Women’s Work – New Story at NTTK!

I am excited to have my new story Women’s Work up at NTTK today! It is the first time I have had a full length story up on that wonderfully edgy site, and I am delighted to be there, amongst  some very prestigious company!

The story is a classic, ‘don’t go down into the basement tale’ – especially if you are working for a sadistic psychopath such as Mr. Tinder. I wanted to write a tale in which my elderly female protagonist was trapped in a situation in which she knew that no-one could rescue her. I think at times many of have felt trapped in seemingly hopeless situations and have had to dig very deep to find some undiscovered resource to get us through. I hope to have captured that feel and atmosphere in this story- why not check it out for yourself?

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“Is this your wife?” I tried to sound polite. Take an interest. I wondered if she was still around. In truth, my money was already staked on a nasty divorce. I reckoned that Tinder could not be an easy man to live with.

He didn’t answer. A sick feeling cut into me, racing over my arms, leaving trails of goose bumps in its wake.

His expression was almost grotesque; his eyes glazed over, as if lost in another world. He seemed to completely forget that I was standing there. I coughed, cleared my throat. I was paid by the hour and didn’t have time to waste on his self-indulgence. Read More

 

Many thanks to Craig and Oliver at NTTK, especially for their very kind support and patience with me and my writing! And not forgetting my good friend CHenry Roi, for his creative inspiration and help with editing.

 

A Writer Behind Bars∼An in-depth interview with Author Chris Roy

A surprising number authors have written while in prison (Alaric Hunt, E. E. Cummings, Jean Genet, Oscar Wilde, O. Henry, to name but a few) and the genre of prison literature is very well established. Many would argue that it reached a peak of reader popularity with the groundbreaking novel Papillon by Henri Charrière, which was published in France in 1969. But interest is still, very much alive and well today, especially in the crime fiction genre.

This is my interview with Chris Roy, who is currently serving a life sentence in maximum security Unit 29 of Mississippi State Penitentiary (also known as Parchman) for the murder of a drug dealer in his youth. Chris is 37 years old and has written two exciting crime trilogies, Sharp As A Razor and Shocking Circumstances published by New Pulp Press.

 

You didn’t have an easy childhood, were brought up in a trailer park; was there a lot of crime surrounding you at that time?

I grew up in Fountain Bleau, an area right outside of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. My neighborhood, Gulf Park Estates, is a large one. The south side of it (when I lived there in the 90s) was mostly trailers on small lots, narrow roads winding next to bayous. Woods and trails everywhere. Paradise for a kid with a go-cart or dirtbike; no city police to stop you from driving on the streets.

There was crime, but not much. Folks smoked too much weed, drank way too much beer. But no one was selling crack on the corner or doing drive-bys. The adults I knew were hard workers, mostly roofers, framers, etc., that built houses in the subdivisions going up everywhere. When I was about 11 a friend and I were stealing weed from his parents and selling joints for a couple bucks each. It was nice to have gas money for the go-cart, a new clutch; things like that. A few dollars for bicycle parts.

I believe you were in trouble with the law for stealing from an early age?

Occasionally I stole things. I went to military training school when I was 13, for numerous accounts of grand larceny… and escape from the detention center. The only good that did was put some muscle on me and make me quit smoking. I remember one day at the local beach, not long after getting out, an old redneck told me, “Don’t steal where you live.” That made great sense to my undeveloped mind. Later, I adopted other rules. Only steal from people that can afford it. One day I realized that was wrong, and a new rule came about: only steal from those that deserve it. That last one was tough to follow. I broke all 3 rules a few times, each time deeply regretting it.

When did it become more serious – did you experience any warnings about the dangers of adopting a criminal lifestyle?

When I was about 13 I started buying weed from an older couple that lived around the corner. By then I was known at school as a weed dealer and was even selling it to older kids. When I was 14 I was robbed at gunpoint for a quarter-pound of grass. Right in my mom’s living room. That experience changed the way I thought about the drug business. I didn’t quit, despite my mom telling me too. I was making money at something I was good at. Something that made me, a kid living in a roach-infested trailer, popular in Ocean Springs. I was proud to be known as a guy that did good business.

Do you believe that having your father around, or another credible role model, would have made any difference to what happened to you?

My mom, teachers, aunts, and grandparents – there were plenty of adults in my life that cared and warned me to stop getting in trouble. But there were no examples; I was the first in my entire family to go to prison.

I don’t blame my father for my imprisonment. Though, on reflection, I know I wouldn’t have gone so far that it became life or death if I had a mentor. Someone that didn’t just say, “Don’t do that”, but actually made an impression, showed me where my talents were best used. Hell, maybe that person doesn’t exist.

With hindsight, do you feel that you were always on a collision course with a life in prison?

I experienced a juvenile detention center a few times for brief periods, no more than a couple months each time. Training school for 10 weeks. I knew that stealing would get me time there. I never thought about going to prison for drugs or whatever, because I had never experienced it. Teenagers don’t possess the capability to fully process the consequences of their actions. For myself, I only internalized a lesson once I learned it the hard way.

In October 2001 you were accused of capital murder. What happened at your trial?

At my trial, no one knew what to expect because no one had experienced criminal court. The public defender convinced my folks he knew his business then tried to sell them a life sentence plea. Told them I would get life without parole if I went to trial. The public defender actually swindled my mom and aunts into attempting to get me to sign for a life sentence. That didn’t work. So he had me transported to the Public Defender’s Office in downtown Pascagoula and ambushed me with my dad. Dad reeked of vodka, telling me to take the life sentence and plead guilty. I had never known that level of anger. I was embarrassed, furious, and tried my best to learn law so I could fire the PD. The judge ignored 2 motions I filed, a letter directly to him asking about the motions, and presided over a lopsided trial; my inept PD beaten soundly by the assistant district attorneys. There was so much wrong with my trial.

Mississippi State Penitentiary is an extremely tough place, renowned for its harsh conditions. How do you maintain your own sense of identity?

The #1 activity a person can do for their mind is exercising. Besides all the incredible physiological benefits, consistent exercise develops mental toughness that carries over to other activities. I got into fitness as a kid, but never knew what I was physically capable of until I was thrown in general population with a bunch of cons fresh out of Unit 32 supermax. The #2 activity you can do for your mind, is keeping it sharp by writing letters, though people avoid writing like they avoid exercise.

This is a primitive environment, a tribal one, where guys are constantly vying for status. If you are known for something, that means you are very good at it and have status among those that respect that particular ability. The more talents you have, the more you are known for, the more status you have. There are always people of lower status that hate your reputation and seek to sabotage it.

Have you found a way of protecting yourself from feeling institutionalized?

Staying updated on events in society, enjoying science or car magazines, Men’s Health-type periodicals – and socializing about them – prevents a mind from becoming institutionalized. In Parchman’s maximum security units there are no educational programs. And no incentives to educate yourself. Prison life consumes most; young men grow old as products of a chaotic environment. Many of my accomplishments have been done while under threat; imminent shakedowns, raging fires and floods, inmates throwing feces, urine, trying to kill one another.

How do you manage to stay sane and productive in this environment?

I’ve evolved the ability to block out the dissonance and keep working, whether it’s a writing project, an art piece, promoting my work on a radio show, or just pushing through a workout. There can be incredible pressure at times – knuckleheads “disrupting the orderly running of the institution”, antagonists that hate me and want to see me fail, or administration putting me on a daily shakedown list for being an escape risk (I’m not an escape risk any longer, though have failed to convince the warden…).

Do you have any sayings or mantras which help you get through the tough times?

Have you heard the expression, “You’re either living or dying. Get busy living”? Guys kill a little bit of themselves in here every day. Drugs. Meaningless, life-consuming behavior. Gang activity. Mindless television. Administration allows it to occur, gives them leverage during negotiations with the government for more money: violence, contraband, etc., are security problems that can only be solved with more staff. They need more money to hire, train, and attract more prison staff. Parchman has a brutal, corrupt economy. Being aware of my situation, the machinations of this place and what it means relative to the rest of the world; this retains my sanity and work ethic. Which preserves my reputation. Who cares what the mutts are barking?

Your current series, Shocking Circumstances, features one of the toughest and most resourceful female protagonists in modern crime writing. Are Clarice Ares’ experiences an expression of your own frustration at prison life?

shoking2Thank you for that. Such ranking makes me feel like penning another Clarice “Shocker” Ares novel! Her experiences throughout the series are largely fictional. While in prison she does things like make hiding places, build a tattoo machine and trains for fights (I never participated in a fight ring, though trained a lot of guys that did) that are from my own experiences. Her escape is loosely based on my second escape in January 2006. The convict characters are completely fabricated, though their actions and language come from this prison culture.

 

Did you find it difficult to write from a feminine perspective?

Writing in first person female was very challenging. I got the idea after reading LA Outlaws by T. Jefferson Parker. Shocker is what I imagined having a twin sister would be like. A far more talented, non-criminal twin that could out-box me, do better tattoos, and maintain the work ethic of a dozen overachievers. She makes over the top, easy. And she’s a freaking lunatic. Avoiding cliches and stereotypes was so hard! My subscription to Psychology Today helped.

You are currently in maximum security for two escapes in 2005 and 2006, what happened during the first escape and why did it go wrong?

My first escape was in October 2005. A friend and I made it to Tuscaloosa Alabama. A prison guard helping us used their credit card and the US Marshall’s tracked us to a motel. I warned the guard to use cash and a different name. When she came out of the motel office she said, “I used a different name. We have 2 days.” We thought it would be safe.  So, I left in her car to go shopping while they had sex. The grocery store, Dollar Tree and a thrift shop were new adventures. I bought clothes and food, toiletries, and wore the biggest smile. I must’ve said hello to 20 people. They probably thought I was on drugs.

The Marshall Service hit the room around 2am with a tactical team. My partner and I had no idea how we were caught until we were discovered, and saw the credit card receipt. The guard was sentenced to 3 years probation.

How did freedom feel after 6 years inside – do you still believe it was worth it?

The simple act of holding a door for someone, walking through a produce aisle and seeing/smelling the displays, opening the mini fridge in the motel room, were wondrous, fascinating experiences.

Before the escape, I was in general population at East Mississippi Correctional Facility and was doing very well for myself. I worked for the Education Department, building props for plays, painting things for classrooms, and tutored math and English. My cell was set up like a tattoo studio. I got all the medical supplies I needed from the clinic nurses, had free world inks and plenty of customers. I had 2 cell phones, bought pizza or gin whenever the mood struck. I even had a few real friends around that had my back. And I still went out the window. No matter how good prison can get, it’s still prison. That was 12 years ago and my time will never be that sweet again. Part of me says, Hell yes, that brief taste of freedom was worth it.

And the second escape attempt in 2006?

3 months later I escaped again, from K9 transport in downtown Meridian. I used a homemade key to get out of my restraints and ran. I got away from 4 officers chasing me, jumped in the back of a truck and changed clothes – I had homemade shorts on under my striped pants. Leaving my jacket and pants in the truck I walked down the crowded sidewalk with the other pedestrians. Police were everywhere looking for a guy running in stripes and a jacket. Some lady came out of a business and pointed me out. It was fun up until then.

Were there any consequences that you hadn’t foreseen?

In my 20s I was deluded with the fantasy of escaping and starting a new life somewhere. I’m 36 now, half my life spent in this dungeon. I think I mentioned I learn lessons only after experiencing them. I was shot at and nearly killed during my second escape. My family’s homes were raided. Things I didn’t plan for. I won’t take risks like that again.

Your latest fiction is taking a much darker turn; do you have any plans for devolving this aspect of your writing further in the future?

Fight scenes, high-speed chases, and technology fill the pages of my thrillers. Action and tension are my strong points. Writing dark fiction has helped me improve in other areas, especially character development and overall storyline. Telling a story without a build up to a fight or heist of some kind has added more to my box of fiction tools. Thinking up a vicious psychopath and telling the story with them as the protagonist has tapped into a level of emotional creativity I didn’t know I possessed. Scary joy.

At the moment, there are no plans to make a permanent transition to the horror genres. In fact, I have another thriller coming out in May 2018, a novella titled Her Name is Mercie.

You teach boxing and are known to be generous with your time and expertise with other writers – including me. What do you gain from doing this; does it help motivate you in any way?

I teach boxing fundamentals to guys, explaining and demonstrating weight distribution and leverage. Tell them how to stand: weight centered, hands up, elbows in, chin down, rotate shoulders, roll fists out, tighten up on the end of the punch. How to turn heels out, twist hips, step in time with the punches. How to throw perfect hooks, uppercuts. Every punch is different. Then I’ll make them tell me how to do it. Teaching someone else how to do it helps them learn it. Writing is like that for me. Just like I can spot poor boxing fundamentals I can recognize where a piece of writing needs improvement. The more experienced I get, the more intuitive it’s become.

It’s incredibly rewarding to see a guy throw a perfect combination after a ton of work I coached personally. I don’t like helping slackers. I’ll make an effort to motivate guys and if they quit then I’ll move on. Same with writers. I’ll help those willing to put the work in. Because I consider their achievements my own, like a coach whose boxers are winning.

If you could reinvent yourself like a new character in one of your stories, who would you be, where would you live, what would you do with your life?

Well, in my previous life I was a rodeo bull. If I could reinvent myself I would be a Burmese Python in the Everglades. They seem to be taking over the animal kingdom.

HmmSeriously Chris?

Okay, that’s a bunch of crap. Seriously, I wish I had gone to tech school as a teenager and maybe become like Ace in Shocking Circumstances. Few things in life hold my interest like the workings of electronics, the capabilities of computers. The science of it, applied and theoretical. I wouldn’t need a home. I would go where the work is. Where can I go to learn this, get experience in that? I dream of being part of teams that develop state of the art technology.

 

More information on Chris

Amazon Author Page

You can find Chris on Facebook 

Twitter @AuthorChrisRoy

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Photos of Lake Bled∼ Slovenia

 

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There are few sights more beautiful than Slovenia in the autumn! Here are some photographs I took on a wonderful day out in Lake Bled, before attending the Alibi International Crime/ Noir Festival in Slovenska Bristrica. This was my first ever trip to Slovenia – but it certainly will not be my last!

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An interview with Renato Bratkovič ~ creator of Alibi International Crime/Noir Festival!

As you may know, I have just spent a wonderfully creative weekend at the amazing Alibi International Crime/Noir Festival in Slovenia, which was the hosted and created by the very talented writer and creative advertising director,  Renato BratkovičThe festival is unique in its concept and originality, and so I was it was a real  pleasure to catch up with Renato, to ask him he felt about this year’s event…

Alibi is a unique, noir festival, set in the beautiful Slovenian mountains. What was the initial inspiration for its creation?

Nino, our friend photographer, and I made the film about Gora pod lipo (http://www.gorapodlipo.com) back in July 2015. When the film was finished I realised, what a lovely place this was. I could imagine a bunch of writers writing there, eating, drinking, having fun … I told Lena (she runs the place with her boyfriend Primož) about the idea and she said, “Yeah, sure, create a concept and we’ll do something about it.” After two weeks I had this idea about inviting five writers for a weekend, let them draw titles for their stories, write them and present them in the end. The last weekend in September the first guests arrived.

This is the third year of the festival, how has it has evolved since the beginning?

We try to add little bits every year – the writing workshop concept, where participating writers get their titles and have to write the stories, is unique I believe, but I wanted a film night as well. The first Alibi happened so fast and the film I wanted to present (the first official Slovenian film noir Case: Osterberg)  but I was travelling from festival to festival at the time, so we ended up with Michael Winterbottom’s The Killer Inside Me.

We hosted Case: Osterberg with the screenwriter and the producer last year, and this year we presented a film based upon my story and we invited my favorite director, Damjan Kozole, with his film Night Life.

What are your feelings about this year’s event?

Well, it seems I’m lucky to choose writers who form a brilliant team. And this year was no exception. But most of all, I’m happy I had more women than men this year. Women tend to write even darker stories then men, I think.

Alibi differs from many other literary festivals as the writers create their stories while in attendance – do you believe it is important to celebrate spontaneous creativity?

I believe we need this sense of accomplishment in the end. I mean it’s great if you’re able to visit a festival where you read your own work, but when you find yourself with a task of having to create something on the spot and present your work, you win twice: you get this beautiful feeling of having created something and you have one more story that year. I guess this is what drives my guests to come here and I’m happy about it.

How has the festival evolved over the years, and what are your future aspirations for Alibi?

Well, the workshop concept will definitely remain the core of the festival. In the future I’d also like to have Slovenian publishers as guest – maybe some collaboration between them and our participating writers might come out of it.

My story began with Bistrica Noir literary evening at our local library a couple of years ago, so I’ll try and find a way to get them involved in the festival. And I feel one film night is not enough.

As this was the third year, my plan is to have an anthology with 25 stories published every five years. So in three years, all the writers from the first five years are going to be invited to join us again for the sixth edition when we’re going to promote the book and have some real fun. But we’ll have to find some additional sponsors.

Thank you for your interesting insights Renato!

For more information on the festival why not visit the Website and Alibi FB Page?

For further information on Renato please visit:

 Radikalnews

Artisan advertising and publishing house.

Renato at Amazon

 

 

Alibi International Crime/Noir Literary Festival

 

The Invitation

I was very fortunate enough to be asked to the 3rd Alibi International Crime/Noir Festival in the beautiful surroundings of Slovenska Bistrica, Slovenia. It is a very special event with five guest writers invited to spend the weekend surrounded by stunning scenery in the mountains at the idyllic Gora Pod Lipo . The festival is organized in conjunction with Artisan advertising and publishing house and Tednik Panorama, media sponsor.

How was the experience?

Imagine the nicest place you have visited on holiday; then add some of the best cuisine you have ever tasted, a beautiful full-bodied red wine, named Alibi especially for this event, add a selection talented writers, a lovely, comfortable hotel in the mountains, (Hotel Jakec) and of course, a cool bar to hang out in when you are not writing (Bar Grega). It’s all true! I can assure you I am not exaggerating – this was a very special event!

What did you do?

On the Friday evening (after I had spent a lovely day at Lake Bled with advertising creative, writer, and festival organizer Renato Bratkovič, the five writers attended a dinner at Goro Pod Lipo, (where we were spoiled the entire weekend with excellent food and wine), and each of us drew a slip of paper with our story title ready for the following  days writing.

Did we enjoy creating new stories?

Yes very much! Of course, there is a little extra pressure in writing a full short story to be read the following day, But as the guest writer, poet, and publisher Jaka Tomc observed, sometimes a little pressure can be a good thing for a writer…

Goro pod lipo has a warren of private rooms and secluded spaces and so we all chose our own areas, carefully, meeting up for coffee with German, thriller writer, Silvija Hinzmann . And Croatian radio presenter and fiction writer Andrea Žigić-Dolenec   for delicious meals in the cozy, traditional style restaurant.

Where there any trips out?

On Saturday evening we all bundled into the minivan and headed down to the local cinema in Slovenka Bristrica. The first feature was a new film starring Igor Korošec, Jana Jeglič was created by Artisan, Final Focus,  called Minus 1 – and very entertaining it was too. I loved the noir feel of the piece and the character- without revealing too much, was very dark and manipulative; but he did want to help…

The second film was called Nightlife, which was based on a real-life incident with a lawyer in Ljubljana. To say that this man exceeded the boundaries of taste and decency is an understatement. The lawyer’s wife seemed a little dubious too, she kept saying she didn’t understand what was happening, but I was never sure if that was actually true. Her attempts to hide evidence in her handbag while being questioned at the police station, were quite humorous, although I’m not entirely sure if this was meant to be the case. The film’s director Damjan Kozole,  kindly answered our questions afterward.

After all of that hard work, what did you do to relax?

As if you need to ask! We all headed off to the very cool Bar Grega to drink more wine, local beers … and yes, eat a little extra, delicious food… more strudel anyone? (as I’m sure you can imagine being a writer is very thirsty work, and we have to keep our strength up by consuming as many calories as possible in order to produce our very best efforts!)

What happened on Festival Day?

After spending the morning editing our stories and drinking coffee (caffeine is also indispensable to the writing process) we prepared ourselves for the event. The five stories readings came first, followed by some questions from Renato, and then from the audience. It all went very smoothly, and the audience seemed to be engaged and entertained. There was a pleasant time spent socializing afterward with the audience members, quite a few of whom, we recognized from the bar and the cinema earlier.

So what happens next?

The stories will be translated so that they can be read in Slovenian and English and the will be posted on the website, and eventually, they will be included in an exciting anthology of stories with the writers of the previous years and future festivals. I will, of course, keep you informed of what’s going on and when the stories are posted for reading.

For more information why not visit the Website and Alibi FB Page?

 

 

 

 

Last Day in St. Petersburg ∼ St. Peter& Paul Fortress

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Is the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral the most beautifully adorned church I have ever seen? – without a doubt! It’s amazing internal design by Domenico Trezzini and Ivan Zarundy (1722-1729), successfully combines elements from the traditional Russian Orthodox with western Catholicism in a stunning Baroque style.

The details of our trip were quite sparse and after a long day visiting various locations we were ushered quickly in through the gates.  I must admit the external structure did not prepare me for its stunning interior. The church is not huge, but there is a lavish array of architectural splendor on display. Personally, it was the sumptuous ceilings which drew my attention; the cathedral is a rich and potent source of Russian history and probably contains more decorative gold in its iconoclasts than I have seen previously in my entire lifetime…

As well as, the iconoclasts and paintings, the Cathedral is also an important burial vault, containing the tombs of Peter the Great, and  Alexander II. In 1998 the remains of the last Russian Emporer  Nicholas II and members of his family who were killed at Ekaterinburg in the revolution of 1918, were buried inside. There is so much to see that is breathtakingly beautiful, and the history of the Cathedral and Fortress is fascinating.

Did I save the best until last? Absolutely – I hope you enjoy the photos!

 

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A walking tour ∼Photos from St. Petersburg

On my walking tour of St. Petersburg, the thing which surprised me the most was the vast scale of the city. My tour took in some stunning sites, which I have tried to capture in the images below.

Without a doubt, the most spectacular is the roof of Church on the Spilled Blood, which is the featured image above. The church was built on the spot where the Emperor Alexander ll was murdered in 1881. The design is incredibly beautiful the church is both a historical monument and amazing work of art. As this was a walking tour, unfortunately, I did not have time to visit the stunning mosaics inside – maybe next time…

Other photos below include The Winter Palace, Palace Square, St Isaac’s Cathedral and a statue of the famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canal trip – St Petersburg, Russia

Today I’m talking about my recent Baltic trip and have posted some photos of the wonderful canal trip taken by myself and my husband in St. Petersburg. It was a cold and rainy day, and if you catch the short video at the end, you will see it wasn’t the best day weather wise, but it was a wonderful experience, which I would highly recommend should you choose to visit Russia!

The trip took about an hour and twenty minutes and it was really special. I had little idea of the huge scale of the city until this point. St. Petersburg was founded in 1703, and was originally the capital of the Russian empire. It was the rather daring vision of Peter 1st to whom this grandiose and very ambitious project was symbolic of an era of confidence, extravagance, and optimism. The city was built on northern reclaimed marshland, which was perpetually wreathed in mist – which explains the less than optimum weather conditions many visitors to St. Petersburg experience. But as I am sure you are already aware, you don’t go to Russia for the climate…

When planning a Russian trip, you are required to obtain a visa, and the easiest way to do this is to book via a travel agent who will sort it out for you (it’s not cheap around 120 euros) or you can go on an organised group trip as we did. Even so, passport control is very strict and time-consuming. I did think I was going to have to continue without my husband at one point – when they brought a very official looking man uniform to question him about some apparently unsavoury stamps in his passport – he does get about a bit… but they eventually let him through and thankfully, the bus was still there waiting for us to join it!

Back to the boat trip: there are 342 bridges in total on the river Neva, which runs from Lake Ladoga, right through the middle of the city into the Gulf of Finland. On this canal trip, we lost count of how many bridges we passed under and there was some stunning wrought ironwork to be seen. It was an amazing trip with such an impressive collection of beautiful buildings and a vast assortment of bridges; some of which were so low that our tour guide instructed us to duck our heads as we went under them – and you most definitely needed to!

If the video looks upside – it does right itself once you press play!

 

Cooling in the Troodos Mountains & Free murder mystery book!

We decided to take a break in the Troodos mountains to escape the heat of Oroklini, and my husband and I also were celebrating our wedding anniversary the previous week so this was a special trip for us! We had been to the Troodos mountains In Cyprus before but never to the very charming village of Kalopanayiotis. It is so beautiful and peaceful up here – I have included a photo of our apartment balcony, which overlooks the river and has an amazing unrestricted view of the mountains. Kalopanayiotis village is very traditional in style, with cobbled narrow streets and pathways picturesque balconies and courtyards. It is surrounded by beautiful green forest vegetation and stunning landscapes.

The village is very attractive and there is a lot to see for such a small place, including several small churches as well as the Ayios Ioannis Lampadistis Monastery (courtyard photos below – you are not allowed to photograph the interior) which is literally on our doorstep. There are many restaurants and traditional taverns serving delicious food (some of the best we have tasted in Cyprus – I would definitely recommend the Old Cinema- the mezze was gorgeous!).

To celebrate our trip into the mountains in Cyprus, my kindle book Buried in the Hills which is partially set in the Troodos, as well as my own village Oroklini, is FREE on all Amazon sites at the moment. If you would like to have your own mountain adventure, then please follow the links on the Amazon photo below! It’s

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Next Stop∼Tallinn

This was my first visit to Tallinn, and indeed to Estonia!  It was not at all as I imagined because I think I expected something a little less colourful and austere.  The architecture in the old centre was beautiful, a mixture of romantic pastel coloured prettiness and stately gothic splendor. The Town Hall Square had a lovely mixture of restaurants and bars offering excellent quality food, and it was a great place to spend the day people watching and taking in the friendly atmosphere.

I was surprised at how contained the tourism was, the shops were not full of tacky, mindless rubbish you see in some places, it was more hand knitted socks, homemade handicrafts and really amazing amber jewelry – which of course I couldn’t resist! The town is famous for its markets, which have been happening since the 11th century; unfortunately, I didn’t catch one, but still managed to come away with lots of pretty amber pieces.

This was a quick visit but I wanted to mention it as it was so nice to roam around the beautiful old buildings, some of which date back to the 15th century. The centre had a lot of charm and the oldest coffee shop, the Maiasmokk Café, was gorgeously old fashioned as well as being very popular!

As well as the historic areas, Tallinn is actually a hub for IT and communications, with many major companies having development centres in the commercial part of the city. Tallinn is not only beautiful, historical and friendly, but is a surprisingly innovative and modern city too! ∼