Book Giveaway

I have copies of my latest story, available for those of you who follow this blog and would like to read it in exchange for a review. To obtain a copy simply email me at; matthewsmaria92@yahoo.com

This book has been structurally edited, edited and proofread so it will be interesting to receive some feedback about it. It is set in County Cork and though both characters are from completely different backgrounds, Mark is a city lover, Anne is a country lover, they are attracted to each other, but his belief he should sell his family home which was recently inherited sparks a challenge in Ann; to prove to him that he would be better off keeping the farm and house.  Who will win or who will compromise?

Romantic Irish novel with a dash of humour

Romance

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What if?

These are the questions being asked by those about me, and the answers are mixed. Some from Bob and some from me. I bet you can guess who answered what..

What if the sun burns itself out?

His next in command, the moon, will take over and our lives will be mellower.

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What if it doesn’t rain before September?

Irish people will become even more disgruntled and focused on the weather? Nothing new there. Their 4 legged tail wagging friends will wallow in the shade and be content with early morning walks in the woods.

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What if Breeze the ogre moves out of the wood in search of water?

More cupcakes for little old me!

 

 

 

My books of 2016

I love to read but most people do. My taste is wild and whacky as you can see from the list below. Now I am looking for a good thriller to read next and am open to suggestions, though I do love romance and romantic comedies, and Jane Austen is my most re read author. Though there are a few of the books listed below that  I really enjoyed and I would love to read more works written by the author.

The Memory Box
by Eva Lesko Natiello

Sovereign’s Wake (In The Absence of Kings, #1)

by Lee LaCroix *

Before the Door Closes: A Daughter’s Journey with Her Alcoholic Father

By Judith Hall Simon – I found this book both informative and revealing in how compassionate Judith was.

War Brides

by Helen Bryan *

I really loved this book and recommend it to all women who love reading about this period in history.

The Witches

by Roald Dahl /  Another favorite author of mine. His adult stories are dark and vivid.

The Seventh Seal (The Chronicles of Daniel Stone, #1)

by A.J. Dobbs * Yes I must read #2

Regarding Anna

by Florence Osmund *

Why Does My Book Not Sell? 20 Simple Fixes

by Rayne Hall

The main reason why I am currently looking for a proof reader.

Beetlebrow

by Ben Parker *

Mane of Redemption

by Aaron D. Brinker *

Every Body’s Guide to Everyday Pain

by Ya-Ling J. Liou *

Following the authors advice my husbands aches and pains are fading and he is back exercising once more.

The White Seahorse

by Eleanor Fairburn

The Last September

by Elizabeth Bowen

Sweet Sorrow

by Tricia Drammeh *

Magic Edge (Dragon Born Alexandria, #1)

by Ella Summers * Yes I must read #2

Bentwhistle the Dragon in a Threat from the Past

by Paul Cude *  Yes I must read #2

Anti Aging – Stop That Ticking Clock: Natural Ways to Staying Healthier Looking Younger

Lord of the Abbey (Lords of Avalon #1)

by K.R. Richards  Yes I will read #2

When Love Takes Over

by Caroline Grace-Cassidy

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If you have read a really good or funny book please let me know and I will seek it out to read.

Double Trouble for Constance Claus.

Double Trouble for Constance Claus.

Constance Claus loves Christmas as much as she loves her husband but, every year from November until December 26th a disaster happens. And at his tremendous age, Santa hated problems. Constance tried to plan ahead as, let’s be honest; most people like to have a trouble free life.

Last year it was the missing gingerbread recipe. The recipe was ancient, almost as old as the cook who had the job of baking five million perfectly formed gingerbread houses. Every inch of the North Pole was searched. This meant the elves were hungry, a lot more than usual and so Constance spent most of her days cooking and preparing meals. If, she often reasoned afterwards, if she hadn’t been busy feeding the hungry elves, then she would have solved the puzzle earlier.  She found it – under the cook’s hat. It had risen as high as his pastry and was stuck to the top of it.

This year she began her anti disaster plan in July. The first thing she did was to make certain there was a copy of the recipe on her tablet. Next, she checked there was an awesome mountain of buttons for the Minion’s dungarees,then, enough paint for the rocking horses and on and on her list went. But she with the help of chief elf Enda,  worked their way through it.

So by the second week of November she was wondering if she could finally relax.

The workshop was thundering through the long menu of toys and electrical gadgets that needed to be made. The new computer department was turning out to be a great addition as the technicians had rigged up a mechanical serving belt which brought the food straight from the kitchen to the tables at lightening speed.

“Too fast for me,” moaned Santa as yet again he was too slow to collect his dinner off the moving belt and it whizzed on to Slim who snagged it.

But dear you are looking all the trimmer for it,” Constance said.

She was sitting before a pretty log fire with Summer, her cat, snoozing on her lap, when her walls began to shake and rumble. Strange, thought Constance. However, when the rumbling increased she jumped to her feet and went to investigate. Summer slid to the ground, shook himself and went off to find a more reliable less jumpy cushion to snooze on.

Constance wondered if Santa and the elves were playing a trick on her so she was a little wary of opening her front door. This was just as well, because when she opened it a chunk of snow slid off the roof and landed on her doorstep.

“This won’t do,” Constance muttered and picked her way through the mountain of snow.

Then she stopped and stared. She giggled because she couldn’t help it. The reindeers were playing dodge the snowball. And due to their very heavy appearance they were making the ground shake and groan under their hooves.

She frowned. “This is terrible, Rudolph you are looking a little chunky tonight.” She mused and then stopped and sniffed the air. He smelt of chocolate and something else. She stared at him.

“Is that marshmallow sticking to your coat?” He backed away and looked at her with huge sad eyes.

She went back inside but instead of sitting in her comfortable chair she peeped out the window.  She noticed some of the reindeer sniff the air and stroll off towards the elves living room. Constance decided to follow.

In the  elves living room she discovered the elves were having a snack. They had taken their shoes off and were sitting before a huge fire toasting smores. “Where did you learn how to do that?” She asked Santa who was managing to toast four at a time.

“Internet.” He said, “Try some. They are delish.”

She tilted her head to one side, “how long have you been doing this?

“Oh only a week or two. It’s just that we get so hungry with the extra work. It is a nice way to relax and we tell stories then head to bed.”

She looked around the room and noticed many of the elves were already asleep in their chairs. Just then the door opened and a young reindeer entered. He walked straight to a sleeping elf and very gingerly took the uneaten smore from the elf’s hand before moving to the next elf.

Constance did not want to be a spoilsport but she was worried. The reindeer needed to be fit and Santa, she knew would eat until his suit was close to bursting.

Over the next two weeks no matter what she did, the reindeer always found a way into the elves sitting room. She wondered if they were paying the elves to leave a door open. No, that is totally silly, she decided.

It was December and the workshop was producing toys at a frantic rate.

There was a “bang” followed by a “pop” and everything stopped. There was a shocked silence. Enda shouted, “lets find the fault.” An hour later they knew the problem. The generator couldn’t produce enough electrical power.

“We need to produce more electricity.It’s knackered.” Was the final statement from their workshop maintenance team.

“Right early lunch and lets chew on it.” Santa said.

Constance went for a walk. She always thought better when left to think by herself. Rudolph accompanied her, with Summer sitting on his back.

“I know you are trying to get fit and slim Rudolph but it is not working. You need a high intensity work out. Cross fit for Reindeers, I think.”

She let the thought rattle about in her head for a while and when she returned to the workshop she called the maintenance team to her.

Three days later the workshop was breaking all production records.

Enda said, “Thank you Constance for your brilliant idea.”

Constance beamed at  him. “You are welcome. I think almost everyone is happy.”

Enda grinned. “Well if Santa insists on eating so much then he has no choice. He can’t have it all his own way, even if his name is Santa.”

They both looked over at the line of reindeer waiting their turn to get on the exercise wheel. Beyond the exercise wheel there was another line of reindeer happily munching on smore flavored hay.  Santa walked alongside the reindeer. A giant pedometer declared, “well done Santa just 5,000 more steps to earn a whole smore this evening.”

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Santa wasn’t too worried as he had a date on the 25th with a dog called Bob who was currently stashing marshmallows in his Christmas stocking in exchange for jelly babies.

 

 

 

Constance Claus and a fun filled Christmas.

“I am  sick of red and white,” Mrs Constance Claus grumbled. Summer, her snow white cat ignored her as she was busy washing her fur.

Constance noticed the snow falling in thick clumps and the cheery red lights from the workshop didn’t lessen her bad humour.

Enda, chief elf, scurried by with the inevitible list dangling from his hand. He stopped, pivoted about and stood before Constance. “Speaking of Red and white …we are out of both,” his grin was wide.

Constance used to his sneaky sense of humor, and trickery glanced at the red ink on the white paper and said, “I suppose you mean red ink and white paper.”

“Blast,” thought I had you fooled, “but yep you are correct. Could you order some please?”

Constance smiled, nodded, and promised she would order both  red ink and white paper.

That evening Constance broached the topic of red and white with her husband. He was staring morosely at the beetroot salad and poached chicken on his plate.

“I’m not happy” she began.

He frowned. “Neither am I.”

“Why?”

He cleared his throat, indicated his plate with what he hoped was a look of disgust,, ” with this dinner it is very …” He scratched his beard and searched for a suitable word. “Bland, boring, tedious there is only so much beetroot and white chicken one can take.”

Constance agreed adding, “Yes that is the way I feel about red and white but what can I do about it?”

“We can start by making a few changes around here” Nicky stared at his plate. “I would like to possess magic that would turn this in to steak and chips or Guinness steak pie.” He wondered if the elves would swap dinners with him.

With a start he reaised Constance, his constant Constance, was having her version of a melt down. He watched with interest as she stood then taking both plates of dinner she handed them to Bob, the dog.

Bob delighted with being remembered on such an auspicious ocassion as dinner, accepted both in two generous sized gulps. He then licked Nicky’s hand and wagged his tail at his benefactor.

Constance didn’t notice she was busy pulling out the laptop from under a mountain of lists. It opened with a grunt. She ignored its creaky protest and said,”I will start right away, no time like the present.” She raised an eyebrow challenging him to disagree only to discover her usually slow moving husband was standing before the giant fridge eyeing up today’s treat for the most productive elf – sticky toffee pudding cake.

When he returned to her side minutes later it was to present her with a slice of cake and a tub of her favorite rocky road icecream.  Minutes later she was smiling. “I spent some money” Constance declared.

“Good,” he raised his eyes from his spoon long enough to ask, ‘what did we buy?”

“A microwave, a steamer and not a red or white purchase was made.” This was the only cryptic remark she made for the rest of the evening.

Nick snoozed with happy thoughts of deep fried garlic mushrooms, fish in beer batter and dough-nuts a banned treat for the past six months, since he won the dough nut eating contest to raise money for a save the reindeer charity.

However Nick’s dreams did not come true. The next evening he was staring at chicken salad. He looked from the plate to his wife and back again. His beard wobbled with sadness.

“It’s a salad.” Constance told him, ” A smiling happy rainbow salad.”

“Oh great. ” He stabbed the carrots, cucumber, and began to chew while dreaming of steaming pots of cheese fondue with stacks of potato crisps sitting on the side.

One week later there was a delivery made to the north pole. This, the elves declared was not good. They were in a twirling mess because products left their store room. Nothing ever came back, ever. The triplets, Slim, Noel and Sam were arguing about whose shoddy work was responsible for such a disaster. Enda’s voice silenced them. “I think this is the first time in history we received a parcel, not to mention a whole truckful of parcels and none of them are for us, they are all for Constance.”

Twenty four elves swivelled about in their seats to catch a glimpse of Constance and Summer who were making their way across the square into the giant storeroom.

Constance looked happy, more than happy, Slim thought she was about to cry with happiness. “Ohh they came. I am so happy, please put them in my workroom.”

The curious elves did as she requested though some tried to linger after the parcels were lined up in her room.  For the next two days everyone was far too busy to wonder about Constance’s mysterious parcels. Christmas was about to happen and in the north pole this meant every elf was acting like a super hero elf. As Enda reminded them, “In this highly populated world it is our duty to make sure every child receives something. And we will not fail them. The production line must move faster, breaks will be shorter. Elves we have only 36 hours more to Christmas Day.”

“Turkey day,” the triplets said and sprang into action. For the next thirty six hours they worked around the clock in shifts of twelve hours with a five hour break to eat, and sleep.

It was a close finish but they managed it.

Their last chore was to squeeze Santa into his sleigh and persuade Bob that perhaps he would be more useful as an anchor dog in the back keeping a protective eye on the goods to be delivered.He didn’t look impressed. He was sitting in the front until a large bone landed in the back of the sleigh and Bob moved to the rear.

The elves waved their delivery sleigh off and sank into an exhausted heap on the workroom floor. Constance appeared with a generous sized tray filled with cookies, donuts, hot chocolate and reindeer shaped marshmallows. She didn’t relax until every elf in the north pole was snoring their hearts out. Then she picked up her phone and dialled her friends.

When Enda walked into the great hall the following morning to inspect the green christmas tree and its silver and red decorations. He let out a roar, “Vandals.” Before Constance could stop him he alerted the elves. Thirty seconds later they stood before the tree, distressed, crying and in shock. For the glitter filled hall looked like a rainbow coloured scene from a Disney movie.

Summer had been given a makeover as well, she was a delightful shade of blue. She seemed to like it and strutted about waving her tail.

“Why?” Enda bellowed.

There was silence.

Then Constance stepped into the middle of the hall. “Why not?” She held up her hand to silence the outburst of answers. “We have carried on this tradition for over six hundred years. Six hundred years of red and white. I am the custodian of the hall and I have decided from now on , each year one elf will be chosen to create a different scene in the hall. Why we could even put on a play”

The elves were not appeased.

She continued,” We are becoming stunted and stuck in a rut. Let us remember how to have fun. Wander around and see what I have done then after breakfast you may each seek me out and make your complaints.”

Slim stood staring up at her. He adored Constance, she could do no wrong in his book. “I am game to give it a shot, I am not boring or stuck in a rut.” And he marched off, behind the giant multicoloured tree. Seconds later his laughter filled the hall, “catch me if you can find me.” Enda looked high amongst the rafters and smiled. “I want a go.” Because Slim was paragliding high above them.

Soon the hall was filled with the sounds of elves having fun. Like penquins a group were sliding down a huge slide to land in a pile of multi coloured sweets and treats of a chocolate kind. Others were climbing a candy rock wall which filled the lower hallway. Hours later they were a little worried when they couldn’t find Sam. The elves were having a rest sitting on the edge of a giant warm water pool. A gurgling sound from the pool alerted them, they swung about to find Sam, wearing a dive suit complete with mask and snorkel. “Can you not see what I have found down here, magical marshmallows. ” He held up a giant sparkly marshmallow and then lifted  his mask to allow him to take a giant bite. “Delish. And there is tons more of them.”

Marshmallows kept the fun going for a few hours. Exhausted and sticky they gathered in the middle of the hall. The same dreadful thought arrived in each of the elves heads as their stomachs gurgled.

“Dinner, we didn’t put it in the oven!” Their thundering feet echoed through the building. They met Constance licking her lips walking from the kitchen. “No panic I cooked dinner last night I simply need someone to finish setting the table and we are all ready to go.”

But to her dismay no one moved. “I can’t eat cold Christmas dinner today is not the 26th. Cold leftovers are for the 26th not for Christmas dinner.” They wailed.

She merely smiled at them and said, “You got to start trusting me. I am not a fan of cold Christmas dinner and todays is piping hot, I promise.”

Minutes later the air was filled with loud pinging sounds. Constance emerged carrying huge trays of piping hot turkey, ham and huge vats of stuffing and potatoes. “A giant microwave or several if I am honest.”

So it was that Christmas 2015 became a turning point in the elves life for it wasn’t only children who got to have fun and stay up late. Santa was a little preturbed that nobody thought to wait for him but a few rounds of the obstacle course and many many marshmallows later he was smiling as brightly as any star.

Bob was happy nobody had thought to remove the marshmallows, his challenge was to eat as many as he could without bursting.

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Maria’s Stuff: Giveaway.

I have a copy of; “Moving On” a nano write from two years ago to giveaway.

E-Book Cover

In return I  ask for a review on Amazon.  To win this copy I simply ask you to comment below stating what you would like to read or discover about life in rural Ireland courtesy of Bob’s blog.

Here is a link to the first chapter of the book https://decidinglybob.wordpress.com/2014/06/28/moving-on-sample-first-chapter/

 

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Maria’s Stuff: Flash Fiction

Emma said, “They called him Kevin. ”

As he watched her she appeared to be struggling to speak. A trickle of water leaked from the corner of her eyes. Her small white hand covered her mouth.

He looked at her aghast. He was hopeless at coping with tears. He would rather face a great white shark than have to put his arms around his best friend and comfort her.

The air in the kitchen shimmered.The man before Emma imagined the warm air as an entity. It rushed in through the open back door shook hands with the frigid temperature in the room to kick off the cold wall before racing outside. Along the way he saw it scoop up her distress and carry it away.

If he was asked to describe his feelings he would have said they were as brown as the worn boots on his feet. He struggled to grasp the correct word to comfort. For Emma was more to him than a friend. She was a life line to reality. Without her he would gladly slip into the realm of his fantasies, his characters he wrote about, the stories others believed he struggled to create were an escape route from the nastiness of this world. A world he feared and wanted no part of, without her.
A nudge from Emma made him look at her. Her blonde hair glistened in the pale sunlight, her body shook with tremors. Then he looked at her eyes and smiled. “Go on let me in on the joke. Who did they call Kevin?”
His large hand gently removed her smaller hand from her mouth and the laughter poured from her like water bubbling in a pot, in fits and bits. He sat and waited. He was used to waiting.

When she recovered she said, “The children called the new pet pig Kevin. Because they love the stories you tell them. What do you think of that, my Kevin?”
He pretended to be disgusted then winked at her and said, “Fitting.”
Their laughter bounced and floated through the house. As it moved it warmed every centimeter of the old stone building.

Bob’s Diary: Maria’s Kindle Deal

Hi, I have been asked to remind everyone that

 

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Maria’s first book is on Kindle Countdown deal from the 10th of November to 17th November.

Amazon.co.uk : Here

amazon.com : Here 

 

 

 

 

Not that I would be caught reading it.

(Though she said I’m in it – so where is my picture?)

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Snow Dogs Part 1 & 2

The leader

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part 1

‘I could do with a change of scenery’ Luna decided.

For the last two hours they moved at a nice steady pace but she was tired. Too much racing in my life, was her verdict as she trudged along. April was a month she loved, snow plentiful but the sun was warming up, adding a glossy glamorous touch.

‘I could do with lunch’ the idea landed in her head hours before lunch was due and it wouldn’t budge, ‘it’s probably bloody chicken stew again.’ That certainty didn’t stall her longing for lunch, it made it harder for her to concentrate on the path ahead of her.

Snow swirled gently about her face. Luna never thought of stopping. Stopping was a sign of weakness and that would never do. Today’s team leader was two years older. His gruff manner hid a gentle heart. He was the most experienced of the team.

Like a soft veil snow speckled her face and body. Luna lowered her head, hunched her shoulders and plodded on. ‘Hopefully this will get worse, we may have to stop.’ She smiled. Then lunch would be early. A rest would be appreciated.

On they went. Snow was kicked up as they sped along searching for a place to shelter. At last they heard the cry, ‘Stop, here will do.’

It wasn’t too soon for Luna as with head bowed and tongue protruding she stood panting, waiting for the mushers to come and release her and the rest of the team from the sled.

Part 2

It was near the end of the second day of sled racing. Luna was upset she wasn’t lead dog again. But today’s lead dog was a sheep in disguise in her mind.

‘If that eejit slams on the brakes once more I’ll ram into him.’  Luna cast a wary glance back at their Australian Musher. Rob’s face was hidden but from the set of his broad shoulders she knew he was not pleased. Yesterday they were leading, today they were struggling to keep third place.

‘And it’s because you put butt face in front of me. I should be leading.’ Hunching her narrow frame she leaned into the wind pulling on with the rest of the pack as her mind mulled over the problem of how to get that useless lump to pick up his pace.

When they stopped for the night, they were right beside the leading race team. Luna couldn’t believe her luck. Her blue eyes sparkled in the firelight as she talked loudly to Ollie beside her. He opened one eye and closed it again wondering why she was talking rubbish about Bandit’s fear of a mascot.

‘Bandit is scared of everything,’ Ollie thought as he fell asleep.

Luna prayed the team of dogs listening to her were as stupid as they looked.

It was a cold crisp morning as they set off at four o’clock. The first place dog team left minutes before Rob’s team. The prize money was big but the prestige for the winning team would be huge. There was a cold glint in Luna’s eye as Bandit pranced by her whispering, ‘guess I must be doing something right to have stolen the lead dog from you!’

Lunar turned her head and with a brisk shake of her coat snow flew in his direction.

They set off at a gentle pace. It was apparent Rob was putting in more effort than Bandit. ‘If I had my way, you wouldn’t be on this team,’ he roared in frustration wondering what had led him away from golden beaches and luscious babes to this frosty wilderness. Bandit was the owner’s pride and joy. Everyone else believed the dog to be useless.

Luna’s eyes were fixed on the path before them. The snow was soft. The first place team tracks were right in the middle where it was softest. Bandit had some sense and was on the higher hard packed snow.  ‘Good, ‘ she thought, ‘they won’t be able to make much progress. We will gain some ground here.’

Rob was shouting encouragement and abuse at Bandit in an effort to get him to move faster.

Rounding the next bend they spotted the back of the first teams sled. With a howl of rage Bandit woke up. The other dogs had trouble keeping up with him. Snow was shooting from the side of the sled as Rob applied the brakes every now and then in an effort to keep the sled on the track. ‘Are you a lunatic or what? Why now?’

They were closing in on the winning team by the second. She and the others in the team could see the reason why. They would have been howling with laughter but they were too busy huffing and puffing as they attempted to keep up the pace.

 

It was a surprise to the lead team when Rob’s team came charging by them on the downhill run into the finishing line.  There was only two individuals who were fully aware of the reason for the chase, one was Luna and the other was Spats, the fat ginger cat who was the other teams mascot who for some peculiar reason had sat at the back of the sled instead of under the covers at the front.

Ollie congratulated Luna when he was able to breathe again. “You are one smart dog. I thought you said, Bandit was afraid of cats.”

“I did and lucky for us those dumb dogs believed every word I said.”