Of A Book Tour: The Curse Of Time

GuestPost:

The Curse of Time M. J. Mallon

If you were having coffee with me, we would have a quick chat with MJ (whom is neither Michael Jackson nor from Spiderman)  and a sneak insight into the characters from her up coming book Bloodstone Book 1 The Curse of Time……….

Bloodstone Book 1

Book 1 – Bloodstone

Thank you to Beaton for inviting me to guest post on his blog today.

It’s a delight to be here, I have enjoyed following Beaton for a good old while and I think we seem to share a similar sense of wacky humour.

I’m delighted to share with you my novel The Curse of Time – Book 1 – Bloodstone a YA/middle grade fantasy set in Cambridge, UK.

If I was to pick a character or two that Beaton would enjoy I’d guess I’d start with Ryder my male protagonist, a narcissistic fellow who prefers to hang about in the shadows. He’s charismatic, beguiling, a curious young man with a mysterious side.

There are several young ladies in the story who might engage his interest too: Amelina, the main character is artsy, and magical, the mirror girl Esme will pull at his heart strings. Super confident Jade, jokey Ilaria, or serious, thoughtful Joselyn could capture his heart. Don’t forget gossipy Aunt Karissa who will undoubtedly make him laugh, as will her daft dog Toby.

Surely he will love the sleek black cat character: Shadow?

I expect he will be intrigued by The Grasshopper of the Chronopage?

If he’s a family man he will be curious to find out more about the terrible fate that has befallen Amelina’s  mum and dad…

There are a whole bunch of characters in The Curse of Time – I love them all and hope you will too.

Bio:

I am a debut author who has been blogging for three years: mjmallon.com. My interests include writing, photography, poetry, and alternative therapies. I write Fantasy YA, middle grade fiction and micro poetry – haiku and tanka. I love to read and have written over 100 reviews: A-Z of my book reviews

My alter ego is MJ – Mary Jane from Spiderman. I love superheros! I was born on the 17th of November in Lion City: Singapore, (a passionate Scorpio, with the Chinese Zodiac sign a lucky rabbit,) second child and only daughter to my proud parents Paula and Ronald. I grew up in a mountainous court in the Peak District in Hong Kong with my elder brother Donald. My parents dragged me away from my exotic childhood and my much loved dog Topsy to the frozen wastelands of Scotland. In Bonnie Edinburgh I mastered Scottish country dancing, and a whole new Och Aye lingo.

As a teenager I travelled to many far-flung destinations to visit my abacus wielding wayfarer dad. It’s rumoured that I now live in the Venice of Cambridge, with my six foot hunk of a Rock God husband, and my two enchanted daughters. After such an upbringing my author’s mind has taken total leave of its senses! When I’m not writing, I eat exotic delicacies while belly dancing, or surf to the far reaches of the moon. To chill out, I practise Tai Chi. If the mood takes me I snorkel with mermaids, or sign up for idyllic holidays with the Chinese Unicorn, whose magnificent voice sings like a thousand wind chimes.

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You can find MJ on various pages of the interweb

Amazon Author Page

Website mjmallon.com

Facebook Group to help support traditional and indie writers. #ABRSC: Authors/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club on Facebook

Instagram: mjmallonauthor

Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon and Twitter: @curseof_time

Facebook: M J Mallon author

Tumblr: MJMallonauthor

She has devoted the past few years to writing over 100 reviews on Goodreads Review Account

~B

PS I must confess to being super curious and cant wait to read this…. its like being regular curious but I wear a cape

 

 

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Of Serendipity: A Series Of Fortunate Events

Guest Post

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Being someone who is interested in various sciences, I try to project a rational image to the world. But I encountered a set of coincidences during a recent trip to Belize that seemed too perfect to happen by chance. It almost felt as if some invisible force was organizing the flow of events; putting me exactly where I needed to be at the right times.

I recently spent six weeks in Belize. During the first half of this trip I was participating in an archaeological field school: living in a subtropical rainforest and excavating Mayan ruins. Once that program ended, I spent another three weeks traveling on my own. During this time I was learning about jaguar conservation, whilst also looking for opportunities to perform my master’s research. It was during this phase that the most incredible coincidences occurred.

One of these events unfolded during my second week of solo traveling. At this point, I was living in Bella’s Backpackers hostel in San Ignacio. I had several people I wanted to speak with in the nearby capital of Belmopan, but I had been unable to find affordable lodging there. So I opted to stay in San Ignacio and bus back and forth.

Bella's BackPackers San Ignacio, Belize.

The common area at Bella’s BackPackers in San Ignacio, Belize.

One day, I went to the immigration office in Belmopan to extend my visa. I spent several hours waiting in line, only to be told that I had to come back later. Frustrated and exhausted, I began to wander aimlessly through town. Eventually I found myself standing in front of Everest Indian Restaurant. I love Indian food, and I had accidentally found the only Indian restaurant currently open in Belmopan. And the food was incredible.

While there, a British expat struck up a conversation with me. I told him about my inability to find cheap accommodations in Belmopan, and he immediately referred me to the restaurant’s owner: Raj Karki. Raj had a large house with a spare room, but he was not ready to receive guests. Fortunately, a couple overhead Raj and I talking. They informed me that they were staying at a place called Belmopan Tiny Homes, and that the rates were reasonable. They gave me the owner’s phone number, and two days later I had moved there. By a stroke of luck, I now had a place to stay in Belmopan.

Belmopan Tiny Homes; Belmopan, Belize.​

Belmopan Tiny Homes on the Outskirts of Belmopan, Belize.​

A few days later I awoke with an urge to visit Raj at Everest. When I arrived there, he said that he had readied his spare room for me. I could move in at any time, and for the same low rate I was paying at Belmopan Tiny Homes. I did so, and this ended up being the best decision I made in Belize. More on this later.

During my last week in Belize, I was still focused on trying to meet with key people in Belmopan. I had some downtime one day, so I went to Guanacaste National Park. After a fantastic hike, I stopped to chat with the staff in the visitor center. A man walked in whom they knew, and I began telling him why I was in Belize. When I mentioned my interest in jaguars, he told me that he was the site manager at the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. This is an important area for jaguars, and earlier I had regretted that I would not have time to go there. Now, by some bizarre coincidence, Cockscomb’s site manager was standing right in front of me. These things are not supposed to happen in real life! Despite the unlikelihood of this event, the most important coincidence was still to come.

Stream Guanacaste National Park

​A beautiful stream at Guanacaste National Park, just outside of Belmopan

It was now July 3, and my last day in Belize. After a morning meeting with the Belize Forest Department, I chose to spend the rest of the day with my friend Raj. That evening I saw Raj going to great lengths to plant fruit trees in an empty lot. I asked Raj what he was doing, and he replied that he had planted many fruit trees throughout Belmopan. Why? So that when the trees matured, everyone could enjoy their delicious fruits. No one would know Raj had planted them, but he did not care.

I suddenly had an epiphany. At that moment, I was witnessing the type of behavior that would create a better future. Raj did not fit the environmentalist stereotype: he was well-groomed and identified as a businessman. Yet here he was, unknowingly engaging in reforestation, simply because he wanted to help others. In that moment, I realized what my next major task was. I needed to find more people like Raj, learn how they became the way they are, and share their stories with the world. Perhaps then other people will be inspired to follow their examples.

Everest Indian Restaurant

While in Belize, I visited many incredible places. But it was here, outside of Everest Indian Restaurant, that I learned my greatest lesson. It came ​not from a scientific expert, but from a humble restaurant owner.

Whether due to fate, chance, or some other factor; my time in Belize was one coincidence after another. These fortunate events helped me overcome challenges, better my circumstances, and forge new friendships. But most important of all, they gave me a better sense of what my next mission is. I need to locate more exceptional people like Raj, and figure out what lessons they have for the world.

Bio

My name is Josh, and I am a master’s student at Humboldt State University in northern California. My deepest love is for the natural world, especially wildlife. But my educational background is in psychology, and I greatly enjoy speaking to and learning from other people. As such, I am trying to find away to contribute to wildlife conservation by specializing in working with people.

My hobbies include reading, writing, and anything dealing with the outdoors. I have also recently found out that I enjoy traveling, and hope to do more of it in the future. The same goes for photography, although I am a true beginner in that field. Lastly, I spend a great deal of time thinking about topics that have absolutely no relevance for my life.

Josh at Mayan site of Tikal in Peten, Guatemala.

Josh standing on top of Temple 4 at the Mayan site of Tikal in Peten, Guatemala.

To find out more about Josh’s “Belize adventures” and his wildlife study on the interweb go to:

Blog: TheJaguarAndAllies.com

Facebook: Facebook.com/joshua.gross2

Twitter: Twitter.com/Myusername432

~B

 

Of The Home Renegade’s Curry #MEATLESSMONDAYS

A Guest Post

The Home Renegade’s Vegetable Curry!!!

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I am not a “Home Cook”. The disaster I make in the kitchen, the absurd number of pots, bizarre amount of cutlery, and countless times I have to wipe down my counters is testament to that. When I cook, I am in a war zone, and I am the General sending my “troops” to inevitable victory. Because, I can cook. Very well. Just don’t call me a home cook… maybe, a Home Renegade. Because I am not prim and proper, or meticulous… I throw things in that pot and that pan, and BOOM (I’m shocked the explosion hasn’t been literal), a meal!!

So, I make it a point to do Meatless Mondays, just to get my people used to the fact that veggies do taste pretty good. This time, I had no idea what to make, I was way too lazy to go to the shops after work, cause all I was thinking of was getting to my hot stove and cooking (no, it was just because it was real cold!!). So with my measly haul of vegetables, I managed to make a pretty decent meal, I think. I mean, my husband and kid said it was nice; I’m not sure if it was true, or because I was giving them the scary mom eye that scares you into submission. In my defence, I had to make sure they ate their veggies…

So here is the “recipe:

Cooking oil

Curry powder

A mixture of vegetables (I had carrots, green beans, and butternut squash; at times I add cauliflower, baby marrow and sweetcorn) all chopped however you like

Onions (diced)

Tomatoes (diced)

Tomato Puree

Garlic

Salt to taste

I don’t measure a thing, I wish I did, then I’d be like a fancy chef on Masterchef who writes down their recipe before starting to cook. I’m a renegade guys! As long as it tastes good and is healthy, I am happy. How will I pass on my recipes to my kids though…?

Heat oil (a lot of oil, whatever a lot is to you) in a saucepan, and add onions and garlic. Cook till softened. Add curry powder at this point. (I just pour, till I’m happy… I need to start measuring things…). Add your tomatoes , and vegetables, and let simmer till tomatoes are mushy (forgot the culinary name…). Add tomato puree, water (water should be up there! *face palm*), and simmer for some time. ( I didn’t time it…). Add seasoning, and gravy thickeners if they’re your style and serve! Goes well with rice & rotis.

Curry.jpg

So here you go! If you wanna try Meatless (day of the week) in your house, here’s a recipe for you. And my son actually eats the vegetables! So maybe it’s a miraculous way to get kiddies to eat their veges!!!

Until next time… Your Quarter Wife.

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Bio

Rutendo Matongo (nee Sewani)

I love making lists! I love making lists with categories and subcategories! I’m not a neat person, but I love a compartmentalised life, where I can get information quickly. That was the inspiration for the Quarter Wife.  I love the nation of Zimbabwe! I live in Harare with my husband and son. When I’m not making lists, I’m working as a General Practitioner, and wondering which knitting project to start.

Twitter: @quarter_wife

Facebook: www.facebook.com/quarterwife/

Website: TheQuarterWife.WordPress.com

Thank you for joining do check out her blog you just might pick up an apple or two

~B

PS I cook in an almost similar fashion, and the good thing about it is no meal ever tastes exactly the same and the bad thing about it is No Meal Ever Tastes Exactly The Same.

 

Of Do what I want-Nots; Giving Advice

 Guest Post

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So during the beginning of this year, a friend, fellow blogger asked me if I would like to do a guest post on his blog. I got so excited. So happy to have been considered. Then I started to think: “What am I going to write about?” All these ideas started to run through my mind: “Well, easy, I will just write what I write about on my blog.”

You see, on my blog, I am writing about my writing, my book, and my projects. I just felt it not right to come as a guest and start doing the same thing I do on my blog. This had just been an opportunity I have been given to write anything. Then the writer’s block spell hit me. Giving up, I went on a vacation. Completely putting it out of my mind. Recently, I was reading his blog and saw a guest post. I thought to myself: “You know what? I can do this.”

I realised that I have a story that I would like to share. I know I didn’t want to do anything like on my blog. But hey,  story telling is my life. And here is my story.

Do What I Want-Nots

This is a story about the phrase “Do what you want” and how it got me into trouble. I know you think you can predict the ending but…just hear me out.

You see, I have developed a policy of not giving people advice. Instead I tell them to do what they want. Seriously, let’s face it, people are going to do what they want eventually. So that’s what I tell them. Interesting enough, people do not want to be told to do what they want either. They want advice. It is pretty weird that I can’t give people advice when they come to me, yet here I am after spending the last four years studying Psychology. You would think I could do better than that, don’t you? Well, you are wrong.

That is the same mistake people I know make. They think because I am studying Psychology, and in just a matter of three months I will be getting my degree in Psychology, I should be able to give advice. Yet all I tell them is to do what they want. Some of them would pause and look at me in total disbelief. Some of them would humor me and go, “Totally”. They are not really fooling me. I know they don’t mean, ‘totally’.I rant a lot. Let me get to the story I want to share with you today. This is the story about how my advice went wrong and all the consequences unfolded before my very eyes.

There is this girl, she was once my room mate. I really hope she doesn’t read this. ‘Cause I’m telling the story from my side, so it is going to definitely reflect badly on her side. But well… So she came to me sighing. I knew the sighing was a request for me to ask, “What’s wrong?”
So she told me that she really wanted to sign up for the Theatre Club but her friends were telling her not to.

“What should I do?” She asked.

Now me I’m trying to look all analytical but I know what I am going to tell her.

“I really want to join the theatre.” She added.

As a theatre kid myself, I would have told her to join the theatre. It is fun! That’s what I thought to myself. I would never tell anyone not to join the theatre. Then again, her friends probably knew her better than I did. Perhaps they knew how terrible she would be at acting. They did not want her to embarrass her self. Cut to me giving advice, after considering the confounding variables.

Just do what you want.” I said.

I thought she would read the clear message I was sending: “Don’t bother me with your friends-theatre drama”, but she did not get that.
No seriously I didn’t mean that. I was genuine with my statement. I really wanted her to do what she wanted to. However, unlike others who humour me and thank me for the advice, she wanted clarification.

What do you mean?

That was new. I never had to get out of my margins and explain what “what you want” meant. But I took the challenge.

I mean, you really want to join theatre, right?”
Yes.” She nodded.
You think that joining the theatre would make you happy, right?
Yes.
What about your friends? What will happen to them if you join the theatre?”

She didn’t have an answer for that.
I mean, maybe you will hurt your friends if you go to the theatre.”
No, it’s not about hurting them. I don’t know why they don’t want me to join.” She said. “They said that I always say I want to do something but then leave it in the middle.

Then it got too complicated for me. I did not want to be in a therapy, it began to feel like therapy. So I retreated to my old,

Then do what you want.

I saw the confusion coming back. So I tried to expagorate, “I can’t tell you what to do. You know what exactly makes you happy. I am not going to take your friend’s side and I am not going to tell you what you want to hear. I want you to choose for yourself what you want.”

Then I went on and made my mistake statement, “I always do what I want.”

“I understand, thank you.” I knew that she wasn’t humoring me. She actually meant it. Now I was scared of the smile on her face and of what she understood. But I never thought it would be that bad.

Later on those days everyone started to notice her transformation from an angel to a complete devil. She would play loud music, bang the door whenever she wanted to, she would leave her stuff scattered everywhere in the room. That was just unacceptable. Well, she did join the theatre. The rest of the girls decided to do an intervention. I really did not want to be included in the drama, so I stayed on my bed. With my ear phones on and listening to the whole thing. Of course I wasn’t playing anything.

Then the girl started talking with her voice all the way up. She was slamming the table and throwing everything away. I got so confused at what could have upset her that much. Then I heard the statement that stuck into my head.

I am sick and tired of putting other people’s feelings ahead of mine. I am done. I will do what I want.”

DO WHAT I WANT

DO WHAT I WANT

I lifted my eyes from the book I was pretending to read. Our eyes met and my heart tore. I knew with the glance at me that she was referring to my “advice”. I created a monster. That was not right. Everyone else gasped at that. Then one girl said the words that will make her never come to me for advice again.

“Do you hear yourself? Do you really think that is a good thing to do? Ignoring other people’s feelings? What had gone into you? You are not the girl that I knew all along.” They were friends way before she met me. I thought to myself, this is the lowest I will ever hit.

She misunderstood me. Do what you want, doesn’t mean do not consider other people. I meant it for productive things. Things like joining the theatre or maybe going shopping. For example me, I would do what I want when I know it is going to benefit me. Not doing any random thing just because I want to. Maybe sometimes I want to go for a walk but nobody else wants to, I will not sit around. As long as they are not holding my feet, I will definitely go for that walk. If I do something that annoys people, and they ask me to stop, of course I will stop.  When I get into a dilemma, that is when I pick what I really want. Or when there are more than one suggestion, then I pick the one that I want.

See, this is why I don’t want to give people advice.

Thank you for reading.

Alayina

 

Bio

Alayina.jpg

 

Alayina Halera, a Zimbabwean writer. I am a novelist, poet and reader. Favourite genre is fictional but I’m not that picky. An interest in writing fictional stories started when I was sixteen. That was when I set my goal to publish a novel. Way before then, I think when I was eleven, that was when writing became my hobby and quickly turned into a passion. So my blog has been a mixture of everything. I really do not have one thing I blog about. You’ll find articles, poems and about my writing projects.

Alayina blogs at Alayinah.Wordpress.com

**UPDATE**

This post has been pending in my drafts for a little close to three months, things came up, they always do, I never could quite find the time to finish and publish this guest post.. But today I scanned my newsfeed for unread posts; the first post I saw was hers I’ve completed My Studies

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Congrats and all the best

~B

Of Battle Of The Books

 

If you were having coffee with me……… we would be hosting a special guest author Candice Coates.

My dear friend Candice has two novels ready for publication Warden nor Nexus Gate 4037: The Animal.

She had an interesting dilemma of not knowing which one to get published first and so decided on an equally interesting concept of Battle of the Books where The Reader decides after reading teaser excerpts  from the books and completing a poll… the crowd favourite gets published first… sounds simple enough…

battle Sticker (1).jpg

We had an interesting chat with Candice about writing, books, battles and aliens grab a chair some coffee and join us……..

why a book battle?

The concept for the Battle of the Books came from my own indecision. First, neither Warden nor Nexus Gate 4037: The Animal are my first finished manuscripts, however, they are the strongest in my opinion. I chose to battle them because I was undecided about which should have the seat as my purchasable debut novel. The two tales are extremely different in character, but I recognize that the one published first may in fact set the tone for my audience. What better way to have the tone set than to have the audience decide.

-Whats in a name? How did you come up with the book titles ?

         Book titles are tricky things, aren’t they? I honestly believe that each tale named itself in a way. Whenever I think about either of them I think about them by the names they currently have. I’ve fooled around with other titles for Warden but nothing else seemed to fit. Nexus Gate is also titled ‘The Animal,’ since this book is a series, like Warden, but unlike Warden the story is told in a linear way. *SPOILER ALERT* Each additional title, like The Animal, is describing the character of Tucker John and where he is currently within his journey.

I know you would say you love both equally but …. is there one you are secretly hoping gets picked and why?

         You are right I do love them equally, but if I had to be the ultimate deciding vote for which would be published first, I would go with Nexus Gate 4037: The Animal. The concepts within this story, the struggle with morality, the confrontation with racism/colorism and just about any other ‘ism’ are relevant now, and honestly, has been for a while. This story deals with these issues in a straight forward, way but does so in a manner that allows the reader to be aware of the struggle but enjoy the growth and the flow of the story. I think I subconsciously told the story as an allegory for the mindsets of today. We are living in a world of extremist; people who are extremely ignorant of reality either because they are sheltered or by choice, people who are extremely hateful because of fear or how they have been cultivated. No matter which side of the spectrum a person is on, both are rooted in a form of fear, and when fearful people are the decision makers, the results are without a doubt devastating. The backdrop of the Nexus Gate shows you what that could potentially look like if fear wins from either end of the spectrum.

In short, comparing the two, Warden is an awesome ride of action and adventure. Readers will enjoy it, they will fall in love with the characters and the worlds created. But Nexus Gate will make the reader think, cause them to be a bit more introspective about their own views and thoughts and how they deal with people who are on opposing ends.

what happens to the one that comes second???????

        Even second place is a winner here. The second place holder will also be published but not for at least six months after the winner has had time to shine. Even now the second place holder is gaining a following and that is a good thing.

Do you ever get surprised at the way the story turns out? or that’s impossible every scene and plot is meticulously planned out on some vision board

   I am often surprised at how my stories tell themselves. I may have one idea but find that my characters have another. When I write I view myself as a stenographer. I type what the characters tell me. There have been times with stories I was working on that I was writing a scene straight from scratch and found myself literally yelling at the computer at the character whose scene I was typing, calling them stupid and asking them why they were doing what they were doing. I was appalled at their behavior but I just kept typing. Now, I do write out the ‘synopsis’ if you will, when I first catch the seed of a story, then I will type scenes as they come even if they are not in order. In which case, I save them in a file and work on the manuscript and when the story weaves in the direction of a previously written scene, I add it in.

if you could go back in time, to when you first picked up a pen, or was it typewriter what would you tell yourself?

I would tell myself to just have fun, and not to overthink the process. But I would also tell myself that there is a lot of work ahead, that the first draft is just that, a first draft of many. I would also tell myself not to have thin skin that every story is not for everyone and that is okay. Be confident in the work you’ve made no matter the negative feedback or silence that may come. If you’ve done an honest labor of love, be proud of that and celebrate the achievement even if only one person reads it. Perhaps the story was for that one person alone, and that too, is okay.

Early Bird or Night Owl

I am a struggling night owl. I’d like to get to bed earlier. For me, that is before 1:30am…most times I am in bed closer to 4am. I can get up early though without much issue BUT I will need a nap for obvious reasons. In my adult years, I’ve found that naps are indeed a blessing from God. Lol.

Tea or Coffee

Tea always. Coffee on occasion, especially in cake or ice cream.

lastly…. If aliens from the future, light years from now were to come to earth why should you be the first person they see before they ask to be taken to “our leaders”

Well, I am very hospitable and I think I would give them a good impression of Earth people. I am also pretty good with linguistics so communication might be easier for me. Also, who’s to say I’m not the leader 😛

candice

BIO: Candice Coates is a fiction writer, jumping from genres ranging from Speculative Science Fiction and Fantasy to Comedic Clean Read Romance and Drama, all with touches of her Christian faith. She is a lover of Ireland, tea, and just about anything with pistachios. When not writing she is creating visual art with pen or paint, or she is creating new designs for her handmade polymer clay jewelry line, Shizen Brook. To read more of her work you can find her at her author site, candicecoates.wordpress.com or icameforthesoup.com. You can also find out more about her and how to stay connected by going to www.about.me/candicecoates

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sticker.jpgThe battle of the books promo started on the 20th February and will run till the 25th of March pop by her site read a bit and vote wisely…..

~B

PS do hit us up and let us know what you think thanks a bunch…..

 

Of A Cake For Every Season

guest Of A Cake For Every Season no rhyme or reason…….. By CatMac

If I were having coffee with you I’d bring a cake. I’d probably bake you a gingerbread which is my current go to recipe. It is a very simple cake but I love the stickiness of it, the unexpected spiciness of it, the buttery melt in your mouth richness of it. I would add some candles so it could be a belated birthday cake.

I would tell you that cakes and baking have always been very important for me. That I come from a long line of bakers and how proud I am that my daughter has followed in the tradition. We don’t make the same cakes though so she isn’t quite following in my floury footsteps. I’m a messy baker 😉

I would tell you how no sooner had my daughter got off the plane after an 8h flight at Christmas than she was in the kitchen baking cakes to take to her former teachers/my colleagues at school the next day. That’s my girl.

I would tell you about an Internet article I once read about an amazing lady who made a cake every day for a year and gave them all away. I would love to be that lady but am too lazy.

I would tell you that I used to prefer cooking to baking. I enjoyed the anarchy of combining any old ingredient and seasoning “to taste”. With age, I find the careful measuring out, sifting and combining of ingredients involved in baking to be satisfyingly soothing.
I would tell you that baking has long been a way for me to gauge my mental state. If I don’t bake, there’s a problem. However sometimes I can go into baking overdrive which isn’t necessarily a good sign either. This has recently been the case as I left a school where I’ve been teaching for five years and pupils who mean a great deal to me. I’ve been coming home from school and baking cakes for the next day’s farewell party and the next and the next…And that the slight saltiness in the cakes might not just have been from the butter.

I would tell you that baking has long been a way for me to share my Scottish culture. I was once asked to talk about my country by my daughter’s English teacher and baked over 100 pieces of shortbread to give to pupils. In over 30° C heat. And 80% humidity. The shortbread didn’t stay crisp and crunchy for long. The pupils didn’t seem to mind though.
the very best shortbread recipe

I would tell you how cakes have become an essential teaching tool for me. My first classes most years are “Show and Tell”s. I show a cake I’ve baked and tell my pupils how important baking is for me. I also tell them how lucky they are that I chose to talk about baking rather than walking. My smelly training shoes are a lot less appetising than my cakes. Then we have cake and juice. Sadly, none of my pupils has reciprocated with a “Show and Tell” cake. There have, however, been medals won at sporting competitions, necklaces bought by now dead grandmothers, bracelets gifted by older sisters now living overseas…..cakes break the ice.

I would tell you how I’ve run conversation classes for colleagues in schools where I’ve worked and brought in cake and coffee. In fact, I arrived in a new school a couple of weeks ago where I found some former colleagues who have fond memories of my cakes. And me, I hope.

I would tell you how one year I set myself the challenge of finding a cake for each literary work I taught. Our first novel dealt with the First World War “Regeneration” by Pat Barker. How better to convey the horror of trench warfare to my 16 yr olds than with….Trench Cake, I thought. It worked, the cake was not good. I explained to the teens that rationing, being in force in GB at this time, meant eggs were hard to get hold of so vinegar and baking soda were substituted as a raising agent. One boy told me that his mother baked like that and this brought it back to me that times are hard and I counted my blessings.How to bake a first world trench cake

Our next work was “King Lear” and I brought in an edible test for students…Eerie Eyeball Pops! And yes, they had read the play and recognised what scene the pops referred to.
eerie eyeball pops
I left these in the fridge to the last minute-30°C heat-and warned my pupils to let them reach room temperature before trying to eat them. A former pupil joined our class so I gave him one and he bit into it before I could warn him. Fortunately, his very expensive dental work held up.

Our last work was “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad and guess what? I serendipitously found a “Heart of Darkness” cake recipe. A delicious chocolate sponge with a ganache centre. Which I baked in a heart shaped mould, of course.
Heart of Darkness Recipe

I was disappointed this year to discover that all Hardy’s “Far From the Madding Crowd” inspired in me was….Shepherd’s Pie. I also drew a blank at Shaw’s “Saint Joan”. I had no idea what to bake but knew it would have to be burnt 😉

I would also tell you about a cake which I didn’t bake. I walk a lot and talk a lot. I met an old lady to chat with returning from my walk one day. I’d see her regularly pottering about in her garden and we’d have wonderful conversations. Do not ask me what about as she didn’t speak French and I didn’t speak Créole. But neither one of us believed in letting the language barrier get in the way of a good conversation. One day I saw lots of people outside her house on my way past and was happy for her that her family was visiting. I didn’t walk for a while and when next I passed by, her house was closed. I asked her neighbor where she was…only to learn that she had passed away. I had added her to my list of “lovely people to make cake for” and sadly didn’t find the time to do it. I will always regret this.

I would tell you that I usually give photocopies of my recipes with my cakes. I like to think that in years to come, when I’ve left this beautiful Caribbean island behind and perhaps even shrugged off this mortal coil, a former pupil will bake one of my recipes for their child or grandchild and tell the story of a Scottish teacher who baked. Wouldn’t that be the most beautiful way to be remembered?

I would thank you for inviting me for coffee and we’d eat our cake, at last. I’d apologise and comment that my cake really wasn’t as good as usual and I wasn’t sure what went wrong. We’d both agree that the world would be a much better place if only more people sat down to tell stories, drink coffee and eat cake together…..

Bio: Catmac

Baker of cakes, devourer of books, walker, talker, petter of cats and dogs and alleged teacher of English. I live with my concierge of a cat in the French West Indies. I would like to thank the lovely Beaton for inviting me to drink coffee with him
Cat.jpg

 

 

~B

Thank you CatMac☻☺♥ you can find her Twitter

Of all the cakes The Heart  of Darkness cake is the most poetic…

I only just discovered her Birthday was a day before mine .. Happy belated birthday, better late than never and never late the better….. 

if we were having coffee we would be having a birthday cake ♥☻ because what are birthdays but an excuse to eat cake

Of FITTING

guest

Fitting by Josie Mills

You and Me
walking down the beach
just after dawn

The old people
walk up the beach into old age
you say
while we walk the other way
eternally young
eternally holding the hour
of walking down the beach
just after dawn

A woman
wrinkled dark and beautiful from the sun
picks up trash
you bend pick up some plastic
put it in her bag
and rinse your hands in the sea

You smile and greet each passerby
while I keep within our world together
and the evolution of beach animals
marks on the sand

You dart and chatter
while I walk quiet and straight
content just to have your hand
so fitting in mine

♥♥♥♥♥

Bio:
I’m Josie Mills, and I’ve been writing poetry since I was around 10 years old. I have a degree in creative writing with a focus on poetry writing. I teach writing now at a community college. I’ve had poems published in the journals Snakeskin and Mantis among others.I live in Denver, Colorado, with my husband, two sons, and our cat Moe :-). I write the blog Open Mind Fashion (OMF) for fun: http://www.openmindfashion.com or http://www.facebook.com/openmindfashion

OMF.jpg

 

~B

..and it happens to be her birthday today, Happy BIRTHDAY ♥♥♥ she wrote this piece awhile ago and I felt it had that je ne sais quois  for a birthday month and also February month of love ♥♥♥♥♥ 

also find her on Twitter for an interesting look at fashion tips for people without a closet full of money…

PS forever young ☻☺ 

Of Words and Red Dresses

Guest Post: Leeanna Lazenby

guest

The Importance Of Words And Red Dresses

Late at night, I laze about in a red lace dress pretending to be a diva and often take a stroll through my Twitter feed to see the latest poetry written by my online acquaintances. Okay, I don’t really wear such a glamorous outfit at all times but I do appreciate reading the talented words of many phenomenal people… and perhaps I should appreciate red dresses more than what I actually do. You will understand why I say this in a moment.

First, I must mention that I am sometimes lucky enough to stumble across Twitterers (as my Mother likes to call us) who have travelled across oceans to meet each other. They record their love affair or journey of meeting up through an exchange of one hundred and forty characters. The funny thing is, we have all done it. Most of us who are part of this tight-knit poetic community have connected with people from across the world in an uncanny, unexpected way. I, personally, have been blessed to find companions all over the place but there is one particular agonizing story that I have been longing to release and share. I was originally going to give the following account via Twitter but prolonged making it public as I was afraid that it could potentially bring my friend harm. I am not sure that I will ever be able to describe her extraordinary light in true form but I was then offered the opportunity to guest feature on this blog.

For this, I am very thankful as I now have a beautiful space to dedicate something to my lost soul sister. Thank you. As you read her tale, please know that I think of her daily.

Once upon a time but not too long ago, I opened a poetry account on Twitter as a way of recording snippets of my creativity. Naturally, I began to network and follow other like-minded individuals.

One day, a girl sent me a message and we exchanged a few words. We started to correspond frequently and eventually switched to emailing so that we could have more elaborate conversations. She was from Egypt and I, London. We were the same age so we could easily talk about boys, celebrities, fashion and life plans but it became much deeper too. We had lengthy discussions about the Higgs Boson experiments, scientific theories and philosophical viewpoints. We were unbelievably similar in countless ways but incredibly different for one catastrophic reason. She was oppressed whereas I had my freedom.  I could make my own choices in life. I was able to work, study, socialise and have friends. She, on the other hand, was confined to being kept at home by her extremely strict parents. They tracked her phone, did not let her have a bank account and withheld her passport in case she tried to leave for a better life. She was subjected to countless physical beatings and verbal insults on many occasions. She was not even able to take a walk since the city in which she lived was suffering from rioting, protests and violence. There was a lot of division between the inhabitants so it was dangerous to go out alone. She wanted to be herself but she was treated as an outcast by her family as they did not understand her personality or attributes.

This resulted in us having to communicate in secret. Sometimes, I would not hear from her for weeks on end but she would Skype/email as soon as she was able to. Her family did not want her to have a friendship with a “westerner” in case I was secretly a male and even when she showed them my photograph, they did not trust her to be telling the truth. They told her that a poet would corrupt her. I was a sinner for being creative. She was a sinner for associating with me.

Over time, she gathered money by any method that she could and kept it hidden. At one point, she managed to have an anonymous poetry book published on Amazon and was earning money through advertising via the online edition of her masterpiece. Her words were magnificent. She wrote in extravagant detail about mermaids and sea creatures without any hints of the daily struggles that she had to put up with in her own reality. She was planning to fight for her emancipation and have the life that she deserved. She was going to flee.

But then it happened. She could not see a way out and she became depressed. Hope left her. We spoke every night on a messenger and I tried to raise her spirits or at least restore her faith but she could not cope with what she had to experience. She attempted suicide. Not once but six times. Yes, six. They put her on medication and locked her away for months. I heard nothing. I thought she was dead.

Then, one day, I received a message from her. She told me that she was okay and that she had been sectioned in a mental institution for the entire duration of her absence. They were releasing her on the condition that she carried on taking the pills. She agreed but I know that she probably never swallowed them. You see, there was never anything wrong with her. The people at fault were her family and those around her. She was a creative type in a life where expression was forbidden.

She used to tell me every day how a woman like her could never be free in her world. It was wrong for her to be filled with passion. Can you even begin to imagine what that would feel like? She could not write, she could not take a walk in the park, she could not do any of the simple things that I took for granted. The most basic thing that she longed for was to be able to wear a red dress because I had one on in my photograph. In fact, I had one on in all of my photographs. She used to imagine that she was going to buy one from the shopping mall and have a collection of vivid lipsticks to match. She would joke that we would, one day, walk around London together and be the “red pair” without having to worry about what anyone thought of us.

She ended her email to me by explaining that my messages had kept her balanced throughout many of her traumatic experiences. She said that she had read my poetry every day and cherished the stories that we had shared with each other in our emails. She was very thankful that I gave her a sense of “normality” because we had our companionship. Her final statement to me exclaimed that my words filled with support/friendship could not have a value put upon them and that it was those very words that saved her life.

This was over two years ago now and I have not had any correspondence with her since. I have tried contacting her but her phone is disconnected, her Twitter is deactivated, her Skype account is permanently offline and the emails bounce back. I do not know what happened to her but she made me promise that if ever she disappeared, I would tell her story and be the voice that she never had. I cannot do her justice with my words but all I can say is this:

“There is a girl, location unknown, who writes of magical creatures and believes in freedom. She is one of many that is misunderstood but despite her sufferings, she is a strong person. Her mind is filled with creativity whilst her tongue whispers stories from her hushed dreams. And somewhere, in the depths of her beautiful imagination, she walks freely… swaying elegantly in her sparkling red dress.

I am forever thankful for all of the lessons, laughter and wisdom that came from this remarkable girl. Who knew that a mere poem on a social media outlet would bring such a wonderful person in to my life. She enriched me with a friendship beyond description.

Thanks to our poetry, two girls from opposite lives were connected and intertwined in a way that seemed impossible. You never know the power that your words will bring.

After looking over this, I would like to add that she is unaware of the impact she has had on my life. She always spoke of being courageous and having strength. She used to tell me, in her own way, that anything is possible and we have to follow our dreams. I can attribute many leaps of faith to her friendship and I only hope that she is out there somewhere experiencing her own slice of freedom.

—–

By Leeanna Lazenby

(Poet with the parrot and the red dress collection.)

***Please note*** I am aware that her individual circumstances are not a reflection of life in Egypt in any particular way. You could be anywhere in the world and experience a very strict family/upbringing. The mention of where she lived was entirely for context to highlight how we connected despite the distance between us.

Poet in The Red Dress.jpg

Lady in Red

Bio:

“Leeanna is a lover of taking bits and bobs from her head, dreaming of poems and making them in to tiddly chunks of art. Put them all together and you may just have a picture of what’s going on up in there.”

Leeanna wants to say a big thanks to @Beatonm5 for the opportunity to write on his blog. Thank you!


Thank you Leeanna it has been a pleasure having you, and thank you for sharing your story, words alone are not important its also having someone, to take a moment to listen…. When I have a story to tell that’s all I ask for, a listener.

Leeanna and her parrot can be found on the Twitterverse, tweeting poetry  @24LoveHeart24

~B

 

Of A Blessed Woman

A Guest Post 

I Am Blessed Woman by Raquel

I am a blessed woman,
not because am good,
but because am loved by the perfect  one.
The one who brings out the best in me.
He loved me in my imperfections and brought out the best in me.
He sets a stage before me and made me the star of it.
His love is so electrifying.
It brings out that which He has deposited in me, it flows like rivers of living Waters.
I am blessed not because I have all the riches in the world,
but am loved by the one who owns it all.
All I need do is ask.
Am blessed because I have a lover Whose name move mountains,
Whose words create things.
He is majestic, so powerful, second to none.
Nothing compares to Him.
Who can make come to pass when He commanded it not.
The seas bow before Him,
the storms obey His command,
the dead rise at the mention of His name,
Oh how blessed am l.
It is a celestial blessing,
a bless compared to none.
I love you lover of my soul JESUS.
I am a blessed woman because you made me.

I am blessed.jpg guest

A guest post by the blessed Raquel who featured on my last coffee chat Mused by a stranger. Funny story she says she is a little shy to share anything about herself to strangers but I say watch this space……..

~B

 

 

Of Coffee With A Musing Stranger

Africa

If you were having coffee with me, I would smile and say hi thank you for joining me, would you prefer tea, coffee or plain boiled water. I would ask you if you had a favourite mug; its not weird at all right having a favourite mug?

What did you get up to this past week?

Lets see, some local celebrity couple had a bit of a meltdown, some say it was a publicity stunt, some say it was real. I wont even go into it because I think they got way too media attention maybe I should blog my own melt-down. Just that the internet never forgets nor sleep or eat or have coffee for that matter, and when a private moment goes viral… it goes so epic that everyone has their two cents to say about it.

Speaking about the internet our dear old Postal and Telecommunications Regulation Authority company; POTRAZ decided to set a floor price of making the internet 2 cents a megabyte to protect the telecoms industry. A move which would see our data prices going up and we already have expensive internet. Econet Wireless went and increased their data charges significantly and people took to the internet and social media to protest the high data costs.  Econet passed the buck to POTRAZ, in a loaded press statement hinting to the effect that the Regulator, the Ministry of IT and the government in general creating an uneven playing field and also trying to restrict low data use  of  the internet as it contributes to abuse of social media (but people have read in between the lines as The Government trying to limit freedom of speech on the internet, elections coming up next year…)and they have since reverted back to the old tariffs and POTRAZ has suspended its internet floor price (for now) and The Ministry has in return warned Econet not to dabble in politics and to stick to its core business mandate…

If you were having coffee with me I would tell you I have a dream that one day the internet will be as basic as the air we breathe, free. I would tell you I have new muse, a stranger and Guest Blogger  I met thanks to the internet. Hailing from Nigeria; Raquel 

Mused by a stranger ~ Words by Raquel
I have been mused, mused by a stranger.
Didn’t your mama tell you not to talk to strangers?
But the stranger talked to me first, and it would be rude to ignore.
I am being mused, mused by a stranger.
I did talk to the stranger, a stranger from a land strange to me.
Strange enough I did like talking to the stranger.
Me being mused by a stranger.
What will it be?
Will it be good, fantastic or interesting?
Or will it be bad, ugly sad and regretful
I got to take the chance, for this stranger has tickled my fancy
AM MUSED BY A STRANGER

Thank you Raquel in musing you I muse myself, you can catch more of Raquel in my next post

Thanks for visiting and have an awesome week ahead

~B

PS how much does your internet cost you?