Month: December 2015

Meanwhile life is tough for many refugees in Europe #refugeecrisis

The terrible plight of these people seems to have dropped out of the news lately – as Christmas approaches and the weather gets colder, this is a timely reminder that the suffering goes on.

writerchristophfischer

Europe-migrant-Greece-media-015_m (AFP Photo / Anwar Amro)

As we approach Christmas and fill ourselves with mulled wine and mince pies, please let’s not forget about the situation in the EU border countries.

Europe-migrant-Greece-media-344_m (AFP Photo / Anwar Amro)

Dodgy rubber dinghies sink or leave people swimming ashore, stranded in soaking wet clothes in ever cooling temperatures.

Here is a harrowing blog post – if you think the refugees are safe and being taken care of, think again.

A warning: the images there are quite upsetting.

That is of course because the situation, despite all the volunteer work and the help from great human beings, is upsetting.12208626_10153176198846641_7816030940353918374_nWith more bombs dropped on their country, we are unlikely to see a decline of refugee numbers. They urgently need clothes, food, shelter and our love. #humanitarian aid

Remember BandAid (The only gift they get this year is Life!)

and
USA for Africa (We are the World…it’s…

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Tree Lore | The Five Sacred Evergreens of Christmas

More stories behind our Christmas traditions from Ali Issac’s wonderful blog.

aliisaacstoryteller

evergreens of christmasIt is customary to decorate our homes with evergreens at Christmas; love it or hate it, it is a tradition we are all familiar with. Yet whilst these evergreens have become symbolic of the Christian faith, it is interesting to note that their use at mid-winter stretches even further back in time to our earlier pagan ancestors .

This is not to belittle Christian Christmas celebrations in any way, but for me personally, it is so intriguing to discover the origins of our myths and traditions, and sometimes, they can be quite surprising.

As I have become more aware of the Celtic calendar, I have grown to enjoy and anticipate mid-winter. Nowadays, it does not come with the harsh struggle for survival our ancestors faced, but the dark and cold and near-death of winter are a stark reminder of just how fortunate we are.  I love that the solstice means…

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Completely impractical gifts for writers. (You know you want them!)

Just a few hints…

Barb Taub

The brilliant Robin Rivera over at the always-entertaining writeonsisters.com just did a post on 5 Unique and Practical Gifts for Writers. I urge my fellow writers to print it out and casually leave it lying around places where those in charge of your gift buying are most likely to stumble across it—say, glued to their wallet, car keys, computer screen, forehead, or that stash of Ben & Jerry’s Joy to the Swirled that they think you don’t know is hidden under that old box of breaded okra cutlets.

But what gifts should writers give to other writers? Practical gifts are out, of course, because if writers were practical…well, they certainly wouldn’t be writers. [see:It’s (still) not personal… It’s the (writing) business.] Luckily, there are a lot of absolutely senseless gifts to gladden the heart of any writer.

For example:

For the grammar nazis among us (we know who we are), there are the in jokes like this one from Signals Catalog. For the grammar nazis among us (we know who we are)…

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Twitter Tips for Readers and Writers

Some great tips here for writers using Twitter

Scatterbooker

I often have people tell me that they find Twitter difficult and confusing to use. I can understand that it can seem a bit intimidating at first, but it really is a fantastic platform to connect and network with other like-minded people once you get the hang of it. It is the number one social media platform I use to drive visitors to my blog posts and find interesting people to connect with.

Hashtags

The number one concept Twitter newbies need to get their heads around are hashtags. Make sure that you use them and make sure that they are relevant. Unlike Facebook, hashtags are expected and highly useful on Twitter. All you need to do to create a hashtag is add the pound symbol (#) before the tag you are using. E.g. #hashtag

To search for tweets that include hashtags that you are interested in, just enter your hashtag…

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5 Sacred Symbols of Christmas and their Pagan Origins

Very interesting post about the origin of some of the traditional symbols of Christmas.

aliisaacstoryteller

5 sacred symbols of Christmas and their pagan origins www.aliisaacstoryteller.com 5 sacred symbols of Christmas and their pagan origins
http://www.aliisaacstoryteller.com

It has started; the Christmas decorating. In this house, it takes a week, and finally culminates in the dressing of the tree. And year on year, the same symbols abound throughout the festive season; Santa, the reindeer, the stable and the manger, hanging up the stocking etc, to name just a few. But have you ever wondered where they came from? It might surprise you to know that they derive from some pretty ancient, pre-Christian traditions. Here are my top 5.

1. The Christmas Tree

The tree we proudly decorate and display today is an invention of the Victorian days, introduced from Germany. Prior to this, the tree which most symbolised mid-winter is most likely to have been a Holly bush.

Imagine how winter must have felt to our ancestors; harsh and bleak, a time of hardship, a struggle for…

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#RBRT ‘The Promise of Provence’ by Patricia Sands #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosie's Book Review team 1

I read ‘The Promise of Provence’ for Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

provence

Amazon.co.uk  Amazon.com

I’m not really a romance fan, but I was drawn to this book because I love France. But I admit I was a bit wary.

The beginning of this book really draws you in. Katherine goes home after a long day at work hoping to celebrate her anniversary but instead finds her life falling apart. Her husband has left her for a younger woman. Katherine is devastated, and her reaction is portrayed sympathetically and authentically. In too many books these scenarios are treated in a rather cavalier way – the feisty (god, I hate that word) protagonist seems to bounce back and quickly finds love or strength or whatever – but here Katherine suffers, questions herself and definitely hits those lows.

Her mother, an absolutely wonderful character, offers warmth, sympathy and love, and, along with cousin Andrea and friend Molly, helps Katherine to slowly come back to life. But there is more trouble and grief in store, and Katherine decides to go to Provence, a place that holds happy memories from her past.

The descriptions of Provence are wonderful; the detail is engaging and entertaining, especially if, like me, you love France. I can see, however, that it might be too much for some people and I do think readers need to be aware that this book is definitely part travelogue. For me though, that was the interesting bit and I really enjoyed reading about the countryside, the people, the food and the weather.

The book details two trips to France along with more about Katherine’s life back in Canada. This details her relationship with Molly and Molly’s problems. For me, this was part of the book that I really didn’t get along with. I like Katherine; I’m interested in her story. I didn’t like Molly at all, and I wondered why her trials and tribulations were part of the narrative. For me, they detracted from the main story and weren’t necessary. This is about Katherine and I think that the author has gone too far in bringing so much of Molly’s story into the novel.

Leaving out this side plot would also make the book shorter. It is a very long read and there were definitely lots of bits that I thought could have been cut. In all honesty, it could have been half the length.

That said, I surprised myself by enjoying this novel very much. There is something very warm about it, very engaging, and the author’s love of France comes across very clearly.

4 stars

Coffee with Barb & @Alison_WiIliams ~ Rape: A Mother, Wife, and Feminist Writes #SundayBlogShare

Very pleased to be on Barb Taub’s blog today writing about an issue that, as a woman, as a mother, and as a feminist is so important to me.

Barb Taub

Rape: does writing about it contribute to rape culture?

coffee with BarbRecently I reviewed Heliotrope by JC Miller, a wonderful book set in the Seventies. But it started me thinking about my own life as a young woman back then. Our older sisters and brothers had militantly fought gender and racial equality’s battles, so we were pretty sure that all we had to do was reap the benefits. We would be the first truly equal generation—earning equal pay, respect, and opportunity. We wouldn’t have to hold back or miss any opportunities because they might not be “safe”. Oh, and we’d finish passing the Equal Rights Amendment, and have control of our bodies, our lives, and our flying cars.

I had four children and wanted those things for them. Forty years later, my brand new grandchild is still waiting.  As I wrote last year (This time I knew it was going to hurt), few of us have escaped…

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The RBRT Golden Rose Awards

I am incredibly pleased that my dark historical novel ‘The Black Hours’ is one of the contenders for Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team’s Golden Rose Awards.

Plain Golden Rose

Writers often tweet (or even email) me to ask me to vote for their books in various competition. More often than not I’ve never even read their book. Needless to say, I don’t vote for them unless I have read and enjoyed the book in question. So this isn’t a request for a vote. It’s just to let you know that voting for the awards is open until Sunday 6th December, and if you have read and genuinely enjoyed ‘The Black Hours’ then I would be delighted if you could find the time to pop along to Rosie’s blog and vote. There are plenty of other books nominated too, so do vote and support your favourite.

The nominations were made by the book review team from books reviewed between January and October 2015

Voting will be open for one week only from November 30th to December 6th

You may vote for TWO books per category.

Please only vote for a book that you believe deserves an award.  We value everyone’s contribution and you are not required to vote in each category; it may be that you will vote for just one book if there is only one that you a) have read and b) deem worthy of the accolade of the virtual

 Golden or Silver Rose!  

Obviously, authors are asked not to vote for their own books.

Winners and runners -up will be announced on December 15th.

Thank you.