GUEST POST JACQUI MURRAY

My guest this week is running a blog tour for the launch of her new book. (I’ve still to work out how these operate, but more than happy to post about a book that looks like a great read).

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Author bio:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for  NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Book 2 in the Dawn of Humanity trilogy, Winter 2021.

Her new release is the third in her prehistoric series.  Xhosa’s extraordinary prehistoric saga concludes, filled with hardship, courage, survival, and family.

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A million years of evolution made Xhosa tough but was it enough? She and her People finally reach their destination—a glorious land of tall grasses, few predators, and an abundance that seems limitless, but an enemy greater than any they have met so far threatens to end their dreams. If Xhosa can’t stop this one, she and her People must again flee.

 The Crossroads trilogy is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated most of Eurasia. He was a violent species, fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened his survival except for one: future man, a smarter version of himself, one destined to obliterate all those who came before.

 From prehistoric fiction author Jacqui Murray comes the unforgettable saga of a courageous woman who questions assumptions, searches for truth, and does what she must despite daunting opposition. Read the final chapter of her search for freedom, safety, and a new home.

 A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!

Click on the link to view an amazing video for the book.

(https://youtu.be/l5bpxvZDoSY)

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Title and author: Against All Odds

Series: Book 3 in the Crossroads series

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Available digitally (print soon) at: Kindle US   Kindle UK   Kindle CA   Kindle AU

JACQUI MURRAY MAP

These are all the places where you can link up with Jacqui, and learn more about this great series. I can’t wait to read them, but I shall start with book 1.

Amazon Author Page:        https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/

Blog:                                https://worddreams.wordpress.com

Instagram:                     https://www.instagram.com/jacquimurraywriter/

LinkedIn:                        http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

Pinterest:                        http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

Twitter:                          http://twitter.com/worddreams

Website:                         https://jacquimurray.net

And for a taste of the new book, read on:-

Chapter 1

 The foothills of the Pyrenees

They came out of the mountains, hair frozen in sparkling strands, hands and feet wrapped in shredded pelts, ribs etched against their skin under ragged hides white with snow, faces haggard with fatigue. Blood crusted scrapes and gashes, many recent, others almost healed, reminders of the violent struggles endured on their journey.

Though their steps flagged, not one of these upright creatures exhibited a hint of defeat. All males and a few females carried at least one spear, some two, many with warclubs strapped to their backs. Despite the anxiety and fear of entering this foreign land, hope energized them today, that their migration might be at an end.

All of them—Xhosa and her tribe, Pan-do and his, Wind, Zvi, and Seeker—had been chased from their homes by enemies. In their flight, they found each other. It took time to work through their differences but now they traveled side by side, respected ideas not theirs, and called themselves the People.

Their charismatic Leaders—Xhosa, Wind, and Pan-do—were known as reliable friends to those who earned their trust and dangerous enemies to those who opposed them. Two wolves—Spirit and Black Wolf—journeyed with them. Though the People lacked the animals’ sharp claws, dense fur, and piercing teeth, each considered the other “pack” and would defend them to death.

The exhausted group straggled down the gently sloping flank, feet shuffling carefully over the slippery scree. The ground changed from talus to stunted tufts of grass, sparse and brown which made walking easier. Optimism shone from their faces even as their tired eyes flicked side to side in search of unexpected movement, ears strained for out-of-place noises, and noses sniffed.

 

Rather than continue across the meadow, Xhosa led the People into the shade of the edging forest.

“Do you smell it, Wind?” Anticipation filled her gestures.

She and Wind, pairmates as well as Co-Leaders, stood quietly, absorbing their surroundings. Light filtered lazily through the canopy, the shadowed ground dappled with patches of warmth. She sniffed in the essence of wet earth and rotting leaves, the mustiness of moss, and something else much more enticing.

“It’s there.” She pointed and strode forward, lengthening her stride.

An icy gust whipped down the hillside through the shadows and raised bumps on her arms but she ignored it. The forest gave way to open sky and searing heat. It was too hot for her thin pelt but she didn’t stop to remove it. Green stalks swayed as far as she could see, edged on one side by more mountains and the other by some sort of leaves and branches. Sunlight glinted off the rippled surface of a distant river as it curled over the terrain.

“Dung!” The scent overpowered every other odor.

Wind huffed to her side. “It’s been a long time since we smelled dung that wasn’t frozen.”

“We did it, Wind.” Her eyes glistened with relief.

For most of a Moon, dread gnawed at her courage and left her wondering if following the guidance of Seeker—a boy barely a man—was a mistake. But Seeker assured her in his ebullient way that once out of the hills, their new homebase would welcome them. Xhosa wanted to believe him because she wasn’t sure what else to do. Nor did she know what to do if it didn’t work.

Wind motioned, arms inclusive, “It’s beautiful, Xhosa.”

Siri, Pan-do, Ngili, the wolves Spirit and Black Wolf, and the rest of the People gathered around Xhosa and Wind, eyes locked on what lay in front of them.

Pan-do whispered, “We made it.” His eyes were moist, mouth open.

Ngili, the People’s Lead Hunter, motioned, hands close to his body. “With all this grass, Gazelle or Mammoth must be nearby.”

Dust, the Lead Scout, trotted up, coming from a tall cliff far ahead on their forward path. “I think there are caves there.”

The People hadn’t slept in a cave since leaving Viper and the Mountain Dwellers. It would be a treat if true.

Xhosa looked behind. Shadows already stretched as far from the bottom of the rocky slopes as sunlight to the top. Daylight would soon end.

“We don’t have much time. Let’s rest and then see if those are caves.”

Ngili, the People’s Lead Hunter, motioned, fingers spaced out, palms up, “I’ll go with Dust to check.” He added a swift spread-fingered swipe with first one hand and then the other, followed by a quick bob of his head and a puff.

Xhosa brushed both hands down her sides. Go.

The People spoke with a complex combination of hand motions, facial expressions, body movements, and sounds augmented with chirrups, snaps, hisses, and whistles. By the time Ngili finished talking, Xhosa knew how many would join him, where they would go, and how long they’d be away. The People’s communication was sophisticated but quiet, a precaution especially in unfamiliar areas. Unusual sounds—voices, for example—stood out. All animals made noises but few as varied as the People’s. Why alert Others who lived here to their presence? Xhosa would do that in her own time, in her own way.

Dust, Ngili, and two scouts soon receded into the landscape, the only evidence of their passage a slight disturbance in the slender waving stalks. Despite the dung scents, the abundant plant food, and the glisten of a faraway river, Xhosa crossed her arms over her chest and paced.

Something is wrong.

She searched the forests and the rippling field that had swallowed up Dust and Ngili . Xhosa possessed the ability to see great distances in sufficient detail to find trails, footprints, movement, or the glitter of sun off eyes.

She saw none of those and that made her more uncomfortable.

With this wealth of food and water, Others should be here.

Wind motioned, palms flattened against his chest, “The mountains we crossed touched Sun. They’re cold and barren. Few can do what we did to get here, Xhosa. We are safe.”

Xhosa could hear in his voice, see in his gestures, that despite his bravado, Wind too felt uneasy about what they didn’t see and hear.

But she grinned. “I don’t know how I survived without someone being able to read my thoughts.”

She trotted over to a stream that fed into the river she had noticed. She stretched out on her belly, flat on the soft grass at the water’s edge, and took a long, satisfying drink of the sweet liquid. Thirst quenched, she collected handfuls of the tender shoots of new plants growing along the shore, ate what she wanted and tossed the rest into a communal food pile that would be shared with all the People. It was already filling up with fat fish speared from the slow-moving pools beside the river, tasty reeds and cattails, and even a handful of eggs plucked from nests not hidden well enough along the shore and in the roots of trees. The wolves snapped birds from the air and swallowed them almost whole, coughing up feathers.

Xhosa leaned back on her hands, sniffing the unique fragrance of each groupmember. Zvi was sweaty from wrestling with Spirit. Siri smelled sourly of hunger but she wouldn’t eat until Honey’s bleeding foot was wrapped in mulch and leaves. The females with new babies exuded the pleasant aroma of milk. Some scents jumbled together making them impossible to identify. When Xhosa became Leader of the People, before it merged with Pan-do’s and Hawk’s, the People had been small enough that she could recognize everyone by their odor. Now, she kept track of her tribe while Pan-do did the same with his. Wind helped everyone.

Done eating, the People sprawled on the warm ground, soaking up Sun’s remaining rays, chatting contentedly with gestures and the occasional sigh. Water dripped from their thawing bodies, soaking into the thirsty ground, as the remaining ice and snow on their pelts and in their hair melted away.

Xhosa and Wind sat apart from the others, on a log long ago softened by rot. She uprooted handfuls of grass and wiped the sweat from Wind’s body, as he did hers. The soft scratch felt good and the earthy fragrance reminded her of times long gone. When he finished, she harvested chunks of green moss from the log’s decaying bark and stuffed them into her neck sack. All the People wore one of these around their necks. Even the wolves did when they were migrating.

Finished, she leaned against Wind and closed her eyes. In a group of Others, her pairmate stood out. A Big Head, the People’s traditional enemy, the ones who drove Xhosa and her tribe from their long-established home, Wind had earned Xhosa’s trust by saving her life more than once and then, as a member of her People, sharing Big Head spear tricks and warrior skills with her Leads. Before long, each of them individually told her that thanks to Wind they could now defeat an attack which they couldn’t have done in the past. Whatever distrust her People harbored toward him faded away.

“Xhosa!” Dust panted up to her. “I found a cave. And we found trace of a herd. Ngili is tracking it.”

By the time Sun settled into its night nest, the People were ensconced in the cave Dust found. They had to squeeze together to fit but all were thrilled to sleep without waking to frozen toes and numb fingers. Stone and Zvi—the burliest of the People—lugged rocks in and Siri built a fire that quickly warmed the interior. The subadults gathered kindling to feed it and arranged who would be responsible throughout the night for keeping it lit.

Usually, the wolves slept scattered among the People but with Black Wolf close to delivering her pups, she dug out an opening in the back and claimed it as her den. Then she settled to her belly, one leg forward, the other bent back, eyebrows twitching.

Xhosa strode toward the nest she would share with Wind but stopped at the sight of Seeker, weight on his bottom, legs crossed in front of his body in the uncomfortable position he preferred. His pairmate Lyta curled next to him with their best friend, Zvi.

Xhosa approached Seeker. “You are not outside.”

Every night as long as Xhosa could remember, the enigmatic male lay on his back, gaze fixed steadily on the star-dotted sky, spouting what to Xhosa sounded like gibberish to whoever listened. Intermittently, he leapt to his feet and spun dizzying circles or bounced from one foot to the other, huffing and chirping. Lyta and Zvi would either join him or watch. He once explained to Xhosa that this was how he studied the changes in the night sky—the appearance and disappearance of particular stars or their movement in relation to each other—so he could guide the People accurately. This nightly process was how they had moved from the distant start of Endless Pond to this cave where Endless Pond seemed to end.

He didn’t respond to her statement, didn’t even acknowledge her. That worried Xhosa. She hadn’t been able to shake the feeling that danger lurked around them, somewhere. Seeker’s anxious look didn’t help.

She squatted at his side and added a question to her declaration. “The stars aren’t talking to you?”

To the side, Lyta wriggled, not comfortable in the seated position Seeker preferred but determined to try because Seeker liked it so much. Zvi crouched on the balls of her feet, the more traditional pose. She’d tried to sit on her bottom, legs crossed in front, but kept falling backward. Besides, it took her too long to rise from that position which meant if Lyta needed help, she couldn’t respond quickly. Squatting, for her, made more sense. Seeker didn’t care. He expected all to do what worked for them. Both his best friend and his future pairmate were long accustomed to his eccentricities.

Finally, Seeker offered Xhosa only a confused frown.

That’s not a “Yes they are,” and that raised the hair on her neck. Before she could ask more, Ngili scrambled through the thistle barrier the youngsters had placed around the cave’s mouth to prevent the entrance of intruders and hurried toward Xhosa.

He motioned, “I lost the herd’s trace in the dark. I’ll try again tomorrow,” and then raced toward where the hunters had gathered. They were all tired. Some would mate before sleeping but not Ngili. He hadn’t given up hope that his pairmate, Hecate, would come back.

After a final glance at Seeker, Xhosa joined Wind in their nest. She squatted behind him and teased the dirt and debris from his long head hair, occasionally focusing on a difficult tangle until her fingers could move easily through his hair. When she finished, he did the same for her.

As he groomed, he said, “I’ll join Ngili tomorrow. If there are herds, we will find them.”

“Pan-do and I will continue with the People.”

They said nothing more, both enjoying the calming feel of nails scratching on their skin and the intimacy of someone they trusted implicitly. Done, both fell asleep.

The first rays of daylight filtered into the cave. Black Wolf was already outside, padding back and forth restlessly, huffing uncomfortably. Wind left with Ngili and a handful of scouts, knowing Xhosa would leave a trail to wherever they settled when Sun’s light ran out. Though Spirit usually went with the hunters, today he stayed with Black Wolf.

Xhosa and Pan-do led. Dust copied their pace and direction but a distance away. With Ngili and Wind searching for meat, Xhosa focused on finding a cave large enough for the People. They strode onward, gaze sweeping the landscape, everyone grazing on berries, roots, and worms as they walked. Sporadically, Xhosa heard a faraway squawk or glimpsed a covey of birds as they exploded into flight, fleeing an unknown threat. It was the direction Ngili and Wind had gone, and told her how far they’d gotten.

The People rested by a waterhole. They searched its shoreline for prints but found none. Wherever the herds lived, they didn’t drink here so the People moved on, through copses of young saplings and around a bed of haphazardly-strewn boulders. The air tasted of flowers, warm earth, and the mild tang of salt, but the dung they found was hard and old.

Xhosa touched Pan-do’s hand and both stopped, eyes forward. “Do you smell that? It reminds me of Endless Pond.”

He pointed to his strong side and the direction they were walking. “From there and there. How can it be on two sides?”

Xhosa tingled. One of her People—Rainbow—had abandoned them long ago, taking many males and females with him. Others she and her People ran into while migrating here told her Rainbow traveled the same route she did but along the opposite shore of Endless Pond. For him, as for her, this was as far as he could go without folding back on himself.

If they got this far. If any survived.

She pushed aside those thoughts. Before searching for whatever remnants remained of Rainbow’s group, the People must find a homebase. All they suffered to get here—the interminable walking, the loss of Hawk, the death of groupmembers, Nightshade’s treachery—was for naught if they didn’t establish a home.

Spirit bumped her leg. Black Wolf panted at her mate’s side, her belly almost touching the ground.

Xhosa motioned, “Your mate’s pups won’t wait much longer. We will find a den for her.”

Spirit took off, his movements graceful and fluid with Black Wolf lumbering after him.

Not much later, Pan-do squinted ahead. “I think Spirit found a cave.”

Xhosa leaned forward, narrowing her gaze, and finally saw where Spirit stopped. He sat on his haunches at the base of a cliff, facing her, nose twitching, tail swishing the dirt behind him.

It took the rest of the day to cross over the craggy scrubland, up and down the deep ravines, and around the occasional spot of slippery ice. The cave proved too small for the People but not for Black Wolf’s needs. With much scuffling and panting, she created a nest for her pups and disappeared into the cool dark hole. The People settled outside, under an overhang that would protect them from rain and predators, and far enough away to not bother the new mother. As soon as Ngili and Wind arrived, shaking their heads that they hadn’t found a herd, they left again to search for signs of a trail left by former inhabitants of this cave.

Xhosa’s chest squeezed and her stomach knotted. Spirit padded up to her side, hackles puffed, nostrils flaring. He agreed. Something about this area made her tingle but for now, until Black Wolf finished, they must stay.

Thank you Jacqui for being my guest this week.  And, for introducing us to a new genre, one that many of us seldom meet.  Hope your book launch is a great success.

 

 

GUEST POST DAMYANTI BISWAS

I have no idea where I found Damyanti’s book, only that I was visiting Delhi at the time, which is the setting for her novel “You Beneath Your Skin.”  Every moment we were not sightseeing I dived back in, observing the sights and sounds of the city which were so beautifully and honestly portrayed in her book.  I was so impressed that I emailed her to tell her how much I’d loved the story. So, I am really thrilled to welcome her as my guest this week.

Dimyanti

Damyanti Biswas lives in Singapore, and supports Delhi’s underprivileged women and children, volunteering with organisations who work for this cause. Her short stories have been published in magazines in the US, UK, and Asia, and she helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine. You can find her on her blog.

She also sends out monthly newsletters with book recommendations and writing resources, which you can grab here.

ABOUT THE NOVEL: YOU BENEATH YOUR SKIN.

PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster IN

Promotion: Free on Amazon Kindle in all markets from the 7th -11 th August

Optioned for TV screens by Endemol Shine.

You Beneath Your Skin is a crime novel about the investigation of an acid attack on a woman from Delhi’s upper class, set against the backdrop of crimes against underprivileged women. They are assaulted, disfigured with acid, and murdered.

It is a  whodunit, but also a whydunit, because violent crime unravels those affected: the people, the relationships, the very fabric of society, and we get a glimpse of what lies beneath. That’s why the title, You Beneath Your Skin.

All the author proceeds from You Beneath Your Skin will support the education and empowerment of women at Project WHY and Stop Acid Attacks.

You Beneath Your Skin has been optioned for TV screens by Endemol Shine, as announced by Hollywood Deadline.

Lies. Ambition. Family. 

It’s a dark, smog-choked New  Delhi winter. Indian American single mother Anjali Morgan juggles her job as a psychiatrist with caring for her autistic teenage son. She is  in a long-standing affair with ambitious Police Commissioner Jatin Bhatt  – an irresistible attraction that could destroy both their lives.

Jatin’s home life is falling apart: his handsome and charming son is not all he appears to be, and his wife has too much on her plate to pay attention to either husband or son. But Jatin refuses to listen to anyone, not even the sister to whom he is deeply attached.

Across the city there is a crime spree: slum women found stuffed in trash bags,  faces and bodies disfigured by acid. And as events spiral out of control Anjali is horrifyingly at the centre of it all.

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In a sordid world of poverty, misogyny, and political corruption, Jatin must make some hard choices. But what he unearths is only the tip of the iceberg. Together with Anjali he must confront old wounds and uncover long-held secrets before it is too late.

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Amazon: mybook.to/YouBeneathYourSkin

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47634028-you-beneath-your-skin

AUDIENCE FOR YOU BENEATH YOUR SKIN:

Bookclubs, because of the discussion questions: Within the framework of a thriller the novel tackles various social issues: crimes against women and why they occur, the nexus between political corruption, police and big money; the abuse of the underprivileged, be it adults or children, and the scourge of acid attacks.

Parents, because of the issues tackled: How do you bring up a good human being in today’s troubled times? If you’re the parent of a special child, what challenges do you face and what sort of support can you expect?

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS IN ORDER TO RECEIVE SHARES OF YOUR POST:

To get shares, pls tag at @damyantig on Twitter and Insta.

@SimonandSchusterIN : Insta

@SimonSchusterIN : Twitter

@Simon & Schuster IN: Facebook

@projectwhydelhi and @stopacidattacks on Twitter, Instagram and FB

Damyanti also sent me the following:-

Do You Like Your Stories Read to You?

Some of my earliest memories are of my grandma reading to me—poetry she herself had written, and of course the great Indian epics, Mahabharata and Ramayana. The winters at my childhood home in central India were balmy, but the summers could get blazing hot, 45 degrees in the shade. On those summer afternoons, sitting next to a cooling fan that gave off more noise than air, my grandma would read slowly in Bengali, my mother tongue, which I could speak, but neither read nor write. The words on the page looked like insects gone for walks, and yet they contained such magic and so much life.

Stories meant grandma’s wrinkly animated face, bright eyes, and the way her loose bun of hair slid this way and that as she described the slaying of a demon or a monkey-god carrying a mountain. I came to know much later that in those years, she battled cancer, a fight she lost when I was eleven.

When I read books I sometimes experience them like four-dimensional movies—complete with colours, music, scent, taste and texture, but nothing like those childhood afternoons with my grandmother. When audiobooks first grew mainstream, I picked them up and was disappointed. Perhaps the stories were not familiar, the readers not skilled enough, or my expectations too high. I would start listening but get side-tracked with my thoughts—especially when I listened to audiobooks in bed. My bed is my reading joint—I like curling up under the sheets and getting lost in a different world.

I’ve gone back to audiobooks time and again, and each time I’ve found myself getting lost. Sometimes I want to skip the dragging bits and end up skipping important parts as well. I have to rewind and play it again a few times before I understand what’s going on. Once in a while, a good one comes along: I’ve recently enjoyed Where the Crawdads Sing—possibly because it is so atmospheric, the voice of the character so strong that it is hard to lose track.

Stories were, after all, an entirely oral form once, until they turned into theatre, into choral performances. Written stories came much later. With an increasingly busy life, I have less and less time set aside for reading: the pandemic ensures that I have an entirely new set of chores, and writing deadlines loom. I’ve decided to try more audiobooks now, find the ones that hold my interest and thus keep me ‘reading’ books even as I go for my daily walks, or cook or clean or fold clothes.

My own debut crime novel, You Beneath Your Skin, has been optioned for TV screens and might turn into an audiobook as well, one of these days. Maybe some day I’ll get to listen to Anjali and Jatin’s adventures in New Delhi, their story spread across slums and malls, bedrooms and hotels, police stations and hospitals, all enveloped by the choking smog of a Delhi winter.

When that happens, I’ll know whether the love of stories that my grandma gave me has borne fruit. She was married at thirteen to a man much older than her, suffered many miscarriages before giving birth to my father and aunt, and over the years of encouraging them to study, taught herself to read. She learned enough that she read the classics in our mother tongue and wrote her own poetry, snippets of which lie fading in my cupboards, carefully wrapped in plastic.

In the meanwhile, I’ll try and read what books I can fit into my life, and listen to audiobooks if one catches my fancy. As I grow older though, I find that very few of them stand up to the dynamic, vivacious narrations by my grandmother who, while herself suffering from cancer, took time out to keep her grand-daughter entertained on those long Indian summer afternoons.

——————————————–

I wonder how many of us remember having stories told to us when we were little? Thank you so much for being my guest today Damyanti and I look forward to seeing your book on my television screen soon!

If you would like a guest post, please leave a comment below or contact me on my FB messenger.

Take care and stay safe.

Lucinda

SO GUILTY

Yes, I’m ashamed since once I begin a project, I’m like a dog with a bone and I don’t let go.

For example, in 1984, when I wrote my first radio script, I had a broadcast time to deliver, and I made it – just. Since then, I’ve never missed one.

During this lockdown, I made my own deadline for getting the next book written and launched. I’ve made it, though it was hard. Like many of us, I just wanted to binge on Netflix and chomp chocolate.

But I set a goal of 3,000 words a day and stuck to it.

Now, in my bumbling fashion, I’m trying to get the word out.

So, why do I feel guilty?

I have not blogged for ages. I’ve promised to write about my travels to Australia and India and I have all the stuff to hand, but I’ve yet to find the energy. Any spare? Please send it over.

The new book?  It’s a sequel to A Year in the Life of Leah Brand.

A gentle, meek, housewife is driven to the edge of madness as objects in the house begin to mysteriously move around. Her best friend Andrea was there for her in the dark times, but then they lost touch.

A Year in the Life of Andrea Coe follows straight on, and although it can be read as a standalone, it makes more sense to read them in order.

“How well do you know your best friend?” What was the attraction between a quiet, insecure housewife and an outrageous, confident, outspoken woman who lived life to the full? Was she all she seemed to be?

Belinda makes an appearance, several in fact – readers told me she was a favourite character. Still sassy, still raiding the fridge and possibly into something a lot more serious.

So, does Andrea have a hidden agenda and if so, what is it?

I’ll be back soon and that’s a promise – guest posts and my travelogue. Just give me a few weeks to get my breath back while I try to tell about 7 billion people, (I’ll settle for 6 billion) that I have a new psychological thriller out.

Take care and stay safe.

 

 

 

I HAD A DREAM

I had a dream last night, not as earth shattering as Martin Luther King,

Martin_Luther_King,_Jr.

I’m not that famous and important, and frankly although I was standing on a stage too, no one was listening to me. Sad isn’t it?

Now most of us might dream of receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature and then being interviewed on a national Breakfast Show, simpering as the interviewer gushed about our brilliant book – right?

Well, my dream wasn’t like that. The stage morphed into a television studio and my interview went something like this:

tv STUDIO

INT: So, I understand Lucinda that hardly anyone bought your new book?

ME: Well a few did …

INT: Looking at this pre-order number on Amazon, well it’s a disgrace.

ME: I have at least 3 fans! I’m sure they ordered one and DH promised he would …

INT: I presume you told people about it?

ME: Oh yes, I twittered and popped it on a couple of Facebook pages, but we’re always told not to spam, ‘cos then people won’t like us. So it’s difficult …

INT: Other writers manage to do it. Look at JK Rowling and that 50 shades woman, they got thousands of sales.

ME: But they weren’t indies and they …

INT: Is that your excuse? Haven’t you studied those self-help books on how those authors sold 80,000 copies in 10 minutes?

ME: Yes, but most of those were self-help books, mostly about how to sell books!

INT: That’s an answer I’ve heard so many times before. Don’t you have a product page on Facebook?

ME; Oh yes, two, one for Amie and one for my memoirs, but I can’t seem to get them to behave like my author page and …

INT: And you sent copies to all the major newspapers with a press release?

ME: Well no I haven’t done that yet …

INT: And Princes Harry and William?

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Daily express

ME: You’ve got to be kidding! I don’t even know their postal addresses. But I did get a street team together – but it turns out they were mostly an older generation and not many were on social media.

INT: Have you told anyone what it’s about?

ME: Well that’s a bit difficult you see, as it’s a subject that’s only talked about behind closed doors, but affects thousands of young women even here in Britain. I don’t want to give the storyline away as …

INT: Well I’ve heard of some reasons in my time but that one is the weirdest.

ME: I can tell them it’s set in Africa and Amie is a fully fledged, albeit a reluctant spy. There are lots of twists and turns and page-turning surprises. And, there is some love interest there too.

INT: Lots of steamy sex scenes?

ME: Er, no, I’m not good at writing sex scenes I get the giggles.

INT: Well there’s your answer then.

ME: That’s not fair! When did Jeffrey Archer or James Patterson insert steamy stuff into their books!

INT: They are household names and you’re not.

ME: You don’t have to keep reminding me. A few years ago I was …

INT: If there is anyone out there who is deranged enough to pick up Lucinda’s, uh, latest scribbling –  what’s it called again?

ME: Amie: Cut for Life. It’s book 4 in the Amie in Africa adventure/thriller series.

 

At this point, I hold up the paperback book to the camera but it zooms away and focuses on the interviewer who smiles sweetly and says:

INT: Now our next interview is about a subject that’s only talked about behind closed doors, but affects thousands of young women even here in Britain today. For whatever reasons, family honour, ancient tribal custom, or an attempt to keep women from straying from their husbands by destroying any enjoyment in sex. I’m talking about female circumcision and my next guest is …

At this point I am forcibly removed from my chair and booted out the back door while trying to shout out, ‘but that’s exactly what Amie faces in Cut for Life!’

And then I wake up.

Amie 4 Front 100 dpi v8

Amie Cut for Life is up on pre-order on Amazon for the exorbitant price of $/£0.99 and will be released on September 30th – in case you’re inclined to go and have a look, or you could mention it to someone?  I can but dream!!   myBook.to/Amie4 

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.

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.

sally wedding day 1980

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.

what's_in_a_name

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.

Sally 3

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

SGC-Book-covers-10x

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?

ruth coulson 1

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.

ruth coulson 6

 

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.

 

ruth coulson 4

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.

 

AMAZING AUTHORS

I don’t very often feature other writers on my blog but if I discover their books and I’ve read and loved them, then I want to share them with you.

Colin Griffiths is one such writer.

He was born in South Wales, Cardiff in 1958 and grew up on a council estate built to house the steelworkers. The place was called Underwood, surrounded by trees with just one road in. He was never sent to school – his father was a painter and took Colin to work with him.

Almost everyone worked at the steelworks back then and Colin was no exception. He was a steelworker for 22 years and then studied in his thirties to qualify for teaching and counselling.

He secured a job as national education officer for a trade union, but after 12 years he was made redundant and decided to remain in Yorkshire.

colin-pic

Colin is 58 now and does something much easier, he watches CCTV monitors in a nice warm office. He always wanted to write, and composed poetry in his teens – “they were a bit deep” (his words). He found them 40 years later and published them on Amazon – almost 250 of them – but says they are very raw and unpolished. He also wrote a horror book about Underwood, which he describes as a great grounding for his future books! Colin wrote his first novel ‘Never Say Goodbye’ just two years ago at the age of 56, and he’s currently working on his 10th book.

“I write almost every day, I find it a good release and I often go to bed, and lie awake thinking of ideas and scenarios.”

When Colin discovered self publishing and uploaded his books he received a lot of criticism about editing. (I confess to being one of them).

I didn’t get it at the time. I have to admit and I still don’t know when to use a semi colon. But I do realise now the importance of having an edited book. Grant Leishman has edited five of mine free of charge. He is a diamond.”colin-never-say-goodbye

Colin grew up reading a lot of Steven King books and his own are also in the paranormal or psychological genre. Of the 9 books he’s already published “Life for a Life” is the shortest but the one he holds dearest. He told me the indie author world is a great one and the majority of authors are a fantastic help. He’s come across some whose only intention is to knock and demean. He even had a troll – “in the end it was all so comical.”

colin-and-michelleColin has two children from his first marriage, a boy and a girl and three wonderful grandchildren. Two of his grandsons are talented footballers and he loves watching them play. He’s been married to Michelle for three years, which he says “… proves you’re never too old to find love!”

I still get an amazing buzz when someone purchases one of my books. The thrill of getting a good review is amazing. I write for the love of it now and if people want to read and enjoy what I write, then that is amazing.

I’m certainly in awe of a writer who can write so many books incolin-book-2 such a short time. My personal favourite is The Doll’s House https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017ZCOCCW  The characters in the house come to life at night with murder in mind.

Check out Colin’s books.

Mother  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01JLW1A10

colin-book-5Can Francis break the links that tie her to her evil mother? Can David persuade her to lead a new life, with him? Or will her mother stop them?

(Don’t you just love that cover!)

 

 

 

A Life for a Lifecolin-a-life-for-a-life

http://www.amazon.com/dp/BO1F7JKJPO

Gavin was eleven years old when his little brother died. Damien was the youngest of seven when his life was tragically taken away. Did the family pull together in grief?

 

 

Someone Else’s Dream  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01EQ1OX7E

It’s been thcolin-book-1ree years since the awful death of his three year old daughter Aimee.. Matt Conner did not take that loss well. For three years he had been medicated to help him deal with his loss. On the third Anniversary of Aimee’s death, he made the mental choice to start …

 

I hope Colin writes lots more books in the future, I’m in awe of what he has achieved against the odds.

Please re-blog and pass the word along to give Colin the publicity he deserves. J