Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Welcome to my stop on the March Book Frenzy by Mary Smith

I hope once you have read about one of the characters in my novel No More Mulberries, you will visit the other 7 blogs belonging to my writing colleagues at eNovel Authors at Work.

Your time and assistance in helping share our work is greatly appreciated.

This March Book Frenzy is brought to you by:

$35, $25 and $20 Cash PLUS 2 eBooks from each author.
Giveaway Link: March Book Frenzy
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Increase your chances to win by visiting as many of the blogs on the linky as possible.
(Find Linky list at the end of this post or via this link:

I hope you will enjoy your time with me as I take you through:
A Day In the Life Of Usma

Usma is a friend of Miriam who is the main character in my novel No More Mulberries. She lives in a small village in a remote part of central Afghanistan. When Miriam, a midwife from Scotland first came to work in Afghanistan with her Afghan husband, Usma very soon became her closest friend. The two women have not seen each other for many years but are about to be re-united.

It was still dark when Usma stumbled, yawning, into the kitchen. She set to work lighting the fire, putting water on to boil for tea. She went through her routine tasks – stirring the tandoor into life, making the nan – but today she approached her work with excitement for today was the day Ismail would arrive with her good friend Miriam. How many years had passed since they said goodbye, never dreaming of the tragic events which would lead to them being separated for so long?

Usma called her children for breakfast. Little Habib toddled in, closely followed by the older boys, Sultan and Hassan with Shahnaz trailing in behind. By the time breakfast was over the sky was lightening and the boys were soon letting out the sheep and goats from the rooms below. She sent Shahnaz off to the well for water. ‘And don’t be there all day. There’s plenty to do and I’ll need your help.’ Her daughter looked as though she was going to argue, thought better of it and headed down towards the village well, where a group of women and girls were already gathered.

Usma let out the chickens who were distracted from the grain she threw them by the grasshoppers leaping around them. As always, their antics made her smile. Today that smile was tinged with nostalgia as she remembered Miriam’s laughter the first time she saw the chickens try to catch grasshoppers. She had missed her so much, but would the spark of friendship still be as strong after so many years?

Throwing a last handful of food to the chickens, Usma continued her routine tasks, this time milking the cow before leading her down to the patch of pasture where she tethered her. When Shahnaz arrived back with the water, Usma left her daughter to wash up the breakfast dishes while she cleaned and prepared the room for Miriam and her daughter, whom Usma had never seen. Would her son, Farid be with her? He wouldn’t remember anything of his life in Zardgul. He’d only been a baby when they left for Scotland to see Miriam’s father before he died.

Usma folded bedding at the foot of the mattress and gave the room a last check. It was neat and clean – two mattresses on the floor, bedding, a brightly embroidered curtain, which Shahnaz had finished only last week, over the alcove. This was the room in which Miriam and Jawad had begun their life here in Zardgul. Was it a mistake to put her friend in this room with all its memories? With a heavy sigh, she left the room. She had to wash some clothes, prepare the dough for the ash for the meal. Miriam had always loved the strips of dough – said they were like spaghetti. Miriam rolled the word doubtfully in her mouth not sure she was saying it correctly. Later, she would meet her neighbours on the flat roof where the women sat most afternoons enjoying a gossip.

Shahnaz was trying to do some studying while entertaining Habib and Usma took the child from her telling her she was free for an hour. She noted the speed with which her daughter leapt to her feet and wondered. Before she could issue any warnings, her daughter had vanished down the mountainside.

Usma brought some warm nan to the rooftop picnic and her next door neighbour Jemila brought tea in a large thermos. Usma relished this time of day when most of her work was done and she could relax in the sun for an hour with her friends. From their vantage point they could see the rest of the village and the surrounding fields. She was telling them of the preparations for Miriam’s arrival when she spotted the deep blue of Shahnaz’s chaddar in amongst Malim Ashraf’s rows of peas – and next to her, the slim figure of Abbas whose father owned the land next to them. From this distance she couldn’t be sure what he was doing but it looked like he was opening peapods and tipping the peas into her daughter’s hand. Jemila giggled beside her. ‘At least he’s not popping them in her mouth.’

‘Mmh,’ Usma gave a non-committal grunt. Shahnaz was a strikingly pretty girl with dark dancing eyes and she was growing up. She hoped she’d be sensible. Abbas was a nice enough boy but Usma hoped for better for her only daughter.

Jemila and the other women were leaving when Shahnaz returned. She lowered her eyes demurely to greet the older women but not before Usma had seen the sparkle in them. Before she could say anything to her daughter, Jemila spoke to Shahnaz. ‘I believe Malim Ashraf grows the finest peas in Zardgul: so sweet and juicy. Is that not so, Shahnaz?’

Usma turned away to hide her smile as she saw her daughter flush a deep rosy red.

Remember to visit and follow my writing colleagues
at eNovel Authors at Work here:
Donna Fasano
Jackie Weger
Joanne Hill
Dianne Greenlay
Abby L. Vandiver
Lorrie Farrelly
Carmen Desousa


  1. Hi, Mary: I just stopped in to see your page and your post. Very nicely done. I've been posting on Facebook pages. Not tweeting too much. but I am going down the list of our blog hosts and commenting and thanking them for hosting us. Good Luck! Jackie Weger eNovel Authors at Work

    1. Thanks, Jackie, I appreciate you dropping in and taking the time to comment.Can you send me the list of blog hosts - or do I already have it? This is all so new to me.

  2. A wonderful peek into your story's world. Thank you for sharing. The March Book Frenzy is fantastic! :)

  3. Hi Christine, thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. I agree the Book Frenzy is great - with some wonderful prizes to be won. Look forward to seeing you visis again.

  4. Hi Mary, just dropping by your site to say hello! I am so glad to be a part of this blog - it's been great already for introducing our books to a new audience, but even better, I'm meeting all of you wonderful authors! Cheers!

    1. Thanks, Dianne.I'm pretty green about all this blog hopping stuff but it has been fun so far.Do sign up for Novel Points of View and you'll meet four authors. We share the blog so we each do one every five weeks.

  5. Fascinating - not just the insight into your book Mary but to all the other books on the tour.

    1. Thanks, Gill, I appreciate you taking the time to comment. The eight authors in the tour offer a pretty wide choice of books.

  6. Goodness! So many books! Thanks for posting, Mary!

    1. A pleasure, Jennifer. Fabulosity Reads which is hosting the hop is a great site for authors.

  7. What a lot of great-looking books! And lovely to see some new faces dropping by here, too.

    1. Thanks, Jenny. It is great to see some new people - hope they might continue to visit.
      The pics at the bottom of the post are links to other blogs, all of which focus on books and authors.

  8. Hi Mary,
    Your book sounds wonderful. It goes to show that we are not that different no matter where we are from.
    Many thanks for sharing a little about Usma.
    Kate Books, Crafts and Pretty Things

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Kate. You are right - we are all the same, where ever we are from. There are great human stories of life and love everywhere in the world.

  9. A very, very, impressive post....congratulations to all.

    1. Thanks, Linda.Good luck with your blog tour.