Monday, December 31, 2012

The Cursed Man ~ A novel gaining attention from a movie producer!

A while ago, I had author Keith Rommel on my blog for his new release, The Lurking Man, second book in his Thanatology Series (which I have just started reading and am loving, by the way). Since he appeared here, he's had some exciting new developments with his first book, The Cursed Man. I think it is every writer's dream to see their book played out on the big screen! Right now, auditions are happening for The Cursed Man! Read on below to find out more about this! 

All-star Cast To Be Institutionalized

© James L. Perry
In the likeness of Stephen King emerges a new talent. Keith Rommel’s psychological suspense novel, The Cursed Man is under production as a movie. Injected with enough horror to keep you on the edge of your seat, James L. Perry, producer from Intergalaxy Entertainment, Los Angeles California, has been hard at work, bringing the characters to life through auditions with such talent as:  

© Robert Picardo
© Intergalaxy Entertainment

© Intergalaxy Entertainment

© Intergalaxy Entertainment
© Intergalaxy Entertainment

© Dean Williams

Auditions can be seen at:

 Alister believes death is in love with him. A simple smile from friend or stranger is all it takes to encourage death to kill.

With his family deceased and a path of destruction behind him, Alister sits inside a mental institution, sworn to silence and separated from the rest of the world, haunted by his inability to escape death’s preferential treatment.

But when a beautiful psychologist arrives at the institution and starts offering him care, Alister braces himself for more killings. When none follow, he tries to figure out whether he truly is insane or if death has finally come to him in the form of a woman.

“Wonderfully creepy, well told story.”

The Cursed Man is available in paperback and for your favorite reading device.

For further information on this feature film in development, please contact James L. Perry at

Don't those audition tapes make you want to go out and read the book? Really cool. Until we can all watch it as a movie, I'm sure we'll be very happy reading the books in the Thanatology Series. 

Happy reading, my friends! Have a terrific week!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Deeper Meanings ~ Guest Post with Jade Kerrion and her Double Helix series!

Today, Author Jade Kerrion is here telling us about the meaning of her cover art and more about her award-winning Double Helix series.  

Deeper Meanings—Cover art from the Double Helix 

Today, I’d like to talk about the meaning behind the cover art of the award-winning Double Helix series. First, let me give you a bit of background for context. The Genetic Revolution has transformed our world, and humans live alongside clones, in vitros, and mutants. An uneasy peace exists between the politically powerful humans and the genetically superior human derivatives, but that peace shatters when Zara Itani, a human mercenary whose attitude exceeds her beauty, frees Galahad, the perfect, lab-created human being, from his laboratory prison. 

Danyael Sabre, an alpha empath, survived a traumatic childhood and now wants nothing more than to be left alone. Galahad’s escape, however, plunges Danyael’s life into a free fall when Danyael learns that his genetic code was used as Galahad’s physical template. 

What would you do if you came face-to-face with perfection, and it looked just like you? Danyael will spend the rest of his life struggling to find the answer to that question. Zara’s dilemma, though, is quite different. How do you choose between the pinnacle of human perfection and his equally compelling, though flawed, physical template? 

The first three books of the Double Helix series, Perfection Unleashed, Perfect Betrayal, and Perfect Weapon, trace the events around Galahad’s escape and its tumultuous aftermath for Danyael. 

The concept for the cover of Perfection Unleashed came from Michelangelo’s fresco, The Creation of Adam, where God reaches down to activate the spark of life in Adam. The hand in the cover of Perfection Unleashed comes directly from the fresco, but instead of connecting with a human, it touches a sparkling vial of DNA, the innocuous origins of Galahad, the perfect human being. 

I took a chance with the cover of Perfection Unleashed. Its religious origins may result in some readers drawing erroneous conclusions as to its contents. The topic of genetic engineering and its potential ability to alter human beings has religious implications, but the Double Helix series focuses instead on the societal and personal impact on people living through those tumultuous times. 

In Perfect Betrayal, the spotlight shifts to Danyael Sabre. Danyael, an alpha empath, is rare and coveted, and Galahad’s escape provides an impetus for powerful men and women to seize Danyael for their opposing ends. 

Perfect Betrayal is the flashiest cover in the Double Helix series thus far. It is even more abstract than Perfection Unleashed and features curved and concentric rows of dominos arranged in a yin-yang pattern. The yin-yang symbolizes the interdependence of seemingly contrary forces, and the cover emphasizes the duality of the forces at play; light, dark; male, female; fire, ice. Two hands—one male, the other female (representing the two contenders for Danyael’s empathic power)—are poised to push at the dominos from either end. The dominos will fall; the question is, will Danyael? 

Finally, in Perfect Weapon, the cover shifts from the abstract to the concrete. Weapons abound; first and most obviously, the sniper rifle and person behind the scope of the sniper rifle. Too large to miss are the inhuman forms of the genetically altered super soldiers clustered in front of the Capitol. The scope of the sniper rifle, however, is focused on a lone and seemingly harmless cripple, Danyael Sabre. 

Who is the perfect weapon; the remorseless mercenary Zara Itani whose finger tightens on the trigger; the super soldiers that are genetically bred for war, or Danyael Sabre, the alpha empath who can, with a touch, heal or kill? 

I had a great deal of fun designing the covers for the Double Helix series, and am eternally grateful to my cover artist, Jason Alexander, who put up with all my bad artistic advice with good grace, and more than compensated for the fact that I failed art in eighth grade. I hope you enjoyed this quick insight into the meaning behind the cover art, and that you’ll also enjoy reading the novels as much as I enjoyed writing them. 

Author Bio: 

Jade Kerrion unites cutting-edge science and bioethics with fast-paced action in her award-winning Double Helix series. Drawing rave reviews for its originality and vision, and described as “a breakout piece of science fiction,” Perfection Unleashed, and its sequels, Perfect Betrayal and Perfect Weapon, are available in print and e-book through Amazon and other major retailers. 

About the Double Helix series: 

His genetic code sourced from the best that humanity offers, Galahad embodies the pinnacle of perfection. When Zara Itani, a mercenary whose abrasive arrogance exceeds her beauty, frees him from his laboratory prison, she offers him the chance to claim everything that had ever been denied him, beginning with his humanity. 

Perfection cannot be unleashed without repercussions, and Galahad’s freedom shatters Danyael Sabre’s life.

An alpha empath, Danyael is rare and coveted, even among the alpha mutants who dominate the Genetic Revolution. He wields the power to heal or kill with a touch, but craves only privacy and solitude—both impossible dreams for the man who was used as Galahad’s physical template. 

Galahad and Danyael, two men, one face. One man seeks to embrace destiny, and the other to escape it.

The award-winning Double Helix series, consisting of Perfection Unleashed, Perfect Betrayal, and Perfect Weapon, will challenge your notions of perfection and humanity, and lead you in a celebration of courage and compassion. Science fiction, urban fantasy, and action-adventure readers will enjoy this thrilling roller-coaster ride as it twists and turns through a world transformed by the Genetic Revolution. 

Want to buy the books or connect with Jade? Here are all the links! 
Connect with Jade Kerrion: Blog / Facebook / Twitter 
Perfection Unleashed: Amazon / Amazon UK / Smashwords 
Perfect Betrayal: Amazon / Amazon UK / Smashwords 
Perfect Weapon: Amazon / Amazon UK / Smashwords

Thanks for being here, Jade! 

Happy reading, my friends! Have a terrific weekend!

P.S. Don't forget my policy to read the samples before you buy! Everyone's tastes are different. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Interview with Travis Casey and Tyler Chambers - Author versus Character

Travis Casey has recently released the first book in his Tyler’s Troubles Trilogy, Trouble Triangle. I was lucky enough to read this book as a beta reader in its earlier stages and have been anxiously awaiting its release date. I have a hard time classifying this book’s genre, but I would tag it as an enormously funny adult humor book with a splash of romantic themes. Check out the cover and product description! 

The year is 1982 and Tyler Chambers finds that his luck has run out…almost. After several brushes with the law, he avoids jail by enlisting in the Navy and gets himself stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Such is his good fortune. 

Tyler is ecstatic when he lands a date with Holly, the best looking girl on the base, but things sour quickly when he discovers how controlling and annoying she is. As he is about to dump her, a revelation from his past comes back to haunt him, and Holly is the only person who can save his Navy career and keep him out of prison. 

He should be grateful, but is besotted with another girl. Debbie Meyers is sexually confused and has her own ideas for Tyler. She beds him easily enough, and uses him in a vendetta against Holly. Tyler finds himself in a TROUBLE TRIANGLE when both women want him for their own needs. 

A story of lust, love and blackmail. But who's doing what to whom? 

Buy it now! ~ Trouble Triangle on Kindle or Paperback Version 

Okay, I’m very excited because Travis and the main character of Trouble Triangle, Tyler Chambers, have agreed to hang out with me today and answer some questions. Welcome guys! Glad to have you here. 

So, tell us how this all started. How did you two meet and how long ago was it?

Travis: About three years ago, I wrote my Naval memoirs. After fifteen rejections, I thought perhaps it may be more saleable as a work of fiction--

Tyler: Excuse me for butting in, Chantel, but Travis has delusions of grandeur. Put it this way, he knew memoirs of a nobody wouldn't sell. So he had to draft, get it, draft, me in. He needed someone with charisma.

Travis: Back off, bud, I created you and I can kill you off anytime I want to.

Tyler: Phbbt. *Tyler waves his hand dismissively*Yeah, right. And kill off book sales. I don't think so. Next you're going to tell everyone you just looked at the keyboard and I happened to pop out of the O between the parentheses.

Travis: *Travis looks at the keyboard and types in ( O )*. TYLER! You're disgusting. Sorry, Chantel. See what I mean? I have to keep a close eye on him. He doesn't have a clue what it takes.

Chantel: It’s okay, Travis. I can see he is a bit of a handful. What was your first impression of each other?

Tyler: Well, Chantel, Travis needs me more than I need him. I could walk into any one of a dozen books and the writer would be happy to have me. *Tyler nods his head confidently*. I don't have diva tantrums and I write most of my own stuff. He's got it easy.

Travis: I have to agree. Tyler does perform his own stunts, which helps. He does suffer a bit from overconfidence though. I gave him a sidekick, Mark, in Trouble Triangle. But I gave Mark all the best lines in the book. Tyler's still not too happy about that. And Mark's had three marriage proposals from readers. *Travis sticks his tongue out at Tyler*

Tyler: Phooey. I set Mark up for those lines. I said those things on purpose just to make Mark look funny. *Tyler brushes his knuckles against his chest* The women came to see me.

Chantel: While I have to agree that Mark is sweet and funny, Tyler, you do have your own brand of charm. Okay, let’s get to the nitty gritty here. Travis, what does Tyler do that annoys you the most?

Travis: You just saw it. He shoots his mouth off all the time and thinks he's bigger than the book. *Travis thrusts his finger toward Tyler* I don't need you. I could write the book with just Holly, Debbie and Mark.

Tyler: Just try it, pal. By chapter three you'd be begging me to come back.

Chantel: *Uh-umm…* Excuse me guys, I didn’t mean to start any trouble. I can see that was the wrong question to ask. Let’s change the subject. Tyler, if you could say just one thing to Travis, what would it be?

Tyler: Despite our differences, I'd say he's a pretty fair author. I mean, I did get plenty of sex in Trouble Triangle. *Tyler grins* He did do some pretty unexpected things toward the end of the book, but I can see why he had to do it. After all, I did write him into some pretty nasty corners to get out of. *Tyler snickers* Overall I thought he handled it pretty well. By the way, can I say something to you, Chantel?

Chantel: Umm…I'm not so sure about that. I like to keep this a family-friendly blog, you know.

Tyler: No, it's cool. I just wanted to say thanks for giving Travis a kick up the backside. In his early drafts, he had us all standing around like a bunch of idiots. Talk about rough drafts. I felt like a vegetable talking without movements. We were just 'talking heads' as you put it. Thanks for telling him to make us jerk our heads, wave our arms, even wiggle our feet. My body was going numb from lack of movement.

Chantel: Glad to help and you're welcome, Tyler. I thought you were pretty cute. I hated seeing you in a coma. 

*Chantel and Tyler share a laugh*

Travis: Excuse me. If you two are quite finished, can we get back to promoting the book. My blood, sweat and tears, if you don't mind.

Chantel: Sorry, Travis. Of course, this is about you and your fabulous book. I just never got a chance to talk with Tyler before. I’ll focus better. So, what one thing did you do to Tyler in the book that you feel the worst about?

Travis: I knew Tyler was a cocky little so-and-so from his inception, so I gave him an arrogant little air-head as his chief playmate. She caused him some grief. *Travis laughs*.

Tyler: What? Holly? You mean you made her talk that Valley girl crap just to get at me? Why you son-of-a--

Travis: Now, now, Ty Ty. Remember, this is a family-friendly program. We can't say the same thing about the book, thanks to your potty mouth.

Tyler: Hey, you're the one who put me in the Navy, remember? If you wanted a wholesome book, you should have made me an airline pilot or a doctor or something.

Travis: The way you drink? Are you crazy? Let's see…*Travis rests his chin on his finger looking skyward* Okay, let's see how this sells. Tyler starring as "Tequila Test Pilot." Or should we ask Harry Potter to move over for 'The Drunken Doctor Does Debbie'.

Tyler: Hey, you give me the role and I can do it. I make Tom Cruise look like a goat in a nativity play. I got the 'it' factor.

Travis: For crying out loud, Tyler! You’re the character in a book, not some Hollywood actor in a mega-blockbuster. *Travis buries his head in his hands*

Tyler: If you send Trouble Triangle to Steven Spielberg like I told you to, well, you may never see me again. I hear JK Rowling is looking for someone to perform some wizardry on her luscious--

Chantel: Alright, guys, time out! As interesting as all this is, and I do appreciate the giggle, I have one last question to ask before you leave. Do you think you two will meet again in the future?

Travis: I've already penned his second book, and we agreed I'd give him a trilogy. But I'm really going to scare the crap out of him in the next book. I don't know, I might even kill him off. 

Tyler: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never kill me. Travis has me stuck in the 1980's for Pete's sake. When I'm done here, Chantel, I might come over to one of your books. I quite liked the red-hair chick in Always and Forever. Hey, how about if you give me a Cougar? And a cell phone? I really want a cell phone so bad. Then me and the cougar can text pictures back and forth of ourselves wearing…well, nothing.

Travis: Good luck, Chantel. You can have him. Thanks for having us on your blog. 

*Chantel lights a cigarette despite the fact she quit smoking five years ago*

A cougar, huh? ……..... 

Oh! You guys are still here? I thought you left. *fans face and smashes out cigarette* I don’t know what came over me. Thanks for stopping by to chat! I can’t wait to read Trouble Triangle again and see if all my favorite scenes made the cut to the finished book.

Want to find out more about the author? Here’s the lowdown on Travis Casey:

Travis was born and raised in Mid West America, living in eight cities in five states by the time he was eighteen. He joined the US Navy and spent four years in Hawaii, then five years in Scotland before jumping the metaphorical ship. He and his Australian wife moved to Seattle for two years, but returned to the United Kingdom in 1992 and took up residency in the South East of England where he has remained ever since.

His writing career began with writing mostly non-fiction articles on the website but he was always attracted to those topics under humor and creative writing. Many of his articles got rated highly and it became a hobby as well as an obsession to write. After discovering he turned to writing fiction. A new genre for him, but he soon found a following of readers and took the plunge into writing novels.

Want to connect with Travis and check out other work he’s done?
Travis' blog: 

Travis' articles on 

Listen to Travis read the first chapter of Trouble Triangle below or on YouTube: 

(mild language warning) 

Once again, here is the link to buy Trouble Triangle – get your copy now!
Trouble Triangle on Amazon
Buy it in Paperback

Also, you can add it on Goodreads here

Thanks so much for stopping by everyone. If you enjoy a bit of naughtiness and a whole lot of fun, you don’t want to miss this book! It’s fantastic. Happy reading and have a great weekend!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chantel found part of the Help the Elf nice list!

Hi everyone! As you may remember, a few weeks ago PETE the Elf had a touch too much Eggnog at the Holiday Christmas Party and as he stumbled home, he lost Santa's NICE LIST.

The North Wind scattered the papers to all four corners of the world, and The Bookshelf Muse put out a call to help find them in order to SAVE CHRISTMAS.

Ever since I read about it, I've been on the lookout. And then today, EUREKA!

Yes that's right...I found part of Santa's missing NICE LIST. There it was, fluttering in the wind, half caught under the corner of my welcome mat. And shock of all shocks, I recognized the names on this portion of list, and I bet you will too.

NAME: Rachelle Ayala




OBSERVATIONS: Rachelle is a fantastic critique partner, awesome e-book formatter, always looks to help out Indie Authors, and is a great person in general. She could lay off those bad boy, alpha males, just a tad. We hear she is working on this problem currently and a certain man named Lucas is making things sweet. Rachelle has so much writing talent, we think we can overlook her naughty streak.

RECOMMENDATION:     a) Coal                   b) Gift

~ ~ * ~ ~

NAME: Michele Shriver



OBSERVATIONS: Michele is an awesome critique partner, a wonderful lawyer who is giving of her time, and is always quick with a funny/snarky comment to make someone's day brighter. Another great person. However, we hear she is evil to her characters, and a few of them have been begging her to just leave them alone and give them their happily ever after. On the other hand, they all admit she is awesomely talented, so this comes out more on the naughty-but-nice side of the equation. 

RECOMMENDATION:     a) Coal                   b) Gift

~ ~ * ~ ~

Because poor Pete is dashing all over the place trying to hunt down the rest of Santa's missing Nice List, I decided to take care of this one myself. Rachelle and Michele, I feel so blessed to know you! You are awesome writing friends and I'm so fortunate to know you! Enjoy the gift I sent to your inbox and have a wonderful Christmas!

Photo credit: assorted gold baubles ( / CC BY 3.0

Visit The Bookshelf Muse at and see who else found a name on the list! 

I would like to take a moment to point out a few other fellow writers who deserve some recognition for all the help they've given me in the past year - check out their websites:

Kimberly Sullivan

And though these ladies do not have a website, I'd also like to thank Monterey Sirak (link is to her poetry books on Amazon) and budding author, Judester. Thank you all!

Enjoy these holiday lights and music! I really like this one! 

I hope you are all having a great holiday week with loved ones!

Monday, December 17, 2012

#NewRelease ~ Swimming Upstream ~ Women's Fiction

Title:       Swimming Upstream
Author:  Ruth Mancini
Genre:    Women's Fiction
Release Date:  November 15, 2012

Some people survive life's blows whilst others become "mad, bad or sad.” 

“Why did nothing last? I couldn’t bear the thought of failure, of losing him, of giving up. And yet I wasn’t happy. I just didn’t know why. Was it me? Was I congenitally dissatisfied? And if so, what did it matter whether I was with Larsen or… or that lifeguard, for instance? How could I be sure that I would not arrive back here again in another seven years’ time, in this fog of unhappiness, the pain of yet another break-up looming up ahead in the distance? This is what scared me the most: how could I be sure that I would ever be happy again?” 

Blurb for Swimming Upstream
Amazon Product Page
“I once read that the end of a relationship is like being involved in a road traffic accident. Which is quite fitting really, given what happened.” 

Lizzie has begun to achieve all the things she thought she had ever wanted… but realises instead that she is far from happy. Then she steps out into the path of an oncoming car, and her life begins to unravel, setting off a life-changing chain of events. Lizzie leaves her boyfriend and her home and moves to London to pursue her career. There, she attempts to overcome the legacy of her past and find her true direction in life. Little does she realise that her life is about to take another shocking twist… and that the consequences will be enormous. 

Swimming Upstream is a life-affirming and often humorous story about a young woman’s pursuit of happiness. Set in the early 1990s in Cambridge and London, it is also a story of friendship, love and divided loyalties – and the moral choices that Lizzie must ultimately face, when the chips are down. 

Praise for Swimming Upstream

“I really enjoyed Swimming Upstream. There is a nice rhythm and pace…credible dialogue, compelling protagonist, recognisable settings and good supporting cast.” – journalist and award-winning novelist Eloise Millar.

“Gripping, pacey…I truly enjoyed Swimming Upstream. This is thinking women’s chick lit!” – Catherine Amey, author.

Author biography
Ruth Mancini was born in South London and educated at Cambridge College of Arts and Technology (now Anglia Ruskin University) and London Guildhall University where she gained a bachelors degree in French and Spanish and a post-graduate diploma in Law. For several years she worked in the publishing industry before leaving her job and her home to travel, and also to write the first draft of Swimming Upstream. Unfortunately, unlike Elizabeth Gilbert (author of “Eat, Pray, Love”) she did not find peace, love or inspiration,  and when her word processor stopped working and lost most of her manuscript she decided to move to Swansea and retrain as a lawyer. After many years of spending her nights in police stations and her days in magistrates and county courts all over South Wales and the South of England, Ruth bought a new computer and started all over again… 

Ruth now lives in Oxfordshire with her husband and two children. 

Want to contact Ruth?
@RuthMancini1 on Twitter
Facebook stalk her at

Buy Swimming Upstream on Amazon: 

Read on for an Excerpt from Swimming Upstream 

Chapter 1 
I once read that the end of a relationship is like being involved in a road traffic accident. Which is quite fitting really, given what happened. Only you’d probably think of an accident as something sudden, out of the blue, and I suppose breaking up is like that for some people. For me, though, the road had been rocky for some time and I could see all too clearly what was about to happen: a multi-car pileup. People screaming and car-horns blaring. And here we were, me and Larsen, gliding towards it, the wheels beneath us slipping and spinning out of control. 

It was Spring 1992, a typical blustery April afternoon. The streets of Cambridge were gloomy, the pavements wet and the turrets and spires of the city in the distance were lost in a sepia haze. A strong gust of wind and a smattering of chilly raindrops assaulted me as I jogged across Parker’s Piece and crossed the road at Gonville Place to cut through to the red and grey brick building on the corner that housed the College of Arts. Even after over seven years of living in Cambridge, it still surprised me that such an ancient and architecturally stunning city could be cocooned within the boundaries of what was, on the outer fringes, a perfectly modest late twentieth century town. But this very building, of course, was where it all started for me; this was what had brought me here, to Larsen’s home, and into his life. It suddenly seemed a very long time ago. 

I cut through the cemetery behind the college and paused for breath, ignoring the droplets of rain that were dribbling over my forehead. I looked back again at the brick and glass building behind me and the strangest of feelings washed over me, something that I could only describe as homesickness. But - for what? I had my own home - a pretty two-bedroomed Victorian terraced house in Vinery Road - and a stable life with Larsen. I had friends. I had a budding career in broadcasting. My life was full and busy and I had no reason to feel insecure. And yet, something was missing. 

I shifted my swimming bag on my shoulder and set off again down Coldham’s Lane, breaking into a jog, and a few minutes later I pushed through the revolving door into the swimming pools complex. I was met by a welcome wall of heat and the familiar scent of chlorine. I picked up my ticket and walked into the changing room, hot steam from the showers rising up to greet me. I didn’t in fact much feel like taking off all my clothes and immersing myself in cold water; I was wet and cold enough already. There was also a knot in my stomach and a heaviness in my chest that was more than the predictable outcome of having drunk the best part of a bottle of wine by myself and smoked numerous cigarettes the night before. I knew that I should have talked to Larsen long ago, about the way I was feeling, about the thing that had come between us. But I couldn’t name it; I didn’t know what it was. So I carried on as if nothing was wrong. Because even thinking that I could lose him made me hold my breath till it stopped short in my lungs, and nothing came back out again. Because saying it would make it real for both of us and I didn’t know how or why it had come to this. 

My heart sank even further as I exited the changing rooms onto the pool side; there were no lap lanes marked off. The pool was packed full of dive-bombing eleven-year-olds and elderly people doing widths. (“You’re going the wrong way!” I always wanted to shout). It wasn’t the tranquil haven I had expected; it was one big wet free-for all. I sighed, pulled on my goggles, took a deep breath and plunged in, fighting my way in a frustrated crawl down to the shallow end. A girl on her back clipped me on the right ear as she meandered past me in an aimless kind of circle, then carried on regardless, while I wobbled around in her slipstream. I could feel the tension creeping up my shoulder blades and setting into my jaw. A length and a half later there was a huge splash to my left and an elbow jabbed painfully into my hip. I was in mid stroke. I swallowed a large mouthful of water, choked and gasped for breath. My goggles filled up with water. I shot an angry and waterlogged glance around me and grabbed for the edge of the pool. 

A face appeared. “You okay?” 

I pulled off my goggles and hauled myself up onto the edge. “It’s supposed to be lengths,” I said, making no attempt to mask my irritation. “Two till four.” 

“Sorry love,” said the lifeguard. “Not in school holidays. Different timetable.” 

“So where’s that advertised? How is anyone supposed to know that?” I was simultaneously angry and ashamed at the tone of my voice. I seemed to have been speaking like this to people a lot lately. I pulled the elastic back on the strap of my goggles. They pinged out of my hands and landed at the lifeguard’s feet. 

“There’s a new timetable in reception.” The lifeguard bent down beside me and, seated on his haunches, picked up my goggles and began adjusting the strap. I watched him with a confusing combination of irritation and gratitude. I knew how to fix my own goggles, for Christ’s sake. But then, despite what Larsen thought, I didn’t always enjoy doing everything myself. I just never seemed to have had much choice. 

“There you go,” said the lifeguard, rubbing at the plastic lenses with his t-shirt, and handing my goggles back to me. 

“Thanks.” I looked at him more closely. He was tall, well over six feet, with thick sandy-coloured hair, hazel eyes and, I noticed, eyebrows that met slightly in the middle. “Never trust anyone whose eyebrows meet in the middle,” Larsen had told me once. I had forgotten to ask him why. I smiled involuntarily at this thought, and the lifeguard smiled back. His eyes met mine and I turned away, embarrassed. 

“So, do you come here often?” he asked. I looked back at him, incredulously. Was he really trying to chat me up? “I just mean… you’re a strong swimmer,” he added. “Your technique’s good. I was wondering if you had ever competed?” 

“I used to,” I said. “County level. The ASA. It was a while ago.” 

“You should give it another go.” 

“I don’t know. I haven’t got time for that amount of training.” 

“Well if you change your mind… I do a bit of coaching. I’ve got time for a few private lessons, if you’re interested?” There was something suggestive in the way that he said this and he backed it up with a raising of his eyebrows and a smile. 

“I’ll think about it. Anyway… must get on,” I muttered, embarrassed at his attentions and feeling disloyal to Larsen. I stood up to dive back in but became suddenly very conscious of the slippery tightness of my Speedo, which was more than a little chlorine-worn round the chest area. I had been meaning to buy a new one. I lowered myself back down again and glanced back over my shoulder. The lifeguard was still smiling at me. 

“Hey,” he said. “What’s your name?” 


“See you again, Lizzie?” 

I nodded without meaning to. “Maybe,” I added, then turned and plunged awkwardly into the water. 

At precisely twenty-nine lengths I went through the pain barrier, the lifeguard was forgotten, and the kids went home for tea. As my body grew lighter and my strokes became effortless and even, my thoughts drifted back to Larsen. The ephemeral nature of everything scared me. Why did nothing last? I couldn’t bear the thought of failure, of losing him, of giving up. And yet I wasn’t happy. I just didn’t know why. Was it me? Was I congenitally dissatisfied? And if so, what did it matter whether I was with Larsen or… or that lifeguard, for instance? How could I be sure that I would not arrive back here again in another seven years’ time, in this fog of unhappiness, the pain of yet another break-up looming up ahead in the distance? This is what scared me the most: how could I be sure that I would ever be happy again? 

Happy reading, my friends! Have a terrific week!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Interview with Kerry Dwyer ~ author of Ramblings in Ireland

Kerry Dwyer, author of a travel memoir, Ramblings in Ireland, is stopping by for an interview today. Welcome Kerry!

Thank you for hosting me here today. I am delighted to meet you.

And I'm delighted to meet you, too! Before we dive into the questions, I'd like to put up the product description for your book so my readers know a little bit more about it. 

This is not a book about rambling in Ireland.

It tells the tale of one particular walking trip and the memories and musings it inspired.

Exploring the West of Ireland is a time for meditation, spiritual reflection and strengthening the bonds of life. More practically the ability to read a map might have proved helpful. The tourist office in Ireland has all their paths clearly marked. You can’t go wrong if you follow that little yellow man. Or can you?

As British ex-patriate Kerry Dwyer leads Bertrand, her trusting French husband, astray once more, they reminisce and reflect upon accents and accidents, family and friends, love and what it means to be alive. Bertrand doesn’t mind getting lost - he loves Kerry all the more for going off the beaten track.

This is a book about ramblings in Ireland. Walk with Kerry and Bertrand and follow where your thoughts lead you.

This is actually the first time I've featured a nonfiction book on my blog before! Now that we all understand this book is about you and your husband’s travels in Ireland, tell us a little bit more about it and how you got started into writing it.

The book started off as a diary of our holiday in Ireland. In the end the journey became a thread on which I hung a lot of other memories and observations. The book isn’t a travel guide. It is very tangential. It reads like you were sitting in a pub with someone telling you bits and pieces about their holiday and their life. 

Sounds interesting. What made you want to write this book? 

Ireland is beautiful and the Irish are lovely welcoming people. The whole experience was so inspirational. We took hundreds of pictures that we thought would make a lovely journal to remember this holiday with. It grew and became the book it is today. 

I would love to travel more. This kind of armchair traveling is definitely good for those of us on a tight budget. Tell me, who is your perfect reader? Why should they read this book and what will they get out of it? 

My perfect reader is certainly not someone looking for a guide to Ireland. It is written for women who like sitting down to chat with a friend about anything and nothing. Imagine your friend back from holiday showing you the pictures and telling you all about it. In between pictures you ask her questions like ‘did your bra strap rub against your rucksack?’ and ‘what do you do about peeing when you’re up a mountain?’ From these answers you go off at tangents about the last time you bought a bra or whatever. If you have these sorts of conversations with your best friend then this book will be your friend in no time. 

What will they get out of this book? A love for Ireland, some description of the lovely paths and mountains and the great people. An understanding of some of the cultural differences between the French, Irish and British. A few laughs. An understanding of the importance of spending time together. 

Bra straps and potty breaks, huh? Plenty of complications when hiking through, it sounds like. 

Let's get to know more about you, Kerry. When did you start writing? What made you want to be a writer? 

There has not been a time that I haven’t written. I won my first poetry competition when I was about seven. It was a poem about my cat. 

The decision wasn’t so much one of wanting to be a writer but wanting to be published. I wanted to tell the world about this lovely experience. I didn’t go about it in the most direct way but then I never do. 

It's always great when you can write something you are very passionate about. Writing can be both rewarding and exasperating. What do you love about writing...and what do you hate? 

I love pouring my thoughts out onto a page. I love seeing those thoughts take shape and become a poem or a story and now a book. I hate editing and proofreading. Mainly because I am not very good at it. I think it is difficult to do yourself. Thank goodness for other people willing to do this. 

I agree with you on both those points. What do you like to do when you're not writing? 

Walking obviously, that is my main hobby. I also like going to my local Jazz club and listening to live bands. I like cooking, particularly Indian or Chinese food. In the summer I like having friends round to eat, drink and chat in my garden. 

Sounds like you have a lot of great experiences to fill up your time, and possibly translate into more books. What’s next for you? Any writing projects in the works? 

I have started another book. It is a fictional story about ex-pats in France centered around an English book exchange. It isn’t going very well. I am spending too much time promoting and not enough time writing. I am working on getting the balance right. 

I can understand that; I have the same problem. Finding a balance is tough. 

Thanks for doing this interview, Kerry! I wish you the best of luck with both Ramblings in Ireland and your new fiction novel!

Thank you very much for having me here today. It has been a pleasure talking to you. 
Kerry Dwyer's Biography

I was born in the North of England and educated in the South. I worked in finance for more than two decades in the UK, USA and various countries in mainland Europe. I now live with my husband and daughter in the South West of France. I gave up finance and retrained as an English teacher (TEFL) after my daughter was born. I wanted to spend as much time as I could with her but I still needed to work. I currently teach English as a foreign language to adults by telephone and internet. Ramblings in Ireland is my first novel.

Want to connect with Kerry? Just follow her links:

Want to buy the book? It's available on Amazon Kindle or as a paperback:

Have a great time checking out Kerry's links and her book. Happy reading, my friends! Have a terrific weekend!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Has true Christmas spirit been forgotten?

With the holidays rapidly approaching, it is always a time of year I take to reflect on the many blessings in my life and how grateful I am for each and every one of them. This year, I've had many new developments. In addition to my wonderful family and the home life I have, my job that keeps food on the table, and all the small blessings I won't list here, I had so many major changes this year. I published my first book, I made friends with a lot of great authors I wouldn't have come into contact with otherwise, met a few readers who have reached out and talked to me, and I found a passion for writing that is unlike anything I've ever experienced before. I'm generally a glass-half-full kind of person, but for the last few years, I've struggled with depression issues for various reasons. Writing has brought back to my life the kind of joy I remember feeling as a teenager. I've had some hard blows this year as well, especially with the rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis, but overall, I've been the recipient of more blessings than bad I so often am. 

I'm very proud of my children, who have always seemed to grasp the fact that life isn't about having more than the next guy or keeping up with the Joneses. Our Christmas celebrations have been fairly small the last several years, as times are tough for everyone. My kids get a few things they really need and perhaps one gift they want. Most years we could spend more on them, but they like to adopt Christmas Angels off the trees from the stores and spend our Christmas money on children who wouldn't likely get anything otherwise. 

My daughter, Samantha (who is a senior in high school this year), heard on the radio last week that the cut off date was December 7th to turn gifts in for the angels. There was no way I could adopt one, as my shopping money for Christmas will come in right before Christmas itself (looks like another year of shopping on Christmas Eve for me--not an infrequent occurrence). When I told her we couldn't do it she shrugged and told me she was going to go drive around and maybe find herself a new pair of pants (that girl is always out shopping for a new pair of pants and NEVER comes home with one ;-).

What she came home with was an angel ticket for a ten-year-old girl who needs clothes and shoes, and really wants a bicycle. Samantha had an awesome bicycle, three shirts, a pair of pants, and new shoes in her car so she could return them to the drop off place the following day. 

When Samantha went to school the next day, her friends were all talking about the gifts they were going to buy for each other and what they wanted from each other. Samantha told them she was really sorry, but she just spent most of her Christmas money on a little girl and they wouldn't be getting very big presents from her this year. When they all badgered her about how much she spent on a little girl she didn't even know, Sam finally told them around $130. Imagine her shock when they said, "You're stupid! You'll never even meet that kid. She won't ever know what you did for her. What a waste of money!"

These kids spent the rest of the week angry with my daughter because she wouldn't be buying them expensive gifts this year... Really? Although we don't go to church, I am a Christian and I do speak with my children frequently about God and Jesus Christ and what our purpose on Earth is. My belief is your religion, race, sexual preference, sex, age, or amount of money do NOT determine whether or not you are a good person. My belief is we are here to love each other, to help those less fortunate than we are, and to spend our time trying to improve ourselves. 

All Samantha's friends are very strict Christians who go to church every single Sunday, look down at Samantha because she drank alcohol (at family functions) three times in her life, and sometimes tell her she's a bad person because we don't go to church. However, I don't understand how these same teenagers don't understand the meaning of Christmas! They are angry because Samantha made a decision to help someone less fortunate than all of them, instead of buying them each big gifts? They tell her she's stupid because the little girl will never give her any recognition for the good deed? 

I don't understand. What do they teach in some of these churches? And no, I'm not saying all churches are bad. I don't believe in organized religion but I do think it is good for some people. But do they not understand what seems to me to be the most basic of Christian values? You do not give with the intention of receiving adoration and acknowledgment for giving. That is not the point. Samantha did it because she wanted to make sure someone with less than we have has a wonderful Christmas. 

I'm not trying to say my daughter is any better than anyone else, though I must admit to being extremely proud of her. I guess all this just makes me see even more that I am blessed. I hope anyone who sees this blog will take an extra moment to do something nice for a stranger this Christmas season. Even non-Christians can celebrate this way! Shovel your neighbors sidewalk without telling them you did it. Drop some food off on someone's doorstep that you know is struggling (but run away before they catch you and see who did it). Smile at the person in the store who looks down and needs a friendly face to lift them up that day. Anything...little things. Small kindnesses do make a difference. 

I believe that most people really want to be good people. Maybe that is my optimism showing, but I don't think any of us set out to be greedy or uncaring of others. I think in our 'me, me, me, get it now, bigger, faster, better society,' sometimes it's easy to forget about others and be very me-centric. I know I can be sometimes. I think we all can. The trick is looking outside our own family and selves at the bigger picture of life. 

Merry Christmas to all my readers and friends (if you have different beliefs than me, that's okay too - Happy Holidays, whatever that means to you). I wish you all great happiness and a wonderful year. Let's all hold the reason for the season in our hearts and do everything we can to be compassionate to our fellow man and love one another. 

Below is a video of lights synchronized to my favorite Christmas song, O Holy Night. Not the best light show I've ever seen, and I will be sharing others in the next few weeks, but I love Christmas music and I love Christmas lights, so this is perfect. Enjoy!

Peace and love, friends! Have a fantastic week!