Saturday 30 May 2015

Lexa Cain's Summer Blog Hop - What's Your Favourite Summer Vacation Spot?

Welcome to Lexa Cain's 

Lexa gave us the following guidelines:

Is your favorite vacation spot 
a sunny beach, a bright city
or a secluded cabin
A romantic getaway

or a place you loved as a child?  

We want to see it 
and know why it's your favorite!

Join Lexa Cain's Blog Hop

If you want, you can join this fun Summer Vacation Hop!

1) Sign up on the Linky list.

2) On Saturday May 30, put up a post "My Favorite Vacation Spot" and tell everyone about it!

3) Link to the 6 Blog Hop Co-hosts: 
Lexa Cain:
Melanie Karsak:
T.F. Walsh:
Vanessa Morgan:
Jolie Du Pre:
Stuart R. West:

4) On May 30-31, visit the other blogs and see where their favorite getaways are!

Special Giveaways! 
Summer Reads that Thrill & Chill
There will be a giveaway featuring 
6 exciting novels on the Co-hosts blogs!

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My favourite holiday (vacation) spot is whatever destination is next on my travel list. So, on June 25th, Geo and I are flying to New Caledonia (Nouvelle Caledonie), yet another little pearl in the Pacific. It doesn't get much of a write up in travel magazines, so I'm planning to get some travel articles published when I return.

So as you can see, from where I live in Queensland, Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia, is only a 2-hour flight direct from Brisbane. We've wanted to visit this island for ages. It's still 'ruled' by the French colonists and French is the official language. A positive bien sur. 

My initial research has shown that there is a lot to do in the two weeks we have allocated. Noumea itself has tour ships arriving quite often, so there is a lively market in local trinkets and artisian chocolate and the very popular Noumea Market where everybody buys their fruit, veges and snacks. 

Photo of Chocolats Morand Noumea

(This will be my first stop. Just like in Paris, a delicious treat each day. You can also do a chocolate-making course. Yummo!) 

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Our hotel (Le Hotel Paris, of course) is close to the waterfront where we can jump on boats and explore islands like the Isle of Pines which is supposed to be world class. Not that there's really anything there but the scenery. Sounds like my kind of place. (Maybe I could move there and write and sell coffee to the tourists!)

Image result for isle of pinesMap of isle of pines

For those of you who are interested:

1. Ile des Pins
Dig your toes into some of the finest, whitest, softest sand on the planet. Known affectionately as “The Closest Island to Paradise”, the water is transparent and perfect for swimming, snorkelling and diving while history buffs will enjoy visiting the ruins of the penal colony that once stood on the island. Enjoy the cool shade of the pine trees as you plan a way to stay here forever.  
2. Nouméa Markets
Get your haggling hat on and head out in search of the best deals for local produce, meat, fish and souvenirs. Epitomising the market culture with artefacts, jewellery and unique art pieces on offer, the Nouméa markets, located beside the Port Moselle marina, run every morning with their busiest days being Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Go for an early morning stroll and pick up something for an afternoon picnic.

3. Amedee Lighthouse Island
One of the tallest lighthouses in the world is located on one of the most beautiful stretches of reef in the world! Today there are day trips to Amedee Island where guests can visit the lighthouse, take a trip in a glass-bottom boat to witness the magical underwater sea life or go snorkelling with turtles. This is considered a “must visit” during your stay in Nouméa.
4. Chomp on chocolate
Who doesn’t like chocolate? Get your tasty fill as you learn about the chocolate-making process in Nouméa at Chocolats Morand. Try them all to determine your favourite and come home bearing gifts – if they make it back uneaten, that is!
5. Swim, dive or snorkel in the Lagoon
Snorkel and swim through the crystal clear waters of the South Lagoon, surrounded by New Caledonia’s claim to fame: the 2nd longest double-barrier coral reef in the world (second only to the one in Belize, Central America). A picture is worth a thousand words, so go swim for yourself!
6. Nosh on nem
Save a few bucks and dig into the local street food! Located in shops known simply as “snacks”, you can find anything here, from fancy French food to strongly Asian-influenced menu dishes. An inexpensive and tasty favorite is nem, similar to a fried spring roll stuffed with goodies.
7. Hide out in nature
Grotte de la Reine Hortense is said to be the cave where Queen Hortense, wife of a local chief, hid in 1855 to escape inter-tribal conflict on the island. It is now one of the most visited and best maintained caves, where visitors can learn about the history and shine a light in the dark depths of the interior.
8. Be a pearl
Considered to be Tahiti’s specialty, New Caledonia offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the unique styles and colours of pearls and even purchase some as souvenirs to take home. Even if you walk in completely clueless about pearls, chances are you’ll be blown away with what you discover in a short visit to Maison de la Perle in Nouméa.
9. Fly high
Whether it’s from a whirling helicopter or a floating kite, why not see New Caledonia from a new perspective? Try kite-surfing lessons on Anse Vata beach or book a tour with Helitourisme for a birds-eye view of paradise.
10. Peer into the past at a local museum
Immerse yourself in history as you step out of the tropical sun and into the cool Tjibaou Cultural Centre, featuring displays of Kanak painting, sculpture and artefacts, as well as live dance performances twice weekly. Also open to visitors and well worth a couple hours is the New Caledonia Museum which provides a thorough introduction to Kanak and regional Pacific Islander culture.

So there's plenty to do in New Caledonia. Thank you for coming by and reading my entry. Please click on this link to visit more participants.

My 'From the Couch' series continues next week. Tune in Wednesday for my next recliner...

And this is a link for a Mills & Boon and WD Smith romance writing contest which closes mid July.

Monday 25 May 2015

From the Couch With Chrys Fey, including my review of Witch of Death.

Hi everyone!

Now wasn't Roland Yeomans entertaining as he spoke From the Couch! I hope you learned something you didn't know about him previously. Go to my next post if you missed him!

Now this week is a little different. I'm featuring Chrys Fey, beloved of many of us. Her blog (Write with Fey) posts are scheduled like a year in advance or something amazingly ridiculous, but it works for her! And we all benefit from very practical 'how-to' posts much of the time. 

Now, musn't dally, as because Chrys has launched her new story, Witch of Death on May 20th, this post is going to be a bit longer than usual. Long posts are a joy to me to read, but I know many of you get itsy after a couple of hundred words. Just skip to the salient bits!


The word that best describes me is...
Determined. When I set out on a new goal, I head toward it with all I’ve got.

My favourite smell is...
Baking bread. Oh it’s the best! Especially if it’s banana bread.

A song that gives me goosebumps is…
Somewhere by Within Temptation. Seriously...listen to it!

My favourite movie of all time is...
Little Women with Winona Ryder. I’m a huge fan of Louisa May Alcott and love Jo!

My first job was...
Going door-to-door trying to get subscriptions to the Florida Today newspaper. Yes, I was one of those annoying kids. I hated it because I didn’t like talking to strangers, but I was the best seller because everyone thought I was sweet. ;)

I began writing when I was...
Twelve years old and found a rusted screw with a crooked tip in the grass next to my house. For the strangest reason, I got a story idea while looking at that pathetic screw. It was essentially the key to my creativity. I started writing a story right then and there and never stopped.

My most treasured possession are...
The notebooks of the first series I ever wrote. I was twelve when I started the series, after I found that magical screw, and I was seventeen when I stopped writing the series. I stopped because I ended up rewriting them, but I can’t even throw out the original books. Those notebooks were a huge part of my childhood.

Books I loved as a child:
Are You My Mother? By P.D. Eastman, the Little House on the Prairie books, and Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.

If you are a writer, tell us about your latest project.
I recently published two short story eBooks Ghost of Death and Witch of Death. Right now I am working on book three in my Disaster Crimes series. As a matter of fact, I just sent book two (to follow Hurricane Crimes) to my publisher. My fingers are crossed.

What is your writing plan?
To finish my Disaster Crimes series. The next four stories will all be novels and available in print, which is awesome since I’ve only published short stories and novellas in eBook format. So I’m thrilled about that. I also hope to publish a couple of short stories to go with things already available. But those stories are still secrets. ;)

Where do you do most of your writing?
Either on the couch while watching TV or at my desk with my headphones plugged in and strapped to my head. I’m one of those writers who like sound.

I relax by...
Plopping down on the couch with a good book, hot tea, and some chocolate.

The point of life is...
To try. We all go through hard times and traumas, we all fail and fall, we all have dreams and goals, we all experience grief and heartbreak, but we just never stop trying...trying to strive, love, and live.


Firstly, Chrys is a great writer. I read so much, (52 books so far this year!) but am not enamored of reading e-books (so I'm pleased that Chrys is going into print soon!), but I did sweep through Witch of Death. Chrys had me hooked from the get-go.


Chrys is, in my opinion, a writer who has learned her craft. I'm a sucker for wonderful imagery. Description delights me. And Chrys has mastered the art.

For example, CHAPTER ONE begins:
"The moon was a ceramic bowl overflowing with milk in the amethyst sky, and all the stars were sugar crystals." Nice scene setting, isn't it, but you just know things aren't going to stay nicey nicey in Chrys' spellbinding story. Skip down a few lines: "At the end of the street a tidal wave of white fog billowed over the black pavement...and crashed into houses..." Oops. Not good. Then..."Inside the deflated cloud a woman manifested..." And so the story gets underway and continues with relentless suspense. 

This is a magical love story. All excellent stories have a romantic element I think. We are human after all, well most of us are, and we like to see love overcome obstacles. Liberty Sawyer and Detective Reid Sanders have a mountain of obstacles to overcome if they are going to have a crack at the happily-ever-after. 

There's a witch causing mayhem in the town, and Liberty is the only one with any idea of the modus operandi of this evil murderer. Obstacle number one, Reid, no believer in what he can't touch or see, marks Liberty as the number one suspect, even while she uses her skills as a witch to fight against time to solve these horrific crimes. It doesn't help her case that she looks like your typical evil witch: "Black hair fell from a rigid part in the middle of her scalp to her hips. Her eyes were a soul-stabbing blue and her lips were blood-red". Ooh, aah! 

Will Liberty solve the crimes in time to save herself? Will Reid come to respect her magic abilities and work with her instead of against her? Will they stop this rampaging witch before Liberty loses her life?

Pick up Chrys' story to find the answers. You'll love it!

My only criticism is that it's too short! I want to read more about Liberty and Reid!

Here's the blurb:

Image result for chrys feyDetective Reid Sanders doesn’t believe in the supernatural, but when he’s faced with a crime scene that defies the laws of nature, he has no other choice but to start believing. And solving a magical murder involves working with a witch.
Liberty Sawyer embodies the look of your classic evil witch, so, it’s no surprise when she uncovers the murderer is a witch that she becomes Reid’s number one suspect. If she can’t convince him otherwise, more people could lose their lives to dark magic, including her.

Book Links:


Title: Witch of Death
Author: Chrys Fey
Genre: Supernatural/Suspense
Format: eBook Only
Page Count: 45 (short story)
Release Date: May 20th, 2015
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press


Chrys Fey is the author of Hurricane Crimes and 30 Seconds. She is currently working on the sequel to Hurricane Crimes that’ll serve as book two in the Disaster Crimes series.

When Fey was six years old, she realized her dream of being a writer by watching her mother pursue publication. At the age of twelve, she started writing her first novel, which flourished into a series she later rewrote at seventeen. Fey lives in Florida where she is waiting for the next hurricane to come her way.
You can connect with her on Facebook and her blog, Write with Fey. She loves to get to know her readers!

Author Links:

Thank you dear readers (sorry, just re-read Pride and Prejudice with a student) for coming by today for From the Couch with Chrys Fey, and to support her as she launches her new story. Please leave a comment. Both Chrys and I would love to hear what you think!

Now, who's next to recline on my couch? Come by next week to see! On May 30th I'm participating in Lexa Cain's SUMMER bloghop!

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Tuesday 19 May 2015

From the couch with Roland Yeomans.

Hi everybody!

I'm glad you enjoyed reading Ann Carbine Best's 'From the couch' last post. Today we have the passionate mysterious writer who hails from down near New Orleans, Roland Yeomans. Roland and I have been blogger friends for years. I've enjoyed reading/reviewing many of his stories and have hosted him previously. These days I can't keep up with his releases. It was hard nailing down this mysterious spirit, but I used my super powers. 

The shadows weighed heavy on us, as to our left Diana Krall was playing “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”  It was Meilori’s after all … it could have been the ghost of Billie Holiday singing.

Denise shivered, “That Indian pulled me through my mirror to here! Considering I transported all the way from Oz it was no picnic!”

I shrugged, “That Indian was Apache actually.  You wanted to ask me some questions.  I wanted to do it on home ground.”

Denise flicked on her tape recorder.  “So, Roland, let’s get this party started so I can get back to Oz and write it up in time for this week's post! First question: What is your most vivid childhood memory?”

“Being abandoned in Detroit by my father on a street many called Skid Row when I was six  … running after his car, screaming, ‘Daddy! Daddy!”

“Bugger! I've heard that story before, but it doesn't get any easier with time. How long before you were found?”

“Six weeks.  I was taken under the wing of a street person, Maudie, and her little dog, Tufts.  I pay tribute to them in my FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE.”

Product DetailsDenise looked away, dabbed her eyes, then said, “I loved that book. I think it's her spirit who turned up on the image I created for you and erased yours. Funny that. Now, back to business, what is your most treasured possession?”

I smiled sadly, “My honor.  Everything else can be taken away from you, but you have to give up your honor yourself.”

“Hmm. What is the word that best describes you, Roland?”


Denise shook her head at me.  “Here’s a question you can’t be existential about: what is your favorite smell?”

I grinned, “The new car scent since I smell it so seldom.”

Denise arched an eyebrow.  “Then I won't tell you about my smashing new Suzuki X-Cross. Moving right along. What is the song that gives you goose bumps?”

I tipped my Stetson to the ghost of Lauren Bacall as she strolled by with her husband, Humphrey Bogart.

La Marseillaise when I watch that scene from my favorite movie, CASABLANCA.”
Denise said, “I can see where it would be.  I love La Marseillaise when they sing it in the stadium before the French rugby team loses to Australia. Their anthem beats ours hands down even if their players aren't quite up to the mark. Now, I see in the notes here that your first job was working at a movie theater. Is that right?”

“Yes, actually it was, but it was way past the time of black and white movies.  It was the time of George Lucas.”

“Fancy that." Denise shuffles her papers. "How did you get into writing novels, Roland?”

“I started into writing by the lure of reading.  As an elementary school student, I was lured into the magic of myth by Edith Hamilton’s MYTHOLOGY.  In junior high school, Beau Geste, Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Fu Manchu, and John Carter of Mars hooked me into fantasy and science fiction.”

"Go on."

I smiled sadly, “I remember being entranced by the movie, THE THIRD MAN, I watched one Saturday night on a Golden Oldie marathon.  I handed in a short story fashioned after it to my English teacher.  You would have thought it was bleeding to death when I got it back with all the red slashes on it.”

Denise smirked. "Those English teachers can be vicious with the blood-red pencil."

I rubbed my lips with the back of a thumb.  “But I’ve always been stubborn.  So I kept right on writing through junior high to today.  Thankfully when my home burned down all those early stories and novels went up in smoke!”

“I'm glad you coped. So, Roland, what books recently have you been unable to put down?”

“The LONGMIRE mysteries by Craig Johnson: a sheriff at the end of his tenure in Wyoming tries to solve murders while attempting to ignore Native American flashes of the supernatural that will not let him alone.”

“And what is your latest book?”

“Glad you asked that. CARNIVAL OF THE DAMNED: an existential take on the Hero’s Journey that’s a meld of THE WALKING DEAD, Lovecraft, and Ray Bradbury.  I can just see my old English teacher getting her red pencil out!”

Denise cocked her head, “Now listen, remember you're speaking to an English teacher here. Mind  your mouth! Now speaking of existential: what do you think the point of life is?”

“Since life is infinite, the meaning to it is also infinite.  Our finite minds cannot grasp it.  But that should not stop us from trying to understand the world around us. Perhaps, there is only the meaning each of us gives to our lives, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person. What did Robert Louis Stevenson write?  “To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.”

Denise got out a large white handkerchief and mopped her sweaty brow a bit like Pavarotti used to do after a performance, “Thanks for the interview, Roland. I knew you’d be hard work. Now how do I get out of here?”

So folks, I hope you enjoyed today's 'From the Couch' with Roland Yeomans. Stay tuned for next week's reclining personage on Monday, May 25th! I wonder who she/he will be?

Here is a link to Roland's Author Page on Amazon. Looks like he has 19 stories available. He's a spirit all right!
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Wednesday 13 May 2015

From the couch - bloggers share an intimate peek into their lives. Today I welcome Ann Carbine Best.

Hello everyone!

I'm starting a new series incorporating some of my favourite people, bloggers! I've sent out some random questions, hoping to receive some interesting/inspiring/funny/poignant answers. 

The first blogger guest who agreed to recline on the couch and come up with answers to my questions is a long-term blogging friend, well known to many, Ann Best. It's her birthday today, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY Ann! Here's your present from me!!

I first hosted Ann just before she got her publishing contract with WiDo Publishing. Her memoir, In the Mirror...met with high, followed by steady, sales. In Ann's words, "I find it amazing that this is its 4th year anniversary. It recently dropped in the Amazon ratings from Page 2 to Page 5 (out of 400+ pages) on memoirs..." Ann believes the success of her memoir has a lot to do with timing, but really the ongoing success amounts to more than good timing I think.

So it is with great pleasure I say thanks Ann for agreeing to tell it like it is from your couch!

FROM THE COUCH WITH… Ann Carbine Best, Author of In theMirror: A Memoir of Shattered Secrets.

A vivid childhood memory is… 
As a teenager in Salt Lake City in the 1950s, I and my late beloved sister would ride our bicycles up and down the streets in the eastern part of the city. These were second-hand bicycles our father found for us, the kind with tires that had inner tubes you had to keep pumping air into. When he brought them home, I talked my easy-going sister into taking the bicycle that I knew was the most difficult to pump. She was a good sport, and we laughed about this in our later years.

My most treasured possession is …
Ancestral stories from both of my parents’ lines that my mother first laboriously typed on an old Underwood typewriter for my first family history book.

The word that best describes me is …
Persistent. Maybe tough.

My favourite smell is…
Lilacs. They were first to bloom in my parents’ backyard those long-ago summers.

A song that gives me goosebumps is… All the dramatic songs from Les Miserables as performed at Prince Albert Hall.

My favourite movie of all time is…

My first job was… After-school typist of invoices for an insurance agent (using not a computer but a typewriter in 1957-58).

I began writing…
...stories when I was in first grade (1946). Poems when I was in high school (1956-58).

Books I loved as a child… Nancy Drew mysteries. Anne of Green Gables. I also liked whatever was current in murder mysteries. I’d have to look up their titles online as I can’t remember any of them now, over fifty years later.

Books I couldn’t put down recently… Flying with a Broken Wing by Laura Best, and The Catacombs by Jeremy Bates.

Books that I enjoy are… Memoirs. Thrillers. Murder mysteries. But at this time in my life, I’m interested in non-fiction, especially ancient history which includes anything Jewish and Biblical, and an ancient record called The Book of Mormon.

If you are a writer, tell us about your latest project…
I thought I might write or try to write a second memoir aimed at publication. This one would be based on my life as a caregiver to my disabled daughter. It would be about our “spiritual” experiences together, experiences that are the center of everything we are and have become. But I’ve discovered that trying to write this for a wider (possible) audience is very frustrating, so I’m just going to relax and write it for family and close friends.  

What is your writing plan?
I’ve got many, many scenes already written, and the others wriggle in my head. I just have to discipline myself to write something each day. Will see how that goes J

Where do you do most of your writing?
In front of a computer, usually the one in the corner of the living room in the small duplex that I share with my daughter Jen.

I relax by…
Watching movies and series that stream through Netflix. Jen and I have watched all the Leverage episodes, and now we’re working through the modern remake of Hawaii Five-O. It’s fun.

The point of life is…

For me, one of the points of life is to gain knowledge, especially knowledge of God.

Thanks so much for sharing with us today Ann. Hi to Jen! 

  • I hope you enjoyed spending time with Ann. If you're burning to recline on the couch and answer my questions, please email me: or drop a few answers in the comments below!