Fear Of Flying

My first flight was on the Eastern shuttle between New York’s LaGuardia Airport and Washington, D.C. I was age 9, and traveling with my grandparents. We three made the short flight to visit for a week with my uncle, aunt and cousins, who were then living in northern Virginia.

I kept that Eastern shuttle’s ticket stub for something approaching three decades after. Do you think I can find it now? Of course I can’t! (I have flown on so many airlines that are now long out of business. The list is extensive: Eastern, Pan Am, TWA, Tower Air, Air Inter. There may be others, but I can’t immediately remember them.)

You may be similar in first flying young. Others start flying much later:

Screen capture of Yahoo.
Screen capture of Yahoo.

And yet others appear likely NEVER to fly. I recall my parents not joining us for that Washington, D.C. trip. The reason given was my then three year old sister and not wanting to take her along.

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For Instant Happy Woman?

While cat sitting for friends last month, I’d noticed this coaster on their dining room table. I photographed it because, being a man, I’m not entirely sure how to take this: image

And it made me chuckle. We saw them again last night; they have just moved house temporarily until they move permanently to Cambridge in August. So we got to see their “interim” place in Bath, and she had that coaster on their dining room table once more.

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“He said THAT? And she said THAT?”

I have literally awoken at times around 3am, my mind for some reason fixating on some plot point or statement. I wonder, “Did I leave *that* out? Did she say that?” It’s a sick feeling that can ruin a night’s sleep.

So far – luckily – whenever I have had that happen, on frantic double-checking I discover everything is fine, and I breathe out. When writing a series, you need a perfect memory. You can’t miss a thing, because even a minor oversight or “misremembering” a tiny “fact” from earlier can prove pretty embarrassing later on.

[Selfie, 2015.]
[Selfie, 2015.]
I’ve been rereading Passports at length over the last few days. It’s the first time I’ve done so in at least a year. As I do, I’m finding I’m also struck by how the books are “evolving” from that opener.

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Reminder: Airplanes Are Not The Living Room…. Or Another Room

With so many more people flying than ever before, and with space on board planes becoming tighter, people are, umm, closer than ever on aircraft. Perhaps too close. Rightly, Valerie wants everyone to respect each other a bit more: “Dear Couples Who Love To Fly”:

Screen capture, Valerie & Valise web site.
Screen capture, Valerie & Valise web site.

We’ve all endured clueless, inconsiderate idiots on planes. But reading her open letter also made me smile, because whenever I see something like it I also recall an experience I’d had some twenty years ago – the single, strangest one I’ve ever had on a plane. (And that includes having once also shared a row with a Frenchwoman and an Amish man.) I first posted this in May 2014, and thought it worth a repost here this morning:

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From Narragansett Bay To Writing Today

Wednesday’s post about a writer of “17 books” going on and on about her personal money woes, combined with the end of my “Bastille Day” free promo for Passports, got me thinking more on this subject.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of books.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of books.

We know there are the “sneak peeks” that the likes of Amazon use to drive sales. But that is not always enough. Much as with musicians who do free gigs and artists who display paintings merely to be seen, when you are lesser known as an independent author it is certainly unreasonable to expect readers to part with money for your work until they believe it is worth it.

So making a novel free is often necessary. Still, it does go against the grain to offer complete free books to enable readers to get to know your work when yours aren’t “shorts” produced every few months for quickie consumption. It’s a lot easier psychologically to give away 1 “short” book when you have “16” others out there, than it is to give away a 400 page novel when you have only 2 of them.

* * *

Much is also made of the fact that independent novels, be they shorts or full-length, are imperfect. They may have, for example, typos:

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Family Pains

We attended the funeral yesterday for my sister-in-law’s younger sister, Donna. A woman vicar celebrated it. One brother read her eulogy and did so superbly. At the conclusion of the thoughtful, loving service, at the crematorium, we filed out past Donna’s casket to the sounds of – I kid you not – “Dancing Queen,” by Abba: it was her favorite song.

All wasn’t harmony and unity, though. One brother did not attend. There has been some major rift between him and the rest of his family. He wasn’t even included in the prayers which named all of the immediate family members, including several who are deceased.

We found out from our nephew afterwards that about 18 months ago he had moved. He didn’t even leave his new address with anyone. The rest of the family have no idea where he and his family now live – and if they even know about Donna’s death.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a family dining sign.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a family dining sign.

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A Joy Departs

My sister-in-law lost her younger sister about two weeks ago. We’re going to her funeral in Essex today.

As a toddler, Donna had been a victim of medical malpractice that led to traumatic brain damage. Her family received a huge compensation package from the National Health Service (NHS). The money was set aside to make sure she was properly looked after for the rest of her life.

And every pound and pence would be needed. It was projected she would not live to 21. But she far outlived medical estimates.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of an older woman in a wheelchair.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of an older woman in a wheelchair.

Donna never grew “old.” But, for over 35 years, she had been unable to do almost anything for herself. Her parents and family – her mother especially – mostly looked after her.

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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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As Bryan Adams Sang: “We all need somebody”

We’re informed – men, especially – “society” is truly terrified of “this” woman:

Screen capture of Elite Daily.
Screen capture of Elite Daily.

And why? Because, we’re also informed, we never see her. Other women dominate the silver screen:

….You know exactly what sort of leading lady I’m talking about: the damaged damsel in distress who’s tragically tethered to the tree of danger, and is patiently awaiting a sweepingly powerful (masculine) energy to find her in the thick of the forest, cut the ropes with his bare hands, rescue her and wrap up her tiny body in his big, burly arms.

OR it’s the doe-eyed, heartbreakingly self-destructive waif who hates herself with a fervent relentlessness and we watch, teary-eyed, as she spirals into the harrowing vortex of addiction and self-abuse — until the earth shattering moment an authoritative male figure magically appears in her life, by absolute happenstance, and an instant falls in love with her and peels her off the ground, saving her from the cell of herself….

As one who creates and writes many women characters, that assertion made me sit up and take notice. It’s certainly not unreasonable on some levels. But it’s also a massive over-generalization.

Think about it: Are nearly ALL women characters really portrayed only one of those two ways on screen?

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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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