Archives for posts with tag: Barcelona

Hola a todos:

Quizás recordéis que dejé mi trabajo hace algo más de un año con planes de aprender cómo llevar una librería, y para ello me fui a Hay-on-Wye, donde Anne y Darren de Addyman Books fueron tan amables de ofrecerme la oportunidad de trabajar en sus tres librerías y aprender el negocio en vivo y en directo. Por desgracias y por cuestiones familiares, tuve que marcharme antes de lo previsto, aunque espero poder volver para seguir mi aprendizaje dentro de poco. No he abandonado la idea de montar una librería o una tienda con libros y otras cosas, aunque tendré que ser bastante creativa (se admiten sugerencias).

Una de las cosas que me interesaban era la posibilidad de promocionar y vender libros de autores indies. Entre las dificultades están el precio del stock, el espacio, y el hecho de que no todos los libros indie están disponibles en papel. Estaba investigando posibilidades de hacer algo diferente y encontré Seebook (http://www.seebook-shop.eu/es/15-seebook) que me pareció interesante, pero estaba en una fase muy inicial. Ahora he visto que la cosa está mucho más avanzada, y aparte de ofrecer opciones para editoriales tradicionales, han creado una opción para autores indies (http://www.seebook-shop.eu/es/17-contrata-un-seebook) y las tarjetas de libros indies también tienen un apartado en su tienda, aunque de momento no las distribuyen a tiendas físicas.

Seebook

Seebook

¿Qué es un Seebook? Aquí está su propia definición:
Seebook son atractivas tarjetas de descarga de libros digitales. ¡La solución ideal para regalar un ebook! Son multiformato (ePub, Mobi para Kindle y PDF), por lo que sirven para cualquier dispositivo. Sin registros. DRM: marca de agua. También adquiribles en librerías. Algunos contienen materiales extra. Número indefinido de descargas.

Y:

Un ebook que se puede tocar

Seebook es un sistema patentado y licenciado en exclusiva a Digital Tangible S.L. para España y México.

Seebook devuelve el contenido digital al mundo real. Al adquirir una de nuestras tarjetas reproducirás la experiencia de comprar un libro físico, pero más ligero, económico y ecológico. Sólo tendrás que escanear o copiar el código de su interior para descargar al instante un ebook personalizado. Para ello puedes emplear cualquier dispositivo: un smartphone, una tableta o un ordenador.

Aquí está su página web:

http://www.seebook.eu/

Me intriga bastante ya que ofrece la oportunidad de llevar siempre copias de tus libros encima contigo, sin tener que llevar peso ni ocupar una barbaridad de espacio. Si conocéis o estáis en contacto con librería y tiendas, al menos no tendrían la excusa de decir que no tienen sitio. Y si las queréis enviar a lectores (y dedicarlas) no os tenéis que preocupar por los gastos de envíos. Además no hace falta que creéis una versión en papel para usarlos, y siempre podéis añadir material extra para hacerlo más atractivo.

Y aquí el aspecto que tienen

Y aquí el aspecto que tienen

Se han ofrecido a enviarme unas muestras a casa de mi madre en Barcelona (la compañía también es de Barcelona) así que cuando las vea ya os contaré. La CEO de la compañía, Rosa Sala, me ha comentado que aparte de estar disponibles en muchas librerías españolas, se están expandiendo y esperan estar en Foyles, en Londres, dentro de poco.

Os mantendré informados, pero estoy intrigada.

Gracias a todos por leer, y si os ha interesado, dadle al me gusta, comentad, compartid y haced CLIC!

He hablado con Rosa Sala y espero compartir un nuevo post cuando me confirme algunas cosas, pero mientras tanto quería compartir un nuevo video que han creado, que es muy mono:

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Hi all:

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

One of my thought for the shop would be to offer books from independent authors. But of course, stock is expensive and space is also a problem. And not all indie books are available in paper versions. I was investigating any options for this eventuality and I came across Seebook (http://www.seebook-shop.eu/en/15-seebook) that seemed like an interesting option, but in its beginning. Now I’m pleased to say that the initiative has taken off, and apart from options for traditional publishers, it also offers an option for indie authors (http://www.seebook-shop.eu/en/17-publish-your-own-seebook) and those are also advertised in their website.

Seebook

Seebook

What is a Seebook? Here is their own description:

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

And:

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

Here is the website:

http://www.seebook.eu/en/

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

Here is what they look like

Here is what they look like

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

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

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

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

Hola  a todos:

Tuve el placer de conocer a la escritora Tessa Mas hace unos meses durante su presentación de este libro, Relatos de un mundo gris, en Badalona. Una persona encantadora que a pesar de haber descubierto su amor por la escritura recientemente, se ha dedicado a ella en cuerpo y alma y tiene mucho talento. Aunque la había traído de invitada virtual, me encantó conocerla personalmente.

Con todo lo demás que estaba haciendo fue pasado el tiempo y aún no había leído el libro, pero por fin lo he hecho y me alegro. Aquí os dejo mi reseña, y abajo enlaces al libro y a la página de Tessa.

Relatos de un mundo gris de Tessa Mas

Relatos de un mundo gris de Tessa Mas

La colección de historias de Tessa Mas Relatos de un mundo gris ofrece una gran variedad. Desde microrelatos a una novela corta (La Montaña, que según la nota sobre la autora al final del libro se convertirá pronto en una novela), pasando por la poesía. Y los temas y géneros también son variopintos. Hay relatos de misterio/terror, algunos con toques de lo paranormal, relatos sobre relaciones familiares, sobre la violencia de género, sobre la venganza, el amor y el olvido, la muerte, el proceso creativo…

La autora domina la variedad de géneros y consigue hacernos sospechar, dudar, sentirnos perplejos, intrigarnos, y a veces emocionarnos. Algunas historias son como ir de viaje a la dimensión desconocida (The Twilight Zone) y otras como ir a charlar con el vecino de al lado.

El estilo se adapta perfectamente a las necesidades de la historia, creando con unas pocas pinceladas un entorno amenazador o un estado de ánimo opresivo y aterrador, en ocasiones Kafkiano. Hay historias para todos los gustos, con tal de que no os guste lo convencional. Me gustaron todas las historias por motivos diferentes, aunque quizás por circunstancias personales ‘La Maleta’ me llegó especialmente al corazón.

La recomienda por la variedad y la calidad de la escritura, y porque os llevará a sitios inesperados y os hará reflexionar sobre la naturaleza humana y la amenaza que se puede esconder detrás de los objetos más cotidianos.

Yo pienso seguir atentamente a esta escritora. Espero que vosotros también.

Enlaces:

http://www.amazon.es/Relatos-mundo-gris-Tessa-Mas-ebook/dp/B00K0N95PS/

http://www.amazon.com/Relatos-mundo-gris-Tessa-Mas-ebook/dp/B00K0N95PS/

Y ésta es su página de autora:

http://www.amazon.com/Tessa-Mas/e/B00BQHRYVO/

Muchas gracias a Tess por su libro, gracias a vosotros por leer, y si os ha gustado, dadle al me gusta, comentad, compartid, y haced CLIC!

Ah, y quería recordaros que el segundo libro de mi trilogía juvenil: Asuntos angélicos 2. Dimensiones de Greg será publicado la semana que viene. Le dedicaré un post el próximo martes, pero mientras tanto quería compartir con vosotros un nuevo video:

Gracias!

Hola a todos:

Es viernes y toca novedad literaria.

Conozco a Pepa Fraile a través de varios grupos , pero a pesar de haber nacido en la misma ciudad, no la había traído de invitada, así que ya que ha publicado una novela hace poco, aprovecho para traerla de invitada y hablamos un poco de ella. Su última novela es:

El nombre oculto de Casandra de Pepa Fraile

El nombre oculto de Casandra de Pepa Fraile

El nombre oculto de Casandra

¿Serías capaz de alejarte de los prejuicios que te han acompañado a lo largo de tu vida? ¿Crees que todo lo que sucede forma parte del destino? ¿Podrías dejar de ser quien eres? Jimena, una mujer de mediana edad que vive para su trabajo y sus aburridas costumbres, está a punto de materializar una de las fantasías que jamás se habría atrevido a imaginar: Tiene una cita muy especial con un joven que la marcará para siempre. La empresa en la que trabaja desde hace años, la ha relegado temporalmente a la planta inferior del edificio para realizar la tediosa tarea de revisar y clasificar antiguos documentos que la organización comercializa para fines cinematográficos. Allí, de manera fortuita, descubre la existencia de un manuscrito oculto durante décadas, que nunca llegó a su destinatario y cuyo mensaje tratará de descifrar junto a su nuevo acompañante. Ella no lo ha elegido pero su vida y su destino, a partir de entonces, se convierten en una carrera contrarreloj de la que, junto a su joven amante, resultará difícil escapar. La historia transcurre entre dos ciudades, Barcelona y Girona, conectadas entre sí a través de una trama en la que nada parece lo que es y que ninguno de sus protagonistas hubiera deseado descubrir jamás.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1505519810/

http://www.amazon.es/dp/1505519810/

Por si no conocéis a Pepa, aquí os dejo su biografía:

Autora Pepa Fraile

Autora Pepa Fraile

Mi nombre es María José Fraile, Pepa como mi abuela paterna.

Nací en Barcelona el 26 de septiembre de 1965, una libra en toda regla buscando, desde que tengo uso de razón, el equilibrio entre lo que veo, lo que siento y lo que pienso.

Soy licenciada en Ciencias de la Información (periodismo) en la Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona. Tengo el privilegio de trabajar en algo que me gusta.

Trabajadora, habladora, enérgica y testaruda. Valoro muchísimo la salud, trabajar en aquello que te produzca satisfacción, una sonrisa sincera y un gesto de afecto verdadero. Algunas cosas que despiertan mis sentidos: Una buena comida, una buena charla, un buen libro, el olor de la hierba recién cortada, el mar y, por supuesto, la escritura. Escribir se ha convertido muchas veces en una válvula de escape, un instrumento y un medio desde el que expresarme y proyectarme a los demás.

Soy la autora de “LAS SIETE VERDADES DE ELENA” y de “EL SECRETO DE AMALIA” dos novelas de romántico que describen los anhelos, el suspense, las preocupaciones, los sentimientos y los secretos de dos mujeres luchadoras y capaces de cambiar el rumbo de sus vidas. El amor, la fantasía, la intriga y la evolución de sus personajes principales son, en mi opinión, un gancho para aquellos lectores que las puedan tener algún día entre sus manos.

Para que no os perdáis sus novedades, aquí os dejo su página de Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Pepa-Fraile-Colorado/e/B00KOLQO9G/

Y ya que estamos, no podía decirle adiós a Pepa sin repasar sus dos novelas previas, que gustan muchísimo:

El secreto de Amalia de Pepa Fraile

El secreto de Amalia de Pepa Fraile

El secreto de Amalia

Todos guardamos secretos que no queremos compartir con nadie. Secretos con los que convivimos cotidianamente, ajenos a quienes nos rodean y que deseamos que sigan siendo nuestros. Amalia vive con el suyo y lo protege como su mayor tesoro.

Cree que con los años ha conseguido olvidar casi todo lo que sucedió años atrás en una pequeña localidad de Bizkaia. Pero no es así.

Una carta conscientemente extraviada que llega a sus manos y el deseo de volver al lugar en el que lo conoció se convierten en su obsesión. Debe ayudar a Mikel, alguien que sólo ella puede ver.

Esta es una historia en la que la fantasía, la realidad y la ficción se mezclan en la vida de sus protagonistas. Conocer el secreto de Amalia quizás te lleve a preguntarte dónde está el límite de lo real y lo imaginario.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DZI7YE4/

http://www.amazon.es/dp/B00DZI7YE4/

Las siete verdades de Elena de Pepa Fraile

Las siete verdades de Elena de Pepa Fraile

Las siete verdades de Elena

Elena ha trabajado durante más de quince años en la misma empresa y acaba de ser despedida.

Su mundo parece derrumbarse, una vez más, ante una noticia que sabía que llegaría en un momento u otro. Ella misma es el motivo. Su gran y único apoyo hasta ahora ha sido su amiga Flora, una mujer vital y entusiasta que la obligará a salir de su letargo casi a la fuerza y que conocerá, al tiempo que el propio lector, los secretos que Elena lleva guardando casi toda su vida y que no ha querido desvelar a nadie. El precio de su silencio ha sido demasiado alto.

Llegó a Barcelona sola, siendo casi una adolescente, huyendo de su propia historia y de su peor pesadilla. La mochila que arrastra desde que se vio obligada a salir de la ciudad en la que vivió durante los primeros años de su vida, Madrid, ha permanecido en su espalda demasiado tiempo y es hora de empezar a aligerarla. Merece ser feliz y se dispone a tomar las riendas de su destino por primera vez.

Una decisión que le brindará la oportunidad de recuperar el amor y su pasado, y abrir muchas de las puertas que ha necesitado mantener cerradas hasta ahora: Las peores mentiras a las que se tuvo que enfrentar siendo todavía una niña, la trampa más cruel a la que tuvo que sobrevivir siendo todavía una adolescente y su participación, de manera involuntaria, en una importante trama de estafa fiscal en la que se ha visto envuelta y en la que sólo ha sido una víctima más.

Amor, odio, esperanza, venganza, amistad e intriga son parte de los ingredientes de una historia que podría ser la de muchas mujeres que callan y se resignan a su destino hasta que dicen basta.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B0GU65W/

http://www.amazon.es/dp/B00B0GU65W/

Gracias a Pepa por venir de invitada, a todos vosotros por leer, y ya sabéis, dadle la me gusta, comentad, compartid y haced CLIC!

Hola a todos:

Los que lleváis más tiempo siguiendo mi blog puede que recordéis que le he dedicado posts con el título ‘Historias de Familia’ a dos tíos de mi madre, Josep y Conrado Miret, que murieron durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial, uno en Mauthausen (en uno de los campos satélites, Floridsdorf) y el otro se había dado por desaparecido en Francia y se sospechaba que había muerto en París, luchando por la resistencia.

A Josep Miret, que fue Conseller de la Generalitat le dedicaron una calle en Barcelona hace años y algunas de las cartas que había enviado a sus familiares (especialmente a su hermana Magdalena) aparecieron en el libro Els catalans als camps de concentració nazis de Montserrat Roig. Pero…

IMG_0780

Mi primo Joan Molet, se ha dedicado durante los últimos años ha investigar la historia de estos dos hombres, y me ha ofrecido la oportunidad de teneros al día con eventos y nuevos descubrimientos que iba haciendo. Y cuando yo estaba preparando un nuevo post, se me ocurrió que el proceso que había seguido y el cómo había llegado a involucrarse en lo que ahora es su misión, podría resultaros interesante. Desde luego para mí lo es. Así que, fui a visitar a Joan y tomé muchas notas. Aquí os traigo un resumen.

Joan Molet dando una charla en una escuela. Al fondo, una foto de Conrado Miret

Joan Molet dando una charla en una escuela. Al fondo, una foto de Conrado Miret

Joan me contó que empezó a indagar sobre la historia de estos dos familiares porque, su abuela (Francisca Miret) le había contado algunas cosas sobre sus hermanos, y existían recuerdos familiares de su época antes de dejar España durante la Guerra Civil, pero había un vacío de información y lo que se sabía sobre su estancia en Francia y luego en el campo de concentración (en el caso de Josep) era poco y con escasa documentación fidedigna. Y además, Conrado seguía oficialmente desaparecido. Joan decidió investigar este vacío e intentar llenarlo. Empezó a indagar e investigar a principios de 2012, hace ahora tres años.

Para ello se movió en varios frentes.

1) Visitó a los familiares. Así fue como nos pusimos en contacto, ya que aunque mi abuela Juana murió hace años, Joan fue a visitar a mi madre (otra Magdalena, es un nombre popular en la familia, aunque ella prefiere que la llamen Magda) para indagar si tenía documentos de la época, aunque aparte de algunas fotos, no teníamos mucho más. Cuando hablamos le sugerí dar publicidad a sus esfuerzos y a los actos en mi blog, y amablemente me ha mantenido informada. ¡Gracias Joan! No todos los familiares han colaborado ni están interesados en la tarea (como ya sabemos las historias de familia son muy personales).

2)Indagó en fuentes y archivos oficiales. Entre ellos:

    • Archivos Generales de Ávila: donde se encuentran los archivos militares. Oficialmente no tienen ninguna documentación. (Considerando que Josep Miret fue jefe de abastos del ejército republicano en el frente del Ebro, parece raro, pero en fin…)
    • Archivo de Salamanca. Algunos documentos, pero pocos.
    • Pabellón de la República en la Vall d’Hebrón de Barcelona. Informació sobre el PSUC y su relación con el partido.
    • Arxiu Central de Catalunya (St. Cugat). Contiene varias colecciones personales (Eduard Pons Prades, Montserrat Roig… que incluye una postal que envió Josep desde el campo.)
    • La Cruz Roja Internacional (le enviaron una copia del certificado de defunción de Josep Miret en Floridsdorf, herido en un bombardeo aliado y rematado por un guarda del campo).
    • También investigó el árbol de familia, incluyendo visitas al archivo del Arzobispado de Tarragona y otras, que le llevaron hasta finales del siglo XVIII (cuando los franceses quemaron los archivos que encontraron a su paso).
    • Como los dos hermanos se exiliaron a Francia (Josep se fue antes de que cerraran la frontera con sus propios papeles mientras que Conrado pasó con una identidad falsa y estuvo un tiempo en el campo de Saint Cyprien) mi primo suponía que en Francia podría haber documentación al respecto, pero cómo estaba organizada y adónde ir no era tan evidente. Aquí empezó a tener una ayuda envidiable. Se puso en contacto con:

3) La Amical de Mauthausen. Esta organización, que lleva funcionando desde 1962 y que en principio se dedicaba a ayudar a los supervivientes del campo de concentración a conseguir ayudas y subsidios, ha ampliado su labor, formando parte de la red ‘Nunca Jamás’ para asegurarse que la memoria de lo que sucedió no se olvida nunca y seguir luchando contra el fascismo, y proporcionan sesiones informativas en colegios, organizaciones… También hacen trabajo de investigación e instigan homenajes oficiales y eventos conmemorativos, y ayudan a familiares a localizar información sobre sus seres queridos, ya sea proporcionándoles los datos que tengan, o asistiéndoles en su búsqueda personal. Aquí os dejo el enlace para que podáis consultar sus actividades.

Con su ayuda y con su empeño, Joan empezó a descubrir cosas que le fueron muy útiles, como que los archivos y la información sobre la resistencia está organizada en base a zonas (Josep había estado en la Bretaña Francesa, en Caen). Sus indagaciones le llevaron a cruzarse con L’Amical des Anciens Guérrilleros Espagnols en France (AGEEF-FFI), quienes en respuesta a sus preguntas sobre Josep le preguntaron si no estaba interesado en conseguir información sobre Conrado. Gracias a este contacto y al interés que demostró, Joan ha asistido a varios eventos conmemorativos en Francia (en Prayols existe un monumento a los guerrilleros) e incluso recientemente en España, el 22 de Noviembre de 2014, recordando el 70 aniversario de la última retirada de las fuerzas republicanas durante la Batalla del Ebro. (Aquí os dejo un enlace a un video sobre esa conmemoración.)

4) Gracias a todas sus actividades y su interés y esfuerzo, Joan es ahora miembro de la Junta de la Amical en Barcelona (desde 2013), representante de la familia Miret en actos relacionados con las fuerzas republicanas y los guerrilleros españoles, y recientemente se ha convertido en representante de la Amical en CIIMER (Centro de la Interpretación y la Investigación de la Memoria de la España Republicana). Como suele pasar, a veces buscando nuestras raíces podemos descubrir un interés y una dedicación nueva a una causa.

Joan me dio muchos detalles sobre el camino que siguió (tortuoso y arduo), me mostró documentos, algunos de evidente interés para todos (documentos oficiales, trascripciones de los juicios), otros muy personales (como el sobre de una carta que Josep le había enviado a la abuela de Joan, que estaba en manos de una mujer austríaca y tenía la dirección de la casa que Joan recordaba de niño), y espero poder compartir algunos más con vosotros, y seguir trayéndoos noticias. (Algunos, como la conmemoración de la placa a Conrado, que me pareció particularmente emotiva, ya las he compartido).  Pero para mí, hay dos momentos que me parecieron especialmente representativos de la experiencia.

En 2012 Joan se hizo miembro de una serie de grupos de chat en el internet  sobre la Segunda Guerra Mundial, como posible fuente de información. A través de uno de ellos le contactó Claude Midon, un francés afincado en Australia hace muchos años. Su esposa, Madeleine (de nuevo Magdalena), es la hija de Josep Miret y de Lili Brumerhurst y no solo han estado en contacto desde entonces, sino que Madeleine visitó Barcelona y a Joan el año pasado y participó en la inauguración de la placa a Conrado en Junio de 2014, en París.

Madeleine Midon, Joan Molet i foto de Conrado Miret

Madeleine Midon, Joan Molet i foto de Conrado Miret

En Mayo del 2012, Joan visitó por primera vez el campo de Mauthausen-Gusen. (En Floridsdorf, del campo solo queda una placa conmemorativa.  El presidente de la Asociación de los descendientes de los combatientes españoles en Austria le envió una foto a Joan como respuesta a sus pesquisas). Aparte de las otras actividades que he nombrado antes, la Amical organiza una visita anual al campo de Mauthausen (que incluye una visita al Castillo de Hartheim, que se usaba para la “eutanasia activa” y donde se hacían experimentos para determinar la forma más efectiva de exterminar a sectores de la población, y a los judíos en particular). En Mayo de este año, 2015, se celebrará el75 aniversario de la liberación del campo con una serie de actividades, y espero poder compartir con vosotros las impresiones de Joan sobre ello. También espero poder visitar el campo yo en el futuro y traeros mis propias impresiones.

El Castillo de Hartheim

El Castillo de Hartheim

¿Qué le impresionó más de la primera visita? Lo cierto es que todo. Más que nada, lo fácil que era ponerse en la piel de aquellos hombres e imaginarse por lo que pasaron.

Mauthausen

Mauthausen

Las incongruencias históricas (el hecho de que el edificio principal de Gusen ahora lo use una empresa sin mayores cambios, al menos visto desde fuera).

Dins del campEl que uno pueda ir a una cafetería en Mauthausen y disfrutar un trozo de pastel…

El subir a la pedrera y pensar en los prisioneros a los que los guardias hacían saltar a la muerte con su carga solo por entretenerse.

Camino a la pedrera

Camino a la pedrera

El espíritu humano, que nunca se deja vencer. Y su orgullo por estar emparentado con unos hombres que lucharon para hacer que el mundo no se convirtiera en un lugar mucho peor. Comparto algunas de las fotos que me envió del campo. Pocas palabras bastan.

crematoriPlaca

Muchas gracias a Joan por prestarme su tiempo, contarme sus vivencias y ser tan generoso compartiendo su documentación, gracias a todos vosotros por leer, y si os ha interesado, por favor, comentad, compartid, dadle al me gusta, y haced CLIC.

Hi all:

Those of you who have been following my blog longer might remember that I have dedicated posts with the title ‘Family Stories’ to two of my mother’s uncles, Josep and Conrado Miret, who died during WWII, one in Mauthausen (in one of the satellite camps, Floridsdorf), and the other one who had disappeared in France and they suspected had been killed there whilst fighting for the French resistance.

Josep Miret who was Conseller of the Generalitat (the equivalent to a Minister of the Autonomic Government of Catalonia) has a street in Barcelona named after him and some of the letters he had sent to his relatives (in particular those he had sent to his younger sister, Magdalena) appeared in the book Els Catalans als camps de concentració nazis (Catalans in the Nazi concentration camps) by Montserrat Roig. But…

IMG_0780

My cousin, Joan Molet, has been researching the story of these two men for the last few years, and has offered me the opportunity of keeping you up to date with events and new findings he made. When I was preparing a new post on the subject, I thought that you could be interested in the process he had followed and how he had become involved in what is now his mission. I surely find it fascinating. And that was how I went to visit Joan and took many notes. Here I bring you my take on it.

Joan Molet dando una charla en una escuela. Al fondo, una foto de Conrado Miret

Joan Molet talking at a school. Projected we can see a picture of Conrado Miret

Joan told me that he began researching the history of these two relatives because his grandmother (Francisca Miret, Paquita) had told him some things about her two brothers, there were some (few) objects and items from their period before they left Spain during the Civil War, but there was a void of information about what had happened afterwards, both during their stay in France and in the concentration camp (in the case of Josep) with few details and paucity of documentation. And, Conrado was still classed a missing since the 1940s. Joan decided to investigate and try to fill this void. He started his search in early 2012, three years ago.

To achieve that he tried a variety of approaches.

1) He visited his relatives. That was how we came into contact with each other, as although my grandmother, Juana, had died years ago, Joan went to visit my mother (another Magdalena, it’s a very popular name in the family, although she prefers to be called Magda) to ask her if she had any documentation of the era, but apart from some photographs, we didn’t have much else. When we talked I suggested I could share some posts about his work and his findings in my blog, and he has kindly kept me informed. Thanks Joan! Not all our relatives have taken part or are interested in the matter (as we know, family stories are very personal)

2) He requested information from official sources and archives. Among others:

    • Archivos Generales de Ávila (General Archives of Ávila): where the military papers are kept. Officially they have no documentation. (Considering Josep Miret was head of supplies of the Republican Army in the Ebro Front, it’s a bit weird, but…)
    • Archivo de Salamanca (Archive of Salamanca). They sent him a few documents.
    • The Pabillion of the Republic in la Vall d’Hebrón de Barcelona. He obtained some information about the PSUC (Partit Socialista Unificat de Catalunya, a communist nationalist Catalan party) and his relationship with the party.
    • Central Archives of Catalonia (St. Cugat). It contains several personal collections of researchers and authors interested in the topic (Eduard Pons Prades, Montserrat Roig… including a postcard Josep sent from the camp.)
    • The International Red Cross (who sent him a copy of the death certificate for Josep Miret in Floridsdorf, where he was injured during an allied attack and killed off by one of the guards).
    • He also researched the family tree, including visiting the archive of the Archbishopry of Tarragone and others, and he managed to recover information up to the end of the XVIII c. (when the French troops burned what they found on their way).
    • As both brothers were exiled in France (Josep left before they closed the border with his own paper, whilst Conrado escaped using a false identity and was for a while at Saint Cyprien) my cousin imagined there must be documentation in France, but he didn’t know how it might be organised or where to go. But at this point he got very useful help. He got into contact with:

3)La Amical de Mauthausen. This organisation that has been functioning since 1962 and at the beginning helped the survivors of the camp to obtain help and subventions, has widened its activities, and it is now part of the red ‘Never Again’ to ensure the memory of what happened is never forgotten and to carry on fighting against fascism, and they organise/facilitate informative sessions in schools, organisations… They also do research work and send proposals to organise official homages and commemorative events, and help relatives locate information about their loved ones, be it giving by them any data they possess or assisting them with their personal searches. Here I leave you a link for you to check their activities in more detail. (The information is available in several languages, including Spanish, English and French).

With their help and his effort, Joan found out plenty of information that was very useful, like the fact that the archives and information about the activities or the résistance are organised according to areas (Josep had been in the French Bretagne, in Caen).

His enquiries made him cross paths with L’Amical des Anciens Guérrilleros Espagnols en France (AGEEF-FFI) (the Amical of the old Spanish guerrilleros in France), who as a reply to his questions about Josep, asked him in turn if he was not interested in finding information about Conrado. Thanks to this contact and to the interest he showed, Joan has atended several commemorative events in France (in Prayols there is a monument to the guerrilleros) and even recently in Spain, for example, the 22 November 2014, in remembrance of the 70th anniversary of the last retreat of the republican forces during the Battle of the Ebro. (Here a link to a video about the event.)

4) Thanks to his activities, his interest and effort, Joan has become a member of the Junta (Board) of the Amical in Barcelona (since 2013), he represents the Miret family in acts related to the Republican fighters and the Spanish guerrilleros, and recently has become the representative of the Amical at CIIMER (Centre for the Interpretation and Research of the Memory of Republican Spain, Centro de la Interpretación y la Investigación de la Memoria de la España Republicana). As it sometimes happens, in searching for our roots we might discover an interest and a new dedication to a cause.

Joan gave me many details of his journey (tortuous and hard), he showed me documents, some of interest to everybody (official documents, transcripts of the trials), others much more personal (like the envelop of a letter Josep had sent to Joan’s grandmother, addressed to a house Joan still remembered), and I hope I’ll be able to share some more with you and carry on brining you news. (Some, like the commemorative plaque to honour Conrado, that I felt was particularly emotional, I’ve already shared). But for me, there were two moments that felt particularly representative of the experience.

In 2012 Joan joined a number of internet chats about WWII as possible sources of information. Through them he was contacted by Claude Midon, a Frenchman who has now lived in Australia for a long time. His wife, Madeleine (another Magdalena), is the daughter of Josep Miret and Lili Brumerhurst, and they have not only been in contact since, but Madeleine visited Barcelona and met Joan last year, and she was able to join in the ceremony of inauguration of the plaque to Conrado in June 2014.

Madeleine Midon, Joan Molet i foto de Conrado Miret

Madeleine Midon, Joan Molet and photo of Conrado Miret

In May 2012, Joan visited for the first time the camp Mauthausen-Gusen. (At Floridsdorf, of the camp there is only a commemorative plaque left. Joan was sent a picture of it by the president of the Association of the descendants of the Spanish combatants in Austria, whilst completing his research.). As part of their activities, the Amical also organises annual visits to Mauthausen (including a visit to the Castle of Hartheim, that they used for “active euthanasia”, and where they experimented the most effective way to exterminate parts of the populations, Jews in particular). This May (2015), is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the camp that will be celebrated with a number of acts and I hope to be able to bring you Joan’s impressions of the events. I also hope to visit the camp myself in the future and tell you what I felt.

El Castillo de Hartheim

Castle of Hartheim

What impressed him or touched him most of the visit? The truth is everything. More than anything, how easy it was to imagine being there, being one of those men and thinking of their experiences.

Mauthausen

Mauthausen

Also, the historical incongruences (like the fact that the main building of the Gusen camp is now used by a business company, without any external changes other than very limited cosmetic changes). The fact that one can enjoy a piece of cake at a cafeteria in Mauthausen…Dins del camp

 

Climbing the steps to the quarry and thinking of the prisoners the guards made jump to their deaths still carrying their load, just for the fun of it.

Camino a la pedrera

Climb to the quarry

The human spirit, that’s never defeated.

And his pride for being related to these men who fought to ensure that the world didn’t become a much worse place. I share some of the pictures he sent me of that trip. Not many words are needed.

crematori

Placa

Many thanks to Joan for offering me so generously his time, telling me his experiences and being so generous in sharing his documentation, thanks to all of you for reading, and if you’re interested, please, like, share, comment, and CLICK.

 

Hi all:

As you know apart from writing and translating (when I have time!) I read books and review in a variety of places. And every so often I bring them here for your information. Today I have a varied selection. See if you find something of interest:

The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly. Non-stop action and dragons in China.

Thanks to Net Galley I got a pre-release copy of this novel. It’s still in pre-order, so you can read about it before it comes out.

The Great Zoo of China is a good romp, a fabulous ride and a fast-paced adventure/thriller book. You have to be prepared to suspend disbelief and to not mind if situations are stretched a bit far, but if you are happy to do that…you’ll have a fun read.

The book reminded me of Jurassic Park and reading the interview with the author at the end (that I recommend to readers and writers alike) I was not surprised to discover it was one of his favourite books.  The main differences are the setting and the creatures. If Jurassic Park could be seen as a criticism of capitalism’s lack of scruples, one has to wonder, what would be crueller and hungrier, capitalism run amok or communism desperate to become the biggest power by hijacking the world’s attention? While you might have your own opinion on how likely a scenario this is, the possible reasons provided as background don’t interfere greatly with the enjoyment of the story, unless you take them too seriously.

The Great Zoo of China (hardback cover)

The Great Zoo of China (hardback cover)

The similarities with Jurassic Park go from the pseudo-scientific details (although this book’s premise is more fanciful if you like myths and dragons you’ll enjoy the thought), to the size of the creatures, little children, and families, the action-packed episodes and our wondering who (if anybody) will make it out live.

I liked the female hero although we get but a few glimpses of her previous life and there is little psychological depth, but she has guts aplenty. It’s easy to root for her.

To begin with, the book made me think of a huge action movie, later of an adventure computer game where the main character is always looking for a new weapon to fight the big menace (here really enormous). It also reminded me of horror movies with the scary monster who refuses to die and always keeps coming at you. And of the old movies by instalments where you would go from one nail-biting cliff-hanger to the next without time to catch your breath.

The book is a quick and easy read and a page turner. It made me very aware that there are only so many ways one can say big, huge, enormous…

If you’ve read many books in this genre I don’t think it will break new ground or be utterly surprising but it achieves its aims successfully and it is big. If you want escapism, a read that will make you jump and keep you entertained, this novel more than fits the bill.

This is the pre-order link:

http://www.amazon.com/Great-Zoo-China-Matthew-Reilly-ebook/dp/B00MENIERC/

The Serpent Papers by Jessica Cornwell

The Serpent Papers by Jessica Cornwell

The Serpent Papers by Jessica Cornwell. Alchemy, codices and witches in Barcelona

I requested a free copy of this novel from Net Galley when I read the description and saw this was a book about a quest for knowledge, the search for an old manuscript, and the action took place in part in Barcelona. Being from Barcelona and having loved books and reading all my life, it was difficult to resist.

The Serpent Papers is the story of the search for an old illuminated manuscript (a palimpsest to be precise) that has been hidden for years to prevent its destruction. The links of this manuscript with alchemy, an enigmatic figure (Rex Illuminatus confused  at times with the historical figure of Ramon Llull), immortality, witches, and women’s murders make for a complex story. At the heart of the novel there’s a scholar/detective/expert, Anna Verco, who might or might not have some paranormal powers (that might instead be due to organic reasons). Like in many of these books, the search for meaning also becomes an inquiry into the main character and what she stands for.

Cornwell (granddaughter of John le Carré) builds up a complex structure to tell her story. Letters from different periods, accounts of previous attempts at investigating Rex Illuminatus by other experts, interviews of people who knew the victims, dreams and hallucinations…All of them sound and read real, showing a breadth of knowledge and characterization rich and convincing. The language can go from the poetic and lyrical to the mundane and down-to-earth, changing registers with ease.

I loved the little snippets of folk story and legends of the city of Barcelona, the descriptions of the landscape of the island of Mallorca, and the challenges the story poses. It is not an easy read and it can be demanding, both of one’s attention and also of knowledge and deductive capacities. I wondered if a cast of characters for the different eras with some brief descriptions might not make the reading experience easier.

Men using their power and violence to silence women, women being cast as witches as a way of shutting them up, and centuries of attempts at keeping secrets under wraps are not new ideas (at times it made me think of Lars von Trier’s Antichrist although the novel is more complex) but that does not detract from a solid novel that I kept imagining in a big screen near us. I can see actresses fighting over the main character and Barcelona and Mallorca looking very handsome indeed in the adaptation.

I understand this is the first in an ‘alchemical thriller’ trilogy. The appeal and the pull on the imagination of the subject would keep readers coming back for more. Readers who like books about intrigues in a historical setting and with conspiracy theory backgrounds will enjoy it, although I suspect it might be slightly more demanding than previous titles that have become very popular.

In a separate note, I wasn’t sure about the Catalan sentences. There were a number of typos and I couldn’t work out if it was phonetically recorded rather than intended as orthographically correct. More consistency in that aspect would have made the book more seamless for me (that would not be a problem for people not familiar with Catalan).

Just in case you want to check what others have said, here is the Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jan/21/the-serpent-papers-jessica-cornwell-review

Here the link to the actual book:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Serpent-Papers-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00MELZJM2

 

Alex Haley's Roots. An Author's Odyssey by Adam Henig

Alex Haley’s Roots. An Author’s Odyssey by Adam Henig

Alex Haley’s Roots: An Author’s Odyssey by Adam Henig. Shining some light on the Roots controversy.

This is an informative account of the period of time in Alex Haley’s life following the publication of roots and the TV series but it is not a complete conventional biography. Although it does not delve deep into the author’s motives (it is not a deep psychological portrait), it does a great job of reviewing existing sources and even on occasions adding new material from interviews. I was aware of some of the controversy surrounding ‘Roots’ but not of the evidence and details that unfolded. This is a must for people interested in Roots and Haley, and considering its length, it offers a good summary of the sources. I’d love to see and read more of the extensive sources the author explored to produce this work, as there seems to exist much untapped potential.

A well-written and compelling account of a fascinating work (however we might choose to define it) that changed people’s perception of African-American history and stories.

As an author, I also enjoyed the collection of blogs chartering the journey of Adam Henig to, first research, and finally self-publish the book. I hope more books will follow.

http://www.amazon.com/Alex-Haleys-Roots-Authors-Odyssey-ebook/dp/B00HRN891A/

Thanks to all the authors for their books and special thanks to all of you for reading. Please, like, comment, share, CLICK and above all, keep reading!

Hola a todos:

Como es San Valentín el sábado, y el año pasado decidí compartir algunos poemas, se me ocurrió que podría compartir canciones.

Me encantan los musicales, así que no pude evitarlo cuando me puse a buscar canciones.

Primero:

Ava Gardner (ella de verdad, y no la cantante que la dobló en la película) en Showboat (la película se llama Magnolia) singing ‘Can’t help loving that man of mine’ (No puedo evitar amar a mi hombre). Bellísima. Si no sabíais para que inventaron el Technicolor ahora ya lo sabéis.

Me encanta Oklahoma. Aquí os dejo un par de canciones, aunque por gusto compartiría el musical entero (de hecho os dejo un enlace a la versión que ví en Londres en 1998 protagonizada por Hugh Jackman y Maureen Lipman).

Sabéis que la gente se inventa rumores cuando ven a un chico y a una chica juntos, pelando la pava, como nos recuerdan Curly y Laurey:
People will say we’re in love (La gente dirá que estamos enamorados)

Pero el ser discreto no se le da bien a todo el mundo. Me encanta Ado Annie.
I cain’t say no (No sé cómo decir que no)

Y por si os apetece verlo todo…

Ya os habréis dado cuenta de que me gustan Rodgers y Hammerstein. South Pacific es otra de mis favoritas. Aunque tengo que admitir que el color que le añadieron a la película hace que verla sea una experiencia algo rara pero… (me gustan mucho los número cómicos pero no para hoy.)

Si el amor os hace poneros líricos, os recomiendo estas dos canciones (sin importar como de jóvenes seáis o si no es por la tarde ni particularmente encantador) :
Younger than springtime (Más joven que la primavera)

Some enchanted evening (Alguna noche encantada)

También me gusta mucho West Side Story y estoy segura de que también os habéis sentido así cuando estáis enamorados.
I feel pretty! (¡Me siento bonita!)

Y porque a veces no lo podemos evitar…
Mamma Mia! (advertencia, ¡es de la película!)

Ésta os la traigo porque adoro a Billie Holiday (probablemente Lover Man es mi favorita pero es demasiado triste):

That Ole Devil Called Love (Ese viejo diablo llamado amor)(1945) Billie Holiday

No sé qué me hizo pensar en ésta. El album me gusta mucho aunque esta canción no me convenció al principio. Ahora es una de mis favoritas y particularmente aprecio el toque de humor:

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – “Fortune Teller” (Adivina)

Y ahora, algunas de nuestra canciones. Me encanta ésta en catalán.
Josep Carreras: Rosó

Y aquí los tres tenores.
The three tenors: Amapola

Siempre me ha gustado esta canción y el álbum de Bosé. Escogí esta versión entre las muchas que hay.
Laura Pausini y Miguel Bosé: Te amaré

Ya os he dicho que me encantan los musicales. Mar i Cel es una obra de teatro de, Àngel Guimerà. Estudiamos tres de sus obras en bachillerato (en la clase de Literatura Catalana) y mi preferida fue siempre ‘Mar i Cel’ una historia de piratas y una tragedia de amores imposibles entre una joven mujer, noble, destinada a convertirse en monja, Blanca, y un joven pirata Musulmán, Said. Tiene lugar en la Edad Media, poco después de que los Reyes Católicos expulsaran a los Judíos y los Moros de España. Piratas, y un amor imposible. ¿Qué más se puede pedir? Unos años después, Dagoll Dagom (la compañía de teatro musical que acaba de cumplir 40 años) lo transformaron en un musical de gran éxito. Lo fui a ver por aquel entonces (ya hace 25 años) y me enamoré de la producción.

Mar i cel: Per què he plorat? (¿Por qué lloré?)

Esta no es particularmente amorosa, pero aún recuerdo estar en primera fila en el teatro, justo al lado del director de orquesta y ver como se movía el barco. I-N-C-R-E-I-B-L-E. Y por cierto, para celebrar el aniversario, están haciendo Mar i cel en Barcelona (y no sé si irá de tour pero…)
Mar i cel: Himne dels pirates (Himno de los piratas) (Dagoll Dagom)

¡Gracias por leer, o por ver y escuchar, y ya sabéis, dadle al me gusta, comentad, compartid, y feliz San Valentín! (Compartiré libro el viernes). Y contadme cuáles son vuestras canciones favoritas. 

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!

Hola a todos:

Los que me seguís hace algún tiempo sabréis que los viernes normalmente os traigo autores invitados (ya sea vivitos y coleando o clásicos), o novedades literaria (a veces las dos cosas). Como sabéis, muy recientemente he publicado mi novela I Love Your Cupcakes (Me encantan tus cupcakes) en la que buena parte de la acción tiene lugar en un concurso de repostería televisivo (os contaré algo más sobre eso muy pronto) y eso me hizo ponerme a pensar aún más en pastelerías, reposteros y pasteleros.

Ya debéis saber que aunque hace años que vivo en Inglaterra, yo soy de Barcelona, y últimamente por circusntancias familiares he pasado bastantes temporadas allí. Y aunque no es la primera vez que hablamos de comida en Barcelona (os comenté algo sobre las tradiciones por Sant Jordi no hace mucho), no podía dejar pasar la ocasión de hablaros de la casa Escribà, creada en 1906 y que goza de merecida fama.

La fachada de Escribà en las Ramblas (sí, siempre está lleno de gente)

La fachada de Escribà en las Ramblas (sí, siempre está lleno de gente)

Tiene una tienda en las Ramblas (¿dónde si no?) que es preciosa, y otra en Gran Vía más grande, y donde también reside su escuela.

 

Yo he visitado la de Gran Vía en alguna ocasión, para tomar algo, o comprar algún dulce, y para chafardear, porque da gusto ver las creaciones que allí se exponen.

Escaparate de la tienda Escribà en Gran Vía, celebrando la vuelta al cole

Escaparate de la tienda Escribà en Gran Vía, celebrando la vuelta al cole

(Y si váis no dejéis de echarle un vistazo a la galería de gente famosa que ha visitado el local…) Os dejo el enlace a su fabulosa página web, por si no me creéis:

http://www.escriba.es/

No es raro, si os pasáis por allí, ver a Christian Escribà (y estaba allí la última vez que me pasé, pero estaba hablando con gente, que si no…), que no solo ha seguido la tradición familiar, sino que la ha llevado a cotas muy altas. Yo por pura casualidad pesqué su aparición en Master Chef, donde proporcionó su receta de los macaroons y fue encantador.

Por si no lo vísteis:

Christian Escribà en Master Chef

Christian Escribà en Master Chef

http://www.rtve.es/television/20140507/macarons-escriba/894164.shtml

Por si os apetece saber más y como suelo hablar de ellos los viernes, os dejo:

Escribà. El arte de convertir la pastelería en ilusión

Escribà. El arte de convertir la pastelería en ilusión

 

Desde 1906 la familia Escribà nos sorprende a todos con sus geniales creaciones pasteleras. El genio creativo y el buen oficio se han enriquecido generación tras generación, de tal manera que hoy Christian Escribà es el gran chef de la pastelería hecha ilusión. Este libro repasa las grandes recetas de Escribà: desde sus maravillosos buñuelos y cocas hasta los más fascinantes pasteles personalizados.

Aquí os dejo el enlace en La Casa del Libro:

http://www.casadellibro.com/libro-escriba/9788490560471/2199170

Y por si lo buscáis en Amazon (aunque creo que sale más caro):

http://www.amazon.com/dp/8490560471/

http://www.amazon.es/dp/8490560471/

Aquí mi madre echándole un vistazo a la tienda de las Ramblas

Aquí mi madre echándole un vistazo a la tienda de las Ramblas. Y podéis ver una foto de Christian Escribà preparando Crema Catalana

Y algunas fotos del interior de la tienda de las Ramblas, que es muy chula

Y algunas fotos del interior de la tienda de las Ramblas, que es muy chula

Más fotos del interior, con vidrieras y todo

Más fotos del interior, con vidrieras y todo

Hasta tiene su propia Virgen. Quizás nos deberíamos encomendar a ella. A los pasteles les sienta bien.

Hasta tiene su propia Virgen. Quizás nos deberíamos encomendar a ella. A los pasteles les sienta bien.

Y ya os dejo de fotos. Pero si os pasáis por las Ramblas, no os olvidéis de visitarla. Y a dos pasos de la Boquería (Mercat de Sant Antoni)!

Y ya os dejo de fotos. Pero si os pasáis por las Ramblas, no os olvidéis de visitarla. Y a dos pasos de la Boquería (Mercat de Sant Antoni)!

Muchas gracias a todos por leer, a Escribà por colaborar (aunque dudo que se entere, pero yo le enviaré una copia de mi libro. Nunca se sabe), y ya sabéis, dadle al me gusta, comentad, compartid y haced CLIC! Y si pasáis por Barcelona, no os olvidéis de hacerle una visita. Y si os apuntáis a alguno de los cursos, ya me contaréis!

Ah, y si con tanto hablar de pastelerías os ha entrado hambre pero no queréis pasaros de calorías, ¿por qué no le echáis un vistazo a mi romance “dulce” ‘I Love Your Cupcakes’ (Me encantan tus cupcakes). ¡Gracias! 

PS: Por cierto…ando a la búsqueda de blogs de repostería y cocina para aumentar mi colección, así que si conocéis alguno que os guste, o incluso lo escribís, dejadme el enlace en los comentarios! ¡Gracias!

 

Living in the Gap

“Ruffled feathers and endless squawking over a minor difficulty is typical of a crow’s life. I lean back on the counter and realize that could be my line….”

Opinión y actualidad

Opinión sobre noticias y asuntos de actualidad

Los escritos de Héctor Browne

Blog (algo literario y algo viejo) de un Licenciado en Letras, diplomado en edición, y Profesor de Lenguaje.

Priscilla Bettis, Author

The making of a horror novelist.

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