“If you would like to move to the front of the plane, we have spare seating with an extra six inches leg room, at the cost of £20 per passenger.”

Yes, seriously that was the announcement they made just as we were settling in.

Don’t you just love/hate these budget airlines?


I glared at DH indicating he had no need to apply for the unoccupied, hard, plastic formations they called seats, which offered all this extra space for the mere cost of £20 or, for us, €28. (You didn’t think I was referring to anything else did you?)


OK so you’ve bought your ticket, and then they keep harassing you for all the extras. Suitcase? No, we managed with hand baggage only. Hire car? No thanks, we were being met at the airport. Need a hotel? No thanks, we booked a budget one on-line weeks ago. Food on board – pre-order now? Our pockets were stuffed with energy bars. Insurance surely? Er, no, we’ll live dangerously, we’re only hopping over to UK for 3 days.

Yet, once again UK had the last laugh. I lost a tooth on a toffee in the middle of a social gathering. I turned to a piece of quivering jelly as I realized this meant a trip to the dentist, my least favourite place on the planet.

My current flu was treated to icy winds, rain and several trips to the pharmacy. Why I wasn’t arrested for drug smuggling on my return was a miracle. I had more painkillers, cough remedies, anti-ache pills and kill-a-cold tablets in my carry on than I did clothes.

I’d quite forgotten about the tweezers, the nail clippers, the miniature hand cream and the tiny anti-bacterial gel in my handbag, but security snatched the 105 ml deodorant I had obediently put in the clear plastic bag. Before they could get their hands on it, I liberally sprayed myself with the contents much to the horror of the staff who assured me I would set off every alarm in Gatwick. I thought for a brief moment that the security man was about to fling himself bodily over the divide and wrestle me to the ground.

He may have had second thoughts as by now I was beltless, shoeless and trying to save my trousers from joining my socks.

They probably came to the conclusion that this passenger was simply too stupid to be of any harm to anyone as long as they kept the straightjacket handy.

I’d already peppered the airport with free pens and bookmarks, although those nice people reading kindles didn’t seem to know quite what to do with the bookmarks. However, I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to distribute to English speaking people.

Luckily DH restrained me from popping them inside all the books in WH Smiths. He’s told me often he doesn’t do jail visits.


Since after only 3 days away I returned to almost 500 emails, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those people who have commented, blogged and re-blogged about my books. I can’t tell you how wonderful you all are and I so appreciate it. I’m sorry if I don’t get to thank you all personally, but I hope you understand. Life is frenetic and I’m several degrees below par right now.

Remember I said that James was none too bright? Well he didn’t seem to notice that the English wanted a Protestant King and he was Roman Catholic. He begrudgingly agreed that his eldest daughter Mary could marry the Protestant Prince William of Orange who lived somewhere over on the other side of the English Channel. (No relation to Nel Gywnn who only liked oranges). Both his daughters, Mary and Anne had been brought up to be non Roman Catholics.


James kept some of his brother’s ministers – but only those who were still alive – and he brought in more Catholic ones and the people began to get totally fed up with him.

There was one rebellion from Monmouth, not sure where he fits into the picture, but I’m sure it doesn’t matter much.


MONMOUTH James Scott, Duke of Monmouth on horseback (Henri Gascar, 1672)

He was easily defeated and the rebels were brought before Judge Jeffreys who suspended them all – this is a modified form of hanging.

To make matters worse, James then had a son, James Francis Edward, and since he was obviously going to be brought up as a Catholic, seven of the most important nobles asked William to pop on over and rule England instead.

King James took fright and ran away. First he threw the Great Seal into the River Thames and then legged it. He was captured in Kent and then ‘allowed’ to escape to France.

He tried once to get this throne back, by landing in Ireland (I suspect his navigational skills weren’t too good as that is the island next door). However William’s atlas was more up to date, and he raced over and defeated the king at the battle of the Boyne.

Parliament then passed a law saying that no monarch of England could be a Roman Catholic and that was that. James was officially out, so he ran away to France again where his good friend Louis XIV offered him this little cottage,

Château_de_Saint-Germain-en-Laye01.jpjames home

a pension, petrol vouchers and an account at Marks and Spencer.

Now the really gruesome bit I will tell you next week. It’s so horrific you might want to have the valium or prozac to hand.



The Amazon Review Policy Elephant in the Room

Jo Robinson

The whole Amazon review policy debacle that started a while ago is not going to go away, so we should probably make firm decisions as to the way forward as far as how we are each personally going to review books in the future. There’s a great post covering the whole subject very thoroughly on Anne R. Allen’s site right now – definitely a must read for anyone not a hundred percent sure about what is going on with this issue. I’ve posted on this briefly over at Lit World Interviews a while ago but it’s worth revisiting on a personal level. Anyone with published books on Amazon needs to take this seriously.
Firstly, we must accept that Amazon can, and does, remove books for sale on their site if they feel that the author has violated their terms of service. Many of us have over the years reviewed books…

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Readers’ Favorite Awards. Behind the Scenes with Duck Tape

Jana Petken

I’m always being told, “You must write more blogs, Jana. People will never read your books if you are not active on your website. You will be forgotten.”

“Okay dokey,” I say, “But what do my readers really want me to talk about?” Well, today I think I’ve found something that I think might tickle your fancy.

guardianofsecretswithawardThe Readers’ Favorite Awards in Miami were truly amazing. I had a wonderful time and meeting other authors and their guests was definitely the icing on the cake – But my biggest adventures were not the Awards ceremony or my stay in Miami. It was the journey from Spain to Miami, and the terrible and hilarious faux-pas with my outfit.

From Barcelona – Miami there was a 4 hour delay. Okay, I thought, these things happen, I will just have to make the best of it. Just before we left the stand, the captain apologised, saying that someone…

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The Max Power Book Awards ; My five star reads..

This guy certainly knows how to build up the hype!

Maxpower's Blog

In advance of the 2015 Max Power Book Awards I would like to remind book lovers of some of the great books I have read by reposting here some of the five star reads I have enjoyed on the way to posting my 100th review on amazon. Pick one of these wonderful Indie books today and discover a whole new world of talent.



5.0 out of 5 starsA superb collection of short stories for a worthy cause., July 14, 2015

This is an incredible collection of short stories from a variety of international Indie authors, who have come together to help raise money for MacMillan cancer care. It is a book to be picked up not only because this is such a worthy cause, but the multiple talents of the authors involved make this one of the finest collection of short…

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The Max Power Book Awards ; My five star reads…

Maxpower's Blog

In advance of the 2015 Max Power Book Awards I would like to remind book lovers of some of the great books I have read by reposting here some of the five star reads I have enjoyed on the way to posting my 100th review on amazon. Pick one of these wonderful Indie books today and discover a whole new world of talent.



5.0 out of 5 starsEnjoyable and original, December 12, 2014

Refreshingly, here is an author comfortable with dialogue and narrative in equal measure, unafraid to have a unique voice and in the process Katerina Sestakova Novotna has written a creative and original collection of short stories. I say short, some are longer than I would traditionally expect from short stories but if anything their detail only enhances the reading experience.

With what is clearly a strong understanding and relationship…

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Honestly I’m not paranoid, really I’m not, but honestly I do wonder sometimes. I can give you two examples just this week of how life is out to get me.

I’ve said many times that I can take criticism. Yes, it’s true, and anyone who has read the ‘Truth, Lies and Propaganda’ series (plug there feel free to ignore) will remember how many times I got it wrong, or had to re-write those scripts. On one occasion 40 odd times until the last one was almost identical to the first. But then the client is always right even when he’s wrong.


I also knew that a Bookbub promo would bring in the sales (for a while) but also open the doors to lots of reviews which an author may prefer not to read. So of course I read them all, and a few people described ‘Amie an African Adventure’ (another plug here you may also choose to ignore), described the story – which most agreed was good – as unbelievable.


Well really! Yes it’s an adventure story and does not detail her getting up each morning, showering, brushing her teeth, eating breakfast and so on, it’s a little more exciting than that. She has adventures most of us do not have.

So, I was Ok with that, until – I went to see the latest James Bond film. Now that’s TOTALLY UNBELIEVABLE.  He blows up a building while wearing a white dinner jacket, walks away with not a hair out of place, and not a speck of dust to be seen anywhere. Then they both jump on a moving train with no luggage at all and minutes later pitch up for dinner in perfectly fitting attire, perfect makeup and even her shoes match. And, I noticed she had three different shades of lipstick when she didn’t even cart a handbag around. My imagination was running riot wondering where she hid all these accouterments. Certainly not inside that long, slinky evening dress, there was barely enough space for all the curvy bits. See what I mean?

Lea Seydoux
Lea Seydoux in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures/EON Productions’ action adventure SPECTRE.

I sat in the packed movie house and gasped. Do people believe this stuff? Did they ask where Bond suddenly acquired that car, or how he jumped over 5 rooftops without breaking into a sweat? Or how he had time to pay for all this on American Express with the baddies inches behind him?  Now that’s unbelievable, but enjoyable all the same.

The second example of how the world is out to get me – the changes they have made to the blog site. Just as I get to grips with anything in the cyber world, some geek somewhere in some office decides it’s time to change the layout, hide the buttons, re-arrange the format, and leave me searching around for familiar stuff. And that’s not the only site which has changed in the last week. I shall be having that nervous breakdown very soon.

Now, I hate to say this (being a Royalist myself), but I don’t thing James II was too bright, although as far as I know, he didn’t have a nervous breakdown. Look at it this way. Your daddy had his head chopped off for being a bit bossy, showing off a lot and being greedy. Then big brother takes the throne when the English peasants (anyone who wasn’t a royal or a peer was a peasant in those days) got a bit twitchy about their rulers being Roman Catholic. They wanted a Protestant king.


So Charles II (the big brother in question – above) sensibly was a Protestant and went to the Church of England services on a Sunday.  Was James as wise? Not a bit of it. He openly made a big thing of being a Roman Catholic. This was at the time when Parliament (who’d got pretty big for their boots) were insisting all civil servants and the armed forces signed the Test Act which said that the Catholic stuff was all wrong.


So what does James (to be the II) do? He marries a Roman Catholic! How daft can you get? So of course people started rebelling all over the place and this is where Judge Jeffries was important as he condemned every rebel they caught and meted out terrible punishments – like taking away the perps loyalty cards for Tescos, cutting off their internet, sending them to Australia for free and cutting their heads off. These trials were known as the Bloody Assizes.

More gruesome details next week.


This week’s author is someone I am really thrilled to feature as I’ve read all her books bar one. And, that one I have on my kindle and I’m saving it for a treat – to read when I have time to stay with it from start to finish.

Jana Petken writes historical books, often with a romantic thread. Like all good writers she’s had a varied and interesting career.

She joined the (British) Royal Navy at the age of seventeen becoming a leading Naval Policewoman, equivalent to a sergeant in the Military Police. After the Navy, she went to work for a travel company as an overseas representative. During the first Gulf War she was a security guard at the BBC World Service radio station. After she left the BBC, she spent twelve years as a bodyguard for a Saudi Princess.
Her final career outside the house was with British Airways where she was a cabin crew member on the worldwide fleet, which allowed her to travel extensively to every corner of the world, at least two or three times. Unfortunately, she had an accident on board a flight. The aircraft, a Boeing 747, was flying at 39,000 feet above Africa when it was caught in clear-air turbulence. As the plane dropped her body flew upward and she hit the cabin’s ceiling. As a result of this accident, she has had three major operations on her spinal cord and has now been forced to retire.

jane petken

She says she misses the busy and interesting experiences of working and so she began to write. She’s lived in many different countries, and modestly says she’s a jack of all trades but master of none. She believes she’s made so many mistakes in her life that she often wonders how she managed to survive this long. She feels blessed to be able to call writing, her last stand. Long may it last.

Well becoming a writer certainly wasn’t a mistake, as I for one love her books. She’s a modern day Jean Plaidy and I think Jana’s historical novels will also stand the test of time.

janas books

Right at this moment she is in Miama, Florida collecting a silver award at the Miami Book Fair. She’s well on the way to being one of those really successful authors we admire.

My favourite of her books is The Errant Flock – it’s set during the Spanish Inquisition and follows the story of four men who struggle to survive in those brutal times. It’s one of the few books I will read over and over again.

Jana’s books and what other readers have to say about them.

The Guardian of Secrets
“An epic in every sense, The Guardian of Secrets is War and Peace for a new generation. Jana Petken is a natural storyteller and in The Guardian of Secrets she weaves an engrossing, passionate tale of family life, of love, of betrayal, of war and redemption. These are classic themes and they are combined here to produce a classic tale in the finest traditions of historical fiction.”
Dark Shadows: Mercy Carver Series
“Dark Shadows, is the first five-star book in Jana Petken’s exciting Mercy Carver series. This meticulously crafted and riveting tale had me captivated from the very first page.”
Blood Moon: Mercy Carver, Book Two
“The author did a fantastic job weaving this story. I admit I was surprised at some twist and turns. Many times, I found myself holding my breath!”
The Errant Flock
“A glorious read, I was totally captivated by this story. Her descriptions of the people, the country and the history put me right in the picture and I couldn’t put it down. She is a great storyteller with lots of depth to her writing.”
Amazon page
Twitter @AuthoJana
FB https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJanaPetken/

The Max power Book Awards 2015 are coming…

Maxpower's Blog


None chosen lightly from a top quality listing… Start your book wish list here …

On 27th November the winners of the Max Power Book Awards for 2015 will be announced.  These will include the Max Power Book of the year 2015, The Max Power Choice award and the Max Power Indie Author Story-Teller award for 2015.

In advance of that date, over the next two weeks I will also re-publish a selection of reviews I have posted for some of my favourite five star reads as well as announcing my top ten favourite reads for the year as Max Power Recommended Reads to help you find your next great Indie book.

The winning authors will be chosen from the list below and you can visit their amazon author links to discover some truly great reads.  It’s getting close…


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I feel it inappropriate to write a funny and amusing blog this week in the aftermath of the Paris attacks. Like many of us who love that city I am appalled at the carnage, the sad, unnecessary loss of life and the brutality. My sincerest condolences to all who lost loved ones.

I usually steer away from politics or religious opinions of any sort on my social media, but maybe the following might give food for thought. It’s a piece I had published in my monthly column and at the time it made people giggle. Maybe now, it’s not as amusing.

I mean no offense to any race, creed or culture. I have lived in countries with different social rules and willingly abided by their laws. It’s the changing of a country’s way of life by people relocating to new places, that frightens me. There is no ‘live and let live’. It’s the threatened introduction of restrictions to freedom. That freedom so many women gave their lives for. The right to education, a career and the choice of who to marry and if and when to have children. And the destruction of the monuments representing our culture and heritage. Can that happen in Europe?

Loraine 2 026

Many new arrivals are not extremists, but there are enough to upset the balance and the numbers are growing.

This is what I wrote almost 18 months ago.


June 2414

Dear Diary,

Today I was naughty and I climbed up into the attic and I found a very old book. It must be a fairy tale, written by a girl my age four hundred years ago. She had some imagination!

She says she went to the shopping mall to meet her friends, and she went on her own, without a male relative! She wore a short skirt, she called it a mini skirt, which showed her bare legs, and a top which didn’t cover her shoulders or her arms out in public! I just can’t imagine that. She didn’t even have her hair covered as she says the wind blew it all over the place and she had to comb it out before her boyfriend saw her. She says she has had lots of boyfriends and doesn’t think her parents will like the boy she is keen on. How can that be? Is she allowed to meet boys in public, without her parents even knowing about it? Won’t they choose her husband for her and then introduce them just before the wedding? That’s how we do things in this country.

She’s also planning to move away from her parents’ home and take a flat with another girl and two boys and they will live together and none of them are married. Now that has really shocked me. I have never, ever heard of that in modern Britain.

And she talks about going to vote. Women voting? They were never allowed to do that were they? She writes that women had the same rights as men, and they worked outside the home and they were allowed to talk to men outside the family they didn’t even know. They could do all sorts of things, like go on television and sing and dance in public with hardly any clothes on, and make statements about things and write what they liked. They also went to sporting events and were allowed to run and jump and swim and do all the same sports as the men do.

What is even more amazing this girl wrote that she goes to school  and she learns not only how to read and write, which of course girls today learn in the home, but also about other places and what has happened in the past and science things. It can’t really be true, as she says she wants to study for a science degree and be an engineer, and design bridges and tall buildings. Now that’s really funny, and that’s how I know it’s a fictional diary. Everyone knows only men are allowed to do those things.

There was also something called the internet and young unmarried people typed messages to each other and shared pictures and ideas and told everyone what they had been doing. What am amazing thing to do when they could have been studying religious works at home.

I’ve not seen very much of the world, as I am an obedient daughter, and I only hear about stuff when my brothers are talking, but if any of this diary is true, then the girl who wrote it must have been very, very brave or very, very immoral. I wonder how her father and brothers punished her for writing about such things?

Too fantastic? In April 276 girls are abducted from a boarding school in Nigeria to ‘be sold, they don’t need education.’ This same group is responsible for killing 12,000 and injuring 8,000 since 2009.

Ten Chinese nationals are missing in northern Cameroon, attacked in an area known as an extremist stronghold.

Two attacks in Kenya, 67 people killed in a shopping mall, another 10 dead and 70 injured in two bomb blasts in Nairobi.

(There have been two attacks on Paris, genocide in Syria and numerous other atrocities since I wrote this).

Loraine 2 050

The threat from terrorists is spreading. Remember the story of the Trojan horse?

It couldn’t happen in Britain? Or in France, Spain, Italy or Germany? By the time everyone wakes up to the danger, it will be too late to halt the momentum. Perhaps it already is – all brought about by our kindness to humanity in distress. Now if that’s not irony I don’t know what is.