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Calamity Jan and the Russian ……

3 Feb

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Today we welcome Jan Pierson to the GSP Romance Promo and highlight her book Calamity Jan and the Russian – a darkly handsome one! 😉

Jan says of herself:

I’m the author of nine books for young readers and occasionally freelance for magazines including “Trip of a Lifetime,” published January 2010 in Arizona Highways magazine and “Art Soars on Nature’s Wings,” published in the Winter 2011 edition of American Style Magazine. I hold a degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice from the Evergreen State College with post graduate studies in Psychology. Since the publication of my latest ghost town book series, I often speak to educators, community organizations and students about mining our own personal gold from the wealth of our inner resources. In classrooms and school assemblies I encourage young readers to go for that gold that lies buried in their wild and wonderful imaginations. I was an instructor with The Institute of Children’s Literature and later taught independent writing seminars for aspiring writers throughout the state.
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When a 61-year-old woman marries a darkly handsome Russian physicist nine years her junior, East and West collide. This multicultural love affair brings it all together with some earthy explosions of humor when this ex-communist lands in her empty nest and makes menopause feel like the measles and “starting over,” close to facing Siberia with candle in one hand and Preparation H in the other. This true story of one woman’s journey into primitive Russia with a charismatic Russian lays the Orthodox groundwork for their return to America where he begins to set up his fiefdom in her house and her life. The May-December, intercultural challenges launch two lovers on a spirited dance (not Swan Lake), a dance familiar to men and women of every age and culture who struggle against obstacles and iron curtains because they still believe in Destiny, and dare to risk everything in order to find it.

 

Excerpt:

 

PROLOGUE

19 January, 1999

Glass partitions separated those of us in the outer waiting area from the immigration lines at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. I scanned the lines moving slowly through security, watching for the face I’d seen only from photographs.

Suddenly I saw him moving closer to the final gate. I braced myself against a person or a wall (I can’t remember), hoping I had the strength to keep from fainting. It’s him. Oh God, it’s him . . . I can’t remember anything else, except that he was slender and dark like his pictures and his eyes were blue. Baltic blue. He smiled and walked toward me, his chestnut-brown hair illumined by the glare of glass and lights from the security platform above. God, I’m going to faint . . .

But I didn’t. He set his hand-held luggage down and we embraced, then drew back and faced each other. His blue eyes didn’t hold mine as I’d dreamed they would at our first meeting. There was no spiritual connection.

None.

Nothing.

I reeled, listening to his charming accent, listening to his words fall like broken glass on the hard tile beneath our feet. I tried to speak, but my words jammed against the back of my throat.

What was wrong? Was he nervous? Afraid? Disappointed? He was good-looking, charming, energetic, but it was as though I was in the presence of a stranger from Siberia. Suddenly I wanted to run. Did he feel the same? His eyes are empty. Cold. Where was the man I’d been corresponding with for over a year—the man I’d begun to love through his tender, poetic letters?

Valentin, where are you? I cried out in anguished silence, feeling a wall that was colder and more ominous than the Iron Curtain. We walked toward the baggage claim; his wide smile, charming Russian accent and animated demeanor helped in a way, but once we gathered his luggage and entered the parking garage, the truth hit like a slab of gray cement. This Russian man—this stranger—is coming home with me and I’m not sure I’m ready for this.

Had we both made a terrible mistake?

Oh God, what have I done?

CHAPTER ONE
The Volga in Springtime

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart.
Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.
Carl Jung (1875—1961)

We met by accident, believing it wasn’t an accident at all.

Fate. God. Destiny?

He was slender, ruggedly good-looking and well educated, a Russian man nine years my junior. Valentin Gudkov. I even loved his name. I loved everything about him, including his Russian-ness. Our phone conversations enchanted me, his accent and charm threw my sensibilities into a spiral downward. Or up. I didn’t know and frankly, it didn’t matter.

The Miracle is with us, Kiska, Valentin had said in one of his letters a few months before. I love you.

My eyes filled as I held his letters against my soul. The intoxicating new dance had begun, much to the dismay—even warnings—of a few friends and family members. He’s younger and he’s a Russian. Do you have any idea what it’s like living with someone from another culture? It’s vodka and cabbage, Jan. Are you sure you’re ready for this?

I’m ready. Don’t you know I’ve been waiting for this all of my life? 

 

Links:

http://www.gypsyshadow.com/JanPierson.html#CJanExc

 

http://www.amazon.com/Calamity-Jan-Russian-ebook/dp/B0090R3ATC/ref=sr_1_7?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1359885876&sr=1-7&keywords=Jan+Pierson

 

Songs of the Dead

2 Oct

Dawn Colclasure is the author of five books, among them BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL: How We Survive as Writing Parents and 365 TIPS FOR WRITERS: Inspiration, Writing Prompts and Beat The Block Tips to Turbo Charge Your Creativity. Her articles, essays, poems, book reviews and short stories have been published in regional and national newspapers and magazines, as well as online. She lives and writes in Oregon with her husband and children.
Perfectly in keeping with our Halloween theme Dawn Colclasure’s dark poetry collection, Songs of the Dead (formerly named Topiary Dreams), is not only dark, but passionate. Anger, fear, hurt and betrayal run under the skin of this work and shine through especially bright in poems such as No Turning Back, Deep Within and I am Madness. Colclasure examines the dark side of human nature; murder, drug use, violence, insanity and isolation. But, beyond the tales of death and darkness there’s also a message of empowerment; the voice of someone who has taken too much, for too long and has finally had enough.

Songs of the Dead is a re-release of the chapbook originally published in 2003 and with more than twenty-seven new poems; it has more than earned the title “expanded”. Colclasure has a flair for prose, with lines such as “walk on the moon and hear the stars breathe,” (from Death Shows my Pain) and different poetry forms stop the reader from falling into a sing song rhythm of sameness and help to keep the collection fresh and interesting, page after page.

Excerpt:

Songs of the Dead
I’m the Only One Who Can Take You There

Push me now into your veins.
Push me softly, deep inside.
Let me take you far away
Where you won’t have to run and hide.

Forget your tears, forget your pain.
Escape from this world of despair.
Come to me, I will save you
I’m the only one who can take you there.

You don’t need to be afraid.
I will shield you in my arms.
No more sadness, no more pain.
I’ll protect you from life’s harms.

Never fail you, always true.
And you enjoy the things I do.
You won’t find better relief anywhere
Because I’m the only one who can take you there.

Where to find Dawn’s book: http://www.gypsyshadow.com/DawnColclasure.html#SongsExc

More information about this amazing author:

Her Web site is: http://dmcwriter.tripod.com/ 
Blog: http://dawncolclasureblog.blogspot.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/dawncolclasure
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/people/Dawn-Colclasure
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/dawncolclasure
Other: http://greenwolf103.deviantart.com/
Read an Interview at Highlighted Author!
              Writer Sanctuary
Thank you Dawn for participating.

Happy Easter from Prague

7 Apr

Easter is yet another tradition filled holiday in the Czech Republic. The picture above is but one of the many Easter markets around the city. This little square is a favourite of mine. The name of the square is Namesti Miru- translated as the square of peace.
One of the most notorious traditions is the ‘beating’ of the women and young girls on Easter Monday. A lot more dramatic than it sounds. Please let me add right here that the Czech Republic does not advocate the beating of women! The pomlázka, which is a whip braided from young twigs and decorated with coloured streamers, is used by men and boys to symbolically beat women on the legs to keep them young and fresh. Pomlázka, (from pomladit or “make younger”

The pomlázka


The tradition is till practiced although mainly in villages and small towns. Although the romanticism may have been somewhat lost down the ages it is done mainly for fun. The reward for the beating is usually in some form alcohol like plum brandy or slivovice so that during the afternoon many happy men can be seen around the streets.
A more docile tradition is the painting of eggs. Eggs bought for this purpose have two holes made in them and the inside blown out. They are then hand painted and dried then hung up as Easter decoration.
A lamb is another tradition and now in supermarkets lamb cakes decorated in white or chocolate frosting can be seen. However, many Czech Traditions are related to Springs and beautiful foral arrangements decorated with toy chicks and bunnies can be seen everywhere.

An Easter display in a shopping centre


I love the Easter markets. Apart from lovely Easter things to buy there is great food! You can smell the aroma of roasting pork enticing you to stop by.

The Easter market stalls


Zvonek’s Easter’s draw: Two lucky people to win a Zvonek 08 coffee mug as seen in the picture on here. Please answer the following question:
What is the name of kitten that went missing in Mau-ow? The answer can be found in the excerpt of Book 2 on http://www.gypsyshadow.com/AnneHPetzer.html#Zvonek2Exc
Please send your answers to: annepetzer.com. Draw ends on 13/4/2012
Happy Easter.
I wish you all a very Happy Easter. Be safe.

http://www.annehpetzer.cz

and enter Kimmy..

2 Mar


Last week Christine shared with us the story behind Clawless. This week I am highighting yet another project of the lovely Irish author. To tell it in her words over to Christine :).

“When I left London in 200 7 after nearly 20 years, to move to Bath – I knew no one. Not one single person. I had given up a very busy job in television with a manic social life and what seemed like dozens of friends to go and live in a city where I would be working from home as a writer and hopefully making friends. But of course, it didn’t quite work like that and although I would never ever admit it, I felt a little lonely. I had always said that when I had the right sort of lifestyle I would get a cat and now I had the time to care for a cat and a house with safe courtyard so when Mum came to stay with me and expressed an interest in Bath Cats and Dogs Home it felt ‘right’ to go up there. Of course I fell for Kimmy, a tabby and white 10 year old who had recently been made Pet of the Week to try and rustle up interest in her as a long stay inmate.

I had never had a cat all of my own. We’d had family cats and dogs but I had never had one all to myself whose care was entirely my responsibility and I made all sorts of ‘rules’ with myself. I would not be her ‘Mum’ , I would not let her rule my life, I would go away whenever I wanted and find someone to care for her and I wouldn’t become one of those silly women who witter on about their cats all the time. Of course I broke all the rules within about a week – all except the going away ‘whenever’. The first time I left Kimmy – in the care of a pet minder, I was a nervous wreck all weekend.

Kimmy opened a world to me that I had never imagined – of love, trust and having another living creature to care for. She quite simply made me a better person and made my life just so much richer and I adored her. After regaling my Mum with yet another story on the phone she urged me to write some of them down. I had of course been doing just that in my diary but I began to wonder if anyone would be interested in reading about our lives together? I would write her diary with all royalties going to charity in my constant and eternal gratitude to Bath Cats and Dogs Home where she came from and where I was now working as a volunteer and making lots of other friends.

What followed was the Kimmy Diaries by Kimmy with narrative by both Kimmy and myself of our lives

together from when I first saw her in her ‘pod’ to our first Christmas.

Anyway, the manuscript did not take that long to write, a month or so and then was submitted to various agents – in order to find a publisher. That took time and was so frustratingly slow that I decided to fall back on the popularity Kimmy had on United Cats and in Bath itself and hope that they would buy a self published copy of her book. I was right to think this – because Bath was very good to me. The bookshops stocked it, Bath Cats and Dogs Home organised book signings and the local paper The Bath Chronicle did a feature on Kimmy and me. It was a Bath bestseller over the Christmas period and I felt ridiculously happy with it and was able to give Bath Cats and Dogs Home sizeable royalty cheques each quarter.

I was lucky enough to approach my favourite Media vet Pete Wedderburn to ask if he would write a foreword and he agreed. It gave the book such a good plug and some real validation. I was thrilled.

After nearly two blissful years I had to return home to Northern Ireland as my Mother had had an accident it spelled out that she could no longer live independently – as much as she wanted to. I would live nearby and be able to keep an eye on her. Of course Kimmy was coming too and I booked a taxi to take us door to door for Kimmy’s comfort. And of course this spawned the follow up to The Kimmy Diaries – Kimmy’s Irish Diary – 6 months from us moving from Bath to her first Christmas in N. Ireland. This book had many changes in Kimmy’s life from her having garden access, her making friends and meeting Mum’s cat Jamie for the first time. It was a very happy book full of stories about Kimmy and her new lifestyle and our life together. Again self published using Authors Online but sadly this time the sales took a back seat as Kimmy was diagnosed with cancer very soon after the book was published so I did little or no marketing to take care of her in what would be her final months.

A third Kimmy Diary will be available at some later date as we wrote about her last 6 months which I hope will please her many fans and bring comfort to those experiencing something similar. Her last months were shocking, sad and very distressing but they were also very ,very happy and led me to live my life in the present for the first time ever just taking one day at a time and being grateful for it.

If you want to self publish you do need to put a lot of work in. You have to market the book yourself. Design the cover – the publisher will help and you will have to take it round bookshops to see if they will stock it. You will also have to do your own publicity and if you want great sales you will have to put in a lot of hard work. But … if you choose a good publisher whose work looks professional on any shelf and if your own work is good, spell checked and proof read – you stand a good chance of selling as many – if not more than if you had a ‘traditional publishing’ deal. I was able to give £1.60 per book sold to Bath Cats and Dogs Home – for each book. And I am very proud of both.”

links:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kimmys-Irish-Diary-Kimmy/dp/0755206118/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1330809732&sr=8-1
https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Kimmy-Diaries-by-Kimmy-for-fans-of-Kimmy/361593067237
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kimmys-Irish-Diary-Kimmy/dp/0755206118/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1331293488&sr=8-1

Clawless on Centre Stage

24 Feb


This month we are fortunate to have yet another wonderful guest, hailing this time from Northern Ireland. I am very excited to have Christine with us today as her project which you are about to read supports a cause close to my heart. I consider animals, especially pets, to be one of the most vulnerable parts of our society. They often end up in a less than pleasant situation and Christine’s project aids the relief for some of them. Let’s hear about Clawless the first, I believe, feline soap opera :).

“When Clawless came out – it’s release week, our publishers sent out a press release to all the magazines and newspapers that subscribe and I sent out my own press releases to local newspapers and was thrilled to get a call almost immediately. My local paper ‘The Newtownabbey Times’ wanted to send someone round to interview me and take a photo. Of course, I felt nervous but also pleased as it is great to talk about your own achievement but strangely difficult. How easy is it to say ‘My book is very funny and wonderful’? Well, easier than you think because I didn’t write it! As a co author it is so much easier to be able to say ‘Oh it’s so funny. The other authors are a scream and write so well.’  Plus ‘Oh one when person wrote something really funny you sort of felt you had to write something as good so we all helped each other to keep up the standard’.  And when asked which was my favourite bit – it was fun to be able to praise one of the other writers’ work.
 
I had a few calls and emails from the Authors online press release including a few children’s comics ‘Animals and Me’ being one. They loved the book but maybe it was a little ‘old’ for their 6 – 10 year old readers. But any publicity is good publicity.
 
Choosing the charities had been hard.  We wanted to give the royalties to a cat charity and one that wasn’t too big so they would appreciate our donation and preferably and international one but we couldn’t find one. International animal agencies are there but mainly for wildlife or endangered species and I was keen to use Bath Cats and Dogs Home again as they do such amazing work – I had got Kimmy from there and truly they are the best animal rescue of its type bar none, in the UK.   (they have a vet on site to care for the animals and a behaviourist to work with dogs who are ‘difficult’ so they can be rehomed and they rehome cats of all ages but always have a waiting list of cats to come in. The animals are very well cared for too.)  On a par with Battersea Cats and Dogs Home which is also excellent but no better and with a different type of stray problem being in London.
 
As we had 2 UK writers,  4 US, 1 Canadian, 1 Australian and 1 S. African – it should probably have meant that they royalties went to one US charity if we couldn’t find an international one but the publisher was in the UK and it seemed … well unfortunate not to capitalise on Kimmy’s fan base in the Bath area plus the fact that Bath Cats and Dogs Home had been remarkably good at helping me sell books before via their newsletters and shop.  So we decided to give to two charities  – Bath Cats and Dogs Home and Ann Scarborough’s local shelter, The Humane Society of Jefferson County (another small but hard working centre where animals are not routinely euthanised unless very old or sick)  and both charities were so grateful.  As yet we have not made a fortune for them and the sales have been slower than I would like but we are still hopeful that the world will catch on to Clawless and that sales will rocket.
 
Had we done a second book we would have used two other charities probably in Australia next time and maybe in the US as well.
For more info on Clawless:

http://www.facebook.com/ClawlessBook
http://www.wix.com/squishgeo/clawless

It may purchased at: Authorsonline.co.uk

thank you Christine for being part of my blog. I wish you loads of sales.

The American Connection – guest blogger James Woods

27 Jan

It is my pleasure today to have James Woods as my guest. James is a fellow GSP author. Jim Woods, who also uses the pen name Jamel Dubois, writes novels authentically set in South Africa. As a native South African, I am usually skeptical about foreigners writing about my country. However,, James has perfectly captured the South Africa Afrikaaner in his book Assassination Safari. I have just finished reading it and found to be totally authentic to the culture. So with any further ado over to you James.

The continent of Africa and particularly the southern regions including South Africa became a major part of my muse immediately upon my first visit, and that initial visit perhaps calls for a bit of background. The time was the mid 1980s and I was firmly entrenched in the outdoors magazine business. I was on staff with Guns Magazine as Senior Field Editor, which translated to allowing me mailing-in my monthly feature and column from my Arizona ranch mailbox that was half-mile walk up the dirt road. I earned that almost retirement privilege by first working several years as Editor, Managing Editor and Editorial Director with (then) Petersen Publishing Company in Beverly Hills, where I was attached to Guns & Ammo and Petersen’s Hunting magazines. These professional and literary connections put me on my first flight to Africa.

Commercial magazines are supported by advertisers, not subscribers; but advertisers are attracted to magazines holding influence over a reader base sufficient to justify a product supplier spending promotional money with a particular magazine. My first two trips to Africa were press junkets. The first, to Zimbabwe, was hosted by a German optics company introducing new
line of riflescopes and binoculars and they wanted articles on the products. I was one of four magazine writers making that trip.

It was a natural progression for me to think South Africa following that junket; Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, was politically and socially tied to South Africa in my numerous history volumes. I waited two years for the opportunity to visit South Africa, but in the interim I read, and re-read, James Michener’s, The Covenant, on colonial influence and development of the country. I also was introduced to Wilbur Smith, who writes on Africa and has become my
favorite author. He has written thirty-three novels, most of which are set in South Africa, and I have them all. My safari to South Africa was at invitation of the South African Tourism Board (SATOUR); they looking for favorable press on the recreational opportunities in the country at a time when the country was not getting favorable press from the world at large. I was one of seven outdoors communicators invited–magazine, newspaper and television–from the U.S. And Canada.

Spouses are not invited along on press junkets. Upon my return from South Africa, and my wife, becoming fed up with my praise for the beauties and attractions of the country, announced that my next trip to Africa would include her. It came the following year, just the two of us and at personal expense; no more sponsored press trips. We self-drove all over the country for six weeks, me showing off what I had been shown and both of us discovering so much more for ourselves. I decided I had to tell the western world about South Africa, and formulated what I considered to be the ultimate travel guide.

Actually, the germ for the travel guide came to me while I was in the home of a professional hunter, in South Africa, on my SATOUR sponsored trip. The bunch of us, all the writers and the hunter’s family, were socially imbibing in the comfort of the hunter’s home, all paying rapt attention to his tales soon to become fodder for my current novel-in-work, when I was distracted by movement at the vented jalousie window. A green mamba slithering its way up the exterior wall found the window opening and started to enter between the panes. I caught the hostess’s eye and silently directed her to my discovery, and she coolly approached the window and cranked it shut, causing the viper to withdraw. No one else observed all this and I determined that I had to tell the world about this fascinating country, things to see and do, and things to
avoid. Subsequently on my long personal explorations I collected tons of notes on history, customs, politics, human relations, cuisine and traveler amenities. It was a lost effort.

I cleverly titled my work, Tackies, Bakkies and Biscuits. “Tackies” is the local identification of sport shoes that we not in Africa call tennis shoes, running shoes or trainers. Tackies are tacky; I’ve been asked to leave high-toned establishments in South Africa because I dared to enter wearing the shoes and breaking the dress code. And not just tackies either; I travel in jeans
wherever in the world I’m in charge of my own travel, such as driving through southern Africa. I was escorted from a historic hotel dining room in Harare, Zimbabwe, for showing up in my travel jeans. The Ndebele policeman was a foot shorter than me and quite officious in his sharply pressed and detailed khakis. I was permitted to retrieve my luggage and change into khakis
myself, before being readmitted to the establishment. The firearms mores are strict as well. I know of bird and waterfowl hunters refused admission to South Africa’s shooting sites because they came equipped with automatic or pump shotguns. Over-under guns are tolerated but side-by-side double guns are the accepted sporting arms of gentleman shooters. These are things I intended to tell potential travelers to the region, in my book.

The “bakkies” in my travel title is more or less synonymous with “pick-up truck” The word does not rhyme with “tackies” when verbalized, but I thought it looked as though it did in print. And “biscuits” are not biscuits as westerners know them, but the English version of cookies. I intended my book to clarify and educate outlanders in the local language anomalies. I also laid out travel advisories and money exchange tips. The book did not get published, not even
completed. I submitted numerous queries complete with sample chapters and full outline to agents and publishers, but found no takers. I had publishers tell me in no uncertain terms that South Africa as a subject was taboo because of Apartheid practices in force at the time. By the mid 1990s, the book was still incomplete due to the continuous updates I was making on subsequent research trips, but the death knell was the elections of 1994 when the country’s
political structure was altered drastically. I chose to drop the travel guide effort entirely.

In the interim I did sell several safari articles to the outdoors magazines, and I used South African settings for some success in short fiction, novels and factual hunting accounts. From my first of several exploratory trips to South Africa I wanted to write an epic novel using exploits of the professional hunter credited with creating the modern safari operations from its roots as a cottage industry. I transferred his real accomplishments and credits to my fictional
protagonist. That novel is currently in work, primarily because initially I had no knowledge of novel writing, just desire. So I trained myself with a couple of preliminary works, one little more than a long novella, and the second qualifying as a novel with all the complexities and characters unknowingly omitted from the first.

My novel writing education, and much of my Africa knowledge, came from the works of Robert Ruark, Ernest Hemingway, Peter Hathaway Capstick, whom I knew and associated with personally, and the afore-mentioned Wilbur Smith. Success for me as a novelist will not be counted in dollars; all I want is my books alongside theirs on bookstores around the world. Is that asking too much?

Thank you Jim for being with us today. Jim Woods lives and works in Tucson, Arizona, but can be found on line at these websites:

http://users.dakotacom.net/~jwoods
http://www.champagnebooks.com/
http://www.gypsyshadow.com/default.html

Happy New Year

1 Jan

Bubbly anyone?


I wish you all a wonderful 2012, filled with peace and health. I have to say I am not sad to the see the back of 2011. It was a difficult year although not without high points.
The highest point was seeing my high school dream fulfilled, the publication of the Zvonek 08 series. As some of you know I wanted to live in Europe, have two cats and write books. Finally in April last year I could tick all the boxes.
Starting my blog was also a high point and it has been exciting to have wonderful people willing to be interviewed or being a guest on my blog.
My first ever guest was Shelia Deeth, telling us how she got started writing. Bless you Shelia for taking the plunge with me. If you haven’t read the entry please check October 29th.
In November I interviewed Hana Rawlings, whose book on Cake Decorating will be out this year. She shared a lovely Czech recipe for Gingerbread with us. By the way Hana would love feedback if any of you actually tried the recipe. I am including a photo at the end of this blog of the ones she made this year. Please see the entry for November 26th.
We saw the year out with my friend and fellow author Elizabeth Ann Scarbourgh, Feline Book Feast, telling us about her latest feline books. Please see the entry December 17th.
To all of you thank for being on my blog and to my readers a big thank you for your support and comments.
We start this year with guest blogger James Woods telling us about why he writes about South Africa. I have read James’ Assassination Safari and have to say it captures the South African image perfectly. As a native South African I am always suspicious of foreigners writing about my country but I have to give James thumbs up :). He will be my guest on 27/1, please do stop by.
Next month I will have Christine Wilson as a guest on my blog. Christine is an Irish author. We will be highlighting a special work of hers so please don’t miss it.
So from Zvonek and Metaxa purrs for a great 2012 and again from me all the best.

Hana's Christmas 2011 bake using the recipe she shared with us

Merry Christmas

25 Dec

Thank you all for reading and supporting my blog. To those of you who bought my book – a very big thank you. My wish is that you all have an amazing festive season with friends, family and loved ones.
Anne, Zvonek and Metaxa

Feline Book Feast

17 Dec

This month’s guest is Elizabeth Ann Scarbourgh. An author that I respect and a person I appreciate very much. It was on her recommendation that I sent my manuscript off to GSP and as a result became a published author. We share a love of cats and writing. I first ‘met’ Elizabeth on United Cats, a site that we both belong to. Our friendship was forged over our cat’s blogs and emailing back and forth. Earlier this year Elizabeth published a feline adventure as told by her past cat, Kittbits, ‘Spam vs the Vampire.’ A wonderful fun story about cats, forest animals and vampires. We are also highlighting ‘9 Tales of Cats’ the most recent of her books that has just come out. A series of short stories making it a wonderful feline feast!

Thank you Elizabeth for joining us for this post.
Having just read– and loved – Spam vs the Vampire, it intrigues me as to what inspired this story?

EAS: Well, we live in the town Port Deception (the town in the story) was modeled on. This is just about 75 miles or so from Forks, where the sparkly vampires of Twilight are supposed to live. We had about a solid 2 weeks of high winds earlier in the winter when I started SPAM, and for a period of time, were cut off from the rest of the world with both transportation and communication compromised (at least intermittently). As I mention below, this started out to be a straight cat mystery but the motivation worked out better if the culprit was a vampire.

Why did you choose to have your cat ‘write’ it?

EAS: It’s in first person from the viewpoint of Spam, the feline protagonist, and his appearance and backstory (about the philandering feral father) are all borrowed from Kittibits (K.B. Dundee) anyway, so I decided to make him my co-author. HIS story is that I can type and am alive and he can’t and isn’t so he made me HIS co-author.

I believe it was set in your town. Were any of the human characters based on people that live there?
Only the crew at Sea-J’s fish and chips cafe, where Spam enjoys fine dining with his new best friend Maddog. I don’t think I used any other real people, though many of the places were real. In the next one, THE TOUR BUS OF DOOM, a couple of my friends on the staff at Elevated Ice Cream make cameo appearances.

When you created the character of Spam did you have a particular cat in mind or is he a general feline? 🙂

EAS: Is there any such thing as a general feline? In my experience, they are all most individual and particular felines. As I said in the second question, Spam’s appearance is based on my rainbow cat Kittibits. His personality, however, is much bolder than Kittibits’ and is much more like that of Cisco, who supervises me now along with his brother Pancho. Both of them are black, however.

Stories which includes vampires usually conjure up dark images of old castles and werewolves but Spam vs the Vampire is light and fun. Did you plan it this way?

EAS: There have been some funny vampire books. Most of the recent ones have been romantic and I guess part of me was saying “ooooh, noooo, girlfriends. Didn’t you read Dracula? Vampires may be theoretically sexy in some books but would you really want to marry one? The underlying theme is actually not so funny–you never know who someone is even in real life, much less some guy you meet on the internet who comes from far far away and has delusions (or maybe not) of vampirism. Not all ladies will have a noble feline on hand to investigate if they disappear suddenly.
In fact, there was a real crime behind this story, although it didn’t involve vampires. A local woman I used to sometimes meet at the bakery in this story disappeared suddenly while out on a walk. Her elderly mother waited for her to come home, and she never did. There was a little search I guess but then everybody seems to have given up. I thought, what if it hadn’t been a mother at home but a cat or cats, sitting in the house waiting for her to come home but she never did? Nobody would know or care. So that part is quite serious too. I originally was going to write it as a straight mystery instead of a paranormal, and thought probably the woman would have been killed. But then in real life, the killings are almost always sex and torture related and I didn’t want to write one of those and also wanted my cat hero to succeed so I used a vampire instead, since they have their reasons for keeping victims alive.

An even more recent book of yours has just been released, 9 Tales of Cats. I love the title ;). As I believe these stories were previous ones you put together?
EAS: These stories are among the short stories I’ve written for various published anthologies over the years. Many of them are from Andre Norton’s CAT FANTASTIC anthology series. Their original publication dates are listed inside the book, for those who are curious. Oddly enough, I seem to have
written exactly 9 short stories about cats so the title fit.

Did you write these stories over a period of time or was the book completed in its entirety?
EAS: They were written over the last 30 years or so, while I was also writing my novels.

You also wrote two previous feline stories along with the late Science Fiction writer, Anne McCaffrey, the Barque Cats books. How did you and Miss McCaffrey set about working out putting the story together?
EAS: Anne and I had worked on fourteen other books together already and we both thought it would be fun to write about cats in space. She was also a great lover of cats (as well as horses, dogs and dragons). She had introduced Barque Cats in her Tower and Hive books and wanted to do a series about their own stories, as ships’ cats. She wrote the beginning and off we went…BTW, did you know that the original ships’ cats were Maine Coons and their close relatives Norwegian Forest Cats? The thick water resistant coat is helpful to them during cold wet sea voyages.

And as to future novels, after the success of Spam vs the Vampire, can we expect to see a sequel to this wonderful book?

EAS: Yes, I am working on THE TOUR BUS OF DOOM (with zombies), also a Spam story, right now, and have a couple of other ideas for further purranormals in the future.
Elizabeth thank you so much for being my guest today. I wish you Merry Christmas and may 2012 bring you even great literary success.
For the link to the above and other Scarbourgh novels:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=spam+vs+the+vampire&x=15&y=26
http://www.amazon.com/9-Tales-O-Cats-ebook/dp/B005WF40P4/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1324111064&sr=1-3

Zvonek 08 Book 2 – with special Christmas story

10 Dec

Am so pleased to anounce that the second book in the Zvonek series published by Gypsy Shadow, is currently on sale in PDF format and on Amazon compatible for Kindle. Thank your Denise and Charlotte for your hard work in getting it out in time for Christmas. So all you feline fans out there here is an except ( for blurb please click on Zvonek 08 series heading)


Prologue
1786 BC

The bejewelled sky spread its dark velvet covering over the silent earth below. The pale light of the moon cast a cold glow on Ma’at. The form of the goddess nestled among the columns of the temple; statuesque, protected from the night. Still and calm filled the land with peace that brought comfort.

Somewhere in a corner, a small movement. Not threatening. In the shadows, a small, huddled bundle. Silver, shining in the tiniest of pale rays that reached it. Another movement, shifting, and then the smallest of contented mews.

On the other side of the temple, a door opened silently. A dark shadow grew in the pale light. Stopped. Then moved again. Another mew, the shadow moved stealthily forward, growing longer in the pallid light. It reached the far corner, bent. There on the floor in a golden basket, lying on a silken quilt, the small body of Anther was rhythmically breathing the safe, contented breath of sleep.

The shadow stopped, did not move for an entire twelve seconds, then quietly bent over the basket and gently lifted the sleeping kitten, clothed in the soft quilt, into its arms and moved quickly and noiselessly back to the door. A sharp glow from the eyes of Ma’at pierced the shadow, causing it to stumble and fall in a heap at her feet.

Anther, now awake and frightened, darted for the door and disappeared inside.

In the bright golden light of day, a few worshippers gathered on the temple steps, all with only one eyebrow. Anther could not be found. All that remained were the empty basket and a crumpled silk quilt.

2011

Zvonek was not in the mood to wait for Honza. They had decided to have lunch at Whiskers. The last mission had been successfully completed, the paperwork filed, and now all that was left was to kick back and relax. It hadn’t been as dangerous or as stimulating as other missions. Clawdette had decided to stay in Prague to oversee the mission, causing undue stress for everyone.

He looked around the pub. It wasn’t as full as usual. It was only their second visit to Whiskers since the HQ of Feline Intel had moved to their new location. Zvonek hadn’t been sad to leave the old FI building at all. It was getting cramped and they needed something more upmarket. Their new location certainly was in a better area. The garden around the flat—it had been arranged for Mom to move as well, which wasn’t easy since she hated change—was so much better, too. Lots of long, soft, grass. And trees! Zvonek loved trees. It was great to have them in his own garden! The flat was down the road from the former residence.

One window was situated halfway behind a leafy bush, so you could look out, but it wasn’t that easy to look in. This garden had a proper fence, about ten metres from the window. Nice all round. Alas, there still were many things he missed about the old flat.

The humans who came to pet him while he lay in the sun at the living room window. The human friends he had made on the block. Ah well!! Guess it was time to move on.

“Anything else, sir?” The kit arrived at the table, disturbing Zvonek’s thoughts.

“Nothing more for me, thank you. Just the bill.”

He looked around and saw Honza was still at the bar, purring at a couple of felines. Zvonek smiled to himself. It was typical of Honza; his friend just couldn’t help it.

He slowly walked home. It had been a hot day and Zvonek was glad for the reprieve. He stopped under the bushes in the garden to enjoy the coolness before going in.

He sat under the tree outside the window. He still used the flap method in the cat net to get in and out. Simple and it worked well. He smelled the air. Different smells, but not unpleasant.

This time, he had a dog to contend with. She belonged to their neighbour, and he had groaned inwardly when he saw her. She proved useful in a canine sort of way, like keeping strays away, which meant that he had peace, so he would tolerate her for now.

Zvonek stood up and stretched out his legs in front of him, rump in the air. He’d better go in. Mom would be home soon and he should be inside, ready to greet her. It was Wednesday, which meant poached fish! It was his second favourite. He especially hadn’t had lunch at Whiskers not to ruin his appetite. When he got inside he would nibble on some granules, just to keep himself going. He walked slowly towards the window, stretching one back leg at a time. Just as he was about to jump onto the window ledge he heard a noise. The dog! He high-tailed it across the remaining space, leapt onto the window, through the flap, and onto the sofa. Just in time. The dog bounded toward the fence, to bark at people passing the garden.

Dogs! Zvonek shook his head as he sat down on the sofa, catching his breath. He looked around the room. It was a smaller flat than their last, by a couple of square metres. Instead of a separate bedroom and living room, in this flat they were together. Mom closed the door between the living room and kitchen while she was out, so that he didn’t run out when she came in after work.

http://www.gypsyshadow.com/AnneHPetzer.html#Zvonek2
http://www.amazon.com/Mau-ow-Miracle-Intelligence-Republic-ebook/dp/B006JG0TWS/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1323409338&sr=8-2