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Monday, August 21, 2017

Breakdown after a vacation - it happens

Interesting article in the newspaper today. Apparently, those who go on holidays already feeling stressed out will risk a breakdown when they return to work.

Well, I suppose something about this may be true. I don't have to work anymore, so I can hardly feel stress, but when you come home from a holiday filled with sun and leisurely activities, it's not nice to return to grey skies and cold temperatures. That alone can give you a shock! And my sister definitely did not feel happy when she had to get up for work this morning.

But a real breakdown? I don't know. You hear a lot about breakdown these days. Ever since the government changed the rulings for getting your pension (I was among the lucky ones who got an exception). People have to work longer and will get a lower pension, so it's not to wonder some of them get tired when they near their 60th birthday and get 'depressed'.

I also think breakdowns can be avoided. A person has to learn how to say 'no' at a given time. I know, this is not alway easy, but it can be in your best interest. If you always agree to what's being said, you end up working day and night, workdays and Sundays. And then a breakdown is unavoidable. Our government recently voted a bill which gives you the right to not answer a call from you employer after working hours and in the weekend/holiday. It's taken me a long time, but I could finally convince my sister not to check her workmail during our vacation this year. Guess the poor girl was tired already by taking care of me (had surgery) and doing all the chores in and around the house. Now I have to persuade her not to work weekends anymore. That will not be so easy. She feels so responsible, because payment of teachers depend on her. Oh well, we'll see...

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Tomorrow: back home

All good things come to an end (the same goes for bad things too) - unfortunately.

We really have had a wonderful time in Madrid. We both NEEDED the rest and some sunshine. About the last we can't complain - each day around 35 Celsius, which is not too hot for walking. You only need to take care you drink enough water (and a beer from time to time).

There areore than enough restaurants around where you can dine well and for our standards rather cheap. We've been enjoying tapas and the Iberico ham.  Not yo mention the great wines made here.

But tomorrow it's back to cloudy and rainy Belgium where a heatwave will probably come when it's winter..o

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Dolce far niente

In Italian, because I don't know the expression in English...

This is the real life - having nothing to do but stroll through town (in this case Madrid, Spain), seeing the sights, visiting a museum (the Prado), but in general just enjoying ourselves.

Taking a seat on one of the many terraces on town to have a drink or a bite to eat. Resting long and peaceful in our hotel room at Vincci The Mint (to be recommended) and enjoying a lovely breakfast in the morning. When you take a room with breakfast included you can just order anything from the menu, even as many a time as you want.

This is really the break my sister and I could use!)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Suitcases are packed!

This afternoon, we packed our suitcases for our trip to Madrid, Spain. Mind you, we don't pack big suitcases. We always take care we just have hand luggage because you pay a lot less for your airfare.

It takes about 5 minutes to pack such a small suitcase. The trick is to pack only what you really need! Like underwear for the days you're away, pajama's, some basic wear like T-shirts or tops,  2-3 pair of good quality linen trousers (can crease as much as they like) if you like wearing trousers or the same amount of cotton or linen skirts. Two pair of sandals and one pair of shoes in which you can walk kilometers. The rest goes into your handbag: your smartphone, sunglasses, those products which you have to show at the check-in (like cremes, deodorant, perfume - mind, don't take too much), an e-reader, a sunhat (we have cotton ones, which we bought years ago in Vancouver, Canada - they easily stow away in a leftover spot), your identity card or passport, credit cards or money (best is not to take overmuch), a comb, ...

Even if you travel for a longer duration, we don't pack big suitcases. My granddad always used to say: don't pack a suitcase you can't lift. We have never had to pay for overweight and still have more than enough to wear. It's best to work with basic garnments, like skirts or trousers of a very good quality which can be worn everywhere.

Needless to say we're really looking forward to this trip. At last warm sunshine (we haven't got this in the course of July and what's passed of August), outdoor dining, ... Will be great and very relaxing.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Enjoying the last day at the coast

While writing this, I'm relaxing in an easy chair placed on our roof terrace...

Today is one of those rare days when the Sun breaks through the clouds and the afternoon turns sunny and warm.

So we didn't make a walk like usual but instead decided to enjoy that Sun for as long as it lasts.

Tomorrow we're heading home because we need do run some errands and back home most shops are closed on Sundays. On Monday then we are leaving once more for a city trip. I'm already looking forward to it!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Watching another work

The neighbors left to right and across the big avenue, who would be watching us, will probably think I'm a very lazy girl.

Why? Becacuse my sister has been working (painting the front of the flat, the railings, cleaning up windows etc.) constantly, while I'm just looking on. Well, sometimes I hand over a (small) bucket of water, or fetch a spunge, ... but in general I can't do anything special.

My major surgery is 4 weeks past by now, but I'm forbidden to do anything tiring or heavy. I can only lift something not heavier than 5 kg and it's best not to stretch too much either. I'm allowed to roll my small suitcase when we do our trip next week, but my sister will have to lift it up when we put it in the overhead luggage carrier - or else I'll find a guy who wants to do it for me.

Being forbidden heavy work has it advantage, of course. When back home, I can't clean the house (!) only wipe away some dust. Will enjoy that as long as it lasts...

Monday, August 7, 2017

Love on the Risky Side

Meet author Mariah Ankenman, author of contemporary romance. Mariah is doing a virtual book blast tour to promote her latest release, Love on the Risky Side, from Wild Rose Press.

Mariah will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please remember to use the following link:


Falsely accused of the murder of her best friend, Kayla Jenkins is on the run for her life. She ends up lost in dark, snowy woods off some backcountry road in the middle of nowhere. Frightened and colder than she’s ever been in her life, she almost thinks she’s hallucinating when a warrior on a white steed saves her.

In all his years as the sheriff of Peak Town, Colorado, Jake Ryder has never come across a half-frozen woman alone in the woods. She’s terrified…and lying to him, yet something about her calls to him on a primal level.

Even with her trust of law enforcement lower than the harsh temperature, Kayla finds it difficult to keep her secrets hidden from the kind and far too handsome sheriff. But as her faith in Ryder grows, she not only risks the real murderer finding her, but losing the one thing she has searched for her whole life and only just found…love.


“My name is Jake Ryder, but most folks call me Ryder.” When she didn’t return the introduction, he continued. “Can I ask how you came to be all the way out here in the middle of the night?”

Giving a guarded glance from the horse back to him, she simply said, “Got lost.”

And they say women were chatty. Hell, he had a pet parrot as a kid that talked more than this woman. Not a problem. As sheriff, he was used to interrogating uncooperative suspects. Not that she was a suspect, yet.

“Got lost...” He looked her over. Big, red, winter coat, long dark slacks and—were those high heels? “…shopping?”

Honestly, who the hell wears heels in the woods?

She scowled, wrapping her arms around herself. “My car ran off the road. I—I got out to find help. Wandered off the road and got lost.”

Something about her story smelled like Wind Chaser’s stall after feeding time. “Why didn’t you call Triple A?”

Her gaze darted to the side. “Cell died.”

Yeah, and I’m the King of England.

“You need a ride back to your car?”

Her eyes widened. “On that thing?”

“Her name is Wind Chaser, and yes. Did you think I had a car hidden in the trees?”

Her jaw clenched at his sarcasm. Well, excuse him. It was dark, cold, and the last thing he wanted to do was be out here trying to pull a story out of Ms. Lying-Crazy-Lady.

Author bio and links

RWA® Golden Heart® Nominated author Mariah Ankenman began writing at the tender age of five. Her first book “George and the Green Glob” received high praise from her mother. Many years, and green glob stories later, Mariah received a playwriting degree from the University of Wyoming. After a few years in Hollywood, working in “the biz,” she came home to the beautiful Rocky Mountains. When she’s not writing Mariah loves to read, crochet, and play her ukulele. She loves to hear from readers.

Social media:
Twitter: @MAsBooks

Buy links:

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Weather - unpredictable?

I don't know if I'm the only one who asks herself the following: our scientists can do almost everything (shoot rockets to the moon and other planets, manipulate gens, treat diseases like cancer, ...) so why can't they do something about the weather?

Wouldn't it be wonderful if every country could get the weather it needed? Some better weather in the northern part of Europe (where we have been getting conditions more resembling autumn and winter instead of summer) and less heat in the southern part (where people are dying because of the extreme heat)? Every now and then some rain in the Sahara and other deserts, so crops could grow there. Constant cold at the poles, so the ice doesn't melt anymore.

The heatwave in southern Europe would lessen in the middle of next week, but the bad weather in the nothern part remains for at least one week more. Guess it'll turn when school start again, that's a classic!

Luckily I don't care anymore. We have finally found a sunny destination for the week before my sister begins to work again. We're heading to Madrid (yes, where it's now 38° Celsius). We know how to protect ourselves against the heat, that's not a problem. We've often been in warm climates and  never had a problem. Just drink some liters of water a day, that helps a lot. So we're looking forward to at least one week of sunshine which will make good on the holiday we had to cancel.

Thursday, August 3, 2017


Yesterday morning I got the permission of my doctor to travel again. My wound is healing well and I'm fit enough to take walks.

Now I'm feeling a bit frustrated because we cancelled our trip to Tuscany on advise of the doctor. She wasn't sure I'd be well enough to make this trip. But look and see, I'm almost as healthy as before. So actually we needn't have made the cancellation. We could have been enjoying the good life in Tuscany and bask in the sun.

We've been looking to find another (short) trip now that I'm allowed to travel, but since my sister is working again on August 21st, the time is short and you don't find anything anymore. Either the air fare is way too expensive, or the hotels cost as fortune.

I know, I should be thankful I'm doing so well and that the cancer in my kidney was not of an agressive sort. There is a chance the other small tumors will now remain as they are or even disappear. A checkup in October will bring more insight. Otherwise, I'll need to take more medication (chemo is not good for me, having only one kidney) to fight the cancer.

But right now I'm feeling selfish and I wish both my sister (who's been doing a lot for me, and needs a break badly) could enjoy some days in a sunny resort.

Will keep on looking!

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Great War remembered

Yesterday and today both the English and the Belgians remember the Great War of 1914-18. Especially the Battle of Passchendaele, where hundreds of thousands lives were lost.

The tribute started with the Last Post at the Menen Gate, in attendance of our King and Queen, as well as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (William and Kate). BBC1 took out with the big means to bring a show nobody would forget.

The evening was full of marching soldiers of various regiments, big choirs and pipe bands, a wonderful orchestra. Various actors brought back thoughts and poems of soldiers in the war. The introductions were made by Dame Helen Mirren, and even Alfoe Boe brought a song.

But what was most impressing was the projection of images on the Cloth Hall of Ypres. The BBC had made excact measurements of the building, so the 3D images would fit completely.

Our own granddad was one of the lucky who survided this ordeal. He was only a boy of 17 when the war started, studying at the military academy. All the last years were drafted into service, and he got the command over a regiment of men who were twice as old as he was.

He never talked about this war. The only thing he once mentioned, was that King Albert I rode his horse through the lines and he talked to him. And that Queen Elizabeth personally tended to the wounded. It must have been a terrible thing for a kid. Most likely he suffered a trauma of sorts.

Later on, he lived through another war, but of the last one we have heard  many stories.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Wishing for some sunny weather...

Ever since we came to Heist after my surgery, the weather has been lousy. Dark skies, lots of wind, often rain... it looks more like autumn. You wouldn't know it was summer!

And I do long for some sunshine. I can't do a lot (I'm not permitted to lift or carry heavy objects) except taking a walk or ride my bike - but then you don't do that when it's stormy and raining hard.

Normally, this time of year we would have been in Tuscany, enjoying the Italian sun and food. We had a hotel booked in Florence, and had planned trips to Pisa, Sienna and the Chianti region. On doctor's advise we cancelled all (luckily without losing money in the process). But like I feel now, I think we'd better had not cancelled. I feel fine enough and as long as I don't overdo it, I could as well walk in Italy.

             (This is what I have in mind: taking a relaxing dip in a rooftop pool somewhere)

Next Wednesday I have an appointment with my surgeon, and I'll ask her if we can do a short trip later in August. I really need some sun, and warmer temperatures! With a bit of luck we can find a hotel in either France or Italy and an airplane ticket that's not too expensive.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Folkore marktet

It's Thursday afternoon, and in Heist (part of Knokke-Heist) this means it's time for the weekly folklore market.

Some of the streets are closed off for traffic, and people set up their market stalls where (most of them) show their artifacts or practise their crafts. For younger people and children, this is quite something. Most of them haven't experienced life in the old days. They haven't seen how the fishermen here made their nets, don't know how lace is made, how to peel shrimp...

The market always draws a lot of tourists, especially on sunny days. And being Flemish, it's made sure you won't starve of hunger or thirst! There are more than enough stalls where you can buy freshly baked pancakes or 'smoutebollen' (a typical Flemish speciality), or freshly peeled shrimp and other fish, taste special salami's or cheese, ... And then there are the cafés where you can have a pint of those tasteful Belgian beers.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Rid of the stitches

I'm finally rid of the stitches (well, to be precise: metal hooks) that closed my wound. 28 of them... It's a big wound too, from the middle of my stomach to my right side.

The last few days the stitches begin to itch, and that's a terrible feeling. It's such a relief to be finally rid of them!

The wound has closed without any problem and the doctor thinks the scar will be almost invisible in time. Well, I don't mind. I don't intend to put on a bikini in the near future. I'm allowed to take in some sun, but when you're over 60 it's nicer to put on a bathing suit, don't you agree? And I have a couple of pretty ones.

Off to the seaside for the rest of the summer vacation. Hopefully the weather will become somewhat nicer than it is now. I long for some sunshine after spending a week in hospital.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

This weekend's place to be: Tomorrowland

Yesterday, July 21st (our national holiday), the doors of Tomorrowland in Boom opened for its 13th edition. No more adventures in other countries this time, but TWO weekends of fun for (almost) everyone!

What concerns most visitors is how the main stage will look. It's quite something, even for those not into dance music. This year the theme is the circus, and Tomorrowland offers acts worthy of Cirque du Soleil. Another new item is that there's also live music. Some bands bring their own music, and yesterday afternoon there was even rock'n roll to be heard.

And better still, even our royal pair King Filip and Queen Mathilde think it's worthy to visit the festival. Big business, of course, and our king used to head the missions into foreign countries when he was still crown prince.

Brussels Airlines has a plane especially painted for Tomorrowland. It brings folks to the festival from all over the world. I suppose when I was 40 years younger, I'd go as well. Nowadays I prefer quieter stuff, like musical shows or ballet. But this festival sure looks like fun!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Home Sweet Home

They discharged me out of the hospital yesterday morning. I must confess, I was feeling a lot better already, but had planned to stay one more night. But they probably needed beds...

So my right kidney has been removed. Good thing you can perfectly live well with one kidney, as long as you take care of yourself. According to the surgeon who operated on me, the surgery went extremely well and was done faster then expected. And from day one in the hospital, I got compliments on how well I was doing. My stomach and bowel transit already took up the day after the operation and the wound is healing well.

I must confess, it's great to be home again. Tonight was the first time in a week I could sleep without being disturbed by the calls of other patients, carts being pushed through the corridor, ... Slept for 8 hours without waking up!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Doing well

I'miss happy to say my operation went extremely well and I make good progress according to the surgeons. I'mean already rid of some infuses and shortly the pain pump will be gone too. I already eat light food and can go to the toilet,  almost on my own. That will probably be tomorrow.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Just a short note

Just to let you know I'made I  hospital and won'the be able to write a lot. I have a kidney removed and need to recover.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Detective Madison Knight Series

Please welcome author Carolyn Arnold, who's promoting her Detective Knight Series. Carolyn will be awarding a paperback copy of In the Line of Duty valid in US, Canada and UK to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link:

Murder. Investigation. The pursuit of justice. Do you love trying to figure out whodunit? How about investigating alongside police detectives from the crime scene to the forensics lab and everywhere in between? Do you love a strong female lead? Then I invite you to meet Detective Madison Knight as she solves murders with her male partner, utilizing good old-fashioned investigative work aided by modern technology.

This is the perfect book series for fans of Law & Order, CSI, Blue Bloods, Rizzoli & Isles, Women’s Murder Club, and Hawaii Five-O.
Read in any order or follow the series from the beginning: Ties That Bind, Justified, Sacrifice, Found Innocent, Just Cause, Deadly Impulse, In the Line of Duty, Life Sentence (Bonus Prequel).


He devoted his life to seeking justice. But would she get any for him?

It was an ordinary day for police officer Barry Weir. It was the end of shift, he was tired, and he just wanted to get home to his wife and kids. But someone had other plans for him, shooting him down and forcing him to make the ultimate sacrifice.
When news of Weir’s murder reaches the department, it leaves Detective Madison Knight and every cop in the Stiles PD itching for revenge. It cuts Madison’s boyfriend, colleague, and Weir’s childhood friend, Troy Matthews, deepest of all, driving him away from everyone he loves just when they need one another the most.

With evidence pointing to a gang-related drive-by, Madison and her team investigate the town’s seedy underbelly in search of justice for their fallen brother. But the deeper they dig, the more convoluted the case becomes. Now they need to figure out if this was a random shooting as part of a gang initiation, a straight-up hate crime, or a targeted kill. But with members of the Stiles PD under attack, they have to do it fast…before more officers pay with their lives.


Excerpt from Chapter 3 of In the Line of Duty (Detective Madison Knight series)

Troy gripped the sink in the men’s washroom at the Stiles police station with both hands and stared at himself in the mirror. He’d lost men close to him before. The last one was two years ago, and the officer had been killed in a car accident while off duty. He’d left behind two kids and a wife. But Barry…he was different. Life always equaled death, of course. It was a simple equation to accept until it touched close to home. And that’s what Barry’s death was for him—personal.

Losing Barry made it clear just how dangerous this job could be and how fragile life was. One minute here, the next gone. Barry had just been pumping gas, a routine thing, something people did all the time without any thought to their safety. Those on the outside would say that’s the risk he took being in law enforcement. Yes, there was the chance any one of them wouldn’t return home from a shift, but it wasn’t something Troy consciously thought about before heading to work.

In fact, when serving in a SWAT capacity, he’d say it was one of the safest positions within the Stiles PD. SWAT had the toys, and when they showed up to manage a situation, it was often brought under control rather quickly. Even the majority of criminals didn’t want to tango with an AR-15 and armored vehicles. Besides, dwelling on one’s mortality wasn’t healthy. But when
something like this happened to one of their own, it spurred on such self-reflection. It could have easily been him in the morgue, or one of his team members. Or Madison…

His insides quivered with rage as his heartbeat slowed with his grief. He squeezed his eyes shut.

 “I’ve got Dad’s car tonight,” Barry says. “We’ll take it out on the back roads and see what she’s really capable of.”

“Your dad’s a cop, Barry,” Troy reminds him.

“So? What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.” Barry takes a few steps down the hall of their high school but stops and spins when Troy doesn’t follow. “Come on, man. Don’t make me take Lyman.”

Troy came back from his thoughts and opened his eyes to find himself staring at his reflection.

That night had been one of the best ever. Barry had sent the car airborne by racing over the railway tracks on the outskirts of the city. They’d even conned some seniors into getting beer for them and drank it by the tracks later that night.

Barry had made Troy feel alive…

Pain knotted in his chest, the regrets over skipping drinks with Barry last week paired with losing a part of his childhood somehow.

Troy pinched the bridge of his nose as the memories continued to rush over him.

“I just got my acceptance letter.” Barry holds the envelope in his hand. “This college has the hottest chicks… Not that it would matter to you.”

“What does that mean?”

“It’s Lauren and Troy sitting in a tree…” Barry sings.

“Seriously? You’re like a girl sometimes, you know that? A big, emotional girl.”

“Hey!” Barry punches him playfully in the arm.

Madison punched him in the arm sometimes, too…

God, what would he have done if Madison were the one who’d been killed?

Author bio and links

CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international bestselling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.
Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.
Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.
She currently lives just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada.
Connect with CAROLYN ARNOLD Online:
Website -
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And don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter for up-to-date information on release and special offers at
Amazon -
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Apple -

Google Play -

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sunny days at the coast

Since coming back from London, we're staying at our flat on the North Sea coast. Not a very big flat, but comfy and an top of the building. We have a great view over the landscape. When the sky is clear and sunny, we can even spot the church towers of Bruges (15km away from where we are). And we see the ships going in and out of Zeebrugge harbor. Better than having sea view (nothing much happens there).

The days we've been here were good ones. The sun is out and when it doesn't get too warm, our terrace is the perfect place to be. You can enjoy the sun there, lunch or dine on it....

We're having a great time. We've been enjoying the sun, the local crafts market on Thursdays, new restaurants (there's a new Indian where tthe food is great), the local pubs....

There really isn't nothing better than our North Sea coast when the weather co-operates. Big sandy beaches, long walking promenades, lots of entertainment.... What more do you need?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Bat Out of Hell

Boy, I wouldn't have missed this for anything! I'm ever so glad my operation will only be on July 13th, so Chris and I could continue with our planned trip to London.

Our main reason was to see the new musical, Bat Out of Hell. I bought the vinyl LP a long time ago (still have it, along with other LP's which are now collector's items) and just loved the music. Then it was Meatloaf and Ellen Foley's voices, but I must say the young singers/actors in the musical were just as great.

The theatre was more than full. I've never witnessed seeing people crowding even the highest circles! Not one empty seat visible. Guess lots of people must love this show! Taking pictures during the show was not permitted, but we took some at the curtain call, like everyone. And as you can see we had top seat, on the third row of stalls (and they weren't even that expensive).

                                                             Strat and his gang

The lead roles were sung by Andrew Polec, Christina Bennigton, Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton. Not one of them sang less good than the other.  It was also very nice to meet these actors backstage and have a little talk with them. I find musical actors always willing to talk, hand out signatures and go on a picture with the fans.

                                  With Andrew Polec (Strat) and Christina Bennington (Raven)

                                              Chris with Rob Fowler (Falco, Raven's dad)

Needless to say we had a very good time in London - the weather was fine and sunny, also the hotel was more than okay, we had a great lunch & did some shopping (a girl can always use something new...)

Monday, July 3, 2017

Off to London once more

Without any doubt, London is the city where we like to be. I don't know exactly how many times we've visited there, but it must be a lot.

This year, it's already the third time we take the Eurostar train to St. Pancras. This train made it ever so easy to reach England's capital. Just two hours away from Brussels. In the old days, you had first to take a ferry from Ostend to Dover (and then by train to London), next came the catamaran which made it a bit faster, and finally the Chunnel.

The occasion for this visit is - of course - because we want to see a show. We're going to "Bat Out of Hell" which all of those who've live long enough will surely know. The show gets 5-star critics even from The Times.

It will be nice to be away after all the trouble I've been having lately. And next week I must go to the hospital for rather major surgery. I'll have to stay about one week in the hospital. So my doctor said I should enjoy this trip because I won't be able to do any travelling in the coming weeks. We had to cancel our trip to Italy which should have taken place later this month. Ah well, Italy won't go away and we'll be able to do it later. But a show like this is unique and won't return in the near future.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Extremely busy weekend ahead for Brussels Airport

Starting as of tomorrow, Brussels Airport is in big business. The airport expects some 232 thousand passengers between Friday 30th of June and Sunday 2nd of July. This proves the airport has well recovered from the terrorist attack last year in March.

Tourists who enter the airport shouldn't take a fright when they meet one of the two BRUce Pepper's. They are robots, who zoom around the income hall. They'll greet you and you can have your boarding pass screened by them. The robot will then give you flight information, which weather to expect at your holiday destination, or which gate you need to be at. They can even show you the way to the toilets, take a selfie and whatever.

Guess they'll be fun for the many kids, who get easily bored while waiting for their plane.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Fortune Teller

Goddess Fish Promotions is organizing a virtual blurb blitz tour for The Fortune Teller by Gwendolyn Womack, a romantic thriller available June 6, 2017 from Macmillan/ Picador Publishing. The tour will run June 5 - 30.

Gwendolyn will be awarding Exploring Tarot Using Radiant Rider-waite Tarot: Deck & Book Set (US ONLY) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link:


Semele Cavnow appraises antiquities for an exclusive Manhattan auction house, deciphering ancient texts―and when she discovers a manuscript written in the time of Cleopatra, she knows it will be the find of her career. Its author tells the story of a priceless tarot deck, now lost to history, but as Semele delves further, she realizes the manuscript is more than it seems. Both a memoir and a prophecy, it appears to be the work of a powerful seer, describing devastating wars and natural disasters in detail thousands of years before they occurred.

The more she reads, the more the manuscript begins to affect Semele’s life. But what happened to the tarot deck? As the mystery of her connection to its story deepens, Semele can’t shake the feeling that she’s being followed. Only one person can help her make sense of it all: her client, Theo Bossard. Yet Theo is arrogant and elusive, concealing secrets of his own, and there’s more to Semele’s desire to speak with him than she would like to admit. Can Semele even trust him?

The auction date is swiftly approaching, and someone wants to interfere―someone who knows the cards exist, and that the Bossard manuscript is tied to her. Semele realizes it’s up to her to stop them: the manuscript holds the key to a two-thousand-year-old secret, a secret someone will do anything to possess.


She shut the door and leaned back against the heavy wood and closed her eyes.


Startled, she turned to find Theo standing in the doorway of his father’s study. He was waiting for her. He had changed into slacks and another sweater. Her eyes reflexively swept over him, but then she caught herself.

“Did you have a chance to take a last tour around the house before you’re off?” A knowing look danced in his eyes.

Semele’s heart hammered in her chest. He had seen her upstairs. “I—I . . . I wanted to look at your Orbis. . . .” She hesitated, thinking that didn’t sound right.

“Did you? Look?” He walked towards her.

She watched him close the distance between them. “Is it really an original?” She hated how nervous she sounded. Her conscience screamed for her to back up, to look away, to figure out how to the leave the room, but she couldn’t resist the spell that was weaving itself around them.

“I’m afraid this house is full of surprises,” he said softly. “God knows I shouldn’t be down here.” His hand came up and trailed along her cheek. “Tell me to go.”

The desire in his eyes made her forget every thought running through her mind. She wanted him—had wanted him from the first moment they met. Their lips locked, seeking each other, and the tension that had been building between them all these weeks turned into an insatiable dance. It was as though a hand reached insider her and turned her like a spinning top.

Copyright © 2017 by Gwendolyn Womack. All rights reserved.

Author bio and links

Gwendolyn Womack is the author of the RWA Prism award winning novel The Memory Painter. She writes metaphysical thrillers and love stories that travel history, exploring divination, reincarnation, magic, and time travel. She lives in Los Angeles with her family and is currently working on her third novel. 

Website:  http://www.gwendolynwomack
Book Video:

Buy Links for The Fortune Teller:
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Independent Bookstores

Monday, June 26, 2017

Seven Days With You

Another author joins us today, namely Hugo Driscoll. He's the author of Seven Days With You, YA romance. Hugo is doing a virtual book tour and you'll be able to leave a comment during the tour. One lucky winner will win a $50 Amazon/BN gift card. Please use the following link for your comment:


Sean Johnson’s life as a small-town farmhand has been nothing but predictable, but when he meets Sophia Hillingdon at the local animal sanctuary, she gets him out of an eighteen-year rut, away from the mundane existence on the farm, and a grieving, drunken father.

Sophia is the first person who understands him and makes him believe that he might get out of their small town, who tells him, he has the potential to be whoever he wants to be and do whatever he wants to do.

But as their relationship unfolds, it is the most devastating of news that will change both of them forever.


I hadn’t been anywhere, but my mind had been everywhere. That’s how I felt that summer. Or more precisely, that’s how Sophia had made me feel by the time summer neared its conclusion.
The months of July and August had followed identical patterns to June in that we rarely spent a day apart. We rode with Violet across the Suffolk countryside, sometimes for miles on end, often stopping by at local pubs. Then it would be Saturday. That was the best day of all for there was no work on Sunday, which meant dancing with Tom and Jessica until our bodies could no longer stand. We drank, we laughed, and most nights after, we made love as we tip-toed up the stairs of my father’s house. I was obsessed with everything about her. Yes, Sophia Hillingdon, the girl I’d known for barely a few months was the girl I now wanted to spend the rest of my life with. And though we often drove each other crazy, we soon laughed and made up as if nothing happened. It often puzzled me as to why Sophia found our fights so amusing seconds after we were hot from the exertion of spouting obscenities at each other. Red-faced, she’d often say, “You drive me mad Sean. But, you know something? That’s just how I like it.”

“Why?” I’d ask.

“Us,” she would say. “I love how angry you make me because…. Well, I’m obsessed with you… even our arguments sound oddly beautiful.”

Author bio and links

Hugo Driscoll is a 25-year- old British journalist and content writer for an online publication in London.
When he's not working, you can usually find him writing in the basements of cafes or lamenting the unfair treatment of millennials in overcrowded London bars.
You can also find Hugo on Twitter, Facebook, and his personal blog, which he updates regularly. 
Seven Days with You is his first novel.
Buy Link:

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Harper's Place

Today's guest is author Sheryl Winters, who's doing a virtual book blast tour for her novel Harper's Place, a romance available now from Roane Publishing.

Sheryl will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.  Please use the following link to place your comment: 


Harper Grey is fed up with over-bearing men. Her father wants to sell the family hamburger joint to her brother because a woman could never make it successful.

Harper knows she has the same flair for business as her mother, and sexy Navy SEAL Patrick O’Brien dares her to prove it to the world.

When duty calls and Patrick must leave her side, will Harper be strong enough to make her dream a reality?


“How would you bring in new business, though?”

I’m amazed that he seems to find our conversation interesting. He’s an audience willing to listen and I’ve not had that in a long time. Damn this crush of mine. It won’t be easy to tame after tonight.

“New menu items, specials, things like that. Start serving dessert, like pies. Easy cook items. With the new burgers I’ve created and a new décor, I’d open in the summer when the air is fresh and everyone is happy to be out of the snow, hungry for grilled food. I think we could do fine.”

“What’s your hold up?”

“Tony, Dad. It’s complicated.” I shrug. His arm feels good, and I have the overwhelming urge to nuzzle against it. "Did you kiss Amy Parker when you were twelve? She still brags about it." Did
I just ask him about kissing? What is wrong with me? Will this mouth of mine never shut up? Stop it, Stop it, stop it!

"That I did, in a closet over at Robert Anderson’s house."


"I was twelve and desperate. You can't blame me. I do blame that stupid soda bottle.  And your first kiss?" There is a challenge in his voice.

"Kevin Monroe at the Klines Movie Theater. He sent me a six-page note the next day about how much he loved me, and I freaked out and dumped him."

"Any regrets?"

I choke back a giggle. "Naw, ‘cept I remember I liked his cologne. It could have been aftershave, but it was nice." It’s not half as nice as the Aramis that Patrick has on. Something about it sends a shiver up my spine that has nothing to do with the zombie waiting in Dad’s office.

"The dark isn't so bad, now is it?"

"I guess not."

Silence surrounds us. The fear that enveloped me seems to disappear.

"Are you seeing anyone?"

"No." It sounds terrible now that I've said it out loud. Like I’m admitting to being a desperate and dateless leper.

"So," he drawls out, "ever thought of dating a military guy?" He squeezes my fingers.

Is he serious?

His fingertip smooths over the rough callouses I've gained from years of hard work. Suddenly my wasted evening of not going out to celebrate is starting to look better. "I think it would depend on which military guy."

"You're killing me. You know that, don’t you?" His strangled tone only sets off a case of the giggles.

"Are you asking me out, Patrick?"

"Trying to, but you're not making it easy.” The challenge is back in his voice.

"I wouldn't mind a date or two,” I manage to squeak out. Breathe, Harper, just breathe, calmly through your nose, out your mouth. Sainted Mother of God, Patrick asked me out! I hit the jackpot! Now all I have to do is not hit him.

Author bio and links

I never set out to be an author. Only a storyteller. Some days I succeed better than others.
Buy Links:
Roane Publishing:
Amazon (UK)
Barnes and Noble
Kobo Books

Friday, June 23, 2017

School's (nearly) finished

Most students here in Flanders took their final exam this morning. The following days they won't have to be at school, as the teachers will be discussing their results. They only have to come in once more to take in their books and maps (every class needs to appoint three students who have to keep theirs, for reason of being able to check when necessary). And then they'll get their final report - good or bad.

For teachers now begins the most taxing time of year. I can assure you it's no fun to sit into a packed room where the air gets stale, with all your colleagues and discuss class after class. I remember my days in Germany (long, long time ago, in the 1980's) when we started at 9 a.m. and only ended up at 2 a.m the next day - with only a sandwich to go by and streams of coffee.

Lots of parents will already take their kids on a trip next week. The big majority of them don't think a report is all that important - times have not changed for the better. Outlandlish trips are cheaper in the last week of June, and for a family it can mean a lot.

My sister is also looking forward to the end of this schoolyear. As of next schoolyear, she'll be head of the office and gets two younger people to boss around (good prospects!) The chief director of the group of schools (more than 1,000 teachers and administrative personnel) has given her this opportunity, as she has a vast knowledge and these are also her last years in service.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Homo Flandriens

One of the most popular broadcasting companies in Flanders is TV One. Following the good old recipe, they program shows before 9 pm that have shown their value. One of them is 'Blokken' (a quiz), followed by the 7 pm news and then comes 'Iedereen Beroemd' (Everyone Famous). It's a reality show in which ordinary people are shown in unique circumstances. A laugh and a tear, so to say. One of the returning items in this show is weekly Homo Flandriens. Here a guy looking like Livingstone and named Sir Alastair tries to find out what ticks the so-called Homo Flandriens.

He speaks in Oxford English (and almost without an accent) and he does pseudo-scientific research of the habits of the people here - and some are quite curious! It always brings a smile to my face to watch this show.

TV One is quite good in producing such programs. Before Everyone Famous they had another show named Man Bites Dog. This was made by an extern producing company, but as One had to cut expenses (they are state-owned) they had to make this kind of program themselves - and it worked, as their program is even more popular than Man Bites Dog has been.

I wish tv-makers would more chose this kind of program, instead of all these shows in which people are made ridiculous, are being insulted and much more. Or shows which are too vulgar to watch, with almost porn-like themes.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Back to 1976?

More and more, it looks as if we're back into the seventies. Weatherwise, I mean. For days now, it has been very warm and sunny - and also very dry. I remember that summer of 1976, when the sun began to shine at the end of May and continue to do so until the end of September. A time when it was forbidden to take a bath (only a shower), to wash your car, to water your garden (you could only do so with used water from washing the dishes). A summer when the sale of ice-cream went over the top and all out-events made a big profit.

And right now there can be comparisons. It looks like the weather isn't going to break soon. When there is a (little) bit of rain, it is immediately followed by another spell of more than fine weather. Right now is is so warm it is advised to stay indoors if you can and drink a lot of water.

And the soil is becoming extremely dry, as well. A disaster for the farmers. Of course, last year when it rained all the time, they did also complain. Moorland and forests are to be watched constantly for fires.

What a disaster yesterday in Portugal, where so many people found their death in the blaze. Just imagine you live in a region where such fires are commonplace. Another disaster was the fire in the Grenfell Tower in London, where a likewise number of people died.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Carpe Diem

I'm a fond believer of taking each day as it comes - and enjoying it. Especially when you know it may be your last ever...

Today I got the diagnosis of cancer in the kidney. The surgeon, on my request, was quite straight with us (my sister came along). From what she told us, we can assume she doesn't think I have much of a chance at survival.

The tumor in my kidney is quite big already, and there are also secondary tumors in my lungs and pancreas. The strangest thing, however, is that I still feel fine and healthy. No pain, not being tired, not caughing blood, nothing. According to what we read on I should be experiencing all these things.

Next week they are going to do a biopsy to decided on the follow-up. If the tumor in my pancreas derives from the cancer in my kidney, then an operation is possible and a treatment afterwards. When not, it can be the end any time.

Not something nice but I remain positive. As long as I feel ok I'll continue to write and hope to still finish that novel I'm working on.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

My Last Sunset

Once more I welcome a fellow author at Rogue Phoenix Press: Christian Chiakulas. Christian has a new novel and therefore is doing a virtual blog tour. He will be awarding a digital copy of My Last Sunset at one randomly drawn commenter.


My Last Sunset is a hardboiled detective story set in a contemporary American high school. Damon Riley is an angry, antisocial teenager with a penchant for solving mysteries. His life is shaken up when Jessica Carpenter, a girl in the grade below his, shoots herself in the halls of the school itself, leaving behind a note that names him as the culprit for driving her to suicide. Taking the bait, Damon embarks on a quest to find out what really happened to Jessica, leading him through a web of conspiracy, betrayal, and brutality. Along the way he learns more than he ever dreamed possible about the girl he could never have saved.


Michael might be having the same idea as me, because he says, "Hey, you hear about that freshman who killed herself?"
"She was a sophomore," I say, staring ahead at the blackboard.
"Oh," Michael says. He's a senior, so it makes sense he wouldn't know. "That's right, I knew that." Liar. "You heard she did it here?"
"Yeah, in the bathroom downstairs," I say. This class is on the fourth floor. Jessica killed herself on the second. The music was so loud from the dance that nobody heard the gunshot, and she didn't get found until a janitor came in the next day. She'd been absent from school Thursday and Friday last week, and I heard her mom had reported her missing to the police. Then, for whatever reason, she came back to school to end her life.
What the hell, Jessica.
It's not that I can't believe it. Jessica was a nice girl, I think, and seemed happy a lot of the time, but seeming happy and being happy aren't the same thing; you don't have to be smart to know or even articulate that. Like I said, I didn't know her that well, but I knew her a little; enough to see that, like the rest of us, she had shit going on she didn't talk about. What I didn't see was that she was the kind of person who couldn't deal with it, like we all do.
Or that it was the kind of shit that can't be dealt with.
"Heard she left a note," Michael says, and now I'm aware that he's looking at me even though his face hasn't moved. His eyes moved.
I didn't hear anything about a note. Whatever was going on with her, she definitely wanted to be found, wanted somebody to know.
Or maybe everybody.
Half a dozen more people stream in over the next two or three minutes; this class is pretty small to begin with and there are four absent. The eight o'clock bell rings just as Goldman appears in the doorway. Behind him is Panzer, one of the school's security guards (not his real name, but it should be).
I raise an eyebrow as Goldman enters the classroom and the talking dies down. Then he looks right at me and says, "Damon, could you please go with Mr. Cousins to the dean's office?"
A low "Oooooh..." goes through the small class, and I stand up, wondering what the hell I did. Usually when I'm in trouble, I know exactly why. As I cross the room to where Panzer is standing, arms folded across his chest, I notice the two girls who'd been in the room early shooting me nasty looks, like I personally wronged them. I don't even know their names.
Panzer steps aside to let me exit the room first then closes the door after us. I throw my messenger bag over my shoulder and look at him.
"What's this about," I say, a little worried.
"Just walk."
The halls are deserted, and I stare at the floor as we walk to the main nexus where the stairwells are, passing over the blurry reflections of the fluorescent lights in the freshly-waxed floor. The dean's office is on the second floor, right down the hall from the girl's bathroom. I stare at the door as we pass it.
The dean's office is small, considering there are three deans that share it along with a secretary and the school's sole counselor. The hub is a yellow-painted room with the secretary's desk, several file cabinets, a large wooden conference table, doors to the private offices of the deans and counselor, and plastic bins hanging on the walls filled with handouts and leaflets about substance abuse, sexual abuse, good ol' fashioned domestic abuse, birth control, STDs, juvie, and there at the end—
The three deans are all sitting at the conference table along with the counselor, Mrs. Mullen, and the school's police liaison, Officer Pasture. A pit drops into my stomach. Whatever I did, it must've been bad.
"Damon, please sit," Dean Goodfellow says. He's a pudgy man with long blonde hair and a face like a bulldog; if you're picturing him comically, stop, because everyone in this school is terrified of him, including yours truly. The other two, Dean Haskins and Dean Washington, are serious men, but none attack their jobs with the rage-filled passion of Dean Goodfellow. He runs this school like it's the streets of Baltimore in The Wire, keeping detailed, ever-growing files on every student with the misfortune to cross his path and trading favors to some of them for information. I'm not gonna lie, I've gotten out of more than one detention this way. Wouldn't you know it, he's in charge of students with surnames P-Z.
But they're all three here, which means this is really serious. I pull up the blue plastic seat across from him, willing myself not to break eye contact, and Panzer disappears outside. The secretary isn't here either. I can feel my heart pounding in my chest. What's going on?
"Damon," Goodfellow says, shifting in his seat and locking his fingers together on the table in front of him. Everybody else at the table is staring at their laps; they know the drill. When Goodfellow is working...
interrogating, more like let him be.

Author links

Buy at: Rogue Phoenix Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Website URL:
Blog URL:
Facebook page:

Twitter handle: @ChrisChiakulas

Writing as therapy

When I get bad news, my immediate reflex is to begin writing. That's my way to cope with things that are hard to express. I've always been better in writing down what I think than actually saying it. Also, when you look back on what you wrote, it all looks less grim.

When I was studying languages way back (began in 1974 and ended up with my Master's degree in 1978) one of the profs once mentioned I had a flair for psychology. Also my editor says I've good psychological insight in my characters. So right now I'm doing some self-psych-session.

I got bad news yesterday. On May 19th I had a CT-scan taken of the abdomen. The doctor had ordered it because she wanted to have a clear insight of what was wrong with me. Those who read my blog will remember I wrote about spotting a swelling at the base of my throat (combined with finding out I have diabetes). For that cyste, various echoes and scans were taken. The good news it that the cyste is harmless, but the bad news is they've found a mass near my right kidney. This could - or couldn't - be cancer. I now have an appointment with another surgeon who will discuss the case with me. Most likely they will cut away the mass, and then send it to the lab. Depending on the outcome, treatment will follow (if it's still possible). Cancer of the kidney doesn't correstpond well with chemotherapy.

My biggest worry is about my sister. I've always assumed she'd go before me and that wouldn't be a bad thing. I am better suited to be all alone. She won't be able to cope, as I can already tell from her reaction yesterday. She already sees me buried. I try to remain positive. And if this the end, then I can look back on a nice life.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

What's good for one, is bad for another

Which is a saying that goes up every time. Take right now.

The sun is shining brightly, and it hasn't been raining like it uses to do. So most people are very happy with it, but the farmers complain it's way too dry and their harvests will not be good...

It has been dryer than previous year - in fact, it hasn't rained enough (for the farmers) since November 2016.

I however remember they also complained last year, when it was raining more than enough all through Arpril, May, June and July. We didn't have a summer then. Then it was too wet - have you ever known a farmer who's happy with the circumstances?

Well, we don't complain. It looks like it's going to be a great summer. The weather seems to settle quicky for the better each time some rain has passed. Those old enough look back on the summer of 1976, which counts as the best one ever (and when water use was restricted). That one also started at the end of May, when nice weather became the daily sight. It turned really hot by the end of June and I sat in the cellar of our house, with my feet into a bowl of cool water to study for my next exam at the uni. Btw, the profs were pretty lenient then. That is now 41 years ago. So I reckon we've deserved another one of these great summers!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Champions in recycling

Yesterday morning, I read in the newspaper that we Flemish are champions in recycling. We import over one billion waste (from all over the world) to recycle here. Companies here in Flanders get precious metals out of thrown-away electronics, we recycle used batteries, used wood from old tables, chairs etc. which become carton or paper.

Everyone here knows well-enough in which bag to put the waste - have been doing it for years.

And here at home we were even pioneers! Our dad already organized our cellar and put down boxes in which we put our glass, our plastic bottles, our paper, .... Once they were all full, we took them to the recycling park at the border of town.

And as kids we even undertook cleaning up the brook that runs at the back of our garden. We fished out everything that didn't belong and put in into waste bags.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017


Hello! Come and meet Elaine Cantrell, author of Flood. "Flood" is a contemporary romantic suspense, available from June 1st from Wings ePress. The author is doing a virtual excerpt tour at the moment (June 5th-30th) and today she stops here.

Elaine will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link to place your comment:


Drawn together by their love of animals, Aria DeLuca and Caleb Hawkins burn for each other. They never suspected that malignant forces were successfully plotting Caleb’s ruin from the moment he entered her life.

When the flood of a century strikes Aria’s hometown, an alienated Caleb is all that stands between her and catastrophic loss.


Aria watched as Caleb Hawkins shouldered his pack and walked down the driveway. She had offered to drive him to the motel, but he had turned her down, saying that after spending three years sitting in prison, he enjoyed walking.

She didn’t know what she had expected, but whatever it was it didn’t fit Caleb Hawkins. The man could have been a male model, selling everything from designer clothes and jewelry to outdoor sports equipment. He stood about six one and didn’t have an ounce of fat on him. The way his muscles bulged when he picked up his pack had sent a thrill racing through her. His hair was dark, his eyes a deep blue shade that reminded her of the sky just as the sun set in the evening. 

Would she regret offering him a temporary position? Maybe, but probably not. Melissa’s maternity leave would be up in six weeks so he wouldn’t be around forever. He could use the time to acclimate to being out of prison before he set about finding a permanent job. Paying for
his room and board would eat up some of his pay, but he’d still have a few dollars left over. He could save it or maybe buy a few clothes and other things he needed.

Author bio and links

Elaine Cantrell was born and raised in South Carolina where she obtained a master’s degree in personnel services from Clemson University.  She is a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary society for women educators and Romance Writers of America.  Her first novel, A New Leaf, was the 2003 winner of the Timeless Love Contest.  When she’s not writing or teaching, she enjoys movies, quilting, reading, and collecting vintage Christmas ornaments. 

Find Elaine at the following locations:

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Some nostalgic thoughts

The older I get, the more I seem to look back at the past. Don't take me wrong, I try to live in the present as much as possible, but sometimes I get a little nostalgic.

This morning, I went up to the attic to bring some laundry downstairs to iron (We've turned our unused attic room into a drying station for all our washing. We used to hang it out to dry outside, but those damned birds always shit on it.) I didn't intended to, but involuntarily my eyes were drawn to my grandfather's library cupboard. There I used to display my collection of Barbie dolls. Dolls from the early 1960's, with dresses designed by Balmain or Dior. They are not there anymore. My sister and I decided to donate them to the Toy Museum in Mechelen. The people there were very grateful, as I had kept the original boxes (I always cared a lot about the things I owned) and there were many dolls and even more dresses.

I also wondered where in heaven's name some of the things we had have disappeared. I know I had some paper dolls, with paper clothes to fold around them  - and I can't find them anymore. I've climbed into the hidden part of the roof (through a trapdoor over the entrance to the attic). There still are a lot of boxes there, but what I was looking for I can't find back. And I know I never put them out with the trash. The same goes for the Tiny books my sister used to have. Gone as well. Most likely, it was our dad who put out some of these boxes, without asking if they contained something we'd like to keep.

In the library are some books which belonged to my grandfather. Brings back memories of sitting on his lap, listening to him reading from Alexandre Dumas (in French). No wonder I like to write historical fiction, with lots of adventure and action!

Are there any of my readers who feel the same about old things?

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Long weekend at the coast

One catholic holiday after the other, so we're not at home in Dendermonde. Last long weekend we spent in Krakow, Poland and right now we're enjoying rather nice weather at our Belgian coast.

The sun is out, but it's as warm as it was last week. Warm enough though, I don't need extreme heat. We were able to make a nice walk to Knokke (although Knokke-Heist is considered one town, it actually are three different villages), got to the Lippenslaan (where you can do some shopping) and enjoyed a cool beer on a sunny terrace.

This afternoon we made a walk through a nature reserve close-by. You know, even after so many years, there are still spots in Heist we never been to. It's a stretch of land around an old light tower and it's quite wild, with lots of birds and other small animals.

Later tonight we're going to dine out at Bartholomeus - the one two-Michelin-star restaurant Heist has. We go there if we have something special to celebrate, right now for my birthday and the start of my pension.

We know dinner will be superb, like always. I'm not the only one who thinks Bart deserves a third Michelin star! Best thing is, we have been going there for over 20 years and never ate the same dish. Bart is very creative and every dish is a feast not only to the palate, but also to the eyes.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Before the Dawn

Today author Courtney Rene is my guest. Courtney - also at Rogue Phoenix Press - writes young adult paranormal stories, and Before the Dawn is part of the series A Howl in the Night (this is book nr. 3). She's doing a blog tour right now, and will be giving away a digital copy of this publication to one randomly drawn commenter.


Seventeen year old Abby can’t shake the darkness that continues to haunt her since her escape from the Hunterz. She can’t let it go. Questions continue to circle. Questions no one will answer. Who are they, really? Why do they hate the wolves so much? The answers could be found in a young boy named, Sam. He may be from the Hunterz, but he smells of wolf. Derek wants to believe her, and tries to help, but Abby still hasn’t learned how to accept help from others. Her relationships with her mother and father continue to deteriorate, but Derek is a puzzle. Some days he’s exactly what she wants and others he is all that she despises. Being a shifter isn’t as simple as she thought it would be. The wolf part is easy. It’s the human side that needs a little work.


I huddled in the darkness, barely aware of the passing hours and days. The wolf ate when she was hungry. She found mice and rodents to catch and devour. I was barely aware of the chase or the joy she found in the hunt. The wolf drank from streams and creeks along her journey. She slept when she was tired and traveled the rest of it.
I was aware the forest was starting to look familiar, but I didn't care enough to wonder why or where I was. When the big white sprawling house came before us, I realized the wolf had brought us to the only other place she knew to go: Aunt Lilly's.
I didn't leave the safety within the wolf when we arrived at the house. I was aware when we stepped onto the porch and dropped to the cool white washed boards where the wolf curled up and slept, but I stayed safe, hidden deep. The wolf and the instincts that drove her protected us. I was happy to let her lead. I was happy to be carried wherever she decided to go. I slept as the wolf did throughout the rest of the night.
When the wolf woke, I woke with her. We were still curled on the porch, but we were within a pile of dogs that had come to keep us safe and warm and offer company. The wolf was happy for the companions, as I was not able to be one. I was silent and empty and had nothing to give right then. I had nothing left to offer her.
I saw my Aunt come out on the porch, and I saw the moment she recognized me for what I was. "Abby, honey. What are you doing here?"
I shrank back deeper within the wolf, and as the wolf had nothing to say to her in that form, Aunt Lilly was left at a loss. She crouched down before us and ran her hands over my head and down my back. "You look a little worse for wear. Do you want to come in and eat? Maybe get a shower and some clothes?"
I wasn't coming out of the wolf form. I realized that had been my intention the whole time. I simply hadn't been ready to face it. I was obviously not very good as a human, so I would try being a wolf for a bit. I used a little more energy and turned my head away from her and dropped it back down on my front paws.
"Abby? What's wrong?"
I had no answer for her, so I didn't move or acknowledge her question. I didn't know what to tell her. I was still feeling sorry for myself, and I didn't have a plan of how to fix it other than to ignore it. I was happy as a wolf. Why did I have to be a human anyway?
She stayed crouched down next to me for a long time. She tried to talk to me, but I didn't answer. Finally, she gave up and stepped back. Her dog friends stayed with me, protecting me in their own way. She surveyed the pile of us then said, "Well, I guess I'll check on you in a bit."
I closed my eyes and went back to sleep. I spent the next few days hardly moving a muscle. What was the point? Aside from getting up to empty my bladder or get a drink of water, I stayed on the porch, quiet and still. Aunt Lilly stopped trying to talk to me, but she did continue to sit with me and offer what comfort she could by way of gentle caresses or tidbits of food she could tempt me with, or just simple water. The best part was when she sat in the white rocker and just rocked. Her being there was enough. Sometimes when she sat there, I would get up and sit next to her, just to be close to someone who gave a damn about me. Just me. Not what I could do for her, or what I could do for the clan. She just cared about me.
Why was I so unlovable by everyone else? Why didn't my mother want me anymore? Why did my father only see me for what I offered the clan? Why didn't Derek just want me? Why. Why. Why! What was so wrong with just being me?
It was times like those that even in wolf form I was able to cry. When the hurt of the world grew to immense I could not hold it in anymore. I cried the sounds of the wolf, even if it didn't come with the tears of a human. Aunt Lilly wouldn't press or talk, she was simply there with me as I tried to handle the sadness overwhelming me. She'd caress my head and continue to rock.

I don't know how long things went on like that. Maybe a few days, maybe it was an entire week. I do know when it came to an abrupt end. Morning arrived with a definite chill in the air. I didn't notice the cold all that much, thanks to my warm fur, but also because Aunt Lilly's dogs took shifts with what I thought of as protecting me. There were always a handful of them, either lying next to me or with me, or whatever. I was never cold or alone. They knew I was hurting and they in their animal wisdom stayed with me as comfort. Animals are awesome. People…suck.

Author bio and links

Courtney Rene lives in the State of Ohio with her husband and two children. She is a graduate and member of the Institute of Children’s Literature. Her writings include magazine articles, short fiction stories, several anthologies, as well as her young adult novels, A Howl in the Night and the Shadow Dancer series, published through Rogue Phoenix Press. For a complete listing, visit www.ctnyrene.blogspot com or feel free to contact her at


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Twitter handle: @ctnyrene