Whispers Under the Baobab

One of my favourite writers, Darlene Jones (yes, she’s the one on the camel) has just completed another book, “Whispers Under the Baobab.” It is a stand-alone sequel to her previous publication, “When the Sun was Mine.”  In this sequel,  the setting goes back and forth in time.  We are taken from the U.S. to Africa and back, to events that happened earlier in the life of award-winning journalist, Flo McAllister. When she died, Flo left a mystery behind. The story evolves as we try to decode her secret notes.

I’d like to share the author’s thoughts with you here. Welcome Darlene. What can you tell us about your new book, “Whispers Under the Baobab”?

Darlene Jones

It’s always exciting when “the book” is finally edited, formatted, and published. Holding the print copy in your hands never fails to make your heart beat a little faster. You’ve done it.

Whispers Under the Baobab, my seventh book, is as gratifying as my first. Perhaps even more so for not only have I honed the craft of writing in the process, but I’ve set much of this one in West Africa including Mali, a country that has been dear to my heart ever since I lived there many years ago.

Even more gratifying are the comments from my Nigerian friend, who graciously agreed to be a beta reader.

As an African currently living in Nigeria, my country, I could relate especially with the African setting. Aside from developing the plot, Jones doesn’t fail to present the reader with tidbits about the life and culture of Sidu’s people.

Some sequels tend to lose steam along the way, but not this one. This second installment is a book you can relax with, and finish in a day. If you are looking for a novel where good triumphs over evil, where love is mutual and undying, where new friendships are forged from the unlikeliest of situations, and above all, where the plot is driven by suspense and some bit of code-cracking, then Whispers Under the Baobab is the book for you.

Darlene Jones demonstrates exceptional talent as a wordsmith, and for plotting an intriguing story whose premise invites readers be to resolute in their quest for what is true and right.

See both books here: http://ow.ly/aKXh30bMH88

 

Writing Contest – Four Winners – Part 2

Four authors have been chosen as winners in the writing contest. They may choose a free download of the ebook of one of my four novels from smashwords.com. I will print their stories on this blog  in alphabetical order by the author’s last name.

The story was to go with the photo below.

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Here is the second one. Congratulations to Darlene Jones.

A Picture Paints 300 words for this prairie girl

She pulled the wooden chair over to the wall, climbed up on it and turned on the radio. Hop-Along Cassidy, her favorite show was coming on and with her ear glued to the radio, she wouldn’t miss even one word of it.

Suddenly, her dad ran into the kitchen—without even taking his boots off—calling for her mother. She wanted to ask him to be quiet, but knew better and plastered her ear even harder against the radio speaker.

Her mother came in from the bedroom. “What’s wrong?”

“My wallet. I’ve lost my wallet.” She shivered for the voice coming out of her father’s mouth didn’t sound like him.

“Here,” her mother said, shoving the baby into her arms, and switching off the radio. And then her parents were gone. Scared to get off the chair with the baby in her arms, she stayed where she was. She tried reaching the knob to turn the radio back on, but wasn’t able to hold the baby with just one hand.

From where she stood, she could see out the small porch window. The tractor and harrow stood in the middle of the field and her parents ran around madly, with their heads down as if searching for something.

A very long time later, her mother came in and took the baby from her aching arms. She climbed down from the chair and put it back by the table. Then her father came in. He was crying. She’d never seen him cry before and the great sobs tore at something inside her.

“Forty dollars?” her mother asked.

Her father nodded.

“It was supposed to last us the winter.”

Her father nodded again and sank onto one of the kitchen chairs staring down at the floor. The silence seemed to drag on forever. They went to bed soon after. Her mother didn’t even cook dinner that night.

*****

 

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Darlene Jones is a retired educator and writer. A graduate of the University of Alberta she was a teacher, principal, second language consultant, and staffing officer with Edmonton Public schools. Her multiple roles included second language curriculum development for secondary students. After retiring she continued to provide educational workshops for teachers in the province of Alberta.

She began her career as a volunteer with Canadian University Services Overseas. She taught school in Mali and it was the plight of the Malians that inspired her to write her first novel—science fiction—described by readers as a “think piece.”

She continues to write fiction that incorporates topics such as world affairs, aging, and Alzheimer’s, with the added mix of adventure, romance, and humor.

Find out more about Darlene Jones at her web page: www.darlenejonesauthor.com

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Holiday Reading – Darlene Jones

Here’s the lady on the camel, Darlene Jones, with her recommendations for your holiday reading list.

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Tis the season to curl up with an afghan, a cup of hot chocolate (or a rum toddy) and indulge in a feel-good read. Here are three books I love. The stories are not all sunshine and laughter, but they will leave you with a sense of having met new friends, learned new things, and, most importantly, with the satisfaction that comes from having spent your reading time wisely.

Domingo’s Angel by Jenny Twist. A survey showed that the most important aspect of a fiction novel to readers is that they learn. Domingo’s Angel fills the bill perfectly. The reader learns about conditions in Spain during Franco’s rule through the lives of villagers in the mountains and the young foreign girl who arrives on their doorstep. The story is beautiful, heartbreaking, and haunting. The characters, depicted so vividly, stay with the reader long after the book is done. This is one I will reread. Do pick up a copy. You won’t be disappointed. Note: The events in this story are based on the real experiences of the people of the White Villages in Southern Spain and their struggle to keep their communities alive through the years of war and the oppression of Franco’s rule.

The Palaver Tree by Wendy Unsworth. Subtle, direct, gentle, and jarring, The Palaver Tree takes the reader on an incredible journey from the safety of small town England to the dangers of Africa. But, for Ellie, Diane, and Tiffany, England isn’t safe either as the wily and unscrupulous Gabriel cons them all. And the Africa Ellie comes to know and love—the friends she makes and the children she teaches—cannot protect her from the dangers of either Gabriel or rioting as rebels attempt a coup to overturn the government. I’ve lived and traveled in Africa and found this book taking me down memory lane. Thankfully, I never had to face the dangers Ellie faced. If you’re looking for a good read, that takes “ordinary” people into extraordinary circumstances, this is it. Note: Watch for Wendy’s new book, Beneathwood, coming out in November.

And my favorite book of all: Mixed Marriage by Elizabeth Cadell. Written in 1969, it’s a timeless rendition of family (you’ll be thinking of your own as you read) and clash of cultures as a young British girl plans her marriage to a young Portuguese man. Moving to Portugal, meeting his family, learning the language—all of it told in diary entry format—makes for one of the rare books that has me laughing out loud every time I read it. If you can get your hands on a copy, all I can say is, lucky you.

Merry Christmas and Happy Reading to all.

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Find all books by Darlene Jones on her author page on amazon.com or on amazon.co.uk

Visit her website at www.emandyves.com

When the Sun Was Mine

The City of Victoria may have distracted author Darlene Jones in my last post, but she has managed to publish an amazing novel just the same. I have read this book and would recommend it to young and old. Here is Darlene Jones to tell us about her latest novel, When the Sun Was Mine.

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NEW RELEASE – http://ow.ly/Ohut1  limited time introductory offer 0.99

When the Sun Was Mine

Review comments

“Expertly written, suspenseful, the mystery grips you from the first page.”

“… a surprising, entirely satisfying beginning.”

“… moments of true poetic beauty as a delicate, unusual friendship develops between a young girl (Brit) and an old lady(Flo).”

“I couldn’t put it down and towards the end I was sobbing.  Good thing I wasn’t wearing any make-up.”

“Alzheimer’s is such a fearsome disease, but Jones’ story doesn’t live there.”
“… makes its mark in terms of social commentary on this disease.”

“…when you have people willing to care, even those newly in your life, the most dreadful of situations can still touch your heart and leave you as the reader with possibility rather than loss.” 

Blurb

Flo:      I was an inmate in this hellhole they charmingly called a nursing home. Then Brit climbed in my window. She was just a kid. How could she possibly help me?

Brit:      I should have been in college, not working in this dump. But then I never would have met Flo. She had Alzheimer’s. They said she never talked, but she talked to me.

Brought together by circumstance, an old lady and a young girl develop an unlikely friendship. Each has a dream they long to fulfill, but first Brit is determined to solve the mystery of Flo.

Excerpt 

Poor little Miss Wright. Second time she comes into my room and once again she gets the shock of her life. Appreciated her concern for me, but really what could she do? I gave her a little wave as she eyed the two nurses bearing down on me and then slipped out the door behind Matthews.

All I wanted now was a long hot shower and something to eat. I’d missed breakfast of course and there likely wasn’t much left from lunch, but maybe I could scrounge something. I ignored the two nurses who had come in. One took my arm to help me to the bathroom. I shook her off and slammed the door in her face. Not fair to take my anger out on them. They hadn’t strapped me down, but then they hadn’t come to check on me all morning either.

By the time I finished my shower and put on my jeans, M*A*S*H* T-shirt, and thongs, oops, I mean flip-flops, Curly and Mo had remade my bed. The room still stank. I opened the window to let in some air. The incinerator wasn’t spewing forth at the moment so maybe my room would smell decent when I got back. I squirted some Chanel #5 on my neck and wrists and then a couple of sprays around the room. Terrible waste really, but I thought it might help.

I stepped out into the hallway and took a deep breath. Big mistake. The air didn’t smell a hell of a lot better than in my room. The omnipresent hospital odor mixed with the unique scent of old people. Not fair that everything went to pot as we aged. Wrinkles, creaky bones, flaccid muscles, droopy skin, and the sour fragrance of decay.

Just the other day, some little kid was in the visitor lounge with Esther. “Grandma, you smell funny,” he said, when his mother urged him to hug the old lady. Kid refused and kicked up a fuss. Couldn’t really blame him. At least his mother had the smarts to back off.

Yes, we were allowed out of our rooms during the day, the idea being that we could entertain each other and not burden the staff. Heaven forbid they should have to exert themselves for us. I went to the dining room and found a couple of slices of bread to pop in the toaster, and a hard-boiled egg. I poured a glass of watery orange drink made from powder like that horrible Tang stuff they sent us when we were overseas years ago, and smeared my toast with something that was supposed be butter. It tasted okay if you held your nose. Lord knows, I’d eaten a lot worse in my lifetime. Millet laced with grains of sand. I laughed when I remembered seeing the goats foraging in the mortar and pestle that held our food. I brushed toast crumbs off my hands and had to admit I felt better after eating.

I wandered over to the rec room and a sorry excuse it was. A few rickety tables and battered folding metal chairs, which made me think of France with all those sidewalk cafes, the parks, the little wrought iron tables, Michel. Now there was a lover extraordinaire, lived up to the romantic Frenchman reputation; kind and thoughtful and gentle, but a lion in bed. I closed my eyes and lived it again. Ah, those were the days.

Then I made the mistake of opening my eyes. Worn linoleum floors. One tiny window. I didn’t bother looking out. I already knew it was the same dismal view as from my room. Decrepit war-time houses across the street, scrubby grass that passed for lawns, the odd scrawny tree, no flowers to speak of, although one house had a couple of hanging pots that looked pretty, the riot of color a sight for sore eyes. Battered bikes lay scattered in the yards, abandoned haphazardly when the kids got home from school. Wrecks of cars parked in front of some of the houses. Was a wonder any of them still worked, but they did. I’d watched the people from my window when I couldn’t sleep: kids, parents, going about their business, work, school, with a few drug deals thrown in for good measure. Dreary little houses, dreary little lives. Bet all they did was watch the boob tube, guzzle beer, and smoke pot. Bah. Humbug.

We never got to go outside. Never. I’m sure prisoners were better treated. Didn’t they always have an exercise yard or was that just the movie image? A trip to a park or the mall would be nice, or the movies. Not that Hollywood was producing much good stuff these days, but still … just to get out.

Everything about Happy Hearts so conducive to enjoying oneself. I counted five people in the rec room sitting, staring at the floor. A sixth was watching television on mute alternately nodding and shaking her head at the screen.

Old Artie, and I mean old, ninety-nine and still toddling along, spent most of each day sitting at the chessboard. Never had any visitors or anyone to play with. I took pity on him, sat down, and offered to play a match. He proved to be a more challenging opponent than I expected, but I won. Took my mind off the Internet dilemma for a bit. I’d have to lie low for a couple of days, but then what?

I roamed the halls looking for Brittany and found her with a large screwdriver in her hand.

“What are you going to do with that?”

“I couldn’t open your window this morning. It’s stuck.”

Stuck? I burst out laughing. This younger generation never ceased to amaze with their ignorance. The chit had obviously never seen wooden windows before and didn’t know she had to turn the lock thingy at the top of the frame before she could slide the window up.

The girl bristled. “What’s so damn funny?”

“Whoa, did you just use a bad word?”

She blushed. Must have grown up in a staid household, I thought. Much like mine. The words in my head stopped me cold. I squeezed my eyes tight and fought to remember, but nothing came to me. I felt tears forming at the corners of my eyes. To have a glimpse, just one little glimpse of my mother. That’s all I asked. Did I have pictures of her? If so, where were they? Would I recognize her or would someone have to point her out to me? And my dad? What was he like?

That’s the worst thing about this Alzheimer’s business. Thoughts pop in and out of your head until you don’t know what’s real and what isn’t. They taunt you with snippets of your life before, but there’s never enough to grasp a whole memory or maybe there is on some days and you just don’t remember.

“Is your window always locked?” Brittany asked.

Her voice jolted me back to the present. “No, why?”

“Not even at night?”

“I like to leave it open all the time for fresh air, if the incinerator’s not rumbling that is.”

“Okay then.”

I watched her amble down the hallway toward the caretaker’s office swinging the screwdriver and humming, “a merry tune to toot, he knows a song will move the job along.” Hated that movie. Maudlin nonsense.

*****

You can download this excellent ebook now:

NEW RELEASE – http://ow.ly/Ohut1  limited time introductory offer 0.99

Victoria Distracts Writer

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This is my friend Darlene Jones. We are both writers. When I visited her in Victoria, we had a lovely time, but she tells me she has a problem. She can’t knuckle down to work. Here’s why, and she tells it in her own words:

Victoria, BC is a very dangerous city. We moved here a year ago and it’s a wonder I get any writing done. The view of The Gorge from our living room and the mild weather lure me outside. The beautiful historic buildings in a downtown that’s always bustling with tourists and entertainment and food trucks—impossible to resist and we can get there by water taxi. Is there a better way to travel for a leisurely Saturday lunch and afternoon of fun?

Then there’s the list of attractions demanding to be explored: Craigdarroch Castle, Point Ellice House, Fort Rodd, Ross Bay Villa, Fisherman’s Wharf (with the lovely houseboats and an assortment of restaurants and seals to feed), Chinatown (the second largest in North America)  …

point ellice house.

And the list of natural sights to be enjoyed: Beacon Hill Park, Ogden Point (where the cruise ships dock), Mount Tolmie offering a panoramic view of the city, Dallas Road following the ocean shore, the Butchart Gardens ….

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And the list of restaurants enticing us with their varied menus: Glo, Milestones, Green Leaf Vietnamese Bistro, La Taquisa ….

How to fit all of that in and still find time to write and market my books? Somehow I manage, and a new book will soon be ready for publication.

Meanwhile, the first novel of my Em and Yves Series, EMBATTLED, is available free. And, the second can be yours free too when you subscribe to my newsletter. For more information go to:

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www.emandyves.com

Writing a Book

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How did I ever get started writing a book? What made me think I could do it? Now that I’ve done it several times, how do I feel about it?

I honestly don’t know why I wrote a book. I love writing, but mostly my writing involved short stories that evolved from sending emails to friends telling them about  funny things that happened to me on outings like trout fishing or mushroom picking.

I suppose the stories got longer and longer until one day I had to tell the story of a woman who lived in a remote cabin with a man who turned out to be mentally unstable. He was like the little girl with the curl, right in the middle of her forehead — remember that poem?) Like her, “when he was good, he was very, very good, but when he was bad, he was horrid.”

This woman and her captor had a story to tell, so I thought, Why not? I could tell this story.

That was when my education began, about how to write a novel. It was so much more complicated than just dashing off a magazine article or a blog post. So much  to learn.

I was lucky. I joined the local writers group, found a good friend and author, Darlene Jones, who became my best ever writing buddy and critiquer, and another good writer friend, Kathleen Price, who is a great substantive editor and understands how to prepare a novel for the paperback layout.

With the help of these two good writer-friends, and a supportive husband who has all the commercial fishing background to fill in the gaps in the setting of my coastal story and check it for accuracy, I was able to write The Wind Weeps.

When I got to the end of the book, I had a dilemma. I couldn’t decide which of the eight possible endings to use. Each one left some readers unhappy. No way could I please everyone.

There was only one solution. Write the ending that I liked, and then write a sequel. In a few weeks that  sequel should be available to readers. I’m so glad because it has been a long, hard journey to get it there. Between The Wind Weeps and its sequel, I wrote two other novels (Orion’s Gift and Julia’s Violinist). But get ready, Reckoning Tide is coming your way soon.

You can find my books on amazon.com and on smashwords.com

Please leave a comment and tell us how you got started in writing.

The Lovely Blog Hop

I’ve been challenged by Darlene Jones, author of five novels (www.emandyves.com), to join the Lovely Blog Hop to share some of the things that have helped shape my writing and my life. Thank you, Darlene.

The blog rules include telling a bit about myself and my interests. So here I am, Anneli Purchase, sharing my trivia with you.

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First Fond Memory

In the summer, going to the playground was always fun. My mother sat nearby on a bench while my brother and I played on the swings. I haven’t been able to figure out what it means that I was always the one who stood protectively (and in charge) on the swings to pump them ever higher with my brother tucked safely between my feet. Either I love my brother very much, or I’ve been a control freak since the age of five, or both.

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In the winter, my dad was the one who pulled the sled and had mock snowball fights with my brother and me. My mother was usually at home making sure the hot chocolate was ready for us on our return.

Books

I got in trouble for reading at school. Nancy Drew mysteries were such page turners. I had to learn that even though the object was to teach us to read, the teacher needed my attention on her at times, and I had to abandon Nancy for a while. Later when I became a teacher, I used to wish I had students who would rather read than anything else in school.

Libraries

Our small town had very little to offer in the way of library books or guidance for children who needed to be steered towards something more challenging but just as stimulating as Nancy Drew mysteries. A huge gap in reading followed those early elementary school years. I was a young adult before a bookish friend got me on track again. That’s a story for another time and place.

Passion

Anything outdoors was my passion. Learning about the animals, camping, fishing, exploring, gardening, mushroom picking, birdwatching; that was a perfect way to spend my time. But wait, that’s not all. I had indoor passions too. I loved painting, making music, creating artsy things, writing, making up stories and plays, and playing sports — basketball, tennis, badminton, volleyball, even scrub baseball in the vacant lot across the street.

Learning

My first teaching job was in one of the last one-room schoolhouses on Vancouver Island. I had no teacher in a classroom next door to go to for help, so I had to learn fast in order to survive. My big passions while teaching were to make sure every child learned to read (because if all else failed, a person could catch up on knowledge later on if they could read), and to show the students that each one of them had an artist hidden in them. They were often surprised at their results and always proud of their artwork. Just a little guidance, and magical things can happen.

For myself, learning has never stopped. If I don’t know something, it bugs me and bugs me until I find out. I’ve always been like that, and while it drives some of my family crazy, it works for me and I love learning something new every day.

Writing

Writing is an addiction. I’m not happy if I’m not writing. All I need is paper, pen, and some quiet time. A computer is better, but paper and pen still work for me, too. I’ve written three novels and am working on my fourth. I can’t see myself stopping any time soon.

If you want to know more, check out my web page and my other blogsite.

www.anneli-purchase.com

http:wordsfromanneli.wordpress.com

And now I nominate Barbara Beacham.  https://salmonfishingqueen.wordpress.com/