“Mrs. Hall-Surrey” Sees “Herself”

Well, our former Christchurch neighbo(u)rs are back in England from Tenerife. She surprised us with a phone call last night. We’re 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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An Affair (Not Yet To Remember)

You may know I’m rarely critical of most others’ writing efforts. That’s largely because I readily appreciate how difficult it is to pen fiction. Moreover, I never offer book reviews here because I believe they are best left to any author’s truly interested readership or to reviewers/ bloggers who review books regularly.

And I’ve got my own books to write, and being “pulled” away from your own work is any author’s biggest problem. Yet keeping an eye generally on “big success” does supply us with evidence for what must be considered the basis for that “success.” However, naturally – as with Fifty Shades of Grey – we may also not always like what we see.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a cartoon television screen.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a cartoon television screen.

Where am I headed with this? I watched another episode of The Affair. If you like the program, and choose to read on, please understand I’m looking at it only from my (one) writer’s perspective. ;-)

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“Why am I crying?”

Twenty years ago, seeing this in person for the first time….

A view of graves at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. [Photo by me, 1995.]
A view of graves at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. [Photo by me, 1995.]

….I was overwhelmed emotionally and I’ve never forgotten it.

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Sneak Peek: The Beginning (Warning: Contains Spoiler)

As we know, Amazon makes the first 10 percent of a Kindle book, as well as the first pages of a print version (although not nearly so many pages as for the Kindle), available for free reading online. I suspect that is gradually altering writing; I know it’s impacting mine. For given that potential readers get to sample only the beginning of your hard work that could stretch on for several hundred additional complex pages, it seems increasingly important that novels commence with “a bang.”

That said, and as you also may know, I don’t do “gunfire”; but I always seek to grab. Passports opens with an optimistic, pleasant, meeting in a college class, but one also loaded with various signs lots more is gonna happen here from every direction and then some. Frontiers starts with something of a “shocker” that is deliberately meant to lead a Passports reader briefly to think: “Wait. What?”

Now, given the reality its first pages will again be visible online anyway eventually, I thought I’d share the planned beginning to Distances.

Passports (Part 1), Frontiers (Part 2), Distances (upcoming Part 3).
Passports (Part 1), Frontiers (Part 2), Distances (upcoming Part 3).

A word of warning: There is a substantive “spoiler” in this “sneak peek.”

So, to borrow from a television sports reporter who says before revealing a final score for a game that will be broadcast only later on “tape delay,” if you are interested in reading the first two books and have not, and don’t like “spoilers,” CLICK HERE (and I’ll redirect you safely to yesterday’s post). ;-)

Whether or not you choose to read on, have a good weekend, wherever you are. :-)

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A Heartfelt “Thanks”

Everything can seem fine. Daily work and life proceeds. We may feel we’ve got it *mostly* under control….

“But then you come walking into a room, and my mind goes somewhere else.” ~ James (in Frontiers)

Indeed and then we’re jolted into reflecting. Amidst all of the hundreds of postings to date here, I have perhaps inadequately acknowledged what’s ultimately most important. Allow me to do so unambiguously.

Free Stock Photo: A heart drawn in the sand.
Free Stock Photo: A heart drawn in the sand.

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Showtime

Recently, we watched the first episode of The Affair. It’s a drama from the U.S. that got fantastic reviews. It stars two British actors pretending to be Americans, and the program revolves around the fact that they are having an, well…. I think the title is rather a giveaway.

I’m not sure what I think of it yet. I’ll keep watching it. My initial take is it seems to be mostly about how to concoct a drama that justifies extended sex scenes.

No shock that, really. After all, it’s from cable’s Showtime.

Free Stock Photos: Illustration of a movie clapboard.
Free Stock Photos: Illustration of a movie clapboard.

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Our Reality Is Fragility

Somehow I found myself in an argument over the phone on Wednesday evening with a member of the family in the States with whom I’ve argued vehemently quite a few times before. I had thought we’d by now put that sort of behavior behind us. Apparently, though, I’d “triggered” something in that individual and all hell broke loose from that side of the Atlantic.

The phone was slammed down on me. I can’t go into why and I really shouldn’t anyway. Suffice it to say we have all probably had something like that happen in our lives at some point or another.

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Confronting National Stereotypes

Yesterday, I had a terrible headache which virtually incapacitated me all day. I’m not 100 percent my old self yet, but I finally feel a bit better this morning. I can at least function. (When I get a headache, I can become very ill.)

While I was waiting for the pain to subside, I stumbled on this on Twitter from the Matador Network. It’s an entertaining travel and international site, which (full disclosure) also follows me on Twitter. I thought it was worth a blog post:

Twitter screen capture.
Twitter screen capture.

The tweets that went back in response were about what you might expect. However, one of them included an old canard. It’s hard to tell if the tweeter, apparently a man, was joking; he may well have been trying to be lighthearted. The sixth tweet down: it’s about women who (apparently use too much) perfume and don’t shave (under their arms):

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The Duke

No, not *that* “Duke”. Sorry. I mean this one:

"Wellington," by Richard Holmes. [Photo by me, 2015.]
“Wellington,” by Richard Holmes. [Photo by me, 2015.]

I’ve had it since Christmas. I thought I’d finally give it a read. Uh, it’s not War and Remembrance, of course. (Thank God!)

To French followers, please do not be offended. I have already read lots about Napoleon. ;-)

Hope you’re having a good weekend, wherever you are in the world. :-)

Lunchtime Impromptu Book Club

I’ve gotten into War and Remembrance a bit now. It being lunchtime (and after I’d spent much of the morning with “Mark” and “James” and struggling with two – that’s right, two – pages), as I eat my sandwich here at my desk I thought I’d share some initial thoughts on Herman Wouk’s incredible tome.

War and Remembrance, sitting on my desk. [Photo by me, 2015.]
War and Remembrance, sitting on my desk. [Photo by me, 2015.]

Allowing for its age (it’s worth always bearing in mind it’s 40 to 50 year old writing), it’s an excellent book overall so far. However, aspects of Remembrance are not anything I would want to emulate. Even more so than with The Winds of War, I’m seeing certain things style-wise in Remembrance that no novelist should really want even accidentally to replicate.

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