It’s Autumn - my favourite season. I love the tumble of coloured leaves dancing in the cooling wind. The days are shorter so I catch the sun setting over the ocean, and my kitchen is bathed in gold while I’m making dinner. (Because of the sunlight, not my culinary skills.) And it always feels like there’s a little more magic in the air – or maybe that’s just me. But speaking of seasons and magic, the Seasons anthology was launched last month and my fellow authors kindly signed their stories and poetry for me. What a pleasure it was to read everyone’s contributions. :)
Seasons – a Rockingham Writers Centre Anthology
Seasons of life, love and nature are explored in this collection of short fiction and poetry that will touch hearts, inspire and entertain. Featuring the work of 12 writers connected through their passion for creative expression, it is a celebration of the written word. Although the stories and poems are linked by a common theme, they reflect a diversity of styles from light-hearted to lyrical and amusing to thought-provoking, in settings both contemporary and historical. Beautifully crafted poems that paint vivid word pictures of nature’s changing face are complemented by stories about new beginnings, unexpected encounters, changing relationships and taking chances.
A Father for all Seasons by D D Line
This story explores the relationship between a father and daughter as reflected by the changing seasons. In the spring their relationship is new, a time of innocence. As they move into summer their relation reflects on the daughter experiencing life and her father learning to let her go. In the autumn, the daughter realises her father isn’t as strong as he used to be. And as they shift into the winter, they learn the one constant through the years is the love they have for the other.
Seasons and Rainy Day Weather by Lyn Innes-Cuming
In her two poems, Ms Innes-Cuming reflected on the changing weather and its effect on the local flora and fauna, and described a beautiful, rain-filled day.
Autumnal Insight by V P Saxton
Aunty Tandy had always been different, knowing things no one else did or could quite explain. After a time, the family accepted she would always be that way. But when her niece arrives for morning tea, Tandy’s abilities pave the way for a glimpse of the past. And it’s something her niece needs to confront for the sake of her baby and their future.
Autumn Leaf, Her Falling Tears, The Sunset Ball and Timid Trails by Rebecca Laffar-Smith
Ms Laffar-Smith shared the life cycle of a leaf, reflected on how the weather could affect one’s emotions, dressed in autumn finery for a grand ball, and embodied the path of a snowflake.
Sun and Rain, Winter, Storm by Annie Hill Otness
Ms Otness’ story followed the tempestuous relationship between husband and wife where love no longer resides in their hearts, but neither seems able to move on from a marriage filled with heartbreak, violence, and longing for what might have been. Her poems described the Western Australian rainy season, and then drew the reader in to watch an approaching storm.
Shoe Tree & Anchorman by Milton Blanch
In Mr Blanch’s poem, a tree witnesses a romantic tryst. In Anchorman, the quiet fisherman intrigued Cindy Jennings. It never occurred to her that it was the quiet ones you needed to watch out for, especially those hiding from a mysterious, dark past.
The Mating Season and Going South by Alan Petersen
In the Mating Season, Alek wasn’t sure about being alone with Daniel in the empty park, but they were in the hide to study bats. No funny business. Apparently, her professor didn’t get that memo, knocking Daniel out and forcing himself upon her in the hide. But it’s funny how a rare vampire bat can change one’s perspective and provide the unlikeliest of alibis. In Going South – After a grand life of travelling and misadventure, an English gentleman decides there’s only one place worth exploring – way down south in the wilds of Colonial Western Australia.
The Best Feeling Ever & My Favourite Time of Year by Karlene Jolliffe
The Best Feeling Ever – Ms Jolliffe shared a cheeky little story of a gentlemen who decided it was an age since he gave in to his desires and now everything had come to that moment. All he had to do was release. My Favourite Time was a poem that travelled through the seasons with the declaration each was her favourite time of the year.
Seasoned Traveller by Kathy Flint
Stephanie left home for the first time since her husband died. She met another traveller who appeared too inexperienced to be travelling on his own, but she happily shared her lunch with him. When his combi broke down a few hours later, she daringly suggested he stay with her in her little camper van – in the annexe, of course. But all the time she was saving him, she never thought he might be rescuing her.
Emergency by Monty Edwards
Jenny’s first day at the new clinic went from admiring the beach to despairing at the litter people left lying around. When that same litter is responsible for a dramatic dash across town to find antivenin for a small child who had an unexpected encounter with a poisonous creature, she never dreamed her loathing of rubbish would bring about a new relationship too.
Tide of Men by Martin Chambers
Mr Chambers poem spoke of the men who came before, living and working, watching the seasons come and go. Some only live a short time, and a few grow old, but all are here for a season, and everyone’s season must pass.
The Silly Season by Genelle Jones
Every New Year’s Eve the band would travel to the Village Community Centre, play their music, and help their more mature audience welcome in another year. In truth, they were happy to still be around for another year too. The songs never changed, but the music helped everyone feel young again, though by the end of the night, it always seemed longer to pack up and return home.
“Seasons” is available from the Rockingham Writers Centre - https://rockinghamwriterscentre.org.au/anthologies/
Epona by Michelle Dalton
Can she overcome the trauma of her past and find redemption in the wild Scottish Highlands?
After a horrendous attack on her family farm in South Africa takes the lives of her loved ones and leaves her wounded, her only escape is to leave the country of her birth for the highlands of Scotland and her last living relatives. But Sadie’s life may still be in danger.
Blane Buchan is an Englishmen living in the small highland town of Lairg, seeking a life away from the emptiness of London society and a past he'd rather forget.
When Sadie finds a mysterious blue roan mare, she must use the gift given to her from Epona; Protector of horses. But the mare just might be the one who saves her.
From the mountains of South Africa to the wintry Highland Moors this is a story of redemption, love and the powerful connection between humans and horses.
Sole survivor of a horrific murder, Sadie Monroe makes an anxiety-filled trip to the home of her paternal grandparents, her last remaining relatives, in hopes of escaping her dark and horrifying past. She never dreamed the one thing she believes caused her problems could be her salvation.
Blane Buchan wants to rejuvenate the quiet highland town of Lairg with modern ideas, strong business sense, and a deep desire to make a difference, things London society refuses to let him explore. His fascination with the beautiful, but maddening, Sadie puts his careful plans in a spin. And as much as he wants to rescue this ‘damsel in distress’ she fights him at every turn.
Convinced she’s broken and bad luck, Sadie tells herself she wants nothing to do with the handsome man, but when she finds his Blue Roan wandering the moors, the gift she dampened down along with her nightmares is reawakened. And that means facing her past, the nightmares, and the one piece of darkness she can’t escape. Herself!
I had the privilege of being an early beta reader for this story and I love how wonderfully it evolved. Ms Dalton’s descriptive prose will take you from the farming lands of South Africa to the beautiful Scottish Highlands and make you feel as though you’re truly there. The reader feels what Sadie feels in all her torment and anguish, yet will admire her inner strength and resolve, and cheer in her accomplishments. I also loved the mystical elements that acknowledged myths and legends from both the South African and the Scottish heritage.
Luna Tango by Alli Sinclair
Tango, like love, is complicated.
Journalist Dani McKenna delves into the world of tango to expose the decades of lies and deception that threaten three generations of her family. She’s desperate to understand the reason her mother abandoned her twenty years ago to become a world-class tango dancer, why her grandma lives in fear of all things tango, and how the brutal murder of a tango music legend in 1950s Buenos Aires now affects her family.
Dani meets the enigmatic Carlos Escudero, a revered tango dancer and man of intense passion, who helps her unravel tango’s sordid history. Despite Dani’s lack of rhythm, they create their own dance of the souls until the differences in their cultures causes a deep rift. As she seeks to reconnect with Carlos and rebuild her family, tango – the dance of passion – becomes a complicated dance of betrayal.
Abandoned as a child, journalist Dani McKenna hates the beach, the Tango, and the melancholy tones of the Bandoneon, a concertina instrument, with a passion. Each reminds her of the mother who left her behind with only her emotionless grandmother to raise her after her father died of a broken heart. She knows there’s more to the estranged relationship between the three generations than either women will reveal, and she’s determined to discover the truth. Perhaps then, she can move forward with her life.
In Argentina, she meets tango champion, Carlos Escudero, a man who hates journalists with a passion. Dani needs his help if she’s turn learn more about her mother’s deep desire to be a tango dancer, and in turn, discover the dark secrets she’s hiding. But Dani never dreamed she’d fall for the enigmatic man or find the dance she hates has wound itself into her very soul because the Tango holds her own secrets and learning the truth comes at a terrible price.
Ms Sinclair is amazing. Her story is every bit as intriguing and passionate as any tango. Cleverly interwoven into Dani and Carlos’s story is a rich tapestry of love, danger and intense betrayal which leaves the reader swaying, breathless, their heart pounding a staccato beat, and clamouring for more. The sudden change in dynamics between Dani’s world and times past is as much a dance as the tango itself. The emotion in this story will tear at your heart as any good tango should, for this story, much like the dance, will reach in to your soul.
Law and Disorder by Liv Arnold
Lawyer Juliet Jackson has come head to head with Sergeant Jesse Burns on numerous occasions in court. He is provoking. Pigheaded. Punch-worthy. They don't get along. Not one little bit. The unfortunate fact he's also her next-door neighbour brings her loathing off the charts. But when Juliet's caught locked outside her home in nothing but a skimpy towel, she must swallow her pride and turn to Jesse for help. She doesn't expect the explosive chemistry between them and can't help but wonder if Jesse's as demanding in the bedroom as he is in the courtroom.
Locked outside her house with nothing but a skimpy towel leaves more than Juliet’s body exposed. It also shows her the antagonistic attitude of her long-time neighbour and self-appointed opposition in court is nothing but a disguise for how he feels. And what he wants to feel is every inch of her. She might detest his lofty attitude and his courtroom antics but giving in to her own long-hidden desires in the privacy of her bedroom is another matter. For Juliet and Jesse, an afternoon interlude may spark the beginnings of a relationship no one expected, least of all them.
This short story concentrates on the lustier side of Juliet and Jesse’s relationship, a couple whose careers constantly put them at odds with each other, but whose secret desire for the other runs deep. In the background, however, were snippets of an amazing story which completely captivated me, and I definitely wanted to know more. I’m hoping Ms Arnold plans to publish novellas or novels because the potential for story is certainly there.
Lucky me, I’ve been beta reading some awesome stories – a hot paranormal romance, a YA futuristic sci-fi and a very sexy romantic suspense – all from authors I adore. I may have gently encouraged (nagged) for more.
I want to say my short story is finished, but I am working on some major reediting. It seems the more you learn, the harder the writing becomes. Still, it’s part of the process, and I'm excited about the story's future. :) I’m hoping to attend two book launches over the next few weeks, but in the meantime, it’s on to the next story and reading the next amazing book(s).