(publication date February 21)
Seven authors, all with impeccable writing credentials, present their anthology called OUTSIDE THE BOX: Women Writing Women.
We’ve each proved our worth with awards, fellowships, teaching posts and commercial success. We’ve all self-published to keep our hard-earned independence and our artistic identity. Now we’re teaming up for an ebook collection of our full-length fiction featuring a diverse collection of unlikely heroines. There’s no one genre. Each novel is a character-led page-turner.
We want to prove that fine, original writers are creating work of value and quality. And we want to entertain you.
The anthology will be available for 90 days from February 21, 2015. Follow the tour every day to read what each of these great writers has to say about writing and so much more.
BLUE MERCY by Orna Ross
The book: Mercy stands accused of killing her elderly and tyrannical father. Now, at the end of her life, she needs Star, the daughter she fought to protect, to know what really happened that fateful night in 1989.
The author: Orna Ross writes novels, poems and the Go Creative! book series. The Bookseller calls her “one of the 100 most influential people in publishing” for her work with The Alliance of Independent Authors.
CRAZY FOR TRYING by Joni Rodgers
The book: A regional bestseller short-listed for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award. In the 1970s, a troubled young woman heads west to create a new identity and shake off the burden of her mother’s radical past, but love and loneliness take her life in an unexpected direction.
The author: Joni Rogers hit the New York Times bestseller list with her cancer memoir Bald in the Land of Big Hair. She is also ghost-writer of numerous other bestsellers and founder of the League of Extraordinary Authors. Joni lives in Houston, Texas.
MY MEMORIES OF A FUTURE LIFE by Roz Morris
The book: In this work of literary fiction, a brilliant pianist’s career is ended by injury. She turns to a mysterious healer and faces the possibility that her life is someone else’s past incarnation.
The author: Roz Morris earned her spurs as a ghost-writer, selling more than four million books writing the novels of other people. She is a writers’ mentor and a radio show host, and she teaches writing masterclasses for The Guardian newspaper.
THE CENTAURESS by Kathleen Jones
The book: Bereaved biographer Alex Forbes goes to war-ravaged Croatia to research the life of a celebrity artist and finds herself at the centre of a family conflict after she uncovers a mutilated photograph, stolen letters and a story of indeterminate gender, passion and betrayal.
The author: Kathleen Jones lives in Italy and is a Royal Literary Fund Fellow. She is best known for her award-winning biographies, and has also written extensively for the BBC.
AN UNCHOREOGRAPHED LIFE by Jane Davis
The book: Alison gave up the chance to be a prima ballerina when she became pregnant and turned to prostitution to provide for her child, but the tempting hope of a better life may come at a terrible price.
The author: Jane Davis won the Daily Mail Award for her first novel, which secured her a publishing contract. She has now gone on to self-publish four other novels and isn’t afraid to tackle the trickiest of subjects.
ONE NIGHT AT THE JACARANDA by Carol Cooper
The book: Diagnosed with cancer, Sanjay has no time to waste. Laure is a successful lawyer, Harriet is a struggling freelance writer, and Karen is a single mother of four. Before they can find a soul-mate, they each need to confront who they really are.
The author: Carol Cooper is a London-based journalist and award-winning non-fiction author. Her debut novel was a finalist in the Indie Excellence Awards 2014. In her spare time she’s a doctor.
WHITE LADY by Jessica Bell
The book: Sonia, unfaithful wife of a Melbourne drug lord, yearns for sharp objects and blood. But now that she’s rehabilitating herself as a “normal” mother and maths teacher, it’s time to stop dreaming about slicing people’s throats. Easier said than done.
The author: Jessica Bell is an Australian novelist, poet, singer/ songwriter /guitarist who lives in Athens, Greece. She is Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal and author of the bestselling Writing in a Nutshell series.
Please treat us to a short excerpt from your novel
Excerpt from The Centauress by Kathleen Jones
In every tragedy there is the accidental moment – choosing a particular seat on a train, turning down the wrong road, deciding to take a lift from the 89th floor – the arbitrary, pivotal moment that means destruction or survival…
Afterwards they sent me a phial of ash and it goes with me everywhere. Every night before I go to sleep I hold it in my hand and close my eyes and try to visualise a face that is gradually becoming more and more remote. The glass is cold and hard to the touch, but it warms in my fingers and I like to think that somewhere in it there is a flake of skin, a fragment of bone, a few remaining atoms of the person I loved. Flesh of my flesh; bone of my bone.
Excerpt from Blue Mercy by Orna Ross
Tea, I thought. I couldn’t face food but a cup of tea might help. I went down to the kitchen and turned on the kettle and that’s when I spied the hammer, sitting under the corner table since I’d nailed a sprig of holly over the kitchen door a week before, my feeble effort at Christmas cheer. Its two curled fingers, the side used for prising out nails, seemed to twitch, to beckon me across.
I picked it up, tapped its flat head against my palm, felt the weight of what I was about to do. Pulling my mind shut — no more thoughts allowed — I went to the room my father called “the parlour”. Stripped of his ornaments and furnishings, but still his. It would take a lot more than a quick clear out for it to be purged. The fireplace was black-empty and cold. I remembered him standing there in front of it, in 1982, after I’d brought my daughter home from America to see him: the sarcastic expression, the bitter words: “Well, well, well, look what the cat brought in!”
I let the hammer swing, hard and fast, into the TV screen. Smash. Shards of glass went spiking through the air. Smash again. The glass cabinet this time. I regretted that Star and I had cleared the glasses and ornaments from the shelves a few hours earlier; I would have loved to unleash myself on them.
Smash. The lump hammer put a deep V into the desk’s top and the back fell open. As it did, a torrent of paper tumbled out. Money. Notes. Old pound notes and fivers and tenners and twenties, one of my father’s secret stashes. He had them all over the house: in a biscuit tin under the floorboards in his bedroom, inside an old plant-food container on a high shelf in the back pantry, and no doubt in lots of other places that I knew nothing about.
Excerpt from My Memories of a Future Life by Roz Morris
So, another month of resting. What if it isn’t? What if it’s two, or three? What if this pain never goes away? What if I am another incurable?
What good am I if I can’t play? It’s what makes me feel like me. It’s my – it’s not my gift. I wasn’t born gifted. It’s how I’ve cheated with the unsatisfactory clay I’m made from.
When I started at Chet’s, there was a particular moment that made me feel at home there. Someone told a fellow pianist they thought her trippy runs and airy arpeggios were a gift. Nobody gave it to me, she snarled, I worked bloody hard for it.
I haven’t seen her for a good eight years. I wonder what she’s doing now. Please tell me that all these people who vanished from my radar did it because music carried them to a new place, like Karli. It didn’t abandon them.
A creaking sound.
I sit up, alert. Is it Jerry?
I hold my breath, listening for his footfall on the stairs. I’ll join him; this night is too bleak to endure alone. I’ll take the duvet down and we’ll burrow into the sofa, top to tail, red socks and all. It will be like old times, before he talked to the message boards instead of me. We shouldn’t have let that slip.
But the only sound is a far-off train, scouring through the wet night air. Jerry must still be asleep.
What did he say in King’s Road? He was going to take Tim with him to the hypnotist tonight. I wasn’t his first choice of companion; I was second.
Or who knows, maybe I wasn’t even that far up the list. I can’t think of anybody for whom I’d be first choice of friend.
When love went wrong, when Karli was taken away, I turned to that intimate communion with ivory, iron, ebony and wire.
Take the piano out of my life and what is left?
Excerpt from An Unchoreographed Life by Jane Davis
Underneath was a photo album, like any ordinary photo album, except that it was enticingly slim and black.
It wasn’t hers. It was not for touching.
Belinda eyed the living-room door for several moments. It didn’t budge.
She looked at the album again. She would just pick it up and feel the weight of it in her hands. Just have a sneaky look to see what was on the first page.
Protected from sticky fingers in a plastic folder, a ballerina lady leapt out at her. As a dark thrill washed through her, Belinda could barely breathe. The lady’s face was lifted to the light so she couldn’t be sure. At least, not 100 per cent. A chiffon scarf, held high above her head in both hands, streamed out behind her.
With a strong sense of things that were not supposed to be spoken of, the girl crossed her feet at the ankles and sank to the rug. Balancing the album on her knees, she was almost frightened to turn the page – and not just because she might get caught doing something she ought not to be doing. She didn’t need to remind herself to hold the protective plastic sleeve by its crimped edges.
The woman was on tiptoes, her head and shoulders back, her arms like wings, a silk kimono slipping from her shoulders (Belinda knew those shoulders and she stared at the photo with awe); a black man was resting his cheek against her pale chest – where the girl’s own head often lay – his eyes closed as if he might be sleeping. Breathing heavily now, the girl didn’t know if what she felt was jealousy, anger or something new and disturbing.
Excerpt from White Lady by Jessica Bell
The road is cold and rough against my left cheek—the white reflection of the moon ripples in the pool of blood between me and Dad.
I blink, wince at a sharp pain in my thigh. I touch it with my right hand. It’s wet, warm—a moist memory.
“Dad?” I whisper.
His eyelids flutter.
“Nash.” I whisper a little louder, hoping he’ll respond to his name instead. He remains still, silent, skeletal. I try to reach for him, but my left arm won’t move. I’m not sure if I can even feel it.
Behind me, slow movement shifts the air. Someone curses under their breath and kicks a rock. It tumbles, rolls to a halt in the distance.
Gentle footsteps approach from behind. Someone sniffs, groans, and clears their throat; another voice whimpers.
A switchblade flicks open. The sound hovers in the air …
Excerpt from One Night at the Jacaranda by Carol Cooper
Simon used to read her articles with interest. Back then she’d also jot down the humorous things he said, sometimes weaving them into her features. Until she realized they weren’t witty epigrams but actually snide comments at someone else’s expense. At what point had he stopped being just a music critic and branched out into criticising everything?
Tonight they ended up having sex because he wanted it. She was curious to know if it was as good as it used to be, which was stupid, because that was impossible. It never would be again.
Years ago, Harriet would go with him on the foreign jaunts he made to discover new music and find old instruments. These were trips when they couldn’t wait to get back to their hotel room, lift, wherever. She would sit waiting for him in some dusty café under a wide-brimmed hat, pretending to write as she sipped an over-priced Fanta. In reality she was rewinding the last tape of their love-making in all its knee-trembling, pelvic-clenching glory, complete with the after-burn in her lower belly that would last hours but was totally worth it.
Tonight, she also hoped that sex might put him in a good mood. But all that was a lot to ask of a simple and, to be honest, wholly perfunctory fuck. She moved her hips for a couple of minutes, building up to a crescendo when she half-heartedly faked a climax. It did at least make him roll off and fall asleep. Even Simon found it hard being supercilious during slow-wave sleep.
Harriet got up to brush her teeth. Two and a half years. That was all. No love could last beyond two and a half years. It was a scientific fact. She had read it somewhere. That was because the phenomenon called love was just a hormone storm. It took two and a half years to pass. Afterwards there might be calm, acceptance, affection, or maybe indifference. Then again, it could leave massive damage. Like Hurricane Katrina.
Excerpt from Crazy for Trying by Joni Rodgers
Tulsa weaved on shaky sea legs down the narrow aisle to the cramped lavatory. The door closed behind her with a hydraulic hiss. Tulsa leaned against it, not knowing where to set her bulky purse or her bulky self.
She remembered being on an airplane when she was small. Her mother had nudged her inside and closed the door, leaving Tulsa alone in the dim, steel-walled closet. She was afraid to sit down, thinking if she flushed, a trapdoor would swing away and ka-roosh her right out the bottom of the fuselage, under the sucking scream of the jet engines and into the vast, silent atmosphere. She tried to go standing up like she’d seen a man in the park do once but emerged with her pants and kneesocks damp and her chin trembling.
“Mom,” she gulped, “I was—I was—”
“You know what, Tuppy-my-guppy,” her mother said, “I have your burgundy cords in my bag, and I’m thinking they’d be a little more seasonable when we get to San Francisco. Comfort-wise. Would you mind changing?”
“I don’t mind,” the guppy gratefully shook her head.
Grown-up Tulsa closed her eyes, missing the scent of baby powder in low-heeled shoes.
Alexandra Firestein: “A woman has no reflection so pristine as her mother; no stronger ally, no greater enemy—except, perhaps, herself.”
Tulsa hitched up her dress, did what was necessary in the cramped space, and then washed her hands, trying to avoid the mirror. She wrestled her gigantic purse onto the sink, took out her Noxzema and wiped away the smudgy raccoonish remains of her mascara. She rubbed at a smear of blush above each sallow cheek and scrubbed her pudgy neck where the brocade pattern of the seat cushion had left a bold red imprint while she slept. She prodded her heavily padded bra, trying to push it back to semiroundness. Her hair looked like a bad night at the Ice Capades. Her forehead showed signs of premenstrual breakout.
She was ugly.
Tulsa savored the mouth-watering sting of it; it was her uniqueness, her red badge of courage, the only familiar thing left in her world. Someone at some time had opened some tiny puncture wound on her, and by carefully continuing to peel around the edges of it, Tulsa was able to open it wider, just enough to prevent it from healing. She had nurtured it through a spotty childhood and into raw red adolescence. It had become easier to lay the wound open during high school as others rushed to reaffirm her worst fears about herself.
She was asked out only once, and not by one of the three boys in her class who were taller than she was. Radley Baenmeier was the ill-fated short boy who waited for her after assembly the day Dr. Fursthort called her forward and gave her a certificate for getting the highest SAT score in the history of Lighton Valley Christian Academy. The good doctor was scowling because Tulsa was about to graduate with a D average and was known to cut classes early and often. What’s more, the girl was a Jew—a hell-bound, Christmas-concert-shunning Jew—and that mother of hers was a pestilence, God help us, a threat to decent people. Tulsa ran the gauntlet of spattering applause to the front of the auditorium, nicked the embossed certificate from his chubby fingers, wriggled out of a damp handshake, and dodged behind the heavy stage curtain. She hid, heart pounding, in the velveteen forest until everyone was gone.
But Radley Baenmeier waited for her.
Congratulations, he told her and did she suppose, he wondered, would she maybe want to go see a play or something sometime, because his mom would drive them on Friday, you know, if Tulsa wanted to go see Othello, which the state university theatre department was doing, and it might not suck, you know, so…you know. Would she? Did she want to go?
Tulsa wanted to go. Truly she did. Radley was a known brain and not completely unattractive. He was almost as tall as she was and smelled like he’d just taken a shower with Dial soap. Tulsa thought she could stand being driven by Radley’s gushy mother and sitting close beside him for two Dial-scented hours in the aching, artistic dark of Othello. But somewhere between Desdemona’s passion and Iago’s deceit, she became convinced that this must be an elaborate practical joke and someone was about to pour a bucket of pig’s blood on her head just like in Carrie, and then she got terribly thirsty and crept down the back stairs to make her way miserably home in the snow. Radley never spoke to her again. He just schlubbed over to the other side of the hall when he saw her, and Tulsa just quoted Alexandra Firestein on the archaic, meat-market practice of dating. It was easier that way. For a girl who looked like she did.
OUTSIDE THE BOX: Women Writing Women (February 20, 2015 for 90 days) £7.99/$9.99 from Amazon, Nook, iBooks, Kobo and more. More information on www.womenwritewomen.com.
FOLLOW THE PROGRESS OF THE TOUR TO READ SOME FANTASTIC POSTS BY THIS SUPER GROUP OF WRITERS
1st Prize- brand new kindle pre-loaded with the book
10 runners up prizes – A Digital swag bag