Monday, May 29, 2017
Welcome Dianne A. Noble. Instead of our usual interview, Dianne talks about her books…
The first time I saw Egypt I was seven years old and sitting on the deck of the troopship Dunera with my head buried in Enid Blyton’s Ring-o-Bells Mystery. I looked up when we docked in Port Said to see the gully-gully man. He was an Egyptian magician who fascinated everyone, young and old alike, and accentuated the other world atmosphere of this exotic country. As we sailed down the Suez Canal—much narrower than expected—Lawrence of Arabia figures seated on camels appeared on the desert banks. I can truly say Egypt was the first place interesting enough to get my head out of a book.
Three years later, in December 1957, the Canal had been closed, and we flew back from Singapore in an RAF Hermes plane. The journey took almost three days, stopping in several countries to re-fuel and de-ice the wings. This time there were no hot and vibrant sights and I didn’t see Egypt again until I reached my early forties, when I travelled by train from Cairo to Aswan, glued to the windows as we passed by villages which looked like they’d come straight from the pages of the Bible. My lifelong love affair with Egypt had begun, and I’ve been back many times. The last time, I visited the City of the Dead in Cairo, a necropolis which features in Oppression and houses many poor people.
This novel is the story of Beth who prevents the abduction of a young girl in a North Yorkshire town, but is powerless to stop her subsequent forced marriage. In time to come Beth travels to Egypt to search for the girl, Layla, and finds her living in the City of the Dead. Oppression is the tale of two very different women, both of whom are oppressed in their lives, and how they triumph despite the odds.
Outcast and A Hundred Hands
Ten years ago I volunteered to spend a winter teaching English to street children in Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, in India. While there I realised what it is I love about the country—it’s the people. Despite great deprivation they laugh and are joyful. This time in Kolkata proved to be the hardest thing I have ever done. Broken, crumbling buildings sit amid lakes of raw sewage; filthy children encrusted with sores are homeless; families live on a patch of pavement so narrow they take it in turns to lie down. They give birth—and die—there. Yet their indomitable spirit shines through.
I feared I couldn’t do it, felt my resolve dying daily amid the horrors and hardship, but I started writing a journal and it saved me. Every night, no matter how dirty and exhausted I felt, I recorded one child’s progress with the alphabet, another’s disappearance, how many times I’d been hugged. It was a form of de-briefing but also cathartic. It got me through and these diaries formed the basis for A Hundred Hands and Outcast.
India remains my favourite place in the world, and I re-visit whenever I can afford it. I have often thought about living there and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel rekindled that desire!
When she tries preventing the abduction and forced marriage of 16-year-old Layla, Beth defies her controlling husband, Duncan, and travels to Cairo where she finds the girl now lives in the vast necropolis known as The City of the Dead. She’s hiding from her abusive husband, and incites fellow Muslim women to rebel against the oppression under which they live. Beth identifies with this and helps her.
Cairo is in a state of political unrest, and Beth gets caught up in one of the many protests. She’s rescued by Harry, who splits his working life between Egypt and England, and they fall in love. When Harry returns home and Layla vanishes, someone stalks Beth, and threatens her with violence. And then Duncan turns up...
She woke in a fretful tangle of sheets, head thumping, hair plastered to her head, wet night shirt moulded to her body. Where am I? Her gaze moved from the window to the puddle of discarded clothing and she remembered. Of course. Egypt. Leaning over the side of the bed to retrieve her slippers, she held them at arm’s length and shook them, then pulled them on and got out of bed.
Sitting on the toilet with her feet in the air, she kept a watchful eye on the floor tiles but there were no more insects to be seen.
The shower worked first time. Maybe they turned the supply off at night because of water shortages. She let it run over her, washing away the stale perspiration and dirt, rubbed shampoo into her hair, rinsed it out and stood longer. How wonderful to be clean again. With a sigh of pleasure she eventually turned off the water and looked round for the towels. There were none. She sighed. Looked like nothing was going to be simple. She dripped her way into the bedroom and dried herself on a couple of T-shirts.
By the time she’d dressed, sweat again bubbled out of every pore. Looked like she’d have to learn to live with the noisy A/C as well as permanent electric light. Her clothes smelt of mothballs after a night in the wardrobe. Pity they didn’t work for cockroaches. She looked in the small mirror over the basin and ran a comb through her hair. The lump on her temple had receded leaving a swirl of purple and yellow.
Right, almost ready for breakfast. Her stomach rumbled in agreement as she walked to the window. The shutters were stiff, the catch rusty, reluctant. Perhaps they weren’t meant to be opened, but kept closed against the sun. With a small explosion of dust and rust flakes, she pushed them free and felt heat on her face, smelt donkey dung as she looked down on the heads of a hundred people milling round, women in headscarves, men bareheaded, black hair gleaming in the sun.
She craned her neck to see small wooden shop fronts looking like cabinets with shelves. The noise was ferocious: people shouting, donkeys braying, a motorbike backfiring. Across the alley, on the roof of a narrow ochre-coloured building a woman pegged out washing, her small child playing perilously close to the unguarded edge. Beth’s arms prickled with heat as she watched, until a triumphant bluebottle shot through a hole in the insect mesh and she quickly pulled the shutters closed, remembering just how many flies there were in Egypt. She’d have to buy a swat today.
Fastening on her wristwatch, she checked the time. Ten to nine. She hoped that she wouldn’t be too late for breakfast. It was going on for seven o’clock at home and she was glad not to be there. Instead she was happy to be starting out on her first day in Cairo.
Contact Dianne At:
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B071KY8BJ8
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071KY8BJ8
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Claire Marti @clairepmarti Finding Forever in Laguna Series #BeachRomance, #Contemporary Romance, #SecondChances
I’d like to welcome Claire Marti, author of the Finding Forever in Laguna series to my blog today.
RW: Tell us about yourself, your family, where you live, etc.
CM: I’m married and have three furry children. I live in Encinitas, California, a sleepy beach town about twenty-five miles north of San Diego. I majored in English at the University of Virginia, practiced law briefly, and transitioned into teaching yoga and writing full-time over the last few years.
RW: Who are your favorite characters among the books you’ve written?
CM: I’m editing my third book now. I adore all my characters, but my favorites so far are Alyssa and Brandt, the hero and heroine of At Last in Laguna, the second book in my Finding Forever in Laguna series.
RW: What makes a good book? A great romance? Is humor important in fiction and why?
CM: A good book has to transport you. I read primarily to step into a different world and I want to read something that forces me stay up late. I enjoy humor in fiction and think it has a place in all genres. Life’s a wonderful ride, with highs and lows. Humor’s a great way to navigate all of it.
RW: Would you like to write a different genre or sub-genre than you do now?
CM: Yes. Currently, I write contemporary fiction. I love history and am tackling a Regency series next, with three French sisters who are orphaned and must move to England to live with a guardian they’ve never met. I also plan on writing a mainstream novel with romantic elements set in 1920’s Paris.
RW: Who are your favorite authors? Who influenced your writing?
CM: I love Nora Roberts’ trilogies and have fallen in love with several of the Irish heroes. I also love The Highlander by Kerrigan Byrne.
RW: If I were a first-time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?
CM: I’d start with Second Chance in Laguna because it is the first in the Finding Forever in Laguna series and will set the stage for the next two books. That being said, I love At Last in Laguna, which will be coming out later in 2017.
RW: If money were not an object, where would you most like to live?
CM: Paris, Antibes, Kauai, and San Diego. I’d split my time between them all. I’ll have a private jet to transport the cats and dog too!
RW: What song would best describe your life?
CM: Eminem’s Lose Yourself. It’s about seizing opportunity and living each moment as if it is your last. I’m a big believer in doing it all now!
RW: Picture yourself as a store. Considering your personality and lifestyle, what type of products would be sold there?
CM: Love this question! I love yoga, animals, reading, the beach, and nature. Oh, and sweets. So, we’d have lots of yoga goodies, books in several genres including yoga/meditation/holistic health, romance, mainstream fiction, non-fiction travel and history and animals. Beautiful journals and writing implements. Treats for the cats and dogs. Delicious cupcakes, cookies, and chocolate. Did I mention cupcakes?
RW: Tell us about the scariest thing that ever happened to you.
CM: Several years ago, I attended a wedding in beautiful Banff, Canada. I rented a car and drove to the Chateau Lake Louise, where I would be Maid of Honor. On the journey, I hit black ice and my rental SUV spun into several 360’s across the highway. I hit a small divider and if it hadn’t been there, I would’ve rolled into a snow-filled ravine. By some miracle, I was uninjured. The car, however, was totaled. I’m forever on Budget Rent-a-Car’s blacklist. The shock set in later that day. Luckily, the champagne flowed freely at the wedding reception. To this day, I don’t like to drive in snow.
RW: Hunky heroes or average Joe?
CM: Hunky heroes all the way.
RW: Those are all the questions I have for you. Thank you for speaking to me.
SECOND CHANCE IN LAGUNA
When Sophie Barnes’s fiancé jilts her at the altar, her carefully-planned life implodes. Considering her ex’s betrayal to be a rude wake-up call, she leaves everything she knows in San Diego and flees to Laguna Beach. She vows to transform her life by avoiding men for a year and by fulfilling her dream of writing a wildly-successful novel.
Sophie’s new landlord, Nicholas Morgan, is a gorgeous, successful architect with a player reputation. He makes it tough for Sophie to remember that she’s sworn to be single. Nick’s avoided the intimacy of a long-term relationship—until Sophie’s independence, courage, and beauty touch his guarded heart. Both Sophie and Nick are terrified of being hurt again, but can they resist the pull of true love?
Nick arrived right on time, looking gorgeous in faded jeans and a plain white t-shirt. How did he always manage to start the butterflies fluttering in her stomach? Just by standing there with the setting sun framing him? She was in trouble.
“Hi beautiful, ready to go?” He clasped her face in his hands and planted a soft kiss on her lips.
Returning his kiss, Sophie wound her arms around his neck and deepened it. She couldn’t resist. His strong arms wrapped around her waist, hugging her close to his broad chest.
“Mmmm, feel free to greet me like that every time I come over,” he said, lips curved up into a sweet smile.
Heat washed her cheeks and she returned his smile. “Let’s go. Prepare to be blown away by the movie snack of the century.”
Determined to keep things light and enjoy the movie before “the talk,” Sophie thrust down the lick of panic bubbling in her gut. She’d accomplished next to nothing all afternoon, instead wrestling with whether she needed to tell him about Doug.
The angel on her shoulder whispered to tell him because if they were going to have any kind of relationship, even a friends-with-benefits one, honesty and trust were vital.
The devil urged her to zip it. They’d only known each other a few weeks. What if he lived up to his “Player of Laguna” reputation and expected only a fun fling? Even though he seemed deeper than that. What if she scared him off with a premature talk?
ABOUT CLAIRE MARTI
Claire Marti started writing stories as soon as she was old enough to pick up pencil and paper. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Literature, Claire was sidetracked by other careers, including practicing law, selling software for legal publishers, and managing a non-profit animal rescue for a Hollywood actress.
Finally, Claire followed her heart and now focuses on two of her true passions: writing romance and teaching yoga. Her debut, Second Chance in Laguna, released from The Wild Rose Press on March 31, 2017 and is the first in the Finding Forever in Laguna series.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Claire-Marti/e/B01N9VOWLL/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Posted by Rochelle Weber at 11:30 PM