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Monday, March 31, 2014

Close to finding Van Eyck's missing panel?

The St. Baaf's cathedral in Ghent (main city of the province of East Flanders and former capitals of the Counts of Flanders) houses one of the world's masterpieces in painting: 'The Lamb of God' by the brothers Van Eyck, in the Flemish Primitive style.


And perhaps some of you will also have heard about the theft of one of the side panels of this masterpiece? In the 1930s the curator of the church noticed that the panel 'De rechtvaardige rechters' (= the honest judges) was taken away.

Most probably the theft was commited by a man named Arsène Goedertier. He died without a confession. Since then, lots of people have been looking for the lost panel. They searched everywhere, and complot theories pop up frequently.

A couple of days ago, politician and historicus Paul de Ridder announced in the news he has strong suspicions the lost panel is in the property of a well-known and highstanding family in Ghent.

Two families have already announced they are not to blame - those who were under suspicion all those years ago already. 'De rechtvaardige rechters' are not in our property, they claim. These are just wild west stories.

True? We don't know, and most probably never will. If indeed someone high up in power has ordered Goedertier to steal the panel, he or she has locked it safely away and nobody won't find it. Here in Belgium that's the fashion. The higher a person is in society, the less chance they'll be tried for whatever crime. Not right, but that is how is is.

Personally I think those who have the panel in property should return it to the cathedral, and they should rightly have to live with the shame of having a thief in their family.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Spring joke

As we have temperatures of about 20°Celsius, we really feel spring is in the air... Therefore, a joke about spring won't go amiss, right?

Here goes:

Four high school boys afflicted with spring fever skipped morning classes. After lunch they reported to the teacher that they had a flat tire.

Much to their relief she smiled and said, "Well, you missed a test today so take seats apart from one another and take out a piece of paper."

Still smiling, she waited for them to sit down. Then she said: "First Question: Which tire was flat?"

Saturday, March 29, 2014

We invented more than just the saxofone

Perhaps you don't know it, but we Belgians have invented more than one thing. The best-known is of course the saxofone, named after Adophe Saxe.

A radio 1 program 'De bende van Einstein' (= the Einstein gang) asked their listeners to list those Belgian inventions which they thought the most remarkable. Here are some of the results:

1) the roller skate, invented by John Joseph Merlin who was born in Hoei. He put wheels under a wood board in 1760. He demonstrated his 'roller skate' during a party, but ran into a mirror - which gave the roller skate its reputation of being dangerous. The idea was later on developed by an American, who took a patent on it.


2) the world wide web. An informaticus from Tongeren, Robert Calliau, is together with Sir Tim Berners-Lee the founder of the world wide web. In 1990 they worked on a system to transmit documents, Hyper Text Transfer, which controled the communication between browsers and servers as we now know it.

3) body mass index. Adolphe Quetelet from Gent was one of the first who applied statistics on humans. In 1835 he came up with a formula to calculate if a person weighs too much or too little. His invention is now better known as BMI

4) cricket. If you hear ths word, you immediately think of Great-Britain. But this ball sport was invented by a group of Flemings, albeit very much by accident. In the 1500s England had many guest workers from Flanders, who were mainly weavers. Their passtime was game they named 'ketsen met de krik' (the 'krik' being one of their tools). From this developed the term 'cricket'.


5) the stir sieve. When Victor Simon watched his wife struggling in the kitchen, he came up with the idea of creating a pot with sieve and crank-handle. This resulted in the 'passe vite' which my grandmother so loved and we still have one. It makes it so easy to make potato mash or anything else!


These are just a couple of the lists which were mailed to the radio station. We have had many more inventions, but these are just the most remarkable ones.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Pay no alimony = lose your driving licence

Yesterday, we heard in the news that our government plans to punish men who don't pay alimony to their ex-wife shall run a risk of losing their driving licence.

Much too many men don't pay as they should. Some women get into monetary difficulties because of that, especially when they don't have a job.

Personally, I think it's crazy to threaten to take away the driving licence. There are other ways to ensure someone pays.

And you can also wonder why some men don't pay. Most of them have had a very bad divorce and are not allowed to see their children - but still they must pay. I can imagine some of them stop the payments because of that.

What do you think?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Brave Little Belgium

Yesterday, President Obama was in Belgium for a short visit. He visited one of the military burial grounds from World War One, and in his speech he praised our country as 'Brave Little Belgium'.

This expression is not new. Julius Ceasar already praised the braveness of the Belgians.In his military exploit he mentioned the Belgae as the 'bravest of the Gauls'. The expression 'Brave Little Belgium' was first used by the American ambassador in 1914, but also Presidents Woodrow Wilson and J. Edgar Hoover have used it as well.

For Americans, it was strange that a small country such as ours dared to deny the Germans throughfare through the country. We were neutral, but of course the Germans did not care about it. Still, we put up a defense against the German army and that kept them from reaching Paris in France.

This was the reason why the Americans offered us humanitarian relief in the form of food packages which were dropped. Lots of people have survided because of them.

Today, Belgium remains a firm ally of the Unitited States, and while our army doesn't mean a lot in force, it is known for the knowhow in building bridges and offering aid in war zones such as Syria.

And what is even more astonishing to Americans is that we still exist as a country, even when there are so many controversies and complex situations with Flemings and Walloons. Even without a government (after the last elections, it took over a year to form a government) we went along without a problem, because our institutions work very well.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Point of discussion: less woman without breasts?

Today one subject in the newspaper caught my attention: an article about a woman who had had breast cancer and who wanted new breasts.

The woman tells it is unfair she has to pay thousands of euros to have new breasts, as this is not beauty surgery. She can understand people have to pay a lot to get bigger (or smaller) breasts because they want it, but if you've survived cancer you should get the treatment for free.

Apart from the question is this surgery after cancer should be entirely free of charge, you can also ask yourself if no breasts make you less of a woman.

For me, the answer would be a definite 'no'. I suppose I would not feel any different with only one breast or even none. What you are in inside, in the way you are thinking. I don't have a husband or boyfriend, but if I had I would think he did not love me if he went away because I'd had cancer and was left minus one or two breasts.

There are a number of celebrities here in Flanders who are either for what I think - for instance Nicole from the duo Nicole & Hugo. She had cancer and her husband is still with her and still loves her for what she is. But others need a vanity surgery because they are afraid their husband or boyfirend will think less of them.

What is your take on this?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Night of history

As it exactly 100 years ago that World War One started, a lot of remembrance ceremonies are taking place this year.

Tonight, in various places in Flanders, the Night of History is taking place. This is to remember what exactly happened in that terrible year 1914.

Dendermonde, the town where I was born and have been living in since then, also became victim of the acts of war. During one month, there was a fierce battle between the Belgian army and the Germans, because the last ones wanted to cross the river Schelde right here. Unfortunately 'the battle for Dendermonde' is not mentioned in a lot of history books.


Our Town Hall looked like this after the fire died out. Nothing much left standing, right? Most of the town looked like this:



Dendermonde became a 'Martyr Town' (together with Dinant, Taminnes, Aarschot and Leuven). On the 5th and th of September nearly the whole of the town was burnt down. Most of its historical buildings, dating back to the Middle Ages were badly affected. I'l post some pictures to show how bad. They were renovated later on and of course today the town pretty much looks like nothing ever happened.

But still...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Singing nun astonishes Italy

As you know, The Voice is running pretty much everywhere. There is The Voice UK, The Voice Flanders, The Voice Holland - and also The Voice Italy.

During one of the blind auditions, the jury (among which Raffaela Cara) didn't know what was happening when someone took the stage and began to sing 'No One' (orginally from Alicia Keyes). The public just went wild.

Not very much longer one of the judges turned already (a rapper, but forgive me if I don't remember his name) and soon after the others did as well.


They could not believe their eyes when they noticed the frail young nun in her black habit who stood swinging on the stage!


She is Sister Cristina, 25 years old, from Sicily. She has a good voice and has taken the pope's advice to share what she has with the world. She also hopes Pope Francisus will call her one of the coming days - that would really make her day.

She chose to be in the rapper's team - his words: the devil and god make a good pair.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday joke

A fitting joke for a Sunday, I think. Hope you can also laugh...

A preacher was completing a temperance sermon. With great expression he said, "If I had all the beer in the world, I'd take it and throw it into the river."

With even greater emphasis he said, "And if I had all the wine in the world, I'd take it and throw it into the river."

And then finally, he said, "And if I had all the whiskey in the world, I'd take it and throw it into the river."

He sat down. The song leader then stood very cautiously and announced with a smile, "For our closing song, let us sing Hymn # 365: "Shall We Gather at the River."

Friday, March 21, 2014

Update on Malaysian aircraft

Some days ago I wrote about the mysterious disappearance of an Air Malaysia flight with 244 passengers on board. Even with all our modern resources, no trace of it was found.

Until yesterday. Yesterday morning (our time, i.e. Greenwich Time +1) I heard the Australian prime minister announce their satellites had picked up drifting parts (of a plane?) somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

Reconaissance planes and ships were sent to the far away area, where that part of the ocean is nicknamed The Roaring Forties.

We haven't heard anything more as yet. Experts say it's possible the drifting parts have been carried further away or even sunk.

Just wonder if this mystery will ever be solved?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Five Corners: The Marked Ones

Today, my blog features author Cathi Shaw. She is the author of Five Corners: The Marked Ones, a YA fantasy which became available from January 30th from Ink Smith Publishing. To promote her novel, Cathi is making a promotional virtual book tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. This tour will run from March 16th until April 11th.

I'd like to encourage you to read the blog and make a comment, as the author is giving away a $50 Amazon/BN gift certificate to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Please use this Rafflecopter code to place your comment:  http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e43482/

Some interesting facts about the author


1. How would you spend ten thousand bucks?

I would give half of it to a charity (my favorite being the Epilepsy Awareness Squad: www.easquad.org) and I would use the rest to travel somewhere I haven't been before.

2. What are 5 things within touching distance?

My coffee cup, my laptop, my iPhone, a box of Kleenex and a plant.

3. Do you have a crush on anyone?

Yes. I adore Johnny Depp. He's beautiful. 

4. What is your least favorite word?

Moreover.

5. What part of the writing process do you dread?

Writing the first draft – it’s just so frustrating because I think I know how the story goes and then I have to slow down and type it all out (it’s already written in my head). But while writing Five Corners, I had some surprises from the writing process. The story actually came out completely differently from what I had “written” in my head. My daughter, Caitie, would come home from school and I’d say, “You’ll never believe what Kiara did today!”

More about the book and it's author

Blurb

Growing up in a sleepy village untouched by distant wars and political conflicts, it was easy for Thia, Mina and Kiara to forget such horrors existed in the Five Corners. That is until the dead child is found; a child that bears the same strange birthmark that all three sisters possess. A Mark their mother had always told them was unique to the girls.

Kiara’s suspicions grow as their Inn is soon overrun with outsiders from all walks of life. Strangers, soldiers and Elders who all seem to know more about what is happening than the girls do.

After Mina barely survives an attack in the forest, the sisters are faced with a shattering secret their mother has kept from them for years. As danger closes in around them, the sisters are forced from their home and must put their trust in the hands of strangers.  With more questions than answers, Kiara finds herself separated from everyone she loves and reliant on an Outlander who has spent too much time in army. She doesn’t trust Caedmon but she needs him if she has any hope of being reunited with her sisters and learning what the Mark might mean.


Excerpt

Kiara stared at the small body laid out in the family's tiny kitchen. She didn't know the child but that didn't stop her heart from jerking in her chest as she looked at the perfect little girl lying in the wooden box. She was dressed in what were obviously her best clothes: her dark hair had been carefully combed and braided. She was only six years old.

Kiara felt her own mother watching her closely. She forced her gaze away from the small lifeless form. Brijit murmured softly to the parents and then moved to Kiara's side.

"Come away from here, Kiara," her mother said firmly.

But Kiara couldn't stop herself from looking back at the child, noting how someone had twined a pretty scarf around her neck, concealing the ugly slashes that she knew were hidden beneath the colorful material. The result of a blade taken to vulnerable flesh. This poor girl had had no chance against her assailant.

Brijit tugged on her arm insistently. "There is nothing more for us to do here," she whispered in a hushed undertone. "Let’s go and give the family some peace."

Kiara felt a sudden wave of shame wash over her. She suddenly wondered what she was doing here?

Don’t try to deny it, she told herself vehemently, you know why you’re here.

She had seen the Mark on the child's shoulder. She resisted the urge to rub her own shoulder where an identical Mark was hidden beneath her tunic. It was something she’d believed she only shared with her sisters. But this child proved different.

And there was no question that this child had been assassinated.

Author bio and links

Cathi Shaw lives in Summerland, BC (Canada) with her husband and three children.  She is often found wandering around her home, muttering in a seemingly incoherent manner, particularly when her characters have embarked on new adventure. In addition to writing fiction, she teaches rhetoric and professional writing in the Department of Communications at Okanagan College and is the co-author of the textbook Writing Today.



Twitter: @CathiShaw



Buy links for book:
BARNES AND NOBLE:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/five-corners-cathi-shaw/1117922571?ean=9781939156242



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What happened to the Air Malaysia Boeing 777?

It's been more than a week now. A flight from Air Malaysia just disappeared out of sight. No trace of the plane nor its passengers was found (yet).


The big question is what has really happened. Aviation experts consider two main causes: either an accident (i.e. an explosion in which the Boeing broke into hundreds of parts) or terrorism.

The list of passengers is closely being studied, as well as the backgrounds of both pilot and co-pilot. Did one of them have ties with any extremist group?

My sister has a feeling though that the boeing has not crashed and has probably landed in parts unknown. And I do trust my sister's feelings.

Not impossible, as the plane was flying under the radar and all monitoring systems were switched off in the cockpit. A military radar spotted the plane hours after it 'disappeared'.

I wonder if we'll ever know what really happened. Sometimes strange things occur. And I would not like to think planes get hijacked once more, like they were years ago. One of our friends was on a flight that was hijacked and landed in Jamaica. She lived to tell the story, but I know it had a big effect on her way of thinking.

And if the pilot wanted to commit suicide, he could have chosed other means. Why not put a gun against his head and pull the trigger? Or take a rope and hang yourself? I always think it selfish when people commit suicide in ways others suffer as well. Like jumping under the train. Giving the train conductor a heart attack and the passengers all late for work - sometimes even losing their job because they're late.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Molly Harper

Today I'd like to introduce you to Emelle Gamble. Emelle is an author and she likes to tell you what being a writer means to her. These are her own words:

Writers get asked two questions probably more than any other, how do you get your ideas and how did you become a writer’. In my opinion, these are both simple and somewhat complicated questions to answer.

I became a writer because I wanted to tell stories. Always. I mean it. Since I learned to talk, I was a ‘chatterbox’.  Loved to engage, chat, spin descriptions of what I’d seen or done. To myself,  and to anyone else who would listen! I wanted to provide a narrative, a fictional spin, and ‘what if’ excitement to almost everything around me. I have told the tale before that the first story I wrote I was about six, and it was about a lost baby bunny wanting to find out what she was so she could locate her family. “Am I a cub, Mrs. Bear? Am I a fawn, Mrs. Deer?”

As I look back on that first story, it’s clear to me it was biographical. From an early age I had issues of identity because of secrets and family adventures with my mother’s remarriage and a glossing over of facts to my brother and sister (HA-every family is dysfunctional in some way, this was our way).  That’s what most authors do, I think, put their ‘issues’, if you will, into their stories so they can fix them. Resolve them. Make life turn out in a comfortable and understandable way.

MOLLY HARPER, my latest novel, reflects this personal issue in many ways, as Molly and her birth mother and adoptive mother must deal with all the issues you might imagine, and a few more you might enjoy. (Hollywood stardom.  And Cruz Morales, for example.)

Which, of course, is not to say every story one writes is about oneself.  I wrote poetry (I know, who didn’t?) in high school, some short stories in college, and first tried my hand at a novel when my kids were babies. Phil-the-fist, my hero of the last thirty years, lugged home his IBM Selectric every weekend and I banged out my first romance, COMET’S CLIMAX, typing up the scenes I’d written and edited in long hand during the week.

This effort was soundly rejected. And not just for the hokey and ridiculous romance title and plot (hero-heroine-Haley’s comet mystery). It was rejected because I wasn’t good enough yet at my craft to have a product good enough to publish.

But that first rejection did more than save the reading public from a bad story. After all, I plotted a book. Developed characters. Told a story! Edited and reedited.  I FINISHED A NOVEL. The fact it didn’t sell didn’t matter. What mattered is that I was finally what I’d wanted to be when I was that baby bunny looking for her identity. I found it when I wrote ‘the end’ and became what I think I was born to be, a writer.

Thanks for asking, Nickie. Now let me ask our readers…have you ever wanted to be a writer?

Emelle is now doing a promotional book tour, running every Monday for eight weeks starting last week Monday, and for this reason she is giving away  $50 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Also, a digital copy of Molly Harper will be awarded to 3 randomly drawn commenters during her tours.

More information about the novel and its author

Blurb:

Movie star Molly Harper has it all, beauty, success in her field, and a loving family and marriage to actor Ben Delmonico. Norma Wintz, Molly’s mother, has it all, a lovely life style and two children who adore her, and a respite from the battle against cancer she’s been fighting. Anne Sullivan, at age fifty, is optimistic that her move to sunny Santa Barbara, California, will allow her to be closer to her youngest son and his family, and help her start her life anew after the death of her beloved husband.

But all three of these women, despite their considerable blessings, are plunged into turmoil when the most intimate of secrets that ties their lives together is revealed. At this same time, Molly Harper is confronted with the news that her marriage to actor Ben Delmonico is over. As she navigates this heartbreak and tries to keep the personal details of the drama off the front pages of the newspapers, Molly must also find a way to once and forever negotiate a way forward with her ex- lover and best friend, the volatile and compelling Cruz Morales.

How each of these characters handles the resulting upheaval in their own life, and in their relationships with one another, forms the compelling story of family, secrets and trust in the romantic women’s fiction novel, Molly Harper.


Excerpt:

When the doorbell rang, Cruz Morales froze. Carefully he set his beer down and glanced out the kitchen window.

He didn’t like what he saw.

He walked to the front entrance of Norma’s house, leaving the pan of chicken and tarragon burbling on a low burner. The soft sounds of Santana playing on the stereo in Molly’s room floated toward him on the evening breeze.

Cruz opened the front door to two uniformed Santa Barbara policeman.

“Officers.” Cruz wiped his hands on the dishtowel he’d stuck in the waistband of his jeans.

The policemen’s faces changed from officious to wary at being confronted by a six-foot-three Hispanic male with a ponytail, tattoos and two gold rings hanging from his right ear.

His bulging biceps beneath the soft old t-shirt didn’t help their comfort level.

Cruz put his hands on his hips and waited. He knew he looked threatening, ugly even, with the scars and disfigurement to the left side of his face.

But he didn’t mind how he looked. Ugly scared people, and kept them away.

Even police.

“Can I help you?” He reminded himself not to move quickly. He’d ended up spread-eagled on the ground more than once in his life for spooking a rookie gringo.

“Is this the Wintz home?” The older of the two men spoke, his right hand on his nightstick.

“Yes. It is.” Cruz offered nothing more. He learned over the years that the best way to protect Molly’s privacy was not to give out gratuitous information.

The cop cleared his throat. “May I ask your name?”

“Cruz Morales.”

“And you are…?”

“I’m a friend of the family.”

“Is that your vehicle out there?” The younger police waved toward the truck in the driveway.

Cruz nodded.

The police looked at each other. “We’ve been trying to contact Miss Molly Harper by phone, but she didn’t answer her cell,” the first cop said. “Is she here?”

“What’s the problem?” Cruz asked.

“I’m afraid I need to save my information for Miss Harper.” 

“Cruz, who is it? Is it Mr. Garcia?” Molly hollered from her bedroom.

“Come in.” Cruz stepped back. He turned and called out, “Molly, there are two policemen here who want to see you. Get dressed and come out here.”

The young cop smirked as he walked by Cruz. He had red hair and freckles, and his shirt was about an inch too big around his skinny neck.

Cruz lifted his chin. It was obvious the rookie knew who Molly was, and was busy imagining her getting dressed.

“Take a seat in the library.” Cruz pointed. “It’s right through the archway there.”

The older man, who wore a name-tag reading ‘Sgt Purcell’ nodded. “Okay. Thanks, Mr. Cruz. Please bring Miss Harper to us, whenever she’s ready.”

Cruz watched them walk across the foyer, their black boots squeaking on the tile.

He didn’t mind that the cop got his name wrong. It was typical arrogance. But Cruz began to feel dread build inside. It always happened when he wasn’t sure what would happen next.

He opened the front door and checked the driveway and yard. There was nothing outside that indicated any of the media assholes were sniffing around yet. His truck was blocked in by the patrol car, but no other vehicles were in sight.

Molly hurried down the hallway. “What’s wrong? Why are the police here? Did Mother call?”

Her face was shiny and red from crying. She looked like she was seventeen, he thought. The age she was when he first fell in love with her. He didn’t remember a lot of things from his past, but he always remembered that.

Cruz closed the door. “No one called the house. But the police said they tried your cell.” He took her left arm gently. “Let’s go see what they want.”

“God, do you think something’s happened to Mother?” Her eyes were wide with panic.

“Don’t borrow trouble. They didn’t say that.”

She didn’t move for a moment, and then she put her arm around his back and leaned against him.

Molly was trembling. Cruz knew there was no way to protect her from whatever was coming. But at least he was here.

Because she called me.

Because she needs help.

She needs me.

Everything in his life had changed over the last three years. Everything except that. Cruz squeezed Molly closer and guided her into the library.

“This is Molly Harper,” Cruz announced. “What’s going on?”


Author info:

Emelle Gamble was a writer at an early age, bursting with the requisite childhood stories of introspection. These evolved into bad teen poetry and worse short stories. She took her first stab at full length fiction in an adult education writing class when her kids were in bed.  As M.L. Gamble, she published several romantic suspense novels with Harlequin. She has contracted with Soul Mate Publishing for Secret Sister, published in the summer of 2013, and Dating Cary Grant, a March 2014 release.

Once and Forever, an anthology which includes the novella Duets, came out on November 1st. Molly Harper, a full length novel starring the characters from Duets 3 years later was released by Posh Publishing in January.

Emelle lives in suburban Washington D.C. with her husband, ‘Phil-the-fist’, her hero of thirty years, and two orange cats, Lucy and Bella. These girls, like all good villains, have their reasons for misbehaving. Her daughter, Olivia, and son, Allen, are happily launched on their own and contributing great things to society, their mother’s fondest wish.


Review Quotes:

Praise for Secret Sister

“Along with being a very unique and captivating plot, SECRET SISTER offers a shocking turn of the paranormal kind. So if you are the type of person that wants ordinary romance in a book, you won't find that here. This is a story of friendship, family, and most of all, true love and what those things can mean. I cannot recommend SECRET SISTER strongly enough… “ Fresh Fiction, Fresh Reviews

"If you're looking for a typical women's fiction/romance, don't look here... this story has a twist of the paranormal that will have you willingly stretching your belief in order to enjoy the plot. Emelle Gamble has created a story that will tear your heart out."  Long and Short Reviews

Links:



FaceBook:  Author Emelle Gamble4

Twitter: @EmelleGamble

           
Secret Sister by Emelle Gamble is now available on Amazon!  http://amzn.to/17J2Bn6

Once and Forever  an anthology with Emelle Gamble’s novella, Duets, is now available on Amazon!    http://amzn.to/1h9fZWv

Saturday, March 15, 2014

ADHD doesn't exist...

According to American neurologist dr. Richard Saul, the illness ADHD is often mistaken for other diseases or behavior. And of course lots of other scientist claim this is not true.

I can easily believe that the pharma industry will have a say in this. I don't know how many youngsters take Rilatin on a daily basis. Lots of pills to be sold... If this falls away, well, you see the picture. The pharmaceuticl industry wants to produce as many pills and meds as possible, and therefore they lead us to believe we really NEED these meds. The truth is we don't need as many as we take.

Now for ADHD. There will of course be children who suffer from one or other form of it. But lots of them are, well, just badly raised, if I'm allowed to say. I remember from years ago, when I was working in Temse. I was attached to the administration there, and one of our tasks was to guard the kids who had to be picked up after school.

I usually looked after a bunch of kindergartners ranging from 2 to 6 years old. Most of them were sweet kids, and I amused them by telling them stories.  I just made them up at the time being, telling them about princes and princesses, good and bad, ... Most of the kids wanted to sit on my lap, and I usually had four of them stuck to me. One kid, aged 5, was nasty. He did not want to play along and when he thought it was his turn to sit on my lap, he just bit another kid. Now I must say the mother of this kid told me her son had ADHD. Well, he had already been misbehaving before but I thought it went too far when he started biting other children. I grabbed him by the arm (careful to leave no marks) and put him in a corner. He had to stand there until he promised to behave. After a couple of times, he was just as calm and sweet as the others and then of course he could join the others when I was telling them stories. His mum could not understand how her son became so calm and handable after being in after school care.

So I think this Doctor Saul may have a point. The problem is, most parents don't have enough time anymore for their children. They both work, they have to leave early and return late, and the kids have to be in care for most of the time. And you can't tell me they receive there the best of attention. It's just not possible for a child carer to give individual attention to 30 or 40 kids at the same time. It's a problem of recent times. When I was young, there was always somebody home to look after the children. I was not taken out of my bed at 6 am to be driven to a daycare center. I slept until 8 am and grandma gave me breakfast and took me to school. My parents both worked, but they lived in with my mother's parents. Some young people today also do this, because it means they can share costs (houses are very expensive here). And it's not a bad thing. As a youngster, you learn how to act around elderly people and you will take much more for granted.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Good Together

Goddess Fish Promotions is organizing a Virtual Super Book Blast Tour for Good Together by CJ Carmichael, a Contemporary Romance available now from Tule Publishing. The Super Book Blast Tour is to promote the price drop of this eBook to $0.99 during the tour, and will take place from March 10 - 14, 2014.

The author and publisher will be awarding a print copy of "Good Together" as well as cool author swag to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour (US only).


Blurb

Mattie, the eldest of Marietta’s Carrigan girls, married rodeo cowboy, Wes Bishop, right out of high school and raised twin daughters. A happy life, she thought, but now that she’s in her late thirties and their daughters have left for college, her husband has become strangely distant.

Then one night Wes comes home late from a rodeo—with a stranger’s key in his pocket. He won’t talk, but she knows something is wrong.

When her worst fears are confirmed, the hits keep coming. It seems her husband is determined to destroy everything she loves in this world. Thankfully she still has her sisters, and her home on The Circle C Ranch. But more and more she thinks, not of her roots in Marietta, but of her kind, dependable neighbour, Nat Diamond. Over the years Nat has been a constant in her life, but only as a friend. Is it possible the two of them could become more? But if Nat really does have romantic feelings for her—as she suspects—why does he keep pulling away?

Is there something he needs to tell her?

Excerpt

She leaned her back against the counter, sipping the hot coffee and eyeing her husband. He was looking at the iPad again, as if her presence was nothing but an interruption. That was when she noticed the key was no longer on the counter.

“I found a key on the floor by your jacket this morning.”

Wes nodded, head still lowered. “Yeah. Thanks.”

“So... what’s it for?”

Wes hesitated a moment before answering. He seemed annoyed that she felt it necessary to ask the question and he answered with exaggerated patience. “I crashed with the Wilkinson’s this weekend. Peter gave me a key to their guest cabin and I forgot to return it. I’ll put it in the mail later today.”

A wild impulse rose in her—a desire to take his silly iPad and toss it into the garbage. What was he reading on there that was so damn fascinating? After four days apart, was it so unreasonable of her to expect to have a proper conversation with her husband?


Author bio and links

CJ Carmichael has published over 35 novels and has twice been nominated for a RITA award. She likes to write stories about romance, family and intrigue, usually in small town or rural settings. When it’s time to take a break from the computer, she heads to the Rocky Mountains near her home in Calgary where she lives with her partner Michael and their cat, Penny. If you’d like to learn more about her books, check out her website: http://cjcarmichael.com

Amazon Buy Link:  http://www.amazon.com/Good-Together-Carrigans-Circle-C-ebook/dp/B00I8A57CA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1393672590&sr=1-1&keywords=good+together+cj+carmichael

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Buying property on lower income?

This morning, I heard in the news that the fund for social housing projects is practically empty already. The government provided extra funds this year, but there have been more applications for a cheap loan than the years before.

Now I may seem old-fashioned and probably lots of people will not agree with me, but I still think you can't buy anything when you don't have cash in hand.

I am not against the fact that someone wants to buy a house or flat. But when you only have a low income, you must realize it's not for you. Buying property right now means you must have enough means, as most banks don't lend the full amount of the money you need. I know couples where they pay off their loans with installments of more than 1,000 Euro a month. If you only have 2,500 together, this is already very difficult to manage.

Freya Van den Bossche, one of our socialist ministers, has created a fund where people with low income can borrow money for practically nothing. It is this fund which has no more money today. Everyone wants to get such a cheap loan.

I don't think this is fair. Because what is considered a 'low income'? For instance, is is 1,200 Euro netto a month? (I really have no idea about this.) But what about someone who earns 1,250 a month? For a difference of only 50 Euro he or she can't get this government loan. They have to go to the bank and have a quart of the money needed for the house already in hand. When you know decent properties are not sold under 180,000 Euro you can calculate....

I'm glad I am not young anymore. Even with my decent income and the one of my sister combined, we could not afford to buy a house such as we have. I bought it for only 25,000 Euro and now it's worth at least 180,000. How would we have paid for that, and still want to live a decent life? Paying off such high loans means not being able to spend money on leisure, on eating out, on trips abroad,, ... And for us these are more important than owing a big mansion or having a Beemer in the garage.

We still don't buy or order anything when we know we can't pay for it. That was our upbringing, and I think these are good values. I always pay my bills promptly, because I know the other needs this money to continue his or her business.

What's your take on this?


Monday, March 10, 2014

The Maid of Milan

Goddess Fish Promotions is organizing a Virtual Super Book Blast Tour for The Maid of Milan by Beverley Eikli, a Historical Regency Romance available in eBook 2/15/14 and print 3/15/14 from Choc Lit Publishing.

Beverly will award a $20 Amazon book voucher and a digital copy of The Reluctant Bride to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.


Blurb

After three years of marriage, Adelaide has fallen in love with the handsome, honourable husband who nurtured her through her darkest hours.

Now Adelaide’s former lover, the passionate poet from whose arms she was torn by her family during their illicit liaison in Milan six years previously has returned, a celebrity due to the success of his book The Maid of Milan.

High society is as desperate to discover the identity of his ‘muse’ as Adelaide is to protect her newfound love and her husband’s political career.

Excerpt

Chapter One

It was not the name by which she knew him. Since inheriting the title, he’d won celebrity as a poet and become the darling of the gossip columnists. Adelaide’s mother couldn’t keep those snippets of the real world from her, though she tried.

James. Fifth Viscount Dewhurst. Adelaide closed her eyes against the afternoon sun and tried to block her last memory of him: desperate, pleading. Not the James she knew – the irrepressible charmer who knew no woman could resist him, least of all Adelaide.

Tristan must have misinterpreted her shocked silence for memory failure, for he squeezed her hand and repeated,  ‘Lord Dewhurst. I’m talking about my old friend, James.’ Very gently he added, ‘He and his wife were very good to you, if you remember.’

If you remember…

Her husband’s reference to her previous life was almost more painful than the reference to James, though panic quickly succeeded shock at his next remark.

‘James is coming to visit us? Here?’ She gripped Tristan’s arm tighter and concentrated on the path. One foot in front of the other, head down so she didn’t stumble on the stones that bordered the hydrangeas from the neat gravel walkway.

Tristan continued to talk in the measured, comforting tone he used when her equilibrium was unsettled. In the past he’d sought her reassurances that she was comfortable with his plans; that there was nothing he’d neglected to facilitate her comfort. Always Tristan put Adelaide’s feelings first. Not today.

Tristan was too excited at the prospect of seeing his boyhood friend to recognise her horror, assuming Adelaide would be delighted to play hostess since she’d foolishly voiced the desire just last week to entertain more often.

She remained silent as she walked at his side, contemplating her own strategy if this visit was a fait accompli. She just needed to know when, so she could prepare.

‘At the end of the week!’ She repeated Tristan’s calmly delivered answer to her question in the tone Black Jack, the South American parrot she’d owned in Vienna, used to mimic the death throes of a man at the end of the gallows. A good thing her husband considered Adelaide an invalid, that he’d misconstrue the flare in her eyes, the gasp as she pressed against the pain in her side – her heart?

‘Adelaide, you are discomposed. Perhaps I should not have invited James without consulting you, but I thought since…’ Concern clouded his kind blue eyes as he trailed off.

‘He was very good to me.’ She whispered the old litany. It’s what Tristan liked to believe.

‘He was. Shall we go back to the house?’ He stooped to cup her face in his hands, as tender with her as if she were another of his rare hothouse blooms. As if she might wilt at the suggestion of anything beyond the ordinary, the mindnumbingly mundane.

And yet today she more than wilted as she stumbled on the smooth, carefully raked gravel path. Her heart was in danger of tearing in half. James. Here, at Deer Park …?

She pushed away the fear, straightening of her own accord. Adelaide could be a good deal stronger than Tristan believed her. Than her mother painted her.

‘So silly of me,’ she murmured, smiling as she tucked her hand once more into the crook of her husband’s arm, firming her step, indicating with a nod that they continue their usual
morning walk. Minutely managed and predictable. Around the path that bordered the maze, over the little bridge and across the lawn, skirting the deer park beyond the iron gated border to the dower house where her mother would be waiting. Keeping up the pretence of recovery in  response to his troubled gaze, she added, ‘Really, I’m perfectly fine.’ How many times had she made similar reassurances?

Of course, she hadn’t been fine when Tristan had made her mistress of Deer Park three years before; a marriage offer she’d only accepted because she believed she’d be dead of grief within the twelvemonth. And if not dead, then at least free of her mother. Neither had happened.

‘So James has left Milan.’ She forced herself to say his name. It came out as a faint thread of sound. James. He needed to stay far across sea and land if she were to have any peace in this life.

‘James’s father died three months ago so of course he must return from the Continent and take up his responsibilities at Dingley Hall.’ Tristan stopped and put his hands on her shoulders to study her more closely. ‘Darling, you’re very pale. Perhaps we should call Dr Stanhope—’

‘No!’ She truncated the hysteria in her response, adding with commendable calm, ‘Please, let us carry on.’

Tristan was clearly not convinced by her assurances, but he returned to his commentary as they walked sedately through Deer Park’s beautiful gardens. ‘James’s standing has changed with his father’s death, and now that his book has become a sensation so have his fortunes. He’ll be  able to put to rights all that his father almost destroyed through his love of gaming.’ He gave a half laugh. ‘I’m told my old friend is nearly as famous as those fellows up in the Lakes. I daresay I should read The Maid of Milan before he arrives. Perhaps you’d enjoy it, Addy.’

The Maid of Milan. Dear God! An image of herself and James, naked limbs entwined upon a vast expanse of white linen tablecloth in the Villa Cosi after the guests had gone,  seared her brain.

No, she was getting beyond herself. James had continued living in Milan with Hortense, the wife he despised. Of course there’d have been other women after Adelaide had been dragged, screaming, from James’s arms. Adelaide could not be James’s Maid of Milan. Not after the terrible finale to their affair. In three years Adelaide had heard nothing from him. Nothing, except that one terrible, terrible letter …


Author bio and links

Beverley Eikli is the author of eight historical romances. In 2012 she won UK Women's Fiction publisher Choc-Lit's Search for An Australia Star competition with her suspenseful, Napoleonic espionage Romance The Reluctant Bride, which has just been shortlisted by Australian Romance Readers for Favourite Historical in 2013.

In 2011 she was nominated for an ARRA award for her Regency romance A Little Deception, and in 2012 for her racy Regency Romp, Rake’s Honour, written under her Beverley Oakley pseudonym.

Eikli wrote her first romance when she was seventeen. However, drowning the heroine on the last page was, she discovered, not in the spirit of the genre so her romance-writing career ground to a halt and she became a journalist.

After throwing in her job on South Australia's metropolitan daily The Advertiser to manage a luxury safari lodge in the Okavango Delta, in Botswana, she discovered a new world of romance and adventure in a thatched cottage in the middle of a mopane forest with the handsome Norwegian bush pilot she met around a camp fire.

Twenty years later, after exploring the world in the back of Cessna 404s and CASA 212s as an airborne geophysical survey operator during low-level sorties over the French Guyanese jungle and Greenland's ice cap, Eikli is back in Australia teaching in the Department of Professional Writing & Editing at Victoria University, as well as teaching Short Courses for the Centre of Adult Education and Macedon Ranges Further Education.



Preorder The Maid of Milan at The Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Maid-Milan-Beverley-Eikli/9781781891285