Monday, 17 July 2017

The Dunkirk Spirit: A Lesson from History By Carol Browne...


Let me begin by setting the scene …

The summer of 1940 finds the beaches around Dunkirk, France filled with hundreds of thousands of British troops trapped and with no hope of escape. Behind them is the vastly superior German army with its engines of war. Before them lies the cruel sea. Above them the relentless strafing of enemy aircraft.

Despite overwhelming odds, the men of the British Expeditionary Force and their Belgian and French allies fight to defend their positions but, with all escape routes blocked, a desperate retreat to the beaches and harbour at Dunkirk is the only option left.
The only thing these men want is to get to England, home, and safety. They placed their faith in the navy. Operation Dynamo has been set in motion to evacuate them, even though the transport ships and destroyers can only expect to have enough time to rescue about 30,000 troops. But soon, repeated attacks from the enemy’s aircraft block the harbour with sinking ships. The soldiers must be evacuated from the beaches. How is this possible in such shallow water?

What happened next will leave a permanent impression upon the British psyche, for when the call went out that small boats were needed to rescue the troops, a motley fleet of plucky ‘little ships’ chug its way across the Channel to bring the warriors home. They are motor boats, trawlers, paddle steamers, fishing smacks, lifeboats, barges, and other shallow-draught vessels. The majority of them are privately owned. Many are taken across by naval personnel, but an equal number are crewed by their owners and other civilians eager to stand by their country during its darkest hour.

Braving the combined onslaughts of the German army and air force, these civilians risk their lives again and again to take troops from the beaches and ferry them to the destroyers waiting in deeper water. Some of these boats will take thousands of men all the way back to England. Thanks to their efforts, a total catastrophe will be averted. It will be described by Winston Churchill as a “miracle of deliverance” and what takes place at Dunkirk from May 27th to June 4th, 1940, will live in the hearts and minds of the British people for many generations to come. At a time when Great Britain faces certain invasion, recovering over a third of a million troops has turned defeat into victory. The phrase “the Dunkirk spirit” is born.
****
The Dunkirk spirit. This is a phrase I have heard many times during my life. If you are British, it needs no explanation and yet as the event that created it moves further back in time, I fear that new generations would have no knowledge of it and an important part of my country’s heritage will be lost. I am delighted, therefore, to see that a new movie about Dunkirk is to release this summer. Not only will people much younger than me know about the Dunkirk spirit, but so will people of other countries, and a valuable historical lesson will continue to inspire us all.

What is the lesson? During these uncertain and divisive times, it resonates as much as ever. It shows us what we can achieve when we cooperate. It demonstrates how brave and selfless ordinary folk can be. We are all capable of far more than we know and when individuals work together for the common good, the tide will turn, and even in the most hopeless and desperate of situations, defeat can be transformed into victory. Because the Dunkirk spirit is the human spirit at its best and nothing can stand in its way.

Sharon here to bring you another true story of strength from the same war. Amazing what people can survive when they have spirit.


It’s 2012, the year of the London Olympics, and for young Polish immigrant Agnieszka, visiting fellow countrywoman Krystyna in a Peterborough care home is a simple act of kindness. However, the meeting proves to be the beginning of a life-changing experience. Krystyna’s stories about the past are not memories of the good old days but recollections of war-ravaged Europe: The Warsaw Ghetto, Pawiak Prison, Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, and the death march to freedom.

The losses and ordeals Krystyna suffered and what she had to do to survive, these are horrors Agnieszka must confront when she volunteers to be Krystyna’s biographer.

Will Agnieszka find a way to accomplish her task, and, in this harrowing story of survival, what is the message for us today?

Buy Links Dilliebooks - Amazon UK - Amazon US

Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol usually writes fiction and is a contracted author at Burning Willow Press. Being Krystyna, published by Dilliebooks on 11th November, 2016, is her first non-fiction book.

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

Ready to learn more from those plucky Brits? Here's the official movie trailer for Dunkirk, released July 21, 2017:

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Cover Reveal: Spellhaven by Sandra Unerman...


The Unseen Spirits must be entertained, so that the city may prosper......


About the Book:

In the summer of 1914, Jane Fairchild, a young English musician, is kidnapped by magic and sent to Spellhaven, an island city ruled by magicians. Here, peace and prosperity are maintained with the assistance of Unseen Spirits bound to the service of the Lords Magician. The Spirits must be kept in good humour by the performance of all kinds of shows, dance, drama and music. Jane is one of many people kidnapped from the outside world and forced to contribute to these entertainments for a set period of service.

Only Jane is having none of it. She will not perform for her kidnapper, Lucian Palafox, but agrees to undertake an apprenticeship with another magician impresario, provided she is taught magic in return. Jane's forays into magic lead her deeper within the mysteries of Spellhaven, her rivalry with Lucian escalates and the quarrels between them grow strong enough to shake the city to its foundations.

Genres: Fantasy, Adventure
Release Date:  August 17, 2017
Publisher:  Mirror World Publishing

Mirror World Publishing eBook Pre-Order Link:  

Mirror World Publishing Paperback Pre-Order Link:

Amazon Pre-Order Link:  
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Meet the Author:



Sandra Unerman lives in London in the UK. When she retired from a career as a Government lawyer, she undertook an MA in Creative Writing at Middlesex University, specialising in SF and fantasy, and graduated in 2013. Since then, she has had a number of short stories published. In 2016, these included stories in Three Drops from a Cauldron, the Midwinter issue and Aurora Wolf, the September issue, both available online. She writes reviews and articles for the British Science Fiction Association and the British Fantasy Society. She is a member of London Clockhouse writers and other writing groups. Her interests include history, folklore and medieval literature.

Connect with the Author:

Sandra’s Website:
https://sandraunermanwriter.com/

Sandra’s Author Page:
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Goodreads Author Page:


Monday, 10 July 2017

Get Cozy this Summer with A Cause for Murder by HL Carpenter...

Our ladies are back with flair and a whole lot of pizzazz as they break out and embrace a new writing challenge in a new genre - Cozy Mystery. A Cause for Murder is entertaining and engrossing. I do hope this is just the first book in a long series.

Septuagenarian sleuth Emma Twiggs thinks her neighbor’s death was an accident – until her friend Arnie says he suspects murder.

Arnie is convinced he knows the killer’s identity. He wants Emma to prove it.

Is Arnie right? And is he right in his belief that Emma’s best friend is the killer’s next target?

As Emma navigates madcap mayhem, multiple mysteries, and murderous motives, she discovers more than one person is hiding deadly secrets.
The question is, who has a cause for murder?

EXCERPT

It wasn’t the food. Happy Haven Retirement Community’s chef prepared delicious, artistically plated roast beef and mashed potatoes every Sunday evening.

Emma Twiggs set down her fork. No, the food wasn’t the problem.

It wasn’t the chatter or the whispers in the dining room, or the sidelong glances of other Happy Haven residents. Happy Haven was a hotbed of gossip and rumors. Being the topic du jour was familiar territory.

It certainly wasn’t her dinner companion. Arnie Bracken was always charming, kind, and intelligent, no matter what her best friend Olli thought.

No, food, chatter, and Arnie, combined or singular, were not the cause of her uneasiness.
The problem –

"I know what you’re thinking, Em," Arnie said.

"Do you?" She picked up a glass of lemon-spritzed water and tried to swallow past the tightness in her throat. She could only hope he had no idea of what she was thinking.

"Sure." He leaned forward and lowered his voice. "You’re wondering how someone as fit as Jo accidentally drowned in the swimming pool."

Emma froze. Her fingers tightened on the glass. The chatter in the room faded into muted background noise. She had deliberately not been thinking about Jo. She would not think about Jo. How did Arnie know she'd been thinking about Jo?

"I’ll tell you how," he said. "Jo was murdered, and Cahan murdered her."

"I am not thinking about – Murdered?" The lump in her throat expanded to the size of the Brussels sprouts on her plate. "By Todd?" 

"Murdered. By Cahan. And we need to prove he did the deed."

"Arnie." Emma set the glass on the table and uncurled her fingers from it. She coughed to clear the non-existent Brussels sprout from her throat. "The paramedics told us Jo’s death was accidental. An accidental drowning."

"Yeah, I know all the euphemisms they used." Emma did too. The headline in Harmony Notes, the local daily, had read TRAGIC ACCIDENT AT HAPPY HAVEN. Unfortunate was the word murmured most frequently at the funeral service, followed closely by regrettable.

She said, "Harmony’s police department and the district medical examiner agreed with the paramedics."

"They’re wrong."

A trickle of condensation wept down the side of the glass and puddled into a teardrop on the table. All the words used to describe Jo’s death were wrong. Wrong and inadequate. Words were inadequate now too.

Because this was the problem she had been avoiding.

Her role in Jo’s death.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Florida-based mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write sweet, clean fiction that is suitable for everyone in your family. The Carpenters write from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit their website to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.

Stay connected on Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, and their Amazon Author Page.

Monday, 3 July 2017

There’s no place like Canada…and Fairy Falls…

Happy 150th Birthday Canada! I have so many happy memories living in Canada, and I’m proud to call myself Canadian, though truth be told, I was born in Illinois, USA, so I’m what you call a dual citizen. Not fun around tax season, but that’s another blog post. Still, my heart and soul belongs in Canada, and now that we’ve passed our milestone 150th birthday (I was also around for the 100th birthday!), I want to share why I’ve set my new teen psychic mystery series, Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls in beautiful Canadian cottage country.
It began with what I knew based on the area where I was located at the time to create the fictional tourist town of Fairy Falls. You see, for over eleven years we lived on a small/medium-sized lake in the heart of cottage country. So I took in the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, emotions, and feelings of this beautiful place, and added the challenges and obstacles of what it would be like for an uprooted teenager possessing a psychic ability to adjust to the day-to-day living in Fairy Falls. Meagan Walsh, the protagonist from Lost and Found tells us what she thinks of Fairy Falls right off the bat: “This town sucks!”, and she goes on to describe it as ‘a small, boring northern tourist town’. If only Meagan knew what life had planned for her in this magical place!
Indeed, Fairy Falls could be any small tourist town that you may have visited during your youth (or adulthood) that invokes happy memories and simpler times. I wanted these feelings to emerge for the reader, and make my characters realize that there truly is no place like Fairy Falls. The town itself hosts a number of stores, services, and inhabitants that you’d be familiar with when visiting any small, tourist town. There’s a real estate office, a general store, a combined pizza shop and laundromat, a small theatre, a coffee shop where the locals hang out, a restaurant and bar (where tourists hang out), a marina, an arena, schools, the police and fire stations, town hall, a handful of churches, and of course the animal shelter.

I actually envisioned Fairy Falls from what I remembered of a tourist town during the early 1970s, while we were visiting our neighbor’s cottage. This town has since grown, but some small cottage towns never grew much, and when major highways were built to take on more traffic, these towns were bypassed, and much of their economy suffered. Call it the pros and cons of progress, but I think much of the innocence was lost to those quaint, tourist towns when change was forced upon them.

I didn’t want to lose that ‘small, tourist town feeling’ when I created Fairy Falls. True, change is good, but there’s something about going to a tourist town and connecting with the people living there that somehow leaves you feeling better than you did before you arrived. I also wanted to be realistic in the fact that growth is a necessary part of life, and Fairy Falls will have to deal with all kinds of challenges that will create conflict and divide the residents, believing that they are doing what’s best for their hometown.

The psychic teenagers in each of my stand-alone books in the Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls series will have their fair share of adversity and prejudice to deal with. They truly believe they’ve arrived in a place so foreign, so backward, that they try so hard to find a way to leave, only to realize in the end that Fairy Falls has been waiting for them to finally come home to themselves. Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected.

Have you ever visited a small town while on vacation and felt at home there for some reason? Do you still think about a tourist town that continues to create happy memories for you? Would love to read your comment. Cheers, and as always, thank you for reading my blog!   

Monday, 26 June 2017

Coping with the Emotional Challenges of Being a Writer...

As an author, the number one emotional challenge I find is being overwhelmed. These days, writers must wear so many hats. Indie authors more so. If you’re lucky to score a contract with a publisher like I did, a lot of the work such as your book cover design, editing, formatting, and some marketing and promoting are taken care of for you. When you’re under contract with a publisher you’re part of a team, and are expected to participate fully. But if you decide to go with self-publishing you either learn the ropes and wear all the hats, or delegate and hire cover artists, editors, formatters, and book promotion or marketing specialists. And believe me it’s not cheap.

We live in a new time of publishing where the rules are not quite yet defined, and anything goes. So writers need to figure out what they can handle, and what they can’t. I hired a web designer. I’ve even hired a book promotion specialist to help with a blog tour for my book launch. Writers are a tough breed. You must realize that you can’t handle everything. Or this business will break you. It’s humbling to understand you need to rely on others, and it will create a sense of peace. Balance what you can, and dole out the rest.

Writing is such a solitary profession. Humans need human contact. Period. Face it, we weren’t born to live a life of solitude. Like attracts like, and writers are no exception. I connected with other writers through courses, social media, my publishers, writing groups—I could go on, but you get the gist—because of our common love of books and writing. Writers know what other writers go through. They feel each other’s pain, know what it’s like to be rejected, and invest a lot of time, energy, and money into a profession that may or may not pay off in the long run.

Supporting other writers, and helping them out when the going gets tough, has helped me tremendously when I’ve felt down in the dumps and overwhelmed. And those awesome writers do the same for me. These emotional challenges happen to the best of us. So why not hang with like-minded souls, who can give you a hug—virtually or physically?

What are some of the emotional challenges you’ve faced as a writer? How did you deal with these challenges? Would love to read and respond to your comments! Cheers and thank you for reading my blog!

Monday, 19 June 2017

Book Tour: Lost and Found, Book One; Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Series by Sharon Ledwith...


Fairy Falls was bores-ville from the get-go. Then the animals started talking... 


The Fairy Falls Animal Shelter is in trouble. Money trouble. It’s up to an old calico cat named Whiskey—a shelter cat who has mastered the skill of observation—to find a new human pack leader so that their home will be saved. With the help of Nobel, the leader of the shelter dogs, the animals set out to use the ancient skill of telepathy to contact any human who bothers to listen to them. Unfortunately for fifteen-year-old Meagan Walsh, she hears them, loud and clear.

Forced to live with her Aunt Izzy in the safe and quiet town of Fairy Falls, Meagan is caught stealing and is sentenced to do community hours at the animal shelter where her aunt works. Realizing Meagan can hear her, Whiskey realizes that Meagan just might have the pack leader qualities necessary to save the animals. Avoiding Whiskey and the rest of shelter animals becomes impossible for Meagan, so she finally gives in and promises to help them. Meagan, along with her newfound friends, Reid Robertson and Natalie Knight, discover that someone in Fairy Falls is not only out to destroy the shelter, but the animals as well. Can Meagan convince her aunt and co-workers that the animals are in danger? If she fails, then all the animals’ voices will be silenced forever.

Exclusive Excerpt:

“You can understand me, can’t you, girl?” the calico cat said, staring straight at her.
Meagan stretched, much like a cat, and then crossed her arms. “So what if I can? And FYI—cigarettes relieve stress for me. I need them like you need food.”
Whiskey’s ears flattened. “I do not need poisoned food, thank you very much. And what is stress, girl?”
“Meagan.”
“What?”
“My name is Meagan. How would you like to be called ‘cat’ all the time?”
“It is what I am.” Whiskey preened her head with a paw. “You humans are the only ones who need to give out names. In my lifetime, I have had three different names, though I like Whiskey the best. Now, what is this ‘stress’?”
“Stress is something adults do to kids all the time. It’s that push-push-push feeling that gets up all inside you. Stress makes your stomach bunch, neck tense, and head ache.”
Whiskey stopped grooming. “So why don’t you just walk away from this stress? Cats do it all the time.”
Meagan sighed. “I wish it were that easy.”
Whiskey sneezed, making her bells ring. “It’s easier than poisoning yourself with that white stick. If you could smell what I can smell, then you’d never pick up another white stick.”
Meagan laughed. “Maybe, but when I first walked into the shelter, you should have smelled what I smelled. It was ripe! Whew, you animals are disgusting!”
Whiskey grinned a cat grin, and then laid down on the gravel. “Does the Kind One know?”
“Kind One?”
“The human you came in with. Does she know that you can talk to cats?”
“Aunt Izzy? No. Only my mom knew. She used to work for a veterinarian, but…” Meagan paused, shook her head, and then cleared her throat, “Nobody does now. I used to talk to animals all the time when I was younger. It seemed natural to me, picking up pictures or feelings or emotions from a stray cat, a wandering dog, or a friend’s pet, and then sending a message back to them. I remember it being fun.”
Whiskey’s yellow eyes widened. “You can understand dogs, too?”
Meagan nodded. “Sure. I just pick up their signals, the same as I would for cats, and connect with them. I stopped doing it when I was around ten ’cause—” Meagan paused for the second time, and sighed deeply “—kids were making fun of me and adults didn’t believe me. I honestly thought I’d lost the ability until I picked up on you.”
The dogs started barking wildly again. “Okay, okay, hold your bits and pieces, Mama Gail is coming!”
“What’s going on?” Meagan asked, peering around the shed.
“It’s feeding time for the dogs. The Loud One is rotating them so they all get a chance to relieve themselves before eating.”
“The Loud One? For not caring about names, you animals sure have some strange ones for us.”
Whiskey’s tail twitched. “We go by the steady patterns we pick up from a human.”
“Steady patterns?”
Her tail flicked again. “Yes. Every human is different. The Loud One booms in everything she does. She uses her voice far too much and her ears far too little. The Quiet One is the opposite. She listens and rarely speaks, but knows more about what’s going on at the shelter than anyone else. Then there’s the Quick One. She speeds through the shelter, cleaning, watering, and feeding us as if she’s doing the job of ten humans. It’s all so disturbing to watch, darting here and there like a lost puppy on the road.”
“I see,” said Meagan. “So how did you come up with the oh-so-wrong name for my Aunt Izzy?”
Whiskey jumped up on her lap and stared into her blue eyes. Meagan shrunk. “If you can communicate with me, then you should know why.”
Whiskey was a light-weight cat, no more than a furry bag of bones, yet there was something intimidating about her, like an old-school teacher smacking a ruler against her palm. The truth was, this elderly cat knew her aunt better than she did and it made her a little on the jealous side. Other than the stories her dad had shared—the bar fight, the drug addiction, the rebellious big sister—she knew nothing else.
Meagan shook her head. “I haven’t a freaking clue, Whiskey.”
The cat almost looked disappointed. “Then may I suggest that you start paying attention? You’ll learn more about humans that way.”  

Book Details:

Kindle File Size: 667 KB
Print Length: 203 pages
Publication Date: June 17, 2017
ASIN: B0713S1DCR

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing
http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com

Goodreads Link:

Purchase Your Copy:



Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/young adult time travel adventure series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery 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. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOOGLE+, and GOODREADS.

Author Tagline:

Escape to the past and have a blast.

Connect with Sharon Ledwith:

Sharon’s Website:
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Monday, 12 June 2017

Let's Hear it for the Boys...

This recipe is one for the guys. And I’m sure the fellows on The Last Timekeepers team would wholeheartedly agree. After all, Jordan, Drake, Ravi, and Professor Lucas will tell you that they build up quite an appetite traveling into the past to keep time safe. So instead of settling for something like rabbit stew or salty cookies, these brave lads would rather sink their teeth into a strip of melt-in-your-mouth beef jerky. Plus, this healthy, high-protein snack won’t spoil when you’re traveling to faraway places—like Nottingham in 1214 or Amsterdam in 1942.

Easy to prepare with a prep time of 15 minutes, marinade time of approximately 3 hours, and cook time of 3 hours, you’ll discover making your own beef jerky is not only fun and relatively quick, but also something you can do with your favorite person! You can have your butcher slice the beef for you, or do-it-yourself. BTW—this makes a great Game Day snack or fabulous Father’s Day gift.

Hubby’s Homemade Beef Jerky

¾ cup Worcestershire sauce
¾ cup soy sauce
1 tbsp. smoked paprika, or to taste (we use regular paprika)
1 tbsp. honey, or more to taste
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
2 pounds of beef, top round, thinly sliced

WHISK all ingredients, except the beef, together in a bowl.

ADD beef to bowl and turn to coat the meat completely.

COVER with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator 3 hours to overnight.

PREHEAT oven to 175° F (80° C)

LINE a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack over the foil.

TRANSFER beef to paper towels to dry. Discard marinade. Arrange beef slices in a single layer on the prepared wire rack on the baking sheet.

BAKE beef until dry and leathery, 3 to 4 hours. Cut with scissors into bite-size pieces, and enjoy!

Since you’ve got 3 hours to do whatever your heart desires, why not check out what those time traveling guys are up to by perusing one of my books from The Last Timekeepers series? Happy eats,  and enjoy this blast from the past to get your feet moving and appetite growing...