An Exciting (Scary) New Venture

A new venture from a writer who has been around for quite some time and whose books I enjoy 🙂

Author Don Massenzio

I launched my author blog about three years ago and have watched it grow beyond anything I’d hoped. I’ve met many great people as I’ve made some friendships and have helped some authors along the way.

As luck would have it, I lost my day job about two months ago and I’m still in search of regular employment to keep the lights on and put food on the table.

The silver lining that emerged from this is that I’m embarking on a new venture. During the past year, I have edited books for a few select authors as kind of a pilot and test launch of a set of services that I hoped to turn into a business. My extra ‘free time’ and my need to generate some income, I’m launching a book editing/formatting service formally as a separate WordPress site.

For authors that take advantage of these services, I’m…

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A PALACE AND THE DEVIL’S CLAW

TRAVEL

To make up for not being able to have a seaside cottage for the summer holidays, the Habsburgs built lovely gardens round their holiday shack which stretch way into the distance. We were there in May and the flowers, despite me not knowing a dandelion from a tulip, were delightful. I was rather surprised I didn’t see a single gardener as we walked around – they don’t mow the lawns and tend the gardens at night do they?

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There was also another surprise attraction I’ll share with you next week.

HISTORY

Last week I left poor little princess Isabella growing up lonely in a huge, dark, empty, dank castle in the middle of nowhere. (You may get the tissues out here).

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Her father John II had arranged in his will for his children to be financially well cared for, but half-brother Henry doesn’t comply – either from a desire to keep his half siblings restricted or simply through ineptitude. Like his father before him, he is a totally incompetent king.

He just likes playing all day long and letting his advisors run the country (as you do when you’re king). Come on, be honest. Would you be bothered by your insane sister in law and her brats miles away when you could hunt, sit for your portrait, whore and play with your crown jewels all day long? Of course, you wouldn’t. So, he didn’t either.

 

AFRICA FACTS

There is a pharmaceutical company in Germany (I suspect there are several) who have discovered the benefits of a root growing in Africa that helps control arthritis. It’s called the Devil’s Claw. We were sent to make a programme about this which led to one of my most embarrassing moments.

The moment we stepped out of the car, we were greeted as we often were, with a group singing and dancing in national costume. I was then led into the village hall and to my horror up onto a stage and a paper thrust into my hands. It read “REASON FOR DAY MRS (REAL NAME)”

I was then asked to make a speech and I had no idea what to say. What I knew about their work digging up the Devil’s Claw roots you could write on a pin. This often happened to us, budget and time were so tight there was no chance of researching beforehand and no internet to take a quick peep.

This is what the root looks like and I’ll tell you more next time.

devils claw

THE FINAL WORD

WRS 13 FEB 2018

Till next time, take care.

Lucinda

 

MEET RONESA AVEELA

My guest this week is a prolific writer with a wide range of interests and hails from Bulgaria. She has included lots of facts about her country, so I have included a map to show you where it is. (I wasn’t exactly sure myself). Let me hand over to my guest.

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Ronesa Aveela is a Bulgarian-born freelance artist and writer, who now resides in the U.S. She likes writing mystery romance inspired by legends and tales. In her free time, she paints. Her artistic interests include the female figure, Greek and Thracian mythology, folklore tales, and the natural world interpreted through her eyes. Ronesa is married and has two children.

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Her debut novel, Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey, was inspired by a visit to this out-of-the-way village located on the Black Sea. The wild beauty of this mystical place, a land and its people and history hidden from the world, left a deep impression on her. It inspired her to use her pen and brushes to unveil a story of love and mystery and to depict the wonders of Mystical Emona through her characters, born from the imagination of her personal experience.

Emona opened a new world for her—time turned back thousands of years. She imagined the era when the great Thracians ruled the land when King Rez defended his people and the cape. She imagined the time when the old lighthouse, now so lonely and forgotten, was once alive, and its light illuminated the way for sailors on the stormy Black Sea. She imagined the time when the now-ruined church was alive with generations of people marrying, baptizing their children, and praying to God for good health and luck. She was amazed by the power, independent freedom, and strength of the wild horses galloping like a hurricane along the foothills of the Stara Planina.

This was only the beginning of the rich tales about Bulgaria, a country many only know as the place Dracula sailed from (Varna) if they even know that. Samodivi, woodland nymphs, are fascinating creatures that are prominent in all the novels. You may better know them as Veelas from Harry Potter. Ronesa, however, portrays them with the heart and soul of the reverence and fear Bulgarians have for these wondrous creatures. Even today, many people in remote villages still believe in their existence; and many others believe in them in their heart.

MAP BULGARIA

On a lighter side, here are some fun facts about Bulgaria you may not have known:

The Cyrillic alphabet was invented by two Bulgarian monks. Bulgarians are proud of this fact and get quite annoyed with the rest of the world for attributing the alphabet to Russians.

The first electronic digital computer was invented by a Bulgarian-American. Yup. Those devices we can’t live without today started with John Atanasoff in the 1930s. Although Atanasoff was American-born, his father emigrated to America from Bulgaria.

Bulgarians created yogurt. Truly, they did. Way back in the time of the Thracians. I kid you not. You can find more than three hundred varieties in the country, and many popular dishes are made with yogurt.

Shaking one’s head in Bulgaria means “yes,” while nodding signifies “no.” Think of the nightmares that can cause. I read an article recently by someone traveling in Bulgaria who was approached by a gypsy. When the boy held out his hand for money, the man shook his head. This only encouraged the boy, who smiled eagerly. Believe me. It’s best not to tell a Bulgarian they have this backwards.

Bulgarians are more likely to celebrate their “name day” than their birthday. “Name day? What’s that?” you might ask. Originally, it was a feast day for a particular saint. So, anyone who had the same name, for example, “Maria” or “Mary,” would celebrate on August 15, the Assumption of Mary. Bulgarians have a lot of saints, so there is no shortage of days to celebrate name days. From what I could gather, way, way back, when people didn’t know what day they were born on (yup, I’m talking a long time ago), they took up this custom of celebrating the feast of the saints since they DID know their own names. So why not have a little fun to mark each passing year?

Bagpipes are played by Bulgarians. Nope, it’s not only done in the United Kingdom. The Bulgarian version is called a gaida.

Famous people with Bulgarian association: Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook – his grandfather emigrated from Bulgaria in 1940. Tom Hanks, well-known actor – is married to a Bulgarian. Nina Dobrev, actress on “The Vampire Diaries” (well, maybe you don’t know her, but I like that TV series) – is a Bulgarian.

Those are a few of the things about a country most Americans aren’t really even sure where it can be found. Here’s to hoping you find all this interesting.

Ronesa Aveela Books:

Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey

Light Love Rituals: Bulgarian Myths, Legends, and Folklore

The Unborn Hero of Dragon Village

Baba Treasure Chest series

The Christmas Thief

The Miracle Stork

Born From the Ashes

Mermaid’s Gift

Adult Coloring Books

Mermaids Around the World

More Mermaids Around the World

Cookbook

Mediterranean & Bulgarian Cuisine: 12 Easy Traditional Favorites

Purchase Links:

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Ronesa-Aveela/e/B00N02ZS20/

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/%22Ronesa%20Aveela%22

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/aveela

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/ronesa-aveela/id1088547343

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?query=Ronesa%20Aveela&fcsearchfield=Author

Audible: https://www.audible.com/author/Ronesa-Aveela/B00N02ZS20

Social Media Sites:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8459737.Ronesa_Aveela

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/bendideia/boards/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ronesaaveela/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Ronesa_Aveela

Facebook pages:

Ronesa Aveela author page: https://www.facebook.com/RonesaAveela/

Ronesa’s Writing Tips: https://www.facebook.com/ronesaswritingtips/

Mystical Emona Bulgarian Myths, Legends, Folklore, and Mythology:

https://www.facebook.com/BulgarianRituals/

Dragon Village Book Series: https://www.facebook.com/dragonvillagebook/

Baba Treasure Chest: https://www.facebook.com/BabaTreasureChest/

All Things Mermaid: https://www.facebook.com/allthingsmermaid2/

Wow! I can only say how impressed I am with Ronesa’s versatility.  And it’s great to learn something new. I’ll remember now where Bulgaria is and that the capital is called Sophia.

Thank you Ronesa for being my guest, that was a lot of fun 🙂

Till next week, take care

Lucinda

VIENNA AND A VICIOUS ANIMAL

TRAVEL

Now because I’ve decided we need more pictures in here, these are two statues in Vienna, but sadly I can’t tell you anything about them.

I thought I would be really mean and pop up a couple more pics of the scrumptious cakes they have in Vienna. Austria is renowned worldwide for its cakes and hot chocolate.

Saturday, we got up early and walked to Karlsplatz and got on the underground for a trip out of town to visit the Schönbrunn (beautiful spring) Palace.

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This is the tiny country cottage that Empress Maria Theresa inherited and then extended it a little (as you do). She enlarged it to 1,441 rooms in the Baroque style making it one of the most important monuments in Austria. It’s been the summer holiday home for the Habsburgs, and it’s very sad they couldn’t play on the beach or swim in the sea as Austria doesn’t have a seaside.

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These days, in fact since the mid 50’s they let any old people wander around it, so we were let in too. The palace reflects 300 years of history, reflecting the changing tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs.

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HISTORY

Over 500 years earlier in Spain, in the castle of Avila, the Dowager Queen constantly tells her young daughter “If your stepbrother Henry dies without heirs, then your younger brother Alfonso will be king.  If Alfonso dies, you, Isabella will become queen.”  This is a little daunting when you’re only 6, but the really scary thing is that the Dowager Queen is terrified that the new king is out to harm the little Princess Isabella. Don’t forget she is mad.Henry IV 6

So, she whisks the kids off to the lonely castle of Aravelo to keep them safe. Princess Isabella has lessons and, under instruction from her mother spends an awful lot of time praying. She spends hours and hours each day on her knees.  Court etiquette is rigid, it’s more nunnery than a royal court.

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AFRICA FACTS

I thought that as all but one of my books is set in Africa I would try and include an interesting fact that you might not know.

Ask anyone which animal is the most dangerous in Africa and they will probably quote one of the Big 5 – lion, Cape buffalo, leopard, rhinoceros and elephant.

However, many local Africans living in rural areas will tell you it’s the Honey Badger.

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Many Africans will tell you they are the fiercest of all the animals. They’re not really badgers and though only 28 centimeters high, they’re notorious for their strength, ferocity, and toughness. They have been known to savagely and fearlessly attack almost any kind of animal when escape is impossible, even repelling lions. They will also attack horses, cattle and Cape Buffalo and their skin is so thick that bee stings and porcupine quills rarely penetrate it. When they attack they are virtually tireless and urban legend has it they will jump up and grab a large animal by the testicles and refuse to let go.

I scripted a video for National Geographic a few years ago, where a couple hand reared a cub before releasing it into the wild when it was old enough to fend for itself. It was one of the best projects I have ever worked on.

Finally, a quick reminder about my books with this advert.

WANTED READERS 27 MARCH 2018

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lucinda-E-Clarke/e/B00FDWB914/

Till next week, take care.

Lucinda

 

MEET T R ROBINSON

I have made many friends through social media but there are two people who stand out as not only talented writers but as unselfish champions of other writers.  One is Sally Cronin and the other is Tanya Robinson.  I’ve read all of Tanya’s books (so I thought) and they take your breath away. Her experiences have been beyond incredible. I would strongly urge you to check them out.

TANYA AVATAR

My sincerest thanks to Lucinda for having taken the time to read and review my memoir series and for this kind feature.

I was born into a very loving family where, for my first few, sadly very few, years I enjoyed the privilege and security of wonderful parents and sisters. However, those idyllic years were to be short-lived and prior to the age of five I was thrown into a very cruel, violent world for which I was not in the least prepared. It all started with my beloved mother’s untimely death. It is not my intention to reiterate information that may be found in the memoir series but to simply try and explain how life has worked out for me and how I have reached the stage of life where I now find myself. Just a quick aside, some may question the fact I can clearly recall events from my earliest years and I mean earliest; from even before I could walk. This is because I have been blessed, though some may consider me cursed, with an amazingly accurate and detailed memory. It has even surprised me at times.

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Subsequent to my mother’s death I was not at all well. The family doctor as well as the family became concerned about my mental health and consequently, sent me away. That was when my troubles really started. Briefly, in an attempt to escape the inappropriate behaviour of a relative I ended up in the hands of the German Gestapo. World War II was in full swing and my homeland had been occupied. They discovered I was the daughter of a senior resistance leader and, upon the pretense of wanting to know where my father was, tortured me. This was despite me telling them I knew nothing: Father, in an attempt to protect the family, had never told us anything and it was true I knew nothing. However, though I was just a young girl they would not listen. I will not say more here. Subsequent to this, though they had left me for dead, I was eventually reunited with one of my sisters. Again I faced inappropriate behaviour and in an attempt to free myself ended up in a cruel and brutal marriage. The only highlight being the birth of my first son though, due to the violence, I subsequently lost many more children.

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I eventually escaped that marriage only to face further misuse and trauma from a variety of sources. Many, including my son (with exasperation), have often commented upon how naive and innocent I can be. It is true, despite all that has been done to me and all that has occurred in my life, I want to believe and trust people. I just cannot seem to change nor, if truth be told, do I wish to. I do not want to become a bitter or resentful person though the constant injustice and meanness of society do upset me. 

There, that is a little background to where I come from and who I am. All the cruel events left me feeling ashamed, contaminated and generally unclean. (As I have discovered since, many women who have faced similar domestic violence as I, felt they were responsible though, of course, they were not.) Naturally, I must acknowledge this impacted upon my confidence and made me wary of any human interaction. Nevertheless, I am a determined soul and would not permit myself to be put down or overcome by it all, especially as I had responsibility for my son’s welfare. However, I am a private person and for many years ensured no one ever knew my story. I always limited and curtailed personal discussions. As far as I was concerned the events of my life would cease and die with me. So, considering all this, why have I published the memoir series? Over the years many have confided in me their own life tales and I came to appreciate my experiences and that of many of my ancestors were anything but normal. Should I tell the tale? No! It was too shameful. Too embarrassing.

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It took many years but eventually, I realized it would be wrong for our stories to be lost. Society really could benefit from knowing the truth; if for no other reason than to hopefully provide help and inspiration for those who have faced, or are facing, similar circumstances. I have been circumspect with content and have intentionally omitted some of the more awful, graphic experiences: I have suffered enough in my own life and have no wish to cause others upset or stress by relating all the horrors. What I have shared I consider sufficient to hopefully help others overcome their own situations. If nothing else, I would like people to know it is possible to escape from even the most constrained existence. Also that it is possible to go on and have a reasonably successful life. I have to admit I am truly surprised I survived and have made to this day. If it can happen to me it can happen to anyone!

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The above may imply my life was always full of brutality, cruelty, and meanness and in truth, much of it has been. Nevertheless, and though indeed I have experienced more than most, there have been lighter, even some fun, moments which I also share in the books.

 I sincerely hope many of you will never have to face what I did and, for those of you who have or are, you will find some solace and help in what I share.

When I researched Tanya’s author page on Amazon, I discovered she had written two more books I wasn’t even aware of. So those are going on my TBR list right now.

Tanya describes herself as an independent author of memoir and biographical fiction, but she is so much more than that. A very courageous and brave woman whose life story simply takes your breath away. I recommend you look up her books on her website.

https://trrobinsonpublications.com  

This is the link to the first book in her memoir series.

And, if you are a writer, Tanya’s blog is full of lots of helpful hints and information, I also recommend that. She writes in such a way that even a techie dummie like me can understand.

Thank you for being my guest this week, Tanya you are just such an amazing person.

Till next time, take care

Lucinda

 

Don’t throw out the baby! Why #Amazon doesn’t want your #BookReviews

Great idea, great blog.

Barb Taub

An open letter to Amazon:

Dear Amazon,

I should be your Holy Grail. I’m the real deal, an actual reader who goes through books carefully, thinks about what they mean and how they’re written, and then writes a considered, thoughtful, and hopefully helpful analysis—in other words, I’m a book reviewer.

Writers, potential customers, publishers, and oh yes—you, Amazon—should be jumping for joy and giving thanks that I’ve taken hours to read and yet more hours to craft reviews for hundreds of books. Instead, Amazon, you’ve decided to punish reviewers like me.

In the name of discouraging “fake” reviews, your new policy requires reviewers like me to spend $50 on Amazon’s US site and even more, £40 on Amazon UK before I can share my review. Have you thought about other solutions, or the effect this will have on legitimate reviewers?

Amazon has figured out how to conduct millions of legitimate…

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LITTLE PRINCESS AND LAP DANCING

TRAVEL

So, we are still in Vienna. I’ll have to drag this out a bit as we don’t really travel all that much though I would love to go away more. The problem is the difficult people you meet that demand money to cart you about and let you sleep in their hotels and houses that stop us traveling more.

One thing that really struck both of us while in Vienna were the reminders of the last great war. For example, there were these memorials.

We also visited the Jewish Museum which had some excellent videos and I was riveted to the presentations – living history, people talking about their personal experiences. We spent a good couple of hours there, reading letters and stories about the resistance fighters and the concentration camps many of which were located in Austria.  (No photos allowed).

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Pi museum exterior By Gryffindor – Own work

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This is another reminder for the Victims of Holocaust. Under this square are the excavated remains of a Jewish Synagogue from the Middle Ages, which had seen the tragic end of the Jewish exhaustion during that time.

 

When we got back to the hotel, this was waiting for us on the table. I thought it was a really nice touch.

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HISTORY

Mad queen Isabella Castile

If you remember we are in Spain in the town of Avila population at the time 1451, with 1,285 inhabitants in the province of Avila, Castile and Leon. Now I hope you’re not going to be difficult and ask me how or why it was in 3 provinces – that’s what the book said.

It isn’t an easy or a happy childhood. Little Isabella’s mother, Queen Isabella is mentally unstable.  She has periods of hysteria, and her husband and her children are afraid of her. Her madness is an inherited trait from the royal house of Portugal. (Apologies to the Portuguese – that’s what the book said).

When little Isabella is only 3, her father King John II dies, and he is succeeded by his son Henry from his first marriage.  He becomes Henry, or Enrique IV. It all gets very complicated doesn’t it, but the NHS at the time was not as efficient and people kept dying all the time. (Have you noticed Disney never mentions this fact).

THE LAP DANCING EPISODE

Now I promised you the story of the lap dancing club this week. Besides writing scripts for radio and television I was up for hire for anyone daft enough to pay me to write anything – as you can tell I’ve no morals at all. Hunger and shelter win out every time. But I was a little taken back when I was asked to write a radio ad for a lap dancing club.

I decided to raise the stakes a little here and it went something like this:

“Come to XYZ club and meet Mandy, who is working hard to provide for her poor granny who needs an expensive heart transplant. While she dances close to you (very close) you will be contributing to Help the Aged and making a beautiful girl very happy at the same time.”

“You can also get to meet Veronica, currently putting herself through post-grad school in micro-genetic bionics. She will be happy to chat with you over a bottle of champagne. Make it soon, as she will be leaving once she has been awarded her PhD.”

“You may be able to help Annette, who has no family at all. Sadly, they were all butchered in the revolution in her home country and now she is building a new life for herself. Come along and give her some love and encouragement.”

All lies, of course, I never got to meet any of them, and a guy who frequented the XYZ club told me none were a day under 40 and they’d all been around the block a good few times and looked very much the worse for wear.

I sighed and shamelessly ran all the way to the bank.

My web page – just in case you feel inclined. http://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

Until next week, take care.

Lucinda