#WEP/IWSG December Challenge – Narcissus

I feared my entry for this month’s WEP/IWSG Challenge would be too late, but then as I wrote this short piece, I realised I had to post today. The reason might become relevant on reading the last scene. As for the theme, I found a Welsh element to tie elements together for Sparkle and Kama.

This 2021 Year of the Art theme has provoked some interesting thoughts – and trips down rabbit holes.

Although this year’s posts are not another ongoing case for Sparkle Anwyl and Kama Pillai of the North Wales Police, I’ve attempted something else involving them. So, once more I’m going down the stand-alone path with my dynamic Welsh duo.

But this time, I’ve tried a change of genre – well, perhaps. Also, this is a response to my editor pointing out an oversight in my Fevered Fuse novel – the lack of personal growth.

As always, apologies if I’m slow to respond or slow to visit your posts.

Plus, ensure you visit all the other writers in this challenge via:



Uplifted by daffodils, two women affirm their love and pledge to fight for human rights.



Saturday, 10th December

I stare at the unfamiliar reflection and wince. Pain comes with the job,but I can’t go out like this – not to celebrate.

Stupid. Some guys never give up easily – even cuffed.

Does it matter how I look? I purse my lips. Perhaps. I’m not vain, but tonight is special.

I reach for the makeup bag. Should I use some yellow concealer to hide my black eye? The icepack helped, but it’s still obvious. People might jump to the wrong conclusion. Abusive partner.

My fingers touch the slash on my cheek. Is a scar a turn off or a mark of courage?

Will Kama care? My whisper echoes round our bedroom.

“Of course not, cariad.” Kama replies in the doorway. I swivel and smile as she walks over, then kisses me softly. “You’re beautiful whatever happens.”

Then she sits down beside me at the vanity table.She traces the cut, then my nose. “At least, he didn’t break your mischievous feature.” She continues caressing my face.

The perfect excuse for my own daring exploration for hidden pleasure.

“Leave something for later. We need to get dressed up not down. After dinner antics are best.”

“Haven’t we always eaten first.” I slow my teasing hands, then add, “We never break the rules.”

“Except speeding on our bikes. That’s an unbroken addiction.”

Motorbikes brought us together nearly five years earlier – as did crime and our first case together.

I let our lips meet, and I enjoy the taste of minty cardamom. Long and lingering, and then I ask, “Do you ever regret the life we lead?”

“Never. I’m proud to be your partner. Both as a wife and a cop. You have doubts?”

“No longer, chellam. I admit my heart has wavered – doubt can be a mischievous trickster – was once. But we’ve proved ourselves as women, as lovers, and as crime busters.”

Kama clasps my hands. “Now we can be open with our pride, despite the risks.”

“Risk is our adrenaline and will be forever. And there are tests ahead, but we have each other. Still, I’m covering up these blemishes before we go out.”

“The table is booked for eight so I can pamper myself too. And then I’ve a present for us downstairs. Seasonal light for the cottage.”


A floral feast fills our front room. Dozens of displays of daffodils, not yellow but white blooms.

Kama beams with the flowers. “It may be eleven weeks until St David’s Day on March 1st, but why wait until our Welsh National Holiday?”

“Paperwhites – I love these daffodils. Perfect Christmas light bringers.”

“And I bought some bulbs to plant for the Spring as well. Plus, I added some which might flower on New Year’s Day. Those bring good fortune according to Chinese legend.”

“A bonus – even if having each other is our valuable destiny already.”

“I’ll echo that sentiment, cariad.”


We arrive on time at the Italian trattoria to celebrate and ‘Stand up for someone’s rights’ on a day when we are lucky to be in Wales.

When our cocktails arrive, I toast all those who fight for justice. “Not just on Human Rights Day but at every moment, chellam.”

“And together, we can take a stand for more humanity.”

On the wall behind, the face of Caravaggio’s Narcissus looks down through his pool of water at us and the vase of paperwhites on our table.

571 words FCA

Crime never sleeps.

Nor does the fight for justice and human rights.


#IWSG – Stresses & Strains

Time for the monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group post and my latest news on the writing front.

First Fevered Fuse, which should be back from my London-based editor friend by the end of the week. Hopefully, her copy/developmental/substantive edit will give me the final inspiration to finish my first Snowdon Shadowspolice procedural. Then I will have to impose a deadline to ready its submission to a publisher, possibly a small UK press, Crooked Cat / Darkstroke Books initially.

If anyone else has submission suggestions, let me know, please.

As for other ongoing writing, I’m mentally preparing for the final WEP/IWSG Challenge of 2021 – https://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/2021/12/wep-2021-continues-artistic-inspiration.html – especially as I see the deadline is now December 15th, which I had down as the initial posting, not today’s impossible stress-inducing date. Guess the theme of ‘Narcissus’ means dashing from my burrow screaming ‘I’m late, I’m late for an important writing date’.

Which brings me in a panic onto the monthly question, so please prepare for more weirdness.

But I must thank the Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh for all he does – and thanks for creating the Insecure Writer’s Support Group without whom my writing would be non-existent…and every post might be ‘farewell’.

And thanks to all those whose encouraging comments ensure I scribble onwards. Apologies for failing to reply to every comment. I try at least to press ‘like’ when I’ve read them. I do attempt an all-inclusive answer sometimes.

Finally, don’t forget to visit more active writers via the IWSG site, and to read better answers to this month’s intriguing question.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Although the question is optional, I’m again tempted to answer.

December 1 question – In your writing, what stresses you the most? What delights you?

A: Deadlines.

“Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!”

Lewis Carroll –  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Okay, I’ll explain – in a rambling way as that was the cryptic answer – as usual.

Back in the last century, well before MS meant multiple sclerosis – diagnosed in 2000 – I was writing to non-stop deadlines as an equestrian journalist. Weekly reports for various sports pages, some weeks as many as 20. And often, a detailed report for a national magazine, Eventing which ceased publication in June 2015, one of the sad closures to my life – https://rolandclarke.com/2015/09/01/end-of-an-era-closing-a-chapter-in-my-life/.

Anyway, those deadlines were stressful, although I devised a coping/cheating mechanism – I wrote the Eventing article first, then copy & pasted sections for the local papers. Note that the Eventing report was on the main winners at an event, usually over the weekend, and the locals wanted pieces on riders competing at the same event from their area.

However, not every magazine article slotted into this convenient pattern – some were feature pieces with their own deadlines, stresses, plus strains on my inefficient time management.

I wonder if this deadline-stress added to the stress-induced MS? Yes, stress is something that can trigger MS attacks. But I’ve blamed my stress on organising an end of season Awards Ball in November 1999 and a failing first marriage – both leading to my initial collapse.

Anyway, once diagnosed with MS in January 2000, I began to juggle the stress/deadlines better, gradually phasing out my career as a journalist over the next five years.

Not the fiction writing though, as Spiral of Hooves was now emerging with its own deadlines. And with this Blog site, some more appeared, like all those relating to the Snowdon Shadows police procedural series, plus writing events like NaNoWriMo, the A-to-Z Challenge, the WEP /IWSG Challenges, the annual IWSG Anthology, and this monthly post. Deadlines, and yes, stress,

But delight at the feedback and acceptance. The positive and uplifting comments are like gold fairy dust, so many thanks to you all. That counters the stress and strains.

One of the greatest delights was having my short story, Feathered Fire appear in the IWSG Anthology  Voyagers: The Third Ghost: The Third Ghost, released May 5th 2020.

That kind of acceptance makes the stress worthwhile. But I keep wanting a novel acceptance. Am I greedy?

Gazing at daffodils, two women weave their tale of love and loss

Not Fevered Fuse, but an aftermath – or a postscript. Time for another Blurb Blitz Challenge.


The awesome co-hosts for the December 1 posting of the IWSG are PJ Colando, Diane Burton, Louise – Fundy Blue, Natalie Aguirre, and Jacqui Murray!

How can I be repetitive asking you to agree these guys are the best? Well, they are – especially as they all have concerns, fears, and insecurities. But they struggle on, so ticker-tape applause for all of them – plus toasts with the best brew available.

Purpose of IWSG: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience, or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something.

For more on the IWSG monthly post and links to other participants visit: