Tag: Time Heal My Heart

Philoxenia and the kindness of strangers.

Philoxenia and the kindness of strangers.

Whilst at a book signing recently a customer browsing books nearby approached me with a book in hand. Unexpectedly, he asked what the title Philoxenia, a seat at my table. meant. Maybe he thought seeing as I was an author, I would know the meaning of the obviously foreign word in the title.

I eyed the attractive cover which featured a bowl of olives and a plate of rustic bread.”It looks like it is a Greek cookbook,” I commented. This was confirmed by the nature of the author’s names, Kon and Sia Karapanagiotidis. Delightfully long Greek names. The man smiled but still hovered. I had not answered his question. What does the word Philoxenia mean?

What does philoxenia mean?

I looked at the word again and recognised within it two smaller Greek words. They are ‘philos’ meaning friend and ‘xenos’ meaning stranger. “I think it means ‘the love of strangers'” I said, “but as it is obviously a cookbook, not sure if I am right.”

“I will google it,” he offered. Why he didn’t do this in the first place, I did wonder. Maybe he just wanted company or a chat with a ‘xenos’, a stranger like me. Or was I starting to look like a Miss Marple in my autumn years? No, that can’t be it, surely not, he is too young to be an Agatha Christie fan like me.

“It means hospitality or kindness to strangers,” he announced, flashing his phone towards me. “Ah!” I replied, “That makes sense. What a lovely word with a special meaning. We have both learnt something today. Thank you!” The stranger now a little less of a stranger, smiled. he had a lovely smile that further brightened my morning. Smiles are like that, aren’t they. So much better than frowns or blank stares! You feel less invisible.

Becoming more visible thanks to philoxenia

At book events, even though you are meant to be increasing your visibility as an author, you can feel very invisible. Folk wander by immersed in their own world, fair enough, I guess. But I always smile and say ‘good morning’ but many just give me a blank stare or grunt in return. Not practising philoxenia obviously. My new word.

The stranger stayed. His name was Brad. We chatted about food which made me a tad hungry as I had rushed to get here and not had breakfast. Then we chatted about travels another wonderful engaging topic. He like me had travelled widely and now we had our word, we extolled on the hospitality or philoxenia we had both experienced abroad. We had both been adopted for meals by Greek and Italian families we had randomly met. Yes, these lovely Europeans like to share their wonderful earthy cuisines with strangers. Meals made from the most basic of ingredients, fresh from the market and transformed into luscious comforting and delicious dishes for all to share. I remembered that I had included a chapter about this phenomenon in my latest book, Time Heal my Heart. 

Philoxenia and the English man

In Chapter 27, I think it is, the characters Oscar and Luigi retire from the exhausting Giro d’Italia bike race of 1914 (the most difficult race ever) They visit Luigi’s uncle and aunt in nearby Florence. There in the courtyard garden, they are plied with plates of steaming spaghetti to reinvigorate their stiff aching limbs. There in the garden, Oscar the Englishman marvels at the ‘philoxenia’ of Luigi’s family. Estranged from his own family in London, he has been a runaway for years and not even informed his parents where he is. How different is this happy, loving family sharing a splendid meal under a splendid tree in beautiful Florence.

Oscar will remember his sojourn in Florence for years to come. His time there with this family and their philoxenia prefaces the horror of the years to come. Even though Oscar and Luigi have no idea at this time, the world is about to erupt into war. In a few weeks’ time as they travel to Sarajevo, they will coincide with its outbreak, the opening shots fired by Gavrilo Princip that will echo around the world.

How a sandwich led to the outbreak of WWI

And this is another foodie story because Gavrilo would not have shot Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie if he hadn’t stopped for a sandwich at Moritz Schiller’s delicatessen! Now that’s a story in itself. See above link to Gavrilo Princip to read about this amazing coincidence that changed the lives of millions. I could not resist having my boys Oscar and Luigi also eating a salami sandwich nearby. A sort of Forest Gump moment. They become firsthand witnesses of the shot that lights the powder keg and boom! we have a world war. The first one ever. They called it The Great War. But it was not so great if you became embroiled in it as millions worldwide did. Oscar escapes the rising tensions by taking off to Argentina, but Luigi stays and takes the confusing consequences of his country changes sides during the war.

Philoxenia rules the day!

Now I have come a long way off topic and away from my chance meeting in the bookshop. What happened, you might ask if you made it this far? (having survived my digressions and rants) Well done you. My stranger now not a stranger stayed to chat as I said and this led, I believe to other people thinking I was worth talking to and maybe not so invisible, so a few people hovered. They picked up and turned over my books to read the blurb on the back cover. Two wondered off to the counter with copies of The Last Hotel, my bestseller. Not everyone wants a signature and mine is not flash since I have CRPS in my right hand.

Thanks to the kindness of a stranger and later a few more strangers who stopped by, I had a lovely afternoon in Rosetta’s Bookshop, Maleny in the lovely hinterland of Queensland, Australia where I live. If you are ever here in our great southern land make sure to visit the Sunshine Coast Hinterland where you can view from a distance The (stunning) Glasshouse Mountains to the south. In Maleny and nearby Montville you can experience the hospitality or philoxenia of Queenslanders! There are many cafes, cheeseries and wineries where you can share a bowl of olives and some rustic bread just like the Greeks do.

Joni Scott is an Australian writer. See website joniscottauthor.com to read her history blog and find her books.

Agatha, Queen of mysteries.

Agatha, Queen of mysteries.

She is the queen of mysteries, the best-selling novelist of all times and one of the most prolific writers with 66 detective novels and 14 short story anthologies to her name. She wrote the longest running play, The Mousetrap which has played in London since 1952 and my mystery guest also wrote under the pen name Mary Westmacott. Did you pick up on the clues? Who is she?

The Queen of Mysteries

Yes, She’s Agatha Christie, the world famous, most celebrated detective-story writer. Agatha, the queen of mysteries and I have been one of her fans since a teenager. My daughter as a young teen also became a fan. Together, we collected 75 of her novels from markets and bookstores. We subscribed to the Poirot DVD collection and magazines and watched all the film versions of her books. They are still popular, so new versions keep being made, competing with each other to include famous stars. I am a self-confessed Agatha tragic (as well as a Titanic tragic.)

What I love about Agatha, apart from her delicious mysteries, is the woman herself. Having read everything about her and her autobiography countless times, I can tell you that she was a very humble, natural, unpretentious person, unaffected by her world-wide fame.

Agatha, a Natural Writer

When asked about her writing space and tools of the trade, Agatha laughed. ‘Why, I just need a little table somewhere, some paper, my old, battered typewriter and off I go.’ Apparently, her stories with their twists and turns, sprinkle of clues and trail of red herrings are already there in her head, bursting to come out and be put on paper. She’s a natural. No writer’s block, no hesitancy, two or three books a year, no worries.

When one of her books was first made into film and she went to the premiere, she asked why there was such a crowd. ‘It’s for you, Ma’am.’

Agatha, a Famous yet Humble woman

‘No, it couldn’t be,’ she protested. Agatha snuck away into the crowd and queued up with the patrons. When asked about her absent ticket, she told the usher she was the writer, could she go in free? Disbelieving her, he barred her entry and called the manager. They were amazed to discover that this plain little lady was the great queen of mystery herself.

Indeed, as Agatha aged, she resembled anyone’s granny. By then she was married to Sir Max Mallowan, the archaeologist, and travelled the world to his digs in Mesopotamia, now part of modern Iraq. She was an adventurous, no-frills woman, not one for glamour or the bright lights, nor interested in her fame. She wrote because she loved writing and puzzles. How good is that.

Agatha and the Modern Reader

Some modern readers admittedly may find her stories xenophobic but that is how the world was in the 1920’s up until 1976, the year of her death. She was a woman of her time, reflecting its attitudes and values, like we all are. In post-war England, people were wary of the influx of refugees flocking into their country.

Yet despite her now cringe-worthy comments about foreigners, she made one of them her most loved character, Hercule Poirot, the little dapper Belgian refugee detective. In fact, Agatha was a champion for the marginalized. Both Poirot and Miss Marple existed at the margins of society. A rotund foreigner and an elderly spinster were not on the A lists of society.

But Poirot and Marple infiltrate society and meet some well to do folk. Unsuspectedly, quietly working their little grey cells, they outsmart the police constables, even Scotland Yard. It’s a victory for the small man, the foreigner and the little old lady. In Agatha’s world there would have been many spinsters and maiden aunts. The Great War and later World War II took the flower of British manhood leaving many girls unable to marry. Jane Marple hints at a long-lost love lost in the war as does Poirot. He too, has a past. He too has a heart.

Agatha and Beatrix Potter

Agatha Miller was born in Torquay in 1890 to older, well-off parents. Like Beatrix Potter, she was home schooled in her nursery and had lots of pets running about in a rambling house and garden. Agatha had imaginary friends called the kittens that she talked to and wrote stories about. It was her sister Madge that challenged her to write a novel, as she was dabbling in writing herself. But this older sister lost interest in books and found men and left home to marry. Agatha as an only child for years, occupied herself. She had a vivid imagination, again like Beatrix Potter.

Eventually Agatha who was a very pretty, blonde child grew into an attractive, slim young woman. She went to local dances and caught the eye of Archie Christie a dashing young fellow. They became engaged in the gathering clouds of World War One, hesitated a few times, but eventually married on Christmas Eve 1914. He served his country in The Great War and luckily survived.

Dark Days for Agatha

During the dark years of the war, Agatha volunteered as a nurse and worked in the hospital dispensary. It was here that she learnt about poisons and had the idea for her first detective novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles where the victim succumbs to poison. It was the beginning of a seemingly never-ending flow of writing for young Agatha. I could not resist inserting Agatha in my latest WWI novel, Time, Heal my Heart. She becomes the friend of my character Dorothy who works in the dispensary with her. They have a marvellous time making suppositories and mixing potions. Dorothy is enthralled by Agatha’s writing.

Agatha, rejected by publishers

Agatha’s first attempt at writing pre-dated the success of The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Agatha wrote a novel called Snow Upon the Desert. It was rejected by six publishers. Today, the novel is still unpublished though it exists as a manuscript in the archives of her estate.

Agatha kept writing despite this rejection (as we all should.) She kept trying even after becoming a mother to a daughter, Rosalind, her only child. Agatha and husband, Archie were happy enough until her mother died. Agatha went into deep mourning and took herself off to her childhood home for weeks, while she sorted through the old house and grieved for her mother, probably her lost childhood as well.

It was during this time, 1926, that Archie had an affair with his secretary and decided he didn’t love his wife anymore. He told a startled Agatha that their marriage was over. She was still mourning her mother and now had to mourn her marriage as well.

It was a dark time for the writer. She disappeared for ten days, and no one could find her. Her car was found abandoned in a quarry. Unwittingly, she created a real-life mystery with herself in the star role. Strangely, she was located at a small hotel in Harrogate registered under the name of Archie’s mistress. This is one episode of her life that Agatha passes over in her autobiography. She must have wanted to mentally erase the traumatic incident.

Agatha Sets Off for Adventure

Afterwards, divorce papers filed, she left her daughter in care and took off further afield. She went to Paris and boarded the train to Istanbul, then onto Mesopotamia. The train was The Orient Express. At the end of her second journey to these parts she met, by chance through friends, her next husband, the archaeologist, Sir Max Mallowan. Though he was 13 years younger, they hit it off. Agatha was most interested in his work (and men love that.) He was unaware of her writing, and knowing her, she probably dismissed it as a little hobby of hers, despite the fact that she was earning well from her books by then.

In fact, even her first novel sold well. Not many debut authors can claim that success! During the 1920s and her stress over a failed marriage, she turned to thrillers, James Bond style stories with dark villains and political intriguing plots. These novels, The Big Four and The Secret Adversary, 1922 are not as well received as her classic detective stories. The 1920s was the time of the Flappers but Agatha continued to do her own thing. It was good she had an income to fall back on after her marriage failed. Many women of that time had no chance if their man left them. She forged on and became the queen of mysteries. I wonder what Archie felt about his name becoming so famous because of his ex-wife’s talent not his own.

Agatha had not quite realized her literary strengths and was no doubt experimenting with other genres. Her few later attempts at thrillers in the 1950’s again were not hailed as brilliant, The Pale Horse, 1961 and N or M, 1941. Her six novels under the pen name Mary Westmacott offer a different style. They are partly autobiographical and sweet love stories. She wrote a number of plays as well and ten short story collections.

Agatha and the Cosy Mystery

Finally, thankfully, she settled into the cosy mystery genre set in the ubiquitous English village with the inevitable vicar and cast of landed gentry and their servants. She later interspersed these with murder stories set in Mesopotamia, Murder in Mesopotamia,1936, in Egypt, Death on the Nile,1937, in Europe, Murder on the Orient Express, 1934 and The Mystery of the Blue Train,1928, and South Africa, The Man in the Brown Suit, 1924.

Agatha’s one regret was creating Hercule Poirot as past middle-aged. She didn’t anticipate that he would have to last many decades, along with the already aged Miss Marple. It constrained her to a time. She couldn’t use these characters in novels set too much later in the century. Eventually Poirot dies off in Curtain,1975, shortly before her own death.

Agatha borrowed from Arthur Conan Doyle to create a sidekick for Poirot in the form of Captain Hastings, just as Sherlock had in Watson. These sidekicks are not as smart and ask questions as the reader would mentally. It is a successful way of revealing how the detective is thinking as he chats with his curious sidekick. Captain Hastings and Poirot present a comic duo and add fun to the novels.

Agatha is everywhere as the queen of mysteries

At any airport or train station anywhere in the world, you used to be able to spot someone reading an Agatha Christie novel, no matter their nationality. Maybe not so much now, as everyone has their nose in a phone, in what is called ‘Phubbing’. A combination of the word phone and snubbing!

Using my detective skills, I can spot an Agatha Christe novel at twenty paces, as I know all the titles! Even translated, they are mostly recognizable. Her most popular novel, at over a million sales, is And There Were None, 1939, also called Ten Little Niggers in USA, (possibly not anymore though.)

Agatha in Film

Many of her novels have made excellent films, Death on the Nile, Evil Under the Sun and Murder on the Orient Express being probably most popular and revisited with modern re-makes. Agatha Christie novels have been translated into every language under the sun. Over thirty films are based on her works.

Recently, some writers have attempted to copy her work and write in her style, re-establishing the cosy mystery genre. This is encouraging! But they will never trump Agatha, the queen of mysteries.

Recognition for the Queen of Mysteries

Agatha was awarded many accolades for her services to literature and entertainment. She became a fellow of The Royal Society of Literature in 1950 and appointed a CBE in 1956. She was later promoted to Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1971, making her Dame Agatha Christie, three years after Max Mallowan was knighted. Therefore, she could also call herself Lady Mallowan, though I doubt she did.

In later years of their mostly happy marriage Max took a mistress who was also an archaeologist and friend. They married soon after Agatha’s death just as Archie married his secretary a week after he and Agatha divorced. Men behaving badly again.

Agatha hated crowds and was a shy, modest woman, despite her talents. She loved animals and gardens. Her last home, Greenaway in Dartmouth now resides with The National Trust. She is remembered as an amazing woman who leaves a legacy of literature and film.

 

Photo Source: Unsplash

Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels: Whispers through Time, The Last Hotel, Colour comes to Tangles and her latest, Time Heal my Heart.  Joni has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.

The Great War (1914-1918)

The Great War (1914-1918)

The Great War started on 14 August 1914 in response to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, Serbia in the Balkans. Things had been brewing for some time in this part of the world. Once tensions reached a fever pitch, the fight was on. The Austro-Hungarian empire was a mighty one that included 14 countries many unknown in the popular domain. Ethnic diversities resented this take over and so there were many nationalist military groups fighting for independence. One such was The Black Hand.

The Black Hand and the Archduke

On hearing of the visit to Sarajevo by the heir apparent to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, The Black Hand planned his assassination. A bomb was thrown under the car carrying the Archduke and his wife, Sophie but missed the target injuring others in the motorcade instead. The Bosnian Serb, Gavrilo Princip was one of the nationalists involved and along with his disappointed comrades he fled the scene.

But Franz Ferdinand was meant to die that day it seems. The motorcade diverted to backstreets was in the act of turning around near a delicatessen where Princip was eating a sandwich. Surprised, he ran out and shot the Archduke and Sophie at short range. These two shots sealed the fate of millions. They ignited a powder keg that fanned the flames of The Great War.

The fuse that started The Great War.

At the time this conflict started it was not called World War One as not many expected a skirmish in faraway Serbia to become global. Nor was the conflict ever expected to last long. But The Austro-Hungarians wanted to take revenge on troublesome Serbia and avert possible intervention by mighty Russia. During the following month post assassination, the powers in Europe took sides.

Taking sides

The Allies included Britain, France, Russia and were also called The Triple Entente. On the opposing side called the Axis were the Austro-Hungarians, Germany and Italy though Italy switched sides in 1915. Other countries became involved by association. As these key players were Empires, they had inbuilt support from their colonies. Britain had Australia, Canada, other British colonies and surprisingly Japan. The Axis had Turkey on their side and later Bulgaria. I discovered there is a boardgame based on the conflict, called Axis and Allies. If only the leaders of empires had fought a duel or played this board game. Not used 40 million people as their play pieces.

The Central Powers or Axis was disadvantaged from the start in terms of resources and fighting personnel. But such was their Teutonic pride and ambition that they were the ones to start the hostilities that once begun would inflate to involve the world.  Britain declared war in retaliation to the Axis advance into France.

Youthful enthusiasm for the war.

British soldiers and young civilian men were up for the fight. They looked upon it as a grand adventure, a way to serve their country and also see the world. No conscription needed they enlisted willingly and with much patriotic enthusiasm. After all they would be home by Christmas after eliminating the enemy. Wouldn’t they?

Gallipoli. It all went horribly wrong.

Similarly in the colonies, men signed up for the fight. A whole generation of men and boys who lied about their age. Some were only 14 years old. Young Australians and Canadians were eager to go to Europe and see the world while getting paid. Whole contingents of them would be dead shortly after. The Gallipoli campaign alone took 70, 000 of the young Allied soldiers and Turkey lost 60,000 men. Stalemate was the name of this deadly game. It was all about a planned British sea route through the Bosphorus  to seize the straits of the Dardanelles in Turkey. But it all went horribly wrong.

Horribly wrong. The best made plans of Churchill misfired and bogged troops down in nine months of hell on both sides. The same could be said for the trench warfare in the fields of France and Belgium. Bogged down in mud, not advancing at all. Stalemate that cost men their lives and sanity. Those who survived the onslaught were not the young men they were. Shell shock and other traumas took their toll. A Christmas truce gave hope but then the soldiers were forced to continue the pointless battle for territory.

The deadly weapons of The Great War

Never before had soldiers faced machine gun fire and coils of barbed wire. They were new weapons. Daylight fighting was pure suicide. Sending men over the top of the trenches into No man’s land was tantamount to murder yet in the early days that is what happened. Coils of barbed wire, designed to keep the enemy out, also ensnarled many a soldier trying to retreat to safety. It took a while for the commanders from their position of comfort and safety to realise the enormity and futility of the troop losses.

The theatre of The Great War

But the war waged on in the mud at the infamous Somme and Ypres battlefields. Germany pressed northeast in battle to Russia as well up to 1917 when Russia descended into its own civil revolution.  Trenches that were intended as temporary stages for war became the rat and lice infested homes of soldiers for years at a time. The theatre of war did not refresh its scenes. There was no advancement. Trenches filled with the dead and shattered. Families at home grieved their young sons and fathers.

There were stories of great bravery and cowardice. News abounded of flying aces of the air, spies like Mata Hari, intelligence and espionage from balloons aloft and messenger pigeons. These stories buoyed the spirits of all. Surely it would end soon, surely there would be peace.

The huge losses of The Great War

Once USA entered the fray it was all over. The Germans reluctantly admitted they were a spent force and outnumbered. Kaiser Wilhem abdicated, and an armistice signed on 11th November 1918. But this forced sudden end to the conflict left Germany feeling cheated of victory and this unfinished business sowed the seeds for another world war just twenty years later.

20 million lost their lives in this conflict. This includes the civilians caught up in the fight. Another 21 million were wounded and 8 million left permanently disabled. This does not include those who suffered mental trauma. On top of this carnage was the loss of more millions from the Spanish Flu epidemic which also went global due to returning soldiers.

TIme Heal my Heart

If you find all this interesting, you might like to read my WWI novel based on my grandparents lives during this war. Newly immigrated to Sydney and just newlywed, their lives are caught up in this global war. The novel is called Time Heal my Heart and shifts back and forwards from Australia and France as it tells the story of a family and their friends. Love and loss, courage and tragedy, this one has it all and it’s true.

Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels; Whispers through Time, The Last Hotel, Colour comes to Tangles and Time heal my Heart. Read about her books on https://joniscottauthor.com.

Stepping into History

Stepping into History

Stepping into history.

Getting immersed in the culture and times of a historical period can involve a lot of exhausting research but also immense fun. The trick is to choose a time that really interests you. Where would you go if you could time travel? Then stepping into history is fun. Otherwise, it’s just plain hard work. For me, I don’t really fancy the history before the Twentieth Century, so I am not really a long-ago history person but a modern history person. Even modern history has a huge scope.

The time period 1900 onwards is my time. Stepping into history and writing historical fiction started with my sister embracing Ancestry.com and finding some stuff about our grandparents. Reluctantly I read this stuff when bored on a rainy week at a seaside holiday resort and found there were gaps and silences about my granny. Why did she do this or that? Like hop on a boat alone to go to Australia from London just a few months after the sinking of the Titanic? I mean there are icebergs in the Indian Ocean too. Why too are there no photos of her?

A dalliance with ideas

This along with the ever-fascinating topic of the Titanic were enough to get me going. But I never planned a book, just a dalliance with ideas about my granny’s motivations on a rainy afternoon. Then the long sinuous arm of history grabbed me and sucked me down along the cob-webbed tunnels into the past, not so distant, but still a century ago. Off I went back to 1905 and my grandmother’s youth. She worked in a bakery in Hampstead Heath, London with an Elsie and a Johnny. This explained my mother’s name, Elsie and my uncle Johnny. Tick, Tick. Clever me.

The family were musical. Great grandfather was a piano journeyman. This term is interesting. I thought it meant travelling men but the journey bit comes from the French word journee meaning a day’s work. But I think my great grandfather still went about the London tuning pianos. At home his musically gifted older children gave lessons in the front parlour. Did they enjoy this, I wondered or was this child abuse? Then once I read more of my sister’s stuff, I discovered that the oldest brother just disappeared and never turned up later anywhere in any of the possible searches. And my sister is thorough. Before the days of digital searches, she used to write to the registries etc. Fifteen years of research and still going.

Lots of kids back then

Stepping into history, I set about creating personalities and motivations for this family. There were ten children, three boys and seven girls! Whoa! in a three-bedroom house. How does that work? Lots of bed sharing, that’s how. Children slept three to a bed.

No privileges back then like your own room or ensuite. No, a chamber pot under the bed was the best you’d get. Long cotton night dresses for boys and girls and twisted rags in your hair for the girls to keep their curls. A lot has changed in a hundred years and not all for the good. Big families were often happy families, sharing what they had not wanting more.

Anyway, the rainy week passed, as Time so quickly does. By then I had quite a few jottings in my notebook. These exploded over five months of secretive feverish writing into 60,000 words. The family blossomed into a family of characters with real personalities and reasons for doing or not doing stuff. I imagined Granny and Grandpa meeting on the ship to Australia in 1912 and falling in love. That seemed possible as they arrived on the same ship and married later that year. Then voila, I had a story based on true events and people. It’s called historical fiction. lol.

Whispering through time

Publishing? never occurred to me. I am a math and science teacher, not an arty type. But my sister once presented with my story, thought otherwise. She sent my story off to four publishers. She was secretive about it. All four liked it and so we chose one in London. Austin Macauley. Maybe not the best choice in retrospect but we knew nothing about publishing back then in 2018. Whatever, they made me a lovely book and called it a debut novel. Sounds posh, heh. It had a title too. Whispers through Time.

The publisher saw potential whereas I thought been there done that. Why not keep writing? Do a sequel? Really? You want more of my crazy imaginings? You’re a natural, they said. Without such encouragement from them and my sister, Granny and Grandpa would have been left on the Sydney pier on arrival. But now they have marched through history to this present day almost.

Covid was history in the making

The story continued through World War One and up to The Spanish Flu. I was researching this when ominously Covid 19 erupted. This event delayed the sequel Time Heal my Heart as I became seriously sick. Not with Covid or The Spanish Flu but with CRPS. This is a weird unfortunate disease that attacks your nervous system in a debilitating and super painful way. I lost the use of the right side of my body, moving my arm was excruciating. The prognosis was poor. Dire in fact.

There was no writing happening. I couldn’t even brush my hair or get dressed. Only hope (after much left-hand googling) was a clinic in Italy. Off I go, a week before Covid hits Europe. Bad timing but at least I get there. I have the two-week treatment of infusions and emerge from the hospital in Genova into lockdown. The suggested rehab and physio is not going to happen. Arm in a splint, I move from one hotel to another as they close in response to Covid restrictions. Fortunately, I have my husband to help. Italy asks all tourists to leave. We get to France. It goes into lockdown. The rest is history. We were part of history in the making. Stepping into history.

Shit is meant to happen

In lockdown in France in a hotel, I write another book. The Last Hotel. How, did you write it if you had no useful right hand? Good question. Answer is; with my left. Tippy tapping around my old battered IPad keyboard, I somehow wrote this contemporary romance set on The French Riviera. Think it was some type of weird channeling. Just poured out of me, figuratively speaking. It is my best seller at every book signing.  See shit is meant to happen. Good things come from bad. Just have faith. All bad things pass in time. Rainbows follow the rain.

So the historical sequel to Whispers through Time had a two-year setback. The Last Hotel took its place as my second novel and another novel, Colour Comes to Tangles took third place. Eventually, Time heal my Heart hit the bookshops in August this year. It’s a heart-rending story of love and loss during World War One era. Stepping into history once more it is a true story set in true and troubling times. It can be read as a stand-alone or sequel novel.

Last Time Forever

The last instalment of this family saga is also complete but yet unpublished. Last Time Forever will emerge at some future time and transport my family through the interwar and World War Two years up to 1950. What a turbulent life they had. Two world wars and a Great Depression. They were tough. But this last one has a surprise ending which I won’t tell you about because it’s a surprise!

Enough chatter. Thanks for reading my rant if you got this far.

Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels; Whispers through Time, The Last Hotel, Colour comes to Tangles and Time heal my Heart. Read about her books on https://joniscottauthor.com.

 

 

Pip Williams and I

Pip Williams and I

Now, I don’t know Pip Williams, the Australian author, but after reading her second novel, The Bookbinder of Jericho (brilliant!), I was struck by the similarity and differences between Pip and I and our books. So, this post is about me and Pip Williams or Pip Williams and I, whichever grammar form you prefer. I know, you may laugh, an unlikely comparison, since she is famous, and I am a nobody, but you will get the drift in a moment if you keep reading. It’s a bit like Yellowface but with no evil intent.

Pip Williams; Travel, language and history

You see, Pip Williams and I are both Australian women who grew up in Sydney. We are both writers, albeit at opposite ends of the spectrum. Pip is a New York Times best-selling author, and I am an unknown nobody author. But we both love travel, language, history and books. Pip obviously loves the meanings behind words and as a previous Latin scholar, I also fell in love long ago with the origins of words. The other commonality is our novel plots, stories of two sisters set in World War One and on the university campuses of Oxford and Cambridge. Probably, that is where the personal similarities end. sigh.

Pip Williams; Australian Historical novels

Pip is young, I am not so. Pip had a career in writing nonfiction that led more easily into her novels being published. But I am a biochemist who accidentally wrote a novel then did not know what to do with it, so stumbled along in my newfound writing career to write five books. Maybe one day we will run into each other at a bookstore or maybe Pip is attending the Australian History Novelists Society conference this October (can’t wait!) Would love to meet her.

Pip Williams; World War One era

As I prefaced above, book wise, Pip Williams and I write novels set in World War One. My latest, Time Heal my Heart, has many parallel themes to those in Pip’s best seller, The Bookbinder of Jericho. Two sisters, love and loss, family, the futility and savagery of the war and the status of women in society. They both feature a foreign female character with a mysterious past (Pip’s Lotte and my Lisbette character) and a character attempting access to a socially restricted university education. Pip’s novel is set in Oxford. Mine is partly set In Cambridge. Both our characters swat for the university entrance exams around the time of The Great War of 1914-1918. No plagiarism involved. My novel was at the publishers long before Pip’s came out. It is the companion or sequel to my first Whispers through Time.

Pip Williams; Book Companions

I do love that Pip calls her second book a companion not a sequel or prequel. That is so much less limiting. A companion suggests that the books can be read together but not necessarily. So, each of her books, like mine, can be read as stand-alone novels. That helps me to pitch my fifth book as not a sequel but a stand-alone or companion novel set in Sydney prior to and during World War 2. I am preparing a pitch for an Australian publisher, and this gives me another angle. It is too hard having overseas publishers in London. I feel out of touch, can never do local book promotions and now since Covid the author copies cost a bomb to import.

Love Pp Williams? Take a chance on me!

So, wish me well. I just hope for a tiny ripple of book attention, nothing much. Aspiring to be a Pip Williams is ridiculous, I know, but authors have to self-promote somehow otherwise no one at all will know about their books. Writing a book is easy compared to marketing one. Publishers don’t really do it for you. They get you published and then it’s sort of goodbye at the school gate. Haha and thanks for reading if you did. Take a peek at my website or books. joniscottauthor.com. and if you are a Pip Williams fan, take a chance on me!

Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels; Whispers through Time, The Last Hotel, Colour comes to Tangles and Time heal my Heart. Read about her books on https://joniscottauthor.com.

The Terrible Giro d’Italia of 1914

The Terrible Giro d’Italia of 1914

Feedback from readers of Time Heal my Heart so far tell me that my protagonist’s brother, Oscar is again a hit. Due to popular demand, I continued his story in this sequel. This older brother of Winifred seems to be a popular character for readers. I enjoyed creating him too. Although most of my characters in the two Time Trilogy books so far were real people, I never met them as Time separated us. They are but Whispers through Time. My family knew nothing about our grandmother’s family, including Oscar. As he disappeared without trace, I was free to make him whoever I wanted. I chose to construct Oscar as a wanderer, philanderer and adventurer. That is how he becomes involved in the terrible Giro d’Italia of 1914.

There had never been a race like it and never will be again. Plagued by the most horrific storms, rain and set to cover enormous distances and altitudes, it was the most grueling bike race ever. You can read all about it in a very entertaining book called Gironimo by Tim Moore or just read his BBC blog. Tim decided to re-ride this race in the modern age wearing the original cyclist’s apparel and travelling the huge 3162 km distance on a 100-year-old bike. He bites off more than he can chew. He soon discovers how easy life is for the cyclists of today. They have gears and comfortable bikes with proper brakes not just wine bottle corks.

Neither do they have to contend with nails strewn in their path and saboteurs at every bend. Cyclists were not popular sports heroes back then. The bicycle was seen as a threat and imposter to the traditional way of life. Add to that, strangers riding through one’s towns and locals became outraged. The weather was most foul of mood too. The first part of the race was the worst and the heavens opened upon the eighty-one contestants as they climbed the formidable Mt Sestriere peak and navigated the dirt roads awash with water. Their woollen maillot outfits with wool padded crotches became sodden and heavy. They shivered and slithered about on the mud. This stage alone was enough to demoralise many of the entrants. Half of them were just local boys, not professional cyclists. they entered for the fun of it and mostly for the prize money.

Like my character Oscar and his mate Luigi, they rode on borrowed bikes and had little experience or stamina for this endurance test. of the eight odd entrants only eight finish the race. This makes this Giro not only the hardest bike race ever but also the one with the longest overall distance and stages but also the one with the highest proportion of dropouts. Reading about it in Tim Moore’s book, It comes as no surprise. See some old photos here.

My characters make it only from Lucca to Florence. They decide to rest but end up at Luigi’s uncle’s house for a sojourn. Oscar is introduced to real family life, Italian style and the delights of the beautiful Florence. He buys a Bradshaws guide and he and Luigi continue their travels not by bike but by train to the east coast and then by boat to Sarajevo. There by chance they witness the opening shots of World War One. Life will never be the same again, for these two young men and for millions worldwide.

This sets the scen fro the second part of the novel entitled The Agony of War. By then, hopefully if not before, you will be so engaged you can’t but help reading on…

Young love, family troubles, mystery, war and loss, this book, Time Heal my Heart has it all. Plus, you get to travel not only back in time but to the mysterious abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel on the Normandy coast, Paris, Italy, Yugoslavia, Argentina and Sydney, Australia where the story begins. It’s a sweeping family saga that can be read alone or after Whispers through Time. The third part of this story, entitled Last Time Forever is due out next year. I have already written it. So, embrace the past and discover Oscar, a popular minor but memorable character. Join him on his travels and see how he reacts to the outbreak of war. He is the lost black sheep of the family. Don’t you just love these naughty boys? You never know what they will do next.

The contestants of this terrible ordeal had no idea that war would soon erupt and plunge them into another hell on earth. Maybe the Giro was a good preparation for what lay ahead?

Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels; Whispers through Time, The Last Hotel, Colour comes to Tangles and Time Heal my Heart. Read about them on https://joniscottauthor.com.

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‘Whispers through Time’ Sequel

‘Whispers through Time’ Sequel

Today was publication day and the birth of a new book into the vast global library. It’s the release of Whispers through Time Sequel entitled Time Heal my Heart by Joni Scott. This one has it all; love, loss, tragedy, war, peace, The Spanish Flu and best of all it is based on a true story! You can buy it on all the popular platforms like Amazon or through the publisher, Austin Macauley, London. 

It is the second historical fiction in my ‘Time’ series and can be read as it is or read after the first one, Whispers through Time. This historical novel continues the story of three young people who migrate to Australia from London in 1912 just after the sinking of the doomed liner, The Titanic. Soon war breaks out and their young lives are shattered by the consequences. This is the focus of the story in Time heal My Heart.

Time Heal my Heart is the sequel to Whispers through Time

Husbands, brothers and sons set off for the grand adventure of war, not realising its savagery. It was the war promised to be over by Christmas. Yet five years later it has involved the world and killed millions. Even in its swansong, the global conflict kills more as the deadly Spanish Flu spreads around the world with returning soldiers.

But the clock cannot be wound back. Time marches on taking the survivors with it into a brave new world of energy and promise. The Jazz age. But not everyone can forget, heal and move on. My protagonist, Winnie cannot. She has seen too much, lost too much. She cries, ‘Time heal my Heart!’ Hence the title.

A poignant Story of another time

War orphans, lovers, soldiers .. so many cannot move forward easily and forget or forgive the horrors of war. Read this poignant story and relive their lives with them. Step into the past and count your blessings perhaps that you were born in another time. Or do you want to recapture the romance, the urgency yet slower pace of the early Twentieth century? Life was ephemeral. Scarlet fever and infection could easily kill. There were no antibiotics, no safety nets in life.

And another place

Storm lashed monastery, Mont Saint Michel, is the scene of one of the sub plots in France. It is a place of mystery, violence and passion. Cut off from the war, it is also a place of refuge. The battle fields of France also feature as brother Gustave is sucked into a war of mud and danger. Then in Sydney, Australia, so far from the battlefronts, wives and families wait for news of the Gallipoli campaign. They knit socks, tend the returned soldiers and pray for their loved ones.

There’s more Time to come

I know this novel will tear at your heart. The story is of my own grandparents. But I must admit to adding sub plots and embellishing parts with fiction. However, it is based on true lives and war records. I hope you enjoy, Time Heal my Heart. If you do, you can go back and read Whispers through Time and look forward to part three, Last Time Forever, due out next year.

Stay tuned via my blog at joniscottauthor.com.

Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels: Whispers through Time, The Last Hotel Colour Comes to Tangles and her latest historical WWI drama, Time Heal my Heart. Joni has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.

 

Please be kind, review our books!

Please be kind, review our books!

Authors need encouragement, please review our books.

Reviews are the bread and butter for authors. Please be kind, review our books. As an avid reader I make a habit of reviewing every book I read whether I was impressed with it or not. Usually, I do this on Goodreads as it is so easy. This click takes you to my soon to be released fourth book. You just find the book you want to review, click on it, and under the book details is a place to leave a rating (one to five yellow stars) or below a blank box to write something about the book. This written comment is far more encouraging for the author and more informative for a potential reader. But I post a comment politely and make it more about my preferences not their bad writing.

On Goodreads as on many book platforms you can join up as a reader and list your finished reads like you are part of a club. Reading (and writing) are lonely pursuits, so it is nice to sometimes share with others. This feedback from readers allows other readers to decide if the book is for them before they buy it. Few readers actually bother to write a review. It’s less than 10%. So, authors need all the reviews we can get and preferably positive ones. After all, we make no money from books. Too many middlemen take that. It’s a mug’s game. Please be kind and review our books.

Too difficult to be nice? How about a star rating instead.

But if you feel you can’t possibly say anything good then just pop a one or two star. This is kinder than a brutal slaying. Consider how you would feel if someone roasted your book baby alive. Books take about a year to write and almost twice as long to get published. So please review our books.

Unless you are an author who opts to be an Amazon uploader in which case it’s instant. I tried this for my contemporary romance, Colour comes to Tangles, just to experience the spontaneous buzz. But I do prefer the wait and the box of books that come all the way from London. My fourth book, Time Heal my Heart just arrived this week that way. Twenty-five copies hot off the press.

Someone left a two-star review for me last week. Fortunately, my first ever. This one was long and ranting as well. The reader did not like my ‘overuse’ of commas, and she found a typo that I was aware of but powerless to fix post publication. So let me know if you too feel I am guilty of comma overuse. As the review was for my debut novel and I’m now up to book 5, I won’t lose sleep over this one.

It is far outweighed by good ones like this lovely one from another author and besides I’ve learnt a lot since book one and become a better writer and certainly know editors miss a lot of unintentional errors. Once a book is published traditionally it is very expensive to request a typo correction. With uploaded to Amazon self-published books, it is as easy as it was to publish. Just a click away.

We all need praise and encouragement, please review our books

I am now a little conscious of it lest it is true. It is possibly Prowriting aid‘s fault as they keep flagging my lack of comma, so I let them override my text and add one. They just did it. I’ve given you the link to a comparison of the most common writing, spelling and grammar aid . Are there too many commas for your liking too?

Encouragement is not just needed for authors but for everybody. Praise is lovely. We bask in it, like the morning sun. Try to find the good in people not the bad. The same goes for books.

Kindness matters especially for authors

So please hold or bite your tongue and let the emotions calm. Not easy but counting to ten helps. Or walk away, make a coffee. Whatever. It deflects the moment and helps compose a kinder or more instructive rebuke.

The one thing the whole world needs is more kindness, more saying sorry, more good listening to other’s concerns. oh, no, more commas! It would be lovely if everyone respected each other’s opinions, rights and values. I know, a pipe dream. But it’s good to dream, good to be positive. Oops, more commas. Sorry.

But, seriously, let’s use our voices for good not to tear down others. One day someone might tear you down and then you will know how it feels. Have a nice day and please be kind when you review for our books.

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Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels: Whispers through TimeThe Last HotelColour Comes to Tangles and the latest World War One romance, Time Heal my Heart. Joni also has many posts on a women’s blog; https://whisperingencouragement.com/ and has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.

Time, Heal my Heart.

Time, Heal my Heart.

Though invisible and intangible, time is a constant immutable factor of life. Our lives run on this key factor. Rushing around we can’t outrun it. We can’t wind it back nor slow it down. It proceeds ever onward regardless of our wishes. I find this so intriguing, more so as I grow older. When we are young, we barely think of it running out for us one day. In fact, as a child, we want it to go faster so we can be a grown up. But by twenty or thirty years of age it dawns on us that getting older may not be so much fun. When our own parents age, we start looking time in the face. So time is the thing in life. My latest novel encompasses this theme. It is titled Time, Heal my Heart.

Writing Historical fiction

It was coming across my grandparent’s story that led me to writing historical fiction. Pretty weird for a math science teacher to write a historical fiction novel but we get weirder as we age. Once started on this imaginative adventure of creative writing and I was hooked. Whispers Through Time was my debut novel. It’s set in the early 1900s and is the story of two sisters, Winifred and Francesca who travel from London to the other side of the world a few months after the sinking of the Titanic. It’s Winifred, my grandmother’s story embellished with the magic brush of fiction. But it is also my great-aunt Francesca’s story.

Onboard SS Rangatira bound for Sydney, she meets my grandfather, Walter and they start a new life in Sydney, Australia in 1913, just before the outbreak of The Great War.

Time, Heal my Heart

The sequel to Whispers through Time is about to be released on August 18. It is available for pre order on most platforms. Entitled, Time, Heal my Heart, it continues the story of the two sisters as war erupts shortly after their marriages. Like millions worldwide, their lives are disrupted. For Winifred, her life will change forever. I nearly titled this book ‘Time Across the Oceans’ but this title is already taken along with all the good ones.

You have to be very inventive these days with titles and even your name. I didn’t realise there was another author with my name until after I published my first book. By then it was too late. So, beware there are two of us. Joni Scott in America writes devotional and biblical books so that’s not me. I am happier it is this genre not horror or erotic porn books. That would be an incompatible mix up. Since my books are mostly sweet romances and historical, readers of her books can come my way and vice versa. My website is joniscottauthor.com. Follow my blog there as well as read about my books. There are four now. Two historical and two contemporary romance.

Romance, war, loss and mystery

Now I think you will enjoy the historical sequel, Time Heal my Heart. There’s a lot on offer; romance, war, loss, mystery and tragedy and even a couple of war orphans. You will travel from Sydney to London to France and the battlefields of the Somme plus the mysterious abbey of Mont Saint Michel. It’s a story that will pull on your heart strings especially as it is true.

Take time to read. It’s a great escape from the reality of life. It enriches your experience and knowledge. It’s relaxing, nourishing and once you have the book, free!

Stay tuned if you enjoy the books for number three, Last Time Forever, due out August 2023.

 

Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels: Whispers through Time, The Last Hotel, Colour Comes to Tangles and her latest WW I drama Time, heal my Heart. Joni has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.

 

 

Whispers Through Time-My Ancestry

Whispers Through Time-My Ancestry

An Accidental Author

Ancestry is defined as one’s family origins and ethnicity. With the advent of home computers, this process of finding one’s ancestry or self-discovery is now within an individual’s reach thanks to such sites as Ancestry.com. Anyone with a keyboard, misplaced enthusiasm and a roaring internet can collect details of dead relatives and occasionally locate a live cousin. But it takes time and patience.

You need to scroll through endless electoral rolls, censuses, ship manifests, birth, death and marriage entries, many hand-written not typed. In addition to this frustrating and time-consuming process, you come across many, many dead ends and bum steers wherein you were chasing the wrong great grandparent for weeks or months on end.

This time-consuming hobby does not appeal to me at all. I would rather make up the story and all the dead relatives and cousins. But my older sister is a family tree enthusiast. Just as well, every family needs one member to keep track of us all. My sister, Heather has spent 15 years researching our lot, discovering in the process a lot of fascinating people, places and assorted facts. She calls it going down the rabbit hole. A bit like Alice, you pop down supposedly for a moment and emerge days later having learnt a lot.

Discovering One’s grandparents

That is how big sister, Heather found a little, but unfortunately not a lot, about our maternal grandmother, Winifred. Most grannies born in the time of Queen Victoria did predictable things like stay in their hometown, marry and raise a bunch of kids. But not Winnie. No, she, as a young woman, took off from London supposedly alone to hop on a liner bound for Sydney just months after the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. My sister located her name on the ship (SS Rangatira) manifold and traced her arrival in Sydney six weeks later.

When I read all these fascinating facts that my sister had unearthed, I was like in a ‘wow’ state. I was also on holidays at a beach resort where it rained for two weeks solid. Having finished the books and jig saw, I had brought along ‘just in case’ it rained, I came up with the idea of entertaining myself with a spot of writing. Having just finished reading Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden about a grand-daughter exploring her grandmother’s past, I felt inspired to give my Nana a similar treatment. As most of the research was done by my big sis, How hard could it be to write it into some sort of story? Heather’s 70th birthday was looming and what can you get a gal who has a house and wardrobe full of stuff? A story, I decided. She likes stories and this one seemed a cracker, a bit of a mystery.

Writing a book, unexpectedly

Although I am a math and science teacher, I have had to write a few things in my time. So, I started to write about Winifred one rainy February afternoon in 2019. I only had a school exercise book with me, no computer, so it was a little arduous and scribbly at first. But I kept going for the week despite my husband’s lack of encouragement.

‘You’re writing a book?’ he scoffed.

‘Yep, sure am,’I replied.

Undeterred, I wrote away and when we returned home, I kept writing and writing. I wrote in my spare moments for five whole months, filling in the gaps and silences of Winifred’s story with the magic of fiction. By the time Heather’s birthday came around, I was able to present her with a ‘book’, all wrapped up with a pink satin bow. It had no cover, just numbered typed pages printed off at the local Officeworks for $25.

Publishing a book

She was very surprised but delighted and read it in record time. Then she surprised me by sending it off to publishers unbeknown to me and by the time my birthday arrived she presented me with a letter of offer from Austin-Macauley, London for a contract to publish my little book, Whispers Through Time. The sequel, Time, Heal my Heart is at the same publisher now awaiting publication this year. In the meantime, I wrote another book, The Last Hotel published March 2020. But that is another story for another day, found on another of my blogs.

I retired from teaching and now write fulltime. You never know what you can do until you try!

P.S Heather found us a live cousin we didn’t know about! He lives in Norway and always wondered who he was until we found him. He and his family came and spent Christmas with us in 2019. Just as well as the Covid broke out just a month later and we would all still be waiting to meet each other, if he had not seized the moment to come to Australia. He looks just like our grandfather. Read all about our story and his in Time, Heal My Heart, released this year, 2022. But to prepare for this second installment read the first part, first !

Australian readers, check out Author Academy Bookstore. Find my books there and many others. Support our home-grown talent.