On this blog, I write mostly about travel, writing, book reviews, and interviews with a variety of children's authors. On my other blog (Victorian Scribbles) I write about the Victorian Era. I hope you will check both out often.
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So here goes for the 2nd Campaign Challenge Rachael Harrie gave us at Rach Writes. The challenge was to write a blog post in 200 words or less, excluding the title, that includes the word "imago" in the title and in the body of the post includes the following 4 random words: "miasma," "lacuna," "oscitate," "synchronicity". For an added challenge make reference to a mirror in the post. For an even greater challenge, make the post 200 words exactly. All criteria are met (after much gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair.)
Arms folded, Nyla stares through the beveled glass door into the galería. Somehow, the glass is both mirror and window. Superimposed on the polished floors of the sunlit galeria beyond, her reflection stares back, as if bemused.
When Nyla was younger, in the miasma of grief that pervaded her home, she sometimes caught mental glimpses of who she might become away from her family’s confused dynamics. These glimpses led her on, in hopes of escaping the pain that oscitated inside her, as one family member after another went down dubious roads to disaster. Now, through some synchronicity, her decision to teach English in Spain has allowed her to catch up the person she hoped to be.
Or has it? When Nyla raises a hand to brush a wisp of hair back from her face, her reflection remains motionless, arms folded. How can that be?
Uneasily, Nyla forces a smile—a smile that isn’t returned. Is the woman in the glass not a reflection after all? Is the beveled glass in the door some lacuna opening into another dimension? Nyla’s thoughts whirl and scatter, reaching for an explanation.
The imago beckons, then reaches a hand through the glass, and Nyla screams.
We left Sacramento Sunday morning, and already the week is drifting by. How can Saturday have come so soon?
It’s a long flight from Sacramento to Santiago. We changed at Dallas and again at Madrid, with generous wait times between flights to make sure any delayed flight would not make us miss the next. Our friends met us in Santiago. By the time we picked up our baggage, it was 6:30 in the evening. They drove us to Monforte, a drive of about an hour and a half, where we shopped for basic groceries. Then we all had dinner around 8:30 at a cafe-bar-restaurant called O Pincho. (Dinner at 8:30 or later . . . . That’s when you know you are in Spain.)
After trudging through airports and lugging carry-ons around for close to 26 hours, we practically fell into bed Monday night and had a good long sleep. One of our last, I might add, because jet lag kicked in the next day and is only starting to fade: we become sleepy or wide awake at very odd hours.
It’s wonderful to be here, taking short walks with our neighbors in the village, driving into Escairon for café con leche, or into Monforte to sit at an outdoor table in the big plaza, enjoying a glass of wine. Or going to Adega do Carlos for raciones at lunchtime (which is between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. in these parts.) Or meeting our neighbors again, late in the day, at the bench down the lane, sitting and talking with them until clouds turn pink and the air turns suddenly cool. Already these lovely friends have loaded us up with potatoes, figs, tomatoes, peppers, and home-made wine. In addition, we’ve been setting up lunch and dinner dates with friends we haven’t seen since our last trip, and tomorrow night is the Fiesta in Tuiriz (a village/town within walking distance, although we will drive, since we won’t go until around 9:30 or so.)
Meanwhile, the mist rises each morning in the lowlands beyond the pastures below our gate—rises and disperses in wispy curls before a new misty layer forms below. It’s a procedure that repeats with variation for much of the morning. I watch it from the galería window as I study my Spanish.
But I have other homework on this trip, thanks to Rachael Harrie at Rach Writesand her Challenge #2 for the Platform Building Campaign. I have to figure out how to come up with 200 words, using miasma, lacuna, oscitate, synchronicity, sneaking in a reference to a mirror, and including the word imago in the title. It certainly is an interesting and fun assignment, but thank goodness she is giving us a week-and-a-half for this particular challenge!
Hopefully I’ll have come up with something in a couple of days, so keep tuning in. In addition, you can connect at Rachel's site to the versions all the other writers come up with, and it's really wonderful to see the creativity in the different responses to the same challenge.
What was I thinking when I said I would post again Monday? Argh! Saturday we went out of town to visit old friends, right after I posted that. Then Sunday I met with my two writing groups, and, as always, I left with homework, because my beta readers always have such insightful suggestions. Monday I had book reviews to turn in to Sacramento Book Review -- and I was working on some of those suggestions. Then yesterday (Tuesday) I had a radio interview with Renee Hand. So. Now. A moment to catch my breath. And post.
First, I want to mention how much I enjoyed being interviewed by Renee Hand on her new radio show, http://www.Blogtalkradio.com/storiesfromunknownauthors . She has an easy style that relaxes you and gets rid of your nervousness. You can still hear the interview if you click on that site and then scroll down. You can also hear an earlier interview with Nicole Weaver, author of My Birthday Is September 11, and you can read about the coming interview September 19th with Britt Menzies, author of The Stinky Kid Series.
As a follow-up to the interview, Renee is holding a new give-away of my book, The Fourth Wish, ending on October 15th. If you go to her site, you can read the rules in full in a coming post. But, basically, if you follow both of us, your name goes on the list that will be submitted to random.org. So, if you are following me, and want new chance at a free copy, please go to The Crypo-Capers Review and follow her blog.
Second, I was pleasantly suprised to find that I received The Versatile Blogger Award from Elizabeth at elizabethannewrites. Elizabeth is a cool blogger I met on the Platform Building Campaign hosted by Rachel Harrie . Rachel will be hosting another one in January, and I would really advise getting in on it. For one thing, it's fun. She gives you some writing challenges. (The first one was to write a flash fiction. I'm eagerly awaiting the next two.) For another, you increase your circle of good blogging and writing friends.
The rules for award recipients are as follows: 1. Thank the person who gave it to you and link back to them. (done) 2. Tell seven things about yourself. (See below. Way below.) 3. Pass the award along to 15 recently discovered blogs and let the bloggers know. (Doing that one before #2, and it's a chance for you to meet some new bloggers, too, so do go visit them. Here they are:
As for Seven Things About Me . . . . 1. My husband and I met through a cat named Meathead. Meathead (who is no more) has a very special place in our hearts. 2. I am not sporty at all, but I used to love to rollerskate. (Forget ice-skating!) 3. I love the Greek Festival, and I love Greek circle dancing. 4. I have attempted several times to learn Tamil (the language spoken in the part of India where my husband is from.) Attempts at this finally joined attempts at ice-skating. 5. Neither my husband nor I are campers. We tried to be, but everytime we went, it rained. Camping friends learned not to ask us to go with them. We cook Indian food for them instead. Everyone is much happier. 6. To my surprise, I am becoming absolutely enamoured of technology. Adept at it? Well, that needs work . . . . 7. I have read so many good books by good writers in recent months (years?), that I can no longer say I have a favorite author. I have too many favorites! And what a pleasant problem to have.
Everyone have a nice week. I'll try to post before Sunday, but Sunday we are on a plane to Galicia again, so the next post may be next week from Galicia.
Meanwhile, enjoy the new sites; please follow Renee's blog, and October 15th (okay, probaby the 16th), we'll announce the winners of the give-away.
Before I share the exciting news at Blog Talk Radio, just a reminder that the give-away contest for a free copy of The Fourth Wish ends tomorrow, Friday, September 9th, at midnight (my time -- California time). To find out how to win, check out the rules here:
Okay: Big Announcement:
Renee Hand of the Crypto-Capers Review is starting a new venture on Blog Talk Radio called Stories from Unknown Authors. Renee's purpose is in the very title of her show. She interviews unknown and undiscovered authors about their books and their writing aspirations. Renee has always been supportive of other authors, and she regularly reviews children's books on the Crypto-Capers Review. (I subscribe to it and always look forward to the next e-mail with its latest book review.)
In addition, Renee is an award-winning author of the charming, interactive Crypto-Capers mystery series, where mysteries have to be solved by solving puzzle clues -- and kids do love puzzles and mysteries. You can learn more about Renee and her books here.
I'm partly excited about Renee's new radio show, because I'm going to be interviewed on it next Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. EST. (If you are interested in listening in on it, you'll have to work out the time zone differences. For me, it's 2:30 p.m., since I live in California.) But I'm also excited to be part of such a great line up of authors she has slated for September and October.
The first one was scheduled for today. (I'm sorry to be late posting this. Unfortunatley today I had a doctor appointment following up on my recent foot surgery and I just got back awhile ago.) But -- if you tune in late, or if you miss that interview, you can still find and listen to any interview you missed, including Renee's introductory program Tuesday. The shows are always at 6:30 EST, and you can work it out from there. Just go to the main website for the show and scroll on down to see upcoming shows and her main introduction.
Oh, yes, you can also call into the show with questions: (619) 566-0945 Here are some of the authors lined up for September:
Nicole Weaver - My Birthday Is on September 11th. Me (Elizabeth Varadan) - The Fourth Wish. Britt Menzies - The Stinky Kids Seriess Larry Peterson - Slipper Willie's Stupid, Ugly Shoes
Meanwhile, go to Renee's Tuesday post to get more information about the authors and about the books.
Happy reading. Happy listening. Happy writing, too, because we might be listening to your interview on her show one of these days!
I'm taking part in the platform building campaign, and today Rachael Harrie posted her first challenge at her blog, Rach Writes: Write a flash fiction, 200 words or less, that opens with "The door swung open." If possible, close with "The door swung closed." My sample is below.
BUT FIRST: Don't forget the contest to win a free copy of my book, The Fourth Wish, in either paperback or Kindle format (winner's choice). The contest ends this Friday, September 9th. To follow the rules for getting points, please go here, and any comments you have regarding the contest, please leave at the same site (here), so that I can keep your points straight.
Here's my flash fiction -- 200 words exactly (not counting the title).
The door swung open. Darkness lay beyond. A slivered moon and powdery stars shimmered above. Trees along the street were ghostly shapes.
Cassie bit her lip. The deal was that she had to come alone. At midnight. Justin would be watching from someplace nearby to make sure.
Why did she take his dares? Wading up the Truckee River after school. Cutting classes to hang out in Idlewild Park. (That one got her sent to the principal's office.) But, Justin was cool. And when Cassie went along with each new challenge, he made her feel she was cool, too. It was worth getting into trouble just to see the envious stares from other girls as he walked her down the hall between classes.
Cassie shivered. This was the first night-time dare. The abandoned house was creepy enough even in daylight. Shutters hung lopsided from the front windows, like broken wings. A loose board near the threshold creaked under her foot. She should turn back.
But, an image of Justin walking down the hall with Angela Black -- the most popular girl at school -- instead of her, made Cassie swallow her fright. She stepped into the waiting darkness.
Before I plunge into my book review, just a reminder of the contest for a free copy of The Fourth Wish, in Kindle or paperback (winner's choice). To read the rules for the contest -- which ends Friday, September 9th -- gohere. (Please comment for the contest on that post so I can keep your points straight.)
Many of you know I like to read mysteries and historical novels when I'm not reading children's books. And I indulged in quite a few adult reads (and reviewed them) while I was recuperating from my foot surgery. So this is one last review of a book that combines both mystery and a historical setting: Victorian London, when streets were foggy, and you could hear the clop-clop-clop of horse hooves against cobblestones as doomed victims set off in carriages, and cases were solved without a swat team kicking in a door and waving guns. The book is The Diary of a Murder, by Lee Jackson. I bought the print version, but I see it is also out in Kindle now (in the UK).
A bit of background for this discovery: While gathering information for my middle grade mystery set in Victorian London (which is a tamer tale indeed), I came across Lee Jackson's wonderful website, called (appropriately) Victorian London. In it you will find a treasure trove of Victoriana. He provides a dictionary listing various topics, from maps, to transportation, whatever; and a click on any one topic will take you to a wealth of original sources (including Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management, under Diet, where you can see what meals to plan for each month of the year in 1861. Mr. Jackson also provides some of the original "penny dreadfuls" for your reading pleasure. And he has a wonderful blog called The Cat's Meatshop, well worth following. The Diary of a Murder is his seventh mystery novel, and he has also published two nonfiction books: Victorian LondonandA Dictionary of Victorian London, An A-Z of the Great Metropolis. And renowned mystery writer, Andrew Taylor, has said, "No one knows Vicorian London as Lee Jackson does -- historical fictin doesn't come more authentic than this."
On to the the review:
The Willises are concerned because their married daughter, Dora Jones, has disappeared after planning to visit them in Chelsea. When Sergeant Preston and a constable go to the Jones's home to investigate, they find the daughter brutally murdered and the pages of a diary scattered about. The diary is by Dora's husband, Jacob Jones, a clerk at the Crystal Palace. But Jacob appears to have fled the scene. Detective Inspector Delby is called in, and the story unfolds in chapters that alternate between Jacob Jones's diary, and the investigation by the inspector and the sergeant.
The story that follows reveals a doting husband, a humble clerk, who married above his station (Dora's father is a draper, and rich, and does not like young Jacob). Jacob gushes about his sweet wife, confesses his yearnings to be a writer, admits his frustrations with his in-laws, who seem snobbish and conservative. He also has an alcoholic father whom he has bailed out of financial difficulties more than once. A reader has to sympathize with his plight. And Dora's, as well, because when she miscarries, she goes into a deep depression, and Jacob hasn't a clue to how to pull her out of it.
But wait. His sweet wife knows nothing of Jacob's drunkard father. Jacob has invented entirely another background for himself. And how devoted is Jacob really as he showers the sweet Dora with pet names and repeatedly worries for her health? And is he the pushover he makes himself out to be when he helps a young seamstress living with his father find employment first with a neighbor, then in Papa Willis's work-room? And why does he aid his co-worker, Fortesque, who is in deep trouble over mismanaging company funds? You have to wonder about someone who knows himself so little. Likewise Delby and Preston scratch their heads continually over the ups and downs of Jones's diary as Jacob's own troubles mount, his writing grows more and more desperate - but sometimes calculating.
This is a good read to the last page, full of a multitude of surprises, and I didn't see the end coming at all.