Archives for category: Writing samples

Hi all:

Tomorrow, the 15th of July, the second book in my YA trilogy, Angelic Business, ‘Shapes of Greg’ will be published.

Just last week, author and friend Hans Hirschi posted this amazing review of the whole trilogy. I have to thank him for his kindness and I’m pleased to see it made such an impact on him. Here is the link. Don’t miss it.

http://www.hirschi.se/blog/angelic-business-trilogy/

I shared the video last week, but putting it at the end of the post I think most people missed it. If you didn’t, I’m sorry, there it is again:

 

I leave you a longer sample, when Pink meets and old acquaintance, although she doesn’t quite realise it at first:

On Friday, I thought I saw a guy I’d never seen before standing opposite my house. When I came out he started walking towards me, I thought, but Seth went by driving his car and offered me a lift. I accepted. When I saw the same guy waiting at a distance when Sylvia, Lorna and I came out of school, I didn’t know what to think. I thought he’d disappear while we were at the library. And I didn’t see him when we came out or on the way to the bus stop. But as soon as the bus left, I saw him standing on the pavement on the other side of the road.

I was getting a bit freaked out by that guy. I hadn’t told Lorna and Sylvia because what could they do anyway? Sylvia would start talking about stalking, as usual, and Lorna would wonder if he might be relationship material. Or to be fair no, not, actually. He was tall, skinny, pale, Goth-like looking, dressed to not impress…No, not what Lorna would consider relationship material. And he must have been in his mid-twenties at least. Why was he following us? Or rather, why was he following me?

The mysterious stalker

The mysterious stalker

I don’t think I scare easy, but I started walking faster. It was getting dark and I still had a bit of a way to go before getting home, and although the neighbourhood was safe…He also accelerated. “Don’t panic. Don’t panic!” I kept telling myself. It didn’t quite work. I was seconds from running when the said guy called out:

“Pink…Pink!”

OK, now that was weird. How on earth did he know my name?

“Pink….” I had now stopped walking. He caught up with me. “It’s me.” I looked at him. Me…

“Who are you exactly?”

“I still like Lindt truffles.”

“G?”

Original G

Original G

He smiled and nodded.

“I thought you’d been called back…home? I didn’t realise they were just going to give you another body.”

He shrugged.

“Neither did I. No, they have given me another mission.”

“I see. Here again?”

He blushed, extremely noticeable as he was now so pale.

“Not exactly.”

“Where then?”

“Dallas.”

“What? That’s quite far. Are you off today, or is your charge around here, or what?”

“Off? We don’t get time off.”

“You have a rubbish contract then.”

He laughed and shrugged.

“Not so bad as contracts go with my boss,” he added. Now it was my turn to smile.

“So what are you doing here?”

“I wanted to see how you were.”

Don’t you all go… “Oh, that’s sweet,” because we’re talking about a demon here.

“I’m fine. Thanks.”

“Good. Is Dashiell taking good care of you?”

“You could ask him. I’ve never been clear about what your lot are trying to achieve following me around. You’ve given me so many versions of the story…And Dashiell…he is more strictly business than you were.”

He sighed. His new body gave him a more vulnerable appearance.

“I miss being connected to you.”

Now he was taking things too far.

“If you remember the said connection was severed a long time ago. I should be going. It’s getting late.”

“I’ll walk you home.”

It was a very weird sensation to have G walking next to me, but looking nothing like he used to. Weird.

“How are Lorna and Sylvia?”

“Fine. Well, sort of. Lorna has decided it’s time she finds her perfect man, and Sylvia went all out to try to design a computer programme to help with that. And it produced a profile and even a digital portrait kind-of-thing. And it looks a bit like Dashiell, so now Lorna thinks he might be her perfect man. And he hasn’t helped much.”

“What has he done?”

Dashiell

Dashiell

I told G about his idea of a cover to keep in touch with me by getting us all to work on his project.

“They shouldn’t have taken me off the case,” he complained.

“Oh, I’m sure she’ll be all right. Lorna is a tough cookie.”

“And Sylvia?”

“I’m not so sure about Sylvia. She’s acting quite out of character these days. She told us she might have met somebody but won’t talk about it in any detail. And she seems preoccupied. I think there’s something going on, but for some reason she does not want to talk about it. I’m a bit concerned, although she’s usually very down-to-earth.”

He rubbed his chin that in his current body was quite prominent.

“I’ll see if I can find something out.”

“I’m sure you must be busy with your mission, whatever that is. I don’t want you to get into trouble with your boss for not doing your job and messing up with humans.”

He shrugged his shoulders.

“My “boss” as you keep saying, likes trouble. It’s what he thrives on. He can always find an advantageous angle in anything that at first sight seems to have gone wrong.”

“Very entrepreneurial. He sounds like a spin doctor.”

“You can say that again!”

I smiled and looked at him closely. Yes, it felt very wrong, because although of course, the voice wasn’t his either, and even the accent was very different —a Southern drawl the previous G didn’t have —to me he sounded like himself. Or maybe it was my brain playing tricks on me.

“Is your mission not keeping you very busy then? I assume I’m not allowed to know.”

He cringed. I’d touched a raw nerve.

“It is a bore. I’m supposed to be babysitting this young boy, he’s 7 or 8, because one of our analysts has come up with the suggestion that he has the potential to become a very dangerous guy in the future, some deadly and crazed leader of masses, or a supervillain, or master criminal…Something like that. To tell you the truth, so far he’s a very boring young child, not even particularly bad or naughty. Maybe Sylvia should come and work for us. Her programmes might be more useful than our research methods. Going through stories, legends, ancient books, looking at the stars… Hocus-pocus if you ask me.”

I had to laugh.

“I wouldn’t have taken you for a sceptic, after all that passion about the prophecy I’m involved in.”

“Well, one can’t take chances. And it is a very well-known and accepted prophecy, not some paint-by-numbers style of analysis.”

I looked at him trying to get to the truth.

“But it doesn’t matter anyway, because it’s not really about me. Isn’t that right?”

“Of course.”

Did he blush? He seemed to, but I wasn’t sure how much the host-body would show a demon’s emotions. Did they really have emotions? I did not believe him. I wondered if I would ever believe him again.

“Of course I trust your discretion with regards to the mission.”

“I have no details anyway. And I can’t see myself going to kill the young boy just in case.”

“You’d be surprised what some people might do.”

“Not really,” I thought. Instead I decided to try a different line of conversation. I was also curious.

“What name do you go by now?” I asked him.

“Peter Pratt.” I don’t know what I must have looked like, because he added: “Hey, it wasn’t my choice.”

“I can’t get used to how you look now.”

He looked at himself.

“Again, not my choice. Although I guess humans don’t choose how they look either, other than very rich people with plastic surgery and things, but even with that there are limits.”

I nodded.

“I know you’ve told me it’s not like in the stories and paintings and all that, but what do you really look like? Not when you take up a human body but as…”

“We don’t have horns, or a tail and pitch-fork and we aren’t red. We don’t have a physical appearance as you’d understand it. We are spiritual energy. A bit like the glowing light performance that Azrael puts on. Although in their case it’s that kind of bright light. In ours…it’s a darkness, a bit like a black hole. It’s not really a black hole but it’s that void, an absence of light, I imagine if I had to explain it.”

We were both quiet. We were very close to my street. He stopped walking.

“I’d better go now. Take care. And don’t tell Dashiell. This is not an official visit and he might not appreciate my coming here.”

“Bye.”

He squeezed my right hand in both of his and then left. It had been a very strange visit. And it would not be the last.

Pink

Pink

Before I forget, I’ll better leave you the links to the book, just in case:

Angelic Business 2. Shapes of Greg

Angelic Business 2. Shapes of Greg

Amazon:

http://rxe.me/YHZ21O2

Apple:

http://apple.co/1AE2MQR

Kobo:

http://bit.ly/1eFYYVB

Nook:

http://bit.ly/1AGqNHn

And as I know you enjoy them, I thought I’d leave you a song with Angels. Probably the most popular song with angels of recent years:

Thanks for reading and watching, and you know, if you have enjoyed it, like, comment, share and of course, if you fancy it, CLICK! 

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Hi all:

As you know, I’m on the way to publishing my first YA series (I’m getting there!) and I asked for help with sharing information about it. Blogger friends, you’ve been AWESOME (and I’m well aware some people dread the way the word is used these days, but in this case, it’s true. I’m in awe, thunderstruck… any superlatives you might come up with).

I’ll try and do a drumroll of everybody when the worst (or best) is over.

But I thought as thanks, I should give you something. The next few weeks I’m involved not only in promoting my own books but in blog tours for others (it seems to be the season) so I thought I’d take the chance today. I pondered, thought and finally, I decided to share a story, that I think can be enjoyed by all, writers, readers and dreamers alike. Some of you might have read it already but it’s never been officially published, and it’s light enough, to cheer people up. It’s not short, short, but… Ah, and I leave you a few links to other things that you might find interesting at the end.

Here it goes:

The Novel

Denver had never been the most attractive or lucky of girls. Brown hair, brown eyes, average height. Not a sculptural body either. She’d gone through Primary and High School without doing anything remarkable. She’d had a few dates, but she’d never had a formal boyfriend (or an informal one, for that matter!). She’d managed to move away from her parents’ house (nice people, but too conventional) nearly a year ago, and she’d expected her life to change completely. No more boredom! Excitement, freedom, recklessness! Maybe all that wasn’t her, after all, because her life had continued to be as boring as usual. Nothing new. She had a studio-flat to herself, but that was all there was.  It wasn’t even in a fancy place. Peaceful, quiet, and empty.

Even her friend Phoebe was living with someone. She’d always thought Phoebe would be the last girl in the world to get somebody. So shy, so prudish, she never dared to take any risks at all…And there she was. Phoebe had had her adventure, and Denver was still there. Waiting. What on earth was she waiting for?

If only things were like in the books or the films. Life would be so much easier to handle. If only she could discover what the plot to her life was, or at least what the genre of the novel she was living was. If life came with a book of instructions for its use and enjoyment everything would be so much simpler…

She told herself that it was all a matter of determination. She was going to take control. From now on, she was writing her own story. And she would decide what it was going to be like. She could hear the music of Carmen (‘Toreador’) as she went to sleep on the thought. Her name in neon lights. Her relatives and friends clapping at her performance. Her life was going to become a best seller!

The next morning, when she walked into her office, she’d made her mind up. A romantic story. That was what her life was going to be. A beautiful love story. The setting wasn’t perfect: tables, computers, doors, papers and more papers. But her reserve of imagination was larger than the Federal Bank’s gold reserve. She could blank out reality if she tried real hard. It was all in the process of creation. The plastic and cheap-looking tables could become mahogany, period tables. The lamps, crystal…Maybe something more intimate and less grand would be more romantic. She didn’t want ‘Gone with the Wind’ either. It was too much. Not so ambitious. Flowery pastel curtains on the windows; instead of the huge skyscrapers a lake and a little white house in the distance, a Cole Porter song…And soft light. Definitely soft light. It would go with her pink dress. And she had a hero. Mr. Spencer, Mark, her boss. He was tall, dark and handsome. Denver was well aware that there were many women interested in him, but deep inside him, even if he’d never showed it, she knew that the flame of his love for her burned really hot. She had got some flowers for her desk, to complete the scene, and she left one in his room.

Mr. Spencer came in and nodded at her. The music grew louder. He hadn’t said anything but Denver sensed that he was only feigning indifference. She waited for his call. He would call her any time to thank her for the flower, and he would acknowledge his feelings. She could picture the scene. She’d go in, and there he would be, in the centre of the room, hazy  background and a shiny smile on his face. Who needed Brad Pitt or Leonardo Di Caprio when she had Mr. Spencer? He would rush towards her, inflamed by his passion and taking her hand he would cover it with kisses.

”Thanks for the flower. It’s so beautiful and delicate as you are. I suppose you imagined I didn’t notice you, but it’s taken all my self-control not to approach you before, and now…”

“Mr. Spencer…” She would blush and flip her long eyelids that were one of her main charms.

“Call me Mark…”

One of the other girls, a newcomer, short and very active, shook her.

“Mr. Spencer is calling you. I wouldn’t make him wait. He’s been quite short recently.”

“He won’t be short with me.”

The other girl looked at her surprised, but Denver marched in the office with her notebook and a broad smile. ‘Our love is here to stay’ was playing in her mind.

“Mr. Spencer.”

He was sneezing like mad. No hazy background, no shiny smile.

“Was this your idea?”  He asked pointing at the flower.

“Well, yes. I thought it would enliven the office.”

“Nobody asked you to think. I’m allergic to flowers. Take that away from here. Quick!” His tone was dry and hard. He was not amused.

She grabbed the flower feeling mortified. She was only trying…

“And don’t come back in. Mr. Wingfield needs someone to help him. His secretary had an accident a couple of days ago. Take your things to his office.”

Mr. Wingfield! He was old, fiery, and not very nice. Denver could have cried.

“And take the flowers on your desk with you. Thanks.”

Thanks? Thanks? Who did he think he was? Not her hero, definitely not. A romantic hero didn’t behave like that. Men. One could never trust them to play their parts.

While she was filing documents in Mr. Wingfield’s office she concluded that, whatever it was, her life wasn’t a romantic novel. But, who wanted a romantic novel anyhow? There was no real adventure, no risk, and no danger. A detective story. A good detective story was what she needed.

Next day Denver decided on wearing a dark suit, and she even bought a packet of cigarettes on the way. She tried to smoke one, but it made her cough, and her eyes started to cry. She threw them away. She’d have to be a healthy detective instead.

Once in the office nothing exciting seemed to happen for a while. Selecting the mail, answering some of the letters, rearranging some appointments. Just before midday, Steve, one of the salesmen and Marie’s (one of the other secretaries) boyfriend went to see her. He was a nice guy, nothing outstanding, but kind and attentive. He didn’t have a dress sense though, red hair and a brown suit didn’t quite match, but he wasn’t like the other salesmen always flirting with the pretty girls and never talking to her. He was polite and he always told her about his adventures when selling their ‘wonderful garden implements’. Marie never let him talk about it; it was too boring for her. She only wanted him to adore her and talk about her all the time. Steve was far too good for Marie. Not Denver’s type, but he deserved better than Marie. She always had to act all high and mighty.

“ I wonder if you can help me with this mystery.”

A mystery! Eureka! She had the feeling this was going to be her lucky day. The music inundated her ears. Dark, slightly threatening, jazzy…

“Tell me.”

“I’ve been to see Marie…She’s not at her desk.”

Denver’s pulse accelerated. The trumpet blew in. A missing person. Always a good topic in detective stories.

“She’s probably doing something…photocopying?”

“I’ve looked. She isn’t there. Nobody has seen her go out either.”

“Let’s go and see.”

Denver examined Marie’s desk with utmost attention. A good detective had to be scientific and meticulous. Shame she hadn’t brought a magnifying glass with her. But, that was too old-fashioned. Now it was all DNA testing and sophisticated gadgets. She’d have to do with her wit. It was much cheaper. Observation was the first rule. Marie’s notepad was there, so it was unlikely that she would be in Mr. Spencer’s office. Unless she…

“Do you think she’s filing something in the office?” Steve asked.

“It’s possible, but Mr. Spencer doesn’t like us to do it while he is here, and he hasn’t gone out. You see? She hasn’t written anywhere where he was going. He must be there.”

“What about the toilet?”

“It’s been quite a while. And her handbag is in the drawer, so she isn’t making up or anything.”

“She can’t possibly have vanished.”

“Did she know you were coming?”

“No, she didn’t. I wasn’t supposed to be here today, I had to go out of town, but the client phoned saying he was unwell, so I didn’t go.”

“I see.”

An idea came to Denver’s mind. She didn’t like it, but it made sense. Why Mr. Spencer had seemed so crossed recently, why Marie had been wearing nicer and more expensive clothes, why he’d dismissed her with a stupid excuse. Her mental soundtrack died. It was solemnly silent.

“I think…” Denver pressed a button in the intercom.

“Oh Marie…”

“Mr. Spencer…”

“Mark…”

“Mark…Go on…Go on…Yes, yes, yes!”

Denver switched it off. It was too much. Steve’s face had changed colour.

“Bitch.”

“Don’t…”

Steve was flushed, shaky, but tried to smile. “Don’t worry. I won’t do anything stupid. Good luck to her. I can find somebody like her any time. Thanks all the same.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s all right. Not your fault. Bye.”

Denver wasn’t hard enough for the job. She didn’t like its results. The truth could be too hurtful at times and she wasn’t mean. Her life wouldn’t be a detective’s story either.

Denver didn’t admit her defeat as yet. The times weren’t right for romantic novels or detective stories. People wanted the impossible, dreams come true, progress…Science Fiction, that was the ‘in’ thing. A good Sci-Fi story. That was it.

On the elevator the next day she was trying to get herself in the right mood for her new genre. The building was better suited for that than for romantic novels or detective stories really. Metallic-looking doors, abstract paintings, mechanical sculptures, cameras everywhere, computer screens, and thousands of doors…Even the people looked grey and metallic that day. The elevator stopped without a warning between the tenth and eleventh floor. She didn’t know any of the other people stuck with her. They worked in other offices. One of the men, pale, bold, in a grey suit, seemed annoyed.

“I wonder what it is this time. These bloody things never work properly.”

“It won’t be anything serious.” the youngest, blondest and prettiest of the girls affirmed. She was wearing a grey skirt and a grey blouse too. Definitely a grey day.

“Shall we press the alarm button?” a very young man anxious, sweaty, and probably wearing his first grey suit for his first job, asked.

The lights went off. Maybe she’d made a mistake and it was a horror movie after all. Or a combination, like ‘Alien’. But, the only music that would play in her mind would be the band in ‘Star Wars’ bar. OK, they were all a bit weird in that elevator, but not as weird as the specimens in the film.

“What’s happening?” It was an unknown voice. A grey woman, no doubt.

“I’ll press the button” the young grey man said. No movement, no sound. Dead quiet.

“It isn’t working! What’s happening?” the same grey woman asked. The pitch of her voice was higher this time.

The elevator shook and there were noises. Everybody went quiet. Denver thought that it didn’t feel quite right for an abduction. She’d always heard about bright lights, and usually somebody driving along lonely roads, or out for a walk, not in the middle of town, in an elevator full of people. It didn’t make sense. Maybe it was a horror novel. But why that music? It wasn’t serious. Even the music of the ‘X-Files’ would be more appropriate, but no. The alien bar in ‘Star Wars’.

They could hear what seemed to be voices coming from outside. Perhaps it was an abduction after all. Aliens. Did aliens prefer people wearing grey in elevators? Denver hadn’t read anything about that. She shouldn’t have neglected her culture that way. If she wasn’t abducted she’d made up for it. If she was…well, she imagined she’d get to know, one way or another.

“Help! We’re trapped!” the bold grey man shouted.

The voices stopped and all went very quiet.

“Something is not right.” the very young grey man offered. “I think…”

They heard somebody or something walking on the roof of the elevator. One of the panels on top of them began to move. It was lifted and a ray of light flashed in. Denver had suddenly realised in a panic that she was wearing green! They were coming for her! Aliens couldn’t stand people who wore green! She screamed and the rest of the elevator joined in.

“They’re coming to get us!”.

When a head looked in, a loud thump resounded in the closed space. A spot of light fell on the body. It was the bold grey man. He’d fainted.

“What are you doing here?” the owner of the head asked. “We told the porter not to let anybody use this unit because we had to do some repairs, so we stopped it in a place convenient for us.”

“The porter never said anything.”

“Who did you think I was, anyhow? Why did you scream? Oh well, we’ll let you out. Sorry.” The repair man grinned. He was probably thinking it would make a good story to tell his colleagues. Panic in the elevator!

It was embarrassing. Even Denver looked grey after that. And if it wasn’t bad enough, the music carried on. But she could take it.  It wouldn’t be a Science-Fiction story, or a Horror novel either. Maybe try another old-style type of thing. Revival time. A good Western. Nothing could really compare to an old Western. And she’d always wanted to wear cowboy boots and a hat. With the central heating at full blast it felt like a dessert, and the cacti the company had bought to give the office a homely atmosphere helped the impression. Her name was appropriate too. Denver. The Denver Kid…The Denver Girl…Denver the Quick. Buffalo Denver? Decisions, decisions. And Mr. Wingfield bothering her about some copies. She’d choose her new name whilst making the copies.

When Denver reached the photocopier, strategically placed in the middle of the corridor that joined all the offices, she realised that she had forgotten her card. She left her things next to the machine while she went to pick it up. When she returned Marie had had the cheek to jump her place and start photocopying her own stuff. Who did she think she was? First her man, then the photocopier. What would be next? No, it shouldn’t be tolerated. There wasn’t enough space in that office for the both of them. The whistles in one of Clint Eastwood’s movies seemed to filter under the door at the end of the corridor. A very long corridor. Empty. Only Marie and her.

“Marie.”

“Yes?”

“I was here before you came. Didn’t you see my things?”

“You should remember to bring your card with you.”

Denver didn’t have a gun, but she reached for her belt nonetheless. She adjusted her imaginary white hat. At the end of the dusty street was her enemy, Marie, all dressed in black. They were approaching each other in slow motion. Did she imagine the clink of the spurs? Moving closer, a little bit closer.

“And you should remember you have a boyfriend before getting in the office with the boss.” She felt a slightly bitchy, but one had to use the best weapons available. She was ready to shoot. Fast, clean, no hesitation.

“What do you mean?”

“Have you seen Steve recently?”

“No.”

“I think he heard a very strange conversation between Mr. Spencer and you.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“One that went something like: ’Mark…Yes, yes, yes!’” she said, trying to imitate Marie’s high pitched voice. Did she hit the target? Marie was still standing, but she was sure she’d wounded her at least.

“You…!”

“Me…what…?”

Denver could see in Marie’s eyes that she was preparing to shoot. She looked like a good shot. Cool, calm, no shakiness.

“Do you know what Mark said to me, Denver? He said: ’That Denver, she’s such a pathetic creature. She always seems to be living in the clouds, she has no style, no sense of humour. I’m sure she’s a lesbian.’”

“He didn’t…” Denver felt the bullet straight in the heart.

“Do you want us to ask him?”

Denver retreated. Too much blood loss to try another shot. She wasn’t offended by Mr. Spencer calling her a lesbian. That wasn’t an insult, that was the same as calling her short or brown-haired. Only she didn’t feel attracted to women that way. But ‘pathetic creature’ ‘no sense of humour’. She’d tried so hard to make him like her and she had failed. She didn’t stand a chance with anybody else. She left the scene badly wounded. She’d lost her duel. She wasn’t made to be a gunwoman either.

If Steve hadn’t walked in her office at that precise moment Denver would have cried, but she knew he had better reasons than her to cry(after all he’d been going out with Marie for nearly two years now and he seemed quite serious about it), and he was holding on. Whatever her life was, she didn’t want to make a big tragedy out of it. It wasn’t that bad.

“Hi Denver. You don’t look happy.”

“Hi Steve. I am not. But nothing important.”

“Tell me your sorrows and I’ll tell you mine.”

“It’s a long story, Steve.”

“It’s lunch time. Go on. Let’s go out and you tell me.”

“All right.”

Sitting on a bench in the park she told Steve her ideas about books and life and her failed attempts at living her life as if it were a book. He laughed.

“Do you think it’s funny?”

“I do. Haven’t you realised that your life makes a wonderful comedy?”

“It doesn’t. Not from my end.”

“I think it’s hilarious. A shoot-out with Marie. That’s a lovely idea. I wouldn’t mind myself. But I’d rather have real guns.”

“I’m pleased I’ve made you laugh.”

“You’ve made me feel better. But not as well as to make me change my mind. I’ve decided to leave this job. It was never for me in the first place and I don’t want to do this for ever. A friend of mine is getting a restaurant. I can’t remember if I’ve told you before but I trained as a chef. It isn’t going to be a big business to start with, but…”

“Here?” It would be sad to lose her only ally in the place. And such a nice person.

“No, in Boston. It’s a bit far but I am not leaving that much behind.”

“I’ll miss you.”

“Come to see me. I’ll miss you too. The only person I’ll miss in this hole. But you must remember, nobody can ruin your life for you if you don’t let them. You have enough imagination to survive anything.”

“Thanks. We must go back to the office. I still work there.”

“Let’s go back.”

Steve promised to say goodbye before leaving, and Denver promised in return that she would try to go and visit him. She sat back at her desk and her mind wandered back to the old themes. Life. Novels. Maybe books weren’t as powerful or as good a guide as she had thought. She didn’t want to live a comedy that was only funny for others. Whoever was writing her life hadn’t given her a very good part on it. And not much voice in the matter. Life wasn’t fair.

“Denver, Denver!” Mr. Wingfield’s voice woke her up from her reveries “Dreaming again? Come to my office. I have to dictate you some letters.”

Letters, letters…Maybe life was only writing other people’s letters.

Back at home Denver kept on thinking about her life. Writing other people’s letters? Was that all there was? No. It couldn’t be. If she couldn’t live her life like a book, maybe….

She sat at the table, got pen and paper and began to write:

Denver had never been  the most attractive or lucky of girls.

****

What do you think? I like Denver.

And, a couple of things, as I said at the beginning a couple of links to sites that I’ve been using recently that you might find interesting.

If you’re fed up with ads when you’re on-line, you can try this:

https://adblockplus.org/

It is free, it exists as an extension that you can download for most of the usual browsers, and although it does not block all ads (it does not block those they consider do not interfere with content and as just part of helping run the site) it does make the experience less annoying. You can also customize it to your own taste, as, for instance, I don’t mind the Facebook like buttons that much, but you can block those too. Have a check and see what you think.

For the authors amongst us, I think we know that if we publish our books with Amazon, we have the added problem of the many different stores, with multiple links to the same book. The answer is to create a link that sends the person directly to their store. There are a few options for this, with caveats about affiliateship extensions, etc (it can get complicated), but I’ve always tried to go for an easy option. Due to some changes in the site I used before, I looked for a new one and came across, Relinks.me.

http://relinks.me/

They provide not only the multi link, but also the shortened version (you don’t need to worry going to Bitly, owly or others… Yes, I’m sure you all know the links shorteners, that can be handy for Twitter), and the you can create an author one too (if you have your profile in more than one of their stores). If you only have one profile, what the author link does is direct people to a list of your books. (I asked).

They also provide a QR code for each book. I haven’t used them for anything yet, but if you produce your own promotional material, it can be handy. Apart from that, I’ve been in contact with them a few times, and they are prompt replying and keen on working with authors, so I like them.

One caveat I noticed. Evidently the system must work with localization for wherever the person clicking the link is, as when I was in Spain, those links would send me to the Spanish Amazon but my account is Amazon UK (no, the links are not that clever).

And something different. As I wasn’t busy enough (Ha!) I thought I’d try to keep my brain going by doing something different. And what better than learning a language! In a post somebody suggested a number of places to learn languages free online. And I tried the first, Duolingo and I liked it (it’s a community and other users from the original country add comments and answer questions, and sometimes the comments are priceless).

https://www.duolingo.com/

If you’re curious, I’m trying to learn German. I’ve been at it for over a month and the site tells me I’m 16% fluent in German. I’m not very convinced.

Ah, and for all  of you authors, those of  you who know or live with authors, and in general, anybody who fancies a laugh, I’m sharing this post by Kristen Lamb (her blog is a treasure trove of information for writers) that made me roar with laughter. And, please, please, follow the links to the Amazon reviews…

https://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2015/06/05/you-might-be-a-writer-if/

Thanks all for reading, thanks dear friends for your help (you know who you are) and I hope you don’t mind this rambling post. You know, like, share, comment and CLICK!

And don’t forget Angelic Business

Angelic Business 1. Pink Matters

Angelic Business 1. Pink Matters

Amazon:

http://rxe.me/YIHTW96

Apple:

http://apple.co/1Kuzdl8

Kobo:

http://bit.ly/1LU77jt

Nook:

http://bit.ly/1eLMTOG

Hi all:

I’m sure I’ve told you I’m back in the UK (although I don’t know how long for, my life is in flux at the moment), and it seems Christmas is coming. I know I’ve told you many times I’m terrible at taking pictures, but I’m not sure you believe me yet, so I thought…I’d show you.

I was in Sheffield last week and I saw a Christmas pudding on wheels. Hey, photo opportunity!

Christmas pudding on wheels in front of Sheffield's City Hall

Christmas pudding on wheels in front of Sheffield’s City Hall

As you can see everybody decided it was the time to walk by the pudding/van. I thought I’d wait a bit…And this happened!

No so many people but blurry phot

No so many people but blurry photo

And I’m sure I was wearing glasses!

In Penistone itself (where I live) there is the tradition of having an arts & craft fair inside of St. John’s Church (parts of the church go back to Norman times, as does the town, that is listed in the Doomsday [or Domesday] Book), showcasing an art group called Hens Teeth. I always try and see what original gifts I can find there.

Hen's Teeth Art Group advert

Hens Teeth Art Group advert

I thought I’d take a picture inside of the church to show you, but again…

Inside of St John's Church during the fair

Inside of St John’s Church during the fair

Yes, a bit blurry. This time maybe it was because I wasn’t wearing the glasses. I did buy a few things. Here, the knitted angel…

Hand-knitted angel

Hand-knitted angel

I’m not a very Christmassy person but you know I’m writing a series about angels…

And as I was walking around, I thought I’d let you know that the local cinema, The Penistone Paramount (I’d mentioned it before. It’s one of the loves of my life) celebrates its 100th anniversary and they’ve painted it to celebrate.

The Penistone Paramount. 100 years old. Looking Good!

The Penistone Paramount. 100 years old. Looking Good!

As you know I’ve told you (only a few times) that I was taking part in NaNoWriMo. The idea is to write a novel of at least 50000 words (the draft of a novel) in a month. And guess what! I won! (The draft ended up being over 60000 and I had a bit of time spare).

I won!

I won!

I’d love to share some of what I wrote, but it was book 3 of my Angelic Business series (that for the time being I’m calling Pink, Angel or Demon?) but I thought it would be difficult not to give too much of the other books away or to follow it without knowing much about the other two. Instead, as I had shared chapter 1 of the first one, I thought I’d share Chapter 2. I hope that’s OK.

As you’ll remember, the novel is called (if I don’t change my mind) Pink Matters.

Chapter 2. The Meeting (Part 1)

I wasn’t much of a dreamer or a romantic…All right, sure, I like romantic stories and one can’t help but dream, but I didn’t really believe in them or put any stock or faith in any of those things ever happening to me. I didn’t expect the perfect guy to just turn up, snatch me and take me to paradise. (For one I was pretty convinced that we would not have the same opinion on what paradise might consist of.) Even in fairy tales such things only happened to princesses and the like. Normal, run of the mill girls like me were hardly the protagonists of those kind of stories. Of course feminism and an increase in social and diversity awareness had broadened the subject and modern stories were a bit more “equal” and “fair”. But if I had to put my hand in my heart I still preferred the old-fashioned ones.

Due to my realistic (rather than pessimistic) view of life, I was not expecting the perfect candidate to my pretend boyfriend to just turn up. If this had been one of those stories, not only would he have turned up and be perfect, but he’d have fallen in love with me and eventually I’d have realised that the pretence had become reality. I know, you’ve also read that story. And watched the movie. So have I. Still…

A new boy did come to school. He wasn’t handsome in any typical way, but he had “something”. Dark hair, grey eyes, tall, strong features…Not standard pretty/cute boy (Zac Effron style), but rather the brooding, attractive in a no-nonsense kind of way guy (maybe Robert Pattinson, although I don’t really like him that much, but hey, I can see why many others do). And he had a lot of style. Leather jacket, always dressed in black, and seemed surrounded by a slight air of mystery…possibly even menace and danger.

As usual the popular girls took the initiative to try and get as much information as possible from him. They tried their best, including batting their eyelashes, unbuttoning the top of their uniforms, laughing at his non-jokes…But he seemed tight-lipped and resistive.

Lorna, Sylvia and I overheard Chloe (the head cheerleader, you know the type, blonde, tall, blue eyes, toned and well proportioned…) talking to her best friend Zoe (similar type but dark haired) after spending some time with the stranger:

“What do you think it’s up with him? He’ll only answer in monosyllabic. And he says his name is “G”. “G”? What kind of a name is “G”?”

“Don’t get upset…He’s probably gay.”

“I need to know. I’ll ask Scott to talk to him after training this afternoon. Blokes sometimes can be shy with girls they don’t know.”

Chloe had been going out with Scott for a few months, whilst Zoe was dating Chris. I doubted this G guy was particularly shy though. He had a very intense gaze and a knowing smile. Sylvia said:

“I think he’s looking at us.”

Our first reaction in those cases always was to look around us because guys didn’t look at us. But there wasn’t anybody else around. Yes, he seemed to be looking at us.

“I think you’re right” Lorna said.

“I wonder why” I added.

The three of us worked at the library for a while. By the time we left, football practice had finished. We were all intrigued about G, but none of the popular girls were around and it seemed unlikely we’d get any information that day. I accompanied Sylvia and Lorna to the bus stop and walked home. When I was halfway, Seth came by in his old and battered car. His father had promised him a new one if he did well and got into a good college, so he’d been working fairly hard for his usual standard.

“Hey Pink! Come over! I’ll give you a ride.”

I climbed on by his side. He had been playing very loud music but lowered the volume.

“How was practice?”

“Same old, same old. If coach doesn’t get some new ideas we’re never going to beat anybody this year.”

“I thought you’d said you had a strong team.” I didn’t really pay much attention to his football patter, but every so often something stuck.

“Yeah, but we could do with a couple more guys…maybe a strong defence…a kicker…”

“Well, it’s unlikely you’ll get new players this late in the season, isn’t it?”

“Tony thought that new guy…G he goes by, might be a player, although he doesn’t seem strong enough to be a defence but…you never know what talents people might hide, but no. He told the coach he’s not interested in football. It seems he likes to run…and, you won’t believe this “gymnastics”! Isn’t it the weirdest thing?”

I’d always liked gymnastics…Not to practice…I could work hard but had neither style nor much sense of equilibrium, but I loved to watch gymnastics. One of the few sports I had any time for.

“What’s wrong with gymnastics? You need to be pretty fit and strong…”

“Sure, a bit girly though, don’t you think? Scott was telling me Chloe had been trying to talk to him… “talk”, you know? You know what I mean…”

“Flirt and show him her bra, you mean…”

He laughed and made a claw-like gesture.

“Grhhhhhh! Bitchy, bitchy! You’re too serious. But I guess that’s what I mean…And he’d just ignored her. Well, not ignored her, but just answered yes or no…There must be something wrong with him if Chloe can’t get him going.”

“Maybe he likes a different type of girl…”

“Really? What bloke doesn’t like Chloe? One might not like her as a person, but she’s a babe. Who do you think would be more his type then? You, maybe?” And he laughed. And kept laughing…My determination to get my own back grew stronger than before.

As soon as he dropped me home and I got to my room I went online with Lorna and Sylvia. They were both at Lorna’s house. I told them what I’d found out.

“Honest, Pink, Seth is an absolute idiot!” Lorna growled. “Maybe you should just send him to hell.”

“He wouldn’t understand what it was all about and I wouldn’t get much satisfaction from it. No, I’m more determined than before to carry on with the plan.”

“It would serve him right if you went out with that G guy” Sylvia said.

“Yes, I was thinking the same, but he’s such an unknown quantity. Nobody seems to know anything at all about him, not even where he’s come from. He might be a nasty piece of work for all we know. And also, I doubt that he’s interested.”

“Well, the few bits of info we have about him are encouraging” Lorna summarised. “He doesn’t like football, so he’s unlikely to hang out with Seth and his bunch. He likes gymnastics and you like that sport, so you should have something to talk about. And he seems impervious to the charms of Chloe and her band of pretty girls…”

“And don’t forget he was looking at us” Sylvia added.

“I’m not sure about what that means. He might think we’re weird or something…We’ll have to see what happens in the next few days and if anything at all develops…” I said.

“It would be quite a thing if you managed to go out with him…he’s completely new in the market and not from these areas…as objective and fresh a guy as you’ll ever find around here.” Lorna said.

“We’ll see.”

For the next week or so G was the centre of attention although he didn’t seem to return the interest and appeared to be trying to become invisible most of the time. However he had a way of appearing wherever Lorna, Sylvia and I were, even when he wasn’t attending the same class.

“I’m telling you he’s looking at us!” Sylvia said for the millionth time.

“Yes, but which one of us is he looking at?” Lorna asked.

I was a bit bored having the same conversation at least once every day, when not several times a day. This time we’d just come out of the library and he was on the pavement on the other side of the street, leaning on the wall, seemingly looking at us.

“Who knows?” Sylvia replied once more.

I’d had enough. It wasn’t really that difficult.

“If you really want to know it’s quite simple. OK, Sylvia, come with me. Lorna, you stay there.”

I grabbed Sylvia’s arm and dragged her with me to the window of the shop at the corner of the street. No, G wasn’t looking at Lorna; his gaze had followed us.

“Now, you stay here.”

I left Sylvia by the shop and I crossed to the side of the street where G was standing. Now there was no possible doubt. Difficult as it might have been to believe, he was looking at me. Both Sylvia and Lorna joined me, very excited, but trying to keep their voices low (although I didn’t think they were succeeding). At least I could be grateful because they were not jumping up and down. We weren’t particularly bouncy girls.

“Oh my God! He’s definitely looking at you.!” Sylvia said, trying not to squeal.

“Yes, yes, he is. That’s it. He’s the guy for your plan!” Lorna concluded.

“What are you going to do?” Sylvia asked.

“Get out of here first.”

This time we went to my house and chatted for ages. Sylvia and Lorna suggested all kind of hare-brained schemes and plans to get G’s attention. Or “channel” his attention, as it seemed that for unknown reasons I already had his attention.  All their suggestions involved a fair amount of flirting and taking up roles that I didn’t feel particularly familiar with, like the damsel in distress or the adoring fan. I wasn’t sure what strategy I’d try, but, yes, it seemed worth trying to get him to go out with me. And I was quite curious about him and his interest in me. What was that all about?

How to go about it was another question. Not my area of expertise, boys, you see? Although I was determined, assignments, studying, and similar pressing matters put it all on hold and pushed it to the back of my mind. I kept putting it off, trying to find a good moment to act, and ignoring Sylvia and Lorna’s “advice” (pressure, to be honest).

One Saturday about a month after G’s appearance, Lorna, Sylvia and I had arranged to meet at the Atlantis (the local independent bookstore). I was a bit early and went in to have a look at the second hand books. I was looking at a beautiful illustrated copy of The Great Gatsby when somebody touched my shoulder. I turned around, and there he was, G.

“Hi.”

“Hi.”

OK, neither one of us was going to win a contest for originality or get recorded in a book compiling famous conversation opening lines.

“I’ve been wondering when I’d have a chance to catch you by yourself. You always seem to be with your friends…Lorna and Sylvia, isn’t it?”

“Yes. We…we’d noticed you were looking at us.”

“You mean at you. Interesting way of scientifically testing it. Although I expected after that you might follow through and approach me, but you didn’t” he said.

“Well, I didn’t know what it meant, but we were just wondering and I was bored of speculation…I wasn’t expecting you were looking at me.”

“Were you hoping I was looking at you at least?”

“No.”

Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I’ve already told you I’m not good with boys and I can’t flirt to save my life, so there.

“Oh, all right.”

“I don’t mean…Sorry, I’m no good at these things…”

“What things?”

“You know, flirting and all that…Relationships with guys aren’t my strong point.”

“I wouldn’t worry too much about that…Let’s start again. Hi Pink, I’m G. I assume Pink isn’t your real name. What’s your real name?”

“Petra”.

“Where does the name come from?”

“I’ve always liked Pink. And I don’t like my real name, so…”

“No, I meant your real name.”

“My father was an amateur archaeologist when he was younger and he really liked Petra.”

“I guess it could have been worse.”

“Like what Abu Simbel or the hanging gardens of Babylon?”

He laughed. Short but full-hearted laughter. Then he smiled. He had the weirdest and more mysterious smile I’d seen, all inclusive (men and women). Imagine the Mona Lisa, but in young man. Knowing, complicit and secretive all at the same time…

“And you? What does G stand for?”

At that moment Lorna and Sylvia turned up and stopped on their tracks when they saw me talking to G.

“We’ll carry on with the conversation at some other point. Maybe in a couple of days during Lake Day. By the little church on the North shore. After lunch.”

“Why are you so sure it will be in a couple of days?”

“I know things…”

He left. Lake Day was a St Mary’s School Tradition. The Headmistress, Mrs Langston, studied at Mount Holyoke and loved their Mountain Day, particularly the idea that suddenly, with no notice, the whole school would take to the buses and go on an excursion and have a day out. As there were no mountains or even hills deserving of the name close to St Mary’s, but there was Lake Swallow, she instituted Lake Day instead. The exact date when it would take place was a well-guarded secret, surrounded by speculation, so I had no idea how G would know, if he was right, when it would be.

Sylvia and Lorna interrogated me for ages about my encounter with G, but I had little to tell them.

“Do you think he really knows when Lake Day will be?” Sylvia asked.

“He seemed very confident, but how could he know? He hasn’t been here for two minutes and doesn’t know the teaching staff…as far as we know. Why should they tell him?”

“Maybe his family are very rich and they’ve made an important donation…” Lorna suggested.

“I’m sure if anybody had made a huge donation we’d had heard about it, it would have been published in the local newspaper and advertised everywhere. And I’m sure any donors would have more important things they’d want to know than when is the next Lake Day” I said. We shouldn’t get carried away with our theories, because otherwise G would end up not only being James Dean, but also Rockefeller. His reference to the little church was correct, but that only meant he must have visited the lake at some point and it was a fairly popular spot in that area. Nothing terribly mysterious about that.

Eventually I managed to get the girls off the subject of G onto other matters. Although I have to admit I waited with curiosity to see if he was right and Lake Day would really be in two days’ time. That was not the only reason for my curiosity, of course. I also wanted to see what he’d tell me next time we met. He’d appeared very determined, but I had no idea what his goals or intentions might be.

If I was pretending to be cool I’d say that two days later I had already forgotten G’s predictions and went to school with no expectations whatsoever. The truth is that I was quite excited that day, and Sylvia and Lorna hadn’t stopped talking about that in the intervening period. So when after 5 minutes or so of the first class the bells rang and Lake Day was announced we all got really agitated.

“But he’s not here!” Sylvia said. “He should have been in class with us, but he wasn’t.”

“Oh well, I guess if he really knew there wasn’t going to be a class he must have found something else better to do than come on an excursion” I said, pretending not to care.

“But he arranged to meet you!” Lorna said.

“I’ll survive”.

Still, I could not resist and left Sylvia and Lorna after lunch and walked around the shore of the lake to the little church. And there he was. G was all dressed in black, as usual, wearing a black leather jacket, standing by the side of what looked to me like a rather large motorbike for his age. Triumph? Black, shiny, impressive is as good as I can do to describe it. Motorbikes are again not one of my specialist subjects.

“Wow! Is that yours?”

“Yes.”

“Nice! A little bit Hells Angels, isn’t it?”

His reply was an even weirder smile than usual. What on earth was up with him?

“So, you were right. About Lake Day, I mean. How did you know?”

“I told you I know things…”

“OK. So you’re being mysterious…fine. You asked me about my name, the other day, but never replied about yours. What does G stand for?”

“Nothing…I just…decided to leave my old lifestyle behind and take up a new name. I go now by G.”

“Like Ali?”

“Very funny. I’ve heard it before.”

“At least it’s not the G point. And yes, I’m sure you’ve heard that one too.”

“It could be G force.”

“Yes…but it’s not a religious thing, like Malcolm X?”

“No. Nothing at all to do with religion.”

Not sure why, but I didn’t believe him, and he seemed to have become quite tense when I mentioned religion, but it was probably too soon to go probing. It was slightly bizarre as guys these days didn’t seem to be bothered about religion one way or another and it would be unlikely that its mere mention would have any effect…Maybe that had something to do with his reference to his old lifestyle. Maybe he had been in a sect or something…Or maybe I should stop making things up. He was just being discreet and not offering much personal information about himself, but that was fair enough. We’d known each other for all of five minutes, but these days everybody friended everybody and published intimate details of their lives at the drop of a hat, so his attitude was quite old-fashioned, although I found it refreshing. When people went around advertising the last little detail about themselves that could only mean that there was nothing worth knowing about them. Still, I couldn’t help but keep asking questions, even if less intimate.

“Why do you always wear black?”

“I got tired of white.”

His smile again. He was quite puzzling. I had no idea what he was talking about, but somehow I felt I wouldn’t get much further with that line of questioning.

“Can we talk now or do you have any more questions before we can proceed?” he asked me, still smiling.

“Just one more. Why me? You aren’t from here and I assume you don’t know anybody local” I looked at him and he shook his head in the negative “so, why me? It can’t be my looks, that’s for sure. Not a great beauty. Run of the mill.” I wasn’t being modest. I am not very tall, brown short hair and brown eyes (little green), plump…

“That was part of the attraction” smile again.

“Girls like Chloe have tried and talk to you with no results, and as far as I’ve been told they’re irresistible to guys your age.”

“That’s an unfair generalisation. Not all of us have the same taste.”

“Really? Are you weird then? Are you attracted to people who aren’t attractive?”

“Oh, no, I’m not going to fall for that. I’m not as stupid as your friend Seth. I know you’re angry at him because of the way he patronises you and treats you as if you were a charity case, worse than something at the bottom of his shoe. I didn’t say you weren’t attractive. You said that.”

Now he’d gone too far. Right or not, that was no way of talking about a friend of mine. And, how on Earth would he presume to know how I felt?

“Listen, Mr G or whatever your name is, leave my friends out of this. I don’t know who you think you are or what you think you know, but that does not give you right to make comments and criticise people I know and like. Have a nice life.”

I turned around and started walking as fast as I could back to the rest of the group. This had been a mistake. Go out with him! Not in a thousand years.

He must have run because he was again by my side.

“Don’t get mad. Come on, I know you’d been thinking about getting your own back on the type of comments he makes about you by going out with a suitable candidate. And I know you and your friends had been thinking about me for the role.”

I must have looked really shocked because he added:

“Don’t worry, your friends haven’t told me and nobody else knows about it.”

“And if I ask you how you know you’re going to tell me that you know things…”

He nodded and smiled.

“You’re so full of it…I don’t really care how you know or even what you know. You can keep all your knowledge and your secrets to yourself.  Life is too short for this, if you ask me. I’m sure you can find another equally non-attractive girl for whatever you were thinking about. Good luck with it.”

No bloke was worth putting up with all that in my opinion. He could stuff it. I set off even faster than before. And I had no intention of stopping or being stopped.

This time he came after me motorised and skidded on the gravel to a stop a few metres in front of me.

“I’m volunteering to play the part with Seth. I’m happy to be your official date. I know you don’t really want a relationship. That’s fine with me. I don’t want one either. I feel like you that too much time is invested in relationships with the opposite sex at our age. But I also understand that you find Seth’s attitude annoying and you’re right. Plenty of guys would be happy to be your boyfriends if you really wanted one.”

“Now flattery…Don’t we learn quickly?” I replied trying to be ironic.

“Come on, Pink. I’m not from here. As you’ve said some of the girls that are rated as the prettiest and most desirable by all guys have approached me with no success. You’d score a big hit if you managed where they’d failed. And I’m not high maintenance. I’ll play my part in public well. You don’t need to worry.”

“Why are you so insistent? What’s in it for you?”

“Oh, don’t worry. I have no dark designs. I’ve already told you that I’m not interested in relationships…any kind of relationships…”

When somebody says don’t worry twice in a row, one should definitely worry. I had no ready reply and I just looked at him. I don’t know what my expression must have been like, because he blushed and quickly added:

“I know Chloe and Zoe and all those girls were wondering…But they’re just too convinced they’re irresistible. I’m not gay. I just have other priorities at this point in time. But that will remain between you and me. Everybody else will believe we’re an item. We’ll be convincing.”

I didn’t say anything. Was he gay, was he straight, or was he just not-interested? Did I really care about any of that? Yes, he was right. If I turned up at school hanging of his arm and officially his girlfriend people would stop and pay attention. And Seth’s opinion of me would receive a well-deserved shake. But what did he want in return? Why was he so reluctant to tell me?

“That’s all very well and good, and don’t worry, I’m not interested in your sexuality. You can keep that to yourself. You were right about my attitude towards relationships. But you still haven’t told me what made you approach me in the first place. And don’t tell me you’re just a Good Samaritan helping girls in need. What’s this all about?”

He gave me one of his fixed stares, no smile this time. After what felt like hours he finally said:

“I think we might be able to work together.”

“Work? Do you mean classwork? An assignment?”

“Not exactly.”

 

Thank you all for reading, and you know what to do, like, comment, share and…you can still CLICK the link to the post with the first chapter or click elsewhere in the page (links to books, other blogs….)!

Hola a todos:

Después de hablaros un poco (vale, bastante) de mi última novela, se me ocurrió que podríamos hablar de mi siguiente proyecto. De hecho os he hablado de él en otras ocasiones, pero espero dedicarme ahora a él y poder acabarlo dentro de… relativamente poco.

Hace un par de años escribí una novela juvenil, con la intención de que formara parte de una serie (una trilogía en principio), en inglés y busqué agente, pero con poco resultado. Durante ese proceso fue cuando descubrí la posibilidad de autopublicar, y cambié algo de rumbo, decidiendo que sería mejor publicar otra novela en la que llevaba más tiempo trabajando y que además tenía ya traducida al inglés y al español (El hombre que nunca existió).

Éste es precios y del cementerio de Poble Nou de Barcelona

Éste es precioso y del cementerio de Poble Nou de Barcelona

La idea de la serie no la abandoné, y de hecho escribí la segunda novela de la serie hace unos meses, pero para entonces había decidido acabar de escribir las tres y publicarlas a intervalos cortos, para ver si creo un poco de interés y  para que la gente no se aburra de esperar. Estoy considerando poner la primera novela gratuita cuando haya publicado la serie completa para atraer más lectores, pero ya veremos. De momento la serie en español se llamará Asuntos Angélicos y la primera novela Alerta Pink.

Aquí un ángel que  no está nada contento  esperando a que acabéis la siguiente novela. ¡Y si no acabáis pronto os echará al león para que os coma!

Aquí un ángel que no está nada contento esperando a que acabéis la siguiente novela. ¡Y si no acabáis pronto os echará al león para que os coma!

Buscando inspiración para la novela, y para la portada, aproveché la visita a Florencia para hacer muchas fotos de ángeles (y cupidos y Eros, que de esos hay unos cuantos) y se me ocurrió también que en los cementerios suelen haber muchas esculturas de ángeles. Os dejo algunas fotos y un enlace a mi board sobre ángeles en Pinterest. Si tenéis sugerencias de imágenes o fotos, ya me lo diréis.

Aquí el enlace a mi tablero de ángeles en Pinterest:

http://www.pinterest.com/olganm7/angels/

Ah, y aunque creo que lo había compartido, os dejo el primer capítulo de la novela, que de momento es un borrador:

¡Qué monos!

¡Qué monos!

Capítulo 1. Petra (alias Pink)

Es verdad. Nadie puede hacerte sentir tan humillada como un amigo íntimo. Sí, estábamos muy unidos. Pero de ahí a asumir…Seth y yo nos conocíamos hacía muchos años, él vivía en la casa de al lado, íbamos a la escuela juntos, compartíamos cosas…Y Seth era el chico más popular del Instituto (y por lo tanto el chico más popular de mi universo), y tenía todas las chicas que quería y todo eso. Ya lo sé, habéis visto la película. Y sabéis que todo el mundo creía que estaba enamorada de él y no era una pena que yo no fuera “su tipo”, y fuera “del montón” y… “llenita”…Pero, OK, acepto que todo le mundo se creyera eso y me tuvieran pena. Lo que no acepto, ni de broma, lo que es realmente ofensivo, es que “él” mismo se lo creyera. Me había llamado por teléfono la noche fatal (el 5 de Noviembre si lo queréis saber), alrededor de la medianoche, bastante bebido, para pedirme que le fuera a recoger a la fiesta de Cris. Me habían invitado pero estaba muy ocupada escribiendo y sabía como eran ese tipo de fiesta. Porque por supuesto, yo también era “aburrida”, “inteligente” y “estudiosa”. No bebía y no tomaba drogas.

Lo fui a buscar (tuve que tomar prestado el coche de mis padres, pero les gustaba Seth, y yo estaba convencida de que al menos mi madre pensaba que las cosas se “desarrollarían” entre nosotros) y lo encontré dándose el lote con una chica. No la había visto nunca, probablemente de una ciudad vecina. Una vez se despidió (algo así como ‘te llamaré’ pero muy difícil de entender con la bebida) me siguió, o más exactamente, lo medio llevé a cuestas al coche. Tuve que pararme una vez para que vomitara. Entonces, cuando paré delante de su casa para dejarle salir, se volvió hacia mí, me besó en la mejilla (una experiencia inigualable oliendo aún a vómito y todo eso) y dijo la frase memorable:

—Sabes, Pink, que si algún día…Sé que no tienes novio…Y si…si no puedes encontrar…Si necesitas a un tío…y quieres un beso y unas caricias o lo que quieras…de verdad, ‘cualquier’ cosas…Yo…Yo estoy a tu disposición con mucho gusto.

Yo le empujé fuera del coche contagiada de las náuseas. Y no conseguí dormir después de eso.

Al día siguiente la cosa se puso aún peor aunque yo lo creía imposible. Tenía la esperanza de que no recordara el comentario, y ni siquiera esperaba o quería una disculpa, pero…Oh, no, eso hubiera sido demasiado fácil. Intenté evitarle durante todo el día, incluso decidí no contárselo a mis mejores amiga, Lorna y Silvia. ¿Lo entendéis? Quizás si no hablaba de ello, no habría pasado de verdad. Podía hacer ver que había sido una pesadilla y me lo había imaginado todo.

Dejé la escuela sin verle y pensaba que mi plan había funcionado y estaba a salvo. Pero no, sería mucho pedir. Cuando llegué a la puerta de mi casa oí a alguien que corría hacia mí. Ni siquiera me hizo falta darme la vuelta; sabía que era él.

—Pink, Pink! ¡Eh…He estado intentando pillarte todo el día!

—Pues por fin lo has conseguido. ¿Qué querías?

—Yo…Escucha, sobre lo de ayer…

Tampoco quería avergonzarle. Era mi instinto maternal hacia él que se había desarrollado a lo largo de los años (si no estaba imprimido en mi ADN) y no lo conseguía desconectar, ni siquiera cuando era vil. Decidí hacer ver que no me acordaba.

— ¿Ayer?

—Lo del sexo…yo…

—Olvídalo.

—No, no. No es eso. Yo sólo…Sólo te quería decir…que iba en serio. No era cosa de la bebida…Por supuesto, no hace falta que te preocupes por nada. No se lo contaría a nadie.

Estaba a punto de preguntarle si estaba hablando en serio, pero me estaba mirando con cara solemne y ‘comprensiva’. No se me ocurrió qué decir y él malinterpretó mi silencio.

—Está bien. No hace falta que digas nada. Nos vemos— me dijo, dándome una palmadita en la espalda. Mi único consuelo fue que al menos no me dio la palmadita en la cabeza, como a un buen perro. Para ser sinceros no era un gran consuelo.

Me podría haber echado a gritar, y de hecho lo hice cuando entré en la casa y me encerré en mi habitación. ¡Lo quería matar! Y sin duda hubiese sido homicidio justificado.

Estuve muy preocupada y dolida un par de semanas, e intenté evitar a Seth con poco resultado. Él parecía no tener ni idea de mis esfuerzos o sentimientos.

No me lo pude guardar más tiempo, y finalmente se lo conté a Lorna y Silvia. También nos conocíamos hacía muchos años, y habíamos ido a la misma escuela y clase desde que éramos pequeñas, aunque Lorna y Silvia vivían en High Ridge, una ciudad vecina. Siempre nos habían interesado las mismas cosas y habíamos pasado el rato juntas, ya que no encajábamos fácilmente en ninguno de los grupos usuales. Estudiosas y amantes de los libros, pero no repelentes (ni siquiera llevábamos gafas), del montón pero no terriblemente feas, no muy deportivas pero tampoco tan torpes como para convertirnos en víctimas propicias de todas las bromas. Y sí, no estábamos en el grupo de la gente ‘in’ y de moda, pero no atraíamos la atención con estilos raros de ropa, maquillaje o tatuajes. En resumen, éramos invisibles y grises. Y hasta entonces eso nos había convenido. También era verdad que mi amistad con Seth nos daba algo de credibilidad y evitaba que cayéramos de pleno en uno de los grupos despreciados.

Yo había estado intentando hacer ejercicio, comer sanamente  y perder peso, y algo de éxito había tenido, aunque era lo suficientemente realista para saber que nunca llegaría a ser Barbie…Incluso si me matase de hambre, la estructura de mi cuerpo no cambiaría hasta el punto de tener piernas que me llegasen a los sobacos y aunque aún tenía esperanzas para mis pechos, hasta entonces se habían negado a convertirse en algo que pudiera atraer la mirada de los chicos.

A Lorna se le había dado mejor lo del crecer, y aunque se negase a aceptarlo cuando Silvia y yo se lo decíamos, se había convertido en una chica atractiva. Era muy evidente que cuando estábamos las tres junta lo chicos ahora la miraban a ella, mientras que antes solían deslizar la miraba sobre nosotras para fijarse en alguna otra persona. Su recientemente alisado y largo pelo marrón, ojos color avellana, perfecto cutis aceitunado y boca en forma de corazón la hacían muy bonita, incluso sin maquillaje. Y era menuda y bien proporcionada. Incluso había salido con algún chico, aunque de momento aún no había encontrado a su príncipe azul.

Por otro lado, la adolescencia no se había portado tan bien con Silvia que de repente había dado un tirón que la había hecho más alta que la mayoría de los chicos de nuestra edad, muy delgada, y lisa como una tabla de planchar. A pesar de innumerables visitas al ortodontista y una sucesión de aparatos que se merecían figurar en un artículo sobre implementos de tortura en Wikipedia, su sonrisa no estaba hecha para anuncios de dentífricos y ella se había vuelto aún más tímida que antes. Desde mi punto de vista de mejor amiga tengo que añadir que las encontraba a las dos hermosas y las mejores amigas que una chica pudiera desear.

Cuando les conté lo que había hecho Seth sus reacciones fueron las que me esperaba.

Lorna estaba indignada.

—¿Quién se cree que es él, eh? Anda… ¿Cómo puedes ser su amiga? No necesitas a ese idiota, Pink. Definitivamente no.

Silvia siempre era amable y lo perdonaba todo. Yo siempre sospeché que a ella le gustaba Seth…Bueno, vale, le gustaba a la mayoría de las chicas, pero Silvia era tan tímida que casi nunca se permitía pensar en chicos, ya que la hacía desmoronarse. Pero yo había visto cómo se sonrojaba cuando Seth miraba hacia ella o le hablaba…si no amor…encaprichamiento al menos.

—Probablemente sólo estaba intentando ser amable…Es un tío a fin y al cabo. No entiende lo que sentimos sobre estas cosas. Estoy segura de que no intentaba humillarte.

—Pues menos mal, ¿no? No creo que lo hubiera podido hacer nada mejor si hubiese estado intentando humillarte…Un polvo de pena…. ¡Ughhhh! ¡Me pone enferma!— dijo Lorna, aún enfadada.

—Sí, yo también estaba muy enfadada al principio. Pero ahora…en lugar de seguir echando humo por la cabeza, creo que quizás debería tomar la iniciativa y hacer algo.

—Sí, pero ¿qué?

—De eso es de lo que os quería hablar. Le tengo que ajustar las cuentas.

—¿Cómo?— Preguntó Lorna, interesada.

—Tengo que demostrar que se equivoca.

—Quieres decir… ¿echarte novio?.. ¿No es un poco demasiado?— dijo Silvia, evidentemente horrorizada por la sugerencia.

—No creo que haga falta ir tan lejos como echarme novio. No quiero novio. Soy demasiado joven y tengo muchas cosas que hacer…De todas formas sabéis que pienso de todo eso.

En resumen lo que pienso de eso es, muy bonito en teoría pero en realidad una gran pérdida de tiempo a una edad en que uno no tiene tanto tiempo para perder. Cosas más importantes que hacer. OK, sé que debéis pensar ‘uvas verdes’ y todo eso…Pero, con toda sinceridad… ¿chicos? Quizás cuando crezcan…si es que crecen alguna vez.

—Ya veo. Tú sólo quieres que él te vea salir con alguien…— dijo Lorna asintiendo. —Lo apruebo.

—Sí ya, pero ¿quién?— Pregunté.

—Veamos.

Como solíamos hacer cuando teníamos que tomar decisiones importantes o discutir asuntos serios nos fuimos al café de la biblioteca. Con la popularidad de los libros electrónicos, netbooks y tablets, móviles android, y particularmente Facebook, Twitter y otros medios de comunicación social, casi no había nadie más que gente mayor en la biblioteca. Siempre nos sentábamos a la misma mesa, al fondo junto a la ventana, y la considerábamos “nuestra mesa”.

Una vez instaladas, con nuestras Coca-cola light, empezamos a buscar candidatos virtualmente. Silvia estaba muy bien organizada e interrumpió a Lorna cuando empezó a nombrar a chicos al tuntún.

—Sería mejor que consideráramos la población de chicos.

—¿Cómo?— le pregunté.

—Bueno, ya sabes…Como si fuera un estudio etnográfico/sociológico. ¿En qué tipo de chico estabas pensando?

—¿Quieres que creemos un perfil?— Preguntó Lorna.

—Quizás. Pero creo que eso sería demasiado ambicioso, considerando la materia cruda que tenemos a nuestra disposición. Será más fácil ver qué hay en cuanto a grupos de chicos que puedan estar disponibles.

—Vale. Un método científico y organizado. ¿Por qué no?— Sí, tenía sentido. No hacía falta ser súper-emocional y comportarnos como niñas. Si lo íbamos a hacer, más valía hacerlo bien. Y como era cuestión de tíos, pensar como uno podría ayudar.

Silvia sacó su i-pad de la mochila.

—¿De veras?— Le preguntó Lorna. —¿No es ir un poco demasiado lejos?

—¿Por qué? ¿Para qué está la tecnología sino para este tipo de cosas?

—¿Para cosas importantes quizás? Como resolver el problema de proporcionar energía y comida a la población del mundo entero, curar enfermedades, educar a las masas…— contesté yo.

—Sí, de acuerdo. Quizás haremos todo eso en algún momento en nuestras vidas, pero ¿qué daño hacemos utilizando una base de datos para tomar una decisión razonable sobre chicos?

Tuve que reconocer que tenía razón. Hoy, encontrar al candidato ideal para novio; mañana, el Premio Nobel.

Lorna, que evidentemente había estado pensando en chicos un poco, se puso a cargo de nombrar los distintos grupos de posibles candidatos, mientras todas considerábamos sus pros y contras. Bueno, no siempre podíamos encontrar pros. Cuando se consideraba el asunto de una forma sistemática, parecía de lo más sorprendente que nadie saliera con alguien. Las agencias matrimoniales se merecían su dinero y más por siquiera atreverse a tal tarea.

—Veamos, veamos… ¿Con qué tipo de chico te gustaría que te viera Seth, Pink?— Me preguntó Silvia.

—Bueno…evidentemente alguien razonablemente atractivo pero con algo de cerebro…Quiero decir, tendría que ser alguien con quien él pudiera creerse que yo saldría…Seth me conoce lo suficientemente bien como para saber que yo no saldría con alguien puramente por su cara bonita…Aunque alguien que fuera solamente “una cara bonita” probablemente tampoco saldría conmigo.

Lorna me miró seria.

—Oh Pink, vamos, no empieces así. No hay problema alguno con tu apariencia. Cualquier chico…

—Dejémoslo. No es cuestión de eso…Seamos metódicas— dije yo.

—OK. Atractivo pero razonablemente inteligente…

Pensamos un rato. No había tantísimos chicos que encajaran en la categoría…

—Siempre están los amigos de Seth…Adam no está mal…— dijo Lorna.

—No, no lo está. Ni tampoco Tony, o Chris, o Scott… ¿Estás bromeando, Lorna? ¿No te has fijado nunca en el tipo de chica con las que salen? Animadoras, chicas de moda…la más bellas o al menos bonitas…Sería una misión imposible y ya sabes que no son demasiado discretos…Cuando salen con alguna chica todo el mundo sabe todos lo detalles. ¡Incluso nosotras!— le contesté.

—Sí, Seth es el único con algo de clase en su grupo de amigos. — Por supuesto, esa fue Silvia. ¿No os había dicho que a ella le gusta Seth?

—Tampoco estoy demasiado convencida sobre ninguno de ellos con respecto al tamaño de sus cerebros. Son populares y buenos en deportes y eso les da mucha manga ancha, pero sus méritos…— añadí yo.

—Seth es bastante listo…creo.

Lorna y yo miramos a Silvia. No estoy segura si yo también lo hice, pero Lorna definitivamente alzó la vista al cielo.

—Sí, y tiene un precioso pelo trigueño y ondulado, ojos verdes, hoyuelos muy monos y todo lo demás. Deja de hablar de Seth, Silvia. Él es el causante de todo este lío y evidentemente Pink no va a salir con él. No, tienes razón, Pink, ninguno de sus amigos sirven para esto. Los conoce demasiado bien, se daría cuenta de que no saldrías en serio con ninguno de ellos…No funcionaría.

La mayoría de chicos considerados listos entraban en una de dos de las categorías más despreciadas, o los cerebros, el grupo de los estudiosos, compuesto principalmente de carácteres relegados, buenos para tener una conversación o formar grupo de estudio, pero no para salir con ellos, y los frikki informáticos.

—Theo, Paul, Mark y Luke…— dijo Silvia.

—¿Los cerebros? Por supuesto, son inteligentes, pero… ¿atractivos? ¿Les has mirado alguna vez?— dije yo.

—Bueno…sí, pero Mark…tiene unos ojos bonitos…— añadió Silvia.

—Sí, y Theo es muy alto, y Luke tiene un pelo negro rizado fabuloso, pero, Mark tiene un acné horroroso y es muy bajito, Theo es enorme y siempre está sudando, Luke lleva unas gafas muy pasadas de moda y es tan delgado que casi no se le ve de perfil y Paul…— seguí yo.

Sí, el pobre Paul era oficialmente el tío más feo de la escuela. Era un chico encantador pero si saliera con cualquiera de ese grupo seguro que Seth pensaría que estaba desesperada o me había vuelto locas. Probablemente volvería a repetirme su oferta si me viera con uno de ellos. Tampoco funcionaría.

Lorna negó con la cabeza.

—No, ninguno de ellos servirá. No sólo son feos pero también son muy tímidos con las chicas y no tienen gracias sociales. Probablemente les daría un infarto si siquiera sospechasen que querías salir con uno de ellos…Y…

—Sí, lo sé. Son demasiado majos y les haría daño si los usase así. — De acuerdo, me quería vengar de Seth, pero no era justo hacerles daño a otros para conseguirlo. Yo no creo en el “daño colateral”.

Llenamos otra vez los vasos de Cola light y volvimos a concentrarnos en el documento en el i-pad de Silvia…De momento sólo cruces…Sherlock Holmes solía clasificar los casos en los que estaba trabajando en categorías de dificultad según el número de pipas que se tenía que fumar para llegar a la respuesta. Fumar ya no era correcto socialmente y mujeres y pipas nunca se habían llevado demasiado bien así que…Supongo que en nuestro caso clasificaríamos problemas o planes en relación al número de colas light que nos bebíamos mientras los discutíamos. Éste podría llegar a batir nuestro record de tres.

—¿Y los frikki informáticos? No son tan sensitivos como los cerebros— sugirió Lorna.

Aunque los cerebros estaban bastante obsesionados con la informática, los frikki eran una categoría de chicos diferenciada. Sólo parecían tener tiempo para accesorios electrónicos, juegos, y la mayoría del tiempo parecían vivir en una realidad alternativa que sólo se cruzaba con la nuestra esporádicamente.

—Y aparte de Troy, el resto tienen una pinta bastante normal — afirmó Silvia.

Todas pausamos al mencionar a Troy. Era hijo del alcalde y a comparación con su hermano mayor que había terminado la escuela con una beca de fútbol y ahora estaba estudiando en Davis, la joya de la familia, era realmente raro y tenía un aspecto de lo más extraño. Siempre me hacía pensar en actores de película de terror. No parecía pertenecer a nuestro planeta. No era feo, pero como un Picasso su estética y fisonomía eran extremadamente poco convencionales. Es cierto que nadie podría pasar desapercibido dándole la mano, pero no estaba convencida de que ese era el tipo de atención que yo quería.

—¿Has intentado hablar alguna vez con Matt, Pete, Dean o Todd de algo que no sean juego, ordenadores o comics? Sé que lo habéis intentado. Yo también. Sin ningún éxito. Quiero venganza, pero no a coste de mi cordura. No quiero un novio de verdad pero al menos apreciaría a alguien con quien pudiera hablar…

Más cruces. Seguíamos sin ningún sí.

—¿Y qué me dices de los chicos invisibles?— Preguntó Lorna. A los que se refería eran a chicos como nosotras que no parecían pertenecer a ninguna de las categorías establecidas. Normales y corrientes, sin pasarse de feos, no particularmente deportistas, sin ser particularmente inteligentes, ni especialmente atractivos…

—No. Pink necesita a alguien que le llamara la atención a Seth. A alguien que le hiciera volver la cabeza si le viera con ella. Un invisible…por sus características esenciales no serviría.

Asentí. Sí, Silvia tenía razón.

—Se daría cuenta si salieras con uno de los rebeldes — dijo Lorna.

Sí, incluso Hope Springs, ‘la ciudad donde nunca pasa nada’ (de acuerdo con nuestra versión revisada del lema oficial que era ‘donde todos los sueños son posibles’. Estoy de acuerdo, empalagosamente dulce, y además falso) tenía chicos malos. A nuestra edad no estábamos totalmente convencidas de que fueran genuinamente malos, no habían tenido suficiente tiempo para cometer muchas maldades, pero eran rebeldes, inconformistas y más problemáticos que la mayoría. Había que admitir que en un sitio como Hope Springs eso no era muy difícil pero…tenían un poco de mala reputación.

—Clint tiene novia. Y Jesse…— dijo Silvia.

Jesse había empujado a Silvia el año pasado y ella se había caído por las escaleras torciéndose el tobillo. Él había insistido en que no lo había hecho a posta, diciendo que tenía mucha prisa y ella estaba en medio, pero…oficialmente era persona non-grata para nosotras. De acuerdo con nuestras predicciones acabaría en la cárcel algún día. Carne de prisión iba más allá de lo que yo había pensado. No.

Habíamos llegado a nuestra tercera cola light y seguíamos sin candidatos razonables.

—No puedo pensar más — dijo Lorna. —Creo que debemos habernos repasado toda la clase”

Nos quedamos calladas unos segundos y entonces Silvia saltó.

—¡Tienes razón! ¡Eso es! Hemos revisado a todos los chicos de nuestra clase. Pero esos no son todos los chicos. Tenemos que buscar en otras clases. Necesitamos expandir nuestro intervalo de edades.

Cerré los ojos. Sabía adonde íbamos con esto. Podía ver el nombre que Silvia iba a mencionar parpadeando en luces de neón. Pero aún tenía curiosidad por ver cómo le sacaría a relucir.

—No creo que chicos más jóvenes sean apropiados. Primero…incluso chicos de nuestra edad son inmaduros, ¿os podéis imaginar cómo deben ser los chicos más jóvenes? Un año más joven ya sería demasiado. No quieres echarte reputación de ladrona de cunas — dijo Lorna, terminantemente. Tenía una forma de resumir las cosas e ir derecha al grano que yo siempre había admirado y creía que sería una gran ventaja para una carrera en publicidad o el cine.

—No, Seth se reiría de mí si saliera con un chico más joven. Se metería con él y conmigo todo el tiempo. No, eso no serviría para nada.

—Anda chicas, vamos. Sabéis que no me refería a salir con un chico más joven. Lo que quería decir es que tendrías que considerar a chicos más mayores. Siempre le da status a una chica el salir con un tío mayor. Un hombre de mundo, maduro…

—Seguro, pero ¿cómo de mayor? ¿De qué estamos hablando? ¿Chico universitario?— preguntó Lorna, girándose hacia mí y guiñándome un ojo. Evidentemente ella también había llegado a la misma conclusión sobre las intenciones de Silvia.

—Tampoco queremos pasarnos o hacer que el tío acabe pareciendo un viejo verde o un pedófilo…No, quizás alguien que sea un par de años más mayor…— añadió Silvia, intentado sonar casual, y fallando miserablemente.

—Me parece que no conocemos a muchos chicos de esas edad, ¿verdad Lorna? — Pregunté, mirando a Lorna e intentando mantener la expresión seria.

—No. A mí no se me ocurre ninguno. Quizás tíos de otra ciudad…— Lorna chasqueó los dedos. — ¡Tengo una idea! Silvia, ¿por qué no le preguntas a tu hermano Jackson si tiene algún amigo que pueda ser apropiado? Es dos años mayor que nosotras, ¿no? No conozco a sus amigos, pero quizás alguno de ellos sirva. Podríamos llamarle.

Lorna y yo miramos a Silvia con caras serias y decididas.

—Sí, eso parece una buena idea. ¿Por qué no llamas a Jackson, Silvia, y le preguntas?— Dije yo.

Silvia nos miró a las dos, ruborizada, respirando rápida y superficialmente, intentando pensar en algo que decir. Finalmente no pudimos resistirlo más tiempo y nos echamos a reír.

—¡Tendrías que verte la cara, Silvia!— le dije.

—¡Me estabais tomando el pelo! ¡Sabíais que me refería a mi hermano!”

Lorna le dio un achuchón en el brazo.

—Por supuesto que sabíamos que te referías a tu hermano. Siempre estás intentando juntarle con Pink. Desde siempre has tenido la idea de que los dos se enamorarán locamente, serán felices y comerán perdices, vosotras dos seréis hermanas y tendrás preciosos sobrinos y sobrinas.

—¡Pero a Jackson tú le gustas de verdad, Pink!

—Sabes que pienso que tu hermano es un chico majo y me gusta, como amigo, pero…

Lorna de nuevo se dejó de rodeos.

—Jackson es torpe, tiene una atención tan breve como la de un pez y aparte de deportes de pelota muy pocos intereses. Tú eres el cerebro de la familia, querida Silvia. Tu hermano, aunque no es feo, es un poco…

Silvia no la dejó terminar.

—Tienes razón, esto es cuestión de venganza y no sería justo mezclar a mi hermano cuando él tiene sentimientos por ti…

El pobre Jackson probablemente ni siquiera sabía qué sentía, pero confiaba en la opinión de su hermana sobre sus sentimientos y siempre había sido extra-amable conmigo, aunque yo había intentado tanto como pude, sin herirle, hacerle entender que no le veía como posible novio, y de hecho no quería ningún novio. Lorna tenía razón, feo no era. Tenía la perfecta sonrisa que su hermana no había conseguido a pesar de innumerables visitas al dentista, y aunque muy alto, jugaba al baloncesto y su altura le sentaba bien.

—Bueno, eso es todo. Tendremos que seguir pensando. — dijo Lorna. —No puedo beber más Coca-cola light o seguir hablando de tíos. Tendremos que dejarlo.

—Quizás aparecerá alguien nuevo — dijo Silvia, siempre optimista. Yo no creía que eso fuera probable pero asentí. ¿Para qué preocuparla más después de nuestros comentarios sobre su hermano? Quizás todos nuestros sueños se convertirían en realidad de todos modos.

 

Por si leéis en inglés os dejo el enlace a la primera novela que he descargado completa (aunque es solo un borrador) a Wattpad (aunque cuando la publique desaparecerá de ahí):

http://www.wattpad.com/story/12042085-angelic-business-1-pink-matters

Me he apuntado al ‘National Novel Writing Month‘ que es una iniciativa en la que te puedes apunta con un montón de gente y te retas a ti mismo a escribir una novela de al menos 50000 palabras durante el mes de Noviembre (gracias a Teagan por la sugerencia y por ser mi buddie). Puedes participar en foros, ir descargando la novela para no perder la cuenta de las palabras y tener compañeros de escritura (buddies) de apoyo mutuo. Espero poder terminar el borrado de la tercera novela gracias a esa iniciativa por la que he sentido curiosidad hace tiempo, aunque ya se sabe, habrá que editar, traducir, corregir… Eso quiere decir que estaré algo ocupada en Noviembre, así que no os extrañéis si veis reblogs y os traigo algunos favoritos de siempre, aunque intentaré seguir con algún invitado para que no os aburráis.

Por si acaso, os dejo el enlace a NaNoWriMo:

http://nanowrimo.org/

Y por lo de la inspiración una foto de la tumba de Oscar Wilde, que volví a visitar en Père Lachaise en París. Ahora han puesto un cristal protector para evitar tener que limpiarla tan a menudo, ya que hay una nota que dice que la familia paga por la limpieza:

El angel de Jacob Epstein en la tumba de Oscar Wilde

El angel de Jacob Epstein en la tumba de Oscar Wilde

Y para los desengañados, mirad lo que encontré también en el cementerio del Poble Nou:

¡Ay amor, amor! Ya me parecía a mí...

¡Ay amor, amor! Ya me parecía a mí…

Gracias a todos por leer, y ya sabéis, si os ha interesado, dadle al me gusta, comentad, compartid y ¡haced CLIC! Y si encontráis algún ángel por ahí, ya sabéis…

Hi all:

As you will have noticed, recently I’ve been talking to  you a bit (well, a lot) about my new novel. And I thought it was time to tell you a bit about my projects instead.

A couple of years ago (give or take) I wrote the first in what I planned to be a Young Adult series (at least a trilogy). Angelic Business. I decided to call the first novel Pink MattersI spent some time trying to find an agent, with very little result (yes we like it but not enough, no, we don’t like it), and as a result of the research I did at the time I discovered the option of self-publishing, and as life is too short, I decided to give it a go. Instead of publishing that novel, I went for one I’d been working on for a long time an had also translated in Spanish and English (The Man Who Never Was). I carried on publishing other stories but never abandoned the thought of the series, to the point where a few months ago I wrote the second novel (Shapes of Greg).

Thinking about the third novel and looking for angelic inspiration, it occurred to me to create a board in Pinterest on the subject and of course I found many pins. I also realised cemeteries have plenty of sculpture of angels, and decided to go off taking as many pictures as possible.

Angel in the cemetery of Poble Nou in Barcelona.

Angel in the cemetery of Poble Nou in Barcelona.

Here is the link to my board about angels in Pinterest:

http://www.pinterest.com/olganm7/angels/

During my recent visit to Florence I also went chasing after angels (and cupids and Eros. Plenty of them).

Ooooh! Sweet!

Ooooh! Sweet!

 

I’m not sure if you remember that I’d shared a bit of the first novel already, but just in case, I leave you the first chapter (sorry, no angels yet):

Chapter 1. Petra (a.k.a. Pink)

It’s very true. Nobody can make you feel as humiliated as a really close friend can. Yes, we were close. But from that to assuming…Seth and I had known each other for years, lived next to each other, went to school together, shared things…And Seth was the most popular guy at our High School (and therefore the most popular guy in my universe), and had all the girls he wanted and all that. I know; you’ve watched the movie. And you know that everybody believed I was in love with him and wasn’t it a shame that I wasn’t “his type”, and was rather “plain” and… “plump”…But, OK, it was fine that everybody thought that and felt sorry for me. What wasn’t fine, not by a long stretch, what was really offensive was how “he” himself believed it. He had phoned me on the fatal evening (5th November if you must know), at around midnight, quite drunk, asking me to go and collect him from Chris’s party. They had invited me but I was busy writing and I knew how these things went. Because of course, I was also “boring”, “clever” and “studious”. I didn’t drink and I didn’t do “drugs”.

I went to pick him up (I had to borrow my parents’ car, but they liked Seth, and I was convinced that at least my mother thought that things would “develop” between us) and I found him necking a girl. I’d never seen her before, probably from a neighbouring town. Once he’d said his goodbyes (something on the line of ‘I’ll call you’ but very slurred) he followed me, or rather, I half-carried him to the car. I had to stop once so he could be sick. Then, when I stopped in front of his house to let him out, he turned to me, kissed me on the cheek (lovely experience still smelling of sick and all) and said the memorable:

“You know, Pink, if you ever…I know you don’t have a boyfriend, but…you know…If you can’t find …if you ever want a bit of a…cuddle and a kiss…or…anything else, ‘anything’ really…I’ll…I’ll do it for you.”

I just pushed him out of the car feeling sick myself. And I could not sleep after that.

Next day it only got worse, although I didn’t think that was possible. I hoped he would not remember the comment, and didn’t even expect or want an apology, but…Oh, no, that would have been too easy. I tried and avoid him during the day, even decided not to talk about it to my best friends, Lorna and Sylvia. You see? Maybe if I didn’t talk about it, it wouldn’t have really happened. I could just pretend it had been a nightmare and I had imagined it all.

I left School without meeting him and I thought I had succeeded and was home safe. But no, too much to ask. As soon as I got to my door I heard somebody running towards me. I didn’t even need to turn; I knew it would be him.

“Pink, Pink! Hey…I’ve been trying to catch up with you all day!”

“You finally have. What did you want?”

“I…Listen, about yesterday…”

I didn’t want to make him feel bad about it either. It was my maternal, mother-hen instinct towards him that had been developed over years (if not imprinted in my DNA) and I could not switch it off, even when he was vile. I decided to pretend I didn’t remember.

“Yesterday?”

“The sex thing…I…”

“Forget it.”

“No, no. Don’t get me wrong. That’s not…I just wanted to say…I meant it. It wasn’t a drunken thing…Of course, you don’t need to worry about anything; I wouldn’t tell anybody about it.”

I was about to ask him if he was serious, but he was looking solemn and “sympathetic”. I couldn’t come up with anything to say, and he misinterpreted my silence.

“You’re all right. No need to say anything. I’ll see you around.” He said, patting me on the back. My only consolation was that he had not patted me on the head, like a good dog. It wasn’t much of a consolation, to be honest.

I could have screamed, and I actually did when I got into my house and locked myself in my bedroom. I wanted to kill him! Justified homicide, no doubt.

I was quite upset for a couple of weeks, trying to avoid Seth to little avail. He seemed completely unaware of my efforts or feelings.

I couldn’t keep it to myself any longer, and I finally told Lorna and Sylvia. We had also known each other for many years, and gone to the same school and class since we were little, even though Lorna and Sylvia lived in High Ridge, a neighbouring town. We had always had similar interests and hanged out together, as we didn’t seem to easily fit in with any of the usual groups. Studious and bookish, but not repellent (none of us even wore glasses), plain but not awfully ugly, not particularly sporty but not clumsy enough to become the butt of all jokes. And yes, we weren’t in the group of the fashionable “in” people, but we did not attract attention because of weird sense of dress, make-up or tattoos. If anything, we were grey and invisible. And so far that had been fine with us. It was also true that my friendship with Seth gave us some street-cred that probably avoided our fall into one of the officially despised groups.

I had been trying to exercise, eat healthily and lose weight, and I had succeeded somewhat, although I had enough insight to know I’d never be Barbie…Even if I were to starve to death, my body shape wouldn’t change to the point where I would have legs coming up to my armpits and although I still had some hopes for my breasts, so far they had refused to become anything that guys would bother to look at…

Lorna had done better with growing up, and although she would not accept it when Sylvia and I told her, she had become an attractive girl. It was evident when the three of us were together that guys were now looking at her, whilst in the past they normally scanned over us to look at somebody else. Her newly straightened long dark-brown hair, hazel eyes, faultless olive complexion and heart shaped mouth made her quite pretty, even without make-up. And she was petite and well proportioned. She’d even gone out on a few dates, although so far she had not found her prince charming.

On the other hand, adolescence hadn’t been quite so kind to Sylvia who had suddenly had a growth spurt that had made her taller than most of the boys of our age, very skinny, and flat as an iron board. Despite countless visits to orthodontists and a succession of devices worth of listing in any torture Wikipedia article her smile wasn’t made for toothpaste ads and she had become even shier than before. From my best friend perspective I must add I found them both beautiful and the best friends a girl could wish for.

When I told them about Seth’s behaviour their reaction was as I expected.

Lorna was indignant.

“Who does he think he is, now, eh? Gee… How can you be friends with him? You don’t need that idiot, Pink, you definitely don’t.”

Sylvia was always kind and forgiving. I also had my suspicions that she fancied Seth too…Well, OK, most girls did, but Sylvia was so shy she hardly ever allowed herself to think about boys, as it sent her into meltdown. But I’d seen how she blushed when Seth had looked in her direction or talked to her and…if not love…infatuation at least.

“He was probably just trying to be nice…He’s a bloke after all. He doesn’t understand how we feel about these things. I’m sure he didn’t intend to humiliate you.”

“Well, good job then, isn’t it? I don’t think he could have done it that much better if he had tried to humiliate you… A mercy fuck…Ughhhhh! It makes me sick!” Lorna said, still angry.

“Yes, I also felt very angry to begin with. But now…rather than just carrying on fuming, I think maybe I should be proactive and do something about it.”

“Yes, but what?” Sylvia asked.

“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. “I have to get my own back on him.”

“How?” Lorna asked, interested.

“I have to prove him wrong.”

“You mean…finding a boyfriend? Isn’t that a bit too much?” Sylvia said, evidently appalled by the suggestion.

“I don’t think it needs to go quite as far as a boyfriend. I don’t really want a boyfriend. I’m far too young and have too many things to do…Anyway; you know what I think about all that.” In summary what I think about it is, nice in theory but in reality quite likely a big waste of time at an age when one doesn’t have that much time to waste. More important things to be getting on with. OK, I know you might think sour grapes and all that…But honestly…boys? Maybe when they grow up…if they ever do.

“I see. You just want him to see you going out with somebody…” Lorna said, appreciatively. “I approve.”

“Yes, but who?” I asked.

“Let’s see.”

As usual when we had to take important decisions or discuss serious matters we went to the library café. With the popularity of e-readers, netbooks and tablets, android mobile phones and particularly Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites, there was hardly anybody other than people of a certain age at the library. We always sat at the same table, at the back by the window, and we considered it “our table”.

Once settled there, with our diet-coke drinks, we started virtually looking around for candidates. Sylvia was very organised and stopped Lorna when she stated naming boys at random.

“It’s best if we look at the population of guys.”

“What?” I asked.

“Well, you know…Kind of an ethnographic/sociological-type study. What type of guy are you thinking about?”

“You want us to create a profile?” Lorna asked.

“Maybe. But I think that would be too ambitious, considering the raw material we have access to. It will be easier to look at what there is, in terms of groups of guys that might be available.”

“OK. A methodical and scientific approach. Why not?” Yes, it made sense. No need to be overly emotional and girly about this thing. If we were going to do it, we might as well do it well. And as it was a matter of guys, thinking like a bloke might help.

Sylvia got her i-pad out.

“Really?” Lorna asked. “Isn’t that going a bit too far?”

“Why? What is technology for if not these kinds of things?”

“Important things, maybe? How to solve the problem of providing energy and food to the population of the world, curing illnesses, providing education to the masses…” I said.

“Yes, OK. Maybe we’ll do that at some point, but what’s the harm in using a spread sheet to make a sensible decision about guys?”

I had to admit she had a point. Today, finding a possible candidate to boyfriend. Tomorrow, the Noble Prize.

Lorna, who’d evidently been giving boys some thought, took charge of naming the diverse groups of candidates, whilst all of us considered their pros and cons. Well, we couldn’t always find pros. When looked at in such a systematic manner, it appeared surprising that anybody would actually dare to go out with anybody else. Dating agencies definitely deserved their money and more for even attempting such a task.

“Let’s see, let’s see…What kind of guy would you want Seth to see you with, Pink?” Sylvia asked me.

“Well…evidently somebody reasonably attractive but with some brains…I mean, it would have to be somebody he’d believe I’d go out with…He knows me well enough to know I wouldn’t go out with just a pretty face…Not that “just a pretty face” would probably go out with me either.”

Lorna looked at me serious.

“Oh, Pink, don’t start like that. There’s nothing wrong with you…any guy…”

“Let’s leave it. That’s not what this is about…Let’s be methodical.” I said.

“OK, attractive but reasonably intelligent…”

We thought for a while. Not that many boys that would easily fit in such category…

“There’re always Seth’s friends…Adam isn’t bad looking…” Lorna said.

“No, he isn’t. Neither are Tony, or Chris, or Scott…Are you joking, Lorna? Haven’t you noticed the type of girls they go out with? Cheerleaders, trend setters…the beautiful or at least pretty girls…That would be mission impossible and you know they are hardly discreet…When they go out with a girl everybody knows all the details. Even we do!” I replied.

“Yes, Seth is the only one with a bit of class in his group of friends.” Yep, Sylvia. Didn’t I tell you she fancies him?

“I’m also not very convinced about any of them regarding the brains department. They are popular and good at sports and that gives them a lot of leeway, but with regards to merits…” I said.

“Seth is quite clever…I think.”

Lorna and I looked at Sylvia. I don’t know about me, but Lorna definitely rolled her eyes.

“Yes, and he has lovely sandy-coloured and wavy hair, green eyes, cute dimples and the rest. Stop talking about Seth, Sylvia. He’s the cause of all this trouble, and evidently Pink isn’t going to go out with him. No, you’re right, Pink, none of his friends are of any use. He knows them too well; he’d know that you wouldn’t really go out with any of them…It wouldn’t work.”

Most of the guys we considered clever were in one of two despised categories, either the brainy, studious group, mostly composed of extremely uncool characters, good for conversation and teaming up for school work but not datable material, or the geeks.

“Theo, Paul, Mark and Luke…” Sylvia said.

“The brains? Sure, they are clever, but…attractive? Have you ever looked at them?” I said.

“Well…OK, but Mark…has nice eyes…” Sylvia added.

“Yes, and Theo is very tall, and Luke has lovely dark curly hair, but, Mark has horrendous acne and is very short, Theo is really big and always sweaty, Luke wears really old-fashioned glasses and is so skinny that you can hardly see him in profile and Paul…” I added.

Yes, poor Paul was officially the ugliest guy in the school. He was a really nice guy but if I went out with any of them Seth was bound to think I was desperate or I had lost my marbles. He’d probably repeat his offer if he saw me with any of them. They wouldn’t work.

Lorna shook her head.

“No, none of them will do. Not only are they ugly but they also are very shy with girls and have no social graces. They’d probably have a heart attack if they as much as suspected you wanted to go out with one of them…And…”

“Yes, I know. They’re too nice and bound to get hurt if I just used them like that.” OK, I was trying to get my revenge on Seth, but it wasn’t fair to hurt others in the process. That would never do.

We refilled our diet-colas and looked at the document in Sylvia’s i-pad…So far only crosses…Sherlock Holmes used to classify the cases he was working on according to how many pipes he had to smoke to get to the answer. Smoking was no longer pc and women and pipes had never mixed up very well so…I guess in our case we would go by the number of diet-colas we drank whilst thinking about a problem, or producing a plan. This one might break our record of three.

“What about the geeks? They aren’t quite as sensitive as the brains.” Lorna asked.

Although the brains were fairly geeky, the geeks were a distinct category of boys who seemed to only have time for gadgets, games, and who most of the time seemed to live in an alternative reality that only crossed with ours very sporadically.

“And apart from Troy, all the rest are fairly normal looking.” Sylvia agreed.

We all paused at the mention of Troy. He was the son of the mayor and in contrast with his oldest brother, who had left school with a football scholarship and was now at Davis, the jewel of the family, he was really awkward looking and odd. He’d always reminded me of actors in horror movies. He didn’t seem to belong in our planet. He wasn’t ugly, but just like a Picasso his aesthetics and looks were extremely unconventional. It’s true that nobody could go unnoticed at his arm, but I wasn’t convinced that was the kind of attention I wanted.

“Have you ever tried to talk to Matt, Pete, Dean or Todd about anything that isn’t games, computers or comic books? I know you’ve tried. So have I. With no success. I want revenge but not at the cost of my sanity. I don’t want a real boyfriend but at least I’d appreciate somebody I could have a conversation with…”

More crosses. Still no ticks.

“What about the invisible guys?” Lorna asked. She meant, guys that like us didn’t seem to belong in any of the defined categories. Plain, non-offensive, not particularly sporty, not particularly clever, not particularly attractive…

“No good. Pink needs somebody Seth would notice. Somebody who’d force him to make a double-take when he sees her with him. An invisible…won’t work.”

I nodded. Yes, Sylvia was right.

“He’d notice it if you went out with one of the rebels.” Lorna said.

Yes, even Hope Springs, ‘the town where nothing ever happened’ (according to our rewriting of the official motto that was ‘where all dreams are possible’. I agree, sickeningly sweet, and not true to boot), had some bad guys. At our age we were not truly convinced they were genuinely bad, they really hadn’t had time for that, but they were rebellious, non-conformist, and more troublesome than the generality. Admittedly in a place like Hope Springs that wasn’t very difficult, but…they had a bit of a reputation.

“Clint has a girlfriend. And Jesse…” Sylvia said…

Jesse had pushed Sylvia last year and she’d fallen downstairs twisting her ankle. He’d denied it had been intentional, saying that he was just in a hurry and she had been on the way, but…we officially didn’t like him. We’d predicted he’d end up in prison some day. Jailbait was a bit too much for what I had in mind. No.

We were now on our third diet-cola and still no reasonable candidates.

“I can’t think any longer.” Lorna said. “I think we must have gone through all the class.”

We were quiet for a few seconds, and then Sylvia jumped up.

“You’re right! That’s it! We’ve gone through all the boys in our class. But that’s not all the boys. We need to look at other classes. We need to expand our age range.”

I closed my eyes. I knew where this was going now. I could see the name Sylvia would come up with flashing in neon lights. But I was still curious to know how she’d bring him up.

“I don’t think younger guys would be appropriate. First…Even guys our age are immature, can you imagine a younger guy? A year younger would already be too much. You don’t want to get a reputation for being a cradle-snatcher.” Lorna said, final. She had a way of summarising things and getting straight to the point that I’d always admired and thought would put her in good stead for a career in advertising or the movies.

“No, Seth would laugh at me if I went out with a younger guy. He’d tease him and me to death. That wouldn’t help.”

“Oh girls, come on. You know I didn’t mean you should go out with a younger guy. What I meant was you should look at older guys. It’s always a status thing for a girl to go out with an older guy. A man of the world, more mature…”

“Sure, but how old? What are we talking about? University guy?” Lorna asked, turning to me and winking. She’d evidently also worked out what Sylvia was trying to get at.

“We don’t want to go over the top either or make the guy look like a freak or a paedophile…No, maybe somebody a couple of years older…” Sylvia added, trying to sound casual, and failing.

“I don’t think we know a lot of guys that age, do we, Lorna?” I asked, looking at Lorna, trying to appear serious.

“No. I can’t think of any. Maybe guys from another town…” Lorna snapped her fingers. “I have an idea! Sylvia, why don’t you ask your brother Jackson if he has any friends that would be suitable? He’s two years older than us, isn’t he? I don’t know his friends, but it’s possible one of them could do. Maybe you should phone him.”

Lorna and I both looked at Sylvia with intent and a composed expression.

“Yes, that sounds like an idea. Why don’t you phone Jackson, Sylvia, and ask him?” I said.

Sylvia looked at both of us, red-faced, breathing fast and shallow, trying to think of something to say. We finally couldn’t keep it up and started laughing.

“You should see your face, Sylvia!” I told her.

“You were taking the mickey! You knew I meant my brother!”

Lorna squeezed her arm.

“Of course we knew you meant your brother. You’re always trying to fix him with Pink. You’ve always had this idea that the two of them will fall madly in love, will be happy ever after and you will be sisters and have lovely nieces and nephews.”

“But Jackson really likes you, Pink!”

“You know I think your brother is a nice guy and I quite like him, as a friend, but…”

Lorna again got to the point quickly.

“Jackson is clumsy, has the attention span of a fish and other than ball sports has very few interests. You are the brains in the family, dear Sylvia. Your brother, although not bad looking, is a bit of an…”

Sylvia didn’t let her finish.

“You’re right, this is all for revenge and it wouldn’t be fair to get my brother involved when he has feelings for you…”

Poor Jackson probably didn’t even know what he felt, but was happy to go along with his sisters’ assessment of his feelings and had always been extra-nice towards me, although I’d tried as much as I could, without hurting him, to make him understand that I didn’t see him as boyfriend material, and I didn’t really want a boyfriend anyway. Lorna was right though, he wasn’t bad looking. He had the perfect smile that his sister hadn’t managed yet despite her and the dentists’ efforts, and although very tall he was a good basketball player and his height suited him.

“Well, that’s it then. I think we’ll need to keep thinking.” Lorna said. “I can’t drink any more diet-cola or go on about guys any longer. We’ll have to leave it.”

“Maybe somebody new will come along.” Sylvia said, always optimistic. I didn’t think that was likely but nodded. No point in upsetting her further after our comments about her brother. Maybe all our dreams would come true anyway.

 

As an experiment, I decided to download the draft of the first novel to Wattpad, so if you fancy reading on, for the time being it’s available here:

http://www.wattpad.com/story/12042085-angelic-business-1-pink-matters

What I decided was to finish writing (and then translating, editing, correcting…) the third novel in the series, and then publish them all in fairly quick succession, to try and build up interest and also to avoid leaving readers waiting for too long.

Here a not very happy angel, waiting for you to finish writing the next novel Might feed you to the lion if you don't get done soon!

Here a not very happy angel, waiting for you to finish writing the next novel. Might feed you to the lion if you don’t get done soon!

A good friend and fellow author (Hi Teagan!) suggested I buddy up with her for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) that despite the name is international, where you can join, and challenge yourself to write a novel at least 50000 words long (if you do, you’ve won). You can take part in forums, encourage and support each other, and buddy up with other writers. I had been curious about it but never before managed to join at the right moment. And I thought…it would be an excellent opportunity to try and write the draft of part three. Still nameless, but…

If you want to check NaNoWriMo, here is the link:

http://nanowrimo.org/

And if you’re taking part, buddy up with me if you like! I’m OlgaNM7.

So now you know what I’m up to (apart from my translating business that keeps going and I’ll talk to you about that soon but, not until after November for sure), and don’t be surprised if  you see me doing reblogs and refreshing some old material in the blog as I’ll be a bit busy next month, but I’ll try and keep up posting other authors’ new books.

And just for some inspiration, I leave you the Jacob Epstein’s angel in Oscar Wilde’s tomb at Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Now they’ve put a protective glass in front to avoid so many kisses and the cleaning bill that it said goes to the family. Oh well… (there’re still some kisses where the glass doesn’t reach!)

Jacob Epstein's angel in Oscar Wilde's tomb in Paris

Jacob Epstein’s angel in Oscar Wilde’s tomb in Paris

Time to go but I couldn’t resist leaving you this angel again from Poble Nou in Barcelona. It needs a good clean (unfortunately there’s a gate in front and I couldn’t reach) but I thought it was so gorgeous…

Dust indeed

Dust indeed

Thanks for reading, and remember, if you’ve enjoyed it, like, share, comment and of course, CLICK! Ah, and if you see any interesting angels, think of me and share!

Hi all:

As you will know, recently I published ‘I Love Your Cupcakes‘. Part of the action develops in the set of a TV culinary game show. As people seemed to enjoy the sample I brought  you a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d leave  you another one (and I promise you that’s the last one!), the chapter where Dulce and Adelfa, the main protagonists (sorry Storm) meet the crew and the members of the other teams. There’s a bit of everything:

I Love Your Cupcakes by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Lourdes Vidal

I Love Your Cupcakes by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Lourdes Vidal

Chapter 6. Baking and TV fauna. (Now)

The three weeks went by in a wink. Dulce and Adelfa asked the main members of staff and friends, Pixie, Vicky and Tessa if they could cover the shop while they’d be away. They were all very excited and happy to organize themselves to keep the place going with help from volunteers. They made sure that they didn’t accept any big orders for the week when they were going to be away, although they were convinced the team left in charge was more than capable. Toni took a few days off to help the girls and do more hands-on work. Dulce and Adelfa packed their favorite and most comfortable outfits for cooking, a nice dress and accessories for the gala (in case they got that far) and a few utensils and gadgets, “for luck.” Tony and Toni drove them to the airport.

“Are you ready, girls?” Toni asked.

“As ready as we’re ever going to be.” Adelfa replied.

“We’ll know for sure once we start. We’ve done everything we could think of and everything everybody has suggested to prepare. The rest…is in the hands of the gods.” Dulce said.

“Is Storm going to join you there?” her father asked.

“He’s happy to consult with us over the phone and if we go past the four first days he’ll join us live. He’s also been watching old programs and has sent us designs, blueprints and ideas. If we can manage to get that far and he comes we’ll have the best artist they’ve ever seen there.” Adelfa said.

“That is true. That boy is as odd as he’s talented.” Tony said.

“Dad, he’s not a boy any longer. And we aren’t girls either.” Dulce complained.

“I thought you were going to object to my calling him “odd”.”

“No, he’s odd, but we love him nonetheless.” Dulce finished.

“Or maybe we love him precisely because he’s so odd.” Adelfa added.

They all laughed. They got to the airport, took their luggage, said their goodbyes, Toni assured them she’d look after their shop and then they started on their greatest adventure.

During the flight they tried and focus on watching the in-flight entertainment rather than think about what expected them. Once in LA it was all rather exciting. Sunny, noisy and…

“This is really…” Dulce started.

“Artificial? Fake? Pretend?” Adelfa suggested.

“Blonde, tanned, beautiful with an advert idea of beauty. Oh dear, we’re going to stick out like a sore thumb.”

“There it is! They’ve sent a car to pick us up.”

Adelfa had spotted a woman with a sign with their names on it and started walking towards her.

“It’s us. I’m Adelfa and this is my partner Dulcinea, Dulce for short.”

“Pleasure to meet you. I’m Danielle, Dannie. I do a bit of whatever has to be done. Supplies, coordinating, covering for whoever is not there, go and fetch…”

“Chauffeur…” Dulce added.

Dannie nodded.

“Let’s get going. I’ll drop you at the hotel. It isn’t very far from the studio but we’ll send somebody to pick you up tomorrow. There won’t be a live program, only time to get you used to the ovens, discuss the details, do a bit of preparatory filming, and have time to get to know everybody. And a welcome meal. But we’ll let you have a bit of rest this evening.”

“That sounds good.” Adelfa replied.

In the car Dannie played the part of the occasional tour guide. She pointed out a variety of touristic spots and houses of the rich and famous.

“If you’re still here on Thursday, as that day there’s no program, sometimes the contestants decide to go on a proper tour. It’s good fun and a nice way to relax when we’re getting close to the final line.”

“That sounds nice. If we get that far.” Adelfa said.

“How is the rest of the team?” Dulce asked. “So far we’ve only talked to Harry Heston.”

“Dirty Harry?” Dannie asked. “He’s rather unique, not your standard team member.”

“Dirty Harry? Is he a fan of Clint Eastwood?” Adelfa asked.

Dannie breathed in deeply before replying:

“That’s not the reason for the nickname. We’ve arrived at the hotel. Here.”

Dannie helped them with their luggage and told them a car would be there at 9:30 next morning. Once up in their room and after unpacking Dulce and Adelfa decided to go for a walk and explore the surrounding area. It was a rather non-descript suburb although after asking a couple of people they managed to get directions and caught a bus that took them to the beach. There they walked and observed the people on roller-skates, sunbathing, playing beach volleyball…

“It is really like in the movies” said Dulce, trying not to be too obvious when contemplating the fabulous bodies around them. Adelfa, on the other hand, wasn’t particularly discreet. “You’re looking at those guys as if “they” were cupcakes.”

Adelfa smiled, deviating her gaze to look at Dulce for a few seconds.

“Well, they are gorgeous. And evidently they are here exhibiting themselves. They don’t work out that much and build up those muscles to hide them at home. Think of it as window-shopping. I have no intention of buying anything but looking…Feast your eyes! We don’t get many occasions like this one.”

“You’re probably right.”

After spending a good while people (mostly men, although some women were so interestingly undressed that they could not help but wonder) watching, they sat down with an ice-cream each. Adelfa seemed thoughtful, licking her ice-cream very slowly and finally asked:

“What do you think the Dirty Harry thing was about?”

“Probably some “in” joke. Maybe if we manage to stay long enough we’ll get to know.”

Dulce had no idea how right she was. Or how much she’d remember and regret her words.

They waited for the sunset and then returned to their hotel, stopping on the way to get some fruit and water. After watching some TV they went to bed, to wait for the first day of their TV experience.

They didn’t sleep very much and were up very early to make sure they were ready in plenty of time for the car. They didn’t want to be late on the first day and make a bad impression. The car dropped them at the TV station and Dannie was at the door waiting for them.

“Go and have a seat in reception. Once you’re all here we’ll go to the studio and meet everybody else.”

“Are we the first ones?”

“Not quite. There are some people there already. Go and introduce yourselves.”

There were four people sitting in reception waiting. Two young blonde girls, typically Californian, who immediately jumped up when they saw them and told them they were very excited, and kept laughing and making plenty of noise all the time (and although called Denise and Diane, Adelfa immediately named them Barbie and Cindy, with good reason) and a man in his fifties and one in his thirties, father and son, Andrew and Andy. Both men were engineers, although Andrew had worked most of his life in oil camps and Andy had worked in transportation.

“My father is an engineer also.” Dulce offered.

“What’s his name?”

“Oh, Tony, Anthony Baxter.”

“I think he worked on a bridge part of the line my company has been working on recently. In Nebraska.” Andy said.

“I believe you’re right, although it was quite a few years back.” Dulce replied.

“Very good job.”

“Are you big into cooking?” Adelfa asked, trying to size-up the competition. She had already dismissed the two girls, who seemed only interested in how they’d look on camera.

Andrew shook his head from side to side.

“I’ve always been interested and done a bit of cooking in my spare time, although Andy is a much better cook. Unfortunately I haven’t had much time to improve my skills and Andy…since his wife had the baby, he’s been pretty busy with other things” he said, messing up his son’s hair affectionately.

Andy smiled at his father.

“Yes, very busy.” He took his phone out of his pocket and showed them a picture of a baby-girl. “Lily. She’s nearly 3 months old.”

“She’s beautiful!” Dulce said.

Andy beamed at the comment.

“Have you come up with a name for your team?” Andrew asked.

“Oh, we have a shop. ‘Literally Cupcakes and Cakes’, so we’ll go with the same name.” Adelfa said.

“Literally Cupcakes?” asked Dulce with a frown.

Adelfa dismissed her whilst the two guys looked at them with a puzzled expression.

“We have an ongoing semantics argument about the shop’s name. I prefer ‘literally’ whilst Dulce wanted ‘literary’ as she loves books.” Adelfa explained.

“And the shop is much more than a cupcake shop. We do have second-hand books and also exchange books clients bring in at no cost. And have writers and other people come and talk, and book readings for kids and a book club, and we run exhibitions, and workshops, and cookery and cake decoration courses…” Dulce explained.

“It sounds amazing” said Andy.

“You should see it. Let me…” Dulce took her phone out and showed them some pictures. They were suitably impressed. Denise and Diane also joined.

“Wow, a fire-station! What fun! Do you have any firemen?” Diane (or Denise, Dulce wasn’t sure) asked.

“Unfortunately they didn’t come included with the building but I’m sure we could do something about it if you come for a visit.” Adelfa replied. Dulce nudged her on the ribs but she just smiled, as sweetly as she could, at her.

“Great! We don’t have a shop yet, but we have a name. ‘A Little Bit of Heaven Cupcakes’. Denise wanted to go with ‘D-lights’. You know, D as in the letter D, as we’re both Ds, Diane and Denise, but I thought people might think we were talking about something naughty, especially with cup and…And it wouldn’t be good to mislead people, not at least until we’ve had some surgery…We aren’t really D cups…”

Andrew and Andy went through all the colors in the rainbow during Diane’s explanation, but Dulce and Adelfa just laughed.

“I think ‘A Little Bit of Heaven’ is a great name.” Dulce asserted.

“Our shop is called ‘Let Them Eat Cupcakes’. We also run an on-line business, ‘Lady Cupcakes and Lingerie’ that’s going extremely well.” A tall woman, with long dark hair, huge golden sunglasses, incredibly pointy shoes with the highest heels Dulce had ever seen, and the shortest skirt and one of the most revealing tops she’d ever imagined had walked into the room and joined the conversation. A shorter, petite version of her, with red highlights, but similarly short skirt and low-cut top had followed her in. They introduced themselves as Pam and Chloe.

“Well, there’s another red-hair in the competition. You won’t feel so alone.” Adelfa whispered.

“She’s not really red-haired” Dulce replied, also in whispers.

“I think I can see that…especially now that she’s sitting down” Adelfa joked, looking at Chloe’s skirt.

“You…” Dulce jokingly hit her on the arm.

“So you sell lingerie and cakes?” Andrew asked the newcomers. Dulce worried his eyes would pop out of his eye sockets. Andy had grabbed his father’s arm, seemingly trying to stop him from embarrassing himself.

“We make boxed sets containing sexy pieces of lingerie and cupcakes. Our idea is: the woman eats the cupcakes…” started Pam.

“And the man eats…” Chloe added.

“I think we get the idea.” Adelfa interrupted. Chloe looked at her with a less-than-kind expression.

“Let’s not make enemies from the word go if we can help it” Dulce told her friend, very soft.

Adelfa looked at her and nodded. She took her phone out and Dulce got a text-message a few seconds later. She waited a beat before checking.

“I wonder if being tarty will make them any good at baking. ;)”

Whilst all of them were distracted by the spectacle of Pam and Chloe, two guys came into the reception area. Dulce nearly jumped out of her skin when one of them sat on the sofa next to theirs. They were both dressed in combat fatigues, were tall, strong and muscular, one of them African-American and sporting a Mohican-style haircut and the other one with shaved hair and piercing blue eyes.

“We are ‘Guerrilla Cupcakes’. This is Custer and I’m West” the African-American part of the duo asserted, never taking his eyes off Adelfa.

They all nodded and introduced themselves. Dulce took advantage of the noise to tell Adelfa:

“I think you’ve got an admirer.”

She shrugged her shoulders.

“I’m more worried about their cake-making skills. Military-style organization and strategy might help with some of the challenges.”

“That’s true, but you can hardly imagine they’ll be very dainty and delicate with things like decorations, although maybe we should delay any judgments until we’ve seen what they are capable of.”

Two women of a similar age to theirs, early thirties, walked in. They were both brown-haired, middle-height, one a bit plumper than the other, wearing simple flowery dresses and no make-up. They smiled shyly and waited until the noise had quieted down before talking.

“Hi. I’m Candy and this is Trisha. We have a shop called ‘Simple Cupcakes and Desserts’. We like to use organic ingredients, avoid colorants and unneeded chemicals and also cater for people with food allergies and intolerances.”

There was another round of introductions. Dulce had the feeling that the Simple team would be fairly strong competition.

The final two contestants were a young boy (thirteen), called Peter Parker (“Like Spiderman”, he promptly informed them all) and his grandmother Lucy, who was wearing a perm, gray hair, and seemed to have made an effort to look like a harmless old lady, despite not being that old. Although the boy wanted his team to go by the name ‘Superheroes cakes’, it soon became ‘Pete and granny’s’.

As they had all arrived, Dannie came to pick them up and show them the studio where they would be filming the program.

“I don’t think that granny is as old and clueless as she wants to make us think.” Adelfa whispered in Dulce’s ear.

“I was thinking exactly the same.” Dulce turned to Andy who was behind them and asked:

“You never had a chance to tell us the name of your team.”

“We had a heated debate about it. We finally decided to go with ‘Movers and Fixers Baking Team’ because of the engineering theme.”

“I like it.” Adelfa said.

The studio wasn’t exactly how the girls had imagined it. They’d seen it on the TV but it felt quite different once they were there. There were the cables, cameras, lights and what seemed to be a separate room, probably to control everything, but it also looked like a huge kitchen, with plenty of ovens, fridges, working surfaces, sinks, drawers, utensils…

“Wow! I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it’s enormous and very impressive” Adelfa said.

“Here comes Harry” Dannie warned, and Dulce couldn’t help but remember a crazy-looking Jack Nicholson in ‘The Shining’ coming through the door with an axe saying: ‘Here comes Johnny!’

They all turned to see a man approaching them at speed. He was in his late forties, had a bit of a paunch, was bolding, and had very strong features, with a square jaw and a protruding and straight nose. He had big, intense, green eyes.

“Hi all. I’m Harry Heston. It’s a real pleasure to meet you all. We’ll have time to get to know ourselves better over the next few days. I just wanted you to come, meet each other and the team of the program, have a go at cooking something to familiarize yourselves with the equipment, and then we’ll go for a meal this evening to unwind before the circus starts performing tomorrow. You must be…”

He started throwing names around, shaking hands, smiling, nodding and appearing interested. He introduced them to the four main camera-men, Joe, Preston, Stan and Chris, who just nodded from their cameras, a woman called ‘Minnie’ dressed in a gray suit, with glasses, and holding onto an iPad for dear life. She was the one coordinating where everybody should be and what they should be doing at any given time.

“I’ll just call you by your team names. I have very bad memory, or rather; I have too many things to think about so I focus on matters important for the program. And I prefer not to get too attached to any contestants. Otherwise it can be heartbreaking when people leave.”

Adelfa and Dulce looked at each other and shrugged. Oh well.

Dannie showed them where other necessary things were, like the toilets, the canteen, a little shop, the changing rooms, make-up…

“There are plenty more people involved in the program, but most of them come and go and aren’t permanent fixtures, so you’ll meet them as they appear. If you need anything you can always ask me. Or Harry. And remember, today you’re here to have fun. Don’t worry about anything. This is not the competition yet. Enjoy!”

Dulce and Adelfa went to the toilet and took the chance to exchange a few thoughts.

“What do you think?” Dulce asked. Adelfa had always been good at summarizing and briefings.

“I don’t think Barbie and Cindy or the two Andrews are going to be too hard. The military guys could be a wild-card. I have no idea. The two in-your-face women…I could be wrong but think what you see is what you get. I am very suspicious of the granny.”

“I know what you mean. I am too. I like the girls of ‘Simple Cakes’. We do some cakes for people with allergies and intollerances but I’d like to learn from them. They could be a good team to get friendly with, at least after the competition.” Dulce said.

“Good minds think alike. Yes, they could be invaluable.”

“Let’s go and play” Dulce said.

And that’s what they did. They had a few hours to try ovens, implements, check ingredients and in general have fun and get used to the equipment. They also kept a close eye on the competition, although they knew what they saw that day might have very little to do with their real performances.

*************************************************************************************************************************************

Just to prove you that I’m not good at the visual side of things and in case you missed it, I leave you the video I created:

http://youtu.be/oGFcWLwoFfA

If you’re interested in the book, it’s available in a variety of places (and I hope in paper soon). I leave you some links:

Amazon:

http://bit.ly/1pyxw9Q

Kobo:

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/i-love-your-cupcakes

Nook (Barnes and Noble):

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/i-love-your-cupcakes-olga-n-ez-miret/1120420510?ean=2940046286625&itm=1&usri=2940046286625

Apple (i-Tunes):

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id923681628

In case you’re thirsty after all these cakes, I thought I’d share something pretty special I found in Florence:

Donna Olga wine. And there were three different types!

Donna Olga wine. And there were three different types!

Thanks everybody for reading (and the patience), and you know, if you’ve enjoyed it, like, share, comment and CLICK! 

Ah, and I’m looking for blogs, pages, and recipe books dedicated to cookery, and baking and cakes in particular, so if you have any favourites, let me know, I’m interested! Thanks!

Hi all:

I’m not sure how many of you will remember that a few months back I was asking for suggestions of titles, images, names of characters, well, most of everything, for a romantic novel I was planning on writing. And recently I talked about it as part of a blog hop where writers were talking about his characters. Guess what! I’ve written it!

‘I Love Your Cupcakes’ (the blame for the title is all mine) is in the process of being edited, corrected, translated, polished and made-up. But I thought I’d leave you with the beginning (and the likely cover):

Prologue. Now

‘Camera, Action!’

Dulcinea (Dulce for her friends) was frozen in place. She could see the producer talking but her mind was on overdrive and nothing went in. “Oh my God! How did I ever get into this situation! What have I let myself into!” she thought. Adelfa’s elbow on her side made her wake up:

“Come on! We have 45 minutes to create the Killer Cupcake to end all Killer Cupcakes!”

“Well, if that’s what we have to do, let’s do it!”

 

 

Chapter 1. Beginnings (Three years ago)

Dulcinea loved her name. She had always felt it suited her to a T. So much so, that if she hadn’t been called that she was convinced she would have changed her name to Dulcinea. OK, it wasn’t the most typical name for an American girl, but her mother, Carmen, was Spanish and she always thought that the imaginary lady/love of Don Quijote deserved a second chance and a bigger role than she had ever been given. She also adored the fact that if it was shortened to Dulce, its meaning was ‘Sweet’ in Spanish. And if there was something her mother had loved was everything sweet. Carmen was the best amateur baker amongst all her friends’ mothers and she doubted that many professionals of baking and desserts could have competed with her. Her culinary skills got so popular and so many people asked her to give them their recipes or teach them how to bake that she ran a course on desserts and cooking at the local adult college until her death. It was only fair and fitting that even her daughter was Dulce.

“What do you say, then? You’ve been fighting against fate long enough. How many careers and jobs have you tried?” Adelfa, her best friend, had always been supportive of all her ideas, but was nothing if not opinionated. “Let me count…”

“…the ways?” Dulce joked.

“Don’t get Shakespearean on me.”

“Elizabeth Browning not Shakespeare.”

“See what I was saying? I know how much you love books, but…if you could do anything practical with it maybe, but as it is…So, back to what we were talking about before the literary interruption. Hairdressing…” Adelfa counted one with her fingers.

Now if this was a movie it would show a montage of a few less than graceful and chic haircuts, a burnt perm to the point of loss of clumps of hair, although Dulce’s crowning disaster had always been coloring. A full palette of unintentional bright oranges, greens, and even tri-color effects had come out of her hands and sealed her exit from hairdressing school.

“Air stewardess…” Two.

The movie would now show Dulce dropping the bags when trying to secure them in the overhead locker, pushing the trolley over somebody’s foot, dropping hot coffee on another passenger’s lap, and falling seated repeatedly on several passengers. She’d never been any good wearing heels and decided the continuous traveling didn’t suit her either. At least she wasn’t sick on anybody.

“Horticulture and ornamental gardening…” Three.

This could now get scary, especially if you’re fond of flowers and vegetables. Green fingers was something nobody could accuse Dulce of. Other than rock gardens with no plants, nothing survived her attempts at gardening. And her garden designs looked like something out of El Bosco. Adelfa used to joke that she might be OK if she specialized on gardens for Goths. Not that Goths liked fresh-air that much.

“Business Studies…” Four.

Actually, the studies had been OK. Although Dulce preferred fiction and literature, she didn’t mind numbers or studying in general. So the theoretical part had been fine. Once it came to applying it to real-life situations, she was too soft and not enough of a risk-taker, didn’t like cutthroat competition and wasn’t aggressive so she never made it. Although she considered teaching it, the most engaging teachers were always those who had plenty of personal anecdotes to tell. And she wanted something more hands on.

“Photography…” Five.

Now, wouldn’t you think that with digital cameras it is impossible to take a terrible picture? Well, if you knew Dulce and saw her pictures you’d know that’s wrong. Bad lights, bad angles, body parts instead of the whole. Not even a proper top model would look good in her hands.

“Child-minding…”

“OK, OK. If you’re just trying to make me feel better, you’re doing a great job. And nothing bad happened to any of the babies. I’m just not cut out for it. Not everybody is as lucky as you, Adelfa. You’ve always liked mixing things and analyzing things. You’re a born Chemist and have always known it.”

Adelfa had been good at Chemistry since she was very young and had awed teachers and later professors with her skills. When she finished university she had several of the biggest Pharmaceutical companies fighting for her, although she’d chosen to teach at the local university and work on her own research. But her professional success did not seem to be enough for her. And despite her looks (beautiful café-au-lait color, kissable mouth, curves in all the right places, and a bum Beyoncé would be happy to call her own) she was once again mourning another failed relationship.

“Yes, but I’m yet to find a formula that applied to men will make the idiots and losers fluorescent.”

Dulce could not help but visualize the results of such a preparation. It would be worth billions!

“Maybe you’d need to train in magic rather than Chemistry for that. From my very limited experience on the subject I’d say that science and the best minds have failed miserably when trying to find a formula for the perfect relationship.”

“It’s probably not the guys’ fault. It’s me. I can ruin the nicest guy it seems.”

Dulce hated seeing her friend that way. First she wasn’t right. Second, she was her friend and she’d back her up no matter what. And third, her latest boyfriend, Melvin, was not the nicest guy. She’d had worse, but Melvin was one of these guys who seemed to think collecting women was a worthy hobby and the better the women, the higher their value for him. He’d pursue them, use every trick in the romantic book, and then, once they were secured, move on to another, to the next challenge, to the next jewel in the collection.

“I’m sure if you wanted you could ruin somebody, but no, it isn’t your fault. You’re right; he was an idiot and a loser. And OK, you’re also right about me. Nothing I’ve done so far has worked out. And yes, it’s true, I’m good at baking, but how am I going to make a living out of that?” Dulce’s baking skills had been the subject of many conversations between the friends for many years, but recently Adelfa had been badgering Dulce more than usual about it.

“Let’s bake something and then we can talk. One of your mother’s recipes. What about that cake that had chocolate, toasted almonds, eggs, butter, milk, flour and baking powder?”

“Queen of Saba? But will we have all the ingredients around?” Dulce asked.

Adelfa laughed picking up the car keys.

“Let’s go shopping! We’ll need a few other things too!”

“Ice-cream, cream…”

“And some salty snacks too, to even things out. At least the wanker left me before we ever moved in together and I won’t have to spend any time moving stuff. Quickly! Let’s not waste any baking time!”

Once back at their apartment (in reality the ground floor of a house that had been converted to a couple of apartments, with the advantage that they had the patio and an old but still zesty lemon-tree all to themselves) they unpacked, put their aprons on and got on with their baking. Adelfa had also stocked on drinks and served herself a glass of red wine and lemonade for Dulce.

“One of these days we’ll have to get you drinking alcohol. It’s too prim and proper this non-alcohol stance of yours.”

“You know full well how I feel about alcohol, Adelfa. It’s not a religious thing, or even a moral thing, although I can’t say I like what it can do to people. It’s…”

“A taste thing. I know, I know.”

“And I don’t mind it for cooking. I must admit it does help with some recipes. A lot.”

“You know what I think about it. As the saying goes: I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food!”

Dulce shrugged and they both laughed and got on with the cooking. The two friends peeled almonds, mixed butter and sugar, mashed the almonds into tiny bits, separated the egg-yolks from the whites, melted the chocolate with a little bit of milk and then added all the ingredients (plus the flour and the baking powder). They put the mix in a baking mold in a warm oven and went out in the patio after washing the implements, to wait for the oven to do its magic. They had recently bought a double swing chair and they both jumped on it moving backwards and forwards at a slow pace.

“So…any ideas? How could we turn my baking skills into a business? Actually, I should say “our” baking skills, as you’re the one who can work out the right combination and amount of ingredients to make the cakes or pastry do what it should” Dulce said.

“OK, you’re the Goddess of Flavors and I’m the Queen of Chemistry and calculating measurements and oven temperature. I wasn’t planning on leaving my job, especially the research bit, although I could always work fewer hours, but we could experiment after my work and I could come up with precise instructions that could be followed by other staff who’d help with the baking” Adelfa said.

“Staff? Goodness! If we’re going to have detailed methodology and recipes, maybe I could write a cookery book. Or a baking and sweets book. They are always popular and I love books, although have never written anything long. However, I guess writing a recipe book isn’t quite like writing other kinds of books.”

Adelfa chewed her bottom-lip, a habit she’d had from childhood and she’d go back to when she was thinking, especially when alone.

“A Cookery book. It isn’t a bad idea, but as a business proposition…For what I’ve seen the books of that kind that sell well are usually either written by celebrities, people who are well-known chefs (because they have a program on the TV), or books associated with a famous restaurant or location. I think we should keep it in mind for when our bakery/coffee shop becomes a success. Then we can branch out and produce all kinds of marketable products, not only books, but maybe a range of cookery utensils, maybe join in with some organic flour and flavorings distributors and rubber-stamp our label on them, aprons, children’s cookery books, videos, TV programs…”

Dulce felt as she did at times of panic. She had the vivid sensation that her freckles were growing and taking over the whole of her face, her green eyes were about to be power-ejected from their orbits and her ginger (or strawberry blonde according to Adelfa) hair was standing on end. Surprisingly enough, at times such at this when she’d managed to get to a mirror, she only looked scared and pale, but she wasn’t truly convinced the mirror wasn’t just playing a trick on her. She knew what she felt.

“Breathe Adelfa! Breathe! Maybe we should start at the beginning. Are we talking about a bakery, a coffee shop, or…?”

“And why not a mix of the two?”

Yes, why not?

 

I Love Your Cupcakes by Olga Núñez Miret (cover by Lourdes Vidal)

I Love Your Cupcakes by Olga Núñez Miret (cover by Lourdes Vidal)

 Thanks for reading, and you know if you’ve enjoyed it, like it, share, and comment. I’ll keep you updated and make a big announcement when it is published, of course! (I hope it should be in a few weeks!) Any ideas to promote are welcome!

Ah, and as I told you, I’ve started reviewing books for BTS-e Magazine and one of my reviews is published in the current number. Check it out here! (And of course, check all the rest of the content)

http://issuu.com/btsemag/docs/sept-oct-2014/123?e=5491198/9147732

 

Hi all:

I mentioned recently I was working on a variety of books. I’m working on my Young Adult Series (I’ve finished the draft of novel 2 but want to review and write novel 3 and translate before publishing), I have a romantic book nudging me to be written, but I’ve decided the next one should be Family, lust and cameras a novella about surveillance, voyeurism and psychological mind-games I wrote a while back. I’ve finished the translation and I’m editing at the moment and a friend is creating a cover for me. I hope it should be ready for publication within the next couple of months or so.

I’ve shared a small sample before but I thought I’d leave you something a bit more substantial. See what you think.

Flying cameras. Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Flying cameras. Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The parcel was planted on my desk, brown and seemingly innocent. It had my name on it, my job denomination (Sub-Editor) and the office’s address. I picked it up, weighted it, shook it…It was too big to be a CD. My heart started beating very fast, and my hands trembled. What I’d been fearing, had happened. Herman had finally got hold of me.

I jumped when I felt a hand on my shoulder.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you. It’s just…which one of these do you prefer?”

Matt, one of the graphic designers, had been working on the cover of the anthology we were getting ready.

“I…Which one do you prefer?”

“I’ve made them both. I don’t know.”

He looked at me. He was a short, funny looking guy, all head and eyes.

“Is that a CD?”

I was still holding the parcel in my right hand.

“No, it’s a DVD.”

“Anything nice?”

“I think it’s a family video I’ve been waiting for. Do you know if any of the viewing cabins are free?”

“I don’t think there’s anybody there at all this morning. Which one…?”

“Oh…the designs…I like them both. Ask Alan. Or choose yourself. We can always use the other design when we publish another anthology.”

“OK. I hope you enjoy the movie.”

“I’m sure I will…”

He left and I added to myself “not”. I walked fast to one of the viewing cabins, the one on the further and more retired corner. I didn’t want to get interrupted or seen. I had to be completely sure. Once there, I opened the parcel. There was no note of any kind. Only a DVD. I switched the TV on and the DVD player. I watched the disc being swallowed by the machine. And after a few blank seconds, Herman appeared on screen. He looked thinner and paler than last time I had seen him, if that was possible. His hair was long, greasy, and he’d acquired some grey hairs. He looked tired but smiled, toothpaste-ad style.

“Hi, Pat. It’s been a long time since we last saw each other, hasn’t it? Over three years now. Of course, you’re the one seeing me though, I can’t see you. Not yet, anyhow. Or do you think I can?…It wasn’t in very good taste what you did to me. Pack your things and go when we were having such good fun. And send me an e-mail. So impersonal! ‘Don’t try to contact me. Leave me alone or…’ I’ve been wondering ‘or what?’ all these years. That’s not fair. I’ve been bored stiff all this time. Watching our last video. Do you remember it? Here is a selection.”

The screen went blank for a minute and the next images were of a couple, naked in a narrow bed, having sex. Herman, the male in the tape, seemed to be performing for the camera, trying to make the action as visible as possible. Only when approaching the climax did he seem to lose the control and forget about the performance. The woman was hardly visible until the end, when Herman just laid down next to her, caressing her abdomen and kissing her nipples. Herman seemed to suddenly remember the camera and grabbing her face made her sit.

‘Smile at the camera.’

I looked at the blank screen. My image looking at myself from the gulf of three years made me blush and feel humiliated. But it hadn’t finished yet. Herman walked in front of the camera and sat down.

“I hope you enjoyed it. I did. You didn’t give me much of a chance to ask you, actually. But, I’ve been thinking of better angles for the camera. It would be more interesting if you were on top next time. I’ll phone you this morning. Just to discuss the details. Bye. I’m happy I’ve found you finally.”

I went back to my desk and sat down. I put the DVD on the top drawer, the one I could lock. The white phone looked harmless and pure. I could not think or do anything. I contemplated the possibility of leaving the office and going home. Maybe I should have emigrated. But I felt drained of all energy. I just waited for the phone to ring. And it did.

“Hi Pat. It’s Cal here. Are you busy tonight?”

“Tonight?…I don’t know. I’m waiting for a phone-call. I can’t tell you yet. What were you thinking of?”

“Intimate dinner, movie, sex…The usual.”

“I’ll give you a call when I know what I’m doing.”

“Are you all right? You sound a bit…strange.”

“I just feel a bit tired. I’ll be all right, Cal.”

“OK. Don’t forget to phone. You know I have many admirers cueing…”

“I’ll phone you later.”

“Pat…It was only a joke.”

“I know, darling, I know. Sorry, I’m just not myself today. Speak to you later. Thanks for phoning.”

Cal…he was such a sweet guy. How could I explain Herman to him? How could anybody explain Herman to anybody else? If he would just disappear…

The phone rang again. I let it ring a few times, until Tina, the girl in the contiguous office came in. Always fashionable clothes, impeccable make-up, carefully arranged hair…Heart of model.

“Oh, I thought you weren’t in. I was going to answer it…By the way, somebody phoned earlier. Herman…somebody or other. He said he’s your stepbrother. I didn’t know you had any family.”

“We haven’t talked to each other for a long time. I’ll tell you the story some other day.”

I picked up the phone and watched Tina leave.

“Hello. Pat McKenzie here.”

“Hi Pat. Herman Stenson here.”

I didn’t say anything. There wasn’t anything to say.

“How are you? Surprised?”

“Nothing you do surprises me, Herman.”

“You probably thought you had got away with it by now.”

“I didn’t think, I hoped and prayed. What do you want?”

“OK, forget about niceties, hey? It’s only me, it’s all in the family, I understand. What do you think I want?”

I didn’t answer. I wanted to put the phone down on him, but I knew that wouldn’t make any difference. I’d grown up with the bastard.

“I want you to come and see me, Pat. I’m living here too. I moved once I found your address. I’ll tell you where I live.”

“I don’t want to know.”

“I have a very nice place here.”

“Leave me alone.”

“Oh, come on, Pat, be fair now. Have I gone to all this bother to find you for nothing? You must come and see me. I must show you my new video system, cameras…I can tape anything now.”

“I don’t want to…”

“All right, I’m not going to carry on playing Mr. Nice Guy. If that’s the way you want it that’s the way it’ll be. You will come to see me or I’ll send a copy of our tape to your boss and to your lovely Carl Tom…whatever.”

“Cal Tomlinson. What makes you think I’m bothered about that?”

“The sub-editor of a serious intellectual magazine, on educational matters, star of a porn movie. I’m not sure it quite goes with the job.”

“It isn’t a porn movie.”

“I know what it is, and you do too, but do you think anybody else knows? Nobody would understand that. And I’m sure Carl wouldn’t either.”

“Cal.”

“I couldn’t care less what his name is. Unless he wants to star in the movie…although…no, let’s keep it as it was.”

“WHY DON’T YOU SIMPLY FIND SOMEBODY ELSE TO…” I suddenly dropped my voice because I realised that probably Tina and half of the office where hearing me by now. “…fuck?”

“It’s a little bit more than that, love. Come to see me and we’ll talk about it.”

I wrote down his address automatically and put the phone down.

Tina entered my office as soon as I finished the call.

“Are you all right? I heard you shouting.”

“I just…Family matters.”

“Tell me about it.”

“My step-brother, Herman. My dad died when I was very young, only five and my mother re-married a man whose wife was in a psychiatric hospital for life, she was so crazy. He had a son, Herman. A couple of years older than me. Always a bit weird, never socialised much or had any friends…Weirdo. He spent all his time watching the TV, with video-cameras taping everything and the rest of the time with his computer. When he left High-School, where he never did too well, apart from computer-sciences, he got a job designing web-pages and other programmes for big companies. Our parents died in a train-accident just as I was finishing High School. I got a job and went to college but I still lived in the same house with him. He became practically a recluse, doing his job from home, shopping via Internet or the TV, and having no life outside. He grew very controlling and extremely bizarre and I couldn’t take it. I left.”

“Oh.”

“Yes. I didn’t keep contact, but he’s found me again.”

“Oh…He sounds really strange. I hope he doesn’t create any trouble for you.”

“I won’t let him.”

“I’ll leave you to your work.”

“See you for lunch.”

“Sure…”

That was an extremely sanitised version of reality. If Tina thought he was strange she should have known some of the more exciting details. Like the fact that when he was twelve he managed to taped our parents having sex and he kept on playing the video over and over again. He invited me to a session too. My mother and his father kept encouraging him to do things outside, even tried buying him a car, but he sold it and bought more equipment. When our parents died I never noticed any difference in him. Not a demonstration of feeling, nothing…He just moved to our parents bedroom, with all his TVs, monitors, computers…I spent a couple of months with my aunt Rena and when I went back to the house he had painted and redecorated the whole place.

“We need to look forward.” He said.

We had the money from our parents’ life insurance policies, and Herman was making a lot of money with his work, but I still took a job in a nearby shop. We used the same joint account and he never had any comments to make about my expenses. But he still spent all of his time at home and never went out. He paid a cleaning lady to look after the house but he was the only one allowed to enter his room.

Alan popped his face in my office.

“Hey, dreamer, we must go to the meeting about the projects for the new magazine. Come with me.”

I followed him aimlessly, happy to have an excuse to switch off Herman. But Alan had to ask. He is a terrible gossip.

“Then, whom were you shouting at on the phone? I hope it wasn’t one of our clients.”

“My stepbrother. Herman.”

“Your stepbrother? Where did he come from? You never mentioned him.”

“I wanted to forget he existed.”

“I see…But, is he…attractive?”

Alan was always trying to find the man of his life. I smiled at the prospect.

“No Alan. He’s nobody’s type.”

We spent the rest of the day in a marathon meeting. We couldn’t leave to go for lunch and we had sandwiches brought in from the café nearby. I was tired but I felt sorry when the meeting ended. Because that meant that I’d have to decide what I was going to do. I found a note from Tina on my desk.

“Your stepbrother phoned a couple of times. He said he’d be waiting for you. He’ll cook dinner.”

I picked up the phone to dial Herman’s number, but I didn’t. I knew it wouldn’t work. I’d have to face him sooner or later, although if I waited too long he might just manage to destroy my life. I phoned Cal instead.

“Hi.”

“Hi Pat! When are you coming?”

“Sorry Cal, I don’t think I can. I should have phoned you earlier but I’ve been trapped in a meeting. Listen, I must go to see someone.”

“Who?”

“You don’t know him.”

“Him?”

Oh Cal, for Christ’s sake, don’t start.

“Herman, my stepbrother.”

“Your stepbrother? I didn’t know…”

“I don’t get on at all well with him. I thought I’d never see him again but he’s found me and I must go and see him.”

“Why?”

“I must.”

“Can’t you just come over after?”

“I’ll try, but don’t wait for me. He can talk nonstop sometimes.”

“Do try to come. I love you.”

Cal could be very sweet sometimes, but I wasn’t in the mood.

“I’ll speak to you later.”

I put the phone down. If he asked me once again if I loved him…Poor Cal, he’d had a very unhappy childhood, he’d been physically and sexually abused by his father, and he was very insecure and needy. I loved him my own way, but he was too intense for me sometimes.

As I was leaving, with the DVD in my handbag, the phone rang. I picked it up and without listening I said:

“Yes Cal, I love you.”

“Do you? That’s sweet. What are you doing still there? I’ve been waiting for hours. You don’t want me to get impatient.”

“I couldn’t care less, Herman. But, I’m on my way.”

His house was on a residential area, expensive, exclusive, and very quiet. I rang the bell of the large Frank Lloyd Wright style house. Pretty.

Herman opened the door and moved to one side to let me in. He was wearing a track suit and he looked worse than in his tape, although his hair was clean and shiny. Once he locked the door, he gave me a hug and tried to kiss me on the lips. I moved my head back. He tried two or three times and finally gave up.

“All right, all right. All in its due time.”

“It will never be its due time.”

“Don’t be nasty. Just come over, have a seat.”

The house was really nice, but I didn’t care.

“What do you think?” He asked after he’d sat down on a white sofa in the living room. He made a gesture for me to sit but I didn’t. He came over to my side and pushed me onto the sofa opposite his and separated from it by a glass table.

“About what?”

“The house…me…”

“It’s big, expensive, nice…I’m sure somebody else got it for you. You don’t have any taste.”

“You aren’t doing yourself any favours by saying that. Don’t forget I like you.”

I looked at him and then at the floor. I wanted to strangle him.

“Like me? Then leave me alone.”

“I like myself more than I like you. And I want you…”

“You only want my body. Why don’t you find somebody else? I’m not that good at sex. Why don’t you try with a professional, or…anybody else? Why me?”

“How long did we spend going through that last time? An eternity. You know the answer. It’s not sex what I’m interested in. It’s…”

“Voyeurism. Pure and simple. Watch. You want to watch. Watch everything somebody else does. All. But not only somebody else. You want to watch yourself doing things.”

“Yes. What’s so strange about that? Don’t actors do the same?”

“Actors have a life! You don’t! They are performing! They have normal lives outside of their career. You don’t have a life. Come on, Herman. You told me that the only real pleasure you experience is through watching. Although that’s a lie. I was with you, don’t you remember? I know…”

“Of course I experience physical pleasure when I ejaculate. I’m human. But…” I coughed slightly and he looked at me, dead serious, before continuing. “But it’s nothing compared to how I feel when I see myself in film and I see my performance, and I see your face, and your expression when you watch and…”

“Cut it. I don’t want to listen to that. I’m too old for all those pre-adolescent fantasies. I don’t know why you can’t grow up and behave like an adult. You and your masturbatory fantasies. It’s disgusting.”

I saw him pale and shake. He was trembling like a leaf and he stood up and left the room. I heard him being sick in the toilet. I went to the kitchen, well equipped and spacious, and prepared some coffee.

When he came back to the room I had left a cup of coffee in front of his seat. Herman looked at me and sipped the coffee slowly. His voice changed and he became the sad little boy I remembered, always picked on by the older boys.

“Why do you…? My God, Pat…Sometimes you talk as if you didn’t understand anything. As if you hadn’t enjoyed it too. Pat…why are you like this? You know what I need. I really can’t live without it. I tried when you disappeared and I realised you wouldn’t come back. It didn’t work. I didn’t want to watch myself making love to other women. I couldn’t make love to other women. Fuck. Whatever. I can’t…Is it so hard to help me a little? You know you can do whatever with my money, I don’t care. You don’t need to work. You can…”

“Stay all day home so you can watch me. I know the story. I’ve heard it before. I’m not a bird in a cage, Herman. I’m a woman.”

“You’re a bitch.”

“Whatever…Why don’t you get treatment, Herman? You are not well.”

“I’m fine. I might have alternative sexual interests, but that doesn’t make me mad.”

“You never go out of the house Herman. You don’t enjoy anything unless you see it on a screen. That isn’t alternative, that’s abnormal.”

“I don’t care what you call it. I’m happy that way. Let’s stop talking about me, Pat. I know you aren’t interested in knowing what I’ve been doing, so tell me what you’ve been up to.”

“I  thought you knew everything. Don’t you?”

“Yes. The only thing I want to know is why you left me that way. You went out in the morning to work and never came back. I got worried. I phoned Sue, from your office, and she told me you’d handed your resignation in and you hadn’t been to work that day. I thought…I don’t know what I thought. When I…Better, look at this.”

Lens aperture Image courtesy of suphakit73 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Lens aperture Image courtesy of suphakit73 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thanks for reading and if you’ve enjoyed it (or been intrigued by it), please like, comment, and share. Oh, and I leave you a link to a preview of my new YA novel, so you can also CLICK!

https://www.createspace.com/Preview/1145728

 

 

Elixir 1 (1)As St Valentine’s is approaching I decided to try and participate in an initiative of one of Goodread groups I am a member of, Café Literario, where the founders of the group suggested posting stories to celebrate certain occasions (Christmas, holidays…). I came up with a romantic story to celebrate St Valentine’s (and the friendship day) and decided to share it (in English version) with you. I hope you enjoy it.

The elixir of true love

The phenomenon had been going on for two days and by now Amelia had lost her patience and run out of ideas. It was true that she wanted to find a boyfriend and she hadn’t gone out with anybody for a long time. But that did not mean she was happy with the current state of affairs. It had gone from one extreme to the other, and now she couldn’t walk past a man without he staring at her as if enchanted, trying to chat her up, and following her wherever she went.

She had waited until dark to avoid having a crowd of men follow her everywhere. After checking the internet and not finding an answer, the only thing that had come to mind was to go and visit grandma Petra. In Madejar, her village, grandma Petra was the unofficial authority in all matters of local history, potions and lotions, matters of the heart, folklore… Petra Gutiérrez was the autochthonous version of Google, although with much more colour and style.

Hiding in the shadows and trying not to meet anybody on the way, Amelia reached granny Petra’s house. It was a small rustic house, rugged, that seemed to have been hammered out of the stone hill it lay on.

“Grandma Petra! Grandma Petra! It’s me, Amalia. I need your help!”

“Come in, come in my child. You know you’re always welcome.”

Amelia walked into the house, that had the feel of a museum of rural life from a couple of centuries ago, and she found the old woman sitting in front of an open fire in the dining room/lounge.

“Hi Grandma.”

“Hello, my child. Sit down, sit down. Tell me, what brings you here this time of the evening and in such a hurry?”

Amelia obeyed her, sitting down on a low chair, and without further ado she went straight into it, as she usually did.

“Grandma. For the last two days, something very strange is happening to me. Every time I leave the house all men I come across turn around to look at me, whistle and shout compliments at me, buy me flowers, follow me everywhere I go, like lapdogs… I don’t know what’s wrong with all of them, but it isn’t normal. And don’t tell me I’m very pretty and they just like me, because it had never happened to me before and I know it’s not true.

Grandma Petra stared at her and kept quiet, as if deep in thought. Finally she said:

“Did you do anything out of the ordinary, a couple of days ago?”

“Thursday?…. Nothing that I recall. I was checking the paperwork and tidying things up and… It’s true! I found some handwritten notes within my mother’s things. Recipes. I prepared one of the infusions and tried it.”

“Do you remember what you put on it?”

“I have no idea.”

“What do you mean?”

“Instead of ingredients the recipe had symbols. I realised they matched those in the jars my mother had on her cupboard. And I prepared the infusion.”

elixir 2

“And you drank it without knowing what it had on it?”

Amelia looked at grandma Petra.

“My mother used to tell me that there were no poisons or dangerous ingredients in her cupboard… I know I don’t remember everything and my mother… died years back, but I remember that perfectly well.”

Amelia’s father was a geologist and he worked in oil fields abroad and she didn’t see much of him. Her mother had been her rock and had brought her up without much help. Unfortunately, her mother…

She noticed her eyes getting watery. Grandma Petra stood up and hugged Amelia, squeezing her hard.

“We all miss Manuela. She was a great woman.”

Despite the length of time that had gone by since her mother’s death, nearly five years, Amelia hadn’t touched any of her things, leaving all as it was until a few days earlier. The local government was planning on refurbishing the street where she lived and had asked for some documents. While she was looking for them she’d come across some sheets of paper, the assumed recipes, and her mother’s diary, although it seemed to have been written using a code she had not been able to decipher.

“Yes, but why did she write the recipes and her diary in such a bizarre way? It isn’t as if she had major secrets to keep hidden.”

Grandma Petra sighed deeply and sat down again. This time she fixed her gaze on the fire.

“In fact… there are many things you don’t know about your mother.”

“What do you mean?”

“If you want to know everything… you’ll have to go and visit your mother’s best friend. Cristina.”

“Cristina? Fran’s mother?”

“Yes, Paco’s mother.”

Amelia and Francisco (everybody called him Paco although she had always called him Fran) were very close friends when they were children. Their mothers knew each other since infant school and the children used to play together whilst their mothers chatted, cooked, worked…

“Have you seen him? Paco is here visiting his parents. He’s on holiday. He’s very handsome” said grandma Petra.

“No. I haven’t seen him. We haven’t seen each other for a long time…”

Very handsome… Indeed. When he was a young child Fran was a clumsy boy, very thin, with his hair and his clothes always in a mess. Amelia had never been too bothered about his looks, and although he wasn’t the most popular kid in the school, they enjoyed each other’s company. They read books, played the parts of TV characters; they created imaginary adventures, and did their homework. They were inseparable. A summer, when they were 17, Fran went on holiday with his aunt and uncle to the coast and when he came back he was completely changed. Tall, suntanned, fashionably dressed, and full of muscles. Suddenly all girls were falling to his feet, he was soon Mr Popular, and he became bigheaded, or that was what she thought. He was always busy, never had any time to see her and eventually…

“If you want to know what’s happening and wish to find a solution, Cristina is the key.”

“Aren’t you going to tell me anything else?”

“Go to see Cristina. I am sure she can explain everything. Anyway, it’s about time you sorted things out with Paco.”

“We haven’t…”

“No, don’t tell me you haven’t argued. You were inseparable but as you said before, now you don’t even talk to each other anymore. Unless you want to carry on having any men you come across follow you around, you’ll go and talk to Cristina.”

“I’ll think about it.”

Amelia walked towards the door but stopped before opening it. There was plenty of noise, as if there was a crowd outside, or a bumblebee squad. She peered out of the window, hiding behind the curtains, and saw a huge group of men, in tenterhooks, waiting for her.

“Can I go out any other way?”

“Through the kitchen door…” grandma Petra burst out laughing. “Then it seems you’re going to visit Cristina, aren’t you?”

Amelia shrugged and run to the kitchen. She speeded out to avoid the men waiting for her at the front door. She had to be careful as she would not be able to avoid them for long.

The house of Pedro and Cristina Márquez (Paco’s parents) was by the church, five minutes away from grandma Petra’s abode. Amalia reached there breathless and started knocking at the door very fast.

“Please! Please! Open up!”

“What’s the matter?”

Francisco opened the door. Despite the desperate situation, Amelia couldn’t help gasping when she saw her childhood friend. Grandma Petra was right. He was gorgeous. He smiled widely when he saw her.

“Amelia! It’s been a long time!”

“Hi Fran. May I speak to your mother?”

His expression hardened and his tone grew cold.

“Yes. She’s inside. Come in.”

“Shut the door. Otherwise your house will get invaded by men.”

Francisco looked at her with a surprised expression but she didn’t feel like explaining. Well, she did, but not right then. While walking to the kitchen, following the sound of a radio, Amelia wondered if maybe the strange power she’d acquired over men had ceased to have effect, because Fran had behaved as usual with her. Either that or he was immune to it. She rapped at the kitchen door with her knuckles.

“Come in, Amelia.”

“How did you know it was me?”

Cristina looked at her and smiled. Although they didn’t look alike physically, Cristina was tall and dark haired whilst her mother had been short and had brown, Amelia was always reminded of her mother when she saw her, and that was one of the reasons why she hadn’t visited much.

“I was waiting for you. I’ve heard you’ve become a magnet for men.”

“Grandma Petra was right. She told me I should come to see you and you would tell me something about my mother that would explain everything. I don’t know…”

“Sit down, Amelia, and tell me what’s happening.”

Amelia explained everything.

“And now, what do you say? What is the very important thing you know about my mother that I should learn about?”

“I don’t know if you… believe in traditional wisdom, out of the ordinary phenomena that can’t be easily or rationally explained…”

“What are we talking about? Vampires, fairies, werewolves?” Amalia asked, laughing.

“No…” replied Cristina. “I’m talking about witches, spells… White magic, of course.”

“Are you telling me my mother was a witch? Is this a joke?”

“No. What I’m trying to say is that both of us have… had, a special ability, and we knew things about herbs, potions…”

The Love Potion, Evelyn de Morgan, 1903

The Love Potion, Evelyn de Morgan, 1903

Amelia stood up and examined Cristina from head to toe.

“That’s ridiculous.”

“Not at all. We used a special language, a code to write about our experiences. If you’d like that I can help you decipher her diary and the recipes. I suspect you might have inherited our gift. I have several books of spells and potions from our grandmothers and great-grandmothers. It runs in families. It comes from many generations back. On the female side.”

Amelia didn’t want to believe any of that.

“If that were true I would have heard about it. All villages have their legends and stories; I’ve never heard any such thing about Madejar.”

“Our families have always been very careful. And so were the two of us.”

Amelia wasn’t any more convinced than before.

“So, according to you, why is this happening to me right now?”

“I’ve never tried it myself, but that “infusion” you’ve told me about must be the elixir of true love.”

“What?”

“The elixir of true love. Every person of the opposite sex who comes across you will fall head over heels in love with you.”

“And how long do the effects last for?”

“Around a month, give or take a few days. But I’m sure there’s an antidote and I believe it’s in one of my books. I’ll get it ready tonight and I’ll bring it to you tomorrow morning. When you see its effect you’ll know I’m right.”

Amelia nodded and went to the door. She turned the handle but stopped.

“What’s the matter?” asked Cristina.

“I was wondering what use such potion would have. I would understand it if you were to give it to somebody you liked to make them fall in love with you, but making all the men around fall in love with you temporarily because of a potion… That’s not true love. I don’t understand its use, or its name.”

Cristina laughed.

“That’s not the reason for its name. It’s true the elixir has that effect on all men, but it doesn’t have any discernible effect over a man who is truly in love with you. If somebody loves you, they’ll behave the same with you as they always have.”

“So, its use is to distinguish true love from illusion, from a whim.”

“Precisely.”

Amelia left the kitchen, walking very slowly. She stopped in front of Francisco’s room, that looked exactly the same as it had for years. She knocked at the door.

“Fran…”

He opened the door.

“I thought you had only come to see my mother.”

“Yes. Sorry, I needed urgent advice. But it’s been a long time since we last saw each other. Not since you moved to the capital to work.”

Francisco was standing by the half-opened door, with an angry expression.

“I wrote to you. I sent you my e-mail. You never bothered to answer to me” he replied.

“I was going to send you a text for your birthday, but… I was convinced you’d have better things to do.”

Francisco looked her in the eye.

“I’ve always had time for you. Whatever you might think.”

“You always seemed so busy, even before you left…”

Francisco sighed and his face changed to a sad expression.

“I came back from that holiday with my aunt and uncle and suddenly… your behaviour towards me changed completely. I couldn’t do anything right… It’s true that people who’d never noticed me before started to laugh at my jokes and be nice to me, but they never mattered to me.”

Amelia kept looking at Francisco. The elixir didn’t seem to exert any effect over him. And if Cristina was right that could only mean…

“Sorry Fran. You’re right.”

“No need for apologies or saying sorry between you and me.”

“Fran…”

Francisco and Amelia were looking at each other like transfixed. Francisco’s father, Pedro, coughed, and that made them come back down to earth.

“Are you staying for dinner, Amelia?” Pedro asked, looking at her in a fairly peculiar way. ‘Another victim of the elixir’, thought Amelia.

“Thanks very much. I can’t today. Maybe some other day.”

“Why don’t we meet tomorrow?” suggested Francisco.

“I’d love to.”

Amelia pretended to go out through the front door to confuse the men following her, instead escaping through the garden. She got home tired but happy. She wasn’t sure of how she felt with regard to a possible legacy of witchery and spells, but she felt reassured to know that true love didn’t require any elixirs. And that true friendship is the best foundation of love.

love_potionThanks for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it, you know, like, share and comment. And love!

Hi all:

You’ll remember I brought  you the very beginning of ‘Click Me Happy!‘ last week. And the draft cover.

Some people have asked me for a bit more, so I give you another snippet of the first chapter, and Raquel has continued to work on my cover so have a look!

If you remember Lilith wasn’t very fond of romantic novels and was talking to her friend and colleague Debbie (Head librarian).

Here it is:

“It’s not about believing, Lilith. It’s fantasising. Who wouldn’t want to go out with a gorgeous guy and be the centre of his world, and have other women envy you and…?”

Lilith looked at Debbie from head to toe. Debbie was in her late forties, a few years older than Lilith, and Lilith always joked with her that she dressed like and advert for Laura Ashley, with flowery skirts, modest blouses and the librarian’s compulsory uniform, a cardigan. Today it was green.

“Do you really feel like that, Debbie? You’re an accomplished woman, fabulous painter, know everything about books and about this town, are happily married to a clever and kind guy and have a wonderful son. Do you really need these books?”

Debbie looked down and then fixed her gaze on Lilith. A slight rosy tint coloured her cheeks.

“No. Of course I don’t need them, but they spice life up a bit and make it less dull. There’s no harm in them.”

“We women waste our time reading this rubbish instead of going out there and…”

Yes, and…what? Lilith had been feeling unfulfilled. Sure, she loved books and working at the library was enjoyable. She’d worked there since she got her Masters’ Degree in Library Science quite a few years back. She helped Debbie manage the library collections and had created a mass observation archive where local people deposited their recollections of the local events, be it in writing, in recordings, or more recently even videos. It had proved a great success and a local film student was planning on creating a documentary using some of the materials. Yes, there were rewards in doing such a job, but still…

Debbie smiled at her, shaking her head.

“I have a new project for you. That might help.”

“What?”

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed it. Hopefully the whole novel to come soon…

And the cover…Clickmehappy3

El sabañon

Blog de Adrián Gastón Fares, director de cine y escritor argentino (nacido en Buenos Aires, Lanús)

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Frederic Sealey is an American entrepreneur and investor with an extensive experience in capital investment, commercial real estate development and venture capital management. carl frederic sealey

Cage Dunn: Writer, Author, Teller-of-tall-tales

Manic, obsessed, driven to story - all story. Read, write, think, do; dabble, plan, play, do. Do more - More - MORE!

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