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Friday, May 31, 2013

The dangers of the internet

A couple of days ago, there was a program on the radio (yes, I always switch on my radio once I'm home) which showed how easy people believe what they're told.

A reporter called them at home, asking for all kind of information (including the number of their bank account and their password). Can you believe it? Seven on ten gave the info!

And yet the internet is quite safe - if you take precautions.

Young people who are looking for a job should be careful with what they post on social networks such as Facebook. Pictures from wild parties and nude girls won't give  a good impression on your future employer!

Also, never tell too much about your private whereabouts. Never tell your 'friends' on the net that you will be away on a trip with the exact dates. Don't boast about the valuables you have at home. You may invite some unwanted guests...

Also never ever give your bank details or credit card details in an email. Only buy online when you can use a secured server. Be aware of pop-ups during your internet-banking session, asking for your password once more. When this happens, leave the internet banking immediately because someone is phishing.

Take in mind that everything you put on the net stays there into eternity.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Gospel According to Prissy

Another author takes the stand today. May I introduce you to Barbara Casey, author of The Gospel According to Prissy? Barbara promotes her novel, an inspirational suspense currently available from Strategic Media Books and all major bookselling outlets, by doing a virtual book blitz tour with Goddess Fish promotions.

For this reason, Barbara will be giving away a 25$  Amazon of BB gift card to one randomly chosen commenter. So don’t forget to leave your comments!
 
Barbara Casey is president of the Barbara Casey Agency, representing adult fiction and nonfiction for authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, and Japan.  She is also the author of numerous articles, poems, and short stories.  Her award-winning novels have received national recognition, including the Independent Publishers Book Award, the Dana Award for Best Novel, and the Publisher’s Best Seller Award.  Her novel, The House of Kane, released in 2008, was considered for a Pulitzer nomination, and her novel Just Like Family received special recognition by the 7-Eleven Corporation.  Her latest young adult novel, The Cadence of Gypsies, was reviewed by the Smithsonian for its list of 2011 Best Books. The Gospel According to Prissy, a contemporary adult novel, was released in the spring of 2013.

In addition to being a frequent guest lecturer at universities and writers’ conferences, Ms. Casey served as judge for the Pathfinder Literary Awards in Palm Beach and Martin Counties, Florida, and was the Florida Regional Advisor for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators from 1991 through 2003. 

And what is The Gospel According to Prissy about?

Three Army veteran misfits, a college dropout, an unmotivated high school graduate accused of murder, a controversial warden of a women's prison, and a little girl with the gift of prophesy – these are the people 31-year-old Lara Kruger invites into her life after suffering a miscarriage, a divorce from an abusive husband, and unemployment.



… with a little teaser

Miriam walked away from her desk and paused in front of the unframed full-length mirror she had salvaged from the recent renovations in the women’s shower rooms.  The edges were chipped and blackened, and there was a fairly large crack that ran vertically from one corner to the other.  The condition of the mirror was the result, no doubt, of one of many displays of frustration and anger within the prison walls before she took over.  Still, the mirror served its purpose.  On those rare occasions when Warden Miriam Temple of the Braden Women’s Correctional Institution needed to be sure she looked her best, at least she could do so in the privacy of her own office.

Studying her reflection, she saw a tall, aging fifty-nine-year-old woman with dark hair streaked with gray cut in a simple shag, myopic brown eyes made evident by the wire-framed glasses, and a raw-boned body that could be considered well-proportioned if it weren’t for the fact that it was about twenty pounds on the heavy side, fifteen of which had settled around her thighs and buttocks.  “Pear shaped, as opposed to apple shaped,” she frequently reminded herself, “so that means at least I won’t die of a heart attack.”  The fact that her ear lobes were also plump and didn’t have the diagonal creases indicating some type of heart disease seemed to confirm that fact.  She didn’t know if these old-wives’ tales she had grown up with were really true, but she liked to keep an open mind, especially when they worked to her benefit.

She normally didn’t wear make-up, but this morning before leaving for work, she had dug out her small tapestry bag that held what few cosmetics she owned and applied a little blush and a touch of lipstick.  She rubbed one cheek with her hand now, thinking that maybe she shouldn’t have bothered.  She didn’t need to impress anyone.  Even if there had been the awkwardness that sometimes comes with being a large woman, it had been replaced years ago by the confidence born from a privileged background and the level of acceptance and comfort from which she viewed herself.

Her dark gray suit and crisp white blouse were clean and unwrinkled, thanks to the prison laundry facilities.  The plain black pumps she wore looked both practical and appropriate to complete the over-all appearance of discipline, control, strength, and above all, a positive attitude.  It was the attitude within the prison that Miriam had worked the hardest on when she took over as head warden six years earlier.  There had been a stifling wave of hopelessness and despair among the female inmates so thick it made it difficult to breathe.  This was manifested daily in brawls, food fights, and a behavior of non-compliance in general.  “Animals get treated better than we do,” had been the mantra at the prison.

For six years Miriam had been working fourteen-hour days, overseeing the operations of the facility, staying on top of problems, writing reports, and talking to every person she could reach about helping to set up programs for “her girls” as she referred to them.  Each of Miriam’s programs offered something to a few of her girls, but not to all, something she struggled with daily.  She constantly researched what other correctional institutions were doing not only in this country but other countries as well, trying to come up with new ways to stimulate her girls and help them feel enthusiastic about their lives.

It had worked.  She started getting noticed after the first year of her tenure.  Complaints from the prisoners dropped, a State audit confirmed that for the first time in over a decade the prison budget would be in the black, and the over-all appearance of the facility was vastly improved.  Government officials who previously had been reluctant to show interest now started to open doors for this hard-working, persistent, and obviously dedicated woman.

And then Prissy had been born.



Some useful links:




www.barnesandnoble.com

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Perfect Duke

Hello folks! Today I’d like to introduce you to Dawn Ireland, author of The Perfect Duke. This novel is a historical romance, available from Soul Mate Publishing and the author is doing a book blast tour with Goddess Fish Promotions.

Everyone is invited to leave a comment when reading this blog, because the author is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card to one randomly chosen commenter. The more comments, the more chance of winning!

“Once Upon a Time” are four of Dawn’s favorite words. Her love of story became a love of romance when she read Georgette Heyer’s, Devil’s Cub. It inspired her to write stories with strong characters that discover love is never easy, but always worthwhile. Dawn’s written several award-winning novels set in Georgian England – an era filled with rules and intrigue. Her characters often defy “Society” as they pursue love, run away, pursue, run away – well, you get the idea.  

Then again, she might write romance in order to do the research. What other profession encourages you to sit in the audience at Harlequin’s Male Model search, and take notes, or just sigh?


Dawn lives in a Victorian home in upstate New York with her husband and very independent cats. When she’s not writing, she’s singing, gardening, learning to play the harp or wood carving. If you’d like to learn more about Dawn and her novels, go to her website at www.dawn-ireland.com  Or find her at Facebook or www.smpauthors.wordpress.com

About the novel:

Known as The Marble Duke amongst the Ton, Garret Weston, the Duke of Kendal sets himself apart from his peers. Nothing will hinder his guilt-driven attempt to become a perfect duke. Nothing that is, save the alluring and imaginative betrothed he’d thought dead. His intended believes-of all things-that she is a Vicar’s daughter. The “perfect” duke needs a “perfect” duchess, but how was he to discern her suitability? Employing her as a governess to his niece seemed like an ideal solution. But whose “suitability” is being tested? His betrothed refuses to see he is beyond redemption. And most grievous of all, she stirs his blood, making him forget what’s important.

Cara believes fairy tales really can come true, until she meets the unrelenting and arrogant Duke of Kendal. He looks like a Prince, but acts like a Beast. Why must he challenge her at every turn? Her greatest peril is her attraction to the vulnerable, seductive man behind the title. A match between them would be impossible. But can she show him, without losing her heart,  that “perfect” is in the eye of the beholder? 



And a little teaser to tempt you:

The duke peered down at her. “I asked Timmons to refrain from telling you about the servants’ lives.”

“You told him what?” Cara stood. “You had no right.”

“Actually, I have every right.”

For the first time in her life, Cara wanted to throw something at another human being. Fortunately, the oriental vase on the table closest to her was out of reach. “Tell me something. Do you relish being feared by your staff?”

He took a backward step. “That is ridiculous. They do not fear me.”

“Don’t they? And what makes you so sure?” Cara could not believe the man had no idea how he treated others. “When did you last speak to a footman?”

“I speak with them daily.”

“Don’t you mean ‘command’ them daily?” She’d witnessed the impersonal way he treated his staff. “I’m willing to wager you don’t even know one of their names.”

“Charles.”

Cara crossed to within inches of him. Staring up into his frigid green eyes, she enunciated every word. “There is not one footman named ‘Charles.’ It’s the name you give them, like referring to all dogs as ‘dog.’”

“You would not understand. That is the way things are done. It would be impossible for me to learn every footman’s name.”

“Impossible, or tiresome?”

The duke took her arms in a firm hold and Cara had the impression he wanted to shake her. “My conduct is not your concern.”

 

You can purchase the novel at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BT0NGOC

Monday, May 27, 2013

Oral examinations

I can't help being a teacher, foremost. Next to that, I write.

The last couple of days, I've been very busy preparing for the coming examination period (early June). I only teach in one grade (5th year of secondary school, 17-year-olds) and they now have oral examinations for some subjects for the first time ever. So naturally they are quite nervous about it...

They've been asking all kinds of questions, the funniest about what to wear for those exams. Depending on the school, the dress code can vary, but most of the times, kids who do their oral exams come to school like they would to the last year prom. Boys in suits, girls in dresses...  Sometimes you hardly recognize the student when they present themselves like that!

And of course, they also want to make sure about what exactly to know for this exam. They realize they only have about a quarter of an hour to give their replies to the questions, and consequently more points go to these questions. You just can't ask as many questions at an oral exam.

I've been trying to reassure them that oral exams are, in fact, easier than written ones (at least to my experience). If you make a mistake in something written, and you don't notice it immediately, you lose points. But if you say something wrong, the teacher will point this out and you can make corrections. You'll only lose a little bit of points. The teacher can also do a lot to make the student feel less nervous, just by chatting a bit.

As a student, I just loved oral exams, and I always did very well on them.  After all, I can talk my way out of most things....!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

What makes you buy a book?

Until a few years ago - so before the Kindle era - I just LOVED to browse around book shops and inevitably came out with a couple of books in my bag!

So what made me buy those books? Well, to be honest, first I looked at the cover. Admit it, a beautiful and attractive cover makes you want to pick up the book! Only then you read the cover text and perhaps have a peak into the first pages (and the last ones, in my case)

That is why romance novels all have those gorgeous women (and men) on their covers. The heroines in those books are mostly slender females (well, that never gave me cause to start a diet) and their beaus are alpha men.


That is why a cover is very important for a book. Speaking from my own experiences, I am asked by my publisher what I'd like to have on the cover. It should also tell something about the novel. So in the case of The Medici Diamonds I needed to have the diamond necklace on the cover, because this necklace plays an important role in the development of the story. And you'll also see a glass of spoilt wine, which points to the beginning of the novel. With Maria Gonzalez I asked the cover artist to pay close attention to Maria's blue eyes, because they also are important and the reason why the Aztecs save her life. See what I mean?

So readers, what makes you buy a book? The cover? The contents? The author? Don't hesitate to let me know in a comment.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Fed up with the weather

If you are living in those parts of the world where the sun is shining right now, you can't imagine how we over here in the northern parts of Europe feel.

We've had one of the most harsh winters we'd ever lived through, and now the spring is more like autumn and even winter. Yesterday was one of the coldest days ever at the end of May, with temperatures barely above 7° Celsius. Normally we are due 18° or more. It even snowed in the French region of the country!

And besides the cold, we get wind and rain... No wonder lots of people are booking holidays into the sun - the travel agencies have never been busier.

We have planned our agenda for the coming summer... with a trip to Scotland (!) and later on one to Manchester, UK. Not the most sunny destinations, but who could guess we won't have spring or summer (at least that's what it looks like). So we are now looking into to spend at least one week (we do have two months of school holidays) somewhere where the sunshine is guaranteed. Perhaps somewhere in Portugal (Porto or Lisbon) or Greece (quite cheapn, nowadays). We also saw a city trip to Hong Kong, but the travel agency doesn't have an office near we live, and you can't book online. The only way is making a reservation by phone and I don't like to do that.

Well, we'll see what we'll do. But we SHALL have some sunshine this year!!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

After the train wreck

Exactly three weeks ago, a freight train coming derailed near the town of Wetteren. I suppose I've told before that I work at a school there, and that weekend we were supposed to have a weekend full of festivities and activities for parents and students.

When we woke up that Saturday morning, the first thing we heard was the news about the accident. The freight train was transporting a dangerous fluid, but the firebrigade of Wetteren did not quite know the dangers of it and so they used water to extinguish the fire. Parts of the fluid came into this water, which went into the sewers and later on gave off dangerous gasses (to be compared with the infamous Zyklon B used by the Nazi's to extinguish the Jews).

In the course of the morning, the school's website let us know the festivities were cancelled, first for the Saturday, then for Sunday, and finally we got the news the school would be closed the entire next week. All because of the dangerous gas which was still lingering.

As from last week, most people from Wetteren could return to their homes, and our school opened its gates again. But because of the train wreck, the train from Mechelen to Ghent don't run. So we need to take a bus, and boy, what a misery that is!

In the morning (almost forty minutes earlier than I normally left) I take a bus to Wetteren, full of school children who don't always behave well. Luckily I've always managed to capture a seat, so I don't have to be pressed into the corridor between those kids. And in the afternoon, I take the bus which replaces the train. Depending on the driver, the ride can take between 35 minutes and 1 hour and a quarter... Today it was bad again, because of the rain.

I truly hope it won't take ages before the rails are repaired. (Of course, they had to move the damaged wagons first.) According to what I heard, Infrabel will start with the new rail next Monday. But still the works could take 4 weeks (I hope they're wrong!).

Lots of misery, and God knows how the accident will have influenced the future lives of all those living in its neighborhood. I take care only to drink water from a bottle I bring along. The wind carried the gas miles around, and also here in Dendermonde we see more dead insects than normal.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Barry Gibb

When I was a younger person, the Bee Gees were one of the most popular bands around. Especially my sister was a big fan of theirs (after her fancy for The Osmonds, that is). The unfortunate thing was, that the only time the Bee Gees performed in Belgium, she was ill. Later on we heard tales about this legendary concert in the Brussels Jubelpark, which was one of the best ever given.

Two years ago, we were able to see Robin Gibb (one of the twin brothers) perform at Rimpel Rock (a rock festival for older people in Hasselt). He and the members of his band sang songs of the Bee Gees naturally and even though Robin was quite ill at the moment (a few weeks later he was admitted to hospital because of his cancer) he still gave the best of himself.


Robin died last year, after his brothers Andy and Maurice (in 2003). Barry, the eldest brother, never wanted to perform on his own, until quite recently. Now his kids persuaded him to go back to the stage, and so he does a tour to honor his brothers who've died. We were able to get tickets for the Birmingham concert (because it's on a Saturday) - there are only three gigs in England: Birmingham, Manchester and London. But as we are working we can only manage weekends. We think about flying to Birmingham (sometimes plain fares are quite cheap within Europe) and probably we can already be there on Friday night. That gives us one day to explore Birmingham a bit. And then in the evening, the concert! I've seen a video on You Tube from a performance in Australia earlier this year, and it will be a great concert, of that I'm sure.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Cracked Slipper

Hello folks! Today I’d like to introduce you to Stephanie Alexander, author of The Cracked Slipper. This is a romantic women’s fiction fantasy which is available now.


Stephanie grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC, the oldest of three children. Drawing, writing stories, and harassing her parents for a pony consumed much of her childhood. After graduating from high school in 1995 she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the College of Charleston, South Carolina. She returned to Washington, DC, where she followed a long-time fascination with sociopolitical structures and women’s issues to a Master of Arts in Sociology from the American University. She spent several years as a Policy Associate at the International Center for Research on Women, a think-tank focused on women’s health and economic advancement.

Stephanie embraced full-time motherhood after the birth of the first of her three children in 2003. After six wonderful years buried in diapers and picture books she returned to her childhood passion and wrote her own fairytale. Her family put down permanent southern roots in Charleston in 2011. Stephanie is an adjunct professor of Sociology at the College of Charleston.

The author is now doing a Virtual Super Book Blast tour with Goddess Fish Promotions, and on this occasion she is giving away a $ 10 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during this tour. So don’t forget to leave your comment!



 
About The Cracked Slipper;

Blurb

When Eleanor Brice unexpectedly wins the heart of Gregory Desmarais, Crown Prince of Cartheigh, she's sure she's found her happily-ever-after. Unfortunately, Prince Charming has a loose grip on his temper, a looser grip on his marriage vows, and a tight grip on the bottle.

Eight years of mistreatment, isolation and clandestine book learning hardly prepare Eleanor for life at Eclatant Palace, where women are seen, not heard. According to Eleanor's eavesdropping parrot, no one at court appreciates her unladylike tendency to voice her opinion. To make matter worse, her royal fiancé spends his last night of bachelorhood on a drunken whoring spree. Before the ink dries on her marriage proclamation Eleanor realizes that she loves her husband's best friend, former soldier Dorian Finley.

Eleanor can't resist Dorian's honesty, or his unusual admiration for her intelligence, and soon both are caught in a dangerous obsession. She drowns her confusion in charitable endeavors, but the people's love can't protect her from her feelings. When a magical crime endangers the bond between unicorns, dragons, and the royal family, a falsely accused Eleanor must clear her own name to save her life. The road toward vindication will force a choice between hard-won security and an impossible love.

The Cracked Slipper is a book club friendly fairytale retelling in the vein of Gregory Maguire, with a dash of romance. Set in a pseudo-renaissance, corset-and-petticoats enchanted kingdom, The Cracked Slipper brings a magical twist to women's fiction.


Excerpt

Their host, Sir Robert Smithwick, rose and gave a toast to the health of his nephew. Other speeches followed, each more suggestive than the next. She laughed out loud when Dorian subtly mocked Brian’s inability to hold his liquor. Gregory spoke last, and gave a surprisingly thoughtful salute to his cousin. She patted his arm when he sat, and he gave her a tentative smile.

As everyone returned to their venison and cliff shrimp Eleanor's stepmother tapped her goblet. Mother Imogene rose and lifted the cup. “I must ask you to pause for just one more moment,” she said. “I have another announcement.”

“My darling,” she said to Sylvia. “We’ve all so enjoyed your hospitality this summer. But now my daughter must remember herself, and rest, for with the winter will arrive a future duke! Our dear Sylvia is expecting!”

The guests applauded, congratulating Imogene and Sylvia. Sylvia gazed demurely in her lap, as if embarrassed by the association with procreation. As for the expectant father, he was nowhere to be seen. His wife’s entertaining had proved too much for him, and the duke returned to Harveston for some peace.

Eleanor glanced down the table. Anne Iris retched into her cup, but it was Dorian’s calm face that inspired her. She stood and the room quieted. “My dear sister,” she said. “Let me extend my good wishes.”

Sylvia’s simpering went rigid.

“I will say, Sylvia always had a flair for the dramatic when we were children. Who knew you would entertain so many with your widely varied talents? While I have recently been ill, I’ve heard you neglect no one, from the loftiest lord to the most common stable hand. We are so fortunate there is one among us who gives so generously of herself to others. It’s no wonder His Grace, your husband, took his leave. It must be difficult to share you with so many.”

Imogene’s eyes bulged and her nostrils flared, while Sylvia gave an uncertain twitter. Eleanor looked at Dorian again. He winked.

“So I salute you, Your Grace,” she said.“May your child look just like you. Just as lovely.”

The guests applauded, all the while hiding their smirks and chuckles in their goblets and napkins. Eleanor sat down. This time Gregory touched her arm. “Well played,” he said."
 
Links
 
 
blog.thecrackedslipper.com
 
 
twitter: @crackedslippe
 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Peculiar names

The last decades, it looks to me that parents are giving their offspring the most strange names. I always wonder what the kid will think, later, when he or she has grown up and is stuck with that name...

This 'trend' started some twenty years ago. A neigbor of ours, who owns a garage, got divorced. His ex-wife remarried and when she had a son with her new husband, she called him Devadub. Apparently an Indian name, but I know the guy now calls himself Dave.

And a well-known singer here has a son called Wolf.  Others call their children Moon or Sun, or even Kresel (my other neighbor's granddaughter). Why not choose for names like Ann, or Mary, or Tim, Steve(n), ... ? What's wrong with those?

When I was young there were lists with first names. If the name you picked was not on that list, the kid would have to get another name. Now the government has done away with those lists, but as long as I'm concerned they should re-introduce them. This would prevent follies like the ones mentioned above. Or at least there should be a law which grants children the right to change their first name when they become an adult. (Well, they can do that, but it will cost them dearly - it should be free of charge.)

A new trend are the double first names. Romeo Cruz (a colleague's grandson) - alas they did not cal the second child, a daughter, Juliet! The weirder, the better, apparently.

What do you think of this? Did you give your child an 'ordinary' name or a rather 'special' one?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

It pays to clean up!

It's the weekend again and so you can find the most amazing stories in the dailies. What caught my attention this time was the story about a couple in Chicago.

Not rich people, but hard-working and barely keeping up with their payments. The wife sometimes did not know where to find the money to pay another bill.

As she was cleaning up her kitchen, she found an old cookie jar and enclosed were some lottery tickets. She did not know if they were worth anything, so she sent her husband out to the shop to have those tickets checked.


And guess what happened? One of the tickets had the right numbers to win practically 5 million dollar!  The money should be in their account in a few days and you can bet the couple won't have problems paying their bills now.

Well, I guess I'll be cleaning up my house too and begin looking for hidden treasures... Alas, never found one up to date!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

TBR

Perhaps some people (those who don't read) won't know what TBR means. It's short for: To Be Read - i.e. the heap of books you've bought but still haven't read.

As I do love to buy books (never could resist it, it's a sort of addiction) I always have lots of books on my Kindle which I haven't read yet. And each week the list grows longer...

I'm a avid reader, so I read on the train to work (or the bus now), I read whenever I have to wait for an appointment (at the doctor's, at the dentist's) and I read after I've finished with work and in the weekends. Still I can't keep up with all those new books I gathered. I buy a couple of ebooks per month, and each time I get a mail from Amazon I am tempted to buy even more.

Do you also have this problem? How do you go about it? I mostly read books in series. By author, that is. Right now I'm almost finished with the DCI Banks novels by Peter Robinson. Only have to read the latest one, published this year. I also alternate with another series, The Legendary Warrior series by Karen Kay. So a thriller followed by a romantic story. Once done with those two, I'll go to another author. Bit by bit I manage to read those new acquisitions this way.

But it can happen that I buy a book which never gets read... does this also happen to you? And why? With me, it's mostly because I come to the conclusion that the book doesn't suit my taste in reading at the moment - and after a while I forget about it and only find back the book years later. And then it even appeals less to me!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Les Miserables

Today it was in the post: my DVD of Les Miserables. I've seen the musical a couple of times (in New York, Antwerp and London) and already had the DVD's of the 15 years and 25 years Anniversary Concerts. So I really couldn't miss having this one too.


According to the critics, the singing is not so good. Well, that's to be expected I think. This is a movie, not a muscial production. The acting and mis-en-scène will be so much better than on stage. I read that only Anne Hathaway sings well enough. But I don't know about Hugh Jackmman or Russell Crowe. This doesn't mean a thing, however. I never believe what I read until I have proof for myself.

When Phantom of the Opera was put on film, nobody thought Gerard Butler could do Phantom as well as he did. True, he's not a singer, but his voice was good enough to do the part, and being an actor he knew where to put stress on the words - something muscial stars sometimes don't know.

So I'll be putting on this DVD tomorrow, instead of watching that dreadful Eurovision Song Festival. There is nothing on TV because of it. A good invention, those recorders! I often used it, instead of watching programs on TV. Now we have digital TV, and I don't know how many channels, but if you only watch BBC or TV1 (our Flemish channel) and occoasionally ZDF (German TV) you don't really need them. Unfortunately, you can't choose which channels you want in your package, you pay anyway.

And hopefully we're able to sleep this weekend, as our rugby club is having it's 20th anniversary tournament and each night there will be parties. When the wind comes from the wrong direction, we can hear everything - and I don't like loud house music. Need to buy ear plugs tomorrow, to make sure...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

How to deal with bad weather

We can't help it: the weather is going crazy these last weeks. Instead of having warmer weather, which you should expect in May, we are getting temperatures which resemble winter. Hell, sometimes it is warmer in winter! It's so bad lots of people can't get rid of their colds or flu and some of them also get into a depression.

But we can do something about our state of mind. What use is it to complain? So we can turn up the heating in our home (will be a costly affair, as it's been on since October last year) and cuddle up in the sofa, having a warm toddy and reading good book.


Filling the house with good smells also helps. So ladies, get behind those cooking pots and prepare a hearty meal! Or soak in a hot bath, filled with the best of aroma's. Have a hairdo or a massage. Little things, but they sure willl boost your moral.

And most importantly: gather people around you who don't talk about the weather. Everything is permitted, as long as the rain and the cold don't get into the conversation. Perhaps talking about your plans for a nice holiday in warmer parts?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Another year gone by

And the tachometer goes to... 57. Higher number, but still feeling young at heart. But the older you get, the faster time seems to go by.


 The past year was a reasonable good one for me. It began with some worries about my health, but after thorough examinations my doctors could assure me I'm still functioning well enough and if I take my daily meds I need not worry. I can easily become 100 or more!

Yes, I really can't complain. I realize this especially now, with this disaster in Wetteren (the place I work). It could just as well have happened in our town, and as we live near the rail tracks, we could have been in a lot of danger.

I wish I'd had some more money, but who doesn't? I have more than enough, I own the house in which we live, I can spend money on trips and other extra's, ... This past year we certainly broadened our horizons. We visited Cardiff, Wales twice (in May 2012 and April 2013), went to London (July 2012 and March 2013) and Liverpool (July 2012 and April 2013), spent a week on the Isle of Man (in July 2012), went another week in winter to Scuol, Switzerland (February 2013) ... and ended in Amsterdam, Holland. And we have more trips to look out for.

We went dining in some fine restaurants and saw some good shows and artists. Work is satisfactory too. I only work half time, but at my age this is a blessing. Especially when you deal with youngsters of 17 and have to prepare & correct a lot. And now the exams are coming up (when any of my students read this, your exams are nearly finished, guys).

Lots of friends remembered me today and I thank them all. My sister baked a cake and we'll eat some of it later on, together with a glass of bubbly. And then on towards 58...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Midnight Special

Hello folks! Today I’d like to introduce you to author Tawny Weber. Tawny has been writing sassy, sexy romances since her first Harlequin Blaze hit the shelves in 2007.  A fan of Johnny Depp, cupcakes and color coordination, she spends a lot of her time shopping for cute shoes, scrapbooking and hanging out on Facebook. 



Readers can check out Tawny’s books at her website or join her Red Hot Readers Club for goodies like free reads, complete first chapter excerpts, recipes, insider story info and much more.  And for a limited time, she has a few open spots on her Street Team!

Links for this are:






 
On the occasions of the publication of Midnight Special (a hot contemporary tomance from Harlequin) Tawny is now doing a Super Book Blast tour with Goddess Fish Promotions and for this occasion she’ll be giving away a bookmark goodie package to one commenter at each stop (bookmark, signed cover flat, post it pad, magnet) and a grand prize of a $25 Amazon / BN (or other bookstore of the winner's choice) GC to one randomly drawn commenter during this tour. So don’t forget to post your comment and leave your email address, so the author can contact you.


What the book about?


Blurb:

Somewhere on the train is a key witness for a crime involving arson, murder and a high-profile businessman. And reporter Marni Clare will do whatever it takes to get the story—even if it means crashing in a sleeper car that’s she’s not sure she’s reserved. But when she wakes, she finds herself curled up with the man she’s seeking…and he’s hot enough to derail all her plans!

FBI special agent Hunter won’t complain about the wickedly hot blonde in his arms. And maybe it’s the medication he’s on, but he’s even agreed to share his room for the entire journey….

It’s a long trip in close quarters, and within days their berth becomes the scene of some steamy railway romps. But is Marni just having fun…or is she taking Hunter for a ride?

 
Excerpt:

 
WELL THIS WAS ONE HELL of a way to wake up.

All traces of sleep, painkillers and whiskey cleared from his head with a blink. Hunter was left with surprise and an overwhelming degree of passion.

Waking up horny was one of the perks of being a guy, like peeing standing up. But in all his years of appreciating his masculine advantages, Hunter couldn’t recall waking up quite this horny.

Then again, this was the first time he’d ever had a fantasy come to life.

As still as a cat gauging its prey, Hunter inspected the woman next to him. She looked like a cross between a porcelain doll and a sex kitten.

Flaxen blond curls waved around her face, floating to pale white shoulders. Her eyes were huge, the color of a cloudless sky and surrounded by a lush fringe of dark lashes. Heavy with passion, clouded with dazed shock, they had an intelligence in their depths that warned Hunter not to underestimate her. The rounded cheeks, flushed pink, and cupid’s bow mouth completed the picture of adorable confusion.

Figuring it was only fair since she’d taken her own visual tour, he shifted back a little to take in the rest of the view.

Damn.

 
Purchase links:


-    Amazon



-    Harlequin

-    Powells

-    iTunes

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Back from Amsterdam

I've been away for a couple of days, to our neighbor county Holland. Do you know, we'd never been in Amsterdam before, although it's so close to Belgium?

We left on Wednesday afternoon around two p.m. Normally we should have been there around five o'clock, but due to a train accident (what's it with train accidents, these days?) we only arrived by six. Because we had no clue how far it would be to the hotel (the Hilton, now we know it's in Amsterdam South, and can easily be reached by tram 16 or  2) we took a taxi. We could immediately check into our room, emptied our suitcase, took a shower and then headed towards the restaurant. They serve decent food there in the Hilton.

The following days we took our time in exploring the city. We took a tour on the many canals (really worth the money) because the sun was out on Thursday morning, and afterwards visited the Anne Frank house. Also we walked along the 'grachten ' (the Dutch name for the canals). On Friday we intended to see the Rijksmuseum, but when we noticed the long rows of waiting people, we decided not to waste our time unduly and alternatively went to another museum; a 17th century house along the Herengracht, which allows the visitor to see how people lived in past centuries. We also went into Madame Tussaud's and walked in Vondelpark. We found some good restaurants to dine at - Thijs at the Prinsengracht and Te Pas at Lijnbaansgracht. Also Gaucho's  (Argentinian restaurant) was more than ok. Out of these three I'd give my best marks to Te Pas. It's a small restaurant, family owned. We ordered a surprise menu, and got only the best ingredients and the most exceptional wines. Ever heard of Sauvignon Gris? And the best, we only paid 144 € for 2 people! I don't know how they do that, with all those fine ingredients and those very good wines....

I'll tell more about our trip later on and also post some pictures.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Blood Bound

Today I’d like to introduce you to Melanie Atkins, author of Blood Bound. Melanie is a multi-published author of romantic suspense, an editor for an online publishing company, and an avid reader. Writing is more than an escape for her—it’s a way of life. She grew up in the Deep South listening to tall tales and penning stories about her cats. Now she writes gripping stories of love, suspense, and mystery with the help of her furry little feline muses.


Melanie is an active member of Romance Writers of America®, the Magnolia State Romance Writers (MSRW), the Published Author Network (PAN), the Electronic and Small Press Authors' Network (ESPAN), the Electronically Published Internet Connection (EPIC), Sisters in Crime (SinC), the Red Dog Writers, the Gulf Coast Writers Association, the Southern Writers, the Mississippi Authors Guild and the Byram Writers’ Group. She currently serves as Past President of MSRW.

Right now, she is doing a Book Blast Tour with Goddes Fish Promotions, and to celebrate this occasion, she is giving away the winner's choice of a backlist eBook to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. So don’t forget to post a comment!

 

 
What’s the book about?

 
Blurb:

Fueled by grief after his fiancée is brutally murdered, Detective Sam Walker focuses on finding her killer -- a calculating predator who binds books with human skin.  Dani Barrington, the newest member of NOPD's Victim and Witness Assistance Unit and a survivor of another frightening attack, helps him discover the terrifying link between the monster's known victims.  Despite his anguish, Sam is struck by Dani's strength and determination, especially when her inquisitive  nature makes her the killer's next target.  He must find a way to protect her or risk losing the one woman who can bring his dead heart back to life.

 
Excerpt:

Kristen was gone.

She wasn't at work. She wasn't at home. She hadn't gone out to run an errand. She had simply... vanished.

New Orleans Detective Sam Walker stood in the center of his fiancée's cluttered bedroom and struggled to piece together the timeline of her disappearance. Last night they were supposed to meet for dinner, but he'd caught a case. They'd talked on the phone around eleven, and he'd asked her to meet him for lunch today.

He hadn't spoken to her since.

She was supposed to arrive at the Victim and Witness Assistance Unit for work at nine a.m., but never made it. One of her co-workers had called him about ten o'clock. He'd tried Kristen again, but she hadn't answered.

So he'd come here and found her car in the driveway.

Yet she sure as hell wasn't here.

Her bed was meticulously made, the way she left it every morning, dumping him out if he'd stayed over. A damp towel lay beside the bathroom sink. Soulful jazz drifted from the iPod dock on her nightstand. What terrified him most, though, was the spot of blood marring the door frame and the lone pink sandal lying in the living room floor beside her purse, keys, and cell phone.

His heart lurched. He couldn't breathe, couldn't think. Simply could not absorb that she was missing. They'd been engaged for five months and three days, with only a month to go until the wedding. They should be mulling over the guest list, squabbling about where to go for their honeymoon, and deciding where they wanted to live.

Instead, Sam stared at an empty bed.

"There's no sign of forced entry, so she either let the guy in or he jumped her when she went after the paper this morning." Major Sabbatini's voice seemed to come from far away. "I'm thinking she fought him off and ran, and he caught her here in the bedroom."

"She would have clawed him." Hell, she would've drawn blood with those nails. Sam should know. He had the marks on his back to prove it. Moisture blurred his vision as he eyed the smudge on the door jamb. "She... she just had her nails done a couple of days ago. They're like talons."

"We'll check the blood for DNA. You know that. What were her plans for today?"

"Um... just work, far as I know. She and I were supposed to have lunch." Sam shook his head. "Then tonight, she was going to a wedding shower. I just--"

"When was the last time you spoke with her?"

"Late -- last night." Sam's eyes fell on a partially-filled mug on the table beside Kristen's favorite chair, where she liked to read. A hard knot formed in the center of his chest. "She didn't... even finish her coffee. She loves coffee."

"We're gonna find her, son."

"You don't know that." Sam's voice cracked. He turned to his boss. "What if I never see her again?"

 
Links: