No More Mulberries is FREE

Thank you Marcia for allowing me to commandeer your blog to let your followers know my novel set in Afghanistan, No More Mulberries, is FREE to download from Amazon until Monday 10th July.

BNo More Mulberries - 400lurb: Scottish-born midwife, Miriam loves her work at a health clinic in rural Afghanistan and the warmth and humour of her women friends in the village, but she can no longer ignore the cracks appearing in her marriage. Her doctor husband has changed from the loving, easy-going man she married and she fears he regrets taking on a widow with a young son, who seems determined to remain distant from his stepfather.

When Miriam acts as translator at a medical teaching camp she hopes time apart might help her understand the cause of their problems. Instead, she must focus on helping women desperate for medical care and has little time to think about her failing marriage. When an old friend appears, urging her to visit the village where once she and her first husband had been so happy, Miriam finds herself travelling on a journey into her past, searching for answers to why her marriage is going so horribly wrong.

Her husband, too, must deal with issues from his own past – from being shunned by childhood friends when he contracted leprosy to the loss of his first love.

Excerpt from Chapter One: Iqbal was being ridiculous but if she was going to persuade him to change his mind, she must stay calm. She really didn’t want it to turn into a major row. She took a deep breath, which ended on a yawn. Too tired for one thing.

Maybe she should agree to Iqbal’s suggestion and employ a girl from the village to help with the housework? She’d always refused, telling him she’d feel uncomfortable having someone working in the house. She didn’t admit to him she hated the idea of people thinking the foreign wife needed help to run her home, couldn’t cope with hard work. Bad enough they knew she couldn’t spin wool – or milk a goat.

That bloody-minded animal, feeling her first tentative touch, had looked knowingly over its shoulder at her with its nasty, wrong-way-round eyes and walked away. Tightening her grip only made the goat go faster, forcing her into an idiotic crouching run, while her friend

Usma, in between shouts of laughter yelled at her to let go. When she did, falling over in a heap on the stony ground, the pain of her scraped knees had been nothing compared to the hurt to her dignity and pride. For weeks after everyone asked her if she’d milked any more goats. The day she could join in the laughter at the episode had not yet arrived.

She sighed and looked upwards. Familiarity with Afghanistan’s night skies never lessened her sense of awe. On moonless nights the Milky Way was a magical white path through stars that didn’t twinkle – they blazed. Constellations her father had taught her to recognise when she was a child – Orion, the Plough, the Seven Sisters – demonstrated proudly that here, they possessed far more jewel-bright stars than she had ever seen in Scotland. Tonight, though, the moon, almost full, had risen, dimming the stars’ brightness, silvering the jagged peaks of the mountains that kept the valley safe.

‘Our moon,’ she whispered. ‘Oh, Jawad, what have I done?’

‘Miriam?’ She jumped at the sound of Iqbal’s voice close behind her. Had he heard her whisper?

She turned to face him relieved to see he was smiling. ‘Children ready for bed?’ she asked. ‘I’ll go say goodnight to them.’

He shook his head, coming to stand next to her, saying softly, ‘Ruckshana’s already asleep. Farid is learning his spelling words for tomorrow.’ He reached for her hand. ‘Miriam, look, I suppose I should have mentioned it to you – cancelling the boys’ lessons.’

‘Mentioned it?’ She snatched her hand away, the need for calm forgotten. Tilting her head to look up at him, she asked, ‘What about discussing it with me?’

Bio: Author and journalist Mary Smith lives in South West Scotland. Although she has always written, whether childish short stories, very bad angst-ridden poetry as a teenager, or diaries, she never really believed she could be an author. And so she did lots of other things instead including fundraising for Oxfam and later working in Pakistan and Afghanistan for health programmes. Those experiences inform much of her writing. Her debut novel, No More Mulberries is set in Afghanistan.

Back in Scotland she found work as a freelance journalist while completing a MLitt in Creative Writing. She has also written Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women, a narrative non-fiction account about her time in Afghanistan which offers an authentic insight into how ordinary Afghan women and their families live their lives.

She has one full-length collection of poems, Thousands Pass Here Every Day and has worked, in collaboration with photographer Allan Devlin on two local history books: Dumfries Through Time and Castle Douglas Through Time. Secret Dumfries will be published in 2018.

Mary’s other project is to turn her blog, My Dad’s A Goldfish, about caring for her father when he had dementia into a book, which she hopes will be published before the end of 2017. Before that she will be publishing a slim collection of short stories.

GET IT HERE:  http://smarturl.it/nmm

Drunk Chickens on Amazon Australia Winter Sale

First, a big thanks to Marcia for the invitation to post on her blog – such a generous thing to do.

I wanted to tell everyone – especially anyone living in Australia – my memoir Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni is in Amazon’s Winter Sale in Australia right now for only 99c. Sale lasts until August 22nd.

drunk chickens e

Drunk Chickens provides a remarkable insight into the lives of ordinary women in Afghanistan. Despite the hardships in their lives – and there are many – they are not all helpless, downtrodden victims but women of courage, determined to make the best of life for themselves and their families.

Excerpt (taken from a section about the health classes)

Before we started on lessons about healthy pregnancies and deliveries, the students requested a class on family planning. It was the contraceptive pill they most wanted to hear about.

‘Is it true,’ asked Kulsom, ‘that if a woman takes the family planning goli for a while then has another baby she won’t have any milk?’ Someone else wanted to know if forgetting the pill meant the woman would have twins. Others were concerned they might be infertile if they took the pill for too long.

This worried Kulsom, who said, ‘It’s not that I don’t want any more babies but I’m tired – I’d like a rest before the next one.’ As she had had four babies in six years it was not surprising she was tired. Continue reading