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Thursday, January 31, 2013

My type of guy

Admit it, every woman has a special type of man into view... and I'm only one of the many.

Now my type of man is not the ordinary sort. I don't go for the good-looking, brushed-off types. Not the man who hold a dull job and is even duller in everyday conversation. No, what I want is a man who has experienced life (all the good and bad of it), who is intelligent, who is dangerous when necessary, who has a sense of humor. Not the marrying kind, goes without saying. But that's what I like in a guy.

I want to feel protected, although I'm not afraid to go out in the dark on my own and have already 'done in' a couple of guys. They should listen to me. When I ask politely to not bother us girls once more (I was 8 then) it's only logical I'd throw the first pesterer in the water. Poor guy, he could not swim! So I even had to dive after him and get him on the dry... And when later on I mentioned I'd do something to anyone who dared to come in the neigborhood of my bed (that was when I was living in Germany, among a bunch of young army officers. We lived in  house where we had rooms but the concierge closed the doors at 11 pm and then they came in through my open window. I allowed it as long as they went straight for the door...) it once happened I knocked a guy half unconscious (plus he had two blue eyes and some missing teeth). When of my former boyfriends taught me how to defend myself even better, without weapons.

So I fall for adventurers, types like Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt or Ken Bruën's Jack Taylor. I know they will neve stay too long, but the time we share is magic!

Admit it, doesn't he look gorgeous? And what do you think of this one?

These guys have experienced life. They know the human weaknesses and understand them. They are guys you can count on if they have it for you.

What type of guy do you like?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Holding Off For a Hero

Goddess Fish Promotions is organizing a Virtual Book Blast Tour for Holding Off For a Hero by Gail MacMillan, a contemporary romantic comedy available now from The Wild Rose Press. The book blast tour will take place on Wednesday, Janaury 30th, 2013.

Gail will award two $5 Amazon GCs and three digital copies of Lady and the Beast to randomly drawn commenters during the tour, so don't forget to leave a comment!

Gail MacMillan is a three-time Maxwell Award winning writer and author of 26 published books.  A graduate of Queen's University, she lives in New Brunswick, Canada, with her husband and two dogs: Fancy, a little river duck dog and Bruiser, the cover guy and hero of Holding Off For a Hero.

So what's the book about?


Beautiful, vivacious Emma Prescott has a love-'em-and-leave-'em reputation. Fact is, Emma's holding off for a hero. When she moves to a cabin at wilderness Loon Lake and meets her one neighbor, biology professor Frasier MacKenzie, he's still just another guy, even with his killer blue eyes and body that just won't quit..until he rescues her and her pug from one danger after another. Then he defintely falls into hero territory.

But the professor has no intention of filling the role of white knight in Emma's life. All he wants is to be rid of her and her annoying little dog so he can get on with his research. In fact, he's ordered to get rid of them whether he wants to or not. Looks like Emma may have to go on holding off for a hero...


She floored the gas, and they took off with a squealing of tires.

"Hey, hey!" he yelled. "Slow down! The speed limit is 100 km. You're heading to 130!"

"Look, I told you, I'm in a hurry," she exploded.

"I've got a ton of things to do back at the cabin. You see," she continued, quieting and sounding sly, "I'm having a party tonight. I have to get ready."

"A party? You're having a party? At the lake?"

Ah, man, that just about tears it.

"Actually, a bachelorette bash. One of my teacher friends is getting married next week, and a bunch of us decided we'd give her a real whing-ding of a sendoff...up at my caabin where there'll be no witnesses. Teachers and the likes of myself have reputations to think of, you realize."

She cast him a wicked glance.

"So, there'll be music and a lot of noise and..."

The professor's blood pressure would skyrocket when he gave him this information.

"Oh, y-e-h." She dragged out the last word.

"Couldn't you have it somewhere else? Like a male strip joint in town?"

"Didn't you hear what I just said about teacher and others of that ilk? We can't be seen parading into one of those places. Our superintendent woud suspend every last one of us. Anyway..." She looked over at him. "I don't see why it should be such a big deal for you. You don't have to keep banker's hours. If the noise bothers you, stay up, watch a video, and sleep on Sunday morning."

"Okay, okay, but will you please keep your eyes on the road? And slow down! There's a speed trap somewhere along..."

Behind them a siren wailed.

"Quick!" she ordered, pulling over as the police cruiser rolled alongside. "Hunch over and clutch your chest!"


Good to know:

Gail's website is

She's also on Facebook and Twitter.

The novel Holding Off For a Hero is available in both print an de-book from:

Amazon (e-book):


The Wild Rose Press:


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

In for a laugh?

Just heard this good joke a few moments ago, and I'd like to share it.

Noticing a mistake in St. Peter's roster, God calls Satan; "It seems you accidentally received some of my professionals down there: a teacher, a doctor and a farmer."

"Yeah," Satan replies. "All the more for me!"

God replies, "You better send them up here immediately."

Satan says, "No way. I'm keeping them."

God says, "Send them up here, or I'll sue the horns right off you."

Satan laughs uproariously, "Yeah, right. And just where are YOU going to get a lawyer?"


Sunday, January 27, 2013

For Love of Sarah

I'd like to take the opportunity to present you to Hazel Statham, author of For Love of Sarah, a regency romance available from Montlake Romance.

Hazel is on a Virtual Book Tour with Goddess Fish Promotions and she will be awarding a winner's choice of either a cream coin freshwater pearl necklace or a digital copy of Dominic or His Shadowed Heart (international giveaway) to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a choice of either rhinestone crystal butterfly and pearl earring or a digital copy of the above mentioned books to a randomly drawn host. So please stop by as much as you like and don't forget to leave a comment.

Hazel began writing at the age of 15, finally committing to paper the stories she spun as a child. Writing has been her passion ever since, although marriage, motherhood, and career left time for little else. Once she retired, however, she was able to devote herself to writing full-time, publishing her fist novel in 2007. A long time student of history, she writes mainly in the Regency and Georgian eras, though she has been known to dabble in the medieval as well. She lives in Staffordshire, England, with her husband Terry and their beloved yellow labrador Mollie.

Hazel loves to hear from her readers and promises to answer all mail.

Her website address is:

You can find the novel either at
Paperback or Kindle

or from

I did an interview with Hazel and here are my questions and her answer

1)      When did you know you wanted to become an author?
I don’t remember exactly when I wanted to become an author; writing is just a compulsion I can’t ignore.  However, it wasn’t until a lecturer friend of mine encouraged me to submit my work to a publisher a few years ago that I contemplated becoming a published author.  Until this point, I had written only for my own amusement with no thoughts of seeking publication.
2)      Does your environment encourage you to write?
I wrie when the house is quiet and I can immerse myself in my imagination and creat characters and settings from the past.
3)      Why have you chosen regency romance as your genre?
I love the romance and elegance of the Regency and Georgian eras and there is so much written about these fascinating times that, as a writer, I am never left without inspiration.
4)      How do you organize your research?
I read, read and read. I have several reference books and of course, the internet is a wonderful tool. If I state something as fact I want it to be as accurate as I can make it, making sure the story fits the fact, not the fact fits the story. So many readers of the genre would know if I 'got it wrong' and I want to make my stories as plausible as possible.

 5)      Is “For the Love of Sarah” your first novel?
No, it is my seventh published novel. My previous works are, ‘Consequence’, ‘Dominic’, ‘My Dearest Friend’, ‘Lizzie’s Rake’, ‘His Shadowed Heart’, and ‘The Portrait’.
6)      Did you find it easy or difficult to find a publisher?
I have to confess that I have been very lucky in finding publishers for my work.
7)      What are your hopes for your career?
I hope readers continue to enjoy reading my work as much as I enjoy writing it.  It’s all any author could wish for.
8)      How do you handle criticism?

I have to confess to being my own worst critic and am never completely satisfied with the finished product.  As far as bad reviews are concerned, I have yet to learn to toughen up.  So far, I have been very lucky with my reviewers and am grateful for their support.
9)      How important are readers to you?
Extremely!  They are our audience, the reason we put our work out there.  I love to hear from my readers and promise to answer all my mail.
10)  Do you have any tips for beginning writers?
Write what you know and are passionate about.  Don’t be tempted to stray into areas that you are not comfortable or confident writing about.  Get to know your market and only approach publishers that are actively seeking manuscripts in your genre.
Above all, if you feel the compulsion to write, write – don’t ignore it.  Even if, at the end of the day, you decide not to submit to a publisher, you will have enjoyed the process of creation enormously

And to end, some teasers!!

How many times can a heart be broken?  How many times can love be denied?  Sarah and Alexander were destined for each other but after just four short weeks of marriage, their lives were torn asunder.

Alexander, Earl of Thorne thought he had found his ideal mate but, when Sarah absconded shortly after their marriage, his world came crashing down.  Now, five years later, he discovers her in a remote Yorkshire village.

Sarah had thought she was safe, but when, severely injured in a freak accident, her husband is thrust once more into her life, she fears her dark secrets and the fact she has a son, will become known. 

Despite her own desperate longings, she continually repudiates Alexander’s efforts of reconciliation. However, fate conspires against her, and when her home is made uninhabitable by floods, she and her young son are forced to accept his aid and return to her former home.

Discovery threatens and, despite her breaking heart, she plans to leave Alexander’s life.  What is this secret that makes it so imperative that she should abscond from him yet again?  Can two broken hearts cleave and emerge victorious or will life's cruel forces tear them apart forever? 

Yorshire, June 1815

Why now? Dear God, why now? After almost five years of schooling his body and mind from wanting her, the mere sight of her slight form across the crowded marketplace had brought back all the old emotions he's worked so desperately to subdue, and he reeled with the impact.

He's thought the stance of the young woman was familiar, as he had on numerous occasions, only to be disappointed, but when she moved into full view by the bakery stall, he immediately realized that it truly was his wife. Sarah, his senses cried, sweet, faithless Sarah. They had been wed but four weeks when she disappeared from his home and life. To find her now in a remote Yorshire village defied all sense.

His impulse was to confront her immediatley, but as he moved to tether his horse to the rail outside the smithy, the blacksmith came out to take the beast from him.

"Lost his shoe, has he, sir?" the man asked, casting an appreciative eye over the large chestnut. "Fine animmal, if I might say so..."

Thrusting the reins into the smithy's hand, Alexander Markham, Earl of Thorne, snapped, "Left side, fore," effectively cutting short the blacksmith's appraisal of his mount and, turning on his heel, left the man to stare after him as he made his way into the throng of people in the marketplace.

Despite his advantage of height, he could see no sign of his wife. She had moved from the stall - but to where? Becoming frustrated with the press of people that milled around him, he strode toward the centre where the ground rose to provide a vantage point, but to no avail. Sarah was nowhere in view, and he began to doubt his own perception.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Nickie's Ten Questions to Jeffrey Archer

Some time ago I did an online interview  with British bestselling author - and Lord - Jeffrey Archer. I first became acquainted with his books after watching the BBC series of Not a penny more, not a penny less. Since then I have read many a novel.

Here are my questions and Archer's answers:

1) When did you realise you wanted to be an author?
At the age of 34 when I had left the House of Commons and couldn’t get a job.

2) How long did it take you to write 'Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less'?About 9 months

3) Would you care to tell us to how many publishers/agents you sent this first manuscript?My first book, ‘Not A Penny More Not A Penny Less’ was rejected by 17 publishers.

4) How was that novel received by the public? (I should state here that I immediately liked the book!)

It was a slow burner, but took off after ‘Kane and Abel’ and has now sold around 20m worldwide.

5) What did you think of the tv-version that was made after this book?

6) How do you handle criticism?


7) How important are reader's reactions to you?
Very important – in the end it’s readers who decide how many books are sold, not critics.

8) Where do you find your inspiration for the books you reading, besides in politics?
Politics, art, business and much more important, people.

9) What would be your advice to a novice author?
Don’t image when you’ve finished the first draft you’re ready to present it to a publishers. I still take 16 drafts before allowing even my agent to see it.

10) Which books do you find interesting to read? And who are your favourite authors?My favourite authors are F Scott Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, Maupassant and Herman Hesse, although I think ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ and possibly ‘Of Mice and Men’ are my favourite books.

Well, he did not have much to say, but then what can you expect of nobility??? I was surprised he eve wanted to answer those questions!!!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Highland Quest

Today I'd like to introduce you to B.J. Scott, author of Highland Quest. The author is doing a Super Book Blast Tour with Goddess Fish Promotions and will be giving away gifts of swag (including a canvas tote bag, a mouse pad, a pen, book thong, bookmark, can cooler, magnet, and key chain -US/Canada only) to randomly drawn commenters from this tour and her Virtual Book Tour, and a grand prize of $50 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter from this tour. So make sure to stop by and leave as many comments as you like!

With a passion for historical romance, history in general, and anything Celtic, B.J.  always has an exciting work in progress. Each story offers a blend of romance, adventure, suspense and, where appropriate, a dab of comic relief. Carefully researched historical facts are woven into each manuscript, providing a backdrop from which steamy romance gripping plots, and vivid character - dashing alpha heroes and resouceful, beguiling heroines you can't help but admire - spring to life. A member of RWA, Word Romance Writers, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, and Savvy Authors, B.J. also writes contemporary, paranormal, time travel and romantic suspense.

C.S. Lewis first captivated B.J.'s imagination in the fourth grade, and her desire to write sprang from there. Following a career in nursing and child and youth work, B.J. married her knight-in-shining-armor, and he whisked her away to his castle by the sea. In reality, they share their century-old home in a small Canadian town on the shore of Lake Eerie with three dogs and a cat. When she is not working at her childcare job, on her small business, or writing, you will find her reading, camping or antique hunting.

Here are some links you might be interested in:

I had the opportunity to ask B.J. some questions, and here are her answers:

1) Is B.J. Scott your real name, or did you choose this pseudonym because you want to write about Scotland?

While I was born in Canada, my ancestry is Scottish, Irish, and English. B.J is my first initials (Barbara Joyce), but I chose the pseudonym Scott because it is the maiden name of both my maternal and paternal grandmothers. My father’s mother, Barbara Scott was born in Kirkintillock Scotland and came to Canada on her own when she was 21. She passed away a few weeks before I was born and was named after her. My mother’s mom, Gertrude Scott was born in northern England, very close to the Scottish border. I found it very interesting that both women had the same last name. Kind of a sign if you will. While there is no proof they were ever related, it is possible given the constant shift in the border during the middle ages that at some time in history, they might have been from the same clan. By choosing this name, I am honoring three women in my life, both grandmothers, my mom (her name is Joyce) and still using my own initials. Given my passion for Scottish historicals this penname was a logical choice.

2) Did you know there is also a singer called B.J. Scott?

I was not aware of that but will have to check it out ;)

3) When did you know you wanted to be an author?

I always loved to read and have jotted down stories since I was a child. But I started to write in earnest about twelve years ago. I took a break when I met my husband, but got the urge again about three years ago. I dusted off some of my old manuscripts, all in desperate need of rewrites…amazing what you learn over the years, and started to work on some new projects.

4) Did your family, friends etc. encourage you to write?

The first encouragement came from a teacher I had in a creative writing course I took several years ago at the local college. She told me she thought I could write for Harlequin. When my hubby saw me jotting down ideas and asked what I was doing, he read some of my work and encouraged me to try submitting to publishers. My husband and family are my biggest fans and supporters.

5) Is Highland Quest your first book?

Highland Quest is the fifth book I completed but the second I have published. While it is written to stand alone, it is actually the sequel to my first book, Highland Legacy, released in Nov 2011. It did very well, making the Amazon best seller list for historical romance all of Jan and Feb 2012 and a finalist in the Oklahoma RWA international digital awards. Highland Quest was planned but I pushed it to the foreground when requests from people who liked Highland Legacy started to come in.

6) Was your road to publication a hard one?

Not as hard or long as for some, but long enough lol. When I first finished Highland Legacy in 2010 the trend was away from Scottish historicals, the market saturated with them. Fortunately it shifted and I was able to submit to publisher and was offered a contract.

7) How do you manage your research? Ever been to Scotland?

I read anything I can get my hands on about the time period, battles, dress and traditions of the time period I am writing. I have never been to Scotland but it tops my bucket list of places I want to go.

8) How do you characterize your main characters?

Both Hero and Heroine are strong, honorable, resourceful, compassionate, self-sacrificing and tenacious. An alpha hero you love and a heroine you can admire and relate to.

9) Suppose some critic would make shreds of your novel – how would you react?

That is part of writing and putting yourself out there. You are never going to everyone and sadly the ones who chose to shred your novel do a thorough job of it. Seems critical reviewers are more vocal than the ones who love the book. I have had a few people say they did not like the book, did not like the characters, the plot or the premise. They were very specific and some would say they went overboard to make their point. But you have to be prepared for this. There are some people you will never please and those who look for anything they can find to be critical of. I have found the couple (and thankfully there have only been a couple out of the thousands who bought my first book) often did not read the book or they did missed key points. It is evident in their comments and recaps of the events.

Regardless, every reader has a right to their opinion and I respect that. It is not easy to hear negative comments about your work, but you can use them to your advantage if you look beyond what might have been written with malicious intent and try to sift out some valid points you can use to improve your future books. The only down side is that people tend to gravitate to the negative and they do stick out. Some people will read a bad critique and believe what they read, even if it is way off base, but I choose to believe most readers have a mind of their own, see the book in the way it is intended …a means of escape and will make their own judgment.

10) Is there anything you want to tell the readers?

That without readers, authors would not have a job ;) We appreciate your support and comments more than you know.

And finally, some teasers to end!


No longer content in the shadows of his older brothers and on a quest to find his destiny, Bryce Fraser's chosen path is fraught with danger, passion, and decisions. Can his unspoken love for spirited, beguiling Fallon be triumphant in a time of war and uncertainty, or will they both fall prey to the devious plans of a traitorous laird from a rival clan?

Loch Ryan Scotland, 1307

“Wa . . . water,” Bryce mumbled, but there was no one there to listen.

His throat was parched and he ran his tongue over dry, cracked lips, but his action offered no relief. An entire loch lay only a few feet away, but he couldn’t muster the strength to drag himself to the bank and quench his thirst.

“Cold . . . so cold.”

Despite the sun beating down on him, he’d swear he was encased in ice. His life’s blood seeped from his wounds, soaking the ground beneath him. He tried to raise his head, but the excruciating pain radiating across his chest stole his breath away.

Was this what it felt like to die? If so, he prayed the Almighty would be merciful and take him now.

Bryce moaned, a shift in his position bringing on another nauseating wave of agony. He sucked in a short, sharp, gulp of air and stretched his arm out as far as he could, his fingers grappling in the dirt.

If only I could reach my sword.

Beads of perspiration dampened his brow. As the strength slowly drained from his body, drawing a simple breath became more difficult. The end grew near. No time to make amends for sins of the past, and he had committed his share.

Regrets? He had those, too. “Fallon.” He whispered her name then heaved a ragged sigh.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Adopting children

For more than 10 years already, VRT runs a soap from Monday to Friday, named 'Thuis" (= at home). They are not afraid to tackle different questions too. So they already had a lesbian couple (Ann and Sandrine at first, now Ann and Mayra) and a homosexual couple (Franky jr. and Thibo); they dealt with murder and rape (more than once); with difficult relationships; with hit-and-run accidents in which Simone (one of the main characters) is severly wounded and need sto learn how to walk again.

A recent development is that Peggy (the daughter of Rosa, another main character) and her boyfriend Peter want to adopt a child. Peggy can't have children anymore because she had cancer once. The recent episodes deal with the problems such couples face. They need to go through all kinds of tests to show they are good parents - which results in a 'no' for Peter and Peggy because the psychologist thinks Peter is still not over Femke (his former girlfriend).

Now I think this is not right. I can agree they want to make sure that adopted kids come to a decent family, but who can play judge and jury?

When you get pregnant without any problems, nobody asks you if you are going to be a good parent. Lots of children grow up in a broken family, suffer abuse. Only when it becomes too much, the authorities will do something. But these parents never had to show in the beginning they were going to be good parents...

Years ago, when I was only in my early thirties, I also felt the longing for a child and adoption seemed like a good idea to me. But because I was single I could not get a baby. I argued that the child would grow up in a loving environment, as also my sister was living with me, and even my mother at that time. Enough people around to see to the needs of a little one!

Now the laws have changed, but I still won't be able to adopt a little child: I'm too old now! I can adopt an adult person, but that not what I would like.  I think I could offer a kid a valuable education and I still feel young enough at heart, as I still love my teaching job.

The world is not always fair to people, that's my idea!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Under Her Spell

Today I'd like to introduce you to writer Eliza Daly, author of Under Her Spell - a romantic comedy available from Crimson Romance. Right now, Eliza is doing a Virtual Super Book Blast Tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. During this tour, Eliza will be giving away a $25 gift card from either Amazon or BN to a randomly drawn commenter and a $20 Amazon or BN gift card to a randomly drawn host. So leave as many comments as you like during the tour!

Eliza Daly's first attempt at creative writing was in fourth grade. She and her friends were huge Charlie's Angels fans and she would sit in her bedroom at night writing sripts for them to act out at recess the following day. She was Kelly Garrett. Fast forward to the present, she's still writing stories about beautiful women who always get their men. The journey from fourth grade script writer to published author wasn't an easy one, but it was always an adventure and the final destination was well worth it.

When Eliza isn't traveling for her job as an event planner, or tracing her ancestry roots through Ireland, she's at home in Milwaukee working on her next novel, bouncing ideas off her husband Mark, and her cats Quigley and Frankie.

And now a bit more about the book. What's it about?


When a series of failed relationships and business ventures have Monica Jackson doubting her self-worth, she turns to spell casting to attract positive energy and the opportunities needed to achieve her goals.  But can Monica’s belief in spells restore her belief in herself? 

Monica creates a spell to find her soul mate, and one to ensure the success of her new romantic event planning company, Enhance Your Romance.  Monica is confident she has found her niche until divorce lawyer Reed Walker opens a practice next door to her office.  The anti-marriage slogan plastered on his office window, and his down-on-love clients, quickly prove detrimental to Monica’s business.  When his arrival appears to trigger a string of bad luck, Monica fears one of her spells sent negative energy into the universe and it has returned to her threefold.  Although Reed is beyond sexy, and she admires his self-confidence, she’ll do whatever it takes to get the universe back on her side, and Reed out of her life. No way is she losing another business.

Reed finds himself attracted to Monica’s beauty and her optimism. His job and his parents’ divorce have made him a pessimist, especially when it comes to love. However, he soon finds that Monica’s pro-love attitude is rubbing off on him, causing him to lose his edge.  If Reed doesn’t distance himself from Monica, he’ll likely destroy his reputation as a pit bull divorce lawyer.

Can Monica and Reed look past what they might be losing to realize the love they have found?


Monica turned and her gaze landed on a sign in the window.

Marriage isn’t a word, it’s a sentence. I’ll set you free.

She glanced up at the sign over the door. Reed Walker: Family Law.

Focusing on Chico’s lunch specials when she’d driven up, she’d failed to notice the new signs. “A divorce lawyer?” she muttered in disbelief. Her gaze darted over to the guy. “You’re a divorce lawyer? I thought you were a client.” Being attracted to a divorce lawyer was much worse than a client. Suddenly his eyes didn’t seem as blue and his arms looked wimpy. No way was he Italian. Or her soul mate. And what kind of straight guy wore lavender!

“A client?” He laughed as if that was the most ridiculous thing he’d ever heard. “Ah no, I just started moving in and stopped by to introduce myself.”

“You have to take down that sign.” Monica pointed at his window.

“It’s my company motto. Helps attract business.”

“Maybe for you.”

He arched an amused brow. “That’s the idea.”

“You can’t promote divorce.” She clutched his suit jacket, crumpling it in her hand.

“I’m not promoting it. It’s a fact of life. I don’t have any control over the average marriage lasting seven years, or that one in every two ends in divorce.”

Monica’s gaze skittered around frantically as she searched for a response that didn’t involve whipping the socket wrench through his window and mauling the sign to shreds. She spied a black Mercedes parked up the street. The license plate read No Mer-ce.

“Is that your car?” she demanded, pointing at the Mercedes.

“What are you so worried about? Doesn’t bother me being next door to a business that promotes romance and marriage.”

And here is where you can find Eliza on the web:





Under Her Spell is available at:


Barnes & Noble:




In recent years, our national TV (VRT) makes good programs. Especially on Sunday nights they like to bring top-notch crime series, which bring in lots of spectators and up the rankings.

The last few weeks, we all could watch Salamander, a 12-part crime series about corruption and crime in Belgium. I assume the man who wrote the script knows a lot about what's mostly hidden away...

What's the series about? One day, a small private bank is robbed. 66 of their safes are opened and from it certain documents have been stolen. The owners of those safes panick. They don't know who the culprit is, but they decide to shut up about the theft.

What they cannot predict is that police-inspector Paul Gerardi inadvertently comes accross the crime and wants to find out what happened... Doing this, he puts his job and even his life in jeopardy.

VRT can count on a topcast to perform the main roles. There is Filip Peeter (Paul Gerardi), An Miller (his wife), Violet Braeckman (Sofie, their daughter), Jo De Meyere, Koen De Bouw, Vic De Wachter, Tine Reymer, Gene Bervoets, Ann Ceurvels, Lucan Van den Eyde, Mike Verdrengh, Koen Van Impe and Warre Borgmans. All actors and actresses who have shown they are the best in their profession.

Violet Braeckman, who plays Gerardi's daughter in the series, is actually in one of my classes. She goes to school in St. Gertrudis College in Wetteren (a village about 15 km from my home town) and she's in the 5th from Latin-Greek there. I teach English in that class.

Violet is a good student but in my opinion a bit shy. She certainly doesn't like to boast about her acting performances in the school room. But I think she does great and she will certainly have a future as actress.

NOTE from Nickie: By now, several months later, Salamander was also shown on BBC2, getting over 1 million viewers. The series has been sold to over 50 countries, including Germany and France, and it will also be running on Netflix.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Blue Monday

Some Mondays are worse than the one before. Like today...

When I woke up, everything was covered by a thick layer of snow. Which meant I had to skip reading my newspaper and begin shoving away the snow on my pavement (our laws make you responsible if anyone would have an accident on your part of the pavement) before leaving for work.

A bit of blessing: the train was on time! Now that we've been having more than a week of freezing temperatures and lots of snow, our trains run according the time tabel!!! I don't know about trains in other countries, but trains in Belgium are not known for punctuality. Just think about it: the management doesn't consider it a delay if a train is five minutes late!

Then to school. Findin that more than one pavement was not swept clean and trying not to lose my footing (although, when you have an accident on your way to school, it isn't considered sick-leave and all your expenses get paid...). When crossing the school play ground ducking away to avoid the snowballs thrown by your students (not allowed, but how can you see who threw the ball?).

Returning home to find a message from the Post Office that they won't deliver any post because of the bad weather... Crazy, eh?

Well, I got through the day. Need to urgently correct some tests from my classes, which means I still won't be able to read that newspaper.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Maria Gonzalez

Imagine you are living in the midst of the 16th century. You are happily married and decide to accompany your husband to a post in the colonies. You don't complain about the heat and the other uncomfortable things. You even agree to go along to a trip through the jungles of New Spain - where your party is attacked by Aztec warriors. What would you do??? Would you face the dangers and continue with your life?

Maria Gonzalez is such a woman. Strong and determined, able to accept what fate throws her. She is widowed at a young age, and taken captive by people she considers as savages. Because of her blond hair and blue eyes, she is seen as an envoy from the gods and thus her life is spared. She is forced to become the wife of the Aztec ruler and slowly learns to accept her new life in this hidden city.

But her troubles aren't ended yet. The Spanish discover the hidden city and lay siege on it. In the fights her second husband also loses his life, and once more widowed she has to find a way to keep alive and save as many people she is able to. Thanks to the older Don Felipe she gets out of trouble and she accepts his hand in marriage as he is returning to Spain.

During their sea voyage, Maria and Felipe face the attack of an English privateer. Michael Fenwich, the ship's captain, takes an immediate fancy to the Spanish lady and sets out to conquer her. This is made more easy because Felipe is sent to the English court as an ambassador, trying to plead his Majesty's cause at the court of Queen Elizabeth I.

When Felipe is murdered, Maria suspects Michael of being the culprit. But she is wrong - so wrong it nearly costs her life. Only Michael will be able to save her...

And here's a teaser from the novel:

It was hot, unbearably hot. The sun’s rays pierced violently, intruding through the dense foliage. It pricked the backs of those people who were trying to make their way through the rain forest.

Maria was riding one of the few horses in the company’s possession. The foot soldiers suffered the most. They had to walk through this heathen forest, where danger lurked everywhere in the trees and undergrowth. She focused on the rider before her. The tail of his horse went up and down in a dull, recurring, almost hypnotic pattern to chase away the hundreds of insects that pestered it.

The straw hat she was wearing did not protect her from the effects of the sun. Sweat searched its way over her forehead, her eyelashes, cheeks and finally her mouth. There it left a salt taste on her lips. She was too tired to even make an attempt at wiping her brow. She looked sideways to where the padre was riding, and wondered how he, with his shaven head managed to look so cool under this oppressing heat.

“Do you think we have to travel much longer, padre?” she asked.

“Two more hours, I guess,” Padre José answered. “Just hold on for so long, my dear girl.”

The rhythmic movement of the horse’s gait, the warmth, the relentless attacks of mosquito’s and other insects – all of this brought her to a state of physical and mental exhaustion. Nothing could arouse her at this moment. Not even the sound of hacking machetes. The Indians who were their guides used them to clear the way ahead. Chak, Chak, repeated monotonously. She almost fell asleep in the saddle.

* * *

“Where have you come from?”

Manuel’s voice did not sound too friendly as he looked at his wife. She had obviously bathed, and was now tidying her hair. She smiled at him. Although her clothes were drying fast, they still showed the curves of her body. He had to look away. The way the cloth clung to her breasts…

“There’s a brook a bit further” she told him. “I could not resist freshening up. The water is so lovely! I’ve soaked my clothes as well.”

“You’re foolish, Maria! You don’t know the dangers of this forest! Besides, what must the men be thinking?”

Now she laughed aloud. “They are all busy setting up the tents, like you ordered. Rest assured, they won’t be looking at me!”

“How many times do I have to tell you not to leave the company of the others?” he went on, not hearing what she said. “I don’t want it, Maria!”

“Are you afraid that something might happen to me?” she asked, inwardly smiling at his show of feelings.

It was his pleasure to answer Maria. “Of course! I could not bear to lose you, mi cielo!

“Neither would I.” She went over and kissed him full on the lips. “Not much longer now, cariño…”

He answered her kiss with another one, but then she tore herself free.

“Let’s eat first. Travelling sharpens the appetite!”

The Indians had angled up some fish and were now roasting them, wrapped in banana leaves, over a smothered fire of leaves and fine branches. It was not a fish they had eaten before, but the meat was white and firm and had a good taste.

“They call this fish piranha,” the Padre mentioned. “I believe the Tupi Indians in Brazil use that word too.” He had taken a lively interest in the heathen Indians. He even spoke some words of their language. This came in useful, he had once told Maria, as his aim was to convert these believers in the ancient Aztec gods to Catholicism.

“I was told that a piranha was a very small fish, which eats meat. Commandante Muñoz advised me never to put my hand into the water of any stream, because the piranha’s could snap off my fingers!” Miguel said.

“That’s true enough” the Padre agreed. “It appears though that there are various kind of piranha. The bigger fish are excellent food, as we can all tell from experience!”

They finished their evening meal with a cup of red wine, which they had brought along. Not much later most of the men retired to the tents to sleep.

Miguel and Maria remained by the fire for a while longer. Being responsible for his soldiers, the captain had to make sure that everything was in order and that the guards on night watch had been posted. When he was satisfied, he took his wife by the hand.

“Let’s go to bed, mi esposa.”

As soon as he had closed the flap of the tent, he flashed his white teeth. “You made me a promise, madam! Are you ready to make good of your word?”

She did not say anything, but slowly unfastened the laces which tied the skirts to her bodice. For comfort on their travels, she was only wearing one skirt above her shift, and it was made in a practical and light material. Miguel came closer and helped her to untie the long sleeves, after which he continued to open up the bodice. His fingers played with her breasts while doing so. At last she was only wearing the thin shift, which did nothing to hide the curves of her delicious body. His Maria was a beauty, he thought. From her Flemish ancestors she had inherited the blonde hair and blue eyes. Her breasts were round and firm and her hips promised easy birth-giving.

He gave her a playful kiss and then started to get out of his uniform as well. Finally he pulled her down on the makeshift bed. Slowly his fingers picked up the hem of the shift and caressingly he pulled it over her head. He kissed her again, more passionately this time.

“How gorgeous you are” he sighed. “And mine alone…”

He began to fondle her milky-cream breasts. His thumb touched a nipple and started to rub it enticingly. She leaned back against the cushion, to better feel the hardness of his body. She grabbed hold of him.

“Ahh!” she let out as her heart started to beat faster. His lips now descended upon her breast and his warm tongue left a trace of burning desire. Then his head went lower, to her navel and slowly, teasingly lower and lower… Before she had been married, Maria had never suspected that such delights between man and woman existed. Her aunt Francesca had been trying to prepare her for her marriage, but she had only spoken of duty. “It is God’s will, my dear,” she had explained “that wives should endure the carnal desires of their husband. I always close my eyes, and silently pray to Our Lord.”

Not a word about lust, about desire. It was only after their marriage that she had experienced this wonder. Now she knew that a man’s body could actually give delight. She was not shy anymore and loved to look at the nakedness of Miguel, with the hard proof of his desire so clearly visible.

Now his tongue was licking her love bud, and she let out moans of desire.

“Oh, yes, please” she begged. “Come into me, mi amor!”

He was about to comply, when all hell broke loose.

You can purchase the book from the publisher, Rogue Phoenix Press, or buy it on Amazon. There is both a paperback version and an ebook one.