Archive | December, 2014

‘Twas the Day after Christmas

26 Dec

East Coast Pink DogwoodSpring is on the way!

Now that the frenzy of Christmas shopping, cooking, and eating has died down to eating leftovers, making returns and wondering how I could possibly have eaten so much the last few weeks, the end of the year turns into a “pause and reflect” time for me.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. That seems like an artificial endeavor to me. But I do take time to think about the person I am, and what changes I want to make in the coming year. I think it has more to do with the winter solstice than the the holidays that are celebrated this time of year, and the end of the Gregorian calendar. It isn’t noticeable just yet, but little by little, we will see more sunlight every day. We are on our way toward spring.

My coming year is already filled up with plans. I will travel to Costa Rica the end of January, a commitment I made to myself last year to escape some of the Pennsylvania winter. I can’t see that my character is improved at all by scraping ice off the windshield at 7 a.m. to go substitute teach. Our son is getting married in June, so that will mean a trip to Los Angeles and a big family reunion. And I am hoping to go to Spain on a writing retreat in July. Did you guess that I love to travel?

And oh, yes! I have more writing projects than I can handle! But then, I have also been a multi-tasker. I like to have several projects in various stages of development. No linear thinking for me. I have a rough draft of a historical fantasy novel that needs to be taken to the next level, and I am brainstorming plot ideas for a new “Nara” novel.

It’s beginning to sound like a fun year! I’m sure I will be thrown off track more than once, and there will be surprises of all kinds along the way, but that is what makes life interesting.

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Food, Drink, and Travel

19 Dec

DSCN4028

Fresh squeezed pomegranate juice!

On a recent trip to Israel, my husband and I had an opportunity to stroll through the Turkish market in Akka, or Akkó. After running into a falafal restaurant to escape a rainstorm, we found fellow travelers from Peru, and enjoyed our lunch with a Spanish conversation. We parted ways and headed into the market to explore. The sights, sounds and smells drew us deeper into the ancient narrow streets.

Stalls were piled high with fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, spices and more.

exploring is thirsty work, and we soon stopped for fresh squeezed pomegranate juice. What a thrill to see he vendor slice off the top of the fruit, place it in a press and produce cups of the dark purple juice. Healthy — yes. Tasty — definitely. But you can’t beat the sense of adventure and fun.

On returning home, I delved into Emile Zola’s novel, The Belly of Paris. Zola tells the story of a man newly returned to Paris from a penal colony to the gastronomical riches of the Parisian market Les Halles.

Both our meandering a through the market in Akka and The Belly of Paris demonstrate the richness of beautiful food, and an appreciation of the bounty.

What is the most beautiful food you have eaten lately? Think of all the senses of beauty — visual taste, and the wholesome of its production. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to eat and drink food that is real, and not from a can, package or bottle?

Have you read Damaged Good?

12 Dec

Occasionally I like to post a review of a book I have read recently. Damaged Goods by Jack Everett and David Coles is a great one.

The following is the review I wrote for Suspense Magazine:

Damaged Goods opens as Robert Cleghorn is chopping a tree in his brother Alan’s front yard. While he muses on the degradation he feels doing manual labor for his sibling, he watches helplessly as the tree falls through the front picture window of his brother’s dream home near Lake Kissimmee in Florida. From that point on, the action never stops. Set in Florida and England, this latest novel from the writing team of Jack Everett and David Coles is a roller coaster of a ride, a search for a serial killer who is not who the police think it is, but someone even more frightening.

Robert takes on his brother’s identity after killing him in a fit of rage, employing his brute strength and techniques learned while fighting in an elite military unit in Iraq. Using his brother’s airline ticket, passport, and credit cards, he travels to England seeking the one person he thinks he loves, his brother’s wife, Stephanie.

Police from the Leeds Serious Crimes squad follow the trail of a string of brutal murders that seem to have no connection, but the sheer number of them, as well as information shared by a local sheriff in Florida, soon narrow down their search.

The point of view shifts easily from that of Stewart White, who is just settling into his job as Detective Inspector in Leeds, and the bloody path of the murderer.

Everett and Coles do a masterful job portraying the fearless but possibly brain-damaged killer, and his obsession with Stephanie. Set in Yorkshire in the winter, the cold, bleak landscape intensifies the horror as one murder follow another. There is enough complexity in the plot to be intriguing but not too much to be confusing. Damaged Goods is the first of a trilogy, and I will be first in line to read the next book as soon as it becomes available.

Here is a link to read a few sample pages. It will get you hooked!