Legends,Timekeepers and Sharon Ledwith.

My guest today is Sharon Ledwith, the author of an exciting series of young adult books. Today she tells us about how her love of legends influences her stories. 

Welcome Sharon and over to you. 

Time Travel 101

by Sharon Ledwith

Legends. We love them. We can’t get enough of them. In fact we NEED them. Legends connect humanity in ways we can’t fathom. A legend, by definition is a story handed down for generations among a people and popularly believed to have a historical basis, although not verifiable. In book one of my time travel series, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, Amanda Sault, her four classmates, and two tag-along adults are whisked through an arch they find buried in an overgrown garden, and transported to the mythical continent of Atlantis. They’ve been summoned to become Timekeepers—legendary time travellers sworn to keep history safe from an evil force known only as Belial. Oh, BTW—they’re not just any Timekeepers—they’re the Last Timekeepers. No pressure, right? Well, maybe a smidgen.

The Timekeepers first mission involves going back to 1214 England, actually Nottingham to be precise. There, Amanda and her time traveling cohorts meet an adolescent Robin Hood, although he is known as Robyn Hodekin to the people of Nottingham. So here’s the rub—in The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, what’s myth and what’s made-up? That’s when it’s up to the reader to seek the truth and dispel the lies.

Here’s a little help:

Robin Hood—if he did exist—was known by many names. Robyn Hode, Robert Earl of Huntingdon, Robert Fitz Ooth, and Robert fitz Odo to name a few. The first written references to our hero are brief. The earliest comes in the poem Piers Plowman, written in 1377 by the London cleric William Langland. One of his characters, an idle priest, says in passing, “I know the rhymes of Robin Hood,” but that is all. The oldest surviving substantial account of Robin Hood in his wider setting was printed in 1510, and is called A Geste of Robin Hood, the word Geste probably meaning a tale of heroic exploits. BTW—“Robin Hood in Sherwood stood” was one verse found preserved in a scrap of manuscript from Lincoln Cathedral, and was dated around 1410.

Mortimer’s Hole—The Mortimer and his hole in my story is fictional. The real Mortimer’s Hole is a 98 metre long man-made tunnel that takes you from the foot of castle rock up to the Upper Bailey in the castle grounds. It is named after Roger Mortimer. On the night of 19th October 1330 one of the most dramatic events in the history of the castle took place when the supporters of 15 year old King Edward III entered the castle through a secret passage —now named Mortimer’s Hole. They captured Queen Isabella and her lover, Roger Mortimer, who had usurped the young King and were ruling England in his place. Mortimer was taken to London where he was executed. Mortimer’s Hole was probably used as a food chute in medieval times.

Nottingham caves—Totally factual! Beneath the houses, shops and offices of Nottingham lie hundreds of caves. Few people in Nottingham are aware of this labyrinth, which exists underneath the city streets, and fewer still have visited them. Nottingham has more man-made caves than anywhere else in Britain. People have worked and lived in them for over 1,000 years. None of these caves were formed naturally. They were all cut into the sandstone by the city’s inhabitants for use as houses, cellars and place of work. Each cave in unique and created for a specific purpose, some have elaborate carvings, pillars and staircases. Take a virtual tour if you dare: http://nottinghamcavessurvey.org.uk/

Knights Templar— The Knights Templar trace their origin back to shortly after the First Crusade. Around 1119, a French nobleman, Hughes de Payens, collected eight of his knight relatives, and began the Order, their stated mission to protect pilgrims on their journey to visit the Holy Places. Knights of the Order wore white mantles, assigned to the Templars in 1129 at the Council of Troyes and surcoats quartered by a red cross, a symbol of martyrdom, probably added at the start of the Second Crusade in 1147, and were heavily armored knights from the aristocracy with war horses. Knights had to wear their white mantles as all times, even when eating and drinking.

The Rockyard Inn—The name is fictional. Much of the history of the Inn is very poorly recorded. An archaeological dig in 1974 proved conclusively that the location of the original Brewhouse could only be that of the caves of Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem, the Inn that exists there presently. This established that the Castle Brewhouse existed prior to 1189AD but the first dated reference is to be found is in the records of the City Council for the year 1618. The parochial rights to the area now known as the Brewhouse Yard did not in fact belong to the Castle but passed backwards and forward over time between the Priory of Lenton, The Knights Templar and the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem.

Here’s an excerpt from The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis:

Amanda Sault silently studied the words she just scrawled: May 1st, 1214—Games and songs and revelry, act as the cloak of devilry. So that an English legend may give to the poor, we must travel to Nottingham to even the score.

She frowned. She was the Scribe. Amanda knew that meant she was supposed to understand what this riddle meant. But she didn’t have a clue. All she knew was that she, her four annoying classmates, and two offbeat adults were standing in what was left of the lost continent of Atlantis and they were supposed to be the Timekeepers, the legendary time travelers handpicked by destiny to keep Earth’s history safe from evil. But no one had told them how they were supposed to do it.

Their problem: no matter what happened—good or bad—they weren’t supposed to mess with the past. Period. Dot. End of story. Amanda felt hot liquid build in her throat. Her thumb traced the words of the arcane riddle. Their first Timekeeper mission. Amanda knew this wasn’t the end of the story.

This was just the beginning.

To read more of The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis or purchase a copy, please click a vendor’s name
Mirror World PublishingAmazon USAmazon CA

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, available through Mirror World Publishing, and is represented by Walden House (Books & Stuff) for her teen psychic series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books.

Check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

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Cuisine queen, Sloane Taylor has the answers to meal times.

My guest author today is the talented Sloane Taylor who regularly posts delicious meals  on her Wednesday blogspot.   

Are you  one of those people who stare at the fridge blankly wondering  what the heck are we  going to eat tonight ?  Over to you Sloane…

Once in a great while I’m compelled to cook a Sunday afternoon sit-down dinner like the one mom used to make. These aren’t her recipes, but they are close. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Braised Pork Loin
Mashed Potatoes
Homemade Applesauce
Steamed Asparagus
Crisp White Wine

Braised Pork Loin

3 – 4 lb. boneless pork loin
3 tbsp. lard or solid shortening
2 med. onions, peeled and sliced
1 lg. shallot, peeled and sliced
2 med. carrots, scraped and chopped
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup chicken stock
¾ tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. marjoram
½ tsp. paprika
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Pat the roast dry with paper towels. Melt lard in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pork and brown on all sides, about 20 minutes. Adjust the heat so as not to burn any part of the roast.

Set the meat on a plate. Reduce heat to medium. Sauté onions until they are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add remaining ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil. Return the roast to the pot along with any accumulated juices on the plate. Cover tightly and braise in the center of the oven for 1½ hours or until a sharp knife inserts easily.

Set the roast on a cutting board and tent with foil. Skim fat from the braising liquid. Strain the liquid and vegetables through a sieve, pressing down hard with the back of a spoon to extract as much juice as possible before discarding the pulp.

Slice the pork into serving pieces and lay them on a platter. Moisten meat with a little of the sauce. Pour the remainder in a gravy boat and serve on the side.

Mashed Potatoes

1 small russet potato per person
Chicken stock
Butter
Sour cream
Milk
Pepper
Parsley, snipped or chopped for garnish

Pour one inch chicken stock into saucepan. Peel and quarter the potatoes, then place in saucepan. Add tap water to cover by one inch. Put a lid on the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower temperature to a strong simmer. Cook approximately 20 – 25 minutes. They are done when a fork inserts easily into a potato.

Drain potatoes. Stir in butter, sour cream, and pepper. Mash well. Drizzle in the milk. Mash and continue to add milk until you achieve the consistency you prefer.

Homemade Applesauce

6 lg apples cored, peeled, and coarsely sliced*
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp. water
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1½ tbsp. soft butter

Combine all ingredients except butter in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat, cover pot, and simmer 15 – 20 minutes or until apples mash easily with a fork.

Stir in the butter.

Mash with a potato masher. For a smoother texture pour the sauce into a blender or food processor and puree for a minute or so.

Turn into a serving bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve. This recipe also freezes well.

*Mix it up with a variety of apples to improve the flavor. Use six different types

Steamed Asparagus

Photo by SOMMAI

1 bunch asparagus
½ cup chicken stock
¼ cup dry vermouth or white wine
Water
2 tbsp. butter
Metal vegetable steamer

Add chicken stock and dry vermouth or wine to a medium size saucepan. Insert vegetable steamer, then add water to just below the bottom holes.

Snap off the ends of the asparagus and trim the spears to fit your saucepan. Add spears and cover. Bring to a boil over medium heat, adjusting the heat to a strong simmer. In 4-5 minutes the asparagus should be crisp tender.

Lay asparagus in a serving bowl. Spread the butter over them and serve.

I’m already looking for leftovers!
Sloane

Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning author with a second passion in her life. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog http://sloanetaylor.blogspot.com every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.

Taylor currently has five explicit romance books released by Toque & Dagger Publishing. Excerpts from her books can be found on her website, blog, and all popular vendors.

Subscribe to Sloane’s newsletter. Connect with Taylor on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Meet Carol Browne – the wordsmith

Ever wondered why your manuscript still hangs on to those silly mistakes even after you have checked it for the hundredth time?  Today my talented guest is the formidable wordsmith  Carol Browne, who gives us an insight into her proofreading career.

by Carol Browne

In my working life I wear many hats. Those worn by the writer and the proofreader you would assume to be created by the same milliner, but they are mutually exclusive. This is one of many reasons why we all need proofreaders.

No time for false modesty because I know I’m a very good proofreader—in fact, your actual grammar Nazi—and I have a particular talent for spotting typos. You would think, therefore, that when I do my own writing, I would eliminate errors as I go along, like a highly efficient chef who leaves the kitchen clean and tidy while producing a gourmet meal. But no. I make silly errors that are clearly brain glitches, like putting “at” instead of “as.” When you write or type, the hand is often quicker than the eye, but the brain leaves them both at the starting gate and chaos ensues.

When I proofread my writing and then ask my beta-reader for her opinion, I expect she will find errors I have missed. This happens when you are an author because you are too close to your work, too involved with it, to be able to step back and see the flaws. The brain often sees what it expects to see. So when it expects to see “its” but by mistake you have written “it’s”, the brain will continue to see “its” until hell freezes over. This inability to be objective is another reason why you need a proofreader.

Many words and phrases in everyday speech are used incorrectly and a good proofreader will know this. “Bored of”, for example, is a recent colloquialism and not (yet) acceptable in formal English. You can be bored by or with something but never bored of it. Another common mistake is to write “should of” instead of “should have”, which is an example of people writing words as they hear them. So, correcting erroneous usage is another reason why you need a proofreader.

Some people you just can’t help, however. A local business continues to advertise its computers and “assessories” two years after I tactfully pointed out the (common) misspelling. Grammar Nazis are frequently resisted, but resistance is futile if you want your business to look professional.

We all make mistakes, hit the wrong key without realizing it, and have misconceptions about grammar and spelling. (I’ll admit here to my eternal shame that before I became a proofreader, I used “shalln’t” instead of “shan’t”. Unbelievable.)

Using a proofreader doesn’t mean you are inadequate, it means you care about what you’ve written. It means you want your book, CV, assignment, trade ad, blog, etc. to be as flawless as possible, particularly if something important, like a job or qualification, depends on the finished product.

Don’t rely on the spellchecker either. If you’ve typed “there” when you meant “their” or “sort” instead of “sought”, you need a human proofreader to catch those bad boys because a spellchecker will give you ten out of ten for spelling every time.

Experienced proofreaders tend to be knowledgeable on a wide variety of subjects. My work covers topics as diverse as photography, education, nursing and psychology. They are good at research and have a sixth sense for knowing if a word is right, wrong, or should be queried. Sometimes you need a proofreader to save you from embarrassment, too. I’m sure the Polish friend who made this particular mistake won’t mind me mentioning it, but putting “bottom” instead of “button” mushrooms did give me an interesting image to giggle at. Meanwhile, my local village shop should have used a proofreader, but instead chose to display a printed sign asking customers to “bare with us” during renovations.

I’m hoping this is an error-free blog but, if not, I blame it on the fact that I wore my writer’s hat during its composition. Meanwhile my proofreading business has undergone a reboot on Facebook. Please drop by and say hello. All Likes gratefully received!

High praise for Carol’s latest book that is a beautiful anthology of poems and short stories.

No one says it better than Amazon reviewer, faeriemoonmama, who describes the book as “atmospheric”:

“The poetry is steeped in a love of nature, magic and mythology. The short stories hold interesting twists. No spoilers! The Boomerang Effect (dabbling with a love spell, Martin Nevis finds himself having second thoughts) A Force to Be Reckoned With (an outcast with thoughts of being “destined for something great” wants to join the police force) and Transformation (once bullied, Patricia attends a school reunion and emerges victorious) were my favorites.

Give this collection a read, you won’t be disappointed.”

Read more on Amazon.

Carol Browne regards Crewe, Cheshire, as her home town and graduated from Nottingham University in 1976 with an honors degree in English Language and Literature. Carol writes speculative fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. She is also a ghost blog writer, proofreader, copy editor, and copywriter. Along with a passion for gardening, Carol is an avid animal lover.

Carol lives in the Cambridgeshire countryside with her dog, Harry, and cockatiel, Sparky.Pagan and vegan, Carol believes it is time for a paradigm shift in our attitude to Mother Nature and hopes the days of speciesism are numbered.

Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Do authors manipulate readers? – Vonnie Hughes explains.

Today  I welcome  from down under Vonnie Hughes who is the author of some great Regency and contemporary novels.  She answers a very intriguing question.

Over to you Vonnie.

Do authors manipulate readers?

by Vonnie Hughes

You bet they do! Authors know what buttons to push.

By ‘what buttons to push’ I mean what buttons do authors use to manipulate (yep, being honest) their readers’ emotions, to get them on side with the characters in their books. For example, perhaps the author creates unlikeable, evil antagonists and emphasizes the sterling qualities of his protagonists.

The most obvious ploy is the ticking clock. It not only lends urgency but it yanks the reader along at a rush, keeping him intrigued.

Then there’s characterization. Of course in this dynamic world, what worked ten years ago may not have the same appeal in 2014. The innocent 1960s virgin, so prevalent in romances of that time, would drive a reader from 2014 to drink. We are much more cynical, well-informed and downright demanding than we were then. Historically though, some classics retain their appeal because they are much more than the sum of their characters’ emotions. To Kill A Mockingbird’s racial tensions are still not outmoded today, and that lazy description of the syrupy south’s inbred attitudes is not far from the truth in some out-of-the-way places. And that is why books like these are classics. They endure not just because of the characters in the books but because of the settings and historical attitudes. And Harper Lee manipulated the readers’ emotions. Think of the way she pushes Scout’s lack of desire to be a ‘lady’ so that the reader is on Scout’s side.

Perhaps today’s writers manipulate the readers in more subtle ways. What of Dick Francis’s heroes who are often of the working class up against a criminal upper class or just up against class bigotry where he is on the outside looking in? Dick Francis does that so well that even if the protagonist is not your usual Everyman, the reader is still very much on his side. That’s right. The modern protagonist need not be a perfect hero as he has been in novels and movies of the past. Some have patchy backgrounds and they’ve made mistakes.

There’s Lee Child’s Jack Reacher who thrums a string in every male heart. They all want to be Jack with his freedom and lack of possessions but with an innate sense of responsibility. And of course Jack has been in the military and knows how to handle himself in vicious situations. Every man’s dream. There are a lot of wannabe Jacks out there. And Lee knows how to manipulate those readers.

Tami Hoag’s heroines are believably imperfect. They make mistakes and have hang-ups that readers can empathise with and they frequently have to form alliances with people they don’t trust. There’s that little brush of reality that lends credence to the stories.

So…empathy and sympathy are the buttons. And the harder those buttons are pushed by authors and movie makers, the more a reader/viewer becomes invested in the characters. We need to see how the protagonists get themselves out of a bind, or if the evil antagonists get their come-uppance. And the best books of all are where you know darned well that the author is pushing your buttons, but you just don’t care. The book is so good!

~Vonnie

Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow she just cannot let it go.

Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. These is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie.

All of Vonnie’s books are available on The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.

Win a paperback copy of Rebellious Cargo.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The frigate was his life. It was her nightmare.

Rebellious Cargo by Susan Lodge

Rebellious Cargo

by Susan Lodge

Giveaway ends April 30, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

Thank you for visiting my blog and  I hope you will take part in the Goodreads Book Giveaway, to win a signed copy of Rebellious Cargo.

Jane Charlesworth has no intention of trusting the Admiralty ever again. Not after the last time.

Sparks fly on the quarter deck as Captain and code-breaker embark on a dangerous voyage.

Please click here if you would like to read a review, or the first pages of Rebellious Cargo.  

Click here  if you would like to read about Jane’s first three days on Captain Marston’s ship, from her  Behind the scenes diary.

And finally, I would be delighted  if you visited my website  susanlodge.com   or my facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Alternative CV – Quick fire questions for authors.

Today I am delighted to welcome to ‘The Alternative CV’ UK multi published author, Ailsa Abraham.12899979_603684189783591_1253017068_n

Hi Ailsa.  Make yourself comfortable, help yourself to a  custard cream, kick off your shoes and tell us all …

One quality you have which other people who know you might question?

I am totally consumed by self-doubt. I come across as bold and brave – I am not

A fictional character you fantasise over/ fell in love with? (One of your own preferably.)

Iamo, obviously. The lead male character in my Alchemy series – but I am also very fond of Jack and Rory although they are gay so my hopes with them are zero.

One item you would consign to Room 101?

Phones on public transport, either people yelling down them or using them make the rest of the world disappear. Very rude

One line that sums up your WIP this week?

Still on hold while I recover.

One sentence that sums up your thoughts about social media?

An occasional pain in the backside through which I have made very many real friends and near-family.

Kindle, tablet or paperback. Which one do you go to bed with and why?
Mainly Kindle but if I love a book I buy the paperback to keep for always.

One thing lurking on your writing desk that shouldn’t be there?
Just one? Ahahahah – OK, a collection of adorable much-loved, charming geegaws like a robot pencil sharpener, several waving cats etc etc.

Waving cats !  That’s different. And I agree with you about phones. 

Now readers I need to explain that  the intrepid Ailsa has had her head shaved  for the Macmillan cancer fund raising event – BRAVE THE SHAVE . Here are the after and before pictures. 

12899979_603684189783591_1253017068_n             12476179_603684116450265_848992477_n

She is still taking contributions, so if you would if you like to support her with this very worthy cause, here are the links. https://www.justgiving.com/account/your-pages/Ailsa-Abraham2
http://www.justgiving.com    

Now, lets have a  quick  taster of  Ailsa’s  lastest books.
Alchemy and Shaman’s Drum  are published by Crooked Cat Publishing

515bNcrrwIL._SX308_BO1,204,203,200_A world without war?
Professor Sawhele Fielding stumbles across an invention that would change the world; something so monumental, it could spell the end of environmental disaster and conflict. With the help of her father, a shadowy figure in the world of international banking, she begins to set into motion the biggest upheaval the planet has seen.
But in a changed world, dark forces are threatening the fragile peace. Where modern technology is proving useless, old magic from a bygone era might just save the day. Adrian Oliver, expert in ancient religions is skeptical until faced with incontrovertible proof that ancient evil is abroad once again.
How could a Utopian dream of free fuel and peaceful co-existence turn into a nightmare?

51eTP0WPH9L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_England in the near future.
Mainstream religions have been outlawed, and the old gods rule again.
Iamo has been a priest of the Great Mother and is sworn to celibacy, but his love for Riga, a Black Shaman, a magical assassin, caused him to break his vows. After being imprisoned apart from each other for three years, Iamo accepts an offer to earn them both a pardon and the possibility of marriage. If they survive.

Iamo and Riga must discover why demons are breaking through from the other side. Which of the cults are renegades who allow the demons through? Who can they trust?
Combining their powers, they face the ordeal with the help of a band of eclectic pagans, spirit creatures, Riga’s Black Shaman brothers, an undercover Christian granny, and three unusually energetic Goths.
It’s a tough assignment, but the hope of a life together keeps them fighting

  Four Go Mad in Catalonia – self-published, available from Smashwords

    When Nanny Ab and The Ancient Mariner (not forgetting the faithful hounds) decide to look for a peaceful spot for her to write in the sun, they head for their usual hide-away in Spain. It’s June, they know the place and the only thing Nanny knows she’s forgotten is her hairdryer. So what can possibly go wrong?

 

More about Ailsa

Ailsa Abraham retired early from a string of jobs, ending up with teaching English to adults. She has lived in France since 1990 and is married with no children but six grandchildren. Her passion is motorbikes which have taken the place of horses in her life now that ill-health prevents her riding. She copes with Bipolar Condition, a twisted spine and increasing deafness with her usual wry humour – “well if I didn’t have all those, I’d have to work for a living, instead of being an author, which is much more fun.”. Her ambition in life is to keep breathing. She has no intention of stopping writing.

You can catch up with Ailsa at –

Twitter – @ailsaabraham

Facebook – Ailsa Abraham

Amazon Author Page

Thank you for being a lovely guest Ailsa !

The Alternative CV – Quick fire questions for authors.

My talented guest on the Alternative CV today is UK author Kathy Sharp.

Hello, Susan, and many thanks for the opportunity to appear on the Alternative CV.

Great to see you  Kathy. Now, make yourself comfortable, help yourself to a chocolate digestive and tell me….12695509_774244632679352_851141837_o

 One quality you have which other people who know you might question.
I’m incurably lazy. Other people admire my industry in completing three novels, but I still think I’m bone idle.

 A fictional character you fantasise over/ fell in love with. (One of your own preferably.)
I can’t honestly say I fantasise over any fictional character, including any of my own. But I do have a soft spot for Captain Jack Sparrow. 

 One item you would consign to Room 101.
Garlic. Can’t bear the smell of the stuff.

One line that sums up your WIP this week.                                                         Coming along nicely, now that I know how it ends!
One sentence that sums up your thoughts about social media.
Not necessarily evil, but still a necessary evil. 

   Kindle, tablet or paperback. Which one do you go to bed with and why?
Sometimes Kindle, sometimes paperback. I have been known to dozily tap the paperback  to make the page turn. It doesn’t work, you know.

 One thing lurking on your writing desk that shouldn’t be there?
A copy of the Royal Horticultural Society Plant Finder. It means I’m enjoying myself  sorting out my plant photos when I ought to be writing.
  Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years’ time.                                         I would love to think I’ll have another four or five books published by then. Each one  teaches me so much, and I still have plenty more stories to tell.

 I can’t agree with you on the garlic Kathy, but delighted to hear there will be more of your stories on the way.  Now give us a  taste of your latest books.

  The Larus Trilogy is published by Crooked Cat Publishing.12714073_774244446012704_1236337396_n

Isle of Larus is an adventure tale in a fantastical setting, featuring a fleet of impossible ships, strange prophecies and a pub landlady with an alarming secret. Warm, humorous and unforgettable, the Isle of Larus and its people will steal your heart. One of the most original books you’ll ever read. Available in paperback and e-book formats http://tinyurl.com/olfyskv

 

 

There are further adventures and frights for the people of Larus in the second book in the 12674378_774244496012699_1767352556_nseries, Sea of Clouds. A singer of odd ballads, unusually polite pirates, a message in a bottle and a bald parrot all feature. And can you solve the riddle of the knotted cord? Bet you can’t! Available in e-book formats http://amzn.to/1wYCPH0

The third book in the trilogy, All the Wild Weather, will be published by Crooked Cat later this year.

Kathy Sharp lives in Weymouth, Dorset, and takes her writing inspiration from the beautiful Jurassic Coast. She publishes a new story every Monday morning on her blog https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2728164.Kathy_Sharp/blog

The Alternative CV – Quick fire questions for authors.

This week, I am very happy to welcome, multi published author, Sue Barnard  to the Alternative CV.  

Take a seat Sue, make yourself comfortable and tell me…Sue Barnard Author [381552]

One quality you have which other people who know you might question.

In spite of appearing to have “feminist” views, I’m not a radical feminist – it’s just that I cannot accept that the presence or absence of a certain bodily appendage should make any difference to the way a person is regarded or treated. I’m always reminded of the words of Rebecca West: why should a woman be labelled a feminist simply because she refuses to be a doormat?

 A  fictional character you fantasise over/ fell in love with. (One of your own preferably.)
Fra’ Lorenzo (my eponymous Ghostly Father) – who is better known as Friar Lawrence in Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. I’ve always been fascinated by him, and have often wondered why, in the play, he acted as he did. By giving him what I hope is an interesting and thought-provoking backstory, I’ve tried to offer some possible answers.

One item you would consign to Room 101.
There’s an awful lot of stuff I’d like to consign to Room 101, but top of my list is the degrading and insulting phrase “non-working mother”, when used to describe a mother who stays at home to look after her children. I’d also consign anyone who uses it. Especially politicians.

One line that sums up your WIP this week.
Still in progress!

One sentence that sums up your thoughts about social media.
It’s a good friend (and I’d have to agree that for writers it’s an essential rather than a luxury), but a bad enemy – there are some pretty weird people out there!

 Kindle, tablet or paperback. Which one do you go to bed with and why?

When I’m on holiday, it’s paperback or Kindle. Otherwise, it’s tablet. I like to check the news and weather before I go to sleep. How sad is that?

 One thing lurking on your writing desk that shouldn’t be there?
A broken necklace. Don’t ask.

Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years’ time?
I hope I’ll still be here. Who knows, by then I might have even finished my WIP!

Now, tell me about your recent release, and treat us to a little taster.

TUCOA front [381553]My most recent release, The Unkindest Cut of All, is a murder mystery set in a theatre during an am-dram production of Julius Caesar. I’ve drawn on my love of the theatre and my own experience of am-dram backstage work to create the setting. But the plot and the characters are, I’m happy to say, pure invention!
In the story, the part of Caesar is played by Brian Wilmer, who is the by far the company’s best actor. Unfortunately, he knows this – and he makes sure that everybody else also knows it. As a result, over the years he has made himself extremely unpopular with cast and crew alike.

In this extract, which takes place halfway through performance week, Brian is trying his charms on Sarah, one of the backstage crew (who also plays the part of Soothsayer):

“Drink, Sarah, dah-ling?”
Sarah hadn’t heard Brian approaching as she stood waiting to be served at the bar, and in view of what she’d heard about him the previous evening, she felt more than just a little uncomfortable in his presence. But for the sake of keeping things on an even keel, at least until the end of the run, she turned to face him and forced a smile.
“Thanks, Brian. That’s very kind of you. I’ll have pint of bitter, please.”
“OOOH, a lady who drinks pints?”
Not for the first time, Sarah had to suppress her irritation at having to explain it.
“Yes, I drink pints. I like beer, and there’s no point in my drinking halves. I get very thirsty and they don’t last.”
“Fair point, I suppose, fair lady! And I can’t say I blame you. I’ve worked up a pretty thirst myself. I think I might take a leaf out of your book. Now, you go and find us some seats, and I’ll be right back.”
He strode up to the bar and returned a couple of minutes later with two brimming pint pots.
“Cheers, sweetie!” Brian sat down opposite her, raised his glass and took a swig.
“Cheers. And thank you.” Sarah smiled and returned the gesture.
“That wasn’t a bad audience, for a Wednesday,” Brian went on. “I can’t believe we’re halfway through the run already. How time flies when you’re enjoying yourself!”
“Are you enjoying it?” Sarah asked as she took another sip of her drink. She knew before she asked that it was a pointless question, but all the same it made something to say.
“Am I enjoying it, dah-ling? Tell me, sweetie, is the Pope a Catholic?”
Sarah forced a smile.
“I knew it was a stupid question. Have you done any Shakespeare before?”
Brian’s face creased into a broad grin at the prospect of talking about his favourite subject – himself.
“Oh yes. I started very young, you know. Oddly enough, my first role was in this very play.”
“Really?” Sarah called on her own acting abilities and pretended to look interested. “What part did you play?”
“Lucius. It was a school play. Most of the other parts were played by sixth-formers, but they needed a younger boy to play the servant. It wasn’t a huge part, but it was the first of many. I was well and truly bitten by the acting bug by the end of it.”
“Oh yes? What came next?”
“The following year the school did A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I played Puck.”
“Then what?”
“After that, it was The Tempest. That time I played Caliban. Then the following year it was Hamlet, and I was Polonius.”
“Wasn’t he the one who was stabbed through the arras? I always thought that sounded slightly rude!”
Brian chuckled.
“Then, the following year,” he went on, “the school decided to do Romeo and Juliet.”
“Were you Romeo?” Somehow Sarah could picture Brian playing Romeo (though she couldn’t imagine what it must have been like for Juliet). So his reply came as something of a shock to her.
“No. The producers decided that I would make a much more convincing Tybalt.”
Sarah winced.
“What’s the matter?” Brian asked, with a rare display of concern.
“Sorry. It’s just that I’ve never liked Tybalt. No offence intended,” she added hastily.
“None taken, I assure you, dah-ling! No, I don’t think anyone is supposed to like Tybalt. That’s one of the things which makes him such an interesting character.”
“Really? I’d never imagined it in those terms before.”
“How well do you know the play?”
“Fairly well. I first did it at school. They showed us the Zeffirelli film…”
“Oh yes. That was a real cinematic masterpiece. And it was such a treat to see them played by actors who were the right age!”
“Wasn’t it just?” Sarah agreed.
“Oh yes. Well, anyway, Tybalt is often seen as a one-dimensional character; a troublemaker who hates purely for the sake of hating. Nobody has a good word to say about him…”
Sarah raised an eyebrow. “I know some real people like that!”
“Don’t we all, dah-ling! But elsewhere in the play, we’re told that Juliet loved her kinsman dearly. So he must have had some redeeming qualities, even though the audience never sees that side of him. That was what made him such a challenge to play. I had to somehow find a way of suggesting that he wasn’t all bad.”
“I’d never thought of that,” Sarah answered truthfully.
“No, dah-ling, most people don’t.”
“What did you do after that?”
“Nothing more at school, because that was my final year. But when I went to university I joined the Dramatic Society. In my first year I was Malvolio in Twelfth Night…”
Sarah grinned as a comical picture came into her mind. “Somehow I can imagine you in yellow stockings and cross gaiters!”
“Thank you, sweetie. But there’s a lot more to Malvolio than just some silly legwear! He’s actually quite a complex character. Then in the second year I was Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew, and in my last year I was Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.”
“Wow! That’s a pretty impressive repertoire.”
Brian smiled. “Thank you, dah-ling. So you see, I’m no stranger to the Bard. But until now I’ve never managed to play the mighty Caesar.”
By now Sarah had had more than enough of Brian’s constant stream of self-glorification. As he paused to take a swig of his drink, she took advantage of the opportunity to change the subject.
“I met your nephew at the dress rehearsal on Sunday.”
“Oh yes, he told me that you’d been very helpful. He was gutted at not being able to come to any of the performances.”
“He mentioned that he was on evening shifts this week.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“What does he do?”
“He’s a chef. He works at the Royal.”
Whatever sort of response Sarah might have been expecting, this was not it.
“Really?”
“Yes, really. Believe me, dah-ling, there are times when it’s very useful to have a tame food expert in the family!”
“I can imagine,” Sarah sighed wistfully. Cooking was definitely not one of her own strong points.
It was not a brilliant reply, but she figured it would suffice. She got the impression that Brian wasn’t really listening to what she was saying anyway. That impression was strengthened by his next remark.
“Talking of Martin, that reminds me, dah-ling. Can I ask you a HUGE favour?”
“You can ask, of course. But I can’t promise to grant it until I know what it is. You might be asking me to do something totally illegal!”
Brian grinned.
“Well, not strictly speaking illegal, but a little, shall we say, unorthodox?”
Sarah took another mouthful of her pint.
“Go on.”
“Well, sweetie, Martin tried to get a ticket for the Saturday performance, but as you know, it’s a complete sell-out. But would it be OK to let him come backstage on Saturday evening and watch from the wings?”
Sarah choked on her beer.
“I’m sorry, Brian,” she said, once she had got her breath back, “but I don’t think that would be up to me. You’d really need to ask John about it. And Alan too – backstage admin is his department, not mine.”
“OK, sweetie pie. I’ll go and have a word with them. But if I do manage to swing it with them, you will look after him for me, won’t you?”
Sarah nodded noncommittally. As Brian flounced off towards where John and Alan were sitting, she realised that this had probably been the reason why he had bought her a drink in the first place. Brian never did anything without some kind of ulterior motive. By the time he reappeared a few minutes later, Sarah’s glass was empty.
“Another drink?”
“No thanks, Brian. I need to get going.” She stood up and reached for her coat. “Did you have any luck?”
“Yes, dah-ling, it’s all settled. So I can leave Martin in your capable hands on Saturday evening. Thank you SO much!”
Sarah had mixed feelings about having Martin left in her capable hands. She had plenty to think about as it was, without having the added complication of having to babysit Brian’s nephew. All the same, the brief conversation she’d had with him on Sunday afternoon had suggested that he seemed a pleasant enough chap. If she could find somewhere for him to sit where he wouldn’t be in anybody’s way, he shouldn’t be any trouble. Unlike his uncle, she thought, with a wry smile. All those Shakespearean performances. No wonder Brian was such a prima donna…

To find out more:
The Ghostly Father: Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, Apple iBooks
Nice Girls Don’t: Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo Apple iBooks
The Unkindest Cut of All: Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, Apple iBooks

And I hope Mr Shakespeare will forgive me for repeatedly hijacking his plots!

I am sure he will Sue.   A very enticing extract ! 

Thanks for being a brilliant guest.

The Alternative CV – Quick fire questions for authors

This week I am delighted to welcome UK author Angela Wren to  The Alternative CV.

 Great to meet you Angela and thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions for us.

Let’s start with –

AEWBlackWhite Angela Wren

One quality you have which other people who know you might question.

To a lot of people I appear very well organised and focussed with everything in its place and a place for everything. Those people may be surprised to learn that my desk in my ‘Writing Shed’ is a disaster. I know exactly what is on there, of course, it’s just that I can’t be bothered to file it or bin it. Well, you never know when that bit of paper with that random scrap of a note on it might be useful. Oh and the post-it notes. The pad on my desk is covered in post-it notes for exactly the same reason.

A fictional character you fantasise over/ fell in love with. (One of your own preferably.)

I’m far too much of a realist to do any fantasising, so I don’t have anyone who fits the bill at all. However, I am writing the follow up to Messandrierre at the moment and my hero, Jacques Forêt, is currently my constant imaginary companion. And he’s quite a guy too, tall, dark-haired, French, honest, steely and determined, kind and generous. He’s also been described by one reviewer as ‘quietly sexy’. Actually, I think I’ve just found my first fantasy! Would be good if it were that simple to create such gorgeous guys for real!

One item you would consign to Room 101.

Spiders – all sizes, shapes, designs and colours. I don’t care what they do or if they’re pretty or not – mostly not, in my view – I absolutely cannot stand them and I blame my brothers for this irrationality.

One line that sums up your WIP this week.

One line? Can do that in one word. RATS! (Random Adjectives Temporarily Suspended)

One sentence that sums up your thoughts about social media.

Ditto, but scratch the bit in brackets!

Kindle, tablet or paperback. Which one do you go to bed with and why?

None of those. I do own a tablet and I do have a Kindle app on there but reading for pleasure from a screen really isn’t something I want to do by choice. It just spells business change and project management work to me. Paperbacks – yes I can handle those and frequently do, but I consider them to be frivolous and temporary reading companions. It’s First Editions that I really get excited about. A beautifully bound book with dust jacket and some amazingly good words inside. Add to that the thrill of the chase to find said book, the DJHangoverSq Angela Wrenrealisation upon discovery and viewing from afar that the book really is the one of your dreams. Then the frisson of anticipation as you espy the spine of your sort after book   across a crowded bookshop. You rush across to introduce yourself and then feel the nervousness as you worry about whether the content will engage your mind and whether the dust jacket is a little too worn or the pages a little too foxed. Then the heart-melting realisation that the book really is for you and you make the purchase. Next, it’s the final journey home and a resting place on the bookshelf, where said tome will live in perfect harmony with you and provide everlasting entertainment. It’s a marriage made in heaven as far as I’m concerned. A book of such calibre is welcome on my bedside table any night of the week!

One thing lurking on your writing desk that shouldn’t be there?

Apart from the post-it notes you mean? The Wolseley car decal from the 1920’s. I’ve been researching my family history and one of my ancestors was a Chauffeur Mechanic and he drove a Wolseley A4. I tried to trace the car but couldn’t find it. So my brother bought me the decal from some car boot sale and gave it to me as a consolation prize.

Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years’ time?
Hopefully with the whole series of my Jacques Forêt novels on the shelves in bookshops. My anthology of alternative Fairy Tales selling well with probably a follow up in the pipeline. Maybe working on my series of romantic crime novellas featuring Nicolas Cheverny. Negotiating the film rights for Messandrierre? Proud owner of a red Morgan V8 maybe? Who knows!

Tell us a little more about yourself  Angela.

Having followed a career in Project and Business Change Management, I now work as an Actor and Director at a local theatre. I’ve been writing, in a serious way, for about 5 years. My work in project management has always involved drafting, so writing, in its various forms, has been a significant feature throughout my adult life.

I particularly enjoy the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work. My short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical. I also write comic flash-fiction and have drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio. The majority of my stories are set in France where I like to spend as much time as possible each year.

And finally give us a taster of   Messandrierre  which, I notice, has received  great reviews. 

CoverArt A Wren

Sacrificing his job in investigation following an incident in Paris, Jacques Forêt has only a matter of weeks to solve a series of mysterious disappearances as a Gendarme in the rural French village of Messandrierre.

But, as the number of missing persons rises, his difficult and hectoring boss puts obstacles in his way. Steely and determined, Jacques won’t give up and, when a new Investigating Magistrate is appointed, he becomes the go-to local policeman for all the work on the case.

Will he find the perpetrators before his lover, Beth, becomes a victim?

Messandrierre – the first in a new crime series featuring investigator, Jacques Forêt.

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Smashwords
Website : http://www.angelawren.co.uk
Blog : http://www.jamesetmoi.blogspot.com
Facebook : Angela Wren
Goodreads : Angela Wren

 

 

 

Ringing out the naval day. Some thoughts behind the writing of ‘Rebellious Cargo’

I started  my writing career penning short stories for magazines, mostly contemporary romance, but when it came to novels I knew exactly where I wanted to base my first historical romance.

Having worked in BristoIMG00094-20120427-1221l, Bath, Portsmouth and London I have always been lucky enough to have a wealth of  Georgian architecture and naval history close by. Nelson’s flag ship, Buckler’s Hard, the Bath Assembly Rooms, Greenwich  and Jane Austen’s house at Chawton have all been past haunts to gather the flavour of the period. So it’s not surprising that  Rebellious Cargo  is set in the early nineteenth century  aboard a sailing ship.

But once I had chosen my vessel I needed to research the ship’s routine, the decks the rigging, the hierarchy,  the whistles and  the significance of the ship’s bell.

‘Jane put her fingers in her mouth and let out a loud, high-pitched whistle, which caused the whole watch to instantly turn in her direction. A babble of loud, confused voices swept through the lower deck. They responded to bells and hails, but none were too sure what this particular whistle indicated.’  Extract from – Rebellious Cargo. .

The whistles and bells  heard on board  were understood by all hands and everyone knew where they should be. And God help them if they weren’t at their posts at the prescribed time. The ring of the ship’s bell was an incessant sound that punctuated the day along with the turning of the glass – a sand filled instrument that measured the half hour intervals.  A bit like an egg  timer. Ah…remember egg timers, such simplicity and yet the egg always  turned out perfect.glaa

The sailor’s  day  was split into  5 x 4 hour watches and 2 x 2 hour watches (the dog-watches). Each watch was punctuated every half hour by  the ringing of the bell and turning of the glass. Half an hour into a watch  there would be one ring of the bell, one  hour into the watch two rings of the bell and so on until eight bells signalled  the end of a 4 hour watch.  The bell ringing  made everyone aboard aware of how much longer they had to work  before they could finish their watch.

The watches consisted of : first watch – 20:00hrs to midnight, middle watch – midnight to 04:00hrs, morning watch – 0400 to 08:oohrs, forenoon watch  08:00hrs to noon, afternoon watch -noon to 16:00hrs, First dog-watch – 16:00hrs to 18:00hrs  and the second dog-watch – 18:00hrs to 20:00hrs.

The two shorter watches  made  the total shifts an odd number, therefore facilitating  the shift rotation, so  the same crew were not always on  duty  at the same times of the day.  It also ensured that everyone could eat the evening meal at a reasonable time.

11846566_946751408701989_4918351381284821063_n rebellious cargo

I learnt quite a lot about  life  at sea whist writing   Rebellious Cargo. And the great thing of having your hero and heroine on board ship is that they can’t run far from each other.

Here is a taster Jane Charlesworth, daughter of England’s foremost code breaker, is the only person thought capable of deciphering a vital government document. But when a naval frigate is sent to enlist her services and transport her to Malta, Jane is horrified. Haunted with terrible memories of an earlier voyage, she has no intention of putting herself under the protection of the Admiralty ever again.

Anxious to be at the forefront of the action as the peace with France crumbles, Adam Marston is livid when his ship is diverted to collect a reluctant blue-stocking whose accusing eyes and insolent manner hold nothing but contempt for him and his orders. Sparks fly when captain and code breaker find they have different ideas on how to handle a French attack, a malicious chaplain, and boisterous midshipmen.

Duty and desire collide as they approach Malta, but Jane is determined that her judgment will not be clouded by Adam who, once he has despatched his Rebellious Cargo, will sail out of her life again. But, as the ship docks, Jane’s life becomes a nightmare and she is forced to gamble that Adam is the only person she can trust.

As passion battles with duty, will future orders throw them together or tear them apart?

To read a longer extract please visit my website susanlodge.com 

REBELLIOUS CARGO  availzble at – Amazon   Smashwords  Nook   Kobo   itunes    

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