RUINS AND ROSE WINDOWS

The Bastide (it’s what they call the castle but I have no idea why)fell into ruins and had become a bit of an eyesore until a local man thought of building it all back up again.

This wasn’t going to be easy, as no one had thought fit to lodge the original plans with the town council. So they brought in this famous architect who poked around for a while and drew up what he thought it should have looked like.

It has been suggested he added a few extra towers with pointed tops to make it look nicer. He seemed to be very fond of these as they were everywhere. So while a couple of bits remain from the past, a lot of it is new, less than 200 years old.

And I sensed this, even in the streets surrounding the castle. It did not have the same vibes as Fontainebleau or Hampton Court where you can feel those who lived there long ago. (All other writers will understand this). In one of the courtyards, there were some red steel frames leaning against the walls and I wondered if they were still doing restoration work, but I was informed this was a modern sculpture. It looked so out of place I deleted the photo I’d just taken in disgust.

Of course in those days when you built a large home it had to have a chapel or church to show how religious and good you were and in this case, it was the Basilica of Saint-Nazaire.

There were two rose windows which faced each other east and west and I suspect this must have been the original building?

HISTORY INSERT

The problem was Edward VIII kept turning up everywhere with this obviously

unsuitable woman. The Dowager Queen Mary of Tek refused to even acknowledge the American’s presence when they were forced to meet.

Duke of Windsor and Mrs. Wallis Simpson

Then parliament got involved, and they all threatened to resign if the wedding went ahead. Edward VIII had already discovered that being king was not much fun after all. There were a lot of papers to read, and boring meetings to attend, and behind the scenes, he had to do as he was told. He was by now completely besotted with this social climbing upstart and was lost without her. He was given the ultimatum and decided to hop off the throne and let his younger brother have it. As far as I know, he’s the only British king to do this by choice.

BOOK SHOW

This is the opening to the second Amie book – Amie and the Child of Africa.

The silence of the night was shattered by the sound of approaching vehicles. Bright lights split the night, illuminating flying insects in their beams as the trucks drew nearer. There were excited shouts and one driver blasted his horn which immediately woke everyone in the camp. Whoever had been on guard duty barely had time to shout a warning as the new arrivals thundered towards them.

Jonathon wriggled out of his sleeping bag and seized the rucksack that was always next to him before pulling Amie to her feet.

child-of-africa-new-cover-front-75dpi

“Run. Run,” he whispered loudly. “Run as you’ve never run before.” Stopping only to grab their shoes, they left the tent and raced off into the darkness.

Amie didn’t need to be told twice. They’d been discovered and the only thought she had was to get as far away as fast as she could. There was no time to jump in the two trucks parked next to the tents, their only chance was to make for the other side of the valley on foot and hide in the trees on the lower slopes of the mountain range.

She ran blindly, trying to keep up with Jonathon. His legs were so much longer, he was just over six foot tall and she was seven inches shorter, so he was forced to slow down to keep pace with her. She didn’t stop to think she might step on a night adder, or crash into one of the smaller termite mounds she couldn’t see in the dark. Nor did she stop to think of all the dangers beyond the safety of the camp. There were lions out here, hyenas, buffalo, jackals, wild dogs and elephants. Anything they might bump into could easily turn round and attack.

As soon as they were on the other side of the wide, dry river bed, they stopped to put on their shoes, Amie’s feet were already bruised and bleeding and it was more painful with her shoes on.

They set off again, running over the veldt, not caring what was in front or to the side of them, not even stopping to see who else was also running. They only knew certain death lay behind them. Low hanging branches slapped their faces and legs, and twice Amy stumbled over shrubs as she tried to zigzag round the odd acacia tree that loomed in front of them. The only piece of luck was the moon. It was bright enough to cast deep shadows near the larger objects which lay in their path, but not bright enough to make Jonathon and his wife too easy a target.

myBook.to/Amie2

Till next week, take care.

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MEET H MAX HILLER

Now I’m a little confused (not difficult in my case) as my guest today has his name on Facebook as H Max Hiller and also as Hiram Hiller, but I’ve checked very carefully and they are one and the same. I hope you don’t mind me calling you Max?
PROMO PIC 2015
H. Max Hiller’s restaurant career began with a cooking job on Bourbon Street at the age of seventeen. His resume now includes many of New Orleans’ iconic dining and music destinations which provide a lifetime of characters and anecdotes to add depth to his Detective “Cadillac” Holland series. 
 
MAX MILLAR AND WIFE
He now divides his time between working as a chef aboard a boat traveling America’s inland waterways and writing in the home he and his wife share with their rescue pets that include a neurotic wolfhound-mix and far too many cats.
(I found this lovely picture of Max and his wife on his Amazon author page)
Books by Max – Blowback – The Blue Garou  (Silver Medalist 2016 Dan Poynter Global Ebook Awards)
Can’t Stop the Funk and Ghosts and Shadows.
 
SERIES DESCRIPTION: The award-winning “Cadillac” Holland Mysteries are equal parts compelling mystery, travelogue, and insightful looks at one of America’s favorite destinations through the eyes of a detective as battered as the city he patrols. Detective Holland has returned home as a retired Special Forces and Intelligence operative and brings those specialized skills to bear on investigations that all too often place him at odds with NOPD’s own way of doing things. It’s why the Chief of Detectives only assigns “Cadillac” cases which are as unique and challenging as the detective’s way of seeking justice and not just answers.
 
I’ve not read this series yet, but as it is one of my favourite genres I’ll be looking them up soon. One can never have too many detective series.
Thank you Max for being my guest this week.

WANDERINGS AND WALLACE

TRAVEL BIT

We walked around Carcassone castle and were very impressed with how well the building had stood up for the last 800 years, I mean even the walls were nice and clean.

DH remarked several times that they don’t erect edifices like they used to, to last for centuries. I detected the odd pitying glance from the passers-by, which was puzzling. We sat and watched the movie on its history and learned that all the people living in and around the castle had been ordered to go and relocate on the other side of the river.

Next, the Black Prince came along and set light to the Bastide as they call it, and that didn’t do it much good either.

The locals were quick to grab what stones were left to build their own houses and I understand they didn’t leave much of it.

So what did we see? I’ll tell you next week.

SHOCKING HISTORY

Now, on one hand asking Wallace Simpson to marry him might have reassured many people that Edward VIII was not gay as had been thought by some. But there was an even bigger problem. She had married and divorced twice before and both her ex-husbands were alive and well.

Prinz Harrys Urgroßonkel Herzog von Windsor traf Hitler

This would never do. The King was the head of the Church of England they didn’t allow such things. The answer was to marry and shove off, or find a better match. Some historians tell us that the lady in question wasn’t all that fussed about marrying Edward, but she had told everyone that she would re-furnish Balmoral Castle and get rid of all that nasty tartan that Queen Victoria had installed.

BALMORAL

THE NATURAL BREAK

That’s what they say to pretend they are not advertising yes?

I thought I would do something a little different and paste in the beginning of one of my books over the next few weeks. I’ll start with book 1 of the Amie adventure/spy series African Adventure.

They came for her soon after the first rays of the sun began to pour over the far distant hills, spilling down the slopes onto the earth below. At first the gentle beams warmed the air, but as the sun rose higher in the sky, it produced a scorching heat, which beat down on the land with relentless energy.

She heard them approach, their footsteps echoing loudly on the bare concrete floors. As the marching feet drew closer, she curled up as small as she could, and tried to breathe slowly to stop her heart racing. No, please, not again, she whispered to herself. She couldn’t take much more. What did they want? Would they beat her again? What did they expect her to say?AMIE 1 NEW COVER KINDLE HIGHER RES

There was nothing she could tell them, she was keeping no secrets. She knew she couldn’t take any more pain; every little bit of her body ached. How many films had she seen where people were kicked or beaten up? She’d never understood real pain, the real agony even a single punch could inflict on the body. Now all she wanted was to die, to escape the torture and slide away into oblivion.

The large fat one was the first to appear on the other side of the door. She knew he was important, because the gold braid, medals, ribbons, and badges on his uniform told everyone he was a powerful man, a man it would be very dangerous to cross. He was accompanied by three other warders, also in uniform, but with fewer decorations.

They unlocked the old, rusty cell door and the skinny one walked over and dragged her to her feet. He pushed her away from him, swung her round and bound her wrists together behind her back, with a long strip of dirty cotton material. She winced as he pulled roughly on the cloth and then propelled her towards the door. The others stood back as they shoved her into the corridor and up the steps to the ground floor.

She thought they were going to turn left towards the room where they made her sit for hours and hours on a small chair. They’d shouted and screamed at her and got annoyed when she couldn’t answer their questions. This made them angry so they hit her again.

She’d lost track of the time she’d been here, was it a few days, or several weeks? As she drifted in and out of consciousness, she had lost all sense of reality. Her former life was a blur, and it was too late to mark the cell walls to record how long they’d kept her imprisoned.

This time, however, they didn’t turn left. They turned right at the top of the steps and pulled her down a long corridor towards an opening at the far end. She could see the bright sunlight reflecting off the dirty white walls. For a brief moment, she had a sudden feeling of euphoria. They were going to let her go!

myBook.to/Amie1

audio   https://www.amazon.com/Amie-African-Adventure/dp/B0725CYNYG

Till next week, take care.

 

MEET J W SMITH

I have no idea if John has visited Africa, I keep meaning to ask him, and maybe he’ll tell me in the comments below. Either way, he is familiar with many things African and I can resonate with the way he sees that Dark Continent. He is one of my favourite authors and I think the Great Dictator series books are amazing.  John comes with my personal badge of approval!

JOHN SMITH PIC

 

After taking a BA(Hons) in history, I got a job with an American publishing house, where I stayed for ten years. At last, wearying of the corporate world, I took my leave and from then onwards vowed to be my own person. I went for any job that would give me enough freedom from targets and goals to allow me what I always wanted to do most; to write.

When I was growing up, I would read anything, anytime. My mum’s magazines, the small print on medicine bottles, the ingredients on food packets, advertisement hoardings, never letting go, always reading everything from beginning to end. It was my world. People would bang on the door to query my welfare when I got engrossed in a book while on the loo. Words intrigued me, their use, their sound, their texture. How they could make me feel. How they could manipulate me. But above all, I was fascinated by writers (yes, even by those who were employed to write instruction manuals for vacuum cleaners) who could write in a way that would compel the reader to go on reading. Unputdownable. Writers who would make me want to turn the page.

And I became their disciple, learning from their talent, their ever-dutiful student. And I found that more often than not the most intense feelings and emotions could be expressed in the simplest of words. Plain language and choosing the words carefully. That is all that it ever takes to communicate effectively, and you can get to anything that you want to say.

 

JOHN SMITH RUSSIAN

The greatest moment was when someone browsing the ‘net in Russia saw my free short story, Learner Driver, on Smashwords and contacted me. She was a teacher of English. At first she translated one of my wacky stories books into Russian as an English language teaching aid for her students, but then came a surprise; they were enjoyed so much for their content that a Russian publisher wanted them all, to publish in Russian for general distribution – – and then I got an email from one of the translators to tell me that my wacky stories books had reached the top of the bestseller list at the biggest bookshop in Moscow!

I also started writing for teens (young adults). I have four young adult novels independently published, a book of children’s stories called Wacky Stories for Grown-up Kids, a book called A Layman’s Guide to the Meaning of Life and Death,  and an adult thriller series called The Dictator Thriller Series, all available to view on Amazon USA and Amazon (UK) and on my website at http://johnmwsmith.my-free.website/ . And you might even wish to look at Strange Times, my FREE book of short stories.

Most writers get disillusioned with the writing ‘game’ at some point, but to people like me I would say, if you really believe you can write well, just go on writing and marketing your work and allow the future to take care of itself. You may yet be surprised at what can happen! Even if you have little time available, working 60 hours a week at any old boring day job, as I do. And don’t conform, and never be afraid, for if you do you will become boring, and it will show in your writing.

 

Wise words from a very talented author. Thank you, John for agreeing to be my guest this week. Do go take a look at his books, the links are above.

CASTLE AND KINGS

CARCASSONE CASTLE

As we walked (well DH walked, I staggered) over the dry, grassy moat and the bridge to buy our entry tickets, I thought the castle was in a remarkably good condition considering it had been assembled in the XII century. It was built by the Trencavel family who added a bit more to it in the following century. Showing off how rich they were no doubt.

An interesting family they turned a blind eye to the Cathars, who’d developed their own version of religion and so the Pope of the day declared a crusade under Simon de Montford who laid siege to the city.

After all that was over, the town was declared French and they thought the castle would be very useful in manning the Franco/Spanish border. Which turned not to be such a good idea as someone went and moved the border further south. Now, Carcassone was several miles inside France. After all that effort!!

HISTORY NONSENSE

Now while George had 5 sons, one as I’ve said was locked away so you’ve probably heard about the two eldest Edward and George – though Edward was called David, just to be confusing.

EDWARD viii

  • File:Bundesarchiv Bild 102-13538, Edward Herzog von Windsor.jpg

He’d only been king a few months (his father George V had died in the meantime, so it was Ok for him to become king) when he asked a lady called Mrs Wallace Simpson to marry him and this shocked the whole nation.

THE EMBARRASSING BIT

Yes, here is where I mention my books, though I have far more fun writing about the other stuff on my blog.

I have 8 out so far, in 3 different genres which only goes to prove I’m a bit schizophrenic I guess. Memoirs x 3 – Humour x 1 – Adventure/thriller/spy x 4.

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

Worst Riding School - 2

 

Don’t forget my reader magnet which you can snaffle for free – short read myBook.to/WRS embarrassingly all true.  All books are wide except for the Amie series.   Until next week take care.

 

 

MEET MARY L SCHMIDT

Today my guest is one of my favourite authors and I’m so pleased to welcome her to my blog. She has won so many awards with her first book that it’s becoming difficult to read the title on the cover! I read and reviewed her book and was overwhelmed with what she went through, I sobbed my way through it! But it has a happy ending as Mary is one of life’s survivors (whoops, was that a spoiler?) Learn more about this amazing lady.

 

Circa2011

Mary Schmidt writes under the pen name of S. Jackson and her husband, Michael, writes under the pen name of A. Raymond. Both grew up in the middle of Kansas, and they are eclectic authors having written 15 books thus far. They enjoy traveling, reading, poker, enjoying the mountains, and playing with two year old grandson, Austin.

I knew I would write a book eventually back in 1990. That year was a rough one for me and my family personally, and I’ve kept journals most of my life. I had many stories to tell but I wasn’t quite ready, mentally or emotionally, in going headlong into a 376 page book. When 2013 rolled around, I knew then that I was going to put words and stories from my journals into digital format.

Medium-BADGES-FRONT-SamPureLightWhenAngelsFlyGlacierFullCoverWithWordsVersionTwoKonTikiEnchantedJackson26Jan2017

The hardest and most difficult part initially was actually going into and reading my journals from 1989 – 1990 as my first book is Non-Fiction/Spiritual in nature. I knew my book had to be written and I knew the many messages in my book needed to be published, so that hopefully I could help others through difficult times in their lives or the lives of others they knew. The timing was right as I had left nursing in December 2012. My first book was extremely difficult since the stories were real. Some days I could write one sentence and then I was done for the day. Other days I could write more.  From that was born When Angels Fly. From now through the end of October, When Angels Fly is 0.99 cents!

I have three books I would like to touch on in this post. These are books for children and I saw that Mary got a bronze medal from Reader’s Favorite for The Big cheese Festival. 

Awards:

2016 New Apple Official Selection E-Book Award

2016 Ring of Honor Circle of Books Silver Second Place Award

2016 McGrath House Independent Book Awards Finalist

2016 Number One Amazon Best Seller

2016 Reader’s Favorite Five Stars

2017 Literary Titan Silver 2nd Place Award

These are the American links for Mary’s books.

When Angels Fly https://www.amazon.com/ebook/dp/B017UNVWDI

The Big cheese Festival – a book for children about bullying.

http://www.amazon.com/ebook/dp/B01H3S381O

Shadow and Friends Celebrate Ellsworth, KS 150th Birthday

http://www.amazon.com/ebook/dp/B072TPMDRH

Mary, it’s been great having you as a guest this week.

 

 

FRANCE AND FALSEHOODS

TRAVEL SECTION

Well, it’s a whole month already since my birthday, but I promised I would share my adventures with you as it was a bitter/sweet experience.

I’d been waiting in great excitement for the big moment when DH would ask me what I’d like as a present and I had my answer all ready.

blonde wig

 

I wanted proper publicity photos, taken at one of those places which provided the wigs, the warpaint, and the Photoshop experts. I would then burst forth onto Facebook and other places with my long, golden locks flowing over my shoulders looking 25 years old with ‘go to bed’ eyes the size of flying saucers.

It was not to be. Instead, he waved the bed and breakfast booking for 3 nights in Carcassone. This would have been my second choice and I was looking forward to visiting the medieval walled city in south-west France.

We set off in the car very early in the morning and after a few hours realized we were in France. We’d stayed on the motorway (the tolls were horrendous) but it cut the journey by hours. We whipped round the Pyrenees and reached Carcassone in the late afternoon. We had a bit of a battle with the GPS as it insisted on trying to take us down a pedestrian street to the B&B. Later, we discovered that everyone else drove down these walk only streets! We found a teeny, weeny parking place right outside the door, but by the time DH had maneuvered the Tank (that’s what I call his truck thingie) into the minute space there wasn’t room to put tissue paper between the bumpers.

The B&B was lovely, though by the time I’d climbed the 3 flights of tiny, windy stairs I was exhausted.

Now to my mind, a castle is in a town right? Not in Carcassone. The town is one side of the river and the castle is on the other, very strange I thought. The first evening we took a gentle stroll into the town, and had a highly priced coffee.

We also popped into a church and had a look round.

Next morning we planned to go to the castle, but I began to have my doubts – and this is where the bitter part comes in. It was perched somewhere up in the clouds!! DH goes mountain walking in the winter, and it was no problem for him. I, on the other hand, see no necessity to walk farther than from the front door to the car.

I huffed and puffed up this HUGE hill – honestly nearer to a mountain – with not a coffee shop open until finally, we got to the top. Imagine my fury when I saw a car park right next to the castle! I was totally exhausted by the time we made it up there, and it didn’t look as if there was any public transport going back down either! I’d not planned a workout on my special day. I was too tired to take photos of the steepest bit. More next week.

HISTORY TWADDLE

Now George V was probably a little worried about keeping his seat on the throne. Not only had his cousin Tsar Nicholas of Russia been cruelly disposed of, Kaiser Willhelm II of Germany also got the boot. George and his wife May had 5 sons and a daughter and he is quoted as saying “My father was frightened of his mother, I was frightened of my father, and I am damned well going to see to it that my children are frightened of me.” GEORGE v PLUS WIFE

See, I told you he wasn’t a very nice person. His sons were quite terrified of him. Yet, and this is a spin doctor’s dream – on his father’s death he wrote in his diary “I have lost my best friend and the best of fathers … I never had a [cross] word with him in my life. I am heart-broken and overwhelmed with grief but God will help me in my responsibilities and darling May will be my comfort as she has always been. May God give me strength and guidance in the heavy task which has fallen on me.”  Somebody’s telling porkies! (London Cockney rhyming slang – pork pies = lies).

 

THE ADD BREAK

By the time you read this Amie: Cut for Life book 4 will be off the pre-order and you can take a peep in the look inside. Book one is also available in audio.

You can find them all here on my Web page – http://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

Till next week take care.