Yes, I’m ashamed since once I begin a project, I’m like a dog with a bone and I don’t let go.
For example, in 1984, when I wrote my first radio script, I had a broadcast time to deliver, and I made it – just. Since then, I’ve never missed one.
During this lockdown, I made my own deadline for getting the next book written and launched. I’ve made it, though it was hard. Like many of us, I just wanted to binge on Netflix and chomp chocolate.
But I set a goal of 3,000 words a day and stuck to it.
Now, in my bumbling fashion, I’m trying to get the word out.
So, why do I feel guilty?
I have not blogged for ages. I’ve promised to write about my travels to Australia and India and I have all the stuff to hand, but I’ve yet to find the energy. Any spare? Please send it over.
The new book? It’s a sequel to A Year in the Life of Leah Brand.
A gentle, meek, housewife is driven to the edge of madness as objects in the house begin to mysteriously move around. Her best friend Andrea was there for her in the dark times, but then they lost touch.
A Year in the Life of Andrea Coe follows straight on, and although it can be read as a standalone, it makes more sense to read them in order.
“How well do you know your best friend?” What was the attraction between a quiet, insecure housewife and an outrageous, confident, outspoken woman who lived life to the full? Was she all she seemed to be?
Belinda makes an appearance, several in fact – readers told me she was a favourite character. Still sassy, still raiding the fridge and possibly into something a lot more serious.
So, does Andrea have a hidden agenda and if so, what is it?
I’ll be back soon and that’s a promise – guest posts and my travelogue. Just give me a few weeks to get my breath back while I try to tell about 7 billion people, (I’ll settle for 6 billion) that I have a new psychological thriller out.
I am really happy to be part of a huge blog hop for John Searancke, whose name is familiar as he is also a member of the FB group We love Memoirs. But first things first.
ALL JOHN’S BOOKS ARE ON SALE FROM MARCH 31, 2019 THROUGH APRIL 2, 2019 for 99¢/99£
John Searancke is restaurant reviewer for the Tenerife newspaper Island Connections. Born in 1943 at Derby Royal Infirmary, a war baby, he lived his early life in Ashby-de la-Zouch and was sent away to be educated at Kings Mead Preparatory School, Seaford and afterwards at Rugby School. Later commissioned into the Territorial Army, he has been variously a director of a light engineering company, an hotel and restaurant owner, director and chairman of a marketing consortium, and latterly a partner with his wife in a commercial legal services company. He has enjoyed working in England and Switzerland and has homes in England and northern Tenerife, where he now lives with his wife Sally.
A rescue mission originally thought of as lasting for a year or two turned into a 35 year lifetime love affair with a beautiful old building.
There were to be battles royal with neighbours not wanting their status quo to be altered, and with the local fire authority who sought to impose draconian new safety measures.
John Searancke came to the role of hotel keeper almost accidentally, and most definitely with much reluctance. After his parents’ marriage fell apart, he was dragooned in, at the age of 22, to pick up the pieces of their new venture, a barely-trading country house hotel that had, frankly, seen better days. Not only was it posting an annual loss, but the fabric of the building was crumbling and there was no money left to make improvements.
Over the years, and with the steepest of learning curves, the grand old building was renovated and transformed to meet the requirements of the modern discerning traveller. Accolades for the hotel and its restaurant were won; together they became a well-regarded destination for a number of celebrities – and those that deemed themselves to be celebrities but were not. Stories abound featuring idiosyncratic guests, overbearing public bodies, fractured family life and animals of all shapes and sizes. The local fire station next door was demolished one foggy night, people were frightened by flying dogs and snakes in the long grass, and there were, as befits a country house, strange goings on in the night. Many were the guests who checked in who really should not have been seen together.
This is a tribute to all the people behind the scenes who helped to make the hard-won transformation into a great success.
With a rave 5 star review from Readers’ Favorites, I can back up Matma Madhaven’s comments: “There are a lot of interesting stories about eccentric guests, how many guests who checked in should not have been seen together at all, and how it ended up being one of the favored stops for a number of celebrities. The author goes through the entire process, speaking about transforming the hotel methodically and in detail, taking readers along with him and his experiences while getting the old building renovated to cater to the needs of a modern traveler. There is not one boring moment in this memoir and the positive narration and outlook make this memoir an encouraging and motivating read. The author’s story and experiences are enriching, and the ups and downs of his life and the accolades he received for the hotel and its restaurant will encourage many readers out there to become hotel keepers.”
I’m not sure about that last sentence, but I sat and read John’s book in one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Other books by John:-
Dog Days In The Fortunate Islands: A new life in hidden Tenerife
Still in the castle, we latched on to an English speaking guide who showed us the few rooms that were open to the public.
She was particularly eager to explain defenestration, which is the practice of throwing people you don’t like for one reason or another out of windows after which they inexplicably died.
In 1618, in an argument over religious freedom, two Regents and their secretary were thrown out of a window on the third floor – 21 metres from the ground. They survived. The Catholics maintained they were caught by angels or the Virgin Mary. The Protestants said they landed in a heap of dung. These days James Bond does that all the time without a hair out of place and not a speck of dirt on his white dinner suit.
HISTORY – ISABELLA OF SPAIN
Servants are sent poste haste to Rome to get the Pope’s permission for cousins Isabella and Ferdinand to marry. Like the proverbial magician, the Archbishop of Toledo agrees to sort it all out. It is rumoured that he himself wrote out the dispensation.
Are we to believe that Isabella thought a dispensation, to and from Pope Paul II in Rome could be obtained in 4 days? Even using the autobahns it would be pushing it.
While Ferdinand realizes that he is marrying a deeply religious woman, whose devotion to duty is equally paramount, he is also convinced that she is his to command. Ferdinand the adventurer, so worldly, so much the man of action believes that this convent bred girl, a weak female will be subservient. Oh silly man, you have no idea at all have you?
I’m not sure how many people are aware the Africa is probably the richest continent on earth. It has many rivers, wide areas for agriculture and a wealth of precious and useful minerals deep below the ground. Many of its countries have access to the sea and deep water harbours. Trade routes east were established long before Europe was even aware just how big a land mass Africa is. It also has a workforce that, once educated and trained can meet the demands of a modern world.
Sadly, with tribal infighting, civil wars, jostling for power and man’s insatiable greed so many suffer as a result. Will it ever come right? Well for the few at the top, life is pretty good now, except how relaxed they are is anyone’s guess. Only time will tell. In the meantime, maybe life will fall apart in the Old World – who knows!
There are lots of tale about my media work in Africa in my career memoirs, Truth, Lies and Propaganda and more Truth, Lies and Propaganda which may surprise you.
For years I’ve been a victim of scribbling mania. It’s a disease that can start in early childhood and stays with you until you are no longer compos mentis and unable to hold a pen or identify the letters on a keyboard.
I am one of the lucky ones who managed to support a family by utilizing this malady and would jump out of bed crying “Yeah, it’s Monday!” On the other hand, public holidays would throw me into a deep depression as I couldn’t get more work done or filming venues were closed.
Yes, I’ve been a lifelong sufferer.
It was not all plain sailing. Often clients would say “This is brilliant … but …” and I knew that the criticism was coming. It was all a learning curve and hopefully, as the years went by, I improved, the negatives declined and I learned to understand that all people don’t like all literature, films, plays and even the adverts I composed and produced.
When I retired, I stupidly thought I was over this disease, but the symptoms got worse. My fingers would wander towards the keyboard, the ideas whirl round and round in my head screaming to be let out, I got jumpy if I couldn’t plant words on the screen.
I tried to cure the agony by writing a monthly column in a local magazine but it wasn’t enough to get my fix. I turned to writing novels and memoirs and 12 books later, the symptoms have not abated in the slightest, even though I am wearing myself to a frazzle.
Not everyone raved about my talent, or lack of it, but I’d been blooded in the media and do not take a one-star review to heart. I even do my best to cheer up other authors who are devastated by criticism. “Put your head above the parapet as a professional and expect to be shot down by someone, somewhere who does not connect with your literary work. It’s nothing personal.”
But, it seems today, it is.
A few weeks ago, my monthly column raised a storm. It was a satirical piece with politics at the centre. Now, I’ve been writing on this subject 12 times a year for almost 10 years, but this one struck the wrong chord with a few readers.
They tracked me down on Facebook and wrote the most horrendous things that were personal, cruel comments, suggestions as to what I should do, or what should happen to me for having the temerity to put such words on paper. At the least I should be fired.
They wrote to the editor – who refused to let me see the emails as they were just too hurtful – and threatened to close the publication down by lobbying the advertisers who pay for the magazine. (I don’t get paid, I do it to help alleviate my addiction).
None of these readers saw the humour or the satire in the piece which was so over the top it bore no relation to the truth.
I can take criticism, I really can, but was shook me was the level of intense hatred, vitriolic comments, the depth of fury and aggression.
What has happened to ‘Live and let Live?’ What caused these people to express their feelings in such a vicious way? They even threatened to report it to the police as a hate crime.
The very least they demanded was a grovelling apology from both me and the editor.
In the next issue I wrote that I was sorry my article had upset anyone, it was never intended to do so, and mentioned some world issues such as FGM, poverty, climate change, pollution and dictatorships that are real world problems.
I was all for giving up the column but both DH and the editor begged me not to. That way the vindictive people would win, although if they had had their way, I would no longer be able to write anything.
However, I am now off the political scene – a bit of a relief as it was getting tiresome and I will now satirise life in general.
On the upside, there have been lots of supportive emails, phone calls and messages to both me and the editor which has restored my faith in human nature. But it worries me that we live in a world that has so much underlying hate waiting to leap out at the slightest provocation. Has it always been this way? What do you think?
On a more cheerful note:- Next week, the first of my Great Reads of 2018. Don’t miss it.
More pictures of St Vitus cathedral as I took rather a lot of them and it would be a shame not to share them.
They started to build it in 1344, so as you can see, it’s quite new! I can truthfully say this as it was finally finished in 1929 in time for the St Wenceslas jubilee. The style is Gothic, which is very popular for large churches as they look big and important. Even today you can look in awe and wonder how they built them without modern cranes and machinery.
HISTORY – ISABELLA OF SPAIN
Ferdinand is trying to reach Princess Isabella to marry her. Eventually, very late the small party of merchants arrive outside the castle of the Count of Trevino. It’s well guarded as the Count is ready for an attack, it’s also well known that he supports Isabella and will give sanctuary to Ferdinand.
(I’m not absolutely sure this is the right castle, but I like the picture and you get the general idea).
The merchant’s party are tired and with no money to buy a meal, they are hungry and thirsty too. They shout for the drawbridge to be let down, but seeing a party of rough travellers, one of the soldiers pushes a boulder off the top of the battlements. Ferdinand is almost crushed to death. Obviously, he wasn’t expected.
I told you this was exciting, didn’t I?
As this bounces out through space and into inboxes, I will be in Miami for the Reader’s Favorite Awards. The book that has won the gold medal is the second book in the Amie in Africa series “Amie and the Child of Africa.”
I got the idea for the story from a news item. On the night of 14-15 April 2014 Boko Haram a fundamentalist group abducted 276 schoolgirls from their school in Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria. As far as I know not all the girls have been reunited with their families.
In the first book, Amie loses Angelina the little orphan she adopts when the civil war breaks out and so I put the two ideas together. A fast page turning tale with lots of adventure – pure escapism – pun intended.
This week a few pics of St Vitus Cathedral. I usually take a photo of the name of a church, but this time I forgot and I’ve had to hunt on Google maps street view to identify it.
It was quite awe inspiring. It’s 600 years old and has in turn been called St Vitus, St Adalbert and St Wenceslas. (When I was little and sang that carol “Good King Wenceslas looked out…” I thought it was – last looked out – and wondered what happened to him after that. My writer’s mind had him hung drawn and quartered, strung up, boiled in oil, burned at the stake or something worthy of the saint status).
In olden days in was the venue for coronations of kings and queens. It’s a Roman Catholic place of worship and this form of Christianity was forced on the Czechs under dominance by the Habsburgs. I discovered that in 1910 Catholicism was the professed religion of 96.5% of the population. The latest figures show 39.8% as atheist and 39.2% as Catholic.
HISTORY – ISABELLA OF SPAIN
To be honest, Ferdinand is a bit cheesed off acting as a servant to one of the merchants. He’s a bit of a spoiled brat and doesn’t like being bossed about. He’s not too good at this undercover stuff, and grooming the mules and serving at tables and to now skulk around dressed in servant’s clothes on the way to a country where he is only going to be the king consort is demeaning.
The party travel mostly by night, but when they stop at an inn, they become fearful they have been discovered. As soon as they finish their meal, they decide to press on with the journey. They discover that they have left the purse with all their travelling money behind. It’s too risky to go back for it, so they ride on, penniless. Is there no end to this excitement?
Of the 54 African countries I have only lived in and or visited 12 of them. I count myself very privileged to have travelled deep rural, into informal townships and many places not frequented by either tourists or local residents.
With the film crew, we spent days in communities talking to local people, in broken English or with an interpreter. We also talked to wealthy people in positions of power. People are the same the world over, yet I saw more resilience, more fatalism and more courage than I have seen in so called civilised, western countries.
They have a more happy go lucky approach too, as this picture below shows – yes the caption is true, I saw the paperwork.
I was thrilled to hear that Truth, Lies and Propaganda was chosen by a book club in America. I do hope I get to hear what they thought of it.
My nickname in darknet is ryley58.
I hacked this mailbox more than six months ago,
through it I infected your operating system with a virus (trojan) created by me and have been monitoring you for a long time.
So, your password from email@example.com is …..
Even if you changed the password after that – it does not matter, my virus intercepted all the caching data on your computer and automatically saved access for me.
I have access to all your accounts, social networks, email, browsing history.
Accordingly, I have the data of all your contacts, files from your computer, photos and videos.
I was most struck by the intimate content sites that you occasionally visit.
You have a very wild imagination, I tell you!
During your pastime and entertainment there, I took screenshot through the camera of your device, synchronizing with what you are watching.
Oh my god! You are so funny and excited!
I think that you do not want all your contacts to get these files, right?
If you are of the same opinion, then I think that $859 is quite a fair price to destroy the dirt I created.
Send the above amount on my BTC wallet (bitcoin): 1NXNt72qfMhPZDffUEqryCYpEUzyR6LmgH
As soon as the above amount is received, I guarantee that the data will be deleted, I do not need it.
Otherwise, these files and history of visiting sites will get all your contacts from your device.
Also, I’ll send to everyone your contact access to your email and access logs, I have carefully saved it!
Since reading this letter you have 48 hours!
After your reading this message, I’ll receive an automatic notification that you have seen the letter.
I hope I taught you a good lesson.
Do not be so nonchalant, please visit only to proven resources, and don’t enter your passwords anywhere!
Yes it’s a scam. I wasn’t too worried as it included an old password.
But it gave me food for thought – I had checked out a site which I guess could have been called porn but it was in connection with my story about Ben and his circumcision ceremony – honestly!
Like many other writers I’m probably on a watch list by now as I merrily google guns, explosives, torture techniques and similar stuff. I was warned by the team at Quora that my question about the distance you could throw certain kinds of bombs was inappropriate. I guess they have a point but it was information I couldn’t find on Google and several helpful people told me what I needed to know before the post was pulled.
And recently I needed to gather information about embassies and consulates and how they worked for Amie Savage Safari. Now put those altogether and I’m really a shady character.
This is maybe why I always get pulled over at the airport for that extra frisking. It can’t be my stunning looks or legs which start at my armpits, as I’m old and wrinkly, and if the clefts in my face get any deeper they will make excellent smuggling hidey-holes.
Writing can be a minefield but we need vital and correct information for our books – the experts out there are ready to pounce and review our mistakes in CAPITAL LETTERS for the whole world to read.
Not one but 2 new books out in the Amie Backstory series – Samantha and Ben. Both available wide and both only $/£ 0.99.
Sam is a light, fluffy, cozy, comedy set in Benidorm, Spain and Ben is more serious – he is about to enter manhood in his rural African village where things don’t go to plan.