Recovery Mode

Over dinner last night here in London, without warning my mother-in-law observed that she believes the week over in France helped me a lot. She remarked that she felt all I’d gone through with my mother’s and my uncle’s deaths in October and the weeks after in the U.S. trying to cope with the aftermath, particularly with my dad’s grief over Mom, had naturally tired me out. She believed that stress had been showing on my face (in a weariness), but felt I now looked better than I’d had in months.

Naturally only others really know what I “look like,” but, yes, I said, I’d loved last week; that I like France goes without saying, but that visit had been a true distraction. It had been fun, restful, and taken my mind largely off the sadness on the other side of the Atlantic. Relaxing lunches like this certainly played a part:

A French pizza. A lunch last week. [Photo by me, 2016.]
A French pizza. A lunch last week. [Photo by me, 2016.]

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How “Happy” Are You?

I must admit I’m in a pretty good mood this morning. My moment of “inspiration” on the road the other day has indeed led to what I had hoped it would. While still in its early stages, the new manuscript is up and running: I finally have the handle on it I desperately needed.

So I do now feel I can indeed write this “different” novel. I believe I should be able to take what had been up to now vague and disjointed story ideas that had been bouncing around in my head and slowly convert them into a form that might make readers, uh, “happy.” Does that make me “happy”?

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“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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Let’s Not Forget The Balcony Scene

We seem beset lately with academics being funded to study high-profile, fantasist entertainment. We’ve recently been informed that “Disney Princesses” are dangerous to young girls. Now, for older ones, it’s being widely reported that so are the likes of Love, Actually:

Screen capture of the Telegraph.
Screen capture of the Telegraph.

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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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The La Clusaz Chalet: A Year On

The chalet staff is much the same as last year. The major change is the young Polish woman who worked in the bar, and whose French was so good we’d initially thought she was French, is gone. She had told us the job was only a stopgap until she got one in her field, so her departure isn’t a shock. (I don’t remember her field, but she was a recent graduate.) A similar aged Frenchwoman is in her role now.

Looking out from La Clusaz, on Monday. [Photo by me, 2016.]
Looking out from La Clusaz, on Monday. [Photo by me, 2016.]
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Escape To Haute-Savoie

Good grief, it’s so early! We’re up at this time because we’re going across to France from this morning until Saturday – to La Clusaz in the Alps. After all that’s sadly happened since October, we can use a getaway to a gorgeous spot and this one more than fits the bill:

Street in La Clusaz, France. [Photo by me, 2015.]
Street in La Clusaz, France. [Photo by me, 2015.]

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“Disney Princesses”: An Existential Threat?

Whenever I see reports like this, I sit up and take notice. I wonder: how I am doing? I have quite a few women characters, so I take my portrayal of them seriously:

Screen capture of the Washington Post.
Screen capture of the Washington Post.

Its main argument is:

….The plot of “The Little Mermaid,” of course, involves Ariel literally losing her voice — but in the five Disney princess movies that followed, the women speak even less. On average in those films, men have three times as many lines as women.

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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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