MEET BETH HASLAM

Now, most of my blogs follow a formulae – a picture of the author, a brief (preferably witty) bio, the book covers and a bit of blurb on the storyline. Beth’s blog is going to be different as she sent me a story which is typical of the ones she writes on her blogs. I even had to nag her to give me book covers and links – but then Beth’s memoirs of going to live in France where they have integrated with the local people and set up what sounds like a miniature farm, speak for themselves. Enjoy!

The Unwanted Visitor

BETH PIC 1

I’m one of those people who tends to be a little flimsy on a morning. No particular reason for this other than a touch of fatigue brought on by the family cat. Our morning routine is pretty consistent and begins at around 5 am. I am usually alerted from a lovely, deep sleep by the sound of throaty purrs. Brutus, our portly cat, has materialised on the bed and is making his way to my pillow for a session of face-time. Try as I might to resist his advances, I’m no match for his persuasive talents at that time of the morning.

BETH PIC 5

Brutus steadfastly inveigles himself onto my nice, warm pillow and uses my head as a radiator. A cat with unnecessarily long limbs, he’ll extend an arm, using it to great effect by gently drawing my hand towards him. This is the signal that he wants to be stroked. Failure to comply on my part then involves the subtle use of claws, which he cleverly disguises as an act of affection. I imagine it’s rather like acupuncture. Mildly perforated and still enfeebled, I quickly give in and begin stroking his head, which causes him to turn into an inboard motor. The sensation of being in a ship’s engine room might be acceptable, soporific even, but the accompanying process of gradual suffocation, as Brutus gradually drapes himself over my nose, is eventually too much. I give in, turn over and fall off the pillow.

BETH PIC 4

At this stage I’m semi-awake and then start dozing, desperately trying to return to my slumbers, but it’s no good – and why? Because Brutus has begun to clean his toes. The engine room transforms into a giant rasping workshop of activity as the lick-a-thon gets under way. As unmentionable detritus, including a goodly sprinkling of flowerbed, is carelessly flicked all over me I eventually surrender. Cussing about life with animals, I tumble out of bed and perform my required duty.

With slippers and dressing gown on, and Brutus doing his best to trip me up, I stumble downstairs to meet the next challenge. The dogs – Aby and Max. I sleepily fight off loving onslaughts from our over-affectionate Australian Shepherds, who behave as though they haven’t seen me for six months.

BETH PIC 3

With wiggling bottoms, and toothy smiles that can light the dimness of any room, they pin me to the bottom step, moaning in delight, ready to plan the daily walk. Weakly I deliver a number of random pats, struggle free and shuffle into the utility room to prepare Brutus’ breakfast.

 

BETH PIC 2

Fortunately this pattern, one that can only be endured by animal-lovers, is nothing that can’t be rectified by a nice strong cuppa, and also the product of my Christmas present – a juicer. This has been a true revelation to me and I adore it. With Max still grinning from ear to ear as he adoringly hangs onto the hem of my dressing gown, I drag us both to the sink, hoping not to unravel before I reach the chopping board. I reach for my random collection of fruits and vegetables and begin to hack them into juicer-friendly sizes.

Still half-asleep, I stuff the ingredients into my wonderful machine, which munches and grinds its way through the contents with consummate ease. It belches out ex-veggie bits into one container and a heady drinkable liquid into another. This can often be a strange colour but it is thrillingly packed with vitamins and minerals – I’m convinced it’s an act of magic.

Image7

Just enough for two glasses, I give one to my husband, Jack, who is decidedly less thrilled. His belief is that these bright green/orange/dark red concoctions containing more than six types of vegetable and at least three varieties of fruit appear much too similar to human waste, and should probably carry a gastro intestinal health warning. Disappointing though his attitude is, I shouldn’t be at all surprised given that he’s a die-hard carnivore. I’ve reminded him of the health benefits and, so far, all seems to be well down below. So, in spite of his continued scepticism, he manfully sips his way through most offerings.

The single downside to my magnificent machine is that it devours an inordinate quantity of produce. After my first few goes it quickly became clear that I would need a bigger vegetable rack to contain them. In the meantime, I made do by using three deep boxes which I left on the window ledge in the cool of the utility room.

Image9

A few days ago, following another nocturnal feline skirmish that I’d failed to repel, I was on my way to the utility room to collect my ingredients. Jack was already downstairs and commented, “I noticed a mouse in one of your veg boxes this morning. Huh, at least someone appreciates your devil’s brew mix.”

I took very little notice of him and shambled into the crowded utility room, which was occupied by both dogs and Brutus (on the worktop) all eating their breakfasts. I was about to collect a clump of celery when a head popped up between the sprouts. It was there again, but this wasn’t a mouse at all, it was a large rat. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m usually perfectly fine with rats, but they do need to be in their own place – and not mine.

BETH PIC 6

I recoiled in horror and started shrieking at the animals to do something helpful. Aside from Max who raised an eyebrow, my appeals had absolutely no affect whatsoever. They were intent on eating their meal and a hysterical mum wasn’t going to get in their way.

Meanwhile, the rat, alerted to the possibility that it wasn’t welcome, calmly squeezed its bulk between my greens and started to waddle over the apples and lemons. My continued squawks brought Jack bounding in. “It’s a rat,” I ranted, “a huge one. Do something, Jack!”

“You’ve got a roomful of so-called shepherding and hunting animals in here, can’t they catch it? You feed them too much, that’s their problem. Anyway where is it?” he grumped with exasperation.

“Over there somewhere, behind the dogfood bins,” I replied, pointing nervously at two knee-high feed containers.

Jack fought his way through the furry mass and peered behind the bins.

“No, nothing here, it must have gone through the hole by the radiator. Useless bloody animals, catch a rat? That lot couldn’t even catch a cold. Now can you stop making such a noise please, I’m trying to watch the news.” With that he stalked off.

Feeling somewhat sheepish, I returned to the job in hand and studied my goods for signs of contamination. Our new visitor might be a carrier of several vile diseases for all I knew, a simple rinsing of my legumes might not be sufficient. Just as I was considering this important point the dogs, who had finished their breakfast, started to show a renewed interest in the food bins. At first I ignored this, assuming it was a late show of teaminess, when Aby started urgently whining and staring at me imploringly. Still under the impression that they were alerted by old scents I pulled back a bin and to my horror saw that the rat was still there and looking decidedly frisky.

Image11

In an instant both dogs exploded into a flurry of activity and started blundering around. Even Brutus looked up, mildly interested at all this canine activity.

Jaaack, it’s still here!” I yelled.

Jack thundered back in and surveyed the perpetrator, which was scampering around in circles behind the containers.

“Quite a fatty isn’t it?”

“Yes, can you do something please, I’m frightened it’s going to escape into the house.”

Jack gave me a withering look and switched to operations mode. “Right, you take the empty bin and I’ll grab the full one, that’ll give the dogs or Brutus a chance to get it. It’s obviously too large to get through the hole in the corner, so there’s a tiny chance that one of them might have the intelligence to catch it.”

“Oh I daren’t go any closer,” I whined pathetically.

“Why not?”

“Well, I haven’t got any pants on.”

“Wha…what’s that got to do with anything?” he cried, totally nonplussed.

“You know what they say about rats running up drainpipes, anything could happen with me standing here with just my slippers and dressing gown on!”

With a look of complete frustration at my reticence, he snapped, “Ridiculous woman! For goodness’ sake, just get out of here then, I’ll sort it out with the dogs, although I dare say they’ll just continue knocking things over.”

With that I scurried out of the room and closed the door firmly behind me.

Image12

During the next couple of minutes the rooms bulged with the sounds of shouts, barks and scrambling noises, then the vacuum cleaner was switched on, which was strange. Next thing, the door was flung open and out shot Brutus looking like a mobile inflated toilet brush with the fluffiest tail I have ever seen. He galloped up the stairs, four at a time, and disappeared from view. Poor lad, he has always considered the vacuum cleaner to be a weapon of mass destruction.

One defender of the realm down, three to go. I felt sure one of them would manage to trap the perp.

Sounds of pandemonium continued, then Aby flew through the door with an enraged-looking rat in her mouth and Max in pursuit. As she dashed around the dining room table with it I attempted to do something useful by opening the kitchen door for her, but I was too late. Max-the-misguided had decided this was a great game and rugby tackled her just before she made the exit. Aby was floored, spat out the rat, which triumphantly scampered off to another corner of the kitchen.

“Bloody idiot dog!” raged Jack as he came into the kitchen with vacuum cleaner nozzle in hand. “Where has it gone now, and what are you doing up there?”

As a security measure, remembering my state of undress, I’d taken the sensible precaution of taking refuge halfway up the stairs. I ignored his insensitive question and pointed towards the area where our escapee was last seen.

“It’s over there. Can you shoo it out of the door before the dogs have another go?”

“I tried that last time. I got it nicely stuck on the end of my nozzle when Aby grabbed it and galloped off. Now she’s let it go again.”

“Actually it wasn’t her fault, it was Max and…”

“It doesn’t matter, they’re both idiots. Sort them out please, they’re causing havoc with the furniture!”

Jack went off to find his rodent-proof gloves while I attempted to control the dogs. When he returned they were both rigidly sitting to attention, on crimson alert, and whining in anticipation of the next fiasco.

“Ah, there it is,” he said, gently removing a chair with his giant red rubber gloves, “I reckon I can probably grab it now.” As he reached towards the defiant rodent Max somehow interpreted this to be a signal to advance. He sprang over Jack’s arm and pounced on the rat, which deftly swerved out of the way, scuttled through his legs and pelted out through the open door into the garden. This was Max’s second own-goal, but at least the intruder was outside.

“That sodding dog!” bawled Jack, from a seated position where he’d been felled, “If he were five times more intelligent, he still wouldn’t qualify as an ingredient for your vegetable juicer.”

“Never mind, darling,” I gaily replied, “at least the rat’s gone now. I call that a great result!”

Jack gave me a disdainful look and snarled, “I blame myself. None of this would be happening if I hadn’t bought you that damned juicer, which has resulted in the utility room turning into greengrocers. Now, fascinating though it may be, it’s too early to be on safari. Please don’t bother me again about helping out with invasions of anything smaller than a wild boar, I’m going to catch up on the news.” With that he tramped back to the TV.

I surveyed the scenes of gentle chaos. A couple of chairs had been knocked over in the kitchen, the utility room had fared less well. The empty dog bin was on its side, the other at a jaunty angle surrounded by red cabbage, sprouts and vacuum cleaner attachments. Well, I thought, at least nothing had been damaged in our early morning incident, not even the rat, which seemed to have been the calmest of us all.

Clearly I couldn’t blame any of this on my wonderful new juicer. It simply had to have its fuel. No, there was only one unwanted gift that day, and it was now happily sauntering around the garden no doubt plotting a return visit – one that none of us would look forward to.

If you’d like to chat with Beth here are the links to use:
 
 
Twitter:  @fatdogsfrance
 
Instagram:  fatdogsandfrenchestates
 

 

THIS DOESN’T HAPPEN OFTEN

I’m trying to type this up with my eyes closed and that’s not easy for me as I’ve never learned to touch type. I do so hate this self-promotion stuff, but as DH informed me in ‘that’ kind of voice if I don’t tell anyone I write books then no one will buy them.

So I suggested he write this blog and got ‘that’ look. DH wouldn’t touch Social Media with a bargepole. He must be the only person on the planet who doesn’t have a Facebook page and has only learned that Tweets exist since they’ve been showing Donald’s efforts on the BBC news. He’s just told me to stop whinging and get typing. (Rumour has it he was browsing the yacht chandlers yesterday, but I’ll be lucky if I can afford a bath sized boat for him to play with – which I wouldn’t buy anyway as we only have a shower).

51xr1Y8zEtL

Big breath and here goes: My first memoir Walking over Eggshells is on sale until Monday at $/£0.99 if you want to grab it cheaply – available on all outlets. myBook.to/WoE

The blurb is:  Walking Over Eggshells is an autobiography that tells the story of a mentally abused child, who married a “Walter Mitty” clone. They moved from England to Kenya, from Libya to Botswana and on again to South Africa. It took all her courage to survive in situations that were at times dangerous, sometimes humorous, but always nerve wracking. She had a variety of jobs, different types of homes, and was both a millionairess and totally broke. She met royalty, hosted ambassadors, and won numerous awards for her writing and television programs. She also climbed over garbage dumps, fended off bailiffs, and coped being abandoned in the African bush with a seven-week-old baby with no money or resources. She admits to being the biggest coward in the world, but her survival instincts kicked in and she lived to tell her story. This book will make you laugh and cry and hopefully inspire others who did not have the best start in life either. 

This morning WoE rose to the giddy heights of 242 overall in paid Kindle books on Amazon but of course, I had a little help from BookBub, no, make that a lot of help! And, as they do, it’s sinking a bit now, but I was there with the screen shot. And the little yellow sticker has gone too and I only blinked once! You may say “Oh how sad Lucinda” here. But I am thrilled with over 600 sales since BB did not accept it for America. WoE is also up for a paperback giveaway on Goodreads, closing date September 10th. That comes with a free bookmark and a pen – that’s the best I can do, I live in Spain and the postage is too expensive for mugs and aprons, wall hangings and Lucinda E Clarke pyjama sets. https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/241508-walking-over-eggshells

As I’m getting ready to put the 4th book in the Amie series up on pre-order, I’ve also dropped the price of book 1 to $/£0.99.

Amie – African adventure – in case you might like to meet her. As far as I know she is the only female spy in Africa – though that doesn’t happen until book 3. And the blurb for that is:

AMIE 1 NEW COVER KINDLE HIGHER RES

Just an ordinary girl, living in an ordinary town, with nothing but ordinary ambitions, Amie Fish is plunged into hot water when her husband is posted to a country she’s never heard of. Amie’s ability to adapt and make a life for herself in equatorial Togodo lands her in more trouble than she could have imagined, her life is threatened and everything she holds dear is ripped away from her. She is left fighting for her life. If she could have seen into the future, she would never have stepped foot on that plane.

It’s got lots of nice reviews and you’re not taking a massive chance at that price, are you? And, if you’re enrolled in KU it won’t cost you a cent. myBook.to/Amie1   

WRS Kindle Cover (1)

 

And, there’s more. I launched part one of my free book The very Worst Riding School in the World at the end of June and to date, it’s had over 1,200 downloads pushing that to #1 in genre on 5 Amazon sites.  myBook.to/WRS

Finally, if you still need reading material here’s a final reminder for the big book competition http://bookhub.online/book-giveaways/super-summer-reads-giveaway  press the link to enter before it ends on Sunday.

That’s all from me until Thursday and another author to meet, I so prefer that 🙂  And if you’d like to share this post, I really won’t mind 🙂 (Luckily you can’t see me grovelling at this point, it’s not a pretty sight!)

Take care.

 

AIR TRIPS AND TROUSERS

It’s really weird how the mind plays tricks on you. I checked out my scribbled holiday diary, and see that I’d had a bad night’s sleep in Singapore and the following day I took pictures on my phone rather than the iPad to keep the weight down in my bag. Do I remember now what was wrong? Not a bit of it.

Anyhow, on with the journey which of course had to include the Hop on Hop off Bus. They are everywhere now and they really are the best way to see everything – then we decide what to see in greater detail.  We wandered around in the Raffles areas and came across this interesting building.

It’s now a national monument but was originally built as a chapel, before being deconsecrated – I really must look that up as I wonder how they do that? They have left the beautiful stained glass windows in place although the altar was no longer there.

We then went over to Santosa Island – Singapore’s playground. It was the trip that thrilled me – by cable car.

HISTORY NONSENSE

Now I’ve disposed of poor old Edward VII who only reigned for 9 years the next king was George V and he reigned sometime the last century, I’m sure the dates aren’t that important. Here he is:GEORGE V

And he proclaimed he was the House of Windsor, so he could be PROPERLY  BRITISH. And not German any more. He was Edward’s son, and his brother was George just to keep it all tidy and repeat the same names over and over and over again. If you’re not confused by now then you should be, because I am. Luckily by now, Kings were allowed to keep their trousers on for official portraits as they were fed up in posing in tights.

 

 

ADVERT BREAK

Yes, the embarrassing bit.

I’m either a multi genre writer or I’m a schizophrenic the jury is still out. I began with the memoirs, all laced with lots of humour (or humor if you’re American) with a comedy book thrown in and almost 4 adventure books. And dare I mention my novella as well?

If DH complains, then I remind him I could be throwing clay pots in the garden, or littering the house with easels messy tubes of paint, or half sewn garments, or even rearranging the furniture on a daily basis. Honestly, it’s a quiet occupation and you never know someone might just buy a book!!

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

Web page – http://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

Till next week, take care.

 

 

 

 

 

MEET LESLEY HAYES

Lesley Hayes

My guest this week lives in Oxford, England and is a psychotherapist by profession and a prolific writer. I enjoy her books which I would describe as deep, leaving lots of room for thought long after you read the last page.  Again, Lesley is one of the earliest virtual friends I met on Facebook and we’re both in the Indie Authors Support and Discussion group. We re-tweet regularly and I do recommend her books they are truly inspiring.

My name is Lesley Hayes and I write… It feels like the opening to a confession at Writer’s Anonymous, and in a way that’s appropriate. Writing is a kind of addiction, a craving that can attack the soul with the sharp bite of a need demanding to be answered in the dead of night, at dawn, or at any unguarded point throughout the day. I began writing stories while I was at school, neglecting every other subject (apart from History, which intrigued me with its many lies and mysteries) and ducked university at the age of 17 to work on Honey magazine, where my first short story was published. It was the beginning of a long and fruitful love affair with writing for publication, which has weaved in and out of everything else I’ve done over the ensuing years.

Oh yes, I should probably mention that I got married and divorced twice, had two children by the time I was 23, moved to Oxford in my late thirties and re-invented myself, fell in and out of love with disregard to gender a number of times, trained and practised as a psychotherapist for twenty years, and adopted a cat. For the past five years I have shed most of my therapy clients and emerged all damp-winged from the chrysalis of one identity into the bright uncertain dawn of another. The muse never really went away all those years as a therapist; she simply bided her time, as muses tend to do. I am impatient when it comes to change, and got quickly bored with knocking on the door of agents this time around, so in 2013 I began self-publishing my newborn novels and their older sibling short stories, many of which had been previously broadcast on BBC Radio Oxford.

The first novel to erupt with genie-like eagerness from the unplugged bottle was The Drowned Phoenician Sailor, which begins with the death of a psychotherapist (go figure.) This was swiftly jostled aside by A Field Beyond Time, which I’d actually been in the process of writing for ten years during my years as a therapist before the awakened muse finally goaded me into completing it. Round Robin, Dangerous People, and The Other Twin soon followed, and I have another in the pipeline which is still so top secret I would have to kill Lucinda if I disclosed it.

A writer’s life is often a solitary one (not so different from that of many psychotherapists) and as an introvert I am protective of my personal space and dread it when I’m invited out to show my face in public. You won’t catch me at book signings and literary gigs, parading my authorship and touting my wares, and the best thing about writing this for Lucinda is that I’m invisible. However, I’m no recluse and have a number of close friends and a cherished partner and Oxford is the perfect place to live with mild to moderate invisibility among other writers, eccentrics and people of diverse religions, ethnicity, and sexual preference. If you come across any of my books, read carefully between the lines if you want to find me… I have written clues to my true self into the characters of every one.

If you want to risk that journey visit my website: www.lesleyhayes.co.uk where you can find links to all my books. If you want to take a faster track follow the links here:

The Drowned Phoenician Sailor   http://bit.ly/1FQ5Vw9

A Field Beyond Time    http://bit.ly/UrraBL

Round Robin     http://bit.ly/1EPqxRh

Dangerous People       http://bit.ly/1OKTNBH

The Other Twin    http://bit.ly/2gzkfEF

Oxford Marmalade        http://bit.ly/1wQ6WN0

Thank you Lesley for being my guest.

I CAN’T WRITE PROPER

I am feeling quite depressed at the moment. Why? Once upon a time, I thought I could write. Not as well as Tolstoy, or Shakespeare, but the average, everyday stuff. This is a good thing, I thought I’m not particularly good at anything else. Don’t ask me to draw a smiley face, or cook gourmet meals, I plant, nurture and watch the green leafy things die, I’m best in the back row of the chorus (or off stage altogether) and … I could go on and on about my lack of accomplishments, but I’ll spare you.

At least I can write, pop words onto paper in reasonable order, tell stories and the extra bonus is I can do that as long as I have wiggly fingers and the mental capacity – unlike those super sporty people whose career is on the downward slope by the time they’re 25.

My belief in my one and only ability- I won’t go so far as to call it a talent – was reinforced by all the people who paid me to write: important people who ran banks, government departments, magazines and newspapers, radio and television, corporations and educational institutions. And I mean pay, yes real money not the pennies Amazon dribble into my bank account at the end of each month. This big money paid the rent, bought food, clothed us and put petrol in the tank. It even paid for the odd cruise and trips abroad. It continued for almost 40 years until I retired and began to write books.

library

Now, I know that was all an illusion because ‘I can’t write ‘proper.’ How do I know this? I only have to look at my editor’s red pen marks on my drafts of Amie book 4. Frankly, that is all I can see, a sea of red, it’s almost impossible to make out the underlying black print under all the corrections. For example, I’m a victim of ‘tautology’ – yes I had to look that up too – Horrors, I use five words when I should be using only two! I sprinkle commas all over the place where they shouldn’t be and leave them out where they are an absolute must.

Now what I want to know is, who are these faceless little, grey men who sit somewhere declaring that this sentence is correct, while that sentence is not? I know that the French literary people meet once a year and discuss the purity of their language and decide to ban such abominations as ‘le sandwich‘ and ‘le weekend‘ so I must assume there is a similar gathering of English speaking experts who do the same?

The rules seem to multiply and change daily.  Nowadays you must never, ever start a sentence with an -ly word eg. ‘Suddenly the silence of the night was shattered by the roar of …”  NO! NO.! NO! Adverbs are out this season, you must find a different word. No longer can we put she walked slowly – even if that is what she is doing – it must be shuffled, or ambled or sauntered or another simile. But what if she is approaching the gallows  – her last few steps on this earth – would she really amble or saunter towards the hangman’s noose? She might shuffle of course, but we want to convey that she approached with dignity and courage. Heaven forbid we put She walked slowly and courageously to her death

Ans when did it become necessary to hyphenate every thing in sight? I don’t remember reading nine-year-old in books when I was younger? Why is nine year old wrong? Grammarly has just put a huge, fat red line under it for me.

English is such a precise language. I read somewhere that it has more words than any other and each one is precise and conveys a slightly different meaning to any other word.

And as writers, we all know there is an army of grammar nazis out there just waiting to pounce on our books and complain. Some writing is obviously wrong – we was sat – is a great example (who sat them if they weren’t inanimate objects?)  But real people in the real world do say that. Looking at this paragraph, I remember being told in English class you never, ever, ever start a sentence with AND or BUT – they are conjunctions or joining words – now you see it all the time.

Punctuation has also undergone a shake up. Colons and semi colons are rare, the looooong dash is now popping up all over the place. It has even got a name to differentiate it from the short dash.

I despair, I really do.  I know my editor is right, she’s got dozens of English and editing degrees and stuff to prove it, and I know once Amie 4 is out there no grammar nazi will dare criticise it. But I’m not sure it’s quite the (incorrect) way I write anymore and I quite liked my ‘chatty, who the hell cares if I use too many words, I write as I talk’ sort of way.

I love my editor I really do, despite my moans, I couldn’t do without her, she’s really the best.

I’m not sure what the answer is. Do we blaze a new trail of English as what she is wrote and spoken in the 21st century?  Or do we blindly follow the rules?

What do you do? Right now, I’m off to get my dark glasses so I can continue editing.

We have still to finalise the cover, which do you prefer?

Have a great week and take care.

MEET RICK JOHNSON

My guest today is one of the very first I met on Facebook and he has been one of my most supportive friends. We have the same sense of humour and all Rick’s books are funny and off the wall. He’s written a wide range of quirky novels, including talking dogs who operate in gangs, the topsy-turvy world of black plantation owners employing white slaves, to a man who loves his vacuum cleaner. You never know quite what to expect when you open one of Rick’s books.

ricks dog

Instead of a photo of the author, here is the Dog – his owner is very shy. Over to you:

I decided to enter the world of writing a few years ago because I knew I couldn’t spend all of my time eating banana Moon Pies and waiting for Sandra Bullock to wake up one day and deciding that she was head over heels in love with me. Little did I know at the time that some days in the writing world can be as confusing as a vegetarian trying to find a bite of supper at an all meat barbeque.

rick pic 1

Luckily, I had the support of friends as I decided to venture into this world. When I told a few that I was going to write a book and title it Trailer Trash the emotional outpouring support I received was overwhelming. One friend informed me that perhaps just possibly I might make it all the way up to chapter two. Another friend mentioned that I couldn’t name a book Trailer Trash because it sounded too much like a stereotype. I kept asking my dog what he thought, but he never would say anything one way or the other. Despite the misgivings of my supportive friends, I decided to go ahead and write the book. 107 chapters and 108,000 words later, I typed The End. My dog never really said much about my achievement on that day, but he did give me a high five. In the end, I think a fairly entertaining story popped out of my head.

rick pic 2

After all the effort and time invested in the first book, I decided to write a second book, mainly for my entertainment. I decided to title it Love in the Box because the story revolved around the antics of employees who work at a fuel center. I was told by some friends who grudgingly admitted that they liked Trailer Trash that I couldn’t publish Love in the Box because the idea of a white transvestite with a black girlfriend would offend someone. Doing what I do best, which is doing the opposite of what people tell me to do, I published it. A few people finally admitted that they got some chuckles out of the book.

A DOGs BEST GOOBER MASTER COPY

By this time, my dog was taking some interest in the writing world, and one afternoon over burgers and milkshakes he suggested that we write a book together. Basically, the book was about some of our adventures, and all the posts the dog kept posting on Facebook. I let him decide the title of our book, and he came up with A Dog’s Best Goober.

By now, my creative juices were flowing, and Sandra Bullock still hadn’t discovered that she was head over heels in love with me, so I came up with an idea for another book. When I pitched the idea to my dog, he just rolled his eyes and walked away.

ric pic 4

Living in the southern part of the United States this idea almost caused a riot when I informed some people what I was going to write. I was told that I absolutely could not write this book and have it published. One person even asked if I was trying to get killed. No, not really. I wanted to write a story based on the time period of the United States Civil War. However, I wanted to turn history upside down, inside out, and every which way but loose. I wrote the book based on that time period, but the plantation owners were blacks whose ancestors emigrated from Africa to settle a new country and the slaves just happened to be white. It seems some people were uncomfortable with the idea of unpigmented slaves picking cotton out in the fields while singing gospel and rap music. I never could see what the big deal was all about because I knew that I was going to free those white cotton pickers at the end of the book, and Heirloom Plantation was born.

rick pic 5

I wasn’t ready to give up this writing thing just yet, and when I told my dog about the next book, I was planning he got so excited that he started doing back flips in the backyard and throwing banana Moon Pies at the neighbors. I wanted to write a book where all the main characters were dogs, so The Ruffians was born. It was fun to develop Butch, Empty, Jim, Dandy, and Mixer into the local neighborhood watch group. Though the humor might have been crude at times I’m really proud of it. It most definitely isn’t a child’s book. The dog would be reading over my shoulder as I typed, and in parts he would go absolutely nuts!

ric pic 6

Next came my first co-authored book with Natalie Alder. I really don’t think she knew what she was doing when she suggested we write a series. The first book, The Vacuum Chronicles, basically is about a lonely accountant who lost his virginity to a vacuum cleaner. That’s probably enough said about that. We’re currently writing our second book The Ice Cream Man Chronicles.

Currently, The Being is in the capable hands of my editor, and I’m working on The Angelic Rabble-Rousers which is turning out to be a whole lot of fun to write. I’m also still eating banana Moon Pies and waiting on Sandra Bullock to fall in love with me.

In the end, don’t let anyone dissuade you from your dreams. You can do whatever you set your mind on. It’s your dreams and your destiny. Walk that path you envision, dream big, and reach for the stars!

P.S. I’ll let you know if Sandra Bullock ever falls in love with me.

Thank you for being my guest Rick and if Sandra Bullock phones I’ll send her right over.

You can find all Rick’s books here:

https://www.amazon.com/Rick-Johnson/e/B00L0J5E10/

 

MEET CEECEE JAMES

CeeCee was one of the first people I ever met through social media and the accounts of her early life are quite harrowing – she had a really hard time. I can relate to that, but her story makes you want to cry. After writing two books, on her childhood she has now broadened out into the ‘cozy mystery’ genre and doing really well.  I am so thrilled that her life changed around and she is not only successful, but enjoying her writing and well-deserved success. This is what CeeCee sent me.

I’m one of those weird people who’ve always wanted to be a writer. When I was in elementary school, I’d beg the teacher to let me read the stories that I’d written to my classmates in place of the classics she liked to soothe us with after we ran in sweaty and energized from recess. I’ll never know if the students preferred my stories to Robinson Crusoe, as I was so caught up in sharing my world of a soldier returning from war. But the students were silent and the teacher was pleased, and so I had many chances.

As I grew older, I filled notebook after notebook with vignettes and poems. In junior high, I once submitted a few poems to a contest that our local newspaper held. Imagine my surprise when, a week later, my friend thrust the newspaper into my hands on the school bus and I saw my poems won first, second and third place.

CeeCee pic

Life wasn’t easy growing up, as it isn’t for many of us. Through foster care and many moves, my notebooks became a safer world, one where I could both spread my wings, and have roots with a pretend family.  Sadly, it was during one of those moves where I lost my notebooks.

 

 

Cee books

But I never lost the stories. As an adult, the first book I published was my memoir, Ghost No More—my personal story of beauty culled from the ashes of my childhood. It was always my hope that I could validate my readers in their stories of what they’ve overcome, as well as encourage anyone who needed to hear that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

Ghost no more is a #1 best seller

The rest of my childhood imaginary worlds trickled out in several of my fiction series. Now I’ve settled down in my favorite genre, cozy mystery. And I’m incredibly thankful I still get to make up stories to entertain anyone who wants to listen.

Thank you CeeCee, a very brave and talented lady.