Archives for posts with tag: Christmas

Hi all:

With Christmas just a few days away, I’m trying to share as many of the reviews I have pending before the end of the year as I can, to make sure you have enough to read over the holidays. Also, I have to warn you I’m planning on having some reshuffling, maintenance and hopefully improvements (and a bit of a move) in the blog over the next few days. I hope I won’t disappear completely, but one never knows… If I do it’s most likely a technical problem rather than anything else… (she said, holding on tight).

After all that, time to share reviews. Today I’m revisiting two writers whose work I really enjoyed the first time around, so I repeated. Here they are.

First, S. R. Mallery with Unexpected Gifts:

Unexpected gifts 3

First, the description:

A TRUE AMERICAN FAMILY SAGA: Can we learn from our ancestors? Do our relatives’ behaviors help shape our own?
In “Unexpected Gifts” that is precisely what happens to Sonia, a confused college student, heading for addictions and forever choosing the wrong man. Searching for answers, she begins to read her family’s diaries and journals from America’s past: the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and Timothy Leary era; Tupperware parties, McCarthyism, and Black Power; the Great Depression, dance marathons, and Eleanor Roosevelt; the immigrant experience and the Suffragists. Back and forth the book journeys, linking yesteryear with modern life until finally, by understanding her ancestors’ hardships and faults, she gains enough clarity to make some right choices.

Here, my review:

Unexpected Gifts by Sarah Mallery. The power of stories and the value of remembering the past.

Having read Mallery’s book of stories Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads I was looking forward to reading her novel. And although not unexpected, it definitely was a gift. The story of Sonia, a young woman studying psychology, in a complicated relationship with the lead singer of a band, and plagued by rituals and other symptoms of OCD, her story frames the novel and provides a conduit for telling many other stories. Through her we get to know her parents, and when her mother suggests she might find direction and some useful ideas by checking the attic and the family boxes that have accumulated there, each box goes on to reveal something about her family members and helps her discover more about herself.

The book is beautifully written, with vivid descriptions of places and people, that in a few sentences transport the reader to the recent (and less recent) past) and to locations and situations that spread from the new to the old world and from America to Bulgaria, via Vietnam. The structure of the novel is clever and works well in progressively unveiling Sonia’s heritage. Every time she reaches a conclusion about one of her ancestors, the next bit of information or evidence contained in the box corresponding to that person makes her reconsider and reach a better understanding (if not always a kinder opinion) about their lives. The box within a box or the Russian wooden dolls that must be opened up or peeled back to discover what hides inside (that are also mentioned in the novel) work well as a metaphor or visual representation for the structure of the novel.

The stories will affect or touch people differently, but they are all interesting and revisit crucial historical events and periods, adding a personal perspective. We have Vietnam War veterans, the hippy movement, European emigrants arriving in Ellis Island, American Suffragettes, Racial Conflict and Race Riots, the McCarthy era Communist witch hunt, Dance Marathons and the Depression Era, and romances that seem to be fated to end up badly. By exploring the past, Sonia seeks a way of understanding her behaviour and of breaking up patterns that result in sadness and unhappiness. I don’t want to reveal too much, but can add I enjoyed the ending that brought closure and a nice conclusion to the novel.

I recommend Unexpected Gifts to anybody who enjoys a good novel, with a solid historical background and strong characters, especially to people who prefer variety and many different stories. As the book is structured I think it will also appeal to readers of short stories and of anthologies of different styles of writing, as it provides multiple voices and many narrations in one single volume. Another great achievement for the author.

Links:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YWGATTU/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00YWGATTU/

Here the link to her author page (and don’t forget to follow her):

http://www.amazon.com/S.-R.-Mallery/e/B00CIUW3W8/

And G. Elizabeth Kretchmer’s Women on the Brink.

Women on the Brink by G. Elizabeth Kretchmer

Women on the Brink by G. Elizabeth Kretchmer

The description:

Women on the Brink is a stunning collection of loosely linked stories in which women aged thirteen to ninety must face the unwelcome realities of their lives. Sometimes gritty, sometimes humorous, and always compassionate, G. Elizabeth Kretchmer’s prose takes the reader on a compelling ride alongside these ordinary women as they wrestle with family relationships, self-esteem, socioeconomic status, maternal obligations, and need for independence.

In “Skydancer,” a young mother resents her newborn baby. In “Float Away,” an at-risk teen is desperate to find a new home. A minister’s wife struggles with secrets in “Liar’s Game.” A despondent housewife longs for purpose in “Alligator Poetry.” The protagonist in “Tasting Freedom” wrestles with decisions about her aging mother’s care. And in “From Here to Cafayate,” a woman refuses to give up on the perpetually flawed relationship she has shared with her sister for nearly ninety years.

Each story is enhanced by one of fourteen original poems contributed by talented poets specifically for this collection and its themes. Although the stories stand alone, they are further strengthened by the relationships among the various characters throughout the collection. Readers of Ms. Kretchmer’s first novel, The Damnable Legacy, will also delight to find that some of the characters from that novel have reappeared here.

The women in this collection may or may not be the type you’d invite over for lunch. Some of them are tough. Some aren’t all that likeable. Some might not see the world the way you do. But they’re compelling in their own right as they reflect women in today’s world—women who have come along a difficult path—and as they courageously take control of their lives.

My review:

Women on the Brink by G. Elizabeth Kretchmer. The World if Full of Possibilities if you Dare.

I was offered a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I read and reviewed Kretchmer’s novel ‘The Damnable Legacy of a Minister’s Wife’ this summer and was fascinated not only by the story (the Alaskan setting also helped) but also by the complex characterisation and the psychological insights. When I was offered a copy of ‘Women on the Brink’ I didn’t hesitate.

The book combines short stories by Kretchmer with poems that are interpretations of themes, feelings or sensations related to the stories that follow. The title perfectly reflects the nature of those stories. The women in them are at different stages of their lives, from teenagers trying to find themselves, to elderly women escaping a retirement home, but they all find themselves at a point when they question their lives as they are and what they are going to do next.

I enjoyed the different settings and characters, the writing style, easy to read and varied, adapting well to the different stories —some more introspective, some more comedic— and also the open-endedness of them. In ‘Bridge Out’ the main character, who after retirement decides to become a trucker, mentions ‘Thelma and Louise’ and like that movie, the stories show women going their own way, and these are many different ways. Perhaps piloting their own plane, going away to help in a disaster zone, confronting their past… And we never see them crash. Because one of the messages of this collection is that the world is full of possibilities if you only dare.

For those who have read the author’s previous novel there are some familiar characters, and there are also characters mentioned in several stories and who appear in more than one, hinting at the interconnectedness between all of our lives.

Although I wouldn’t say my circumstances are exactly those of any of the women in the stories, I identified with the feelings and the emotions described, I cheered (worriedly) for the ‘Girls Against Perfection’, and I thoroughly enjoyed the transformation of Margee in ‘Coco Palms’, from obedient wife to avenging warrior.

I would quite happily have read more about any of the characters in the stories, and confess I could see quite a few of them turned into much longer works (I loved the light touch in ‘Accelerant’ and Maureen, the perhaps not-as-confused-as-she-seems grandmother, is a fabulous character). Despite their length, the author creates fully-fledged characters and situations in each one of the stories, condensing descriptions and sharpening her prose, with not a word spare.

The poems complement beautifully the book and provide an effective and lyrical link between them.

I recommend it to all readers, those who enjoy short fiction and poetry, and also those who don’t read short stories, because we should challenge ourselves and they might be pleasantly surprised.

Links:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1513702351/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1513702351/

The link to the Author’s page (and don’t forget to follow!)

http://www.amazon.com/G.-Elizabeth-Kretchmer/e/B00L2T253I/

Thanks to S.R. Mallery and to G. Elizabeth Kretchmer for their novels, thanks to all of you for reading, and you know what to do, like, share, comment and CLICK!

Hi all:

As  you know on Fridays I bring you new books or authors. I thought I might still be in time to bring you a few good reads before Christmas, and today I bring you some  authors I know whose work has been translated to English but you might not yet be familiar with. They are all good yarns, full of adventures and fast paced, so if you want a read to make you forget the weather and the “excitement” of Christmas and help you get lost somewhere  else…give them a go! In the case of the last one that I’ve been lucky enough to read very recently, I include my own review.

 

The Last Crypt by Fernando Gamboa

The Last Crypt by Fernando Gamboa

The Last Crypt by Fernando Gamboa

– MORE THAN 200,000 COPIES SOLD IN EUROPE
– #1 Bestseller in Spanish & Russian
– “Best Action and Adventure novel of 2012 for Kindle” According Amazon Spain
– LAUNCH OFFER -75% OFF

«I could not stop reading it!.»
«I understand why this novel has been so successful.»
«An impressive and surprising ending, which gives you goosebumps.»
«You can´t stop reading. It’s great, spectacular & lots of fun.»
«It is one of the best novels I’ve read in a while.»
«The truth is that I did not imagine this book could make me enjoy as much as it has.»
«A stunning setting, believable characters, a great story and an unexpected ending.»
«Amazing!!!»

Diver Ulysses Vidal finds a fourteenth-century bronze bell of Templar origin buried under a reef off the Honduras coast. It turns out it’s been lying there for more than one century, prior to Christopher Columbus’s discovery of America. Driven by curiosity and a sense of adventure, he begins the search for the legendary treasure of the Order of The Temple. Together with a medieval history professor and a daring Mexican archeologist they travel through Spain, the Mali desert, the Caribbean Sea and the Mexican jungle. They face innumerable riddles and dangers, but in the end this search will uncover a much more important mystery. A secret, kept hidden for centuries, which could transform the history of humankind, and the way we understand the universe.

Fernando Gamboa (Barcelona, Spain, 1970) has devoted most of his adult life to traveling through Africa, Asia and Latin America. He has lived in several countries and worked as a scuba diver, Spanish teacher, entrepreneur, poker player and adventure guide.
At present, he’s the #1 bestseller indie author in Spain. His books have been translated into Russian, Greek and Italian”

http://www.amazon.com/LAST-CRYPT-Fernando-Gamboa-ebook/dp/B00MRD6LRE/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/LAST-CRYPT-Fernando-Gamboa-ebook/dp/B00MRD6LRE/

Fernando Gamboa, author

Fernando Gamboa, author

About the Author

Fernando Gamboa (Barcelona, Spain, 1970) has devoted most of his adult life to traveling through Africa, Asia and Latin America. He has lived in several countries and worked as a scuba diver, Spanish teacher, entrepreneur, poker player and adventure guide. At present, he’s the #1 bestseller indie author in Spain. His books have been translated from Spanish to Russian, Greek and Italian. Among some of his bestselling titles in Spanish are: La última cripta, Ciudad Negra, Capitán Riley, Guinea.

http://www.amazon.com/Fernando-Gamboa-Gonz%C3%A1lez/e/B006RTHR9K/

The Kraken. Part 1 by Jonás Cobos

The Kraken. Part 1 by Jonás Cobos

The Kraken: Part I (The Melville Files Book 1) by Jonás Cobos

Private Investigator John Melville, once a member of the Secret Services of Condal City, is convinced by his former employers to investigate the murder of his friend Alí Bey. His friend’s death seems to be related to the theft of hundreds of platinum bullion, stolen from national reserves in the neighboring Napoleonic Republic. The robbers used Aether Disrupters to freeze officials in time. But who are the so-called “Custodians of God?”

http://www.amazon.com/Kraken-Part-Melville-Files-Book-ebook/dp/B00PT1EQAK/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kraken-Part-Melville-Files-Book-ebook/dp/B00PT1EQAK/

One of the 5 star reviews:

The Kraken is a short introduction to a series by Jonas Cobos. A mystery detective piece following Melville who is on the case of a national theft and the death of a close friend. The two seemingly disparate incidences become intwined and the plot thickens into an interesting mix of crime and mystery.

People that have enjoyed the work of Jules Verne or H.G.Wells will take to Jonas’ writing style. His clear, bold writing is well paced and consistent throughout, a well structured read. Although it is short, it sets up what could be a great series, filled with more of the same twists and characters.

I’ve felt for a while that reading work written these new authors is a really exciting, Jonas’ ‘The Kraken’ is no exception, having all the right ingredients to make a good series, a taste of what is to come. I look forward to the rest of the Melville Files series. Pick it up.

Author Jonás Cobos

Author Jonás Cobos

About the author:

Jonas Cobos (1967) was born in Balearic Islands, Spain, grew up in Minorca. At 12 years Old he discovered a book by Agatha Christie, and that turn him in a book eater. In 2010 studied Creative Wrinting with the writer Holly Lisle. In 2012 published “Susurros en la Oscuridad” and really fast become a best seller in the terror genre in Amazon Spain. It’s one of the first Spanish writers in Steampunk genre. And his book LA CARACOLA DE NEPTUNO (Steampunk) becomes a best seller in his genre. Now his book is translated to an English and Italian.

http://www.amazon.com/Jonas-Cobos/e/B009BTWC9I/

The Manuscript I. The Secret by Blanca Miosi

The Manuscript I. The Secret by Blanca Miosi

The Manuscript I The Secret by Blanca Miosi

When a mysterious man hands Nicholas Blohm a strange manuscript, the unsuccessful author stumbles upon the chance to write the best novel of his life. However, as he starts reading it, he soon discovers that at one point or another, the story is interrupted, and the last pages left blank. Nicholas then decides to find out whether the story in the unfinished novel is fact or fiction.

He readily gathers information and confirms the characters portrayed in the manuscript do exist. Moreover, he could even meet them: the story is real. Fascinated by the possibility, he travels to Rome to acquaint himself with the cast of characters. As a result, he becomes deeply involved in the search for a secret, a missing part of the formula left by Count Claudio Contini-Massera to his nephew, Dante. Nicholas and Dante embark on a two-week action-packed adventure. All through their relentless journey, we find mystery, suspicion, clues, scientists, murder and finally, the most wanted Nazi of all, Josep Mengele.

Set in Rome, Hereford, Capri and New York, The Secret is the first of a series on which Nicholas Blohm always shows up with the manuscript.

http://www.amazon.com/Manuscript-I-Secret-Blanca-Miosi-ebook/dp/B00QFLRTN4/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Manuscript-I-Secret-Blanca-Miosi-ebook/dp/B00QFLRTN4/

Author Blanca Miosi

Author Blanca Miosi

About the author:

Born in Lima (Perú) of a Japanese father and Peruvian mother, Blanca Miosi has been living for the last three decades in Venezuela. She is the author of Waldek, the boy who confronted the Nazis a novel based on the life of her husband, a survivor of the Auschwitz and Mauthausen camps. First published in its original Spanish as La Búsqueda (Editorial Roca) the work received international acclaim and won the 2007 Thriller Award. In 2009, Miosi published El Legado (Editorial Viceversa), a family saga based on Erik Hanussen, the notorious Berlin clairvoyant and personal counsel to Adolf Hitler. In 2011, and as an independent author with Amazon.com, Blanca Miosi published La búsqueda, El Legado, Dimitri Galunov, El Manuscrito I. El Secreto; El Manuscrito II El coleccionista,Amanda and now “Waldek, the boy who defied the Nazis” (La búsqueda in English Language) Her novels occupy first ranking positions among Amazon´s best sold titles in Spanish.

http://www.amazon.com/Blanca-Miosi/e/B005C7603C/

My own review of the book:

A small book hiding a big secret:

As a writer, a book titled ‘The Manuscript’ will always be intriguing to me, and Blanca Miosi’s book did not disappoint me. From the very beginning you are thrown in at the deep end and have many questions that make you keep reading.

The writer protagonist of the book, Nicholas, is having trouble writing. And right in cue, a strange man gives him a magical manuscript of sorts. It is unclear what the magic is, but Nicholas becomes fascinated by the content of the manuscript to the point that he has to go and pursue the story, no matter at what cost.

The novel flows well, and the changes in point of view narration add layers of complexity to the book, and make us feel closer to the characters, a complex array of people, from all walks of life and different corners of the world. Business corporations, Mafia, Colombia cartels, Nazi concentration camps’ experiments, writers block, love triangles, genetics…all have a part to play in this novel that’s deceptively simple. Fictional situations mix with well-known historical characters and create a compelling narrative that will leave you wanting more.

I’ve read many books and one can’t help but guess what will come next. Believe me, I tried, but the book kept going in unexpected directions.

Well-paced, with a great story, likeable main characters and some fantastic minor ones, a great dose of intrigue (and some magic) it is not surprising it was a best-seller in its Spanish version. I’d be surprised if the English version doesn’t do even better.

 Ah, and I wanted to thank my friend and incredibly talented writer Dariel Raye for featuring me in her fabulous blog. Come and pay a visit:

http://pendarielraye.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/dariels-feature-meet-my-friend-olga.html?zx=fba1021076a90388

Thanks to all the authors for bringing us their books, thanks to you all for reading, enjoy the coming holiday season, and you know, if you’ve enjoyed it, like, comment, share, and of course, CLICK!

 

Hi all:

I’ve been talking about books and recommendations for Christmas and intended to carry on giving you suggestions, just in case you’re getting stressed over the task of having to choose something for your loved ones.

A few of my blogger friends are very talented artists and I wanted to invite  you to visit their pages for inspiration and just the pure joy of contemplating their creations:

Janet Weight, with her magical hummingbirds and watercolours:

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk/

Vera Komnig, whose abstract art always manages to bring my spirits up with the colours and textures so vibrant. As she acknowledges that not all of us have huge walls, like in the art galleries, she has created a collection of smaller pieces that I believe would make incredible Christmas presents:

http://verakomnig.com/kunst-kaufen-buy-art-fur-den-der-schon-alles-hat-ausser-platz-an-der-wand-for-the-one-who-already-has-everything-except-wall-space/

My friend and sister in arms blogger, Sally Cronin, has been posting in her blog Smorgasbord over the last few weeks, a variety of posts with ideas of presents for Christmas and I had to share (as she’s much more thorough than I would manage to be). Don’t miss the art by Sarah Vernon (whose work I love), books, music, suggestions for your author loved ones….

http://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/12/12/sallys-grotto-the-christmas-gift-emporium-of-unique-indie-endeavours-week-four/

And she keeps updating it, so keep visiting.

Author and master blogger Seumas Gallacher

Author and master blogger Seumas Gallacher

Now, due where do is, Seumas Gallacher, master blogger, Scotsman extraordinaire, writer of bone chilling thrillers, and one of the most congenial men in social media, was kind enough to give me this award:

Written Acts of Kindness Award

Written Acts of Kindness Award

(Psch…: If you want to know a bit more about him, check my previous post)

Among the rules are that it can be given as many times as you want but only to one person at a time. I’ve like to give it to all the readers, and to my fellow bloggers who have become a family to me. As the rules say I can only give it to one at a time, I’ll offer it to the aforementioned Sally Cronin on behalf of the troops.

Author and all around good egg Sally Cronin

Author and all around good egg Sally Cronin

If you want to know a bit more about her work, you can check my previous post here:

https://olganm.wordpress.com/2014/08/01/guest-author-sally-cronin-media-health-books-dogs-and-everything-else/

Here are the rules:

  1. You are welcome to give it out as many times as you like, but it is only to be given to a maximum of one person per blog post. If you wish to give multiple rewards, please space the blog posts so the sincerity is maintained.
  2. Introduce the person; say how they encourage, help or inspire you; then link to their work and/or social media profiles. There may be a specific post you wish to link to which helped you. It’s up to you.
  3. Please publicise your award post to Twitter or Google Plus using the hashtag #writtenkindnessso that others can find and follow the award winners.

This award is open to anyone to use. You don’t have to receive it, in order to be able to give it. Once you have received it, it isn’t obligatory that you must pass it on.

Please, everybody, feel free to share and pass around as it is for all of you!

Thanks for reading, and if you have enjoyed it, don’t forget to like, share, comment and of course, CLICK!

 

 

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….)!

As tomorrow is Christmas, I thought I’d bring you the guest classic author post I wrote about Charles Dickens to give you a chance to read his Christmas Carol if you hadn’t yet, or even listen to it.

 

Have a great Christmas if you celebrate it, and if you don’t, have a peaceful time. And to those of you who work tomorrow, Thanks!

 

Love:

 

Christmas in Barcelona 2013

Christmas in Barcelona 2013

 

 

 

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 Yes, it’s Friday and I bring you another classic. Not sure one should say that there are classics that are more classics, but indeed you’d be hard pressed to find anybody who hasn’t heard of Charles Dickens, or his stories. Even if you haven’t read them, you’ll know what they are about, will have watched some of the adaptations (not only BBCs, but movies, etc), or surely watched the musical ‘Oliver!’ based on his novel Oliver Twist. Considered the Victorian writer per excellence, he’s forever popular.

 

Biography:

 

There are very great and detailed biographies available, not only online, but also, of course, in printed form. I leave you a number of links to sites where you can read more about him. Only a few details:

 

He was born in Portsmouth on 7 February 1812, to John and Elizabeth Dickens. He went to school briefly but as his father was imprisoned for bad debt when he was very young (around 9) this cut his formal education short and the whole family (debts and ending up in prison were quite common at the time…Some things don’t change) was sent to Marshalsea, although Charles, instead, went to work in a blacking factory and had to bear appalling conditions. After 3 years he went back to school but he was marked by these experiences and they’ve been reflected in many of his works.

 

He began his writing career as a journalist and he worked in a variety of journals. In 1833 he became parliamentary journalist and three years later married Catherine Hogarth, the daughter of an editor who had been publishing some of his sketches. Shortly after he started publishing ‘Pickwick Papers’ and his success continued.

 

As we all know he wrote many novels (see links below), and quite a few of them in a serialised format, publishing them in periodicals weekly. He was a model for current authors keen on getting feedback and interacting with the public, as it is known that he would modify characters and story plots according to the public responses to his stories.

 

He also drew inspiration from his life and people he met along the way and there is a wealth of information on the real life basis for some of his best known and loved (or hated) characters.

 

He didn’t only write novels, but also an autobiography, periodicals, travel books, plays, and run charitable organisations.

 

Dickens became well-known and loved in the lectures circle and the travelled twice to the United States (where he did readings of his own books but also talked against slavery), to Italy (with fellow writers Augustus Egg and Wilkie Collins) and toured the UK on many occasions.

 

He left his wife in 1858 (they had 10 children) and maintained relationships with his mistress, actress Ellen Ternan (who was many years his junior). He died of a stroke in 1870 and he is buried in the Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey.

 

Links:

 

CharlesDickensMuseum

 

http://www.dickensmuseum.com/

 

BBC Biography page:

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/dickens_charles.shtml

 

Wikipedia, of course:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_dickens

 

The Literature Network:

 

http://www.online-literature.com/dickens/

 

The Complete Works of Charles Dickens. It has links to read his works free on-line.

 

http://www.dickens-literature.com/

 

Entry on Charles Dickens at the New World Encyclopaedia. Good links:

 

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Charles_Dickens

 

Biography.com (it even has videos!)

 

http://www.biography.com/people/charles-dickens-9274087

 

Imdb page with information on movie and TV versions. He is listed as writer of 338 titles!

 

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002042/?ref_=sr_1

 

Links to FREE works (see also above):

 

Free audiobook of A Christmas Carol

 

http://librivox.org/a-christmas-carol-by-charles-dickens/

 

Great expectations:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Great-Expectations-ebook/dp/B0082SWC30/

 

A Tale of Two Cities:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Tale-Two-Cities-ebook/dp/B004EHZXVQ/

 

Oliver Twist (not currently available…Might be soon. Versions for very little available):

 

http://www.amazon.com/Oliver-Twist-ebook/dp/B000JQUT8S/

 

Bleak House:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Bleak-House-ebook/dp/B00847G1PY/

 

David Copperfield:

 

http://www.amazon.com/David-Copperfield-ebook/dp/B004GHNIQQ/

 

A Christmas Carol:

 

http://www.amazon.com/A-Christmas-Carol-ebook/dp/B0084BMUFA/

 

The Old Curiosity Shop:

 

http://www.amazon.com/The-Old-Curiosity-Shop-ebook/dp/B0082ZEKSI/

 

Little Dorrit:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Little-Dorrit-ebook/dp/B0083ZY2LC/

 

Nicholas Nickleby:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Nicholas-Nickleby-ebook/dp/B000JQV5MM/

 

Martin Chuzzelwit:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Martin-Chuzzlewit-ebook/dp/B0084BZU48/

 

And something a bit different. I normally only add free links on the post about classical authors but…I could not resist. I’ve heard this audiobook of ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Alan Cooke (a.k.a. Wild Irish Poet, Emmy award winner, writer, and a true master of voices, who’s also recorded an audio for me that I hope will be available soon) and thought I’d leave you a link. I think it brings it to life and I truly love it. The webpage also offers you a sample so have a listen and see.

 

http://wildirishpoet.com/?page_id=279

 

Thank you for reading, and if you enjoyed it, don’t forget to like it, comment, share it, and of course, CLICK!

 

 

Signature of Charles Dickens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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Hola a todos:

Os prometí que durante las vacaciones navideñas os traería una selección de mis posts, y hoy os iba a dejar uno de algún clásico para que tengáis algo que leer estos días (aunque sospecho que la mayoría tendréis bastantes lecturas atrasadas y muchas otras cosas que hacer), pero me pareció mejor dejaros información sobre una antología de historias navideñas, en inglés, que ha publicado uno de los grupos con los que estoy asociada, ASMSG (Authors’ Social Media Support Group, Grupo de apoyo de autores en medios sociales) A World of Joy que contiene una de mis historias ‘Christmas On-Call’ (Navidades de guardia), que no es una historia demasiado típica (creo). El libro es gratuito, y hay un montón de historias de autores independientes con mucho talento, así que si leéis inglés, andais practicando, o conocéis a alguien a quién le pueda interesar, les podéis hacer un regalo.

A World of Joy, Christmas stories by Grey Mouse Publications

A World of Joy, Christmas stories by Grey Mouse Publications

Aquí está el enlace en Smashwords, desde donde podéis descargar el libro en todos los formatos:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/383338

El grupo lleva un tiempo publicando antologías de lo más variado (de poesía, horror, ciencia-ficción, romance….) todas gratuitas, así que os dejo el enlace al grupo:

http://asmsg.weebly.com/

Y aquí el enlace a la página con sus libros:

http://asmsg.weebly.com/grey-mouse-books.html

Gracias por leer, y si os ha gustado o conocéis a alguien a quién le pueda gustar, dadle al me gusta, comentad, compartid, y sobre todo, haced CLIC!

A Norwegian Christmas, 1846 painting by Adolph...

A Norwegian Christmas, 1846 painting by Adolph Tidemand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Y por si os apetece algo menos navideño, os dejo el enlace a mi historia ‘Carne de cañón’ en Wattpad. Ahora están las 9 partes disponible. El libro de ‘Una vez psiquiatra…’ del cual esta historia es la primera, con un poco de suerte estará disponible en enero. Espero que os guste!

http://www.wattpad.com/28235987-una-vez-psiquiatra-carne-de-ca%C3%B1%C3%B3n

Hi all:

As you know I had promised revisiting some of my old posts over Christmas. I was going to repost some classics so you could enjoy a free read over Christmas, but then I thought maybe you’d fancy a seasonable read, and brand new too.

 

A World of Joy, Christmas stories by Grey Mouse Publications

A World of Joy, Christmas stories by Grey Mouse Publications

You might remember I belong and follow a number of authors’ groups. One of them ASMSG (Authors’ Social Media Suppport Group) has been publishing a number of anthologies of stories by their members, including a general mixed-genre short-stories one, a romance one, poetry, science-fiction, horror… and the latest one, ‘A World of Joy’, and anthology of Christmas short stories. My story ‘Christmas On-Call’ is there (yes, it is not your standard Christmas story, you’ve guessed right) and those of many other talented writers. The anthology (and all the others published by the group) are free, so go and get them!

This is the link in Smashwords for ‘A World of Joy’:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/383338

This is the webpage for ASMSG:

http://asmsg.weebly.com/

And here you can find all the FREE anthologies by the group:

http://asmsg.weebly.com/grey-mouse-books.html

Thanks for reading and if you’ve enjoyed it I hope you like, share, comment, and especially CLICK! And Merry Christmas!

A Norwegian Christmas, 1846 painting by Adolph...

A Norwegian Christmas, 1846 painting by Adolph Tidemand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Continuing with my Christmas selection I’m featuring again the interview with one of the most surprising and enthusiastic writers I’ve met so far in the series. You’ll see what I mean when you read her interview. And without further ado…I leave you with…Vanessa Wester!

My Journey into Self Publishing

Vanessa Wester

By Vanessa Wester

When I was a little girl I devoured Ladybird tales.  My favourite was probably Rapunsel.  The thought of being saved from the wicked witch by a Prince who climbed up a tower using her hair – how cool was that?  Then I discovered the world of Enid Blyton, with fairies, goblins, and talking animals.  My Dad loves books and he had nothing better to do than to take me along to the library or local bookstore.  I rarely bought new books (they were too expensive!) but I loved to hold them in my hands.  And I knew I could save up or perhaps get one for a Birthday or Christmas.  Books were special things, I treasured any I owned.

When I became school librarian at eleven I embraced the job and used the opportunity to hunt for new gems.  Nancy Drew was my next obsession.  After that I read all sorts until Agatha Christie came on the scene.  I used to watch the TV series, but I also read all her books and even bought her autobiography.  My dream was to be the next Agatha.

It was when I started G.C.S.E.’s (aged 14) that I started to think I was no good at writing.  I worked hard, I loved to explore my creativity, but I just never seemed to get the high grades.  I did very well in the end but my confidence was knocked.  I focused on the sciences and forgot my dream of becoming a writer.

Roll on nearly twenty years…

After seven years as a stay at home mum I had become a voracious reader.  I had rediscovered my passion for books after spending many years vegetating in front of the TV watching brainless and uninspiring stuff.  Of course, I did develop a few TV series obsessions which I loved and have gone on the inspire some of my writing.  Heartbreak High, Roswell, Buffy and Heroes are some of the many series I became obsessed with over the years.  I had gone through different phases over what I read.  I have to admit I found Leon Uris compelling.

And then one day, whilst baby number three slept, I was flicking channels and I came across the ending of Twilight on Sky.  I loved the soundtrack, and it looked interesting.  A couple of weeks later I saw New Moon on the shelves of the bookstore so I bought it and though nothing of it.  Of course, my nose would not leave the book until I finished it.  I was overjoyed to see that I could also read Eclipse and order Breaking Dawn.  I had fallen in love with a new author.  I subsequently bought Twilight, which happens to be my favourite of the series.  It was only after I fell in love with The Twilight Saga, that I realised how many others had too.  I felt like I belonged to a club.  The mums reading Twilight in their cars and I shared knowing looks, and we quickly became friends.

When I bought the Twilight DVD, and watched the interview of Stephanie Meyer, I had my light bulb moment.  I was also an educated stay at home mum with a brain that was desperate to think and I had time on my hands whilst little one slept or my husband was away.  I wanted to try to write a novel.  The question was, could I?

I answered that a couple of months later, when I completed my first romantic novel, then only 67,000 words.  I shared it with a few friends and they liked it, and encouraged me to continue.  I have to admit I owe a lot to those friends.  The writing was raw and not very good actually.  But, what they liked and what I seemed to have a ‘gift’ for was the ability to think up a story quickly.  I get lost way too easily…

I polished it a bit and thought I’d see how I could publish it.  I bought the Artists’ & Writers Handbook, searched for agents and publishers and sent off some letters.  This makes me laugh now.  Obviously, I got rejection letters.  There must have been a lot of eye rolling going on when they read my efforts.  I can imagine them chucking it into the rejection pile – “another wanna be.”

I shared my story on Booksie and made friends, but it was when I joined the ‘The Word Cloud’ that I had the idea for Hybrid and I really started to grow as a writer.  I posted some extracts, got excellent feedback – positive with fantastic advice.  And I started to graft.  In that year I edited Hybrid a lot, and started work on Complications, the first two books in The Evolution Trilogy (which was then going to be a series).  I started other stories too for fun; most of them are waiting to be completed.

Then I tried some agents again in December 2011, both replies in January 2012 were rejections but they were positive about the writing.  They actually bothered to put my name on the top of the letter and commented on the novel – progress!  It was then that I thought…why waste postage on trying to find an agent that may be able to get a publisher?  I followed David Gaughran’s blog posts with interest and decided to explore the self published route.

In March 2012, I published Hybrid on Smashwords.  I only sold to family and friends but it was very helpful – it helped me find the errors and edit further.  It then took a few months to publish on Amazon and then I realised I had to market.  So, I joined Twitter, started a blog, became more active on Facebook, and signed up to a Writers Course in York.

After that, the sky is the limit.  All of my blog’s chart the journey’s I have taken.  From the first seeds of writing, to meeting new authors, to discussing books I have read, to going on to publish books of short stories to raise money for charity.  I have never had so much fun.  It is easier to direct you to my blog’s then to rehash my subsequent stories.

Vanessa Wester’s Blog

http://vanessawesterwriter.blogspot.co.uk/

A Reader’s Perspective

http://www.vanessawester.blogspot.co.uk/

The Evolution Trilogy

http://theevolutiontrilogy.blogspot.co.uk/

Short Stories Group

http://www.shortstoriesgroup.blogspot.co.uk/

Diary of the Festival of Writing, York, 2012

http://festivalofwriting2012.blogspot.co.uk/

Have a look and follow me on Twitter @vanessa_wester, I am always eager to chat when I’m around.  All I can say is follow your dream and be prepared to work hard.  I have done it all.  I have designed my own covers, formatted my own work, edited & proofread my work (with the help of some amazing beta readers & cherished friends), cut and reworked scenes, and marketed.  At the moment, I am living the dream.  I have received amazing reviews, for which I am very grateful.  But, I am a realist.  To be a known writer you need to write, you need to get your work out there, and connect with the readers.  The readers decide if you are going to be the next bestseller – no-one else.

Personally, I want to get back to writing and spend less time on marketing and editing.  Someday, I’ll find the right balance.  It has only been less than three years since my journey began, I can’t expect miracles…then again, Christmas is coming up – I can make a Christmas wish!

Hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and use my story as an example…anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

Thank you for reading & thank you Olga for hosting me,

VANESSA WESTER

Author of HYBRID & COMPLICATIONS (The Evolution Trilogy), FIRST DATE (A Short Story), and Short stories included within OUT OF DARKNESS & A FESTIVE FEAST.

Links:

HYBRID (THE EVOLUTION TRILOGY)

HYBRID front cover

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hybrid-The-Evolution-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B0081EV8Z8/ref=cm_rdp_product

COMPLICATIONS (THE EVOLUTION TRILOGY)

COMPLICATIONS front cover

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Copmplications-The-Evolution-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00ADAXWDY/ref=sr_1_5?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1353922590&sr=1-5

FIRST DATE (A NOVELETTE)

FDCOVER

http://www.amazon.co.uk/First-Date-ebook/dp/B00AC1YI0A/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1353924884&sr=1-3

A FESTIVE FEAST (SEASONAL SHORT STOIRIES)

NEWcorrect

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Festive-Feast-Seasonal-Stories-ebook/dp/B00ADADH02/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1353918424&sr=1-4

OUT OF DARKNESS (SEASONAL SHORT STORIES)

OODcover.back

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Out-of-Darkness-ebook/dp/B009RYCBA2/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1351082889&sr=8-2

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

Next Tuesday to celebrate the New Year we will revisit the post by my friend Susana Araujo with one of her poems in English and Portuguese version, and I’ll have a feature (in Spanish) about a Spanish writer, Manuela Herrero Palomar. She is currently working on a Spanish/English version of the book Burmese Stories, so she might return soon with more news!

And of course I couldn’t leave you with a reminder of my books:

‘The Man Who Never Was’

Mancover(EnAmaz)

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009TWRT22

And don’t forget my new series of novellas, Escaping Psychiatry about a psychiatrist and writer and her adventures.

‘Cannon Fodder’ (Escaping Psychiatry part 1)

CannonFoddertitle

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AKWO8Z6

‘Teamwork’ (Escaping Psychiatry part 2)

Teamwork2 V 0065

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AKWSQJA

And ‘Memory’ (Escaping Psychiatry Part 3)

Memorycover

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AKWVRCS

Thank you for reading!

Como parte de mi selección navideña he decidido revisitar la entrevista con Vanessa Wester, una autora arrebatadora por su entusiasmo y passion.

No voy a intentar presentar a Vanessa que ella se explica muy bien y nos cuenta como llegó a autopublicarse (y sin necesitar traducción).

Mi Viaje Hacia Publicación

 Vanessa Wester

Por Vanessa Wester

Cuando era una niña devoré cuentos de la compañía Ladybirds. Mi favorito era probablemente Rapunsel.  La idea de que un príncipe trepara a lo más alto de una torre usando su cabello, para salvarla de la malvada bruja – ¡que fantástico!  Entonces descubrí el mundo de Enid Blyton, con hadas, duendes y animales parlantes.  Mi papá ama los libros y no tenía nada mejor que hacer que llevarme a la tienda de libros o librería local.  Rara vez compré libros nuevos (¡eran demasiado caros!) pero me encantaba tocarlos y tenerlos en mis manos.  Y sabía que podía ahorrar o tal vez conseguir uno para un cumpleaños o Navidad.  Los libros eran cosas especiales, atesoraba cualquiera que poseía.

Cuando me convertí en la bibliotecaria escolar aproveché la oportunidad para buscar nuevos tesoros.  Nancy Drew fue mi siguiente obsesión.  Después leí todo tipo de libros hasta que Agatha Christie entró en escena.  Yo miraba la serie en la TV, pero también leí todos sus libros y hasta compre su autobiografía.  Mi sueño era ser la próxima Agatha.

Fue cuando comencé G.C.S.E. (14 años) que empecé a pensar que yo no tenía un futuro de escritora.  Trabajaba duro, me encantaba explorar mi creatividad, pero nunca me pareció que obtenía notas altas.  Me fue muy bien en el examen final, pero mi confianza en mí misma sufrió.  Me concentré en las Ciencias y me olvidé de mi sueño de ser una escritora.

Salto de casi veinte años…

Después de siete años como ama de casa encontré mi amor por los libros otra vez.  Después de pasar muchos años vegetando frente al televisor viendo cosas descerebradas y aburridas.  Claro, desarrollé obsesiones por series de TV que me encantaron y han inspirado algunos de mis escritos.  Heartbreak High, Roswell, Buffy y Héroes son algunas de las muchas series que me obsesionaron con los años.  Pasé por diferentes fases sobre mi lectura.  Tengo que admitir que encontré a Leon Uris convincente.

Y un día, mientras dormía mi bebé número tres, estaba cambiando canales y me encontré con el final de Crepúsculo.  Me encantó la banda sonora, y parecía interesante.  Un par de semanas más tarde vi Luna Nueva, lo compré, y mi nariz no dejó el libro hasta que lo terminé.  Me llenó de alegría saber que también podía leer Eclipse y Breaking Dawn.  Me había enamorado. Más tarde compré Crepúsculo, que se convirtió en mi favorito de la serie. ¡ Fue sólo después de que me enamorara de The Twilight Saga, que me dí cuenta de que existían los fans!  Sentí que pertenecía a un club.  Las mamás leyendo Crepúsculo en sus coches y yo compartíamos una sonrisa, y rápidamente nos hicimos amigas.

Cuando compré el DVD de Crepúsculo y vi la entrevista con Stephanie Meyer, tuve mi momento bombilla.  También era una madre educada que se dedicaba a estar en casa con un celebro desesperado por pensar y tenía tiempo en mis manos mientras mi bebe dormía o mi esposo estaba trabajando.  Quería intentar escribir una novela.  La pregunta era: ¿podría?

Le contesté un par de meses más tarde, cuando terminé mi primera novela romántica, entonces sólo 67.000 palabras.  Lo compartí con unas amigas y les gustó.  Me animaron a seguir. Tengo que admitir que les debo mucho a mis amigos.  La escritura era tosca y no muy buena realmente.  Pero, lo que les gustó y lo que parecía que yo tenía era un ‘don’ para crear una historia rápidamente.  Me pierdo fácilmente…

Ya empecé ha pensar cómo podría publicarlo.  Compré el Manual de escritores y artistas. Empecé a buscar agentes y editores, y envié algunas cartas.  Esto me hace reír ahora. Obviamente, me enriaron cartas de rechazo.  Me puedo imaginar a ellos echándolo en el montón  de manuscritos rechazados: “otro que se cree escritor.”

La modifiqué algo y después compartí mi historia en Booksie e hice amigas y amigos, pero fue cuando me uní a ‘The Word Cloud‘ que tuve la idea para HYBRID cuando realmente comencé a crecer como escritora. Publiqué algunos extractos, obtuve respuestas excelentes – positivas con consejos y análisis fantásticos.  Y empecé a remodelar.  Ese año  edité HYBRID a fondo y comenzé a trabajar en COMPLICATIONS, los dos primeros libros de la trilogía de la evolución (que entonces iba a ser una serie).  Empecé otras historias por diversión; la mayoría de ellas siguen sin terminar.

Entonces intenté contactar a  algunos agentes de nuevo en diciembre de 2011, ambas respuestas en enero de 2012 fueron rechazos pero con comentarios positivos sobree la escritura.  Se tomaron la molestia de poner mi nombre en la parte superior de la carta y comentaron sobre la novela – progreso!  Fue entonces cuando pensé… ¿por qué gastar sellos intentando  encontrar un agente que posiblemente tenga acceso a un editor?  Seguí las entradas del blog de David Gaughran con interés y decidí explorar la ruta de auto-publicación.

En marzo de 2012, publiqué HYBRID en Smashwords.  Sólo vendí a familiares y amigos pero fue muy útil, me ayudó a encontrar los errores y editar más.  Luego me tomé unos meses para publicar en Amazon y luego me di cuenta que tenía que promocionarme e intentar vender mis libros.  Así, descubrí Twitter, comencé un blog, me volví más activa en Facebook y me apunté ha un curso de escritores en York.

Después de eso, el cielo es el límite.  Todos mis blogs hablan de mi viaje.  Desde unas primeras semillas, a conocer a nuevos autores, discutir libros que he leído, incluso de publicar libros de historias cortas para recaudar fondos para caridad.  Nunca me he divertido tanto.  Es más fácil dirigirte a mi blog que intentar resumir las historias que siguieron.

Vanessa Wester’s Blog

http://vanessawesterwriter.blogspot.co.uk/

A Reader’s Perspective

http://www.vanessawester.blogspot.co.uk/

The Evolution Trilogy

http://theevolutiontrilogy.blogspot.co.uk/

Short Stories Group

http://www.shortstoriesgroup.blogspot.co.uk/

Diary of the Festival of Writing, York, 2012

http://festivalofwriting2012.blogspot.co.uk/

Echad un vistazo y seguirme en Twitter @vanessa_wester, siempre me apetece charlar cuando estoy conectada.  Todo lo que puedo os puedo aconsejar es que sigáis vuestro sueño y estéis preparados para trabajar duro.  Lo he hecho todo.  He diseñado mis propios cubiertas, formateado mi propio trabajo, editado y corregido mi obra (con la ayuda de algunos lectores de beta increíble y queridos amigos), cortado y reescrito escenas y me he dedicado a la comercialización de mis libros.

De momento, estoy viviendo el sueño.  He recibido comentarios increíbles, por lo que estoy muy agradecida.  Pero, soy realista.  Para ser un escritor conocido se necesita escribir, exponer tu obra y conectar.  Los lectores serán los que decidan si vas a ser el próximo “bestseller” – nadie más.

Personalmente, quiero volver a escribir y dedicar menos tiempo a la edición y comercialización.  Algún día, encontraré el equilibrio adecuado.  Sólo han pasado menos de tres años desde que mi viaje comenzó, no puedo esperar milagros…pero bueno, se acerca la Navidad – ¡siempre puedo pedir un deseo de Navidad!

Espero que todos tengan una Navidad fantástica y que usen mi historia como ejemplo… todo es posible cuando pones tu mente a trabajar.

Gracias por leer y gracias Olga por acogerme,

VANESSA WESTER

Autora de HYBRID & COMPLICATONS (The Evolution Trilogy), FIRST DATE (A Short Story), y cuentos e historias cortas incluídas dentro de OUT OF DARKNESS & A FESTIVE FEAST.

Enlaces:

HYBRID (THE EVOLUTION TRILOGY)

HYBRID front cover

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hybrid-The-Evolution-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B0081EV8Z8/ref=cm_rdp_product

COMPLICATIONS (THE EVOLUTION TRILOGY)

COMPLICATIONS front cover

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Copmplications-The-Evolution-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00ADAXWDY/ref=sr_1_5?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1353922590&sr=1-5

FIRST DATE (A NOVELETTE)

FDCOVER

http://www.amazon.co.uk/First-Date-ebook/dp/B00AC1YI0A/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1353924884&sr=1-3

A FESTIVE FEAST (SEASONAL SHORT STOIRIES)

NEWcorrect

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Festive-Feast-Seasonal-Stories-ebook/dp/B00ADADH02/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1353918424&sr=1-4

OUT OF DARKNESS (SEASONAL SHORT STORIES)

OODcover.back

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Out-of-Darkness-ebook/dp/B009RYCBA2/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1351082889&sr=8-2

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

Siguiendo con la selección navideña, el día 1 de Enero, para celebrar el Nuevo Añ0 les volveré a presenter uno de los poemas de mi amiga Susana Araujo, en Inglés y Portugués. Y una novedad. Reseña de la autora Manuela Herrero Palomar. Les gustará, estoy segura!

Y mientras tanto, sólo recordarles mi novela: El hombre que nunca existió

El hombre que nunca existió (cover)

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009TWEGC8

Gracias por leerlo y gracias a Vanessa.

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