Monthly Archives: February 2015

Business Best Practices and Client Engagement

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Title: The Financial Planners Guide to Business Best Practices and Client Engagement

Author: James Fredric

Paperback: 124 pages

Genre: Business Non-Fiction

Format: Paperback/Kindle

ISBN-10: 1503171426
ISBN-13: 978-1503171428



James Fredric is a specialist consultant assisting financial planners refocus on their clients, and is also the author of The Financial Planners Guide to Business Best Practices and Client Engagement.

With extensive experience across the financial services industry with companies such as National Australia Bank, MLC, Anne Street Partners, Millenium3 in varying capacities as well as several boutique firms including one where James was mentored in how to run a small business, James takes an innovative approach to helping financial planners grow their business.



The Financial Planners Guide to Business Best Practices and Client Engagement features innovative techniques for professionals in the financial planning industry to maximize their success.

Covering a number of issues that financial planning professionals face in business every day, the strategies in this book will help financial advisors to focus on their core business, develop meaningful relationships with clients, and improve the value of their business.

Filled with inspirational strategies and practical advice from the author, The Financial Planners Guide to Business Best Practices and Client Engagement is an essential tool for success for any financial planner today.


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High Sea

Free book time. For a limited time only you can download High Sea by Catherine E Chapman for free from Smashwords.

Samantha, a seamstress, stows away on a ship bound for Australia, disguised as a boy. Discovered by the ship’s doctor, John Seacombe, she becomes his assistant. However, she rapidly finds that her growing feelings for Doctor John mean that her disguise is a hindrance, rather than a help. And when the feisty Estelle McEwan enters the scene, things become even more complicated for Sam.

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The Line – Blog Tour

The Blurb

Suspended in the nothing between timelines, the station Janus is an unseen marvel: the greatest technological achievement in human innovation. From Janus, Gustavo and his hand-selected team of historians and engineers venture into the past and observe history, unseen and unnoticed.

But they are not alone.

Another traveler is shattering history. Unhindered by desires to remain scientific and uninvolved, the intruder’s technology is far advanced with methods more brutal and a present more terrifying than anything Gustavo and his team are prepared for. As they apply their intellects and skills towards solving the mystery of the ferocious interloper, they discover than they have its full attention.

The Line by William Galaini



Mary wasn’t certain what woke her up. Her body was long and taut like a firm rubber band, and in a sleepy haze she stretched out with a prolonged groan. Soon after, she pulled her tangled hair from her face and first one eye was purged of morning crusties, then the other. Curling her toes, tensing her calves, and stretching again, she placed her bare body on display. A childhood of ballet had carved her and leaned her down and now at college in her second year, she discovered her interests to be in the humanities, to the dismay of her mother’s expectations and her father’s bank account.

Flopping a clumsy, sleepy arm to her side, she felt the pillow next to her and found it to still be warm, but vacant.

Last night had been simply amazing and even the dreaded thought of calling her parents with the news couldn’t dull her elation. She and Trevor had spent yesterday afternoon studying on the dormitory lawn, sprawled out in the fat blades of the Florida grass, and as the sun went down he had handed her a book out of his backpack.

“I know you like dark stuff,” he had said. “It’s by Victor Hugo. About a kid who is kidnapped, his face cut up, and raised as a circus freak. Don’t worry, though. He kills everyone.” Trevor presented it with his usual musing grin and Mary rewarded him with a snicker at his description.

“Well, the French love this writer so there it is,” she said as she took the hardback novel from him. Quickly she realized it had a small lump in it. Shaking it upside-down, something fell out and glittered in the grass between her feet. Instantly Mary knew what it was and hesitated for a moment before digging for it frantically, tearing up green blades, dirt, and thick roots. Her fingers halted when she found it.

“Go on…” Trevor encouraged from somewhere above her. Mary lifted a simple gold band with a small solitaire diamond; a visually sad offering of a ring but the loveliest thing she’d ever seen. She began to cry.

“I read in one of your magazines that crying can be the best sign or the

worst . . .” Trevor said, seeming anxious. “And don’t worry about it being so small. I figured after we’re married for a few years and have saved up I can buy you a new one and that little diamond there can be on the side or something.”

Mary was crying full bore now. “Shut up,” she squeaked as she grabbed him around the neck and held him in a loving grip. “Yes. Dear God, yes. Always yes. Yes a long time ago.” After a few minutes of holding each other and rocking back and forth she added, “The ring is perfect. It’s just perfect. I’d rather you save your money for down the road or something.”

“My car needs brakes,” Trevor confessed. His car was notorious for announcing its presence to every stop sign and stop light with a loud screech.

“Yeah, get your brakes.” She laughed, trying to salvage her makeup while wiping tears away. Finally, she looked him dead on in the eyes. “Really?”

“Really. Marry me.”

She bit her lip. “Okay, but I so have to fuck you like, right now.”

Trevor mock sighed, and pretended to look about in search of a bush or trash bin to hide behind. After his pantomime was played out, they went back to her dorm room. Sometime between the giggling and the orgasms she managed to call her roommate and ask her to sleep elsewhere.

Pizza was ordered. His parents were called and they were delighted. The TV was on but was never watched. Drinks were mixed. Futures were discussed. Music was played and sung along to. And eventually they both slept naked, curled up in her small bed intended for only one occupant.

Mary rubbed her eyes while blinking against the morning sun that sliced through the blinds. Then she heard the shower, and assumed it was Trevor closing the bathroom door that had awakened her. She smiled, and pushed the thought of calling her parents far back into her mind. Sitting up, she looked about for her coffee that was left from the night before. “Trevor, have you seen my coffee? I had half a cup left somewhere around here.”

There was no answer.

She started to wrap herself in the sheets to look around for her coffee, but with a whimsical chirp she stood out of bed, naked. “This is how I will dress when I’m walking around the house.”

The dorm room was actually two rooms; essentially a sleeping area

separated from a study area with two computer desks, a micro fridge, and a second TV. Mary stepped out of the bedroom into the study and gasped at how cold it was. She scampered back into bed with a squeal, her teeth chattering.

“Trevor, when you get back, bring me my coffee, it’s in a mug on the fridge! From last night!” she called out. A muffled ‘okay’ came from behind the bathroom door while the shower turned off.

Mary’s mind drifted toward more serious things. Would her parents pull her out of school because of Trevor? Where would they live? Who would actually pay for the wedding? Her parents certainly could, but would they? Who would the bridesmaids be? What kind of home could they afford? She felt the stress mounting, and wished Trevor would hurry out of the bathroom so that he could make everything better.


William Galaini grew up in Pennsylvania and Florida. His mother gave him an early love of reading, especially when it came to the great classics of science fiction. He is also a history buff and fascinated by mythology and folklore. His various vocational pursuits include being a singer in a professional high school choir, manager of the call center at a luxury resort, U.S. Army medic, prison guard, and middle school English teacher. As such, he is perfectly suited to breech a solid metal door, humanely restrain the enemy within, and politely correct their grammar all while humming Handel’s Messiah and drinking a lovely cuppa tea.

He currently hangs his hat, rucksack, and tweed smoking jacket in Northern Virginia.

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Noise, by Brett Garcia Rose, is a thriller/mystery centering on a deaf character’s search for his missing sister. It’s short, violent, but ultimately it’s about love. Noise was published in June 2014 and is available for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Genres: Action, Adventure, Mystery


The world is an ugly place, and I can tell you now, I fit in just fine.

Lily is the only person Leon ever loved. When she left a suicide note and disappeared into a murky lake ten years ago, she left him alone, drifting through a silent landscape.

Or did she?

A postcard in her handwriting pulls Leon to the winter-cold concrete heart of New York City. What he discovers unleashes a deadly rage that has no sound.

A grisly trail of clues leads to The Bear, the sadistic Russian crime lord who traffics in human flesh. The police—some corrupt, some merely compromised—are of little help. They don’t like Leon’s methods, or the mess he leaves in his wake.

Leon is deaf, but no sane person would ever call him disabled. He survived as a child on the merciless streets of Nigeria. He misses nothing. He feels no remorse. The only direction he’s ever known is forward.

He will not stop until he knows.

Where is Lily?



The sounds I cannot hear: The whistle of the hammer as it arcs through the air. The wailing of pain and the begging of The Bear. The dripping of blood from thawing meat onto the wet concrete floor. The beautifully crude threats.

My own hideous voice.

I drag The Bear into a walk-in freezer by the hook sunk through his shoulder and toss him into a corner on the floor. When I reenter the freezer, dragging the oak table behind me, The Bear is hard at work on the hook, trying to muscle it out, but it’s sunk deep, through the tendons. Hope is adrenaline, fear masks pain, begging helps no one.

I yank him up by the hook and then hold his hands outstretched, one at a time, as I nail his wrists to the table with railroad spikes. I put all of my 240 pounds behind the hammer, but even so, it takes several swings. His body shakes, the nails sink further into the wood, his face is pain. He screams, but I cannot hear.

The building above burns a deep blue hue with my smuggled-in accelerants.

The sound of the hammer into The Bear. The pain in his eyes. I have never seen so much hatred. It is beautiful to me, to reach this center, this uncomplicated base, to disassemble the past and honor a new

history. It is another film, also homemade and rough, an overlay, an epilogue. The Bear is broken but I have spared his face, and to see those eyes, that is what I needed; to see his hatred flow into me, my own eyes sucking down the scum like bathtub drains. His life whirls into me and I taste the fear, the hope, the sharp sting of adrenaline pumping and the reeking muck of despair. His pain soothes me, a slow, thick poison. We will all die.

I know it now; I am a broken man. I always was. I imagine Lily watching me, Lily keeping score, making lists, balancing all. As a child from far away, she was the queen, even more so than her mother. But she didn’t survive. The world was not as we had imagined, not even close. The world is a cruel, bastard place, Lily cold and lost somewhere, me hot and bleeding and swinging my hammer. Life as it is, not as we wish it to be.

The sounds I cannot hear: The laughter of the watchers. The groan of my sister as The Bear cums inside of her, pulling her hair until the roots bleed. The Bear screams and shits himself inside the dark freezer. Lily’s wailing and cursing and crying. I scream at The Bear with all my mighty, damaged voice, swinging the hammer at his ruined hands, hands that will never again touch anyone. Lily at the end, beaten and pissed on and begging to die.

Lily is dead. I am dead. It will never be enough.

I remove the stack of photos from my wallet that I’d printed at the Internet café a lifetime ago and place them face down on the table in front of The Bear. I draw an X on the back of the first photo and turn it over, laying it close to the pulp of his ruined hands.

The Bear offers me anything I want. An animal can feel pain but cannot describe or transmit it adequately. The Bear both is and is not an animal. I lack hearing, so the Bear cannot transmit his experience to me unless I choose to see it. His pain is not my pain, but mine is very much his. I swing the hammer into his unhooked shoulder, and then I draw another X and flip another photo.

His lips move, and I understand what he wants to know. Five photos.

In my notepad, I write: you are a rapist fucking pig. I put the paper into the gristle of his hands and swing the hammer against the metal hook again. It’s a sound I can feel.

Anything, The Bear mouths. He is sweating in the cold air of the freezer. Crying. Bleeding.

In my pad, I write: I want my sister back. I swing the hammer claw-side first into his mouth and leave it there. His body shakes and twitches.

I turn over his photo and write one last note, tearing it off slowly and holding it in front of his face, the handle of the hammer protruding from his jaw like a tusk. You are number four. There are a few seconds of space as the information stirs into him and I watch as he deflates, the skin on his face sagging like a used condom. He knows what I know.

I turn over the last photo for him. I turn it slowly and carefully, sliding it toward him. Victor, his one good son, his outside accomplishment, his college boy, the one who tried to fuck him and they fucked my sister instead.

I remove another mason jar from my bag, unscrewing the metal top and letting the thick fluid flow onto his lap. I wipe my hands carefully and light a kitchen match, holding it in front of his face for a few seconds as it catches fully. He doesn’t try to blow it out. He doesn’t beg me to stop. He just stares at the match as the flame catches, and I drop it onto his lap.

The Bear shakes so hard from the pain that one of his arms rips from the table, leaving a skewer of meat and tendon on the metal spike. I lean into his ear, taking in his sweet reek and the rot of his bowels and, in my own hideous voice, I say:

“Wait for me.”

Available for sale now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

The Iron Masters: An Historical Novel of the Napoleonic Wars

Free promotion time and this is a book that’s close to me personally. I absolutely love books on the Napoleonic wars and even better this is a book about Wales too. And the best news of all is you can get it for free until the 19th of February. So what are you waiting for? Oh right, the blurb – here you go:

In the 18th Century five men created the biggest industrial city, civilisation had ever seen. They were the Iron Masters, masters of metal and men. Their cannons saved a kingdom, forged the greatest empire in the world and changed the history of the human race. Intrigue, bribery, adultery and murder were common in Merthyr Tydfil, a town where the furnaces burned day and night, the sun seldom pierced the soot filled sky and the Iron Masters ruled without pity.

Nye Vaughn, a humble farm boy, walked to Merthyr to find his destiny, unaware that a war was coming which would engulf the known world and make bold men rich. To fight Bonaparte, Britain needed cannons, thousands of them. Vaughn built the largest foundry of them all and made his fortune but, when the world changed, the iron behemoth he constructed turned on him.

Graham Watkins joins the ranks of historical authors as he weaves fiction and fact together with a pace that makes the reader turn the pages. The Iron Masters is a story of family, greed, betrayal and war. It’s scope is epic from Wales, to Baltimore, from the age of sail to steam railways, from the Battle of Trafalgar to the defiant raising of the American flag over Fort McHenry, signalling the confidence of a new, powerful nation. Many of the characters and events are true and reveal an amazing time in our history.

In his American book review, Alex Dunbar compares The Iron Masters with the writing of C.S. Forester and Margaret Mitchell, and adds, ‘The Iron Masters is an epic tale covering half a century as Nye Vaughn fights his way from humble beginnings to create one of the most powerful families in Wales. Vaughn isn’t Rhett Butler, he’s a more complex character, but his story is equally compelling.’ Gone with the Wind was written by one of the great classic authors and Forester’s Hornblower sea stories are considered to be some of the best fiction written.

Above all, The Iron Masters is a book about extraordinary men and women and how they deal with life’s challenges. If you enjoy a classic novel, are interested in stories set in Georgian Britain when Wales was the British Empire’s armourer this is one of the best books to read.

Download for free until the 19th February 2015 here!

Entertaining Angels & Before We Say I Do Blog Tour

Entertaining Angels & Before We Say I Do by Emerald Barnes


Entertaining Angels SYNOPSIS

Madison Andrews can’t face her reflection in the mirror. All she sees is a big, fat nobody. Yet, deep inside she longs for something more, something that’s not skin deep.

Along comes Zach, the new guy in school. He’s smoking hot and totally out of her league. She somehow catches his eye, and he makes her feel beautiful for once. But just as she gets close to Zach, her nerdy best friend, Chase, won’t let Madison doubt her true beauty, no matter how many meals she skips.


Even as Madison begins to realize that she is more than what she thinks, darker forces are at work, darker than the lies and mocking from her peers, stopping her from amounting to her full potential. Can Madison find true happiness in her own skin?

 Before We Say I Do Cover

Before We Say I Do (sequel novella) SYNOPSIS

Following the best-selling first book of the series, Entertaining Angels, comes Before We Say I Do, An Entertaining Angels Short Story.


Chase Sanders and Madison Andrews are about to declare their love for one another in the most sacred of ways. Everything has been going perfectly, especially when an old friend returns to town to stand by Chase’s side on their big day. But is Zach there to see their union, or is he concealing the truth of why he’s actually back in town?


Chase has lived perfectly fine without his father around, but now that his father is divorcing again, he is seeking forgiveness. Chase can’t look at his father, let alone forgive him.


Before Chase and Mads can say “I Do,” Chase must first learn to let go of the past before the dark forces that haunt his nightmares come to life.


*This is a short story and isn’t a prequel to Entertaining Angels. In order to understand it, you’ll need to read Entertaining Angels first.*




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The Author


Emerald’s Website / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

Emerald Barnes graduated with a B.A. in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing at Mississippi University for Women. She resides in a small town in Mississippi and has the accent to prove it.

She’s constantly working on new novels and has more ideas than she knows what to do with. She blogs at and which takes up more of her time than she anticipates but loves it so very much!

She’s an auntie to three beautiful nieces and two handsome nephews who take up the other half of her time, but she couldn’t imagine spending her time in any other way!

She’s a Whovian, a little bit of a nerd, a reader, a writer, and a family-oriented person. God is number one in her life, and she thanks Him continuously for His love and favor.

She loves to stay in touch with her readers and to hear their stories about her work! Feel free to connect with her.


Follow the entire Entertaining Angels & Before We Say I Do Tour HERE

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My Book Loving Valentine


My Book Loving Valentine – Chat with Authors and Win Prizes in #Giveaways

What better way for a book lover to spend their Valentine’s weekend than with their favorite authors and the books they’ve written? 22 authors are taking part in Eyes on Books’ My Book Loving Valentine event on Facebook ( On February 13, 14, and 15, you will have 13 hours of fun chats, games, contests, and new books to discover per day.

The amazing authors you will hang out with, in order of appearance are:

Day 1

Cheryl Headford, James Commissioner Gordon, Algenon Lusch, Karen Stivali, Layla Hagen, Teodora Kostova, Louise Lyons, Lily Velden

Day 2

Lisa Harris, Lily G. Blunt, Taylin Clavelli, Michael Thomas, Alina Popescu for Eyes on Books, Geoffrey Huda-Wakeling, J.T. Cheyanne, Author VL Moon, Lily Velden for Wayward Ink Publishing

Day 3

Algenon Lusch, Devika Fernando Author, LE Fitzpatrick, Ioana Visan, Aimee Brissay, Susan Mac Nicol, Kim Fielding, Alina Popescu To make it even better, the Rafflecopter giveaways start early and end late! From now till end of day Tuesday (PST time), you have a chance to enter and win signed paperbacks, ebooks, swag and a lot of gift cards!

My Book Loving Valentine – Valentine’s Weekend Giveaway

~36 prizes~

(1) signed copy of a Michael P Thomas novel (winner’s choice)

(1) ebook copy of either Conflicted (novel) or In Darkest Peru by Louise Lyons

(1) ebook copy of Tyrian’s Mist, (1) of Love Life & Circumstance and (1) of Grand Slam from VL Moon and JT Cheyanne

(5) ebook copies of Broken People by Ioana Visan

(1) eBook of any Lily Velden title – winner’s choice

(2) $10 WIP gift cards

(1) Signed copy of Project X by Nephy Hart

(1) Ebook copy of Daring Adam (Taking Chances book 1) by Aimee Brissay

(10) Ebook copies of The Running Game by LE Fitzpatrick

(3) Taylin Clavelli Swag Pack inc 8 Gig USB Bullet, Hip Flask key ring, credit card mints, 3-in-1 Stylus pen

(1) ebook copy by Karen Stivali – winner’s choice (excluding anthologies or collections)

(1) Signed copy Pilgrimage by Kim Fielding

(3) kindle copies of Withering Hope by Layla Hagen

(3) ebook copies of The Edge of Hope (Bad Blood 1) by Alina Popescu

Giveaway code:

<a class=”rcptr” href=”; rel=”nofollow” data-raflid=”d3e3d66a13″ data-theme=”classic” data-template=”” id=”rcwidget_976hlzz9″>a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>

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In case the code does not work, here is the link:

My Book Loving Valentine – Book Buying Should Be Rewarded Giveaway

~16 prizes containing swag, signed books, and gift cards to buy more goodies~

(1) $20 Amazon gift card from Michel P. Thomas

(1) $10 Amazon gift card from Louise Lyons

(2) e-book sets of books 1 & 2 of the Crimson Nights Saga by VL Moon and JT Cheyanne

(1) Pack of any 2 Ioana Visan ebooks, winner’s choice

(1) ebook Kaleidoscope of Hopes by Devika Fernando

(1) Gift pack containing: novelty USB drive, pen, fridge magnet, bookmark, Dreamspinner gift card for any Lily Velden title (value $6.99)

(1) WIP Gift Pack containing: novelty USB drive, USB extension cord, 2 x pens, fridge magnet

(1) $5 Amazon Gift Card from Nephy Hart

(1) 1 ebook copy of Perfect Timing by Aimee Brissay

(1) Swag pack (including 2 signed books) from LE Fitzpatrick

(1) $10 Wayward Ink gift card

(1) Any backlist ebook OR a $5 Amazon gift card from Karen Stivali (anthologies excluded)

(1) Kim Fielding surprise swag

(3) kindle copies of Withering Hope by Layla Hagen

(1) $10 Amazon Gift Card from Alina Popescu

Books by these authors can be purchased from any reputable retailer – Amazon,, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo,, Dreamspinner Press, any other publisher of these authors.

List of authors to buy from to be eligible for this giveaway:

Michael P. Thomas

Louise Lyons

VL Moon & JT Cheyanne

Ioana Visan

Devika Fernando

Lily Velden

Wayward Ink Publishing

Nephy Hart

Aimee Brissay

LE Fitzpatrick

Taylin Clavelli

Karen Stivali

Kim Fielding

Layla Hagen

Alina Popescu

Giveaway code:

<a class=”rcptr” href=”; rel=”nofollow” data-raflid=”d3e3d66a14″ data-theme=”classic” data-template=”” id=”rcwidget_p1lfm2ou”>a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>

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In case the giveaway is not displayed, here’s the link:

The Cortlandt Boys

Today I have an exclusive extract from Laura Vanderkam and her book The Cortlandt Boys.


She watched a detective snap pictures and a truck carting the county’s mobile crime scene trailer pull into the parking lot. Soon, though, she was shivering too much to stand there, so she went inside to grab the coat she’d left in her room. As she put it on, she looked at Janie’s collage, sitting on her bedside table.

She looked at the white house. She looked at the baby.

“Oh my God,” she said to no one in particular. She felt her heart beat a little faster. It was the baby in the Curtis Inn. Janie had known the baby was there.

Of course, as she thought about it, she realized that made no sense. How could a 7-year old know about a 10-year-old crime? Still, it was an utterly intriguing idea: a body buried around the time of the championship game, a body hinted at by this little witness that no one believed. It was an idea that twisted the story of the Cortlandt boys in ways Max knew her editor would find difficult to resist. Any chance you could uncover an unsolved violent crime? She texted news of the discovery to his cell phone. This could be even better than the Friday Night Lights boys robbing a bank. With this dark addition, she could see her story splashed even more prominently across the cover of Sports. To be sure, it was awful to imagine a tiny body hidden under the room where she’d been sleeping. But then again, Max always did like a story.

The Cortlandt Boys is available on Amazon. ( )

Laura Vanderkam is the author of the novel, The Cortlandt Boys, and several non-fiction books, including 168 Hours (Portfolio, 2010), What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast (Portfolio, 2013), and the forthcoming I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make The Most Of Their Time (Portfolio, June 9, 2015). She blogs at

I Don’t Believe God Wrote The Bible

Today we have an exclusive from I Don’t Believe God Wrote The Bible by Gerald Freeman, which goes live on the 14th and you can pre-order it here.

“Let’s go and do a tour of the marina, Jan.”


“To ask the boats for work. If we let them see who we are, they might give us something.”

“If you like,” she said cheerily.

I loved how Jan had the same enthusiasm for life as I did, and we both wanted to do the same things. I felt glad she’d come along as it was nice having someone there, especially in the night.

We spent two hours asking every single boat that had somebody on it for a job, no matter how small, but every answer was negative. I told each one of them that we would be back the next day, and the day after, and even the day after that. We continued like that for four days until finally somebody said they had something for us.

It was a big yacht, and Roz and Jamie the young French couple looking after it said they needed help cleaning the hull. They gave us a dinghy and a hose pipe, spent five minutes showing us how to do it and then left. They promised to pay us seven hundred francs for the day, which was loads of money.

“You see,” I gloated. “I told you positive thinking would do it.”

“It’s brilliant, Gerry. We’re actually working on the boats in the South of France. How cool is that?”

“Very cool I’d say. We have to send postcards as soon as we can. Maybe we can tempt Rob to come out here with us. He’d love it here.”

“Yes, maybe my sisters will come and visit us, too.”

“If people had seen what we’ve seen, they wouldn’t stay another minute back in Exmouth. I reckon everyone is going to want to live out here with us by the time they’ve read all our postcards. It’ll be like the Convoy goes continental. Screw Thatcher!”

The Convoy was a huge family of hippies that toured the festies in England who Thatcher was intent on destroying. She made a whole new set of laws preventing people from parking overnight in anything bigger than a car, and she even restricted the number of transit vans that could drive along the road in a line. It was getting impossible to go anywhere, or do anything, in England as a group.

She expected all the lazy bastards to fall in line and play a part in her idea of life. Quite honestly, most of the people I hung around with were only on the dole because there was nothing else on offer, there were no alternatives. I hated the educational conveyor belt we were all supposed to climb eagerly onto.

Our present global concept feeds a system, which is taking our children and placing them in an educational institution at just three years old or less. The law keeps them there for their entire childhood, under pressure to do academically well and not even allowing them to come up for air after years of being fed selected information, when they finally finish twelfth grade. From there, they are shunted into different universities without having the chance to go out in the world and see what else is there, for fear of falling behind the rest of the human race and eventually becoming a failure.

These people can eventually become trapped in lives they don’t dare to question for fear of having to face the truth. They end up relying on yearly holidays to exotic locations, in which they can enviously peek at the rest of the world, wondering what could have been. We all lose out. This is causing world depression and stunting our growth as a species. Parents should be promoting gap years and encouraging their children to go and find out who they really are, instead of instilling fear and forcing

them to be content with becoming who they’re not.

Society is restricting our potential and making the journey through life arduous, whereas it should be joyful. I didn’t go to university because I hadn’t discovered the thing I passionately wanted to learn, therefore I was deemed a loser and my life would go nowhere. I clenched my fists at the sky as if to say I’ve beaten you. I’d tasted anonymity and freedom and there was no going back.

The work we were doing was somewhat familiar because I’d spent time on boats. The stepfather bought one with the money he gleaned from the sale of my mother’s house, and it’d been my job as a teenager to clean and maintain it for him for three years. Luckily, it gave me the opportunity to escape from the house and see my girlfriend, so I didn’t mind doing it.

Roz and Jamie returned at the end of the afternoon and invited us to share a bottle of wine with them on the deck. They were extremely satisfied with our work and paid us immediately.

“Do you want to work tomorrow?” Roz asked.

“Yes, sure,” I replied. “Thank you, so much.” I actually wanted to get back to Cannes and see Veronique and hoped she would still be there when we returned. If not, I would just keep fond memories of my first French, summer, almost romance.

“The owners are coming next week and we have to get the boat ready. We need to varnish the deck and clean it inside and out. We probably need you for three or four more days.”

Both Jan and I were over the moon because we would end up with a wad of money to go back to Cannes with.

“Meet us here in the morning at 10:00 a.m. and we take it from there.” We downed the last of the wine and bid them farewell for the night.

Feeling famished, we set off in search of a supermarket, found one, paid for a picnic and then sat in the center of town to drink and eat. It was nothing like Cannes and we met nobody interesting in the streets. All the other workers were partying in a nearby bar, so we curled up together in a shop doorway and drank ourselves to sleep.

Working with Roz and Jamie was brilliant and we enjoyed the boat life. But although they traveled the world, I’d spent too many ghastly nights in the family yacht, battling rain and wind on rough oceans in England to be tempted back into full-time boat life. They paid us daily, so although the street scene in Antibes was rather tame, we could at least afford to spend some nights in the bars with the other workers. We kept our stuff with us at all times, but we had nothing worth stealing. We didn’t really need to pay for a locker everyday like we had been doing, and most bars let us leave our things behind the counter. We forgot them once and had to wait till the morning to get it, which didn’t matter because we were already in June and the nights were warm by then with us walking around in shorts and T-shirts at 3:00 a.m.

When the job ended we said our good-byes to Roz and Jamie and headed straight back to Cannes. Summer was upon us and it seemed like absolutely everyone was on holiday. We went straight to Sweaty Betty’s, bought a few liters of her worst wine, and then went to find a spot to party.

It wasn’t long before Veronique turned up with her friend Barbara and a couple of other French guys. They sat with us, and the girls showed Jan how to do a new kind of hair wrap, while the guys tried to teach me to juggle. They had clubs and were really good. I bashed my head countless times and even gave myself a nosebleed, but I really enjoyed it and vowed to get myself some as soon as we could afford it.

A tramp sat near us begging for money. We laughed at his honesty. The sign

he had in front of him read: I’m an alcoholic. Money for wine SVP. He shouted something over to us, but I didn’t understand. He then stood up and tried to grab the bottle of wine we were sharing.


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Where Freedom Rings

Today I have an exclusive extract from Steven Donahue’s Where Freedom Rings – take a look…

In this scene, Kelsa is getting a lecture from Jackson Mallard, her owner. A neighbor named Wilkensen had questioned her about slaves who escaped from his plantation, whom he thought were hiding on the Mallard’s property. 
They stood in silence for a moment until Kelsa composed herself. She looked at Jackson. “May I go, sir?” she asked. He said yes. Kelsa looked down at the floor as she unsteadily walked away. She was nearly out of the room when he asked her to stop. She turned and faced him with her fists balled tightly.

“The slaves Wilkensen is looking for,” Jackson said softly. “They were badly mistreated by his foremen.” He inched toward her until he was close enough to touch her. “They were abused, poorly fed, and kept apart from their families. It was a miserable existence. But you have it good here, Kelsa. You and your family. Far better than slaves at other plantations.” He slowly took a deep breath. “Remember that,” he said.

“We appreciate your kindness,” replied Kelsa. She folded her hands and rested them against her legs. “I understand how things are here. This is our home. We don’t have any desire to leave.” She looked into Jackson’s eyes and hoped he believed her. “I should get back to work,” she said. “Miss Virginia has chores for me.” Jackson nodded, giving her the opportunity to leave the library.


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