Archives for category: Miscellaneous

Anything that involves giving books is great, and when it’s to spread the love of reading on Valentine’s Day, even more so.

THIS IS A WONDERFUL WAY TO SPREAD THE LOVE ON VALENTINE’S DAY.  HELP SPREAD THE WORD! International Book Giving Day 2017  About International Book Giving Day takes place on 14th February eac…


As a translator, I couldn’t resist this article. Fabulous! And if you have any suggestions, they’re looking for new words.

Learning to identify and cultivate these feelings could give you a richer and more successful life

Source: BBC – Future – The ‘untranslatable’ emotions you never knew you had

The road ahead

Thanks so much readers. Just in case you come across this blog, do feel free to check everything, but now I’ve moved to a new site:

Come on over! I’m trying to make it very comfy! See you there!


Muchas gracias lectores. Por si acaso llegáis a este blog por casualidad, explorad lo que queráis, pero me he mudado y a partir de ahora mis posts y otras cosas estarán aquí:

¡Venid a visitarme! Estoy decorándolo y haciéndolo acogedor. ¡Allí nos vemos!




Hi all:


Susan Allen from The English Informer in the UK and The English Informer in France asked me if I could contribute an article to her web magazines on the subject of Christmas. I had to admit I’ve never been overly fond of Christmas, or at least not since I’ve been a grown up. I don’t have a large family and we aren’t particularly traditional either. Due to my job I worked quite a few Christmases (hospitals don’t close) and once I was assaulted on Christmas Day (in Washington DC, just outside Arlington Cemetery. But that’s another story). I won’t moan about the commercialisation of Christmas (you’re welcome to add your thoughts) but there’s a sense of duty to be in the seasonal spirit and a forced cheerfulness that only makes people whose circumstance might not be that merry feel worse. But now that I’ve put you on a happy mood, let me talk about something I like about Christmas and very local to me.


Among the joys (?) of Christmas are the traditional Christmas cards and Christmas presents. And although trying to get presents if you leave it too close to the date can be stressful and challenging, there are also options that make for an interesting experience and can broaden our horizons. I like Christmas markets (although again you might want to avoid high peaks of activity if you can), and there are also smaller events that make the best out of the season.


A few years back we had plenty of snow in November (we had the first snow of the year recently too) and I decided not to drive over the weekend. It wasn’t the first year I’d seen something called ‘Art at the Altar’ advertised at St John’s Church in Penistone.  (Facebook page: The church is well-worth a visit in its own right and is very active locally (including recently hosting a beer festival) but at that point I had never managed to go visit ‘Art in the Altar’. But that year I did, and since I’ve become a big fan.


The event, organised by Hens Teeth  a collective of local artist, offers the opportunity to see lovely craft items exhibited in the wonderful setting of the church, and they are for sale, so you can buy unique gifts for Christmas, at reasonable prices, and support local artists and charity (as 20% of the sales go to charitable organisations). There are also drinks and cakes available, so you can make a day (or at least a morning or an afternoon) of it.


You can find a bit of all: textiles, glass, pottery, jewellery, illustrated books, wood, scarfs and handbags, Christmas decorations, paintings and drawings…


I include a few of my pictures (you might notice I am somewhat partial to owls) for this  year’s event but Hens Teeth also provide a link in their website to experience a 360 degree view of the 2010 event. Click here and have a look!


If you are near, check their page as they have events organised around the region, and if you’re not, explore the area where you live as you’re likely to find talented artist and craft events a stone’s throw from you. You won’t only be supporting local artists and crafts but you’ll also have a great time.


Thank you all for reading and remember to like, share, comment and CLICK!


Hi all:

As you know, I’ve been away, somewhere where I didn’t have regular access to internet, for the last few weeks. It was time to go back to the hamlet in Northwest Spain (a region called Galicia. Those of you familiar with the Camino de Santiago will be familiar with it) where my Dad was born, Paradaseca, to lay his ashes to rest next to his parents.

I hadn’t been there for 25 years or so, and as you can imagine it was a bit of an experience. Part a trip back in time, part a feeling that everything had changed only for everything (or nearly) to remain the same.

The place where my Dad was born is very rural and has seen a lot of emigration, where plenty of the inhabitants moved to big cities, within Spain or elsewhere. As a result there are places where only older people are left and places totally empty. Plenty of very cheap property although sometimes the local facilities are somewhat limited.

I found this article discussing the phenomenon, that I thought was interesting.

I plan on a series of posts (and possibly even some videos, once I’m back home and have a better connection) but in the meantime, I thought I’d share some pictures.

We went for many walks and that evening I took a camera

We went for many walks and that evening I took a camera

The panorama from Cabeza de Manzaneda, a a nearby sky resort

The panorama from Cabeza de Manzaneda, a a nearby sky resort

This chestnut tree is supposed to be over a thousand years old

This chestnut tree is supposed to be over a thousand years old

One of the houses of the hamlet

One of the houses of the hamlet

The church

The church

The view from the back of my parents' place

The view from the back of my parents’ place

Helping my uncle Eloy extract honey

Helping my uncle Eloy extract honey

La plaza del Hierro (Iron Square) in Ourense

La plaza del Hierro (Iron Square) in Ourense

As I’ve told you, I hope more posts will follow. Ah, and although I didn’t have as much time as I anticipated (meeting relatives you haven’t seen in many years makes for long conversations) I did manage to read quite a few books, so there will be plenty of reviews to come.

Thanks for your patience, for reading, and you I’m sure you still remember what to do: like, share, comment, and if you fancy reading the article, CLICK!

Hi all:

You might remember that when I left my job my plan was to learn the business of running a bookshop, and Anne and Derek from Addyman Books in Hay-on-Wye were kind enough to have me at their shops so I could learn on the job. It was a fantastic experience but due to personal circumstances I had to cut it short. I’m hoping to be able to revisit the experience sometime soon and I have not abandoned the idea, although I think I’ll need to get very creative about it (suggestions are welcome).

One of my thought for the shop would be to offer books from independent authors. But of course, stock is expensive and space is also a problem. And not all indie books are available in paper versions. I was investigating any options for this eventuality and I came across Seebook ( that seemed like an interesting option, but in its beginning. Now I’m pleased to say that the initiative has taken off, and apart from options for traditional publishers, it also offers an option for indie authors ( and those are also advertised in their website.



What is a Seebook? Here is their own description:

Seebook are attractive download cards for ebooks. The ideal solution to give an ebook as a present! They are Multiformat (ePub, Mobi for Kindle and PDF) suitable for any device. Without registrations. Without DRM. Also available in bookstores. Some contain extra features. Unlimited number of downloads.


Seebook brings back the digital content to the real world. When you buy one of our cards you will reproduce the experience of buying a physical book, but lighter, cheaper and ecological. You just have to scan or copy the code inside to download a personalized ebook instantly wherever you prefer: in a smartphone, a tablet, or a computer.

Here is the website:

I’m intrigued, as it offers the option of carrying your books with you any time without being lumbered with weight, and also without occupying incredible amounts of space. It can also be sent without spending a fortune and autographed, and if you know any shops, they can hardly say they don’t have space for them. And even if you don’t have your books available in paper it’s still a viable option. And you can add extra materials to make it more attractive.

Here is what they look like

Here is what they look like

They’ve kindly offered to send me some samples that they are sending to my mother’s address in Barcelona (the company is also from Barcelona) so I’ll let you know what they look like in real life. I know from the CEO that the ones they have created for traditional publisher have become available in quite a number of bookshops in Spain and they’re hoping to be in Foyles soon, so you might come across them.

I’ll keep you posted, but I’m intrigued.

Thank you all for reading, and if you’ve found it interesting, like, share, comment, and CLICK!

I’ve met with Rosa Sala and hope to write an updated post soon. I’m just waiting on some more information. In the meantime, I thought I’d share this new video they’ve created, because it’s so cute!

Hi all:

You’ll be wondering why I am writing a post about teeth. Well, it’s not one of my habitual topics. But thinking about it, unless you’re a dentist, it’s not one of anybody’s habitual topics. And it got me thinking…

But how did this start?

As some of you might know, a couple of Saturdays ago was my birthday. As I’d been here and there I didn’t really plan anything much, other than having a bit of a rest. Cue… my tooth. One of my teeth decided to make itself noticed. And it rained… Yes, fabulous all around.

It kept hurting but as I had an appointment booked with the dentist for the following week, I managed, and it did get better. I had mentioned this to a couple of friends, and with one of them (Hi, Martie!) I had even speculated on the possible reasons for this.

Last Friday, I visited the dentist, and Martie sent me a message asking me if my tooth was better. This was my reply:

It was but it has been bothering me after she’s been poking on it. It seems the root of the tooth with the crown is dying and it doesn’t want to go unnoticed. I have to go and have it killed.

She thought this was hilarious. This was my next comment:

Well, only thing they can do to be seen… Attention seeking behaviour, if you ask me…

So she suggested that I write a post about it, as that might make it stop hurting. And here it is. I had planned to ask for some advice on marketing, but hey, ho, there’s plenty of that. So here, my reflections on the humble tooth.

Yes, we all have them (hopefully, or did at some point). Yes, we need them. And although we don’t think much about them most of the time, we know it’s important to treat them well and look after them otherwise it can cause serious complications.

But when it boils down to it, the poor teeth don’t get a great press.

Apart from the tooth fairy, most people seem to have negative associations when it comes to teeth.

People might compliment you on your hair, your eyes, yes, your smile perhaps, but unless you’re a horse, usually teeth don’t come into it.
Bonanza cast smiling horse 1968

And if they do, you should be careful. Remember Little Red Riding Hood.



And then we have the people who look after them, dentists. How many people are afraid of dentists? With the horrible things that exist in the world, why such fear of dentists? Most people bring to mind images of mediaeval torture when they think about dentists. (Sorry, I did look at images but decided against it. After all, imagination works probably better.)

So, poor tooth, you’re right to complain. Nobody is nice to you. Even those who look after you don’t use the nicest of methods. You deserve better. I’m sorry your root is dying. Sorry if it was my fault. Sorry if we’ll speed up your death, but we’ll try and be merciful. And I’ll look better after your friends.

And here, dedicated to you, a song:

‘Son Be a Dentist’ from The Little Shop of Horrors:

I hope that wasn’t too painful. Thanks for reading, and look after your teeth, friends, or they’ll complain! Like, share, comment… or bite!

Hi all:

I was preparing (I’ve prepared it already) a post asking more questions on book marketing, and then I thought… Last week was quite long, seeing people…

Ailsa Abraham and he hubbie!

Ailsa Abraham and he hubbie!

(By the way, what a joy meeting Ailsa, Peter (a.k.a. Badger) and Lily, in person), celebrating my mother’s birthday

No good at selfies and don't have one of these stick-like thingis. In front of the Cathedral of Barcelona

No good at selfies and don’t have one of these stick-like thingis. In front of the Cathedral of Barcelona

trying to sort a few things, traveling back to the UK…

So I though a light post would do.

And luckily, a group of very talented writers I belong to came to the rescue. They decided that as the weather is improving, it’s time to get our Beach Reads ready, and to promote the idea, here is the video. I know there are giveaways and things coming up, so I’ll keep you posted.



And talking about beaches, when I got home, my next door neighbour had been keeping something for me all this time. A work of art by Ashley O’Neal. One of her series Drifting Bones.

Drifting Bones by Ashley O'Neal

Drifting Bones by Ashley O’Neal

Thank you so much for reading and if you’ve enjoyed it, like, comment, share, and… go find something to CLICK!

Hi all:

Denali. Mt. McKinley

Denali. Mt. McKinley from Wikipedia

As you know my posts are a bit…whatever. I know the title of today’s it’s a bit weird, but let me explain.
This year (early May, to be precise) it’s a big birthday for me. OK, OK, I’m going to be 50. No big secret. I’ve been saying for a while that I wanted to do something a bit special. Not a party (I don’t mind parties but in general I prefer to meet with a few friends or even have chats with people in a relaxed atmosphere and not keen on organising anything big at this moment), but I fancied a biggish trip. I don’t know why I got fixated on Alaska. It’s always been an attractive place for me. I imagine movies, adventure books, and the ring of it, the variety of climates, the sheer scale of the place, the many activities, and the outstanding beauty…

Here if you want to read more about it in Wikipedia:

I’m sharing some pictures on Wikipedia in this post and I’ll share some other links that  I found interesting too.

Due to personal circumstances some of you who read my blog regularly will be aware of, I don’t think I’ll manage to make the trip this year (I wasn’t necessarily planning to do it on the date of my birthday but at a more convenient time, as with Alaska I think planning the right time for the trip is all important). If any of you have visited or has any specific tips or sites they use to plan their trips, I’d be very grateful, as I intend to do the trip, even if it might be next year….

Augustine Volcano

Augustine Volcano

The question at the top of the blog refer to what’s your Alaska? in the sense of, what’s that think that you’ve been thinking about doing for a while, the top of your bucket list, or simply something that you’ve always saved for some better time to do? For quite a while I wanted to jump off a plane in a parachute, although I did that quite a few years back (and I loved it! No, not in tandem, by myself, although of course you have to do a course, etc, etc…). Alaska is not the only place in my list of places where I want to go. Like my list of TBR books, that’s quite long but…

Did you realise it was quite this big?

Did you realise it was quite this big?

So go on, tell me, what’s your Alaska? 

As promised, I leave you a couple more links about Alaska that look very good (and it’s a way of having them handy for when I get down to planning the trip in more detail):

The Official State of Alaska Vacation and Travel Information (This one has beautiful pictures. Don’t miss them)

The Alaska Organisation (Expert Travel Advice from Alaskans)

Forget-Me-Not the State flower

Forget-Me-Not the State flower

Because this is me, and for somewhat evident but bizarre reasons, the post made me think of a singer whose real name is Olvido (Forgetfulness) but has always been known as…yes, you’ve guessed, Alaska. So here a couple of her songs from quite a few years back, that I love. Very eighties. Ah, ladies, if yo check the second one for the cover of the record (that now I have in CD, of course), you’ll see another reason why I love this album:

Alaska y Dinarama: ¿Cómo pudiste hacerme esto eso a mí? (How could you do that to me?)

From the same album: Deseo Carnal: Un hombre de verdad (A Real Man)

Thanks to all for reading, watching, and remember to pass any tips on travels that you might have, and comment, share, like and CLICK if you fancy! 

I've read this year they had to move further North because it was too warm.

I’ve read this year they had to move further North because it was too warm.

Hi all:

I’ve read and heard a variety of arguments on the subject or reviews. Much advice to authors focuses on the need to obtain reviews, on how important they are, on professional reviews (yes, because scandals apart, there are places, Kirkus reviews to name one of the best known, for example, that provide reviews for money, but we’re talking about honest, unbiased reviews, so as an author you might be in the weird situation of paying to get something bad said about you…hey, one can get that for free!), on bloggers who provide reviews, on methods to try and get reviews even before the book is finished (the famous ARC or ‘advance review copy’) as sales seem somehow linked to reviews. (It’s a bit of a catch 22 situations. Like trying to get a job on something you’ve never worked on before. Employers want experience and recommendations but you can’t get experience unless you get a first job on the field. Welcome to this world. Psychiatry is easy by comparison). Even if you’re trying to give your book for free, if you want to advertise it in certain sites, you need to have a number of five star reviews…(and in some cases pay a fair amount, like with Bookbub. Yes, dear readers, you have to pay to advertise that your book is for free. I told you psychiatry was easier in comparison).

I know it has nothing to do with angels but I promised you more pictures

I know it has nothing to do with angels but I promised you more pictures

More recently I also read a post by an author (Angel Sefer) whose take on author reviews  is quite similar to mine. Some people feel authors shouldn’t review other authors because they might be biased, or be doing it as an exchange with other authors and therefore their reviews won’t be “honest” (whatever definition of that you might choose. I think the term is very elastic these days and has been deconstructed beyond recognition). A writer and reader recently told me that readers might not take it kindly if they think that authors’ recommendation are not sincere and we’re recommending bad work, I guess making a very similar point. Amazon seems to think that authors should not review other writers in their same gender as it would be unfair competition (it seems they take the view that we’ll try and stab each other in the back).

I’m a reader. I’ve read since I learned how to, and it is one of my most enduring loves. Live always feels better with a book (or an e-reader full of books these days) in my hands. I have a BA and a PhD in American Literature and I’m used to writing about books and love it. Commenting on books and reviewing them afterwards enhances the experience for me. I’m not that bothered about the number of stars (in the case of Amazon, their only guidance is that 5 stars means ‘I love it’, 4 ‘I like it’, 3 ‘It’s OK’, 2 ‘I don’t like it’ and 1 ‘I hate it’. It doesn’t say that you should only give 5 stars to the best book you’ve ever read, because then you would have to choose one of the books you’ve read in all your life, and even make a judgement on the books you might read int he future, and if you think about other products, because Amazon as we know sells everything or pretty close, when would you give 5 stars to other products? If you get it quickly, it works well, and it does what it’s supposed to do. Or would you expect a TV to make you breakfast, or an iron to tell you the news?) I’m more interested in explaining the things that made the book enjoyable, distinctive and special for me. I’m fully aware that people have different tastes and by highlighting different aspects of the books I think others might get a better idea if they’d like the book or not. For example, I’m not that enamoured of very long descriptions of people, places and clothes, but I can admire and acknowledge the skills of some authors writing them and I know some people love them. They are not bad, they’re just not what I’d choose. But I’m not the person writing the book and I know how hard it is to write, edit and correct time and again a book. Yes, I might like an idea and think of other ways of writing the same story, but I’m neither the author nor the editor, so I wouldn’t base my judgement on what I’d do instead. That’s not my task as a reviewer. Authors deserve respect.

And another one

And another one

I review books for an online magazine and as part of the instructions we get is that we have to follow guidelines and if we don’t like a book we must give it a low score. Luckily, so far it hasn’t happened.

I also take part in book blogs. The usual understanding, if you agree to provide reviews, is that if you feel your review is going to be under 3 stars you should abstain from publishing it during the time of the tour but are free to do so afterwards. It sounds reasonable to me, and of course you’re not obliged to take part. (By the way, blogs taking part in blog tours are not paid for taking part, although if you agree to review you’re sent a copy of the book in advance. And usually get thanked by the organiser and the author.That is it.) I’ll confess in one occasion I withdrew from a blog tour. I didn’t think the book deserved less than 3 stars, but I didn’t enjoy it and couldn’t think of something fair to the book I could write. The book and I were simply not a good fit. And no, I won’t tell you what book it was. It’s doing quite well and evidently many people think differently from me. I’m pleased for the author.

My personal take on the matter is that it would be a waste and silly not to write reviews just because I happen to write too. I don’t think one can be a writer if one is not a reader. I will try and write thought-out reviews that I hope can give others an indication of what they might or might not like in a book, whatever my personal take on it. If I don’t like a book and think that I would give it a very low score, I would not post a review. I would post a bad review of a product that I felt would endanger somebody or was a fraud or a rip-off, but books take a lot more work than the money they charge for them, and my personal taste is by no means the be all and end all.

I post reviews, apart from in my blog and for Lit World Interviews (where I collaborate when I can), in Goodreads, Amazon, Riffle, Booklikes and wherever else I can think of.

Not an angel but gorgeous

Not an angel but gorgeous

Thanks for reading, sorry for the sermon, and please, tell me what you think, like, share, and comment if you feel like it. The links take you to my pages in some of the sites as an example and because… one never knows!