Friday, September 30, 2022
Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Saturday, September 17, 2022
Saturday, September 3, 2022
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:
"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
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
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.
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.
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 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?