What’s this story called? And catching up with the Em-dashes

So, here we are in October, and all I seem to be doing these days is apologising for falling off the face of the planet. So for about the fifth time this week, please excuse my absence. And guess what? I have few perfectly good reasons…But I’m tired of lists so I’m just going to tell you what’s been going on.

I’ve (wait for it, duh-duh-duhhh!) finished my current WIP!

Yes, I know it makes the story seem like a long 135 000 word epic, but the truth is it’s a mere 16 000 words (almost). Yes, that makes it a novella…but a fun novella! One which my beta-readers have really enjoyed. And possible one of the best stories I’ve written so far.

In fact, this story was almost as much fun to write as Settle Down Now. Yep, that means that if you happened to see my face as I sat writing it at the Wimpy in Umhlanga, you’d have been highly amused at all the expressions my face went through – and all that shaking, that made me spill my tea, was me laughing.

Even better, with this story I got to explore and re-research an idea for a story I’ve long been wanting to write – one with treasure and set partly along the WA coast.


Writing the acknowledgements made me realise just how long it takes an idea to gestate in my lit’le ol’ brain, and how the puzzle pieces fall into my lap at different times, through different experiences and with the help of some very different (and very special) people.

I got to grow as a writer too! Thanks to my beta-readers and critters. Yes, there’s more to satisfy you romance lovers in this story, and it’s even set to appear in a very special anthology come December 2016. More about that closer to R-Day 😀

So, I’ve been hanging out (virtually) with some of my writing friends and discussing writerly things. I’m really blessed this year to have a few amazing beta-readers and critters helping me out with my stories and providing the honesty, support and encouragement that only other writers can give you. Revision is starting to intimidate me less, and I’m getting better at evaluating my own stories.

What else has been going on? Well, I’ve started doing tarot readings by email and that’s taken up some my time. I’ve been hanging out in the real world with some of my favourite family, and I’ve been trying to get my computer to be a lean, mean FAST machine and failing miserably. So, I’ll keep wishing for more memory and be thankful that my computer is of the stable, dependable ilk – and stubborn!

And then there’s the fact that it’s OCTOBER! One of my favorite months because, you know, magic happens. I’m not sure what form it will take this year (last year I had a pretty prolific month) and I can’t wait to see what will happen next! Hopefully, there’s a dragon in it somewhere…

But until dragons once again enter my life (Lightbulb! I just figured out where to go with another half-finished story :-D), I thought I’d leave you for now with the opening of my newest completed novella and a small puzzle:

What do you think is the title of this story?

You can let me know by scrolling down to the poll. I’ll post the answer in the comments later this month.

Without further ado (duh-duh-duhhh): Introducing Vivian Francis and Munro Calliston.

Extract of



Leenna Naidoo

Chapter 1

I’m sorry Mr Calliston,” said Raul Jones, “but you aren’t quite what we’re looking for this season. Next!”

Wait!” Munro Calliston’s expression switched from charming to determined. “Whatever you’re looking for, I can be that. I’ve watched every episode of Treasure Seekers. I know you need ‘characters’ more than reality.

So if you want me to be the guy nobody roots for, or the geeky fool, or the one who throws a tantrum at the slightest…” He stopped, waiting for nature to take its course.

Raul Jones, producer and presenter of the hit reality show, was looking at Munro, ignoring the next applicant hesitating at a respectful distance. Raul’s eyes lost focus, staring past the lanky man in front of him as if peering into the future. Then his eyes refocused on Munro.

So you’re willing to deliver whatever I want?”

Absolutely,” said Munro without hesitation.

Raul nodded. “Give me drama. Give me romance. The Singleton and Blind Love Or Not are stealing my audience over on the other network… Better yet, give me heartbreak! That will boost the ratings up towards the soapies for sure.”

Will do.”

Munro hid his true feelings, knowing he’d impressed Raul. Here was his chance to show the world that Munro Calliston was still the kind of man who always delivered what he promised.


I was closing the gallery when FB pinged a message for me. Audrey again. What was it this time? She couldn’t have broken off with Mithin already?

Hi Viv! Got to talk! Meet me at Starbucks.

I’d been hoping to soak my feet at home, with a pizza and a good wildlife documentary but Audrey was my best friend. And whatever this new crisis was, it sounded serious, if she needed to meet me for HotChoc instead of cocktails.

With a sigh, I sent a ‘see you there.’

Two hours later, I spotted Audrey immediately on one of the sofas, a Grande of HotChoc in front of her. I braced myself mentally and waved. This situation was a whole lot more serious than I’d thought if it rated Grande’s.

Audrey shifted her huge handbag onto the floor as I dropped down beside her and asked, “What’s wrong?”

Nothing’s wrong. Don’t you want to get yourself a drink first? The crush will start soon.”

She was right. In less than ten minutes most of the office-workers would queue for their homeward bound drinks. It was turning into a cold evening.

I opted for a choc-chip cookie with my HotChoc as I mulled over the many reasons Audrey needed a heavy dose of choc and cream. It was going to blow her daily calorie intake sky high and then there’d be the crash and recriminations and endless hours at the gym. Balance had never been Audrey’s strong point—nor mine either.

So spill!” I said as I placed my cup on the low table.

Audrey took me literally as she set her mug down next to mine. “You’re never gonna believe this!” she began, then grabbed my arm for emphasis, or perhaps she was afraid I was going to run off. “Munro’s applied for Treasure Seekers! And Celia’s partnered with him! They were both accepted as a team; can you believe it!”

I could believe it all right. They’d probably be the best-looking team on the show.

Sweetie, are you okay?” asked Audrey.

Yeah, I’m fine.”

Only you look all pale and sweaty.”

I guess I’m coming down with something.”

Audrey giggled, then gave me a sober look. “Still not over him, then?”

I wanted to say no. But that would be a lie, and Audrey would make a big deal calling me out on it.

Lucky for you,” said Audrey with her keen eyes on me and a small satisfied smile, “Celia has just broken her leg and had to drop out. She’d go on her crutches, you know, but with all the running around they’d have to do… So, I volunteered you!”

So the cream and HotChoc was more for my benefit than hers. I stared at Audrey for a full minute before my voice would work. “You what?”

I volunteered you. I had a talk with the producer and Munro, and they both agreed you were the perfect replacement! I think the producer must badly want Munro on the show, and we both know why. You’ll say yes, won’t you?” She clutched my arm harder and gave me a concerned look.

Yes. Munro was drop-dead gorgeous with piercing green eyes, a nose like a ski-slope, and a cleft chin. Let’s not forget the dimpled smile and smooth voice, and the fact that I still loved him. I finally managed to focus enough to say, “But…”

But it’s the perfect way to win him over again! Just think; you’ll be running around the place, working as a team, seeing the best and worst of each other, united by a common goal – twenty-four-seven! How could he not fall for you! I know I would!”

The answer was sadly too simple: Munro hated me even more than my sister’s Pekinese, Puffball, and Puffball still tries to tear my throat out on every visit.

But, Sweetie, Munro agreed along with the producer. You’re the perfect partner for him on this show!”

There was that.

Besides, even if you don’t win Munro over, you’ll still earn a small fortune. Maybe even enough to set up a gallery of your own and run it your way. After all, you know all the artists now and they trust you more than Gillson.”

The problem with Audrey on a mission was the difficulty in finding a flaw in her reasoning. And, I had to admit, if I didn’t let her talk me into these crazy undertakings, well…my life would be intolerably boring – and lonely.

How could I say no to any chance of winning Munro back? I’d tried, really tried for the past three years, only to go ricocheting back to yearning for him. Audrey was right. Twenty-four-seven with him on what would be the biggest adventure for both of us could have only two endings emotionally: either he would fall madly in love with me again, or he’d end up killing me. I had to try in hopes of the former outcome, or die trying. A bit over-dramatic, I know, but something had to give. My Munro cycle had gone on for too long…

Read the full story in Second Chances – A Love Anthology



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