Sunday, May 24, 2020

Come, Travel With Me.....To Capri:

We can go there in our imaginations, at least:
Funny thing about this self-isolation/lockdown/shutdown, whatever you want to call it – we find ourselves missing the little things – the monthly bookclub meeting, real coffee in a café, people watching at the park, browsing the stores, family get-togethers and visits, dinner out to celebrate a birthday or anniversary…things we might have taken for granted suddenly seem so desirable.

And intertwined with this is daydreaming about …’when this is all over’ travel. So many people have had to cancel travel plans this summer, sometimes for dream vacations. This trip to Capri was one of my dream trips, back in 2006. We usually have a couple of weekend in Niagra on the Lake each year, and hoped to repeat last year's trip to Newfoundland….and next year, maybe to revisit Europe. But right now England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Italy, Greece – they may as well be a million miles away rather than a plane ride or two.

To feed this longing for travel, I've been taking an armchair journey through some of the places we've visited and loved. Why not join me, take my hand and we’ll travel…for example, how about a trip to Capri?

 We set out from Napoli in the rain, with Vesuvius scowling over the docks...and the smell of sulphur with a yellow haze over the water.

But it seems in no time at all we were looking at this welcoming view of Capri...

The town itself is quite beautiful, full of history and flowers..and very steep. There is a funicular railway that gets you up the steep sides of the island. What is a funicular, you ask? Here is the Collins dictionary definition: A funicular or a funicular railway is a type of railway which goes up a very steep hill or mountain. A machine at the top of the slope pulls the carriage up the rails by a steel rope.  People like myself, who don't like heights, may be suspicious about that steel rope, but believe me, it's safe and well worth the trip to get the views from the perch at the top.

Speaking of steep, this photo doesn't really do justice to the views...

This pretty little garden was once the favorite relaxing place of one of the Roman emperors - Claudius, if memory serves me right. Just imagine, strolling in a garden where an emperor and his entourage once rested and played! Not that the emperors were very nice people, but still...

Have you ever seen water this beautiful color of aqua green? It's something to do wit the minerals in rocks, I believe.

Capri is an island, so boats of all variety are part of the lifestyle. 

 Look closely - you'll see the figure of a woman at the very top f this cliff. Sorry, but I can't remember who or what she was...I think something to do with keeping the sailors safe?

I was fascinated by these huge billionaire mansions on these daunting cliffs, retreats for their very wealthy and privacy loving owners. Apparently, attempts to visit are discouraged...:-)


As I said earlier, much of the life around Capri is oriented to the sea...these tall rocks have a romantic story...apparently, if you sail between them and kiss your companion, your love will last forever. Sorry, hon., looks like you're stuck with me...

And then, Goodbye to Capri and back to Naples & Vesuvius.

Another item ticked off the bucket list!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Monday's Inspiration: What to Give the Writer Who Has Everything (In Their Imagination).

Have a writer on your Christmas gift list? Stuck for ideas? That’s not surprising, considering you’re dealing with a person who can have anything he or she wants – in their imagination, of course!
But buying for writer friends or family needn’t be a chore. And it needn’t be expensive, either. Of course, the latest word processing programmes, computer technology, a library full of books or a year’s rental on a retreat to a villa in France, would all be welcome gifts. Bear in mind that the latter could be very pricey indeed, because most of us writers are broke much of the time so you’d definitely have to throw in air fare and stock the place with food.
But for more realistic purposes, here are a few writer pleasing ideas.
1)     Fancy pens, pencils, cute notebooks, or other desktop gadgets. Sure, we know we’re in the age of high tech, but there’s nothing like the allure of a clean, virginal page or a fancy new gel pen.
2)     A really good diary with at least a page per day for notes. Or more than a page, to help keep track of word counts, deadlines, book signings, talk events, submission dates, etc.
3)     The online version of The Writer’s Market.
4)     The online version of Writer’s Digest
5)     A comfy cushion for the desk chair – you’d be amazed just how numb one’s posterior can get after a few hours of typing madly, butt in chair….
6)     One of those little desk puzzles, to give the brain a break from words. Careful with the choice, though – nothing too difficult. Writers are all too familiar with failure, and not being able to do the Rubik’s Cube, for example, can begin a slow slide into depression as fast as any rejection letter.
7)     A pair of those woolly fingerless gloves, for typing when the power is out – or has been cut off – and there’s no heat.
8)     Woolly socks with tops that will fit over flannel pajama bottoms.
9)     Flannel pajama bottoms.
10)  A gift card for Starbucks or Tim Horton’s, so that your writer won’t get black looks after sitting in the warm café for hours, typing without buying…..

11)   Probably the very best gift for a writer costs nothing: Time. Yes, time to write without interruption is such a gift! Be a friend. Don’t take offence when your writer buddy rolls her eyes at your suggestions that the two of you go out, when you know she’s on deadline. Offer to take the kids for a couple of hours, cook a meal, pick up groceries, dry cleaning, kids from school. Don’t talk for hours on the phone. Listen when she needs a sounding board, otherwise give her some space.
Trust me, she or he will eventually emerge from the writing cave, eager and ready for human interaction again……one the writing is done. Until the next book, of course….

Monday, November 25, 2019

All About Winters & Somers - My Irish Detective Novel.

Winters & Somers - My Irish Detective Romantic Comedy Irish PI, Cíara Somers, makes a good living testing the ‘temptability quotient’ of men for their insecure lovers…but when NY homicide cop and author of red hot romances, Jonathon Winters, makes her take him on as a partner in her Dublin agency, he gets the wrong message from her raunchy style . . . especially when he wants her for himself.
Somers isn’t the type to let a man push her around – the incorrigible Grannie Somers raised her to be her own woman. But when she discovers that even Grannie drools over the sexy Winters, she can’t help but wonder what it would be like to indulge in one of the fantasies that have millions of women reading his romantic books.
And when Somers finally gets her first real case – to capture the notorious jewel thief dubbed The Diamond Darling – she has to survive the help of her weird relatives, the landlady from hell, two stoned friends, a stray dog – and Winters himself . . .

Cíara Somers prowled among the top drawer clientele of the exclusive Dublin nightclub, her scarlet lips pursed in a sexy pout.

When a hearty male hand slapped her bum, she clamped down on her instinctive reaction to impale the man’s foot to the shiny wooden floors with her wicked four-inch stiletto heel. Instead, she cracked a sultry smile and batted her dark eyelashes provocatively.

After all, she was working tonight. And you could hardly blame the poor darlings. Frankly, any man who didn’t respond to her artfully designed siren’s call had to be dead. At least from the neck down.

The nightclub catered to very rich business and professional Dubliners – the place positively reeked of money – but she was after a specific fish, so it wouldn’t do for a woman like her to draw too much attention to herself. If the eagle-eyed club management copped on to what she was up to, she’d be thrown out on her mini-skirted rear end.

She spotted her prey over by the bar, drinking alone and looking sorry for himself. Bingo! He looked exactly ready for the company of a beautiful, sympathetic blonde. Straightening her back to accentuate the rounded swell of her breasts, Cíara sashayed up to the bar with a hip-sway that would raise any healthy hetero male’s blood pressure off the charts.

She leaned on the bar, the action pressing her cleavage into a picture that instantly mesmerized the barman and several other men. But here was the tricky part – to attract only the one she wanted.

Attracting him wasn’t hard at all. The tall, thin man on her right turned his head to follow the barman’s gaze – and was hooked immediately. Slowly, his eyes traveled from her chest to linger on her mouth, before taking a slow detour to her toes while taking in other vital areas along the way.

“Well, hello there,” he growled. A wolfish smile lit up his face and he treated her to a display of crooked teeth. She suppressed a shudder. This was work, after all, but just occasionally it would be nice to work on a guy she really fancied.

Later she’d remember the old saying about being careful what you wished for in case it came true, but tonight she was just another working girl.

So she returned the smile, twitching her lower lip into that full ruby pout that men found so irresistible. She let a wave of blonde hair fall forward over one eye as she languidly stretched out a sun-tanned hand and drew a blood-red fingernail down his shirtfront.

“Hello, yourself,” she purred, and watched with satisfaction as he swallowed the bait.

Thirty minutes later, she extricated herself from her target’s roaming hands, giggled throatily and excused herself with the need to powder her nose.

“Don’t be too long, baby, I’m having a hard time waiting!” he leered, and gave her an indulgent slap on her behind as she walked away. Cíara turned to wink at him and blow a scarlet-lipped kiss in his direction.

He’d already invited her back to his place for a nightcap ‘…and whatever else we fancy!’

Monday, November 11, 2019

Shockingly, Yes, This Is Me, Praising Winter....

I live in 'cottage country' in Ontario. We have lots of temporary residents & tourists in the summertime, and then in the winter many of our friends head south to escape the snow and ice.

In the spring and summer we have bugs as big as pterodactyls, and the humidity is something else again.  I do love the fall, when the leaves in this wooded area put on their beauty pageant.

But I like winter. Yes, I do. Ironically, I don’t do winter sports – Did you ever see that Disney film about Bambi? Remember Bambi on ice, when the poor little critter was slipping& sliding everywhere? Well, that's me. Can't keep my balance to save my, er, dignity. I did try cross-country skiing once, but it was too embarrassing to watch the four and five year olds skiing past me as I sat on my rear in the snow, skis pointing skywards…

So what, you may ask, makes me sing the praises of winter?

Well, aside from the sheer beauty of it all, there's a serious snowstorm coming in – they say it will be a bad one. Tomorrow's trip to Ottawa will be white knuckled at times, and we'll bless every snow plow we meet. Sometimes the bad weather wipes out our satellite internet connection, possibly for as long as several days. Yes, I hate that – oh, but all the extra time I find in my day…
And it's quiet. I'm sitting here now, in my office, and watching the snow which started as a few flurries, gaining in strength until it becomes a thick curtain which will almost obscure the chicken coop on the other side of the driveway.

And I am writing. This is my first blog in months. My first writing in months. There has been a lot going on in life, distractions good and bad, that have meant taking some sort of action. Now, with the snow building, it's quiet and peaceful. All the worries and pleasures demanding attention have to be set aside – everything comes to a halt.

It's cozy and quiet in my tiny office with the huge window looking out onto the landscape that's rapidly changing into a winter wonderland. There are three cats sleeping on the pillows beside me, the computer is working - the power hasn't gone off yet - and I've a hot cup of tea right here...
It's peaceful and did I say how good it feels to be writing again at last?



Sunday, September 29, 2019

When Did You Know You Were a Writer?

There are probably as many answers to this question as there are writers! It's something that has interested me for a long time.
And the question that goes with it, is what makes a person a writer? Some argue that only writing fiction makes a writer. Others say writing books. Novellas.
Some argue that writing for commerce, such as copy writing, advertising writing, web content, business emails, landing pages, grant writing, publicity... all these, too, are writing. journalists are, without question, people who write.But are the people who do them actually writers?
And do they harbor a closet ambition to one day be a "real" writer, with a stack of books to their names?
Because isn't that what most of us think of as being a writer - someone who writes books, whether fact or fiction?
You'll laugh at this - I wrote my first essay as an angry (and perhaps precautious) four year old. I'd been told at Sunday school that God forgives everyone. Then one Sunday, the teacher told us all that there was a Hell for sinners, a horrible place.
And my four year old self couldn't get the discrepancy out of my mind. Would an all-loving, all forgiving God throw badly behaved kids intro the flames?
Why, or course not. I filled several pages of my tiny notebook, and handed them in.
My Sunday school teacher was not impressed. I dropped out soon after that...:-)
So, for a while, my writing was confined to school work. But I read newspapers voraciously from the age of seven or so, and I so admired the men and women whose words filled those pages. I did apply for a Fleet Street - the London, England, Mecca for journalists - job on a national newspaper. They kindly suggested I try again when I was a little older and had some journalistic experience....
So I started small, persuading our local newspaper editor to hire me. He didn't think women were cut out to be journalists, told me he'd give me six months trial and then I'd be out. That was a challenge I eagerly accepted when I was 17. After three months, he paid for my college courses and I became one of the youngest senior reporters around.
I worked for a number of publications, national magazines, etc., after that.
But there was an itch I couldn't scratch, even with the best of stories.
Until one day I sat down and started to write a book.
And that was that.
With some breaks due to work, travel, health problems, children, all the usual stuff that everyone has to deal with, I have been writing steadily.
I've written mysteries, romantic suspense, romance, children's books, books on mental health and on travel. I even wrote a book on writing: Naked Writing, The No Frills Way to Write Your Book.
And have no problem now in answering the question "What do you do?" by happily saying:"I'm a published writer."
So, I'd love to hear your views on what makes a writer - and how you came to be one!




Sunday, December 23, 2018

DEAR GOD, Jehovah, Allah, Goddess - sorry, I know You have many names and it’s my journalistic soul that wants to cover all of them. Forgive me if I get it wrong – I’m rushing the research a bit here.  I do appreciate Your taking the time to listen, as You have done so many times in the past. You must be extra busy with deadlines at this time of the year, because fires, floods, famines, storms, droughts, wars and general stupidity do not stop even in this holy season. With all that going on, I hope You can also find the time to celebrate with us the joy and peace that belong to this season.
There have been so many times when You have pulled this tattered manuscript of my life out of the heavenly slush pile, and even when Your reply has been a gentle rejection note, there is always been encouragement to go on using the talents You have loaned to me. You have forgiven the times I have been grouchy on life’s deadlines, when I failed to appreciate the wonder of the opportunities in new contracts  You have offered, and the many times I have ignored Your submission requirements in hopes that You would see past my mistakes into the willing prose of my heart.

Having said all of that, I feel selfish even asking for more, but here goes:

1)     It’s a bit of a cliché, but I would join with so many, many others to ask You to give Mankind – and I say MANkind because the male of the species seems to be more inclined to conflict than we females, but maybe I’m biased – if You would just give them all a bit of a shake and tell them it’s time to make peace not war.

2)     Please ignore the mean things I said about the intellectual abilities of publishers or agents who rejected my work – I didn’t really want You to strike them. Honest.

3)      There are so many of Your people in need, hungry, homeless, afraid, in pain. Maybe You could inspire those of us who have so much to heed Your teachings and work towards a more equitable society. Perhaps You could even slip a little extra blessings into the Christmas stockings of those who have been courageous enough to stand up for what is right.

4)     Please forgive the times I’ve cursed at my computer; the technology You have given us is truly a blessing and it was just the heat of the moment;  I didn’t mean a word of it. Really.

5)     Of course, I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t invest this prayer with a little personal self-interest. First, I want to thank You for all the people who have bought my books – the nice reviews always feel like a warm GodBreeze to my soul.

6)     Then maybe You could run to a dollop of forgiveness for all the times I left undone the things I ought to have done, and done those things I ought not to have done? Let’s not get into specifics now, eh? That would be a bit embarrassing and take up too much of Your time. We both know what they were. However, if you could see your way to making me a better person, and a better writer, and maybe, just maybe, a bit of help in getting through the edits for the next book, I would be very grateful.

 I can’t promise that I won’t screw up some more, but Dear Lord, I’m trying to be better.

Thank You. Amen.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

New Romantic Suspense Release!

Saving Maggie. Read the first page here:

Saving Maggie
Chapter 1

The woman in the sexy little red convertible looked perky from behind. Her glossy long hair was pulled up in a careless pony tail and swayed from side to side like a cobra charmed by an Indian flute, as she bopped to the music from the car radio.

Even at a car's length away, the driver behind her thought this was the sort of hair a man could run his fingers through and grasp playfully… He wished now he was piloting his own expensive roadster, rather than the sedate brown sedan he'd rented especially for this trip. His own car was the sort that would impress the kind of girl who drove a bright red convertible with the top down on a windy spring day.

He imagined himself overtaking her, seeing her look over at him, her eyes widening in admiration as she took in his expensive ride and wealthy, groomed good looks.

Then she'd remember him and smile…

He gunned the accelerator, and with a disdainful purr the rental spurted forward, pulling alongside her. He glanced over, hoping to catch her eye. But she stared straight ahead, singing along to some mindless muzak and oblivious to his look of longing.

He didn't matter to her. She didn't remember. She didn't smile.

Irritated now, he jabbed the accelerator and zoomed past her. He knew that soon they'd meet again.

Then he'd refresh her memory.
Saving Maggie is on Amazon, Kobo, Walmart Online, B & N, and most good ebook outlets!