MEET J B REYNOLDS

My guest this week proves another theory of mine – all great writers have had a myriad of different jobs – it’s all to do with the watching, observing, learning of people, places and things. He’s had a fascinating life. And, a little bird told me that his wife is helping him with his marketing – ah I wish …  isn’t that wonderful?

BJ Reynolds

Hi, I’m J.B. Reynolds and I live in rural Northland, New Zealand, where I raise children and chickens. (In case you’re wondering, chickens are easier—they also make less mess). I write humorous short fiction in which tragedy meets comedy and character reigns supreme. My first short story was published while I was a university student in the mid-nineties. Since my graduation and a return to serious writing in 2016, I’ve worked as a teacher, graphic designer, landscaper, ski and snowboard technician, film critic, librarian, apple picker, and baker of muffins and teacakes.

Nowadays, when not writing, I’m a husband, father, and high school teacher (not necessarily in that order). I enjoy sailing, cycling, and playing music, really loud, when my wife and kids aren’t at home, although now that I’ve hit forty I’ve begun to worry about cumulative hearing loss, so I’ve been dialling the volume back a little. (I blame it on my love of power tools and the rock and roll of my youth, although to be honest, there are few places in the world that are noisier than a high school classroom).

I also have a big garden where I like to get my fingernails dirty, and I love to eat the things that grow in it (the fruit and vegetables anyway—I’m not so keen on the insects).

As far as my writing goes, I’m currently working on my Crossing the Divide short story series. Melding tragedy with comedy and switching between settings in Central Otago, New Zealand, and Brisbane, Australia, each story in the series focuses on a different character and explores that character’s struggle to connect with the people in their lives.

The most recent book in the series, Square Pegs, is the story of an angry young man trying to find his way in the world. It came out at the major ebook stores in March. Here’s the blurb.

BJ Reynolds book pic

Tired, thirsty, and frustrated, Darryl wants only two things: a) a beer, and b) to be left alone by his troublesome neighbors. Fate, however, has other ideas.

Book 4 in the series will launch later this year. It’s the story of a young, foul-mouthed, opinionated mother-of-one and her friendship with a beautiful, elegant, upper-middle-class woman ten years her senior—also a mother-of-one. Both women live in small-town Central Otago and the story follows the events of a joint shopping expedition to a neighbouring town with their young children.

You can find out more about me and my writing at jbreynolds.net, or follow me on Facebook.

 

Thank you for being my guest this week JB  Reynolds – now are you also wondering what the initials stand for? Maybe he’ll tell us in the comments.

DRAGONS AND DISASTER

THE TRAVEL STORY

Penang was a nice place, but it was almost impossible to see much. Not from the top of the bus, that was too scary, but because of all the people, you could hardly put a pin between them (well a little more artistic licence here as one of the photos will show).

Altogether we spent 5 hours on that bus and the heat was unbearable as it wended its way down to Butan Ferringhi. Most places were incredibly filthy, the food stalls grungy, the public loos a disgrace and we were bombarded with rap and other raucous music and horrendous traffic jams.

We’d become so used to the row outside, people, car horns and delightful screaming children that I was slow to realize the dragon dancing in a house across the road. So apologies for the blurred pictures, I missed most of it.

HISTORY NONSENSE

Now those of you who are really switched on will have noticed that I’ve hopped back in time a little to tell you more about Bertie. (I’m not too fussed about precision if you’re not). At this point I wish to remind you of my disclaimer as to the accuracy of these lessons and should you fail any exam by quoting from my blogs I take no responsibility whatsoever.

Now just when you were thinking that Bertie was an absolute cad (an old British word for scumbag) you should know that when Lily Langtree became pregnant, Mr Langtree went bankrupt and left her and she was forced to retire from society.

Lillielangtry1ACTRESS

She moved into a small apartment and was astounded when Bertie – (by now called Teddy by most of his friends), knocked on the door.

He proved himself loyal and helped her begin her acting career by introducing her to all the right people. They had ceased to be lovers, but the Prince remained a good friend. That’s not probably quite as his wife Alix saw it however.

 

THE EMBARRASSING PROMO BIT

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I’ve not pushed my comedy book for a while and it’s worth a read, especially if you’re feeling a little depressed. I take you back in time to Fairyland, two hundred years on from that memorable ball, to tell you about Cinderella, now fat, blousy and very, very common. She’s had enough of King Charming and is planning on how to get a divorce. Add to this the elegant and prissie Snow White, married to King Harold who beds anything within reach, and Sleeping Beauty who is making up for lost time and terrorizing her wimpy husband King Augustus who can’t afford to feed the 28 children they’ve already produced. As if all that wasn’t bad enough enter the Green Giant who has been sent to cause a revolution among the happy peasants who are just that – happy.  http://amzn.to/2j26YUd

Till next week, take care.

MEET SALLY CRONIN

I’m really thrilled to have Sally as my guest this week. She is a tireless supporter of us Indie authors with lots of exposure (of the polite kind). She’s set up an online book store where she features authors and their books so it’s the very least I can do to return the favour. Do look out for her blogs, Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life they are always fun to read. How Sally finds the time to write books with all the time she spends helping other writers I’ve not the faintest idea, and moving from Spain to Ireland – I hope I’ve got that right Sally?

But that’s quite enough from me over to Sally, and we are all about to learn something very, very important.

sally wedding day 1980

What’s in Name?

Sally Cronin has always been fascinated by names and their origins. Having met a number of people over the years who had been named after historical or famous people, she thought it would be interesting to write stories about men and women who then have to live up to the previous owners reputation. The twenty stories are about life, love, celebration and the overcoming of challenges by extraordinary people.

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In the first volume of What’s in a Name, we discover how Brian carries on the family high flying tradition with its origins in the caves of ancient man. How David fought gallantly in the First World War against the might of the enemy, and now stands with his comrades each year to pay tribute to those who did not return. Or how Grace finally achieved her dreams that filled her days in the orphanage.  All of the men and women in the stories bring a new dimension to their names that they can be proud of or be remembered for.

In a day and age where those in the spotlight name their children after football teams, capital cities or simply a colour, it will be interesting to see if the classical names of the past will survive.

Reviews and buy Link for What’s in a Name

Publisher’s website at reduced price of £1.95: http://www.moyhill.com/wian/index.html

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N6Y8BK1

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N6Y8BK1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

All books available: https://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com

Sally’s other passion is healthy eating.

Size Matters: Especially when you weigh 150 kilos by Sally Cronin

Thirty years ago obesity was a rarity amongst children, and adults, and the related health problems were restricted to a small proportion of the population. Today, it is an epidemic and as we expand our waistbands we are forced into increasing our financial investment in health care for the resulting medical problems that can be life threatening.

There are a number of factors involved in obesity and not all of them are related to the amount of food that we consume. But it is directly related to the type of food we eat.

Our current obesity crisis has been fuelled by the ‘expert’ governmental advice that demonised fats in favour of a high carbohydrate diet thirty years ago. Whilst moderate wholegrain carbohydrate consumption has nutritional benefits for the body, the wholesale reduction in our diet of healthy fats has had a devastating impact on our health.

Sally 3

Healthy fats have an essential role in the health of our major organs including our brain and heart, and play a part in maintaining a healthy cholesterol balance. Cholesterol is another naturally occurring substance in our bodies that has been treated with a shotgun approach to reduce its levels. Cholesterol is needed in many chemical reactions within the body including the production of hormones. Which makes it even more ironic, that pills are being prescribed to reduce cholesterol in men and women, at precisely the same time their hormones are already on the decline.

If you have a population with a diet that is predominantly carbohydrate, especially when it is refined white and often sugar laden such as white rice, packaged white bread, cakes, biscuits, pies and desserts, there is an immediate rise in the number of people who have diabetes. When blood sugar levels are high, any excess sugar is turned to fat, usually around the belly area

This white diet begins in the womb with the mother’s consumption of white carbohydrates and continues in sweetened formula and canned baby food. Once a child is eating solids and is given industrialised foods, chemically concocted from white flour, sugary cereals with artificial sweeteners, refined sugars and Tran’s fats, the reason for the steep rise in childhood obesity is identified.

After studying nutrition and the human body twenty years ago, I stopped eating all industrially produced foods and cooked from scratch. I ate a handful of wholegrain carbohydrates and eliminated sugar except for honey. I lost 70 kilos in 18 months and my key indicators such as Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar and Cholesterol all returned to normal levels.

Size Matters was based on my journal that I kept for those 18 months and also the programme that I designed to help me lose the weight. I went on to share that programme with over 2000 clients over the last 18 years, and have seen the results in others, as they lost the substantial amounts of weight.

The reality is that you can have some of the foods we all enjoy such as ice-cream, chocolate and Danish pastries. But it cannot be every day and for every meal. They have gone from being weekly treats to daily staples and that is one of the key elements in the rise in obesity levels.

The other element is that our activity levels have dropped from childhood to middle-age.  We used to walk to school, play for a couple of hours each day in the street or garden, play games at school three times a week and spend hours out in the sunshine and fresh air.  The amount of PE offered in school continues to fall and is now under two hours per week. Children are also easier to protect when they are behind a computer or in front of a television.

Families were lucky to have one car in the family, now there are usually two. Instead of walking to the shops every day for fresh produce we go in the car once or twice a week. Or we order online and bulk out the order with extras to reach the £50 needed for a free delivery. We take advantage of the buy two get one free and we abide by the use by dates throwing away food, buying more and eating it all before it goes off.

We are eating more food each day than ever before without any thought of how many calories we need daily or how much we are consuming. Little realising that one Danish pastry would require a six mile walk to work off.

Food is wonderful and I certainly do not deprive myself but something always pulls me back from too much indulgence. The memory of how I felt when I weighed 150 kilos could not climb stairs, take a bath, go on an airplane or was told that I would be dead by the age of 45 from a combination of lifestyle related diseases.

We are the ones who decide what we put in our mouths and we should not hand that responsibility over to the marketing department of a food company whose only interest is getting you to consume more food.

Size Matters and Sally Cronin’s other books are available through Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2/

Further reviews: Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Blog: Blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com

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RIDES AND RUMPLED SHEETS

THE TRAVEL PART

So we’d arrived in Penang. Now DH and I usually take the Hop on Hop off bus tour in a new city just to orientate ourselves and decide what we want to see. By this time we’d been to so many places it just wasn’t possible to plan in advance.

It seemed that half of China had discovered friends and family in Penang and rushed to spend Chinese New Year with them.

Initially we walked for miles and miles looking for the bus and quite by chance I noticed a shopping mall – a really nice, large, modern one.

Normally, like most men, any mention of shopping sends DH into a frenzy as he reaches for a bag of salt, a string of garlic and two sticks to hold up to ward off the evil eye. This time, even he was happy to take a break while we searched for information on the bus and where it might park up to let us on.

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We were in luck later in the day as we finally spied the Penang Hop on Hop off bus and sprinted after it as you do – well DH sprinted, my effort was more of a shuffle. Surprisingly we were not the only ones wanting to take a bus ride and I have vague memories of DH launching me into space over the heads of the waiting queue and on to the bus (a little poetic licence here). Time to meet another frustrated Formulae 1 driver and I took very few pictures as I refused to pry my fingers off the rail as I clung on for dear life.IMG_4256

Next day we decided we would continue our explorations on foot and returned on shaky legs back to the hotel which looked so much better in the dark – matching the delightful pictures on Booking.com.

HISTORY LESSON

When Bertie heard that his wife had been involved by being told about another indiscretion he was furious and challenged the husband to a duel. Of course to accept it, and win, would be a case of high treason. The irate husband was persuaded to to stop divorce proceedings – as if he had a choice!

LILY LANGTREE POSTER

Did that stop Bertie? Not a bit of it, he hooked up with a wannabe actress called Lily Langtree and they were seen everywhere, but only when Alix was not around, if she was then Bertie was the perfect husband.  There was yet another scandal and once again the Prince was called into court to give evidence. Alix escaped by taking a Thompson’s fly cruise holiday over to visit her family in Denmark and Bertie was lost without her.

THE SHAMELESS ADVERTISING SECTION

I am announcing that all three of the Amie books are now available in Spanish. This is a brilliant opportunity for anyone learning Spanish to buy one each in English and also in Spanish and read them side by side. Think of that – I am not only entertaining you, but furthering your education at the same time. And you can choose either the ebook version or paperback. DH has spent many frustrating hours formatting in a language he can’t understand, so he would be very pleased if you would buy some as well.

www.amazon.com/dp/B01K7K4JHC

Till next week, take care.

 

 

 

Saturday Smiles

soulgifts - Telling Tales

I love this one!!!

An ad in an American newspaper.

robbery

AN ACTUAL CRAIG’S LIST PERSONAL AD:

To the guy who tried to mug me in Downtown Savannah night before last.

Date: 2017-01-17, 1.43am. E.S.T.

I was the guy wearing the black Burberry jacket that you demanded that I hand over, shortly after you pulled the knife on me and my girlfriend, threatening our lives. You also asked for my girlfriend’s purse and earrings. I can only hope you somehow come across this rather important message.

First, I’d like to apologise for your embarrassment; I didn’t expect you to actually crap in your pants when I drew my pistol after you took my jacket. The evening was not that cold, and I was wearing the jacket for a reason. My girlfriend was happy that I just returned safely from my 2nd tour as a Combat Marine in Afghanistan.

She had just…

View original post 424 more words

MEET REBECCA BRYN

When I read the blurb Rebecca sent me for for her guest blog I was fascinated to learn she has a historical relative who was transported to Australia. Now that’s impressive it’s no wonder she can write good books – I should know I’ve read three of them and plan to read the rest. They’re all inspired by true tales of the past or modern day scenarios and her books cover a wide range of different topics and genres. There is something for everyone here. So, who is Rebecca Bryn?

ruth coulson 1

Someone recently asked me to describe myself in five words. The first five that popped into my head were lazy, driven, artistic, silent and old. As a child, I lived very much inside my own head, telling stories to imaginary listeners as I tramped the countryside with my cocker spaniel, so spoken words were rare from me, and I’m still not a chatty person. How can I be lazy and driven? It sounds like a contradiction. I procrastinate endlessly over housework: you can admire the dust in my house but don’t write in it. My mother would be ashamed of me.

I’m happiest when I have a project, be it painting the glorious Pembrokeshire coast of home, or creating characters who take me to the ends of the earth and break my heart. The necessity to create, maybe I should have used the word creative rather than artistic, is what drives me incessantly: I’m lazy where it comes to the myriad of daily chores, but never idle.

In my writing, I haven’t shied from things that have hurt me, the screw-ups I’ve made, or the regrets that haunt me: rather, I have embraced them for they’ve made me who I am and allowed me to write stories dragged kicking and screaming from the murky depths of my imperfect being.

Old, I can do nothing about: it crept up unnoticed while I was reading life’s small print and wondering if I could send myself back for a refund. No can do, apparently.

Do my novels have themes in common? Forgiveness and unbreakable love, for to forgive is divine, and true love never ends: it merely accompanies us on the paths along which life leads us.

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My novels:

http://mybook.to/SilenceoftheStones

A mystery/psychological thriller. Alana, a young artist, is left a cottage in West Wales by an aunt she didn’t know existed. She finds herself in the midst of a conspiracy of silence over two children who went missing thirty years before. Someone is out for revenge and threatens everyone Alana holds dear.  Inspired by the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, and the release from prison of Angela Canning after the evidence regarding ‘cot-death syndrome’ was found unreliable.

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http://mybook.to/TouchingtheWire

Historical thriller set in Auschwitz and England. A Jewish nurse steps down from a cattle wagon into the heart of a young doctor. He attempts to save his patients from the gas chamber. 70 years later, his granddaughter uncovers his private past and seeks to keep his promise to his Jewish lover. Inspired by my sixth-form tutor, Professor Schaeler, who lost his family in the Holocaust.

where hope dares

http://getbook.at/WhereHopeDares

A dystopian thriller set in the High Atlas Mountains. A young healer is kidnapped to fulfil an ancient prophecy. Her storyteller husband sets out to bring her home, with only a head full of stories and an old friend who must choose between his friends’ lives or mankind’s immortal souls.

Inspired by the horrific way in which mankind is destroying this beautiful, fragile planet.

 

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http://mybook.to/OnDifferentShores (Book One of ‘For Their Country’s Good’)

Historical series set in England and Van Diemen’s Land. A young poacher, convicted of killing Lord Northampton’s gamekeeper, is transported for life, leaving behind the girl he loves. Penniless and pregnant, she determines to follow him at any cost.

Inspired by my great-great-great uncle who did kill said gamekeeper and was transported for life. Books Two and Three coming this summer.

www.amazon.com/dp/B071HX3K8W  http://mybook.to/OnCommonGround

And here are all the other contact links for Rebecca. (Can you remember the day when we all had one postal adress? Wasn’t life simple then?)

www.rebeccabrynandsarahstuart-novels.co.uk

www.facebook.com/rebecca.bryn.novels

www.facebook.com/TouchingtheWire

www.facebook.com/ForTheirCountrysGood

www.twitter.com/rebeccabryn1

www.independentauthornetwork.com/rebecca-bryn

On Different Shores the first book in the series will be free on 8th and 9th June, today and tomorrow so grab it while you can! I’m off to do just that.

 

OLD AND USELESS BOOKS

I was reading a book the other day – yes really, I do read, I’m a voracious reader, in bed, the smallest room, during meals if I can get away with it, while not watching the television, you get the picture. But I gave DH (Dear husband) quite a fright when I shrieked with joy the other day. I’d not only found a typo but noticed a plot hole in a book by a very, very famous household-name writer. Yes!! Even the best of us and their top five publishing companies are not perfect.

I still cringe when I think of the mistakes I made with my first book, I probably shot myself in the foot at the beginning of a possible career as an author (who am I kidding I’m long past career time, I’m supposed to be retired). You know the kind of mistakes. The CreateSpace cover taken from a bad photograph, my own personal editing, heck I’d been paid in the past to edit a national magazine so of course I could find mistakes in my own work couldn’t I? No. The print was too small, the paper the wrong colour and it was riddled with typos.

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However in my rose-coloured cloud I didn’t notice any of these things and I promptly ordered 50 paperback copies. What I was going to do with them all I had no idea, but it felt good and I sat for days gazing fondly at the boxes jammed full of my masterpiece.

Then the axe fell. A kind writer friend pointed out a typo, another mentioned a split infinitive, a third casually dropped that adverbs were last year’s flavour and a total no no in modern literature. I raced to my laptop. Called up the manuscript, made the changes and uploaded again in both kindle and paperback. Panic over. Until, I noticed the 45 copies (by now I’d bullied a couple of friends in buying a few) and wondered what to do with them.

Should I give them away? Sell them cheaply? Shred them?

From being a delight to behold, they sat accusingly in their boxes in the spare room.

“We are defective,” they screamed at me every time I walked past. “We cost you a lot of money!” They whined as I tried to ignore them.

“What are you going to do with us?” They wanted to know.

Eventually, as the tally of errors piled up, the corrections made and a new cover, then another new cover and then another one graced the book I bit the bullet and destroyed the lot. Now I finally have this.

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But that was not the end. Just as I breathed a sigh of relief, I noticed that every other author had matching covers on their series. I looked at Amie books one and two and no they had completely different covers, nothing to tell you they belonged together. I adored the covers, they were brilliant, but they didn’t tell the story inside.

Another, bitter, learning curve.

So back to the drawing board and now they make a set –

but yes, you’ve guessed it, I have several copies of the old versions on the shelves.  Should I give them away? Sell them cheaply? Shred them?

You see if I inflict them on people as Christmas or birthday presents they may be less than impressed and not look for my other books. Most times I’ve grabbed the new version out of the back of the car when someone has asked if I have any handy to sell. (You don’t carry your books around with you all the time? No? What about the bookmarks and the business cards and the inscribed pens?) Personally people are probably horrified when I squeak “Yes, I have all of them. Which one would you like?” The someone was probably expecting the conversation to go –

“Sorry, I have a few at home though.”

“Oh, what a shame, maybe next time?”

“Yes of course.” It was Christmas 2014 when we last bumped into each other wasn’t it?

But oh no, I’m prepared, and I whip open the boot/trunk of the car. But then my hand hovers over the old covers, do I, do I not?

“I must order more Amie 1 paperbacks I mention casually to DH over breakfast.”

“Whatever for? You have a shelf full of them.”

“But those are the old covers, and could you just redo the ones that have awards now?”

He gives me that ‘look’.

So what do you do with early editions?

THE ADVERTISING BIT

I am thrilled to announce that the first book in the Amie series is now available in audio – so now there is no excuse for busy people not to read all about her adventures as you travel to work, go running, cook the evening meal and do the laundry etc. I believe it’s free if you sign up for audio books.

AMIE 1 AUDIO COVER

www.amazon.com/dp/B0725CYNYG

Till next week, take care.