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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The need to explore

The older I get, the more I feel the need to explore as much as I can. Normal, I presume, as you're advancing on in age and are not sure when it will end...

That way, we like to plan trips and do as many as we can afford. We don't need to save up for our children, as we don't have any, nor have grandchildren. Neither is one of us godmother. And the state should get all our money if we are gone; they've robbed us enough (know that half of our wages goes to taxes and social security). We do keep a small reserve for emergencies, but the rest goes to travel.

We have always liked to explore the world around us. First Europe with our parents, then stretching our wings and flying to North and South America, to Asia and Africa. Recently, we undertook a trip to Argentina, and we've already booked a trip to the United Arab Emirates for next year, while already thinking about going to Mexico the year after. In between we do smaller trips, like the one coming up to Poland. Our neighbor is Polish born, and he talks a lot about his home country. That made us want to see it personally. So we're off to Krakow, which is one of the main cities in Poland. It's an old town with a lot of history, especially because to the German concentration camps. We are going to visit Auschwitz and also the salt mines not far off.

When I find the time (!) I'll post a short blog about our experiences there and then later on a full report on my travel blog - http://nickiestravelblog.blogspot.com

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Debra Holt books

Today, my guest is author Debra Holt, who's doing a book blast tour for three of her publications:
Mercy’s Rescue from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolina’s, Love Beneath the Blue Texas Sky from Kindle Direct Publishing, and His Country Bride from Tulip Romance Publishing, all available now.


Ms. Holt will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link to place your comment:

Blurb

Mercy’s Rescue   


Fighting for his life after an ambush, Sheriff Josh Wellman awakes to find himself looking into the eyes of a real-life angel of mercy. Despite his groggy condition, he knows his life has changed the instant their hands touch. Devastating heartbreak has left Mercy Smith's faith in tatters, her heart guarded against more loss. Her dedication to the air evac trauma team she leads has insulated her from the realities of the earth below, so now Josh faces the biggest challenge of his life. Can he find a way around the walls that fortify her heart and convince this angel to stay on the ground with him? Can Mercy open herself to life again and find a way to restore her faith in God ... as well as love?


Love Beneath the Blue Texas Sky 
  

J.D. Sterling shook the dirt of the small Texas town from his boot heels a dozen years before. Now, he’s returned… not as the poor country boy who left to follow his dream, but as country music’s sexy superstar. He has everything he always wanted except for the girl who holds his heart. Mandy.

Years come and go and people change. Amanda Lawson has grown up. From heartbreak and struggling to survive to becoming a successful businesswoman, she has taught herself to never look back. Once before, she had survived the wild, green-eyed cowboy with only a guitar to his name and a pocketful of dreams. Then he left her behind with nothing but his hollow vows and a shattered heart.

Mandy was his muse. J.D. was her dream. But tragedy and broken vows can be insurmountable obstacles. Can they find their way home to each other again… or is it too late?


His Country Bride 


"Sheriff's Department! Raise your hands above your head and don't move."

She’s a runaway bride who left her two-timing fiance at the altar. He’s a county sheriff determined to keep the peace in his country and leave city girls alone after his own fiance left him for the bright lights of the city. Neither of them planned on running straight into each other...over a burning wedding dress.

Ellie and Lucas planned on never trusting their hearts to love again. When danger follows her from the city, the sheriff must do his duty to protect her. However, it isn’t long before he discovers the real danger may be to his heart. Ellie just might teach him that even a city girl can be a country girl at heart.



Excerpt  (from His Country Bride)

Lucas set the extinguisher on the ground and used a couple of fingers to push the hat back on his forehead, hands on his hips, obviously considering the options before him. “Do you have any other clothing with you, ma’am?” A furrowed brow preceded her reply. “Why are you calling me ‘ma’am? I’m not that old. And just who are you, anyway?” “Lucas McCann. I’m the sheriff of Joshua County, which is where you are at the moment. I use respectful manners and call you ‘ma’am because I don’t know your name.

The woman turned in a huff and stomped toward the porch steps behind them. Perhaps stomped wasn’t the right description Lucas amended, as he folded his arms across a broad chest and watched her negotiate the uneven stones of the walkway leading up to the porch...all in her ridiculously high heels. Of course, the sight of those long, tanned legs and spiky heels caused a definite stirring in his midsection. That realization made his jaw set harder as he sought for the calm control he always demonstrated when performing his duties-that is, until he came across her. 

A slow shake of his head. “I have to hand it to you, lady. You’re one cool customer, under the circumstances. You also may be used to giving orders to people wherever you come from, except there’s on problem with that at this moment. You’re in my county now. Here, I give the orders and as a general rule, people follow them.”

Author bio and links

Born and raised in the Lone Star state of Texas, Debra grew up among horses, cowboys, wide open spaces, and real Texas Rangers.  Pride in her state and ancestry knows no bounds and it is these heroes and heroines she loves to write about the most.  She also draws upon a variety of life experiences including working with abused children, caring for baby animals at a major zoo, and planning high-end weddings (ah, romance!). 
When she isn’t busy writing about tall Texans and feisty heroines, she can be found cheering on her Texas Tech Red Raiders, or heading off on another cruise adventure.  She read her first romance...Janet Dailey's Fiesta San Antonio, over thirty years ago and became hooked on the genre. Writing contemporary romances, is both her passion and dream come true, and she hopes her books will bring smiles...and sighs...to all who believe in happily-ever-after’s.  
Debra invites you to visit her website at www.debraholtbooks.com.  She loves to hear from other aspiring authors or readers via email at debraholtbooks@gmail.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DebraHoltBookss
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/DebraHoltBooks
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/debra+holt

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Weekend at the coast

After all the misery of late, it's nice to spend a weekend away from home. We're at the coast right now, and enjoying it. This afternoon, we've been on a shopping spree as it is Nina Day (this is a magazine, which is published once a week and given with the weekend edition of the largest national newspaper of Flanders). With the Nina card, you get 20, even 30% off the prices at certain shops.

So of course we couldn't resist and went looking for new things. I need to buy a lot of new clothes anyway, as I've lost quite some weight and nothing fits me anymore. I found two lovely 3/4 pants and Chris also bought one - plus a very chique blouse and a new handbag.

Later on tonight, we're going out to dine and tomorrow we'll enjoy a lazy breakfast, before going out for a nice walk on the beach.

The weather is improving, after a couple of days which were not so good, and tomorrow should be all sunny and warm.

Not long now before the long summer vacations start. Chris doesn't have to work in July and August, so that's fun. When she too goes on her pension, we'll be able to travel out of tourist season. Plane tickets and hotels can get a lot cheaper when kids are at school. Not fair, but that's the way it is.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Sorry!

I know, I've been neglecting my blog for some time already. To my defense, I can say I haven't had a lot of time. I'm running from one doctor's appointment to another hospital visit, and in between I need to do my ordinary chores (a pensioner doesn't have a lot of spare time, right?).

These past weeks, ever since our return from Buenos Aires, have been quite something. Thinking I was completely healthy, I now know that a) I do have diabetes, b) I have a cyste at the base of my throat, and c) there are also some cysts around my right kidney. Well, as long as none of these cysts is malignant, there is no real worry.

Today's medicine can keep the diabetes under control (especially when the patient takes the pills/insuline in a correct way and pay attention to the way of living) and the throat cyste can be taken away by relatively innocent operation. My GP says cysts around the kidney are fairly common, and most of the time don't need special attention.

Tomorrow is my last scan for the time being, and hopefully after that I can lead my normal life once more.

I promise to write more often then!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Lyrical Press Historical Romances

Today features Lyrical Press, which is doing a virtual blurb blitz tour for two of its publications: Foolish Bride by A.S. Fenichel and Knight Secrets by C.C. Wiley - both historical romances available now.



The authors will be awarding a digital copy of both of the books on tour to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please make use of the following link:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f2258/


Blurb

Foolish Bride

Sadly ever after . . . unless some dreams really do come true?

Elinor Burkenstock never believed in fairy tales. Sure, she’s always been a fool for love—what woman isn’t? But Elinor knows the difference between fiction and truth. Daydreams and reality. True love and false promises. . . . Until the unthinkable happens, and Elinor’s engagement is suddenly terminated and no one, least of all her fiancé, will tell her why.

Sir Michael Rollins’s war-hero days seem far behind him when, after one last hurrah before his wedding, he gets shot and his injuries leave him in dire shape. He wants nothing more than to marry Elinor, the woman of his wildest dreams. But Elinor’s father forbids it . . . and soon Michael is faced with a desperate choice: Spare Elinor a life with a broken man or risk everything to win her heart—until death do they part?



Knight Secrets

Sworn to protect the crown, a Knight of the Swan must never surrender—not even to love . . .

England, 1415. Ordered never to leave the lonely tower on her family estate, Lady Clarice Margrave is suddenly set free when her home is plundered. Now she is determined to discover the truth behind her father’s alleged treason. But an act of daring only propels her into a new
prison, with the very knight who destroyed her home as her keeper. Sir Ranulf, Lord of Sedgewic, is ruthless in his inquisition, though there is a searing tenderness in his touch. Is it possible her bold jailor is the Red Wolf of whom her father spoke—and the one man she might be able to trust?

As a knight, Ranulf never questions his troth, but his beautiful prisoner stirs his heart and mind like no other. Clarice is achingly vulnerable—and extremely closed-mouth about her possible ties to the plot against the king. Duty demands he keep his distance, though he yearns to take her to his bed and adore her until he discovers what lies within her heart. And he would—if he weren’t in danger of losing his own . . .


Excerpt (out of Foolish Bride)

Her heart beat wildly. “But is that not why you pursued me?”

He kissed the tip of her nose. “I will not deny I came to London this season because I needed to marry to restore the money that my father squandered.” He kissed her cheek. “I had every intention of finding a rich bride to enable that plan.” He kissed her other cheek. “Then I met you, and you were the perfect solution to my problems.”

She tried to pull away,  but he held her close and kissed her lips. It was only a peck, but the thrill of it traveled to her toes and hit everywhere in between.

His body filled all her curves as he hugged her and spread kisses along her cheek and neck. “I knew you were the one, Elinor. So beautiful, charming, and sweet, I could not resist you. I want to be worthy of your love, and in the weeks we courted, I found a way to get enough money to repair my country home and still have enough to make a good start of the marriage. I made the deal on some grain. It will take a bit of time for my plans to pan out, but in a couple of months, I should be able to show your father that I am worthy of you.”

Author bio

A.S. Fenichel adores writing stories filled with love, passion, desire, magic and maybe a little mayhem tossed in for good measure. Books have always been her perfect escape and she still relishes diving into one and staying up all night to finish a good story. Originally from New York, she grew up in New Jersey. She now lives in the southwest with her real life hero, her wonderful husband. When she is not reading or writing she enjoys cooking, travel, history and puttering in her garden.



Author Links:
Website: http://www.asfenichel.net/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/A.S.Fenichel
Twitter: https://twitter.com/asfenichel

Buy the book:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/?field-keywords=9781601839657
Apple: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/isbn9781601839657?uo=8
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=9781601839657&c=books
Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=9781601839657
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/9781601839657
 

C.C. Wiley is a longstanding member of the Romance Writers of America, and a published author with Samhain Publishing. She lives in Salt Lake City with her high school sweetheart of over 35 years and their four wacky dogs. When given a choice, she prefers a yummy, well-written, historical or contemporary romance that is chock-full of hope, love and a Happy Ever After. She believes there are wonderful courageous characters waiting for someone to tell their story. It's her hope that each adventurous romance she writes will touch the reader and carry them away to another place and time, where hopes and dreams abound.



Author Links:
Website: https://ccwiley.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CCWileyAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorCCWILEY
 
Buy the book:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/?field-keywords=9781516101009
Apple: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/isbn9781516101009?uo=8
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=9781516101009&c=books

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=9781516101009

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/9781516101009 

Original birthday wishes

It's my birthday today, and no, I'm not fishing for compliments. Just wanted to share what a nice surprise my sister had for me!

I normally expect a (rather original) birthday card from her, but this time she's overdone herself. Believe it or not, but this morning I received an e-card for my 61st year, where no-one else than Michael Bolton sang Happy Birthday for me.

We met up with Michael Bolton last year in Venice, where he joined a boat trip to the isles of Murano and Burano. He didn't say who he was, but we could derive it from what he said. When you think you're not recognized, you let your guard down and let slip some things you shouldn't have. Well, we did as if we didn't know him either, and had rather a nice chat with him. He kept our company all during the trip, which was rather flattering.

Anyone else sharing this birthday, May 15th?

Friday, May 12, 2017

Weekend coming up

Once more it's Friday afternoon, and soon the weekend will start anew. Not a trip to London this time, just stay quietly at home. You need some rest, after all. And my sister has a pretty strenuous job. This is once more a period when the workload seems to pile up and she's trying to beat it. I'll be happy when she doesn't have to work anymore, because sometimes I think she's going to have a fit.

The weather forecast is not too bad. Since the last couple of days, the cold has finally left us and the days are mostly sunny and warm now. We had a heavy thunderstorm yesterday evening, but we didn't have to go anywhere, so no problem.

For tomorrow and the day after, the weather should be rather nice. Perhaps we can try out the new terrace set I bought. A barbecue wouldn't be bad. Chris suggested we'd do something special, as my birthday is coming up. I'll be 61 this year - getting on in age.

We could also do some work outside now. The terrace needs cleaning after a long winter and the walls of the house could use some paint. We"ll see what we do.

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Funerals - aka family gatherings

I suppose it's the same everywhere. When somebody dies and the funeral takes place, it's a prime opportunity to chat with people you haven't seen in a while.

Just the same in our family. We rarely see our cousins (those on mother's side a bit often than those on father's side - they live too far off) and it always takes a special opportunity (a wedding, a funeral, a birthday party) to see each other.

This time the occasion was our uncle's funeral. My mother's eldest brother died last week Wednesday, nearly 94 years old. This morning we attented the mass (although we're not religious) and afterwards we were invited to have a bite and a drink in one of the parlors of the cremation house. A prime opportunity to catch up with the news of our different cousins. We are 9 on mother's side. One of the cousins had died already, in a car accident. But the others are all well enough, are married and have children and grandchildren. We are the only singles in the group.

Lea, her husband, three kids and their kids, will miss uncle most - especially because he had such a long life and did a lot for them. Must say, they sometimes took profit of his kindness. When his wife was still alive and well, they prepared food for the entire family and also did the washing. Lea has always been quite spoiled. I remember when our grandma had a heart attack and she was in the hospital (which happened just at the beginning of the summer vacation) Uncle Flor and Aunt Irene told our mother they could not leave their daughter (of 40!) and her family alone to stay at the seaside. So they had no time to visit grandma...

Well, it's the same with all families, I guess. Our only remaining uncle (also 92 already) always took offence in the fact we are independent women and have a mind of our own. Today he was polite though, even shook our hand.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

At last - a change in the weather!

Today, we woke up to a blue sky. Yes, indeed! Well, it was rather cold as well, but who cares?

The forecast says the temperatures will be rising as of today. Soon we'll be having 20° Celsius or thereabouts. And more sun than we've had up to now.

Then we'll be able at last to wear short-sleeved shirts and skirts, put bare feet in the loafers or sandals. Normally, you can do this once it's May. But this year has been terrible. Nothing much of a winter, nothing much of a spring.

Hopefully we'll get a real summer and after-summer. I long for some continued nice weather. When the sun is out, you seem to have so much more energy to perform tasks. A hour or so ago, our new terrace chairs and table were delivered. Just in time for the better weather. We used to have furniture in wood but after many years it had had its best time, so we made away with it (twice a year, you can put out wood or metal to be picked up for recycling).

How's the weather in your parts of the world?

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Solo

Hi there! Meet Lauren E. Rico, who's doing a virtual super book blast tour for Solo, a contemporary new adult romance available May 8, 2017 from Entangled Publishing.



Lauren 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: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f2273

Blurb

When graduate student Katherine Brenner walked into my class, I couldn’t stand her—all perfect skin and big, blue eyes—just like the woman who broke my heart.

If it wasn’t for that blizzard, if her car hadn’t broken down outside my house, if she hadn’t looked amazing by the firelight, I never would have kissed her. No matter how hard I try, every excuse I make not to see her comes up flat.

I can’t stop thinking of her lips. Or the way her curves fit perfectly in my hands. There’s a million reasons why this won’t work. I’m her professor. It’s against university policy.

And if this gets out, I could lose everything.



Excerpt

I hear the creak of the bathroom door behind me and there’s a palpable shift in the room as he enters. Then I feel his hand on my shoulder. It just makes me cry harder. And then he is there, on the floor with me, pulling me up against his chest with strong arms. I shake my head no. I don’t want this. But I do. I don’t need this. But I do. And, somehow, this awful, mean, arrogant man seems to know this already.

With my face buried in his sweatshirt, I just cry and cry until the only thing left is the sound of my dry, hiccupping, heaves and sniffling nose. He’s patting my back, rubbing my arms and shushing me softly.

Oh. My. God.

This is my worst nightmare, and then some. I sit up, abruptly, trying to wipe my sodden face with my hands, not looking at him. I can’t look at him.

“I’m sorry,” I say in a hoarse whisper.

Drew Markham gets to his feet and holds out a hand for me to take. I do, still not able to meet his gaze. When I’m upright once more, he turns away from me and briefly runs the water in the sink.

“Here,” he says, cupping my chin in his hands gently, trying to direct my face to his. I stare at the floor and shake my head. “Please? Katherine?”

When he says my name, it’s so unexpected that my head jerks up. He reaches toward my face and I just close my eyes, allowing him to press the wet, cool facecloth to my skin. When I open my eyes again, he’s smiling. But not any smile I’ve ever seen in his limited repertoire of pleasant expressions. It’s shocking. And disarming. And sexy as hell.

Author bio and links

Lauren Rico was going to be principal French horn of the New York Philharmonic. That was HER plan, anyway. The New York Philharmonic had no idea of her intentions, and that's probably a good thing, since she wasn't an especially good French horn player!
Lauren was, however, an exceptionally good classical music radio host. Calling herself a "Classical Music Reanimator," she has made a career of demystify classical music for her audiences by taking it off a dusty old pedestal and putting it into a modern context.  
It's only been over the last couple of years that Lauren has discovered a passion for writing, which she's managed to combine with her love and knowledge of the classical music world. 
You can hear Lauren Rico on SiriusXM's Symphony Hall Channel; on WQXR and WSHU-FM in the New York City metro; WSMR in Tampa/Sarasota, FL; WDAV in Charlotte, NC and KMFA in Austin, TX


Links:
Website :www.LaurenRico.com
Facebook: www.Facebook.com/LaurenRicoAuthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/LaurenRico
Twitter: @RadioRico
Buy Links 
Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Solo-Symphony-Hall-Lauren-Rico-ebook/dp/B06ZYQYTXW/ref=sr_1_1
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/solo-lauren-e-rico/1126240187

Friday, May 5, 2017

And then there was one...

Our family is slowly diminishing in numbers. Today we got new that our eldest uncle has died, aged 95. Now there is only one sibling living. My mother had three brothers. She died first, in 2008, then two years later her youngest brother died and now her eldest. Only the second child of our grandparents, 93, is still alive.

That's the way of getting older. You see family and friends passing away and you have to keep going. In our own home we came down to two, where originally there were 6 people living in the house. First granddad died, then grandma, then our dad and lastly our mum. I just hope my sister and I can go on for a while...

My sister wouldn't like to remain the last one standing. She can't live all alone. So she always says she hopes she goes first. It wouldn't be fun for me, but I presume I'm better suited for a life on my own. I've lived on my own before, while working in Germany. I easily get into contact with other people and wouldn't be all alone.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A Gentelemen's Agreement

Once more, one of my fellow-authors at Rogue Phoenix Press is my guest today: Sheila M. Sharpless.

Sheila will be awarding an ebook copy of Dress With Grace to one randomly drawn commenter, so please take the time to leave a message. I can personally recommend Dress With Grace, as I've proofread the book and really liked it.

Blurb

The Marquis and Marchioness are aristocrats living in a magnificent Elizabethan manor, Karidan, with their two daughters, Cassandra and Charlotte. On the surface, the family is wealthy and well respected, but the double life of the Marquis reveals illegal and dangerous activities, although at heart he is a good Christian man. Charlotte is to be wed to the local widowed vicar, but her affections lie elsewhere, namely with the Lord of the adjacent estate who, owing to a long-standing feud, is not welcome at Karidan and harbours his own secrets. Will Charlotte give in to her passions or follow the path her parents have chosen for her?



Excerpt

The moon was full that night, shedding its light on the ripples of the tide, as it covered the fine sand in the cove; a beautiful sight, to lovers a backdrop to a romantic evening; to the artist an invitation to capture on canvas that magnificent prospect. Perhaps, for some, it was simply a pleasurable experience. But there are those who shy away from such beauty, preferring to go about their business in the dark.
For the solitary figure standing on the shore, it was everything he did not enjoy, so, as he turned to view Karidan, the wonderful Elizabethan manor house behind him, set in magnificent parklands, and saw every window ablaze with candle light, he cursed under his breath. He knew the extravagance of so many candles meant the Marquis was hosting another party, perhaps a ball with champagne flowing, beautiful, assured ladies in gowns which would, for some, cost the equivalent of six months' food. He smiled to himself. Little did they know.
But, he caught his breath. For all his envy, he knew the Marquis was good to him, always gave him his due, and sometimes more for his wife and children.
Yet, for all that, he knew that it was people like the Marquis and the Marchioness who were the reason why his life was haunted by shadows, why sometimes the vision of the gallows filled his dreams.
Standing alone, Cooper began to think of what he knew of the history surrounding this place. Built during the reign of Henry VIII while he was still married to the tragic Jane Seymour and intended to be the later home of his heir, it was a beautiful building where nothing had been spared. The walls, the windows, the altar in the chapel on the ground floor were all a miracle of workmanship, lined and fluted in gold. The rooms were spacious, light and there were many. Twenty-four bedrooms, seven sitting rooms, the kitchen in the basement of the building was apparently the largest ever designed with the big fireplace holding a spit big enough to cook a whole ox or deer.
It was said, although he doubted it, that during Elizabeth I's reign, she visited Karidan with her entire household when it was sensible to be away from her home for a while, but finding a very poor deer population, she moved to Berkeley Castle where she knew there were many deer. Before she left Karidan she told the Lord that she would send him a number of deer and because she had been so comfortably housed, she would increase his title from Lord of Karidan to the Marquis of Karidan, and the present Marquis was a descendent of this long aristocratic line.
During her stay at the castle, history books tell us, she used her first skill with bow and arrow and, to the horror of the Lord of the castle, she shot thirty-six of his prize deer.
Shaking his head, Cooper returned to the present and banned those thoughts. What did ancestry mean to him anyway?
If he could see inside that house, however, he would indeed be greeted by music, dancers, the well-bred conversation between men and women, the light laughter, characteristic of the young ladies enjoying themselves at their first ball. Among those young ladies were the two daughters of the house and several of their close friends, feeling alternately grown up, sophisticated or overwhelmed, shy. The Lady Cassandra now seventeen, and her sister the Lady Charlotte nearing her sixteenth birthday, were the daughters of the Marquis and the Marchioness, while the Lord Augustus of Sharpfield, a cousin of the Marquis, held sway among friends, the other side of the ballroom. The other young ladies similarly aristocratic, showed little sign of wonder but were obviously enjoying the party, which this time was celebrating Cassandra and Charlotte's Aunt's fiftieth birthday. She was almost a permanent visitor, although she had her own mansion and staff some fifty miles away. She loved her time at Karidan, enjoyed the company, but, although she would never say it within hearing at her home, the Marchioness's cook was infinitely preferable to her own. She looked now at her two beloved nieces, seeing two beautiful young women, smiling and talking animatedly to their friends. She knew the girls' gowns, as had their mother's, been made by Madame Frederica, a French seamstress, who had created many beautiful gowns for the Marchioness and her friends. The young ladies, of course, had all been presented at Court, welcomed by the Prince who definitely approved of pretty young ladies. Not for nothing had he been called The Prince of Pleasure. Her two young nieces had their dance cards, beautifully engraved, hanging from their wrists and were excited but shy as the young men came to claim their dance.
They had each danced before sitting down at their chosen table, when Lady Charlotte nudged her sister, saying, "Who is that lovely young gentleman talking to Augustus? I've never seen him before."
"Well," replied the Lady Cassandra, "I'm surprised you have not met him. His parents own 'Birkham Manor' not far from here. He is Lord Dominic of Birkham. I believe he has been touring Europe after leaving Cambridge, but he has been home for a few weeks I think."
"I wonder what he has been doing with himself. I am sure we should have seen him before this."
Cassandra went on to say that as far as she knew no-one had mentioned him, although maybe her parents knew him because he was here at Karidan at the ball for dear Aunt Agatha. Cassandra remembered that she had heard of his beautiful horse, a black stallion which was, apparently, the envy of all who knew of him.
"Perhaps Papa or Mama knows the family. I'd like to meet him, wouldn't you?" Charlotte asked.
"Yes, I think we'll find out a little more."
It was while these two young ladies were wondering about him that Dominic began his own story to Augustus and Charles. He was laughing as he said, "I had been looking forward to spending three years at Cambridge. Good company, plenty of fun and opportunities. I was not wrong. There were of course obligatory essays and papers, but the tutors were terrific. More like friends than anything. Like us they enjoyed some fun and a drink or two. Quite frankly they were nearer our age than one could have expected. There were rules of course, but only those which kept the College on an even keel. It was suggested that I should take up fencing and I believed that to be a good idea. I had not tried anything like it before, but it really appealed to me; developing muscles I didn't know I had."
Charles interrupted. "I tried that once but I was absolutely useless; no sense of balance. Naturally, I gave it up as a bad job."
"Bad luck, but you should have kept going, it was good fun. Anyway, I was introduced to the professional and he was happy to tell me a bit about the history of the sport and suggested I came to the exercise class the next morning. So, interested but a little perturbed as to what I had let myself in for, I met the like-minded fellows, a pleasant group of men. Firstly, I was given a rope and was told to skip for ten minutes without stopping. That was taxing to start with, but when I managed to get my breath back, I found I had enjoyed it. It gave me a sense of achievement. Despite the effort, I was looking forward to doing it again. The next session, I was told, would be an introduction to how one handles the foil. I felt confident that I could master that. It seemed easy enough. And I really enjoyed the exercise. I knew then that taking up fencing was a good thing. It was great fun and after our strenuous exercises, it was down to the bar for a well-earned beer."
"Well I was wondering when the beer came in."
"Ha, you would, Augustus. I was feeling quite content with my new life in Cambridge. It was amazing how my interest in fencing grew until I was giving up several seminars a week to attend practice and much to my surprise, I was getting quite skilled and becoming stronger and fitter.Although I never imagined I would progress to professional fencing, it gave me more than I had expected including self-confidence and simply an enjoyment of using my body in a way I had never done before and pitting my strength and skill against an opponent.
"But," Dominic continued, "I haven't mentioned Claire. A rather delightful young lady who had taken my eye. She had two excellent character traits. One a great sense of humour and the other enjoyment of any new activity. Her full name was the Right Honourable Lady Claire Phlemorton-Bragg. She told me that her father had just bought her a beautiful Palomino stallion. She had not had the chance to ride him yet but suggested we take a ride together. Happily, I agreed and so it was, a few days later we set off on a cross-country ride. Her horse was very frisky, but she handled him well but unfortunately, at the third jump he refused, throwing his rider into a muddy puddle. She swore that it was my fault and when she saw me laughing at her, she was not at all pleased and that, my friends, was the end of the romance."


Author bio

Sheila Sharpless is a writer in many genres, whether it be for children’s books, plays, activity stories, plays for adults, magazine articles on topics such as travel, personal experience or history/fiction. She finds writing is her most passionate activity. Dress with Grace, a full length novel, illustrates her continuing interest in society in history.

More like winter

Since we returned from Argentina, the weather in Belgium has been lousy. It's way too cold for the time of year (heck, it was warmer in December and January!) and the skies are grey. Sometimes there is rain.

I don't like the chill in the air. I can bear freezing cold well enough, when the sun is out as well, but I don't like this dampness which makes it even colder than it is. Our heating is still working every day to keep the house warm enough. And we sleep  under thick covers because it would be unthinkable to remove some layers.

More and more I'm thinking about spending the winters (and part of the so-called spring) in sunnier places. It was so nice in Argentina, temperatures in the twenties Celsius and often warm sunshine.

Hopefully we'll get a change in the weather soon - and then probably, it will be a heatwave!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Job well done

We took advantage of the lesser weather and gave our kitchen a new coat of painting. We started yesterday afternoon and thought we'd be busy until at least this evening, but to our surprise we were already finished early this afternoon.

The new color looks well and matches excellently with the color of the kitchen cupboards (which have fronts in aubergine color). We had the paint mixed to our demand - there is a shop not far off where they have a very good quality. We don't mind paying a bit more if the goods are worth it.

The next project will be painting the living room anew. This will involve moving heavy furniture. The sofa's are easy to move away, but those cupboards in oak... The trick is to put something under the legs of the table & such, so they move more easily over the tile floor (and don't make any stripes).

Most likely we'll start this project in summer. There are bound to be some days when it's not all that good outside, so you can just as well do something useful!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Long weekend coming up

For students and teachers in our region, these is the last hour of school as a long weekend is coming up. Traditionally, everyone has May 1st as a day off, but the school add Tuesday as well.

Normally, we would have gone to the coast for these days, but we cancelled going as I'm still having to get a scan next Tuesday. I've had several scans and other tests the past few days, including a punction of the lump in my throat. Worst thing is, they don't tell you immediately what the cause is, or whether it could be cancer. I'll have to wait until next week.

We'll keep it quiet this long weekend, perhaps do some spring cleaning. Our attic needs a clean-up. We don't always clean there, as the attic is only used to hang our laundry to dry. We used to hang it out in the garden, but stopped when the birds kept pooping on it, and we had to wash everything again! We have ventilation at this attic, which is one big room now (I used to sleep there when our parents were still alive). And we can also warm it up during winter time. It's well isolated.

My sister will have more time for her cooking - preparing recipies she normally doesn't do in a normal week, after a long day at work.

My neighbors are off to sunnier places. We'll look after their house while they're away. We can't complain about the neighbors in our street. Everyone is willing to keep an eye on the other's property when they are on holiday. As far as I remember (and I've been living here nearly 61 years) we never had a break-in in our street.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Claiming the Maverick's Heart

Today my guest is author Debra Holt, who's having a virtual book blast tour for CLAIMING THE MAVERICK'S HEART - a romance available now from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolina's. The Book Blast Tour will take place on Thursday, April 27.

Debra Holt will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use this link to place your comment: 


Blurb

“He’s back.” 

Words Macy Donovan hoped to never hear. 

Trace Cartwright was the maverick rodeo cowboy who broke her heart, leaving her on the steps of the church on the eve of their wedding. Now he's returned to build his home and to lay claim to her heart ... again. Macy barely survived the broken heart the first time. Does he think he can walk back into her life and take up where he left off? 



Excerpt

All that from just a glance? It was only a swift glimpse, but Macy didn’t need more. The broad shoulders and lean hips hadn’t changed…and neither had the cocky set of the black Stetson. The man was more than a head taller than anyone around him; his straight-backed stature was a distinctive Cartwright trait, as were the green eyes inherited from his Irish mother. Macy couldn’t see his eyes from that distance, but she didn’t need to. They were forever etched in her
memory. Wiping first one sweaty palm and then the other on the legs of her jeans, she increased her grip on the steering wheel while her insides continued their gymnastics. 

Author bio and links

Born and raised in the Lone Star state of Texas, Debra grew up among horses, cowboys, wide open spaces, and real Texas Rangers.  Pride in her state and ancestry knows no bounds and it is these heroes and heroines she loves to write about the most.  She also draws upon a variety of life experiences including working with abused children, caring for baby animals at a major zoo, and planning high-end weddings (ah, romance!). 
When she isn’t busy writing about tall Texans and feisty heroines, she can be found cheering on her Texas Tech Red Raiders, or heading off on another cruise adventure.  She read her first romance...Janet Dailey's Fiesta San Antonio, over thirty years ago and became hooked on the genre. Writing contemporary romances, is both her passion and dream come true, and she hopes her books will bring smiles...and sighs...to all who believe in happily-ever-after’s.  


Social media:
Debra invites you to visit her website at www.debraholtbooks.com
She loves to hear from other aspiring authors or readers via email at debraholtbooks@gmail.com
Twitter is https://twitter.com/DebraHoltBooks and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DebraHoltBooks

Buy links:
Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Claiming-Mavericks-Heart-reliving-redemption-ebook/dp/B01LVVAV29
Barnes & Noble:http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/claiming-the-mavericks-heart-debra-holt/1124729959?ean=9781946016058


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Afternoon in the hospital

While I'm feeling great healthwise, I seem to have some troubles... My sugar levels are going crazy and since three weeks ago, I feel a lump in my throat.

This afternoon I had an appointment in the hospital. First of all, they made a bone scan of my body. I also had to give some blood and urine. Next I got to see one of the specialists, who took an echo of my throat. The conclusion of all this is... they still don't know. The lump is quite big and can be caused by anything (the worst thing being cancer) - so I have to get a punction one of the coming days. The sugar is also something special and a bit a-typical. Also need to find a reason for this. For the coming weeks, I am going to check my sugar level on a daily basis and wait for my appointment for the punction.

So people, wish me luck. I try to remain positive and hope for the best.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday dinner: Brussels fricassee

During the asparagus season, we seek all kinds of recipes to use this delicious vegetable as often as possible. So for tonight's dinner we made a fricassee of chicken, asparagus, mushroom and cream. You can eat it with pommes croquettes, rice, pasta or mashed potatoes.



How to prepare? Well, first clean you chicken breasts. Then fill a big pot with enough water and put the chicken in it. Keep it just under the boiling point, so the chicken remains juicy. Then add two cubes of bouillon (chicken) and the peeled asparagus (each one cut into two-three pieces). After that, you bake the mushrooms in a pan and later on add them to the big pot. The last thing you add is the cream and the spices.

Depending on what you like to eat with it, fry your croquettes, or boil the rice or pasta, or boil potatoes and mash them.

Needless to say, this tastes even better with a glass of white wine...

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Half-Built Houses

Good morning! I'd like to introduce Eric Keller, one of my fellow-authors at Rogue Phoenix Press, who's launching his book Half-Built Houses. This is a mystery, with all the taught intrigue and compelling personalities of a classic, courtroom thriller combined with the twists and turns of an engrossing murder mystery in a Canadian setting.

Eric will be giving away an ebook copy of one of his books to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour, which runs from April 17th to April 21st.

Blurb

Charley Ewanuschuk has been mistreated all his life and now survives by moving through society as unnoticed as possible. However, when a murder occurs behind the half-built house he is squatting in society takes notice of the introverted homeless man as he becomes the prime murder suspect. Brian Cox managed to charm his way into a good job in a national law firm but, when the recession hit, he learned that charm is a disposable commodity. Fired by the firm and forced to take on Legal Aid files to pay the bills, Charley's murder trial becomes Brian's first major case. However, this will be no straightforward case. As the trial progresses it becomes apparent forces are working behind the scenes to ensure the homeless man takes the fall for a crime. Told from the points of view of the accused, the lawyer, the detective and the manipulator, Half-Built Houses provides all the thrilling intrigue, clever ingenuity and interesting individuals readers have come to expect form classic courtroom dramas.



Excerpt

After the car had been towed away, Charley had gone back to the basement, but he heard sirens and had to flee before he could collect his belongings. Knowing he would stand out as an oddity wandering about in a rich residential area as people started leaving their homes for work, he headed back across the river to the downtown core where the homeless merely blended into the cement. There he numbly walked the icy streets before settling into an ATM kiosk to warm up and rest.
Sitting on the wet floor, he did a quick inventory. He still had his good coat, two cheeseburgers, four dollars, and shoes, but no socks, gloves, or hat. It was thirty below and he had nowhere to go, and he could already feel the dirty slush on the floor soaking through his jeans. Over all the years he had been in Calgary, Charley had been in some extremely difficult spots, but this was one of the worst situations he had faced.
As he pulled one of the slightly squashed cheeseburgers out of his pocket, the key to the cheap padlock he had put on the basement door fell onto the floor. He picked it up. Despite being twenty-five years old, this was the only key he had ever owned. He remembered the joy he felt when he closed the lock for the first time. It was more than simply having a place of his own; it was a sense of survivor's pride because he could look past making it through each day and ponder a future for himself. Now he realized he could not be found carrying the key, so he slipped it into the slot in the bank machine, the slot where people threw away their receipts showing how much money they had in their account.
He was only able to stay in the kiosk for an hour before a security guard found him. The guard clearly did not want to send the pathetic man out into the exceptionally harsh cold, but he sheepishly said that the bank employees would be showing up soon, and they would give him grief if they found someone sleeping next to the bank machine. Charley left without a word.
Having nowhere else to go, he instinctively walked to the day labourer corner. Because the weather was so bad and he was there so early, he got picked up right away to shovel snow. Charley had worked for the boss before, and the man took pity on him, giving him a good pair of gloves and a toque.

~ * ~

Jenkins was checking missing person reports when Wilson strutted into the office and dropped an enlarged printout of a library card on his desk. The picture on the card was of a thin, unsmiling young man with thick glasses and messy hair. It matched the description the neighbour at the crime scene had given them. Wilson sat down and said, "Our basement squatter has a name. Charley Ewanuschuk. The address and phone number he gave are fakes though."
"Did anyone at the library know him?"
"Sort of. One of the librarians said the guy's been coming in about once a week for years, but she doesn't think he's ever said a word to anybody. She did say he was cleaner than the other homeless people and never had a late book, so he has that going for him."

"A name and a picture. We've found people with less." Jenkins, now feeling hopeful this would be a quicker case than he had anticipated, stood up and grabbed his coat. "Let's go check the usual spots."

~ * ~

Even though he had been extremely tired and his feet had screamed with cold, Charley had been content to push a shovel all day as the mundane, physical work was relaxing and allowed him to ponder his situation. By the end of the day, he had forced himself to conclude it was not hopeless. He could not go back to the house he had been using, but that did not mean he could not find another abandoned construction site to use. It would take some time, but he had time; he had little else, but he had time. When the work was done, he was driven back to the corner, given sixty dollars, and told to keep the gloves and the hat. It was enough money to get a room at the hostel for the night. Life would continue to be hard, but it would not be impossible.
As he started walking away, a truck pulled up, unloading another crew of day labourers, and one of the workers called out to him, "Hey, you. Guy who never talks."
He recognized the man as a regular at the corner whom he had worked with a few times. He pointed at himself questioningly.
"Yeah, you. Just thought you should know that the cops were out here this morning showing your picture around. You may want to lay low for a few days."

The man knew Charley well enough not to expect a response, so he turned to jog after his friends, leaving Charley alone on the frozen sidewalk. Renewed panic struck at him, easily pushing away the optimism he had gained throughout the day. He had not even considered the police would look for him. He had always seen himself as a mere visitor moving about beneath the notice of the real inhabitants of the city, so the thought that someone would look for him never occurred to him. Charley had never been to jail, but he had overheard much about the place from day labourers, and being locked up was one of his greatest fears among an impressive list of fears. It was not actually being deprived of his freedom so much as being constantly surrounded by people with no privacy or reprieve that he knew would be an unimaginable hell for him. He could not go to jail.

Review

The city of Calgary in Alberta, Canada is the backdrop for Eric Keller’s intense and gripping legal thriller Half Built Houses.

Charley Ewanuschuk is a homeless man who found comfort in being mostly invisible to the world around him. But the events on a stormy winter night in Calgary plunge him head first into a murder where the almost mute Charley becomes the main suspect instead of the hero. Charley’s quiet distinctiveness doesn’t just draw the reader into his narrative but makes him a target for the other less desirable characters. Charley’s lawyer, Brain Cox, who has his own set backs, is determined to free his client from the murder charge. Brian has a strong character and determination that balances out Charley’s introverted personality.  


Eric Keller exposes the reader to not only the grittiness of the legal system but also the vicious realities of prison life. Half Built Houses is filled to the brim with raw emotions and conflicts. Every time the reader thinks they have it figured out Keller throws in another twist that sends the reader in a new direction. One of the unique aspects of the book is the perspective of the book shifts between several of the characters. This gives the reader a full understanding of the vested interested each character has in the murder. Keller’s novel exposes how life is never black or white and happy endings are better saved for fairy tales.

(Tamara White, 4 1/2 stars)


Author bio and links

Eric Keller is a lawyer living in Calgary, Alberta. His email is: kellepc@hotmail.com

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Rik's

Today my guest is dhtreichler, who's doing a book blast tour for his international thriller Rik's. The author will be awarding a $30 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use this link to place your comment:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f2244



Blurb

The entire affair began with sheep brains and falafel -- Saddam Hussein's favorite dish.

It is 1990 and in Baghdad two lovers are separated by the impending First Gulf War. CIA operative Rik Bogart is desperately seeking television correspondent Ingrid Johannson -- but is instead picked up by  Saddam’s Secret Police and thrown into Abu Graib -- the Prison of the Dead. Ten years later, he must make a fateful decision after finally reuniting with her -- one that may keep them apart forever. How far would YOU go for your true love?

This iheart-pounding thriller is written by a former international defense contractor who brings incredible realism and thrilling insights into the days leading up to Saddam’s brutal regime downfall and provides a chilling account of life inside the infamous Prison of the Dead.

"It's as much a love story as it is a runaway thriller." Midwest Book Review 



Excerpt

Rik In Abu Graib, the Prison of the Dead -- after 19 months



I fell to my knees and touched the water that beaded up in the dirt of the floor. I set the glass down, carefully and respectfully. I made sure the glass was protected so I wouldn’t spill more accidentally. I then bent down to the water-beaded cup and put my tongue into it. As I broke the tension on the top, real water covered my tongue. I could actually taste the water. It was real! It didn’t taste like mud. It didn’t have the grittiness I’d become accustomed to. How strange such a simple thing could almost overwhelm me.

I heard a voice down the hall. The smiling guard smiled no more. He glanced back at me on the floor. He nodded to me, but the eyes weren’t smiling. I could see the tension around his mouth. My first thought was, he’d just served my last supper.

Maybe Tariq would come tomorrow with the loaded gun to end my days. But the more I thought, the more I realized Tariq wouldn’t waste a perfectly good glass of water. He may have been generous with himself, as evidenced by his favorite charity; but to give someone like me a glass of clean water would have been a total waste of state resources. But like I said, I’d become an expert at analyzing everything from every direction. So, since he wouldn’t waste the water on me, why would he give me clean water but withhold my maggots?

Author bio and links

As a defense contractor, award-winning screenwriter and novelist, dhtreichler has wandered the world, visiting garden spots and more.  Having lived and worked with our intelligence agents and soldiers, witnessing the conflicts and the turmoil of recent decades, he paints vivid backdrops for his stories. Like him, the men and women he portrays attempt to make sense of our fast-changing world. He has held a lifelong interest in the profound influence of rapidly changing technology on our lives and relationships. Exploring that power (what has changed and what might come) forms an insightful theme of his novels. His stories also reflect the universal desires and fears of real people everywhere.


Buy link for the book:
https://www.amazon.com/Riks-dh-treichler-ebook/dp/B01CQB45K6
His website and links are:
http://dhtreichler.com
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14299861.dhtreichler
https://twitter.com/dhtreichler
https://www.facebook.com/dhtreichlerofficial

https://www.amazon.com/dhtreichler/e/B01CQB45K6/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

It helps to complain

On the return flight from Buenos Aires to Frankfurt, last week, I was sipping my coffee after dinner. An airhostess passed by and bumped against my chair, which caused the cup of coffee to jump out of my hand and emptying the drink on my breast and lap...

Of course I notified the hostess of what she'd done. She hastened to make excuses bringing me wet towels to wipe away the stains. When I mentioned we had a connecting flight to Brussels and I'd have to wear those stained clothes until then, she provided me with a pull and trousers. All new, right out of the package. Also I received a 25€ coupon which I could use in the flight shop. Nice gesture, especially when you know coffee doesn't really make stains....

So right now I'm dressed by Lufthansa (I wear the outfit inside the house). It's quite comfortable and good quality of material.

But if I hadn't opened my mouth, I would have got nothing. So it pays to speak up. My motto is: always complain when you suffer damage. You start out with nothing, but can end up with something.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter

I'd like to wish everyone who reads this blog a Happy Easter!

Here in Belgium, kids are right now waiting for the clocks to return from Rome and bring them chocolate easter eggs.



I remember it was always a treat that you came home after Mass and then went into the garden (when the sun was out, otherwise you had to search the house) to look for hidden eggs, left by the Easter clocks.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Back from Argentina

As you might have guessed, Chris and I have been away. This time the trip went to Argentina. We stayed in Buenos Aires and had a great time there. Best thing, the weather was a lot better than in Belgium!!

We flew by Lufthansa (which was the cheapest). Must say though, economy class is not the best when you have to sit down for over 13 hours. We'll consider travelling in business class for further (far away) trips. It's more expensive, but I think it's worth the money. No complaints about Lufthansa however. Friendly crew, they offered us a lot to eat and drink (even brandy after dinner!). And rather punctual (which you expect from Germans).

We arrived in Buenos Aires in mid-morning and were already in our hotel by 11 a.m. We immediately got a room (probably helped that I mailed them about our early arrival), freshened up and went out to make our first acquaintance with the city. Our hotel was in San Telmo, the oldest of the neighborhoods in BA. On leaving the hotel, you were right at the Plaza Dorrego, where on Sundays an antique market takes place and when the weather's fine a milonga at night. Btw, a milonga is a tango event.

We took a guided city tour the next day, to learn more about the different parts of the city. The sky was azure blue and it was quite warm (28° Celsius). Wonderful! And the same evening, we discovered how good Argentinian meat tastes. Really, the taste of steak is nothing like what we eat in Belgium.

On Thursday, there was a national strike so we couldn't do a lot. We tried to avoid the protesters (who became rather violent, according to what we saw in the news). Also a lot of restaurants and shops were closed that day.

The following day, Friday, we made a trip to San Antonio de Arreca, with our guide Guillermo from Camino Pampa. San Antonio is a very nice village, where everything remains like it was a century ago. Children are taught to respect the traditions of their elders and goods are produced in the old way. Of course we couldn't resists buying something (nice earrrings from a silversmith whose father worked for the Vatican). Afterwards, we drove to a ranch (estancia), where we could ride the horses and were treated to a barbecue (asado). Be aware: when in Argentina, don't always order two portions. Most steaks can be shared as they are really huge.

We also made a trip to the Tigre and the delta of the Rio Plata. We went on a boat there, which took us to the many bayou-like waterways. Lots of people live there on the islands, including our guide. He showed us his farm he has on one of them.

And of course, there's the tango. We dared to take a tango class, which was fun, and later on we went to some milonga's. Normally, there should have been one near our hotel (on the square) but because of the heavy rain (thunderstorm) it could not take place.

The trip home was uneventful and this is our first morning back in our home. We don't have a problem with the jetlag. As I mentioned in my previous blog, it's in the mind. We slept well on the plane, and likewise last night.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

How to avoid jetlag

When making long trips, you can't always avoid a difference in time. That can sometimes be a problem.

Over the years I have learned it helps when you try to adjust to the new situation.

When we take a long flight, we now try to sleep through most of the flight time and then we arrive fresh at our destination.

Also, you need to convince yourself it's a couple of hours earlier or later than at the place you came from.

I can assure you, this really helps!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Annie's Recipe

My guest today is Lisa Jones Baker, who's doing a virtual book tour for her publication Annie's Recipe.


You can win a $50 Amazon or Barnes&Noble GC if you place a comment. Lisa will be awarding this price to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter. Here's the link:

Blurb

Annie Mast and Levi Miller were childhood best friends until his father was shunned. Now, 10 years later, Levi returns to Arthur, Il, and he and Annie discover their bond is as strong as ever. Soon they begin imagining a future together, but that's unlikely to happen. Levi is part of the English world, and Annie is Amish. But together, with love on their side, they may just find their way to an answered prayer.



Excerpt

Levi considered Annie’s honesty. As he watched her, listened to her sincerity, his heart warmed. For long moments he gazed into her eyes. He was fully aware that she expected a reply, but he couldn’t get out the words. It was as if the beautiful girl in front of him had grabbed hold of his heart and wouldn’t let go. He knew how hard it was going be to go back home without her. He was feeling emotional again, and now he felt something he’d never experienced before, in a way that made him more vulnerable than he’d ever been in his life.

“Levi? Are you okay?”

He forced a smile. “I was…just…thinking.” He squared his shoulders and raised his chin. “What I miss about the Amish life? I think I have an answer.”

She waited patiently.

“I miss the quiet.”

“Jah?”

“When we changed churches, I had a difficult time adjusting to the noise. You know, all the electronics. The television. The radio and such. I really miss the quiet.”

“I think I would miss that, too.”

“But Annie, that’s not what I miss most about the Amish life.” He wondered how to put his thoughts into words. “There’s something about the Amish life I miss more than anything in the world. And I don’t know how I can go through life without it.”

Her voice was so soft, he could barely hear her. “Tell me what it is.”

“It’s you.”    

Author bio and links

Lisa Jones Baker is a multi-published author with Kensington Books.  Her debut book of THE HOPE CHEST OF DREAMS series, REBECCA’S BOUQUET, won a Publishers Weekly starred review.  A former teacher with a BA degree in French education, Lisa has been on 5 out of 7 continents, is a dog lover, enjoys positive thinkers, volunteering in her church’s food pantry, and strong female characters.     



You can find her on
Website: http://www.lisajonesbaker.com
http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/author.aspx/31739
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009288891265
Buy Link:
https://www.amazon.com/Annies-Recipe-Hope-Chest-Dreams-ebook/dp/B01GBAG58S

Friday, March 31, 2017

Exodus

Today, Brussels Airport saw at least 75,000 passengers leave or arrive. That's a lot more than before.


No wonder, most people here have had it with the weather. Lots of them look forward to some sunshine and a week (or two) of doing absolutely nothing.

What is worrying, however, is the fact that more and more parents don't care anymore if their children need to attend school or not.

Travel organisations offer cheaper holidays when schools don't have a break, which is the reason why lots of parents chose to take their kids away from school to leave either today or even yesterday.

I don't suppose you can do anything about the difference in pricing from the travel agencies. But the government could do something to pholdersuade parents to leave their kids at school until it ends for the holiday. Perhaps fine them? But knowing Belgians, this fine would have to be high enough, otherwise it won't do any good. What could work is warn the parents they'll lose their children support (in Belgian, every parent gets money for the kids he/she has)  if they take their kids away from school too early?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Positive effects

I don't know if it has to do with the new pills I have to take, but since I began taking them I have a lot less pain in my fingers than before.

For years, my fingers are plagued with arthrosis. The knuckles swell and the fingers becomes stiff and not able to bend. Quite a hindrance when you want to write or do something which needs full grip.

Right now, my fingers look quite normal and I can use them like normal. (Well, apart from the one finger I knocked against the banisters and still hurts like hell...)

For the rest, I don't seem to suffer any ill effects of that melange of pills: 4 in the morning and 2 at night.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Purr M for Murder

Hello! Today features author T.C. Lotempio, who's doing a book blast tour for the publication of her book Purr M for Murder - a cozy mystery from Crooked Lane Publishing.



The author will be awarding autographed copy of PURR M FOR MURDER (hardcover - US ONLY) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f2172

Blurb

Sydney McCall left behind an ex-fiancé and a New York advertising job to return home to Deer Park, North Carolina and help her sister, Kat, run the local animal shelter, Friendly Paws. Determined to save the shelter from financial trouble, Sydney and Kat organize a cat café fundraising event at a local coffee shop. Things are looking up until their landlord, Trowbridge Littleton, threatens to shut down the event. When Sydney drops by his art gallery to make peace, she finds Kat--along with Littleton's dead body.

Local homicide detective Will Worthington--who just happens to be Sydney's old high school crush--is highly suspicious of the sisters' involvement. Desperate to clear their names from the suspect list, Sydney pounces on the investigation. With the help of one of the shelter cats, a savvy orange tabby named Toby, Sydney begins poking her nose into other local businesses whose owners may have benefited from Littleton's death--until the killer notices she's pawing a little too closely at the truth.




Excerpt

We were in the doorway now.  A large desk was at the far end of what appeared to be an office.  The light was coming from a small lamp perched on the edge of the desk, and as we crossed the threshold, it flickered and then went out.  Kat shone the pencil thin beam of the flashlight around the room, letting out a sharp cry as it hit the wall nearest us.  “Lightswitch,” she squealed, and a minute later the room was filled with a harsh fluorescent light.  

I glanced around.  Yes, this was definitely an office, and not a very tidy one at that.  There were several file cabinets pushed up against the far wall, and two of the drawers in the one on the left were half open. Papers were strewn across the desk, and some file folders had dropped onto the floor and were scattered across the Oriental rug.

“Good Lord,” my sister exclaimed.  “For someone always so fastidious about his appearance, he certainly likes to work in a mess.”

I frowned.  “It looks more to me like it’s been ransacked. Someone was searching for something. What do you think, Kat? Kat?”

My sister had moved over to the far corner of the room and was standing before a large wardrobe.  “Wow, this is beautiful,” she said, lifting a hand to run it over the smooth exterior. She balled her hand into a fist and rapped it against the wood. “Solid oak.  I saw a picture of one like this in a catalog.  French, dates back to the late 1800’s.  I wonder what it’s doing in his office?”

“Who knows? Maybe he keeps his suit jackets in it,” I said.  “Why do you care, anyway?”

“It’s such a beautiful piece,” my sister murmured. “Too good for that rotter. It seems out of place in this office.”

“Maybe it just came in and he’s got it here for pricing,” I ventured.

“Maybe.  I wouldn’t mind having something like this,” Kat said, running her hand once again across the smooth wood.  “It looks deep enough – I wonder if the doors swing out all the way? It would be great to put a TV in.” 

I eyed the piece. “That thing looks hand-carved. He probably wants an arm and a leg for it.”

“Probably.” She gave the handle a tug. “Hm.  The doors seem to be stuck.”

I waved  my hand impatiently.  “Oh for goodness sakes, leave it alone. Must you examine it now?”

Her lower lip thrust forward. “Yes.  Who knows, I might not get another chance.”

I shot her a sharp look.  “You’re not thinking of buying this, are you?”

She sighed deeply. “I suppose not.  Littleton will probably want some astronomical figure for it.  But I might never get another opportunity to see such a finely made one up close.” She shot me an appealing look.  “Give me a hand, won’t you? You’re strong. Maybe if we both pull on the handle at the same time it’ll open.”

I knew my sister. Once Kat made up her mind about something she was like a pitbull with a bone. I knew when it was futile to argue with her. “Okay, fine. But if we get this open, one quick look and then we’re out of here.”

She nodded and I placed my hand on top of hers. “On the count of three, give it all you’ve got. One, two—three.”

We both tugged at the same time and suddenly the door flew open.  We went staggering backwards at the same time the body of Trowbridge Littleton, his eyes bulging almost out of their sockets, tongue lolling to the side, hit the floor at our feet.  


Author bio and links

While Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first
Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic.  She (and ROCCO, albeit he’s uncredited) pen the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime – the first volume, MEOW IF ITS MURDER, debuted Dec. 2, 2014. Followed by #2, CLAWS FOR ALARM.   #3, CRIME AND CATNIP, is out this December. She, Rocco and Maxx make their home in Clifton, New Jersey, just twenty minutes from the Big Apple – New York.





Website: www.tclotempio.com
ROCCO’s blog: www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com
Website: WWW.tclotempio.com
Amazon- Purr M for Murder https://www.amazon.com/Purr-Murder-Cat-Rescue-Mystery/dp/1683310926/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474130829&sr=1-3
Amazon: All Books Page http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1?ie=UTF8&field-author=T.C.+LoTempio&search-alias=books&text=T.C.+LoTempio&sort=relevancerank
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Toni-LoTempio-125764404163823
Twitter: @RoccoBlogger

Purchase Link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/purr-m-for-murder-t-c-lotempio/1124519401