Saturday, October 25, 2014

Autumn's Kiss Blog Hop

Ten sweet romance authors got together and wrote a book. Ten short romances set in fall, the season of change, of harvest, of traditions. What a fun experience. We found each other on the Clean Romances Facebook group.

I have to say, I'm truly humbled to have my little story amongst the gems of this book. It's an amazing read!!

Here's a sneak peak of the book which is now available for purchase. We're offering up prizes to those who take part in the blog hop.


Buy Links:

Amazon
Smashwords

The Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/Lfp4wxnWuWo

The title of my story in the book is called "The Fall Apples and Mr. Craigson."

So, I set out to write a fall romance. Not being from the US, our fall is in April. Our apple tree comes alive at that time and our dogs feast on what falls to the ground. We haven't eaten many of the apples, but they are improving with each year. Most years though, the birds and bugs get to them first. Still, I love the apple tree. One year, we had a bumper harvest, and I managed to make an apple pie with the apples. Here's a pic of one my daughter picked compared to a store-bought apple:



So, the apple tree inspired my short story in the anthology. Trina has a row of apple trees that she wants cut down. When she hires Mr. Craigson to help out with the job, she's shocked at how attracted she is to him. It causes problems. She's supposed to be married - well pretending to be married to a rich businessmen to keep unwanted men away. Mr. Craigson sees through her facade though, but is she ready to give her already bruised heart away?

If you fill in your answers to each question along the blog tour, you can win a grand prize. Also, I will be offering a copy of His Halloween Kisses, my holiday romance novella to one commenter on this blog post. Although I love to receive your comments, that will not give you automatic entry for the grand prize (and it's grand - about $70). You need to fill in the form and follow each blog hop. Please find the link to the other blogs below:



Ready for My Question??

What is Trina's secret?

A. She's in an unhappy marriage.

B. She's committed a crime.

C. She's pretending to be married to a rich man.

Type in your answer in the form below:

Form

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cover Reveal - The Dance of the Firefly

I'm so happy that my book has a cover!! Yippie!! I loved this book - just love the characters, especially my heroine, Rowena. She touches a cord with me. This is my first multi-cultural romance and I loved writing it!!

And it's about ballet which I'm crazy about. As a kid, I had two dreams - become an author or a ballerina. I chose the one and now I'm writing about the other, lol. (Just a little secret - in retrospect, I would have hated the life of a ballerina. I like a quiet, family life which matches an author much better. And another secret - I don't think my body was cut out for such athletic stuff but I enjoy tinkering around with ballet workout sessions at home sometimes.) Oh, my high school friend ended up being a ballerina and danced for an American ballet company. Boasting here *wink, wink*. Anyway, I haven't maintained contact with her - different worlds I suppose.

Enough of that. Get on with the book...

So take a look:


The cover shows the characters so well. Rowena is a ballet teacher who couldn't follow her dream of dancing on stage. She lives in Zambia and Cameron is a South African worker on contract in Zambia, a single dad with a daughter who needs a female role model in her life. I lived in Zambia for seven years and had to use it for a setting in one of my books. What better than the Ubuntu line of Decadent Publishing for entering a new African culture?

Here's the blurb:

Zambian ballet teacher Rowena Chisanga agrees to give her most difficult student extra lessons because she doesn’t have a mother. What she didn’t bargain for was falling for Jamey’s South African father. Although Rowena and Cameron share the grief of losing a loved one, they are of different race and culture. To complicate matters, Cameron’s work contract in Zambia is soon to end, and Cameron holds fast to the memories from his past marriage. Not willing to sacrifice his daughter’s well-being for a short-lived fling, he chooses to return early to South Africa without informing Rowena. On top of that, she is afraid to give her all to Cameron and Jamey, especially when it means giving up her long-awaited dream to dance in a ballet company. When life’s conflicts and their memories and hurts are pitched against them, can their love survive?


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ultimate Book Tag

Thank you to Krysten Lindsay Hager for tagging me for this fun author/reader experience. I'm tagging my writer friend, Ylette Pearson. Here are my answers to the questions.

1. Do you get sick while reading in the car?
Sometimes I get a bit of a headache, but other times I can read for hours without a problem.

2. Which author’s writing style is completely unique to you and why?
I’ve just read one of R.M. Alexander’s books. Wow, she has a unique style. She somehow brings you into a fantasy world and writes very differently to anything I’ve ever read. Her book is called Veil of Secrecy.

3. Harry Potter series or the Twilight Saga? Give 3 points to defend your answer.
I have a confession. I’ve never watched Harry Potter. I intend to some day. Twilight Saga is okay, but I couldn’t choose until I watch Harry Potter.

4. Do you carry a book bag? If so, what is it in (besides books…)?
Nope. My kindle holds lots of books. Don’t need a book bag.

5. Do you smell your books?
Maybe it’s a writer or reader thing, but there’s nothing more wonderful than the whiff of a new book.

6. Books with or without little illustrations?
I only like illustrated children’s books.

7. What book did you love while reading but discovered later it wasn’t quality writing?
Sorry, I can’t think of anything for this question.

8. Do you have any funny stories involving books from your childhood? Please share!
Well, I used to walk to the library every week, maybe even more, to get myself more books. And I lived several kms away. It’s not funny but it shows my love of books.

9. What is the thinnest book on your shelf?
Probably a Mills and Boon or a devotional book.

10. What is the thickest book on your shelf?
The complete Chronicles of Narnia book.

11. Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself in the future as being an author?
Um…now, should I answer that question???

12. When did you get into reading?
Right from a young age. Don’t know what started it. Maybe when my father bought me the whole Secret Seven series! Wish I’d kept those for my kids.

13. What is your favorite classic book?
Charlotte’s Web. Love that story.

14. In school was your best subject Language Arts/English?
Yes and Art.

15. If you were given a book as a present that you had read before and hated…what would you do?
I wouldn’t say anything but I’d probably give it away to someone who’d enjoy it or try to sell it.

16. What is a lesser known series that you know of that is similar to Harry Potter or the Hunger Games?
I enjoy Rae Rivers’ series, The Keepers. Still in the middle of reading it.

17. What is a bad habit you always do (besides rambling) while blogging?
Not blogging enough.

18. What is your favorite word?
Love

19. Are you a nerd, dork, or dweeb? Or all of the above?
Nerdy.

20. Vampires or Fairies? Why?
Fairies. I love fairies and have already written a book with them. My mother used to tell me about fairies so much as a kid so they bring back happy memories. I don’t really like the books where they’re made out to be evil though.

21. Shapeshifters or Angels? Why?
Shapeshifters. Find angel books a bit creepy for some reason. I think because I really believe they exist and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

22. Spirits or Werewolves? Why?
Hard one. Maybe werewolves – less creepy and more fictional.

23. Zombies or Vampires?
Vampires.

24. Love Triangle or Forbidden Love
Both. Depends on the story.

25. AND FINALLY: Full on romance books or action-packed with a few love scenes mixed in?

Stupid question for a romance writer and reader, I’d say.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book Spotlight - Dana R. Lynn


Today I have fellow Astraea Press author Dana Lynn here talking about her debut novel, An Inconvenient Courtship. Welcome Dana!


Blurb:

Mr. Darcy is determined to find a wife he can love and respect.  He is fascinated by the lively Miss Elizabeth Bennet, but is determined to forget her due to her low connections.  Until an act of jealously puts her life at risk.  Faced with the bleak reality of living without her forever, Mr. Darcy must examine what he really wants.   With the assistance of Colonel Fitzwilliam, his sister, and Elizabeth’s father, Mr. Darcy works to save Elizabeth’s life.  If he is lucky, he will then be able to win her heart.

Excerpt:

What was the matter with him?
Darcy scowled as he paced back and forth across the length of the library. He could barely believe his actions of the past few days. To allow his control to slip so badly! And all because of a mere country girl, who was far beneath him. No money, no connections, and that family of hers.
But in spite of these objections, Darcy continued to find Miss Elizabeth Bennet everything that was fascinating and lovely. Not that he had always thought so. No, indeed. When he had first spied her several weeks ago at a dance, he had barely noticed her. His mood had been too dark. He even allowed himself to make a disparaging remark about her to his persistent best friend, Charles Bingley. He had come to Hertfordshire to help Bingley get his new estate in order, not to socialize with the local beauties. Yet, he found his interest in Miss Elizabeth growing with every meeting. Still, he was able to squelch this unseemly fascination with the second of the five Bennet sisters. Or so he had thought. Then, several days ago, the eldest Bennet sister, Miss Jane Bennet, had become ill while visiting Bingley’s sisters. Of course, she had to stay as their guest until she was healthy enough for travel.
Although Darcy thought of Bingley as a brother, he didn’t much care for Bingley’s sisters. Miss Caroline Bingley had travelled to Hertfordshire to act as Mr. Bingley’s hostess, for it was one of the unwritten rules of the gentry that a single man could not entertain guests at his house without a hostess. Darcy would have been fine with Miss Bingley if she would leave him alone. But Miss Bingley had decided she wanted to marry Darcy. For his estate, no doubt. She was constantly batting her eyes and complimenting him. Louisa Hurst, Bingley’s married sister, was slightly better. Still a snob, but less obvious about it. She had dragged her husband to Hertfordshire so she could keep Miss Bingley company.
Darcy chuckled as he remembered the expressions on the faces of Bingley’s sisters when Miss Elizabeth had been shown into the breakfast room the next day.  They were appalled to learn she had walked three miles to visit her sister. Three muddy miles, judging by the state of her skirt. Darcy admitted that he had enjoyed the past few days in her presence. She was unlike any woman he had ever known. Her conversation was witty and clever, and her playful manner challenged him. She paid him none of the compliments he was used to receiving from young women desiring his attentions. He had even allowed himself to forget his objections against her. Until her mother and younger sisters paid a visit, that is.
Darcy grimaced as he thought of Mrs. Bennet and her three youngest daughters. Their behavior was thoroughly shocking. It was the first time he could ever recall being in accord with Miss Bingley. She had openly disparaged the family to her brother, trying to point out the disadvantages of the connection. Bingley, however, stood firm in his defense of Miss Bennet, whom he declared an angel. But even Bingley could not defend Mrs. Bennet. He remembered Mrs. Bennet’s taunts as she and her youngest daughters visited Netherfield Park under the guise of checking on “Dear Jane”. She had apparently decided that Darcy was the enemy and aimed poorly veiled barbs his way throughout the visit.
Miss Elizabeth, however, had tried to defend him, her cheeks scarlet with mortification. Darcy came to a stop as he remembered the agonized, apologetic glance she had shot him with her spectacular eyes. Those gorgeous, sparkling hazel eyes with dark lashes made for flirting…
Flirting? Good heavens. What was wrong with him? Darcy strode to the window and stared out, not seeing the breathtaking view as dawn softly crept over the landscape. Instead of the trees and the vast array of flora, his mind was wholly absorbed with a beautiful face, its brows arched provocatively as she teased him.
Today she would be leaving, going home where she belonged. He should be grateful. He could put distance between them. Then he would be able to regain his control and focus on more appropriate things. Even as he told himself he would forget her and move on, he felt a strange ache inside his breast at the thought of never seeing Miss Elizabeth’s beautiful eyes again.
His eyes grew far away as he considered his future. He was a Darcy. His family was one of the oldest and wealthiest in the ton. Even Grayson House, the home of his uncle, the earl, didn’t equal Pemberly. It had been made abundantly clear to him, first by his excellent late parents, and more recently by Lord and Lady Grayson, that he had a duty to marry well. That meant marrying a young lady with the appropriate breeding and standing in society. A wealthy landowner’s daughter at the very least. Better still, the daughter of a peer.
Darcy grimaced in distaste. Matchmaking mamas had been thrusting their daughters in his path since his father had died five years before. He shook his head. It was obvious the connection to wealth was more important to many than the happiness of the marriage itself. Most people in high society considered marriage as little more than a business merger. As long as the parties involved were discreet, infidelity was accepted as the norm. A view shared by many in his own family.
His lips twisted as he thought of his aunt and uncle’s attitude towards marriage. The connection was what mattered. As was avoiding scandal at all costs. He remembered well the times he had seen his aunt give a young girl the cut direct for some rumored misdeed. Whether or not the misdeed were true, the girl was considered ruined and to be avoided. Darcy had not paid too much attention until several months ago when his own dear sister had found herself embroiled in a scandalous plot. Disgust roiled in his gut at the thought that his relatives would have tried to force him to marry her off to a cad or send her away, just to avoid any taint to their family name. Fortunately, society remained ignorant of her fall.
He shuddered. No, a marriage based on the whims of society was not what he wanted, either for himself or for his sister Georgiana.
Frustrated, Darcy ran a hand through his hair. If he were going to marry, he would abide by the laws of Christian marriage. He would not marry someone he couldn’t hold in affection or respect. Mrs. Bennet again came to mind. No. Although he held the second Bennet daughter in the highest esteem, her family was too much of a black mark against her. Which meant he needed to forget Miss Elizabeth Bennet and her fine eyes.

****

“Jane, are you ready yet? The carriage is waiting!”
Elizabeth watched impatiently as her sister took her time preparing for their journey home. Elizabeth was eager to escape the snide comments of Miss Bingley and her sister. She was also anxious to be away from Mr. Darcy’s intense stare. Even imagining the way he watched her, she shivered, although she did not understand why. He made her uneasy, and Elizabeth disliked feeling uncertain.
“Jane,” she implored.
Jane Bennett glanced at her sibling with a gentle smile. Everything about Jane was gentle. Her voice, her manner, even her famous beauty. Where Elizabeth ran, Jane floated. Elizabeth laughed while Jane smiled serenely. Yet the two sisters adored each other. Until now, no one had ever held so much of Jane’s sweet heart as her sister. But now she knew Charles Bingley.
“I am coming Lizzy,” she sighed. “I am a little reluctant to go home. I will have to tell Mama that I am still not engaged.”
Elizabeth looked at her sister.
“At least Mama had the sense to try and throw you at a man you actually like this time,” she teased. “Imagine if Mr. Bingley were a horrible bore, or an ogre. Actually, though, if he were that bad, I think Mama would send me his way instead of yours.”
It was true, and they both knew it. Although Mrs. Bennet loved all her girls in an abstract sort of way, she despaired of ever finding a man willing to marry her most headstrong daughter. What man wanted a woman who could argue and debate as well or better than he?
Jane blushed. The two smiled, then suddenly burst into laughter. They were still laughing as they descended to meet with the Bingleys and Mr. Darcy.
Darcy and Bingley looked up involuntarily as the sisters made their way towards them. Both men unconsciously sighed at the sight of girls. Mr. Bingley with delight written across his face as his angel approached, Mr. Darcy with regret as he realized with cold certainty that he would not be able to forget the woman who had plagued him since he arrived. Indeed, Miss Elizabeth would always be his idea of perfection, no matter how far away he went.
His feelings were muddled when he followed her out to the carriage. He was so disturbed by the path his thoughts were traveling that he barely took note of Miss Bingley. That young lady had pulled out all the stops to try and attract his attention.
She walked as near him as she dared, deliberately moving as elegantly as possible. She batted her light blue eyes coquettishly at him, moving her hands to draw his gaze to her perfectly coiffed red hair and brand new morning dress. Her conversation was everything the ton considered proper, yet it was all in vain. Mr. Darcy paid her no heed. Indeed, he may as well have been walking alone. Not once did he even spare her a glance. Oh, but that chit Miss Eliza Bennet, at her he stared. It was disgraceful!
In a sudden fit of pique, Miss Bingley brought the sharp point of her closed parasol down upon the unsuspecting horse. The beast startled in fear and pain, rearing dangerously. Shouts came from the groomsmen as they tried to restrain the large animal. The second horse shied away from its yoke mate, pulling the carriage forward, causing it to wobble and tilt.
A woman screamed. Silence.
“Miss Elizabeth!” No one recognized that hoarse, emotion-filled cry. They turned to see Mr. Darcy, kneeling on the ground, uncaring of his fine clothes. His pale face stared in anguish at the still form of Miss Elizabeth.



About the Author:

Dana R. Lynn grew up near Chicago, but now lives in rural Pennsylvania with her husband, three children, and enough animals to fill a small petting zoo.  She is an avid reader, and enjoys a wide variety of genres and authors, although her favorite will always be Jane Austen.  She loves writing inspirational stories, both contemporary and regency.


Connect with Dana online:








Buy Links for An Inconvenient Courtship:



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cover Reveal - Stella Eromonsere-Ajanaku

Title: Kiss My Lips
(Holiday Series #2) Will one kiss seal their love?
Author: Stella Eromonsere-Ajanaku
Series: Holiday Series
Genre: Romance/Contemporary/Multicultural/Interracial
ISBN: 978-1502776549
Release Date: Wednesday 29th October 2014
Cover Artist: Love Bites And Silk
Add to Goodreads


Look at the gorgeous cover:


Blurb:

Accepting Logan’s marriage proposal was the most exciting event of Lorna’s life. But deciding in what country to marry her fiancĂ© proved to be more than a tearful ordeal. When Lorna’s dad announced unexpected news, the wedding wheels spun in a different direction.

With other family members stirring conflict, would there be a wedding? Or would their shared kiss deepen their desire?



Teaser:

The memory of the possessive kiss that unlocked the key to her heart and cleared away the layers of ashes and soot still had the power to rock her body with burning intensity.
"Kiss My Lips, Logan," she moaned, her eyes shut.
The car stopped.
And the moist heat of his lips swept hers in waves of steamy hot kiss. When he released her swollen lips, she touched one trembling finger to her mouth as her eyes fluttered open.
"Come here," he told her, holding out his hand. They were parked in front of a pretty elegant restaurant.
"What are we doing here?" A bewildered expression lurked around her face. The kiss still had her in its strong grip. Her legs shook and she clutched to Logan's arm. He steadied her and nuzzled her neck with his day old cute beard.
"We're having a late lunch."
Her mouth formed into an "O".
"You haven't answered my question. Was it my kiss?" he prodded, his fingers caressed her waist.
"Yes," Lorna admitted. "I couldn't stop thinking about how sweet and warm your mouth felt, how my stomach contracted and how the heat exploded throughout my body."
His hold on her waist tightened. "Please don't stop talking. Tell me more," he said in a husky voice.
She swirled into his arms. "Not today. On our wedding night, I'll answer all your questions about how you make me feel."
Logan groaned as the automatic doors to the restaurant opened wide and they stepped into the carpeted dining area.

Online Links for Stella:

Website

http://www.flirtyandfeistyromancenovel.co.uk/
Blog http://flirtyandfeistyromance.blogspot.co.uk

Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/Stella-Eromonsere-Ajanaku/e/B004LXE09E


Smashwords

https://www.smashwords.com/interview/StellaE1

Follow on Twitter

http://twitter.com/#!/StellaEA

Follow on Facebook


Be My Friend on Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4538936.Stella_Eromonsere_Ajanaku

My Pins on Pinterest

http://www.pinterest.com/eromonsereajana/

Follow on Google+

https://plus.google.com/app/basic/106790524289597144280/posts?cbp=1shtyzvl296s3&sview=27&cid=5&soc-app=115&soc-platform=1


About the Author:

Stella’s a fun loving mother of two, married to her very own gorgeous alpha male who satisfies her romantic appetite.

Writing romance novels is now her full time passion. In 2010, Stella created Flirty & Feisty Romance Novels laced with the right cocktail of blazing passion, intrigue & toe-curling romance set in fascinating Africa, enticing Europe and America. There are seven contemporary romance novels in the basket; Loitering Shadows, Stormy Defense, Beyond the Lady, The Gardener’s Ice Maiden, Sparkling Dawn, Husband to Rent, Stolen Valentine Kiss (Holiday Series #1).

My first historical romance is on my writing desk at the moment. In my leisure, I go swimming, reads romance novels, go to the Cinema and watch TV.
Flirty & Feisty Romance 
Our promise...is to deliver an intensely emotional experience you'll never forget.


Giveaway:

Leave a comment. Every reader who leaves a comment on the blog gets one free eBook of Stolen Valentine Kiss (Holiday Series # 1).


OR

You get any other eBook from Flirty & Feisty Romance Novels.

Stella's book is now available for pre-order:





Monday, October 6, 2014

Character Blog Hop

Thank you to Inge Saunders who tagged me in the character blog hop. She has two books coming out soon with the Ubuntu Line at Decadent Publishing. Here's a link to her character interview: http://ingesaunders.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/meet-the-character-damian-davidson/

About Inge:

First time author Inge Saunders fell in love with books was when she started reading romance novels with her grandmother. Intrigued by the worlds books unlocked, it was inevitable she would take pen to paper.
At age fourteen she wrote her first novel which wasn`t such a roaring success according to her brother. Not discouraged, she realized something fundamental: as a writer you can only write about what interests you, a principle she still upholds in adulthood.
When she`s not writing about that ‘inexplicable attraction’ she`s reading almost every sub-genre in romance out there, spending time with friends and family and taking hikes in her hometown`s National Karoo Park.
She`s forms part of Romance writers` Organization of South Africa (ROSA) and currently has two books under contract with Decadent Publishing, Falling for Mr. Unexpected (set to be released at the end of September 2014) and Dance of Love ( due later in 2014).

About Her Book:


Can Emma fall for Mr. Unexpected when she doesn’t believe in Mr. Right or even Mr. Right Now…?
Primary school teacher Emma Cupido compares the notion of “The One,” with believing in the Tooth Fairy. When the school holidays starts, she heads for her brother-in-law`s beach house in Strand, South Africa and stumbles on more than she bargained for.
Hollywood heartthrob, Damian Davidson flees LA thinking his beach house in SA would be a safe hideout from his sex scandal. He’s had his fill of manipulative women and when he mistakes Emma for a crazy fan, all hell breaks loose.
Emma and Damian get off to a rocky start but first impressions can be deceiving. Is there more to Damian than the superficial taint of Hollywood? And what happens when she agrees to a trip to LA? Will Emma become a believer in “The One” or just another Hollywood scandal?

Now, for my character interview:

Meet the Character

What is the name of your character? Is s/he fictional/historical?
Her name is Rowena Chisanga. She is purely fictional.

Rowena is Zambian by birth – just like my two youngest kids. But it’s also her culture and upbringing. Her mother has British origin and her father is Zambian. She’s grown up in a country with a wonderful culture but also steeped in difficulty and poverty. Her dream has always been ballet and to dance for a theatre, but because circumstances have come against her, she’s settled for second best – teaching ballet.

When and where is the story set?
The story is set mostly in Zambia but a small part occurs in Durban, South Africa.

What should we know about Rowena?
Rowena is an outgoing person, but she’s just lost her mother whom she was very close to, so she has some grief issues. She’s good with kid,s but because of her pain, lacks a bit of patience with her difficult student, Jamey. Rowena is super-fit with an athletic body and battles to keep her feet still. She’s a people’s person and good company. She’s young at heart, despite her difficulties and struggles. But she does hide secret pain.

What is Rowena`s goal?
Rowena runs her own business and wants to get the kids all ready for the ballet concert to encourage more clients to join. She has a secret dream of dancing for a ballet company but has put that dream aside because she doesn’t think it’s possible.

What is screwing up Rowena`s life (main conflict in writerly speak)?
Rowena’s just lost her best friend and mom so she’s lonely. She’s also having trouble teaching Jamey, one of her students. When Jamey’s father asks her for help to give her extra lessons, she starts to fall for him, but their cultures clash and Cameron is about to finish his work contract in Zambia very soon.

What is the title?
The Dance of the Firefly


I don’t have a cover yet. This should be coming out shortly, though. It’s with the Ubuntu Line with Decadent Publishing and is the second story in The Creators series.


I'm tagging Gaeille Vanderspek and best-selling author, Krysten Lindsay Hager, writer of teenage novel, True Colors.



Monday, September 22, 2014

Hip Hop Hippie Blog Hop

Yes, it sounds crazy I know.

With A Hip Hop Hippie To The Hip Hop

I have been tagged by a wonderful writer and person Elsa Winckler in an Author Blog Hop.
Visit her website at http://elsawinckler.com/


So here are the questions the tagger sent through to me and my answers:

What are you working on now?

I've recently worked through a content edit for my second book in The Creators series called The Dance of The Firefly. It's my ballet novel!

Give the beginning on your WIP as an excerpt. (This isn’t completely polished.)

Rowena Chisanga slipped her foot into her second ballet pointe shoe, feeling the lambskin pad her toes against the roughness of the box at the bottom. She hadn’t adjusted to the modern silicone boxes yet. Taking a deep breath, she stood tentatively, one foot flat, the other en pointe. Her wan expression blinked back at her from the mirror that took up the whole wall of her teaching studio. It had been years, years since the dream had died. But the sensual pull of her muscles hadn’t died. She stood on the tips of her shoes and twirled in a gentle pirouette. All her steps came back to her. Without music, she danced about, her breath coming in gasps and her feet aching, but she felt alive.

She sneaked a peek at the mirror. By now, she could have been a prima ballerina. Yet she appeared ancient in her reflection, her arms stiffened, her face pale. A tear moistened her cheek.

“Mom,” she whispered.

The words, “I miss you,” didn’t come out but she felt them right down to the aching hole in the middle of her gut.

“Mmmh mmmh.” A harsh throat-clearing came from the door. Rowena spun en pointe to face the entrance to her studio, bringing her hands down in a gentle fall. One of the parents stood there, hands on hips. One of the fathers. She swallowed the tears and the frustration. The last students had left an hour ago. What did he want?

“Hi.” Life had to continue, even through the numbness. “May I help you?”

“I wish to discuss something with you. I’m Jamey’s father.”

“Oh.” Cold shivers ran down her spine, mingling with the cooling sweat from the brief exertion that had sapped all her energy. Jamey. Her most trying student. The one who made her wish she didn’t live in a remote African country where no ballet star could ever rise to prominence, hence her having to teach instead of perform.

She padded towards him on the soles of her pointes, the leather and boxes making soft knocks—one of her favourite sounds—against the springy wooden floor. Upon closer scrutiny, the man’s eyes were narrowed, his gingery-brown eyebrows jagged.

“What would you like to discuss with me?”

He seemed to brace himself, a vein popping in his forehead. “My daughter came home from her ballet lesson today in tears. I want to know why it’s necessary for you to shout at her continuously.”
Rowena clenched her teeth together and counted to five in her head. She managed to speak in a calm voice. “Jamey doesn’t listen in class. She just wants to play.”

“She’s only six.”

“I know that, but I’m trying to teach them a dance for the concert coming up. She won’t cooperate with even one sequence. Instead, she talks and giggles, clowning around.”

“Then you don’t have control over your students.”

“She’s only six,” she said.

The man’s eyebrows lifted, a minuscule movement. Was he amused? “Look, I can take her to another studio if you can’t handle her.”

Rowena just stared at him. Where? She was the only ballet teacher in Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia—the womb of Africa, as people called the country. Her country was shaped like a foetus in a womb, and found in the bottom-central part of Africa. Landlocked, hot, tropical, and the only home she’d known.

“Be my guest.” She turned her back to him and took graceful, pointed steps to the barre. She lifted her leg up against the barre and stretched open, all the time hiding the racing of her pulse. What could she say to him? For once, she didn’t care. Too much had happened in the last week. She couldn’t handle another problem.

She’d expected him to disappear. Instead, she jumped as a shadow appeared in front of her. The man stood a foot from her. Close up, his presence seemed to permeate her. For a brief moment, her gnawing sorrow vanished and attraction surged in like a current of potent goodness. His features were clear-cut yet contrasting: bronzed skin against almost ginger hair. It could pass for a more golden brown. Speckles of day-old matching beard. Light brown eyes like the earth near Lake Kariba. Sturdy posture, straight and purposeful. Broad shoulders. Strength she could rely on at this time.

She pushed the crazy thoughts away.

His expression had changed to an almost lost look. Patience settled upon her, sweet and refreshing after days of pure irritation at everything that moved.

“Maybe you could help Jamey.”

“I’m sorry?”

He raked his fingers through his hair. There was anxiety there. Suffering. She took her leg down to give him her full attention.

“What could I do?”

“You could give her extra lessons.”

“I’m full up already, Mr. Hosking. I don’t have time….”

“Jamey loves to dance. Her mother was a ballet dancer. It’s her only connection with her late mother.”

Late mother! Rowena’s lungs drained of air. Oh, how she could identify with that. Although her mother’s death was recent, only six days ago, and she wasn’t a child, she suddenly wanted to hug Jamey and fill her heart with love to take away the lonely hopelessness. How could she have been so impatient with the child? No wonder she was so restless. The concert had become more important than the children. Creating a good image for her studio to get more students had taken precedence over putting something into the ones she had.

He peered into her frozen face. “Look, I’ll pay you double than a normal lesson. Please.”

She nodded. “I will. Of course.”

He instinctively grabbed her hand. “You won’t regret it. Jamey’s a very bright child and she’s crazy about you.”

Her insides shuddered and her toes curled at the simple contact of his hand on hers. His hand was warm and he squeezed a little too hard, but suddenly she wished he would keep it there. But he didn’t.

“Really?”

He laughed. “Yes. She says you’re so beautiful, just like her mommy. You do look a bit like her.” His eyes became dreamy and distant, as though a lifetime of memories passed through his mind.

A pang shot through her. Imagine a man like him loving her like he loved his late wife? What a selfish thought. He was still grieving.

“I think that was why she was so upset you shouted at her today.”

“I’m sorry.” She wiped a loose strand of hair away from her face. “It’s been…well, let’s say it hasn’t been the best week of my life.” Maybe the worst. “I’ll make it up to her.”

“Thanks.” His voice came out strong, confident, less pleading. His gaze—intense and looking right through her—suddenly made her want to flee.

“Shall we make a time, a day?”

“Would Saturday be a problem? I know she’ll be more relaxed then as I’m not at work.”

Would he be watching the lesson? “Um…I prefer the parents not to sit in. It’s distracting for the students.” She couldn’t bear those scrutinizing, brown eyes upon her while she taught, watching her every move, making sure she didn’t say anything offensive.

“Of course. I’m just saying, she doesn’t go to preschool on a Saturday and we normally have some quality time together. I think the preschool gets her hyped up at times but there’s nowhere else for her. That’s why Saturday would be good.”

“Sure. I’m pretty full-up the rest of the week, anyway.”

He sighed. “Look, I’d better go. Jamey’s at my work colleague’s house at the moment.”
“Sure. Saturday at ten?”

“Perfect.”

He walked out of her studio as she studied his work attire—smart-casual chinos and a checked short-sleeved shirt, beige and white. What did he do? What was he like?

He’s single.

What had gotten into her? She’d lost her mother to heart disease only six days before and had sworn off dating several years ago to get her business established. Maybe her heart was in such a weak state that it was going wonky.

She walked to the music system by her desk and played some Tchaikovsky ballet music, her favourite. The steps came back to her in waves and her energy seemed to return. Why had she stopped dancing properly the last few months? She’d done fitness, simple steps, and stretches but nothing with complex movement. Partly her mother’s illness, but also busyness and a little bitterness, since she hadn’t gotten the part in the South African ballet company she was sure she would get. But that was five years ago. She should have gotten over it by now.

The flow of her limbs to the music brought fresh tears to her eyes. She pictured her mom standing there as she used to, leaning on one leg, neatly dressed in her sleek pants and soft blouse—usually pink or peach—admiration pouring from her gaze with a half-smile and half-pursed-lip concentration. She would take in every step that she made, every nuance of form. Afterwards, she would tell her how she did and Rowena would nod because that was what she’d felt her body do.

The music reached a crescendo, mirroring her somber mood. Every cell in her body took on a whole new power—the power of drama and oozing emotion, through her movements. As the piece climaxed, she slid into the splits and flopped her arms down in an exaggerated descend.
She could still do it. After all these years.

How is your work different from others?

Whew, that’s a hard one. I think every writer has a certain charm, something that draws you to their work. I hope I have one too. Some reviewers have said my work is sweet and tender and touching.



And now I’m tagging Ylette Pearson (my dear writer friend), author of Her Bareback Cowboys You’ll find Ylette here: http://ylettepearson.com/ - don’t forget to pop in and say hi next Monday and see which author she’s tagged.