#GuestDayTuesday – #TenThings – And Other Guest Openings

Good Morning, Everyone! Just wanted to remind you all that I am ready to schedule 2023 guest posts on The Write Stuff. If you would like to take part in any of my regular features, now’s the time to have me hold a date for you.

#GuestDayTuesdays:  For this one, I’m looking forward to sharing your news, whatever it might be. New book, cover reveal, old book with a review worth bragging about, or even something about you, as a writer … where your ideas come from, how you go about the process, things you’ve learned over time (including what NOT to do). I’m very flexible with the #GuestDayTuesday posts and will be happy to feature you and/or your work in various ways.

#TenThingsYouMayNotKnowAboutMe: This is a fun way to let others learn more about you as a person, as a writer, as a blogger, or from any other angle. If you’ve haven’t already been a guest for this one, take a look at some of the previous posts, and I think you might be interested in taking part. If you HAVE taken part in the past, that’s all right, too. We could do a “TenMOREThingsYouMayNotKnowAboutMe” post. Or “FiveMore.”

Again, I’m very flexible with any of these posts and can even squeeze in some random guest posts on other days, if it’s more helpful for what you want to do. 

For Info on what I’d need from you, you’ll find all my Blog Rules and Instructions HERE:  https://marciamearawrites.com/welcome/

And most of all, remember that I’ll work with you in any way I can. The object is to 1)promote you or your work and 2) to have fun. (Or both!)  I’ll be waiting to hear from you and get your special post scheduled, so drop me an email at marciameara16@gmail.com

Thanks!

 

#HappyNewYear – #TenThings – #GuestDayTuesday

Happy New Year, Everyone!
Here’s Hoping 2023 Is a Great One for Each of Us!


To get The Write Stuff off to a great start this year, I’m putting out an official call for guest posters:

If you haven’t yet taken part in #TenThingsYouMayNotKnowAboutMe, I hope you soon will. It’s been one of the most popular series I’ve had on the blog, and we’d love to learn more about our friends and fellow writers. Email me to save you a date. (It runs every other Wednesday.)

Also, #GuestDayTuesday runs every other … yes! … TUESDAY. For those who have upcoming promos, new releases, cover reveals, or anything else they’d like to share, writing related or not, please email me, and I’ll get you set up for a visit. 

I also have some ideas for a few new ways guests can avail themselves of some extra exposure here, but will get back to you on those later. For now, we’ll focus on the two above, and I’m hoping I’ll get lots of folks who’d like to visit. Can’t wait to get things up and running around here again!


Hoping to hear from some of you soon!

#GuestDayTuesday – #JackieLambert – #IsAPictureWorth1000Words?

This is going to be the last guest post for this year, but trust me, it’s a great one with which to wrap up our #GuestDayTuesdays for 2022! It’s time for another of Jackie Lambert’s awesome Writer’s Travelogue posts, today featuring the importance of adding more than just photography to your travel journals. (Told ya it was gonna be great!) 😀

I know you’re gonna enjoy Jackie’s suggestions, so I’m going to turn the floor over to her right now. Jackie, you’re on!


Thanks, Marcia, and Hi, Everyone!

Is A Picture Worth 1000 Words?

Human beings are very visual creatures.

We have one of the largest brains in nature, and science tells us that half of it is devoted to visual processing. No wonder we love a picture! It’s why visual media is so successful – it stops us in our tracks.

Yet remember how the aroma of disinfectant takes you straight back to school. Or the scent of a particular perfume reminds you of a favourite aunt. In evolutionary terms, smell is one of the oldest senses, lodged in one of the most primitive parts of the brain. Even the simplest, single-celled organisms are able to detect chemicals, which is basically what our senses of smell and taste are all about.

Any creative writing course worth its salt will instruct you to write with all five senses, and here I’m going to look at why.

In my last post, I mentioned my trip of a lifetime to Zimbabwe in 1994.

A photo of me at Victoria Falls can’t tell you why locals call it Mosi-oa-Tunya – The Smoke That Thunders – but I can describe to you the deafening roar of 550-million litres of water dropping 300 feet a minute; how the sound shook me to the core of my being, and how cool droplets of spray misted my skin beneath the blistering African sun. Nearly thirty years later, those words in my journal help me recall the sensation in a way that the photo never could.

The real joy of my notes is that they have kept a record of something much more profound than a pretty view, or a group partying in a foreign bar, drinking brightly coloured cocktails filled with umbrellas and foliage.

My journals remind me what I was feeling; the raw fear of being held underwater by one of the most gigantic rapids on the Zambezi River with the guide’s words “You DO NOT want to fall in here…” reverberating around my head; the steam train taste and smell of a cloud that I parachuted through; the unbridled pleasure of swimming with playful sea lions every day in the Galapagos Islands; the desolation of dragging myself away from these wonderful adventures to return to the daily grind of earning a living…

My travel diaries also help me remember conversations, such as the chat with a refugee from life, who I met near her home in paradise, deep in the Costa Rican jungle,

“The crocs ate my ducks and a boa constrictor swallowed my cat. One night, I found a Fer de Lance pit viper in my bed!”

Paradise indeed.

My scribblings transport me to the musical soundtrack of the time; a quote that struck a chord; or recommendations from fellow travellers for a whole new adventure. My husband, Mark, and I planned our honeymoon in Costa Rica around such recommendations. Our second holiday together, whitewater rafting in Colorado, came about because of tips given to us by a Costa Rican rafting guide.   

As authors, we work with language. Our job is to express mood and meaning; to articulate atmosphere and emotion; to distil out the essence, interpret, then verbalise it.

What kind of image does this conjure up?

We went for a walk. It was beautiful! Later, we had dinner overlooking the beach. The sunset was gorgeous – we absolutely love it here!!!!

Did you say “Nothing much”?!

That’s why we need to get creative with our descriptions. Why was the walk beautiful and the sunset gorgeous? Multiple exclamation marks can’t express that, but five senses can;

  • What did you see? – strange colours, views, birds, other people, mountains, waterfalls, reflections, herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically across the plains, something else?
  • What did you hear? – a favourite song, birds, the wind, a brass band, an inane comment, water, a fairground, aeroplanes, silence, something else?
  • What did you touch / feel? – sun on your skin, ice-cold water, dragon scales, a warm puppy. Did you run my fingers through a field of barley, a child’s hair, something else?
  • What did you smell? – fresh grass, pine trees, a fish market, boiled sweets, farmyards, flowers, the sewage works, your auntie’s perfume, the disinfectant that took you straight back to school, something else?
  • What did you taste? – ice cream, a lovely coffee, the worst beer in the world, foie gras, adventure…

I hope it’s obvious that adding this kind of colour to your descriptions will make them much more interesting and evocative.

Have a go at describing your next sunset, meal in a restaurant, or anything else using as many of the senses as you can and see what happens.

To inspire you, I have included photographs of three ‘beautiful’ sunsets from our travels in Albania. They are all one hundred percent natural – I don’t use filters – and all very different. How would you describe them?


My experiences on the Zambezi and in the Galapagos are immortalised in Alyson Sheldrake’s travel anthologies Itchy Feet and Wish You Were Here. If you would like to check and make sure  I wrote using all five senses, both books are available on Amazon!

Three Travel Stories books are also available as part of a Box Set, with 17 (yes SEVENTEEN!) bonus chapters, featuring NYT bestselling and award-winning travel writers. My bonus chapter is A Honeymoon Horror Story about my exploits in Costa Rica with serpents, white water, and cockroaches the size of Tonka trucks.


Author Jackie Lambert

Fans of Jacqueline (Jackie) Lambert’s doggie/travel blog, www.WorldWideWalkies.com said, “You should write a book!” So, she did. In fact, she’s written five…

If you’ve ever considered giving up work to head off into the sunset with surfboards on the roof–or you just like dogs, travel and humour, her Adventure Caravanning With Dogs books are for you.

The first, Fur Babies in France, was described by one reviewer as, “Laugh out funny and a great travel guide”. It tells how she and husband Mark gave up work, accidentally bought their first ever caravan, then decided to rent out the house, sell most of their possessions, and tour Europe full-time with four dogs in tow.

Dog on the Rhine; “An inspirational travelogue” follows this intrepid couple as they get more adventurous, and head into Germany, The Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia and Italy. But just to prove that Living the Dream is not all sunshine and rainbows, they return home to a huge Fidose of reality…

Dogs ‘n’ Dracula; “Armchair travel delight” gives the full low down on how Jackie and Mark set off for Spain and Portugal, but decided to turn left…

Pups on Piste is a “Fun and interesting book” about the trials and tribulations of their first ski season in Italy, during which a ski instructor tells them, “Don’t miss the turn, or you’ll go over a cliff.”

In her latest memoir, It Never Rains But It Paws, released on 6th May 2022, Jackie and Mark race against time to leave the UK before Britain leaves the EU. Brexit could mean their four precious pups would be unable to travel. Then, a few months into their trip, the pandemic leaves them trapped in the epicentre of Europe’s No. 1 coronavirus hotspot…

She is currently working on her sixth book, To Hel In A Hound Cart – A Road Trip Through Poland In A Pandemic, which will be published later in 2022.

In her first year as a published author, Jacqueline was delighted to receive multiple five-star reviews, a letter from Prince Charles, an invitation to Bucharest to collect an award for Dogs ‘n’ Dracula, and Amazon No. 1 Bestseller status in the German Travel category for Dog on the Rhine. Some of her travel tales BC (Before Canines) have been featured in travel anthologies, alongside other bestselling and award-winning authors.


You can check out all of Jackie’s books on her Amazon Author Page HERE.

Or grab them one at a time here:

Year 1 – Fur Babies in France
Dog on the Rhine
Dogs n Dracula
It Never Rains but It Paws

And you can reach Jackie on social media here:

Blog: WorldWideWalkies.com
Email: jackielambert07@gmail.com
Facebook
Goodreads
BookBub

#GuestDayTuesday – #MikeAllegra – #ReleaseDay – #SleepyHappyCapyCuddles

WoooHooo! Today is RELEASE DAY for my friend Mike Allegra’s latest children’s book, Sleepy, Happy, Capy Cuddles! Just like Mike, I’m a huge fan of these adorable, cuddly animals, and my pre-ordered copy should be on the way to my mailbox TODAY. I’m looking forward to sharing it with my 4-year old granddaughter, and I suspect my 8-year old grandson will enjoy it, too. (I know I will!) For those of you who want to learn more, here’s Mike to share his feelings about rodents in general, and capybaras in particular. Enjoy! Now take it away, Mike!


(Mike, Taking It Away!)

I don’t know if you know this, but I love rodents. I love them a lot.

Ever since I was in short pants, I cared for and loved many little critters: gerbils, rats, hamsters, and guinea pigs. Even now, I keep rodents (a pair of loving, if clueless, gerbils named Dusty and Oreo). Also, if I catch mice in my house during the hostile winter months, I’ll get one of my unused cages and set up a rodent resort, keeping the little guys well fed, happy, and comfortable until I can release them in the spring. 

So, yes, I am very pro-rodent. In fact, you may call me prodent.

When I started writing picture books, it was only natural that rodents would play prominent roles in my stories. Everybody’s Favorite Book, for example, featured a guinea pig the size of a mastodon.

Scampers Thinks Like a Scientist starred a pair of mischievous mice. (Scampers, who was female, was lauded for promoting women in STEM, which was pretty cool.)

And the hero of my new book, Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles, is a capybara.

If you don’t know what a capybara is, I’ll be happy to enlighten you. Capybaras are the world’s largest rodent, with adults sometimes weighing in at over 100 pounds. (Imagine a guinea pig the size of a golden retriever. Capybaras are sometimes nicknamed “Guinea Bigs.”) Native to South America, they are semi-aquatic, highly intelligent herd animals with calm—almost Zen-like—personalities.

Capys at Gatorland Wildlife Park & Preserve 

Capybaras also have a propensity for interspecies snorgling. Seriously, capybaras are happy to hang out with most any animal. Just a casual search of the internet provides all the evidence you could ever want: there are hundreds of photos of capys cuddling with birds, turtles, lizards, cats, dogs, rats, guinea pigs, goats, and pretty much everything else. There’s even a photo of a capy sidled up next to a caiman!

And here it is!

Cuddling might be an unusual habit, but it’s a nice one, too. The more I learned about capybaras, the more I figured that we could all learn from their mellow, inclusive ways.

Despite the fact that capys cuddle a lot, they rarely impose themselves on others; that is to say, they don’t get in your space demanding cuddles the way some animals might. Instead, they let the cuddlers come to them—and those cuddlers arrive in droves. (Another nickname for the capybara is “Nature’s Chair.”)

I don’t know how capybaras attract these cuddlers. Perhaps they give off pleasant pro-cuddle vibes? Whatever the reason, a capybara’s Cuddle-If-You-Want-To attitude seemed well suited to a fun and funny story with a subtle message about consent. Yes, the capybara in my story gets all the cuddle companions she could ever hope for, but none of those companions are pressured to cuddle. So everybody is happy—especially the capybara. And when a capybara is especially happy, she floofs her fur. Isn’t that adorable? 

Capybaras are the best. I hope to sleepily, happily, cuddle one someday.


Author Mike Allegra

Mike Allegra is the author of 17 books for children including the picture books Scampers Thinks like a Scientist (Dawn, 2019), Everybody’s Favorite Book (Macmillan, 2018), and Sarah Gives Thanks (Albert Whitman and Company, 2012). He also wrote the chapter book series Kimmie Tuttle (Abdo Books, 2021) and Prince Not-So Charming (Macmillan, 2018-19; pen name: Roy L. Hinuss). Scampers was the winner of Learning Magazine’s 2020 Teacher’s Choice Award and was selected for inclusion in the Literati Kids subscription box. His story, “Harold’s Hat,” was the winner of the 2014 Highlights fiction contest and was published in the July 2015 issue.

His new picture book, Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles (Page Street Kids) is now available for purchase HERE.

A Few More of Mike’s Books to be Found on His Author Page

You can reach Mike on Social Media Here:
Website
Facebook
Amazon Author Page 

 

#Apologies – Two More #GuestDayTuesday Posts ARE Coming!!

I totally messed up in this morning’s post when I said I had no more guests scheduled this year! That was a blatant error! I do have 2 more posts already scheduled: Mike Allegra will be here on Oct 18 to celebrate the release of his new book, Sleepy, Happy Capy Cuddles. AND Jackie Lambert will be here on  Nov 15 with another Writer’s Travelogue post. 

My only excuse for this mistake is that they aren’t kidding when they talk about Long COVID and brain fog. (At least, that’s what I’m going to blame for this error, rather than just general old age and incipient senility!) So sorry for the mistake, Mike and Jackie!

Folks, I know you’re going to enjoy both of these posts, so do be sure to check them out! Thanks!!


*slinking off now, in shame and embarrassment*

 

#GuestDayTuesday – #Writer’sTravelogueSeries – #KeepingAJournalPart2 – #JackieLambert

It’s #GuestDayTuesday again, folks, and our caravanning friend, Jackie Lambert, is back with Part 2 of her #Writer’sTravelogueSeries post on keeping a travel journal. (Part 1 can be found HERE.) Jackie has written a wonderfully comprehensive and helpful post for us, so let’s get going. Jackie, you’re on! 


Thanks, Marcia, and Hello Everybody!

10 Tips For Keeping A Travel Journal
(Without it Taking Over Your Trip!)

What’s wrong with this?

“Breakfast was horrible! I had cereal with a coffee but the others had tea instead! I fed the dogs, then we all went for a walk. It was beautiful! After lunch, we went shopping, then had dinner by the beach with a beautiful sunset. We’re having a great time!!!!”

If you think it’s fine, you don’t need this post. 

If it makes you ask the following questions, read on;

  1. Is it interesting?
  2. What does it tell you about the place?
  3. Will you want to read it in a few years?
  4. Will it bring back vibrant memories about what you did, what you were feeling, or what you saw?
  5. Did it focus on the right things?

Here are ten tips on how to give your travel journal a bit more pizzazz;

 1. Don’t Forget to Make a Note of Your Location & Who
You Were With

I know. Obvious isn’t it.

Except that I have forgotten this so many times and found myself trawling through the internet to see if we left a review, so I could work out where we stayed. And where was that ‘must see’ place that – ooh, what was their name again? – recommended? You need to write all that down.

  2. Be Selective – Choose A Few Highlights
Each Day 

Just because it happened, you don’t need to include it. The example journal entry that I gave at the beginning is not very interesting because it’s about mundane things that you would do every day, anyway. I once read a blog that began with the author brushing her teeth. I didn’t want to read it and I am sure that in her frail dotage, the author would probably not want to read it either, never mind regale her grandchildren with fascinating tales of her dental hygiene routine while abroad.

I’m not saying you should never include these things, though. On my trip to Zimbabwe in 1994, I cleaned my teeth on a beach next to the Zambezi River after a night under the stars, using river water we had to collect in pairs, because one person had to watch out for crocodiles. That dental hygiene story might make the journal cut!

A blow-by-blow account of your day is unnecessary. Otherwise, you will write “Today, I sat down and wrote my journal all day…”

Select one or two interesting highlights. Here are some ideas to help you spot journal-worthy snippets. Was it;

  • Funny
  • Unusual
  • Interesting
  • Who did you meet? People and conversations are often fascinating
  • Quote of the day
  • What went right or wrong?

Being selective will make your journal more interesting and it will give you more time to do what you’re there to do; enjoy your travel experience. In addition – and here’s the biggie – it will help you keep up-to-date with your journal entries.

3. Be Descriptive – Write With Five Senses

In the piece at the start, I described both the walk and the sunset as ‘beautiful’ and added a couple of exclamation marks. What sort of image does that conjure up in your mind?

Did you say “Nothing”? Get creative with your descriptions. Why were the walk and the sunset beautiful? I plan to explore this in more detail in my next post, but in brief, the point here is don’t just write about what you see. Include what you:

  • Hear
  • Smell
  • Taste
  • Touch or feel

What if I had started the piece at the top like this instead?

“Breakfast was horrible. My cereal was like flaked cardboard filled with over-sweet faux chocolate chips. And you know the smell of mothballs at the back of your grandma’s wardrobe – they’ve made that into coffee. No wonder Fiona and Mike brought their own tea bags.”

It’s not Bruce Chatwin, but it records a considerably more detail than the paragraph at the top.

On our walk, what if we heard the high-pitched whistles of tree frogs and monkeys screeching in the treetops, smelled musty, damp soil, tasted tiny, sweet bananas straight off the tree, and were cooled from the stifling humidity by heavy droplets of water dripping off waterlogged leaves and trickling down our necks?

When we went shopping, what if the clamour of street vendors, grumbling camels and an asteroid field of humanity assaulted our ears? What if the air was thick with incense and exotic spices, and a stallholder tempted us with a thick glass of bitter black tea sweetened with cane sugar, while we ran our hands over handcrafted rugs with the texture of velvet?

Over dinner, what if we heard a steel band playing, and the warm wind rustling through the palm fronds carried the smoky scent of a barbeque? We might have taken a jug of rum punch filled with succulent slices of pineapple to the shoreline to watch the sunset, and found the fine white sand felt cool beneath our bare feet. and had the texture of flour.

These descriptions aren’t much longer than the original, but what images does this collection of sensations conjure up? In three paragraphs, I have crossed three continents!

4. Be Honest – Tell It As It Is

You’re on holiday. You’re writing a travel journal. Who’s it for?

  • Hint – it’s for you!

It is your account of your travels and probably the only people who will see it are you and possibly trusted members of your family. So be honest. Record the warts and all. Write down your innermost feelings. Make a note of the bad and the good – the things that don’t quite go to plan often make the most interesting anecdotes. The story I tell most often about my honeymoon is not the beautiful mahogany cabin set in orange groves overlooking a sensational river canyon, but our accidental sojourn in a mangrove swamp with snakes, crocodiles and insects the size of Tonka trucks, in a place we later discovered was called Mosquito Beach!

5. Write Quickly

You might be Bill Bryson, but you’re not Bill Bryson writing his next bestseller, so don’t get hung up on grammar, punctuation or form. You’re writing a first-hand account of your travels as they unfold. Just get it written down quickly, while it’s fresh in your mind. I even carry a notebook, take photos, or make notes on my phone so that I can record interesting snippets as they happen, before I forget them.

Just sit down and spend 10 minutes writing whatever comes into your head without worrying about what or how it is written. Don’t stop. Don’t think. Just write.

Here are some tips and inspiration;

  • Pledge to spend 10 minutes every day on your journal
  • Just sit and write whatever comes into your head
  • Imagine that you’re sending a postcard to yourself every day
  • Pick out a photo from your day and write about that
  • Describe a person or conversation that you had
  • Note down a funny thing your child did or said – or their reaction to something

I’ve picked out a photo of Steely, the horse man on Magnetic Island. He was tanned, leathery & looked quite scary, but he was the kindest, loveliest man. He adored his horses; so much that he constantly sneaked treats to them & looked sheepish if you caught him doing it. He had an idiosyncratic way of pronouncing Curlew; “Curl. Ooo”

If you’re selective about which events you record, ten minutes should be enough. Spend more time if you like, but;

6. Don’t Let Your Journal Get In The Way Your Trip

The trip is why you’re there. Whatever you do, don’t let your journal interfere or become such a chore that you don’t even bother to fill it in!

7. Don’t Edit Too Much

Editing comes later. Much later. And only if you want to embellish, publish, or share your writing.

When speed writing, don’t allow your ‘Inner Editor’ to take over. I.E. will impede your flow of ideas and start nagging you about your punctuation or choice of words. I.E. might even start feeding you horrible untruths like “You can’t write!” and “You’ll never be Bill Bryson!” You must tell I.E. to get lost. You’re busy. You have a journal to write. You enjoy writing your journal and he’s spoiling your fun.

8. Record Your Thoughts

I was not selective about what I wrote, so today I sat down
and wrote my journal all day.

Travel frequently takes you out of your comfort zone. You might try something new on holiday, or visit a different country with an unfamiliar language and culture. This will add interest and depth to your journals – and will be fun to look back on, since it is a snapshot in time and a glimpse into your mind.

  • What were you thinking?
  • How did you feel?
  • What were you afraid of?
  • What surprised you?
  • What challenges did you overcome?
  • Anything else? 

9. Write Before & After as Well As
During Your Trip

     Before:

  • Why did you want to go there?
  • How did you plan your trip?
  • What do you imagine it will be like?
  • What do you want to do or see?
  • What is your itinerary?

On your trip:

  • Write daily, when things are fresh in your mind
  • Read this blog for tips and inspiration on what to record!

After:

  • Was it how you imagined?
  • Did it live up to expectations?
  • What did you learn?
  • What surprised or disappointed you?
  • What would you change?
  • Where next?!

10. Personalise Your Journal

It’s your journal. You can do it how you want. Adding mementos adds colour, interest or a memory jog. Things like;

  • Doodles / Maps
  • Photographs
  • Postcards or Flyers
  • Tickets
  • Menus
  • Business cards from people, hotels, restaurants, etc
  • Brass Rubbings – or rubbings of shells, leaves etc
  • Wine / Beer Bottle Labels
  • Anything else – it’s all part of the memory

Take a glue stick or some sticky tape and fasten them all in!

In Conclusion:

I hope that this gives you some inspiration to get started. Really, the only limits are your own creativity. You don’t even need to be chronological; what about grouping your entries in terms of historic sights, seafood restaurants, train rides, windsurfing sessions, or anything else…?

And – don’t forget to get the kids journaling too. It teaches them all kinds of skills; writing, observation, articulation – and in the future, they will thank you for it.

As I said last time, keep a diary and one day, if it doesn’t keep you, it will certainly keep you entertained!

Summary:

10 Tips on Keeping A Travel Journal (Without it Taking Over Your Trip!)

  1. Where Were You & Who You Were With?
  2. Select A Few Highlights Each Day
  3. Write With Five Senses
  4. Be Honest
  5. Write Quickly – Commit To 10 mins/day
  6. Don’t Let Your Journal Become A Chore
  7. Banish Your Inner Editor
  8. Record Your Thoughts & Feelings
  9. Write Before, After & During Your Trip
  10. Personalise Your Journal With Mementos

    Author Jackie Lambert

Fans of Jacqueline (Jackie) Lambert’s doggie/travel blog, www.WorldWideWalkies.com said, “You should write a book!” So, she did. In fact, she’s written five…

If you’ve ever considered giving up work to head off into the sunset with surfboards on the roof–or you just like dogs, travel and humour, her Adventure Caravanning With Dogs books are for you.

The first, Fur Babies in France, was described by one reviewer as, “Laugh out funny and a great travel guide”. It tells how she and husband Mark gave up work, accidentally bought their first ever caravan, then decided to rent out the house, sell most of their possessions, and tour Europe full-time with four dogs in tow.

Dog on the Rhine; “An inspirational travelogue” follows this intrepid couple as they get more adventurous, and head into Germany, The Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia and Italy. But just to prove that Living the Dream is not all sunshine and rainbows, they return home to a huge Fidose of reality…

Dogs ‘n’ Dracula; “Armchair travel delight” gives the full low down on how Jackie and Mark set off for Spain and Portugal, but decided to turn left…

Pups on Piste is a “Fun and interesting book” about the trials and tribulations of their first ski season in Italy, during which a ski instructor tells them, “Don’t miss the turn, or you’ll go over a cliff.”

In her latest memoir, It Never Rains But It Paws, released on 6th May 2022, Jackie and Mark race against time to leave the UK before Britain leaves the EU. Brexit could mean their four precious pups would be unable to travel. Then, a few months into their trip, the pandemic leaves them trapped in the epicentre of Europe’s No. 1 coronavirus hotspot…

She is currently working on her sixth book, To Hel In A Hound Cart – A Road Trip Through Poland In A Pandemic, which will be published later in 2022.

In her first year as a published author, Jacqueline was delighted to receive multiple five-star reviews, a letter from Prince Charles, an invitation to Bucharest to collect an award for Dogs ‘n’ Dracula, and Amazon No. 1 Bestseller status in the German Travel category for Dog on the Rhine. Some of her travel tales BC (Before Canines) have been featured in travel anthologies, alongside other bestselling and award-winning authors.


You can check out all of Jackie’s books on her Amazon Author Page HERE.

Or grab them one at a time here:

Year 1 – Fur Babies in France
Dog on the Rhine
Dogs n Dracula
It Never Rains but It Paws

And you can reach Jackie on social media here:

Blog: WorldWideWalkies.com
Email: jackielambert07@gmail.com
Facebook
Goodreads
BookBub

#BonusGuestDayTuesday – #BlogTour – #JayeMarie – #GhostOfAChance

Please help me welcome Jaye Marie to The Write Stuff today. Jaye is sharing her thoughts on writing her newest DI Snow Mystery Thriller, Ghost of A Chance. I know you’re going to enjoy Jaye’s post, and as well as her  latest book, which, by the way, is already available for pre-order. With all of that in mind, the floor is all yours, Jaye. Take it away!


The Making of Ghost of a Chance

Initially, I wanted to write something different this time.

David snow, my favourite detective from my first three books, had already twisted my arm to be the lead in what would be book #4 of this series, so at the beginning, I wasn’t sure how different this story could be.

I must admit, I was a little disappointed with Snow’s performance in CrossFire. I thought giving him a female antagonist would spice things up a bit. But they didn’t like each other, and no matter how I tried, I knew that plot line was doomed. I won’t reveal any spoilers, but I didn’t care about the ending either. A shocking admission, but I blame myself; I should have had more control over the situation. This is why I wanted this new book to be different.

At the end of CrossFire, David Snow was severely injured while apprehending a serial killer, putting him out of action for a while, so there had to be a few changes in the new story.

I needed to talk to him, find out how he is and what he thinks he could do next. I knew Snow hadn’t enjoyed being incapacitated and was still not ready to return to work, so talking to him might be a waste of time.

I didn’t think I should talk to his wife, Jane as it would somehow feel disloyal.

The news of her leaving reached my ears, causing alarm bells to clang. What was happening to my Snowman? Had he been damaged beyond repair? I thought it must be bad for Jane to abandon the ship.

Not wanting to upset the apple cart any more than it was, I waited to see what would happen. Would he withdraw even further, or would Jane leaving trigger a positive response?

I watched David struggle to pull himself together, battle through the pain and try to join the human race again.

Could he put the past behind him, or would the pain of his injury haunt him for the rest of his life?

I had faith in my Snowman, but no one was more surprised than me when I realised where the story was going. Where did that ghost come from?

Ghost of a Chance was a new angle for me, but I enjoyed writing it…


Blurb

A damaged detective, out of a job
A relationship on the rocks
What does the future hold for David Snow?
Just when he thought life couldn’t get any worse
A ghost with a grudge adds to his pain
A ghost hell bent on stopping him from rebuilding his life…


PreOrder Ghost of a Chance HERE or HERE


Author Jaye Marie

I came to writing rather late but have always loved reading books. For someone who loathes computers with a passion, and I suspect this is mutual, I have managed to master the beast well enough to publish our own books.

I enjoy reading many different genres, so was very surprised to discover a passion for detective thrillers. I have written four of them to date with more to follow.

I also enjoy running a joint website/blog with my writer sister, Anita Dawes, and meeting all the lovely people who drop in to say hello!

My other love is bonsai, and my small trees demand a lot of attention in the growing season, or they will die. Sometimes, it is just like having children!


You can check out the full DI Snow series HERE

You can reach Jaye Marie on Social Media here:

 

Website
Twitter
Facebook 
Goodreads
Amazon Author page
Pinterest
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You can email Jaye here: jayemarie01@btinternet.com

***

To  preorder Ghost of a Chance, go here:

Amazon UK
  Amazon US    

#GuestDayTuesday – #DWallacePeach – #TheNecromancer’sDaughter

It’s #GuestDayTuesday again, folks, and today we have author D. Wallace Peach visiting us with news about her latest release, The Necromancer’s Daughter. Don’t know about you guys, but I’ve never read a book by Diana I didn’t LOVE, and  I’m dying to read this one! (SOOOON, My Precious!)

Thank you, Diana, for joining us today, and now … you have the floor, my friend! Take it away!


Good morning, Marcia. I’m delighted to get a slot on your blog for #GuestDayTuesday. I started my book tour about three weeks ago for my new stand-alone novel The Necromancer’s Daughter, and I thought I’d share a little about the inspiration/theme of the story.

As you know, I write fantasy novels, but there are only so many plots to go around, and we all have to share them regardless of the genre we write. So, with billions of books out there, how do we ever make our stories original? It’s all in the details, my friend, and the way we put our unique spin on them with our unique voices.

As much as fantasy is about imaginary worlds and magical beings, there are few of us who have the talent to tell an un-human story. We want to grab our readers and make them care. To do that, we need to create characters they can relate to and then put them in situations that make sense. You, my friend, are a master at doing just that.

In writing fantasy, for my themes, I draw quite a bit on the quandaries and challenges of modern life, knowing full well that the hurdles we face have been around for thousands of years in one form or another.

The theme of The Necromancer’s Daughter is the biases and assumptions we make about others without really getting at the truth of who they are as people. Does that sound familiar in our politically divided country? Or in the prejudices around race, religion, ethnicity, gender, and a host of other ways that we differ from each other? It’s a tale as old as time.

In The Necromancer’s Daughter, the division is between those who practice necromancy (the raising of the dead) and those who believe it’s demonic and against the wishes of their goddess.

One of my main characters, Joreh, is stuck in the middle with the hard task of facing his ingrained biases and really seeing people for who they are. That’s no easy task, and he has a lot on the line, including his life.

And, of course, the pages are brimming with action, escapes, barbarians, and dragons. There’s also a touch of romance and tons and tons of snow!

Thanks so much for having me over today, my friend. It was fun getting a chance to chat a little about the book! And many thanks to your blog friends for stopping by. Happy Reading.

You Can Buy The Necromancer’s Daughter HERE

BLURB:

A healer and dabbler in the dark arts of life and death, Barus is as gnarled as an ancient tree. Forgotten in the chaos of the dying queen’s chamber, he spirits away her stillborn infant, and in a hovel at the meadow’s edge, he breathes life into the wisp of a child. He names her Aster for the lea’s white flowers. Raised as his daughter, she learns to heal death.

Then the day arrives when the widowed king, his own life nearing its end, defies the Red Order’s warning. He summons the necromancer’s daughter, his only heir, and for his boldness, he falls to an assassin’s blade.

While Barus hides from the Order’s soldiers, Aster leads their masters beyond the wall into the Forest of Silvern Cats, a land of dragons and barbarian tribes. She seeks her mother’s people, the powerful rulers of Blackrock, uncertain whether she will find sanctuary or face a gallows’ noose.

Unprepared for a world rife with danger, a world divided by those who practice magic and those who hunt them, she must choose whether to trust the one man offering her aid, the one man most likely to betray her—her enemy’s son.

A healer with the talent to unravel death, a child reborn, a father lusting for vengeance, and a son torn between justice, faith, and love. Caught in a chase spanning kingdoms, each must decide the nature of good and evil, the lengths they will go to survive, and what they are willing to lose.


MY REVIEW:

(NOTE: I got my wish,  devoured this book, and here’s my review.)

I’m a huge fan of author D. Wallace Peach, and have loved every book of hers I’ve read to date.  Fantasy has become my favorite genre in recent years, so I was eagerly awaiting release day for this one, and crossing my fingers that I hadn’t built up unrealistic expectations. What a joke! It was even better than I hoped. I can honestly say I loved this book even more than Peach’s others, and that’s high praise, believe me.

As always, Diana’s world-building is fantastic, from the beliefs held by each country, to the descriptions of every battle … and every DRAGON! Yes, there are dragons, and they add a wonderful sense of magic that becomes totally believable as the story grows. But even better than the world or its fabulous dragons are the characters! Each is fully fleshed out in a way that made them totally real to me, complete with faults and frailties, generosities and kindnesses, strengths and weaknesses, and all the other components that go into being human. (Or slightly more than. We are talking necromancers here, so it’s a given that this world is touched by magic, even in cultures where it’s forbidden, and practicing it is punishable by death.)

I enjoyed this book with its elegant cover so much that I want to display it in my library, and am ordering a print copy for that purpose alone. Just looking at it sitting on my favorite bookshelf will make me smile every morning.

If you enjoy fantasy, interesting worlds graced with magic, and beautifully rendered characters who will live on in your heart long after you finish the last page, grab your copy right now. You won’t be sorry!


Author D. Wallace Peach

A long-time reader, best-selling author D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life when years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books. She was instantly hooked.

In addition to fantasy books, Peach’s publishing career includes participation in various anthologies featuring short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She’s an avid supporter of the arts in her local community, organizing and publishing annual anthologies of Oregon prose, poetry, and photography.

Peach lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two owls, a horde of bats, and the occasional family of coyotes.


You Can Buy The Necromancer’s Daughter Here:

You Can Reach Diana on Social Media HERE:

Amazon Author’s Page
Website/Blog
Website/Books 
Twitter 

#GuestDayTuesday – #Blogger #MichaelThompson – #CommonplaceFunFacts

Today, I’m happy to announce that our special guest is blogger Michael Thompson. If you’ve already discovered Michael’s fantastic blog, #CommonPlaceFunFacts you know what a fun, entertaining, and informative place it is. If you haven’t yet run across it, I’m sure after reading today’s post, you’ll want to drop by right away. I’ve been following Michael’s posts for some time, and I’ve yet to read even ONE that didn’t amaze, inform,  or amuse me. Or all three. So, without further fanfare, let’s turn this over to Michael and let him tell you more. Michael? You’re on!

Thanks, Marcia!

I am Michael Thompson. I am the editor-in-chief, CEO, and high-muckety-muck of Commonplace Fun Facts. I’m not kidding – those are the words that appear on the business card.

Commonplace Fun Facts is about – well – everything. The name was inspired by the Sherlock Holmes story, “The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb.” Dr. Watson wrote, “We both sat in silence for some little time after listening to this extraordinary narrative. Then Sherlock Holmes pulled down from the shelf one of the ponderous commonplace books in which he placed his cuttings.” I was intrigued by that word commonplace. I always thought it meant “boring” or “ordinary,” and I couldn’t reconcile either of those words being attributed to Sherlock Holmes.

I learned that a “commonplace book” is simply a scrapbook of random bits of information that the owner finds useful or interesting. Once I learned that, I realized this was something I had been doing all my life — collecting random tidbits of information, and either writing them down or filing them away in my memory to be shared at some appropriate time.

I have always loved learning. That’s not to say that I have always loved school. School, in my experience, was a lot like eating a brownie, one ingredient at a time. Imagine trying to swallow a big mouthful of flour. After you choke that down, you treat yourself to a couple of tablespoons of sugar. Just when you begin to think you might enjoy the experience, you have to leave the sugar behind and endure a teaspoon or two of salt. Then you get the raw egg, baking cocoa (which isn’t nearly as scrumptious as you would think), and a bit of water to wash it all down.

If that is your only exposure to brownies, you’ll never have to worry about an expanding waistline. We all know that the delicious end product is the result of combining all those ingredients in just the right way. Trying to eat a brownie ingredient-by-ingredient wouldn’t be a treat; it would be an ordeal. (Especially if you use the Pentagon’s 26-page recipe for brownies).

That’s the way most of my schooling was for me. Each class was just one more in an endless series of dry, tasteless ingredients. In English, I’d try to learn the parts of speech, only to end up like Winston Churchill, getting my foot caught on a dangling preposition. Learning a bunch of dates in history was just as hard to swallow as a mouthful of flour. Science was like baking cocoa; it sounded promising at first, but instead of getting a chance to mix up chemicals in the laboratory, I had to memorize the parts of a cell.

My teachers said, “Go ahead and take a big bite of the dates of the Peace of Westphalia, the War of Roses, the Black Death, and the first flight of an airplane. Follow it up with a couple of teaspoons of algebra, the Periodic Table, and Avogadro’s Number. Sure, it may be a bit dry, but try your best to swallow Plato’s Republic and Longfellow’s ‘Psalm of Life.’ Top it all off with a generous sprinkling of memorization of the inventors of the printing press, cotton gin, and glasses.”

In short, school was boring.

Fortunately, I was blessed with a mom and a few teachers who showed me that the dry, tasteless ingredients dished out in the classroom could combine in a marvelous, delicious way. They may have been presented piecemeal, but there were connections that could make even the dullest thing interesting.

That realization began a lifelong hobby. Unlike most of my classmates, who had hobbies such as sports or friendship, I started collecting fun facts. I savored the little snippets of history that connect events and give them extra flavor. Yes, it is somewhat interesting to learn that the eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Tambora in 1815 was so powerful that it was heard 3,000 miles away. What is truly fascinating is that the ash from that volcanic eruption plunged Europe into a year without a summer. As a result of the gloomy weather, a group of tourists in Geneva was forced to find ways to cope with the inclement weather. One way they amused themselves was with a contest about who could write the best ghost story. That is how Mary Shelley was inspired to write Frankenstein, the book that has scared children of all ages for over 200 years.

Although I found these fun facts fascinating, I wasn’t sure anyone else did. For some reason my helpful observation that Abner Doubleday probably didn’t invent baseball, but he did fire the first shot of the Union in the Civil War failed to earn me a spot at the jocks’ table during lunch. Equally as baffling was the sad realization that “Did you know that wombat poop is cube-shaped?” did absolutely nothing to impress any of the girls.

Fast-forward a couple of decades. I lucked out and found an awesome wife. Before long, we had four sons. Much to my surprise and delight, each of them showed the same interest in those weird, obscure fun facts that I did. As they grew and developed into bookworms, they began collecting fun facts as well. Commonplace Fun Facts was born out of our need to find a way to catalog and share our findings with each other.

Commonplace Fun Facts launched in 2014. My boys are now adults, and they continue to be the primary contributors of ideas. We have learned, however, that we are not alone. Commonplace Fun Facts has readers from all over the world. Many of them write and offer pieces of their own collections of fun facts or give us ideas of additional topics to explore.

When I sit down to write for Commonplace Fun Facts, I ask, “What do I want to learn about today?” The prospect of learning now fills me with even more anticipation than the aroma of freshly-baked brownies.


 

Blogger Extraordinaire Michael Thompson

You can reach Michael on social media here:
Twitter
Facebook
And of course, on his BLOGCommonplaceFunFacts

 

#BlogBreakThursday & #Update (Brief)

I’m not going to be around much today, since it’s this week’s Blog Break Day, but I did want to let everyone know that I have a few openings coming up for both #GuestDayTuesday posts and #TenThingsYouMayNotKnowAboutMe posts. If any of you are interested in taking part in either of these series, please email me, and we’ll see what we can set up.

I’m sorry to say, I’m still not over the Long COVID thing yet, but I really do think the episodes are getting milder, and farther and farther apart. Hopefully that means this really won’t go on forever! 

And on that note, I’ll get back to the tasks on my agenda for today. 


Have a GREAT ThorsDay, everyone!