History Re-arranged

I was going to write about a funny thing that happened at the interview yesterday, but I think I have a better idea. However, let’s get that out of the way first.

I had agreed with the editor/reporter from a local newspaper to meet up in one of the nicest cafes in the village for an interview. They do excellent coffee and it was nice and warm, and all was going well, until he got out the dreaded camera.

Those who know me, will understand that the camera hates me with a passion, and since I was muffled up to the eyebrows, and the nearest make-up was 5 kilometres away I could only grin and bare it.

Suddenly our friendly waitress rushed out from behind the counter and went to grab the camera and tried to push us together. She wanted to be helpful and take a picture of the happy couple.

Was I relieved when the reporter was able to explain in Spanish why he was taking my photo and he certainly didn’t want to be in it as well. I thought she looked quite disappointed, but the thought was there.

Now I was on my way to bed last night when I had one of those light bulb moments.

Am I sitting scribbling my next book right now? No, I’m researching frantically for two of the history lectures I am giving next year. The first one is early in February, so I am really behind schedule. I’ve only written about half of it and I’ve still to find all the illustrations for the Power Point presentation.

Three thoughts sort of collided in my head. Firstly I promised to send a copy of my re-arrangement of English history to a FB friend, but it was too big to email through, and refused to leave my computer and leap out into the stratosphere. Then someone else mentioned I should turn my lectures into books, as these take a long time to write, and then I give the lecture maybe once or twice at most, to up to a hundred people and that’s that.  Possibly a bit of a problem in publishing, as I shamelessly cannibalize visuals and as the talks are free and sort of for educational value, I don’t check out the copyright.

Thirdly, another FB friend thought I was writing a book on Cecil John Rhodes – the current project –  and was looking forward to reading it.

Are you with me so far? Well never mind, I’m rambling, must be because it is the end of the year.

So when the light bulb went on, I thought why not share the comedy lecture I gave on all the Kings and Queens of England with you. I could post a couple of frames each day.

So here we go, with the first one or two. There was no way I could get the title slides to copy over as they were composites I can’t carry over, so please just try and imagine those ones.

All the Kings and Queens of England in 53 minutes and 13 seconds. [A lot longer via blog!]

“These lectures are great aren’t they, you always hear something new – – well this morning, you are going to learn – ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Serious students of history may get a little upset, but perhaps YOU can amuse yourselves sifting the fact from the fiction – and there is PLENTY of fiction I can assure you.

Before I talk about the kings and queens, a bit of pre-history is in order. I am sure that most of you know that in the early days, England was just a jumble of individual sorts of states or tribal areas. Each tribe was ruled by the strongest and most ruthless of the chieftains and possibly by the ugliest.

Ancient Britons
Ancient Britons

THIS GROUP obligingly came out on a day it WASN’T raining and posed for me to take a quick photograph of them. I am afraid I must respect their privacy and not divulge their whereabouts. Now, this was a situation that cried out for invasion and in 55 BC Julius Caesar obliged.

ROMANS IN BRITAINJulius Caesar was Roman of course, and the Romans were the top nation at that time due to their classical education and having to learn all those difficult Latin verbs and their declensions.

PUTTING MAKE UP ONJulius Caesar advanced very energetically across the English countryside and faced the Ancient Britons most of whom were well over military age and who spend an inordinate amount of time painting their faces blue. They simply refused to go out and fight before putting their make up on.”

Well you can see how things are going can’t you? So watch this space for more destruction of the history of Britain!

And a Happy New Year to you all!

SUCH A RELIEF

To be quite honest I am very glad I live in Spain when it comes to Christmas time. Not for us the frenentic countdown, the dashing in and out of shops, last minute presents etc, the hoarding of enough food to withstand the next ice age.

Yes we have pretty lights in the streets, and the Christmas markets in every town, but the commercialization is nowhere at the level it is in England and the United States. For that I am glad, it keeps the stress levels down. It’s enough just watching the UK TV programmes with their hysterical screams about the one day in the year when you can accumulate even more stuff, to the too-much stuff you already have, and it’s often stuff you don’t really want either.

Here the major day is January 6th, 3 Kings Day. CIMG1756We usually go down to watch our local 3 Kings, as they slog across the sand and then are entertained at the castle by some belly dancers. We all know one is the local postmistress, but everyone turns a blind eye to this. Every year I feel sorry for the half naked dancers, their goose bumps the size of molehills, as they gyrate to the sight of Herod and the kings slurping back the wine.

CIMG1765 belly dancer entertainment

Then the Kings climb on their motorized transport and pelt the crowd with small boiled sweets as they go off to pay homage to the baby Jesus in the town square.

CIMG1774You need to be careful where you stand in the crowd, as these sweets are the small, hard-boiled variety, and they rain down on you like buckshot. Not that anyone is complaining, as we adults all help the little ones grab them off the road and rescue them before they roll down the gratings and are lost for ever in the storm water drains.

Now I’m not sure if this true, but I’ve been led to believe that the youngest baby born in the area is the one destined to be the special baby. I’m not sure how they choose the Virgin Mary, but she would appear to be aged between ten and twelve. On the Mary with babythree occasions I’ve watched, the poor girl seems frozen with fear as she sits as still as possible nursing her newborn.

But that didn’t happen last year. The newest member of the community had frankly had enough – it was cold, so I don’t blame him – and he was screaming so loudly his real mother came to rescue him. Thus when the 3 Kings appeared around the corner there was no infant in sight.

But hitches like this are not important – and thank goodness we don’t have ‘Elf ‘n Savety’ breathing down our necks freaking out because Mary’s diaz has no safety rails, and neither are the Kings harnessed to their moving vehicle. Now isn’t that refreshing.

The Kings then settle on their stage round the corner, the white van backs up round the next corner, and the presents are unloaded. As the names are called out, each little tot goes up to collect his or her present and get a quick cuddle – no hysteria about paedophiles here, everyone loves children!  It’s gets a little fraught towards the end as those few tinies whose presents just happen to be at the front of the van, and so the last to come out, get a little jittery about being forgotten, but at last, everyone goes home happy and smiling.

handing out presentsWhat a beautiful way to celebrate Christmas!  In case I do not blog again before the ‘big day’, I’d like to wish all my friends, family, readers and fellow authors a wonderful Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Contented 2015.

When I was a child I was taught not to lie. When I grew up, I was paid to lie.

That title just about sums up my new book which hit the world last Monday, not so much with a splash but with a slither. I almost didn’t notice it was out on sale myself and when I contacted my editor, she hadn’t heard either. Yet I thought I had broadcast it from the rooftops, but with the amount of traffic on the net these days, anything can get buried and buried very quickly.
In fact I am beginning to have nightmares about Facebook and Twitter. Take last Friday when I decided to take a whole day off. I would not even turn on my computer. There it sat on the table glowering at me, but I pointedly turned my back on it and picked up – wait for it – yes, I picked up a book and spent most of the day reading. I had a wonderful day but oh dear, when I powered up on Saturday morning the payback was waiting for me. One hundred and seventy three emails, sixty two Twitter messages and nine personal messages. And that’s after one day!
What if I took a weekend off, or, heaven forbid had a two week holiday? Remember in the old days when you got back to find a pile of post on the doormat, or dozens of envelopes stuffed into your mail box? Well this is far, far worse.
While at one time I had nightmares about being dragged off by slave traders I’ve now become a slave to the social network.
Of course I dump a lot of them, but I do have to check in case there are a few readers who’ve written to tell me they’ve enjoyed a book, and I must reply to them if they have taken the time to write to me. [I also enjoy reading the compliments of course!] So I can’t just highlight the lot and drag them into the rubbish bin.
What has this to do with the title of this blog? Nothing yet, but I’m getting there.
Truth Lies and Propaganda, is the first of two books telling how I got into the media and earned my living as a writer. It takes you behind the scenes in the world of radio and television, mostly humorous and full of unbelievable stories which are in fact true. I was so privileged to be invited to so many places, and meet so many people, and apart from writing it all down so I can remember the events, it is fun to share with others as well.
Tomorrow, Tuesday 9th December ‘Truth, lies and Propaganda’ is reduced to 77p / $0.99 and ‘Amie an African Adventure’ is the same price until Thursday, so now is a good chance to get them cheap. OK, so I can’t order the ocean-going yacht just yet, but it’s almost Christmas, and time to share. Now I must wrap this up and go and write some Christmas cards and my annual Xmas letter.
Ah, just noticed, no picture, I’d better put one in, everyone else does. Now can I remember how to do that?

This is Gcina Mhlope, one of my most favourite people. She is a renowned story teller, and is on both my TLP books. She has traveled to America and Europe to share African folklore with thousands of people. A really great lady with so much talent.

Mhlope400

FINALLY A DATE!!

Just a comment to let you know that I have absolutely no idea why the heading on my last blog was a number. It wasn’t a secret code or anything, it just appeared from nowhere and I only discovered it after I had posted. Once I press that publish button, I have not found a way to grab it back and put anything right, but maybe one day, who knows!

I have just gone back into my blog list and the last blog I wrote is not there at all!  I know I wasn’t dreaming, and I did have an email sending it to me as in my early fumbling attempts, I actually signed up to my own blog – bit embarrassing that 😦  But there seems to be two different sign up pages and …. no I can’t cope with this, it will do my head in.

I wanted to check if I had thanked everyone for your support with the Author Shout Cover Wars. ‘Amie’ won and is now featured on their page as the ‘Book of the Week’ and I am absolutely thrilled. So thank you all again, so much for your support. 🙂
I did take one step forward this week by posting my first pic on a tweet. I have to admit it was less than a raging success, and I have now announced to the tweet world my new book is called ‘Propaganda’, by an unknown author. Some unseen force decided to compress the picture in some peculiar way and squashed both the title and author name off it. However, it was the first colourful tweet I have sent out so that was a sort of consolation prize.
I have posted up a couple of extracts from ‘Truth, Lies and Propaganda’, on my Facebook timeline, but I will post one here just in case you’ve not seen it. It will give you an idea what the book is all about. While working on the radio I decided to hold a quiz show – big mistake!

As we were recording three shows at a time, I was not prepared for the final show which, much to everyone’s horror, was won by a snotty young man who was over in Libya, lecturing at the Garyounis University in some bizarre subject. He and I had nearly come to blows over several answers he gave. He of course knew all the answers and sneered at us slightly older folk who struggled to remember what we’d been taught in primary school. And it always seemed to be the case that he got the easy questions as well, the ones we all knew. Even I was aware that the lead in pencils is not real lead, so what was it? I asked him.
“C, with a hexagonal dihexagonal dipyramidal crystal symmetry, under the Strunz classification of 01.CB.05a,” he answered with a decided snigger.
I mean you can see what we were up against can’t you? But I had him this time.
“Wrong!” I chortled. “Anyone else know the answer? Julia?”
“It’s not lead, but graphite,” she replied with a huge smile.
And then the fight started. It appeared that Big Head had quoted the chemical symbol for graphite, C, which it shares with diamonds and soot, and so to be quite clear, he had included its classification in his answer. This was of course long before the days of the quick check-up on Google, but I tried to stand firm.
“Sorry, I am only allowed to accept the answer I have on the card,” I said cheerfully. “Well done Julia.”
“It’s my point, and I want it,” sneered Big Head. “And, even if you are supposed to be running the show, you can’t change and make up the rules as you go along.”
I looked at Julia’s crestfallen face. It was the only question she had got right so far, (I’d removed the cheat sheet for the finals), and it seemed cruel to deprive her of her only point. Big Head was several dozen points in the lead even if you added everyone else’s score together, but he was not about to let this one slip through his fingers.

 

No, this is not the snotty guy who won the quiz show, but Shaun Pollock – international cricketer who plays for SA. I interviewed him and made a total idiot of myself. That’s also in the book.

I am planning to post another extract tomorrow on FB and maybe even on Sunday. In the meantime, my fingers are itching to continue with ‘More TLP’ as I am two thirds way through, but there is something called Xmas coming up and that will delay things a bit.

 

BAD SUNDAY, GOOD MONDAY

Well there is absolutely no talking to DH today. He is walking about like the cockerel who has just been delivered to the chicken shed, where a large number of lady hens are waiting in breathless anticipation.  Why?

Let me take you back to yesterday, when the air was blue and the language not to be repeated. Yes, and on a Sunday as well, tut tut. The local priest would not have approved at all.

DH was at the computer and for the third time he was about to face the terror of satisfying the ‘Great CreateSpace template’.

Previously he had made many, many attempts [I am much too thick to work it all out], and they cheerfully send it back again and again and again, to explain your gutters are too small, or your gutters are too large, or the pages are all wrong etc etc.

But yesterday DH only loaded the “Truth, Lies and Propaganda” manuscript and the cover once – and YES! It was accepted first time!!!!  Was he proud of himself? I was very proud of him as well and as it is my turn to cook this month, I made him a special meal tonight.

We immediately ordered a proof copy as I want it to put on my stand at the Christmas Fair.

OK so I can dream that there will be a queue of people snaking down the hall, out into the car park and on down the road, all demanding to buy it right now, but it’s there as a teaser. Still need to see what it looks like in the flesh so to speak.

On a more terrifying note, I popped into my author page on Amazon after reading a chance remark on Facebook, to see they have linked my Twitter and my blog to it, and anyone can click on them and see what I have been writing in every sphere.

Has Big Brother arrived? I was a bit taken back, as I was a teeny, weeny bit critical of AZN  in my last post, or did the title “I Love Amazon” tempt them?  But I’m not sure they should link all this without asking me.  And how am I going to get any followers to my blog when anyone can click on the link and read it  and not bother to sign up?

A big thanks to the people who this week have taken the time to review WoE and Amie. Remember those word puzzles they gave us at school? This is one they didn’t give us:-

water is to fish as ?????? is to authors.

Answer?

Reviews of course!! 🙂

higher still

This picture has nothing whatsoever to do with anything I have written about, but as everyone else litters their brilliant blogs with pictures, I feel honour bound to do the same. It shows the human towers at their Algamesi annual festival in September. Thought you might like to see it. 🙂

I LOVE AMAZON

At the beginning of the week I was going to rant and rave about Amazon and complain bitterly about the Daily Book Deals they were sending through to me. They changed the one at the top, but all the others shown are exactly the same, day after day after day, for over two weeks now.

However, all is instantly forgiven and now I love Amazon. Why? Well this is not going to be a good picture, I think my hands were shaking too much! Amazon delivery FB pics 001

Yes I know this is a bad pic, and the one that follows is even worse!Amazon delivery 019I

In case you have gone totally squint eyed, the pictures show ‘Amie an African Adventure’ got to #1 on Amazon.co.uk in genre. Not for very long I must say modestly, as I noticed by the time I got DH to apply his photographic skills, it had dropped to #2 in one of the categories. The pic had one of those magic little yellow stickers next to it for a little while though. But, I am assured that I can now say I am a best selling author. Can’t say I feel like one and the sales are steady but nothing to set the world on fire yet, but watch this space!

Can I ask those people who have read ‘Amie’ to post a review for me on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk? Please, please, please! I have a bestselling book with only 9 reviews!! Of course if you would only give it one or two stars, then please don’t dash to power up your computer 🙂

The book you see on the picture below mine is ‘Into Africa: 3 Kids, 13 Crates and a Husband’

I despair when I read other blogs which are so beautifully set out and all the pictures are in the right place. I am struggling big time here and wish I had had some computer or office training at some stage in my life. The problem at my age is I find out how to perform an action, and then if I don’t repeat it frequently the new knowledge flies out of the window and I have to teach myself all over again. It’s exhausting!

I see WordPress has inserted a little red dustbin at the bottom of the page, is this a hint I am lowering their standards and they are inviting me to trash this before I go any further? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Not blogged much lately as I have been finalizing my third book ‘Truth, Lies and Propaganda.’ I am two thirds way through ‘More Truth, Lies and Propaganda’, but that will have to go on the back burner for a few weeks as I catch up on life.

We have agonized over the cover, but I think we can make it work. I can’t remember if I have posted a pic of the cover, [that’s how bad it is!] but if not I will save that for next time. It should be out by the middle of November.

Last bit of news. There is a promotion on for ‘Walking over Eggshells’ tomorrow with eBookStage a new readers’ site where they’ll send you ebookstage recommendations tailored to your taste. Look them up on http://www.ebookstage.com. I get emails from them about books I might like to read and they seem to choose some really good ones. Anyway, for one day only WoE will be $0.99 and £0.77 – that’s tomorrow Friday 31st October.

COMPETITION RESULTS

Would you believe that as late as yesterday lunchtime I still had no title for New Book 3?The midnight deadline was looming, hanging over me like the sword of Damocles. I had spent many sleepless nights, even pacing the house at 5am, fretting about it. Running a competition was such a good idea I had thought at the time. I was wrong. I could never have imagined what anguish I would go through!

I’d had over 50 suggestions and for one reason or another nothing seemed to gel, none of them seemed exactly right. Then out of the blue, just as I was commiserating with another local author at his book signing yesterday morning, my phone did one of it’s burbly things, telling me I had a message. At first I was not even sure who it was from, it simply said “Truth, Lies and Propaganda,” and that was IT! The title just screamed ‘use me!’ I discovered it came from a friend I’d not spoken to in a while, who had not entered the competition, who does not even have a Facebook page and, as far as I know, has never read my blog. [She has a pathological aversion to social media]. I had just mentioned in passing weeks ago I was looking for a title for my new book on my media work in South Africa. OK, she has been in that industry and also in South Africa. What prompted her to send me a message at that precise time I’ll never know, and I have still to tell her she came up with the title that gelled for me.

However, she does not qualify for the prize, though I think she deserves a copy of the book when it comes out, but I still want to award the prize to someone who took the time and effort to enter and follow the rules. As promised, I want to send a signed copy of the paperback version to one of the contestants, and I thought that would be a headache until I looked at my list again and there was one clear winner.

Why? Because she sent me many suggestions and they had taken lots of time and effort. So [big roll of drums here] the winner is……

Nancy McBride!!!!

Nancy I will post your signed paperback copy over to you in the US, I think you are in Maine yes? This should be sometime in November, not sure of the exact date yet. I still need to do the corrections from editor and beta readers and then we publish, although that part is the quickest bit.

To all the other entrants, [and there were lots more than I expected], a HUGE thank you and I will be PM’ing all of you [ugh, what awful English] and you will each receive a copy of the kindle version again, sometime in November.  If you do not receive a PM from me in the next 48 hours, then scream loudly!

Just to whet your appetites here is a preview of the new cover. [Now goes to insert picture, hopefully].KZN BP Misc wasing

Is there no end to this woman’s brilliance!  Ha ha.

There is a strange story behind this shot as I wish now, I had taken more pictures of the crew when we were out on location. I can’t honestly remember what programme this was for, I think I must have decided it would make a good stock shot, – extra scenes you shoot in the hope they will be useful one day – as I saw these women doing their washing at this spring in the Valley of a Thousand Hills in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. I remember slamming the brakes on and skidding to a halt and telling the crew, “Let’s get that shot, we’ll find somewhere to use it.”  I can’t remember if we ever did.

So thank you all for taking part in the competition and I hope you will enjoy the book as it’s got lots of funny moments and it also gives you a behind the scenes look at the world of radio, television and video. Don’t take anything you see on the small screen at face value! Believe me I’m a writer!

GUEST BLOG FROM AMIE

I can’t believe Lucinda has actually agreed to let me write a guest blog. She must be feeling SO guilty. I can tell you this much, you can’t believe Lucinda about anything. If you read about me in the first book my African Adventure, you will know where I am right now. Well as soon as she had sent me off to be published, I heard DH say to her

“So when’s the next one then?” Now he is very picky when it comes to books, so I thought ha! He did enjoy my story. So I was expecting Lucinda to sit down immediately and continue telling everyone what happened next.

But oh no! She is so selfish, she began to write a second book of memoirs, some nonsense about her radio and TV and video filming in Africa. She was laughing aloud as she was writing it, I’m not sure I will find it funny though, on principle.

Now she is in final edit, but then she decided that it was too long, well what did she expect, it covered 40 years [she’s much older than I am]. So the next step was to split it into two, and now IAMY COVER 2 (500x800)

have to wait until she has completed two more books, probably next spring before she comes back to get me. I suppose she thinks people are interested in what goes on behind the scenes in television?

I just might not wait around for her, that will give her a shock! Maybe I’ll move on without her, and it will serve her right.

Oh and I’ve just discovered that she has dropped the price of my story to half price until Sunday 12th at midnight. Talk about adding insult to injury!!

Amie Fish

I CAN’T LIVE WITH THE GUILT!!!

I feel so guilty that I have not blogged for days, but my excuse and the reason is that I have been writing. I completed the first draft today of the NEW book 3. The old one was just too dense and I had begun to go into a sort of staccato mode to cram it all in.

So, a rethink, there is enough material for two books, well it does cover almost thirty years of writing stuff, and longer if you include working on the radio in Libya.

The competition rules have not changed, and there is still another week to get your suggestions in to qualify for a free ebook version. With a bit of luck I can send it out in your preferred format, that sometimes works for me and sometimes doesn’t.

Here are a couple of sentences from the beginning, and they follow on from the last blog.

For months she has caused me unmentionable pain and heartache. I’ve sat up all night worrying about her, and if I’ve given up and gone to bed, her very presence has caused me to toss and turn until the early hours. I have to put an end to this, she’s got to go. So, how am I going to dispose of her?

A combine harvester, that’s the answer!

I will mash her to pieces in a peaceful and idyllic corn field, while the birds sing and the soft wings of the butterflies barely disturb the air. Her screams will resonate as she is dismembered into bite sized chunks between the rotating blades, and her blood spurts metres into the air turning the ripened, golden maize a brilliant red.

Yes, that’s what I’ll do tomorrow.

 

Well what were you expecting? It’s a memoir.

REAL CHEAP

Yet again I have proved to myself just how stupid I am. I dropped the price of “Walking over Eggshells” from Friday 25th to midnight this Sunday 28th September, and did I remember to write a blog about that momentous event? NO!!!!! 😦  Well I guess we are only half way through the price drop period, so it could be worse.

It’s available in the Kindle store for only

$ 0.99 / £ 0.77 / € 0.86

Walking over Eggshells

Just click on the links below

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E8HSNDW

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00E8HSNDW

I have not blogged [don’t you just hate that word?] for a few days as I’ve been busy finishing the first draft of Book 3 – sadly no title yet [have you entered the competition?] .  To fully appreciate it, I would recommend reading my first memoir before you consider the second as it will tie up some stuff. Here is a sneak preview of the first paragraph.

I have decided that tomorrow, I am going to kill Caroline. I’d like to squash her flat under a road roller, or push her off the top of the Empire State Building, but I’ve never been there, and I suspect Health and Safety have got that securely enclosed. I could use a gun, a dagger, a knife or poison, but it’s all been done many times before.

Of course that might change, I will be going over it several times, but it’s still a work in progress of course. Now, if it’s my memoir, have I committed murder? I’m not telling you here 🙂