Sunday, 2 April 2017

#FrenchRevolution novel #kindlepromo only 99c

Until this Friday, April 7th, Spirit of Lost Angels, the first (standalone) novel in my French trilogy, The Bone Angel series, is on promo for only 99c on Amazon.

Her mother executed for witchcraft, her father dead at the hand of a noble, Victoire Charpentier vows to rise above her poor peasant roots.

Forced to leave her village of Lucie-sur-Vionne for domestic work in Paris, Victoire suffers gruesome abuse under the ancien régime. Can she muster the bravery and skill to join the revolutionary force gripping France, and overthrow the corrupt, diabolical aristocracy?

Spirit of Lost Angels traces the journey of an angel talisman passed down through generations. The women of The Bone Angel series face tragedy and betrayal in a world where their gift can be their curse. Amidst the tumult of revolutionary France, this is a story of courage, hope and love.

Extract From Chapter 20...

How odd it was to be still after what seemed like weeks of bumps and jolts. Or was it months, perhaps years, I’d been cramped inside that windowless carriage with so many people and their smells of sweat and sickness?
The coach door creaked open, the bright sky burning my eyes. Hot bits of fire danced in mid-air but I was cold, and shivered beneath my cloak. I reeled from the orange sparks. A man grabbed my arm, his fingers digging into my skin, pinching my flesh.
‘Must get away … get outside. Papa says get out, now! Fire’s burning. The twins … inside.’ I tried to pull away from him, from the flames.
The man sneered. ‘Scared of a few autumn leaves, my lovely?’
‘Leaves?’ Ah yes, I saw then, they were leaves––autumn leaves rocking in the breeze and fluttering to the ground, where they lay still amongst the browned, dead ones. 

The women of Paris march to Versailles
My hands were smarting. I looked down and saw my palms were grazed and bleeding. Perhaps it had been me, not the leaves, falling to the cobbles as I’d tried to flee the man restraining me.
He dragged me upright and pushed me ahead of him, towards a cluster of dark buildings. The closer we got, the stronger the stench of piss, shit and unwashed bodies flared my nostrils.
‘Where am I? Where are you taking me?’ My words came out in hoarse, sharp whispers. ‘Where’s Grégoire? Find Léon, he’ll know what to do.’
‘Welcome to paradise, my lovely.’ The man’s breath was foul on my cheek.
He pushed me down into a chair. Why was he binding my limbs to the chair legs? Something moved across my head. I glanced at the floor––at the spatter of cinnamon waves covering the grimy tiles. My head felt different. I shook it and found it light, unburdened.
I hadn’t the strength to struggle as the man removed my clothes and shoved me into a wooden tub, nor when he fastened something cold and heavy about my neck.
‘If you move a muscle, that iron ring will break your creamy neck,’ he said. I dared not move and I breathed so slightly I could barely inhale enough air. ‘Have a nice bath, my lovely.’
The shock of icy water hitting my face was so great I did not even cry out. It gushed into my eyes, my nose and my mouth. I tried to breathe, coughing and spluttering. The cold water came again, and again.
‘Stop, no! Please!’ Still the water hit me.
It stopped, the man unchained my neck and the next thing I knew, a woman was standing over me, holding a chemise and an ash-grey dress.

Storming of the Bastille

‘Put these on. Hurry, girl. Time to go and meet your fellow lunatics.’ She laughed, but I had no idea what was funny.
The man was back, and leading me across a deserted yard entombed in high walls. He hurried me down steps slick with moss, and nodded beyond the wall. ‘Shame your room got no river view. Nothing to remind you of home, n’est-ce pas, my lovely?’
I didn’t know what he meant but I flinched, as we’d reached a deep place where only the thinnest, grey rope of light penetrated. I quivered with the fear, the unknown. Where was the bright sky and those leaves the colour of fire? I was sure I would feel better; understand it all, if only I could get back to the sky and the leaves.
Cries began to beat against my eardrums––sounds so raw with despair I was certain I must be dead, and I had reached some vast hall of Hell.

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Ebook only 99c on until this Friday.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

#Australia-based #psychological suspense novel #promo

For a week beginning this Friday, 24th March, The Silent Kookaburra, my psychological suspense novel set in 1970s Australia, will be on promotion for only 99c/p on a Kindle Countdown Deal.

 Extract from The Silent Kookaburra, Chapter 2...

We left Wollongong around five o’clock, Dad driving the Holden to the Royal National Park, which was halfway up to Sydney.

While my father wrangled with the tent pegs, amidst foraging currawongs and crimson rosellas, Mum and I kindled up a campfire and roasted the snags.

‘Look at him.’ I pointed to a large flat rock. Behind it, a shy wallaby peeked out at us, rubbing its forepaws together as if clapping at our show.

‘Aw, what a sweetie,’ Mum said, handing me a sausage sandwich smothered in tomato sauce.

A magpie swooped over us, clacking her bill. ‘Quardle, oodle, ardle, wardle, doodle.’

‘Defending her nest,’ Mum said as we toasted the marshmallows.

Dad smiled, gave her leg a pat. ‘Like all good mothers.’

And in the falling darkness of the coastal breeze we followed the scents of the night creatures: long-nosed bandicoots, brush-tailed possums, sugar gliders and many others whose names I didn’t know.

The shriek of a sulphur-crested cockatoo woke me on the Saturday morning. I struggled from my sleeping bag, stepped outside the tent, walked towards the smouldering campfire and almost trod on a snake. Its slimy scales gleamed in the pearly dawn light.

I almost peed myself, but held it in, not daring to cross my legs; afraid to budge an inch. A blob of sweat dribbled into my eye.

Australia's majestic Kookaburra
‘Dad, quick, snake!’

My father lurched from the tent as the black snake reared up, its thick underbelly a streak of fire. Head pointed, forked tongue out, it fixed one dark eye on me and hissed.

My throat seized up, crazy moths flapped about in my heart. I wanted to run, to scarper from the snake as fast as I could, but Dad was holding up a warning hand.

‘No quick movements, Tanya. Just wait, it’ll slither away if you don’t scare it.’

Tears pricked at my eyes. ‘No, no, it’s going to bite me … to kill me. Get rid of it, Dad!’

Mum clutched Dad’s arm, a hand flying to her cowlick. ‘Do something, Dobson … just stay very still, Tanya.’

My schoolteacher’s voice clanged through my mind. Blackies can be dangerous … can hurt you badly but they likely won’t kill you.

The red-bellied black snake sure looked deadly to me. My bladder was about to burst; my legs wobbled –– jelly left out of the fridge in a heatwave.

Go snake. Just please go away, please.

Buy The Silent Kookaburra.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

#FrenchResistance During #WW2

The French Resistance was a movement that fought against the Nazi Occupation of France during WW2, and against the collaborationist Vichy régime. Armed men and woman (called the Maquis in rural areas such as portrayed in my novel, Wolfsangel) formed Resistance cells who carried out guerrilla warfare activities, published underground newspapers, gained intelligence information, and helped Allied soldiers escape from behind enemy lines.

Fake ID cards for Resistance fighters

Taking a break from the battle
 On this day, 15th March, in 1944, the Conseil National de la Resistance published a charter demanding that social and economic reforms be implemented after France’s liberation, such as universal suffrage and the equality of all citizens.

For Wolfsangel, the second (standalone) novel in my French historical trilogy: The Bone Angel, I was fortunate enough to speak with several French Resistance fighters still living in the area in which the novel is set, in a rural village just west of Lyon.

Extract from Wolfsangel, Chapter 2...

The helmets of the German soldiers perched atop the train gleamed in the moonlight. I stared at them with hatred, those sinister sentries cradling their guns, their eyes peeling the countryside for danger, and saboteurs.

I kneaded my angel talisman harder.

Dd-dd-dd-dd. Faster, it seemed, and deafening, as the train was almost upon us.

‘Go!’ Olivier shrieked. ‘Now! Get down!’

André hit the button and any further sounds were lost as the train exploded in a golden shatter of fireworks. Bursts of sparks fanned into the navy sky, metal shrieking as if it were in agony.

Our hands clamped over our ears, we cowered from shards of flying metal. The Germans were shrieking –– one continual, torturous wail –– their helmets and uniforms flaming torches as they tried to flee the burning wreckage.

The locomotive screamed like a shot horse and groaned as the whole train lurched sideways, cavorted off the rails and crashed into the ravine on the opposite side of the track.

‘Let’s move it,’ Patrick said.

The moonlight lit their smiling faces as they hurtled back along the woodland path to the bicycles.

I breathed out, long and slow. Another success for
la Résistance.

Buy the Ebook of Wolfsangel for only £2.99/$2.99/Euros 2.99 at all Amazon stores.

If you happen to visit Lyon sometime, don’t miss the Museum of the Resistance

And if you are ever near Limoges, I would highly recommend a visit to Oradour-sur-Glane, on which the war-crime tragedy of Wolfsangel is based.

Main street of Oradour-sur-Glane
Church of Oradour-sur-Glane

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Friday, 24 February 2017

Free Reads For Smart Women

For this weekend only, starting right now, twelve authors (including myself) are offering smart readers a dozen opportunities.

Travel the world
Fall in love
Tell stories
Go back in time
Battle against evil
Fight for survival
Lose it all and start again.

Absolutely FREE! Just click for your choice of reading matter: Free Reads for Smart Women.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Best #jacuzzi in the #French Alps! @chaletsangliers

Over the New Year holiday, my husband and I had a welcome break at a fabulous new chalet in the French Alps, newly-renovated by a young and dynamic couple from the UK, Kat and Stuart Pagram.

 If you're looking for an affordable, yet luxurious getaway for skiing in winter, or hiking our mountain biking in summer, Chalet des Sangliers is the perfect place. Read my article about Chalet des Sangliers in The Good Life France magazine, here.

Amazing Alpine hot tub to soothe those aching ski muscles!

Thursday, 19 January 2017

#Granville - The Trauma of #Australia's Worst Rail Disaster

Yesterday, 18th January, 2017 marked the 40-year anniversary of the rail disaster that occured at Granville, a western suburb of Sydney, Australia. A crowded commuter train derailed, and ran into the supports of a road bridge, which then collapsed onto two of the train's passenger carriages. 84 people died, over 210 were injured. One of my childhood friends lost her uncle in this disaster, and her memorial piece to her Uncle John ("Boy"), is both a heartbreaking memorial and a deep insight into the far-reaching effects of such a disaster. Read Christine's piece here and a photo of her (R) in front of the Granville memorial.