Another bus journey and a creative writing workshop

A few weeks ago, I spotlighted the first Jay-Jay bus adventure. Well there are five more in the series and, since I’m Scottish, the story behind his Island Adventure caught my attention …

Over to Sue …

‘Jay-Jay and his Island Adventure’, was originally written for a Scottish book bus.

‘Play,Talk, Read’ was the project which visited remote areas if Scotland to encourage reading in the very young. It was a great success and the bus even visited the Shetland Islands travelling on a very small ferry.

The children had never seen a double-decker on their island before and certainly not one to play on.

However, the Scottish project was too busy with referendums and with the book ready and edited, I changed the name of the bus from Benji, sending Jay-Jay instead, and relocating to Spain.

The island on the cover of the book was based on a piece of mainland Spain which I have visited many times. Cap D’Or is the promentory near to a little village of Moraira.

The villagers in Moraira invited me to read this book in their library and local schools. The people in this little village were surprised to find that Jay-Jay was a real bus. Now all of the books are in the local library in both Teulada and Moraira.

JayJay2_Cover_AW-1 (3)

 

Review

I haven’t got much more to say than for the first Jay-Jay book: this is a super positive story for readers ready to start tackling longer books, but reluctant to let go of the pictures. The illustrations are gorgeous in a lovely traditional style (think Famous Five rather than Charlie & Lola or Neon Leon). For parents and teachers, if you’re bored to tears with Biff and Chip, please add this to your reading pile! 

Of course, as a Scot, I wish it had stayed in a Scottish island, but Jay-Jay relocated well (which fits neatly with my recent blogs on expat life!)

Creative Writing Workshop

Sue and I are doing a creative writing workshop at the Festival of Chichester on Saturday 29th June where we’ll plan a journey, and make some badges to go with it. Do come and join us!

A7B99F1A-E8DE-4B5C-879A-301A39499276

 

Giveaway to Win Jay Jay and the Carnival (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494228/

 

 

 

Does your family like spicy food?

It’s been a while since I showcased a cookbook, but this one is packed with recipes I want to eat NOW (and it’s only 8 a.m.). I’m lucky that my kids are happy to eat a bit of spice, in fact the chicken wing roulette at Nando’s is their favourite “treat” … honestly – they were having fun!

 

Spices and Seasons Indian cookbook

Spicesandseasonsmed

I eagerly grabbed a review copy of this cookbook and I absolutely love the recipes, but there are a caveats for UK readers though

  • it’s all in American measures – cups and pounds. I can estimate a cup, but it would be so much easier if there were UK measures added to help international cooks.
  • on a similar theme, it uses American terminology so all the recipes I looked at required a bit of interpretation, e.g. cilantro (coriander), all-purpose flour (plain flour) and heavy cream (I actually don’t know if this is double cream or whipping cream?)
  • some tricky ingredients – I’d struggle to find mace blades where I live, so would have to swap for nutmeg.

That means I’d need to buy a paperback not ebook so I could annotate the recipes or it would drive me nuts, but it’s definitely worth a space on my shelf.

Here’s an example for you …

Saffron and Almond Salmon Kebabs

Our friend Vivek Kumar, who makes a tandoori version of fish kebabs, inspired these salmon kebabs. I love delicately grilled or baked fish morsels and decided to see if I could do more with the spicing. This recipe emerged. The spices in this recipe are designed to highlight and accentuate the saffron which leaves a delicate orange color against the natural pink of the rich-tasting salmon. Since I do not use additional cream, it is important to use whole milk Greek yogurt in this recipe.

Content For Mum’s Book Blast -Saffron and Almond Salmon Kebabs

Prep Time: 10 minutes plus 2 hours for marinating | Cook Time: 15 minutes | Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients

½ cup whole milk Greek yogurt

½ cup blanched almonds or cashew nuts

1-inch piece fresh peeled ginger

2 green chilies

1 teaspoon saffron strands

¾ teaspoon salt or to taste

2 or 3 mace blades

⅛ teaspoon nutmeg

1½ pounds salmon fillets, cut into 1½-inch pieces

2 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill to garnish (optional)

Preparation

  1. Place the yogurt, almonds or cashews, ginger, green chilies, saffron, salt, mace blades, and nutmeg in a blender and grind until smooth. You will get a pretty saffron-colored thick sauce.
  2. Place the salmon in a mixing bowl and gently toss with the yogurt mixture. Marinate for about 2 hours in the refrigerator.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 350ºF. Grease a baking dish with 1 tablespoon of oil.
  4. Place the salmon pieces with the marinade on the baking dish about 1 inch apart to allow room to pick the cooked pieces up neatly (skewers are optional). Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil.
  5. Bake the salmon for about 10 minutes, then broil for 2 to 3 minutes to gently brown the top (the salmon should have a few golden brown specs, but it is important not to dry it out).
  6. Serve immediately garnished with dill.

 

Blurb

Rinku Bhattacharya combines her two great loves―Indian cooking and sustainable living―to give readers a simple, accessible way to cook seasonally, locally, and flavorfully. Inspired by the bounty of local produce, mostly from her own backyard, Rinku set out to create recipes for busy, time-strapped home cooks who want to blend Indian flavors into nutritious family meals. Arranged in chapters from appetizers through desserts, the cookbook includes everything from small bites, soups, seafood, meat and poultry, and vegetables, to condiments, breads, and sweets. You’ll find recipes for tempting fare like “Mango and Goat Cheese Mini Crisps,” “Roasted Red Pepper Chutney,” “Crisped Okra with Dry Spice Rub,” “Smoky Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Puree,” and “Red Harvest Masala Cornish Hens,” to name a few. As exotic and enticing as these recipes sound, the ingredients are easily found and the instructions are simple. Rinku encourages readers to explore the bounty of their local farms and markets, and embrace the rich flavors of India to cook food that is nutritious, healthy, seasonal and most importantly, delicious.

 

About Rinku Bhattacharya

Rinku Bhattacharya (spicechronicles.com) was born in India, and now lives in a house with a vibrant backyard in Hudson Valley, New York with her husband, an avid gardener, and their two children. Rinku’s simple, sustainable approach to Indian cooking is showcased on her blog, Spice Chronicles, and in her Journal News column “Spices and Seasons.”

Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past nine years, and works extensively with local area farmer’s markets on seasonal demonstrations and discussions. Rinku is also the author of The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles (Hippocrene Books, 2012), winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2013 for Best Indian Cuisine. She writes for the Poughkeepsie Journal, the Journal News, and several online sites, and is a frequent guest on CT Style TV.

https://twitter.com/Wchestermasala

https://www.instagram.com/spice_chronicles/

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/rinkub/?autologin=true

https://www.facebook.com/spicechronicles

 

Purchase Links

US – https://www.amazon.com/Spices-Seasons-Simple-Sustainable-Flavors/dp/078181331X

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Spices-Seasons-Simple-Sustainable-Flavors/dp/078181331X

 

A practical handbook for expat families

This caught my eye as I’ve been an expat, admittedly a long time ago. I know it sounds exciting and glamorous, and of course it is, but there are challenges. This book focuses on these aspects.

The book is written by Las, who is a “trailing spouse”, the non-working half of the family. It was actually my job that took us to Sydney, but my husband quickly found a job in his sector, so we avoided many of the isolation issues that she encounters and, other than distance from home, Sydney has to be one of the easiest places to settle as an expat, however much of the rest of the book resonated. I’ve also done a short stint as a trailing spouse in South Africa, where I got an insight into many of the struggles Las addresses.

The chapters cover a wide variety of topics. The chapter on packing was pretty basic, but the one on Expat Drop was extremely insightful – in fact any expat should read the book for this chapter alone.

Overall, I’d recommend this to anyone considering the expat life. I also think it would be useful for the working half of the team to read it to get a better understanding of some of the issues that their trailing spouse faces. My only gripe would be, it felt like it should be humorous, but it was neither totally funny, nor totally serious. The home help chapter for example nearly had me laughing out loud, but not quite.

One thing I would add from my personal experiences, is that it took us about 18 months to break out of the expat community and make local friends. That group are still some of my closest buddies even now, 20 years later, and some of them are settled in the UK!

Blurb

BloomWhereYourePlanted Cover

Are you contemplating a move abroad?

Don’t panic!

From culture shock to capable, from language barriers to lifelong friends, and from foreign land to the familiar. Being hurled into life in a strange new place can be daunting and overwhelming, but it can also be exciting and enjoyable.

Rich with tips on how to expat like a boss, Lasairiona McMaster’s “Bloom where you are planted”,takes you on a journey from packing up her life in Northern Ireland to jumping in at the deep-end as an expat in two countries.

An experienced expat from a decade of living abroad, her honest and uncensored tales of what to expect when you’re expatriating, are as funny as they are poignant, and as practical as they are heartfelt. If you’ve lived abroad, or you’re considering the move from local to expat. If you’re looking to rediscover yourself, or simply wondering how on earth to help your children develop into adaptable, resilient, and well-rounded people, this book has something for you.

About the author

AA6352F4-30A0-4D9F-9F1E-59B14C3BA2FB

Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did – with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself ‘home’, with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation. With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.

Social Media Links

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/QueenofFireLas

Twitter –  https://twitter.com/QueenofFireLas

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/queenoffirelas/?hl=en

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07RQ9BL6D/

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07RQ9BL6D/

Eternal Seas Audio book launch!

You may have spotted that Eternal Seas has been made into an audiobook narrated by the very talented Chris Dickins. If you haven’t seen it already, here is a taster for you …

It’s just been on tour and got so many amazing reviews that Chris and I have both been overwhelmed! A huge thanks to all the bloggers who participated 🙂

Here are just a few snippets, but if you’d like to read the full reviews, the links are below.

“Five stars from me – a thoroughly enjoyable story and a well written fantasy novel that suits an audio book perfectly – very highly recommended!!” Donna’s Book Blog

“I had thoroughly enjoyed reading the e-book version of this story and was intrigued to discover if I’d enjoy the audiobook version as much – and I did! … he is very talented at bringing the story to life in the imagination of his listeners. He uses his voice to make it clear just which character is talking and his use of expression, intonation and volume is exemplary. I can easily imagine children being as enthralled as I was by how he relates the story and events, capturing you and taking you into the heart of the action packed adventure.” Splashes Into Books

“I absolutely adored this audiobook for children aged 7-12 (ish).  I think it’s a brilliant introduction to fantasy writing for young children …. The audio itself was extremely well narrated, by Christopher Dickins, who did a brilliant job of using a range of voices so the characters can be distinguished between easily – I feel this is important for young children who find it more difficult to focus on audio. ” Like Herding Cats

“There is a an ease and sense of geniality to his voice that is extremely pleasant. His voice work is great, providing a nice cast of characters. His work is extremely similar to that of David Tennant. Tennant, often recognized for his work on Broadchurch or Doctor Who, is a truly wonderful narrator and voice actor. Dickens, at times, sounds eerily similar and with equal skill.” World Geekly News

“when the sleep timer kicked in, I was still wide awake and ended up just setting another timer so I could keep listening. The audiobook was as hard to turn off as the book was to put down when I read it. Chris Dickins was the perfect choice – he is certainly talented when it comes to different voices. He really injected the full sense of adventure into the story, and I just felt swept along with it.” Mai’s Musings

“The narrator was really great! He gave each character a really distinctive voice, which is an element of audiobook narrating that can be done really well or really… not. But this narrator got nicely into the heads of the characters, and portrayed their attitudes through their words. It builds up a lovely picture of the characters and scene when the narrator does their job well, and I’ll always be appreciative of a good narrator!” The Treasure Within

“a nice easy listen to fill a couple of hours. Something you can so easily lose yourself in, it brings a smile to your face as you are swept up along the way.” Zooloo’s Book Diary

“Christopher Dickens has a pleasant, easy to follow voice, perfect for this genre and age range. He conveys the change in characters and atmosphere well and does so in a way where you know which character is speaking before the speech tag comes – a fantastic quality in a narrator. I don’t have kids, but I found Mr Dickens relaxing, and a great storyteller.” Radzy Writes & Reviews

“the narrator is easy to listen to and his voice doesn’t sound too mature to be narrating from the point of view of a 12 year old boy.” Birdies Bibliotecha

“a brilliant book which is very well narrated” Black Books

“This is one of the best audiobook narraters I’ve come across. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more audiobooks from him, and of course for more books in this series.” This is my bookshelf

Here are the links to all the reviews.

Radzy Writes http://www.vainradical.co.uk/blogs/eternal-seas-blog-blitz/
Zooloo’s Book Diary http://zooloosbookdiary.co.uk/audiobookreview-of-eternal-seas-by-lexi-rees-rararesources
Herding Cats https://likeherdingcatsblog.wordpress.com/2019/04/23/eternal-seas-by-lexi-rees-audiobook-tour/
World Geekly News http://worldgeeklynews.com/books/eternal-seas-book-review
The Treasure Within https://thetreasurewithinblog.wordpress.com/2019/04/23/eternal-seas-a-sea-faring-adventure-story-blog-blitz/
donnasbookblog https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/2019/04/23/blogtour-bookreview-for-eternal-seas-by-lexi-rees/
Birdie’s Bibliotheca https://birdiesbibliotheca.com/2019/04/23/eternal-seas-a-review/
Splashes Into Books https://splashesintobooks.wordpress.com/2019/04/23/eternal-seas/
Mai’s Musings https://maitaylor567291325.wordpress.com/2019/04/23/eternal-seas-lexi-rees-audiobook/
This Is My Bookshelf https://thisismybookshelfblog.wordpress.com/2019/04/23/blog-tour-eternal-seas/

 

Huge thanks again to everyone, and to Rachel’s Random Resources for hosting the tour!

Spotlight on local author Carol Thomas

I often spotlight books and authors, but they’re aways either children or adults, but Carol Thomas, from my local writing network Chindi, has published in both. So I thought we’d chat a bit about how she flips between genres.

Which came first, writing romance or writing for children?

Writing romance, and since gaining my publishing contract with Ruby fiction for my novel, The Purrfect Pet Sitter, it has been my main focus. However, I am a mum of four, I have two grandchildren, and I worked as a playgroup leader and primary school teacher for over fifteen years. Children are a very big part of my life and have a way of sneaking into my novels.

I often record the fabulous comments made by my own children. I love their inquisitive minds and how they look at the world. When the opportunity arises, I thread their words into my books. For me, this adds authenticity to the voices of the children I am portraying. In The Purrfect Pet Sitter, and its sequel Maybe Baby, the supporting cast of children (and pets) inspire some of my favourite comedic moments.

Regarding Finding a Friend, my first children’s book, the idea came to me in such a way that I couldn’t resist writing it. After reading a bedtime story to my then five-year-old son, I was looking at a photograph of him with our much-loved chocolate Labrador who had passed away at the grand old age of sixteen. The two of them shared a close bond, and I thought how lovely it would have been if they had grown up together. The first verse sprung to mind, and I said it aloud to my son. I kept going, hurriedly noting it down soon after.

thumbnail_edward imagine a puppy with him

Once I had the verses written, I worked on it, deploying my knowledge of developing early literacy skills to ensure the language was rhythmic, rhyming and repetitive. I wanted the text to inspire children to join in, anticipate and repeat words and phrases. It was a joy to write.

I have subsequently written two other children’s books that are awaiting illustrations. It is hard to balance the time, with the demands of writing and promoting my romance novels too, but I hope to get them out later this year.

What advice would you give to writers who are planning to write across genres?

If I could go back, I would put my children’s book out under a pen name and have separate social media pages in readiness for it. I didn’t, under the advice of my then publisher who quite rightly stated that as it is the adults who purchase children’s books, it would be them (the followers I had already gained from romance writing) who would be my target audience. However, in reality, this means that my children’s book doesn’t often get the attention it deserves.

I write romance, it is in no way explicit, but still, it is hard to balance posting about Chris Hemsworth inspiring my male lead in Maybe Baby, with posting about my cute picture book about a puppy! So watch this space, when my other books come out, I will endeavour to rectify this.

 

So since I’m getting into holiday mode, tell us about your latest romantic comedy novel:

thumbnail_Maybe Baby_High Res

Maybe Baby is the sequel to The Purrfect Pet Sitter (Lisa Blake book #1). While each book can be read as a standalone story, Maybe Baby revisits the characters from The Purrfect Pet Sitter as they move into the next phase of their lives. It is the book of what happens after the happy ever after.

And here’s the blurb:

Just when you thought you had it all worked out …

Best friends Lisa and Felicity think – maybe, just maybe – they finally have everything sorted out in their lives.

Lisa is in a happy relationship with her old flame, and busy mum Felicity has managed to reignite the passion with her husband, Pete, after a romantic getaway.

But when Lisa walks in on a half-naked woman in her boyfriend’s flat and Felicity is left reeling from a shocking discovery, it becomes clear that life is nothing but full of surprises!

Amazon Links:

Romance: Maybe Baby

Kids: Finding a Friend

About the author:

thumbnail_Carol Thomas headshot2

An active member of the Chindi Authors, Carol Thomas lives on the south coast of England with her husband, four children and lively Labrador. She has a passion for reading, writing and people watching and can often be found loitering in local cafes working on her next book.

Website and Social Media Links:

Home

http://facebook.com/carolthomasauthor

https://www.instagram.com/carol_thomas2/

 

Blog:

http://carol-thomas.co.uk/blog

Oooh a LoveReading4Kids badge!

OK, this is a brag post. I fully admit that. But please bear with me as I’m pretty excited! Eternal Seas just got this award from the awesome book review site LoveReading4Kids …

indie-books-we-love

If you’d like to check out their Ambassador review click here

Now, I guess I’d better get back to editing the sequel.

Thanks so so much to all my readers – you’re absolutely the best!

Screen Shot 2019-04-23 at 17.03.20

 

Do you remember play buses as a kid?

I’m thrilled to introduce todays guest, Sue Wickstead, as we recently did a joint creative writing workshop for kids at Crawley WordFest. Sue writes picture books based on the real play buses inspired by her work with the children’s charity, The Bewbush Playbus Association (is it only me that finds that a terrible tongue twister?!?). She’s also written a non-fiction photographic history book about the original bus which is worth a look too.

C22FFA56-CF81-42DF-BB8D-8205219F21ED

If you scroll down, there’s a giveaway competition for one of the books in the series and a free build-your-own-bus toy. Before we get there though, let’s take a look at the first book in the series, Jay-Jay The Supersonic Bus.

I have to say this is quite text heavy for a picture book: it’s really closer to a chapter book. Personally, I’d be tempted to reprint in a chapter book size format rather than laid out as it is in gate big square picture book style, but the illustrations are really lovely, so I would still want them. Ah it’s tricky! I wonder what the pictures would look like converted into black & white? Actually that could give quite a nice image.

Anyway, I reckon this is perfect for that tricky age where the kids are starting to read independently but absolutely insist on lots of pictures. The language itself is simple and straightforward. If you’re bored to tears with Biff and Chip, and who isn’t – can anyone tell me why schools still insist on using this dull and dated series? – then this is well worth a look. Overall, I can see this working really well for KS1 (UK school system – ages 4-7).

Blurb

Jay-Jay the bus is rescued from the dirty scrap yard, where he was sadly gathering dust and cobwebs. Feeling nervous yet excited, he’s taken to an airport where he is magically transformed into a ‘Playbus’ full of toys, games and adventure.

A fictional tale based on a real-life bus ‘Supersonic’, which flew in the imaginations of the many young children who visited it.

SU8ZW_0I

Giveaway to Win a copy of Jay-Jay and the Island Adventure (UK Only)

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494213/?

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using Rafflecopter.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

And another special offer:A free 3D card bus can be claimed via the website site ‘Enquiry button using ref code JJay

Additional bus models and books also offered as a promotion on request.

FRU-fdzk

And if you miss out on the giveaway, Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus will be 99p until 22ndApril. Purchase Links –

http://bit.ly/JJKSupersonic– Amazon .co.uk

http://amzn.to/2BxvU2l– Amazon .com

Author Bio

a1zfU718

I’m a teacher and an author and have currently written six children’s picture books with a bus theme.

For over 20 years, alongside my teaching career, I worked with a Children’s Charity, The Bewbush Playbus Association, which led me to write a photographic history book about it.

I soon found that many children had never been on a bus before, let alone a ‘Playbus’ and they wanted to know more. I decided to write a fictional tale about the bus, his number plate JJK261 gave him his name.

I also undertake events and author bookings and love to share the story. There are also a few more stories in the writing process, with links to real events and buses.

The story has been read in many schools in the south-East of England, where I teach as a cover teacher, it is always well received and certainly different.

Social Media Links –

https://www.suewickstead.co.uk/

Facebook: – Author Page http://bit.ly/2kEEhPq

http://bit.ly/2kXfjdj– Bewbush Playbus

http://bit.ly/2BZiews– Teacher in the cupboard

Twitter https://twitter.com/JayJayBus