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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Unexpected Interruption

We are on a short break in Devon. Problem is the rental house doesn’t have the promised internet.

Arrgh!

And getting mobile net on the phone in this rural coastal area is unpredictable at best. I’m sitting outside a shop right now, and just had a pile of emails come thru! I was able to check Twitter as well finally.

You feel so lost without the net nowadays. I’m seeing if anything can be done. If not, well, I’ll get lots of writing done on my down time.

Hopefully, all will be back to normal next weekend. If not before, see you then. :-)

CNN Urges One Thing, But Your State Department Urges The Opposite

Over the years, I’ve been to some “problematic” places. You may have been, too. We know most people one meets in the world are fine.

Enter CNN’s Anthony Bourdain. An American, he has just been to “back to Beirut.” He says he loves the city:

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

And it’s wonderful he loves it. Certainly he’s not alone. At one point, he even declares:

It’s a place I’ve described as the Rumsfeldian dream of what, best-case scenario, the neocon masterminds who thought up Iraq, imagined for the post-Saddam Middle East: a place Americans could wander safely [Note: emphasis mine]….

But is it really that? Images whizzing by of dinner dishes, attractive people smoking (and of course looking “cool” while doing so), clubbers, and assorted glamour gloss (even bomb damaged buildings are made to seem “trendy”) is to be expected: CNN wants us to watch and hold our attention. But especially relevant for some prospective destinations is obtaining hard information beyond its “thrills,” “hipness” and “happenin’ness.”

Because YOU are NOT being paid to go there.

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Destination Bulgaria

And people wonder from where novelists get material? The ex-husband of a friend of my wife’s is buying a house in Bulgaria. He’s planning to move there permanently (it’s not a holiday home) in early August.

It’s “Melvin.” Naturally, relocating to Ukraine didn’t happen. Now, out of the blue, it’s Bulgaria.

Screen capture of Wikipedia.
Screen capture of Wikipedia.

I bumped into “Melvin” yesterday during a post-cat-sitting stopover at our girlfriend’s house. That girlfriend and her new husband are VERY GENEROUSLY letting “Melvin” flop there until he moves abroad. But I wouldn’t be surprised if when the time comes she drives him to the airport to make sure he actually leaves the country.

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“There never will be anything more interesting in America than that Civil War never.”

Following the murders of nine African-American churchgoers in South Carolina, old social media photographs of the white supremacist arrested for it naturally surfaced almost immediately. In one, he’s wearing jacket patches of the apartheid South Africa flag and the white minority government Rhodesia flag. In another, he’s posing on a car displaying the Confederate States of America emblem.

His embrace of the latter has revived arguments inside the U.S. about the post-Civil War tacit understanding under which the United States became one country again:

Screen capture of Vox.
Screen capture of Vox.

That Vox piece is the sort of thing that leads one to wonder if supposedly well-educated members of the media have ever read a serious history book?

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An 18th Birthday Party

Sixteen years ago, in the middle of our wedding vows in a nearly silent church in north London – assisted unwittingly by my Italian-German aunt, who had kept giving her sweets – the 2 year old had loudly demanded of her mother, “Mummy, I need to poo!”

It didn’t make the wedding video, which was her Danish mother’s greatest fear.

That mum has now been a close friend of my wife’s for nearly 20 years; and she has become my friend, too.

And that toddler – whose father is English – who yelled at our wedding about needing to “poo” has just turned 18. Last night her bash was held in a hotel function room in Bristol.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a present with happy birthday text.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a present with happy birthday text.

She’s now also about 5 ft 10 and (we noticed as we studied her among her friends) resembles Taylor Swift. We hadn’t spotted that previously. And we would never say it to her because we don’t know how that might be received. ;-)

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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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In Your U.S. Passport: Place Of Birth

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 2002 law compelling the Department of State to allow U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem to have their passport note their place of birth as Israel. Although President Bush had signed that bill into law, he refused to carry it out. President Obama continued that refusal.

The Constitution states (in Article II, Section 3) that the President “shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers.” From those words it has essentially evolved that it is not Congress – the legislative branch – that is mostly responsible for carrying out foreign affairs. The voice of the country diplomatically comes mostly from the President – meaning from the executive branch.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a globe with borders.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a globe with borders.

Sometimes presidents sign contentious bills into law simply to direct a matter into the courts for constitutional clarification. Apparently some 50,000 U.S. citizens have been born in Jerusalem. After that 2002 law was allowed on the books, birth there and the passport terminology for its location was almost certainly going to end up in court when the executive branch State Department, following the policy course set by both Bush and Obama, naturally declined an “Israel” request by someone who was also willing to sue over it.

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At The Irish Frontier

It happened again. Previously it was at Heathrow. This time, it was Dublin Airport.

Arriving on Saturday morning, my passport’s older stamps made it clear immediately to the Irish border agent that I travel to Ireland pretty regularly. After we cleared up that I live in the United Kingdom and not in the U.S.A., he asked me my occupation. They don’t always do that.

Free Stock Photo: Flag of Ireland.
Free Stock Photo: Flag of Ireland.

I chuckled inside: I knew my answer would get a reaction. Whenever over the years I’d said “university administration,” no one ever raised an eyebrow. However, saying you write novels will nearly always – after the surprise has worn off – lead to some good-natured conversation.

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Left Side Of The Shelf

We’re visiting our long-time friends in Dublin for the weekend. Flew over this morning from Bristol. Haven’t seen them in person since Florida, last summer.

Settling in, I stumbled on this. And, no, I’m not referring to Larsson or Mandela:

Guest room reading, Dublin. [Sneaky photo by me, 2015.]
Guest room reading, Dublin. [Sneaky photo by me, 2015.]

Oh! Dear! God!

That? In our girlfriend’s guest room? I may never recover from the shock! ;-)