Friday, November 28, 2014

The grass isn't always greener on the other side

After 15 years away I am coming home.  I’d lived away from home when I first started teaching, returned for a couple of years and then left again.  28 years of teaching and I’ve lived and worked in 11 different countries.  The world has changed quite considerably in that period.  South Africa has changed.  People’s perceptions of South Africa has changed.  But no matter where I have lived, I have always been proud to call myself South African.  Cape Town has always been my home.
Living and holidaying in a country are two very different things.  When you are on holiday you do not grasp the high cost of living and the problems facing the country.  Things might seem to be expensive but you budgeted for it when you planned your holiday.  In New Zealand I had to work two jobs to make ends meet.  A beautiful country with a high cost of living.  In China and Korea pollution was an issue and gave me throat problems.  Also the sheer amount of people, pushing and shoving, was sometimes claustrophobic.  Thailand with its great food and beautiful beaches, a façade which hides the rats, filth, stray dogs, sex trade and poverty.  No country is perfect.  Every country has its own unique set of problems.

One is continually told about the crime in South Africa.  When expat friends would hear I was going back for a holiday, they would always ask me if I was scared or feel unsafe.  South Africa has always been where my heart is, no matter where I lived.  Let me tell you every country has crime.  I was in New Zealand two weeks when I had my first burglary.  My last burglary there, I opened my front door and there was just dust where my furniture used to be.  They even stole the sheets when they stole the beds, broke the kitchen bench top to get out the dishwasher.  In China I was pick-pocketed, had a laptop snatched, and a break-in where they even stole my cell phone that was next to my bed where I was fast asleep.  In Botswana my washing was stolen off the wash line.  In Tanzania they broke in and stole my laptop, portable hard drives containing 10 years of music, video camera, cell phones.  Maybe I just have bad luck.  But then again, a friend was burgled when I lived in Kyiv.  Another friend lost all valuables when his house was broken into in the UK.  My son had his camera stolen in America.  So it’s not just me who has experienced crime in other countries.  Despite what many South Africans think, crime is not endemic to South Africa.  Crime is worldwide.  Leaving South Africa to escape crime might be a hasty decision.  Sometimes what appears to be luscious green grass on the other side turns out to be toxic weeds hiding sharp poisonous thorns.
Unemployment is another factor which causes people to leave South Africa.  It is one of the reasons I left.  As a single mom of three children without any child support I needed to provide for them.  My children have all graduated high school and gone on to study further.  My eldest daughter graduated in New Zealand, my son in China and my youngest daughter in Tanzania.  The positive is that they all regard themselves as global citizens.  The negative is that they are third culture kids.  Buying a house in Cape Town a few years ago gave us all roots so that we no longer felt anchorless.  We have a place to come home to for holidays.

But now the time has come for me to return.  With a head full of memories of overseas friends and crazy adventures, it is time to settle down to life in South Africa.  Having not taught in South African schools for so many years, I realised that it would be virtually impossible to get back into the system.  The only way would be to start a business in the educational field.  After doing some research, I have opted to open an educational consultancy in Table View in Cape Town.  The Learning Vine helps students wanting to study overseas find the right university and course to suit them, and assists with the convoluted application process.  In addition, I’ve bought a franchise for the GoFocus Remedial Programme which will run afternoons and will run a home-school for children in the mornings who are struggling with being in a mainstream school.  With my youngest still studying I have to generate an income.  Creating my own employment was a necessity but it is doable.  Moving home means setting up new accounts, getting another tax number and heaps of things that you don’t think about when you make the decision to return.  Being back in South Africa for good is worth the tough times that will lie ahead as one struggles to get a new business off the ground.

Having travelled the world, I can evocably state that South Africa is one of the most beautiful countries in the world with the friendliest people and an acceptable cost of living by world standards.  Don’t take what you have here for granted.  It’s not always greener on the other side.
Cindy Vine is the author of Hush Baby, Not Telling, C U @ 8, The Case of Billy B and Defective.  All her books are available on Amazon in kindle and paperback format.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Introducing a wonderful new author

For those who love reading laugh out loud books, my friend John Brook has just written a great book, very entertaining read! Check it out!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Being Brave

I listened to a song this morning which, besides making me cry, caused me to reflect on my cancer journey.  I was one of the lucky ones.  My cancers were caught relatively early.  All I needed was surgery to remove the problem.  But what about those who need more than surgery?  What fear do they experience?  Cancer is such a nasty word.
I have been told it three times in my life so far.  December 2003, September 2006 and December 2010.  The moment you get told that word the fear you feel is incredible.  Overwhelming.  People try and comfort you but their words don't dissipate the fear.
Cancer is scary.
People tell you that you are so brave and you think, "Do I have a choice?"
I didn't choose cancer.  For whatever reason cancer chose me.
And you fight it with everything you have got.  You take on that fear and overcome it.  You do it because you are not ready to die.  You do it because you want to live.  You don't have a choice.  Fighting cancer is like an innate reflex action.  After the initial shock your mind just goes into survival mode.  Fighting cancer is all about survival.  For those not suffering from cancer it might seem like you are brave.  If being brave means pushing back your fear and fighting to survive, then I guess we are brave.
But at the time you don't feel particularly brave.  You feel terrified.
And sometimes being brave is not enough.  No matter the fight you put up, the cancer forces advance and slowly take control of your body, reducing you to a diseased shell.  There is no dignity when this happens.  Dying has no dignity.  It is the end.
Everybody who gets a cancer diagnosis fights it. We all believe we can beat it.  But it is a luck of the draw kind of thing.  For some the belief you can beat it is not enough.  And you never know until you get the all-clear if that lucky person who beats it is you.
Cancer is scary.
Early detection is your best hope of beating it.
Bravery is instinctive.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Standing at the Crossroads

Life is a network of paths.  Some lead you in the right direction and others turn into detours that take you way off tack.  There are occasions when you get a little lost and you waste a lot of valuable time trying to find the right path again.  But is there a right path?  How do you know if the path you chose is the right one?  You just have to stumble around in the dark side-stepping the thorny branches and pray like mad that you are heading in the right direction.  Hoping against all hope that there isn't a big boulder blocking your way, or sharp stones that might trip you up.  Navigating life's network of paths isn't easy.  Every now and then you hit a crossroads.  Left, right or straight ahead?  It might take months or even years to know if you chose the right direction.
Having been teaching for 28 years I am now at a crossroads.
Writing is a passion and I could try and do it full time.  There are always jobs going for teachers but is that what I want to do?  Then there is the idea of starting my own business, an educational consultancy where I can put all the experience I have gained working internationally to work.  But starting a business is a risk and I have financial commitments.
My life has shown that I am not scared of taking risks.  I have often opted for the road less traveled.  Sometimes it has turned out to be a good choice and other times there has been a huge crocodile waiting to devour me with a quick snap of its jaws.  So this time I am trying to do it right and arm myself beforehand with weapons to knock the crocodile off the path if it suddenly appears and tries to block my way.
But am I choosing the right path?
The unknown can be frightening.  It can also give you the best adrenalin rush ever.  Which would be good if I was an adrenalin-junkie which I am not.
Previously I've put on a blindfold and have headed down the path blind to all the dangers lurking around me.  Oblivion can be a good thing.  If you don't know what can stop you then you can soldier on.  Well in theory anyway.  Because when you can't see the boulder in the path you walk into it headlong and knock yourself unconscious, and end up lying in the dirt waiting to be rescued.
This time I want to be prepared.  No blindfold.  I want to see where I am going.  I want peripheral vision.  Throw me a pair of night goggles.  I am going to take on the crossroads and not be indecisive.  No 'what if' and 'should I' for me.
My mantra is going to be LET"S DO THIS.  So I am making a choice.  I am heading in a different direction.  My head is full of plans, brain cells are popping, creative juices flowing.  Bring it on!
Cindy Vine currently lives and works in Ukraine and is the author of The Case of Billy B, Not Telling, Defective, C U @ 8 and Hush Baby.  All her books are available on Amazon in both print and kindle format.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Time for a Rant

I know there are people in the world who have lost their homes due to mortar attacks and shelling.  I know I should be grateful for a lovely apartment and a roof over my head.  I know I should be thankful for running water.  I know I sound like a complete whinge-bag but I can't deal with cold showers.  I really can't.  I need to wash my hair and the thought of a cold shower is making me procrastinate.  So this is a warning.  Until they turn the hot water back on I shall be washing my hair once a week on a Sunday.  I shall of course have a quick shower and clean the other bits each day, but the hair on my head shall be reserved for a Sunday.  That way I can spend Saturdays psyching myself up for what has to happen on a Sunday.  I cannot wash my hair before school during the week as I used to, as I cannot deal with icy cold water on my head in the cool of the morning.  I cannot deal with icy cold water on my head when I get back from work in the evenings when the air is already chilly.  Sundays I can sleep in and muster up my courage for that cold shower.
They say that cutting off the hot water is a way of saving gas supplies for the winter ahead.  Russia has cut off the gas and Ukraine has to be careful to conserve what they have.  I understand all this and it makes sense.  But that doesn't make it any easier to wash my hair in cold water when temperatures are already starting to drop.
Food prices have gone up and the Ukrainian currency is not doing so well.  My heart goes out to the average Ukrainian who must really be struggling financially.  How are they able to buy food?  Does the rest of the world even care?
The mood has changed in Ukraine since before the summer holiday.  It is far more somber with fewer smiles.  I guess people are really worried about the future of their country which is understandable.  Nobody knows Russia's big plan.  Rumours and conjecture abound.  It is not a happy place to be as you really don't know what might happen next.
On Friday I went to apply for a short stay Schengen visa at the Latvian Embassy.  My Schengen visa is only valid from the end of October and I need to go to Latvia for a school visit in 2 weeks.  This proved to be an exercise is frustration.  I'd thought downloading the English application form off the embassy's website and filling it in beforehand would be proactive.  Big mistake.  After taking my number and waiting to see the embassy official, I got to the window only to be told it was the wrong form and I had to fill in another one which happened to be all in Ukrainian.  The same form, but with one word different on the top of the first page.  After filling in the new form I had to get a new number and start the waiting process from the beginning.  Thanks goodness all my documentation was correct but then the next problem arose.  The official asked for the fee to be paid in Euros and I only had Ukrainian money.  Nowhere on their website did they say only Euros was acceptable.  They directed me to a bank down the road to change money.  The bank said they sold Euros.  As I got to the front of the queue both tellers put up signs in Ukrainian.  I asked them what was written on the signs.  "Wait ten minutes," they said as they chatted to each other.  After ten minutes they took down the signs.  When I asked to buy Euros the teller said, "Sorry no Euro."  I tried another four banks and none of them had any Euros.  The sixth bank had Euros but said, "We don't sell Euros to foreigners.  You have to have a Ukrainian passport to be able to buy Euros."  I couldn't budge her from this stance and I trudged back to the embassy to tell them I couldn't get Euros.  But first I had to take another number and wait...
The embassy official became friendlier.  "I know it is impossible to get Euros," she smiled.  Inside I seethed.  If she knew it was impossible, then why did she sent me out on a futile exercise?  "But instead of trying the banks, try the money exchange down the road in the subway.  They will definitely be able to help you."  I thanked her with a fake smile on my face and left to find the money exchange.
"You not Ukraine people.  Nyet, nyet, go, no help.  You not Ukraine people."  You guessed it.  That was the response from the money exchange place.  I guess that foreigners are no longer allowed to buy foreign currency or change Ukrainian money.  So I walked back to the Latvian Embassy, my mind doing somersaults as it tried to come up with a solution to the problem.
The embassy official became even friendlier.  "Don't worry all your documentation is in order so if you spend the weekend finding Euros then you don't have to take a number and queue Monday morning, you can hand in everything and pick your passport up on the 8th."
Feeling a mixture of forlorness and ire, I called a taxi to take me back to work.  Luckily I managed to change money with another teacher when I got back to school.
So hopefully Monday all goes well as I head back to the Embassy.  But today is Sunday.  And I still have to wash my hair in a cold shower...
Cindy Vine is a South African author and teacher currently working in Ukraine.  She is the author of The Case of Billy B, Not Telling, Defective, CU@8 and Hush Baby.  All her books are available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback format. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Great Review for Hush Baby

Reviewed By Valerie Rouse for Readers’ Favorite

Hush Baby by author C. Vine is a gripping tale surrounding Kyle Rushton and his sour relationship with his live-in girlfriend Marlene. They have a son, Max, who is three years old. Max means the world to Kyle. Unfortunately, Kyle’s see-saw relationship with Marlene was taking a toll on him and Kyle made the difficult decision to leave Marlene and Max and move in with his sister Sylvie. Kyle was forced to seek out a lawyer after Marlene blocked him from picking up Max from daycare. Things rapidly escalated with social services becoming involved as well. After establishing a proper visitation schedule to have access to Max, Kyle received a phone call that Max was seriously ill. On rushing to the hospital, he found out that Max had ingested rat poison. Unfortunately, Max died. Kyle became very depressed; however, he had emotional support from Sylvie and close friends. He later discovered that Marlene had given birth to two other children who also died mysteriously. Further digging led to the discovery of more secrets about Marlene’s upbringing and school life.

Hush Baby is an interesting read about personal relationships. Author C. Vine did an excellent job developing the plot. The story began at a slow pace, however, it quickened in the latter half of the novel. I love the unexpected twists that were included in the story. In my opinion, the story literally took on a different feel and transformed into a suspense thriller. This tactic is very cleverly orchestrated by author C. Vine. It propels the reader to become more engrossed in the plot. I did not want to put down the book! The language is simple and easy to understand. What was refreshing was that the novel was written from the viewpoint of a male as opposed to a female. Normally, most stories outlining relationship woes are slanted in the favour of females. This welcome diversion from the norm speaks well for equality of the sexes. I loved the descriptive passages in the novel. I applaud author C. Vine for keeping her readers on their toes, wondering how the story would finally end. The staccato formatting of the final chapter was a good move. It suggests that the reader should accept unpredictability in the plot. I recommend this book to all readers who love suspense.
Hush Baby and Cindy Vine's other books are all available on Amazon  in both print and kindle format.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

So you want to be a writer

Guest Post by Lisa Regan, author of Hold Still

Some people are practically born writing.  I’m that type—I started writing stories at a very young age.  Other people come to writing later in life.  Either way, you can be successful at it if you work hard and are committed to it.  Even people like me who spend their whole lives writing sometimes still take a long time to get published.  Here are five things to keep in mind if you want to be successful at writing:

  1.  Figure out what you want to write and stick with it.  Many published writers are successful because they can keep readers coming back for more.  Readers like to know what they’re getting when they pick up one of your books so you should try to focus on one genre and really give it your all.  Pick a genre that you’re passionate about and stick with it.
  2. Read, read, read.  One of the best ways to become a better writer is to be a reader.  See what other writers do.  Get the bestselling books in your genre and read them.  Take note of how those authors craft and deliver a story.  Re-read your favorite books with your writer’s hat on and try to figure out what the author did that made you love that book so much.
  3. Write, write, write.  Try to write as much as you can.  Even if you’re not working on a story or a book.  Write emails, keep a journal—write something as often as possible.  One of the best ways to improve your writing is to actually write.  Remember, you don’t have to use everything you write, but you should write something.  Practice your craft and you will get better.
  4. Connect with other writers.  I’ve found the best way to do this is through blogging but with the internet there are so many ways to find and connect with other writers.  See if there is a writing group in your area.  Get yourself some writing friends and cultivate those relationships.  They’ll help you become a better writer and they’ll buoy you up when the business pushes you down.
  5. Research.  Take writing classes.  Read books on the craft.  Talk to other writers.  If you’ve already written something and want to get it published, research how to go about it.  Make sure you know as much about the business as you can before you put yourself out there.  You don’t want to be turned away by agents, editors or publishers or disqualified from contests because you didn’t take the proper steps to submit or did not follow directions.  Take the time to learn about the industry before you plunge into it.
Lisa Regan is a crime fiction author.  Her first novel, Finding Claire Fletcher won Best Heroine in the eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards 2013.  It was runner-up for Best Novel.  It was also a Digital Book Today Best of 2013 ebook selection.  In December 2013, Finding Claire Fletcher and her second novel, Aberration were #1 Amazon bestsellers in the Kidnapping and Serial Killers categories, respectively.
Lisa is a member of Sisters In Crime.  She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Master of Education Degree from Bloomsburg University.  She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. 

Three men are viciously assaulting Philadelphia's prostitutes, and it's up to veteran detective Jocelyn Rush to stop them.  She catches two, but they won't betray their partner, the most dangerous of all, and the attacks continue, striking closer to home.  Jocelyn's only real clue comes when a monster from her past resurfaces--now she must race to connect the demons of her past with the villain of her present--before the sadistic attacker sets his sights on her.
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Monday, June 9, 2014

Hooray for the Brown Box!

Yes, that does sound a little sad.  But after a week in a Kyiv hospital my Brown Box Apartment felt like home.
My apartment is a tad brown.  Brown carpets, brown walls, brown fake leather furniture, brown cupboards.  Even my bedroom is brown.  And in the kitchen, the dark maroon cupboards do lean towards the brown side.  The bathroom has chocolate brown tiles on the floor and walls.  It is a little bit like a brown cave.  Even when the sun is shining brightly outside, I have to have lights on in the inside because of the very brownness of it all.  What stops it from being a bit like living in a pile of brown excrement is the green art deco chandelier in the lounge.
A brown box can be a depressing place to live, especially when I think of the white, blues, turquoises and purples I used to decorate my home in Cape Town to give it that beach cottage feel.  But I have got used to the brown, and instead of brightening it up with colour I have livened it up with cooking smells as I try out recipes for my cookbook I'm working on.
After 3 nights in hospital, 4 days but who's counting, all I wanted was to go back to my brown box.  Never had a brown box felt so inviting.  I wanted my kitchen so I could cook up a storm.  I wanted my fake leather couch that is so comfortable to lie on.  I wanted the comfort of my brown walls and feel the softness of my brown carpet under my feet.
It wasn't as if the hospital was terrible.  It wasn't.  I had a private room en suite and a bar fridge and a very comfortable easy chair.  But it wasn't home.
The nurses were pleasant enough even though they tried to avoid me as much as possible as they couldn't speak English.  Some of the doctors I saw had limited English.  It is a bit frightening when you have all these tests and nobody talks to you and explains what is happening.  Communication is a series of grunts and gestures.
The one doctor who did have decent English I hit.  I punched him and knocked him right off his chair so that he landed on his bum on the ground.  And I didn't even apologise.  The sadistic little turd deserved it.
The nurse had taken me to see this doctor and I assumed it would be another scan as I had been having a few of those each day.  He informed me with a cruel smile that he would be performing an endoscopy and asked me if I knew what it was.  I shook my head.  I should have run while I had the chance.  The doctor's bedside manner had been left behind at the Torture Chamber he frequented after hours.  "Lie on your side," he ordered with another cruel smile, "And open mouth."
Not having any inkling what was going to happen, I complied.  The doctor jammed a funnel in my mouth that tasted of toilet cleaner.  (I have never actually tried toilet cleaner, but this is what I imagine it tastes like.)  He then proceeded to force a large black pipe down my throat.  Of course I panicked.  On good days I suffer from an acute gag reflex and I often struggle to swallow pills.  He kept shouting for me to swallow, but how can you swallow when your throats clamps shut and you can't breathe?  I struggled to pull out the pipe, he continued to try and force it in and in my panic I decked him.
If I wasn't hyperventilating, I would have returned the cruel smile he had greeted me with.
"We must do it," he snarled.
"I can't do it!" I shouted clutching my throat.
"We must do it," he said through gritted teeth as he advanced with his pipe.
"Okay, I'll try."  I can't believe I said those words and gave in so easily.
The second time was even worse.  The nurse held the funnel to my mouth so I couldn't move and a young blonde man with Justin Bieber's famous hairstyle when he first made it and pink scrubs sat on me and held me down.  Doctor Evil advanced with his pipe shouting, "Swallow!  Breathe!"
I could not breathe at all and my eyes felt like they were protruding so much they were going to pop right out of the sockets.  I fought and managed to dislodge the pink scrub man who was sitting astride me and ripped out the black pipe so I could breathe.  "It's okay I'm finished," the doctor said, lying through his teeth.  There was no way he had passed it down my insides and had time to take photos.
I was severely traumatised by that experience.  The nurse kept patting my back and stroking my arm as she led me hyperventilating, with tears running down my cheeks, back to my room.  Never again.
And so I started dreaming about my brown box and how safe I feel there.
The doctor in charge of me, not Doctor Evil, was easily persuaded to let me stay at home and just go in every day for my blood pressure to be checked, injections and a drip.  Hopefully Wednesday will be my last day of commuting to the hospital.
Cindy Vine is a South African currently living and working in Kyiv in Ukraine. She is the author of Hush Baby, Defective, C U @ 8, Not Telling and The Case of Billy B. All her books are available on Amazon in both print and Kindle format.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

What would you do if your family was used as Leverage?

Forget about the Godfather and the Italian Mafia, Leverage introduces you to the Russian Mafia and they are far more to be feared than the Italians.  Nancy S. Thompson delivers an action-packed fast-paced story that will have you gripping the edge of your seat.  Thought-provoking.  What would you do if your family was used as Leverage?

Four years ago, Tyler Karras’ quest to avenge his wife's death led to all out war with San Francisco's Russian Mafia. With the Bratva’s collapse and its king, Dmitri Chernov, long dead, all Ty wants now is to put it behind him and enjoy a second chance at life with his new bride, Hannah, and the child they're expecting any day. But Chernov's heir, Grigory Dmitriev, has returned, bitter and determined. He wants his kingdom back, and he's more than willing to leverage Ty's new family to get it. 
First he targets Conner, Ty’s brooding nineteen-year-old stepson, manipulating the boy into a vortex of sex, drugs, alcohol, and gambling. Then he turns his sights on Hannah. At eight months pregnant, she’s the ultimate bargaining chip. With both their lives in jeopardy, as well as his unborn child, Ty has little choice but to do as Grigory commands—even if that means assassinating the new leadership resurrecting within the Bratva.
But Tyler swore he'd never kill again. He buried that monster four years ago and means to keep it that way. Grigory, however, makes that vow impossible to keep.
With his new family on the line, Ty will cross further into the dark side than he ever has before, challenging everything he believes about himself, and forcing him to face the ghosts of his past. Only then will Ty discover if he has the strength to do the unspeakable, to sacrifice his last chance at redemption and save the lives of those he loves most.

Nancy is a sunny California transplant currently living in dreary Seattle, Washington with her husband of twenty-four years, their son, a student at Seattle University, their giant snow dog, Jack, and his kitty, Skye. She works as a freelance editor and also has her own interior and architectural design business. When she's not writing, editing, designing, or marketing—a rarity these days—Nancy keeps herself busy by cooking and baking, that is, when she can pull herself away from Facebook, also a rarity.


Friday, May 30, 2014

Sexy and fun murder mystery

J.M. Griffin does it again, bringing us a saucy mystery filled with fun, food, love and murder.  These bodies keep piling up and Melina has to find the killer to clear her name.  Add in love interests for some spice, throw in a corpse or two and bake at 200 degrees until you have a heavenly loaf of a book that will have your mouth watering for more.
The Focaccia Fatality BLURB:
Melina Cameron is single, and looking. For a date. Not another dead body. 

Her former flame, the sexy Scotsman, Aidan Sinclair, went MIA after he proposed a few months ago, so Melina isn’t wasting any more bread and tears on that one! When hunky police detective Porter Anderson asks her out, she says yes. She could do worse than dating a cop. She and Porter already have a lot in common given her penchant for finding dead bodies. 

When high-ranking politician Vincent Gallagher hires Melina to cater his swanky party, and specifically requests her famous focaccia, Melina looks forward to the event, and the potential new customers it could bring. Not to mention, flirting with the cute waiters. But two things happen on that fateful night that could change the course of Melina’s future. First, Aidan walks into the party with a tall, sultry blonde. Second, that same tall, sultry blonde winds up dead, and Melina is the one who discovers the body! 

This can’t be good for business let alone Melina’s love life. 

Now, Melina has to figure out how to stay away from Aidan, and figure out who killed the blonde, or she might be the one to take the fall.
J.M. Griffin/Dana Stone grew up in rural Maine. She relocated to Rhode Island and lives in the north western part of the state with her husband and two cats. J.M.'s first published novel For Love of Livvy, began a series of humorous mysteries featuring Lavinia "Vinnie" Esposito. J.M. has also written a romance under the pseudonym Dana Stone.
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Friday, May 23, 2014

Indian author explores the dark side of humanity

Here's a new author for those of you who are into the dark and are a little adventurous.  Kshitij is from India.  Read about his latest book, Agony, over here.

Set in a small county of Ireland, Agony depicts the struggle of Kewy, a young high school art teacher. Kewy find herself tormented by a series of haunted dreams, one connected to another. The dreams take her to a god forsaken place filled with evil and surrounded by death, fear and hopelessness. Even when she’s awake, she hears strange voices and eerie knockings at her doorstep. Things buried in her past, start communicating with her in the form of nightmares, sickening her soul and questioning her existence.
Kasper is a grocery boy who works at Finke’s- a popular shopping store in Louth. He has never seen anyone as mysterious and charming as Kewy. Einin is a catholic teen studying in Kewy’s art history class. She just needed a look on Kewy’s face to understand her agonies. Kasper and Einin, quickly become comfortable with Kewy and get involve in her problem, not knowing what they are getting into, not having the slightest idea that what waits for them in those dead woods. But as the three entered into Reinhardt County- the place from Kewy’s dream, they realize it was never about the fear and survival. The truth was earth shattering, but it becomes too late to get away from it...
KSHITIJ lives near New Delhi, India. He loves writing and reading fiction, particularly the ones that envision the dark corners of human mind. He loves travelling and exploring the cultures and people through the medium of reading, travelling and watching. He was born in 1986 in Agra.
Twitter  @PartridgeIndia 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Steamy Fiction

It's always good to introduce new authors.  Tracy Lee, author of Personal Possessions has this to say:
"Happy Month of May!
I can’t believe it’s already May but excited to see what this month has to bring! I want to say thank you for this opportunity, I am so excited to be here!
If you haven’t had a chance to read The Personal Series, make sure you get copies of BOTH books this week they are available through Amazon for only $.99!!! Don’t miss out because they won’t be staying at that price.
Book one is Personal Experiences which is Elleny Barker’s story and WOW!! What a story it is!! It’s personal and raw and shows the power that is behind a love that is meant to be!
Book two is Trevor McHale’s story. The man that has always been in love with Elleny. Find out what was going on with him throughout the seventeen years he was away from Elleny and how love pulled him back kicking and screaming!
I would love to invite you to my next book’s cover reveal, Envisioning Hope. The cover will make its debut May 1st at 8:00 pm EST. 
I want to thank you again for spending some time with me."
Tracy's BIO:
“I am a lover of chocolate, an outspoken dreamer who cannot survive without chaos! Those who truly know me can attest that I am obsessed with chocolate peanut butter anything. I write about hot, alpha men and the women who love them and the only way that I can get anything accomplished is in a crisis.
I am no good in math; as a matter of fact, I suck in math. My true love is the English language. My children are my world that not even a hot man could come between. I am originally from outside Tampa, Florida but currently reside outside Tulsa, Oklahoma. I am digging the farm animals that live behind my house.”
Tracy lives with her husband and 4 children in a small town just outside Tulsa, Ok. Originally from Brandon, Florida she was a city girl at heart. Growing tired of living in the concrete jungle she wanted a change of scenery and pace; she packed her kids up and moved to Oklahoma where she met her husband.  Now she’s seen snow, touched pigs and has cows and chickens in her back yard.
Being a stay at home mom she became an avid reader and part-time blogger, she decided to put the three of them together and try her hand at writing and fell in love. In between running kids from band practice to PTO meetings, she enjoys her “me time” working on her next book.  She thoroughly enjoys head-banging heavy metal and a kickass game of Black Ops and will be your slave if you offer her chocolate.
BLURB for Personal Possessions:
Trevor McHale has tried to move on from the night that everything he cared about was ripped away from him. Having been in love with Elleny Barker since second grade, TJ comes home from college to find her married to another man…his best friend, Bear Jackson. Moving on has been nothing but a struggle for TJ. Through years and distance from his home town of Richland Georgia, Trevor ends up finding wealth, friendship and lust. But nightmares and visions plague him of a love that he knows deep down is meant to be. Finally giving in, Trevor realizes that the only way to make his life whole again is to recover what was once his and begin life anew. That turns out
to be easier said than done. 
Elleny Barker-Jackson is not the same girl she was seventeen years ago. Having endured years of abuse from her husband’s hand, Elle has hardened her heart to everyone and everything. Believing that true love means nothing other than a young girl’s fantasy, Elle lives in her memories that she made with the one who will always hold her heart; Trevor McHale. Secrets and lies have been what Elle has built her life on and she is convinced that this life is her punishment for the decision that she made seventeen years ago… 
That was until Trevor McHale returned to town. Purchasing the local factory, Elle finds herself working right alongside of Trevor for eight days straight. Not only does Trevor have to convince Elle that their love is alive and strong, he has to repair the damage that has been done to her; inside and out. 
Want to know what was going through TJ's mind on everything Elle? 
Questions will be answered...Truths will be known and love will be found. TJ is on a mission to get back his Personal Possessions. 
(Contains: Adult language, sexual MF participation, some violence and explicit scenes of arousal) 
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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Looking for a good mystery story?

Title: The Davidson Case
Series: Heartfelt Cases: Book 3
Author: Julie C. Gilbert
Release Date: May 1, 2014
Genre: Christian Mystery
Presented by: As You Wish Tours

Somebody wants her sister dead … FBI Special Agent Ann Duncan knows how to face down danger, but once again, she’s not the target. Her baby sister, Joy Davidson, has stumbled upon a conspiracy and made some powerful enemies. Luck and God’s grace help Ann save her sister the first time, but she knows the bad guys will try again. With Patrick on a university tour and perhaps the most important case of her career weighing upon her mind, Ann must find the strength, wisdom, and heart to find out who wants her sister dead, what Joy discovered, and how to stop the conspirators. Ann instinctively knows that if she fails the Davidson case will only be the first of many tragedies. 
Teaser 1
 Knocking on the door, Ann heard, “Come on in.” Ann opened the door and burst out laughing. Thoughts of her bad day faded. Rachel’s brown hair hung haphazardly, and she held a wailing child in each arm. Homemade play dough decorated her shirt. “Not a word out of you,” Rachel said, mock-crossly. She slowly backed up to give Ann room to enter. “I’m speechless anyway,” Ann replied. She stepped forward, closed the door, and faced her friend. “I’d give you a hug, but it looks like your arms are busy.” “Here, I believe one of these chubby beauties is yours,” Rachel said, holding out both infants.
 Teaser 2
 Where’s Ann? Joy wondered for the fifth time in as many minutes. Although they had never specified a time, Ann should have been there by now. Maybe she got lost … No, she helped you move in. Maybe she had extra work to do. She’d have called by now. Maybe—stop! Joy grunted in frustration. Someone knocked. “Finally!” Joy exclaimed, rolling her eyes in relief. A second, more insistent, knock sounded. “I’m coming! Goodness, you make me wait up half the night and then expect me to jump when you’re ready,” Joy grumbled. “You’re late!” she scolded, swinging the door open. Only it wasn’t Ann.
 Teaser 3
“Drop the weapon and step away,” Ann ordered. The man’s eyes wandered to Joy. One more solid blow would seal her fate. “Touch her again and fifteen chunks of lead find a new home,” Ann added. Her gaze radiated absolute sincerity. The man took a small step away, let the weapon fall, and raised his hands. “You don’t know what you’re doing here. Let me go—” “Quiet,” Ann snapped. She yanked her phone off the clip at her waist and dialed 911 without looking. The gun didn’t even waver. “Interlock your fingers behind your head, then turn away from me, take one step to your left, kneel, and cross your legs behind you.” Ann stated the instructions clearly and slowly, fighting hard to control her temper. If she lost it now, she wouldn’t be able to help her sister.
 Teaser 4
 At the hospital, Ann watched miserably as the rescue squad rushed her sister to the emergency room. She found the waiting room and sat down. After ten minutes, she thought to call her parents. What do I tell them? Her mind rushed through several makeshift conversation starters. One by one Ann tossed them out. Before she could work up the nerve to phone home, a doctor came out to give her a progress report. It was not cheerful. “Agent Duncan?” the doctor asked politely, startling her from the gloomy thoughts. “What? Oh, yes, right here,” she said, jumping to her feet. “How is she?” “She’s alive, but she slipped into a coma,” said the doctor. Feeling like someone had smacked her with a two-by-four, Ann managed to nod and read the man’s name tag: Dr. Gerish. “There’s no telling when she’ll wake up. I’m sorry. I wish I had better news.” Dr. Gerish turned to leave.
 Julie mainly confines her writing to three genres: Christian inspirational, YA real-world science fiction, and normal science fiction. She likes teaching, writing, reading, sleeping, doing puzzles, and hanging out with friends. (Not necessarily in that order) Writing has made her super picky about the things she reads but normally, her reading list includes something that fits under the thriller, mystery, science fiction, or fantasy. Occasionally, she attempts short poetry. The poems turn into songs, which she sings with abandon when nobody's looking.
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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Introducing Canadian author: Lissa M. Cowan

Lissa M. Cowan is the author of Milk Fever and founder of Writing the Body. She speaks and writes about storytelling, creativity, work-life balance and creative spirituality. She is a Huffington Post blogger and writes regularly for Canadian and U.S. magazines and newspapers. 
She is co-translator of Words that Walk in the Night by Pierre Morency, one of Québec’s most honoured poets. She has been writing and telling stories in one form or another since she was six years old and has received awards for her writing from the University of Victoria’s Writing Department and from The Banff Centre. She is an alumna of The Banff Centre and The Victoria School of Writing. She has had some wonderfully talented teachers along the way such as Nino Ricci, Jane Rule and Daphne Marlatt who have helped her hone her writing craft.
Lissa believes that inspiration for writing can come from anywhere and that lifelong creativity begins by cultivating a deep awareness of ourselves, and the world around us. She coaches her students to develop the skills to tune in—rather than wait for the muse—and to trust their intuition. She believes that true creative work begins with a loving relationship to self and spreads outwards to encompass all living beings.
When she’s not writing or teaching, you can most likely find her in a cafe working on one of her stories or book ideas. She just started work on a creative non-fiction book, though it’s too early right now to spill the beans on that one!
She holds a Master of Arts degree in English Studies from l’Université de Montréal and lives in Toronto, Canada.
Here is a description of the Bastille, a Paris prison, which is one of the settings for Milk Fever. In this excerpt, the protagonist searches for Armande, the wet nurse.

The passage was dark and wet. Water droplets fell from the ceiling and onto my shoulders and hair. The only light came from a chain of small, narrow windows. Close to the wall, I looked over my shoulder to make sure nobody trailed me. After walking through a series of passages that veered sometimes right and sometimes left, I came upon a heavy wooden door that opened easily. The echo of my walking sounded through the passage as I climbed heavy stone steps.
The woman I saw outside the prison the other day sang a tune that seesawed this way and that. The passages had that same strange and troubled rhythm, I thought, as I wandered through them.

I breathed in the damp. My heart felt cold and heavy while my hand felt the shape of Armande’s diary in my pocket, the thickness and weight of it. To know it was still there, gave me comfort. After walking along the passage to a higher floor, I saw a door with a tiny window. Inside was a room with a chair and a table covered in dust and cobwebs. Past that were other doors. The chambers were dark and empty, and I began to feel that there was nobody in that stinkhole but me. Past a large arched door, I found myself in a courtyard overgrown with ivy. In the middle was a statue of a child, its face blackened with moss. After crossing the courtyard, I reached another arched door, which led to another tower where I heard a faint sound like a woman whimpering. I ran up the stairs after the sound but it faded as quickly as it came.

A light appeared at the far end of the passage, and then I saw a figure holding a lantern. His footsteps echoed and grew louder as he approached. Quickly, I dashed to a door nearest me. Once inside the chamber, I crouched under the little opening and waited for the man to pass. The room was no bigger than a store cupboard and had a fancy chair in it of red and gold that seemed out of place next to the dust, stench and cobwebs. In the far corner were tapersticks and a row of books. I sat down in the chair and then realized that my feet hurt, the bandages the doctor applied to them, were coming undone, much like my prospects of finding Armande alive.

I walked along the passage to a different tower. Yet this time, instead of looking in every chamber, I said her name, in a low voice, though high enough so somebody might hear. Perhaps I was going mad just as the doctor suspected when he saw my knotted hair, dirty clothes and feet. “Armande,” I called out again. Another voice joined my own.

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A copy of my novel and one-hour Skype or phone call lesson on how to write historical fiction
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