Posted in Uncategorized

Letters from Lebanon…

Hello everyone, I´d like to present the memoir “Letters from Lebanon by Caroline Karkoutli and Sue Kelso Ryan (ghostwriter).” Sue has kindly let us read chapter one of this new release. I hope you like it.

 

 

LETTERS from lebanon Cover_23.7.19

Blurb:

Caroline is a headstrong young woman looking for adventure, who quits her job in London for a challenging teaching career in Lebanon. Living and working in the mountain villages near Beirut, she develops two great passions. One is for Fathi, a mysterious and attractive older man, who is Muslim; a complete contrast to her own upbringing. The other is the country itself – the cosmopolitan ‘Switzerland of the Middle East’, with its exotic food, beaches and mountain resorts. Soon her peaceful existence is shattered by civil war and the bitterly fought international tensions of the 1970s and 80s. When the first shells fall on her village, Caroline has some painful decisions to make that will change her life forever. How will she protect her new-found happiness and the lives of those she loves?

Caroline’s description of Lebanon is nostalgic for the country that welcomed her, a stranger, as one of its own.

PROLOGUE

Cheltenham, 2019

Dear Fathi,

Look what I found today, hidden among a collection of photos, in a carton that once contained Turkish cigarettes – an old black and white photograph of you in your Syrian cavalry uniform. That was a lifetime ago. What a handsome chap you were. Seeing it again, I’m not surprised I fell for your almond-shaped eyes and your smile that seemed to be only for me. Of course, I never saw you in uniform; that was when you were young. By the time we met, your face showed the creases of age and experience. Come to think of it, it’s a miracle that we did meet – a Turkish journalist who lived in Syria and was straight out of prison, and an English schoolteacher, who both happened to be on the same bus to Turkey. Neither of us knew then what was in store for us together, but I’m grateful for that chance encounter every day.

With all my love, Caroline

I glance back at the black and white photograph of the young man and turn over another. Here’s Fathi again, a slightly older man with a beard and wearing swimming trunks, posing unselfconsciously on a beach. A third picture is in colour and shows him on stone steps in front of a building with a balcony, railings, and bougainvillea growing wild everywhere. Without meaning to, I sigh, recalling our life together.

Looking back, my own adventures began because of my philosophy, “I like to travel; therefore I will teach.” I don’t know what career choices you were offered when you were about to leave school, but we were told, “Well you can be a teacher or a secretary.” That’s all we were offered. There was nothing that suggested adventure. Nothing that involved getting away from home and exploring whatever the world might offer me. Nothing appealing at all. Certainly, nobody mentioned living abroad, marrying a political activist who spoke Arabic, and raising my children in the midst of a civil war. Come to think of it, that might not have sounded too appealing to the young me either. I was rebellious but not at all familiar with the ways of the world.

I turn again to the photograph in my hand, holding it to the light and gazing again on the handsome man it depicts. Middle-aged, smiling, bearded – it is my husband and everything about him is familiar to me. But where was the photo taken? Did I take it? Maybe it was taken by a friend or family member before we met. I struggle to remember, cursing the dementia diagnosis that means my memory is ebbing away, little by little, carrying with it the memories I treasure.

A deafening crash nearby. I flinch, turning my head to locate the source of the danger, even though it is 30 years since I lived in a war zone. Realisation dawns. It was just the children next door playing. No bombs; no threat of imminent injury or death. Just my mind playing tricks on me again. My heartbeat gradually returns to normal. I let the photo slip onto the table in front of me, take a sip of my tea and take up my pen. Well, this book is hardly going to write itself, is it?

CHAPTER ONE

October, 1970

 

Dear Mum, Dad and Sheila,

This is just a quick line to let you know that the plane was on time yesterday and I arrived safely.

The school is in a small village called Choueifat, about six miles south of Beirut, and there was a driver waiting at the airport to take me there. I was introduced to Mr and Mrs Saad, the school’s owners, and had a meal with them last night. Mrs Saad talked a little to me about the school and what I would be expected to do.

I met the other teachers today. They are very kind and friendly. The kids are an excitable bunch, but I think we’ll get on OK. It has been very wet here, so it’s lucky I brought my big coat. I’m hoping to get out and explore and maybe see Beirut soon. Apparently, we can ring the UK from a local shop, but we will need to arrange a time. Shall we say Sunday at five, your time? I think this letter will reach you before then. 

I hope everything is well with you. I will write again next week with some more news.

Love from Caroline.

I peered out of the window of the aircraft as it descended towards Beirut. We flew over the port area, low-rise office buildings, blocks of flats, hotels and boulevards, all seemingly squashed between mountains and the intensely turquoise-blue sea. A surge of excitement rose in me, as the ground rose to meet the wheels of the aircraft, and we bumped along the runway. After disembarking the plane, I made my way through the bustling terminal building to the exit, clutching my small suitcase tightly. I searched the crowds outside for the driver who should be there to meet me. Someone touched my arm and I turned to see a small, slim, dark-haired man, meeting his wide grin with my own enthusiastic smile. He had a placard with my name on it. 

“Miss Begbie?” he asked, taking my bag without taking his eyes from mine. “I’m Ahmed.”

“That’s me! Are you taking me to Choueifat?”

The driver nodded his head solemnly. He seemed to recognise my poor attempt at pronouncing the village name and as far as I could tell he wasn’t judging me. He popped open the boot of his gleaming black Mercedes and loaded my bag, before helping me into the back seat of the car. If anything, the interior of the car was hotter than the humid air outside and I was grateful when he rolled down the windows. The driver swung the vehicle out into the traffic, and I lost my breath as he accelerated and swerved, heading north, then doubling back onto a highway heading south. In no time, we left the city behind and the busy, two-lane road cut through farmland. My impression was that most villages in Lebanon seemed to be at the tops of hills. We passed small houses in valleys, vineyards on the terraced hillsides and an abundance of fruit and vegetable plots in the farmland at the side of the highway. But what struck me especially was the backdrop of vast, arid, mountainous hillsides that dominated the skyline. I saw what seemed like whole families working in fields dotted with vast ranks of olive trees, where they spread sheets out under the trees, beating the branches with sticks until the olives dropped down in a cloud of leaves. Others were gathering vegetables and loading reluctant donkeys with burdens that their slim legs seemed ill-equipped to bear. Before long the driver threw the car off the highway and onto a smaller road. As the road began weaving up into the hillside, I looked back at the turquoise-blue of the Mediterranean.

I leaned forward, gripping the bench seat that divided the front from the back of the car, “Is this the way to the school?” Ahmed caught my eye in the rear-view mirror and nodded and slowed very slightly, as he negotiated the hairpin bends. We still passed houses occasionally, set in the pine-forested hillside and I caught glimpses of the sea again, now bathed in an orange glow of the setting sun. Gradually, more houses and the odd shop began to cluster around the edge of the road, and we entered a village. Soon we swung left, past a gateway and along a short drive.

“Welcome to Choueifat School,” Ahmed announced, springing out of the taxi and depositing my suitcase on a rough-cobbled courtyard. Leaping back in, he departed as fast as he came, leaving me in a haze of blue diesel fumes, gazing after him. Then silence. Or rather, not really silence; there was a cacophony of bird song and cicadas as the local wildlife began to settle for the night. I looked around. In front of me was a two-storey building with a balcony and graceful arches, with two single-storey, flat-roofed buildings forming a u-shape on either side of the main block. The pines surrounding the courtyard had faded to black silhouettes as the sun set. My eye was drawn to the only source of light, which was coming from a large, square building to my left and up a steep set of steps from the courtyard. Someone appeared to be waiting for me there, so I set off towards them.

“Miss Begbie? Welcome to Choueifat. Let me take your bag and I’ll introduce you to Mr and Mrs Saad right away.” The neat, middle-aged woman took my bag and led me along a path beside the buildings, then up a flight of steps to a large stone villa with a balcony and shutters. At the door, I was handed, relay-style, to a young man, who led me along a dimly lit, stone-floored corridor. I blinked as we entered a large, grand living space and smiled as an elegantly dressed woman approached and offered her hand.

“Welcome to Choueifat School, Miss Begbie. I am Leila Saad,” she said.

“Caroline,” I said, “and thank you. It’s good to meet you in person.”

Mrs Saad did all the talking; a beautifully presented woman, she was slim, elegant and stylish. Almost without realising, I found myself trying to tidy my hair and brush down the creases in my travelling clothes with my hands. 

“And this is my husband, Charles Saad.”

Casting my eyes to one side, I saw that Mr Saad had settled in an armchair and was content to let his wife do the introductions and tell me about the school. In stark contrast to his wife, he was a heavily built man, whose stomach hung down over the belt of his trousers. Evidently, he liked his food! He smiled slightly and nodded in my general direction. He seemed preoccupied with some paperwork, so I turned once again to his beautiful wife. 

“I hope you had a good journey, Caroline?” she enquired. “Let’s get you settled and then perhaps you’d like to join us for supper?”

Shortly after, I found myself sitting at a dining table, chatting to Mrs Saad and being waited on as though I was the most important of guests, rather than a young, inexperienced teacher, taking up a post in a foreign country for the first time and ever so slightly out of my depth. The food I was presented with was completely new to me but delicious and I ate hungrily everything that was served. I’d not had anything like it before – what the hell was it? “Thank you,” I said, as each dish arrived. I remembered my table manners and tried to make polite conversation, though I had no idea what passed for polite conversation at a Lebanese dinner table.

Looking around as we ate, I saw that the Saad residence was tastefully and expensively decorated, with gilt-framed works of art on the stone walls and rich rugs and soft furnishings. Our food was served on delicate china and we drank from crystal glasses, which twinkled in the subtle lighting.

Darkness had fallen swiftly. Soon after we’d eaten, Mrs Saad found a torch and we took a short walk around the school site, with Mrs Saad pointing out the dormitories, the kindergarten and primary classrooms, and the buildings where the older children were taught. Then the housekeeper took me to my room, where I had time to reflect a little on what I had discovered so far. The Saad family were welcoming, and their western dress was familiar, so that was a good start. 

Settling into my new surroundings, I thought of my parents, back home in London, and the plain English cooking that my mum prepared there every day. I wondered what they would make of my new surroundings. I remembered my parents waving me off at the airport just a few hours earlier. In those days, communications weren’t anything like today – no internet, no instant messaging and not much chance of hearing from each other for weeks at a time. I knew I wouldn’t get news from home for a while but if I’m honest, I was ready for a break from being accountable and looking for an adventure.

If you know me now, you might be surprised when I say I was quiet and shy in my early twenties. If you’d met me then, you would probably describe me as a listener; someone who observed life, kept their ambitions for adventure and their passions inside. When things didn’t go my way, I would accept that and deal with it, but I wouldn’t walk away.

What did my parents think, when I announced that I was heading to Beirut to teach? I hardly know now whether they were afraid for me, but I suppose they put up with the idea, realising that I was going to have to go and work things out for myself. They still had my younger sister Sheila around, after all. Like most young people, I don’t suppose I considered them while making my decision. All I knew was that I wanted to travel, and this was my chance. 

I wasn’t set on going anywhere in particular, as long as it was past Europe; further away. I didn’t want to go to France or Germany or anywhere like that. Somewhere where they were likely to want a teacher. I wasn’t aiming to do good or anything; I was purely satisfying my own aim of going abroad to find out what the rest of the world was like. I was looking for travel and excitement. Most people said, “What are you doing that for? You could get a job here. I’ve got a nice job in Brize Norton,” or something similar. I suppose they were surprised that it was me who was the one going on an adventure. As I say, I was fairly quiet and shy as a youngster when I didn’t know people; quite happy to listen and comply, rather than putting my oar in. Teachers would say, “And what do you think, Caroline?” And I’d jump in surprise and give some sort of feeble response. But underneath it all I’m one for adventure, even though I don’t expect to know what will happen. I just accept things and deal with them. So, I applied for various jobs overseas and before long my appointment to a school in Lebanon was arranged. I couldn’t wait.

It wasn’t my first trip overseas; that was to Sweden, when I was in my teens. Dad had relatives of some sort in Stockholm and I was invited to visit them. I found that quite frightening, as everything was in a foreign language. I had thought that I might try to learn Swedish, but I didn’t. I am not a linguist, I don’t absorb languages easily at all, so I found Swedish hard graft. The country itself wasn’t like England; everything – including street names, food, clothes styles and architecture – was slightly different and new to me. I had a really nice time with my hosts, who were welcoming and took me to a whole variety of interesting places, such as the city of Uppsala and along by the lakes. It was a great holiday and it kick-started my determination to travel to foreign lands.

On my first morning in Choueifat, I woke early, to heavy rain and wondered what to expect. I was looking forward to it but had no preconceived ideas about teaching in a different country. I had been recruited to teach English to all the infant classes at Choueifat school, and Mrs Saad had said that meant I would be moving between classrooms at the end of each class, indicated by the ringing of a bell. All the other classes were taught in Arabic. 

I was taken down what seemed like endless, slippery steps to be shown the staff room and where I would teach. The classrooms were in the u-shaped courtyard I’d seen the night before – four rooms in what I had at first taken to be some dilapidated stables. This was the infant section of the school, and as I opened the door to one of the classrooms, I spotted that the roof had already begun to leak, and buckets had been found to catch the water. I’d arrived in October and this, it seemed, was the rainy season.

The children began to arrive; a complete mixture of European and Middle Eastern complexions, dress and languages. Some were local but the majority jumped down from expensive foreign cars that seemed barely to hesitate near the driveway before swishing away through puddles on the rutted road. Many of the kids were wet by the time they reached the classroom.

The morning passed in a blur of introductions, new classrooms, noise and excitement. When the bell rang for the end of the final session, I followed some of the other teachers to the staff room and plonked myself down in a chair, feeling weary already. Soon Mrs Saad was at my elbow, introducing me to my colleagues and arranging for one to take me to lunch.

Over the meal table, I asked one of my colleagues, “How come the kids are soaked when they arrive – do they come far?”

“You’ve seen the ones in the Mercs and limos?” one replied. “They’re from rich Beirut families and their family chauffeurs bring them up the hill from the city. Then there are the expat families, and some of the other kids are boarders from Middle Eastern families who have got wealthy from oil money. They just have to come down from the dormitory buildings. The others are village kids, and many of them have walked some miles to get here. The school’s reputation is good, and the families are desperate to have their kids educated, even if that means they get soaked on their way here!”

“Have you noticed that the Saads don’t spend much of their fat school fees on roof repairs or heating?” chipped in another teacher. “You can’t fail to notice the buckets on the classroom floors, collecting the rainwater that gets in. And of course there’s no glass in the windows. Just you wait until the winter. We all huddle together for warmth!”

“I wondered about that,” I replied. “I’m already cursing myself for not bringing enough jumpers or gloves, but I thought this was a warm country.”

“Ah,” they glanced at each other, and one gave me a big wink. “Just you wait until it gets snowy. None of the kids will come at all; they can’t get up the hill to the school because of the ice and snow.” 

“How long does that last?”

They laughed, obviously enjoying my surprise.

“It varies. Sometimes it’s quickly over and other times you seem to spend your life clumping about in it and trying not to fall over. It can last for weeks high up in the Lebanese mountains, even when it is long gone from the hillsides around the school. It makes for beautiful views. But eventually spring comes around again, it gets warmer and we get back to full classes.”

Back in the first lesson of the afternoon, the contrasts with teaching in England were becoming plain. One of those came in the person of a certain Miss Dalal. She had greeted me with a small smile and a silent handshake when I arrived, but without any impression of warmth; this woman was discipline on legs. At first I had thought her main job was to ring the bell that indicated the end of a lesson. On my way to a class, I saw a small child being led away by Miss Dalal and realised he must have been naughty by the expressions on both their faces. So her role also included discipline, I reasoned. Other teachers later shared with me that Miss Dalal had a fearsome reputation for beating the children, which came as a shock. This was at odds with the liberal teaching methods I’d just been taught, and it wasn’t the way I liked to do things at all.

“She has a selection of sticks and rulers, some with a metal edge to them – they cut! She is a vicious woman,” I was warned. I checked my colleagues’ expressions for any signs of teasing – half expecting them to take advantage of me as the new girl – but they were deadly serious.

“You think Miss Dalal is bad!” A Lebanese teacher confided. “At the secondary school I attended, we had supervisors controlling the corridors, making sure everyone behaved. They’re like glorified teaching assistants, mostly Palestinians without papers, and because they don’t have work permits, they are easy to get rid of. They’re afraid of losing their jobs and the kids are afraid of them.”

Now that I knew what to expect, I noticed that Miss Dalal would walk around outside the classrooms, and occasionally you would hear the whack from her stick and a child’s yell. Then one day my class was enjoying a rather rowdy singing session, and the door creaked open. The singing stopped, replaced by complete silence. I turned to see what the interruption was. At the door was a tiny, fierce creature; Miss Dalal. I soon realised the reason for the effect Miss Dalal was having on my class; she might be slightly built but she had indeed come armed with a sturdy stick. I had no intention of letting her beat any of my kids with her big stick, so I got my courage up and said firmly, “I’m teaching!” 

Miss Dalal never did get her hands on my children. However, I wasn’t above taking advantage of their natural reluctance to be sent to see her. Just a single mention of “Miss Dalal—” in a voice laden with foreboding would deter any child contemplating disrupting my class.

At the end of my first day, the children dispersed. I went to take a closer look at the commotion at the end of the driveway, where you couldn’t move for all the big, posh cars collecting the children who had come up from Beirut. Who knows how their parents became so wealthy? Asking around among the other teachers, there were rumours about a lot of black-market activity, but I can’t be sure it was that. Finally, the last car door slammed, and the last Mercedes shot off down the hill in a blue haze of diesel. Walking back through the school grounds I watched, fascinated, as shrieking, laughing and squabbling children played games, many of which were unfamiliar to me. These children boarded at the school and they were allowed some freedom to play after supper and before being herded into their dormitories for the night.

My first day was over and I made my way to the staff room, where other teachers were gathered at a dark wooden table, sitting on formal sofas or chatting in groups. Some of the teachers were Lebanese locals and they had gone home to their families; others were resident, like me. It seemed that most of their leisure time was spent quietly in the school itself, with the other staff and perhaps with the odd book or a game of cards and a chat. As is usual in any workplace, there was also some grumbling about how the school was run and any problems that had arisen during the day. The teachers were mostly female, especially in the primary school classes. They were all sociable and friendly. We were a mixed bunch, from a variety of different backgrounds and countries, though we tended to fall naturally into two groups – the English gathered together and the others, which included Iraqis, Iranians and several Germans, mixed together. The English teachers taught English and the others taught everything else. It was interesting to hear their views on the school and the teaching methods we were expected to employ.

“How did your first day go, Caroline?” asked one.

“It was different!” I said, seeing some wry smiles and nods from the others.

“Yes, it’s unlike any school that most of us have taught in before. One of the main problems is the lack of basic resources to do any teaching with. I don’t know how they expect the kids to learn.” 

This was something I agreed with immediately. “Yes, is it right that the only text book I’ve been given is American? The topics and illustrations don’t seem to mean much to any of the kids, whether they are Lebanese, Austrian, German or French pupils. The characters – Anita and Tony – live in a huge American house, on a farm on the prairies. It’s nothing like the village houses or city apartments that the kids here are likely to be familiar with. Are we expected to sit there repeating phrases like, ‘What can the dog see? It can see Tony. What is Anita doing? Anita is reading a book’ all day long?”

“I’m afraid so,” came the reply. “The approved method here is repetition and rote learning. Forget any creative ideas you might have!” The speaker looked jaded and sighed as he slumped down into a chair against the wall.

“The books we used at my previous school in Wembley and at my teacher training college were pretty tedious but I’m beginning to miss them already!” I said. “At least with those books you had the sense that these were real people and the kids could identify with them, but I really feel that they are going to struggle.” I looked around to see whether anyone was shocked and felt braver as I saw that nobody was disagreeing. “Isn’t it possible to adapt our methods – to teach the children, not the book, as someone once said?”

But my colleagues were wary. One whispered, “Better not to risk it. The Saads have their methods and it pays to stick to them.”

‘Hmm,’ I thought, ‘What’s the point, if they aren’t learning anything?’ I am a strong believer that young children learn best when they’re having fun and so I resolved to inject some excitement into my lessons, whether the Saads liked it or not.

The next day, we did some singing and tapping rhythms – whisper it, we even told some jokes! I soon discovered that they could learn, they just had to be taught properly. Some of the children had one English-speaking parent, so they managed the language more readily. I quite quickly recognised the children that I had to give something a bit harder to and the ones I’d have to sit with, when I could, for longish periods of time. And so I began my time at Choueifat, confident that I could make a difference by bringing in some different methods and that I could keep my young charges in order. After all, we had Miss Dalal outside…

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1691990426

Ghostwriting: Letters from Lebanon

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized

Author interview with Tannia E. Ortiz-Lopés

It is my pleasure to host the lovely Tannia on my blog and learn about her journey as a poet and an author.

thumbnail

–When and why did you start writing?

 It all began with a poem I wrote, as a homework, during elementary school. Then during my adolescent years writing short stories, poems, and songs became a venue to release stress and help me cope with the aches and pains of growing-up . By high school I had a small “circle of friends-fans” for which I wrote poems and verses for their Valentine’s Day cards. My younger brother, who was studying music at El Conservatorio de Música en Puerto Rico, undertook the task of doing the musical arrangements for some of my songs. My stepfather then included them as part of his local band repertoire. You could listen to two of them at my youtube channel. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufhBtYDEjug&list=PL069EC0B51BD0D440)

Nonetheless, the “how” I found my “voice, my pen name, and style” is an adventure itself. After my experience at school, the desire of perfecting my writing led me to seek the help of my Spanish professor, Rosarito, while attending the University of Puerto Rico, Ponce Campus. She was a seasoned poet who mentored and invited me to several poetry readings so I could get a feel for the art and get-to-know other poets. She also played a vital role in my receiving an invitation to participate in several poetry anthologies published by “El Editor Interamericano” located in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Americanto (1988),  Poetas Hispanoamericanos Contemporaneos (1989), Patria Plural (1990), América Poética (1992),and Expoesía 2000 (1996). These poems were published under the pen name of Thánatos Lopés.

Why that name? After many pen name trials, I chose this name because it sounded enigmatic and professional. Another Spanish professor at the university said to me once: “Thánatos- la bella, salvaje” I never understood where he got that impression of me as I never considered myself pretty but definitely “wild” After some further research I discovered that was the Greek name for Death. Then the name lost all its appeal…

-What inspired you to pick your particular genre ?

 From secular to sacred. The Lord´s ways are always mysterious, righteous, and lead to many unexpected twist and turns until we reach the right path.

On May 2003, I had a vivid dream which marked the beginning of my spiritual awakening. In order to fully understand the meaning of my dream, I sought spiritual guidance from my priest, Father Bill. He explained to me that during that dream I became a “Christian.” He became my “Spiritual Director.” As part of my development process, I participated in a silent spiritual retreat in which I accepted Jesus’ invitation to work with Him and for Him. The result of that heavenly-earthly teamwork was my first free-style inspirational poetry book, The Window to My Soul, My Walk with Jesus (ISBN 0975393359). On July 2004 the book was published with Tate Publishing under the pen name of Mary Magdalene.

Still having identity problems: from Thánatos Lopés to Mary Magdalene. I chose this pen name because she is one of my favorite figures in the narrative of Christ and I was still not strong and brave enough to use my own name. After a long talk with Rosarito it was clear to me that the time to hide behind other names was over and I chose to use my name.

-Which of your books did you enjoy writing most and why?

Hmm.. this question will be hard to answer because Rosarito always advised me not to compare them as each book is unique and brings with it a particular story. To find a balance, with each book, I grew both spirituality and as an author. I will divide them between published and W.I.P. (Work in Progress)

My first book, The Window to My Soul, My Walk with Jesus,  in spite of its many mistakes, it opened many doors of opportunities for which I am thankful. For example it lead me to become a “Book Reviewer” and to have my own website.

FinalBookCover

However the writing process was not joyful but rather therapeutic and soothing to my aching soul. Choosing the right meditations, organizing them, and reviewing the manuscript before publication proved more painful than anticipated. Each meditation caused an almost healed wound to bleed again. Many tears of sorrow, gratitude, and peace were shed in the process. What brings joy to my soul is to know that its message is simple to understand and that my readers can identify with me and are willing to walk with Jesus and me the rocky road leading to salvation.

My second book,  El Espejo de mi Alma, is the long-awaited Spanish translation of my award winning book, The Window to my Soul; My Walk with Jesus. It was released 2011 by WinePress and is currently distributed by Books on Demand (BoD). This book was published without using a pen name. I took the mask off and published it using my birth name.

Translating it was as equally painful as writing the English one. However, learning from my previous publishing horrors, I took time to produce an error-free manuscript. Rosarito copy-edited and it was endorsed by her and John Howard Reid; two authors I respect and trust.

 It provided a venue to target the non-English speaking Latino community looking for a simple and profound book without a magic formula to have a closer relationship with Jesus. A concept not well-known among us Latinos. I always receive good feedback about it.

Now for my WIP’s:

My first German book, “Zwischen Mut und Hoffnung” is my oral history project about WWII. It all started 2007 while researching the story of a small air raid refuge near our home. I started asking people about it and one interview led to the next. 12 years later, I have driven to many regions of Germany collecting stories and still have not discovered the true story of that small air raid refuge (lol).  My sources are between the ages of 80 and 100. I am hopeful to have this manuscript ready for publication in 3 years.

My goal is to demonstrate that the truth and history has three sides: “yours”, “mine”, and “true history”(which normally can be found somewhere in between). I have learned more  about the pain and history of WWII doing this project than from all the “washed-off” versions taught at school. Not all Germans were Nazis, there were other dictators who committed more horrendous acts than the Nazis, and the Jews were not the only victims of that dark period on history.

The title of the book comes from a poem I wrote while reviewing one of my interviews. It means “Between Courage and Hope.”

My first picture book, Joey Meet the Tooth Fairy, provided something similar to an oasis for me while working with my WWII manuscript.

The original story was a simple story I told my youngest son when he lost his first tooth. I used to tell both of my sons many made-up bedtime stories. Somehow, Joey, didn’t want to go away and every so often he came back to me and wanted to play. So on and off I have been working with this manuscript for years until I decided to ask other children´s books authors opinion about the quality and originality of the stories. They all loved it and encouraged me to keep working on the project.

  “Walking a Mile with Job” A compendium of poetic meditations on Job, a man of suffering and joy. The author’s reflections convey an uplifting message of enduring faith and hope in God’s grace and mercy, particularly in our turbulent times.

The book is an inspiring account of Job’s spiritual journey, echoed in the author’s own walk with the Lord. I am currently looking for a publisher. It is an offspring from, The Window to my Soul; My Walk with Jesus. When I took it out of the market to review it due to the endless mistakes it had, two new books were created.

This is one of them.

The Pilgrame of my Soul,  is the second offspring. This one it is still in baby diapers. I am hoping to finish working on this manuscript in the next three years.

 It is a combination of some of the meditations of the first book sprinkled with some new ones to create a refreshing and more personal book than the first. The reader will be able to “see” my spiritual development and how my close relationship with Jesus had a pivotal effect in the “Tannia” of today vs the “Tannia” from yesterday.

-For what age group would you recommend your books?

The meditations and my WWII Oral History books for adults ages 25+

Joey is for all ages.

-A review from a reader that made your day…

Sadly, most people tell me what they liked about the book but are shy to write something online. The best compliment, which I have heard from several readers, was: “I read your book, every night, before I go to sleep.”

-Is there a particular author that has inspired you on your journey as a writer?

Too many to list.

-What can we expect from you in 2019?

Currently working with my first picture book, Joey Meets the Tooth Fairy.  The book is in the illustrations stage. I intend to have this book publish in English, German, and Spanish. After the English one is released, Joey, will decide in which language he would like to speak next. He is as unpredictable and joyful as an eight yrs old. In a nutshell. It is the story of an eight years old yet to loose his milk teeth whose friends are making fun of him because of it. They also talk about the Tooth Fairy and the gifts she leaves them when they loose a tooth. One night while his dad is telling him the story of the Tooth Fairy, his wondering how he will find a way to go her castle. Most of the story enfolds inside the wheel-chaired Tooth Fairy’s castle where Joey learns how she knows when a child looses a tooth, the address, and how she cleverly she moves from one room to another before sunrise.

The publisher, Old Mate Media, is located in Australia. We are hopeful to have it release before Christmas!

Short bio:

Learn more about Tannia E. Ortiz-Lopés,  her works, and read her book reviews at  http://www.timewithtannia.com/  In addition to writing, the author also enjoys the art of photography, singing, and song-writing. Her stock photography portfolio is located at: http://www.bigstockphoto.com/search/?contributor=Boricua63&safesearch=n

Gift items incorporating her photographs can be purchased at: http://www.zazzle.com/teolpuertorico

Posted in Uncategorized

An insight to Joy Chico Ejiro; Nollywood producer and entrepreneur.

Today I have Joy Chico Ejiro as a guest on my blog. A movie producer and fashion designer, she is here to invite us all to the London premier of her new movie… “Night Bus to Lagos”.

WhatsApp Image 2019-05-12 at 13.01.41

-How did you get involved in the movie industry?

My journey started 22yrs ago. Back when my husband and I were dating, in January 1997. I was an undergraduate, majoring in English, in the University of Lagos and supplemented my income by selling items of clothing to students. He noticed how passionate I was about the fashion industry and asked if I would like to be responsible for dressing the actors in the movie he was working on at the time. I said yes; and that was how it all began. After years of hard-work, I became the most sought after costumier in Nollywood.

-What memories do you have about the first movie you produced? 

The first movie I produced was “Daybreak, it was shot in 1998 and it featured Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, Olu Jacobs and Emeka Ike. It was a huge success and marked a difference in the movie industry. Full of glamour, beautiful scenery and excellent locations, it showcased fashion in an innovative way and featured one of the then giants of the industry; Olu jacobs. The movie raised the bar and revolutionized the Nigerian movie scene. I still get positive reviews on the wardrobe and costumes from that movie till this day and it fills me with an incredible sense of accomplishment.

0zr2MAJq_400x400
A Chico Ejiro production.

-And now…”Night bus to Lagos”; What does this movie mean to you?

Night bus to Lagos is a comeback movie for my husband and I. Our last movie before this one was shot 5 years ago, “Open Marriage”. I took a break after that to build up my fashion label; Realcolours while my husband delved into directing and producing  TV series. We kept talking of going back to the movie scene and four years ago, the idea for “Night bus to Lagos” originated in one of those discussions. For personal reasons, I spent quite sometime in USA and there I was able to develop and work on the plot. It has been a long journey but the outstanding reviews have made all the hard-work and sacrifices worth it.

WhatsApp Image 2019-05-03 at 14.44.43

-What genre is it? It is a romantic comedy.

-Where and when can we see it?-In cinemas all over Nigeria and the London premiere is on the 24th of May in Broadway theater, Barking, London.

WhatsApp Image 2019-05-11 at 00.04.53

 

-Is there a particular movie theme you haven´t worked with that interests you? 

My husband and I have directed and produced almost all movie genres. But I love action movies, I hope to be able to work on more and entertain my audience with powerful story-lines and special effects. I intend on challenging myself as a producer to reach higher heights.

WhatsApp Image 2019-05-11 at 00.06.59
Joy showcasing one of her personal designs for Realcolours.

Movie trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXRftdXbWcw

Posted in Uncategorized

Interview with award winning author Amanda Lauer…

Good morning everyone. It is my pleasure to host Amanda Lauer today. Here is a a short biography about her:

Eagle Studios Head Shot

An avid reader and history buff since childhood, Amanda Lauer fulfilled a lifelong goal with the publication of her debut novel, A World Such as Heaven Intended, in October, 2014. The second book in the Heaven Intended series, A Life Such as Heaven Intended, was published April 1, 2018. Book #3, A Love Such as Heaven Intended, is scheduled to be published April, 2019. A movie contract has been extended to Lauer for the first book in her series.

Lauer learned the technical aspects of writing as a proofreader in the insurance, newspaper and collegiate arenas. Over the last 18 years she has had nearly 1,500 articles published in newspapers and magazines throughout the United States. She currently writes for The Business News and the Compass newspaper, which is published by the Green Bay Diocese.

She is the co-author of Celebrate Appleton, A 150th Birthday Photo Album, and contributed to the books Expressions of ITP…Inside Stories, and Living Virtuously — Keeping Your Heart and Home. In addition to her writing career, Lauer is an independent distributor for Enagic Corporation which produces ionizers that create Kangen Water®. In keeping with the company mission, she has a passion for spreading the message of true health — physical, mental and financial. On the side, Amanda does acting and modeling for local commercials, films, ads and training videos.

Residents of Wisconsin, Amanda and her husband John have been married 38 years. They are involved in their church and community and in their spare time travel for business and pleasure, play golf, run, bike, read, and further their education in the area of personal development. They are the proud parents of four young adult children, have a son-in-law and daughter-in-law, and are grandparents to three grandsons and two granddaughters.

-When and why did you start writing?
I began my career in proofreading in 1981 and in 2000 expanded to proofreading and journalism, i.e., writing for newspapers and magazines. Like every journalist, I had a desire to write a book and that goal was accomplished in 2014 with the publication of my first book, A World Such as Heaven Intended.
 
-What inspired you to pick your particular genre ?
I have always been a history buff and love reading historic fiction. One thing that is difficult to find in that genre is clean historic fiction novels (vs. bodice rippers), so I decided to start writing books that were enjoyable, inspiring and aligned with my morals.
 
-Have you created a special character? Can you introduce this character to us?
Each of the three female protagonists in the trilogy is modeled after one of our daughters, so Amara, Brigid and Josephine are all near and dear to my heart. Amara is spirited, determined and adventurous. Brigid is sweet, compassionate and brave. Josephine is strong-willed, humorous and generous. 
 
-Which of your books did you enjoy writing most and why?
I would have to say A Love Such as Heaven Intended. As it was the third book in the series, I understood the writing and editing process, so I was able to completely focus on the story as I wrote. Plus, Josephine and her interactions with Michael kept me entertained as I wrote.
heaven
-For what age group would you recommend your books?
High school age and up. The books are written in third person limited perspective: every other chapter is written in the female protagonist’s voice and the opposite chapter is written in the male protagonist’s voice, so the books are equally enjoyable for both females and males. 
 
-A review from a reader that made your day… 
 
Having someone compare my book to Gone with the Wind is one of the best compliments I’ve ever received as a writer!
From the first pages, A World Such As Heaven Intended hearkens back to the pinnacle of epic Civil War romances, Gone With the Wind. The narrative alternates between the gritty realism of the bloodiest battles on American soil and the light-hearted treatment of the Amara and Nathan’s romance.

Amara has spunk, Nathan has honor, and they share the same Catholic faith, but a war looms around them, and despite their attraction, circumstance and misunderstanding work against them. In the midst of tragedy, their fates become inextricably intertwined, sending them on a cross-country trip. They travel in disguise, which not only adds a light touch to the story, but also gives them ample opportunity to fall in love.

A World Such As Heaven offers a sweet story and a pleasant escape for those who enjoy Civil War romance.

-Is there a particular author that has inspired you on your journey as a writer?
Historic romance writers: May McGoldrick, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Judith McNaught,
-What can we expect from you in 2019?
After the third book in the Heaven Intended series is published, I’ll be finishing up work on a new series of books that focus on a girl growing up in the ’70s and being the victim of bullying at a Catholic grade school. The books tell a similar story but are written from two different perspectives. The first is from the young lady who was bullied, looking back at her memories from 45 years ago, and the second is from her daughter, age 12, who is transported back in time to live her mom’s life as a 7th grader in 1974. Older adults will enjoy the blast from the past, younger readers will like seeing what life was like back in the ’70s, and everyone will appreciate the story of hope and redemption.
a life
Posted in Uncategorized

Katrina Hart presents…

I´m really pleased to present Katrina Hart´s new novel “Lost Town of Man’s Crossing”, especially as  today is its launch date. As an author I know how exciting and special that day is. Here are a few words from the proud Author of “Finding Destiny”.

The Lost Town of Man’s CrossingEBook

My Inspiration for the Lost Town of Man’s Crossing.

Honestly, it was Suzy’s appearance in Finding Destiny, my first novel that piqued my curiosity about her. I always had this feeling she had more to tell me and that I would be seeing her again. When I started this novel,  she was walking in to see her grandad on his birthday and from there she showed me her journey.

I’ve also been very enchanted by another world, different rules, and magical creatures, but also the very fine line between right and wrong, suffering for the choices made in the past not just by Suzy, but those in her family she had never met.

I loved seeing Suzy grow and the gift she was given shaped her life, just as much as discovering the magic inside her and the creatures and people in the land she found herself in. As a writer, I can only stick to writing a character’s story, if the story pulls me inside and shakes every feeling and emotion I have as I walk quietly behind each character. This novel sure did for me.

Fantasy has no limits to what you might see or come across and that is what makes it so exciting, nail-biting and sometime emotional to write. But for me, there is no  magical place than living in a strange world where we have no idea what will happen in the next scene or on a new day.

I hope that readers will enjoy and be as inspired as me when they read The Lost Town of Man’s Crossing. If you do read my novel, I love to read your thoughts and reviews on the story, because that is one of the best gifts you can give me. It inspires me to keep writing and just like this book all your thoughts and reviews stay in my mind and help me become better writer.

Book title: The Lost Town of Man’s Crossing

Author name: Katrina Hart

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Blurb

Would you cross a land of magic, dark creatures and hidden secrets to face your own deepest fear?

After being shot, Suzy and her friend, Bill, are offered a second chance at life in The Lost Town Of Man’s Crossing, a land to which the chosen few are transported by their personal Crossing Creatures. There, Suzy encounters the evil Cole, who is all-out to gain the highest power of the land.

But Suzy comes from a magical family: her grandmother, Miss Hollow, founded a coven called Hollow-Wings, and her grandfather left her a secret, life-changing pouch. Soon, Cole craves that secret pouch more than anything.

It’s Suzy versus Cole – and one of them has met their match.

Excerpt from : The Lost Town of Man’s Crossing:

Prologue

I pressed the black button and waited to be let into Myths Retirement Home. I felt excited and nervous to see my grandad on his seventy eighth birthday. One of the frazzled looking carers pushed open the door and led me into a white waiting area.

“Your grandad has been talking about you nonstop, he can’t wait to see you!” she said, flashing me a reassuring smile. I followed the carer towards his closed door.

A bubble of excitement made its way to my heart at the thought of hearing grandad’s stories of the battles he had fought, and the adventures I should take. I slipped off my coat, and his carer pushed open the door to his room and announced that “I had arrived.”

I hurried inside grandad’s plainly furnished room. His high backed chair was facing a large window and for a moment I wondered if he could see the leafy man of spring, who he always told me appeared through the trees, like the face of a worldly man ready to see life start up again after the harsh deaths of winter. Grandad always told me he felt like the leafy man as he watched the world move around him from his chair.

 “One hour, then you must go,” said his carer and she pulled the door shut, leaving us alone. I pulled out grandad’s present from my bag and walked round to stand in front of him.

 “Grandad-happy birthday,” I said.

“Suzy, child, come sit. I have something to tell you,” said grandad. His wrinkled eyes met mine as I leaned down and gave him a hug, before taking the chair beside him.

“Child, you have to listen to me, and listen well. Today I have seen your life is about to change. Something dark has shadowed you since you were small. Now I can see it’s coming for you,” said Grandad. He coughed weakly and rested his travelled face in his hands.

To find out what happens next, get your copy at Amazon :).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2019!

 

ICHRISTMAS 2019 OK

I like ending every year on a positive note remembering mostly the good things that have happened. I am very thankful for my readers and the sense of accomplishment their feedback gives me. Sometimes those words come at very opportune moments and they encourage me to go on writing.

2018 brought “CLASS OF 2008” (the much awaited sequel to “I STAND CORRECTED”) and it must have been good as I´m being asked to produce the next one.

Patri22_13

I am really excited about the many plots and plans running through my head for 2019 (yes there might be a sequel or two in the works :)).

Anyway, I just wanted to say:

Thank you!

¡Muchas gracias!

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very special 2019!

P.S. Read more; you can never read or have too many books.

Posted in Uncategorized

Let´s talk about hair with Valerie Ross…

Today it´s not about books, it´s about having a dream and working hard to make it a reality. Valerie Ross presents her hair product line and shares her journey with us.

WhatsApp Image 2018-12-02 at 6.58.01 PM

 

-Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I developed the ThirsT Hair line of hair care products in 2009 with the desire to create a unique and natural hair care line that would be beneficial and properly balanced to meet the needs of customers of all hair types, especially those with dry and/or damaged hair. My company is located in San Diego, California.

I started my career as a quality control chemist in 1996 and progressed to process engineer in the manufacturing industry. I went on to acquire my PhD with a specialization in organic chemistry in 2006 from the University of Liverpool, UK. So, I have really incorporated my scientific background to formulate an effective, high quality product. As I am originally from the United States, I completed my undergraduate studies here. However, I completed my graduate research in the UK, so I also incorporate the unique global insight that I have gained from my international research into the ThirsT Hair care line. I follow advancements occurring globally in natural formulation science. Most importantly, I have a genuine passion and drive to grow this product line and I am really excited to pursue this.

-How did the idea of ThirsT hair come about?

Well, there were multiple inspirations for the ThirsT hair care line…the underpinnings of all of this began when I was a young child. As I have dry, kinky hair, I have always found it a challenge to find really beneficial hair care products and have always sought out product ideas. So you can say that this has been a lifelong pursuit for me. Further, In 2006, I witnessed several people very close to me suffer from deterioration in health that I attribute to environmental factors. I have always been interested in healthy products, but at that time, I was driven to do something beneficial and natural. Ironically, I was working in the Biotech industry at the time and was working with quite toxic chemicals. I had been working through ideas, when I came to be inspired to just pursue something that I was truly passionate about. So, in 2009 I decided to take a leap of faith and pursue my passion for hair care by developing a line of mild products that are also environmentally friendly.

-Which products are available at the moment and for what hair types do you advise they be used?

Currently, I have shampoo, conditioner, leave in conditioning serum, and a leave-in oil based product. The shampoo and conditioner as they are well balanced can be used for normal to dry hair types. The Leave-in Conditioning Serum is optimized for dry, medium porosity hair and the Oil-based Leave-in Conditioner is optimized for dry, high porosity, and/or kinky hair types. I will be launching hair gel and hydrating mist products later this year.

image1

There are so many hair care products on the market today. What makes yours different?

My products are developed to be even more balanced and nourishing than the other labels on the market today. As the founder, lead development chemist, and spokesperson for this brand, I can advise that we have a strong mission to deliver products that are formulated to be more enriched in natural botanicals than the leading products on the market and the ThirsT Hair care line is so well balanced so that it does not weigh down the hair. All customers are welcome to contact us directly with any questions to learn more about the products and may subscribe to our newsletter for updates and hair care tips. You can view more information about the products on at website at http://www.thirsthair.com.

-What challenges have you faced in making your dreams a reality?

It is definitely not an easy path and requires great dedication. The biggest challenges have been financing to build the business and product marketing. You can really produce the best product and put it on the market, but without the appropriate marketing strategy, it can be very difficult to ever get your brand recognition. These are two major obstacles that everyone will face when launching a new business – how successfully these are handled are major determinants of success for a business.

Can you give us three home remedies for hair?

Remedy #1: Removing hair product residue from hair: mix apple cider vinegar with equal part water. Apply this after shampoo. Work through wet hair; allow to remain in hair for a few minutes, then rinse and condition as usual.

Remedy #2: Stimulation of follicle to promote hair growth: mix 1-2 drops each of peppermint oil, rosemary oil, and lavender oil with approximately one teaspoon of carrier oil (i.e. olive oil, almond oil, etc.). Massage this mixture into the scalp. Repeat this regimen 1-2 times per week.

Remedy #3: Frizzy hair remedy: Mash up half an avocado, mix in a couple of teaspoons of honey. Add this to clean damp hair and let it sit for about 15 minutes before rinsing.

All three of these techniques are really effective for the respective hair issues.

-Where would you like ThirsT Hair to be in five years time?

I would be very happy to see the company grow exponentially in five years time. I would like to expand the product line and its visibility in hair salons globally.

-An indispensable hair product for you?

I find the whole ThirsT Hair shampoo, conditioner and oil-based leave-in set indispensable. These products work great as a set and give my hair the right conditioning that it needs.

-There is an unspoken popular tendency for a woman to cut her hair when she gets to a certain age: how can we maintain a healthy mane that defeats the passage of time?

That really requires various components. What we put inside of our bodies is just as important as what we put on it. Maintain a healthy diet, supplementing any deficits. Use natural, nourishing hair products and maintain diet that helps to combat environmental toxins/impacts. In the future, as the ThirsT Hair line grows, I would like to launch a line dedicated to this specific market. Notwithstanding, a healthy diet, lifestyle, and self-image go a long way!

https://www.facebook.com/cross.innova

https://thirsthair.com

Posted in Uncategorized

Children´s author Emma Pullar…

I´d like to present the lovely children´s author Emma Pullar to you all. Loving the blue hair Emma :).
DSC_3665_lowres (2)
BIO: Emma Pullar is a writer of dark fiction and children’s books. Her picture book, Curly from Shirley, was a national bestseller and named best opening lines by NZ Post. Emma has also written several winning short horror/sci-fi stories which have been published in four different anthologies. Emma’s latest picture book, Kitty Stuck, is published by A Spark in the Sand and her dystopian debut novel, Skeletal, was well received, and the sequel is to also be published by Bloodhound Books. She writes articles for an online advice site called Bang2write and dabbles in screenwriting.
What inspired you to become a children´s book author?: I’ve been writing stories since I could pick up a pencil. The biggest influence for me was listening to my favourite teacher tell Anansi the Spider stories. I just loved how naughty Anansi was and how his tricks always seemed to backfire. When I was about seven years old I wrote a picture book called: Attack of the Killer Wheelie Bins. The story was about bins getting sick of being stuffed with rubbish so they started eating people. Sadly, I don’t have the book but I can still see it clearly in my mind. I might rewrite it one day. My first professional picture book was called: Curly from Shirley. I wrote it for charity after an earthquake destroyed my home from home, Christchurch, New Zealand. The book about a cheeky dog snooping for snacks, shot up the national bestseller list and was named best opening lines by NZ Post.
Can you tell your future readers a bit about yourself?-  Originally from London, I grew up on stage. My parents were advised to take me to dance lessons because I was an introvert and selective mute. Alas, my dreams of being a professional dancer were dashed when a knee problem meant an operation. I never stopped writing but didn’t think I could be a writer because I lacked a good formal education. However, after the deadly Christchurch earthquake, I felt I owed it to those who had lost their lives or limbs, and livelihoods, to follow my dreams and become a professional writer. When I started out my grammar, punctuation and spelling were terrible. I’ve come a long way in a few short years and I’m still learning, I don’t think writers ever stop.
I live with my three children, husband and naughty cat called Rupert, in a sleepy village in the Kent countryside.
Have you created a special character? Can you introduce this character to us?- The character for Kitty Stuck is based on our cat. Rupert is always getting stuck in things, on things and behind things. He makes us laugh every day.
Kitty Stuck Cover
Which of your books did you enjoy writing most and why?- I enjoy everything I write. I write short stories, novels and I dabble in screenwriting too. Kitty Stuck was one of my favourite books to write. It’s written in rhyme and a lot of fun. It brings me such joy to see older siblings reading the book with such enthusiasm to their little brothers/sisters.
For what age group would you recommend your books? My picture books are for ages 0-7 years but older children have also enjoyed them. I have a picture book collection and I don’t think my children will ever grow out of them. We love discussing the clever writing and the amazing artwork.
Is there a particular author that has inspired you in your journey as a writer?- The authors who have inspired me are Julia Donaldson and Dr. Seuss. There are other authors I adore too but those are the main ones.
What else can we expect from you in 2018/19? A second picture book about Kitty Stuck has been written, fingers crossed it will be published this year. I’m also working on a couple of cute animations.
Kitty banner
 
Posted in Uncategorized

Julie Hatton presents…A LAZY DAY ANTHOLOGY – 1

Happy Sunday everyone! I´d like to present a new summer read to you all:

charity

A LAZY DAY ANTHOLOGY – 1 is the 5th book written and published by the online writing group, Bugs2writes, specifically to raise funds for ACTION MEDICAL RESEARCH FOR CHILDREN. 100% of royalties go to the charity. Bugs2writes is an official fundraiser. 

The ebook is now for sale on Amazon at just 99p. The paperback will be published shortly. 

The book contains twenty-one diverse and interesting tales. The compilation includes both harrowing and heart-warming stories. A few narratives relate intriguing supernatural adventures. Another tale explores the Holocaust and its aftermath. There are modern tales, too.  A few narratives are whimsical and a few are uplifting. Some stories are sad, but many are humorous. The book includes both long and short stories. True tales can also be found within, in fact, there is something to interest, captivate and entertain virtually everyone for just 99p and will earn royalties for the charity. 

The group’s first four books are genre specific, but this one is an eclectic mix of narratives.

(A LAZY DAY ANTHOLOGY – 2 is due to be published in a about a month’s time).

‘The charity was founded in 1952 by Duncan Guthrie in his quest to find a cure for polio, a condition that affected the lives of many thousands of children including his own daughter, Janet.

Early research funded by the charity helped to develop the first oral polio vaccine which eradicated new cases of the disease in the UK. Since then we’ve been saving and changing lives through medical research and have spent over £117m, funding some of the most amazing breakthroughs in the history of medicine.

Paddington Bear™ has been at the heart of fundraising for Action Medical Research for 40 years ever since his creator, Michael Bond, met the charity’s founder, Duncan Guthrie, in 1976. Paddington Bear always likes to help wherever he can and so, after chatting over the matter with Mr Bond, he agreed to support Action Medical Research as the charity’s official mascot. Paddington Bear’s friendly face has helped us attract thousands of new supporters who together have raised millions of pounds to help babies and children.’  

action.org.uk

Our website is: bugs2writesforcharity.simplesite.com

Posted in Uncategorized

Some dark humour with Celia Micklefield

About the author…

DSCN2349

I write in my maiden name Celia Micklefield. Yes, I know it’s a mouthful and it isn’t easy fitting it on the front book cover not to mention the spine but that’s who I am. I come from the county of West Yorkshire, UK in the heart of the Pennine hills where northern folk tend to call a spade a spade and often use humour to get them through hard times.

“If you didn’t laugh, you’d cry,” they say and just get on with life. I’ve taken this philosophy with me wherever I’ve lived. Now I live in Norfolk in the east of England, close to the coast and the inland waterways called the Broads. I have a condition called CRPS as a result of injuries incurred when I was hit and knocked down by a careless driver. Laughter has literally been my best medicine.

What genre do you normally write in?

Ah, genre. Don’t get me started. I dislike having to categorise my work. I write what’s inside me. I write about people and for people. I suppose you might generalise and call it women’s fiction but one of my best reviews for Trobairitz-the Storyteller came from a man. Go figure. I’ve written a family saga, Patterns of Our Lives, spanning 1935 to 2009 set mostly in the north of England during the war years. Deep at the heart of it is a love story the characters kept hidden for years. The aforementioned Trobairitz- the Storyteller is set in the part of southern France where I used to live. It’s where medieval troubadours roamed the land bringing news and singing songs about current affairs and romantic love. Trobairitz were female troubadours. They were highly respected and often had the ear of nobility. My Trobairitz is Weed, a present day female truck driver who entertains other truckers at an overnight truck stop by telling them a story. My third novel is a psychological drama. It would fit in the domestic noir genre. In The Sandman and Mrs Carter the main character, Wendy Carter, never speaks for herself. Five characters tell it from their own viewpoint and there’s a mystery character who seems to know everything about everybody.

I have a leaning for dark humour. Both my short story collections feature stories in this genre. I guess it’s my northern roots showing through.

Where did the inspiration for your first book come from?

My first book was Arse(d) Ends, a collection of short stories, inspired by words ending in the letters a.r.s.e., a frequently used expletive in parts of the UK when things go wrong. In the first story, Ted. And Judy’s Hobby, Ted has lost patience with his wife Judy’s sewing hobby. She makes teddy bears and they’re all over the house. When he has to share his birthday tea with the furry creatures sitting round the table in their high chairs he has finally had enough. With his best friend, Ted plans how they might murder some of the offending teddy bears without his wife noticing.

How important is humour in your work? What kind of humour do you use?

It’s dark comedy. It’s comic situations with a dagger. It’s tales of revenge that backfire or getting what you wished for and wish you hadn’t. As George Bernard Shaw said,

‘Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.’

I used this quotation as the inspiration for my story Yorkshire Grit, in my second collection of short stories, Queer as Folk, in which three women plan to break the law in a graveyard!

Short stories lend themselves to dark humour treatments. Having said that, my work in progress, A Measured Man is a full length novel in the dark humour style.

Have you created a special character?

All my work is character-led so they have to be special and memorable but one of my favourites is Madame Catherine Joubert, the main character in the story Weed, the Trobairitz tells the truck drivers. Madame Joubert is a former Paris prostitute. Now in her seventies and retired to a pretty village in southern France she is feisty and formidable. The young mayor has his eyes set on her home, the grandest residence in the village but Mdm Joubert has other ideas. She uses her mysterious hold over the mayor’s grandfather to thwart his plans.

Which of your books did you enjoy writing most and why?

This is a difficult question. I’ve enjoyed them all in different ways. I bet all authors say that, don’t they?

I enjoy doing research. It was great fun learning about ‘closed houses’ in France where the authorities turn a blind eye to sexual goings-on inside. I found my research into World War Two and how it affected factory workers in the north of England fascinating. My third novel involved medical research and I enjoyed that too.

Celia's Books Standing Up

For what age group would you recommend your books?

Adult. I write about real life and what that can encompass. My work in progress is aimed at older readers because I believe there’s a shortage of novels for older readers featuring characters with whom readers can identify more closely.

A review from a reader that made your day.

I think any review from a complete stranger who takes the time to say how much they enjoyed reading my work is a real joy.

A particular author who has inspired you?

All of them. I particularly admire Anne Tyler.

What can we expect from you in 2018?

Because of my CRPS I work slowly but I’m determined to finish and publish A Measured Man. Aubrey Tennant, in his mid-fifties and seeking a woman with whom to share his twilight years, joins a seniors’ coach trip every year to spend a week at the Grand Hotel in Torquay. When he finds Theresa Miller he believes he’s found The One. He doesn’t know Theresa has already buried two husbands.

My website is at

www.celiamicklefield.com

I have a Facebook author page and I’m on Twitter @cmicklefield

All my work is on Amazon exclusively:

getBook.at/POOL

getBook.at/AE

getBook.at/TTS

getBook.at/TSAMC

getBook.at/QAF