Friday, 19 August 2016

Books, Finding Things and Other Oddments

I am currently reading: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday.  I am enjoying this book immensely.  It's one of those rare reads which are what can only be described as a gem!
Before that I read Let Me Call You Sweetheart by Mary Higgins Clark.  I have read several of her novels so I knew what to expect - nothing too complex (this is not one of her best) but nevertheless a pleasant read.
In my last post I mentioned St. Anthony, the saint who is reputed to find lost things. I may be a little sceptical about many things associated with saints and their special gifts, but I am a believer in St. Anthony.  In this regard, I must tell an amusing story.  Many years ago one of my colleagues lost an important document and was at her wit's end, having searched high and low. I told her to say a prayer to Saint Anthony.  She laughed long and loudly because, as an atheist, she did not believe in anything spiritual, she told me.  I told her to try nonetheless and to believe just this one time that the document would turn up and I gave her a rhyming prayer to say which I had read somewhere "Saint Anthony, look around, something's lost and can't be found".  Five minutes later she found the document in a place she was sure she had already looked.  I hasten to add that this experience did not in any way convert her to religion or anything like that.  Psychology? Prayer? I have no idea how it worked or works.  But I still ask St. Anthony to help with things that are lost and I never fail to give a small offering at his shrine in Cork  for "St. Anthony's poor" because, so far, he has come up trumps (if I may be forgiven for using that expression in connection with a saint!).

I am going to visit my daughter and grandchildren in two weeks and am getting very excited about this. It will be a long day, a three and a half hour bus journey to the airport, the flight will be half as long, and around half an hour's drive on the other side.  In addition to my daughter's family, I will also meet up with former colleagues.  Great to see everybody.  I think that there is a wine and food festival in Frankfurt and I will certainly visit that. 
It is refreshing to have a change of scene and to discover that the subjects which are so much discussed in one country are hardly mentioned in another. Jane Austen wrote about this in Persuasion and "our littleness beyond our own circle".  And talking about Jane Austen and the times she wrote in, I am thankful for airplanes nowadays which get us to our destinations so swiftly. Just imagine, if I lived in the early 1800s I would have to get a horse and coach (go post, as they called it) and have to stay overnight at least once on the way to the ferry not to mention the long journey down to Frankfurt. On the other hand, having read diaries of ladies who travelled like that, it would have been quite an adventure and of course I would not have attempted to do it on my own.  Yes, it's quicker to fly nowadays but the hurly burly of getting through Security and finding the departure gate in time is surely not as romantic as alighting at an inn along the way. Maybe I'll start writing a historical romance.  That's a thought.

Friday, 12 August 2016

One good deed does the trick

I don't know about you but any time I look for something specific I have a problem finding it, mainly, I suspect, because it has gone out of fashion before I realise I could use it.  This self-pitying thought occurred to me a few weeks ago when I was looking for a small purse with a cross-over shoulder strap that left my hands free. Something big enough to accommodate my mobile phone, house-keys and a few coins. Something that I could wear when going on a walk to the beach.  I've seen loads of people wearing them. So I thought it would just be a matter of walking into a store and buying one.  Silly me. After a round of searching, I more or less gave up. I just couldn't find what I was looking for.
Yesterday I decided to visit Cork. For one thing my daughter's cat had been missing for some time and I was praying to Saint Anthony that he would show up again. At long last she sent me a text saying he had returned so I decided to visit his altar in the church on Liberty Street to say "thank you Saint Anthony" and give a little donation.  On my way way I passed the Oxfam shop.  I didn't actually pass it, I never do.  They have a wonderful selection of books in there so I never fail to go in and browse the shelves.  And here's the thing.  Although I wasn't looking for that shoulder bag I mentioned, when I got inside the shop I saw a selection of handbags, shoulder bags and purses of all shapes and sizes and yes, you've guessed it, I found what I was looking for.
There it was, perfect size, good as new, it even had the original price tag attached!

Not only that but I found a book of quotations. I should say another book of quotation since I already have three although none of them are comprehensive. This one was originally published in 1960.  I am absolutely addicted to reading quotations so this is the ideal companion for me!

My daughter is happy that her cat is home again, I'm happy for her and I am delighted to have found the ideal purse and an interesting book into the bargain.  So yes, I'm a happy camper right now.
I'll tell you another story about Saint Anthony, the saint for finding lost things, next week.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

You are never too old for romance

My Romance novel Love at Close Range will be released on Thursday this week. I have really enjoyed writing it and am almost sorry to close the door on the characters. For those who have not read the first novel in the The Sunshine Cafe series, I am offering Love at a Later Date free on Kindle for the next 5 days, starting on Thursday.

I get asked a lot of different questions on why I write. My favourite tale on this subject is when, a few years back, I was introduced to someone as a "writer" and he said "do I know you? what's your name?" When I told him my name and the name of the novel I had written at that time, he shook his head. "Never heard of you," he said, "you can't be a writer."  After a bit more conversation I discovered that he did not read novels, fact or fiction, and I would even bet he never read anything longer than a menu. But such is - or was - the expectation that if you are a writer you are up there with the bestsellers. I hear hollow laughter from my fellow writers.
No, we write not for fame or fortune - though none of us would say no to wake up and discover we are a household name - mainly we write for fun.
Only another writer can explain the need to sit down and bash out 2,000 words a day, possibly delete some or all of them the next, and go on to hammer a story into shape, editing over and over until you feel it is the best you can get it.  One reader wanted to know why my stories are relatively short. The answer to that is that I write as much of the story as I feel the reader wants to read. Too many characters and/or too much detail, bog down a novel, I feel. I hasten to add that this is only my personal opinion.

I have had a lot of fun writing both Love at a Later Date and Love at Close Range and I hope my readers will have as much fun reading them.