Maelstrom – 1st Time Free this Weekend

Maelstrom Full Cover JPEG

Here’s a chance to try my fourth novel free of charge Smile 

The ebook copy of Maelstrom is free on the Amazon site of your choice from Saturday, August 13th to Monday, August 15th. Enjoy!

Genre: Action/adventure/thriller/romance

The road up to Casa Destion - chalk - Lorna FriesenDescription: A shot is fired into the still night air and a young woman dies on Suicide Ridge. A dangerous game has begun. Over the course of one blistering, hot week, winds of change sweep through an isolated valley in small town America.

Sheriff Bert Calder, with the help of Mayor Amos Thatcher, has held the town of Haddon under his thumb for twenty-five years. As things spin out of control, Calder works the angles, ensuring he can make the most of the upheaval that is to come.

Rafael Destino, facing his own mortality, races against time to gain control of the railroad – a lifeline essential to the town’s survival. His goal – to financially destroy Thatcher, the man he believes responsible for the death of his beloved sister. His tool – adopted son Myhetta. But how far down the road of revenge will Rafael push the young man who owes him everything?

Myhetta is poised on the edge of controlling Destino Enterprises, the job he has been groomed for. While money, power and influence are his to command, the past continues to torment him.

In a clash of powerful men, with fathers pitted against sons, no one will be left unscathed. Maelstrom is a page turner that speeds along like a runaway train.

The Road to Aldeao - pastel work June Guenette

Here’s what one reader thought. 5 stars … The damage we humans can do …

As a fan of Francis Guenette’s Crater Lake series, I was interested to read this new book, a collaboration and edition of her late mother’s manuscript Maelstrom. Before purchase, I already knew from the author that it would be a very different novel, and of course wondered in what areas.

The story, which has been outlined by other reviewers, takes place not on the Canadian West Coast but in some arid, desert-like part of the USA. I was never sure where, but thought maybe New Mexico? And like the Crater Lake books, in a small town setting, but a very different one. The town is dominated by its ruthless, amoral sheriff, though as the plot progresses we learn of the network of complicated relationships and special interests which has intensified his rule. Like the Crater Lake books, all turns on the damaged personalities involved, and how they interact: but in this setting, the damage is lethal, and the results are far more violent. It is indeed a book which surveys how tragically violent and destructive human beings can behave towards one another. The view of human is by no means the “Rousseau” one that we are all basically good: most of these characters could be said to be basically bad, weak, or both, and the author doesn’t hold back what we as a species are capable of, especially in male attitudes and actions towards women.

However, it is also a Francis Guenette book despite the differences. We can still discern her psychological training, experience, and knowledge, her concern for the fate of the mixed-race and Native Americans, her feminism (to give a name to something more subtle than that), and her ability to weave the consequences of damaged personalities for good or for destruction. This, as the story progresses, becomes increasingly obvious, and makes the book a page-turner. Her love and respect for wild and domestic animals is also in there.

She also weaves into it the boy who has what can be called ‘second sight’ (though it may have other names), also found in the Crater Lake books.

Recommended if you are a reader who prefers a study of how it is to be human in an isolated township and an arid setting. This is hard lives, hard survival, in an ‘unforgiving’ landscape. But it ends with some hope.

Arizona tree - Bruce Witzel photo

Writers Never Surrender When it Comes to Love

White Flag cover - Dido - google images

“I know you think that I shouldn’t still love you,

But what’s the sense in that?”

Do you ever listen to Dido’s song White Flag and feel like sitting down in a chair and sobbing an over indulgence of emotion for the time you carried a torch and felt like the pain of lost love would never end?

As we get older and jaded about the cost of going down with the ship of unrequited love, we forget the emotion. Writers don’t have that option. We create characters that love and lose and hang on. We have to dig deep and remember. A song like White Flag aids in the process.

I’ll let you be the judge. Listen to this song and see if it doesn’t plunge you into nostalgia for the days of believing that hanging on forever could make a difference. You can just shrink the video and come back to read the lyrics here while you listen.

White Flag

I know you think that I shouldn’t still love you,

Or tell you that.

But if I didn’t say it, well I’d still have felt it

Where’s the sense in that?

I promise I’m not trying to make your life harder

Or return to where we were

I will go down with this ship

And I won’t put my hands up and surrender

There will be no white flag above my door

I’m in love and always will be.

I know I left too much mess and

Destruction to come back again

And I caused nothing but trouble

I understand if you can’t talk to me again

And if you live by the rules of “it’s over”

Then I’m sure that that makes sense.

I will go down with the ship

And I won’t put my hands up and surrender

There will be no white flag above my door

I’m in love and always will be.

And when we meet, which I’m sure we will

All that was there, will be there still

I’ll let it pass and hold my tongue

And you will think that I’ve moved on . . .

Popular culture – and we writers are part of that or at least we want to be – promotes a love that is unrealistic but it’s an ideal that takes hold of our lives, for better or worse. There is something about never putting up that white flag of surrender, that appeals to us.

We want to believe that there is a man or woman out there who would go the distance. Never mind that we probably know ourselves to be incapable of such a thing.

Snape and Lily Potter - google images

A man like Professor Snape, in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. He loved Lily Potter right up to the bitter end. He died to protect her son. A son she had with his most hated rival. Is his behaviour not the popular personification of true love?

Or maybe the French heroine of Sergeanne Golan’s books, Angelique. She rushed through a dozen historical novels, sleeping with and marrying other men, though she never stopped pining for her lost love, Joffrey de’Pyrec. True to the romantic ideal, he never stopped looking for her. This is the stuff of great literary romance.

Though James Bond is portrayed as the master of love affairs in a host of Hollywood movies, in Ian Fleming’s novels, Bond never got over the woman he lost.

Our every day lives are not peopled with the likes of Professor Snape, or Angelique, or James Bond. The men and women we know are fickle and who could blame them. No one wants to be alone and as you get older the concept of true love becomes quite nuanced. What is true might end up being what is comfortable and familiar, or convenient, or self-serving, or a host of other things. Luckily for us writers, part of us clings to that ideal – why else flop in a chair and feel teary when listening to a song like White Flag?

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Honouring Our Lost Sisters

Red Dress Project

This week the government of Canada launches a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Many wait with mixed feelings – we are good at inquires in Canada. Less proficient at implementation when it comes to complex issues that challenge systemic racism and misogyny. I read a tweet that said – let’s not let the good be obscured by our desire for the perfect. Maybe we are on the right track, maybe this time we’ll get it right.

Listening to CBC’s The Current, this morning, the podcast ended with a snippet of Amanda Rheaume’s song, Red Dress. I had to hear more. I write this post with her haunting words in my ears and tears in my eyes.

The song Red Dress is meant to honour the over 1180 Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada and raise awareness for this tragic and ongoing issue.

After hearing the song in it’s early stages, award-winning artist Chantal Kreviazuk was compelled to lend her voice to the song and the cause.

The title “Red Dress” and the concept for video were derived from artist Jaime Black’s REDress Project where 600 red dresses were donated and installed in public spaces throughout Winnipeg and across Canada as a visual reminder of the staggering number of women who are no longer with us. The hope for the installation was to draw attention to the gendered and racialized nature of violent crimes against Aboriginal women and to evoke a presence through the marking of absence.

red-drss-image - google images

You Tube link to Amanda Rheaume singing Red Dress. Please pop over and watch this video and then review the lyrics.

Red Dress

I see the line of all the broken hearts

Lining up to tell their side to an already one-sided story

Years of cycles in my mind

Seems to be the ones we love

Somewhere, I learned to say I’m sorry

Chorus: Take me down to the river

City lights are in my eyes

I have got my red dress on tonight

(Repeat)

I never wanted to be a drifter

I am a woman with no worth

Somewhere I learned to say I was sorry

Every day I learn to say I’m sorry. I hope with all my heart this is the moment for the long-awaited justice that Indigenous women and girls cry out for – the justice that so many of us demand of ourselves, our policing community and our government. I want to believe this is the time to redress the wrongs.

I long to see all the beautiful sisters – free of all fear –  dancing in their red dresses.

Maranda - Dancing with Butterflies in Spirit

August 2016 is Write An Amazon Review Month!

 August Garden - Guenette photo

On Monday 25th July, book blogger Rosie Amber wrote a post encouraging readers and writers alike to post a short review on Amazon for any book they’ve read and enjoyed. She provides a link to a post that provides some excellent book review templates.

Following this up, Terry Tyler is starting an initiative along with other writer-bloggers including Rosie, Cathy from Between The Lines, Barb Taub, Shelley Wilson and Alison Williams. I’m pleased to be associated with these ladies through Rosie’s book review team and to have the chance to spread their book review message.

The idea is this: We declare August to be “Write an Amazon Review Month”. We invite everyone who hears about this initiative to use their Amazon account to post just one review on one book that they’ve read (feel free to carry on if you get in the swing!). You don’t even have to have read the book recently, it can be any book you’ve read, any time. The book does not have to have been purchased from Amazon, though if it is you get the ‘Verified Purchase’ tag on your review.

Remember, this isn’t the Times Literary Supplement, it’s Amazon, where ordinary people go to choose their next 99 cent Kindle book. No one expects you to write a thousand word, in-depth critique. I don’t know about you, but I’m more likely to read one short paragraph or a couple of lines saying what an average reader thought of a book, than a long-winded essay about the pros and cons of the various literary techniques used. Yes, those are welcome too (!), but no more so than a few words saying “I loved this book, I was up reading it until 3am”, or “I loved the characters, the dialogue was so realistic.”

Why should you write a review?

They help book buyers make decisions. Just as travellers check out Trip Advisor before deciding on a hotel, readers like to know what other people thought of a book before making a decision to buy and read.

If the book is by a self-published author, or published by an independent press, the writers have to do all their promotion and marketing themselves. Reviews from the reading public are an important and free helping hand.

The number of reviews on Amazon can help a book’s visibility. If you love a writer’s work and want others to do so, too, this is the best possible way of spreading the word.

Off we go, then! A few more pointers:

  • If you need any help with writing your review, do click on Rosie’s post.
  • A review can be short. Here’s an example of such a review for Disappearing in Plain Sight: DPS review
  • You don’t have to put your name to the review. Your Amazon ‘handle’ can be anything you like.
  • No writer expects all their reviews to be 5 stars or to say the book is the best thing ever written; there is a star guide on Rosie’s post that you can use to rate your reactions.

Spreading the word:

Would you like to tell the Twittersphere about your review? If so, tweet the link to it with the hashtag #AugustReviews – Terry Tyler will be doing one blog post a week featuring those links: An #AugustReviews Hall of Fame!

If you have a blog and would like to spread the word about #AugustReviews, please feel free to re-blog. Many thanks. We hope you will join the August review wave.

August Garden 2 - Guenette photo

Great Free Summer Reading

Books by Francis Guenette - Guenette photo

The e-book version of Disappearing in Plain Sight – first book in the Crater Lake Series – is free July 28th, 29th and 30th on the Amazon site of your choosing.

Sale

At the beginning of June, I ran a free promotion and told everyone it would be the last chance this summer for a no cost e-book copy of the first book in the Crater Lake Series. Circumstance have made a liar out of me. I feel like Air Canada announcing a final boarding call. No kidding, I was recently at the Vancouver airport waiting to board a plane to Ottawa and Air Canada called final boarding for a plane to Calgary no less than eight times. I promise not to play quite so loose with the word ‘final’ as that!

But do take advantage of this opportunity to start a great series of books for free! And if you’ve already read and enjoyed any of the Crater Lake Books, please spread the news to your reading connections that the first book can be had at no cost! Many thanks.

Books wash the soul

Tuesday Book Blog–Broken by Barbara Spencer

Broken cover by Barbara Spencer

Broken by Barbara Spencer

Genre: Family Life and Coming-of-Age

4 Reviews on Amazon.com – 4.5 average – believe me – this books deserves far more attention!

Book Description: When Jem Love’s family is torn apart by his mother’s drug habit, and his young brother and sister taken into care, Jem is determined to get his family back together. But what can a 14-year-old boy do in a world dominated by adults?

Jem complains that what he really needs is a god whom he can telephone for help, and who might just happen to have a spare angel or two to send him. He knows that’s pretty stupid, God is more likely to say he’s old enough to deal with the situation himself. In any case, likely candidates for the role are pretty thin on the ground. There’s only Katrina Jones, a hard drinking, wise-cracking social worker, and Spooky Jarvis who runs foul of the law as often as he has birthdays …

Barbara Specer author 2 Author Bio: In 1967, Barbara Spencer hi-tailed it to the West Indies to watch cricket, the precursor to a highly colourful career spanning three continents, in which she was caught up in riots, wars, and choosing Miss World. Eventually, she settled in Somerset to bring up a family. In 2010, the publication of Running, a teenage thriller, took Barbara countrywide. Passionate about the importance of books in today’s society, Barbara is happiest working with young would-be writers and is frequently invited into schools to talk about creative writing.

My Review:

A book that will break your heart and then restore your hope for humanity!

Sometimes you get lucky and happen upon a book that breaks your heart. Broken is such a book and Barbara Spencer is a writer who knows how to bring the reader along through the thick and the thin of trouble, right to edge of despair and then, like a magician, she waves her wand and makes it all come out right.

There are so many wonderful things to say about this book, I hardly know where to start. It is the rare author that can render the voice of a fourteen-year-old boy with as much depth and believability as she can bring to a somewhat hardened going-on-thirty social worker – but Spencer manages this feat hands down.

Then there is the writing – words flow through descriptions that leap off the page with vitality. I’m not going to say anything about the story – it has to be discovered for itself. But I will say this – at about the three-quarters mark, I wanted the book to end the way it did so badly I could scarce get my breath.

Read this book – you won’t be sorry. It will make you believe once again in happy endings that glitter like gold as they sit in the dustbin of cold, hard reality. Such is life and some truths of life are best rendered in fiction.

For more info on all Barbara Spencer’s books please visit her website.

Barbara blogs over on BlogSpot. Check her out!

Broken by Barbara Spencer on Amazon.com

Somerset - Google images

Cloudy Skies and Collages

Creating with collage!

Fran's Collage - July 2016

I’ve recently been reunited with all my collage material. It is pure joy to haul all the brown envelopes of magazine pics out, dump them all over the table and get busy creating. Collage is a wonderfully creative and therapeutic activity. Give it a try if you are trying to work something out. Whatever comes out of the process is bound to be enlightening.