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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.



Blurb

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.

Excerpt

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—
Suicide.
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
...you let him be.






Author links

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



Website URL: blogspot.com/christianchiakulas
Blog URL: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/radicalchristianmillennial
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/christianchiakulasofficial

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

Flood

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:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f2313


Blurb

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.



Excerpt

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:
http://www.elainecantrell.com
http://www.elainepcantrell.blogspot.com
http://www.facebook.com/elainepcantrell
http://www.twitter.com/elainecantrell
http://www.pinterest.com/elainecantrell
http://www.goodreads.com/elainecantrell
http://www.amazon.com/Elaine-Cantrell/e/B001K7V90M/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1411604384&sr=1-2

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.

Blurb

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.



Excerpt

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 ctnyrene@aol.com.



Links:

 
Website URL: ww.Courtneyrene.com
 
 
 

Twitter handle: @ctnyrene

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Days of freedom

As of tomorrow, I'm officially into my pension. Although I loved my job, I can say quite honestly I don't mind not doing it anymore. Those who pretend to love to work until they're 70 or 80 are big fools in my opinion.

I worked enough and payed enough taxes, I should think. And I'm thankful my students seemed to like me enough to keep into contact as to now. Lots of them share their interests and successes on Facebook (or any other social media) with me, and even remember my birthday. Likewise, I like to hear how they fare and am proud when they do somehting I'd never expected. Like the guy who never seemed to like Dutch, but is now a succesful author of books and plays. Or another one who wanted to study theology, but who is now a journalist for a national newspaper. And those boys and girls who started their own business.

Lots of stories, but now I'm going to enjoy my freedom to go wherever and whenever I please. Unfortunately, my sister is still working for some time (she has to wait until she's 63 before she can take up her pension, due to new measures of our government). So trips will still need to be during school breaks, when everything is at its most expensive.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Back from Krakow

During the previous days, we were staying in Krakow, Poland. I must say, it was a good experience. Krakow is a nice town, with friendly people.

The weather was something less than we had in Belgium (there they had a heatwave; it was even warmer there than in the south of Spain) but all in all we couldn't complain. We had a little bit of rain, but we're troubled a lot by it.

We stayed at the Double Tree by Hilton at the border of the town. A great hotel, with excellent service. The town center was easy to reach, too. Either by tram (just across the road was a tram stop and a tram ride costs 2,8 zloty. Or by taxi, which would cost between 20 and 25 zloty. (One Zloty is 25% of one euro). So everything there was extremely cheap to us.

When we went out dining, we only paid like 50 € (for two) for a meal with a cocktail, wine, water and coffee, including a starter, a main course and a dessert. Can you believe that? For the same, you'd pay at least 150€ in Belgium.

During our stay, we visited the German death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau, which are at about 65 km from Krakow. We also went underground in the salt mine of Wieliczka and visited the Jewish quarter of Krakow, called Kaziemierz. And of course, walked around in the old town with historic buildings and the Wawel castle.



More about this trip in my travel blog!

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 fiancĂ©, 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