MEET HEATHER RAMSAY

This week it’s a huge welcome to Heather Ramsay who has recently published her first novel. It’s definitely going on my TBR list as it sounds just the sort of book I enjoy. First, a little about Heather.

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Heather Ramsay grew up in a town just outside of Toronto, Ontario. After spending a few years working and exploring California, she now resides in Pennsylvania with her family.

 Personal trainer, yoga teacher, and group exercise instructor by trade, her true passion is writing. An avid reader and make believer from a young age, Heather dreamed of one day publishing her own book. When not reading or writing, you can often find her training, spending time with family, or chasing around a toddler.

Heather also added this which will make many of us smile and cheer!

Hello, my name is Heather and I’m a bookaholic.

Reading is my vice. Some people prefer television, others movies, but not me. All I need is a book and a quiet place to dive in. The more books I visually consume, the more I realize I love all genres. There is just something so uplifting about a romance, exciting about a thriller, intriguing about a mystery, and wondrous about a fantasy world.

Once upon a time, I read only the most popular “it” books by traditionally published authors. After I finished one novel, I’d be off to the next one. It was through Amazon’s “customers also bought” category that I discovered indie books.

It was here, out of the mainstream, where I found some of my favorite authors. After reading affordable and well-written indie books, I wondered why I’d paid upwards of ten dollars for a well-known author’s book. I could buy three or four indie novels for the price of one traditionally published book. My eyes were suddenly open. I began to regret all the hard earned money I’d spent on over-priced books now that I knew there were millions of hidden gems just waiting for me.

The more indies I devoured, the more traditionally published books became formulaic with similar storylines. I found this especially true of books in a series. Once I moved past books two or three, I started to find the rest repetitive. The protagonists were somehow always stuck in repetitive loops, doing the same thing over-and-over again expecting different results. My discovery of indie books brought my love of reading to a whole new level. These unique stories pushed the boundaries, filled with fresh views, and no fear of discussing real, gritty topics. The authors could let their imaginations run wild with no restraints from agents or publishers.

HEATHER BOOK

A few years ago, I had the crazy idea to join the front lines and start writing my own novel. It began as a hobby, something to do while my husband watched TV. I wrote my book. I rewrote my book. I erased entire sections of my book and tried again. Once I finally finished it, I wondered if someone else might want to read it. Would they even *gasp* pay to read it? In the end, I decided to take the plunge. Every story has a beginning, right? Well, this is mine.

I welcome you to check out my debut romantic thriller novel, Snakebite, Alpha Squad Book 1. Let’s see if you too prefer indie books.

The Alpha Squad—an elite United Nations military unit tasked with stopping the world’s most dangerous arms dealers. Their existence is shrouded in secrecy, hidden away in the New Mexico desert.

Phoenix is their newest recruit. Where she came from, nobody knows. Not even Phoenix herself. Amnesia has left her with no past, no identity. The squad is all she has. She wants to prove she belongs there – to the other soldiers, to herself, and to her commanding officer, the formidable General Cobra. Cobra is cold, hard, ruthless. And Phoenix knows he doesn’t trust her.

When they are sent to Colombia together on an assignment, something begins to change between them. They begin to form a friendship, an understanding, and maybe something more.

But Phoenix is about to learn that the past can’t stay buried forever…

Buy Link: http://smarturl.it/SnakebiteAlfaBook1

If you enjoy Snakebite, please help an indie author and leave a review. Every star counts!!

Find Heather here:

Website:   www.heatherramsayauthor.com

Amazon Author Page:  www.amazon.com/author/hramsay

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/AuthorHRamsay

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/HeatherRamsay

Instagram: www.instagram.com/authorhramsay

Twitter: www.twitter.com/AuthorHRamsay

Pinterest: www.Pinterest.com/authorhramsay

Thank you for being my guest today and all the very best of luck with your new book. (I am so impressed you have all your links up and all your social media in place this early. You know what you are doing!)

Till next week, take care.

Lucinda

 

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MEET BRENDAN GERAD O’BRIEN

OK, OK, I admit it I have a soft spot for Irish writers, the land of my birth, though I have long since lost the accent.  While we may speak the same language as the English, Welsh, Scots, Americans and the Australians, I maintain we have poetry and words flowing through our veins. Have you guessed that this week’s guest is also from Ireland? What a surprise!  Welcome, Brendan Gerad O’Brien. He now lives in Wales, but you can never take the power of words away from the Irish – not that I’m biased of course. Over to Brendan.

Brend

When I won my first writing competition I was so excited I ran all the way home. I was about eight years old. The Fun Fair was coming to Tralee – our little town on the West coast of Ireland – and apart from Duffy’s Circus which came in September, this was the highlight of our year. Our English teacher asked us to write an essay about it and I won the only prize – a book of ten tickets for the fair.

So writing was in my blood from a very young age. My uncle Moss Scanlon had a small Harness Maker’s shop in Listowel – a bus ride from Tralee – where I spent some wonderful summer holidays. The shop was a magnet for all sorts of colourful characters who’d wander in for a chat and a bit of jovial banter. One famous storyteller who often popped in was John B Keane, and I asked him once where he got his ideas from. He told me that everyone has a story to tell so just listen to them. I was there when John B’s first story was read out on Radio Eireann. I can still remember the buzz of excitement.

But it was only when I got married and the children came along that I made any serious attempt to write a book.

DarkSeptemberbyBGOBrien200

The result was Dark Septembera brutal alternative history thriller set in Newport during WW2. Germany invade Britain. Stormtroopers attack the South Wales coast to capture the coal mines. Newport is blitzed. Danny O’Shea’s wife is killed. O’Shea heads for neutral Ireland with his son and they witness Welsh Nationalists ambushing a German convoy carrying a mysterious cargo.

But the Nationalists fall out and the cargo disappears. Then O’Shea goes to the aid of a dying woman – and both the Germans and the Nationalists believe she told him where it’s hidden. Now pursued by both the Germans and the insurgents, his only concern is to get his son to safety.

I always found writing short stories is amazingly therapeutic. I get a great buzz from taking an idea and developing it, often watching it evolve into something completely different from how it started out. Great ideas are all around us. Little gems are waiting to be harvested everywhere we look. I found myself listening to what people are saying, and the way they say it.

For instance, the Irish are famous for their colourful and exaggerated language, always using a dozen words when one would have done. So I set my short stories in Ireland. The names are changed, of course, because I don’t earn enough to survive a lawsuit.

dreamin deams promo 2.5 x 4

Dreamin’ Dreams contains twenty of my published short stories. They’re all based on real people who passed through my life at some time or other, or events that actually happened to me. Enhanced, of course, and sometimes exaggerated out of all proportion.

The title comes from something my father said years ago when I got poor grades at school. ‘What do you expect?’ he said to my mother. ‘He never does any studying. He just sits there, dreamin’ dreams.’

Gallows Field paperback new

This was followed by Gallows Field, set in Tralee, Ireland during WW2.  Eamon Foley, a Local Security volunteer is in a crowded pub when his brother-in-law Joe McCarthy is shot dead. Foley thinks he sees a face from his past when he was working in Dublin and witnessed a brutal murder. Important items went missing then and the killer believed Foley took them. Foley thinks shooting Joe was a warning that they’ve caught up with him and are looking for their stuff.

But Garda Sergeant Liam Edge believes Joe was a victim of a jealous husband because of his involvement with numerous women.

Then Foley’s sister Mary is found dead in the town park.

And his son is taken by a nun in a car.

When Foley illegally obtains evidence saying who is responsible, Sgt Edge dismisses it, insisting they follow proper police procedure.  With dreadful results.

a pale moon print cover final

My latest book is A Pale Moon Was Rising, again featuring Eamon Foley during 1944. A German submarine is spotted in Tralee Bay on the West coast of Ireland.

Next morning the body of a young man with fatal head injuries is found in the river. He’s wearing a distinctive silver ring.

Garda Eamon Foley traces the ring to Paudy Daly, who’s been missing for over nine months.

But Paudy’s father, the notorious Mixer Daly, is furious when he sees the body. Because it is not his son.

Garda Foley discovers that the body is that of a Polish seaman. So where did he get Paudy’s ring?

Then Garda Foley learns that the last time Paudy was seen alive, he was on his way to rob a pig-breeder’s house.

Writing magazine

Thanks for choosing me for your blog, and have a great week,

Sláinte

Brendan

bgobrien.net

I had no idea that Brendan was such a prolific writer, as the books featured here are only a part of his vast repertoire. Check him out on his Amazon author  page

https://www.amazon.com/Brendan-Gerad-OBrien/e/B006ICG2HE 

and thank you for being my guest this week.

I JUST CAN’T GET IT LARGER!

How about a Christmas present for me? It won’t cost you more than a moment and very little effort. I’m asking all you FABULOUS people out there for a re-blog of this post (flatter them p 148 of How to Win Friends and Influence People).

You see I have been trying to build up my email list like, well forever. Everyone I know has thousands and thousands and thousands of names and I’ve struggled to reach even a limited number – (you may sigh here).  Now I know the fake news going around that the Big A is about to go bust is nonsense and that we will only be able to sell our books all by ourselves, but I do see it’s a very good idea to have a healthy mail list a little larger than your friends and family – and I have a very small family. I’m fed up with sending dozens of copies of my newsletter to DH and myself over and over again.  He’s now threatening to unsubscribe!

I am sending out my Christmas newsletter on Saturday, December 23rd and my subscribers will get a free copy of:

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Amie African Adventure which has done really well and won lots of awards from individual readers and international awards and 173 reviews (unless some have gone AWOL while I type this!)

And that’s not all. Subscribers will be able to download Part 2 of The very Worst Riding School in the World – which is only available from my newsletter and will NEVER be on general sale.

WRS Kindle Cover book 2 (1)

Part 1 is available free on the Big A and wide and is also free so you can grab that short read if you have got this far.

https://www.books2read.com/u/bw8May

And that’s not all!!  (Amazing isn’t it?)

There are now 12 chapters of the Amie back stories and these build up month by month to download for free.

Amie Back Story v2.1

Sam, Amie’s spoilt brat of a sister, is taking her first overseas holiday with boyfriend Gerri and they are getting into all sorts of trouble in Spain – he’s landed in jail and she’s spent several hours in the lift between floors. The other character who features is Ben, who was Amie’s cameraman in book 1, she meets up with him in book 2 and he plays a huge part in book 5 which is still in progress.  DH has designed this lovely cover for the backstories.

Oh, and before I forget there is also a bit of rubbish blurb from me and if you would like me to feature your book, then let me know by this Friday morning (it takes me hours to sort out the techie stuff on MailChimp).  I’m not sure whose twisted mind designed it all but if you know who it is, advise them to steer clear.  So I think my newsletter is really good value and it only goes out once a month, twice at most. OK, I’ve finished groveling now and it only remains to wish you all a Wonderful Christmas with friends and family or a good book (preferably mine 🙂 )  and a Happy, Healthy and Brilliant 2018.  With love from Lucinda.

 

TOURISTS AND TITLES

CARCASSONE CASTLE

There is quite a town now around the castle and the basilica at Carcassone. Even though it was raining when we were there the place is packed with tourists.  The narrow streets are crammed full of eateries, souvenir shops, more souvenir shops and a few more souvenir shops. DH is always a little tetchy when there are swarms of people around but he does understand they were not going to clear the place for us.

There are also a couple of hotels in the citadel. I couldn’t find out – probably due to my appalling French – if any of these buildings had people left in them when they were all ordered to go and live across the river. Did they all flock back again when they heard the tourists were coming?

The only museum worth seeing according to the Trip Advisor reviews was the school. Now I’d hate you to think I am quite this old, but I did recognize some of the things I saw on display. And it was fun to practice writing with a nibbed pen and real blue ink in a pottery inkwell set into the desk. DH chickened out of that one.

HISTORY STUFF

Who knows if Edward thought through his decision to abdicate? His reign lasted 326 days one of the shortest ever (if you don’t count Lady Jane Grey who only managed 9 days). He couldn’t marry straight away as Wallace still had to finish getting divorced from husband #2.

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Edward was downgraded to a Duke and then took his new wife off to visit Germany (I showed a pic of this a couple of weeks ago). This was not a popular thing to do at that particular time, and from being wildly celebrated when he was younger, life didn’t seem like much fun. He also had to take a huge cut in salary of course. They don’t look wildly happy, do they?

I hope you don’t feel sorry for him, remember what he said when his younger brother died? Here is another quote:  from 1920 when he visited Australia about the indigenous Australians: “They are the most revolting form of living creatures I’ve ever seen!! They are the lowest known form of human beings & are the nearest thing to monkeys.”

So you can imagine how he felt down at being demoted, and serve him right.

BEGINNING OF Amie book 3 Amie: Future Shock

Behind her veil, the tears streamed down Amie’s face as she watched them lower the coffins into the freshly dug graves. She could remember little about the previous few days and constantly fought an overwhelming panic. Her mind was a jumble of disconnected thoughts, blurred memories and questions. People she didn’t know well had invaded her world to arrange this terrible funeral.

From where she was standing on the far side of the cemetery, partially concealed behind a tall Natal Mahogany tree, she could see Ouma Adede who had once foretold her future. What was she doing here? There were others: Mrs Motswezi from the orphanage where Amie had first found Angelina, half-familiar faces from the Club, couples they’d dined or swam with at the beach. There was a tall, very good looking man with blonde hair she had never seen before, he was probably from the embassy. And Ken, of course, the sun reflecting off his dark skin and black curly hair that showed his African heritage. Even Jennifer and Patrick were there, but Amie was not allowed to talk to them, neither could she approach them. At one point, without thinking, she’d taken a step forward as if to walk over and join them, but a hand had grabbed her arm and held her back.

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“You can’t go any closer, not now, not ever,” the stern voice displayed no emotion.

At last the preacher finished his eulogy. One by one the mourners filed past the graves on the way to their cars. Ouma Adede looked up and stared straight at Amie, even though she was shrouded in a black muslin veil and hidden behind the tree, and Amie could have sworn she gave a brief nod. But then the elderly witchdoctor walked out of the graveyard without a backward glance. Did their eyes really connect or was it her imagination?

Once all the mourners had departed and the preacher had hurried away, Amie was herded straight to the car, then back to her room and once more the door was firmly locked behind her.  Now Amie could weep in private.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M67NRG4

Also available in Spanish.

Till next week, take care.

 

RUINS AND ROSE WINDOWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

HISTORY INSERT

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

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

Duke of Windsor and Mrs. Wallis Simpson

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

BOOK SHOW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

myBook.to/Amie2

Till next week, take care.

WANDERINGS AND WALLACE

TRAVEL BIT

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

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

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

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

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

SHOCKING HISTORY

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

Prinz Harrys Urgroßonkel Herzog von Windsor traf Hitler

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

BALMORAL

THE NATURAL BREAK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

myBook.to/Amie1

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

Till next week, take care.

 

CASTLE AND KINGS

CARCASSONE CASTLE

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

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

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

HISTORY NONSENSE

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

EDWARD viii

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

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

THE EMBARRASSING BIT

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

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

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

Worst Riding School - 2

 

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