“A Frenchwoman in a car….”

During our La Clusaz chalet stay last week, my wife told me she had had a pre-ski chat with a Frenchwoman in the boot room. When my wife’s French finally proved unequal to the Frenchwoman’s, she admitted it. The woman broke into English and continued the conversation. Eventually I came up when the woman (who had seen us together at meals) asked, “Where is your husband?”

“He’s writing,” my wife said she’d explained. “He’s a writer and gets inspiration here.”

Yet “inspiration” sometimes appears from the strangest of directions. A couple of days later after we checked out, we were sort of surprised to find the driver waiting to take us back to Geneva Airport was not the limo guy who’d dropped us. Instead, it was a woman of about 40.

Screen capture: La Clusaz to Geneva.
Screen capture: La Clusaz to Geneva.

As we headed off in her immaculate, small SUV, softly spoken she too revealed she spoke English well. She became easily the chattiest airport driver we’d ever recalled having in France. Soon she was on about the region, the weather, the lack of snow, the scenery….

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Memo To Romance Authors: Nazis Are NOT “Leading Men”

[WARNING: This post contains an upsetting photograph.]

Our imaginations and personal interests will invariably take us down our own writing paths. It’s any author’s right to invent what he/she wishes to invent. Our creativity means everything.

So I’m not one usually to hit out at other authors’ chosen fictional subject matter. Yet there are times you feel you have to make clear where you stand as a matter of fundamental moral principle. Thankfully only very occasionally are there those tales that make you, frankly, gasp and shudder:

A story of an SS officer, his Jewish wife and their fight against the Reich

After gasping and shuddering at that cover blurb, I could only shake my head in disbelief. I’m sure if you want to, you can find that indie novel; but I won’t name it here. (I think it’s a 2015 publication.) I had never heard of it before, nor of its author, until I first saw its full cover pop up on my Google+ the other day.

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“I’m having a few and wishin’ that you were here….”

You may recall that post I wrote last summer about Frank Sinatra’s Strangers In The Night song. I enjoy settling back now and then to his music. Last night, pre-dinner, I was listening courtesy of my iPad to a Christmas present that had come, uh, my way….

Screen capture of part of my iPad music collection.
Screen capture of part of my iPad music collection.

If you don’t understand what all the “fuss” is about regarding Frank Sinatra and would like to, I recommend that Ultimate Sinatra. The 4 CDs version has a helpful background booklet on his life and career. The compliation includes just about everything that marked him out as a distinctive artist.

This post came to mind this morning because our chalet owner here in La Clusaz has had a habit of putting his iPod on the bar and playing Sinatra – even in a room populated mostly by other first-language French speakers. That’s not a shock, though. Sinatra has always been popular here in France:

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“An attempt to explain to the English reader….”

Last year here in London at my in-laws, I stumbled on a virtually pristine 1948 British published hardcover of Raymond Chandler’s famous The Big Sleep. Yesterday, I found another 1940s hardcover; it’s condition isn’t quite as good, but it still possesses a mostly intact dust jacket. It’s a 1944 book by a British academic:

[Photo by me, 2016.]
[Photo by me, 2016.]

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The Joys Of Locating That Out Of Print Book

It’s satisfying when you get hold of “that book” you’ve been trying to find when it doesn’t exist as an e-book and, worst of all, is long out of print. It arrived yesterday – and a week earlier than I’d expected it to turn up, a copy that had been termed “used,” but is actually like new. I wanted one for research for the new novel and I’d found it (appropriately) over in France:

From the third party seller receipt. [Photo by me 2016.]
From the third party seller receipt. [Photo by me 2016.]

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Semi-Random Thoughts For This Morning

Good morning! The mind can sometimes be all over the place on a Monday morning. So this post is something of a mishmash. :-)

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“Hello” new followers!

I see my tongue-in-cheek “letter” I’d written in 18th century English was something some of you found amusing.

Warning: I’m not always that amusing!

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Letter To 230 Years Ago

Outside of Bristol England 22nd January 2016

DEAR SIR

I write to you in the 18th century thinking I might dispatch this to you in Nantes post restrante, but we don’t do that commonly in our time & consigning it to the English mail is not what I wished to do either not because it will be opened and read by some scoundrel as in your time but because now the price of a letter has become so great as to cause one to need to secure a bank loan first & you are long dead anyway. I have decided it is best placed on our inter-net which is easily found & we accept our governments to-day read every thing we write on there. Centuries passing have not changed everything.

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Warmth Amidst Winter’s Chill

As we know, e-books have changed writing in more ways than we can hope to count. Yet certain aspects of the “old-fashioned” paperback are hard to top. For instance, you can pull one you’d authored off a shelf and try to impress your nephew’s girlfriend…. ;-)

Excerpt from "Passports," on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.
Excerpt from “Passports,” on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.

Naturally, it’s, uh, “tougher” to autograph Kindles. If you have one or more of my novels, I just wanted once more to say “Thank you.” I hope you have enjoyed, or will enjoy, the read(s).

After all, without you there is really no point to any of this. And in a more personal sense I mean you beyond being a reader/follower. The three months since the sudden deaths of my mother and my uncle (and with many a conversation with my father since then taking to spiraling downwards into his depressingly declaring he’s wishes he was dead too) have been the toughest and saddest of my life….

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Were Those Corpses Driving Motorcycles?

I watch new films only intermittently. Looking for something last night, we all agreed to try Mad Max: Fury Road. As it started, I joked, “Remember, it’s Oscar nominated….”

Uh, we managed about 15 minutes of it before all four of us gave up. (For one, it was the second time he’d tried to sit through it.) I’m sorry, “Best Picture?” Seriously?

We’ve seen a “diversity controversy” erupt around the Academy Awards as well. I haven’t followed it closely, other than I’ve noticed it argued the films Creed and/or Concussion should have been nominated for “Best Picture,” and that African-American actors have been largely ignored in other categories. I haven’t seen either film, but frankly, given that Mad Max was nominated, it seems indefensible one of those wasn’t.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of film.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of film.

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“My dear and beloved….”

Okay, I’m going to risk showing my age again here. If you are around mine, you likely recall this as well. We are perhaps of the last generation that actually wrote letters on paper, by hand, which we stamped and put into the post:

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a postmarked stamp.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a postmarked stamp.

I recall email catching fire when we were in our twenties – in the early 1990s. I got my first PC in 1994. The web came on about the same time.

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