Do you need a helping hand?

hands

I always thought when I was a young mother that I should grow an extra arm and hand with each child born, so I could keep hold of the little b*ggers while still having two hands to deal with the essentials of life. How useful would it be to have three hands – how many times have I struggled holding something in my teeth, between my knees, jammed between my body and a kitchen cupboard, or under my arm?

The trouble is, being an introvert and an independent and determined soul, I hate asking for help. I’d rather curse my lack of a useful number of appendages than ask someone to lend me one of theirs.  My father once told me that when I was about two, he tried to do something for me, and I snatched the object from his hand and said ‘Me do it.’ It sounds about right.

Being two-handed is surely a basic design flaw – I mean how much more could a person achieve if they had a hand to spare – one for a hammer, one for a nail, and one to scratch that annoying itch on their nose? Think what it would do for productivity. There are certain phrases that spring to mind concerning hands – Give me a hand. Lend a hand. To give one’s hand in marriage. And these sayings should be a clue.

It was yesterday when I went to visit a neighbour who broke her leg badly a few days ago that got me thinking about hands and the ridiculously small number we possess. She’s on a walking frame and so has both her hands occupied, and she’s finding it very frustrating. She can’t carry anything, and she has to do everything one handed because she can’t put one foot to the ground and needs the other hand to hold on to her frame for balance.  She was bemoaning the fact that she hadn’t been able to wash her hair since coming home from hospital.

I volunteered to wash it for her for which she was very grateful. Now, she isn’t a really close friend, but it was after this shared experience of washing her hair that I began to see the value of only having two hands. It’s needing an extra helping hand that forms friendships, binds communities, and shows us we are co-dependent in so many ways. Independence is fine, but it can be isolating. My inability to ask for help has doubtless deprived me of social interactions and friendships, and more than that, it has probably deprived those who might have been glad to help of feeling useful and valued. If asked, a lot of people are only too pleased to be able to help. It’s what makes us decent human beings.

So maybe having to struggle and be forced to ask for help is part of the great plan for humanity. Maybe it isn’t a design fault. The sooner we realise that we need one another, be prepared to ask for help, give help in return, and value one another the better the world will be.

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Colleen’s 2019 #Book #Reviews – “The Silence of the Stones,” by Author, Rebecca Bryn, @RebeccaBryn1

Wow! Fairy whispers indeed. Thank you so much for this wonderful review. You might be interested to know that I actually did rune castings, using scrabble letters, when I got stuck in the plot. The results were spooky! Alana is the person I might have been had I had the courage. I loved writing this story especially as it’s based where I live.

The Faery Whisperer

IN THE AUTHOR’S WORDS

Alana determines to escape her past and opportunity beckons when she’s left a run-down cottage in a West Wales’ village by an aunt she didn’t know existed, but her past is catching up on her, and someone is out to get her. Strange runes painted on her door and carved onto ancient stones in a stone circle, hint at a dark undercurrent of tragedy and intrigue, and she is caught up in the village’s conspiracy of silence over a thirty-year-old crime.

An eccentric old woman who casts runes, an ambitious young female investigative journalist, a two-year-old girl, a good-looking male busker, and an ex-lover make unlikely bedfellows but combine to send Alana on a voyage of self-discovery that blows her world apart. Can she discover the truth hidden in the stones in time to save those she loves?

Set in the fabulous Welsh countryside, the story…

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Spectral State by Senan Gil Senan

Wow,  just WoW!

This is the first book I’ve read by this author, but I can’t wait for the sequel to come along. The subject is handled with an authority that makes the scenario totally believable and assures your trust in the author. I love sci-fi, but this amazing tale goes beyond normal science fiction into altered realities, dreams, and remote viewing that leaves you questioning your own existence. Are we all figments of someone’s weird dream, or have we been conjured by a machine with artificial intelligence and its own game plan?
Hano is a remote viewer who helps police find missing people, but his extraordinary talent attracts the US security forces, and he is enrolled into a remote viewing spy team. On a ‘vision jump’, he witnesses a young girl being raped and murdered by a prominent senator and vows to bring him to justice. His determination puts him and his team into extreme danger. Few people are quite who they appear to be, or even where they appear to be, if they even exist, and the whole adventure is a twisting roller-coaster ride.
Original, endlessly inventive, well-written, easy to read despite the complexities of the plot, with lovable characters, and fast action, I recommend this book unreservedly.

International Women’s Day 2019 – Why celebrate? #PaintItPurple

Painting it purple

My husband can’t see the need. He rightly makes the point that there are differences between men and women that will always define certain roles – men are stronger and more gung ho, and women are more cautious and have more patience (sometimes) – but he also believes that ‘the best person for the job’ should do the job, no matter what their race, religion, or sexual orientation. Simple.

He views the subject in these simple terms and can’t see why women make such a big thing out of equality.  Now, I don’t consider myself a feminist – I believe that both men and women have their strengths and weaknesses and that we are two sides of the same coin, complementing one another. I also think that the most important job in the world, the raising of our children into decent, morally upright, and socially responsible adults is being put at risk by the pressures women now face in maintaining this equality that women’s libbers fought so hard to bring about – but having researched women in an historical context, I do have a basic understanding of where the Suffragettes were coming from and what they achieved.

Now, I love men – well, I love my men, and their attitudes to women are great. I’m definitely not a man-hater. For me, women’s equality is about equality of choice. The choice not to have a child a year, something my great-grandmothers had no say in. The choice of a career, and even in my youth that was very limited for a woman – shop work, secretarial, or banking. (The Forestry Commission threw up their hands in horror when I applied for a job in 1966. ‘We don’t employ women’ was their answer. Had they forgotten the lumber-jills of World War Two?) The choice to have control over property, something women were not supposed to ‘worry their pretty little heads’ over.  Did you know that a couple of centuries ago men actually believed that a woman’s head would explode if she thought too much? (Mine’s exploding right now!) The choice to vote. The choice to think for myself and hold an opinion. The choice to write – George Elliot was a woman called Mary Anne Evans who had to use a male pen name in the mid 1800s in order to be published. I count myself very fortunate that I have these choices and these freedoms, and I hope my writing helps bring a deeper understanding of the history of women in society.

What ‘he who frequents his shed’ doesn’t understand is the historical morass of exploitation and inequality from whence the women’s liberation movement arose and why their achievements deserve recognition. As a writer of historical fiction, research into the lives of women in the 19th and early 20th centuries opened my eyes to the depth of the inequalities that existed, some shocking, and many still a way of life for women until shockingly recently.

In my own job, working for the NatWest Bank in the late nineteen-sixties – or the Westminster as it was then – I earnt a little over half the amount my male counterparts did for doing the same job, which irked me, and promotion prospects were poorer for a woman, which I understood. After all, what employer wants to invest time, education, and money into someone who might get pregnant and leave to have a family? Although attitudes have changed since the sixties, pregnancy and family duties are understandably still a major factor in the unequal treatment of women in the workplace.

Pay is one obvious area where women have campaigned for equality, and the equal pay act came into force in 2010 – that’s almost fifty years since I was feeling undervalued and overworked – fifty years of my life where employers have exploited women as second-class citizens www.equalpayportal.co.uk/the-law/  but there are other less well known areas where women have been the ‘underdog’ – a term I discovered meant the bottom sawyer in a saw pit – and as such, the submissive sex. How many people realise, for example, that the consent a woman gave upon marriage meant a man could legally rape his wife until a landmark judgement in 1991, and that it is still legal in some countries.

https://www.theweek.co.uk/98330/when-did-marital-rape-become-a-crime

‘It found that it is legal in Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Lesotho, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Tanzania. In four of these countries, “it is permitted even when the victim is a child”, Revelist reports.’

One attitude that always seemed a contradiction in my youth was that boys were expected to ‘sow their wild oats’, but the girls who let them were considered sluts. Pick the bones out of that one if you can.

Go back further, and it was 1937 before women were able to petition for divorce on the same terms as men thanks to the Matrimonial Causes Act 1937

On September 12th 1922, the Episcopal Church voted to removed the word ‘obey’ from the bride’s marriage vow, which was remarkably enlightened for the time.

Go back further still, to before 1882, and a woman owned nothing once she married. Everything she brought to a marriage belonged to her new husband, and she had no rights even over her own children, a travesty woven into my series For Their Country’s Good.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Married_Women%27s_Property_Act_1882

And divorce law was so weighted in the favour of men  ‘a law made by men for men’ that few women even considered it an option.

https://vardags.com/family-law/divorce-and-womens-rights-a-history

I quote a relevant passage from the above site concerning one Mrs Caroline Norton, who campaigned for a change in the law after she left her husband :

‘Despite being cleared of impropriety, Caroline remained hostage to the misogyny of the Victorian legal system. Unable to obtain a divorce, her husband continued to deny her financial support and access to their children.

As a result, she turned to legal campaigning, and her case became a cause célèbre. Three acts of Parliament emerged from the affair – the Custody of Infants Act, The Matrimonial Causes Act 1857 and the Married Women’s Property Act 1870.

The Custody of Infants Act removed the assumption that a child would remain with the father. It allowed a woman to petition for custody of her children up to the age of 7 and for access in respect of older children.

The Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857 put divorce into the civil courts for the first time, widening the availability for a divorce to the middle-classes. The act, however, remained deliberately gender discriminatory. A husband could seek a divorce on the grounds that his wife had committed adultery, whereas for a wife to petition it had to be paired with incest, bigamy, desertion or another offence. Additionally, a husband was required to name the person with whom his wife had committed adultery, whilst a wife did not.

Within 12 months of the act, the divorce rate rose from 3 per year to over 300. Perhaps surprisingly, petitions made by women had a greater rate of success than those by men. Financial provision, however, was far less favourable. The vast majority of wives were awarded no property or further financial support – a factor which led to many wives abandoning their applications after issuing petitions.’

I believe also, that a wife had to prove she was of sound mind before she could petition for divorce as recently as the early twentieth century. I find the arrogance of the men of those times astonishing, but this was the mindset that women had to overcome.

When researching On Different Shores (Book One of For Their Country’s Good) which is set in 1840s England and Australia, I discovered a man could legally beat, imprison, and rape his wife, he could have mistresses that she had no right to complain about – in fact he was expected to have a number and was congratulated upon having them! He could throw her out on the streets, keep her from her children, and offer her no support. Prostitution, being destitute, would probably be her only recourse. Is it surprising women put up with abusive marriages?

Given the history of women, from the days when Stone Age man grabbed a girl by the hair and dragged her off to his cave, through daughters of the rich being used as marriage pawns to consolidate wealth and power,  women not having any say over their own bodies and lives, and the fact that it was the courage of a few outspoken men and women that changed the laws to obtain the equality we enjoy today, I think we should #PaintItPurple for International Women’s Day and celebrate.

And if you need more inspiration… 100 inspirational women of the last 100 years 

cOMP FOR iNT wOMEN'S DAY 2019

See more about these books here and embark on a journey you won’t soon forget. Tales of ordinary women in extraordinary circumstances: their courage, hope and, love.

All FREE on Kindle Unlimited or only £1.99/$2.99 (For Their Country’s Good Box set £3.99/$5.99)

And coming soon – Kindred and Affinity – an historical romance – for what would the world be without the love of a good man for a good woman?

Kindred and Affinity torn colour centre large cover 6x9

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for reading.

 

#WorldBookDay

It’s odd how books make a lasting impression on you. Even their titles do when you haven’t actually read the book. They conjure places you’ve never been, events you haven’t experienced, and characters you’ve never met – though you’ve probably met people like them.

I can remember my mother’s bookshelves when I was a child. No shiny paper covers, no paperbacks, but hardcover books, some with cloth covers, some leather-bound, some shiny cardboard, some thick, some thin, some tall, and some squat – a lot of poetry. But it was the titles stamped into the spines I found evocative. The Works of Francois Rabelais, (in the pages of which my brother and I found a fascinating exposition on the best material to use for toilet paper – dock leaves were mentioned, I believe) All Quiet on the Western Front, Between the Larch Woods and the Weir, Mrs Wiggs’ Cabbage Patch, The Works of Longfellow.  And the authors names Bunyan, Flora Klickmann, HE Bates, Wilfred Owen, and many more.

I always had a bedtime story – Mum read from Hans Christian Anderson, The Girls Bumper Book of Fairytales, and Wind in the Willows, Dad recited The Jaberwocky  from memory, complete with voices and actions – really scary. I still know it by heart.

At primary school, Friday afternoons were story time, the favourite time of the week, and our teacher read us the books of BB, a local author whose god-daughter was my next door neighbour. I grew up with The Little Grey Men, Down the Bright Stream, Brendon Chase, and all his other wonderful books inspired by places I knew in the Northamptonshire countryside. These books gave me a love of reading and an appreciation of the natural world. It also showed me how important it is to read to our children and pass on these loves.

As I grew up, there were always books for birthdays and Christmas, The Lord of the Rings Box Set was a 21st birthday present I still treasure, and my collection of books has grown during my life across most genres.  I never once believed that I would join the ranks of those authors and have my own books in my bookshelf leaning up against the likes of  Tolkien.

So for World Book Day, I’d like to thank my parents and my teacher for reading to me, and all those wonderful authors for enriching my life.

My Books

7 book comp

Seriously flawed standards

Well said. I can identify with everything you mention. My income has dropped by 90% over the last three years despite having More books published. There is no way I can make a living from writing now. Amazom, readers, and authors please take note.

Two on a Rant

Now, on a serious note.

I happened upon a writer on Twitter and Facebook:

Dakota Willink

Her Twitter introduction:  “Amazon Int’l Bestselling Romance Author | Survived my 1st publishing with coffee & wine | Music Lover | Star Wars Geek Since Birth.”

She explains how non-writers are scamming the system at Amazon

and

graciously allowed me to reprint (aka copy/paste) her post.

The “Stealing” of Ideas, and How “The Hunger Games” Was ...

<_><_><_>

I need to tell a story – it’s going to be a long one, so settle in if you’re interested in hearing it.

I began writing my first book in 2013. I self-published it on December 27, 2015. I was new to the business and I literally knew nothing. I made my own cover, which I’m embarrassed of now. But hey – I was brand spanking new and was learning as I went. And yes, there were typos galore in this first book. My January 2016 sales…

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FREE tales of unbreakable love for you for Valentine’s Day

As a thank you to all our readers and followers, Sarah and I are offering some bargains. Don’t miss out on these five-star and award-winning reads.

ROYAL COMMAND SERIES

FREE 12th – 14th February!

What is a girl to do when she finds a secret diary handed down through the generations from a long-dead queen?  Follow the royal command inside the diary, of course. And oh, what trouble it leads Lizzie to! The Scottish heiress who seeks romance and Michael, the wannabe actor from the backstreets of Leeds, who’s looking for a career – a steamy romance with a dark twist.  Download  it FREE now

 

 

 

99p/99c bargain – limNEW ILLICIT PASSION cover with title and RF finalist badgeited offer 12th – 19th February

 

Lizzie’s tumultuous relationship with wannabe actor, Michael, continues in Illicit Passion, but their daughter, Lisette, seems determined to wreck their happiness and Michael’s career as well as her own. The twists get darker, the secrets harder to keep, and the passion hotter.

Get it now for only 99p/99c

 

 

FOR THEIR COUNTRY’S GOOD SERIES

FREE 12th – 14th February!

You can choose your friends, but Ella has no choice over choosing her family. Exiled for one illicit kiss from her employer’s son, she is sent into the country and married off to Harry, to avoid a scandal she has no idea she could cause.  Falling in love with someone else is a disaster waiting to happen and sparks events that will take her, her lover, Jem, and their illegitimate son, William, to the ends of the earth, forcing her to make desperate decisions.  The poacher exiled for murder and the girl who will follow him at any cost.

Download it FREE now!

 

99p/99c bargain – limited offer 12th – 19th February

While Jem sails to Van Diemen’s Land aboard the convict ship Tortoise, with an impending mutiny aboard, Ella goes to desperate lengths to raise the fare to escape her loveless marriage and follow him. All her plans fall apart when she discovers she’s pregnant again. Can she and William escape with her summer baby, or will it tie her to England, forever?

Get it now for only 99p/99c

 

 

Both series continue, so if you love these, you’ll want to read on. Why not grab them all, now. They’re at these bargain prices until February 19th.

Royal Command series

SARAH STUART 2 Get Dynasty of Deceit for only 99p/99c

Sweet Temptation

Sweet temptation – get it for only 99p/99c

 

 

 

 

 

For Their Country’s Good series

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Grab On Common Ground for only £1.99p/$2.99 to complete the series.

 

 

 

Thank you for reading. If you enjoy these stories, please take a moment to leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or Bookbub, and tell your friends.

 

Interview with nature author Susan J. Tweit

A woman after my own heart. What a fascinating life.

Writing to be Read

susanj.tweit_

My guest today is an author, nature lover and plant ecologist. Her books include memoirs, beautifully illustrated travel books, nature guides, and even children’s books, but they all have strong ties with nature. Her books reveal connections with nature and life that have not been pondered or may have been overlooked in our everyday lives. Her books have won the ForeWord Book of the Year, the Colorado Book Award, and she is a five time recipient of Colorado Author’s League Award. With a background in science and plant ecology, she expertly weaves her natural environment into her writings, illustrating how all things interact and connect. Let me introduce creative nonfiction author, Susan J. Tweit.

Kaye: You are a female author who champions the natural environment. Do you identify most as a feminist, a naturalist or an environmentalist?

Susan: All of the above. I grew up in a family…

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Spectral State

Sounds fabulous. I’ve pre-ordered this one.

Sarah Stuart - Romantic Suspense

Spectral State – Click the cover to preorder.

Hano is a gameaholic. He works when he must, to live, and plays… and plays. Tempted by money, he takes part in an online “game” that involves mind jumps. He proves incredibly good at it, so Aj’dina is sent to recruit him. A natural loner, attractive Aj’dina reminds him of his long-unsatisfied sexual need, and he takes the job. A rebel, not ex-military like the rest, he comes close to dismissal, refusing promotion and lying to continue to work with Aj’dina. His feelings for her become a love he finds impossible to express verbally, but a deeper cause of unhappiness is his outraged sense of justice that targets a corrupt US senator who is, apparently, above the law.

Based on the psychology of such as Spock and Huxley, Spectral State takes “one giant step for mankind” from the Enigma codebreakers of the…

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The Lord of the Rings meets Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever?

This cheered me up no end as I rarely get a sale or review of this book. What also amazed me was my also-boughts for this novel – my other six books!WHD also boughts

I must be doing something right – but the review…

‘Hoping to dare for the GIFT OF PROPHECY!
2 February 2019
This is a book full of intrigue, changing alliances, death and destruction, survival, rampages, peace, love and tranquillity in an unrecognisable land.
It took me a little while to get the gist of what was happening within and the relationships between the different characters with there unique personalities and the overall encompassing dynamics due to the plot twists, once these where established in my head I was transported into a whole new dimension of epic proportions.
The nearest I have come to this quality of creating an alternate realm in the readers eye has to be the writing of Stephen Donaldson (The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever) who was likened to JRR Tolkein for creativity. Definate dystopian story that I’d definitely return to again!’

getbook.at/WhereHopeDares

Now, JRR Tolkein and Stephen Donaldson are two of my favourite authors, and building worlds is something at which they both excel, so I was particularly chuffed to  have this story compared to theirs. I wondered if there were any other similarities – after all, they say there are only a handful of different stories, just a million different ways to tell them.

I suppose Abe could be identified as the Gandalf figure – an enigmatic wanderer of indeterminate age who has his own agendum, and keeps his cards close to his chest, but cares deeply for his friends. Raphel is probably the nearest I have to a Frodo figure – the person who has to overcome his fears to become his inner hero. The quest for the ring in Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings could, indeed, have a mirror here in Velik’s search for the Gift of prophecy. Velik is certainly an evil, Sauron-type figure, and Velik’s ‘Chosen’, Alaric, and his band of murderous marauders act like Sauron’s Orcs. Kiya could be said to epitomise the ring – carrying as she does, within her, the Gift, and the allusions to the rising of Hitler in the inter-war period of Tolkein’s writing could compare to the battle for our Earth we all need to face that are made apparent in Where Hope Dares.

Interesting comparisons, and a similar basic scenario, but a totally different adventure. So maybe, if you loved The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, you’ll enjoy Where Hope Dares.WHD covenant tweet

 

 

 

Download it here.