Sunday, 31 January 2016

Linzé's Mischief: 31 Jan 2016

In memoriam: Leonora de Vries

My mother touched many people's lives in different ways. She came from a large family of eight children. She raised two children, whom she often referred to as a rugby team. Yeah, my brother and I well hell on wheels when we were kids. Probably because I am only a year and half older than him. It was funny putting it that way since none of us actually like rugby.
My mom was a cricket fan and could argue tactics and team selections with the best of them. She loved the shorter forms of the game, T-20 and 50 overs, and tolerated the classic 5-day version.
The longer version took too much time and she often said she had too many other things to do than sit in front of the television the whole day.
She loved her daily soap opera and we knew better than to call her during that time of the day. But, if you had a real problem she never minded if you did. I think my brother learned to cook in those time slots. If Mom hadn't helped, he might have burned down his place a time or six. Yep, a call in soapie time from him often was a real emergency.
She was odd in some ways. I remember that we lived in an area in South Africa where poisonous snakes were abundant. She hated snakes. And yet we often came home from school to find a twitching or dead snake at the back door of the house; she had killed it with a broomstick. If you have never done that, let me help you out - you have to get very close to a snake to kill it with a broomstick, trust me.
She wasn't a fan of camping, but had no objection if we went camping as long as the basics were available, ie. electricity and proper plumbing. I guess I got that one from Mom, because I am exactly the same. In some ways I am like her, and that is not a bad thing either.
On a more personal note, there were two things I really appreciated about my mother. She never felt that she was too old to learn - I taught her to do cross-stitch when she was in her early sixties, and she was very good at it. Sometimes I think she was better at it than I am.
The second thing, which I realised very early in my adult years, was that mother stopped treating me like a child when I left home. To many people, it might sound weird, but in my case it made a huge difference in our relationship. I was raised to think for myself, but living at home often created unnecessary fights because of it. As soon as I left home, our relationship underwent a radical change for which I was grateful and continued to be until her passing last week.
She lost a three-year battle with cancer on 28 January 2016. She was 74 years old.

Mom, you had a good innings and I will always miss you.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The Friendship Affair

The Friendship Affair, Linzé Brandon
Not all long lasting marriages are happy. But what do you do if divorce is not an option?
University friends, Stephanie and Nick, meet again after twenty years. But life has not been easy or simple for either of them. Will this friendship affair stand a chance against reality?

CHAPTER 3

“What happened?” Stephanie asked after they sat and ordered coffee. The region was gripped in a heat wave, but the coffee shop was blessedly cool, so coffee seemed okay.
Nick pulled a face and waited until the waiter had left. He glanced around, but the shop was not busy. Probably too early yet for the lunch crowd.
“Didn't come,” he replied quietly just in case. “She was pissed.”
She frowned. “You or her? Not coming, I mean.”
He shrugged. “Me. She did.”
Her frown deepened. “Why would that bother her?”
He snorted. “You have to ask?”
“Okay. The 'I am not sexy enough anymore' speech. Bitch.” Despite her words, her tone was just as quiet.
He nodded and for the first time looked at her. “You okay?”
It was her turn to avoid his gaze. “You're not the only one having a hard time.”
He took her hand. “That must have dented his ego.”
The electric heat from his hand surprised her. It took a moment to get her voice back. “Big time. I got fed up and left.”
She pulled her hand away. “What you are going to do?”
“Don't know. Break it off, I guess. You?”
She played with the empty sweetener packets. “Been thinking about it for weeks.”
“Same here. What an odd pair we are.”
Her lips twitched into some semblance of a smile.
“You guys want something else?”
They looked up at the waiter.
“Do you have time for a bite?”
Stephanie woke up her tablet and consulted her calendar. “Looks like I do.”
After ordering the quiche of the day for both of them, and more coffee, silence descended once more. It wasn't uncomfortable, so neither tried to fill it.
The coffee shop became noisier as they finished their meal.
When she tried to pay, he stayed her hand. “My turn.”
“Sorry. Habit.”
He waved it away. “See you next week?”

~Read Chapter 1     Chapter 2

~Chapter 4: Next week

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The Friendship Affair

The Friendship Affair by Linzé Brandon
Not all long lasting marriages are happy. But what do you do if divorce is not an option?

University friends, Stephanie and Nick, meet again after twenty years. But life has not been easy or simple for either of them. Will this friendship affair stand a chance against reality?  

CHAPTER 2

Stephanie reached out and touched his hand for a moment.
“Are you happy?”
Nick slowly shook his head. “Not really. Not that it would make a difference does it? It is not just my marriage.”
He leaned back and looked up at the ceiling of the coffee shop. It must have been one hell of a party; he wondered distractedly at the shoe prints.
He sat forward again and played with the teaspoon.
She could see he was not the same person she had met at university. They never had a relationship. It was funny, thinking about it now.
“Why did we never go out?”
He gave a short laugh. “I don't know. Maybe we are just meant to be friends.”
She smiled. “I know. We just never had that chemistry.”
“Yeah,” he replied, also smiling now.
Their smiles faded.
“Then again chemistry is overrated,” he muttered.
Thinking back at her own situation, she had no counter argument to offer. There were the general opinions she could mention, but it felt jaded, fake somehow, so she kept quiet.
They sat there staring at nothing for long minutes. It was both awkward and yet not. The world around them kept talking, drinking coffee, reading their mobile phones, typing away on their computers.
Was this what their lives had become?
“It is sad isn't it?”
She looked up when he spoke. There it was. The hopelessness of life sucking away at the happiness they were all supposed to find after uni.
Instead of replying she nodded in the general direction of the hotel where they ran into each other three days ago. “Does she make you happy?”
He waved to the waiter, and they ordered another round.
“How could she? How could anyone be happy with a few hours of forgetting every month?”
“Then why?”
He shrugged. “Why do you do it?”
She shrugged too. “Forgetting, is a good way to explain it. There is nothing else there for me. I doubt that he feels anything either.”
Their coffee came. He added sugar.
She tore open the packet of sweetener.
He played with the miniature milk jug.
She watched his fingers make the leftover milk bounce to the edges.
“How often?” he asked, avoiding her eyes.
She didn't need clarification. “Once a week. Sometimes more. You?”
“Standing arrangement. Twice a week.”
“Do you always go to a hotel?”
He shook his head. “No. She lives alone.”
He shrugged again. “Hotels can be risky. People start remembering your face.”
She nodded. “Yeah, he mentioned that.”
To her right a couple were holding hands and staring into each other's eyes. She didn't spot any rings. Still dating then.
“He's married.”
“Lots of lonely people out there.”
She stirred the coffee and patiently let the last drop fall from the teaspoon before putting it in the saucer.
“He loves fucking around. Thrill seeker I suppose.”
“Yeah, you get those too,” he replied before lifting his cup to take a sip.
Somewhere behind him, there were bursts of laughter. The kind sounding like students taking a break. It was loud, yet short. Almost too much.
“You want to take a walk?”
She waved her hand for the bill. “Can't. Have a meeting in half an hour.”
Holding her hand on the folder when he wanted to take it. Their eyes met.
For a moment, there was life in the battle of wills. It faded when her hand won.
“Next week?”
~Chapter 3: Next week

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Linzé's Mischief: 17 Jan 2016

I have been lazy the past week. I should have finished the research for my story, Galen's Hope, but still have one more paper to read. Yeah, I am using academic research papers for a fictional story about a Gryphon. It is challenging to say the least. Not only is my main character not human, the research can only help me up to a point. Hopefully, I will pull my weight and get started on the writing this week.
At least, I have not done nothing. I have been uploading chapters of The Friendship Affair and working on another short story, an erotic series of three stories involving the same characters.
Project JOURNEY had its kick-off meeting yesterday and I was happy to see how everyone involved were ready to go. Some of the authors have already started writing, and I cannot wait to read their stories.
One of the authors also write erotic romance and we are thinking of doing a project together in this genre. It does not suit everyone's taste, so we will not have to same number of contributors as the JOURNEY anthology. Will let you know what we decide on that later.
Life is back to normal after the festive period. Work and writing and managing everything with all Francois' photographic responsibilities - yeah, we're back to the normal hectic schedule in this house.
We plan to go to Botswana again in May (not the same place as in 2014) and then I will be accompanying him to the PSSA conference in Langebaan in the Western Cape in August. Since it is being held at a resort on the South African west coast, it is going to be a great writing break for me.
I had an email from www.allaboutwritingcourses.com about an upcoming writer's retreat not far from my home, and am seriously contemplating going to that. I have done some of their writing courses and retreats before, and really enjoyed it.
Lots happening the past week, and these breaks may just be what I need to survive this year.
Oh, and I lost 1kg. Not much, but it did surprise me. Maybe it shouldn't have given all the steps my activity monitor recorded last week - over 38,000 of them!
Look out for the next chapter of The Friendship Affair on Tuesday and I will see you again next week.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The Friendship Affair: Chapter 1

The Friendship Affair by Linzé Brandon
Not all long lasting marriages are happy. But what do you do if divorce is not an option?
University friends, Stephanie and Nick, meet again after twenty years. But life has not been easy or simple for either of them. Will this friendship affair stand a chance against reality?


CHAPTER 1

“Stop! Just stop. Please.”
“But you're—”
He grimaced and gently rolled away to sit on the edge of the bed. He ran his fingers through his hair. The movement caught his eye in the mirror of the dressing table.
Ignoring her, he got up and closed the bathroom door behind him.
Leaning on the counter, the mirror even bigger than the one in the room, he saw a world-weary naked man staring back at him.
A man with salt in his pepper on top. Lines over cheekbones that hadn't been there the last time he looked. A stomach not as lean and hard as it used to be.
Abruptly he turned his back.
“Are you okay?”
He ran his hand through his hair again. It wasn't her fault, but the sympathy he heard in her tone didn't sit well with his pride.
Quickly disposing of the condom, he washed his hands not looking in the mirror.
“Yeah, I am fine. Just give me a second.”
Her, “okay,” floated away from the door.
He couldn't hide in the damn bathroom the whole day, so he went back to the room and started dressing.
She touched his arm. He swallowed and looked at her. She was a lovely woman and deserved so much more. But he bit his tongue. It wasn't the time.
“Next week?” she asked with a smile, albeit a little tentatively.
He smiled back and kissed her, but didn't linger. “Yes.”
He waited a few minutes after she had left, before doing the same.
The elevator pinged a minute later, and the door slid open.
Stephanie Ross-Jackson froze and slowly dropped her hands away from fixing her hair.
“Nick?”
Nicholas Granger blinked twice before recovering his composure and getting into the elevator on the fifth floor of the Regency Hotel.
“Annie? Is it really you? What are you...?”
He suddenly stopped talking and looked at the floor. She looked just as flustered as he felt. Fixing her hair. In a hotel elevator. Middle of the morning.
He grimaced. Just because he was, didn't mean she did.
He looked up when she shifted.
“I am...”
He held up his hands. “No judgement. Honest. And, it is none of my business.”
Her cheeks turned the sweetest pink, but she nodded. “Thank you.”
They stepped out into the foyer and headed towards the front door.
“Can I give you a lift?”
Stephanie smiled. It was a real one and yet he got the feeling she didn't do much of that.
“Thanks, but I have my car.”
He laid a gentle hand on her arm to prevent her from walking away.
“Do you want to grab a coffee sometime? Catch up?”
She looked surprised, and then she nodded. “I would like that.”

~ Chapter 2: Next week.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Linzé's Mischief: 10 Jan 2016

Heatwaves are not easy weather conditions to live with. We have experienced another this past week; our third for the past two months. Being at home is one thing, working when these conditions are present is trying to say the least. We are experiencing a reprieve (thank you, Lord) since yesterday when it started raining.
Now in our part of the country, we don't have rain, we have thunderstorms with rain. Nasty rumblings and lightning strikes that go on for hours. Not only are our dogs upset, but life is difficult when you have to switch off and unplug the devices one would normally be using, such as the TV or computers. It is then that I appreciate the battery power of the Macbook.
I had been playing with long fake nails and removed them on Friday. I miss my long nails. I am blessed with hard, fast growing fingernails that I would wear long until I got tired of them, clipped them off and then started the process all over. Typing with these was never an issue. But it is my skin condition (I suffer from psoriases) that forces me to keep them short. Not really a problem, but damn they do look so much nicer long and painted a lovely red or shiny blue. Oh, well.
I rearranged my office the last few days. I planned to do that during my December break, but other stuff took longer so I didn't get around to it. I finally managed to figure out a way to have all the stuff around me that I want to keep close (pens, notebooks, books to read, dictionaries, tissues, scissors) without cluttering up the whole available surface. I can actually now put my elbows on my desk with my computer and not worry about things falling off. Half of my office looks good, the other half will have to wait until next time.
Since I have already used my art weekend in January, the coming weeks are devoted entirely to writing. I have to finish the research for Galen's Hope and start editing Waiting for Adrian. Actually, it is the final edit before I send it for professional editing.
I do my final edit on paper. I think this story has been edited about ten times already, so it is about time that I get it done. The printed manuscript is lying next to me, ready for my red pen.
I also started a new story a few days ago. It is called My Intimate Stranger. It is the first one in a three part story featuring the same characters.
There are several stories that need a final edit for publication this year. I still haven't decided which ones to tackle after Galen and Adrian's stories. So much to do.
My weight-loss program has shown neither progress nor decline - yeah, that is frustrating too. I will have to have a think about that too.
My word count since the start of the year is 6624 so far at an average of 662 per day. At least, I am writing, although I am not yet near the average daily word count of last year. It is not important, but I still like to know that I am keeping up the effort.
Until next week!

Linzé

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Linzé's Mischief: 3 Jan 2016

It is 20h50 and I am in my office at home, trying to stay cool. Even in my pj's, that is proving to be a challenge. Constant high temperatures in summer are not fun if you are of the overweight class like I am. Yeah, the weight-loss thing has not been going too well over the festive season. Not losing anything over the past two weeks was disappointing. I am grateful, though, that I didn't gain a gram either. Silver lining and all that.
I made a New Years resolution for this year. Nope, not the weight thing since that is ongoing. I undertook to spend more time on my art projects. Instead of waiting until December, and then spending days getting back into the groove, I am now going to take one weekend every month for my art. It then also means I don't stop writing in December. Which has also proven to be a frustration.
So 12 weekends equals 24 days (plus a public holiday here and there) and that makes up the days in December I would have spent painting or sketching instead of writing. I think it is a win-win situation for my creative alter ego.
Since I am still on leave, I took my art weekend this first weekend. It works out well for all the January getting-back-to-work and my writing schedule issues that invariably happens.
Project JOURNEY will kick-off next weekend and I will get into 'writer' mode by finishing my research in the next two weeks. My short story has already taken shape in my mind, so the writing part should not take too much time...I hope.
Hubby is off to work tomorrow, so the usual weekly routine of photo club meetings (affecting our dinner planning), writers' group meetings (affecting our Saturday planning) and other social engagements commences.
If you are new to my blog (welcome!) I have always had a public journal page, called Linzé's Mischief. I deleted the page when I gave my blog a facelift. The posts will now be at the usual time (Sunday evenings) as a normal blog post instead of a page update. The length of the page was making my blog very slow and cumbersome to update. All these posts will be tagged 'journal' if you want to read them again.
I am also starting a blog serial (from 12 January) where I will post a chapter of a story every Tuesday. The chapters are short and will not take more than 3-5 minutes of your time to read. If you missed a chapter, you can find it by clicking the 'blog serial' in the keywords.
It is a new year and it is going to be hectic. And boy, am I excited about it.

Until next week!