Travel Romance Fiction: C’est Moi

My uncle has been messaging me again. Although he knows now that I write, and the nature of what I write, he’s still after me to do “cosy” (“cozy”) crime novels:

Messenger screen capture.
Messenger screen capture.

If you don’t know what that means, they are these types of books:

Screen capture of The BookPeople Limited,
Screen capture of The BookPeople Limited, “Cosy Crime” first page.

And that despite me telling him several months ago that I couldn’t do them and don’t want to do them. But he won’t stop.

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An Immigrant Heritage

If I’m given the chance, I’m unsure if I would vote for Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal for president. I don’t know enough about his politics. They seem deeply conservative, and I’m annoyingly moderate.

He seemed to say some stuff many here in the U.K. disagreed strongly with when he visited recently. However, I am willing to hear more from him. I’m always willing to listen to every reasonable candidate of any major party, and as a governor that by definition makes him “reasonable.”

Screen capture of Twitter.
Screen capture of Twitter.

A separate – and disturbing – issue has been the mockery directed at him on social media (and even in some U.S. mainstream media) for his apparently not being “Indian enough” or even attempting to be “white.”

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Surviving The “Wobbles”

You never know what out there will provide eventual story material. Subconsciously, I’m always on the look out. In a real sense, I’m always working.

I try, but I can’t usually just switch my mind “off.” I find I pay attention to most “everything.” But I know I also have to do so without everyone around me suspecting I’m paying attention to, uh, “everything,” of course. ;-)

River Avon, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire. [Photo by me, 14 June 2015.]
River Avon, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire. [Photo by me, 14 June 2015.]

Case in point: Mass last Sunday included Psalm 92. Perhaps unsurprisingly if you know the first two novels, this line grabbed my attention:

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Layover From “Hell”?

When U.S. airspace was temporarily shut beginning on September 11, 2001, quite a few flights were diverted to Canada. Thousands of travelers were stranded for days. On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the New York Times remembered Gander, Newfoundland’s “plane people”:

They’re called “the plane people” here because on Sept. 11, 2001, some 6,700 passengers on 38 planes descended on this piney little town of about 10,000 people on the northeastern end of Newfoundland….

Of course the suicide hijackings that destroyed much of lower Manhattan and killed 3,000 were wildly outside the norm. We know that. But the “diversion to Newfoundland” thing has happened since the beginnings of the transatlantic “jet age” in the later 1950s.

Nonetheless, the other day CNN (and it seems quite a lot of other media) reported this:

Screen capture of CNN web site.
Screen capture of CNN web site.

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“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that….”

….Jane Austen quotes are usually apt and mostly timeless. (In case you didn’t know, I’m an Austen fan.) In citing that I’m also just having some fun with this “sneak peek” into Distances. For how often have we all seen something like this?

It begins with two couples…. and a fifth person. The latter is unattached (or even on the verge of becoming unattached). At some point that person has caught the eye of an unattached acquaintance of one of those friends…. and that friend, after having been prodded, cajoled, and even begged by that smitten acquaintance into concocting a pairing, finally gives in:

A sneak peek into "Distances." Click to enlarge.
A sneak peek into “Distances.” Click to enlarge.

Ultimately, it either works out:

Free Stock Photo: A couple sitting on a bench overlooking the ocean.
Free Stock Photo: A couple sitting on a bench overlooking the ocean.

Or it, uh, doesn’t.

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Blockhead On Block Island

I sat through the 4th episode of The Affair.

He took her to Block Island.

Screen capture of Wikipedia.
Screen capture of Wikipedia.

Ugh. They’ve ruined Block Island now, too.

You may have already read my reactions to episodes here and here. This post is more of a general take on how it portrays relationships. It’s more serious than the earlier ones.

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The View From The Roof

The other day, Travel and Leisure offered an architectural expert’s take on the newly opened One World Trade Center observatory:

Screen capture of the Travel And Leisure web site.
Screen capture of the Travel And Leisure web site.

Seeing that article, I couldn’t help but recall one thing that made the old WTC observatory view extra special: the view of the massive twin tower next door. I slotted that experience and memory into Passports:

….As their elevator sped upward, their stomachs dropped. In moments, they were at the 107th floor Observation Deck. The North Tower stood majestically next door, and this was one of those days the rest of the view went for some fifty miles….

And, unlike on the new building, you could also venture upstairs from the indoor observatory and wander around outside:

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“Darling, he’s written about us!”

Happy 1st of June. And we didn’t meet them halfway. We went to them. Yesterday, we drove to Christchurch (about an hour and a half away) to visit with a former neighbor couple there.

In a sense, it felt like “going home.” The town is much the same. And the house we’d owned for a decade until 2013 – well, there it stood. (They aren’t huge fans of the people who’ve bought it. We’ve never laid eyes on them and still haven’t.)

The husband (he’s about my father’s age) and I were alone at one point and chatting. He told me they were in Tenerife, in their flat (in the end, they didn’t sell it), and his Mrs. was sitting in the lounge reading Frontiers. “Across the room,” he said to me, “I hear this laugh, and she looks at me, points out a page, and says, ‘What did he do?! That’s me! The so and so! Darling, he’s written about us!'”

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a blank frame with drawing tools.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a blank frame with drawing tools.

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I’m On Facebook (At Long Last)

Gazillion-selling author Harlan Coben’s recent, unfortunate, “Poland problems” led me to reflect. Actually, they probably “pushed” me over the line. I’ve decided I need a Facebook page.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a laptop computer.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a laptop computer.

As you may know if you’ve popped by here regularly over the last year and a half, I write under a pen name. That’s because some of what’s in my novels is based on real-life people I know, and some of them are also Facebook friends of mine under my real name. So I had not been rushing to use Facebook for my books even under my pen name in order to minimize the chance I’ll be “unmasked” by them as an author.

But once my Harper Collins published uncle became fully aware of what I’ve been up in to writing, I’d started to have second thoughts. Most authors are now on Facebook, and – more importantly – readers seem to like it and expect it. It’s an integral part of the social media “office furniture.”

So, yes, I give in. It’s overdue. Here’s a screenshot of it during “construction”:

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“Mrs. Hall-Surrey” Sees “Herself”

Well, our former Christchurch neighbo(u)rs are back in England from Tenerife. The Mrs. half of the couple surprised us with a phone call last night. We’re all going to meet for lunch in the near future, roughly halfway between here in Wiltshire and where they live 6 doors away from our old house in Christchurch.

During our short chat, she said she’d finished Frontiers a few weeks ago. Shameless plug from me here: She said she liked Frontiers even better than Passports. She also declared she can’t wait for the next book to see what else could possibly happen.

So, uh, no rising high expectations there for me to meet!

Christchurch. [Screen capture of Wikipedia by me, 2015.]
Christchurch. [Screen capture of Wikipedia by me, 2015.]

She loved that I wrote about Christchurch again. In Passports, I’d just dropped in a quick mention. But in Frontiers, I decided to go all out: I filled a chapter.

And she did indeed figure it out. She saw “herself” on the pages. A first-class person and good sport, she is greatly flattered I used her and her husband as the basis for Englishwoman “Natalie Hall-Surrey’s” parents….

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