Friday, 30 December 2016

The Great Crooked Cat sale...

... is ending at midnight tonight!  

If you want those bargain books on your new kindle, then hurry...

There are romances, mysteries, crime, thrilers and lots, lots more. treat yourself whilst you still have the opportunity! 

Go to Amazon US 
and Amazon UK 

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

The Great Crooked Cat Sale...

... is now on and there are only two more days to go!  

There are loads of books available for 99p/99c - including my own, Messandrierre.  

What better way is there to spend those book tokens and vouchers?  

Take a browse through the titles - there are thrillers, mystery, crime, romance and lots lots more...  

Go to Amazon US
and Amazon UK

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Merry Christmas...

... to all you readers out there...

To find out what's coming up in January and the rest of 2017, check out my post on New Year's day.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

The Cat on the Dovrefjell...

... I've always loved fairy stories, folktales, myths and just about any kind of story, since I was a child.  My father was a great story teller and I suppose my constant need to write stories down has, in some way, been inherited from him.  The story below was one of my favourites.  I believe it is Norwegian in origin - or at least that's what dad always said - and I've recorded it here as my dad used to tell the tale to me...

Once upon a time, far, far away in the snowy north of Scandinavia, a very brave man called Ale caught a great white bear.  He trained it and looked after it and then decided that he would present it to the King as a gift.  So Ale began his long journey from somewhere close to the North Pole, over the ice and across the sea to Norway.
His journey was long and it happened that, on Christmas Eve, as he descended Dovrefjell he saw a lonely cottage and thought he and his bear might spend the night there.  The cottage, deep in a forest, belonged to a man called Halvor.
'I need a place to rest for the night for my bear and myself,' said Ale.
Halvor shook his head in sorrow.  'It's Christmas Eve,' he said.  'Very soon there will not be a room in my house to spare.  Every Christmas Eve a pack of Trolls come down from the mountain and take over our humble little cottage.  There is never any room for us, let alone a traveller such as you.'
Ale was shocked.  'You are forced to leave your own house at Christmas time?'  Halvor nodded in shame.  Ale wondered what to do next.  His bear muzzled him gently at his back and an idea came to him.
'Let me have your house this year,' said Ale.  'Make ready whatever is needed as you always do and then leave and let my bear sleep under your stove and I will sleep in the tiniest room at the top of the house.'
Halvor protested, he feared so greatly for the safety of his new companion and the bear.  But Ale assured him that he and his bear would be safe.

With only a couple of hours to spare, Halvor, his wife and children began to prepare for the Trolls. They set tables with the best linen and plates. They put out bread and sausages and slaw and fish and porridge and every imaginable kind of food that you would always see at a humble, but celebratory feast.  When all was ready, Halvor and his family left with sorrow in their hearts for Ale and his bear.
The first few flakes of snow fell as what little grey light disappeared into night. And the Trolls came down the mountain shouting, 'HALVOR, Halvoooor, Halvor, Halvor...
Some were ugly, some had long noses, some had warts, some were tiny, some had tails but they were all frightening and greedy with hunger.  They didn't knock when they reached the cottage.  They barged in and attacked all the food, and ate and drank and ate some more until nothing but a small piece of sausage was left.
The tiniest of the Trolls picked it up and sniffed it.  Catching sight of the great white bear lying under the stove, the Troll put the sausage on a fork and sidled over to the sleeping giant.
'Here, Kitty, I have something for you,' the Troll said, pushing the fork up against the bear's nose. 'Here kitty...'
The bear stirred and stretched and growled and rose up on four great paws and let out a tremendous roar and chased the Trolls from the house out into the snow and chased them and hunted them all that night, returning only when the first weak light of a new winter dawn began to appear.
The following year on Christmas Eve, Halvor was out in the forest chopping wood in readiness for the Trolls to arrive later that day. As he was hard at work he thought he heard someone calling his name. He stopped and listened.
'Halvor!' called a thin reedy voice from the trees. 'Halvoooor!' called another gruffer voice from behind him.  'HALVOR! Halvor!' called other voices from all around him.
Halvor brandished his axe. 'Yes I'm here, what do you want?'
'Is your big white cat still with you Halvor?' This was a deep, gruff voice from behind a tree only a few feet away.
'Yes, she is,' said Halvor. 'And she now has seven white kittens who are even more fierce than  she is.' Halvor waited... and waited. But there was never any response and from that day on the Trolls have never taken their Christmas supper on the Dovrefjell.

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Merry Christmas...

... to all you readers out there...

It's the time of year when I take break for family and, this year, also for pantomime. From this evening I will be disappearing into panto-land with its magic and spells and greasepaint and lots and lots of fun.

However, on Thursday, December 15th, I have a special little surprise for you.  So, be sure to visit again then.

And there will be lots to look forward to in January and the rest of 2017.  Keep watching this space to find out what's coming up in the New Year

Lastly, I just want to wish everyone a very happy Christmas.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Christmas Comes to the Mountain...

... and Nancy Quinn comes to my blog today...

AW  Welcome Nancy and thanks for visiting. Please tell us about your book?
NQ  My debut book is entitled “Go West, Young Woman!”  It is the true story of our family’s complete change of lifestyle. After my husband retired from the United States Air Force, we moved from the city to a rural mountain in Montana.  We wanted a new way of living and we definitely achieved our goal. We soon discovered how unprepared we were for the challenges we faced, both comical and adventurous.  Some of the more humorous encounters, like window licking cattle, only masked our more ominous confrontations with predators and nature such as finding a cougar on our swing set and a wolf waiting at our back door.  In time we discovered the true meaning of the “Code of the West”, a concept that has not entirely vanished from the American way of life.

AW  Wow!  That's a whole year's blogging in itself!  Unfortunately, we only have today, so, what does Christmas mean to you, your family and your animals?
NQ  All of our animals have Christmas stockings. They are lined up on the stairway with my children’s, husband’s, and my own, because we consider our pets part of the family. I still remember the expression of shocked disbelief I received from my ranching friend, Gail, when I mentioned it during a casual conversation about our holiday preparations. Ranchers have a working relationship with their animals, and view even dogs more as hired hands than as pets worthy of any pampering. 
By contrast, our pets have always looked forward to the holiday season with relish, knowing it won’t be long before stockings loaded with special treats will be theirs to enjoy.  This was particularly true of Kobi, our mixed breed German Shepherd/Malamute.  He knew that after Thanksgiving it was our tradition to search for the perfect Christmas tree from horseback, and therefore, took advantage of the opportunity to prance in the snow while hunting for unwary gophers. However, on his first Christmas with us he was rather baffled when we brought a tree inside the house, and he sniffed it suspiciously. I felt compelled to warn him sternly it was not his private privy, and any intentions he had should be left outside where they properly belonged. He seemed to comprehend me, for he never molested the tree, and appeared content to sit and ponder over it as we began the decorating ritual.      
Since this was his initiation into our tradition, I made a special effort to show him each ornament as we hung it on the tree.  As always, I explained the stories behind them, hoping that in time my daughters would have them committed to memory.  Kobi listened intently while I recited their individual histories reflecting the places we have lived, the birth of each child, the friends we have known, and the adventures we have shared.  First came the shiny ceramic dog named Snoopy from the “Peanuts” comic strip, with a candy cane in his paws, given to me by Kathy Ericson in the third grade.  It’s the only ornament I ever received as a child, and I cherished the sentiment behind it, though it had to wait many years before it appeared on a tree.  Mother was very strict about Christmas décor; everything had to match, so our handmade or gifted ornaments never did pass muster.  After I was grown, Snoopy always had a place on my tree.  Next came the glass candy my husband gave me when we first married.  Like so many couples starting out, money was tight, but Bill thought it important we have an ornament that was uniquely ours that first Christmas together.  Kobi licked his chops when I showed it to him.  Sorry boy, it isn’t edible.  Oh, but here’s one he can identify with, my personal favorite, a hand-blown glass figurine of two Dalmatian puppies. I bought it because it reminded me of the Halloween when both my girls, still very young, dressed as Dalmatians.  The image of those smiling little faces will never leave my memory.  
In remembrance
But not all the memories evoked are happy ones, and Kobi must have sensed this one was different as we hung our September 11th military ornament on the tree.  I did so in solemn gratitude that Bill, a United States Air Force officer at the time, survived the attack on the Pentagon that day, when so many others did not or would not in the years to follow.  Kobi sat at attention like a sentry dog.  Could he know what it meant to us?
The decorating continued with a quaint little covered wagon ornament I acquired before the great trek to Montana and the new home and new life it promised for us. That’s where Kobi came in, a lost waif we had adopted from the local Humane Society.  Since it was his first Christmas with us, I made an ornament for him, as I have for all the dogs and horses who’ve shared their lives with us, and will for those yet to come.  
With the work on the tree now done, Bill stopped groaning, the girls enjoyed their sweet rewards, and I was relieved to be tying the last stocking to the stairway bannister.  Kobi eyed this one with its satin red ribbon.  He sat in front of it all evening, wistfully gazing and dreaming of its contents. He knew this one was his, and in it were very special gifts.  When it was time for bed, I had to remind him to settle in for the night.  Reluctantly, he abandoned his vigil, but when morning came, surprisingly, I did not find him by his stocking, but instead, asleep under the tree, near the ornament with his photograph in it.  Yes, I think he really did understand the spirit of Christmas.  
Covered Wagon
That was nearly a decade ago, and now a new Christmas season is upon us.  As always, opening up the decoration box is like visiting with old friends once more. As my girls excitedly unwrap each ornament in turn, it kindles the memories of horse shows, of travel, of loved ones far away, the good times, and the bad.  We repeat each tale together, ensuring the next generation will remember and cherish their heritage, and the absent friends, both man and beast, who make the memories worthwhile.

AW  Wish I could be there with you all, but I'm on stage this year in pantomime and will be spending my time with Hansel and Gretal entertaining a lot of mums, dads and children. Just one last question though. If you had a whole afternoon to yourself this Christmas and could choose to spend it with any one individual, living or dead or a character from a book, who would it be, and what would you want to discuss?
 NQ  That is such a difficult question for me.  There are so many people and book characters I admire.  However, since you mentioned only one individual, I would have to say my father, Boyd A. Zimmer, Jr.  He died when I was 6, so I never really knew him well. How amazing it would be to spend some time with him - imagine, a whole afternoon!  He was a noted artist, though his work was more impressionistic than mine. I lean toward detailed and realistic representation in my art, which focuses on nature. I know my abilities are a gift from him, which is why I sign every piece of art with a “Z” as my middle initial. It represents my maiden name, and is my personal thank you, just for my Dad. While I would ask him about his paintings and what inspired him, as well as his numerous charity efforts, mostly, I would besiege him with a million questions about our former family life. 

About the author...:   Nancy Quinn is an internationally known wildlife artist whose work is noted for its detail and accuracy. She is the recipient of two World Wildlife Art Championship awards and the subject of numerous articles about animal art. She now happily resides on a mountainside in Montana with her husband, daughters, dogs, and horses, where she continues to paint and write about her experiences living in the wild.

You can find her book : Amazon US  Amazon UK  Hellgate Press

You can follow Nancy : Website  Facebook  Blog  Twitter