LUCINDA’S BEST READS 2017 – PART 1

So far, this year I have read 126 books. I know this because I have a spreadsheet and mark up when I download, read, review and post. It might seem a bit %^%%^ retentive, but it’s the only way I can keep track. When you get on a bit, it’s easy to pick up a book and be into the second chapter before you realize you’ve read it before. Usually the Big A will tell you if you’ve already bought one, but DH’s friend passes on stacks of paperbacks and occasionally I read one of those as well.

The books I’m including in my Best Reads of 2017 include traditionally, and indie published but this last group probably makes up the bulk of my reads.

You are not likely to see any romance, fantasy or erotica on the list, as they are not my personal preferred genres. I like action and adventure and spy stories (well I would, wouldn’t I?) historical novels, humour, psychological thrillers and what I think of as ‘clever’ books – twists and turns that keep me guessing right to the last page – as a writer I like to think I’ve got it all worked out by page 3 – then be proved wrong.

The books in my list are those that so grabbed me I left the dirty dishes in the sink, read while I got dressed with one hand, or wandered around in my dressing gown eyes glued to the Kindle, neglected to feed DH, and shut out the rest of the world until I got to the end. They captivated me, kept my attention and made me think ‘I wish I could write as well as that.’

The first five in the countdown are:-

THE INDIGO REBELS by Ellie Midwood

The story of members of the French Resistance during World War II this covered two of my favourite genres, spies, and history in one book. I’ve also read the second in the series as I’m a great fan of this author I think I’ve read all of her other books many of which have won awards. Page turning excitement she took me back to the streets of Paris and a time when it was dangerous to be patriotic.

IS THAT THE SHIRT YOU’RE WEARING? A memoir in essays by Kristen Brakeman

I seldom read short stories or books compiled of essays but I picked this from the Readers’ Favorite comedy listings and I’m so glad I did. This lady writes for several top newspapers in the vein of Erma Bombeck who had such an influence on my own early writing. Kristen sees things with a sharp eye, makes the everyday seem supernatural and, most of all, makes you laugh.

HOW TO BREED SHEEP, GEESE AND ENGLISH ECCENTRICS by Valerie Poore

This has to be on my list as it brought home to me the Englishness of England possibly as it was several years ago. A light-hearted, fun read that I suspect is partly biographical. You couldn’t make up an eccentric mother who greets visitors wearing her old wedding dress and allows sheep to wander around the kitchen. A great book you can zap through on a day when you’re feeling down.

TABULA RASA by Gordon Bickerstaffe

This also has to be included as I’ve read all Gordon’s books and this is by far the best. I can see the difference in quality, character development, plot and attention to detail. I’m a great fan of this author and each book has got better and better. I particularly like his flawed and cowardly hero and heartedly approve of his strong heroine.

ULTERIOR MOTIVE by Jack Coleston

I reviewed this book for Readers Favorite. It’s an action packed thriller featuring two operatives in the CIA who are working to find the Caliph, a man who has united fractured terrorist groups in the Middle East. This is a great first novel by a New Zealand writer that I think deserves greater attention. It’s difficult to leave this book alone once started.

Next week there are the next 5 of my best books. Till then, take care and happy shopping.

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MEET PATRICIA STEELE

Today’s guest is a prolific writer and I’m going to have to squeeze all her books in in tiny pictures! It’s Patricia Steele and I know a lot of people are already familiar with her work.

CROPPED-Book-Signing-PatriciaSteele

Patricia says, I’m a west coast girl that moved to the east coast and back again.  Twice. My imagination has always been etched in music, color and rose-colored glasses. I’ve had crazy characters and stories banging and fluttering around in my head, dying to get out, since I was old enough to hold a pen.  I’m a fan of historical fiction filled with adventure and romance.  And I’m addicted to genealogy! My sense of humor runs a little rampant at times, I’m no stranger to laughter, and I love a good anticipation scene.  I am proud to state that The Girl Immigrant, the first novel in my Spanish Pearls Series, is being whisked off my shelves. The second book in the series, Silván Leaves, is now available. My next project is a memoir titled, Fairydust to Daffodils about my daughter and her lost fight with Cystic Fibrosis.

As I mentioned Patricia is a prolific writer, here are a few of her titles.

Patricia has written six novels in two genres, which includes her series, Callinda Beauvais Mysteries, plus Tangled like Music, Cloisonné, two travel memoirs, a cookbook, two biographical family histories and a children’s book.  She writes for several Facebook pages: Hawaiian Spaniards, The Girl Immigrant, Patricia Steele Author Page, Silvan Descendants, Ruiz Descendants and her blogs, www.patriciasteele.blogspot.com and www.onspanishsoil.blogspot.com

She has been interviewed on the radio and online.  She is a speaker for the Arizona Genealogical Society.  Her work includes collaborating on a transcription project of the Spanish ship manifests (1907 to 1913 sailings from Spain to Hawaii) during the immigrations funded by the Hawaiian Sugar Plantations.

Patricia says she is a romantic who enjoys strolling through cobblestone streets and markets.  She is inspired by art and architecture, and thrives being surrounded by artists and intellectuals.  She enjoys the bustle of a city, but loves spending time in the smaller towns sitting at a café and having a glass of wine or cup of coffee.  Her soul is nourished by gentle friendships, a little romance and meaningful conversations about love, art and the meaning of life.

Thank you for being a guest on my blog. There is a lot more to find out about Patricia, so please check out her author page:www.patriciabbsteele.com

 

YOU MUST HAVE A CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVEN IF IT’S A DISASTER

I’m taking a break this month from the usual travel, history and ‘buy my books’ blurb because it’s the festive season and if you were ever going to buy my books, you probably already have them.  Xmas church

With all the talk this year about refugees and religious difference I was surprised to see that Christianity still has the largest number of followers worldwide. Not that religious practices seem to be the main focus on 25th December. No, it’s all about spending money – possibly even going into debt – to give our loved ones presents.

wrapped xmas presents

It doesn’t matter that they don’t even know what they want, or that they don’t need anything, they MUST receive a present from everyone near and dear on the festive day.

One good thing about being a writer is that you can unload all those first edition books that are cluttering up the shelves, as you’ve now re-published them in nice new covers. The relatives will probably never read them anyway, but it clears your conscience.

When I asked DH what he wanted for Christmas I was expecting the usual shrugs and grunts. binos

To my horror, he’s asked for new binoculars – and I know he doesn’t want the Christmas cracker variety.  Nor is it going to be a massive surprise as he’ll comb the web for days choosing just the right ones. I’ll dig (as cheerfully as I can) into my book budget account and order them from eBay or the Big A and the parcel will arrive at the door.

xmas present

Then I will stupidly cover the box with expensive foil wrapping paper, place a shiny red bow on the top and watch him rip that to shreds and express surprise on Christmas morning.

No, that’s not DH, he’ll smile, give me a kiss say ‘thank you’ and go and test them out by spying on the donkey in the farm below our terrace.

Last year I bought him an in-car camera. Now that was a surprise but it caused days of angst. Firstly, he didn’t want to attach it to the windscreen as per instructions. No, he wanted it on the dashboard. Weeks of finding the right sticky pad and it was ready for testing but to his horror, it recorded all his journeys upside down.

dashcam

More hours were spent combing the internet, until he found a programme to download that promised to cure this problem. It did. But now it reversed the picture and showed DH driving on the left-hand side of the road – we live in Spain where they drive on the right. Not good if the police view it in the aftermath of an accident. How do you explain in broken Spanish you were kerb-crawling on the right when the camera tells them otherwise?

Emails flew back and forth from DH to the manufacturer until finally the camera was parcelled up and sent back (he had to pay the postage). A new one arrived and DH set it up only to discover – yes you’ve guessed it – it recorded everything upside down.

Now I come to think of it, I’ve not seen it around. He’s probably stuffed it in a drawer somewhere.

I’m happy to give at Christmas, but I hate wasting money – buying just because the advertisements on the television, newspapers, and radio tell us we must.

That said, DH will get his stocking. Oh yes, he gets one from Santa every year, but because Santa is buying the contents I don’t have to worry about spending my money. Luckily the old man from the North Pole is very practical and fills it up with chocolates, (particularly the ones I like) toiletries, an orange, nuts and other disposable and necessary things.

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Nothing here goes to waste. If DH notices there were 3 oranges in the fruit bowl yesterday and only 2 today, he wisely says nothing. Even the Christmas we were away on a cruise, Santa managed to sneak DH’s stocking into my suitcase, probably an easy task for him after scrambling down all those chimneys!

gift voucher

Now if DH asks me what I want it’s always the same old boring thing – book vouchers. I’m happiest if I can keep my Big A account in credit so all I have to do is click on the ‘buy now’ button and not ferret around searching for the credit card.

I have thought of asking for the professional photo package, the makeup, hair and proper lighting, the works. But, I suspect it won’t up the sales in any way. I’m practical enough to know I was not first in the line when the visual images were handed out, and will more people want to buy my books because I have long, flowing, golden locks and eyes the size of flying saucers? They would get a horrible shock if they ever attended a book signing and compared it to the real me and, I’ve met several FB book friends and they could so easily give the game away. No, guess I guess I’ll stay as I am.

Next week I’ll be showcasing the first 5 of the best books I’ve read this year, so keep an eye open for that.

Till then, take care and happy shopping.

MEET CAROL GRAHAM

Carol Graham is one of my most favourite people on Facebook. She works tirelessly for other authors and her radio show is heard all over the world. It was one of the nicest radio interviews I’ve ever done, such a lovely friendly lady. Carol has not had an easy time of it but she’s a survivor.

CAROL GRAHAM

Carol Graham has survived the challenges of major illnesses, devastating personal losses and financial ruin more than once, yet has refused to become a victim.

She writes for several monthly columns in various publications.  She has been published in many anthologies including a best-seller.  In 2015, Carol received the Woman of Impact Award from Focus on Women Magazine and Author of the Year for her memoir, Battered Hope.

Carol hosts a bi-weekly show “Never Ever Give Up Hope,” is an international keynote speaker, jewelry store owner and a certified health coach.  Carol has five grandchildren and has rescued over 30 dogs.

How did Carol come to write her autobiography? It’s a delightful story.

Writing a memoir, when it means dredging up painful memories you have buried for decades, is never easy. However, putting pen to paper changed my life forever.

When my daughter turned sixteen, she went on a trip for fourteen days and asked us to take care of her new puppy, a miniature Dachshund. This little guy’s name was Louis Vuitton and he was one smart fellow.

My husband and I were sitting in the living room when we heard an awful commotion upstairs followed by the thump-thumping of something heavy being dragged down the stairs.  I peeked around the corner and saw this little six-month-old puppy with short legs laboriously dragging his large, hard-sided Louis Vuitton carrier down fourteen stairs.

sneaky-dachshund

He glanced at us, wagged his tail and scurried back up the stairs. “What do you think he is doing?” We sat in amazement as one by one he dragged his worldly possessions down those stairs. First his blankie, then his bowl, his bone, ball and his sweater. Wait! There’s something else! One last trip – his leash.

What happened next caused us to sit on the sofa with our mouths hanging open. He took each item and placed them into the carrier. This was not easy as the carrier was considerably taller than he was – please remember he is a miniature Dachshund with very short legs.

After he finished packing his “suitcase,” he attempted to jump inside. It took several tries but he made it. Oh, my goodness he wasn’t done yet. Once inside, he got the zipper between his teeth and with all the strength he could muster, he pulled the zipper closed, laid down and went to sleep.

The message was abundantly clear. He wanted to go see his mommy. He had seen her pack her suitcase and go away. He must do the same so he could find her. He stayed there all night and when I unzipped the carrier in the morning, he was elated believing he had arrived – but mommy was not there. He was still at Gramma’s house. After lots of cuddles, I had a great idea to start making notes of his escapades.

After two weeks, I had completed Louie’s journal written from HIS perspective and it was hilarious. For Christmas that year, I turned this journal into a hardbound book. When my daughter saw her gift, she laughed and cried at the same time. I will never forget the staccato words she spoke, “Mom, NOW will….you…… write…… your…… story?” She began a campaign and no matter what excuse I gave her, she squelched it until I finally said “Yes!” just to make her stop!

It was inevitable. I had to do it. No excuses. No delays. It took almost ten years to complete. Thus, began my therapeutic journey to visit places I never wanted to go to again. Twelve chapters with twelve major traumas. Although a survivor of numerous situations that would make most people roll over and quit, I never regarded myself as a victim – only as a victor.

Battered Hope front cover

Battered Hope is written as a novel – opening as a mystery and continuing by making the reader wonder if the author will survive.

Publishing Battered Hope changed my life. It opened doors to international speaking engagements and my talk show, Never Ever Give Up Hope, now heard in over 140 countries which ranks number one in Google search results for the message of hope.

http://amzn.to/1wEwEsN

I owe it all to a little dog, Louis Vuitton.

Everyone makes choices — some good, some not so good. The difficulty is learning to live with them. Author, Carol Graham learned the long term effects of one bad choice that led her life into a downward spiral. Her sharpest memories were shrouded in darkness and no amount of hope in the future could change the past. She wanted to find her reset button but the only thing she could do was to put one foot in front of the other and continue, hoping each cloud had a silver lining. It is not a story of an abusive or sordid childhood but one of mistakes, poor choices and circumstances as an adult that developed into a series of major losses in physical, financial and emotional arenas. Her story of triumph shows incredible strength, tenacity and sheer determination to become successful against all odds.

You can connect with Carol here.

Exposing the Narcissistic Parent

This lists every single one of the tactics I was the victim of most of my life. How I wish I had known earlier.

MakeItUltra™

By Dr. Perry, PhD


“Having a narcissistic parent is like living life as a human doormat.” ~ Anonymous

Children come into the world much like new-born ducklings ready to imprint on their caretakers. They are innocent blank slates waiting to learn the ways of the world. Like a bud on the vine, with proper care, children blossom and grow to be mentally and physically healthy adults. Unfortunately, we don’t get to choose our parents. While some of us end up with loving and nurturing parents, others will end up born to individuals who are incapable of loving and properly taking care of a child. It is estimated that up to 6 percent of the US population has narcissistic personality disorder and many of these individuals are parents.

Narcissistic personality disorder is a cluster B personality disorder recognized by the DSM-5 and is characterized by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need…

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TRAVEL  – AMSTERDAM

In May of this year DH and I spent a week in Vienna, and after only half a day I fell in love with the city. It’s absolutely beautiful and steeped in history.

VIENNA HOTEL

We stayed at the Erzherzog Rainer Hotel and I was thrilled to discover it had an interesting history as well. It’s located in the heart of the Freihausviertel also home to many small shops and was established in 1813 by Leopold Nedomansky who was the court supplier for picture frames. The appointment was quite an honour, except the nobles were lousy at paying their bills so he thought about businesses which demanded immediate payment – restaurants and lodgings. He went ahead and built a hotel, but was savvy enough to realize he needed a patron to give it a bit of class. He flattered Archduke Rainer by naming the hotel after him and he was on the road to success. – I’ve always said it’s ‘who you know’.

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The same family owned it for 80 years before selling it to another family of hoteliers, but in that time it has been used as lodgings for the top German soldiers during the Second World War, and if I remember Hedda Hopper and a couple of other famous people have also stayed there. And now, of course, there’s me too.

HISTORY

Now you must all have heard that behind every great man there is a woman – or preferably in front if the truth be known. In this case, as poor old George was catapulted onto the throne, the woman, lady behind, beside and in front of him was his wife, Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, a Scottish lass who had married the Prince several years before.

GLAMIS CASTLE

She was brought up in this little shack north of the English border.

RED CHEEKED BIT

I’ve shared the opening pages of the Amie series here, now it’s time for the three memoirs. My first one, Walking over Eggshells sold all of 37 copies in the initial twelve months after it was published – before I found out I had to tell people about it – I had this belief that people would magically find it all by themselves!

 https://www.books2read.com/u/md7Py3

The first time I tried to leave home, I was three years old. Not that I could have told you that at the time, but many years later, while looking at some childhood photos, I asked my mother what age I was when I wore the red hat and coat. “Three,” she replied, and I remember quite clearly putting them on for my first intended escape into the outside world.

It was a cold, overcast day in a quiet suburb of Dublin at the beginning of the fifties. We were in the lounge, and my mother was sitting by the fire listening to the radio. I walked quietly to the door, hoping she wouldn’t notice, but as I reached up towards the door handle, she reminded me in her cold, hard voice not to let the cold air in from the hallway. I opened the door just wide enough to squeeze through and pulled it shut behind me.

I dived under my bed and pulled out a small brown, cardboard suitcase. I’d thought about this departure for some time and had already made a mental list of what I would need on the journey to my new life. I packed three Noddy books, my favourite doll, a comb and a clean pair of underpants. I struggled into my coat and hat and I was ready to run away.

Quietly, I crept back along the hallway to the front door and gazed up at the door latch. It was way above my head.

“And where do you think you’re going?” My mother stood in the lounge doorway, her arms folded across her chest and she looked furious. Having got this far, there was no turning back.

“I’m leaving home,” I squeaked.

“Oh, really? And where are you going?”

“I’m, uh …” I knew exactly where I was going. I’d thought about it very carefully, but I was not about to tell my mother. She would know where I was and maybe, just maybe, come and try to bring me back.

“Little girls who want to leave home should be tall enough to reach the doorknob. If you go, then don’t bother coming back. I never want to see you again. I don’t want you. You’re nothing but a nuisance. I wanted a good little girl who would do as she was told, not a bad, bad little girl like you.” My mother went back into the lounge and slammed the door.

I blinked back the tears. Why couldn’t my mother love me? I tried so hard to be good. Earlier that morning I had broken a glass full of milk. It had slipped out of my hands and crashed to the floor.

“Look what you’ve done now!” screamed my mother.

“I’m sorry, Mummy, it fell,” I burst into tears.

“Clear it up right now!”

“Yes, yes, but please don’t be cross with me, please. I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” I was shaking as I looked at the mess on the floor. The milk was slowly disappearing under the stove.

“You never give me any reason to like you. You’re always saying ‘sorry.’ If you really meant it, you wouldn’t do the same thing again and again and again. You said ‘sorry’ when you broke my best cup. I suppose that just fell, too? Don’t say ‘sorry.’ ‘Sorry’ doesn’t mean anything to you.”

As soon as my mother had gone back into the lounge, I dragged a chair from the kitchen, climbed up and opened the front door. I jammed the suitcase in the gap and returned the chair to its place in the kitchen. Then, as quickly as I could, I grabbed the case and ran down the front driveway.

Till next week, take care.

 

BookBub Events

Tanya asked me to share some thoughts on getting a BookBub promo.

T. R. Robinson Publications

fullsizeoutput_15fNo doubt many fellow authors, as well as readers, will have heard of BookBub and how any book included in one of its events appears to, always, do well on the day and after. It therefore seemed appropriate to ask someone who has succeeded in getting a book included in such an event to share their experience. Lucinda E Clarke has kindly agreed to do so. This is a guest post by her.

Guest Post by author Lucinda E Clarke

I am very flattered Tanya has asked me to write about BookBub promotions as I’m not sure I’m the best person as there are several people who have been accepted many times and they have only bestowed the honour on me twice, but I’ll do my best to give you some idea how my promotions went.

I first heard about this particular group by reading other blogs and understood they…

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