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  1. I'm talking to Jennifer Macaire on Travel Thursday this week. Welcome, Jennifer, you've had a fascinating childhood and travelled to quite a lot of places haven't you?

    Hi Karen, yes a lot of my travels were done before I can properly remember them. I was born in Kingston, NY, but can't recall a thing about that. Possibly my first memories are of California, when my sister was born, but the memories are like small details cut from faded photographs and tell me nothing about California. Then we moved an impossibly long distance across the Pacific to the Samoan islands - and I have rain drenched memories of this place.cropped-american-samoa_6

    Samoa

    I learned to talk there, made my first friends there,  and went to my first nursery school. I never wore  shoes. I drank fresh coconut milk and ate off banana leaves. I rode on a skinny horse tethered to a stake; there were ten kids on the horse's back, and high up on the neck clutching the mane was me, my father walking beside me. I would go into town with our nanny and chat with the villagers. I used to speak Samoan.  My sister's first words were Samoan. I walked over coral reefs and hunted fish for my mother’s aquarium. We went to night time festivals with music and dancing. We paddled long wooden canoes out into the ocean. And then,  just as we were getting settled in, we left.

    We got into a propeller plane and flew back across the Pacific. The plane bounced and juddered across the sky, falling into low pressure areas, dropping like a stone then catching air again, breaking dishes in the galley. My mother spent the entire flight being sick My father clutched Julie. I hung onto the window,  looked out over what I was sure was the North Pole, and searched for Santa's workshop. We made a stopover in Hawaii, which I remember because our friends lived there, and I had watermelon for the first time - the most delicious fruit with the most annoying seeds I'd even eaten. We didn't stay, though I think I would have loved it there too. We went on to California, where suddenly I had to wear shoes. We were treated to Disneyland, which gave me nightmares for ages - we were greeted at the entrance by the Pirate Captain Hook - I screamed and screamed.  For me, everything was real then. There was no such thing as fiction. Then we moved back to New York, where I had started off nearly six years earlier.

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    Jennifer (holding the fishing net), her mother and sister in Somoa circa 1963

    We moved into an old haunted farmhouse near Sleepy Hollow, where Ichabod Crane had met the headless horseman. It was nearly autumn. Everything was strange to me - the radiators on the walls, the way the leaves turned color and fell off the trees - the chill in the air - but I was looking forward to seeing snow for the first time. One day I was downstairs, looking out the window at the skeleton trees, when someone started throwing pieces of newspaper out the upstairs window. I ran to look, but there was no one there. It was snow! I never thought snow would look like torn bits of paper.

    So what, my mother sometimes asks me, do you remember about Samoa? I remember the rainy afternoons. The sand everywhere. The coconut trees (and watching people climb them). I remember climbing up the flagpole. The festival on the cliffs, the torches at night, the boat rides to other islands, and the constant humidity. I remember the grass skirts for ceremonies, the dances, the songs, the music. I can recall the clothes the natives wore and some of the words they spoke. I remember my babysitter and her family (we’re still friends on Facebook!)  I remember hiding under a hibiscus bush and seeing a million tiny baby spiders hatch from their egg. I remember my sister, Julie, in her seat with wheels, pushing herself along but refusing to walk. I had a red wagon. I had a swing in the living room. I can remember the layout of our house, and how our bedroom had one window on the end wall, and it was narrow and screened in with louvered glass. Samoa is so much a part of me that sometimes I can close my eyes and be back there. I can still see the light, how it looked there - always hazy because of the clouds, and after the rain how crystal-clear the air was. It's the child's part of me that saw everything for the first time that remembers Samoa, and what I remember most are the faces, the voices, & pulling my red wagon down the sidewalk thinking that this was utter happiness.

    It sounds incredible, Jennifer. What lovely memories. Where do you live now?

    Right now I live in France. My husband is French, and we decided that we wanted to educate our children in France. I’ve been here on and off since 1979, but we’ve lived here year ‘round since  the year 2000. I love France, it’s a wonderful country. There are mountains, beaches, lovely cities, and loads of history. One of my favorite haunts is the Louvre museum.

     

    Jenny at Frenchmans Reef

    Jenny at Frenchman's Reef

    Do you like to travel? What is your favourite means of travel?

    I love to travel, and my favorite means are planes and trains.  As a child, I travelled with my parents, and then I married a professional polo player, so we moved all year long, playing polo tournaments in France, Argentina, the United States, England, Spain, Italy, Dubai...I feel like my whole life has been a gypsy life, but it’s never lonely. When you travel in the polo world you meet up with the same people, so it’s like a big family.

    What countries have you visited or lived in?

    According to the travel site I belong to, I’ve visited 76 places, and also according to the site I have 799 remaining to see so I have to keep moving! I’d love to visit Scotland next, and the Nordic countries. I haven’t been to India either, nor China, so I have wonderful voyages to look forward to. Some items on my things to see before I die list: The Grand Canyon, The Northern Lights, The Dragon Festival in China, and the Holi Festival in India! Those will go with the SeafoodFestival in Portugal, and the Newport Jazz festival in upstate NY!

    Have any of your books been inspired by your travels? Or have you travelled anywhere for research for your books?

    My latest book is TheRoadtoAlexander, and features a road trip through ancient Greece taken by a time traveller who is kidnapped by Alexander the Great. (He thought she was Persephone, goddess of the dead).  I followed his journey across half the world, researching as I went along. The Silk Route is another voyage I’d love to make - across the deserts and mountains to Samarkand, which is featured in book II of the series, LegendsofPersia.

     road-to-alexander-cover-264186-510x590                                 legends-of-persia-264288-510x590      

    You can find out more about Jenny here:

    Website: https://jennifermacaire.wordpress.com/

    Facebook: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TimeforAlexander/

     Thanks for having me on your blog, Karen.

    It's a pleasure! You've certainly visited an impressive number of countries, Jennifer. I'm reading The Road to Alexander now and really enjoying it.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  2. I'm delighted to welcome my good friend, multi-published author Ann Evans, back to my blog today. Ann has dropped by to tell us about her debut crime novel, Kill or Die, a gripping read which is currently racing up the Kindle charts. Hi, Ann. Lovely to talk to you again. Can you tell my readers a bit abour yourself?

     

    Ann Evans_2016

     

    Thank you for having me on your blog Karen – especially as I'm blogging about my new book, which I know isn't your favourite genre by a mile! As you'll see by the title, Kill or Die, it's a crime novel – and quite a gritty novel too!

    I know I don't usually read 'scary' books Ann, but I've actually downloaded your book and I'm going to read it - not before I go to bed though - you've had some fantastic reviews, haven't you?

    I have, and I'm so pleased. This is my first venture into crime. I'm known more for my children's YA, and reluctant reader books.  I've written four romances too, but they are under my pen name of Ann Carroll. But I think the desire to write crime has been with me from the start, which was well over 30 years ago,  because when I look at all of my children's and reluctant reader titles, the majority are based around a crime.

    Yes, I've noticed that too. :)

    My first three children's books featured a missing person, a theft and smuggling. The  next four books, which were also published by Scholastic were 'Sealed Mysteries' which were murder mysteries for kids. They had a sealed last chapter which could be rolled out once the reader had worked out whodunnit.

    They've been out of print some time now, but I've brought them back to life as Little Tyke Murder Mysteries as ebooks, and the plan is to bring them out as print books too – when I get time! But there won't be a pull out chapter. Instead, like in the ebooks, there will be a link to a 'clues and red herrings' page on my website.

     But back to Kill or Die. Here's the cover:

    Kill or Die smaller

    Here's the blurb:

     A vicious burglary goes horribly wrong when an elderly victim is killed and one of the burglars is injured.

    In the detached house next door, Julia is preparing to leave her husband.  He has let her down for the last time and her bags are packed. Taking their eight-year-old daughter, Lucy, from her bed they set off in the fog.

    But on this cold, dark night, fate steps in and these strangers collide.

     When Vincent and Nash abduct the mother and daughter, and take them to a derelict house, the situation takes a grave turn.

    Meanwhile, Julia's husband, Ian, is distraught that his wife and daughter have left, and when the murder and burglary are discovered, suspicion falls on him.

    For Ian, Julia and Lucy, life is about to become a nightmare.

    Can Julia and Lucy escape from the twisted criminals?

    What will Julia decide when the choice is –  kill or die?

     Oh gosh, Ann, I'm biting my finger nails already! Where did you get your inspiration from for this story?

    It's funny where we get our inspiration from. The inspiration for this story came from a derelict house I would pass by on a fairly regular motorway journey. The house seemed miles from anywhere and would have been quite impressive in its heyday. Now it was a wreck and boarded up. My characters get to know this house rather too well…

    The book is published by Bloodhound Books, who have been tremendous. They have a lovely band of authors, which they are adding to all the time. We're all connected via a facebook page and there's lots of banter – and fantastic support! Getting my first crime book out there has been a great experience with Bloodhound.

    It sounds fantastic, Ann. Where can people buy the books from?

    Buy links:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kill-Die-Ann-Evans-ebook/dp/B06Y55N625

    https://www.amazon.com/Kill-Die-Ann-Evans/product-reviews/1912175142/r

    Website:    http://www.annevansbooks.co.uk

    Twitter:     https://twitter.com/annevansauthor

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ann-Evans-Books-146957850210/

    Blog:        http://annsawriter.blogspot.co.uk/

     

    Thanks for dropping by to tell us about your book, Ann. Wishing you lots of sales. :)

     

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    Bring a little sunshine into your life!  Sassy, feel good romance by Karen King. Just right to cosy up with. Published by Accent Press. Available from http://amzn.to/1Ro3Ome

     

     Threebooks

     

     

     

     

  3. Oh, la, la!This week, Lynne Shelby has dropped in to tell us all about how her travels to France inspired her romantic novel, French Kissing.

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    Banks of the Seine

    Welcome, Lynne. First, can you tell us a bit about where you live.

    Apart from three years in Leicester when I was a student, I’ve always lived in London. I love the energy and vibrant atmosphere of a city like London, with its many theatres, museums and art galleries, its beautiful parks, fascinating history and lively night-life, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else! 

    Do you like to travel? What is your favourite means of travel?

    I love to travel, and especially enjoy exploring a foreign city on foot, with a map, a camera, a guidebook and a writer’s notebook. Visiting a city in another country often means I have to travel by air – I’ve had fabulous trips having flown to New York and Seattle - but I’m not a great fan of flying, and my favourite means of travel around Europe is by rail. Last summer my DH and I flew from London to Basel, but from there took the train to Berne and then Thun, spending a few days in each place, before continuing our travels to Milan, and then on to Verona, Bolgna and Siena.  

    Verona, Italy

    Verona, Italy

    On the first leg of our journey from Switzerland to Italy, the railway ran alongside the Thunersee, the clear blue sky reflected in the lake, the green slopes of the surrounding mountains dotted with clusters of chalets. As the train took us through the Alps, our view through the window changed to high, jagged peaks, still covered in snow. Once we were in Italy, the landscape became brown fields of maize and sunflowers and walled towns clinging to hillsides covered in dark cypress trees and umbrella pines. We would have seen nothing of this if we’d been in a plane, and it’s surprisingly easy to navigate the European railway network – although I’d recommend booking your tickets on the internet before your journey, and allowing plenty of time to find your platform at Milano Centrale, one of the busiest stations in the world!

    Thun, Switzerland

    Thun, Switzerland

    Can you tell us how your travels to France inspired your work?

    One of my favourite cities to visit is Paris, which is where the second half of my debut novel, ‘French Kissing,’ takes place (the first half is set in London). In the book, my English heroine, Anna, accompanies my French hero, Alexandre, to Paris – which gave me a brilliant excuse to visit it again for research. A stroll through Paris, with its leafy boulevards and pavement cafes, and the stone quays that run alongside the Seine, is a perfect way to explore the city and its iconic monuments, like the Eiffel Tower.

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    Anna and Alex approach the Eiffel Tower from the opposite bank of the Seine, walking across the Pont d’léna – which I think is the best place in Paris for photos - and taking the lift to the top of the tower, the view from the top being a must-see for any first-time visitor. From the Eiffel Tower they walk along the left bank of the Seine – and like many art-lovers, take a look at the masterpieces in the Museé d’Orsay, mine (and Alex’s) favourite Parisian art gallery, with its many Impressionist paintings. On their second day in Paris, Alex takes Anna on my favourite Parisian walk, starting at the Arc d’Triomph, strolling along the broad, tree-lined Avenue des Champs-Élyseé, to the Place de la Concorde, and then on to the Jardin des Tuileries, and the Louvre. Anna decides that everything she’s heard about the City of Light, that it is one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world, is true - and I have to agree.

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     Avenue des Champs-Elysees

    About Lynne

     Lynne Shelby with her debut novel French Kissing

     

    Lynne Shelby writes contemporary romance, because that's what she likes reading the most. In 2015 she was thrilled to win the Accent Press & Woman Magazine Writing Competition with her debut novel 'French Kissing.' She loves travelling and is inspired to write by the many wonderful foreign cities that she’s visited - Rome, Milan, Barcelona, Madrid, Venice, New York, Copenhagen, Berlin and of course Paris, the city which inspired her to write 'French Kissing.' Lynne also enjoys visiting the theatre, and is currently writing a series of novels set in the world of showbusiness.

     

    You can find out more about Lynn at 

    Website:  www.lynneshelby.com  

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LynneShelbyWriter 

     Twitter:  @LynneB1

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     French Kissing Blurb

     Anna Mitchel has been writing letters to her French penfriend, Alexandre Tourville, for fifteen years, but hasn’t seen him since an exchange trip when they were at school. When Alex, now a successful photographer, comes to work in London, Anna offers to put him up, but is astounded that the small, geeky boy she remembers is now tall, broad-shouldered and gorgeous. Anna s female friends are soon swooning over Alex s Gallic charm, and Anna s boyfriend Nick is soon extremely jealous of her friendship with an attractive single man. Then Alex has to return to Paris to oversee the hanging of his photographs in an exhibition, and invites Anna to accompany him so that he can show her the city he adores…

     French Kissing is available on Amazon and from Accent Press

    Amazon

    Thanks for dropping by to tell us about your travels, Lynne.

     

  4. I'm talking to blogger and author Jo Lambert on my Monday Meet Up blog today. Jo blogs at www.jolambertwriter.blog

    Author Pic (1) (1)

    Hi Jo, grab a cup of coffee and get yourself comfy. Thanks, Karen.

    coffee

    Now can you tell us a bit about yourself, why you blog and what inspired your love of books and what sort of books you like reading?

    Sure, let's start with a bit about me. 

    After completing secretarial training I then successfully completed an HNC in Business and Finance. My have jobs ranged from PA support at Board Level to Supervisory Management. In 2011 I left my full time job in our local hospital Pharmacy Department where I was Office Manager and PA to the Chief Pharmacist. I wanted a part time job share so I could devote more time to writing.  For two and a half years I worked part time as Office Administration Manager in Nuclear Medicine in the same hospital.  In May 2013 I finally left work to become a full time writer.   

    I live on the eastern side of Bath with my husband, a small grey feline called Mollie and a green MGB GT.  I love cinema, travel, red wine, rock music.

    My blog

    I began my blog as a means of marketing – to let people know about me as a writer, the books I had published and what I was currently working on.  It also became an outlet for general creative writing – pieces about life, holidays, music.  I love photography so very often I’d write about holidays and incorporate shots of where I’d been.  I began a weekly interview slot ‘Tea and Talk at Sally Lunn’s’ which is the oldest house in Bath and home to a restaurant where Bath Buns are a speciality.  This then morphed into Tuesday Talk when I upgraded the blog.  I also added book reviews, some independent and some which I did as part of the Brook Cottage Books Tour team.  As things began to expand, I moved my writing onto a separate website www.jolambertbooks.com and soon after created a dedicate site for my Brook Cottage Books reviewing. My current blog structure covers the general items I write, Tuesday Talk and any independent reviews I do for other publishers. 

    My Love of Books

    I could read before I started school. I loved Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and had the complete set which I was very proud of.  I also had an uncle who taught in Strathallan School in Scotland and regularly sent me books for Christmas and birthdays. I got through most of the children’s’ standard such as Wind in the Willows, Children of the New Forest, The Secret Garden, The Jungle Books.  I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading.  It’s a great form of escape. I do have quite a wide taste – both historical and contemporary romance are my favourites and crime/suspense novels.

    It sounds like you really love books, Jo. What is your favourite book of all time?

    The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.   I received it as a Christmas present from one of my uncles when I was nine.  It was simply magical and I still have the book!

    How many books, on average, do you read a month? 

    As a reader and reviewer I get through quite a few books.  Around ten a month. It probably would be more if I didn’t write.

    Have you ever sat up all night because you were desperate to finish reading a book? If yes, what book was it?

    Yes I have to admit to doing this on several occasions.  The last time was when I read Sins of the Father by Sheryl Browne.

    I haven't read that one of Sheryl's yet but I've read some of her others, she's a fantastic writer.

    Do you ever cheat and skip to the end of a book?

    No, the whole point of reading a book from start to finish is to enjoy the journey.  Having a sneaky peek to see how it all ends up would completely ruin the read for me.  I like surprises and seeing how the author pulls her hero/heroine out of tight spots.

    What sort of plots do you dislike reading?

    Chick lit is not for me. And I’m not one for light romantic reads either.

    What sort of things would you like to see in a novel?

    A strong plot and believable characters. Books where during the read I say to myself ‘well I didn’t see that coming’. With crime/suspense it has to be gripping, edge of the seat stuff and with romance lots of twists and turns before the happy ending.

    What is the most unusual place you’ve ever read a book?

    In church. When I was very small and my parents took me along to the Sunday service, to keep me occupied Noddy and Big Ears came too.  I can’t remember it happening but I was told the Enid Blyton characters were a very effective distraction and they didn’t hear a peep from me.

    What author would you most like to have a cup of coffee with? Why?

    George R R Martin.  I’d love to hear him talk about the inspiration behind all those different worlds in his Game of Thrones series.

    Do you have any other hobbies?

    I love photography and take my camera everywhere.

    Do you write? If so, what sort of things do you write. If not, would you like to be an author?

    Yes and I’m currently working on my eighth book.  I write romance with a difference.  There’s drama too – lots of it.  I make my hero and heroine work hard for their happy ever after.

     You can find out more about Jo at

    www.jolambertwriter.blog

    Jo's Latest Book 

     

    Watercolours in the Rain Cover MEDIUM WEB

     

    Blurb

     

    What happens to the future when past and present collide?

     

    JESS:  Six years ago Jess’s relationship with Talún Hansen was torn apart by one night of deception. He disappeared from Lynbrook village and she headed for university vowing never to let anyone break her heart again. Currently teaching in Oxford, Jess returns from holiday to an unexpected phone call and life changing news which eventually sees her returning home.

     

    Talún: Six years on Talún Hawkeswood, as he is now known, is heir to his grandfather’s Norfolk farming empire. When he hears of trouble in the village due to Lynbrook Hall being put up for sale, going back is the last thing on his mind. But staying away is not an option either, not when someone he owes so much to is about to lose their home and their livelihood.

     

    LILY: Splitting with her husband after her son Josh’s birth, Lily now works as part of an estate agency sales team.  She has always held onto her dream of finding a wealthy husband and a life of self-indulgence. When the sale of an important property brings her face to face with Talún, she realises despite the risks involved, the night they spent together six years ago could be the key to making those dreams come true.

     

    As Jess, Talún and Lily return to Lynbrook and the truth about what happened that summer is gradually revealed, Talún finds himself in an impossible situation. Still in love with Jess he is tied into a trade off with Lily: his name and the lifestyle she craves in exchange for his son. And when a child is involved there is only one choice he can make…

     

    WATERCOLOURS IN THE RAIN PURCHASE LINKS

     

    AMAZON.CO.UK Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01LX4GRE5

     

     AMAZON.COM   Link:http://a.co/fjQMEo6

     

     

     

     

    Thanks for dropping by to talk to us, Jo!

     

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    Bring a little sunshine into your life!  Sassy, feel good romance by Karen King. Just right to cosy up with. Published by Accent Press.

     

     Threebooks

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  5. I'm delighted to welcome Alison Knight to my Travel Thursday blog. Alison lives in Wiltshire but is presently holidaying in Mallorca. Lucky Alison!

    mallorca

    Mallorca

    Hi Alison. Can you tell us what countries have you visited or lived in?

    I visited France and Austria as a child, and spent a year living in the US as a teenager.  For the first twenty years of our marriage we didn’t go any further than France, but then one day my husband announced he’d won us a holiday in Thailand!  Fabulous!

    In 1999 I went on a trek along the Great Wall of China, then visited Beijing, Shanghai and Xian (where the Terracotta Warriors were discovered). I’ve also trekked through Israel, the Alpujarras region of Spain and the Sinai Desert.

     

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    Great Wall of China

    I’ve been to Thailand four times now – the last time I helped build a house as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. 

    I worked for international charities and had trips to Cyprus, Egypt and Central America.  I caught a bug in Honduras, was ill for six weeks after I got home and didn’t get sent on any more overseas trips after that.

    More recently, our family holidays have been in Italy and Montenegro. Right now we’re in Mallorca!

    Oh, I'm soo jealous, Alison! Can you tell us what's your favourite means of travel?

    For excitement, I’d recommend a tuk-tuk ride through Bangkok. Hold on tight!

    What country/place has made the most impact on you? Why?

    Everywhere I visit changes me in some way.  China is an amazing country, so different from anything I’m used to.  Honduras is beautiful but harsh with strong, resourceful people who were very kind to me. Thailand is heavenly.

    Great Wall of China

    Great Wall of China.

    Have you featured any of the countries/places you’ve visited in your novels? 

    I’m actually doing that at the moment. I’m using my experience of housebuilding in Thailand for one story and researching the history of the island of Mallorca during WW2 for another one.

    Has any country/place you’ve visited ever given you inspiration for a story?

    Yes. As well as the examples above, my year in the US inspired my first novel, Off the Record. Closer to home, I’m also inspired by London, past and present, and the beautiful county of Wiltshire, where I live.

    Off the Record cover

     

    Is there any country/place you would love to write about but haven’t visited yet?

    I have so many ideas, my list is always growing – Australia, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and even the Ice Hotel in Sweden.   

    It sounds like you're going to be busy travelling a lot, Alison.

    About Alison

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    Alison has three novels published by Accent Press, under the name of Alison Rose. She grew up in London but now lives in Wiltshire.  She has been a lawyer, a childminder and a professional fundraiser.  She went to university at age 45, and now has a first class degree and an MA in Creative Writing.  She is co-founder of Imagine Creative Workshops (www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk), a part-time lecturer at Wiltshire College and a freelance editor and proof-reader.  She’s married, has two grown-up children and two grandchildren.

    You can find out more about Alison and her books on her website at www.alisonroseknight.com

     

    Rescue Me cover           Rosie Goes to War

    Thanks for dropping by to tell us about your travels, Alison!