My news and a brand new book

Hello, peeps! Been a while since I last wrote here, I know. Since returning home from my annual ‘pilgrimage’ to Moraitika in Corfu — fully refreshed and with my sanity suitably restored — I dived head-first to work for a while, and only now I am coming back for air – but I’ll come back to that later.

This summer has been incredibly kind to me. After a couple years of little summer fun because of my ongoing health issues (anemia and two frozen shoulders back-to-back), this year I’ve been blessed with daily swims and plenty of wonderful sunshine that’s done wonders for my well-being. In the below pictures you can see me in Corfu town, where I donated copies of The Ebb in three different libraries one morning – including the public library of Corfu (I am pictured outside the Old Fortress where it is housed).

The other pictures are from Messonghi beach in Corfu, as well as my recent visit at Tanagra military airbase for the annual event, Athens Flying week. It was an hour’s drive to get there, and I thought I saw a pack of wolves on the way seeing it’s in the middle of Attica’s wilderness, but I didn’t care. I’d have gone to the moon to see Old Blighty’s Red Arrows, and they were truly fantastic! Well worth the risk of being devoured by wild creatures, I say 😛

Honestly, the new me is, like, the Duracell bunny’s long-lost sister and it surely feels great! When I started swimming 2-3 times a week back in June, my frozen shoulder eased up in no time. First, I noticed I could actually reach the top of my forehead so I could rinse my hair properly with the shower telephone. I also realized I could reach out sideways again, so I checked if I could drive (i.e. reach for the gear stick which, up till then, was out of the question). Guess what? I could! I had been stranded for six whole months so that was quite a big day for me!

Once I got in the driver’s seat again, there was no stopping me from hitting the beach daily for that therapeutic swim. Since then I’ve been getting better and better. Soon, I could type with both hands again. And guess what I did then? Yep, I started writing! You see, I felt the urge to give you, my wonderful readers, something new to read this year. Seeing that there would be no time to finish a novel, I began to write short stories instead. The writing flowed and now, I am able to offer you a collection of short stories exclusively on my website!

Yes, that’s right. This new book won’t be up for sale anywhere, and you can read it, totally FREE, as a registered reader of my newsletter! Check it out!

To sign up to my newsletter, go here

If you’re already on my mailing list, sit tight. You’ll be notified to download the book as soon as it’s ready!

The stories vary in genre and are about different kinds of love hence the title, including love for family, country, and even pets! One of my stories is a sweet romance set in Moraitika. Two others are about the Parthenon Marbles and have fantasy elements. And that’s all I’ll share so I don’t spoil all the surprises!

I am still writing and editing like a mad thing… If all goes well, sometime within the next two weeks the book should be out there, and for your eyes only. I hope you will enjoy it!

Before I go, to say a big thank you to fellow Greek romance author, Angel Sefer. Not only is she a talented writer, but a kind and giving person as well. She has created the fabulous cover of Facets of Love and given it to me as a present! How wonderful is that?

Check out Angel’s work at: http://www.angelsefer.com/books.html

Angel Sefer is one of five wonderful writers who have given me kind permission to include their short stories (one each) in Facets of Love. The other four talented writers, in no particular order, are: Mimi Barbour, S.R. Mallery, Nicholas Rossis and MM Jaye. They are all favorite authors of mine, and I recommend them highly for your reading enjoyment!

Till next time, keep smiling and taking care of yourselves, okay? A positive outlook is what saw me through… and it’s been three years since I last felt healthy and able. So I know what I am talking about here. Remember, whatever it is you’re dealing with, you’re not alone. I strongly believe there are powers out there that are willing to lend a helping hand and to help us deal what whatever hardships come our way. If only we ask. If only we believe.

I am thinking about all of you affected by Irma and all other calamities hitting the world recently. My prayers are always with you all. Hugs and God bless!

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The Necklace of Goddess Athena wins a silver medal

Very excited to announce today that my debut novel has just become a Readers’ Favorite silver medalist!

The award ceremony is in Miami this coming November and I shall be attending it only in my dreams (LOL!), but I can assure you that cannot mar my feeling of sheer joy!

Readers’ Favorite is one of the largest book review and award contest sites on the Internet. They have earned the respect of renowned publishers like Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Harper Collins, and have received the “Best Websites for Authors” and “Honoring Excellence” awards from the Association of Independent Authors. They are also fully accredited by the BBB (A+ rating), which is a rarity among Book Review and Book Award Contest companies.

As it happens, the book is discounted at the moment and the offer will last for another couple days only. So if you haven’t tried the book yet, this is your chance to read it for only 99c / 99p!

 

Visit Amazon

“A stunning masterpiece . . . so well-written that I couldn’t put it down.”
~Readers’ Favorite

“A rare gem.” ~Fantasy & Scifi Network

Visit Amazon

 

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And the winners are…

Wuhoo! The names are out of the hat and I am pleased to announce the winners of my ‘post-a-photo’ contest. For those who missed it, don’t worry, you’ll get another chance to enter a similar contest later this year.

THESE LUCKY READERS WON A TOTE BAG EACH!

ANNE BATEMAN

BEVERLY D LAUDE

VICKI HARRISON

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL. I’VE DECIDED TO GIVE A CONSOLATION PRIZE TO ALL THE OTHER ENTRANTS – AN EBOOK OF THEIR CHOICE FROM MY BACK LIST!

So! If you had posted a photo and received a confirmation from me at the time then I have your entry and you can claim your free ebook copy. Just message me or comment below and tell me: the title of the book, and if you prefer mobi or pdf. If you’ve read all my ebooks, I can give you one for a friend or family member.

Sadly, I didn’t have as many entries as I’d hoped, and this is why I decided to give consolation prizes to all the entrants to say a big thank you! I will do a similar contest later this year, hoping to get more photos so I can feature my favorites on this website as a tribute to you, my precious readers! Thank you again for entering. I cherish every single photo I’ve received!

 

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Do angels exist? Here’s what I believe…

This is not the first time I approach the subject of angels and angelic messages. Those who follow my blog have already read a little about my angels from my previous posts. Plenty of times I have sought their advice when life got tough, and they also tend to contact me of their own volition whenever things in my life are about to turn scary, just to remind me I am not alone. Having had these experiences, my belief in angels is so great that I have no qualms in telling the world about them.

So, when fantasy author and blogger extraordinaire Colleen Chesebro asked me to write a guest post for her blog about something mythical or spiritual, I naturally opted to write about my angels again. I hope you will enjoy the post, which follows below.

 

The word ‘angel’ originates from the Greek ‘aggelos,’ which means ‘messenger.’ Many angel sightings have been recorded in the Bible; these angels appeared before the faithful to offer messages that provided assistance or hope.

Actually, angels have been recorded in the scriptures of many faiths around the world. Today, especially with the use of the Internet, it is very easy to learn more about them. People are sharing online their own testimonies, whether these involve proper angelic encounters or messages received by their angels.

They say that every one of us has a guardian angel, and I believe it firmly to be so. I have always had this intense feeling that I am being protected, for example. In my travels as a youngster around Greece and Europe, whenever I needed assistance locals would come along out of the blue to help me out without me even asking. For example, if I needed an interpreter, to lift something heavy or if I was in danger of getting stranded somewhere.

However, one particular incident stands out because it didn’t entail the assistance of a human being and, to this day, I cannot explain it unless I put it down to an angel or two…

TO READ THE REST OF THE POST, CLICK ON THE KITTY AND IT WILL MAGICALLY TRANSPORT YOU TO COLLEEN’S BLOG! IT PROMISES PLENTY OF ENCHANTING DELIGHTS. NOT JUST ANGELS, BUT FAIRIES TOO 🙂

 

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Join the summer fun! Take a picture and win stuff!

Hello! Thrilled to announce today a new contest where I invite my Facebook friends to post photos of themselves holding my books! Before I get into the juicy details, here is a photo that my loyal reader, Jean Symonds from the UK, posted today on Facebook. It made my day!

Jean comments in her post:

“Just re-reading The Necklace of the Goddess Athena by Effrosyni Moschoudi. I find it fascinating in its “Greekness” and if it was a film at the cinema I would spend a lot of time on the edge of my seat!!”

As I said, it made my day because this is exactly the kind of thing I had in mind when I created the contest. This feedback is so precious to me!

The idea behind this is to celebrate our connection through the books. I have been thinking for quite some time now that my readers deserve a place on my website too, a place where they can be celebrated for their support and loyalty to my work and me.

After all, it is you who allow me to keep writing, and I really feel the need to tell the world about it – about YOU!

Our connection in the social media give me wings on a daily basis and spur me on despite the hardships – and believe me, there have been a few!

Therefore, to thank you for your support, I am going to post the best pictures permanently on my site in a separate page – a sort of Hall of Fame for my readers, if you will. This page will document who reads my books and where in the world they’re at. If you’re one of the readers I choose for the permanent display, I will immortalize your contribution and credit you for the photo.

“All that’s fine, Frossie,” I hear some of you say, “But what’s in it for me?”

Well, as you know, I love to play Santa with my readers!

HERE ARE THE PRIZES:

3 readers will win novelty tote bags (random prints).

More winners will win ebooks from my back list (available formats: PDF or MOBI).

Number of ebook winners to be advised. Each winner will choose the title they wish to read.

THE RULES OF THE GAME!

Update 07-24-17: The competition is now open to my Twitter followers too! Post the photo, mention the title, where you’re reading it, and tag me to be added to the draw!

Post a picture of you with one of my books (kindle or paperback) on your Facebook page and tag me. I will then enter you in the draw. Your face doesn’t need to show in the picture for your entry to be valid for the draw, but I will prefer pictures with readers’ faces showing for the permanent display on my website. The same applies if you’re at a place in the world I don’t really expect!

In your post, mention where you are reading the book, especially if you’re on holiday somewhere.

Also, make sure to mention the name of the book.

Remember to tag me so I can enter you in the draw!

The competition is open only to my FB friends. Friend me first if you haven’t, then post.

Closing date to be advised.

Regardless of who is chosen for the permanent display on my website, all photos will be entered into the draw and all will have an equal chance to win in the giveaway.

Look forward to your photos! Here’s to celebrating what we share together!

UPDATE: The contest has ended and the winners are listed HERE

 

Maria Messini from Athens, Greece sent me this picture of her kindle. She was reading The Amulet on the Greek island of Skyros!

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Greek travel: Sifnos, the sparkling gem of the Aegean

Kastro, Sifnos

Pure white like a sundrenched pebble, and full of delights waiting to be found in every corner, the Cycladic island of Sifnos has the power to capture your heart and keep it forever. Then, you simply have no choice but to return again and again, retracing your steps to the same magnificent vistas, alluring beaches of fine sand, and the quaint white-washed yards that are bound to enchant you wherever you go. The same happened to me the first time I visited this island in my early twenties, and today, even though I’ve returned there several times over the years, its pull on me remains simply irresistible.

But don’t just take my word for it: walk with me today and see the beauty of Sifnos through my eyes: I promise you will be amazed, but make no mistake:  Sifnos is neither Mykonos nor Santorini. If Greek islands were women, Sifnos wouldn’t be a cosmopolitan chick, and not much of a socialite either. Sifnos would be shy and demure, yet drop dead gorgeous, an excellent cook, highly religious, and would dabble with pottery as a hobby. Hooked? Righ-y-o! Let the journey begin!

Kamares, Sifnos

As soon as the ferry docks, you’re already in love. Kamares has a ragged beauty that renders you breathless from the ferry’s deck, before you even set foot on the island. White-washed buildings perch on dark rocky soil on the side of the hill, a quaint seafront is lined with tavernas, a golden beach of fine sand stretches beyond and, above all that, an imposing mountain with a church on its very top completes the magnificent vista. The idyllic sight makes you feel small, like you have just shrunk to nothing, which is why I can never arrive at Sifnos and escape that familiar sense of awe that always catches in my throat.

For me, Kamares is the ideal place to stay on Sifnos. You can swim straight after breakfast, then have a leisurely walk around the shops. Shops, tavernas and bars will be just a stone’s throw away from your room. And even a beautiful pottery lab or two to browse through. Don’t miss the chance to visit at least one of many pottery workshops all over the island – seeing it’s an old tradition here and the artifacts are exquisite.

Rent a car or scooter, or take a bus or taxi, and explore the rest of the island from Kamares.

The island capital, Apollonia, takes its name from God Apollo and I find it suitable seeing that Apollo is the God of light and this town is simply dazzling! Apollonia is a pleasure to lose yourself in. Its whitewashed lanes and quaint edifices shine in the sunlight. The splashes of vibrant color, mainly from window shutters and flowers in the yards will find you using your camera fervently.

A short visit to the beautiful, whitewashed Monastery of Panayia Chrysopigi is a must as you drive from the capital towards the beach of Platis Yalos. Legend has it that when the Saracen pirates attempted to invade it, the Virgin Mary made a massive chunk of rock under their feet break away and plummet into the sea, taking them down with it.

A word of warning: Wandering around here in beachwear/shorts is fine but if you plan to go indoors to see the miraculous, ancient icon of the Virgin Mary, have a long skirt handy (for women) or long trousers (for men) as well as a shirt/top that covers your shoulders, otherwise you won’t be allowed entry. This is a strict rule observed in monasteries all over Greece, sometimes in churches too.

If you drive to Platis Yalos afterwards, it will start to reward you for your preference before you even get there – the stunning vista of the bay as you approach will take your breath away. Take your time to enjoy the beach. It has everything you need. Sparkling waters, fine sand, a good selection of tavernas and even more pottery on display if you feel up to it. Regarding the food: the meals you will sample in Sifnos will be exquisite no matter where you go. This is no surprise seeing that the very first famous Greek chef came from this island. His name was Tselemendes and his book, the first comprehensive cookery book that was ever published in Greece, became such a hit when it came out in the 1930s that, to this day, the word ‘tselemendes’ remains a synonym in Greek for ‘cookery book’.

Make sure to visit Kastro in the late afternoon and stay till the sunset as this can be a stunning spectacle from here. Besides, the light at this hour is ideal for taking photographs and, believe me, when you get there you’ll want to use a camera!

Kastro is a fortified cluster of ancient houses that takes you back in time and enchants you with every step you take. It was built high above the sea with walls and archways so the locals could fight off the Saracen pirates back in the day (9th century A.D.)

Make sure to scroll down to the bottom to watch a short video of me showing you around Kastro!

 

Below Kastro, at sea level, the whitewashed church of The Seven Martyrs (Epta Martyron) with its sky-blue dome is perched on the dark rock, a jewel to behold from above. A quaint stone stairway winds itself down to it, the view from the top so enchanting it always makes my heart stop.

 

Sea view from Artemonas, Sifnos at the old windmill (the site is now a tourist resort)

At a close distance From Kastro, you will find the village of Artemonas. Drive uphill to the old windmill (O Mylos tou Spitha). The view from up here is just as spectacular.

If you have several days to explore, other beautiful beaches worth visiting beside Platis Yalos are Faros and Heronissos and the one at Kastro.

I’ve already mentioned the pottery, which is a traditional profession on the island. If you visit any pottery workshops you’ll probably feel compelled to get a little souvenir. Go for a tiny quaint vase with a lid, or a proper cooking pot, if only for making the fabulous chickpea soup the Sifnos way (Revithada). It is a notorious dish in Greece, not just for being extremely tasty, but also for the unusual way in which it is cooked: The people of Sifnos make it in wood ovens, cooking the meal overnight in a ceramic pot that’s been sealed with dough around its lid. Of course, urban housewives all over Greece make it in their ovens in a similar way, baking it for about 3-4 hours only – and it does get the consistency right. Get the recipe HERE

Other than pottery, there are many other types of local produce you can buy, such as: local cheeses, sweets & pastries, organic thyme honey, capers, wine, herbs, handmade jewellery, and hand-woven blankets and rugs that are made on traditional looms. 

Sifnos is a small island, which means a stay of 3-4 days is enough to adequately explore all the places of interest mentioned here. Wander around, as far and wide as you wish, and you will be rewarded with enchanting beauty in every corner. For one, everywhere you look, the hedges glint under the sunlight thanks to a stone from the local quarries used heavily for building purposes here. It is this endearing sight of the sparkling stone that has caused me to pick the name ‘Asimi’ (silver) for the fictitious Sifnos village where I set my romance, The Amulet.

Another endearing sight around the island involves the traditional pigeon houses that are stunning to behold and can be found everywhere, sometimes standing on their own in the middle of fields. See here for more info:

http://www.wondergreece.gr/v1/en/Regions/Sifnos/Culture/Monuments_sights/2872-Pigeon_Houses

Before you go: Watch the below short video and let my hubby, Andy, and me show you around Kastro (well, down one lane mostly, but it’s a super-pretty one!)

Excuse the evident sunburn on my back – it’s owed to the long bike rides I had on the island that time sans suntan lotion! Yeah, I know. Live and learn 😛

For further travel info & hotel bookings on Sifnos, visit:

http://www.greektravel.com/sifnos/

 

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Summer giveaway prizes – part 2 of 2

Hello! We are in mid June and the giveaway is going strong. But it ends soon so you’d better enter while you still can. Hey, don’t say I didn’t warn ya 😉

For those who’ve only now heard: Two winners will get a bundle of 12 ebooks each! Dozens more will receive individual ebooks, as well as paperbacks. One lucky reader will get a set of my romantic comedy The Amulet (ebook) and a novelty bookmark. Last week I presented 6 of the prizes. You can see the post HERE. Today I am delighted to present the remaining 7. That’s 6 ebooks and 1 paperback. Feast your eyes, folks!

 

The body discovered in a remote cove on the Greek island of Liteos turns out to be an entrepreneur who was planning a new future for the island’s fishermen. But though the fabulous golden-scaled fish Liteos was famed for have long since vanished, not everyone welcomed the dead man’s vision. As the islanders sizzle in the summer heat, Hermes Diaktoros enters a world of lively red herrings, where the ties of blood are strong and the truth is painstakingly obscured.

VISIT AMAZON  US   UK

 

 

Celia Langford lost her perfect life in the ultimate betrayal—not only was her late husband a cheat, he left her with a mountain of debt and no self-confidence. She poured her grief into cooking, determined to start anew and heal by the sea. She meets Dax Smith, a local dive shop owner, and pure-bred South Florida native. The wrong city girl once left a bad taste in his mouth, so he’s stayed clear of all matters of the heart. Yet, their irresistible attraction toward one another makes anything seem possible.

VISIT AMAZON  US   UK

 

 

Eve Watkins is in her early forties and has two teenage kids, a loving husband and a career of her own. Her life seems fairly uneventful. Yet, when her mother passes away Eve discovers things about her own past that come as a shock and compel her to visit a small village in mainland Greece. There, the developments cause her life to deconstruct before her very eyes.

Ought she to have let sleeping dogs lie? Yet she knows she has to find out. She has to know who she really is. Whatever the cost.

VISIT AMAZON  US   UK

 

 

Miranda, a strong-minded yet lovable woman, splurges her inheritance on the old Miranda Bay Sanatorium in the sub-tropical Bay of Islands, New Zealand, simply because it bears her name. She knows little about running a business and, as if that’s not enough, Hamilton, her lascivious financial advisor, seizes the opportunity to undermine her. Things don’t go as well as she’d hoped and, at the brink of despair, Miranda experiences deepening depression and manic behavior. Terror ensues, and a roller coaster of emotions in the face of financial ruin.

VISIT AMAZON  US   UK

 

 

Will Scottish leisure tycoon help Chloe save her family’s crumbling theatre? Can she resist his notorious charms? And just how much exposure will satisfy the paparazzi’s lust for headlines?

Chloe is about to find out…

VISIT AMAZON  US   UK

 

 

One heartbroken winter, Jennifer decides to act on her dream of moving to a tiny Greek island – because life is too short not to reach out for what makes us happy.

Funny, romantic and full of surprising twists, Falling in Honey is a story about relationships, tzatziki, adventures, swimming, Greek dancing, starfish… and a bumpy but beautiful journey into Mediterranean sunshine.

VISIT AMAZON  US   UK

 

 

*OUR PAPERBACK PRIZE!*

Betrayed and jilted, Jennifer Dewitt finds solace in a new job and new city. Men and marriage are not on her radar. Adrien Merrill’s divorce leaves him bitter and jaded. In Cajun custom, pride rules. Yet Adrien aches for a woman to fill his days with laughter, his nights with passion, and his house with children. He sets his sights on Jennifer and runs right into stubborn, mouthy and independent. He soon discovers the line between pride and love is as whisper thin as a fine silk thread.

VISIT AMAZON  US   UK

 

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FREE author resources and a new mindset for success

I am thrilled today to share wonderful FREE resources for authors that will make your head spin! In the past four months, thanks to a pretty nasty frozen shoulder I have had no choice but to say goodbye to my hectic 10-hour work days. Since I couldn’t type with both hands, writing a book has been impossible, and any kind of writing has been hard, so I decided to spend time on my computer educating myself instead.

Since February, I’ve done a couple of courses, watched several educational videos, read a bunch of entrepreneurial books and boy, has the journey been fantastic!

Some of them are FREE on the internet for everybody (seek and you shall find!) and others have been made available to me via my subscriptions to Digital Freedom Academy and QuitN6, both brainchildren of the mind-blowing entrepreneur Matt Stone (more on Matt, later on.)

I (virtually) stand before you today feeling like a brand new person, having acquired a new mindset that truly opened my eyes. For the first time since becoming an indie I’ve taken a few steps back, which allowed me to clear my mind and to see the big picture. And once you’ve done that, you get to see beyond the daily strife in front of the blinking screen as you plan your next FREE/KCD promo or write your next blog post – as if  promoting on Amazon and blogging are the best ways to get people to buy your books. Yeah, right.

Don’t get me wrong. I love blogging, and I can see the merit in it too. But thanks to the online resources I’ve been blessed to come across, I now see there are easier and more profitable ways to make it as an author.

Which brings me back to the FREE resources I have for you today, starting from a FREE 4-video course that will blow you away!

The FREE book, Reader Magnets, by awesome entrepreneur Nick Stephenson came highly recommended by an author friend. I can vouch for the fact that it has wonderful, fresh advice for indies, but the gem here is the emails you will receive as a subscriber, which contain links to Nick’s FREE 4-video course. This course involves groundbreaking stuff that will blow your mind!

Start by downloading the FREE book, Reader Magnets, on Nick Stephenson’s site, Your First 10,000 readers

You will receive the video links for the FREE course by email.

Nick’s course is all about the big picture I mentioned earlier. It will show you that your mailing list is more important than all the blogposts and Amazon promos you’ve ever done put together. Having listened to Nick Stephenson’s story, and his groundbreaking, easy to understand advice, this truly makes sense to me now.

But that’s not all for today. Here are some more FREE resources that have wowed me since February and I highly recommend you check out:

Don’t be fooled by the generic title. This FREE book series by the awesome Buck Flogging does apply to authors and it will help you spread your wings. I promise it will give you such a big picture you won’t know where you’re at for a while but it’s overwhelming and really powerful a feeling, and it will make your mind whirl like a spinning top!

I also recommend you read Buck’s FREE books after you’ve done Nick Stephenson’s course. Those rusty old cogs in your mind will have started turning by then so you’ll reap the full benefit of Buck Flogging’s advice in these books. Oh. And in case you’re mystified by the weirdness of the name ‘Buck Flogging’, swap around the first letters of the words and at least you’ll be able to guess how Buck feels about blogging. The real person behind the alias is Matt Stone of Buck Books, ArchangelInk and many other successful sites. Matt is an awesome entrepreneur like no other that you’ll do well to give your full attention to.

A word of warning: Matt Stone is a real sweetheart but Buck Flogging (his alter ego) is not a good boy. Other than being so vain that he puts the ‘N’ on Narcissus, he also loves sexual innuendoes and generally loves mentioning private body parts. Personally, I take the smooth with the rough (Buck, if you’re listening, please don’t turn this last statement into another of your sexy jokes!)

Proceed at your own peril and download your FREE copies HERE

 

Here’s one more gem for you! I mentioned earlier that growing your mailing list is more profitable than blogging. Guess what else is? Running AMS campaigns! Dave Chesson has made a FREE course on the subject that imparts a wealth of information and will give you the most A-HA moments possible since the days of “The Sun Always Shines on TV” (sorry, I am a huge fan of the band and couldn’t help the silly joke!) Check our Dave’s course in detail HERE

As I stated earlier, I’ve been reading a lot online… but the three aforementioned resources are by far the best, hence feeling compelled to share. Miss out on them at your own risk!

Kindly note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I earn commission from any resulting sales. Of course, you are under no obligation to buy any products and you can enjoy these awesome resources I share today absolutely free.

Before I go: If you are an author, you may want to sign up to my mailing list just for indies, HERE. Every time I publish a post for authors I email it to this list. There are other benefits to sign up and you can find out all the details on the same page. Believe me, you do not want to miss a thing!

 

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Summer giveaway prizes – Part 1 of 2

Hello! The entries keep rolling in for the Summer Giveaway and I believe it’s time to present to you some of the prizes! Two winners will get a bundle of 12 ebooks each! Dozens more will receive individual ebooks, as well as paperbacks. One lucky reader will get a set of my romantic comedy The Amulet (ebook) and a novelty bookmark.

Today, I am pleased to present to you some photos of the bookmark as well as half of the books on offer. Next week I will blog the remaining prizes in equal detail, so watch this space!

 

 

A Handful of Pebbles follows Sarah who travels to the village in Greece for the wedding of her youngest son. But Sarah’s own marriage is strained, and now that her children have grown up and left home she finds herself questioning her role of wife and mother.

Meeting up with her best friend Liz, who is also over for the wedding, and whom she has not seen for years, adds a further unsettling dimension. And why does Sarah feel so perturbed in the presence of Nicolaos, the shepherd who she seems to keep bumping into ..?

If you enjoyed ‘The Pact’ or ‘The Story Teller’ by Jodi Picoult, ‘Necessary Lies’ by Diane Chamberlain, ‘The Thread’ or ‘The Island’ by Victoria Hislop or ‘The Husband’s Secret’ by Liane Moriarty you’ll love this book…

VISIT AMAZON  US   UK

(Both covers are of the same book)

 

 

Sara Carson is a 30-something widow with a busy life. Two fun-loving best friends, a caring mom who needs her, and a thriving sweet shop. What more could a woman want? But when the ancient plumbing in her shop springs a leak and a gorgeous, dark-eyed stranger rushes to her rescue, hilarity unfolds—and Sara quickly sees exactly what she’s been missing.

Something most peculiar draws Landon Richards to Ocean City, Maryland—and to the lovely Sara. This woman touches his heart like no other, and the two of them explore the heady attraction that pulses between them. But haunting dreams have a way of encroaching on reality, and the strange phenomenon that brings these two together will also threaten to tear them apart.

VISIT AMAZON  US   UK

 

 

Stunning Natalie Asimakis returns to Atlanta from a trip to find an anonymous letter that tore her peaceful life apart—her husband, reporter James Cassidy, has been kidnapped.

Danger, betrayal and deadly secrets of her husband’s now revealed double life place Natalie’s life in jeopardy. The only one she can turn to for help is Daniel McKenzie—a prominent attorney with powerful connections. But there is a problem… Natalie and Daniel once had a stormy love affair that left indelible scars on her body and soul.

The non-stop action unfolds in Atlanta, Georgia and on the amazing Greek island of Skiathos—a paradise with lush pine forests and crystal-clear sapphire waters.

VISIT AMAZON US   UK

 

 

Alex Argiros looks like he owns the board room, yet he’d trade his bespoke suits for scrubs in the blink of an eye. But he’ll be damned if he plays into the hands of his nemesis before securing his late father’s legacy. About to seal the deal that will finally set him free, the last thing he needs is a new, fresh-out-of-college PA. Especially one that feeds his associates with home-made pies and his mind with inappropriate thoughts.

Monica Mitchell has come to Athens, Greece, with a single goal: to prove to her childhood crush that her adult self has grown out of the habit of flashing her underwear and looking like a zombie flick castoff…in public.

The catch? She has to hide who she is. Easy as pie. The demure PA looks nothing like the red-haired disaster magnet Alex once knew. Still, their explosive chemistry soon leads to bone-melting passion. But when her family pulls the rug from under Alex’s feet again, she knows she has to come clean or face his devastating wrath. She knows but needs just a little longer to savor his searing kisses…

VISIT AMAZON – CLEAN VERSION  US   UK 

VISIT AMAZON – SPICY VERSION  US   UK

 

 

When Catriona spots a plaid posterior passed out on the Hollywood movie lot where she works, she doesn’t know her life fixing problems for Hollywood’s spoiled elite is about to grow more complicated. She wants to write-off the ridiculously sexy, kilt-wearing Brochan as a con artist, but her adopted father seems strangely comfortable with a man claiming to have no memory of his past or knowledge of the modern world.

A red-bearded thug, an old picture and a three hundred year-old vendetta soon have Catriona worried she could lose everything – including her mysterious time traveling Scotsman.

A Highlander followed her home…Can she keep him?

VISIT AMAZON  US   UK

 

 

Katie has a guardian angel . . . she just doesn’t know it

When Katie loses her Athens office job, a gypsy woman hands her an amulet for good luck. Next, she gets hired as hotel receptionist on the Greek island of Sifnos and everything seems perfect, except for the overbearing hotel owner, Mrs. Matina. One of the guests, heart-stoppingly handsome Aggelos, keeps saving the day whenever Katie needs help. As she falls in love, she grows all the more intrigued by him and his quirky friends, including a little girl who keeps turning up on her own. Add a psychic, half-mad elderly woman into the mix and you’re in for a few laughs. Things are not what they seem in this small, family hotel and get even more complicated when the gypsy woman shows up again.

Will Katie ever work out that Aggelos is a guardian angel that came with the amulet? And if she does, will she be able to keep him? It may take a miracle. But on an island as magical as Sifnos, anything is possible!

VISIT AMAZON  US   UK

 

And that was it for today! Talk again next week when I’ll present the 6 remaining ebooks and 1 paperback up for grabs!

UPDATE: See the remaining book prizes HERE

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Remembering my grandparents, Spyros and Antigoni Vassilakis

Spyros and Antigoni Vassilakis

Today (May 2nd) marks one year since my granny’s passing and the memories are flooding in. Granddad passed away back in 2010 on May 5th. As a result, early May for me has become a time that inevitably brings me sadness, but somehow floods my mind with loving memories and fills my heart with blessings at the same time too.

Last summer, having inherited my grandparents’ house in Moraitika, it was hard opening the door and finding an empty house inside for the first time. What’s more, I was burdened with the gruesome task of having to go through my grandparents’ belongings, deciding what was to keep, what to throw, and what to give to charity. The task took days, and it was a surreal experience. Being interspersed with short bursts of summer holiday fun, it felt odd to do this too but, somehow, my mission was accomplished. At the end of my holiday I had given loads of clothes and medical equipment no longer needed to a couple locals who were grateful to have them, my husband and I had scrubbed dirty and moulded walls and ceilings clean, the house was tidy and aired after having being left uninhabited for a long time, and our minds were enriched with beautiful new holiday memories.

I share with you today a couple photos I took while sorting through my grandparents’ personal belongings. I found these in their aged bedside cabinets.

I quickly recognized all the items in the above photograph from old memories and was deeply moved to see Gran Antigoni had kept a couple of the handkerchiefs I used when I was little. The moment I saw them I remembered them as mine. Those among you who have holidayed in Corfu in the 70s and 80s may recognize the item in the middle as a pill box. They were all the rage in the 80s, being sold in many shapes and with various depictions on them in the souvenir shops at the time.

As for granddad’s things, the only item I didn’t recognize was the binoculars. They are dented, as you can see, and you couldn’t see much through the lenses, but he must have been fond of them as he kept them all the same. I can only imagine how many years he must have had them! As for the torch, granddad had a few, and this one is the oldest I remember and probably his favourite! It’s the one he used during our annual ‘pizza nights’ at the beach when the August moon was out – a memory that made its way into The Ebb, the novel I wrote to share my love for my grandparents with the world. Speaking of The Ebb, Sofia’s dented fork is also real… and I have proof. Scroll down below to see a photo of it 🙂

Granddad Spyros, born in Moraitika in 1913, was one of the children of Stefanos Vassilakis, the priest and teacher of Moraitika in the early 1900s. Granddad never had an education beyond elementary school but his impeccable manners towards family and friends as well as his loving, giving heart were prominent parts of his character. During the forty odd years that I was blessed to have him in my life he’d always been upbeat, sweet and loving and I never witnessed him lose his temper or fight with anyone, not even when he had every right to. And believe me, in my typically dysfunctional Greek family he had many opportunities to act that way.

Being the son of a preacher, Granddad spent Sunday mornings sitting with a radio and chanting along to the priest and the hymn singers. He also chanted in the church with gladness whenever asked. As I share in The Ebb, he had an odd affinity for the TV remote control, driving Gran to a frenzy. Actually, all his eccentricities that I share in the book are true, and he was a man who loved to laugh and entertain others too. Near the end of his life, he kept asking us to be merry when he dies, saying he wanted people to laugh, not cry, at his funeral. I last spoke to him (on the phone from Athens) three days before his passing at the age of 97. His mind was crystal clear, his voice jovial, like a young boy’s. His answer to my question ‘How are you?’ was a hearty laugh and the typical answer, “Got to be here another day!”

Granddad loved a good joke. Once, when he was well into his 90s, we were sitting around the table and he was laughing his head off with his own morbid joke. He had recently paid the council for a family grave and had had it decorated with the marble top and cross, and even his own picture, ready for the big day! Apparently, a local had passed by and seen the grave and told another: ‘Crikey! When did Spyros Vassilakis die? I never heard!” Someone had told Granddad and he relayed it around the table, laughing heartily at the ridiculous notion someone had thought him dead, even though he had set the scene perfectly for anyone to be fooled! And that was Granddad. He had this wicked sense of humour that often annoyed Gran and led to those ‘fights’ at the table that always caused me and my sister to exchange glances and chuckle no end.

Granddad also loved to joke with his friend Andriana, a local woman, and mother of Leftis from Romantica. Granddad and Mrs Andriana had approximately the same age and often joked with each other, betting who would pass away first! As he lay in his bed towards the end, Granddad heard the church bell toll intermittently in the typical single strike that signalled a death in the village. He turned to Gran and said, ‘Andriana’s gone’, which was indeed the toll of the bell for her passing, but we will never know if it was just a guess or if he knew somehow. The next day he died too.

Above all Granddad’s delightful eccentricities, one stands out for me as the most endearing: he always carried a little plastic comb in his shirt pocket and loved for me and my sister to comb his hair when we were little. Ever since I remember myself this ritual kept going strong. When I stayed or visited his house in Athens as a little girl he’d sit on his armchair, pat his shirt pocket and give me a cunning grin. I’d then rush to him, take the comb from his pocket and begin to comb his hair for a long time, the longer the better for him, but it was something I enjoyed too so much that time just flew. Often, before I knew it, he’d be fast asleep while I did this, sometimes even snoring loudly! He’d often wake up a little later to find he had all sorts of plaits braided on his head with colourful plastic hair clips at the end of them. He had the softest, snow-white thin strands and to this day I remember how they felt in my hands.

Outside the house in Moraitika – early 2000s

When Granddad passed away in 2010, I asked Gran if she had one of his combs to give me. She gave one to me and one to my sister and we both treasure them. Often, when the going gets tough in my life, I take it in my hands and tell Granddad my troubles. It always helps me to soothe any kind of heartache or mental strain – the comb having been established as the ultimate symbol of his love in my heart and mind.

I was deeply moved and very fortunate to find these old documents in an envelope in my granny’s bedside cabinet last summer. Time had rendered them gossamer thin but the writing is still legible in most places and it’s been preserved quite well despite the dozens of humid winters. These documents were my granddad’s call to military duty twice: the first in 1935 and the other in 1945.

The document of 1935, when Granddad Spyros was 22, had him registered as a coffee shop seller who was assigned to serve as a telephonist in the Communications Corp (I translate all this to the best of my ability seeing I am not familiar with military jargon). The rules that were mentioned overleaf state that the person called to duty was obliged to appear on the date specified. It was also stated that a delay of one day in showing up would result in imprisonment, while a delay of two or more days would automatically declare the person a deserter, which was punishable by death, or a life sentence in prison if evidence was put forward for their defense. There was also a clear instruction in bold to treat the assigned post and the document itself as confidential.

The document of 1945 called my granddad to duty in Acharnes, Athens in September 30th, 1945. He was 32 at the time. The document listed the same kind of rules overleaf, although with less severity compared to the other document. It was also stamped in Patra in October 1945 and there’s writing beside it but sadly it’s impossible to make out what it says.

What I do know about granddad’s service during the war was that he fought in Albania and when released from duty he returned to Corfu on foot. I also know that in Corfu he was stationed in two places: the (Venetian) Old Fortress in Corfu Town and in the Palace of Mon Repos in Kanoni. In the latter, he served as a cook and rubbed shoulders with Greek and English officers.

Gran is pictured with one of her brothers and her father in Corfu town

Gran Antigoni was born in Lefkas (Lefkada) in 1924. Her father, Nikolaos Kopsidas from the village of Karya, Lefkas, owned two inns in the island capital but a devastating earthquake that destroyed many buildings in town, including his two businesses, forced him to leave the island and seek a new life for himself and his family in Corfu. Granny was about four when she moved to Corfu. Brought up in the ancient quarter of Campielo of Corfu town, she spoke melodically, her vocabulary rich with unfathomable Italian-sounding words dating from the island’s occupation by the Venetians. When she was nineteen, one of her brothers made friends with my granddad who was thirty years old at the time. Granddad would often say that when he first led eyes on my demure grandmother she was wearing a long pleated skirt and the sight made him loose his mind (‘tin itha ke vourlistika’, were the exact words!). The rest is history, as they say.

From left to right, Ioanna, Gran, and Stephania

Granny lived and breathed for her daughters, Ioanna (my mother) and Stephania, who were also brought up in Campielo.

When I came to be, it was a story of love both ways. Granny and I soon developed a very strong bond. When I was little I’d often stay in her rented house (in Athens back then) and I was so attached to her I called her ‘mama’ (mum) and refused to fall asleep unless she held my hand. Gran would often laugh and say I gave her a hard time back then, seeing that as soon as she moved her hand away from my grasp I’d snap my eyes open, which meant she had to give me her hand and wait for me to fall asleep all over again.

 

Although my grandparents lived in Athens when I was little, we often visited Corfu in the summer to stay with my aunt Stephanie’s family in Garitsa (coastal quarter of the town next to Anemomylos). My grandparents had inherited a small quarter of my great-grandfather’s house in Moraitika but they needed to build upon it to make it a proper home with the necessary commodities first. They managed this in the early 1980s so I began to spend my summer holidays for three months at a time in the village as of then.

In The Ebb I share many of the terms of endearment Granny used to address me. There is an entertaining one I didn’t share, which tickled my husband’s funny bone so much he uses it for me now. The term is ‘kontessa’ (countess), my granny’s way of teasing me whenever, as all kids occasionally do, I acted lazy or self-indulgent. Every time Andy calls me that now if, say, I snooze a little longer in bed, there is a tug in my heart, but the feeling is wonderful, knowing the term  of endearment survived, somehow.

In the recent years, I’ve been blessed to have had Gran stay in my house in Athens for a month or so at a time during the winter. Back in 2011 when the above pictures were taken I had a dog, Nerina, a sweet and benevolent soul. I guess she must have found in Gran a kindred spirit, as she’d follow her around the house, especially when Gran cleaned fish at the sink as you see in the above photo. To stretch her legs, I often took Gran to the seafront for a stroll and as Gran loved eating fish, she often proposed we buy some for lunch straight from the fishing boats. On sunny days, more often than not, she would suggest a walk in the fields around the house to pick wild greens. You’d think a 90-year-old would cringe at the thought but Granny was tireless. She didn’t mind at all bending over for an hour to pick greens and often did a little gardening too, picking sprouts of spearmint from one place to put them in a new spot, or just watering my plants. She loved to be around plants and did the same in her tiny yard in Moraitika till the day she left it behind the last time.

 

My grandparents’ children, Ioanna (my mother) and Stephania

 

When Gran and Granddad started their life together in the 40s, times were hard. If they needed to visit Moraitika from Corfu town, they often walked the whole way. That’s a 45 minute ride in the bus today! As a young married couple they lived in Campielo as I said before where, to make ends meet, Granddad used to do deliveries for a refreshment company. He made the deliveries all over town riding a horse carriage. During the summer, he worked a lot more hours to meet the higher demand, often on all days of the week. He’d leave home at first light and return after dark when the kids were in bed. As a result, his little daughter, Stephania, called him ‘o babas o chimoniatikos’ (winter dad) as this was the only part of the year where she got to see him.

Later in life, to seek a more secure future, my granddad took his family to live in Athens where he worked at the Skaramangha shipyard. In my debut novel, The Necklace of Goddess Athena, I mention the scrap fabric pieces that the workers used to clean their hands from the dirty work. Granddad would often take the odd scrap home and Granny made clothes for their children from them.

Back in Moraitika is where sheer bliss began to pour into my life. Roughly from the age of 12, I began to stay with my grandparents nearly every summer from early June to early September. I played and swam daily with a multitude of cousins and village children and as neighbours I had a host of great-uncles and great-aunts who’d each inherited a part of my great-grandfather’s big house. Every morning would find me and the other children playing with a ball or cards under the mulberry tree or on the cemented step that can still be found today outside the house.

The mulberry tree in front of the house always causes myriad fond memories to come to surface. This lane that leads to the village church has been my playground for many happy summers.

Towards midday, we’d all descend to the beach in large numbers for our daily swim. In the afternoons, after our siesta, my cousins and I would go for long walks accompanied by my grandparents or the odd great-uncle. One of them, Great-Uncle Lilis who was a retired teacher at the time accompanied us in our walks military-style, shouting out ‘ena-dyo, en-dyo’ to give the marching rhythm but of course we kids laughed it off. We did find it endearing though so from time to time indulged him by parading like little soldiers for him as he followed last on the side of the road, supervising us.

Most of the time, we’d walk along the Corfu-Lefkimmi highway and stopped at Messonghi past the tiny bridge near the turn off to Agios Mattheos where the petrol station is today. Beside it on the corner, there was a cafe owned by my uncle Thanassis Tsatsanis from Messonghi. This was our resting place for a refreshment or a sweet before our long walk back home on the hill in Moraitika.

All the things fun I just mentioned, interspersed with out-of-this-world good meals prepared by my granny only repeated themselves the next day and the next after that, for three months at a time. I am sure, therefore, you can imagine my joy every time June came when I was a youngster, and the absolute heart-wrenching sorrow that hit me when September arrived each year and it was time to go.

As I have said many times and also recorded in The Ebb, Gran Antigoni was an amazing cook and prepared her meals in a tiny kitchen barely big enough for two people to stand in it. These photos from the early 2000’s serve as proof!

 

Speaking of proof, here is a picture of the dented aluminum fork described in The Ebb. Every summer, on my first day in the house, Gran would take it out of her ancient cabinet drawer and set it in front of me at the table with a glint in her eye as Granddad chuckled. You can imagine what it means to me now they are gone. I took this photo last summer, and it was quite emotional when I set it down on the table to eat with my husband, without either of my grandparents present for the very first time. But of course, their love remains inside me, safe, where neither time nor death can ever take it away.

Below, I share a couple videos from happy days with my grandparents. These were taken in the summer of 2004.

The two first videos feature my conversations with my grandparents as I take the video and Andy and Granddad watch Gran BBQ fish for our lunch. During that time we elaborated a lot on the fact Granddad was difficult to cook for because there were many foods he didn’t like much (fish and meat included). I then tried to convince him to have some fish but he seemed intent on only having the boiled greens and skordalia (garlic dip) that were to be served with it. By the time Gran serves at the table, she and I have managed to annoy him somewhat to a hilarious effect right at the end of video 3.

“San polla de lete?” (Don’t you think you’re talking too much?) quips Granddad in his typical mock-stern tone. It made my grandmother and I laugh many times as we watched this video together after his passing. Grandma would laugh while her fingertips caressed his face on my tablet’s screen, the words ‘Spyro mou…’ issued wistfully and repeatedly from her lips.

I hope you’ll find the videos entertaining, even those among you who don’t understand much Greek, if only for the mannerisms and the real-life depiction of a typical ‘row’ between my grandparents at meal times as described in The Ebb.

 

I truly believe that Granny and Granddad were sister souls. They were married together for 67 years and remained in love till the last day when Granddad died peacefully in his bed in Granny’s arms. Granny often relayed how he opened his eyes and gave her one last, intense look, before he closed them again, this time, forever. Granny said it felt like he was aiming to take her image along with him.

Last year, my grandmother’s parting words to me were said over the phone and during a rare moment of lucid thinking as osteomyelitis had long begun to cloud her mind since her fatal fall. Even though she kept silent or mumbled to herself whenever I phoned the old people’s home in Limnos where she spent her very last days, during that call I was lucky to make out these words: ‘Na eisai kala kyra mou, na eisai panta kala’ (may you be well ‘my lady’, may you always be well). I knew that day this was goodbye. And I was right; she died just a couple days later. I do hope in her heart she knew I was there when that happened, if only in spirit.

Goodbye Grandma. Goodbye Granddad. Until we meet again.

 

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