Thursday, 17 September 2020

Back tracking 2019 - 2018 (?!)

As it's that time when one reviews the year, I thought it was about time I got my act together.

If you have visited here recently, it might seem that I have been dormant for two whole years and you'll most likely have scooted off to more prolific writers/bloggers. My statistics have dropped, both in blogging and writing. That was a conscious choice. My health was suffering (too many sleepless nights creeping up on me) and I needed to devote myself to family and paying work (which I've had to literally double the hours of, what with wage cuts and crazy taxing.)

So here are the last two years in review (an easily condensed version)!

Stemming from my steampunk interests I've been sewing a whole bunch of things, all shamefully unfinished, apart from a Victorian style choker and a cute hat. The former is made out of a remnant of lace scooped up from the floor of a local seamstress and the latter was a gift from a friend which, if I am honest, I would never have worn as a simple everyday hat, though you will rarely see me without one in the winter! I've also altered several modern pieces to make more vintage styled items.

From steampunk I ventured into historical fashion and rediscovered my love of the 1920s/30s/40s. I have been trawling You Tube vintage fashion videos/vloggers and gone full circle to Costubers. (My Christmas cooking was accompanied by binge watching Costubers Secret Santa.)

What about the writing you ask? Well the list of published works between 2018 and 2019 is significantly short, but here goes:

December 2019 - , 'Hoodwinked' in Southern Steam Tales from Port Reprieve 
May 2019 - 'Make Do & Mend' Trembling With Fear
March 2019 - 'Forget Me Not' Trembling With Fear

October 2018 - 'No Ordinary Game' & 'Acceptance' in Trembling With Fear Year 1 anthology
August 2018 - 'The Arrangement' in the Dark Voices charity anthology

What does 2020 hold?

According to numerology 2020 is a year of "vision and accomplishment" and of manifesting one's dreams. Am I asking too much? Probably, but I can try!

I have three major rewrites, all of them old but good and in need of some love before I send them out into the world. I won't say what because if I talk about a project it never seems to get done.

Other than those, I have a plethora of short stories floating around which need tidying and submitting. So I am still writing though I have taken it down a pace or two hundred.

Whatever you are up to and whatever you plan, I hope 2020 is a great year for you!


Three things... 
1. Obviously the whole world has been turned up-side-down with Covid-19 since I wrote this post and I simply didn't get round to publishing this post. I thought it was rather peculiar looking back and decided to share it with you despite it being a 'little' after the fact!
2. Please note the comment at the end of February's blog post. Unknown, were you talking from the future?

3. I hope you and yours are well and coping in light of all that's going on.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Mutiny on the Moonbeam by Rie Sheridan Rose - Reviewed*

At some point in time you may have mused on the romantic idea behind pirates, adventure on the high seas, stolen loot and buried treasure. Rie Sheridan Rose takes those romantic notions one step further in her fantasy novel Mutiny on the Moonbeam, published by Mocha Memoirs Press.

When Branwyn St. Clair stands up to her step father and stows away aboard the Moonbeam, she doesn't realise that it will lead her to to a life of adventure and pirating. Johnny Pate, the only human on the elven crew tries to keep her safe, but there are forces working behind the scenes that bring them together in ways which even they can't imagine.

Throughout her blog tour, Rie Sheridan Rose has elaborated on the characters and their inspiration and motivation. I didn't read any of it until I got to the end of the book and to writing this review - it's like watching the film before reading the book - for me that just won't do! The characters pull you in and drag you helter-skelter through the adventure with them. Bran is feisty and determined, Johnny is bashful and love-struck, Captain Aidrian is cool and aloof (curiously, I imagined him as a Ralph Fiennes type, quite different to Rie's idea!) and the evil Leac is just plain selfish and mean. There are fairies too flitting throughout the story, driving it along. I will not write too much about them as they are somewhat of a surprise and you will enjoy discovering them as you read! Queen Mab lurks in the darkest corners of the ship and the story but her finale is the best of all and you too will grow to love her.

I thoroughly enjoyed Mutiny on the Moonbeam; it's a quick read and suitable for lovers of romance, fantasy and young teens too.

Learn more about Rie Sheridan Rose on her website.

To get your copy of 'Mutiny on the Moonbeam' click here for the USA , here for the UK or here for Australia

*I was given a copy for review, by the publisher.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Mutiny on the Moonbeam by Rie Sheridan Rose

Ahoy m' hearties! It is my honour that Rie Sheridan Rose, author, poet, lyricist and editor has decided to kick off her blog tour for her latest Fantasy Romance novel, 'Mutiny on the Moonbeam', right here on Through the Eyes of a Stranger. I've been lucky enough to have been granted a sneak preview and I can tell you the book's a fantastic read (but more on that in the coming week), so without further ado, let me hand over the reins!

Why Do We Love Pirates?

Long before Jack Sparrow took to the High Seas, readers (and viewers) have had a love affair with pirates. From Disney fare like “Blackbeard’s Ghost” to the swash-and-buckle of Errol Flynn, something about these buccaneers has captured the imagination.

It’s not like real-life pirates were anything to romanticize. They robbed many a ship, killed more than their share of sailors, and probably lived a fairly filthy existence if we are honest about it. Still, they have wormed their way into the hearts and minds of the public from the dawn of popular culture.

According to Wikipedia (and we all know that’s the definitive source) the first book to popularize piracy was written in 1724 by Captain Charles Johnson. Called A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates, this work has provided many of the biographies that we know today for the Golden Age of Piracy in the late 17th, early 18th centuries. It features Anne Bonny, Edward Teach, and many other famous—or infamous pirate names.

This book provided source material for some of the most recognized fictional pirates of all time—among them Long John Silver and Captain Hook.

In film, pirates feature all the way back to The Black Pirate starring Douglas Fairbanks in 1926. There has been at least one pirate movie every decade since.

What makes these masters of mayhem so enduring and endearing?

Personally, I think it is their sense of freedom. They have their own code, and bow to no man’s will. They do what they like, take what they want, and destroy anyone who gets in their way. Don’t we all wish life could be a little more like that sometimes? After all, Johnny Depp makes it look like so much fun…

My elven pirates in Mutiny on the Moonbeam are more bored aristocracy than anything else. They feel that the elves are stagnating in their culture, so they want to go out and find adventure. This doesn’t sit well with the Court, and now they are outlaws. But, for the most part, they have a highly idealized sense of what it is to be a pirate themselves. Lots of velvet and gentility abound aboard the Moonbeam.

Thanks Rie!

Learn more about Rie Sheridan Rose on her website.

To get your copy of 'Mutiny on the Moonbeam' click here for the USA , here for the UK or here for Australia

If you want to follow the 'Mutiny on the Moonbeam' blog tour here are the dates:
July 24 - Through the Eyes of a Stranger
July 25 - Mocha Memoirs Press Blog
July 26 - I Smell Sheep
July 27 - Rie Sheridan Rose
July 28 - Perfectly Paced Reads
July 29 - Carole Ann Moleti
July 30 - Mocha Memoirs Press Blog

Friday, 12 July 2019

Upon death and other matters.

So here's a ramble of the kind I don't do so often. I set 2019 as a purge year - no don't go thinking I've been running riot on the streets dressed in carnival costumes while I gleefully find ways of slaughtering everyone who so much as piqued my anger. I've been clearing out the physical cr*p in my life. I'm no fan of the KonMari method, but any fool can see that when your house is cluttered so is your life! My house is full of four generations of such clutter, not all of which I can dispose of. So, that means I've been clearing out stuff from my own past mostly, or at least re-ordering it. This in turn has lead me to contemplate everything I've done thus far, as well as all the places I've been and the people I've met. And I've been thinking about getting old - I'm at that stage and it's been in my mind more than ever. Now if you don't know me personally you probably won't know I'm the youngest in my family. My oldest sister reached the same age as my parents were when they died, this year. (Too young, after battling years of disability and illness, in case you are wondering.)

Why Fay Wray (and not my teenage alter ego) got the lead role in King Kong (1933).
(I found old cartoons in my basement.)

It's a weird thought that she's made it this far and my other sister and I are not far behind. My sisters have lived long enough to see their grandchildren, travel abroad and live a good life. And that's an achievement in itself. It hasn't been easy. Age is creeping up on all of us and health is inevitably sneaking out the back door, although we battle this more effectively than my parents were ever able to. For whatever reason, I'm going through long phases of feeling perhaps I should let my still teenage kids take the reins; let them have the fun and adventures, you know? But then I think why should I?

Let's face it, my kids are going to have adventures whether they have my blessing or not! And who's to say that we, as parents, should just give up on our lives? Now those of you who are my age (the middling kind) or above, will know you still think and feel the same way you always have about most things in life. Let me give you some examples. I still love all the trips I take, although they may not be so far away. I still love creating stories and clothes, pictures and cartoons. I still love reading and writing, teaching and movie-going, gardening and listening to music too loud (in our house the kids tell their mum and dad to turn the volume down).

So where I'm I going with this? I'm not giving up anything I still feel in my heart I want to do, just like I'm not thanking and disposing of all the stuff that clutters my basement. I'm reorganising, I'm delegating and I am thankful that I have gotten this far. I have sen too many people I love leave this world before they have even reached anything like the age I have or even had the chance to think about goals they want to achieve. So from now on, I'm going to try and appreciate those people close to me and who support me and give them my love, respect and support in return. I'm cleaning out the dead wood, pruning back on clutter, making way for new growth. (Better add gardening analogies to the list above...)

What am I reading?
The Department of Curiosities by Karen J. Carlisle
Split Second by David Baldacci

What am I making?
Scones for cream teas - it's summer after all.

What am I watching?
A whole load of vintage youtubers - retracing my late teen interest in the 1920s - 50s.
Living Big In a Tiny House

Monday, 1 July 2019

The Feast of Fools

How's the summer (or winter for my friends from the southern hemisphere)? I'm clawing my way back into the blogging habit now that my day jobs are over for a while.

Now we're into July, I'm a little late in telling you about 'Southern Steam: Tales from Port Reprieve', which is available from Amazon.

My fellow steampunk authors at the Scribblers' Den and I have gotten together for our third anthology. This one is set around the world of Port Reprieve, the  brainchild of fellow anthology author and the founder of the Scribblers' Den, Jack Tyler, is a fictional port in the southern US.

The content is as follows:
Stars and Bars by Steve Moore
The Stench Street Revs by William J. Jackson
Hoodwinked by N. O. A. Rawle
The Aeronaut by Bryce Raffle
Sea Story by Jack Tyler

Now this was quite a difficult challenge for me as I have never had the good fortune to visit the southern States, so I thought about what I knew best about this area and something that I could tie in with experience I already had, that way I would make my story more believable. Carnival or the Mardi Gras of New Orleans was the straw I found myself clutching.

I have long been a fan of carnival and have participated in many parades from my first in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, to more recently here in Greece more as a spectator. With a little research I managed to tie in Greek traditions with American ones, added a little horror, suspense and a good dollop of Steampunk and, low and behold, 'Hoodwinked' was born!

'Hoodwinked' tells the story of Vera Portmandritou who ventures into the New World after her Aunt Mara's death. Within minutes of stepping onto the quay, she is greeted by a mysterious stranger who offers her a ride. Now I'm sure mama warned you about taking lifts with strangers, so you can imagine that there are a lot of unpleasant surprises in store. One of the best things about carnival is of course the masquerading. Vera takes part in all of this and is introduced to the tableau vivant, a concept that was new to me too and one I should like to see for real one day. (Do click this link if you want to see what inspired the ending to my story, you are in for an amazing show, although it my not be to everyone's liking!)

Once again all proceeds from the sales of this anthology will go to charity - the Red Cross - so not only are you getting a great read, but you are also doing a little bit to help your fellow human beings! What are you waiting for? Click on the links below to purchase your (very reasonably priced) copy today!

Southern Steam in the UK
Southern Steam in the USA

What have I been reading?
The Halloween Party by Agatha Christie

What have I been making?
Southern Red Velvet Cake

What have I been watching?
The Mule

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Dribbles of Drabbles and a touch of the past in a very belated post.

Spring touched Greece and I was trying to get into the rhythm of Monty Python (Always look on the bright side...)!

Valentine's Day blew by me this year and I was feeling a little blue. Don't go imagining my my loved one had forgotten, we don't 'do' Valentine's as such (after all, love is for every day not just Valentine's). No, my sky-hued mood was down to my late submission of a few romantic horror drabbles I'd hoped would make it the Feb 14 deadline and as I'd heard nothing I was sure they hadn't been accepted. But I was wrong! 'Trembling With Fear' from the Horror Tree have accepted both drabbles I sent in their direction.

Thankfully, with spring comes rain and then come the flowers! All kinds of blossoms like new love blooming in glorious abundance until the petals fall and the raspy husk is all that's left. Does it fall or become fruit? Does the love die or survive?

All flowers have symbolic meanings. Take Forget Me Nots for example, those gorgeous little blue flowers that grow in little clumps. According to www.flower they are a symbol of 'true and undying love, rememberance during partings and after death, and a connection that lasts through time.'

Of course having a warped sense of perspective, I have turned the meaning on its head, in the first of the drabbles accepted, 'Forget Me Not' is a hundred words of poisoned love. You can read it on Trembling With Fear.

My second story, Make Do and Mend, goes back to that wartime saying that we must get by on what we have. My vintage-fan heroine Fran takes this a little bit too far will when she applies it to her relationships. Again you can read Make Do and Mend on Trembling With Fear.

What have I been reading?
Goodnight Mr Tom
and Cold Comfort Farm

What have I been cooking?

What have I been watching?
The Durrels

Saturday, 2 February 2019

It never snows but it pours...

(This was supposed to be a New Year post!)

It's been over five months since I posted here and there is many a reason for this. Most sincere is that I need time for my family. Needs must as the devil drives - and here in Greece the devil drives a very hard bargain these days, so I'm working long hours in my day jobs - thus what little free time I have goes to my babes (12, 13 & 40+), not writing.
Braced for worse to come.

Then it seems like everything is breaking: the cooker, the washing machine, my sewing machine, the toaster, my computer - bits are even falling off the house.

I've written virtually nothing.

Prices are rising. Taxes are impossible and wages are dropping as are hours of work. Even my phone company seems to be playing sneaky tricks.

And dribble of drabbles is all I've come up with.

Then there's the weather. Now I like a white Christmas as much as the next person but 2019 swung by and brought snow with thunder and lightning, then it started raining ice crystals - not sleet, but frozen rain! I was forced off my day job for a week. All fine and dandy, unless you're paid by the hour...

And did I write with all this free time?


Not even a word.

Not unless this blog post counts...