Apologies…

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I am not sure how it happened, but all I can do is offer everyone involved my heartfelt apologies. It may not even be my fault, what with Amazon ditching people’s reviews all over the place.

This blogging business is sometimes very complicated and although I am an idiot even on a good day, I thought I was keeping a handle on all the important bits. I mean, I had all my notes and prompts, lists and instructions, to ensure I don’t forget anything important.

But it is beginning to look as though I have been forgetting one of the most important parts of reviewing some of the books we read. Most of you will know the basic premise when you have finished reading a good book. We write a blog post about it including our review, and then we post this review to Amazon and Goodreads.

Now, unless Amazon has been eating some of our reviews, it would appear I have been missing out one of these important steps. I have done an extensive check of our reviews and these are my findings. Eighty reviews have found their way to Amazon, but about twenty or so have not. Some of these were arc copies and I wondered if that had something to do with it, but then I discovered that others were copies I had bought, so no solution there.

I cannot tell you how mortified I am, or how I have allowed this to happen. I cannot think of any reason or excuse for these omissions.

We will, of course, repost all of these reviews and notify the authors concerned.

I am sure someone must have noticed this error and chose not to comment, and for those who were kind enough to spare my feelings, I am grateful. But if you had pulled me up I could have put this right sooner.

As it is, I am sure I will not forget again.

If Amazon did have something to do with this, it will be interesting to see what happens when I repost these reviews.

PS:   One thing I haven’t been doing, is stating clearly that our reviews have been written from an arc copy, gifted by the author for an honest review. Something else I will not forget to do in the future…

Honesty in WorldWar2 by Chris-Jean Clarke #ContemporaryFiction/History@ChrisJeanClarke

 

WW2 through the eyes of a child: It is mid-summer, 1944 and Britain is embroiled in war.

A large percentage of city and town dwellers are being killed; homes bombed, and personal belongings destroyed. The people not only fear for their own safety, but they also realize, that even if they are fortunate enough to survive there is a slim chance their offspring will not.

They feel they have no choice but to send their children to remote country villages to be raised by strangers, in the hope they will have a better life. The only adults permitted to travel with the children are mothers with youngsters under five years old, the infirm and the elderly. Meantime, the community of Honesty Brook Dale feel it’s their duty to rally together to help the evacuees by sharing their homes and limited food and clothing supplies. 

Our Review

I was only a child during WW2 and evacuated out of London to Northampton, but probably a little too young to remember much of what was going on around me. I knew I had been taken somewhere strange, but didn’t feel alone or scared, unlike some of the children in these circumstances.

Reading this book, listening to the children as they tried to cope with being uprooted or worse, have their homes and family destroyed in front of them, must have been terrifying. Making me realise I was a lot luckier than most.

The people who took in these evacuees found themselves taking a very different role in the war effort. For most, it wasn’t easy, squeezing extra people into their lives when food was already rationed. People who must have resented being treated like lost luggage.

I loved the name of the village in this book, Honesty Brook Dale. Honesty is one of my favourite flowers and is mentioned several times, reminding me of the shiny silver seedpods I loved as a child.

I know you’re not supposed to have favourites when it comes to children, but I couldn’t help loving Cyril Blessum. A typical boy, into every mischief, desperately trying to understand everything, and not making a very good job of any of it.

“If only me Dad were able to come home, George wouldn’t have to be so tired from working long hours … and we could have fun again,” he added as new tears threatened to spill down his cheeks.

Unbeknownst to Cyril, George had been standing at their bedroom door, listening. “Nobody wants change, our kid, but we have to make the best of what we’ve got,” George said as he joined Cyril by the window.

He gently squeezed Cyril’s shoulder and continued, “Remember when we used to walk for miles over the fields. We would play by the brook and go as far as the entrance to the coalmines or walk across the fields in the opposite direction towards the cottage hospital. That’s how far I biked today looking for ya. I was real worried, our kid. I thought something bad had happened to ya … that’s why I got so mad.”

Cyril slipped his hand into George’s and said, “I am sorry, honest … but I don’t know what to do to make things right with Mam.”

 “Ya know I was thinking Cyril. Mam used to love it when we picked a few flowers for her while we were over the fields. Her favourite is honesty because she loves the delicate shades of pinks and purples. I remember she always managed to find a spare jam jar to put them in. We can pick a few at the weekend if ya want?”

 “Yeah, it will be just like old times … only without Dad.”

This heart-warming but sometimes sad story reminded me of The Railway Children, waiting for the war to end and their fathers and brothers to come home…

About the Author

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Chris-Jean Clarke grew up in the West-Midlands (UK) but now resides in South Staffordshire (UK) with her husband, Geoff and children, Nathan and Kyrsten.

Prior to giving birth to her two beautiful children, Chris-Jean worked for twenty years with people with learning and physical disabilities.

She studied the art of writing children’s stories @The Writing School, Oxford Open Learning.

Chris-Jean also donates stories & poems twice yearly to the Peacock Writers to benefit various charities. (NB She does not publish her contributions in any other form.)

November 2016, Chris-Jean was accepted as a paid reviewer for Readers’ Favorite. During this month she was also accepted as a Publishing Assistant for the Books4Kids program, South Dakota.

Early 2018, Chris-Jean transitioned from Publishing Assistant to author with the release of her educational story: To Dye For.

 

Jaye’s Journal ~25-31 July

 

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I listened to the thunder approaching as I caught up with writing the next chapter of my WIP. It sounded slightly ominous, but in a half-hearted way, if you know what I mean. We seem to get a lot of this half-hearted weather down here in Hampshire. They say it has something to do with being so close to the South Downs. It kind of messes with the wind currents or something.

At this stage, there was no way of knowing if it the storm would ever reach us, or veer off somewhere else. In the end, we had a few more rumbles and that was it.

On to the next disappointment. The eclipse.

Wall to wall cloud made sure we didn’t see anything, either the moon or the eclipse. We had been watching the moon all week as it slowly became full, only to have nothing at all to see on the night in question. We were in good company, for no one else in the UK saw it either, but the awful sticky heat had gone, and I could really concentrate on my writing. Word count has gone up by nearly 5000 words this week!

They promised rain, which would be more than welcome, as I could hear the garden screaming for moisture all way inside my office.

But when it did rain, it wasn’t the deluge they promised, just a quick half-hearted shower, but better than nothing, I suppose.

After a damp and slightly chilly weekend, I had the opportunity to play truant, and I didn’t hesitate. It was like the Prisoner of Zenda escaping, as I ran and jumped in the car, ready for the off. An afternoon walking around The New Forest? What’s not to like?

There will be lots of pictures and post to follow!

 A Surprise and Unwelcome Visitor

During the heatwave, we had an unwanted disturbance late one night.

We had not long been in bed and couldn’t sleep as the heat was stifling. We heard a commotion downstairs and thought we were being burgled. We were about to investigate when we heard bottles clinking. A thirsty burglar? What was going on?

The culprit turned out to be Merlin, our beloved black and white cat. He tried to look innocent, but we knew what was going on. Somewhere in our house was a very small but unwelcome visitor. After crawling around on my hands and knees, looking in all his favourite places, I managed to track it down to the dining room, where Merlin had the tiny mouse cornered under the table. I managed to grab it with an old tea towel and take it out to the garden.

It was while I was out there, I decided it was the perfect place to sit and enjoy a coffee, even though it was two in the morning. I wasn’t having any luck sleeping anyway…

#ThrowbackThursday~ The Power of Books x4…An excerpt from Simple

 

There has been a lot of talk lately about bullying and how wrong it is. How damaging and cruel and all the places you find it. One of the worst places, I think, is inside the family unit.

Ordinary people who wouldn’t dream of bullying in the general sense can be guilty of the quite severe bullying of a family member. Most families have at least one relative whose modus operandi is to shoot people down. Usually condoned as ‘being for their own good.’
As if nagging someone to the point of insanity can ever do any good.

Sometimes, even the kindest people think they have the right to do it, simply because they are family, especially if they think the recipient deserves or needs it.

I am sure quite a lot of us have been on the receiving end of severe nagging that all too often can slide into bullying. There is a very fine line separating ‘helpful suggestions’ from the cruel taunting that is present in a lot of our homes.

Here is an excerpt from Simple by Anita Dawes, a story about such family bullying. Even more despicable in this case because the abused is a mentally challenged man, someone with the mind and heart of a child. Someone who only had one friend in the world, his half-sister, Leanne.

“Simple was almost well enough to leave, but Belle made us stay a few days more than we needed, said she liked the company. As we left, she said I should come by some time, ‘Bring Simple if you want. There’s a bed and food on the table whenever you have need of it.’

I thanked Belle for her kindness and told her I understood there was more than one way of telling a story. Simple was pulling at his ear, the way he did when Lizzie cries, or when his thoughts won’t settle, or his mind won’t let him hold on to one long enough to say what he’s feeling. He didn’t need to tell me, I could feel his fear alongside my own. I took his hand, the one that didn’t want to let go of his ear and led him towards the clearing, to the path that would take us home.

On the way, I told Simple that Gran wouldn’t be mean to him anymore, that I wasn’t going to let anyone hurt him again. We walked slowly; there was no need to hurry as I was in no rush to see Gran. When we stopped every now and then to eat the food Belle had given us, I wondered how it would be. Simple was still pulling at his ear while trying to tell me Gran was gonna be mad at him. Then he said he couldn’t go back. ‘Lizzie s-sad, Simple didn’t get b-baby.’
It didn’t seem to matter what words I used, his mind was stuck on Lizzie having what she cried for.

Then it hit me. I would work on Lizzie! The thought came like a flash of lightning. If I stopped her from carrying on, Simple would stay out of trouble. I was feeling better about going back with every step we took.We needed to reach the caves before it got much darker. I could feel the rain coming and the need for sleep was slowing my body to a stumble. We staggered on and finally saw the mouth of the caves. I never thought the sight of them would be welcome, but it was a temporary haven. Better than what awaited us at Gran’s.”

Will they escape to a better life? Can there be a better life for Simple?

You can find Simple here… myBook.to/mySimple

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The Days are Far Too Short…

 

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Writers the world over must be grateful that someone invented Indie Publishing, but I wonder why they didn’t invent a better way of marketing the books we create while they were at it?

By better, I mean a way we can understand and implement, a system that actually works?

Now, I know I have a problem with technology, but I have tried my best to make head or tail out of it, and, overall, I have managed to understand and even utilise some of it.

Most writers are not wired to master marketing.  We want to write, not blow our own trumpets. The mere thought of being more visible than we have ever been in our lives is enough to chill our blood. We understand that we must make meaningful connections on social media, have book trailers on YouTube, for marketing is all about knowing, liking and trusting, but we also know there is so much more to it.

The experts say it is okay, to begin with baby steps, sharing everything, we do, but where do we go from there?

Do we…

Make a plan for our marketing activity?

Get excited about our progress and share the excitement?

Keep pushing the boundaries of our comfort zone?

Learn new techniques?

Try paid advertising, even though it is an expensive nightmare?

Keep changing all of our keywords, hoping to hit on some that work?

Need a newsletter, podcast, more trailers, FB ads?

Have we checked we are doing all we can on all the media sites?

I have tried most of these, but there are simply not enough hours in the day for everything!

There is no easy way we can implement everything we learn.

There is also the writing to consider, as this is the most important part of your marketing campaign.

Somehow, writers must learn to manipulate time, prioritise until our brains bleed, and hope we stumble upon the magic formulae…

(unless someone out there has already discovered it, and if you have, please let us in on the secret!)