Eleven o’clock on the eleventh day of the eleventh month

 

Poppies

“But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me. I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late. Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony–Forgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy?”

Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front

“We stood around for a bit, smoking and taking the occasional pull from the bottle. A couple of their men spoke English but no one said much. We were just a group of lads hanging about. We could have been anywhere. That’s what struck me. These Fritzes were ordinary people with parents, sisters, brothers, wives, sweethearts back home. Just like us. Exchange uniforms and you wouldn’t have noticed the difference. And yet up till now we’d been trying to thump each other into the ground. It made me think.”

‘Bertie’s Buttons’, short story in French Collection: Twelve Short Stories

Copyright © Vanessa Couchman 2018, all rights reserved.

Of Mountains and Men: How Corsica’s Landscape Shaped its History

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The Tavignanu Valley in Corsica’s central mountains

Corsica’s terrain is a feature that has had a significant influence on its history and culture. The island is one big mountain range that rises 2,706 metres from the sea at its highest point, Monte Cinto. These are comparatively young, jagged mountains, not yet rounded by erosion. Continue reading

Iconic Corsican Places: the Church of San Michele, Murato

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Pisan church at Murato

Open any guidebook about Corsica and you’re likely to come across a picture of this exquisite Romanesque church in Murato. Prosper Mérimée, who was Inspector of Public Monuments, said in 1839 that it was “the most elegant and the most attractive church he had come across on Corsica.” We visited the site in 2014 and I heartily agree with him. Continue reading

Introducing Ocelot Press

Ocelot Logo

Ocelot Press has been going for a couple of months, but now we have a shiny new website, so I can announce it officially and you can find out more about our authors and our books. We already have a number of titles published under the imprint.

What is Ocelot Press? It’s a group of experienced published authors who have teamed up to help each other edit, produce and promote our books to the highest professional standards.

We are all either former or current Crooked Cat Books authors, who also self-publish. Under the Ocelot Press imprint, we retain our creative independence while benefiting from each other’s knowledge and experience. All of my books are now published under the Ocelot imprint.

Our authors write mostly historical fiction, including historical mystery, paranormal and romance. We aim to introduce our readers to a wide range of fiction through our joint marketing and publicity efforts.

It’s a great new venture and I’m excited to be a part of it.

Copyright © Vanessa Couchman 2018, all rights reserved.

Alternative Endings & Unanswered Questions: Guest Post by Sue Barnard

Sue Barnard Author

A few months ago, Alison Morton was my guest, talking about alternate history. Today I’m very pleased to welcome back my friend, author Sue Barnard, who’s talking today about alternative endings to famous stories. Her latest novel, Heathcliff, was published yesterday and it’s a great read. I know, because I had a sneak peek a while ago. Tell us about your inspiration, Sue. Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Zaronza! Win a Signed Copy to Celebrate

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My first novel, The House at Zaronza, is four years old and to celebrate I have one signed paperback copy to award to a lucky winner. Read on to find out how to enter. Continue reading

Iconic #Corsican Places: the Paoline Tower, #Nonza

Nonza - Paoline Tower

The historic Paoline Tower in Nonza, Corsica

It’s no secret that I’m a Corsicaphile. I’ve visited six times (not nearly enough!) and never cease to be inspired by its history, culture and landscapes. This is the first in a series of posts about inspiring places on the island. Some of them appear in my books; others don’t yet.

I’m starting with a monument that has appeared in both of my Corsica novels: the Paoline Tower in Nonza on Cap Corse, the finger-like projection at the north end of the island. It’s often been described as “the island of the island” and has its own distinctive feel. The village of Nonza is on the rugged west coast. Continue reading