://eepurl.com/bPay5r

Social Networking Links

Website: http://heysaidrenee.blogspot.com.au/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14782154.Renee_Conoulty

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReneeConoultyAuthor/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/reneeconoulty

Amazon Author: https://www.amazon.com/Renee-Conoulty/e/B01M2CTMXS/

Newsletter Signup: http://eepurl.com/bPay5r

New Release for Rebecca Raisin – Brides & Bouquets


Brides & Bouquets

Cedarwood Lodge #2

By our very own Aussie author Rebecca Raisin!

Blurb:

Christmas has come to Cedarwood Lodge in the second part of the feel-good romance serial from best selling author, Rebecca Raisin!

Dreaming of a happily ever after at Cedarwood Lodge is Clio Winters’ current focus, especially with a winter wonderland wedding expo planned. But with brides coming from far and wide the heat is on for Clio to fulfil everyone’s dream of a Christmas wedding!

It seems like Clio’s new business might be off to a rocky start and surrounded by love struck brides she can’t help but hope for a little Christmas romance of her own…

Cedarwood Lodge is a delectable romance told in three parts – following Clio Winters journey back to her hometown of Evergreen. This is Part Two.

Book Links: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Google Play | Goodreads

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fq1tj9

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2eOQqg4

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/brides-and-bouquets-at-cedarwood-lodge-rebecca-raisin/1124085231;jsessionid=937A4B68C1C02AE2433A994A91C0BFE5.prodny_store02-atgap05?ean=9781474058421

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Rebecca_Raisin_Brides_and_Bouquets_At_Cedarwood_Lo?id=tGKoDAAAQBAJ

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31423832-brides-and-bouquets-at-cedarwood-lodge

Author Info:

Rebecca Raisin is a true bibl​iophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been published in various short story anthologies and in in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance. Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly believe in true love.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Website: http://rebeccaraisin.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RebeccaRaisinAuthor

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jaxandwillsmum

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6915386.Rebecca_Raisin