Google+ Followers

Saturday, November 30, 2013

1000 Classics

Every year, our most popular radio station here in Flanders - Radio 2 - broadcasts the top-1000 of the most popular songs of this and the past century. Everyone who wants to can vote for it, just by going to their website and picking 5 songs that are your personal favorites.

The last few years, the top-3 is nearly the same. Those favorite songs are 'Bohemian Rhaspody' by Queen, Barry White's 'You're my first, my last, my everything' and Abba's 'The Winner Takes It All'. Mostly Queen tops the list.

The count-down started yesterday, and everybody is voting already. Even ministers (and princes?) cast their vote. I filed my top-five this afternoon. On one 'Bohemian Rhapsody', on two 'Paradise by the dashboard light' from Meatloaf, on three a Flemish song by Louis Neefs 'Annelies van Sas van Gent', on four Rod Stewart's 'You're my heart' and lastly 'Nightfever' from the Bee Gees (and that's because I saw Barry Gibb life in Birmingham last September).

What would be your top five??? I'd appreciate if you took the time and make your list.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Looking out to Christmas

The house is decorated and now we're awaiting Christmas. I love this time of year. It's soon dark, and then you can shut the blinds and put on the lights and make it cozy inside.


This is a time for good food and the best of wines. My sister (our 'chef de cuisine' here at home) has been thinking for days now about what she is going to prepare for the Christmas dinner. Lots of options, not all cheap ones (!)  But we don't mind some cost when a festive dinner is planned. The starter can be lobster, or scallops, or just a salad and the main dish might be venison or fish. We'll decide on the menu in a couple of days, in time to purchase all the necessary ingredients.

Around Christmas there are also special programs on tv, and especially BBC has Christmas specials which are great to watch. Nothing better after a lenghty dinner than sitting on the couch, watching tv and sipping the rest of the wine...

After Christmas comes New Year and that is for good wishes. Only 7 years to go before my sister takes her pension, and then we can really enjoy life. So from now on we're going to count down to that happy occasion. Because, be honest, who loves to work more than enjoying free time and doing what you like??? Mind, we both enjoy our jobs in teaching, but after a number of years you begin to look forward to the day you can say goodbye.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Some funny quotes for Thanksgiving

First of all, to all American readers: Happy Thanksgiving - and don't overdo on the turkey! Hope you enjoy this day with all your family and friends and that you have a good time.

Perhaps these can make your day even better:

Q: What kind of music did the Pilgrims like?
A: Plymouth Rock

Q: Why can't you take a turkey to church?
A: They use FOWL language.

Q: What happened when the turkey got into a fight?
A: He got the stuffing knocked out of him!

Q: What do you get when you cross a turkey with a banjo?
A: A turkey that can pluck itself!

Q: If the Pilgrims were alive today, what would they be most famous for?
A: Their AGE!

Q: What did the mother turkey say to her disobedient children?
A: "If your father could see you now, he’d turn over in his gravy!"

Q: If a man wants to eat a turkey on Thanksgiving, what does a turkey want?
A: It simply wants to run away.

Q: What did the turkey say before it was roasted?
A: Boy! I'm stuffed!

Q: What does a English turkey say to another English turkey on Thanksgiving morning?
A: To be or not to be roasted, that is the question.

Q: What do you call the age of a pilgrim?
A: Pilgrimage

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Books make the best present (at least for me)

As it is a time of giving (btw, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the States) I was thinking about presents.

As a kid, I loved getting a new doll (or Barbie) and/or chocolate (dark with hazelnuts) - but I even loved more to receive a book. My dad promised me to buy me one every time I had a good report at school (for him that was more than 90%). We got a report weekly in primary school, and I used to have an average of 98% so you can guess how many books I got!


Books were a world of wonder to me. They made me aware of lots of things. I remember my teacher of year 4 (I was ten at the time) asking my mother however I came to the notion of describing a trip to Hong Kong for a writing task. Most kids went to the seaside in those days, but I dreamed about travelling the world already. We did travel too, and often I know most things from reading about them already.

For me, the best present was to receive a book. Also now, when somebody asks me what would make me glad, I answer: books! I'm ever so happy when I receive an Amazon GC, so I can buy one or two new books on my list.

When I was older I began to read books written in English. I became aware we did not learn enough of English at school and so I needed to broaden my vocabulary. At first I did not understand a lot when reading an entire novel and often had to look up words. By now, English feels as Dutch and I only read in this language.

Reading also gives you an understanding of other cultures and traditions. When everybody would read books, there would not be so many problems in the world.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Vault of Secrets

Hello everyone! Remember author Hawk MacKinney? This time, Hawk is doing a virtual book blast tour to promote his new novel VAULT OF SECRETS – book two in the Craige Ingram Mystery Series published by Wild Sage Publishing.

For this occasion, Hawk is giving away a $20 GC from Amazon, so don’t forget to leave a comment if you want to have a chance at winning!


Blurb
Vault of Secrets is a compelling tale of intrigue, murder, deception and redemption that leads retired Navy SEAL/part-time private investigator Craige Ingram in search of the connection between seemingly random murders and a banking conspiracy. Working with the local homicide investigator, who just happens to be a former Navy buddy, Craige Ingram's attempts to protect a lonely widow and solve the case before another person dies are only thwarted by a psychotic killer whose motivation is based on pure pleasure. The instincts and skills Ingram and his buddy acquired as Navy SEALS are tested to their limits.

Excerpt
It was straight up nine when Craige pushed through the doors of the trust department.  He figured after the way he’d behaved, he’d get the brush-off from Ms. Rozkovsky but knew he was wrong the minute she looked up at him.  She didn’t stare; she ogled and promptly dribbled her coffee.  Craige figured if he said anything too pleasant, she’d spill the whole cup, but he decided to risk it.  “Good morning,” he said.  “I have an appointment with Mrs. Stanley.”

The blistering instant he spoke, Irene went deaf and numb, swallowed into those gorgeous, green, scintillating eyes, wishing this stack of a man would do everything to her she’d ever wanted a man to do.  She scrutinized every scrumptious imagined morsel she could just taste under his casual Madras cotton shirt.  Having not heard one word he had said, she stuttered, “Can I help you?”  In her mind, she was already peeling away the faded cords pulled across his thighs, that marvelous face with its strong jaw and hint of heavy beard.  She wanted to run her fingers through those curly brown locks, shaded tawny gold like a male lion’s mane--every unmentionable she’d ever swirled in her dizzy head and gave her tingly goose bumps.  She didn’t care what he said as long as he kept looking at her. 

Craige repeated, “I have an appointment with Mrs. Stanley.”

Irene blinked and blinked again as though she had no idea who he was.  She then stammered, “What’s your name?” Courtesy such as “please have a seat” shot to hell.

“Craige Ingram.”

“One moment, I’ll tell her you’re here,” she bubbled.  Irene’s heart was in a pity-pat dither.  Her bra squeezed so tight, it was hard to breathe.  She stumbled around her desk and hurried into Terri’s office, somehow managing to shut the door somewhat quietly.  In a butterfly falsetto and a hand at her throat, she said, “He’s here!”

 


Author information
With postgraduate degrees and faculty appointments in several medical universities, Hawk MacKinney has taught graduate courses in both the United States and Jerusalem. In addition to professional articles and texts on chordate neuroembryology, Hawk has authored several works of fiction.

Hawk began writing mysteries for his school newspaper. His works of fiction, historical love stories, science fiction and mystery-thrillers are not genre-centered, but plot-character driven, and reflect his southwest upbringing in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. Moccasin Trace, a historical novel nominated for the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award, details the family bloodlines of his serial protagonist in the Craige Ingram Mystery Series… murder and mayhem with a touch of romance. Vault of Secrets, the first book in the Ingram series, was followed by Nymrod Resurrection, Blood and Gold, and The Lady of Corpsewood Manor. All have received national attention.  Hawk’s latest release in the Ingram series is due out this fall with another mystery-thriller work out in 2014. The Bleikovat Event, the first volume in The Cairns of Sainctuarie science fiction series, was released in 2012.

"Without question, Hawk is one of the most gifted and imaginative writers I have had the pleasure to represent. His reading fans have something special to look forward to in the Craige Ingram Mystery Series. Intrigue, murder, deception and conspiracy--these are the things that take Hawk's main character, Navy ex-SEAL/part-time private investigator Craige Ingram, from his South Carolina ancestral home of Moccasin Hollow to the dirty backrooms of the nation's capital and across Europe and the Middle East."

 
Barbara Casey, President

Barbara Casey Literary Agency

 
www.hawkmackinney.net


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Day of Science joke

As today is the Day of Science, I thought a joke about science wouldn't go amiss... Here goes:

In a fifth-grade class, a teacher asked students various science questions, of which the following were the funniest:

Teacher: "What is the definition of a protein?'
Student: "A protein is something that is made up of mean old acids."

Teacher: "What kind of tails do opossums have?"
Student: "Reprehensible ones"

Teacher: "What is the spinal column?"
Student: "A long bunch of bones. The head sits on the top and you sit on the bottom."

Teacher: "How long does it take the Earth to rotate about its axis?"
Student: "The Earth makes a resolution once every 24 hours."
Teacher: "That's wishful thinking."

Saturday, November 23, 2013

National Nina Shopping Day

'Nina' is a magazine, which you get weekly with the weekend newpaper Het Laatste Nieuws. It's a magazine of fashion & lifestyle and it always has interesting items. A new recipe for cooking, a tip to wear clothes, ...

Every year they organize the 'National Shopping Day'. This was today. In the magazine you find a reduction card for nearly every store in the country. Boutiques, perfume shops, shoe shops, ... they all participate and you can make great deals. For instance, new glasses for only 30 €, or a three day trip to Paris for only 149 €!

You can bet the town was crowded this afternoon with all the shoppers looking for great deals. What is your favorite shopping item?

I like to find clothes which have great deductions, or shoes. Especially expensive clothes and expensive, all leather shoes. I did not find anything to my taste today, but we're going to London soon and there I'm sure I'll find what I'm looking for. Once I could buy a Donna Karan cocktail dress with a reduction of 70%. Normally I don't spend too much money on clothing, but with such reductions I let myself go once in a while!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Cold Case Kennedy

Today, November 22nd, it is exactly 50 years ago that President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was murdered in Dallas, Texas. Up to now many questions remain about this murder. Who was behind it? Was Harvey Lee Oswald really the killer?


Belgian lawyer Filip de Mey studied the file for years and began it as a cold case research. He studied the original documents of the police investigation and tried to form his unbiased opion.


Fifty years after the murder he has come to a surprising new theory. Cold Case Kennedy (also available in the USA, from for instance Amazon) is the first book that lightens every aspect of the murder file.

 
Why did Robert Kennedy keep his silence? Was there really a ‘magic bullet’? Which was the part of Lyndon B. Johnson in the tragedy? Was there more than one shooter? Why did the Warren Committee not want to hear of a third victim at Dealy Plaza? What was a convicted criminal doing in the building just across the Texas School Book Depository? And last but not least: was the official investigation the best they could do or was it only a cover-up operation???

You can follow the investigation from the first row and discover what really happened in Dallas when you read De Mey’s book.

Author Filip de Mey began his career as a lawyer, but then turned to become a forensic investigator. He specialized in fraud and irregularities with companies trying to evade taxes. This expertise gives him a unique view on how fact need to be interpreted and he can analyze complicated dossiers, among which the Kennedy murder, his great passion.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Flick

Hello everyone! Allow me to introduce to you author Kiera Des Anges. Kiera has just written a new novel, Flick, in the genre of young adult and published by Books We Love Publishing.

To celebrate this occasion, Kiera is doing a virtual book tour with Goddess Fish Promotions and it runs from November 11th until January 10th 2014. You can follow this tour and leave your comments. The more comments you write, the better, because the author will pick one lucky winner and reward it with a $50 Amazon/B&N gift card. But please, use this code to post your comment: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e43437/


Who is Kiera Des Anges?
By day, Keira des Anges has the distinct pleasure of assisting teenagers with disabilities find employment, empowering one life at a time. By night, she is a chew toy for her dog and cat and avid reader of anything spooky, magical and totally out of this world.  She lives in sunny Florida with her husband and two kids.

Twitter:  @KeiradesAnges




 Book Video:   http://youtu.be/J0iUsTkB--w

 


More about the novel:


Blurb

Leanna Matthews enjoys flying below the radar. She does well in school, has a few close friends and hides the fact she’s an astral-traveling telekinetic. But there’s no escaping her creepy dreams or Simora, the bizarre little spirit lady, that suddenly pops out of nowhere to warn her against keeping secrets and predicts an encounter with a sinister evil. For the first time in forever someone…or something…is on to her.

But life turns around when Leanna meets Piper one sunny afternoon. She’s inexplicably drawn to him, almost as if she’s been waiting for him to come. Forbidden to have a boyfriend Leanna throws caution to the wind, lying to her family and friends to be with him, while ignoring Simora’s ominous message.

Yet Piper has a secret of his own. He is on a mission and Leanna, unwittingly, is the key.

 
Excerpt

Leanna Matthews craved for ordinary in the least extraordinary way.  She enjoyed a few close friends, shopping at the mall and perhaps a nice romance novel every now and again.  Routine was good, early mornings were better…and life was extremely complicated.

She squirmed restlessly in Biology – the final, insufferable class of the day – listening to Ms. Alvarado drone on-and-on about non-polar bonds in her last, torturous act of the term.  Somewhere between ‘atom’ and ‘electronegativity,’ Leanna nodded off, nearly conking her head on the desk while daydreaming of summer vacation:  shopping, beach, friends, shopping, vacation, shopping, sun, shopping, but not necessarily in that order. 

Someone snickered from behind, no doubt amused by her wobbly head, as her eyelids grew heavier.  Shut-up Ms. Alvarado, she thought bitterly.  Thank God that in less than 20 minutes ninth grade would be officially over!  School, and all its stupid inhabitants (present company included), would be history for a good two months; or rather two months too short - but it didn’t matter.  Somewhere a beach chair sat waiting on white, fluffy sand and a plane ticket had her name stamped all over it.  The fun was just about to begin!

Or so she thought.

That next morning, instead of awakening to the sweet taste of freedom, Leanna lay whimpering, shivering feverishly in her sleep.  She curled tightly into a knot as a tiny beam of light crept through the shutters while she slept, casting eerie shadows on the wall - one of which grew abnormally in size until completely encircling the white canopy bed. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Nymrod Resurrection

Goddess Fish Promotions is organizing a Virtual Book Blast Tour for NYMROD RESURRECTION by Hawk McKinney, a 19, Mystery/Suspense available now from Wandering Sage Publishing. The Book Blast Tour will take place on Tuesday, November 19th.

One randomly drawn commenter will win a $20 Amazon gift card. So don’t forget to post as many comments as you like, while following the tour!

 
Who is Hawk McKinney?



With postgraduate degrees and faculty appointments in several medical universities, Hawk MacKinney has taught graduate courses in both the United States and Jerusalem. In addition to professional articles and texts on chordate neuroembryology, Hawk has authored several works of fiction.

Hawk began writing mysteries for his school newspaper. His works of fiction, historical love stories, science fiction and mystery-thrillers are not genre-centered, but plot-character driven, and reflect his southwest upbringing in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. Moccasin Trace, a historical novel nominated for the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award, details the family bloodlines of his serial protagonist in the Craige Ingram Mystery Series… murder and mayhem with a touch of romance. Vault of Secrets, the first book in the Ingram series, was followed by Nymrod Resurrection, Blood and Gold, and The Lady of Corpsewood Manor. All have received national attention.  Hawk’s latest release in the Ingram series is due out this fall with another mystery-thriller work out in 2014. The Bleikovat Event, the first volume in The Cairns of Sainctuarie science fiction series, was released in 2012.

"Without question, Hawk is one of the most gifted and imaginative writers I have had the pleasure to represent. His reading fans have something special to look forward to in the Craige Ingram Mystery Series. Intrigue, murder, deception and conspiracy--these are the things that take Hawk's main character, Navy ex-SEAL/part-time private investigator Craige Ingram, from his South Carolina ancestral home of Moccasin Hollow to the dirty backrooms of the nation's capital and across Europe and the Middle East."

Barbara Casey, President

Barbara Casey Literary Agency

 
www.hawkmackinney.net



 


More about the novel

 
Blurb

Investigating an unlikely murder, Ex-SEAL and part time PI Craige Ingram discovers an officially sanctioned assassination. His investigation quickly stirs beyond the dirty backrooms of the nation’s capital with more killings across Europe and the Middle East. The dead woman is somehow connected to stolen artifacts from a time before Babylon. As he probes apparently unconnected clues, he locks horns with an enigmatic enticing secret agent with her own agenda and her own way of doing things. Craige faces train wrecks and deadly assassins doing business with a rich mercenary selling biotoxins, rare stamps, deadly nerve gases, and smuggled nuclear material to the highest bidder. As Craige peels away at the shadowy Operation Nymrod, he finds an elusive power-hungry dead-set mind – a driven obsession with a frightful arsenal of bioweapons ready to fulfill ancient prophecies with a very personal Armageddon that makes the monstrous last day of the twin towers of the World Trade Center pale in possibilities.

 
Excerpt

On the second-floor landing I spotted familiar faces from the department's forensic team.  The smell was worse inside.  With that first look I didn't need to be told that the pulpy lump with swollen pumpkin dimples where eyes should have been was one very bloated dead body.  The corpse was well into being recycled.  It no longer looked human.  The body had been cooking in the sweltering oven of a Dixie mid-August scorching summer in this dreary one-flight walkup of apartments with no AC and painted-shut windows.  Near the peeling paint archway and a worse kitchenette beyond I spotted Gray huddled with just over five feet plus, roly-poly Coroner-Medical Examiner Fred Dinkins.

"What you got?" I asked.

Gray indolently heaved a getting-paunchier fried chicken and beer belly and idly mumbled, "We’re not quite sure...." threw me that MacGerald we-got-trouble look.  "Right now all I know for sure is, it's no run-of-the-mill homicide."

There was more in his look than his words.  It was all over his face that things weren't going the way he liked.  I’d known that from the moment I disconnected from his call.  He wouldn't have made the call for a squabble between drifters over street drugs or a grocery cart of scrounged throwaway clothes.  When a corpse is concealed, long term or otherwise and left to rot, decomposition can alter forensic evidence until it tells other stories—but not usually ones you want to hear.  Dinkins had his work cut out for him and his crew.  It’s one way perps buy themselves time, and concealment usually means there’s considerable more that went down.  In my wildest night-stalks I could never’ve imagined how right-on-the-money that would prove to be.  Ignorance is bliss…our SEAL team learned real quick. It can also get you killed.

Without looking up Dinkins said, "One more pitiable devil that died alone.” Piercing blue eyes peered over his ever-present black wire-rim glasses perched unsteadily on the end of his nose.  In low-key measured words, "Prelim exam leads me to believe the corpse is female, but we'll wait till we get the body to the morgue, see what the autopsy and lab tests tell us.  I don’t want any second guessing the evidence. Besides, we’re about finished up here."

The dreary apartment was busier than it’d seen in decades with double shifts of the forensic techs bustling-sorting the whens and hows of death.  The cracker box kitchen adjoined a corner next-to-nothing squalid dinette area furnished with a dirty Masonite wobbly table barely big enough for two.  In the front room the melon-round, no-neck head squatted square on the bloated chest of the oozing corpse.  The whole misshapen inhuman mess had sagged into the soggy sofa.

 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A laugh for Sunday

It's becoming a ritual, so here's this Sunday's joke. I once used to live in Germany too, working for the army, so that's why.

After an overnight flight to meet her husband at his latest military assignment, a mother wearily arriv├ęs at Rhein-Main Air Base in Germany with her nine chldren - all under age 11.

Collecting their many suitcases, the ten of them enter the cramped customs area. A young customs official is watching the entourage in disbelief.

"Ma'am," he says, "do all these children and this Luggage belong to you?"

"Yes, sir," the mother answers with a sigh. "They're all mine."

The customs agent begins his interrogation: "Ma'am, do you have any weapons, contraband or illegal drugs in your possession?"

"Sir," the mother calmly replies, "if I'd hve any of those items, I would have used them by now."

  

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Val McDermid's Tony Hill novels

A couple of weeks ago, I got the latest instalment of this series on my Kindle, and I'm now almost finished reading Cross and Burn.


The series is set in the fictional town of Bradfield, which is supposed to be somewhere near to West Yorkshire. From what I can tell it looks a lot like Manchester and its surrounding neighborhood.

When a serial killer is on the loose, in the first instalment Wire in the Blood, the head of the police decides to create a special unit, headed by DCI Carol Jordan and her team. They are helped by Dr. Tony Hill, a clinical psychologist, who is great in profiling.

Throughout the series you can follow the relationship between Carol and Tony. Both are flawed characters and it looks like they'll have a hell of a time to get finally together. Tony is full of doubts and the effects of a childhood of abuse (by his mother, Vanessa, and his grandmother) and he also can't very well perform in bed. Carol is a career woman who has no time for romance and is estranged from her parents. She only has a good relation with her brother, who fall victim to another killer in the book before Cross and Burn.

Tony is great in getting into the head of serial killers - but his ability to catch Jacko Vance (the bad guy in Wire in the Blood) leads to the death of Carol's brother Michael and his wife, and results in maiming one of Carol's most trusted colleagues.

Now Tony himself is believed to be a serial killer. Of course he isn't, and although she wants nothing more to do with him, Carol will get to his defence. I believe I have guessed the identity of the killer and now I just have to read some more chapters to see if I'm right...

Friday, November 15, 2013

FDT: Fazant op Brabantse wijze

Tonight I again want to present a traditional Flemish dish: pheasant in the manner of Brabant (a province in Flanders, main cities are Brussel and Leuven). It’s the right season for this, as the hunt is open.


What do you need for 4 people?
 
Plusminus one kilogram of pheasant (legs or breast, up to your choice)

12 pieces of chicory (3 per person)

3 deciliter of poultry broth
150 gram of butter

Nutmeg
Pepper and salt


How to prepare the dish
Melt 75gram of butter in a big pan. Add the pieces of pheasant, spiced with salt and pepper, and let it cook for a short time. Then take the pan from the fire and put it into a pre-heated oven (180° Celsius) for another 45 minutes. Dampen the meat regularly with the sauce from baking.

While your pheasant is getting ready, you prepare the chicory. Wash the pieces, cut out the hard part and blanch them. Then fry them in a pan with 25gram of butter. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper.
When the pheasant is ready, cut it in smaller parts and keep it warm.

Pour warm poultry broth in the pot and finish the sauce with the rest of the butter.
You can serve the pheasant and the chicory together with a puree of potatoes or celeriac and it tastes great with a Bordeaux wine.

Tip: If you don’t like pheasant, you can replace it by ordinary chicken or, better still, by guinea-fowl.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Compromising Miss Tisdale

Allow me to introduce to you author Jessica Jefferson, who is now promoting her novel Compromising Miss Tisdale. For this occasion, the author is giving away a 50$ Gift Certificate from either Amazon or B&N. So don’t forget to follow the tour and place as many comments as you like, USING THIS LINK:  http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e43435/

Who is Jessica Jefferson?
Jessica Jefferson makes her home in northern Indiana, or as she likes to think of it – almost Chicago.  Jessica originally attended college in hopes of achieving an English degree and writing the next great American novel.  Ten years later she was working as a registered nurse and reading historical romance when she decided to give writing another go-round.   
 
Jessica writes likes she speaks, which has a tendency to be fast paced and humorous.  Jessica is heavily inspired by sweeping, historical romance novels, but aims to take those key emotional elements and inject a fresh blend of quick dialogue and comedy to transport the reader into a story they miss long after the last page is read.  She invites you to visit her at jessicajefferson.com and read her random romance musings.

 




Follow her at https//twitter.com/authorJessicaJ


More info about the novel

Blurb
Ambrosia Tisdale is the very picture of propriety and the epitome of what a respectable young lady should be. Haunted by a memory and compelled by her family, she pursues perfection to a fault.

The Earl of Bristol, Duncan Maddox, has returned to London after years of familial imposed exile. As the second son, he has led a life filled with frivolity, leisure, and a healthy dose of debauchery. Now his older brother has died, leaving the family’s flailing legacy in Duncan’s unwilling arms.

At the behest of his uncle, Duncan is advised to do the one thing that could provide instant fortune and respectability – he must marry. But there is only one prospect who meets the unique requirements to solve all the Earl’s problems – the lovely Miss Ambrosia Tisdale. But securing the prudent daughter of a Viscount’s hand proves to be more challenging than this scandal ridden second son of an Earl has bargained for.

With scandal, extortion, treachery, and even love itself threatening to keep him from his goal, will Duncan succeed in compromising Miss Tisdale?

 


Excerpt


She had stumbled upon the library.  A fire in the hearth threw a faint glow over leather lined volumes that filled floor to ceiling book shelves.   Lavishly upholstered plush arm chairs sat upon Aubusson rugs scattered throughout the room.  A settee was positioned across from a giant stone faced fireplace where a shirtless man sat warming his hands.

Shirtless man?

Ambrosia blinked.

Certainly, her eyes were playing tricks on her. 

Then the shirtless man turned his head, his eyes meeting hers.  

It wasn’t a hallucination-he was real.   She hadn’t been expecting to find a partially dressed man, and he obviously wasn’t expecting to be found.   It was but a moment before the man’s expression began to soften and a wicked smile slowly crept across his lips. 

A smile that stole the breath right from out of her. 

Every gently bred fiber in her body screamed to turn around and run straight out the door.  Hundreds of years of proper English rearing had produced a base instinct to flee when in the presence of an unknown male (especially one with so little clothing).  But then he stood up, cautiously, the way one does as if not to startle a deer.  Standing, he was clad in nothing but buckskin breeches, the dim light from the flames playing over the sculpted muscles and sinew of his shoulders and chest. 

Breeding be damned, her feet simply refused to budge. 



To end with, some advice to new authors from Jessica:

Dear New Author,

So, you’ve decided to be a romance author. 
Chances are you’ve at least started a book with romantic elements (hence the calling yourself an author).  Hopefully, you’ve been reading romance for years so you’ll have at least some semblance of how to properly structure your novel.  You may be struggling with the composition of your masterpiece, but be assured after you finish this book, the hard part of being a romance author is just beginning.

So, some advice . . .
First, join RWA.  Romance Writers of America is your professional organization and simply by becoming a member you’re declaring your intention of making this your profession.  Their monthly publication is filled with information that will undoubtedly help you along your journey.  Save every copy and refer to back issues often.

Edit the hell out of your book.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered editors don’t edit in the way we were taught to edit in eighth grade English.  They don’t have time to bother with trivial issues such as comma placement.  Editors review your manuscript for more important things – like marketability and character motivation.  It is your responsibility as an author to make sure that your product is free of misspelled words and grammatical errors before sending it off. 

Get some critiques.  You may think you’ve written the best novel ever.  You didn’t, and you’ll need somebody to tell you this in a positive, yet constructive manner.  And no, your mother can’t be your critiquing partner.   
Query well.  You won’t be able to send off your manuscript if you don’t have a great query.

Create an online presence.  What’s your platform?  Who is your public persona?  Get a Twitter handle, a website, a Facebook page, and sign-up on Goodreads.  Yes, books sell on word of mouth.  Word of mouth travels a whole lot faster when it’s done online.
My final piece of advice – don’t give up.  If you love to write, then write.  What you don’t know, you can easily find out.  The best part of being a writer, is meeting other writers.  Whether it’s on a blog, at a local RWA chapter, or at a conference, the writing community consists of a strong network of individuals generally willing to share what they’ve learned. 

Good luck!    

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The devastating power of nature

I suppose you all have seen the sights. Hurricane winds over 350 km/hour tormented the Phillipines and left a trace of destruction.


Thousands of people have died, thousands are without anything. Can you imagine that? Here in Belgium we only suffer winds up to 120 km/hour and then we claim it's been terrible. Just imagine a force three times worse... I doubt even our solid house built in brick of nearly 100 years old would remain standing. Our only option would be the cellar, which is the strongest part of our house and was built to withstand collision of the above structure. But what would we do withour water (we only keep a few bottles there)? Or food? Raw potatoes, that's all there is to find there.

I know lots of people will want to help. Our country has already sent the BFast Team, with tents and water filters, plus doctors and nurses to set up a field hospital. And food and water will follow. Lots of Phillipe women who have married a Belgian man are trying to bring together help, and to send it to their village.

I'm also thinking of all the poor kids who will be left alone, without a family to support them. If I could, I'd immediately adopt one. I have noboby but my sister, so there is always room for more in our house.

Could this be a result of the warming up? I don't know - could be, but could just as well not be. There have been times in history when there was ice age, and then tropical times. I'm not sufficiently up to date with this topic. I just know the weather is more crazy than it was when I was young...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Your Sunday laugh

To remain in the spirit of the season, here's a joke about going to Heaven - or to Hell?


A hardworking female executive dies and meets St. Peter at the pearly gates and he says, "You've shown an outstanding aptitude for making business decisions. Choose whether you will go to heaven or to hell."

"I don't know!" she flounders.

"Tell you what," St. Peter says, "You can have 24 hours in heaven and 24 hours in hell. Then you have to decide where to spend eternity."

"Okay then," she says. "I'll start with heaven since I'm here already."

She goes in the pearly gates and makes some acquaintances. They have a nice walk among beautiful gardens. They have a nice quiet lunch. They have a nice stroll along a pristine, white, sandy beach looking out on brilliant blue ocean. At the end of the day she is shown to a nice room, and has a quiet meal on the balcony, looking out over the setting sun and the ocean. She marvels at the scenic beauty of heaven.

The next morning, St. Peter takes her to the fiery gates of hell and hands her off to Satan.

Satan takes her to a power breakfast given in her honor. Then she is escorted to a tennis club where she is greeted by her old boss, some co-workers, and previous business acquaintances. She plays a few sets of tennis and catches up on the gossip. At lunchtime her old boss takes her to a gourmet restaurant and she has an excellent meal with vintage wine.

After lunch he takes her to an exclusive golf course and they play 18 holes of golf. She runs into other business acquaintances and catches up on news and gossip.

After golf, he drops her at a spa where she is pampered and spoiled by beauty and body treatments. When she is finished at the spa, an acquaintance takes her shopping at designer stores. She picks out a fabulous evening gown, and Satan himself takes her to a huge party with drinking, dancing, gourmet food, and famous people.

At the end of the evening, a stretch limo drops her off at a five-star hotel. As she soaks in the Jacuzzi tub, and sips the complimentary champagne, she ponders eternity.

The next morning, she meets St. Peter at the pearly gates.

"Well, have you made your decision?" He asks.

"I've decided on hell," she announces.

"So be it." St Peter waves goodbye and she reappears before the fiery gates of hell.

Once inside she is teamed up with her old boss again, only this time everyone is wearing rags. They are filthy, diseased, malnourished, and living in a barren desert. They have to scrounge for food, water, clothing, even shade.

"What happened!?!" She exclaimed.

"Well," said her boss, "Yesterday you were a recruit. Today you are staff."