Monday, December 30, 2019

Happy New Year!

Time has been flying, so I'm wishing you a Happy New Year sooner than later, since "later" could turn into "way late," the way life has been rushing by.

I had two exciting pieces of news in 2019 - my poetry book, Saudade, was accepted for publication and will be released in February, and my cosy mystery, Deadly Vintage, set in Portugal was published. The poetry book had a lot of work attached to it, and I have a book signing for the mystery coming up January 19th at Time Tested Books (my favorite independent bookstore in Sacramento). But I expect spring to be a little calmer than recent months.

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas. We did, with our god family in the Bay Area, as we do every year. And three days before that, we celebrated our 46th wedding anniversary. Here are what is left of our flowers (the white mums and the lilies),  supplemented with some dianthus (the red and the red-edged ones) that we inserted last week to prolong the bouquet. (This is in our kitchen nook.)

Before our anniversary, we had a 9-day trip to the east coast to visit my niece and her husband in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and my husband's brother and his wife in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Both places were cold for us poor, wimpy, central Californians. Pittsburgh was the coldest. It even snowed one night while we were there. But the visits were wonderful.

Then two days after Christmas, we and another couple celebrated the 50th anniversary of mutual friends in the home of some of their friends who gave them a  wonderful party that went all afternoon. A really lovely celebration.

And yesterday one of my writing groups met to critique manuscripts and then to exchange gently used books. That, too, was so enjoyable. But . . . see what I mean? Way busy!

 Now I expect to take it easy right up to New Year's Day. Reading is big on the agenda. We don't go out for NY Eve anymore but watch the ball drop from the comfort of our living room. We'll probably watch a good movie.

As for New Year resolutions — I do sort of make them. I have two main ones this year. One is finishing my next book and the other is working on my Spanish. I will keep you posted on how both of those turn out.

How about you? Are you ready for the New Year? How was your Christmas? Do you make resolutions?

Best wishes for all good things to happen for you in 2020.


Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Before Spain, Let's Go to Portugal; Here's Why

My new book, a cozy mystery,
set in Braga, Portugal. 
My new book, a cozy mystery, set in Braga, Portugal, was released Thanksgiving Day (while I was busy cooking). If you click on the link, you can go check it out HERE.

This book is near and dear to my heart. I got the idea for it before I ever went to Braga. I just liked the idea of setting a mystery in Portugal, and that was the closest city to our area in Spain (Galicia). I felt I could go to Braga and do first-hand research.

When we actually went to Braga, we met wonderful people who became our friends, and now every time we go to Galicia, we take a few days in Braga for further research — and to see our friends.

What is Deadly Vintage about?

Carla Bass, an interior designer has accompanied her husband, Owen, while he oversees a hotel remodel for his employer's new chain. They rent an apartment in the historical part of Braga, where most of the story takes place. (As you can see from pictures below, it's a picturesque and charming area.) When a wine seller gives Carla a mysterious bottle of Port by mistake (she thinks) she returns to his shop to give it back to him and finds him dead. The last to see him alive, she's now a suspect.

Here are a few scenes from Carla's Braga:
This is Carla's favorite bookstore:
Centésima Página ("Hundredth Page"
in English. See the "100" on the glass?)
Carla and Owen often eat lunch there,
as there is a food bar and small tables
 inside toward the back.
The lobby of the same building.
That's a cardboard cut-out of the
poet Pessoa lurking by the lamp.
And Carla often sees this woman
playing her violin on the streets
near the music college.

This  fountain, a defining landmark
of the historic Praça da República, has
colored lights playing on the jets each
 evening. The arcade is to the left, and
a MacDonald's that you can't see is
to the right. The corner building is the
National Bank. The red building is the
hotel Owen's employer is remodeling. 
Detective Fernandes is
investigating the finances
of someone (can't say who)
at the National Bank, and . . ..

Cafe Vianna has a long literary and
political history in Braga, although
now it is simply a favorite cafe/eatery
and is always busy. Carla and Owen
hang out here a lot, after hours. 
The last scene in the book
takes place here, as a matter
of fact. But first, there's a
mystery to solve . . ..

Carla has to talk to Maria about . . ., well, you'll find out. But Maria chooses the Jardim de Santa Barbara (Garden of Santa Barbara) for their discussion. 

A nice place to relax and talk
honestly, don't you think?
Well . . . it should be
And then there's the matter of Maria's boyfriend. This time Carla chooses the place to talk — the Museu Imagem (the Image Museum). You go right through the Arco da Porta Nova, then the museum is on your right, after a souvenir store. 
The Arco da Porta Nova (Arch
of the New Gate), designed by
André Soares, an architect of
Northern Portugal, famous for
his Baroque design.

The Museu Imagem: the modest-looking red building. It's a 
free museum, specializing in wonderful photography exhibits. 
If you go through the arch and turn left, on a corner a street away (not in the picture) is the house where Carla attends an estate auction and ruffles someone's feathers.
Before the auction, She and Owen dine at their favorite restaurant: Taberna do Félix (sometimes called Félix Taberna), and catch up on their news of the day. 

A romantic place, if your conversation isn't about dead bodies.
The next day, unexpectedly she has coffee with someone at A Brasileira (The Brazilian Woman) and the mystery deepens.

A Brasileira originally started in Lisbon (or
Lisboa), but it has a rich political history in
Braga. Its logo boasts that the best coffee is
that of the Brazilian Woman.

And the logo is printed on cups, napkins, even sugar packets!

I hope you've enjoyed this little taste of Portugal and the teasers that went with it as much as I enjoyed sharing them.  Your comments are always welcome.  Meanwhile, check out the book if you like cozies, HERE and have a great day.