MEET CEECEE JAMES

CeeCee was one of the first people I ever met through social media and the accounts of her early life are quite harrowing – she had a really hard time. I can relate to that, but her story makes you want to cry. After writing two books, on her childhood she has now broadened out into the ‘cozy mystery’ genre and doing really well.  I am so thrilled that her life changed around and she is not only successful, but enjoying her writing and well-deserved success. This is what CeeCee sent me.

I’m one of those weird people who’ve always wanted to be a writer. When I was in elementary school, I’d beg the teacher to let me read the stories that I’d written to my classmates in place of the classics she liked to soothe us with after we ran in sweaty and energized from recess. I’ll never know if the students preferred my stories to Robinson Crusoe, as I was so caught up in sharing my world of a soldier returning from war. But the students were silent and the teacher was pleased, and so I had many chances.

As I grew older, I filled notebook after notebook with vignettes and poems. In junior high, I once submitted a few poems to a contest that our local newspaper held. Imagine my surprise when, a week later, my friend thrust the newspaper into my hands on the school bus and I saw my poems won first, second and third place.

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Life wasn’t easy growing up, as it isn’t for many of us. Through foster care and many moves, my notebooks became a safer world, one where I could both spread my wings, and have roots with a pretend family.  Sadly, it was during one of those moves where I lost my notebooks.

 

 

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But I never lost the stories. As an adult, the first book I published was my memoir, Ghost No More—my personal story of beauty culled from the ashes of my childhood. It was always my hope that I could validate my readers in their stories of what they’ve overcome, as well as encourage anyone who needed to hear that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

Ghost no more is a #1 best seller

The rest of my childhood imaginary worlds trickled out in several of my fiction series. Now I’ve settled down in my favorite genre, cozy mystery. And I’m incredibly thankful I still get to make up stories to entertain anyone who wants to listen.

Thank you CeeCee, a very brave and talented lady.

SINGAPORE 2 AND THE STUFF UP REVEALED

Now many people may not know much about Singapore except that’s it’s over that way somewhere, but most of us have heard of Raffles.  This is THE famous hotel and is renowned for its long bar where they serve a drink called the Singapore Sling.

I was amazed by the building and took masses of photos. I suspect it’s also well known for its high prices too. The cost of a room was astronomical!

I so wanted to visit the Writer’s Bar hoping to soak up some energy or maybe have a quiet word, one writer to another, but they were not encouraging the passing trade into the hotel itself. We had to be content in walking around the outside.

However, we were welcomed into the Long Bar and so we had to have a Singapore Sling (don’t ask how much it cost, though we did fork out for one each, it was not the sort of place where you asked for 2 straws).

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HISTORICAL END OF EDWARD VII

Edward lead a very healthy lifestyle. He usually smoked 20 cigarettes and 12 cigars a day. Towards the end of his life he increasingly suffered from bronchitis. In March 1910 he collapsed while on holiday in Biarritz, and back in London he suffered several heart attacks but refused to go to bed saying “No, I shall not give in; I shall go on; I shall work to the end.”

Despite the dishes piling up in the sink, and a week’s ironing waiting to be done, sadly he was not well enough to do his usual chores.

THE STUFF UP

I promised didn’t I? I was trying to think out of the box – way out, be different. So, I hit on the idea of Amie – my main character – suing me for cruelty, transporting her to Africa, throwing her in jail etc. At first I had a few emails saying how clever, and I mentioned it on a live radio interview but the presenter paused and immediately changed the subject. The ongoing story was in the newsletter with exchange of legal letters and so on.

NEW SERIES COVERS 2

Then, I began to get supportive letters urging me to get a good lawyer, and how ridiculous she had asked for £1.5m compensation etc etc. People were taking this seriously, it wasn’t funny anymore.  So I shall end the charade with a simple statement to say we have settled out of court and crawl back inside the box again.

If you want to find out what I did to her feel free to look inside any of the first three in the series.  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LWFIO5K  book 1 also available in Spanish www.amazon.com/dp/B01K7K4JHC  and in audio  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0725CYNYG

Oh and Here’s the link for my newsletter should you want to sign up – in fact please sign up and maybe re-blog this so everyone can sign up – no harm in asking.   http://eepurl.com/cBu4Sf

Till next week, take care.

MEET JULIE HODGESON

Now I’m thrilled to welcome Julie as I have actually met her! Yes really! We hooked up at the Readers’ Favorite Awards in Miami last November and she’s a really special person. One amazing coincidence was we’d both taught at schools in Libya, and it’s not often you meet people who’ve done that! I was also introduced to her husband John and her daughter who works with her mother on the marketing side. Julie not only writes books, she gives talks to schools and is really, really busy and very knowledgeable about the publishing world – I bombarded her with questions and she was sooo patient with me 🙂 . Sadly my plans to hijack her daughter to Spain and help me sell my books didn’t work, and they all returned to Sweden. In Julie’s own words ….

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Since the early 80s, I have travelled around the world, mostly with my husband dragging me along on engineering projects (willingly I might add).
I started writing poetry and short stories at the age of 9, nice way to switch off I guess. Then it just escalated from there. My English teacher at my secondary school Mrs Love was an inspiration to me. As all teachers should be! In 1985 I moved to Tripoli in Libya, and as the schools did not have any books, I started writing for the children of the local British schools. It’s amazing that when there are no books, you crave anything to read. So we all got together and made something out of nothing.
I have continued writing for newspapers, and magazines  ever since, The Times in Kuwait, Libya, Sweden, UK and lots of other countries. Although I do prefer to write books. And so the stories could go on and on…
I now live in Sweden I have had many books published in the past and have joined a traditional publisher Opera Omnia, and they published the first bilingual book back in November 2012. My aim is to hit the Swedish market this year via traditional Swedish publishers.

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One of my favourite series at the moment is Jodie and the Library Card, I am now penning book 3! You can never have too many books! Any bibliophile will tell you that.
I feel books are important and that children should have carefree, happy, well-adjusted lives. Sadly in this world, it is not always the case. But one can hope.

My motto in life is, “Always be the very best you can be”

I had no idea that Julie had written so many books, I counted 40 on her Amazon page.

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And, while I was writing this up she casually mentioned yet another award, a Bronze in the Wishing Shelf Awards 2016 for Jodie and the Library Card. And then she dropped that her books are going into extra large print for partially sighted children AND a theatre production wants to perform two of her books.

I’m always amazed at her innovative ideas.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01IH657OM/ (comedy YA book)

 

You can find out more about Julie and her books on these links.

Web page:  juliehodgson.com

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JXL6LUK/ref=series_rw_dp_sw  (Jodie 2)

Thank you for being my guest today Julie Hodgeson.

 

 

 

SINGAPORE AND A STUFF UP

TRAVEL SECTION ON THE BIG TRIP

Why did I like Singapore? It was neat, clean and well ordered, music to my Virgin Virgoan mind. One thing I noticed was the correct following distance between cars – two lengths between each while everyone managed to keep up a very respectable speed. I kept pointing this out to DH who tends to drive up other people’s bumpers but the only relpy was an indecipherable grunt.

We found this amazing place and I’m not sure we should have been in there, it was deserted, but it seemed to the entrance to flats or offices.

Gives a whole new dimension to the cafe downstairs!

HISTORY NONSENSE

Edward VII was right when he reckoned he would only reign for a short time, it was 9 years, not long besides his mother who’d been sitting on that throne for 63 – though the doctor did give her something for the chair sores.

But Bertie had a long life to look back on. In general the people though he’d not been a bad king, at least he got out and about unlike mum who sat inside and sulked.

THE STUFF UP

I’ve often said that those who got into the market place early had an amazing start, in the days before a new book was uploaded every 5 minutes. I should have been one of them as I published Walking over Eggshells in 2013, but then I knew nothing about marketing – not sure I know much now – so I sat with my book on Amazon and was surprised to see I’d sold 37 copies in that first year. I had no idea if anyone was going to buy it and I’m not sure I even thought about sales in those days. Ha, wish that was true now!

Then I saw an email address in the back of a book and as it was doing so well on Amazon I wrote to the author.

As they say, the rest is history. I joined Facebook, opened a Twitter account, put up a picture on Pinterest and devoured the blogs which dropped into my in-box. I was about to dip my toe into the world of marketing.

I decided that I had to be innovative and come up with something really different – but it backfired and I’ll tell you next week what it was. This I’m told is a cliff hanger! 🙂

Here is Walking over Eggshells, about to celebrate its 4th birthday.

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It’s the story of how my mother who suffered from Narcissistic Personality Disorder affected my life. I guess I should be grateful to Donald Trump as he is now described in similar terms and more people are aware of this syndrome. All I knew was that my mother didn’t love me and I thought it was my fault. She even succeeded in causing havoc from the grave after she passed on.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E8HSNDW  and available on all channels myBook.to/WoE

Till next week, take care.

MEET ANNE E JOHNSON

There are two connections I have with this week’s author. I originally came from Dublin, and as you will see, Anne writes about the time when Dublin was still small but growing. When I went back a couple of years ago, it had grown ever larger, but parts were much the same.

The second connection is Vikings. I had no concept before I came to live in Spain how much terror there was from sea invasions – around Dublin it was the guys from Scandinavia, here it was pirates, and the Moors, who got to rule most of Spain for 800 years.

But I leave it to Anne to tell you her own story.

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Vikings have become in romance fiction that “Viking Romance” is a subcategory on Amazon. So, when I was ready to write the first installment of my Ireland’s Medieval Heart Novelette series, I faced a big decision: Would there be Vikings?

And the answer turned out to be…sort of. While we don’t actually meet any Vikings in A Kiss at Vespers, those mighty Danes still play an important part in the story. They represent a threat, of course, on both land and sea. But Vikings also present an opportunity. No, not for a muscular romp on a pile of hides, ladies; this is sweet romance. Rather, they’re an economic opportunity.

Dull, you say? Not if you were a merchant in 11th-century Britain, looking out over the Irish Sea. You could practically hear the gold coins clinking. That’s why I set A Kiss at Vespers in the year 1008, when a little town called Dublin was growing by leaps and bounds, largely thanks to a change of heart by the Vikings who’d been terrorizing Ireland for centuries.

Some of them started to figure out that all the tromping around, stealing, and slaughtering might not be necessary. Here was this nice town – why not just settle there and find an easier way to make a living?

Merchants love a stable, settled population: they always need to buy stuff. In Vespers, the female protagonist, Asta, is the daughter of a British merchant. The novelette opens with Asta disguised as a boy, running away for love and adventure on one of her father’s trading ships bound for Dublin. So, you could say that Vikings made the story possible.

But Vikings also contribute a sense of drama to Vespers. In the early 11th century, only some of them had settled down. There was always the risk that they’d, you know, go marauding. Loot your village, attack you at sea, that type of thing. As a matter of fact…Oops! No spoilers here. You’ll have to read A Kiss at Vespers for yourself.

I wanted this story to focus on life in a monastery in medieval Ireland, and Viking characters tend to be distracting (in all sorts of ways!). But there’s another reason I let those helmeted warriors only have indirect influence: Ireland’s Medieval Heart Novelettes is meant to be a series. Since I don’t have any Vikings in this installment, that encourages me to put them in another tale.

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In 1008 AD, Dublin is just a small town, newly opened to trade now that Viking violence there has died down. A young woman named Asta runs away from her boring life in Britain on one of her father’s trading vessels bound for Dublin, hoping that she and the sailor she loves can find a new life together. But when shipwreck takes him from her, her whole world changes. She is helped up the rocky shores of eastern Ireland by handsome and enigmatic Brother Martinus, who takes her to the Monastery of St. Luran’s to recover. Despite his vows of silence and chastity, Brother Martinus is entranced by the beautiful maiden who seems delivered to him by Providence. Their unexpected relationship causes both of them to rethink their concepts of faith and love.

You can purchase A Kiss at Vespers as an ebook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and most other online retailers.

Learn more about Anne E. Johnson on her website.

ARCHITECTURE AND AMIE

THE BIG TRIP

After a couple of days in Penang it was time to fly out to our last destination – Singapore. Another airplane, another take off and landing. I honestly couldn’t believe how cheap it was to fly on the Far East low cost Air Asia service. However, this leg was on Jet Star, and their message pinged on the cell phone long before we had planned to get up. It informed us that our flight was delayed. That was good, but they didn’t give us any reason and, more importantly, did not say how long it was delayed for.  jetstar-com-singapore-a320-200-9v-jsa-15-asias-got-talenttailjetstarlrw

This is how I imagined it, in for a quick service.
There was nothing we could do but make tracks for the airport – the delay could be 5 minutes or 5 hours.

Breakfast in the hotel was a revolting cold omelette and we only just managed to snaffle the last two slices of bread for our toast and marmalade.

We hung around Penang airport drinking coffee, changing money, buying a fridge magnet for an enormous price, and avoiding the disgusting loos. We took off two hours late, almost breaking our teeth on the revolting sandwiches they served up. We landed in Changi in less than an hour. The immigration area was empty and we were processed in less than 5 minutes. They took photos and fingerprints and our luggage was there waiting for us – such efficiency!

What a different world! Totally first world. I adored Singapore, it’s my kind of place. The next few blogs will be pictures – I took so many! However I’m battling to get them off the iPad and onto the laptop. Here I am 5 hours later and DH has managed to crack it.

I often wonder if I was an architect in a former life as I love buildings, old and modern and I’m fascinated by their shapes.

HISTORY NONSENSE

By the time Bertie had reached 50, he was thinking that it was time he settled down.   Everything went wrong with Alix away. There was a fire in Sandringham and George his son fell ill. Bertie cancelled all the planned house parties and took his younger son to London.  The diagnosis was enteric fever. He did in fact recover.

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BERTIE CORONATION ROBESW

This is a Sandringham house party photo, and all the guests obliged by wearing black and white as they did not have colour photography in those days.

However, his settled years, between 50 and 60, were pretty boring while he waited to ascend the throne, but to be quite honest he guessed he wasn’t going to reign for too many years. Shame, he’d waited so long and with a mother like that … well I feel for him. Sorry to confuse you but Bertie became Edward VII – I think that’s the right number for him.

 

THE ADVERTISING BIT

I’m still in edit on Amie book 4 which has now got a name – Amie Final Cut and I explore a subject that is rarely talked about above a whisper.  A few lines from the opening.

“Oh, my God! It’s Amie! It’s Amie!” The shriek reverberated round the walls of the shopping mall bouncing off the plate glass windows and echoing along the hall.

Amie froze in her tracks. The plastic shopping bags slipped out of her lifeless hands and slithered onto the floor. Was the voice referring to her? Had someone recognized her? Was it someone who knew her well? What was she going to say? How could she explain? What was worse, she could have sworn it was her mother’s voice. No, that wasn’t possible. Her parents were six thousand miles away outside London. This was Johannesburg, South Africa, her mother wouldn’t be here. Would she?

“Now Mary, calm down, you’re imagining things. You know it’s not Amie. Amie’s gone.”

Still Amie couldn’t move, she was riveted to the spot – she didn’t even dare turn round. The mannequins in the shop window peered sightlessly at her as she stared at the reflection in the glass. Her mother’s name was Mary. It was her mother. Here, just across the hallway. Hell!

“It’s only another girl who looks a little like Amie.” Her father’s voice wasn’t convincing and Amie could feel his eyes boring into the back of her head. Did he believe his daughter was standing only a few feet away? “Remember,” he continued, “you thought you saw her in Croydon shopping centre a few months ago. That wasn’t Amie either, just a girl who reminded you of her.”

“Let me just ask her …”

“No! You can’t go bothering people. There are millions of thirty year-old girls with blonde hair all over the world. Come and sit down for a moment.”

Amie retrieved the bags off the floor, fumbling with stiff fingers to prevent dropping them a second time. As usual she dithered, uncertain what to do. More than anything in the world she wanted to run to them, throw her arms wide open and tell them that yes, she was Amie their daughter. She was alive – alive and well.stolen-future-kindle cover 150dpi

If you’re curious about why Amie is both alive and dead, you’ll find the answer in book 3 STOLEN FUTURE http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M67NRG4

Till next week, take care.

 

 

 

 

MEET GRAHAM HIGSON

OK, I have to admit I’ve not read Graham’s book – yet – but I will, the title is enough to make me smile and I know we have the same sense of humour. However, that said Graham and I have met, over Skype as he was kind enough to allow me on his Showtime uTube programme. I’ll be posting the links everywhere once it’s finalized. We had great fun doing it and chatted for ages. A really nice guy and I’m pleased he’s agreed to be a guest this week.

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How much was that little screw?

The phone number could have been one of those despicable cold-callers telling me I was eligible to compensation for an accident I’d not had. I usually ignore these, but I’m so glad I answered this time.

“I read your book,” the woman said, in a voice I didn’t recognize, yet with a hint of familiarity.

“I know that voice,” I said, hoping I wasn’t mistaken.

“You bloody well don’t!” she spat, breaking into a delectable Cockney accent that I’d last heard … well, when writing her dialogue for my book. “You never ‘eard me speak like vat before!”

Sharon was an expert on voices, and I can’t remember the number of occasions she had time off working in the shop so she could attend auditions, from Emmerdale to Eastenders, from Minder to Midsomer Murders.

“So what did you fink – I mean, think – to it, the book, I mean?”

“Well, you got an awful lot in there, fings I’d forgotten all about. And that Doctor Who story what I told you that time – fancy you rememb’ring that. I fink you’re a good storyteller.”

“You’re not so bad, yourself…”

And so it went on, talking as if we’d seen each other only the day before, yet it was getting on for over 15 years. Such was the immeasurable bonding we’d had, an intangible spirit that held us together when things were going bad.

How Much For a Little Screw? isn’t a misery memoir, yet it has its lows, as well as highs. I’ve been told by industry professionals that, in a suitable adaptation, it would stand as comedy screen drama, which cannot, and should never be, merely one laugh after another; variation is the key, with happiness and humour tempered with desperation, frustration, and the occasional sorrow.

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The book isn’t only a collection of anecdotes about what goes on behind a shop counter; I think, more than that, it was my celebration of the team I was a part of, the people I may have taken for granted at the time – some of who are no longer with us – and a realisation of what was good.

And it was Sharon, bit-part actress (she won’t like that) and people expert extraordinaire, who would occasionally take me to one side and tell me that these were good times, that in years to come I would look back on and wish to recapture and see them for what they truly were: life’s treasures.

www.grahamhigson.com

http://smarturl.it/littlescrew

Twitter  http://twitter.com/grahamhigson  @grahamhigson

Thank you Graham and if you need a good laugh do take a look at his book.