DRAGONS AND DISASTER

THE TRAVEL STORY

Penang was a nice place, but it was almost impossible to see much. Not from the top of the bus, that was too scary, but because of all the people, you could hardly put a pin between them (well a little more artistic licence here as one of the photos will show).

Altogether we spent 5 hours on that bus and the heat was unbearable as it wended its way down to Butan Ferringhi. Most places were incredibly filthy, the food stalls grungy, the public loos a disgrace and we were bombarded with rap and other raucous music and horrendous traffic jams.

We’d become so used to the row outside, people, car horns and delightful screaming children that I was slow to realize the dragon dancing in a house across the road. So apologies for the blurred pictures, I missed most of it.

HISTORY NONSENSE

Now those of you who are really switched on will have noticed that I’ve hopped back in time a little to tell you more about Bertie. (I’m not too fussed about precision if you’re not). At this point I wish to remind you of my disclaimer as to the accuracy of these lessons and should you fail any exam by quoting from my blogs I take no responsibility whatsoever.

Now just when you were thinking that Bertie was an absolute cad (an old British word for scumbag) you should know that when Lily Langtree became pregnant, Mr Langtree went bankrupt and left her and she was forced to retire from society.

Lillielangtry1ACTRESS

She moved into a small apartment and was astounded when Bertie – (by now called Teddy by most of his friends), knocked on the door.

He proved himself loyal and helped her begin her acting career by introducing her to all the right people. They had ceased to be lovers, but the Prince remained a good friend. That’s not probably quite as his wife Alix saw it however.

 

THE EMBARRASSING PROMO BIT

uae-with-5-star-review-medal

I’ve not pushed my comedy book for a while and it’s worth a read, especially if you’re feeling a little depressed. I take you back in time to Fairyland, two hundred years on from that memorable ball, to tell you about Cinderella, now fat, blousy and very, very common. She’s had enough of King Charming and is planning on how to get a divorce. Add to this the elegant and prissie Snow White, married to King Harold who beds anything within reach, and Sleeping Beauty who is making up for lost time and terrorizing her wimpy husband King Augustus who can’t afford to feed the 28 children they’ve already produced. As if all that wasn’t bad enough enter the Green Giant who has been sent to cause a revolution among the happy peasants who are just that – happy.  http://amzn.to/2j26YUd

Till next week, take care.

OLD AND USELESS BOOKS

I was reading a book the other day – yes really, I do read, I’m a voracious reader, in bed, the smallest room, during meals if I can get away with it, while not watching the television, you get the picture. But I gave DH (Dear husband) quite a fright when I shrieked with joy the other day. I’d not only found a typo but noticed a plot hole in a book by a very, very famous household-name writer. Yes!! Even the best of us and their top five publishing companies are not perfect.

I still cringe when I think of the mistakes I made with my first book, I probably shot myself in the foot at the beginning of a possible career as an author (who am I kidding I’m long past career time, I’m supposed to be retired). You know the kind of mistakes. The CreateSpace cover taken from a bad photograph, my own personal editing, heck I’d been paid in the past to edit a national magazine so of course I could find mistakes in my own work couldn’t I? No. The print was too small, the paper the wrong colour and it was riddled with typos.

pic-of-book-copy

However in my rose-coloured cloud I didn’t notice any of these things and I promptly ordered 50 paperback copies. What I was going to do with them all I had no idea, but it felt good and I sat for days gazing fondly at the boxes jammed full of my masterpiece.

Then the axe fell. A kind writer friend pointed out a typo, another mentioned a split infinitive, a third casually dropped that adverbs were last year’s flavour and a total no no in modern literature. I raced to my laptop. Called up the manuscript, made the changes and uploaded again in both kindle and paperback. Panic over. Until, I noticed the 45 copies (by now I’d bullied a couple of friends in buying a few) and wondered what to do with them.

Should I give them away? Sell them cheaply? Shred them?

From being a delight to behold, they sat accusingly in their boxes in the spare room.

“We are defective,” they screamed at me every time I walked past. “We cost you a lot of money!” They whined as I tried to ignore them.

“What are you going to do with us?” They wanted to know.

Eventually, as the tally of errors piled up, the corrections made and a new cover, then another new cover and then another one graced the book I bit the bullet and destroyed the lot. Now I finally have this.

Featured Image -- 5978

But that was not the end. Just as I breathed a sigh of relief, I noticed that every other author had matching covers on their series. I looked at Amie books one and two and no they had completely different covers, nothing to tell you they belonged together. I adored the covers, they were brilliant, but they didn’t tell the story inside.

Another, bitter, learning curve.

So back to the drawing board and now they make a set –

but yes, you’ve guessed it, I have several copies of the old versions on the shelves.  Should I give them away? Sell them cheaply? Shred them?

You see if I inflict them on people as Christmas or birthday presents they may be less than impressed and not look for my other books. Most times I’ve grabbed the new version out of the back of the car when someone has asked if I have any handy to sell. (You don’t carry your books around with you all the time? No? What about the bookmarks and the business cards and the inscribed pens?) Personally people are probably horrified when I squeak “Yes, I have all of them. Which one would you like?” The someone was probably expecting the conversation to go –

“Sorry, I have a few at home though.”

“Oh, what a shame, maybe next time?”

“Yes of course.” It was Christmas 2014 when we last bumped into each other wasn’t it?

But oh no, I’m prepared, and I whip open the boot/trunk of the car. But then my hand hovers over the old covers, do I, do I not?

“I must order more Amie 1 paperbacks I mention casually to DH over breakfast.”

“Whatever for? You have a shelf full of them.”

“But those are the old covers, and could you just redo the ones that have awards now?”

He gives me that ‘look’.

So what do you do with early editions?

THE ADVERTISING BIT

I am thrilled to announce that the first book in the Amie series is now available in audio – so now there is no excuse for busy people not to read all about her adventures as you travel to work, go running, cook the evening meal and do the laundry etc. I believe it’s free if you sign up for audio books.

AMIE 1 AUDIO COVER

www.amazon.com/dp/B0725CYNYG

Till next week, take care.

MEET SARAH STUART

So I’m not the only author who is terrorised by the very character she created! And what do we get for this? Abuse, boasting, unreasonable demands and every inch of the spotlight with never a thank you to the very writers who created them. My advice to all authors reading this is to kill off your main character at the end of book one and show them who is boss!

Over to Sarah.SARAH STUART 4

I guess if you’ve met Michael from reading any of the Royal Command series you’ll know who really writes “Sarah Stuart’s” books. I plot: he does exactly as he likes, I sort his latest disaster. In Dangerous Liaisons, he gets his daughter, Lisette, pregnant. I, with the help of his wife, Lizzie, hide the birth and contrive a happy ending; it was supposed to be one book.

SARAH STUART 5

Oh no! The Diamond Superstar – he has grand ideas by now – points out Lisette might be in trouble, and shouldn’t we ask her? We do: in the sequel, Illicit Passion. She tells him she’s being blackmailed and tortured by her bodyguard, who suspects she did have Michael’s child and threatens to tell the paparazzi. I sort that and he ends up in a coma. I cried for days, until he recovered; he didn’t bother to tell me he would!

Is Michael satisfied? Huh! He demands Drama, with a capital D. His fraught scribe, Sarah, murders his wife. Is he happy? No. His son-in-law has vanished and the police suspect Michael, and very likely Lisette too, killed Lizzie.  I see a way out. THE END, of Dynasty of Deceit and the Royal Command trilogy. I have a book about Keely and Rik plotted.

SARAH STUART 3

“Who the heck are they, and a trilogy can become a series; I’m lonely.” Yes, Michael – I say that a lot – but you are now over sixty… “There’s Evie, the detective who helped in the search for Lizzie’s killer”, which is how “Sarah” comes to be writing Sweet Temptation.

There are times when I’m tempted to stick a knife in The Diamond Superstar; the next thing he’ll want is an affair with Julia to fill in his life before he met Lizzie, and Verity. The less said about Verity the better! Although, what’s a nymphomaniac, incest, twins who are lovers, and the odd murder, between friends?SARAH STUART 2

For friends, read fans. I have hundreds… “Quiet, Sarah. The word is millions, and they are my fans.” Oh, for a sprinkling of The Diamond Superstar’s charisma. Or maybe a few of his mythical millions… pounds… dollars; I’m not picky, and I could write about Keely and Rik. ONE book about Keely and Rik, understood? “We might need you to write a sequel.” I’ve been down that road before…

“Just write Sweet Temptation for me and I’ll love you forever.” Michael. Couldn’t some of you borrow him for a while? He’s free with Kindle Unlimited.

Buy links for the 3 published books.

viewbook.at/DangerousLiaisons       viewbook.at/ILLICITPASSION

viewBook.at/DynastyofDeceit

Amazon Author Page

https://www.amazon.com/Sarah-Stuart/e/B00MA9XLHI/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0 

Blurb – Dangerous Liaisons

Readers’ Favorite Romance/Sizzle Bronze Medal Winner

Lizzie falls in love with Michael and helps him become a showbiz superstar. Their eighteen-year-old daughter, talented actress Lisette, seduces Michael. Can Lizzie forgive them, outwit the paparazzi out to prove incest and the birth of a lovechild, save their careers and liberty, and her marriage?

Sweeping from a shooting estate in the Western Highlands of Scotland to London’s West End and the production of two musicals, this novel contains authentic fictional insider stories of two very different contemporary worlds.

The thread running through the Royal Command books is a secret diary first owned by Margaret Tudor, James IV of Scotland’s queen, which has been passed down an illegitimate female line for almost five centuries. It contains these words: I direct and beseech my heirs to find love where they may; a dangerous command that sounds so very innocent.

Blurb – Illicit Passion

READERS’ FAVORITE ROMANCE/SIZZLE FINALIST
Broadway singer and actress, Lisette Marsh, flees to Paris and joins her father, The Diamond Superstar, for a European concert tour. Michael discovers she is being blackmailed into perverted sex with threats to reveal that she had his baby eighteen years before. He gambles his career, his marriage, and his liberty, to discredit the paparazzi-fuelled scandal. Their lovechild, Harriet, discovers the truth about her about her parentage and vanishes. The man behind the blackmail sends ransom demands, so did Harriet leave her London home of her own freewill or was she kidnapped? “$6,000,000 or you get her body, darling.” Can Michael’s audacious plan to defeat the blackmailer work, or must Lisette return to the man she fears to save the whole family from imprisonment and financial ruin?

Blurb – Dynasty of Deceit

“Screams cut the clear air.” The Diamond Superstar, Michael Marsh, turns from signing autographs to see his beloved wife, Lizzie, lying dead on the snow: a skier in black is spotted speeding away towards the Matterhorn. Lisette leaves her husband, Brian, and rushes to her grieving father’s side, rekindling media suspicions of an incestuous relationship.

Jealous, and driven by guilty secrets of his own, Brian abandons Lisette, who is pregnant with his son. For the sake of Lizzie’s youngest daughter, Greta, he is determined to find the killer and mete out justice. The Swiss police ask the London force for help and the detective chief inspector assigned to the case is hostile, influenced by paparazzi stories that Lisette, Michael, or both, wanted Lizzie dead.

Who stabbed the woman everybody loved, and why? How can twins, secret lovers Harriet and Kit, help Greta, and will the way they choose bring the showbiz family empire crashing to the ground? Can rejected, deserted, Lisette keep her solemn promise to Lizzie to pass on Margaret Tudor’s Book of Hours with its Royal Command, “find love where ye may” to a daughter conceived in love?

I love these books and I’m sure you will too.

 

 

 

ALMOST THE END OF BIG TRIP GUIDED TOUR – ON AND ON WITH VICTORIA

There was one more temple complex to visit, Wat Yai Chai Mongkol (don’t worry I can’t pronounce these names properly either). This was acres and acres of ruins stretching almost as far as the eye can see.

THE PROMO BIT (only because I’m told ‘it’s the right thing to do’)

Just in case you’ve not come across my Amie series – she’s the young housewife I take out of England and dump in Africa and then civil war breaks out. She has a terrible time and then the saga continues in books 2 & 3. I am currently writing book 4, it’s a wonder she’s survived this long. 🙂  This is the link for book 1. http://amzn.to/2ieb5zo

And to be extra helpful, this is what they look like. Thanks to Daz Smith for the covers and to Gabi Plumm for making them readable 🙂

THE HISTORY RUBBISH

You must have heard by now that Victoria was soppy over Albert, so soppy that she wanted to name all their children either Albert or Albertina until it was pointed out to her that they would get all their banks accounts and post and credit cards muddled up if they all had the same name.

A good example was the day Victoria turned 25, (she had already been on the throne for 7 years) and she received a portrait of himself from Albert with a group of angels in the background, and she was quite thrilled. (The day DH gives me something like that he’s out the door!)

TRY TO IMAGINE THE NAUSEOUS PICTURE HERE

Victoria was jealous of any time Albert spent with the children. Albert, or Bertie the eldest boy, wasn’t making much progress and the royal couple noticed with horror that he was everything his father was not, – charming, easy with the opposite sex and eloquent with a gay, (no, not that sort of gay) sunny nature. As they saw it, he was well on the road to ruin.

BERTIE SAILOR OUTFIT

 

But his greatest sin was one his mother could never forgive him for – next week, or maybe the week after if I change my mind.

THE BIG TRIP AND THAT WOMAN – AGAIN!

Well last week’s blog raised a lot of interest and a warm, fuzzy feeling among a lot of writers. I can only say I feel very privileged to be connected to so many clever and creative writers and readers across the world. And, in case you were wondering, it was written to make you laugh about the dreaded marketing monster we all face.  However, this week I’m back on the Big Trip, and a bit more about that dreadful woman (apologies to all royals).

TRAVEL BIT

Now, since writing about the Big trip I’ve been following several other travel blogs and I am so impressed with the meticulous note taking and careful recording. I did keep a small diary, and I do have the itinerary, but it was a year ago now and it’s all getting a big fuzzy (mind I have trouble remembering what I did yesterday!).  In the past I’ve written detailed information, but I missed a lot as I scribbled away – similar to the old days when we travelled and I had my head stuck in a map and saw nothing! Give the guy who invented the GPS a Nobel prize, he deserves it.

We spent several hours at the Bang-Pa Summer Palace and I wanted to share these pictures of this structure in the complex which was all in red.

I was constantly asking the guide questions, but I’m afraid I didn’t get much info from him as to why this building was so different from the others.

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ADVERTISING BIT

If you would like to receive my monthly newsletter just click on this link, books, interviews, back stories, special offers and more. http://eepurl.com/cBu4Sf  amie-back-story-v2-1

 

 

HISTORICAL BIT

Yet again I have to bow my head in shame at the erudite, fascinating well-researched historical articles I read. They are full of interesting facts and information. Well you won’t get any of that here. If you believe a word of any of this, I would be amazed.

Now you may not agree with me that Victoria was a pain in the **** but of course she was there for a very long time, up there on the throne I mean and lots of things happened in the 63 years. She was kept busy a lot of the time being pregnant and having all nine of her children, so Albert and she must have ‘done it’ nine times! In 1853 she had her eighth child Leopold using chloroform to help with the pain. Members of the (all male) clergy were not pleased, they said it was against Biblical teaching, they even said that when having a baby a woman was supposed to suffer. Oh yes? How many of them had had babies? Let them try it just once, with or without chloroform!

VIC FAMILY 1846

Now because so many of the royals had led debauched lives in the past, Victoria wanted to be an example to all the poor, ignorant people who were not kings or queens and show them all how to behave. That’s why she made her family pose for pictures like this. How they kept the children still that long for the painter I’ll never know. Good old Victorian discipline I guess.

PS  I am planning on blogging a second time each week featuring writers and their books. If you would like to be included, just drop me an email, or pm me on my Facebook page.

 

 

 

PLEASE DON’T BE MY FRIEND

The other day I posted the following on my Facebook Timeline.

Dear Prospective Face Book Friend, I do understand that you may be looking for pen pals and maybe even a romantic connection, especially if you are posted abroad in a war zone. However, despite this being a public page, I use it to chat to my reader and writer friends and exchange hints, reviews, and other marketing information. So it’s probably not the kind of page you are looking for – besides, I’m a happily married grandmother, who’s rapidly losing the wrinkle war. I hate to decline friends, so I hope you’ll understand and not make a friend request.

Yes, I know I come across as hard, overbearing and pretty unpleasant, but I’m really a softie inside and I don’t like to refuse a friendship, my page is public after all. The problem is, I don’t like to be rude or offend, but then (like many of us) I get bombarded with virtual roses and bottles of drink and even more flowery comments.

I was also hoping my post would deter the ones from humans who, deep down, may not be genuinely interested in me and my books. For example I had one who asked me what I was wearing. Ah, I thought, s/he was curious about writers and their habits, so I told it (with a name like Alex it wasn’t easy to tell). I’m sitting here I wrote in my usual creative gear, IMG_0726my fluffy red and white pyjamas liberally adorned with red reindeer and Xmas trees (I bought them around Christmas time) under my red furry dressing gown with the rabbit on the pocket, a pair of free airline socks and my favourite reindeer slippers. (They may be mooses, I’m not quite sure).

I was then treated to a picture of my new friend. S/he wasn’t wearing very much at all and what s/he was wearing defied comprehension.  DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!

So with the very best intentions, I hoped my post would not subject me to such heart-stopping shocks, (it’s not good to call the paramedics in too often), this post will do the trick I thought.

Sure enough a few minutes later I got a friend request from a dear little granny living in France. She looked so cute and cuddly, grey wavy hair, delightful smile, pretty dress. Great, I thought another fan friend who has heard about my brilliant books and can’t wait to read them, she might even buy one, or two, or three, or four. I cheerfully pressed accept and said how happy I was to connect with her.

In just a couple of minutes she private messaged me, telling me how thrilled she was to be my friend. She lives in France, and she was dying of cancer. How sad I thought, my fingers were poised to send her virtual hugs, hearts and kisses.  She was a widow previously married to an English entrepreneur, (I hadn’t noticed at this point she had a German surname) and he had been killed in a car crash with their only daughter. I reached for my hanky

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and upped my mental reply to include a bunch of virtual roses (I was trying to decide if a bottle of plonk would be suitable as well in this instance). She continued by telling me she had 10.5 million Euro in the bank and if I promised to donate it to various charities….I could keep 20% for myself.

I groaned. Yes, it’s what we called in South Africa a 411 letter – they want your name, bank account number, the date you stopped being breast fed, your inside leg measurement and all your pin numbers.

What a disappointment. Off I go to Facebook to do the blocking and reporting thing – DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!  But FB do send you a nice apology don’t they – saying they’re sorry you’ve been subjected to this.

They can’t still be catching people out with this scam surely? Did s/he think I was born yesterday? Well maybe looking at my avatar…?

Now the big question of course is, she’s given me her private email address, so do you think I can add it to my Mailchimp list so she’ll get my monthly newsletter? I’m a bit worried she might unsubscribe.

You can subscribe if you like http://eepurl.com/cBu4Sf

SUMMER PALACE AYUTTHAYA THAILAND

I thought the summer palace was beautiful. Not imposing in the style of Versailles, or Buckingham Palace, much simpler. I could imagine a royal family here living more down to earth lives with only a small retinue.

We are allowed inside, but no photographs permitted, except in this small structure on the water – how I would have loved to have that as a writing area.

VICTORIAN ENGLAND

A little about this age as Victoria’s reign was such a long one, and there were major changes in Britain. For example, another interesting thing to happen during her time was the invention of the spinning jenny, otherwise known as the low paid female factory worker.

spinning-jenny

Unfair laws in Britain at that time said it was forbidden to chain workers to their benches…

nike-factories

.. but with big profits in mind, the colonials of that time exported the idea and set up the Nike factories in the far east using child labour at slave rates.

Next week a little about the 9 children who survived Victoria – just.