Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Last day of the year

We've started the last day of 2019. For some people living down under, it soon will be 2020. We still have to wait a bit less than 13 hours.

We got back from our trip to Egypt Saturday night. We had a great time (will tell more about it in my travel blog) and have seen a great deal. We stayed in Cairo, but made trips to the Giza plateau (with the pyramids and sfinx), to Fayoum oasis (where we could ride a 4x4 into the desert and see prehistorical remains of ancient whales, mysterious lakes and waterfalls), to Alexandria (still lots of Roman remains). We had a great guide for three of our trips, named Youssef El-samak. This guy really did his utmost to make our day memorable.

Normally we would have been at the seaside right now, but my sister is tired and so we decided to stay home and just be lazy!


Which just leaves me to wish everybody who reads this all the best for 2020! Most of all, a good health and happiness in all you do.

Friday, December 20, 2019

It's gonna be a green, green Christmas...

When I opened my eyes this morning, it was raining very hard. Heard it splashing everywhere. It's a bit better by now, although it's still not completely dry.

The predictions for the coming days are pretty much the same. Some dry days, other full of rain. But no snow or cold in sight. Perhaps the earth is heating up after all. Christmas will be a green affair, although the temperature is expected to drop a bit (around 6° Celsius).


For us, it will be a sunny Christmas, as we'll be staying in Egypt shortly. So I want to take this opportunity to wish all my readers a Merry and Joyous Christmas, and of course all the best for the coming 2020. Most of all a good health, as this is the most important thing in the world.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Which gift would you like to receive?

Finding the correct present for someone isn't always easy. You have to know the person very well to know what they truly like to get. So it's better to play on the safe side.

Unless getting a present for my sister, I prefer to get a gift certificate for a shop where you can find almost anything. I guess the person who gets the certificate will find something he/she likes to have, right?

Personally, I also prefer a gift certificate - more especially one for Amazon. Just give me money to spend on books, and then I'm happy. What I also appreciate, is a big hamper filled with all kinds of goodies. Wine and chocolate won't go amiss either.

For my sister, much the same can be said, although she likes to be surprised. I once ordered a buffet with champagne when we arrived some place right on her birthday. She hadn't expected that, and enjoyed it a lot.

What do you like to get or give? Any tips will always be appreciated!

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Salvaging Love

Please welcome author Sara Ohlin today. Sara's doing a virtual book blast tour for Salvaging Love, a contemporary romance available as from December 3rd from Totally Bound Publishing. The book blast tour will take place from today until December 20th.


Sara Ohlin will be awarding a $20 Amazon/Barnes&Noble 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/28e4345f3256/

Blurb

Animals aren’t the only thing that need rescuing when a sexy veterinarian encounters a hot-headed attorney…

Perfectly content saving animals at her clinic in a charming but run-down neighborhood, veterinarian Ellie Blevins slams into new landlord, Jackson Kincaid, who plans to turn her beloved block of buildings into condos.

Intrigued by Ellie, hot-shot defense attorney Jackson gives her one month to convince him not to put his gentrification plans into progress. Attraction soon sizzles between them, but when Jackson makes his desires known, Ellie’s vulnerable heart doesn’t know what to think.

She wants to trust the sinfully handsome Jackson, just as he wants to gain her trust, but finding their way to love isn’t easy when her traumatic past and his criminal clients could sabotage their relationship for good.


Can the enchanting veterinarian and the brooding attorney fight the demons from the past…and build a new future?


Excerpt

“Jackson?”

“I want to be the only one who gets that soft, intimate ‘Hey’ from you.”

What? “I’m confused,” she said quietly.

“I’m not,” he said. “I like the way you look, your gorgeous skin, that cute break in your nose, although I doubt I’d like the way you broke it.”

No, he absolutely would not, she thought, sucking in a breath.

“I like the way you talk to your dogs, the way when you say ‘Hi’ to people you make every single one of them feel special. I fucking love the way your hazel eyes get darker when you’re fighting with me, the confusion in your face when I catch you off guard. You’ve got a fucking fantastic body, and that’s only from seeing you in your scrubs and your sexy yoga pants and I bet I’d like what’s hidden underneath. I like the way your soft voice hits me, the way you smile at everything, except when you’re pissed, which I might like even more. I don’t want the month to learn why a bunch of buildings are worth saving, I want to spend the month getting to know you. Still confused?”

Stunned was more like it. He liked her in her yoga pants? Her nose that was so far from model perfect she could not even go there?

“Ellie? Are you still confused?”

“No?” she squeaked out, but it was definitely a question, because, hell yes, she was still confused. Was he high? Or blind? Maybe both?


He laughed. “We’ll get there. How was the rest of your day?”

Author bio and links


Puget Sound based writer, Sara Ohlin is a mom, wannabe photographer, obsessive reader, ridiculous foodie, and the author of the contemporary romance novels, Handling the Rancher, Salvaging Love and the upcoming contemporary romance Seducing the Dragonfly.
She has over fifteen years of creative non-fiction and memoir writing experience, and you can find her essays at Anderbo.com, Feminine Collective, Mothers Always Write, Her View from Home, and in anthologies such as Are We Feeling Better Yet? Women Speak about Healthcare in America, Take Care: Tales, Tips, & Love from Women Caregivers, and Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Although she’s the author of many essays about life, grief, motherhood and the connections we make through delicious food and shared meals, Sara loves creating imaginary worlds with tight-knit communities in her romance novels. She credits her mother, Mary, Nora Roberts and Rosamunde Pilcher for her love of romance.
If she’s not reading or writing, you will most likely find her in the kitchen creating scrumptious meals with her two kids and amazing husband, or perhaps cooking up her next love story.
She once met a person who both “didn’t read books” and wasn’t “that into food” and it nearly broke her heart.

Links



Buy links







Friday, December 13, 2019

The power of opera

In the hour preceding this moment, I've been listening to some great aria's from famous opera's. I on't know why, but most of these have the power to move me, give me goosebumps. Although some of the modern music is not bad either, it just doesn't have what opera has. Some songs from the musical theatre come up quite near, though. Just think of hearing Karim Karimloo singing "Till I hear your sing again" from Love Never Dies, or listening to Sierra Boggess performing 'Thinking of you" during the 25th Anniversary of Phantom of the Opera.

What do you think? I don't pretend to know everything about opera, and don't like all plays. But I do like Puccini and Verdi, Bizet and even Wagner. I like to browse aria's at YouTube, and occasionally find unexpected jewels. Just some time ago, I found an audition for X-Factor from an unknown guy out of one or other Slavian state. What a voice! And such a cute guy, too. He sang Nessun Dorma and Ave Maria in quite a fascinating way. Earned a golden buzzer for it.

When I was younger, I often sat working (I used to have a whole attic at my disposition - had a space to sleep, a sitting area and a work desk) with Pavarotti, Careras or Domingo at the background. The work went better that way. And also for writing, my inspiration was fueled by the lovely aria's I put on.

Last year, I could persuade my sister to accompany me to an evening of opera in Antwerp. Normally she doesn't like it too much, but even she had to say it was quite good after the show. Next time I'll take her to see an entire opera, like /La Traviata or Carmen. She'll appreciate that as well.


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Christmas is in the air

It's running up to Christmas. On the radio, you hear Christmas songs and when you go into town, all the shop windows are dressed with fir trees and glistening balls.

This is also the time of year when the days are the shortest. We call them the 'darkest days'. The light appears only around 9 am and by 4 pm it's getting dark once more. This reminds me - when I was writing The Gold Crucifix, there is a scene where the action takes place on a winter afternoon. I wrote somewhere the sun went down around 4.10 pm. One of my proofreaders (he was former CIA) actually went to look up the facts - and indeed, he found out that on that exact day in the 17th century, the sun went down on 4.13 pm. He wondered how I'd known that? Did I also make inquiries? Poor guy couldn't just imagine it is always like that, whether you're in the 21st or 17th century!

I quite like this time of year. It's the festive season and I also feel festive. My sister has her birthday on December 24th (friends often told my mother she should have waited one more day) and so I need to think every year of an original surprise for her. What makes this even more complicated is that most of the time we're not at home around that date. Last year we were in Mexico, now we'll be in Egypt.

Right now it's dry outside, but it has rained already in the morning and more rain is expected later today. The last months we've had lots of rain - and still they claim the water reserves are still too low, after two extremely dry summers.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Quiet weekend at the coast

I'm just back from staying a couple of days at the coast. No, we didn't go because of the nice weather they predicted (it was very cloudy, and every now and then there was rain) but mainly because we needed to pick up some items for our upcoming trip.

We went outside when it was dry and on Sunday we went out to lunch. Two of our favorite restaurants have closed in Heist. Bartholomeus (2 Michelin stars) closes its doors because the chef wants to try out a new concept. And La Guera also closes because its chef wants to discover the world of cooking. He's going to travel for a couple of years.

So we're stuck with only one restaurant that maintains a certain standard. There are enough steak-frites places left, and a couple of bistro's that are quite decent, but to us that doesn't count as dining out. I'd like to eat things you can't prepare yourself.
y
Finally we booked a table at Brasserie Bristol, which comes highly recommended by chef Luc Bellinghs who writes articles for a major newspaper. In a contest of coast restaurants he organised last summer this one came out as his number one. And I must say, what we got yesterday was fine. More importantly, it didn't run havoc with my stomach or bowels! That means the chef doesn't use too much butter in his preparations (which chef Bart of Bartholomeus just loves). Also the wine of their wine list is of a very good quality and the prices are set not too steep.

Now it's pouring with rain and I hope it will dry up after noon, because I need to go to the supermarket to fetch food for tonight!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Time travel

Next year, the new Diana Gabaldon (Outlander) will be published. To prepare myself for it, I'm re-reading the novels in this series. This may take some time, because all novels are quite voluminous, and of course I also read other novels in-between!

The concept of time-travel is interesting, I think. As a young girl I often wondered how it would be to be transported into the seventeenth century and function at the court of England's Charles II. Was he really that fond of ladies???

And how would one feel that came from the Dark Middle Ages and found himself in the 21st century, with fast cars, planes, cell-phones and such?

As a novelist, you can do great things with these notions. A pity that going back/forth in time isn't actually possible (yet?). I wouldn't mind being a time-explorer. I've always been curious to find out things. As a toddler I wanted to feel how warm the stove was, so I just put my arm to it. Have had a burn scar for more than 20 years. But I knew a stove WAS hot.

What about you? Are you also curious to know about other times? Other experiences? If so, don't mind to share.

Monday, December 2, 2019

His Salvation

Say hello to Michelle King! Michelle is doing a virtual book blast tour for His Salvation, a romantic suspense available as of November 26th. This book blast tour will run from December 2nd until December 16th, 2019.


Michelle will be awarding a $20 Amazon/Barnes&Noble 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/28e4345f3249/

Blurb

Will the woman he left behind a decade ago be His Salvation?

Seth McCullough left behind his high school sweetheart, Krista Chancellor, determined to keep her safe. Running from his own demons, Seth joined the military, hoping for a new start.

Ten years later, after experiencing psychological and physical trauma, Seth takes a trip to Mexico for rest and relaxation. Waking up one morning confused, bloody, and linked to multiple high profile murders, Seth is sure he’s lost what little sanity he has left. Determined to find answers, Seth reaches out to the only person he ever trusted, his old flame, Krista.

Now, Krista and Seth find themselves embroiled in an agenda too terrifying to comprehend. Not sure who to trust, and looking for answers, will the woman he left behind over a decade ago be His Salvation, or his ruin?

PLEASE NOTE: This is the second edition. It has extensive rewrites and has been re-edited.



Author bio and links


Michelle King lives in the Pacific Northwest with her four quirky and beautiful children. She loves coffee, Superman, rollercoasters, and has an addiction to chapstick.
She works as a registered nurse and in her spare time writes novels. As a multi-genre author, she has written in the categories of romance suspense, young adult, women’s fiction, and literary fiction. She has won four literary awards. 


Social links:








Sunday, December 1, 2019

Christmas With You

Let's welcome author Nan Reinhardt today. Nan's doing a virtual book blast tour for her contemporary romance, Christmas With You, available as of November 21st from Tule Publishing. This book blast tour will run from today until December 6th, 2019.


Nan Reinhardt will be awarding a set of six handmade wine charms and a $10 Starbucks gift card (US ONLY) to 5 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link to place your comment: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f3208/


Blurb

She’s loved him all her life… but will he be there when she needs him the most?

Disheartened and adrift after being written out of a hit TV show, actor Aidan Flaherty returns to his family’s historic winery, where he’s invested some of the fortune he’s made. As the holidays approach, Aidan becomes intrigued with the old showboat that’s dry-docked just east of town… and even more intrigued with the daughter of his former mentor, who now owns it. He decides to buy the boat and restore it to its former glory.


Single mom Holly Santos is back in River’s Edge after her divorce and she is over men in general and actors in particular. If she could only get rid of her father’s old showboat, a source of fascination for her son, Mateo. She never expects her old crush to walk into her tea shop or the fireworks that happen every time they’re in the same room. Can Aidan convince her that he is determined to restore their shared heritage on the showboat and that he’s home to stay?


Excerpt

“You have beautiful eyes.” Oh, good God. The words were out before he could stop them. Immediately, he backpedaled. “I’m not coming on to you, I swear, it’s just this is the first time I’ve actually seen someone with violet eyes. I-I mean... in person.” Heat rose in his cheeks. Blushing! Holy crap. He didn’t blush anymore—hadn’t in years.

She punched in his purchases. “Come on, rock star. All those Hollywood starlets and groupies and not a single one had eyes the same color as mine?” Her voice dripped sarcasm as she held out her hand for his credit card. “It’s thirteen sixty with tax.”

He fumbled in his wallet for his Amex Black card. “Why do you keep calling me that? I’m an actor, not a rock star.”

“I’m using it generically.” She passed the card back to him with another eye roll. “We don’t take Amex. What else have you got?”

Biting his lip to keep from expelling a frustrated breath, he handed over his VISA, the one where two percent of the money he spent went to save the redwoods. If it impressed her at all, she hid it well as she tapped the card on the screen, thrust it back at him, and turned the screen around so he could sign it with his finger. He hated doing that. His signature always ended up looking like his six-year-old niece, Ali, had written it. “Thanks so much for opening up for me.”

“Don’t expect me to do it again.” She walked swiftly around the counter to the door, twisted the key in the lock, opened it, then stood glaring at him, one hand on her slim hip.


In that moment, Aidan could have sworn they’d met before. “You look really familiar. Do I know you?”

Author bio and links


Nan Reinhardt is a USA Today-bestselling author of romantic fiction for women in their prime. Yeah, women still fall in love and have sex, even after 45! Imagine! She is a wife, a mom, a mother-in-law, and a grandmother. Nan has been a copyeditor and proofreader for over 25 years, and currently works on romantic fiction titles for a variety of clients, including Avon Books, St. Martin’s Press, Kensington Books, and Entangled Publishing, as well as for many indie authors.

Although she loves her life as an editor, writing is Nan’s first and most enduring passion. Her latest series, Four Irish Brothers Winery, includes A Small Town Christmas, Meant to Be, and the newly released, Christmas with You, all from Tule Publishing. Nan is busy at work on Book 4 of the series, as well as brewing a cozy mystery idea.

Visit Nan’s website at www.nanreinhardt.com, where you’ll find links to all her books as well as blogs about writing, being a Baby Boomer, and aging gracefully…mostly. Nan also blogs every sixth Wednesday at Word Wranglers, sharing the spotlight with five other romance authors and is a frequent contributor the RWA Contemporary Romance blog, and she contributes to the Romance University blog where she writes as Editor Nan.

Links:

RWA Contemporary Romance blog:  http://contemporaryromance.org/2018/03/awesome/






Thursday, November 28, 2019

Audition

Today we welcome author Skye Warren. Skye is doing a virtual book blast tour for Audition, a contemporary romance available of of October 29th, 2019. This tour started on November 25th and ends today.


Skye Warren 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/28e4345f3179/

Blurb


Blood and sweat. Bethany Lewis danced her way out of poverty. She’s a world class athlete… with a debt to pay.

Joshua North always gets what he wants. And the mercenary wants Bethany in his bed. He wants her beautiful little body bent to his will.

She doesn’t surrender to his kiss.
He doesn’t back down from a challenge.
It’s going to be a sensual fight… to the death.

Excerpt


Blinding lights. Aching lungs. Thunderous applause. The final show concludes the same way we rehearsed for months, the same way we performed for weeks. My muscles know the movements better than they understand rest. The prospect of after, of what comes next, makes my breath catch. Even as the primas take their bows, relief echoes around the stage. Vacations are planned. Relief for strained muscles. Everyone needs a break, even professional athletes. I’m the only one onstage dreading it.

We bow and curtesy with practiced grace. The curtain descends to the floor. Almost to the second we break formation—a flock of crows startled from the woods. The more exuberant among us, the young ones, the new ones, the ones using steroids, prance and jete toward the dressing rooms. Most of us limp our way out. One hundred percent of NFL players are injured every season. Professional dancing is the same. We hurl our bodies through the air, forcing massive impact through tired joints night after night. I catch my friend Marlena in my arms. Her face is white with pain.

“Ice,” she says. “Or better yet—tequila.”

I push my shoulder under hers as we exit the stage. “Don’t sell yourself short. You can have both.”

A delicate snort. “Not likely. We have to smile and flirt with the old men with big, fat wallets. And for what? I won’t be here next season. You won’t be, either.”

The reminder clangs inside me like a copper bell. I won’t be coming to the New York City Ballet after the break. We fall into our creaky chairs in the dressing room. “Are you going to miss it?”

“Miss it? Of course I’ll miss it.” Marlena turned twenty-eight last month. It’s comfortably retirement age for a dancer. “When the little children do their terrible pirouettes, when they sneeze and throw up and cry all over my leotard, I’ll think fondly of the beautiful art I left behind. Then I’ll be able to walk home. That won’t happen if I try to dance another season.”

“You’ll make a wonderful teacher. You know you were mine.” She didn’t teach me to dance. It was my first love, before I learned to flip and contort myself. Before I ever leapt from a trapeze bar.

Marlena taught me the ropes of the ballet company when I joined two years ago. Most of them thought I wouldn’t last a week. Some of them didn’t want me to. It’s a rigid world, the hierarchy stacked with graduates of Juilliard or the John Cranko school.

I don’t have a pedigree.

All I have is a body that does what it must, no matter how much it hurts.

Which means changing out of my sweaty leotard into a fresh one. We’re contractually obligated to attend the ball. Like Marlena said, we should smile and flirt with the high society people who attend. Both the male and female dancers have to do it. It’s what convinces the sponsors to write checks that will fund the next season. By the time they’re rehearsing The Nutcracker I’ll be in New Orleans, the place I swore I’d never return.

Author bio and links


Skye Warren is the New York Times bestselling author of dangerous romance. Her books have sold over one million copies. She makes her home in Texas with her loving family, sweet dogs, and evil cat.

Links:


Buy Link:



Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Christmas markets

Last weekend, the first of the major Christmas markets opened up to visitors - the one in Hasselt.

Recently, every village and town organises a Christmas market. We also have one here in Dendermonde, but it's more like the usual market on Mondays than a real Christmas market. If you want to see something nice and original, you have to go to the big cities.

Of course, the major Christmas markets are in Germany. Go to Cologne or Berlin, or Aachen, Düsseldorf, for instance. Or to Strassbourg or Colmar in France (which are in a region that used to belong to Germany). Also in some of the Baltic countries you find fine Christmas markets, like in Riga and Talinn.

But also here in Belgium the tradition is picking up and the major cities like Antwerp, Bruges and Brussels make a lot of efforts to have a splendid Christmas market. We intend to go to Brussels just before Christmas and see for ourselves.


I do like the atmosphere around Christmas. It gives a cozy feeling, all those little lights and decorated shop windows. At home we'll be putting up the decoration next Sunday as well.

Monday, November 25, 2019

How swift a years goes by...

When I was a little kid, a year seemed to last for ages. Now that I'm into my sixties, they appear to go by in a blink.

It doesn't seem so long ago that we were celebrating New Year in Mexico. Can still hear the mariachi sing. And now it's almost the end of November. Only one more month to go until another new year.

Well, it has been an uneventful year this time. In 2018 I made two bad falls (I kip over more than once, as I fall easily over small things like borders, upturned stones etc.). Mostly when I fall I don't hurt myself (besides some scrapes) but in April and June of 2018 I managed to bruise my ribs and twice had a beautiful blue eye.

Will keep my fingers crossed that I don't fall in the coming month!

It's been a good year as well, as I had some unexpected goodies coming my way. A nice return of taxes (I hadn't expexted that much) which allows to pay for a trip to Barcelona. And later, in summer, a nice sum donated by the Ministry of Health, as a forfait for all the medicine I take and the times I have to go for check-ups in the hospital. Apparently you receive this sum, even when you don't actually have any costs (I was so lucky to get a hospitalisation insurance next to the health care every Belgian gets). This Klini Plan pays back all the extra costs that are for me, after the health care has paid for most of the costs. We really have a fine social insurance in Belgium. That unexpected money was good for paying the hotel room in Brussels that summer.

This year, we'll spend New Year's Eve at home, but Christmas will be spent in Egypt. And just before that trip we'll spend a weekend in Brussels once more, to see the christmas market at the Grand Place and the massive fir tree that has been raised there.

Hopefully 2020 will be a good year as well!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

All Belgians love their frites!

First, I must make a statement. Most people know fries as 'French Fries'. But that's not correct! Fries are in fact originated in Belgium, to be more exact in the French speaking part of it. From there they conquered the world.

Ask a Belgian what his/her favorite food is, and the answer will invariably be: frites! The most popular item on a daily cook show is frites with Flemish stew (pieces of beef stewed in beer, with onion and mustard).

For a while I couldn't eat frites - had to run to the bathroom if I ate some. But nowadays all these side effects of the drug I'm taking daily are more or less regulated and so I can once more enjoy frites from the 'frietkot'. (See my post about them from some years ago)

Yesterday was a very cold day. We had been out, going into the town center to fetch food for the coming days and even though we ate well at dinner, we still felt a little hunger coming once it turned 8 pm. So we put on socks, boots, warm coat and hats and hurried across the railroad, where there is a frietkot. We discovered that the owner knows his trade when we returned from our stay in Leeds and Londen some weeks ago and had not been able to eat.


And oh man, did those frites taste! We always take as sauce 'tartare' which is a sort of mayonaise with herbs in it. And just like the time before, I did not have any trouble afterwards. My system can take these frites, which makes me glad because not fries taste better than those of a frietkot!!!

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Perils of Autumn

Today we meet Rusty Blackwood, author of The Perils of Autumn. This is a romantic suspense available as of now. Rusty is doing a virtual book blast tour to promote the novel, and it will take place from November 18th until November 22nd 2019.


Rusty Blackwood will be awarding an inscribed and autographed hardcover copy of "The Perils of Autumn" to be given to a randomly drawn winner (US/Canada only) via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f3202/


Blurb

From the author of the riveting romantic fiction drama, Passions in Paris: Revelations of a Lost Diary, and the celebrated, 5-star award-winning romantic fiction drama, Willow's Walk, comes the intense romantic drama, The Perils of Autumn.

This page-turner, set primarily in the early 1970s, centers on a young Kentucky woman, Autumn Leeves, born in 1946 to Abigail Leeves, an unwed mother who struggles to make ends meet. By 1970, Autumn graduated nursing school and is sent on assignment by the local hospital to care for the terminally-ill wife of middle-aged English equestrian master, Cyril Landon, owner of Landon Lawns Stables, a most successful thoroughbred racing stable located just outside Lexington, Kentucky in a posh community known as The Meadows.

Duff Taylor, a world-renown jockey who is tops in his field, lives full-time above the tack room at Landon Lawns and enjoys the many benefits it brings, but he also has a dark secret surrounding an unsolved racing incident from his past that he will go to any length to protect.


Autumn arrives at Landon Manor in time to be thrown into the drama and finds herself caught in the ongoing disruption that ensues.


Excerpt

The doorbell of Landon Manor sounded its Call to the Post chime, alerting those inside of a new arrival to the front door as efficiently as if a racing venue’s trumpet was summoning horses to the post. It was the only residence throughout The Meadows known for such a doorbell which was most befitting to its surroundings, as well as one that was forever remembered by those departing a visit to the stately manor. Whenever it sounded, it caused Agnes Harris to shake her head in a disgruntled manner as she fought the urge to gallop toward the door as if she were a late arrival to the lineup. This morning was no different, but she paused long enough to catch her breath while massaging the small of her back before opening the huge ornate door.

“Good morning,” announced the slight young woman standing on the column-lined terrace, gripping a suitcase in her left hand, while straightening her white cap sporting her school’s insignia with her right, “I am Autumn Leeves from Saint Joseph Hospital. I’ve been dispatched to care for Mrs. Alice Landon.”

Extending her right hand, Agnes observed, “Yes, Nurse Leeves, we’ve been expecting you. I am Agnes Harris, do come in.”

Stepping into the impressive foyer, the young nurse couldn’t help but stare about in awe as she had never seen such grandeur. Lowering her suitcase to the marble floor, she took a moment to drink it all in, before she expressed, “My, this is lovely, and I must say the sound of that doorbell is most impressive. It certainly lets one know they are entering the home of an equestrian master.”

Nodding in agreement, Agnes said, “That it does. I’ve heard it multiple times, but it never ceases to elicit the need to lope for the door, ha-ha, and at my age, the loping seems to get slower every day. I’m sure you are most anxious to get settled in your room before meeting Mr. and Mrs. Landon. They are both looking forward to meeting you. You come highly recommended.”

“Well that’s nice to hear,” Autumn acknowledged, and with a smile, she continued, “I hope I can live up to the image that seems to have preceded me. After all, I’m not all that long out of nursing school and have only cared for a few patients in two separate hospitals thus far, but I am looking forward to this assignment.”


The two ascended the impressive, semi-circular staircase leading to the second floor, and proceeded in a westward direction toward the far end of the walnut paneled corridor, that of whose polished walls in between door frames were lined with striking photographs displaying numerous horses in imposing stances, a few with prominent looking jockeys sitting atop them, each proudly wearing the bluegrass green and cream silks of Landon Lawns Stables. Autumn continued along, but as she did her eyes were strangely drawn to a portrait hanging prominently on the wall opposite the door to her room. It was that of a huge black stallion and straddling him in a rather suggestive manner was a slight built, dark-haired jockey attired in Landon silks, and holding a riding crop high above his head in an arch of victory. His face held an expression as if to say he would not be trifled with, lest those doing so would feel his wrath. His brooding dark eyes secured the onlooker’s attention, boring into the camera lens as if they were smoldering embers threatening to erupt into a raging inferno upon the least amount of fanning.

Author bio and links


Top ranking romantic fiction author Rusty Blackwood, who chose her plume de nom by combining the colour of her russet hair with her husband's great, great, Scottish grandmother's maiden name, was born in St.Thomas, Ontario, Canada on October 5th, and grew up on her paternal grandfather's farm in the County of Elgin, located in the south-western portion of the province of Ontario.

She acquired her love of literature while still in elementary school where she entered her original compositions into county fairs, school contests, and whatever venue allowed participants in the writing field. She has carried that love ever since and has put it to use many times since becoming a professional writer in 2001.

From the time of youth she has loved the Arts in their many unique forms, she is a graduate with honors in Interior Decorating & Design. She spent many years on the south-western Ontario stage performing with her family's country music band: The Midnight Ramblers, followed by the country - rock - blues band: 'MIRAGE' as an accomplished vocalist, bassist, and rhythm guitarist. She now resides in the cultural city of St. Catharines, Ontario.


Social Media Links

Official Author Website: https://www.rusty-blackwood.com/






The Perils of Autumn is a 2019 International Book Awards Finalist in Romance along with being a 5 star winning novel.

Buy Links (Kindle Unlimited):






Also, there’s an Ebook sale at the same time of "The Perils of Autumn" Tour for her romance title "Willow's Walk" for $1.99

Sunday, November 17, 2019

ExtraNormal

Please welcome Suzanne V. Reese today. Susanne's doing a virtual book blast tour for ExtraNormal, a YA sci-fi romance available November 19th, 2019. This book blast tour will take place from November 18th until November 22nd.


Suzanne V. Reese 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:


Blurb

When 17-year old Mira Johns travels from the Planet Nreim to Earth, she wastes no time blowing through a long list of rules, including the requirement that she stay away from the planet’s teenage males. But when it appears that her actions have put her new friends in danger, Mira must figure out who is behind a series of violent attacks before the agency figures out her secret relationship and sends her back home.

DESCRIPTION

They told me it would be easy—just blend in, observe, and keep to myself. They didn't tell me that failure would cost me everything.


Mira Johns is pretty much like any other teenage girl. Which is why it's a shock when she's selected ahead of six hundred other candidates to be the first student ever to travel from the planet Nreim to Earth. Even though she’s only there to observe, she’s given what feels like a million rules that are mostly intended to keep her away from the planet’s primitive males. But after she finds one mysterious boy too irresistible for stupid rules, she realizes they have a connection that transcends their two planets—and puts both their lives in danger. When a series of serious accidents makes it clear that someone wants to force her return, Mira decides her only hope is to uncover the truth to why she, the most mediocre of candidates, was actually chosen for this assignment—before the agency discovers her secret and sends her back home.


Excerpt

A short time later, however, while entering the classroom to my next period, I gained an appreciation for those rules. I timed my entrance poorly and found myself wedged between two males in the choir room door.

Keddil, my trainer, had warned me about primitive neo-human male pheromones. Repeatedly. I’d thought he was just exaggerating to make sure I kept my distance. Which I definitely would be doing in from now on. I gasped, which filled my mouth with the most offensive odor I’d ever encountered.

I wriggled forward until my shoulders released so I could lunge out of the way. I paused to allow the haze in my head to clear, but I was still too close.

Several females were gathering on the far side of the room, so I hurried in that direction and climbed to the top row, where I plopped myself into the first available seat. A female sat down beside me and smiled, displaying a jumble of metal and pink bands on her teeth. I smiled back but didn’t want to stare, so I turned my attention to the odd parade of bodies entering the room: hair colors and skin tones by the dozens. Spots on one: freckles? Wounds on another…blemishes. No, pimples. Maybe zits?


It was the most beautiful display of diversity I’d ever seen. Even with their flaws, every single neo-human had something distinctive, something that made them who they are. I would have killed for that.

Author bio and links


A decade ago, author Suzanne V. Reese had a string of land-mark events—published her first novel, outlined her second novel (while daydreaming in a university science class), graduated from that university, became a grandmother, and then topped it all with a late-stage breast cancer diagnosis.

That second novel, ExtraNormal, YA speculative fiction, became her therapy during a long and difficult treatment program. It was published a few years later with the encouragement of her incredibly supportive friends and family. Despite little marketing, the book quickly became an Amazon best-seller.

Suzanne then made the difficult decision to ensure her long-term existence by focusing on her health rather than continue with the series. Happily, to celebrate her ten-year survival and end-of-treatment mark, she is releasing an updated version of the best-selling novel ExtraNormal, this time to be soon followed by the remaining books in the ExtraNormal Chronicles.

Suzanne has a degree in communications from Utah State University, as well as certifications in nutrition and holistic health. She is the founder of Story Igniters, which offers courses that help readers find their real-life superpowers. She lives with her husband in Draper, Utah, where she enjoys doting on her seven grandchildren.


Connect:



Twitter: @suzannevreese



Amazon sales page for ExtraNormal: https://amzn.to/2Qw9kNQ


Note: Because this is my ten-year cancerversary, I will be donating author proceeds during launch week to cancer research. (The Huntsman Cancer Research program, where 100% of donations go towards research. They are also the center that treated me.)

Friday, November 15, 2019

It's cold outside

Our weather is quite changeable. Last week, we still had lots of rain but the temperature was above normal. Now it has taken a turn. When I left the house this morning, it was rather cold - luckily I was wearing a good coat and my warm sjawl that I acquired in Leeds three weeks ago. Now it's actually too cold for the time of year!

I was very glad to be back (I only had to go to the baker's) in my warm house. I immediately made a cup of hot cacao which drove the last cold out of my bones. Btw, how do you make hot chocolate? We here use milk and very dark chocolate, the kind especially made for preparations. You have to use a knife to cut pieces of the block. I don't use extra sugar, because I like the taste of the dark chocolate. The milk should be brought short to boiling, and then the cacao is ready.

Sometimes we have hot cacao for breakfast, with slices of white bread, which we dip into the cacao. Hmm!

I really have a sweet tooth - I way prefer chocolate to chips and other stuff. What about you?

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The dirtiest jobs are mine

My sister can do a lot. She's quite handy (even produces furniture), she can cook, she can sew, she can cut hair, ... but she doesn't like to clean up dirty stuff. So that part falls to me!

Like today. I'd have to clean out a container. Here in Flanders, we have these green containers for waste of vegetables, fruit and greenery. They are provided to each household by the town council and for a small fee you can present them to be emptied on Tuesday mornings. As you can imagine, it takes quite a while before a container of 120 liters is full. Especially when your household is only two people and generally you don't have too much waste. So the container stays outside for months until it's time to get emptied. And it stinks.

When it gets emptied, the stench is heavier than ever. So I pick up the container from the pavement where it is left by the guys who empty it, bring it through the house (and it was raining) and put it outside where it belongs. Then I cleaned up the house, especially where I had passed with the dirty container. That done, I got to the task of cleaning up the container a bit. I use a lot of water, containing bleach. That takes away the stench of rot. I have a broom which I only use for this task, and scrub the walls of the container until there's nothing more clinging to them. At last it has to dry out some and after that it can be used once more. I don't want dirty clothes when putting something inside!

Luckily I don't mind doing this. I have special gear to wear for cleaning dirty objects (and old coat, old shoes, long plastic gloves, ...) and I try not to think of the stench.

What about you?