MEET LINDA KOVIC-SKOW

My guest this week is Linda Kovic-Skow (and I forgot to ask her the origin of her surname it’s very unusual). She’s written books about her time in France which I thoroughly enjoyed.

LINDA KOVIC-SLOW

Please tell us a little about yourself.

Originally from Seattle, I currently winter in Saint Petersburg, Florida and spend summers on a boat in the Pacific Northwest Waters of Washington and British Columbia. I’ve been married for 32 years and I have two daughters. I am an enthusiastic traveler, but I also enjoy hiking, boating, reading, gardening and socializing with friends.

 

Can you tell us about your memoirs?

In the summer of 1979, when I was twenty-one and working as a medical assistant, I wanted a career change. I was thrilled when my resume landed me an interview with World Airways, but they encouraged all of their flight attendants to speak a second language. I was broke at the time, so I decided that French immersion was the best solution, and a job as an au pair would enable me to accomplish my goal in the shortest amount of time. To secure the position, I…er…well…I lied on my application and pretended to speak the language—fully aware my lie would be discovered once I arrived at my destination. Based on my diaries, French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley, recounts my adventure working as a nanny in France. The sequel, French Illusions: From Tours to Paris, recounts the rest of my adventure in France.LINDA 1

Were these difficult books to write?

I have to admit writing my memoir was a lot more complex than I initially imagined it would be. My diary offered a great outline, but I had to research and fill in, hard-to-find data on the Loire Valley, the Loire River and the town of Tours. Internet searches produced most of the information and travel books supplied the rest. From the beginning, difficult questions emerged, such as how to deal with the French sprinkled throughout the book, and how to format my internal thoughts. Oh, and I really struggled with how much detail to include in my own love scenes. Wiping the sweat off my brow, I wrote and then rewrote these scenes until I could read them without squirming in my seat.

LINDA 2

Do you have a favorite chapter in either of your books? Why?

 Ahhh…my favorite chapters to write came in the last section of my memoir. Throughout most of the story, circumstances required me to internalize my discontent and unhappiness with my employer at the Château de Montclair. Within these last pages, I finally had the opportunity to expose my true feelings in vivid scenes filled with passion and drama. It was a thrilling, rewarding experience.

 

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it?

Yes. You will find my video at http://lindakovicskow.com. I searched the internet for weeks, listening to French music, trying to choose a song for my book trailer. When I heard “Imposture” by Danielle Pauly, from the album Café de Paris, my heart lurched. I loved the melody. I wasn’t sure what the title meant in French so I looked up the translation. It meant “fraud.” The song was perfect.

Linda Kovic-Skow is an award-winning nonfiction travel author. She is also the creator of AmazingAudioBooks.com, a website where you’ll find highly-rated audiobooks for $15 or less. (This I took from her author page – and, I see she has a blog too. When you read this Linda please send me the link).

Do your books have an underlying message that readers should know about?

Set in the beautiful Loire Valley, my memoir will remind older readers what it was like to be young, adventurous and filled with dreams. Younger readers will relate to the difficult decisions women make as they transition into adulthood. My hope is that both of these groups will come away from my book realizing it’s not too late to create your own memories. Go out and explore the world. Life’s for living, after all.

What is the most rewarding part of being an author?

Once I published my memoir and put it out there to the world, I hoped, more than anything else, that people would enjoy it. Positive reviews, whether voiced or written, put me over the moon with happiness.

My website: http://lindakovicskow.com

Put some time aside one weekend and dive into Linda’s books, you won’t regret it! And thank you Linda.

Till next time, take care.

 

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MEET SUSAN NAVAS

A very warm welcome to Susan Navas who writes books for children. I was so taken with them that I bought some for a young relative for her birthday. We’ve been Facebook friends like forever and she is going to be living in Spain for part of each year so we have that in common as well.  Over to Sue.

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What and where is home? Until recently I always had a deep feeling of not belonging anywhere. Nowadays, my partner and I spend our time flitting between our two homes, one in a market town in Cambridgeshire and the other in the heart of rural Andalucia. The contrast is great, but oddly, for the first time in my life, I feel like I’ve found home.

I come from a multicultural family. My father’s parents were Polish Jews and my mother is Spanish. Somehow I always felt I was stuck between both of these cultures, these worlds, living in England at the same time and never seeming to fit in any ‘pigeonhole’. Agnil, the main character of my Agnil’s Worlds series for children is a fantasy reflection of that.

So what happens when an ordinary ten-year-old girl finds out she’s a half-elf? Sliding between worlds, Agnil rescues the elves from many dangers, but can she fulfil the most difficult quest of all – to bring her parents back together?The Rise of Agnil Front LR

The Rise of Agnil is the first book of the Agnil’s Worlds series. When Aggie goes fishing on her own for the first time and is dragged into the river by a shape-changing elf, her life is turned upside-down! Everything she thought she knew about herself is about to be challenged.

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The second book in the series, Agnil and the Wizard’s Orb, picks up on the theme and finds Agnil, the half-elf, being bullied at school because of her slightly pointy ears – a visible sign of her difference from ordinary people. The book explores racism, apartheid and persecution. Yes, all through a story about elves.

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Book three, Agnil and the Tree Spirits, picks up on an eco theme. The plight of forests has long been close to my heart. In Lilurrian, one of the eight elf worlds, tree spirits and elves live in harmony with nature in a beautiful forest. The Great Library, the centre of elf learning and culture, lies at its heart. When the Navigator sets out to mine the crystals of Lilurrian, the whole forest is under threat of destruction. How can Agnil, the half-elf, prevent this disaster? Who is the Navigator and what does he really want?

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The final book is called Agnil and the Centaur’s Secret. When coming up with the story, I took inspiration from the famous Rosetta Stone, which had enabled Egyptian hieroglyphics to finally be deciphered. The Book of Kalon holds secrets that neither elves nor tree spirits can decipher. When the last centaur was killed, the secrets became locked within the book’s pages for thousands of years. Only Professor Silver can read it, but first Agnil must seek help from an unexpected ally. Will Agnil finally share her own huge secret with her dad, or will she hide it from him forever?

Agnil’s Worlds is a fantasy adventure series aimed at children aged 7-10 years.

Now when I asked Susan to tell me about her books, she modestly forgot to mention the award she got, but I found a picture of it.

SUSAN UK PRIZE

Amazon links

The Rise of Agnil: http://smarturl.it/AmzAgnil1

Agnil and the Wizard’s Orb: http://smarturl.it/AmzWizard

Agnil and the Tree Spirits: http://smarturl.it/TreeSpirits

Agnil and the Centaur’s Secret: http://smarturl.it/AmazonCentaur

Thank you, Susan, and do go take a look at her books, we must all know young people who love to read, or should be forced encouraged to read and these would make great presents.

Till next time, take care.

MEET JEFFREY WALKER

The really fun part about all my guest blogs, is meeting so many authors who have lived in different parts of the world, had a huge variety of careers, survived a wide range of experiences and lived to tell their stories. And that is what we all have in common, we are writers and we’ve all accomplished the blood, sweat and tears part of writing our books and are eager to tell the world about them. 

This is the second soldier I’ve had as a guest, and he’s led a fascinating life, read on. 

JEFF WALKER

My name is Jeffrey Walker and I’m an American Midwesterner, born in what was once the Glass Container Capital of the World. I’m a retired military officer, and served in Bosnia and Afghanistan, planned the Kosovo air campaign and ran a State Department program in Baghdad. I’ve been shelled, rocketed and sniped by various groups, all with bad aim. I’ve lived in ten states and three foreign countries, managing to get degrees from Harvard and Georgetown University along the way. An attorney and professor, I taught legal history at Georgetown, law of war at the College of William & Mary and criminal and international law while an assistant dean at St. John’s University. I’ve contributed on National Public Radio and been a speaker at federal judicial conferences. I live in Virginia with my wife, I dote on her and my children but they are now spread across the United States. I’ve never been beaten at Whack-a-Mole.

It’s not surprising that Jeffrey has written a book that’s set against the background of the cruellest war in history.

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None of Us the Same tracks the experiences during and after the First World War of three main characters. Deirdre Brannigan, who adds new meaning to “headstrong,” is an Irish nurse from working-class Dublin, while affable Jack Oakley and complicated Will Parsons are childhood pals from St. John’s who enlist in the Newfoundland Regiment the day it’s formed in August, 1914. Deirdre joins a military nursing service after her father and brother hit the beach at Gallipoli. All three of their paths cross at Deirdre’s field hospital the first day of the Somme. Each of them suffers terrible and varied trauma from the war. The second half of the book returns to Newfoundland as they come to a reckoning with their self-pity, addictions, and emotional devastation. A big part of the healing process involves overlapping romantic and business relationships, not all of them entirely legal.

Also, follow Jeff on:

Twitter https://twitter.com/JkwalkerAuthor

Facebook at www.facebook.com/jeffreykwalker

Instagram @jkwalker.author

Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16863722.Jeffrey_K_Walker

His book None of Us the Same is available now in most countries on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2qvJSJm. It will be available through other retailers worldwide in June.

Jeffrey also sent me some explanations of the F@ck word (the naughty one) and I couldn’t resist adding a  little about it here. I know exactly where Jeffrey is coming from. When we were working against the clock setting up for concerts, everyone around us used the word all the time and I found myself using it too. It’s kind of catching! And as writers we all know there are a million adjectives out there so I wonder why it is so easy to use this one so often? Any ideas? 

My kids seem to think they invented the word f@ck in all its polygrammtical guises. I beg to differ, but until recently I’d kinda thought MY generation invented every day use of the word f#ck. I was woefully mistaken.

In fact, the first usage of the word f$ck in any kind of sexual sense appears to date to the early 14th century when a man from Chester in England is referred to in a writing as “Roger Fucke-by-the-Navele.” Which says something most hilarious about poor Roger’s sexual prowess, we may safely assume. The first use of the F-word in literature dates to a poem written by a Scotsman (not surprisingly) named William Dunbar: “Yit be his feiris he wald haue fukkit / Ye brek my hairt, my bony ane.” But since less than .0008% of the world’s population could even come close to understanding this, it’s kind of a “no harm, no foul” usage.

The first book of a fiction trilogy I’m writing came out last week, set during and after the First World War. Doing research for these books, I discovered that the F-Bomb, as in the carpet-bombing usage of the word f$ck in each phrase of every conversation, was probably invented by millions of English-speaking soldiers slogging around the trenches during the First World War. (I stand ready to be disproven by all you U.S. Civil War or Napoleonic War authors out there.)

It seems to have become something of a Word of Universal Usage among the Brits, Canadians, Aussies, Kiwis, Newfoundlanders, South Africans, and—belatedly—the Yanks. Its use even spilled over to the non-English speaking troops, including the Germans. By the end of the War, it was in the same league as “O.K.” in terms of worldwide currency.

I’ve spent much of the last 18 months in a deep dive into First World War soldier’s letters, memoirs, interviews, songs, cartoons, trench newspapers, poems, and novels. Much of this was consciously cleaned up by the former Tommies or doughboys or diggers for consumption back home in decent society.

Thank you Jeffrey and the best of luck with your new book.

AWARDS IN MIAMI

We finally fell back through our front door last Saturday night after a fantastic week in Florida. We were suffering a bit from jet lag, and DH brought an extra 5 million or so little visitors home too. As a result he’s been sleeping upright ever since. I’ve tried to tell him that’s a small price to pay for being married to an award winning author – he looked less than impressed.

“And a medal winning author at that!” I exclaimed waving the medal in his face. He grunted and reached for the tissues.

silver-medal

Secretly I think he’s quite chuffed and I’m not only thrilled, I’m amazed and flattered and re-energized and I still can’t believe it. It’s such a thrill to think that faceless judges, half a world away, think my writing is worth awards.

A silver medal for Walking over Eggshells in the Inspirational category non fiction and an Honourable mention for Amie an African Adventure. (Personally I think the bright green sticker rf-aimie-1-hon-mention-low-resprettier than the silver one) but Honourable comes after bronze, so she did well too. (Probably much to Amie’s disgust as I shall certainly continue writing about her and putting her through even more horrendous situations).

We stayed at the hotel where the function was held and they ran a shuttle to the Miami Book Fair in downtown Miami. We met up with another writer who – now wait for this – used to teach at the same school in Benghazi, Libya as I had. How likely is that? To meet up in the United States – and as the school wasn’t all that large, there could only have been a couple of dozen teachers there at any one time at the most.

We both drooled at the Readers Favorite book display which was selling copies of our books for St Jude’s charity.

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And we also had them on display at the reception desk at the hotel. I threw in a few pens and they disappeared so fast!  (Several of the waiters had them stuffed in their pockets, but you never know, someone might look and log on and buy).

On the Fridbooks-at-hotel-deskay evening we sat and listened to several presentations from major players in the book industry, and I tried to get my head around how I can do all these sort of marketing things from rural Spain. Not so easy, there’s the language barrier for a start.

The event itself was great, with the presentation, the interviews and the pictures.

The extra cherry was talking to and interacting with other authors – book people who breathe, sleep, dream and obsess over books – just like me. Sometimes you sit and wonder who cares about books, with computer games and Xboxes and movies and other stuff like that for leisure time – but they are still out there!

I met authors from all over the world and we swapped information and ideas and networked liked crazy.

All in all a fabulous trip, made even better by travelling up to Tampa to stay with a reader I met on Facebook – who organized something very special for me, but more on that next week.

PS  I sneaked a pic of DH in there somewhere – did you notice?

As usual I got carried away while writing this and forgot to mention links to my books etc. So if you want to find out what all the fuss is about you may like to check out a few.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E8HSNDW   Walking over Eggshells

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LWFIO5K      Amie an African Adventure

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015CI29O4       Amie and the Child of Africa

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M67NRG4   Amie Stolen Future

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QE35BO2     Truth, Lies and Propaganda

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VF0S3RG      More Truth, Lies and Propaganda

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DPVB4M8                  Unhappily ever After