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.

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MEET TRACY BLACK

I was so pleased when Tracy agreed to be a guest on my blog as I really admire her books. She’s what is now called a hybrid – both traditionally and indie published. But it’s the story of her tremendous courage and how she survived her childhood abuse that is so amazing.

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Hi, my author name is Tracy Black – yes, a pseudonym. It’s sad that I have to remain invisible. Why? For legal reasons seemingly, but a lot of readers, old and new, know the real ‘me’. I was only five years old when my mother was hospitalised for the first of many occasions, leaving me in the care of my father. His behaviour, seemingly overnight, changed from indifferent to violently abusive and, for the next seven years, I was sexually and physically abused by my father, his friends, and my own brother. All of the men were in the British Armed Forces.

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Tracy’s father compounded the abuse by sending her to babysit for his paedophile friends – whilst their own children slept in other rooms, these men would find excuses to leave later or return earlier than their wives in order to abuse her, with her own father’s blessing. When she sought help and safety the doors were closed as the authorities closed ranks.
In this shocking and compelling book, Tracy Black pieces together the jigsaw of a story that has haunted her for the past forty years. She reveals the horrific betrayal of trust perpetrated by men who were considered upstanding citizens and heroes.
Tracy’s tale reminds us all of the terrible ways in which paedophiles work and the secrets too many children are forced to carry alone. It is only now that she can tell her full story of recovery.

3dbookmother

Tracy continues her shocking story by telling how her mother closed her eyes to the cruelty, treating her little girl with cold indifference. Heartbreakingly Tracy traded her innocence for the love of her mother – love which was never given, no matter how much she suffered. As Tracy approached adulthood, she risked being trapped in damaging sexual relationships. But after years of struggle, she found the courage to break out of her past and turn her life around.

Tracy’s third novel is called Things Fall Apart.

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It’s an emotional journey of awakening, through broken trust, heartbreak, and family conflict. Despite being at the depths of despair, in the face of adversity, there is always a belief in the promise of a hopeful future. This is a coming of age story with a difference. Thirty-five-year-old single mother Mandy is forced to mature and grow up quickly in this incredible chronicle that takes us from the blindness of naivety into pain, despair and eventually, at great cost, the maturity of hard-won wisdom.
Set in the mid-nineteen-eighties in Edinburgh, a city dubbed as the drug’s capital of Europe, a place where Mandy faces a mother’s worst nightmare. The warning signs are staring her in the face, but at first, she doesn’t heed them. All she wants to do is love, nurture and protect her family, but despite all her efforts she has to stand by, watching helplessly as it fragments, and things fall apart. How does she bring things to a peaceful conclusion? Is it even possible?

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Adult survivors of any PTSD may find Coping Mechanisms a blessing in disguise as it incorporates stories of surviving adults and how they get through flashbacks.

 I hope you take the time to read some of my work. Please feel free to email about everything and anything.

tracyblack05@gmail.com

Links to all the above books can be found on my Amazon Author page Author.to/myAmazonpage

https://tracyblackauthor.wordpress.com/never-a-hero-to-me/

Thank you so much, Tracy, it’s been an honour to have you on the blog and having read your books I cannot recommend them highly enough.

If any authors would like to be featured on my Thursday Guest Blog, please pm me on Facebook, or you can write to me lucinda@lucindaeclarke.com.

Till next time take care.

 

BIG TRIP AND BLURB

The Big Trip was nearly over and even though I love our little rabbit hutch, I was still not ready to go home after 2 months. I adored the warm climate in Singapore and I was not looking forward to February in Spain.

steak house

For our last meal we went back to our roots and had huge steaks in the Black Angus Steakhouse – though to be honest, since we left South Africa I’ve yet to have as good a steak as we ate there. The steak was OK, the price was horrendous!

Then it was off to the airport – as smart, clean and efficient as the rest of the country and we were on our way home.

Our next trip would be seven months later, but that’s for next time.

HISTORY

I really have my doubts about this king, George V. I read that two months after the end of the war, the King’s youngest son, John died at the age of 13 after a lifetime of ill health.

PRINCE JOHN

George was informed of his death by Queen Mary, who wrote, “[John] had been a great anxiety to us for many years … The first break in the family circle is hard to bear but people have been so kind & sympathetic & this has helped us much.”

This poor little prince who suffered from epilepsy was hidden away from the public and ignored by the rest of the family. It was thought he was autistic and they didn’t want him to embarrass them in public. ­­­­­Prince Edward, who was eleven years older than his brother and had hardly known John, saw his death as “little more than a regrettable nuisance.”

That is so terribly sad.

 

MY BOOKS

I’ve decided this week I won’t tell you I write books and I’m trying to sell them and I want new readers to sign up for my newsletter  http://eepurl.com/cBu4Sf   and buy my latest brilliant book on the last few days of its pre-order so I’m not going to put the link in for that either.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07545M9DB

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07545M9DB

Till next time, take care.

 

MUSEUM AND MISCHIEF

Now I’ll post general pictures of Singapore here as we spent a whole afternoon in the National Museum of Singapore and I don’t think you were allowed to take pictures in there. Honestly, these places have come a long way since I was dragged around them as a child.

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We followed the exhibits which told the story of Singapore from pre-historic times to the present day. It’s amazing how quickly it was developed from a small area covered in jungle with a population living in poverty to one of the most successful and thriving countries in the world.

Photo: Marcin Konsek

It was accomplished under a dictatorship, but then general elections were called and the People’s Action Party has won every election since 1959. The dominance of the ruling party, coupled with a low level of press freedom and restrictions on civil liberties and political rights has led to Singapore being classified by some as a semi-authoritarian regime.

I can’t comment on that, but comparing it to a communist country like Vietnam, the people here appeared happy and relaxed unlike those in Ho Chi Min City and, this is one regime where they have drastically improved the lives of their people as far as I could see – unlike most dictatorships which only enrich themselves.

HISTORY – A TRUE BIT (for a change)

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Looks as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth yes? Well, it has come to light that it was not the British government who refused to give sanctuary to the Tsar of Russia and his family, the British Secret service was planning a rescue when the King himself went back on his promise to help them. Consequently, they were murdered in the most brutal fashion and not once did George V show any remorse. Thus, he is one of my least favourite kings and I suggest you don’t like him either.

 

 

 

 

THE AD BREAK

Amie 4 is up on pre-order   https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07545M9DB

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07545M9DB

And you can get it cheap at only $/£ 0.99 but the day after it will go up to  $/£ 1,596.98 – so if you grab it now, it’s a huge bargain!

Amie 4 Front 100 dpi v8

Once again Amie finds herself in hot water.

They told Amie it was a simple look, listen and report back mission, but from the beginning, everything went wrong. She is stalked across borders, the aid workers act suspiciously, she’s assaulted, and abandoned in a rural African hut miles from anywhere. What has happened to her partner Simon and can she trust the charismatic Frenchman who befriends her? The discovery of an ancient tribal tradition and a group of young children to rescue, test her skills to the limit. For the first time, she is prepared to kill to protect the innocent caught up in an international sex trade.

Till next time, take care.

I HAD A DREAM

I had a dream last night, not as earth shattering as Martin Luther King,

Martin_Luther_King,_Jr.

I’m not that famous and important, and frankly although I was standing on a stage too, no one was listening to me. Sad isn’t it?

Now most of us might dream of receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature and then being interviewed on a national Breakfast Show, simpering as the interviewer gushed about our brilliant book – right?

Well, my dream wasn’t like that. The stage morphed into a television studio and my interview went something like this:

tv STUDIO

INT: So, I understand Lucinda that hardly anyone bought your new book?

ME: Well a few did …

INT: Looking at this pre-order number on Amazon, well it’s a disgrace.

ME: I have at least 3 fans! I’m sure they ordered one and DH promised he would …

INT: I presume you told people about it?

ME: Oh yes, I twittered and popped it on a couple of Facebook pages, but we’re always told not to spam, ‘cos then people won’t like us. So it’s difficult …

INT: Other writers manage to do it. Look at JK Rowling and that 50 shades woman, they got thousands of sales.

ME: But they weren’t indies and they …

INT: Is that your excuse? Haven’t you studied those self-help books on how those authors sold 80,000 copies in 10 minutes?

ME: Yes, but most of those were self-help books, mostly about how to sell books!

INT: That’s an answer I’ve heard so many times before. Don’t you have a product page on Facebook?

ME; Oh yes, two, one for Amie and one for my memoirs, but I can’t seem to get them to behave like my author page and …

INT: And you sent copies to all the major newspapers with a press release?

ME: Well no I haven’t done that yet …

INT: And Princes Harry and William?

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Daily express

ME: You’ve got to be kidding! I don’t even know their postal addresses. But I did get a street team together – but it turns out they were mostly an older generation and not many were on social media.

INT: Have you told anyone what it’s about?

ME: Well that’s a bit difficult you see, as it’s a subject that’s only talked about behind closed doors, but affects thousands of young women even here in Britain. I don’t want to give the storyline away as …

INT: Well I’ve heard of some reasons in my time but that one is the weirdest.

ME: I can tell them it’s set in Africa and Amie is a fully fledged, albeit a reluctant spy. There are lots of twists and turns and page-turning surprises. And, there is some love interest there too.

INT: Lots of steamy sex scenes?

ME: Er, no, I’m not good at writing sex scenes I get the giggles.

INT: Well there’s your answer then.

ME: That’s not fair! When did Jeffrey Archer or James Patterson insert steamy stuff into their books!

INT: They are household names and you’re not.

ME: You don’t have to keep reminding me. A few years ago I was …

INT: If there is anyone out there who is deranged enough to pick up Lucinda’s, uh, latest scribbling –  what’s it called again?

ME: Amie: Cut for Life. It’s book 4 in the Amie in Africa adventure/thriller series.

 

At this point, I hold up the paperback book to the camera but it zooms away and focuses on the interviewer who smiles sweetly and says:

INT: Now our next interview is about a subject that’s only talked about behind closed doors, but affects thousands of young women even here in Britain today. For whatever reasons, family honour, ancient tribal custom, or an attempt to keep women from straying from their husbands by destroying any enjoyment in sex. I’m talking about female circumcision and my next guest is …

At this point I am forcibly removed from my chair and booted out the back door while trying to shout out, ‘but that’s exactly what Amie faces in Cut for Life!’

And then I wake up.

Amie 4 Front 100 dpi v8

Amie Cut for Life is up on pre-order on Amazon for the exorbitant price of $/£0.99 and will be released on September 30th – in case you’re inclined to go and have a look, or you could mention it to someone?  I can but dream!!   myBook.to/Amie4 

WHY DO I DO IT?

I need counseling, I do. I was very reluctant to leave my work in South Africa and retire – circumstances dictated it and was the head over heart thing and we were sensible. When your domestic cleaner is shot on your front lawn and the perpetrator WALKS away having relieved her of less than £5 in cash and a bank card he had no pin for, we recognized the writing on the wall.

Well at first the novelty of sitting leisurely over breakfast began to pall and in a couple of months, I was bored out of my mind. We moved north, so that occupied me for a while and then I got bored again. I taught myself power point and gave a few historical lectures and talks and then I decided to write a book, well finish off a manuscript.

TED WILDTUIN 09 005

Why did I ever do that! Before I knew it I was on the merry-go-round to blogs and Facebook and Twitter and all the paraphernalia that entails. The upside I met a lot of great people and made some good friends and I was bowled over by how kind and friendly everyone was. I’ve been lucky so far in that I’ve only met a couple of cyber bullies and lost one dear friend I still miss terribly.

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I sweated for weeks trying to work out how to use MailChimp, Bookfunnel and WordPress – again wonderful people came to my rescue.

I signed up for lots of blogs from experts on how to sell, how not to sell, how to build mailing lists, how not to alienate readers, give out free books, never give out free books, don’t spam, announce your book on every channel, people have to see it 7 times before they buy. Sign up for this course, you’ll hit the NYT list overnight – no that course is £800 down the drain, try this one for only £799.

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I researched different promo sights, asked for advice and shared what I had learned with others. Give it all time to grow I was told. Time! At my age! By the time I let all this filter through to huge sales I’ll be pushing up the daisies – one of the reasons I have not even considered looking for an agent or publisher – and anyway I like being in control of my work. I wanted to cry when I saw what traditional publishers had chosen for the cover of my book.

The bottom line is I’m now working as hard as I ever did running my own production company and I don’t seem able to stop. Apart from reading and entertaining DH and a weeny bit of socializing, during which I’m groveling under the table checking my sales figures, puzzled as to why I’m met with blank stares when I bounce in and cry “I’ve got a BookBub!” – I can’t settle. If I’m not writing or pounding the keyboard I might do a little house cleaning, and watch DH as he dons his boots and gardening gloves to tend to our four window boxes. Most of the rubbish on television doesn’t grab me much either and I’m usually tweeting as the pictures on the screen flash past. The only time I concentrate is when they show foreign language films and I have to read the subtitles. If you took my lap top away I’d be prowling around the house, fingers wiggling searching for the keys, ideas crowding through my head screaming to get out.

I guess I’m just a lost cause and there’s no cure for it.

Guess I should mention that Amie 4 is up on pre-order

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07545M9DB

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07545M9DB

and I’ll do the grovelling bit I guess. 

Anyway, having had a moan I feel a lot better now.

Oh, if you’re wondering why I’ve included totally inappropriate pictures of African wildlife – it’s because I’ve read three blogs this week warning about prosecutions for using uncopyrighted material, and these are my own pictures and I’m not planning on taking myself to court anytime soon.

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.