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?



Saturday, August 6, 2022

Deadly Verse is Live, and Two More Shout-outs.

 

Today Deadly Verse went live in paperback at Amazon. You can check it out HERE. Needless to say, I'm excited to see this finally in print. 


The Shoutouts: I love how many of these bloggers all know each other and are part of such a supportive community: 

1. Today, Mark Noce posted a nice highlight on his blog at Mark Noce Stories. You can click on the highlight "blog at".

Mark wrote two acclaimed historic mysteries about a Medieval Celtic Queen Branwen in Wales. Gripping reads, both of them, and he has more on the way. He has a terrific blog and highlights other authors and their books. Do go check it out.

2. Yesterday is the day Sandra Cox's shoutout went live: Do visit it. Some of you are already familiar with her super blog: It's always a fun read and it's terrific. She posts about quite a range of things from inpirational memes to funny ones and always has great thoughts for the week-end. She also writes best-selling romance novels (paranormal, western, time travel). You can see a nice selection of them on her blog.

Back to the book rlease and shoutout, she posted an excerpt from the book and got my confession on some foolish things I've done for the sake of a scene in one of my books. You can see her blog HERE . Have a great week-end.

Sandra's Place

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Some Nice Shout Outs from Great Blog Sites

Recently four blog friends have given my new book shoutouts on their blogs, and there are more to come. I would like to share their blogs with you for other reasons, as well. All are accomplished writers, and all of them post interesting articles about writing that I'm confident you would enjoy:

Here are the links: Just click on the name of the blog to go to the site.

Vicki Lane Mysteries - A wonderful blog by a mystery writer who also teaches writing and who wrote the marvelous historical novel, And the Crows Took Their Eyes.

Rosi Hollinbeck - The author posts about MG and YA fiction as well as sharing terrific book reviews and offering giveaways in those genres. A wealth of information at this site. In this particular post, mine is the second book mentioned.

Geri Schear  - Schear is an award winning author of Sherlock Holmes related stories and novels and has written the delightful Sherlock Holmes and Lady Beatrice series. Her articles offer excellent writer advice.

Denise Covery and Silver Tree - Denise write contemporary and paranormal romance novels and addresses a variety of writing issues on her blog. Her shoutout today deals with the question of how travel influences writing. 

All of thse are great sites to visit, so I was more than pleased to be able to be part of their posts. (And more are coming! Stay tuned.) One of the great pleasures of the Internet is the community of like-minded friends one meets. I have made many writing and art friends online from all over the world.


What is one of the things you enjoy most about the Internet and blogging? 

Monday, July 25, 2022

Galicia - Timeless in Our Hearts.










We are in Galicia right now, "resting up" from all the last intense days of preparing for the shippers to come and pack up in Braga and to prepare for the move itself (i.e., clean the flat, say our goodbyes for now, etc.). We came up to the little apartment we rent in Monforte, a charming small town with a castle, no less, and we have been visiting friends here - saying more goodbyes until next spring.

Why next spring? We had really hoped to come back in October, but the tentative date for the shipping to arrive in Oakland is September 28, and then it will take a few more days for it to reach Sacramento, so that wipes out any fall trip. We'll need the time to place furniture, unpack things, find new places for pots and pans and dishes. Whew! I hope this is our last move ever!

Meanwhile, it's lovely to be in Galicia again. Above are pictures showing what a walk by the river looks like at night. And while the heat has been suffocating, in the evening it does cool down enough with a soft breeze that the air is quite pleasant. So we took a walk to the park that edges thte river and then sat on a bench and talked for a while.

We just finished having the perfect week-end, too. Saturday we went back to our beloved village of Trasulfe where we had a house for so many years and grew so fond of our neighbors. Many of them are gone now - one by one, they have passed on. Earlier in the week we had met out previous neighbor Miguel at the Feria in Escairon for pulpo - our first Feria in three years. Here are two picture from earlier days: They drizzle the pulpo bites  with olive oil, give you a loaf of bread already slashed for tearing into bits to dip in the juice and a bottle of red wine. Heaven.

  





Miguel was our immediate neighbor across the lane and used to bring us coke bottles full of his home made wine and sometimes full of aguardiente. The feria was just as remembered in a poem I wrote - so much community! Everyone greeting everyone and catching up on news. And the two daughters (and one of their husbands) of our dear neighbors, Manolo and Eva were there, so we caught up a little with their news, too.

Then Saturday we returned to visit neighbors at the farm down the road - Maria Elena and Antonio. Neighbors from afar, as we used to call each other. (Even though we were in Sacramento, they were still our neighbors.) Maria Elena has health problems now, and walks with a cane but her personality is as sweet as ever. And Antonio is as full of life as ever. It did our hearts good to see them again. 

Here is a picture from a few years ago — when I was still taking pictures of everyone. 

After our visit with them, we went across the road and visited a with other neighbors, Jesus and Milagros —  whom we met again yesterday in Monforte for lunch at a pulpo restaurant. (They have a flat in town where the spend evenings, and then they stay at their original home in Trasulfe during the day. They have quite a large farm and a dog to take care of.)

After we left them, we drove into Tuiriz, planning to go to Escairon for lunch. But we passed the home of Julio and spied him in the yard, so we stopped to visit with him - and his neighbor, Pepe. Before we knew it, we were in the bodega, enjoying a glass of homemade wine, a slice of terrific cheese, and a slice of bread. (So we considered that lunch!) But it was so great to see them all again. What wonderful memories the day brought back - days of walking the dusty roads and taking pictures, stopping to talk with those we encountered. A lovely day altogether.

On another note, here is a link to the trailer for my new mystery, Deadly Verse, set in Braga, Portugal, as was the first book. Just click on the title. This is a promotional video my publisher put together, and I think they did a really good job. Deadly Verse will be released August 4th (the very day we are flying home! Isn't that weird?)   Enjoy. Comments about the video are welcome, and if you are motivated to buy the book when it comes out, reviews are always welcome, as are opportunities to guest post or be interviewed. 😍 Right now, a blog friend has a nice shoutout on her blog, Vicki Lane Mysteries. She is a mystery writer, teaches writing, wrote a terrific historical novel, And the Crows Took Their Eyes, and shares good photos of the countryside where she and her husband live in western North Carolina. Well worth a visit. 

Meanwhile, how about you? Do you have a favorite food that you only have now and then in special settings? Are you nostalgic about places you've lived? Do you keep in touch with neighbors even after you move? 


Thursday, July 7, 2022

Shipping & Packing and The Feira do Livro (Book Fair) in Braga

 


What's on my mind? Packing and the Feira do Livro (Book Fair). The packers (7 of them!) arrived this morning at 8:30 and have been busy since. They are scheduled for two days, but they are so efficient, it could be over this evening. We have rented a room, since we won't have any furniture. It will be sstrange to see the flat so empty. Meanwhile, the Book Fair has stalls all along Rua Dr. Justino Cruz, Rua Francisco Sanches, and Largo São João do Souto, where the stage at Artesan Square is being used for author readings, musical performances, poetry readings, panel discussions. I tried to get a picture of one of the discussions, but it didn't turn out. I did get pictures of the events schedules, and here is the link to tell you more about the fair - all in Portuguese, but Google does wonders. (https://www.feiradolivro.cm-braga.pt/apresentacao )

The picture of young musicians dressed in what looks like Renaissance attire we took on Avenida Da Liberdad just before Praça República. We think they were university students because school is out and the students do all kinds of performances around town. But they also might have been one of the Book Fair performances. Enjoy.


 
 
 

 

 

 

 


How about you? Do you enjoy book fairs? Have you ever gone to one?

Friday, June 24, 2022

At Last:

 I know I have been silent on this blog for quite a while, but two big things were going on: My publisher was putting together a promotion video for my new book, and I was posting events of the Sao Joao Festival in Braga on Facebook. Quite a festival - 10 days - and quite a video. I'll share the festival posts later, but here is the video. Please do watch. I'm thrilled with it.


Let me know what you think. 

PS: I would welcome opportunities to guest post and have interviews if anyone is interest.


Monday, May 2, 2022

My Own Cozy News

 My other news is that my new cozy, Deadly Verse, will be released in June. The build up begins this month, but my publisher told me to feel free about splashing the cover around, so here you are:


Who is this man dressed up in Renaissance garb who looks like he is winking? Luís Vaz de Camões, a Portuguese renaissance poet and some say Portugal's greatest poet, who is famous for  Os Lusíadas, his  epic poem about Vasco da Gama's voyage to India. 

Why does he look like he's winking? He lost an eye when, as a soldier, he fought the Moors. As was not uncommon, back in the day, he was a soldier and wrote poetry. His sonnets are considered on a par with Shakespeare's, Dante's, etc.

What does Camões have to do with a cozy mystery? Well, someone in Braga, Portugal, claims to have an original manuscript of one of his sonnets, possession of which leaves a trail of death. And, you guessed it: Carla is a suspect. 

How the heck do you pronounce Camões? Hah! When the book comes out, you'll have to read it to find out. 😊


Gave you read any cozies lately? If you do enjoy cozies, do you prefer mysteries with a travel angle? Historic? Contemporary?

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Another Book Review for Those Who Like Cozy Mysteries: Birthdays Are Murder

 I'm an afficianado of cozy mysteries, which is why I write them instead of thrillers or suspense, etc. So recently I read this delightful cozy by Cindy Sample, Birthdays Are Murder:

It’s always fun to discover a mystery full of both suspense and humor, which is why I like Cindy Sample's earlier "Dying" series. (Dying for a Double, Dying for a Daquiri, etc.) In the first book of her new mystery series set in Spindrift Cove, Birthdays Are Murder, Sample offers ample doses of both.

Protagonist Sierra Sullivan, aging actress and longtime widow, has moved to Spindrift Cove a small coastal town in the Pacific Northwest, to be near her married daughter. Formerly a cruise ship director who sang and danced in productions at sea, Sierra has taken a gig performing at a children’s birthday party to make ends meet. After the party, still in costume, Sierra discovers the body of the host. Soon after, Sierra discovers she is a prime suspect. To make matters worse, her daughter works for the police department. To make matters even worse, a new corpse turns up while Sierra is sneakily trying to find out who killed the first one.

It is hard to say more about this delightful book without dropping spoilers at every turn. And there are turns aplenty, as well as a colorful and well-rounded cast of characters. An added bonus is the wry humor that permeates Sierra’s observations as she tries to track down the killer without becoming the next victim herself.


You can get a copy of Sample's book HERE  . It's available in Kindle and in paperback.


THE AUTHOR

I am hoping to get an interview with her later, but you can learn more about her on her WEBSITE


In a future post I have news about a cozy of my own that is going to be published in June. Stay tuned. 


Meanwhile, how is your own reading going? Do you have any cozies to recommend? 


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

So Here is What Has Been Happening . . . .

Dear friends:
So here is what has been happening that has kept us so busy: Difficult and wrenching as the decision is, we are going to move back to Sacramento in August. We LOVE Portugal. Living here has been a wonderful experience. And we love our friends here. If we were only feeling homesickness (and we do, despite how much we love it here), we would stay.
But we have to be honest with ourselves and our capacity to become truly proficient in the language. We are making progress and MAY become conversationally fluent (we plan to keep learning Portuguese.) But we probably never will be proficient enough to read through documents and papers and forms without hours and hours of translation efforts, and even then we may not get it right. (After 13months, we still are not able to fully use our oven; and we can’t make head or tale of the customs forms – I have lost a birthday present and a book by clicking the wrong information.)
What daunts us, though, is the future: We are having a great time now, because the two of us can share everything. The day will come when there is only one of us and having to navigate everything alone in a sea of not understanding is scary. The medical care we have received is outstanding. We have only used private health insurance and a private hospital so far, because our SNS (national health) clinic and the SNS hospital are a good distance from our flat. But the hospital we go to doesn’t perform major operations, deferring cardiac surgery, for example, to a hospital in Porto. (Rajan does have a cardiac condition.) SNS may do the surgeries that could come up, but eventually, one or both of us will not be able to drive. In emergencies that require an ambulance that whisk a patient off to the hills or another town, one’s spouse is not able to ride in the ambulance. Visits to the patient would be problematic.
We know friends would help if they could – but they have parents and relatives of their own they to take to doctor appointments, hospitals, visitations, etc., all around a full work week with long hours. They are not retired.
If we were about 20 years younger, with time to become throughly immersed in the language and the system, assuming we could figure out the transportation part when frail, we would risk staying; I can’t stress enough what a high point in our lives it has been to be here. But we are not 20 years younger. That's the reality.
On another note, my next book will be coming out soon, which I’ll save for a later post. The publisher sent me a mock up of the cover, which I love, but I'll wait for the cover reveal.
In the meantime, I’ll be posting a lot about our beloved Braga and Galicia for the remainder of our time here. This is the season of fiestas and festivals in both places. No pictures today, but there will be soon.

Friday, April 1, 2022

A LOT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW

 I don't mean to be unsociable, but a lot is happening right now. Good stuff, but a lot. See you soon. 

Monday, March 14, 2022

 

      

   












Hello dear friends. I hope this post finds you well.

We are back in Braga; we returned a week ago Sunday. Once home, we were busy finding out how to send donated goods to the Ukrainians, and two of our friends were able to send us a contact organization and pick-up locations. (Citywide, there are several collection points for hygenic goods, food, and other supplies being taken to Ukraine and border countries. So then we were busy shopping and dropping off things.)  I also was trying to find an icon to show support for the Ukrainians. My friend Isabel in Galicia had put the image with the dove in her profile picture and told me to feel free to use it for my own. And so, I pass this on to you. I also pass on the "frame" (the little flag) to show support, supplied by my friend Carla in Braga: (The sunflower was from my collection of pictures my husband shoots, and then the little flag came from Carla's frame.) 



In Braga, the organization that is collecting is SOS Ucrânia. I know things are going on in other countries as well. It is good to do whatever one can do, no matter how small. Everything will make a difference to someone. And, as the men (and many women) stay to fight, it will give them courage to know loved ones, children, elders, are in safe hands. 


Flowers always lift my spirit, and the gardens along Avenida da Liberdade are so vibrant right now with color! I don't know who plans the gardens in Braga, but they are works of art. Here are some more flowers for you this Monday morning. Hopefully they can replenish your spirit with a similar urge to keep blooming in these troublesome times. Enjoy!


















How about you? Is there an organization in or near your town that can help? 

And, as for flowers, do you have a favorite flower? I have always loved (not necessarily in this order) sunflowers, lilacs, daffodils, tulips, roses, peonies, irises . . . .





 


Sunday, February 27, 2022

A Trip Down Memory Lane

 Yesterday we went to Trasulfe, the village where we had our house for 16 years, almost 17. We wanted to meet the new owners of our house, and we enjoyed them so much. They love the house as much as we did, which is exactly the kind of persons we wanted to move into it. 
 
       
 
From the galería window, the scene was ever changing, due to the configuration of the land—all hills and dales. Cloud cover would drift down, then lift, then roll against slopes like ocean waves. You could sit at the window for hours and watch it constantly shift.


 
                                                        
     











Oh, the memories!




 

Many of our neighbors in the village are gone now. (I have written a poetry chapbook about our years spent in the area—on extended trips. We never did live there.) Everytime we go to Galicia, we do take a day to visit the village. So many of our neighbors are gone, and the health of the ones in this photo has become frail. We used to have these three wonderful neighbors over to the house for "meriendas" (snacks) a day or two before returning to Sacramento. In this picture, don't be mislead by the soft-drink bottles. They held home-made wine!


How about you? Do you have a special place that you return to again and again? Have you had home-made wine? Are you mesmerized by ever-changing scenery?

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF OUR MOVING TO PORTUGAL

 

I know I haven't posted lately, but time has slipped away for so many reasons: I have been gathering blurbs for my new book, which will come out in April or May (more about that later.) I also polished up my poetry collection about Galicia and sent it to a publisher here in Portugal. I should know soon if they are interested—and I've been gathering blurbs for that. In addition, I've been jotting down ideas for mystery #3, and planning more book reviews for mysteries I've read and enjoyed. 

BUT . . . .

Monday was exactly one year after our arrival in Portugal. It was our first anniversary in our new home. Which felt big to us. On February 21, 2021, we arrived in Porto with two suitcases and a carry on, each. Our immigration attorney picked us up and drove us to Braga—first to our apartment (which was not ready to move into yet, but we dropped off our luggage) and then to a hotel we had reserved online (where we were treated so kindly, I'm still sentimental about that hotel).

So, this Monday evening we celebrated the anniversary by going out to dinner at the Centurium, a restaurant here in Braga that plays an important role in the new mystery, I've been mentioning. The owner has been a wonderful consultant for information about hotel remodels, and in general, he is a warm, generous person, who makes restaurant clients feel welcome and at home, taking time to chat with them. The Centurium is also part of the Hotel Bracara Augusta (thus, my interview with him about hotel remodels.)

Dinner was delicious, and we were joined by a special friend who is also our language teacher. The evening simply flew with great food and great conversation in a mix of Portuguese and English—flowing in both languages from her. A few brave stabs at Portuguese from us. 😋

As for the past year: What a wonderful year it has been. Heartwarming. We were excited to come, of course, and yet there is always a little twinge of trepidation about such a huge move. Well the year has flown by, and already we have a collection of happy times, thanks to the help of friends who made the transition and adjustment easy for us. I don't know what we would have done without them.
So, above is a picture of our "Braga Anniversary."
Meanwhile, we continue to settle in, and have started keeping succulents in pots, as they don't require watering so often. (Our herbs all died during a trip to Galicia.) Once our travel days are over, we will try herbs again. Until then, here is an example of our succulents (all with unpronounceable names). The bottom one is just starting to bloom with tiny yellow flowers.
Sorry it is a bit dark. When the light comes in that window, they practically glow like stained glass.


How about you? Do you keep potted plants? If so, what kind. Do you have special anniversaries besides wedding and birthday? If so, please share what they are.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

A New Year and a Book Review: Panic Attack

 Happy New Year one and all. I hope your holidays were warm and rewarding, despite the continuing challenge of Covid and its many variants. Perhaps this is the year it they will fizzle away and we can go back to normal living again. 

I mentioned before the close if the year I would have some good news to report. My second book in the Braga mystery series, Deadly Verse, will be published later this spring. I'll post more about it, closer to the date, but suffice it to say it takes place during "Braga Romana," the local festival in late May that celebrates Braga's Roman history. People dress up like Romans and all sorts of performances take place both on stages and plazas in various locations, as well as on  the street. Here are a couple of teasers:


                           
             


It's hard to believe we are already in mid-January! My husband and I enjoyed the holidays with very close friends here in Portugal - our first Christmas in Portugal, following our first anniversary in Portugal, following both our first birthdays in Portugal. (So 2021 was a year of "firsts" for us.)

Being book nerds, we spent a lot of the holiday period, except for our long daily walks, curled up with books. And since we read so many books, for awhile I'll be devoting both blogs ot some reviews. On my Victorian Scribbles blog, I'll be sticking mainly to the Victorian Era. On this one I'll review other assortments of good reads. Since I write mysteries when I'm not writing poetry or children's books, you can guess quite a number of these reads are mysteries.

So the first review I'd like to share is Dennis Palumbo's Panic Attack, a thriller that kept moving without let up until the very end. The plot that finally unravels is chilling in its implications and felt all too possible:

This is the 6th in a series that 
stars Daniel Rinaldi, the 
psychologist consulted by the
Pittsburgh police for victims of
traumatic or violent crimes. 

          The murder of a college mascot at a football game is the first in a series of what appear to be random killings. The intended victim’s panic attack is soon echoed by citywide panic as the killings continue. In the unfolding plot, a pattern emerges, suggesting the murders are not random at all. But what connects the dots? Despite a high body count, this is essentially a puzzle mystery with a myriad of twists and turns that kept me—and my husband—turning pages. 
          This was our first introduction to Daniel Rinaldi, the psychologist consulted by the Pittsburgh police to help victims of violent crimes cope with the aftermath of their experiences. Rinaldi becomes more than a consultant, however: His own inclination to find answers lead him to uncover a conspiracy chilling in its implications—and very relevant to today’s social upheaval. 

          It’s hard to get specific without giving the story away, but I found this a compelling read. The varied characters from different walks of life all seemed true to life. Descriptions of Pittsburgh were vivid and plunged a reader deeper into the story. The plot turns and the outcome were believable and suspenseful right up to the last. Not surprisingly, I’ll be shopping for more thrillers in this series.



If you are into mysteries and current events, I really recommend this book. Meanwhile, leave a line and tell me how your holidays went. Happy reading, and happy posting.