Month: July 2023

Time, Heal my Heart.

Time, Heal my Heart.

Though invisible and intangible, time is a constant immutable factor of life. Our lives run on this key factor. Rushing around we can’t outrun it. We can’t wind it back nor slow it down. It proceeds ever onward regardless of our wishes. I find this so intriguing, more so as I grow older. When we are young, we barely think of it running out for us one day. In fact, as a child, we want it to go faster so we can be a grown up. But by twenty or thirty years of age it dawns on us that getting older may not be so much fun. When our own parents age, we start looking time in the face. So time is the thing in life. My latest novel encompasses this theme. It is titled Time, Heal my Heart.

Writing Historical fiction

It was coming across my grandparent’s story that led me to writing historical fiction. Pretty weird for a math science teacher to write a historical fiction novel but we get weirder as we age. Once started on this imaginative adventure of creative writing and I was hooked. Whispers Through Time was my debut novel. It’s set in the early 1900s and is the story of two sisters, Winifred and Francesca who travel from London to the other side of the world a few months after the sinking of the Titanic. It’s Winifred, my grandmother’s story embellished with the magic brush of fiction. But it is also my great-aunt Francesca’s story.

Onboard SS Rangatira bound for Sydney, she meets my grandfather, Walter and they start a new life in Sydney, Australia in 1913, just before the outbreak of The Great War.

Time, Heal my Heart

The sequel to Whispers through Time is about to be released on August 18. It is available for pre order on most platforms. Entitled, Time, Heal my Heart, it continues the story of the two sisters as war erupts shortly after their marriages. Like millions worldwide, their lives are disrupted. For Winifred, her life will change forever. I nearly titled this book ‘Time Across the Oceans’ but this title is already taken along with all the good ones.

You have to be very inventive these days with titles and even your name. I didn’t realise there was another author with my name until after I published my first book. By then it was too late. So, beware there are two of us. Joni Scott in America writes devotional and biblical books so that’s not me. I am happier it is this genre not horror or erotic porn books. That would be an incompatible mix up. Since my books are mostly sweet romances and historical, readers of her books can come my way and vice versa. My website is joniscottauthor.com. Follow my blog there as well as read about my books. There are four now. Two historical and two contemporary romance.

Romance, war, loss and mystery

Now I think you will enjoy the historical sequel, Time Heal my Heart. There’s a lot on offer; romance, war, loss, mystery and tragedy and even a couple of war orphans. You will travel from Sydney to London to France and the battlefields of the Somme plus the mysterious abbey of Mont Saint Michel. It’s a story that will pull on your heart strings especially as it is true.

Take time to read. It’s a great escape from the reality of life. It enriches your experience and knowledge. It’s relaxing, nourishing and once you have the book, free!

Stay tuned if you enjoy the books for number three, Last Time Forever, due out August 2023.

 

Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels: Whispers through Time, The Last Hotel, Colour Comes to Tangles and her latest WW I drama Time, heal my Heart. Joni has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.

 

 

The Crazy Writing Process for ‘The Last Hotel’!

The Crazy Writing Process for ‘The Last Hotel’!

OnlineBook.org offers reviews of member’s books by other members. Recently, an author reviewed my second novel, The Last Hotel. This came as a pleasant surprise as I never solicited a review. So, I posted it here as these reviews are not posted on Amazon or Goodreads where most readers look to read opinions on books. Here it is, below and this is the link to it; An author’s review of The Last Hotel. If only this reviewing author knew the crazy writing process involved in writing this book.

However, the review does offer a unique insight into this novel that had to write itself because the author only had one hand! As my husband kept telling me, ‘Writing a book, what a dumb idea!’ I added in a few headings/comments to break up this review, so easier to read and please read on if you are interested in the crazy writing process for The Last Hotel.

An Author’s Review of The Last Hotel

“The Last Hotel by Joni Scott is a thought-provoking and immersive novel that explores the depths of human nature, the pursuit of purpose, and the complexities of relationships. Scott’s eloquent writing style and meticulous attention to detail bring the story to life, enveloping readers in a world that is both familiar and unsettling.

The novel follows the lives of five strangers who find themselves mysteriously trapped in a desolate hotel. As they navigate their way through the eerie corridors and interact with one another, their individual stories gradually unfold. Scott skillfully weaves together their narratives, delving into themes of regret, forgiveness, redemption, and the universal search for meaning.

Based on real events and people

The characterization in “The Last Hotel” is one of its greatest strengths. Each character is distinct, flawed, and burdened by their past. Scott takes the time to delve into their inner struggles, fears, and desires, allowing readers to form a deep connection with them. The evolution of these characters throughout the story is both realistic# and compelling, as they confront their demons and discover hidden strengths within themselves.

The setting of the hotel itself is masterfully crafted. Scott’s vivid descriptions create an atmosphere of tension, with its dilapidated walls, flickering lights, and a lingering sense of unease. The hotel serves as a metaphorical backdrop, representing the characters’ emotional and psychological states, adding an additional layer of depth to the narrative.

Scott’s exploration of existential themes is thought-provoking and raises profound questions about the human condition. Through the characters’ introspection and interactions, the novel prompts readers to reflect on their own lives, purpose, and the choices they have made. It encourages a deeper examination of personal growth, self-reflection, and the impact of our actions on others.

Literary fiction!

However, while “The Last Hotel” is a captivating read, there are moments when the pacing feels sluggish. Some sections could benefit from tighter editing and more concise storytelling. Nonetheless, the compelling characters and intriguing premise keep readers engaged, even during these slower moments.

In conclusion, “The Last Hotel” by Joni Scott is a richly crafted novel that offers a profound exploration of human nature and the search for meaning. With its engaging characters, atmospheric setting, and thought-provoking themes, it is a must-read for fans of literary fiction. Despite some pacing issues, Scott’s storytelling prowess shines through, making this an enjoyable and worthwhile read for anyone seeking a thought-provoking and immersive literary experience.”

Strangers meeting

As a newbie writer, I am pleased by this appraisal, especially the inclusion of my style as literary fiction. It sounds much better than chic lit or women’s fiction! It is interesting what other people find in your writing. I realised The Last Hotel is character driven rather than plot driven. After all, it was the gathering of desparate and disparate individuals at the Nice Airport in 2020 that inspired the book.

There was no crime ever intended, I was just fascinated watching these airport strangers interact (me being one of those strangers) and decided to write down some ideas for a second book, also unplanned. At the time, in March 2020, I was crippled by CRPS so could barely write let alone brush my teeth or hair. It was my medical condition of CRPS that had brought me to Italy. I had come for a cure in a clinic in Genova.

Writing a book, what a dumb idea!

This cure did eventuate, but it took a while over the next two years to fully recover as I underwent rehabilitation. I can type today, brush my teeth and hair but back then at the airport as we tried to find a flight home, I was a one-handed, one-armed ‘cripple’ of sorts, still in immense pain from the CRPS. So, writing another book was a dumb idea, my husband’s words exactly. As he struggled along with both our cases from hotel to hotel as there were few flights available, he kept muttering these words. ‘Writing a book, what a dumb idea!’

But as we waited, day after day in budget airport hotels, the idea of this book was persistent in my mind. There was nothing else to do. We had to stay in isolation. Written permits allowed one trip out a day for food or medical purposes. There was only a small grocery store a block away. Even the vending machine had run out of food. Pressing the button for tomato soup only yielded a mug of hot water. Our tiny hotel room was equally disappointing. It had two bunks, a cubicle bathroom and a limited view of the Nice airport. If you climbed on the top bunk, you could see a scattering of planes going nowhere. They were as grounded as we were.

Writing filled the hours.

With an uncertain future, a cancelled holiday and no physiotherapy available, there was nothing to do but write this ‘dumb’ book. This was only possible by tapping away with my good left hand on the old iPad I had brought along. If only the people at the airport knew I had borrowed them for my novel. There was the young ballet dancer with a dream of dancing in the Nice Opera. He had only just arrived form Melbourne the week before and now had his contract on hold. I named him Sasha.

Then there was the mother and daughter planning a year in Provence. I called them Deborah and Andrea. The two young Brits who had just lost their dream jobs in St Tropez, they became my Kaz and Lou. The very helpful young Brit who carried people’s bags up and down the stairs because the elevators and escalators were turned off, well, he became Will. As I never took their details, these people may never know they are in a book. The hotel in lovely Beaulieu-sur-Mer is fictional but there is one like it in Beaulieu and there is even a bookshop next door, just near the market square too, where my hotel/pensione is based. I checked it out on Google Earth.

Getting it all together, The crazy writing process.

I had my characters, the reason for their meeting was the real reason they assembled at the airport ie Virus Alert 2020. Now I just had to get them interacting at The Last Hotel. This happened over a period of five months, after we finally scored a flight home to Australia. With my swollen right arm and hand on a pillow, that busy left hand of mine tapped out the story.

Finally, by September it was as finished as I could manage. It needed editing but my previously good left hand was worn out. It developed strange callouses that developed into dePuytren’s nodules so then I had no good hands. In despair, I sent the whole thing off to Tellwell Publishers, hoping they could sort it into a book. This they did and gave it a lovely cover. Maybe they should have accelerated parts of the book and edited more. But it was during global lockdown when things slowed down to a snail’s pace, even at the publishers.

My fourth book has only just been released due to this Covid effect. Two years at the publishers for this baby has been another long wait. But hopefully, there will be more good reviews and happy readers. Let me know.

Joni Scott is an Australian author with three published novels: Whispers through Time and The Last Hotel and Colour Comes to Tangles. Joni has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.

Post war Paris in the 1920s

Post war Paris in the 1920s

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh month of 1918, the guns along the Western Front sputtered into silence. It was the end of The Great War.

Worldwide people rejoiced, waved flags, danced, and kissed strangers in the streets. But the mask of euphoria and laughter hid from view the broken lives of returned soldiers, grieving widows, and mothers. In truth, the world was hiding its pain beneath a veneer of gaiety that transmitted its energy forward into the Jazz Age. Although life on the surface returned to normal at a faster pace for the lucky ones, the undercurrent of tragedy changed life forever, defining the early part of the twentieth century as ‘before’ or after ‘the war’. The 1920s was a special era in post war Paris.

A Honeymoon in Post war Paris

My characters, Winnie and her sister, Francesca emerge from the war and from the end of the poignant story, Time, Heal my Heart (release date August 18) into a new chapter of their lives post war. Decades later, Winnie urges Francesca to write their story from her diaries so their children will know the life they had. Francesca decides to set the beginning of her story in the early 1920s, after the war in post war Paris, because she doesn’t want to recall wartime horrors. Here is the beginning of her story as written in the last novel in the Time Series, Last Time Forever.

‘I loved Paris at first sight. We visited this romantic of cities for a second honeymoon in April 1921, So, I will begin my story with Paris. What better place to start? What better place for a honeymoon? (If you too like the idea of a honeymoon in Paris, read my short story, A Honeymoon in Paris) Paris in the Twenties was so alive that a visit there after the war proved perfect. There I could also connect with my French friend, Lisbette.

The following is part of a letter Lisbette writes to her friends back home in Australia. It captures the Paris of the early 1920s.

Post war Paris, a City of music, love and art

‘Beautiful but war-damaged Paris is very lively now since the war. The city is full of music, love, and art, especially art. Many artists have flocked here to the Montparnasse area on La Rive Gauche where Gervais lives. They find accommodation more affordable here than in Montmartre and I suppose the construction of the Sacre Coeur church on the hill disturbed their bohemian lifestyle. You may be interested to learn that the beautiful church is nearly complete. I remember you frequented this area in your days in Paris. The artists are finishing the mosaic work now.

But for now, Montparnasse is quite the place to be for artists and writers alike. Unlike me Gervais has money, so he took me to some of the cafes and once to a cabaret. The jazz music imported from America is all the rage here. It is very lively with a frantic beat which has become the pulse of Paris. We went to a music hall and even the scandalous Folies Bergère. Women in this city are wearing less and less!

The flappers, a new way to dress

I feel very overdressed and matronly compared to les garçonnes, the boy girls or flappers as they are also called. These boyish young things with bobbed hair wear dresses with absolutely no shape. Gervais says I must buy a new wardrobe, but of course, I don’t have the money or inclination for such frivolity. I have a son to raise somehow, so cannot waste anything on my vanity. I wander about in my old brown coat and straw hat looking very plain and out of date, a stranger from the past in the new vibrant Paris.’

Then Francesca arrives from her long trip from Australia and sees Paris with her own eyes.

‘The city with its gracious buildings and lovely wide avenues was beautiful. There was music in the air, carried to us from a music hall on the soft breeze that wafted from the river Seine.

Beauty in the Air

The next morning, Paris in the sunlight was in full view and I adored everything. There was beauty everywhere, the river, the sidewalk cafes, the churches and the people. Not just the sights, but the sounds- of music, church bells and of course, the language spoken or sung all around me.

‘Oui, Madame…..S’il vous plait, Madame…. Merci, Madame’

Accordion players wearing neckties and berets sang quaint songs by the shaded banks of the Seine. Snatches of songs drifted our way.

‘Mon ami Pierrot, au clair de la lune…’

Near the famous Eiffel Tower, patriotic nationalism stirred in song,

Allons enfants de la patrie, Le jour de Gloire est arrive.’

Le Marseillaise is such a stirring anthem sung proudly and strongly’

I fell in love with the Eiffel Tower

‘I looked for the beautiful tower wherever we walked as I loved it from all angles and night and day.

Ah! Le tour Eiffel. Encore,’ I exclaimed to Seb, yet again as its now familiar grey lines peeped from behind a building or became visible down an alleyway.

He laughed at my fixation on the now-popular national landmark.

‘The French hated it at first, even protested when Eiffel built it for an exposition.( see the movie, Eiffel) But now they love it. They put it on all the postcards!’

Oh, how I loved Post war Paris!

‘Well, it is very tall and imposing close up. I guess nearby residents would have objected. But maybe when it was complete, they changed their minds, as for a tower, it has beautiful lines,’ I reasoned.

Indeed, its lines were even more gracious when silhouetted at night against the moonlight. We took a bateau mouche ride down the Seine and came across the tower as we passed downstream.

‘Your tower, darling. There it is, again!’ Seb whispered in my ear.

I laughed and snuggled closer, gazing up at the grey metal tower, glorious and proud in the moonlight.

Oh! How I loved Paris!’

If you like the idea of this story then you must start with my first book Whispers Through Time. Admittedly not my best work as it is my debut novel, it will introduce you to the sisters Winnie and Francesca in 1905. Then you will want to follow their journey through the next two books, Time Heal my Heart and Last Time Forever, finishing in the 1960s.

Joni Scott is an Australian author with three published novels: Whispers through Time and The Last Hotel and Colour Comes to Tangles. Time, Heal my Heart will be released August 18.

Joni has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.

The Letter from Italy

The Letter from Italy

 Here’s another one of my short stories, a sweet story to touch your heart. I always like to do that write stories and books that touch the heart and celebrate the best in humanity. Here we go, read on…. This is a story called ‘The Letter from Italy.’

‘ A twist of the cap, a tilt of the bottle and the little capsules filled my hand. Pink and glossy, they glistened in my palm. A small red stripe defined their middles. They were a work of art.

‘Swallow me, take me!’ they implored in Wonderland style.

One gulp and the pretty little pills would all be gone and so would I. Sweet release from the black dog of depression, sweet revenge for my unappreciative children, my cheating ex-wife. This would show them. This and the will that excluded them. Renewed anger rose, my jaw clenched.

I cupped the handful of tiny avengers to my mouth, the glass of water in my other hand. Seize the moment, this was it.

A Timely Interruption

‘Ding, Dong. Hello! Jim, are you there?’

‘God, damn it. What the ….!’

Mary, my neighbour, again. Why did she have to keep calling by?

I would ignore her, that’s what I’ll do. Go away busybody Mary. Leave me alone. I’m here with my black dog and my saviour pills.

‘Ding, Dong. Jim, it’s Mary. I brought you some muffins and your mail. There’s a registered letter for you, special delivery.’

What the …? Who could be sending me a registered letter?

I kicked my feet free of the tangle of blankets and heaved myself out of my ravaged bed. Every morning my bed resembles a war zone, reflecting my sleepless nights and tortured dreams. Pulling back the faded curtains, I flinch with the sudden onslaught of morning light. Well, maybe noonday light.

It was well past morning. The early joggers, the morning dog walkers passed by hours ago, followed by the school kids squealing and chattering. I hated mornings and I hate morning people. Why are they so happy and cheerful? Isn’t life shit for them too?

A Surprise Letter

Shuffling down the hallway, I wrench the front door open. There she is, old Mary, always cheerful too, always upbeat. If she wasn’t so kind and sweet, well, I would have told her where to go, years ago.

‘Blueberry and coconut, today, Jim. Fresh from the oven. They will be lovely with a coffee. And here’s your letter. I told the postman not to wake you. He came early. I signed for it. It’s from Italy, how exciting!’

‘Italy! I don’t know anyone from Italy. What the…!’

I bit my tongue. Mary was a lady. No swearing in front of Mary.

‘Well, open it, Jim. Do you want me to make coffee for us, while you read it? That will work.’

For such a tiny woman, such an old woman, Mary wielded power. She marched past me into the kitchen and put the kettle on.

The past returns

I sat at the table and tore the envelope. Inside lay a handwritten letter and as I opened it, a photo dropped to the table. Gazing down, I looked into the faces of two young people, happy and smiling. They were in love. I knew because the young man was me, forty years ago.

The villa overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean, purple bougainvillea, her smile, her laugh. Isabella. Genova. A holiday romance, so long ago now.

Confused, I turned to the letter’s envelope. Flicking it over, revealed the sender. Isabella.

Stunned, I raked my disheveled hair from my forehead. After all these years, why was Isabella writing to me? She must be sixty, like me.

Mary interrupted my thoughts. ‘Here we are now, a nice hot mug of coffee. It will do you the power of good, Jim, and have a muffin with it. I’ll join you for a minute, do you good to have some company. Locked away in that bedroom all the time, it’s no good for you, son.’

Paralysed by a letter

Normally, I would shoo Mary out on the pretense of not feeling well. But I let her stay today because I was in shock, paralysed by this letter.

‘What’s the letter about, Jim? Have you won a holiday in Italy?’

‘It’s from an old friend. This is Isabella and me, forty years ago. I haven’t read the letter yet.’

‘Well, go ahead. I’ll just sip my coffee.’

Mary sat surveying the photo as I eagerly read the letter.

‘You were a handsome lad, Jim, and this Isabella is so beautiful! Was she your girlfriend?”

Momentous news in the letter

I ignored Mary as I processed the momentous news in the letter. Isabella was here, in Sydney, on vacation. She had found me and wanted to catch up, tomorrow, if possible near the Opera House. My heart skipped a beat. My pulse raced. Isabella, after all these years. What would she be like? Still as beautiful? Was she still married to that loser, the fisherman? So many questions after so many years.

‘It’s exciting news, I can tell, Jim. You look all flushed. You’ve come alive. My muffins are restorative, but they can’t perform magic. It’s the letter, isn’t it?’ Mary was persistent.

‘Yes, it’s Isabella. She’s here in Sydney and wants to see me tomorrow. There’s a phone number. I need to ring her. But what will I say, Mary?’

‘Well, you’ll say, you’re coming, of course, won’t you? But you need a shave and a haircut, boy. You can’t meet a lovely lady, looking like that!’

 Mary was right. She straightened herself and rose from the chair.

‘I’ll be on my way now, Jim.’

Mary Saved my Life!

‘Thanks, Mary.’ I meant it, too. Mary had saved my life. If I’d swallowed those pills, I would not have this letter, this piece of joy, I wouldn’t be meeting Isabella tomorrow!’

                                                     *******

Butterflies in my stomach, sweaty hand clenching a bunch of daffodils, I waited near the Opera House steps. The white concrete sails of the symbol of Sydney, gleamed in the morning sun. Morning! I was out in the morning sun. A first for me, after a year of wallowing in a dark room with my black dog.

Isabella

How would we recognise each other? She had said something about a hat, a pink hat. I scanned the crowds of tourists for the colour pink. There in the distance was something pink bobbing along, only just visible but getting closer with each moment. Then the pink hat materialized through the crowd, then a slim figure wearing a floral dress, then finally, a face.. It was Isabella. I knew the walk, the sway of her hips, the skip in her step. My Isabella, after all these years.

I raised my hand and walked towards her.

‘Isabella!’

‘Jim!’

We hugged, then kissed on the cheek, twice, each side, as Europeans do.

‘You haven’t changed!’ she exclaimed.

I had but did not argue. She was as lovely as ever, her eyes as smiling and warm, her lips as inviting. Only Time’s brush of tiredness reflected the passing of the years.

‘Come, I booked a table by the harbour. Come and tell me about your life. I’m dying to hear all about you. It’s been forty years, Jim.’

Didn’t I know it, hadn’t I felt it, when I compared myself in the mirror to that young man in love in Genova, a lifetime ago.

The Years Fell Away

But over lunch and a bottle of wine, or was it two?, the years fell away, and we rushed back in defiance of Time’s relentless march forward.

The joy for life

returned and illuminated my dark soul. White light split into radiant colours like the sparkles of light on the glistening harbour. My heart warmed every time Isabella smiled at me across the table. We clasped hands. We remembered. This time, there was no impediment to our love. Pedro was dead, drowned at sea, years ago.

‘He’s dead, Jim. But my love for you never died. It’s still alive. I feel it, warming my soul, like before. Do you feel it, too?’

‘Yes, oh, yes, Isabella, I do! I still love you because I always loved you. I never stopped loving you, my darling girl.’

So, there by the beautiful harbour, under white sails, in the glorious sun, we pledged our love again.

Later at her hotel, we remembered more, laughed some more. Time spiralled us back, twisting and turning at the ‘what if’, the ‘only if’ moments that could have reunited our lives, earlier. And then she showed me another photo, taken a few years after we parted.

Angelo

‘It’s my boy, Angelo,’ she explained.

‘Ah! A handsome lad.’

‘Like you, handsome like you. He has your eyes.’

Stunned, I looked over at Isabella.

‘Yes, he’s yours, ours, our Angelo.’

‘He’s waiting to meet you. He’s in the room next door. He understands.’

Could there be anymore surprises, twists in my life that so nearly had ended just a day ago?

Yes, there were more. There was a return to Genova, to a different villa but on the same headland above the little cove where we had swum and made love forty years before. Angelo came and drank wine and laughed with us before returning to his young family. I was now an Italian grandfather and soon to be an Italian husband to my Isabella.

Photo from jack-ward-rknrvCrfS1k-unsplash

Joni Scott is an Australian author with three published novels: Whispers through Time and The Last Hotel and Colour Comes to Tangles. Joni has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.

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