Friday, September 30, 2022

So Here Is What Has Been Happening . . ..



So here is what has been happening that has kept me too busy to post, but not too busy to read and relax from all the hustle and bustle: One big thrill is my book signing coming up. But here is bigger thrill (for us):

Rajan and I are moving back to Portugal. I know this is a surprise, but we find we miss the European lifestyle and the slower pace of life, and we would like to finish our days in Braga. Life here in the states is too intense, too stressful, way too expensive (for us). And, since we aren't downtown anymore, to go anywhere for any reason (grocery shopping, bank, doctor appointments, coffee with friends, eating out, whatever) requires lots of driving. When we were in Braga, we could walk to all of these things. (Luckily, we still have our flat there, as we canceled the sale.) 

True, we worried earlier that in the future one of us may have to have medical procedures that take one to a different city and there might be transportation problems. Well, since we now are in a suburb and not in Midtown or downtown, we are in the same plight here: It's a sweet neighborhood with nice neighbors, AND . . . it's a suburb. Once we can no longer drive, we'll be stranded. Our other worry had been whether we can become fluent in Portuguese: Well, that's on us. We have the time if we take the time, and we had (and will have again) a very good tutor.
One good thing is that we've been able to visit some family and several friends - something we couldn't do when we left California before, because everything was still in lockdown. Now that we have gotten some very important visits in, I think we'll be able to "let go".  I was able to attend some poetry group meetings and I have the book signing coming up on October 8th, but . . . our hearts really are in Portugal. 
We are leaving on November 3rd. I'll be posting before then because a lot of things have been taken care of. Meanwhile, wish me luck for a good book reading/signing on October 8th (2 pm, The Avid Reader on Broaday, 1945 Broadays,  if you are in Sacramento. And if you are not, you can learn more aout the book HERE.)



Question: Have you ever decided to reverse a poor decision? Or did you just stick with it and hope you would soon adjust to it? 

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

But actually . . . .

 There are additional reasons I've been too busy to post, but I will be back soon, posting away. 

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Too Busy To Post Because . . ..

 I've been on a reading binge. Oh the pleasures of reading a good book! 

Saturday, September 3, 2022

A HAPPY COINCIDENCE

 

I subscribe to "Poem-a-Day" at Poets.org and the site sends . . . a poem a day. Some I like and save in a folder, and some I don't and delete. I saved this one. (Check out the site by clicking the link.) 

Naturally I loved today's poem, a sonnet by Luís Vaz de Camões, the famous Portuguese Renaissance poet who figures so prominently in my mystery, Deadly Verse.

I seriously doubt this was the sonnet in my book. The sonnet of my mystery is handwritten, original, and never-before-published. (And therefore worth a lot of money and worth killing for.) But it was exciting to get a poem by Camões in my inbox! Since it is in the public domain, I'll share the English translation here: (No, I did not tranlate it - alas, my Portuguese is not that good. It was translated by an Irishman back in the day,  Viscount Strangford.) The Mondego of the poem is the river of Camões's beloved city of Coimbra. Here is the poem in English:


Sonnet VIII

Mondego! thou, whose waters cold and clear Gird those green banks, where fancy fain would stay, Fondly to muse on that departed day When Hope was kind and Friendship seem’d sincere; —Ere I had purchas’d knowledge with a tear.—Mondego! though I bend my pilgrim way To other shores, where other fountains stray,And other rivers roll their proud career, Still—nor shall time, nor grief, nor stars severe, Nor widening distance e’er prevail in aught To make thee less to this sad bosom dear; And Memory oft, by old Affection taught, Shall lightly speed upon the plumes of thought, To bathe amongst thy waters cold and clear!

And here is a little blurb bio about Camões:

"About this particular sonnet, Strangford writes, 'The earliest and happiest years of [Camões’s] life were passed at Coimbra. The walls of that town were bathed by the river Mondego, to which this beautiful Sonnet is addressed.”'


I can't say Camões is my favorite poet because I have so many, but I will say that after reading about him and reading translations of many of his sonnets, the sonnet is growing on me.


How about you? Do you like poetry? Do you have a favorite poet or poem? A favorite poetry form? And have you had any happy coincidences lately?

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

HAPPINESS IS:

 So these came this week! 

Now I'm getting ready for a book signing on October 8th. (Stay tuned.)


Meanwhile, we had lunch today with old friends, and that made me happy, too. We hadn't see them since before Covid. 

Happiness is always great to share. Share your happiness this week.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

A Humorous Mystery Writer Answers a Few Questions


Some time ago I posted a review of Cindy Sample's latest cozy mystery, Birthdays Are Murder, which is the start of her new series: (You can revisit the review HERE)


Ever since then, I have wanted to interview Cindy to find out more about what inspires her humorous tales. But she is one busy lady, so I had to wait a little. Here are a few questions she answered for me. More than anything, she appears to value having fun as part of her writing process.


Enjoy:


1.    How long have you been writing? And how long have you been writing mysteries?

 

My first mystery was written more than a half century ago and was an immediate literary success—Cindy Parker and the Haunted Mansion received an A+ from my third-grade teacher. That success inspired me to finally start writing my eight-book Laurel McKay Humorous Mystery series.

 

2.    You’ve had great success with your Laurel McKay mysteries. What prompted you to start a new Sierra series?

 

Sierra Sullivan is Laurel’s cousin and was first featured in Dying for a Diamond when she served as the cruise director for Laurel’s honeymoon cruise. It was fun to create a spinoff series in a new location and with a totally new cast of characters. Definitely more work but still fun.

 

3.    Formerly Sierra worked as a cruise director, singing and dancing in productions. In Dying for a Double, Laurel is recruited from movie extra to filling in for the star, who’s gone missing. Have you had acting and singing experience? Or did you rely solely on research.  

 

The experts say to write what you know which is what I did with the Laurel McKay Mysteries. I have zero acting and singing experience and zero talent although I love watching musicals, plays etc. This would be a case of write what you want to learn more about. 

 

4.    Are any of your characters inspired by people you have known?

 

My characters are completely fictional. They walk into my books without any help from me.

 

5.    I know characters can become real for an author, in that you can get attached to some of them. Have any of your characters become “favorites?”

 

Laurel’s co-worker and good friend, Stan Winters, who also has a love of performing, is a crowd favorite. And her grandmother is a true scene stealer.

 

6.     Once you get an idea for a story, about how long does it take for you to write the book?

 

I am a very slow writer and in the past few years have dealt with a myriad of medical issues. I have a very vivid imagination though, so there are plots galore that still need to be turned into new books. If only my fingers could type faster or dictation software could understand what I’m saying.

 

7.    Can you describe your writing process?

 

My writing process is erratic at best. Some weeks I binge write very successfully while other times I’d rather read or watch BritBox (I refer to that as research). Once the first draft is done and the beta readers have shared their comments (which can be all over the place) I begin my revision process. 

 

8.    Do you ever write in other genres?

 

My goal is to entertain readers and put a smile on their face so I’m sticking with writing humorous mystery series.

 

9.    Any advice for young or new writers? 

 

Never give up. Learn everything you can about writing craft. There are wonderful books and workshops, many that specialize in a particular genre. Take your time absorbing all the elements in writing a great book. Join online or local writing groups. Networking can be immensely helpful on your journey.


For those of you who would like to know more about Cindy Sample and her books, you can visit her Amazon Author Page  or her website, where you can also contact her.


How about you, blog readers? When you read, do you read for fun or for other motivations? What kind of book do you like best? If a mystery, what kind of mystery do you like best?

 

 

 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

THE ROOSTER OF BARCELOS

                                       

This cute little fella was a gift from a friend we made at a bar/restaurant in the Burgus Tribute and Design Hotel in Braga. We often walked there to have a glass of wine and a bowl of some of the most delicious pistachios ever and chat with the wait staff, Sara and Ricardo. Burgus also makes delicious omelets and a few times we had dinner there. The evenng before we left Braga, we walked again to Burgus to say goodbye. Sara wasn't in, but left this rooster with Ricardo as goodbye gift, and while I have it on the mantelpiece now in our furnitureless livingroom, eventually it will have pride of place on a special shelf when our shipping arrives. 

The Rooster of Barcelos is a famous folk tale in Portugal, and thanks to its fame, in almost any tourist shop, you can find dishtowels, potholders, statuettes, refrigerator magnets, whatever, all imprinted with the rooster. It has become an icon or symbol in Portugal.

Here is the folk tale: There are varying versions, but they all add up to the same story: (It is also told by one of the characters in my new mystery, Deadly Verse.) 

A man was passing through Barcelos, and stayed at an inn. In some versions, he is a Galician pilgrim on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostelo. In Barcelos, some silver was stolen, and the pilgrim - a stranger in town - became the suspect. He was arrested and condemned to hang. But he begged to be taken to the judge, and it so happened the judge was getting ready to eat a cooked rooster. The pilgrim, protesting his innocense, told the judge that the moment he was hung the dead rooster would begin to crow. Well, the judge lost his appetite, but didn't change the verdict. And, as the pilgrim predicted, the moment he was hung, the rooster stood up and began to crow. This made the judge realize his error, and he rushed to the gallows. As luck would have it, the noose had been tied with a defective knot and the pilgrim didn't hang after all. 

You may wonder about the strange shape of the rooster statue in this picture. It's in the shape of a Portuguese guitar, because Sara knows how much Rajan and I both love Fado, that distictive Portuguese song form like no other. In traditional Fado, the singer is accompanies by two musicians, one on acoustic guitar and one on Portuguese guitar. The Portuguese guitar has a distinctive sound similar to the sound of the strings on a Greek bouzouki, which we also love.) So this little guy has a double pleasure and sentimental value for us. 

Speaking of music, Monday evening we met our friends Alice and Bill at the Fox & Goose to hear some great playing (and singing). It was open mic night, hosted by two fabulous guitar players who took us back to music of the 60s & 70s, bluegrass, country western, blues, folk, folk rock. Other people often come to sing and play, too. The woman you see in the photo on the right sings and plays a terrific violin.

 










How about you? Do you have any favorite folk tales to share? Do you have a favorite kind of music you like to listen to? Is there an open mic evening in your area?