4 days to GO! Countdown to New Year’s FREE PROMOTION for MOTHER TONGUE and DEGREES OF OBSESSION

free kindle ebooksFor an exciting start to 2016 and a thank you to the hundreds of fans and followers of my Doc Flamingo’s Blog, my Facebook Page, and my @docflamingo Twitter page, I am offering a FREE KINDLE PROMOTION for BOTH of my suspense novels. The Kindle versions of DEGREES OF OBSESSION and MOTHER TONGUE: LINGUA CORSA will be FREE on Amazon worldwide on January 1st through 3rd.

book trailersCan’t wait? View the heart-pounding DEGREES OF OBSESSION trailer and the suspenseful MOTHER TONGUE trailer.

degrees kindleDEGREES OF OBSESSION

Charlie Pederson, fierce but flawed like all women who have loved deeply and lost, takes a dangerous thrill ride from risky infatuation to the edge of disaster when she stalks her still suck-the-breath-out-of-you handsome college flame.

As a therapist, Charlie knows she should abandon her crazed obsession over Danny Shapiro. But as a woman turning fifty and stifled in her marriage to deadly dull Harold, she finds herself driven to take a dicey last chance to find all that her heart needs.

Little does she suspect that an impulsive visit to Danny’s law office will make her the target of a homicidal erotomaniac. As she chases Danny down, she jeopardizes her professional reputation, infuriates her best friend, alienates her husband, and risks exposing the most painful secret of her life.

DEGREES OF OBSESSION has it all—juicy romance and heart-pounding suspense. Best of all, it shines light on the fears, follies, and fantasies that drive the choices women make and on the love that redeems them.

mother tongue kindleMOTHER TONGUE:LINGUA CORSA

Child advocate attorney, Liz Fallon, desperately needs a break after legal blunders and her own negligence lead to the kidnapping and death of a mother and daughter she represents. Fluent in her mother’s native Corsican tongue, she nabs a job at a Paris newspaper as a lingua corsa translator for Pierre Benatar, whose coverage of the explosive Corsican Nationalist movement has enraged every separatist faction.

When Benatar and his seven-year-old son disappear, she resolves to prevent another tragedy and cons her way to Corsica under the ruse of researching a tabloid story about the mazzeri, the isle’s ancient harbingers of death. She cozies up to the prime suspects using her secret knowledge of lingua corsa and the aid of an elderly Brit and a courageous teen Corsican cousin. The hunters suddenly become the hunted when Liz’s inquiries arouse the suspicions and passions of both the separatist leader and the French police chief. When the mazzeri story also takes a chilling personal turn, she has to wonder whether Corsica intends to reclaim her as its prodigal daughter or destroy her.

The Corsican Nationalist party achieves historic win in regional election

FRONT COVER PAPERBACKThis is a moment when I desperately wish my novel MOTHER TONGUE: LINGUA CORSA was translated into French. And not just because Yvan Colonna wrote me from prison that he would translate it into Lingua Corsa if I could first get it translated into French. He must feel a great joy today and look forward to the march through many countries that will be held on his behalf (he continues to protest his innocence in the 1998 assassination of Claude Erignac) after the first of the year.

But for all Corsicans who read English and are Nationalist supporters, please consider celebrating your victory with me by reading my suspense novel about the Nationalist movement, set in 1996 at the time of the attack on Bordeaux and many other acts of defiance by the FLNC.

I think you can get the gist of the story from the TRAILER I made for the novel. You can find the trailer, the opening chapter, a synopsis in the best French I can muster, an excerpt about the mazzeri, and read about my initial visit to Corsica in 1963 when my imagination was completely captured by the island’s rugged beauty, compelling politics, and courageous people, who have now found success at the ballot box after decades of marches and acts of separatist violence.

The information below is from report below posted by Europe1.fr on December 13th:

FB video of election celebration:

This Sunday, December 13th, the Nationalist party, led by Gilbert Simeoni, won a historic victory in the Corsican regional elections with 37% of the vote compared to 28.9% for leftist Paul Giacobbi and 25.4% for the candidate on the right. The FN (the Front National radical far right party) had below 10% (8.7%) of the vote even though it was suprisingly successful in many areas of mainland France.

“It is the victory for Corsica and for all Corsicans,” said the nationalist leader Gilles Simeoni, as he announced the results. His victory was hailed with shouts and chants of thousands of supporters and sympathizers waving the white Corsican Moor’s head flag in the streets of Ajaccio, Bastia and other cities on the island.

Dedicating this victory to the “prisoners and those still pursued”, separatist leader Jean-Guy Talamoni said that “it took a long walk of 40 years to get here.” “We will be elected by all of our people,” added Talamoni, stressing that “Corsica is not a single French administrative district, but one country, one nation, one people”.

French report from Europe1.fr:

La liste emmenée par Gilbert Simeoni remporte 37% des voix contre 28,9% au divers gauche Paul Giacobbi et 25,4% à la droite. Le FN est en dessous des 10% (8,7%)

Les nationalistes ont remporté dimanche une victoire historique aux élections territoriales en Corse, battant nettement la gauche sortante et la droite victime de ses divisions. La liste “Per a Corsica” (Pour la Corse), issue de la fusion au second tour des autonomistes (17,62% au 1er tour) et des indépendantistes (7,72%), a obtenu 35,50% des voix. Les nationalistes devancent nettement la gauche conduite par le président DVG sortant de l’exécutif territorial Paul Giacobbi (28,76%), député de Haute-Corse, et la droite emmenée par l’ancien ministre José Rossi (26,69%).

“Nous serons les élus de l’ensemble de notre peuple”. “C’est la victoire de la Corse et de tous les Corses”, a déclaré le chef de file nationaliste Giles Simeoni, à l’annonce des résultats. Sa victoire a été acclamée par les cris et les chants de milliers de partisans et sympathisants agitant des drapeaux corses blancs à tête de Maure dans les rues d’Ajaccio, de Bastia et des autres villes de l’île.

Dédiant cette victoire aux “prisonniers et aux recherchés”, le dirigeant indépendantiste Jean-Guy Talamoni a déclaré qu'”il a fallu une longue marche de 40 ans pour en arriver là”. “Nous serons les élus de l’ensemble de notre peuple”, a ajouté Talamoni, soulignant que “la Corse n’est pas une simple circonscription administrative française, mais un pays, une nation, un peuple”.

Mystic

Mystic by Thierry Tramoni de Bazzacone (Copyright Protected)

Mystic by Thierry Tramoni de Bazzacone (Used with permission and fully copyright protected)

Poem inspired by photo “Mystic” by fine arts photographer Facebook friend Thierry Tramoni de Bazzacone who lives in Ajaccio, Corsica

necromancer’s brew of
mussel encrusted rocks
bathed in frazzled foam

cavity-riddled molars
hungering to
devour some hapless vessel
raw

gargoyled reefs
drowned in
agitated waves that
somersault into a
winslow homer sea

poisonous mists
deadly enough to
infect stone
sending shelled and
scaly creatures
fleeing for their
lives

hiding place for
tales of woe and
bad endings
yet one that draws our
eyes and hearts into its
murky mystic soul

How not to think about packing…

Where’s Scotty when I need him? As the days count down and I’m surrounded by packing boxes, I desperately want to be beamed up to my new home. The best way to distract myself while I’m resting on the couch with various sore muscles being chilled under ice packs is to think back to some of my lovely trips to France. And look forward to another journey to my favorite French destinations next summer.

And, you MUST scroll to the bottom of the photos to see my the abode which I will share with my daughter and her husband and my two delightful granddaughters, ages 3 and 5. I know I’ll enjoy the fabulous view of the entire San Francisco bay from my little private patio. And what better than having two little people prying your eyelids open in the morning, whispering, “Are you awake, Mimi?”

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Paris in winter

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Eze during the Christmas holiday

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Spectacular Bonifacio where my love of Corsica and my novel MOTHER TONGUE began

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The gargoyles of Notre Dame in sight of our apartment a block away

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Honfleur–the harbor master’s where my great-grandfather did business on his clipper ship the Llewellyn J Morse

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The cottage at Chenonceau at the height of the wisteria season

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The harbor at Cassis–gateway to the Calanques

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Opera Garnier for the ballet–red velvet heaven

Dinner on the beach

Dinner on the beach at L’Ile Rousse in Corsica

Chagall museum Nice

The fabulous Chagall museum

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Visiting 113 rooms at Chambord

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The Paris Opera costume exhibit at Chambord

Serenity Bonifacio

Serenity…the harbor at Bonifacio

Hameau Stair House Oil

The Petite Hameau of Marie Antoinette at Verseilles

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A stunning view of Mont Saint Michel

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A cozy view of my new home at night. That’s my special space on the bottom right behind the wrought iron fencing.

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The back patios.

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The double terraced yard.

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My little private patio with views of San Francisco bay

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A view of San Francisco bay from the main level

Independence and the Colonna’s…a Corsican connection past and present

IldeRe-FranceMy family on my father’s side came to America two generations before the Revolutionary War. There is some evidence that they came originally from Île de Ré, a Hugenot stronghold in France, perhaps for religious freedom  So I suppose stories of independence have always been in my blood. Perhaps this is one reason why I have written a novel about the Nationalist movement in Corsica as they also strive to maintain their culture, language, and political freedom from France.

But what is interesting is that Corsica’s centuries of striving for independence is closely tied to the American story of independence from England. The Corsican Constitution, written by Pasquale Paoli, directly inspired the American Constitution. Apparently, American revolutionaries rode to attack shouting, “Viva Paoli”. Several US cities were named Paoli or Corsica or in memory of the Constitution of the innovative small Corsican nation.

colonna posterAs this celebration of our Independence Day approached, I have had an incredibly interesting exchange of letters with two men, a father and a son, struggling against what they consider the ultimate loss of independence, unjust imprisonment. Yesterday marked the 12th anniversary that Yvan Colonna has been incarcerated in a French prison. He was convicted of assassinating Claude Érignac, the prefect of Corsica, on 6 February 6, 1998.

jean huguesHe is the son of Jean-Hugues Colonna, a former deputy (MP) of the French socialist party in the Alpes-Maritimes constituency and a recipient of the French Légion d’honneur. On 20 June 2011, Yvan’s conviction was upheld on appeal. Yvan is currently serving his life sentence in a prison in Arles.

colonna long hairOn his website, Yvan posted his prison address and since my novel is about a Corsican separatist unjustly accused, I thought I might send him a copy of my novel. The other reason was that when I decided, back in about 2007, to turn my 1996 screenplay “The Coriscan Dagger” into a novel, I happened across a photo of a Corsican separatist on the internet which looked exactly like what I had imagined that my main character, Antoine Scafani, would look like. It was a photo of Yvan, I believe shortly after his initial arrest. He had been the subject of the biggest manhunt in French history, and was thought to have left the country, possibly for South America. However, an infrared camera set in the mountains of Corsica, near Vico as surveillance of a “bergerie“, a traditional Corsican stone hut, yielded evidence that Colonna was hiding here. He was arrested on the 4th of June 2003. As I read more about Yvan’s life, I saw many other similarities. So perhaps my imagination had been right on.

colonna - CopyWithin a week I received a cordial hand written letter back from Yvan stating that although he could not read English that “he would be my man” to translate the novel into lingua corsa if I could first get it translated into French.

And just this past week another package arrived from France. This time from Jean-Hugues Colonna, his father, who at age 80 has taken on the task of writing to those who have contacted his son. His love and unswerving support for his son is quite evident. He included two books that have been written about Yvan’s case. The main gist of their argument is that he was presumed guilty before the trial and therefore a full investigation of other suspects or even the gathering of sufficient evidence again him was not done. He believes that this would never have happened in America, although I’m not sure about that!

Jean-Hugues also shared some other fascinating information about his family back when he was a child during WWII. They had harbored a Jewish family (the island had been occupied by the Italian fascists) and the son of that family became a famous industrialist leader in the United States. He also told me about a camp of American liberators in Cargèse (the Corsican town where he now lives) who gave the children of the village good white bread and tinned pineapple, which they had never tasted before.

Jean-Hugues also offered to translate my novel, or at least a synopsis, into lingua corsa if I can first get a good French translation. An exciting possibility. Even if it all comes to naught, I have been intrigued by this Corsican connection to independence and imagination.

They saved the best for last…

Paperback cover finalSo there I am,,,the 101st pin on the Pinterest Board listing this year’s Nominees for the American Library in Paris Book Award which is given to the best book of the year in English about France or the French-American encounter. Scroll to the very bottom of the Pinterest page to see MOTHER TONGUE.

The blurb: Mother Tongue by Karen Stephen. Child advocate attorney, Liz Fallon, desperately needs a break after legal blunders and her own negligence lead to the kidnapping and death of a mother and daughter she represents. Fluent in her mother’s native Corsican tongue, she nabs a job at a Paris newspaper as a lingua corsa translator for Pierre Benatar, whose coverage of the explosive Corsican Nationalist movement has enraged every separatist faction.

As you can see, I am in very good company. France has served as inspiration for generations of authors. It is a country that embraces and preserves its history, revels in its culture, and is one giant picture postcard that you want to take home.

The “long list” will be announced on Monday, June 15thPlease watch my BOOK TRAILER for MOTHER TONGUE as I wait on Pin..terests and Needles for the outcome. And LIKE my FB author page.

Keeping my fingers crossed…

Paperback cover finalTHE AMERICAN LIBRARY IN PARIS is pleased to confirm your nomination of MOTHER TONGUE for the 2015 Book Award.

We are in receipt of all requirements – nomination form, nomination fee, and 5 copies of your book. These have now been passed to the screening committee.

The longlist will be announced in mid-June 2015 and the shortlist in mid-July. The winner will be announced October 2015.The Book Award jury for 2015, drawn from the Writers Council of the American Library in Paris, is: Laura Furman (chair), novelist, professor at the University of Texas, and editor of the O. Henry Prize Stories series since 2002; Lily Tuck, novelist and biographer; and Fredrik Logevall, professor of international relations at Cornell University and the first winner of THE AMERICAN LIBRARY IN PARIS BOOK AWARD for “Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam”

Thank you for your submission,
The American Library in Paris

http://americanlibraryinparis.org/
10, rue du Général Camou
75007 Paris | France
t:   +33 01.53.59.12.67
www.americanlibraryinparis.org
@alpbookaward

MOTHER TONGUE back story ~ The author and the Foreign Legion

unknowncrewFor a look at the REAL La Légion Etrangère’s 2ème Régiment Étranger de Parachutistes fighting today in Afghanistan, watch this Youtube video. This elite international intervention force is still based in Calvi, Corsica.

The back story for MOTHER TONGUE involved a wild adventure I had at nineteen involving, a British yacht, The Wigeon of Fearn, a “crew” of thirteen dissolute young people, a drunken skipper (seen in the rear of this photo taken at Portofino)–all of whom sailed the Northern Mediterranean, and, among other things, tried to sneak two Foreign Legionnaires off of the island of Corsica! We failed in our mission but I never forgot the many stories of intrigues and foolishness that would evolve eventually into the story of MOTHER TONGUE. I even wrote a poem about our adventure shortly after the voyage ended.

EXCERPT from MOTHER TONGUE: Liz Fallon has just met they mysterious French police officer, Philippe LeClerc, who presents himself as much less than he really is. Their early morning chat takes place on a granite outcropping amid the maquis on the Cap Corse peninsula just after sunrise. They surprisingly find a connection between her mother, his father and the Foreign Legion.

“I have my own story about conscription by the French military,” I said. “My mother’s story actually.”

Vraiment? Tell me.”

two legionnairesI sketched out a few details about my mother and the crew of the Wigeon of Fearn trying to liberate two Foreign Legionnaires from the island, careful to leave the impression that my mother was just another American college kid.

Not until I uttered the words Bonifacio and summer of ’63 did LeClerc respond. “Incroyable! My father was a Lieutenant Colonel in the 2me Étranger du Parachutists, the second airborne of the Legion. He was sent to Bonifacio after the exodus from Algeria in ‘62.”

“Do you think he could have been the officer over the men my mother and her friends tried to sneak off the island?”

He looked off into the distance. “Je ne sais pas.

“So you lived in Corsica then?”

LeClerc paused as though he wasn’t prepared to answer questions about his personal life. I quickly apologized to keep the buttering-up process on track. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t pry.” Or at least do it more carefully.

“Not at all. The fact is that we never lived where my father was stationed. Although, we visited him that summer. I was nine.” Philippe hesitated again and then changed the subject. “Were your mother’s friends successful?”

“No, someone snitched. It all fell apart. They felt badly because the Legionnaires told them that they woke up with a bad hangover in Marseille and found themselves signed up for six years in the Legion.”

Impossible. The paras were the elite of the Legion, a special intervention force, even back then. No one would have been shanghaied from a bar.”

“And if they’d gotten caught trying to escape?”

“They would have been stripped, placed in solitary confinement, probably suffered a beating. Attempted desertion is still treated very harshly in the Legion.”

I shifted my position on the rock and broke off a nearby stalk of rosemary, twiddling it between my fingers, pleased that I had gotten LeClerc talking about his family. Find out about the father and you’ll find out about the man. “And your father would have allowed that sort of thing?”

“He would have ordered it.”

I wasn’t shocked. I’d known other men, like Briana’s stepfather, with that same sociopathic streak of cruelty.

LeClerc ran his hands over his knees and stared at the rising sun. “My father was something of a legend. He survived Dien Bien Phu and then fought in Algeria against the FLN. He treated his regiment like personal property. He would not have taken it lightly if two of his men deserted. He might even have ordered a corvée de bois.”

“A what?”

“You tell a prisoner he is free to go and then shoot him in the back.”

Now I was shocked. “You’re kidding?”

He looked at me and broke into a sliver of a smile. “Of course. But it makes for a good story, n’est ce pas?”

The Scented Isle ~ in photos and words ~ Calacuccia store

Excerpt from MOTHER TONGUE by Karen Stephen

The moment over, I grabbed the edge of my seat as Scafani barreled ahead, lurching to a stop at a building identified by a sign reading Les Halles Corses. Its façade of stone traveled two feet up white stucco walls and crept around a stout door, propped open to catch the breeze. Two shields, nailed on each side of the entrance, marked it as both a boucherie and a charcuterie.

Scafani opened his door and leapt out. “I’ll be right back.”

I refused to be left behind and reached for my door handle. “I’ll go with.”

He stuck his hand out like a school crossing guard. “No.”

After enduring a terrorizing ride, I sure as hell wasn’t going to be ordered to sit and stay like a friggin’ cocker spaniel. I swung open my door and followed him into the market. He joined a group of grizzled old men seated around a pickle barrel. I headed for the opposite side of the store and busied myself browsing through shelves of canned meat products. I watched out of the corner of my eye as the men greeted him with rounds of kisses on both cheeks and hearty claps on the back.

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A fascinating storefront I captured on my trip to Corsica in 2006.

 

The Scented Isle ~ in photos and words ~ Bleak village

Excerpt from MOTHER TONGUE by Karen Stephen

The Professor launched into her narration. “I remember there was a dry sirocco wind that day, kicking up swirls of dust all the way along our three-kilometer journey. I worried that my photographer, who shared none of my enthusiasm for the occult, might change his mind and leave me stranded.”

I felt a slight chill go up my spine as the next scene revealed a string of bleak stone houses in a sparsely settled hamlet. The Professor continued. “The inhabitants were nowhere to be seen when we arrived. I knew the men were most likely tending their sheep on the high plateaus. But the women? Were they hiding from me, a stranger in urban dress accompanied by a man holding this strange, whirring machine, or had they caught a glimpse of the solitary figure that approached us?”

I let out an involuntary gasp as a scarecrow of a woman popped onto the screen, her black rags being whipped to and fro by the wind.

village de Muna

Photo Credit: Corse Passion on Facebook, “Village de Muna”