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.

 

 

 

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.

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.

MEET JEFFREY WALKER

The really fun part about all my guest blogs, is meeting so many authors who have lived in different parts of the world, had a huge variety of careers, survived a wide range of experiences and lived to tell their stories. And that is what we all have in common, we are writers and we’ve all accomplished the blood, sweat and tears part of writing our books and are eager to tell the world about them. 

This is the second soldier I’ve had as a guest, and he’s led a fascinating life, read on. 

JEFF WALKER

My name is Jeffrey Walker and I’m an American Midwesterner, born in what was once the Glass Container Capital of the World. I’m a retired military officer, and served in Bosnia and Afghanistan, planned the Kosovo air campaign and ran a State Department program in Baghdad. I’ve been shelled, rocketed and sniped by various groups, all with bad aim. I’ve lived in ten states and three foreign countries, managing to get degrees from Harvard and Georgetown University along the way. An attorney and professor, I taught legal history at Georgetown, law of war at the College of William & Mary and criminal and international law while an assistant dean at St. John’s University. I’ve contributed on National Public Radio and been a speaker at federal judicial conferences. I live in Virginia with my wife, I dote on her and my children but they are now spread across the United States. I’ve never been beaten at Whack-a-Mole.

It’s not surprising that Jeffrey has written a book that’s set against the background of the cruellest war in history.

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None of Us the Same tracks the experiences during and after the First World War of three main characters. Deirdre Brannigan, who adds new meaning to “headstrong,” is an Irish nurse from working-class Dublin, while affable Jack Oakley and complicated Will Parsons are childhood pals from St. John’s who enlist in the Newfoundland Regiment the day it’s formed in August, 1914. Deirdre joins a military nursing service after her father and brother hit the beach at Gallipoli. All three of their paths cross at Deirdre’s field hospital the first day of the Somme. Each of them suffers terrible and varied trauma from the war. The second half of the book returns to Newfoundland as they come to a reckoning with their self-pity, addictions, and emotional devastation. A big part of the healing process involves overlapping romantic and business relationships, not all of them entirely legal.

Also, follow Jeff on:

Twitter https://twitter.com/JkwalkerAuthor

Facebook at www.facebook.com/jeffreykwalker

Instagram @jkwalker.author

Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16863722.Jeffrey_K_Walker

His book None of Us the Same is available now in most countries on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2qvJSJm. It will be available through other retailers worldwide in June.

Jeffrey also sent me some explanations of the F@ck word (the naughty one) and I couldn’t resist adding a  little about it here. I know exactly where Jeffrey is coming from. When we were working against the clock setting up for concerts, everyone around us used the word all the time and I found myself using it too. It’s kind of catching! And as writers we all know there are a million adjectives out there so I wonder why it is so easy to use this one so often? Any ideas? 

My kids seem to think they invented the word f@ck in all its polygrammtical guises. I beg to differ, but until recently I’d kinda thought MY generation invented every day use of the word f#ck. I was woefully mistaken.

In fact, the first usage of the word f$ck in any kind of sexual sense appears to date to the early 14th century when a man from Chester in England is referred to in a writing as “Roger Fucke-by-the-Navele.” Which says something most hilarious about poor Roger’s sexual prowess, we may safely assume. The first use of the F-word in literature dates to a poem written by a Scotsman (not surprisingly) named William Dunbar: “Yit be his feiris he wald haue fukkit / Ye brek my hairt, my bony ane.” But since less than .0008% of the world’s population could even come close to understanding this, it’s kind of a “no harm, no foul” usage.

The first book of a fiction trilogy I’m writing came out last week, set during and after the First World War. Doing research for these books, I discovered that the F-Bomb, as in the carpet-bombing usage of the word f$ck in each phrase of every conversation, was probably invented by millions of English-speaking soldiers slogging around the trenches during the First World War. (I stand ready to be disproven by all you U.S. Civil War or Napoleonic War authors out there.)

It seems to have become something of a Word of Universal Usage among the Brits, Canadians, Aussies, Kiwis, Newfoundlanders, South Africans, and—belatedly—the Yanks. Its use even spilled over to the non-English speaking troops, including the Germans. By the end of the War, it was in the same league as “O.K.” in terms of worldwide currency.

I’ve spent much of the last 18 months in a deep dive into First World War soldier’s letters, memoirs, interviews, songs, cartoons, trench newspapers, poems, and novels. Much of this was consciously cleaned up by the former Tommies or doughboys or diggers for consumption back home in decent society.

Thank you Jeffrey and the best of luck with your new book.

MEET J B REYNOLDS

My guest this week proves another theory of mine – all great writers have had a myriad of different jobs – it’s all to do with the watching, observing, learning of people, places and things. He’s had a fascinating life. And, a little bird told me that his wife is helping him with his marketing – ah I wish …  isn’t that wonderful?

BJ Reynolds

Hi, I’m J.B. Reynolds and I live in rural Northland, New Zealand, where I raise children and chickens. (In case you’re wondering, chickens are easier—they also make less mess). I write humorous short fiction in which tragedy meets comedy and character reigns supreme. My first short story was published while I was a university student in the mid-nineties. Since my graduation and a return to serious writing in 2016, I’ve worked as a teacher, graphic designer, landscaper, ski and snowboard technician, film critic, librarian, apple picker, and baker of muffins and teacakes.

Nowadays, when not writing, I’m a husband, father, and high school teacher (not necessarily in that order). I enjoy sailing, cycling, and playing music, really loud, when my wife and kids aren’t at home, although now that I’ve hit forty I’ve begun to worry about cumulative hearing loss, so I’ve been dialling the volume back a little. (I blame it on my love of power tools and the rock and roll of my youth, although to be honest, there are few places in the world that are noisier than a high school classroom).

I also have a big garden where I like to get my fingernails dirty, and I love to eat the things that grow in it (the fruit and vegetables anyway—I’m not so keen on the insects).

As far as my writing goes, I’m currently working on my Crossing the Divide short story series. Melding tragedy with comedy and switching between settings in Central Otago, New Zealand, and Brisbane, Australia, each story in the series focuses on a different character and explores that character’s struggle to connect with the people in their lives.

The most recent book in the series, Square Pegs, is the story of an angry young man trying to find his way in the world. It came out at the major ebook stores in March. Here’s the blurb.

BJ Reynolds book pic

Tired, thirsty, and frustrated, Darryl wants only two things: a) a beer, and b) to be left alone by his troublesome neighbors. Fate, however, has other ideas.

Book 4 in the series will launch later this year. It’s the story of a young, foul-mouthed, opinionated mother-of-one and her friendship with a beautiful, elegant, upper-middle-class woman ten years her senior—also a mother-of-one. Both women live in small-town Central Otago and the story follows the events of a joint shopping expedition to a neighbouring town with their young children.

You can find out more about me and my writing at jbreynolds.net, or follow me on Facebook.

 

Thank you for being my guest this week JB  Reynolds – now are you also wondering what the initials stand for? Maybe he’ll tell us in the comments.

MEET SALLY CRONIN

I’m really thrilled to have Sally as my guest this week. She is a tireless supporter of us Indie authors with lots of exposure (of the polite kind). She’s set up an online book store where she features authors and their books so it’s the very least I can do to return the favour. Do look out for her blogs, Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life they are always fun to read. How Sally finds the time to write books with all the time she spends helping other writers I’ve not the faintest idea, and moving from Spain to Ireland – I hope I’ve got that right Sally?

But that’s quite enough from me over to Sally, and we are all about to learn something very, very important.

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What’s in Name?

Sally Cronin has always been fascinated by names and their origins. Having met a number of people over the years who had been named after historical or famous people, she thought it would be interesting to write stories about men and women who then have to live up to the previous owners reputation. The twenty stories are about life, love, celebration and the overcoming of challenges by extraordinary people.

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In the first volume of What’s in a Name, we discover how Brian carries on the family high flying tradition with its origins in the caves of ancient man. How David fought gallantly in the First World War against the might of the enemy, and now stands with his comrades each year to pay tribute to those who did not return. Or how Grace finally achieved her dreams that filled her days in the orphanage.  All of the men and women in the stories bring a new dimension to their names that they can be proud of or be remembered for.

In a day and age where those in the spotlight name their children after football teams, capital cities or simply a colour, it will be interesting to see if the classical names of the past will survive.

Reviews and buy Link for What’s in a Name

Publisher’s website at reduced price of £1.95: http://www.moyhill.com/wian/index.html

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N6Y8BK1

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N6Y8BK1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

All books available: https://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com

Sally’s other passion is healthy eating.

Size Matters: Especially when you weigh 150 kilos by Sally Cronin

Thirty years ago obesity was a rarity amongst children, and adults, and the related health problems were restricted to a small proportion of the population. Today, it is an epidemic and as we expand our waistbands we are forced into increasing our financial investment in health care for the resulting medical problems that can be life threatening.

There are a number of factors involved in obesity and not all of them are related to the amount of food that we consume. But it is directly related to the type of food we eat.

Our current obesity crisis has been fuelled by the ‘expert’ governmental advice that demonised fats in favour of a high carbohydrate diet thirty years ago. Whilst moderate wholegrain carbohydrate consumption has nutritional benefits for the body, the wholesale reduction in our diet of healthy fats has had a devastating impact on our health.

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Healthy fats have an essential role in the health of our major organs including our brain and heart, and play a part in maintaining a healthy cholesterol balance. Cholesterol is another naturally occurring substance in our bodies that has been treated with a shotgun approach to reduce its levels. Cholesterol is needed in many chemical reactions within the body including the production of hormones. Which makes it even more ironic, that pills are being prescribed to reduce cholesterol in men and women, at precisely the same time their hormones are already on the decline.

If you have a population with a diet that is predominantly carbohydrate, especially when it is refined white and often sugar laden such as white rice, packaged white bread, cakes, biscuits, pies and desserts, there is an immediate rise in the number of people who have diabetes. When blood sugar levels are high, any excess sugar is turned to fat, usually around the belly area

This white diet begins in the womb with the mother’s consumption of white carbohydrates and continues in sweetened formula and canned baby food. Once a child is eating solids and is given industrialised foods, chemically concocted from white flour, sugary cereals with artificial sweeteners, refined sugars and Tran’s fats, the reason for the steep rise in childhood obesity is identified.

After studying nutrition and the human body twenty years ago, I stopped eating all industrially produced foods and cooked from scratch. I ate a handful of wholegrain carbohydrates and eliminated sugar except for honey. I lost 70 kilos in 18 months and my key indicators such as Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar and Cholesterol all returned to normal levels.

Size Matters was based on my journal that I kept for those 18 months and also the programme that I designed to help me lose the weight. I went on to share that programme with over 2000 clients over the last 18 years, and have seen the results in others, as they lost the substantial amounts of weight.

The reality is that you can have some of the foods we all enjoy such as ice-cream, chocolate and Danish pastries. But it cannot be every day and for every meal. They have gone from being weekly treats to daily staples and that is one of the key elements in the rise in obesity levels.

The other element is that our activity levels have dropped from childhood to middle-age.  We used to walk to school, play for a couple of hours each day in the street or garden, play games at school three times a week and spend hours out in the sunshine and fresh air.  The amount of PE offered in school continues to fall and is now under two hours per week. Children are also easier to protect when they are behind a computer or in front of a television.

Families were lucky to have one car in the family, now there are usually two. Instead of walking to the shops every day for fresh produce we go in the car once or twice a week. Or we order online and bulk out the order with extras to reach the £50 needed for a free delivery. We take advantage of the buy two get one free and we abide by the use by dates throwing away food, buying more and eating it all before it goes off.

We are eating more food each day than ever before without any thought of how many calories we need daily or how much we are consuming. Little realising that one Danish pastry would require a six mile walk to work off.

Food is wonderful and I certainly do not deprive myself but something always pulls me back from too much indulgence. The memory of how I felt when I weighed 150 kilos could not climb stairs, take a bath, go on an airplane or was told that I would be dead by the age of 45 from a combination of lifestyle related diseases.

We are the ones who decide what we put in our mouths and we should not hand that responsibility over to the marketing department of a food company whose only interest is getting you to consume more food.

Size Matters and Sally Cronin’s other books are available through Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2/

Further reviews: Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Blog: Blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com

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MEET REBECCA BRYN

When I read the blurb Rebecca sent me for for her guest blog I was fascinated to learn she has a historical relative who was transported to Australia. Now that’s impressive it’s no wonder she can write good books – I should know I’ve read three of them and plan to read the rest. They’re all inspired by true tales of the past or modern day scenarios and her books cover a wide range of different topics and genres. There is something for everyone here. So, who is Rebecca Bryn?

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Someone recently asked me to describe myself in five words. The first five that popped into my head were lazy, driven, artistic, silent and old. As a child, I lived very much inside my own head, telling stories to imaginary listeners as I tramped the countryside with my cocker spaniel, so spoken words were rare from me, and I’m still not a chatty person. How can I be lazy and driven? It sounds like a contradiction. I procrastinate endlessly over housework: you can admire the dust in my house but don’t write in it. My mother would be ashamed of me.

I’m happiest when I have a project, be it painting the glorious Pembrokeshire coast of home, or creating characters who take me to the ends of the earth and break my heart. The necessity to create, maybe I should have used the word creative rather than artistic, is what drives me incessantly: I’m lazy where it comes to the myriad of daily chores, but never idle.

In my writing, I haven’t shied from things that have hurt me, the screw-ups I’ve made, or the regrets that haunt me: rather, I have embraced them for they’ve made me who I am and allowed me to write stories dragged kicking and screaming from the murky depths of my imperfect being.

Old, I can do nothing about: it crept up unnoticed while I was reading life’s small print and wondering if I could send myself back for a refund. No can do, apparently.

Do my novels have themes in common? Forgiveness and unbreakable love, for to forgive is divine, and true love never ends: it merely accompanies us on the paths along which life leads us.

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My novels:

http://mybook.to/SilenceoftheStones

A mystery/psychological thriller. Alana, a young artist, is left a cottage in West Wales by an aunt she didn’t know existed. She finds herself in the midst of a conspiracy of silence over two children who went missing thirty years before. Someone is out for revenge and threatens everyone Alana holds dear.  Inspired by the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, and the release from prison of Angela Canning after the evidence regarding ‘cot-death syndrome’ was found unreliable.

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http://mybook.to/TouchingtheWire

Historical thriller set in Auschwitz and England. A Jewish nurse steps down from a cattle wagon into the heart of a young doctor. He attempts to save his patients from the gas chamber. 70 years later, his granddaughter uncovers his private past and seeks to keep his promise to his Jewish lover. Inspired by my sixth-form tutor, Professor Schaeler, who lost his family in the Holocaust.

where hope dares

http://getbook.at/WhereHopeDares

A dystopian thriller set in the High Atlas Mountains. A young healer is kidnapped to fulfil an ancient prophecy. Her storyteller husband sets out to bring her home, with only a head full of stories and an old friend who must choose between his friends’ lives or mankind’s immortal souls.

Inspired by the horrific way in which mankind is destroying this beautiful, fragile planet.

 

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http://mybook.to/OnDifferentShores (Book One of ‘For Their Country’s Good’)

Historical series set in England and Van Diemen’s Land. A young poacher, convicted of killing Lord Northampton’s gamekeeper, is transported for life, leaving behind the girl he loves. Penniless and pregnant, she determines to follow him at any cost.

Inspired by my great-great-great uncle who did kill said gamekeeper and was transported for life. Books Two and Three coming this summer.

www.amazon.com/dp/B071HX3K8W  http://mybook.to/OnCommonGround

And here are all the other contact links for Rebecca. (Can you remember the day when we all had one postal adress? Wasn’t life simple then?)

www.rebeccabrynandsarahstuart-novels.co.uk

www.facebook.com/rebecca.bryn.novels

www.facebook.com/TouchingtheWire

www.facebook.com/ForTheirCountrysGood

www.twitter.com/rebeccabryn1

www.independentauthornetwork.com/rebecca-bryn

On Different Shores the first book in the series will be free on 8th and 9th June, today and tomorrow so grab it while you can! I’m off to do just that.