MEET PENNY LUKER

I’m thrilled to welcome my guest this week as this will be one of the most colourful blog posts ever. Penny writes children’s books and the covers are so bright and attractive they jump out at you. And, yes, despite I’m a wrinkly, I’ve read several of them and loved them. Time to meet Penny.

Penny headshot

I think I’ve been a writer all of my life. When I left my job I flicked through years of diaries and found numerous (rather bad) poems on spare pages. Since leaving my paid work, I’ve taken numerous poetry and writing courses and I’ve discovered that writing is a skill where you keep on improving. Nature’s Gold and Autumn Gold are mixed anthologies with a variety of themes but my latest book, The Shadows of Love is an anthology based on the theme of love. It’s not sugar sweet love poems though!

Penny has written 3 poetry books:

mybook.to/AutumnGold     mybook.to/NatureGold    mybook.to/shadowsoflove

One of the most wonderful events in my life has been having grandchildren. I have four and have written a children’s book for each child. The Green Book and Tiny Tyrannosaurus explore family life. They touch on topics such as being greedy and stranger danger, with a sprinkle of added magic. Pablo the Storytelling Bear, tells stories of a wild polar bear and one that lives in the zoo. Following the wild bear allows the reader to become aware of the problems that wild life have to cope with in a changing environment, while the one in the zoo has magic and conversations with other animals. I feel it’s important that children’s books are fun. Desdemona the dragon without any friends, deals with loneliness and how sometimes we don’t see potential friends, because they are different from us. Children love making the sounds that go along with the story. It’s my one and only picture book and I did all the illustrations. It was such fun to do and I learned how to use Photoshop at a beginners level.

mybook.to/GreenBook                                        mybook.to/Tiny  

 

mybook.to/Desdemona                                     mybook.to/PabloSTBear

I attend a weekly writers’ group, The Winsford Writers, and so produce heaps of short stories. There’s another book on the way. Pebble on the Beach and The Mermaid were both published a few years ago. They are anthologies with mixed genres, but next I’m thinking of doing ghost short stories.

Short Stories

mybook.to/TheMermaidShort                            mybook.to/Pebble

The Truth Finder

I’ve also written The Truth Finder, a YA novel about earth in the fifth millennium. It’s about a young man who has the gift to read minds and his struggle to take control his gift. The sequel, ‘The Visualizer’ is nearly finished. I’ve been writing it all summer and I sometimes don’t want to come back to real life.

mybook.to/TruthFinder

Since leaving work I’ve definitely been focusing on my creative side. Apart from the writing I’m learning to play the ukulele and I play the piano after a fashion. I looked up all the old music I love and found easy versions to play.

I’ve also been to many art courses and classes in the last few years. I love doing batik work and painting pictures in wax. Getting messy doing printing or any form of painting is just such fun. Occasionally I produce something that someone actually wants to put on the wall. My favourite subjects are life and figure drawing and portraits. Sometimes I think that one will make a great character for one of my stories.

In real life, I help to care for some family members who are not too well, but I’m also a strong believer in life long learning. I enjoy meeting new people from all walks of life and discovering new facts, techniques and songs. Perhaps I’m a true Gemini, butterfly!

It’s great to meet another writer who crosses genres – it goes to prove if you are a writer, you can write anything!

You can find out more about Penny and her books here:

Author Blog   www.pennyluker.wordpress.com

Amazon Author Page   author.to/PennyLuker

Thank you so much for being my guest this week.

Till next time, take care.

 

 

 

 

 

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MEET CHRIS-JEAN CLARKE

This week my guest is Chris-Jean Clarke who lives in England, but has strong literary connections in the United States.

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Chris-Jean Clarke grew up in the West-Midlands (UK), but now resides in South Staffordshire (UK) with her husband, Geoff and children, Nathan and Kyrsten.

Prior to giving birth to her two beautiful children Chris-Jean worked for twenty years with people with learning and physical disabilities.

She studied the art of writing children’s stories @The Writing School, Oxford Open Learning.

Chris-Jean also donates stories & poems twice yearly to the Peacock Writers to benefit various charities. (NB She does not publish her

contributions in any other form.)  9781497384699_p0_v2_s260x420The Peacock Writers are a group of independent writers from around the globe & each of our anthologies are written around a given theme.

I have contributed to nine books, so far, but the book I would strongly recommend is: Springtime Bullies: Special Illustrated Edition (The Peacock Writers Present) (Volume 6)

http://thepeacockwriters.weebly.com/

 

In November 2016, Chris-Jean was accepted as a paid reviewer for Readers’ Favorite. During this month she was also accepted as a Publishing Assistant for the Books4Kids program, South Dakota.

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Early 2018, Chris-Jean transitioned from Publishing Assistant to author with the release of her educational story: To Dye For. To Dye For was accepted for its entertaining look at esteem. Interested readers can purchase the eBook from BookRix.com or any of the major online stores, such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iTunes, whilst the paperback version of this book is currently gifted to children in schools across America, but can also be purchased from our website: PS Publishing & the Books 4 Kids Program
https://www.publishps.com/retail-store.html   

August 2018, Chris-Jean re-released her historical fiction story: Honesty in World War 2. This story is told from ten-year-old Cyril Blessum’s perspective and is currently available to purchase as an eBook, and is available to purchase from BookRix.com and all the major online stores, such as Amazon, GooglePlay and Barnes & Noble.

Caleb Pirtle

2016, Honesty in World War 2  received a 5 star editorial review by Sarah Stuart for Readers’ Favorite and was showcased by Linda and Caleb Pirtle on their website as a Saturday Sampler:

https://calebandlindapirtle.com/saturday-sampler-honesty-in-world-war-2-by-

Since its re-release in 2018, Honesty in World War 2 has also been showcased on Pulp Den by author, historian and war veteran, Tom Johnson:
https://pulplair.blogspot.com/2018/08/honesty-in-world-war-2.htmlchris-jean-clarke/ 

You can connect with Chris-Jean at any of the links below.

Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Chris-Jean-Clarke/e/B00JZX8GIQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1537080616&sr=8-2
BookRix: https://www.bookrix.com/_ebook-chris-jean-clarke-to-dye-for/
BookRix: https://www.bookrix.com/_ebook-chris-jean-clarke-honesty-in-world-war-2/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/authorchrisjeanclarke

Thank you for being my guest this week .

 

MEET ALICIA GIRALT

My guest this week is Alicia Giralt, and reading her story has struck a chord with me and made me feel very humble yet grateful. It reminds me to be thankful for what I have right now. Do, please read to the very end, and you will see exactly what I mean.

Alicia, over to you.

Alicia

I was born in Barcelona, Spain. At twenty, I moved to the United States, where I have lived for almost 40 years. I started writing when I was a child and have continued ever since. In college, I majored in print journalism inspired by Hemingway, who was also a reporter.

I loved working in newspapers but wasn’t thrilled that my Hemingway-esque words would end up lining a bird’s cage.

One of my professors invited me to apply for a scholarship to pursue a master’s in Spanish. He said he was sure I would get it. Taking this course of study had never crossed my mind, but he had planted a seed in my brain. I continued working and studying at the same time. In December 1990, I was pregnant with my third child and ready to graduate. It was a time of economic crisis and I was elated to have three offers from different newspapers. One evening in class I was talking to a friend Bettina about Christmas plans and feeling excited. I’d chosen my new job and was going to start working the day after classes ended. Bettina told me that since her job was being a teaching assistant, she didn’t have to work until the new semester started. Something was wrong with this equation. But I was happy about going to work, five-months pregnant, and leaving my two older sons in daycare.  Bettina did not have to work. Very interesting.

I talked to the professor who had mentioned the scholarship and my future changed forever. I loved reading, so studying literature didn’t feel like work. It was fun. When I was almost done with my studies, I was offered a scholarship to obtain a Ph.D. in modern languages. Was that possible? And how much fun would that be? A lot, I thought, and it was.

With my Ph.D. in hand, I went to a job interview at Weber State University in northern Utah, a place I knew nothing about. The night before the interviews –there were to be several– I strolled around my hotel. The town is in a valley framed by the Salt Lake to the west and the Wasatch mountains to the east. The mountains were covered in snow and the full moon shined on them. It took my breath away. Next morning, I taught an advanced class. To my surprise, one of the students started talking to me in Catalan, my home language. A young man in Northern Utah speaking in Catalan? This had to be a sign.

Nineteen years later, I’m still in awe of the scenery and amazed by the quality of my students. I’m certain the future is in good hands.

This January 1st. I had to resign due to health issues, but I keep in touch with many of my former students and colleagues. There’s always a silver lining: Finally, I have time to write those stories that have been percolating in my brain.

alicia'spoetry book

I’ve published academic articles, a book about Spanish writer Lourdes Ortiz, and a medical Spanish textbook. I’ve also self-published a poetry book in Spanish and a bilingual Spanish-English children’s book and did the illustrations to the former. My poetry has appeared in journals and magazines. I’ve received so many rejection letters that I could wallpaper my whole house–and my neighbor’s. Luckily, I have also received numerous teaching awards, among others, the Higher Education Teacher of-the-Year by the Utah Foreign Language Association, Outstanding Mentor Award, Excellence in Teaching, Secondary Education Award by Southwest Conference on Language Teaching. Southwest Conference on Language Teaching (Best higher education, foreign language professor in the 9-state region), the John A. Lindquist Award for Community Involvement, the Gwen S. William Award of Excellence, and the Lowe Award for Innovative Teaching.

Alicia kids book

In 2005, I traveled to Seoul, South Korea, to present a paper at the World’s Interdisciplinary Congress on Women. On an organized trip to honor Korea’s comfort women, my mother told me she loved me. The only problem was that she had died when I was 15-years old. I felt I had to share this experience with anyone who would listen, but being an academic put a damper on it. My colleagues would no doubt see me in a different light, maybe in a bat-crazy light. So, I only told close relatives and friends. Ten years later, in 2015, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Now, I really had to share my story. I could die soon and my story would die with me.

Alicia's book

After chemo, I went back to work and research, with no time to write my memoir. When my cancer came back a year later, at stage four, I knew I was running out of time to tell my experiences. No more procrastinating. I am convinced of the existence of an afterlife–my mom had shown it to me. Gone was any fear I might have had about dying. In April 2016, my oncologist told me I had a year left, maybe two. I’d better hurry up. I finished my memoir, which should come out in February 2018.

In Blooming out of Darkness: A memoir about cancer, spirits, and joy, my goal is to offer readers a progressive look at spirituality, without dogma or limitations, with only joy. If someone benefits from it, all the work will have been worth it.

You can get Alicia’s children’s book here  https://www.amazon.com/dp/1419667173

This is the link to Alicia’s website. https://aliciagiralt.org/blooming/

Alicia, it has been a privilege to have you as my guest this week, and I hope you have many more days left on this earth. One comforting thought for all writers is that their work will live on long after they have gone.

 

MEET VALERIE POORE

I have, I really have! What I mean is that I first met Val on Facebook, we got chatting, we enjoyed each other’s books, then we discovered a real live person we know in common and finally we met up twice – once in Amsterdam and again in Spain. We’re planning another meet up soon, so many of our early experiences are amazingly similar. A very warm welcome to a really nice person. Over to you Val.

VAL PIC

Firstly, thanks so much to Lucinda for letting me sneak in here this week. I’ve coveted a spot on her blog for ages, so now I’m here I’d better make it good!

So what can I say about myself? That I’ve been writing all my life? That I’m finally finding my creative outlet? Yes, well, none of that is very interesting is it? Perhaps it’s truer to say that I’m a writer by accident and it’s all Peter Mayle’s fault. Yes, that man has got a lot to answer for in more ways than one and now I’m addicted.

The thing is that like Lucinda, I lived in South Africa for a long time. How I got there is a story I have yet to tell in full, but it had to do with an errant husband and being very cold in the UK. In other words, we urgently (and I say that with emphasis) needed somewhere to escape to and I was determined it should be somewhere warm. ‘I don’t mind being broke, but I do mind being cold and broke,’ was what I said to him before we decided where it was we were going to flee to. The immediate outcome was three years on a South African farm, which I absolutely loved, along with the heat, the drought, the primitive conditions…hmm, I think I’m going off track here, but actually I did love it all. The end result was that I was so happy there I spent a total of twenty years in South Africa.KindleCover

When I came back to Europe in 2001, I missed it so much I decided to buy a barge and live on the water in the wettest country you could possibly find. There is a kind of logic to that but I’ll let you think about it.

Anyway, while I was still busy missing my former home in 2004, I read Peter Mayle’s book A Year in Provence. Now I know this book has had a mixed reception, but I really enjoyed it because I could see so many parallels between his experiences with local French country people and my own with South African rural people and I thought ‘I can do that’. And so I did. I wrote my own memoir about my life on our South African farm and I called it African Ways. It took me a while to finish it and then to publish, but it eventually came out in 2007.

Well, having done that, I got the taste and then the addiction for writing.

I went on to write a memoir about my first year of living on a barge, and then a novel about a child growing up on a barge in the early 1960s when the Cold War was at its height. Since then, I’ve notched up another four memoirs (mostly about boats and boating) and another novel. So, Peter Mayle, if you’re reading this, see what you started?

It is actually true I’ve always liked writing. I did quite a lot before when I was in South Africa; things like short stories that were read on the radio and radio plays that weren’t. But I’d never written whole books until African Ways. The trouble with Africa is it gets in your blood and so now I’m in the process of publishing the sequel to African Ways. Once again, I’ve wallowed happily in the memories of that fabulous country. I’m also working on a novel set in Kwa-Zulu Natal, one of its provinces and where I used to live, so you see I’ve got a lot in common with Lucinda. Oh and I’ll just say here I’ve loved all her Amie novels. They take me back there and I can wallow all over again (nothing like creeping round your blog host, is there?). VAL BOOK 3 SHEEP

So with that, all it remains for me to say is a huge thanks to Lucinda for this opportunity to ramble on about myself and my writing. I’ll keep doing it until I drop whether anyone buys my books or not, but I’d thrilled if anyone reading this does give them a try. Just in case, the link to my Amazon author page is here:

https://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Poore/e/B008LSV6CE/

Val, I’ve no idea why it took so long for you to be on my blog, but you can come again soon – I adore all that creeping (cheques in the post).

This last book on the left is highly recommended, I laughed out loud all the way through and although Val tells me it’s only partly memoir-based, I’m not sure I believe her 🙂

Till next time, take care.

 

MONSTERS AND MONARCHS

ALL AMIE BOOKS OCT 2017Now on the first Monday of the month, I usually write about a book thing rather than my travels – such as they are. Right now I’m in the “Shall I, shan’t I?” stage regarding my next book. Do other writers suffer a sort of empty nest syndrome after launching their latest offering out into the world to meet the general public? (Not that Amie has gone anywhere she’s still lurking in the shadows!)

This time after the flurry of all the screaming and shrieking about the launch – delicately of course – I sat back and thought ‘what now?’ I was physically and emotionally drained. At that point, I heard a little voice from under the bed crying out to me. Don’t laugh! I’m a very sensitive person and I have these flashes occasionally. It was Horatio, begging to be let out.

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Back in the 1980s, I wrote several short stories for children which went out on the South African Broadcasting Service. They asked for more Horatio tales, but I had a miserly thought that instead of receiving a few Rand for every flighting I could add a few extra stories and have a whole book. Of course, this would sell millions overnight and I’d be off on my mega yacht in no time at all. I submitted a different series of stories about a witch to the SABC, completed Horatio and gave the manuscript to my then agent. I even produced what I now know is called swag to go with it.

I understand she tried Penguin in London who wrinkled their noses and that was that under the bed it went in South Africa, through 10 house moves, then packed into a cardboard box and flown to Spain and thrown under yet another bed, along with all those awards I shall never look at again.

So in my indecisive mood I decided to take action – not an easy feat getting under our bed the hydraulic lift thingie doesn’t work too well and I nearly sliced off an arm hoisting it out. Would you believe the two copies I have are typewritten on real, old-fashioned paper!

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Yes, that’s how long ago I wrote it. So now I’m labouring away, got an illustrator lined up and soon I will pluck up the courage to tell DH that the next offering will have pictures in it! I must just tell myself that I will not have a nervous breakdown trying to get it out for Xmas, or I’ll aim for Christmas 2018.

Since I’m already out there in 3 genres, what’s one more? I’m probably schizophrenic as it is, and it gives Amie a break for a couple of months.

HISTORY

Not only was Edward or David as he was called – they like things to be very complicated, downgraded to a Duke, the British royal family refused to be friends with him. He had broken the unwritten rules by saying he didn’t want to be a king anymore.

EDWARD viii

That was not on. If you are born a king or queen then you become a king or queen and you rule whether you like it or not and you stay ruling until you go to the big throne room in the sky.

The House of Windsor does not do this abdication thing and let the youngsters take over and have a go. In the UK the Heir Apparent might wait for years and years and years.

But there was no stopping Edward from making history and after a lot of fuss, his younger brother had to step in and take over.

THE BOASTING BIT

AMIE 1 AWARDS 18 OCT 2017

Just have to share with you that October was a great month with two really unexpected awards. Amie African Adventure was a Finalist in the Book Excellence Awards in the Adventure category and a Finalist in the IAN awards in Literary Fiction.

And, Walking over Eggshells was a Finalist for First Non-Fiction in the IAN Awards, so I am very thrilled.

Till 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.

 

 

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.

SusanNavasPhoto

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.

Agnil_and_the_Wizard_Cover_for_Kindle

 

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?

CentaursSecret

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.