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.

CeeCee pic

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.

 

 

Cee books

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.

WIN ALMOST 100 BOOKS

An extra blog this week to let you know that I am part of a competition to win 99 new e-books.  My first memoir Walking over Eggshells is in there if you peer closely enough. summer-book-giveaway-bundle-july.jpg

There are thrillers, romance and humour, sci-fi, fantasy and paramormal.

The competition is open until 15th August and to enter you need to click this link.

http://bookhub.online/book-giveaways/super-summer-reads-giveaway

Good luck!

 

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.

SANDRINGHAM 2

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.

GrahamHigson (2)

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.

LittleScrew_NL1-6X9-Hardcover-Book-Ereader-COVERVAULT

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.

THE BEST LAID PLANS

I try, I really do (though DH says I’m very trying, but I’ll ignore that). I had worked out a whole marketing plan in the shower (where else), scribbling it on the tiles in shower gel and shampoo. This time it was going to work. I even put it down on paper, still naked and dripping wet (not a pretty sight at my age). I went the extra mile and timetabled it all.

It went something like this.

While building my email list, I would write a book to give away for free – and those of you who know me, also know that I HATE FREE!!! It was sheer agony to give Amie Book 1 – all of 128,000 words – away for nothing if it wasn’t being toted by Bookbub, and they only took it once. I’m still waiting for Steven Speilberg to come knocking on the door. I had floating images of Angelina Jolie or similar slogging through the hot, parched African landscape minus food and water, fleeing the civil war … but I digress.

What could I write about? Ah, yes the riding school I had in Botswana. It would be a short novella, split into two. The first part I’d blast all over social media and then (here’s the sneaky bit) I’d offer part 2 also free only to those who signed up to my newsletter mailing list. Clever eh?

So I scribbled the first 8,000 words, DH found a suitable pic and up it went on the Big A’s site. Now they won’t take free books, so it had to go on at 0.99 – no problem I thought all the other sites would take it for free and I’ll ask lots of people to squeal on me and bingo, I was ready to roll.

The blurb for this is: Who would be stupid enough to open and run a riding school when they are terrified of horses, can’t ride, without insurance or capital, and with not the faintest idea of how to care for horses. Add to that, two of the four horses are not fit for the knacker’s yard. Yes, that’s exactly what I did – like so many of my adventures I ‘fell’ into this one as well with hilarious results.  

Hopefully I’ll get it free soon and you won’t have to pay for it (unless … see below)

Amie Back Story v2.1

Not only that, but every month in my newsletter, I offer another chapter in my back stories for characters in the Amie series. Ben is undergoing the traditional tribal rites into manhood (circumcision with all that entails) and Sam – Amie’s sister – is venturing on her first holiday abroad with horrendous results.

I even pushed back the publication date for Amie book 4 until September to allow myself 5 minutes of sleep a night.  By this time I’m hoping to have my street team in place, given all my beta readers plenty of time to tear it to shreds and me to piece it all back together again and have a quick nervous breakdown.

But then of course the wheels came off – they would, wouldn’t they?

Firstly, after a week, the Big A is still offering Worst Riding School at 0.99 and I cringe every time someone downloads it, it’s even got a review!! I feel so guilty asking all that money for such a short half novella. I’ve reported it so many times as have kind friends but to no avail.

Now the month end is approaching when I send out my newsletter and I can only send readers to Bookfunnel to get it for free – which means converting it to all formats and paying for each download. Sigh! More time – result, only 4 and a half minutes sleep a night.

Ah, did you guess I was going to ask you to sign up for the newsletter?  I have more people following my blog than the newsletter and I’m too shy to show my face often in the newsletter swap groups, they are all sitting with thousands of subscribers while mine never seem to climb. (Let’s have a big sigh for Lucinda here). It features other authors, competitions and the usual rubbish from me.

Just in case I’ve persuaded you this is the link

http://eepurl.com/cBu4Sf

and if I could find the font size button here on WordPress I’d make it really, really large – seems they will only allow me to italicize or colour it 😦

Have a great week and I’ll be back next Monday with more travels, history nonsense and work in progress. Take care.

The very Worst Riding School in the World by Lucinda E Clarke

This was such a surprise from a very supportive lady – a huge thank you 🙂

T. R. Robinson Publications

Worst Riding School - 2

Anyone who has read or followed (blog and social media) this author will be well acquainted with her excellent writing style and sense of humour. This introductory memoir is no exception.

The synopsis sets out the background:

Who would be stupid enough to open and run a riding school when they are terrified of horses, can’t ride, without insurance or capital, and with not the faintest idea of how to care for horses. Add to that, two of the four horses are not fit for the knacker’s yard. Yes, that’s exactly what I did – like so many of my adventures I ‘fell’ into this one as well with hilarious results.

Describing the family background and her own lack of knowledge and experience Lucinda Clarke draws out the funny and serious sides of this escapade. Her sense of humour and self-depreciation are constantly in evidence as…

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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.