#GuestDayTuesday – Ann Patras – Into Africa: 3 Kids, 13 Crates, and a Husband

Today, I’d like you to give a warm welcome to Ann Patras. Ann will be sharing an excerpt from her book, Into Africa: With 3 Kids, 13 Crates, and a Husband. Now I don’t know about you, but I’m intrigued already, so take it away, Ann!


Hi, everybody! I am thrilled to bits to be here today and really hope you enjoy reading a little about my crazy life in Africa so long ago. Feel free to ask any questions, which I will do my best to answer.


I was getting rather neurotic about sounds in the night ever since our experience with the guard trying to get into the kitchen. Several nights I had woken up thinking I’d heard noises only to find nothing of consequence.

This night I woke up with a start, just after midnight.

Although I had been sound asleep an inner voice said something dramatic had awakened me. A familiar noise, in fact. When we first moved into McFrazier Crescent, and Vicki and Leon were slightly smaller, they were unable to open the back door from outside because the handle was too high for them to reach. They got into the habit of thumping it, or bashing it with their bums when they wanted to come in.

As I delved into my subconscious I was sure the noise that suddenly woke me had sounded just like that.

I lay in bed hardly daring to breath and prayed that Ziggy didn’t start to snore and ‘get in the way of’ my auditory scrutiny. This may sound stupid, but I have found that when I try to listen to some distinct noise I need to keep my eyes open. I listened for quite a while but my eyes began to close and I could feel myself drifting back to sleep.

Fortunately, just before I drifted off I heard another abnormal sound. That perked me up again and I returned to my vigilant audial focus.

The noise I heard sounded a bit like rustling and then it dawned on me. With Hollins not being at work for the past couple of days, the rubbish bin in the kitchen hadn’t been emptied since Saturday. It was full of papers and cardboard rubbish that I’d made the kids clear up from their bedrooms, as well as other rubbish.

Obviously the puppy was ferreting about in the bin. I imagined the mess which could be made by all this stuff being scattered across the kitchen floor. The little sod.

As I lay there wondering whether or not I could be bothered to go and kick his arse and put him outside, I heard an odd sounding clunk and decided that I had perhaps better go and investigate.

As I reached the bedroom door I could still hear rustling. Rather a lot of rustling for such a small dog, in fact. Now I was a little worried.

Ziggy was the last one to bed, so I wasn’t sure if he had closed the door which connects the bedroom passage to the living area. What if it was open and it wasn’t the dog making the noise?

Snapping myself out of this state of mind I slowly and carefully opened the bedroom door and peeked around it. Thankfully the passage door was shut. I crept out of the bedroom and took three paces to the door where I stood listening again.

I could still hear ‘sounds’ but then heard what seemed like walking noises. And to be honest, it did not sound like a walking dog.

By this time my heart was beginning to pound somewhat. I heard Cokey whine, like he does when he wants to be let out at night. He continued to whine. But it was rather early for his ‘wee break’. So what was he whining about?

This clearly warranted some further investigation, but I was very reluctant to open that passage door. Then I had a brainwave.

There were no lights on in the bedroom corridors so I could walk down to the far end, by Vicki’s bedroom, and peer through the window which looks out onto the back yard. From there I should be able to see across to the back door (you remember – it was that ‘back door bashing sound’ that woke me) or see if any intruders were in evidence in the yard.

I began to creep down the passage.

When I was but a stripling, my leg joints used to click and creak if I tried to creep around quietly. It must be something to do with tension because sod my luck if they suddenly didn’t start up now!

So I clicked and creaked my way along the passageway and turned right into the section where Vicki’s bedroom was, taking me to the rear, yard-facing window.

Crouched and moving forward I ducked below the level of the window.

Very, very slowly I turned and eased myself until I could peer through the glass. There was no sign of anyone in the yard. Phew, relief. I stood up and let my gaze drift towards the rear wall. I thought it was my imagination at first, but when I moved to the furthest section of the window I could clearly see the back of the house.

My heart came into my mouth and my stomach disappeared somewhere down into my ankles. The back door was open!

At that point I nearly sh*t myself.

My knees went weak, I started to shake, and I stopped breathing.

It was only as I stood resolutely taking deep breaths and trying to calm myself that I looked down and realised I was standing there stark naked. In my single-minded determination to play amateur sleuth I had forgotten to put on any clothes.

Between me and the relative safety of my bedroom was a considerable expanse of corridor, which led up to an unlocked door (there was no key for it), on the other side of which there was an unknown quantity of burglars.

I was terrified.


When Ann and Ziggy Patras uproot from England in 1980 and head off with their three young children to live and work in deepest Africa, they have no idea what they are letting themselves in for.  While prepared for sunshine and storms 13o south of the equator, the Patras family are ill-equipped for much else.

Interspersed with snippets from Ann’s letters home, this crazy story describes encounters ranging from lizards to lions, servants to shopping shortages, and cockroaches to curfews.

Author Ann Patras

Ann Patras was born and raised in Burton upon Trent in the English Midlands a long time ago. She had a lot of interaction with people, initially through her family’s busy corner grocery shop, then her parents’ popular pub and later through her own varied careers.  She started her working life as a junior legal secretary and ended it as a gallery curator with a variety of other stuff between, including a spell as police reservist on a horse!

She married Ziggy in 1974, raised three kids and countless dogs.  After taking on a two-year contract to work in Zambia in 1980, they ended up living in Africa for thirty one years.  They now live in Andalusia, Spain, where Ann has plenty of time to write about their many crazy experiences.  She has already completed the first three books of her Africa Series, covering their lives in Zambia, and is about to delve into their antics in South Africa.

Buy Anna’s Books Here:
 Into Africa: 3 kids, 13 crates and a husband
More Into Africa: 3 kids, some dogs and a husband
Much More Into Africa: kids, dogs, horses and a husband

Or Get the Whole 3-BOOK SERIES Here


Facebook page:
Blog:  The Crazy World of Ann Patras  http://www.annpatrasauthor.com
Email:   annpatras.author@gmail.com

A Doggie Dictionary (Just for Fun)

by Kassandra Lamb

I thought I’d share a fun little post I put up on my site…

A Dog’s Dictionary to Describe the World

I took my dog for a walk the other day. And as I was dragging him away from his fascination with a crumpled leaf in the road, I thought about how the world must seem to our dogs.

Watson 2

As we walked around the neighborhood, this “dictionary” of doggie views of the world came to me.

1. Those brown, crunchie things all over the ground (dried leaves) – definition: something that might taste good.

2. Those tall green thingies (bushes) – definition: my favorite place to pee.

3. Those gray clumps of stringy thingies (Spanish moss that has fallen from trees) – definition: my second favorite place to pee.

4. That delicious-smelling pile of gooey stuff that makes Mom yell “leave it!” (three-day-old roadkill) – definition: something that definitely will taste good… READ MORE

Happy Holidays from Watson and me!!

And don’t forget to grab a copy of my new Christmas novella. Just $0.99


A Mayfair Christmas Carol, A Marcia Banks and Buddy Christmas Novella

A Christmas extravaganza in Mayfair, Florida, complete with an ice skating rink. What could go wrong?

When excavation for the skating rink uncovers a decades-old skeleton, its secrets threaten more than the town’s Christmas plans. Worried about her friends in her adopted town and feeling responsible since the let’s-attract-more-tourists idea was hers initially, dog trainer Marcia Banks is determined to help her police detective boyfriend solve the mystery—whether he wants her help or not. Perhaps she can wheedle more out of the townspeople than he can.

But will she and her Black Lab, Buddy, be able to keep the ghost of Christmas past from destroying what is left of Mayfair’s founding family, or will her meddling make matters worse?


Sharing D. G. Kaye’s Great Interview With Sarah Brentyn

For whatever reason, I can never reblog anything from Deb’s blog, but by golly, I’m a determined kinda gal, and I want to share her interview with Sarah Brentyn. So, doing this the old-fashioned way, via copy and paste. 🙂

Sarah is a quaintly quirky and positively pithy sort of writer, and this is a great interview. Check it out, and then check out Sarah’s books! (Also, sharing is good, via whatever method will work for you.) Enjoy!



End of the Line by @barbtaub #ExcerptWeek #wwwblogs #SciFi #UrbanFantasy

Note from Barb:

Thank you so much Marcia for all you do to promote other writers, and for allowing me to participate in Excerpt Week.  The following excerpt is from End of the Line, the final book in my Null City series. 

You have to understand that everyone in Null City is a normal human. Most of them just didn't start out that way. Imagine you're some superhero with special gifts or abilities that are, frankly, damn awkward. Let's say, for example, that you are the Man of Steel, but you don't dare have sex with the Plucky Girl Reporter because your LittleMan of Steel would probably split her in two. (And we're not even going to discuss the havoc your Swimmers of Steel could wreck on Woman of Pasta…) The point is that when you think about it, most people with special powers would be lining up to get rid of them and get their normal lives back. That's where Null City comes in. After one day there, those with extra gifts turn into their closest human counterparts. Dragons, for example, might become realtors. Or imps become baristas. (Of course, those imps are now ex-PhD candidates in literature or classics who claim to be experts on third-world coffee blends and obscure world music groups. But hey — there is only so close to human that hellspawn can get…)

End of the Line

by Barb Taub

You have to understand that everyone in Null City is a normal human. Most of them just didn’t start out that way. Imagine you’re some superhero with special gifts or abilities that are, frankly, damn awkward. Let’s say, for example, that you are the Man of Steel, but you don’t dare have sex with the Plucky Girl Reporter because your LittleMan of Steel would probably split her in two. (And we’re not even going to discuss the havoc your Swimmers of Steel could wreck on Woman of Pasta…)

The point is that when you think about it, most people with special powers would be lining up to get rid of them and get their normal lives back. That’s where Null City comes in. After one day there, those with extra gifts turn into their closest human counterparts. Dragons, for example, might become realtors. Or imps become baristas. (Of course, those imps are now ex-PhD candidates in literature or classics who claim to be experts on third-world coffee blends and obscure world music groups. But hey — there is only so close to human that hellspawn can get…)

POPPY: Null City, 2016

I paused on the landing of the grand stairway leading down to the main waiting room and on to the platform of the Metro Station. Above me the pearly light of a typical Null City afternoon streamed through the green and gold stained glass arched ceiling and huge matching rose windows at either end.

Just below the window, a tiled mosaic spelled out Ø CITY above a painted banner bearing a quote from Sir Isaac Newton: If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”.  Visitors are usually impressed, at least until someone shares the Null City version that it was painted by an artistic imp standing on an actual giant who was waiting for his one-day window to pass until he became a normal human.

Dark old polished wood benches from the waiting room—the round ones whose central lamp posts now bloomed with tissue flowers and white ribbons, and the long benches with elegantly curved backs—were filled with guests, both from Null City and those who had poured in on the special Metro run.

Null City residents know that the needles on any compass here point to the Metro Station as our own version of true north. But as far as I know, only the Anchor feels that pull. I closed my eyes, and opened my connection to the City. It wasn’t words, not exactly. But…images of feelings, like holding the most effervescent of champagne to my nose…dry and tingling and full of delicious, intoxicating promise.

I smiled at the tickle as the fizz of the connection spread over my skin and I passed my own feelings back along the connection. I know you’re pleased. This wedding is just the right thing, in the right place, with the right people. Continue reading

They gave ME a UK drivers license! What were they thinking? @barbtaub #FabulousFriday


“The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status, or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we all believe that we are above-average drivers.”
Dave Barry, Dave Barry Turns Fifty

The Vomit-Comet, a Chevy Impala wagon painted (for reasons my father never revealed) mint green.

The Vomit-Comet, my family’s Chevy Impala wagon with the red pleather interior & outside painted (for reasons my father never revealed) mint green.

“Do NOT,” my mother warned as she slid out of the red pleather bench seat of the Vomit Comet, “…come out without IT.” I had just turned sixteen, and IT was my drivers license. Growing up in a California suburb where you practically needed a car to drive to your mailbox, a license meant freedom and adulthood and illicit trips to the beach. In my case, it also meant relief for my mother, who ran a one-woman taxi service for her ten children, frequently logging upwards of a hundred miles in a day.

While I pictured trips to the drive-in with all my friends—the Vomit Comet was purchased to my parents’ rigid specifications regarding the number of children that could be crammed into its seatbelts-are-for-people-without-spare-kids triple rows of seats—my mother was dreaming of the day someone else would help drive to school/grocery/other school/afterschool/after-afterschool/and on and on.

I did indeed return with the license, and duly received the keys to Gus, a geriatric VW bug twice my age who predated modern conveniences like a gas gauge, but boasted three important features—he ran (mostly), he had a great radio, and he was a teenaged Californian’s most essential accessory—a convertible.

Gus died heroically a year or so later with his radio on, blocking the entrance to the beach at Santa Cruz and resulting in a traffic jam so legendary it made the evening news and the next four decades of my father’s conversation. But I went on to drive for all of the following 40+ years. I even spent a gazillion years (that’s in parent-terror units) doing the required behind-the-wheel practice with all four kids.

“You’re a rotten driver,” I protested. “Either you ought to be more careful, or you oughtn’t drive at all.”
“I am careful.”
“No you’re not.”
“Well, other people are,” she said lightly.
“What’s that got to do with it?”
“They’ll keep out of my way,” she insisted. “It takes two to make an accident.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

But none of that mattered to Her Majesty’s Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency, who seemed to feel that while my colonial-trained driving skills were all very well for prissy American road conditions, here in Britain they would be measured, tested, and (undoubtedly) found wanting.

In the UK, driving is not an automatic rite of passage but a privilege that must be earned. Indeed, most years many more people fail than pass. The first hurdle is the written test, which includes a very fun video simulation that is (at least for mamas with on-the-job experience of four video-game savvy offspring) a LOT easier and not nearly as gory as Grand Theft Auto. The second test part is the usual series of written questions, most of which have one realistic answer mixed in with several answers composed by space aliens on crack, along the lines of: Continue reading

Superpowers suck? Try Null City #ExcerptWeek #SciFi #UrbanFantasy by @barbtaub

Thanks so much Marcia for allowing me to participate in your Excerpt Week promotion! Following is the blurb and excerpt from Round Trip Fare. —Barb

Excerpt week: ROUND TRIP FARE by Barb Taub

Warden Carey Parker’s to-do list is already long enough: find her brother and sister, rescue her roommate, save Null City, and castrate her ex-boyfriend. Preferably with a dull-edged garden tool. A rusty one.

Carey knows superpowers suck, her own included. From childhood she’s only had two options. She can take the Metro train to Null City and a normal life. After one day there, imps become baristas, and hellhounds become poodles. Demons settle down, join the PTA, and worry about their taxes. Or she can master the powers of her warrior gift and fight a war she can’t win, in a world where she never learned how to lose.

And then there is… him. For the past two months, a dark stranger has persistently edged his way onto the mental game board behind her eyelids. Well, whatever trouble he’s selling, Carey Parker is not buying.

She just has a few details to work out first. Her parents have been killed, her brother and sister targeted, and the newest leader of the angels trying to destroy Null City might be the one person she loves most in the world. And her sexy new partner’s gift lets him predict deaths. Hers.

It just would have been nice if someone told her the angels were all on the other side.

EXCERPT —Round Trip Fare

March 2011:  Pike Place Market, Seattle

Carey slid low in the seat as Iax finally came out of the restaurant and turned toward the waterfront. To her surprise, the two watchers continued to stalk…him. So he hadn’t posted them to watch for her. Interesting. She slid from the jeep and shadowed the followers.

Accords Agency Recruiting notice

Accords Agency Recruiting notice

The attack came as Iax stepped around construction equipment at a building site in the next block. He spun around a second before the first one’s bow released, but the arrow must have missed as he was already ducking low and coming up with a knife. She narrowed her eyes. Probably too far for accuracy, but his throw managed a glancing slash on the attacker’s arm. Impressive. The knife wound was enough to cause the bow to droop as Iax sprinted toward him.

By then, the second tail had come around the far side of the giant yellow earthmover and was in position. But Iax wrapped arms around the first assailant and whirled him into the path of the new arrow. Not missing a step, he dove for the dropped crossbow, loaded from its attached quiver, and without taking any apparent time to aim, lodged an arrow in the second attacker’s throat. Very impressive. There was just one thing he missed.

Iax was bent over the second assailant when the third dropped from the scaffolding above him and hit the ground head-first with a meaty thump. “You missed one,” Carey told him. “You’re welcome.” She moved across the street until she was standing in front of him. “Excuse me? Can I get by?” Their eyes locked as each quietly palmed a knife, before he moved aside. She rolled the third assailant over and removed the knife from his throat, wiping it with the dead man’s shirt. “It’s one of my favorites.” Returning the knife to her boot, she turned and headed back to her jeep. “You coming?”

He got in heavily, and she started the engine. “Where to?”

When he didn’t answer, she turned to see him slumped against the door. The front of his jacket was wet. Guess that first arrow wasn’t a total miss after all. Well, hell. Marley would never let her hear the end of it if they had to replace the upholstery. Again. Continue reading