Saturday, 14 January 2017

Nothing lost in translation

Did I mention that I'm not the most disciplined person on the planet? In my last post I said I had Whiskey Tango Foxtrot lined up to read next. In fact, when I went to the library to change books that were within a whisker of being overdue, I picked up Icarus by Deon Meyer.  I am a huge fan of this South African writer and so I have settled down most happily every evening to read this Benny Griesel novel. The story is set in the Cape region. It is translated from the Afrikaans and the translator has left in a lot of Afrikaans expressions which contributes much to the atmosphere of the story.  As I speak German I can get the gist of some of them, i.e lekker which means good, delicious or tasty, and the word lecker in German which means tasty. We get a wonderful insight into the workings of the police and all the tension caused by the various cultures. I love the place names, too: Melkbosstrand, Brackenfell, Buitenkant Street, Table View.  Great writing!
All of which almost makes me want to close the lid of my laptop -  the modern equivalent of putting the quill back in the goose.  Still, I shall persevere.

I am currently working on the conversion of my two crime novels Death in a Lonely Place and Ending in Death, both of which will soon be available as paperbacks. If you like Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell, Deon Meyer - mystery without too much violence - you will enjoy these tales.

I now have three novels available as paperbacks on Amazon and I note with much pride that one of them, Spate of Violence, has sold in the United States. This is a story of urban problems which could take place anywhere. I have set it in Germany because I was living in that country when I wrote it a few years ago. I think its theme is still very relevant today.
The other two novels which can now be purchased as paperback are my Romance novels: Love at a Later Date and Love at Close Range, both of which follow the stories of friends Ginny and Deirdre in the first novel and of Deirdre and Chloe in Love at Close Range. They are "feel good" stories but they do touch on modern themes.

And now, I am going to call it a day.  Outside dusk is falling and it is time to think about preparing supper. Happy Reading everyone!

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

What are you reading?

At Christmas we all get books as presents.  I, for one, feel almost an obligation to read them all whether I like them or not.  Or that was what I felt in the past.  Nowadays I think life is much too short and there are too many other books out there for me to persevere with a novel which, although highly rated by the critics, does not interest me enough to keep turning the pages.  This is no reflection on the author, I hasten to add. It is solely about taste in reading.

I do not like depressing books of terrible childhoods, nor do I like gruesome murder stories. In fiction, I like mysteries and spy stories and some adventure stories.  I read biographies rather than autobiographies (which tend to be prejudiced naturally enough).

What am I reading this minute?  I am nearly finished Road Rage by Ruth Rendell written in 1997 about a proposed bypass and a group of people who want to save the woods it will impinge on. Still very topical today.  She is one of my favourite authors although here and there she has disappointed me.  Overall though, her earlier novels especially, are brilliant. There is an "everyday-ness" about the way she writes, and her command of language is excellent. Inspector Wexford appears as a very human police officer. I am enjoying every minute of this novel.
Next on my list is Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, originally called The Taliban Shuffle, by Kim Barker, a rookie reporter sent to Afghanistan. I bought this one myself, having read a review of it. I have not seen the film.

As for books I have put aside after a couple of attempts at reading them, well I won't name them here but the saying "don't judge a book by the cover" is more apt than we are inclined to think. By "cover" in this case I mean all that hype by other authors and critics from some of the Press on the back cover.
One of the novels given to me as a present had won a prize for its "feisty, glowing prose".  I'm afraid I couldn't discover this aspect of the story which was as dreary and depressing as could be. So I closed it after struggling through three chapters or more and skimming through a few pages in the middle. As I said, life is too short....

We are nearly halfway through the working week, so enjoy whatever you are doing, it's not long until Friday!

Friday, 6 January 2017

New Beginnings

We are already 6 days in to the New Year and although I struggle with writing the year as 2017, I know that in a very short time it will become automatic.
I have had an interesting start to 2017 (there! I've written it without any problems!). On Tuesday I had my problem tooth checked by the orthodontic surgeon and all was well so I do not have to have another check up until next year which, his Receptionist reminded me, will be January 2018. Three cheers for that!  I would hate to start off on the root canal saga of last year.  A tick beside the "Positive" box.
On Thursday I had a small lesion removed from the lower lid of my right eye. The surgeon assured me it looked harmless, they would do a biopsy and he would only contact me if there was a problem.
The only unpleasant thing about this operation was getting the injections to deaden the area.  Eeek!
I now somewhat resemble a panda when seen face on, there is a great big black bruise below my eye. It is a bit tender but not half as bad as it looks. I am doing my best to be nonchalant about it and act as if this is the latest fashion for January 2017 - despite people asking me in gentle tones if I'm all right.

Apart from that I have been busy converting my e-books into paperback. This means editing them again and it is amazing what needs to be done on this score, despite all the editing I did before publishing as an e-book. There is always room for improvement.

I have changed the wallpaper on my laptop to a shot of Frankfurt in late summer which I took last year and which sort of compensates for the grey foggy day which I can see outside my window.
Oh well, back to editing now - and I must really start on my third Sergeant Alan Murray mystery, the characters inside my head are waving at me and insisting on being transferred to paper.  A cup of coffee and here goes.  Oh, and here is the picture of Frankfurt flower stalls:
Hope you like it.  Roll on Spring!

Saturday, 31 December 2016

New Year - you are welcome!

I haven't made a New Year resolution in I don't know how long. Long ago I recognised that I am not a very disciplined person so not a lot of use in making myself even one single simple promise to either not do this or that or to do it - eat less, give up smoking/cake/chocolate, get more exercise, get up earlier, go to bed earlier, keep in touch with friends more.  No, I knew I wouldn't do it and I would get a twinge of guilt every so often.
I gave up cigarettes but not on New Year's Eve.  I have cut down on chocolate and try to eat smaller portions - note the word "try".  I do walk to the beach for an hour nearly every day but this is no hardship as I love the sea. These "improvements" in my lifestyle have come about gradually and not by hanging up a new calendar on the kitchen wall. In summer I get up earlier. I try to go to bed at a reasonable hour but admittedly I am a night owl by nature. Note the word "try" again.
 I don't beat up on myself any more - life is just too short. People who make New Year resolutions and keep them have my full respect and admiration. But I am not one of them and can never pretend to be.


Thursday, 29 December 2016

How was your Christmas?

When I was a child in Ireland, neighbours would sometimes ask my parents "how did you get over the Christmas?"  I found it strange that anyone would consider that you needed to "get over" Christmas. For me, it went by too fast after all that big build up!  As an adult, I begin to understand what it means. All that hype with tinsel, holly and Christmas recipes, plus the stress of finding the right gift for your loved ones!  And then all the family near and far have to be visited or invited to dinner and you have to remember that Aunt Mary does not approve of cousin Betty's lifestyle/political views so it is essential to the peace that you keep them apart. And the kids are restless and quarrelsome because of all the late nights and excitement over the past few days. No wonder many people heave a sigh of relief when it's all over. I guess every year we vow not to get carried away and then find that we are caught up in the bustle before we know it.
I spent a lazy Christmas with my son and daughter-in-law. Long country walks with the dogs, too much to eat,  pleasant company. It was most enjoyable. At home I attended a few Christmas carol events and of course there were the usual Christmas get-togethers with community groups.  All very enjoyable.  I have one Christmas movie that I always watch, Christmas Angel, the 2009 film for television.  It is absolute kitsch!  But I still cry over it and enjoy every heart-warming, tear-soaked minute.
Now it is nearly New Year, time to open the new calendar. The English writer Charles Lamb once wrote about feeling a bit melancholy at New Year "I am not one to greet the coming, speed the parting guest."  Sometimes I think I know how he feels. Of course, we are not stepping from one dimension to another, we are merely turning to a fresh month and year, but all the same there is a little sadness in leaving what we knew of 2016. But I'm getting sentimental. Time to finish off that glass of mulled wine and the few remaining mince pies.

Friday, 16 December 2016

One more week to Christmas

As a child I used to count off the days still left before school was out and then the days until Christmas Eve.  I loved Christmas Eve. We were on the brink of the festivities. There was the walk to Midnight Mass to look forward to and the Mass itself with all those wonderful Christmas songs. Silent Night is still my favourite. I heard my second favourite yesterday for the first time this year: The Christmas Song.  It gave me a tingly feeling. At the end of the Midnight Mass we went to see and admire the crib. It had a distinctive smell - a mixture of incense, fresh straw and the slightly musty smell of the crib figures taken out of storage for the festivities.  I loved it all and still do!
While writing this, it occurred to me that our sense of smell is very important for recalling memories, as is our hearing - those church bells, that song, the aroma of fresh coffee, gingerbread, all that good stuff.  It brings a smile to our faces.
 I am just back from my walk to the beach and a few joggers passed me by, panting loudly, earplugs in, listening to their music. What a lot they have missed.  I spotted a bullfinch (first one I've seen in ages), I watched three crows quarreling with a cheeky sea-gull (he left in a huff after a lot of protest), a black cormorant flying up-river on some errand of his own, and a black spaniel down by the waves barking at all the sea-gulls who looked down on him in disdain, not to mention the oyster catchers calling to each other. It's a wonderful world and we shouldn't ever forget to savour all it offers.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS to all my readers!  May the joys of this festive season be with you all!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Christmas Markets

Image result for holly wreath

I'm just back from a short trip to Frankfurt to see my daughter and grandchildren. I only decided on the spur of the moment and now I'm glad I did. One thing I really miss, living in Ireland, is the atmosphere around Advent, that feeling of anticipation of Christmas being on its way.

The Christmas market in Frankfurt is not perhaps the most famous one in Germany but it has it own atmosphere. I love the smell of aniseed, gingerbread, the spicy tang of mulled wine and the fragrance of pine from the Advent wreaths.

The main part of the market is held in the old part of the city, the Roemer as it is called, with its cobblestone square and town hall and the Nikolai Kirche. Nothing compares to sipping eggnog in the chill of early evening surrounded by lights and general good cheer. Of course I sampled my favourite  goodies:  Kartoffelpuffer (potato cakes) with apple sauce, warm waffles with Nutella. Yummy.
Yes, celebrating Advent is a wonderful idea, it makes the Christmas holiday much longer. I recall the excitement in our house when the children saw the first candle being lit on the Advent wreath. We usually baked biscuits in the shape of Christmas trees and half-moons, generously sprinkled them with icing sugar and piled them on a colourful plate with red apples and nectarines.

Image result for weihnachtsteller
 So this was a trip down memory lane. Last year I spent Christmas in Frankfurt but arrived too late for the market. This year I can say I truly savoured it all. 
 Happy Advent to all my readers. Image result for holly wreath