Now I admit I am only half way through it, but when I heard that CeeCee James had brought out a new book I was thrilled and clicked to buy. This time it’s a murder mystery set in a small American town when the local car dealer salesman is found crushed to death under a train. I am dying (ha ha) to know what happens but sheer self discipline sees me writing this blog instead.
I first came across CeeCee’s books reading her memoirs, as she also had a tough childhood. Now she has continued her writing career with I think her first novel. Good luck CeeCee holding thumbs.
Here is the link. https://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Taste-Murder-Angel-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01INPHQJQ/
Some of you may have received an email from me about a competition run by author Paula Wynn. It’s a chance to win almost 30 free books – quite enough to keep you occupied throughout the summer – and some will be in paperback format. It’s a mixed bag with fiction, non fiction and a children’s book. It’s simple to enter and I think (you know how untechie I am) this is the link you click on. It closes this weekend so you only have a couple more days to enter.
The link is here : http://bit.ly/29aEN1v (you’ll have to do the cut and paste thing as it doesn’t seem to work on its own)
Take a peek at the books.
There is other author who has left me in the dust and gasping in admiration. Her name is Michelle Monet and she is writing her first memoir and asked for a couple of tips, (she has some silly idea I know what I’m talking about). I had no idea she was so famous and so brilliantly talented. She was a Barbra Streisand tribute singer for years until it all got too much for her. Then she became a very successful artist and PBS even made a programme on her. She’s still working on her memoir, but in the meantime she has brought out an illustrated book of poetry. It’s in paperback for now, and here is the link.
Reviews from both should be up on Monday, and now you know what I’ll be reading this week.
OK, I can’t resist it. Here is a banner of all my books. You can have any one of them for FREE if I may add your email address to my mailing list – either leave in the comments below, or through a pm on my Facebook page (I’ll check my hidden messages and it’s private) and immediately an e.copy of your choice will be winging its way through the ether. There are six of them to choose from in three different genres.
Anyone (and I believe there are one or two who read my rubbish!) may have noticed that I rarely comment on politics or religion or similar controversial topics in my blogs and posts. But for once I thought I would make an exception here as the early chapters of the first Amie covered my take on the way I saw Africa.
I have had some amazing reviews, including the following:
This world we live in is an often ugly and dangerous place. And those of us privileged to live in a first world country too easily forget that. The story then has redeeming qualities beyond being just a great read; it’s the kind of book you read and then go out and change the world. It’s why people become activists, coming up against this kind of pain and suffering, and this kind of injustice when they find it in the world. Sadly, nightly news numbs us by comparison at a time in history when we all need to be fighting for something and for someone. For this reason, this is the kind of book they need to teach in high school, college, and hand out at community centers.
In any less capable hands, I’m fairly convinced I would have put this book down. It’s dangerous writing, and that’s why few authors attempt it. If your subject matter terrifies people, you still have to hold on to them, make sure they resist the urge to put the book down. The author deserves five stars, thus, not just for writing a memorable tale, but for picking a story to write that few people can write, fewer can read, but that we’d all like to say we did.
And many people (though not all) acknowledged that having lived in Africa for over thirty years, I had a fair idea of how things tick on the Dark Continent – from the point of a white resident.
In the early nineties I was commissioned by The Sowetan editor Aggrey Klaaste who introduced the concept of “nation building” which was basically a self-help initiative to persuade Africans away from ‘the give me’ attitude to the ‘do things for themselves’ point of view. He was an amazing man and impressed me by his views and insight.
One of my main reasons for writing Amie was to share my beliefs that it is not the colour of a person’s skin that characterizes their behaviour but the mindset, culture, aspirations, expectations, lifestyle and beliefs that define them. I added more information in the Truth, Lies and Propaganda series.
I repeated this on The Authors Show interview. But it is only fair to include the view from another perspective and it’s certainly food for thought.
The article below was written from a black point of view. It was published in the English language newspaper The Sowetan and written by Prince Mashele, a South African national who holds a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Rhodes University, South Africa. Before becoming Executive Director of CPR, he was Head of Crime, Justice and Politics Programme at the Institute for Security Studies. He also worked as a speechwriter in The Presidency, and in the research unit of the Institute for Democracy in South Africa. Prince spends time analysing a range of areas on contemporary African politics and is a prolific writer on a multiplicity of issues.
By Prince Mashele | May 09, 2016 SOWETAN
In the midst of the political confusion that has gripped our country many people are wondering if we have come to the end of South Africa.
The answer is simple: the thing called an “end” does not exist, not in relation to a country. SA will be there long after Jacob Zuma is gone.
What Zuma has done is to make us come to the realisation that ours is just another African country, not some exceptional country on the southern tip of the African continent.
During the presidency of Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, some among us used to believe that the black people of SA are better than those of other African countries.
We must all thank Zuma for revealing our true African character; that the idea of rule of law is not part of who we are, and that constitutionalism is a concept far ahead of us as a people.
How else are we to explain the thousands of people who flock to stadiums to clap hands for a president who has violated their country’s constitution? Such people have no idea of constitutionalism.
Now that we have reclaimed our place as another African country, we must reflect on and come to terms with our real character, and imagine what our future portends.
In a typical African country, ordinary people don’t expect much of politicians, because people get tired of repeated empty promises.
In a typical African country, people have no illusions about the unity of morality and governance. People know that those who have power have it for themselves and their friends and families.
The idea that the state is an instrument for people’s development is a Western concept, and has been copied by pockets of Asian countries.
Africans and their leaders don’t like to copy from the West. They are happy to remain African, and do things “the African way”.
The African way is rule by kings, chiefs and indunas in a setting of unwritten rules. Is there anyone who has seen a book of African customary laws?
The idea that a commoner can raise questions about public money spent on the residence of a king is not African. The ANC MPs who have been defending Zuma are true Africans.
Asking a ruler to be accountable is a foreign – Western – idea. In a situation where there is conflict between a ruler and laws, Africans simply change the laws to protect the ruler. This is why no single white person has called for King Dalindyebo to be released from jail.
The problem with clever blacks is that they think they live in Europe, where ideas of democracy have been refined over centuries.
What we need to do is to come back to reality, and accept that ours is a typical African country. Such a return to reality will give us a fairly good idea of what SA’s future might look like.
This country will not look like Denmark. It might look like Nigeria, where anti-corruption crusaders are an oddity.
Being an African country, ours will not look like Germany. SA might look like Kenya, where tribalism drives politics.
People must not entertain the illusion that a day is coming when SA will look like the US. Our future is more on the side of Zimbabwe, where one ruler is more powerful than the rest of the population. Even if Julius Malema were to become president, it would still be the same.
African leaders don’t like the idea of an educated populace, for clever people are difficult to govern. Mandela and Mbeki were themselves corrupted by Western education. (Admission: this columnist is also corrupted by such education.)
Zuma remains African. His mentality is in line with Boko Haram. He is suspicious of educated people; what he calls “clever blacks”. Remember that Boko Haram means “Against Western Education”. The people who think we have come to the end of SA don’t realise that we have actually come to the beginning of a real African country, away from the Western illusions of exceptionalism. Those who are unsettled by this true African character need help. The best we can do for them is to ask them to look north of the Limpopo River, to learn more about governance in Africa.
What makes most people restless about the future of SA is that they have Western models in mind, forgetting that ours is an Africa country.
The idea that a president can resign simply because a court of law has delivered an adverse judgment is Western. Only the Prime Minister of Iceland does that; African rulers will never do that.
Analysed carefully, the notion of SA coming to an “end” is an expression of a Western value system – of accountability, political morality, reason, and so on. All these are lofty ideas of Socrates, Kant, Hegel, and so on. They are not African.
All of us must thank Jacob Zuma for introducing us to the real African Republic of South Africa, not some outpost of European values.
As Diana tells Amie “Democracy is not the African way, one man, one vote, once.” I think Prince Mashele would agree.
Lastly thank you to all those who voted for Amie 2 in the ReadFree’ly competinion, she came in at #17 and got a lovely new sticker 🙂
It’s Sunday, yes and my blog goes out on a Monday right? Well in a major step forward, I am going to try and time this to go out tomorrow by using the timing thingie. Will it work? Watch this space. I am determined that I will get some writing done tomorrow morning while DH is out playing boules/petanque and I must also go and get a haircut. When DH starts calling me lassie and offering me dog biscuits, I know the time has come.
Last week we were still in Hue (pronounced Way) and we were about to go for lunch. Well I guess it was a tourist venue although when we arrived we were the only guests there. It was in a really beautiful setting with different little glassed-in areas set around brick paved walkways circling goldfish ponds. I thought it looked like a Japanese garden, but I didn’t say so in case it caused offense.
I hope I didn’t upset the staff as I couldn’t resist feeing some of the goldfish or were they carp – at one point on our trip we were told the difference. I do remember you can eat carp but not the goldfish. Anyhow a kind waitress rushed out with a packet of fish food. For a brief second I thought it was for me until I noticed the look of horror on her face.
Now it was time for our visit to a tomb and it wasn’t just any old tomb. It was the Royal tomb of King Ming Mang the final resting place of one of the Nguyen Dynasty’s staunchest Confucians, whose reign was at the height of their power over the county. He’d reigned for 34 years, but although the setting was in a pretty parkland the stones were black and covered with mould and it was all quite depressing.
As we stared at the large stone in a courtyard, our guide explained that beneath our feet lay a complete palace he insisted it was fully furnished, and it had been totally covered over with flagstones.
Sadly it was raining and quite cold and the lurgy was getting worse not helped when we were whisked off to a market, which most have been the most unpleasant one I have ever visited. The size of several large barns, it was necessary to wriggle along the walkways between vendors who assaulted us from both sides. It was both dirty and smelly and I couldn’t wait to leave. Unwisely DH mentioned I needed a new pair of takkies / plimsolls / trainers / running shoes (I don’t do much running, I stick to walking) as mine had fallen apart. That was it, the guide was now off on a mission, so we must have combed the market from one end to the other. As the filth and odours got even worse, I was quite determined I would never buy from there, I’d never get the smell out of them.
By the time we got back to the charmingly named Cherish Hotel we were absolutely exhausted.
You may remember that George I came from a tiny little principality in what was to become Germany and couldn’t speak English but this suited the guys at the top – previous monarchs had interfered. If they didn’t want the King to understand when they were being rude about him, they spoke in broad regional accents and he didn’t stand a chance.
But a few of the faithful still supported Bonnie Prince Charlie. He kept trying to come and be king on the silly excuse that his daddy had been the Prince of Wales and his grandfather King of England. Why he thought such a flimsy excuse should entitle him to be king, very few could understand.
He was eventually defeated at Flodden but managed to escape to France with the help of Flora (of margarine fame) MacNightingale, Annie Laurie and Lorna Doone.
I really hate to ask this, but I see a few other authors have done it already and I shall never become rich and famous if I am shy. ReadFreely are asking for nominations for the 50 books of 2016 worth reading. I would love it if you nominated Amie and The Child of Africa. If you do well, then they give you a little sticker and tell lots of people about it. It also makes your tweets about the book look much prettier. This is the link
An extra post this week as I wanted to share with you that Walking over Eggshells, my first book and biography, has been chosen as the Book of the Week by BookWorks. Here is the link to their nice colourful page.
As always technology has defeated me, as I wanted to cut and paste part of their page to put here, but of course it didn’t work did it.
However the nice sticker thing does, so you can look at that.
And while I’m at it, I’ll do the whole boasting thing and put in the 5 star badge from Reader’s Favorite as well.
I am very thrilled they have chosen my book, but it is a teeny, weeny bit embarrassing, since we are in the process of re-vamping the whole manuscript. Not that the story will change of course, but it’s going to have a nice new cover, and DH has decided he is going to reformat the pages and change the white pages to cream.
I did the original cover needless to say and at the time I was quite pleased with it as I thought it showed a little girl trying to run away from home. After several people asked me why I’d put a coat hanging on the back of a door, I began to have serious doubts about it. I’ve been searching for something new for a long time and here it is.
It’s amazing how much we’ve both learned this last (almost) three years about publishing and presentation and so hopefully in a about a week it will be on the internet with a brand new coat and if you buy paperbacks, in a nicer font and paper colour. Right at this minute DH is struggling to change the page numbers from the top to the bottom, (please don’t ask me why, he’s got a bee on his bonnet about it) so I’m typing very quietly. I do not like to disturb him when he’s being creative. I understand it’s far more important to be quiet and peaceful while formatting a mss than is necessary when it’s only the writing part.
Guess I better put in the link to the book? http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E8HSNDW
Will be back with an update soon and have a great week.
Just as you think you’ve got a handle on things life smacks you in the face. Last week I was so proud of myself. I wrote my blog in Word on the Sunday to free up my half day ‘me time’ on the Monday. I found all the pictures and popped them into the media box – so now all I had to do was quickly cut and paste and I’d be writing Amie 3.
Now if you are about to ask why I didn’t do the whole thing and then press publish on Monday, well I’ve yet to work that one out. The last time I tried it, it went live immediately.
So, all completed nice and early, pressed publish and then remembered that I’d not added the categories and tags. No problem I thought, I’ll just pop back and edit it. So I did and then I sent out a blog which was only tags and categories. A kind follower alerted me to this so I had to go back and do the whole thing all over again – sigh.
So, where were we in SE Asia? Oh yes, on the boat on the Halong Bay in Vietnam and believe me it was pretty cold, being January I guess that was to be expected. I had packed some winter clothes, in fact I was wearing all of them – at once, all at the same time.
While DH had a massage down one end of the boat, I tried to relax with a book in our cabin, until I noticed it was getting colder and colder. The damn aircon was on full blast. I fiddled and fiddled with the remote- no luck. I then clambered up and pressed every button in sight, no luck, I tried to unplug it but it refused to cooperate. Finally in desperation, I went for help. The guide failed, the steward failed, the engineer failed and the captain failed.
After a long discussion they decided to give us another cabin – the presidential suite. Well this was the life – except you didn’t want to sit down on these chairs, unless you were very well padded.
And the bathroom – or more correctly posh heads? When did you see a Jacuzzi this size on a boat?
There were, however two small problems. We had been warned that after 8.pm there was no hot water on board. Time now? 8.30pm. I was already cold enough, and the thought of sitting in freezing cold water with even colder jets spraying over me was not too enticing. Also, there were no instructions and we hadn’t the faintest idea what you twiddled, pushed, pulled or thumped to make it work. We settled for admiring the red-brown coloured enamel work.
Then problem #2 arrived. Somehow, while using the sink, I managed to get the metal flip stopper stuck in place. There was no way to empty the sink. Frankly I just didn’t have the courage to call for help a second time, so for the rest of the time on board, we had to brush our teeth over the loo.
It’s not all fun in these posh places you know.
But all was not lost. We visited this pearl farm floating on the water, where they nurture and grow them in little pens and then kill them and wrench the pearls out of them.
I passed on the cooking class, as by then I was feeling really ill – from frost bite I thought.
But I managed the trip to the fishing village, all on stilts. It was just amazing, set among 2,000 limestone islands but the kayaking, swimming and diving were a little out of the question. If you take a trip there, go in the summer!
We shared a boat with these nice people, and as we all remarked, when they get the pics developed we will all be asking “Who the hell were they?” Little did they know it was me!
Then it was time for bed, so I popped over the side to take a quick pic of the boat with its lights on.
HISTORY LESSON PART SOMETHING
Sadly the little prince died when he was 11 years old, and then his Daddy died, and then Queen Anne herself popped off her mortal coil in – 17 something or other and now parliament was in a fix. No heir? They looked around Europe desperately and began offering current accounts at Barclays, books of green shield stamps, Amex cards and Debenham accounts to anyone who was protestant and would sit on the throne of England. They even threw in a free subscription to Readers Digest.
Eventually they had a taker in George who came from somewhere in Germany, only it wasn’t Germany in those days, just a lot of little states and I won’t bother to mention which one as I would probably spell it all wrong.
Once again we rose to the rattling of the alarm clock, had we fooled ourselves into thinking this was a holiday? After more unusual fare for breakfast – raw fish has never been high on my preferred breakfast menu – we were whisked off on a 3 hour road trip towards the coast. The scenery was much as I had seen on the odd television programme, small shops by the side of the road, millions of scooters, often carrying whole families and swathes of rice fields.
Suddenly we turned off the road and entered a different world. The potholes had disappeared, the grass verges were neatly trimmed and floral displays abounded. Brand new buildings, retail space on the ground floor, offices or possibly apartments above. Not many were occupied but from a rural third world we were catapulted into the first world by turning a corner.
At the end of the road we saw shelters, small offices and the river Halong. Hugging the kerb was a long line of tourist coaches and hugging the river bank a long line of small boats waiting to transport holidaymakers to the larger boats a little way off shore. We were provided with life jackets and catapulted onto a small boat along with our luggage. Why, oh why did I choose to buy a luggage set in white I asked myself.
I could mention at this point that it was pretty cold. The sun was shining, but gave us little warmth. I was muffled up to the eyeballs.
We climbed aboard our boat, two decks, about 20 cabins and a dining room and a spa. I suppose it could cater for around 50 people, but it was less than half full. Our cabin was very pleasant and we settled in for a night on the water. I just loved the way they described this as checking in to our private cabin – we had not been planning on sharing it with anyone else.
Soon we were gliding along, and the scenery was amazing. Tall rocky outcrops rose out of the water and the river stretched as far as the eye could see as we cruised up or down the river, I wasn’t sure which way we were going. We were transferred into a smaller boat and taken into an almost circular cave where, they informed us proudly, Leonardo de Caprio had filmed The Beach. Sad that their high point of tourist info came from the halls of Hollywood, when this World Heritage site was worth seeing simply for its beauty and grandeur.
The itinerary mentioned sunbathing and swimming as leisure activities, but certainly not for me, and no one else ventured into the water either. By now I was wearing as many layers of clothes as I had brought. My suitcase was practically empty – I was like a Ryan Air passenger wearing more than I had in my luggage.
After dinner, while DH went for a massage, I decided to have a quiet read on the bed and it was then that the trouble started … to be continued.
Poor old Anne – well of course she wasn’t poor was she, despite losing vast sums of money at cards and treating her favourite women to wads of cash on a whim. This must have been a particularly long card game as someone painted a portrait while they were at it.
But she was beginning to realize that she was not going to have an heir. She’d been almost constantly pregnant since her marriage and one after another after another she either miscarried or the babies only lived for a couple of years until only one son survived.
He was a bit strange though, and sickly. As was common in those days posh women didn’t feed their own babies, they called in a wet nurse to do this for them. Enter Mrs Pack a Quaker woman who apparently was well, very well endowed in the milk production area. She saved little William’s life and was thus installed in the nursery.
He suffered from hydrocephalus, so his head was out of proportion to his body, but this deformity was not reflected in his portrait, he was spared the vicious truth of the modern selfie. But he was quite bright with a burning interest in military affairs. He recruited 90 young boys, dressed them in uniform and drilled them daily. He even persuaded the king to come and review his troops. It’s just as well he had a big garden to play in. It must have been like the annual dreaded kid’s birthday party with hoards of screaming kids every day of the week. Sensibly, Anne gave him his own house miles away from the court.
I usually tap out my blogs in a word document as I find the little window on WordPress very restricting. On one momentous occasion I found out how to make it a whole page size, but I have no idea which button I pressed and I’ve never found it again. I’ve also never found out how to add tags either – something else to learn.
Back to the document which I keep in a special file and as I think of them, I put ideas in there as well. So, imagine my horror when this morning I opened it up to find NO ideas for today’s blog. PANIC!!
But one thing I must do is to thank all those people, some I don’t know at all, who helped publicize my promo on Amie this last weekend. I was amazed and humbled by all the sharing and tweeting and blog bits which helped tell the world that I was offering her for free – yes, yes I know – after I swore I would NEVER give any of my books away for free. After all the blood, sweat, toil and tears to offer it for nothing!
However, I am flexible (not physically you understand), and having learned from all the information shared by other authors and publicists and bloggers you just have to try and make yourself visible somehow. So, for better or worse there are now over 27,000 people with Amie on their reading devices across the world – in Japan, India, and several countries in Europe. What percentage will read about her I’m not sure, but a spin-off has been nearly 18,000 page reads.
I’ve dropped the price of Amie and the Child of Africa for 2 days, back up on Tuesday night. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015CI29O4
Exercising extreme self-constraint, I’m still not ordering the mega yacht yet.
I guess James II had a mega yacht or three, but I was about to tell you that he married a commoner. Yes, how disgraceful was that – especially in those days when royalty stuck together like glue and princesses were offered up as bargaining chips on the altar of marriage. (Disney should be sued for pretending that being a princess is in any way a glamorous occupation. Millions of small girls across the globe have been well and truly conned.)
To be fair to James, he was not expecting to ever become king, and he had a torrid (I expect it was torrid) affair with Ann Hyde, daughter of one of the court ministers.
“Don’t marry her!” everyone cried.
So he did, in secret, and, surprise, surprise less than two months after the ceremony she gave birth to a baby boy. Sadly it died, but they tried it again (you know what) and 5 more children didn’t survive. Two did however, Mary and Ann (you should remember them as they become important later on).
Samuel Pepys was still around and he wrote (he did a lot of that) that James played with his children like an ordinary parent of a child.
portrait by John Riley
Now this is a fairyland love tale right? Wrong! The king had affairs, lots of them.
portraits by Peter Lely.
ARABELLA + CATHERINE
There was Arabella Churchill and Catherine Sedley and people also described James as the ‘most unguarded ostler ogler of his time.’
Reconstruction of conversation:
James II: Peter Lely?
Peter Lely: Yes Sire?
James II: I need another portrait painted.
Peter Lely: Another mistress Sire?
James II: How did you guess man? You must be psychic!
But it wasn’t all cuddles and giggles. When James II came to the throne he was threatened by Monmouth, the indiscriminate son of Charles II.
In answer to one query on my FB page, my next book is a pure novel based on the adventures of a young girl, recently married, to goes to live in a fictional African state and gets herself into all sorts of trouble. I’m having a lot of problems with it as to start with, she won’t do as she’s told. I have it all mapped out in my head, but she keeps going off on her own and after I’ve written this, I’m going to have to go back and re-direct her. She just does NOT WALK OFF INTO THE BUSH AT THIS STAGE!!
My other big problem is that for so many years I have been writing for radio and television and stuff like advertising copy and mayoral speeches, so I keep forgetting to add any descriptive bits, so the reader knows what everything looks like. This is a problem as you don’t do that for radio and TV, but for a book of course, some description is essential. So I have to stop and mentally shake myself.
I don’t even have a title for this one yet, but hope to have it finished mid summer [northern hemisphere] and then take a backward step for book three which will tell about the stuff that happened while filming and general work on radio and in TV. That should be more familiar territory.
I’ve been told more than once that I should stick to comedy, but what’s life if you don’t push yourself out of your comfort zone?
Well the riding school was an excellent example of me doing just that. We had really interesting lessons, dare I say unique ones? For example, how to fall off your horse safely onto a mattress? If you’ve ever heard of any other riding school offering that, then please let me know! I guess this was my sole contribution to safety in the years I ran it. but that was the easy part, not one of the ponies was much over 15 hands, but the REAL trick was to get your pony near the mattress in the first place. I can’t remember who donated that thing. I do remember the stuffing was escaping in several places and I don’t think it smelled too good either! In particular the kid’s pony flattened his ears and reared up as he approached it! I kept telling him this was for a gymkhane and not a rodeo.
This important lesson was also important in preparing my clientele for their battle with the Selibe Pickwick Riding School in the gymkhana I had proposed. Yes, they were a proper outfit, but we had spent hours bouncing up and down lunging for apples bobbing in the water, jumping along in sacks and passing sticks to each other in the relay races.
The rosettes were on order, and the t-shirts arrived, illegal copies of a Thellwell pony scene but they were extremely appropriate.
I’ll let you know how we did next time and if Amy [the book two heroinne] has learned to behave herself and do as she is told.