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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Soon the clock will strike 12...

And so I want to wish everyone who reads this blog a HAPPY NEW YEAR!



Here in Belgium it's 5.40 pm right now. My sister and I are getting ready because we are going to dine out tonight. We prefer this to sitting at home before the telly and watching all those silly programmes towards midnight. Now at least we'll have some great food to eat and good wines to drink...

I don't know what 2015 will bring. When it's up to our government, nothing good. But it's not even sure this government will survive all the social unrest which is brooding. Better hope for the best!44

What is more important, I want to wish everyone a good health and a happy family life. Hopefully nothing bad happens to you or your loved ones.

Monday, December 29, 2014

I, Kidney

Goddess Fish Promotions is organizing a Virtual Blurb Blitz Tour for I, Kidney by Chris Six, a contemporary/literary fiction available 12/1/14 from The Chris Six Group. The tour will run from 8th December until 2nd January.



Chris Six will be awarding a $15 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift cardvia rafflecopter to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.Here is the link to place your comment:


Blurb

Joe Zizzi's childhood in the 1950s had everything a kid could want--pro athlete dad, wonderful mom, cool big bro. When the '60s kick in, this ideal life is violently shaken: a car crash claims his mother's life and his father's career, and brother Matt becomes distant and disturbed. Over the years, Joe learns to cope and carves out a niche for himself as a college sports star, and later as a coach and writer, but he can't quite shake the family legacy. Diagnosed with kidney failure, the semi-pro husband and devoted dad has life-and-death decisions to make--and life wins, though perhaps only by a slim margin.

Excerpt

Anne-Marie told me the things she didn't have the heart to tell me before, namely about her kidneys and what's actually doing with her and the PKD. How it started with the weight gain and the blood pressure and the cholesterol. How she had to get a bigger bra because the old one cut off the circulation in her dialysis arm.

“But any bra was better than no bra. When you're built like this it's fatal not to wear one.So I would have all these outrageous necklaces to distract people from the obvious. And from the kidneys. People would ask me when the blessed event was. And I pick a month like six or seven months into the future. Then it got to be four months. Then it got to be any day now. That's why I had to leave Paris. How long can you be pregnant, even in Paris?”

“Why can't you get the transplant?”

“My heart's not good, Joey. I'm too fragile, I'm like your daddy. Don't neglect your looks. You have to keep looking presentable—you'll feel better.”

“I'm trying on Matt’s clothes. Those T-shirts that look like he just stepped off a yacht.”

 “Darling, don't neglect Camille.”

“How could I possibly neglect Camille?”

“There’s a one in two chance that she's got it, you know.”

“I don't think about that. No, actually, I do.”

“Joey, baby, you have to start going to the doctor. You can’t play around with this part of your life.”

“Anne-Marie, nobody goes from caregiver to patient over the course of a summer. Not even in this family. It's like something out of Bette Davis.”

“See the doctor. See the doctor, Joey. Don't wait for school to start. You don’t want to get sick and have the teams fret about you.”

Of course, everything she said was true.



Author bio and links

Chris Six is a writer, the chief everything officer of The Chris Six Group, and the recipient of somebody else's kidney: "I narrated the story onto tape before I ever wrote a word. I even brought my recorder to dialysis and upset the technicians. Nowadays, I'm in awe of indie authors doing hands-on marketing. I couldn't imagine doing this even five years ago."

facebook.com/TheChrisSixGroup
@TheChrisSixGroup

Amazon buy link:

Website:





Sunday, December 28, 2014

Back home - but not without difficulty!

Exactly on the last day of our stay in Scuol, Switzerland, snow began to fall. The train in the village left on time, but that was about all the positive news!

We were delayed in Landquart (on our way to Zurich). Luckily we had chosen to take an earlier train, because we know train get delayed a lot. We got to the airport on time to check in, but once through the customs, we noticed lots of flights were delayed or even cancelled. And that for one/two centimeter of snow!!!

When time came to board our plane, we also got the message it was delayed. It would leave two hours later. Now for most of the people this was not a problem, but we did not know if we would have a train home...

We tried the internet hub to check rail times, but for one or other reason this system did not work. We were supposed to get a code on our mobile, but this did not arrive. Nobody else had (or simply refused) internet access so we arrived in Brussels without knowing what or how.

As soon as we had picked up our suitcases (which also took a while...) we went to the railway station downstairs. And there our luck changed. There was still a lady behind the counter, AND she could tell us we would make it to Dendermonde. There still were trains, albeit we had to change trains sometimes. Around 11.30 pm we turned the lock to our front door. The house was dead cold and I could not get warm for half of the night.

Yeah, travelling is nice, but delays are not!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Change of heart

Normally we intended to come back to Scuol next year in winter. But we had a change of heart.

This morning, my sister slid on some ice and fell backward, hurting her head. This is already the second time she has an accident here in the mountains and so we decided to come in summer instead. The worst it can do then is rain and there can only be some mud on the mountain paths. Better dirty clothing than a hole in the skull, right?

For the rest, this has been a wonderful holiday, with a good hotel (Bellaval) and great food. I'll post some pics from our stay here as soon as we get home.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

I like to wish a Merry Chritmas to everyone who reads and visits this bog.

Here in Switzerland it's a green Christmas. Yesterday it was warm enough to sit outside for lunch in just a pullover!

What's the weather like in your parts?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Enjoying the fresh air

While there is no snow to speak of, we are enjoyinf the good mountain air in the Swiss Alps.

There  are less tourists than usual, both here in the hotel and in the village, but we don't let it come to heart. For us, no snow is good news. All the mountain paths are free of ice. Only on the other side of the valley -the north side - there are a couple of spots where there are some icy patches.

We are here to relax. Ewpecially my wister needs it, because she has entered a ver demanding position in September. The hotel is very nice and the food is great. There is also a wellness center attached to it, and just a while ago we have taken a steam bath...

The weather is also cooperating. It is not very warm (around zero) but the sun was there all day. What more can you want?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Start of the Christmas holidays

Today was the last day of school for this calendar year. For the students, the holidays alr eady started a week before, with the general strike on Monday and then only a couple of days in which the teachers need to discuss the results of the examinations. Traditionally, the last working day of the year ends with a drink or even with a meal.

But now we're off for two weeks! There will be a lot to do - doing a trip to Switzerland and also spend some days at the coast.



Hopefully the weather will turn somewhat more winter-like. I don't ask for loads of snow, but a bit of cold would do. Today and yesterday it has been warmer than some days in summer!

What are your plans for the holidays? Share if you like, comments are always welcome!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Lots of cancellations for ski-resorts

I don't know how it is in the rest of the world, but here in Europe it's way too mild for the time of year.

The traditional ski-countries (France, Austria and Switzerland) are complaining about the fact there is practically no snow in The Alps.

As a result, lots of people who had booked a ski-holiday are cancelling. Here in Belgium you have the opportunity to take an insurance for snow-certainty. If there is practically no snow in the area where you have booked, you can cancel your trip or exchange it for another trip.

But... be careful to read the small letters! Like with any insurance, there are restrictions and if you don't read carefully you might end up with sticking to the trip you booked, with or without snow!

And not everyone wants to pay the extra to have a snow-insurance. Most people think it will snow in time for Christmas.

In the resort where we are going to there is some snow, but not a lot. In the village you don't see anything of it. Only up the mountain some of the slopes can be skied on.

What a piece of luck we don't go skiing anymore! Since my sister's accident we only go walking and for that it doesn't matter whether or not there is snow. And to be honest, no snow is better. Then at last you won't slip on some ice covered by snow!

Nevertheless, we'll carry our spikes in our luggage. You never know. It can begin snowing once where're there.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas With the Marquis

When an arrogant Marquis’s seduction fails, he plans a Christmas celebration at his country estate. Inviting the one girl who not only rejects him but seems to hate him is part of his plan to win her... 

His scheming soon turns to much more than decorating the house for Christmas. Abigail’s beauty incites a plan for revenge on the Marquis by his most depraved enemy, who is bent on kidnapping and raping Abigail. Can the Marquis save her and make this a merry Christmas after all?

Author Jean Hart Stewart is doing a virtual book blast tour for this Christmas historical romance, which was published by MuseltUp Publishing on December 12th. The tour will only take place today, and the author is giving away 15$ PayPal cash to a randomly drawn commenter.
Please use this Rafflecopter code to place your comment:



Excerpt

Abigail called after them. “Galoshes are by the back door. Gloves and scarves also. You don’t want to wear your best clothes on an expedition like this, gentlemen”

She leaned back in her chair and watched them go. Startled, but pleased, she hurried to her own rooms to change into riding clothes and tall boots.  She adored tramping in the woods and how could she not join in the search for the perfect Yule log?   After scarcely a thought she pulled on the breeches she wore when she was riding at home with no one caring what she did. She pulled on her riding boots, although she picked her second-best pair. Who knew what such wonderful snow would do to good boots?

She ran lightly down the steps to the back door. A small screech escaped her when the felt herself hauled against a strong chest, and looked up in astonishment at a livid Jason glaring down at her. Maybe not Jason, right now. No, definitely the Marquis.  An irate Marquis, giving her a good swat on her rear and glaring at her.

“Don’t you even think of trying to escape me, you little fool. You’re not at your country home. You’re at mine, with some of the most licentious noblemen in London who’d be delighted to see you so scantily clothed. Do you want them to line up at your door tonight, you vexatious idiot?”

Abigail simply stared at him for a moment, her temper ready to boil over, when he suddenly softened, ran his hands over her hips and around her waist and pulled her against him.  His kiss was hot and blazing, lingering at her lips with his tongue pushing into her mouth in a dizzying display of passion that had her clinging to his coat lapels.

“My god, Abigail, how am I going to stay away from you?”

He lay his forehead softly against her hair and softly caressed her well rounded bottom.

Stunned, she couldn’t think of a thing to say. She wrenched herself away and fled back to her room. She’d simply not thought of anything but her own comfort and that wonderful snow. Of course a woman didn’t appear in breeches at a house party for London aristocrats! Not unless there was a hunt scheduled or good riding was available.

She was an idiot.

How could she face Jason, and indeed her grandmother? And she herself was supposed to be chaperoning Bettina?

Burying her face in her hands, she tried to shut out her regretful thoughts. The fact that her every thought centered on Jason and his reactions didn’t even occur to her.

She didn’t see the lascivious face of Lord Wilcombe, earl of Wilmington, watching them from a corner of the hallway. 



Author bio and links

 Jean feels she’s very much a Californian although she was born in Ohio. California has been home for a good many years. Life changed drastically for her when she was six and her father died incredibly from an errant golf ball. A dishonest insurance agent forced her sheltered mother to seek work, and she became a teacher. Her hours required Jean to be alone in the house in the afternoon, and since she was forbidden to leave till her mother got home, she became an avid reader. The local library supplied most of the books and she developed early her two of main interests, Jane Austen and King Arthur. 

Reading is still one of her favorite activities, although she sometimes has to push it aside to make room for her enduring love of writing. Her journalism degree was used infrequently until recently. Marriage and raising two children pleasantly got in the way. After twenty years of being a real estate broker and with the kids raised she finally could devote her time to writing, her first love.

Jean's enchantment with the lore and legends of Druids and, therefore, delving into their history led to fascinating research that inspired her popular Garland of Druids Series for Cerridwen Press. She's now enjoying writing stories filled with magic and romance for her Songs of the Mages Series, also for Cerridwen Press. She has recently left Cerridwen and Ellora's Cafe Press and is now writing exclusively for MuseItUp, the largest Canadian publisher.

Few things in her life have been so satisfying, especially when all her books have a happy ending. Wonderful to make happen. It only gets more interesting when a secondary character demands his very own book. Who would want to deny him? Not Jean!


Buy the book at:



Coffee and cake

Last weekend, I met a couple of friends from my former work. They invited me to have coffee with them (accompanied by cake, of course) today.


It was fun to be together with them once more. We talked a lot, ate cake, drank coffee and time passed by unnoticed.

Here in Flanders it's custom to have coffee (or tea) plus cake when meeting friends - especialy when they're women.

What's the custom in your country?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Elf Hills

Today, author S.S. Dudley is doing a virtual book blast tour with Goddess Fish Promotions, to launch his YA fantasy novel Elf Hills, available on Kindle and later on this month in paperback, from Stoddard Books. You can get the e-book for free on Amazon between December 15th-19th. If you prefer print, the paperback is available through Createspace here
This is a code for a 15% discount off of the retail price ($8.99): 9DSCQ3UU. 

The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please place your comment, using this link:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f707/



Blurb

Something strange, something magical, is going on in the dusty hills behind the small town of Villaloma. Yet each time Linda Peters puts on her running shoes and sets out to find the enchanted kingdom she imagines—full of dancing elves, unicorns, and more—something stops her. And with school starting soon, she only has a few more chances to really search the hills.

While Linda’s frustration and doubt grow, her cousin, Nugu, looks for answers in his books and wonders if maybe, just maybe, Linda’s stories are for real.

The day finally arrives when Linda can run far, the day she is sure she will find her magic city. But when she and Nugu feel their goal must lie just beyond the next hill, they only find more hill.

Is it all a figment of an over-active imagination; a wistful fantasy?


Or is there truly something magical in those hills that only the strong of heart—and leg—can discover?

Excerpt

Chapter 1:

Crack! Like a firecracker, the screen door’s sharp retort pierced the tranquility of the warm summer afternoon. With it appeared a girl, beautiful as all five-year-olds are: tousled hair, rosy cheeks, a smattering of freckles, and a flowery dress dancing around healthy legs bruised and scraped by kicking balls and climbing trees. Her hair was the color of honey, her skin tanned by long days in the sun. Her bright, green eyes exuded wonder and vibrancy. By all measures, Linda Peters was a perfectly healthy, perfectly normal girl only days into kindergarten.

The flowered dress danced about her anxious feet as they thumped a rhythm on the wooden planks of the big porch. Before the old screen door could bounce again off the doorframe, her bare toes reached the cool, green grass of the lawn. They gently touched the ground as she ran and giggled. Soon she was in the garden amidst the flowers. She stopped and looked around, breathing only slightly heavier than normal. A strand of loose hair drifted across her eyes. She tucked it behind her ear, reflexively. Around her were flowers of every color: reds and pinks and whites and purples; but she wasn’t so interested in them, rather…

“Linda!” a small voice called. Linda looked to her left and saw an orange and black butterfly gracefully drift toward her. She held out her hand and the butterfly landed on her finger, its long proboscis gently probing her skin. Butterfly kisses. Her dad called this kind of butterfly a "Monarch" and said it was special. Linda knew about butterflies. They were insects: head, thorax, abdomen; six legs, four wings! And they ate nectar, while the babies, the caterpillars, gobbled leaves to grow big and fat before becoming beautiful butterflies.

Only this wasn’t an ordinary butterfly.



Author bio and links

S. S. Dudley grew up in Wyoming, USA, an avid reader and lover of the outdoors. He studied at the University of Wyoming and the University of Illinois. He started his first book (an epic fantasy hand-written in with a blue fountain pen…) when he was 13, but never finished it. At some point (as his mother recently reminded him), he decided that he needed to go do something (like get a job) for a while before he could, or should, write. He did, and spent time in Colombia, Panamá, Antarctica and the dark recesses of large science buildings on college campuses. That done, he now writes, lives and runs in Northern California with his wife and two children. He can be found at:



twitter at @SS_dudley.

http://amzn.to/160KY4j


Christmas markets

December is traditionally the month for Christmas markets. Also here in my home town Dendermonde there was one today.



Unfortunately, it was not very worth while. If you compare it to those Christmas markets in Germany (I have experienced them in Cologne, Aachen and Dortmund) it was just an ordinary market day. No stalls with Gluhwein or warm chestnuts, no hot chocolate, no candy, no Christmas decorations. Just stalls galore where jenever was sold (jenever is the Flemish form of gin)...

Next year I'll stay home (it was cold and there was not a free space in one of the cafés) and have a drink there!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hope makes you live

Yesterday morning, the late Queen Fabiola (the widow of King Boudewijn) was buried according to her wishes. She became 86 years old.

I did not watch the entire ceremony on TV, but what I did catch was the most touching moment of the service. Will Tura, most likely the best-known singer-songwriter in Flanders, sang one of his bestselling songs 'Hoop doet leven'.



Hearing Will sing this, it gave me goosebumps, and I'm sure I'm not the only one to experience this. Will Tura is well into his seventies too, and he already sang this song at the funeral of Boudewijn in 1993. This time, it was on special request of the late Queen - who by the way also was quite fond of musical theatre and like ABBA very much!

The only radio host ever to interview Fabiola, Lutgard Simoens, told us yesterday on the radio that Fabiola once shared with her that Boudewijn's favorite song was 'Dream the impossible dream' from the musical 'Man of La Mancha'.

Fabiola was a deeply devoted catholic woman. She really did believe she would be united with her beloved husband once she died herself. I hope for her this became true.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

PC banking

Two days ago, I had an appointment in my local bank. The guy on the phone has mentioned some changes, which needed to be discussed, Well, I thought this would probably not be necessary - and I was right.

The talk was mainly about computer banking. This (young) bank clerk most likely thought that everyone over 50 has no notion of computers...

He seemed astonished to learn I knew how to do PC-banking, knew the number of my bank card and did not need to look up my access code on a paper kept in my wallet!

All fun aside, I did not learn a lot there. Just that the bank is introducing an app for the tablet - and I'd already downloaded it. It makes computer banking even easier.



Here in Belgium computer banking is well-introduced. It has been here for over 10 years and I believe we were among the first to use it world-wide.

I remember a trip to the US in 2003 where the manager was going to wire money to my account (I had had an accident there and they insisted on paying all the expenses) and that took over FOUR months to finally reach it. The manager mailed me about every week to say sorry it took so long. Apparently they had to send a request to Washington, and then a bank there had to make a transfer to my account. All very time consuming, while we already did everything with one click of the cursor!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hozier's music

Since I listen to the radio broadcasts on a daily basis, I know the song 'Take me to church' well enough. It's a great song, but I really had not listened very carefully to the lyrics.



But yesterday evening, Hozier (or Andrew Hozier-Byrne) was a guest at a talk show on TV 1 and he brought his song live. Great voice, wonderful artist. Because from what he told the host, I learned his song is to promote love whatever the context.

In the clip (which I haven't seen - I never watch channels only playing music) there is a lot of gay bashing and even worse.

Also here in Belgium there are still people who think gay love is wrong. And that while gay people can legally marry and have children.

Personally, I have never thought there is something wrong. Gay love has always existed, not only with people but also with animals. I take no abuse in seeing two men or two women being together.

When I was working in Germany, way back in the 1980's, my best friend was gay. It broke my heart when Fred told me his parents had thrown him out, and refused to ever see him again. How can parents refuse to see their children?

So I respect Hozier for bringing this song, especially since he's Irish and comes from a highly catholic country where lots of things are not talked about.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Birds

I don't know whether to blame Alfred Hitchcock for making The Birds, or my parents for allowing both myself and my even younger sister to watch this film at a tender age...


Anyway, ever since that film I don't like birds anymore. Before watching the film, I took pleasure in holding our little singing bird while grandfather cleaned its cage. I thought it funny when uncle's parakeet flew around my head or landed on my shoulder.

But ever since, I find no pleasure in seeing birds. I dread having lunch in a place with lots of trees, because you may be sure some sparrows will be frank enough to sit on the brim of your table, or even worse, come picking from your plate. We once experienced this on a trip in Norway. So afterwards, no more al fresco dining - or it should be in those place where birds wouldn't appear.

A couple of days I had a nasty encounter with some black birds in my garden. I was picking fallen leafs but apparently bothered those black birds. I don't know what they are, crows? Ravens? I don't know a lot about birds. Anyway, I tried to shoo them away, but they just did not move. One had the audacity to attack, so I went for a heavy broom and chased them away. Dealt one to the nasty one, and I hope it hurt!

Those black birds make a nest on one of my chimneys. I have to ask someone to put up something to keep them away from it. Otherwise the chimney might get blocked. But I haven't seen any of them since I chased them from the back of my garden, where they seemed to be having a congress.

Does anyone of you also have a dislike of birds?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

How To Beguile a Duke

Goddess Fish Promotions is organizing a Virtual Book Blast Launch Tour for How To Beguile a Duke by Ally Broadfield, a Regency Historical Romance available December 8, 2014 from Entangled Scandalous Publishing.

Ally will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Here is the code to place your comment:



Blurb

The spirited Catherine Malboeuf has just arrived in England to reclaim her ancestral home, Walsley Manor, and a valuable missing heirloom. Nicholas Adair, the attractive and frustratingly inflexible Duke of Boulstridge, however, is quite unwilling to sell the estate back to Catherine. Unless, of course, she accepts a small wager...

Nick will sell Walsley Manor if--and only if--Catherine secures an offer of marriage from an eligible member of the ton before the end of the London season.

Of course, Nick is certain he'll win. After all, no proper gentleman would ever marry a woman who conceals a cutlass in her skirts. Yet something about Catherine's unconventional disposition seems to ignite a need deep inside him. A need that won't just cost him the wager, but the very heart he swore to never give away...


Excerpt

She crossed her arms. “Your Grace. I have never been so insulted. I am not accustomed to having my word questioned.”

“Well you must become accustomed to it if you are going to continue to break into other people’s homes at your whim.”

“You should as well if you are going to lie to your guests about your whereabouts.”

He took a step forward and looked down his nose at her. Every part of her body awakened to his proximity. A whiff of cedar tickled her nose.

“Miss Malboeuf, you would do well to learn the customs of English society. It is my prerogative to turn away callers I do not wish to see. When my butler told you I was not at home, you should have understood it meant I did not wish to give you audience.”

She took a step back, hoping her mind would reengage. “It is still an untruth, which is the same thing as a lie. Why not tell the truth? Then I would have known your intentions from the start.”

The duke clenched his jaw. “Perhaps you should seek out someone who can provide you lessons in deportment.”

“That won’t be necessary, Your Grace. I attended a class on deportment in New Orleans.”

His gaze dropped to her unshod feet. “It’s a pity you weren’t able to complete the course.”


 Author bio and links

Ally lives in Texas and is convinced her house is shrinking, possibly because she shares it with three kids, four dogs, a cat, a rabbit, and several reptiles. Oh, and her husband.  She likes to curse in Russian and spends most of her spare time letting dogs in and out of the house and shuttling kids around. She writes historical romance set in Regency England and Imperial Russia.

She loves to hear from readers and you can find Ally on her website, Facebook, and Twitter, though she makes no claims of using any of them properly.

Links:






Buy Links:








Death always comes in numbers

A few days ago, our cousin William called to tell his father - our uncle Pierre - had died at the age of 82.

After attending the funeral service on Saturday, we came home to hear that Queen Fabiola had died as well. Boudewijn's widow became 86.

When our father died in 1993, King Boudewijn died just a few days afterwards.

Strange, isn't it?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Sint Niklaas (Saint Nicholas)

For a lot of little children, tonight will be a night full of expectation and anxiety. Because tomorrow morning the Holy Saint will bring presents and chocolates to those who have been good...



Now in Holland there is a big controversy about the  Saint's helper, Piet. Piet (or Peter in English) is traditionally represented as a black guy. But not black in the sense of being of African descent, no he's black because he has to climb through lots of chimneys to drop the presents.

Some people can't understand that. They accuse Nicholas of being a racist and they threaten to disrupt lots of events where Nicholas and Piet will make an appearance.

We Belgians have to laugh about this. In our country there is no problem with Piet wearing black shoeshine on his (or her) face. Even colored people willingly act as Piet. Because this has nothing to do with racism, but with tradition.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Kingdom Lights

Author Steven VS is launching his new book, The Kingdom Lights. This is a late middle-grade, early young steampunk fantasy novel, published by Neverland Publishing.

During this tour, Steven will be giving away a $50 Amazon/BN gift certificate to a randomly drawn commenter, by Rafflecopter. Here is the code to place your comment(s):



Blurb

In a world where cities float, airships sail the skies and mythical creatures are summoned in a pinch, Celes Vale is distinctly average. Living in the shadow of his talented cousin and his powerful aunt and uncle, Celes is resigned to a future of soot, factories and well, more soot.

But on the night of his twelfth birthday everything changes. A blinding light, a whispered voice and in an instant Celes becomes the first ordinary child in history to develop magic, sending him on a fast-track ticket to the greatest of the floating cities, Gardarel. Boasting grand, elegant buildings wrought from shimmering white stone, the entire city appears as though it has been built from light, and so it has come to be called the Kingdom Lights.

Though some welcome Celes, others want the dirt-ridden up-start off their city preferably head first. Nowhere is this clearer than in the attitude and actions of the beautiful and haughty Lady Ban and her sneering nephew, Marcus Blackwood. But Blackwood, with his gang of goons and unimaginative one-liners, is soon the least of Celes s problems.
With a little magic and a lot of detective work, Celes and his group of Scurriers and Wisps unravel the dark truth behind Lady Ban s prim, perfect smile an alliance to the villainous Wardens and the masked man who leads them. However, in his attempt to expose Lady Ban, Celes unwittingly stumbles onto an even darker conspiracy a plan that could lead to the complete destruction of Gardarel itself.

Excerpt

With his immaculately polished shoes, carefully preened suit and even more carefully preened moustache Jaime Milton was the last person one would expect in the sooty factory city of Midgard. His father, Lord Milton, Sr., a great wobbly man with fat flapping fingers like purple bananas was a close second.

It was a brilliant June morning and the city of Floating City of Midgard was alight with life. Jaime walked through the weathered cobblestone streets and watched as houses flung their windows and doors open, lapping in the sunlight. Jaime had not been here for two years and yet the City of Factories was exactly as he had remembered; there were rows of homes huddled together, tightly packed into the little street as high rising billows of smoke sailed into the sky. The cobblestones of rose-tinged granite underfoot were boisterous and uneven and Jaime had to be extra careful so as not to fall over as racing children zoomed past, chasing one another furiously through the street. Some were covered in soot whilst others were rosy clean but, he noted, all were breathless.

Jaime Milton couldn’t help but smile.

“What are you smirking about?” barked Lord Milton, Sr. as his son pushed him through the streets in a beautiful silvery wheelchair.

“Just thinking about the first time I came to Midgard,” replied Jaime. “It was a…”

“I didn’t ask!” announced Lord Milton, Sr., brandishing his polished walking cane. “Always answering questions I didn’t ask! And stop your smiling! There’s no reason to smile!”




Author bio and links

A resident of the sleepy coastal town of Bexhill, East Sussex, England. Steven graduated in the summer of 2013 from the University of Southampton with a Bachelor of Medicine Degree and a Master’s Degree in Global Health from Sussex University – where he spent the majority of his time in Shawcross writing this novel!
In between writing and dreaming Steven is a medical doctor and has worked at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire and the Princess Royal where he fights the system with quirky lanyards.
Steven’s debut novel steampunk fantasy The Kingdom Lights is out on October 17th published by Neverland Publishing.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett in Ghent

Just heared this announced on the radio (when I come down from my bedroom, my first move is to put on the radio, and it keeps playing until evening).

During July Ghent Jazz takes place and the organisation has been able to book Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, to bring songs from their new album Cheek to Cheek. She's 28 and he is 88....


A pity I won't be able to attend. I'm in France at that time, so I'm missing out a great opportunity!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Denouement

To promote her latest novel, Denouement, author M.O. Kenyan is doing a virtual blurb blitz tour which began on November 24th and will end on December 5th. My blog is one of the stops on this tour.

The author will be awarding digital copies of Red Tears Blue Blood and Covert Existence to a randomly drawn commenter via Rafflecopter.
Here is the link;



Blurb

Marietta Parks believes that the only way to stop surprises from happening in life is to control your own fate. Paying attention to every detail she scripts out her own life. Leaving love, romance and children out of it. But then she meets a man who just has to be added into her story, Tobias Harden was the man of everyone’s dreams but he was a lovely addition to her already scripted life.

Tobias Harden was the modern day Casanova. Love was not in his vocabulary, and he was allergic to the word commitment, like poison Ivy to the bare skin. A chance kiss with Marietta Parks makes him question his single life. He was to be the best for her, and oddly enough she happens to be the only woman he wants to kiss. Tobias convinces Marietta that she needs him in her life. But after three years of marriage and life’s obstacles, he finds himself in bed with another woman. He has to convince her that he is still the man for her, especially now that she’s pregnant.

Excerpt

“How long has he been here?” Marietta looked at him, her eyes heavy with sleep. She felt so tired for a second she didn’t think she was awake. But the pain in her back and her abdomen brought her back to reality. Her heart hurt too.

“He arrived a few minutes after they sedated you. He’s been here through out, no bathroom or snack breaks. He just sat there holding your handing and staring at you. I, on the other hand had to get a burger,” Jesse said.

Marietta laughed but winced in pain, “Please don’t make me laugh.”

 “I was scared for a minute there. Especially when… when, they asked about what to do with the baby. I’m just glad he came when he did.”

“So he knows?” She took a deep breath that seemed to tremble out of her when she exhaled. “What did he say?”

“I think he still can’t believe it. It might be the shock or the fact that you are as skinny as a pencil.”

A knot of nerves formed in Marietta’s throat. Her heart frozen in her chest she bit her lip then asked, “He doesn’t think the baby is his?”

“Can you blame him?”

“I don’t think I can.” Marietta smoothed her hand over her belly. She still couldn’t believe that she had been walking around all this while not knowing there was a life growing inside of her. Now that the baby was no longer there she had this strange eddy feeling of emptiness and loss.



Author bio and links

Reading,Writing,Romance, Creativity and Imagination. These are the words that describe my work.
I was born in Nairobi Kenya and had a passion for books ever since I could remember. Romance and love have always been a strange phenomenon for me. I have always wanted to change the ending of a love story. I decided to start writing my own.
Enjoy!!!






Decorating for Christmas

I don't know about you guys, but this afternoon my sister and I have been busy decorating our house for Christmas. It was a dreary afternoon anyway, cold, dark and foggy. The temperatures are changing and they predict freezing for tomorrow.


I always think that the house looks more cozy during this festive season. All those little trees and other decorations give a festive touch, and especially with the lights on it becomes a fairy tale. Well, we'll have to be careful with the lights - it has already become a standard joke. Especially our neighbors the Dutch laugh at the fact the government has asked to be careful with energy to prevent a black-out. Imo it's a just a way to try and raise the prices of gas and electricity, but who am I?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

3 days in Sydney, and yet no kangaroo!

Sometimes you read funny things in a newspaper. This morning, I had to laugh about the following article - a bunch of quotes right out of the book 'Flaters in het reistheater' by Mario De Wilde. In this books he quotes telephone calls to touroperators and other travel bureaus. Sometimes it looks like going on a holiday is also a bit of suffering...

Here's a taste of the funny stuff.

I have been spending three days in Sydney, and yet I haven't seen one kangaroo in the city center...

I bought a Rayban in Hongkong for 4 Euro. Only now I see it's a fake.

I was bitten by a mosquito. The travel brochure did not mention mosquitoes in this area.

I've never seen so many migrants at work in our hotel in Tunesia!

The beach was too sandy. We had to wash our feet when we returned to our room.

Nobody had told us there would be fish in the water. Our kids were scared to death.

We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers. They were all Spanish.

I took an all-in holiday for the first time and I gained 5 kilogram. You should have warned me!

When we take a cruise on the Nile, can we leave from Zeebrugge (= harbour town in Belgium, at the North Sea)?

We booked a room with two seperate bed. We got a double instead. I hold you responsible for the fact I'm pregnant!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Found, Near Water

Rena Sutherland wakes from a coma into a mother’s nightmare. Her daughter’s is missing – lost for four days – but no one has noticed; no one has complained; no one has been searching.

 As the victim support officer assigned to her case, Christine Emmett puts aside her own problems as she tries to guide Rena through the maelstrom of her daughter’s disappearance.

 A task made harder by an ex-husband desperate for control; a paedophile on early-release in the community; and a psychic who knows more than seems possible.


 And intertwined throughout, the stories of six women; six daughters lost.

This is what this mytery by Katherine Hayton is about. Katherine is also promoting her new novel. This virtual book tour started on November 17th and will run until December 12th. One lucky commenter will receive a $50 Amazon/BN gift certificate, which will be drawn by Rafflecopter. Here is the link to place your comment:


Excerpt from the novel

I set out the chairs in a circle. In my head I counted off each person as I placed their seat. Terry, dead daughter; Ilene, missing daughter; Kendra, missing daughter; Joanne, sick daughter; Christine, dead daughter. That last one is me, by the way.

There used to be a need for more chairs. I had quite the group running at one stage. Not now. We’ve dwindled and whittled our way to a close knit bunch. Like a knitting circle with barbed tongues driving all the young and optimistic members away.

I remember when I was talked into setting up this group. I was whining away to an old colleague one day and she mentioned that I may be helped by a support group. A support group! I “reminded” her that I was a fully qualified psychiatrist who had once had a roaring career until I realised how futile the entire field was. I wasn’t someone who attended a support group. I was the one to run it.

Famous last words.

There was a crunch of gravel outside and I walked to the window to have a nosey. Not one of mine. An elderly gent made slow progress towards the temporary library. He swayed so deeply from foot to foot he looked like a Weeble in full wobble.

I laid out a half packet of stale gingernuts which had mysteriously survived in our pantry and hoped that no one was feeling too hungry.


Something about the author

Ever since I was three year’s old I’ve been reading everything I can lay my hands on. It’s been my passion, my solace, my comfort. I used to look forward to Wednesday nights which were the time that my mother would take me, and any of my siblings who wanted to go – so usually just me, to the library.

It would be wonderful, thrilling, and risky. I was only able to take three books out each week, and only one of those could get a free pass on fees. If I picked the wrong one I would be stuck with it for a whole week. Not only stuck with it, but I’d have to read a bad book cover to cover because otherwise I’d have to do something else, and that was not really what I was after. I did go outside, and played outside, and watched TV like any normal kid, but that was just stuff you filled in time with until you could read again.

Throughout my childhood there was never anything I wanted to do but become a writer – it seemed the only natural progression to my life. Then I crawled inside a bottle for fourteen years, and when I popped back out I was working in an office job in a travel agency, my mother was dead, and I was clueless as to how I was meant to get my life back on track.

About the time I started to seriously study the craft of writing, something that used to come naturally to me but had grown incredibly hard through lack of use, I also had a change in career path into insurance (not as big a change as it might seem as it was really from one office job to another with a brighter future and better career path.) I started to challenge myself in my professional life, and my personal life, so instead of focussing in on writing I instead tried out a range of different hobbies, followed up on fleeting interests, tried to learn to play the saxophone which my partner was glad was a short-lived affair, and generally did all of the things I should’ve spent my teens and twenties doing but hadn’t.

But of course I always circled back to writing. Reading and writing. My passion remains the same but instead of skimming widely across any and all genres I’ve narrowed down and done a deep-dive into crime fiction which has been my favourite for over a decade now.

I love the fact that I’ve been reading the same genre of fiction for more than ten years now, and still find new and interesting things with every book that I pick up. Now I’m trying to bring something new and unique to me to the genre. And soon I might finally get back on track to being the person that I always wanted to be.



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Author Page: amazon.com/author/katherinehayton

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