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Saturday, August 31, 2013

The end of summer

Today is the last day of summer, technically. What does that mean for you?

For me, it means:

1. No longer being able to sleep until 8.30 am, after going to bed around 11.30 pm
2. No longer being able to do what I like, what I feel like doing that day
3. No more barefooted walks on the beach
4. Not much longer before you have to wear long sleeves again
5. No more fantasies in the kitchen, unless it's Sunday
6. No more barbecues
7. Adieu salads, as you can only eat them with Sunny weather (I think)
8. No more cutting the weed our neighbor grows and which always creeps over the wall (hurray!)
9. No more open air concerts
10. Going back to school!!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Computer crime

Have you also experienced it? You get a mail (or more than one) from a bank - not necessarily your own - in which they tell you in bad English (or bad whatever language) that the bank is doing updates and you need to send them some personal information (including the passwords to your account).

Well, apparently lots of people do believe this kind of nonsense and provide all the details asked for. And then they have big eyes when a substantial sum disappears from their account!

Although the federal police gives ample warning against these practices, lots of people still fall into the trap.

At a given moment, I got about ten or twenty of such mails per day. What I did was reply and telling them that:
a) they should learn proper English
b) tell the one who paid them I had notified the police

I don't get this type of mail anymore - but they have found another way. Some days ago I got a Phone from abroad and someone told me in bad English that my computer was in danger. Hello? I told them I didn't listen to such nonsense, and knocked down the receiver.

This morning the police put a message in the newspaper about this new trick. Apparently, they tell those who listen they can fix the danger by paying 150 €..

And what about you?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hayday of the Dendermonde Fair

Tonight - in fact, in less than an hour - is the highlight of the week of fair in Dendermonde. Tonight is KATUIT. Literally it means 'cat out' but you have to interpret it as a night on which anything is possible.

Following centuries old folklore it is a tradition that on the last Thursday of August, the three Giants of the town - Mars, Goliath and Indian - will  make their procession throughout the town center and concluded with a majectic appearance on the Great Market.

The Giants are quite high, quite heavy and ... they are carried by one man only! It takes a strong guy to carry this weight, and also be able to walk through and navigate through the narrow streets in the center and then also be able to make the giant dance. And this you can take literally. The Giants do dance, and sometimes rather wildly. You see their skirt whirling around.

To give you an idea, here's a link to You Tube, and you can watch a film there about the Giants on the Market. It's a mediëval town, so the market place is round. It's impossible to get there if not hours in advance. The Dendermondenaars (inhabitants of Dendermonde) go crazy when they see their Giants dance.

Here's the link, and hopefully you once come to see it for real !
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpFtvIKHCCY

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cover of Darkness

Please welcome my guest, author Gregory Delaurentis. He is doing a promotional tour for the release of his latest novel, Cover of Darkness. For this occasion, he is giving away a $50 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly chosen commenter. Please use this Rafflecopter code for your comments: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4347/

Gregory Delaurentis spent his adult life roaming from job to job, working for Lockheed in California, various law firms in New York, and financial firms on Wall Street. Throughout this period of time, he was writing—unceasingly—finally producing a large body of work, albeit unrecognized and unpublished . . . until now. Cover of Darkness is the first in a series of upcoming books that include Edge of Darkness, Pale of Darkness and Cries of Darkness. These novels follow the lives of three individuals who do battle bringing criminals to justice, while they struggle to understand the complex relationships that exist among themselves. This intriguing trio has absorbed the attention of Mr. Delaurentis for the past year and a half, so much so he decided to self-publish their stories to bring them to a wider audience. [AUTHOR’S DISCLAIMER: These are works of fiction. Name, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.]

 
Here’s what Gregory himself tells about his writing quirks:

One of my writing quirks, and I don’t know if it’s a quirk or not, is that I love to write from late evening to early morning. My biological clock is a little off, and I find myself going to sleep early, before 8:00pm, only to wake up around 11:00pm and begin writing until 5 or 6 in the morning. For some reason I feel sharper and more capable of reaching my characters. I put a pair of headsets over my ears and blast music of all kinds and type away. I am a very good typist so my words appear as fast as I can think of them. And so I keep this frantic pace all night long and into the morning without feeling the least bit fatigued.

You might guess that around 6am I go to sleep, but no. I get up from the laptop and take a shower and start my day and I feel energized to do whatever it is that I have to accomplish. When I get home I go straight to bed and stay out after dinner until I rise to write again. This schedule used to drive my wife nuts. She would spend many nights alone in bed while I, in the next room, toiled under the glow of the laptop screen, cranking out page after page of my current novel at that time to her dismay. Now that I live alone, I feel that I have optimum conditions to work under and it brings my life pleasure. I feel that I’m doing what it is that I’m supposed to do, and when your life has this kind of certain meaning it brings happiness that mere words can’t describe.

I guess, because of this quirk, my writing borders on madness, but when one is uniquely happy, does one really care?

 

 
Some information on the novel:

Blurb

A high profile murder of a Wall Street executive in Westchester pits three people against the criminal underbelly of Manhattan nightlife. The key players are two ex-cops turned private investigators—Kevin Whitehouse, whose sharpest tool is his keen analytical mind, and David Allerton, a former Special Forces operative—and Margaret Alexander, Kevin’s lover. In their search for a killer, they are forced to travel to the edge of sanity and morality, while stumbling onto their own confusing secrets as well. The Cover of Darkness is a gritty noir saga that untangles a web of deceit in the course of tracking down a brutal murderer.


Excerpt

The pool area was wide and reflected the sun on this hot summer day. It was edged with white marble so polished that it looked like pearl. Deck chairs lined the sides of the long pool, which was two lengths more than Olympic-sized. Outside the deck area was the carpeted lawn of the vast backyard, dappled with sun.

Hugh Osterman walked along the side of the pool wearing a heavy terry cloth robe and sandals. In his right hand, he held a martini glass. He ran his left hand through his sandy sun-streaked hair as he looked over his shoulder at the man following him.

“What’s going on? I don’t get it,” Osterman said, stopping at the end of the pool where the flotation chairs were kept.

“They said no,” the man replied. Considering the backdrop, he was incongruously dressed in a dark suit and tie.

“They said no . . . just like that?”

Osterman sat his drink down on the marble surface, and pushed a flotation chair into the deep end of the pool, sending it out and away. Then he peeled off the robe and dove smoothly into the water, emerging next to the floating chair.

“You go back and tell them that we aren’t pleased,” Osterman said sternly, pulling himself up and into the seat of the chair. “You tell them that Hugh Osterman wants to know what’s holding things up—what the problem is.”

The suit just stood at the edge of the pool, opening his jacket against the heat of the day. Osterman paddled to the side, and reached out and retrieved his martini glass. “I take it you have nothing to say about this?” he persisted, despite the other man’s silence.

The suit shook his head.

“Well, what are you waiting for?” Osterman said as he tipped the glass up to his lips. Suddenly, the bottom of the stem shattered. Osterman gurgled as he dropped the glass, blood bubbling from his mouth, an open tear in his neck. He jolted upright in the chair as the suit closed the distance between them, his Colt .38 Super still trained on its victim, its silencer smoldering.

Osterman slowly sat back as the suit pumped more rounds into Osterman’s bare, well-defined chest—the hot shells of his pistol ejecting out and striking the surface of the water, settling to the bottom. His life ended as his body tumbled from the floating chair, his blood a widening crimson slick roughly in the area where his body slipped through.

The suit popped his clip, slipped in a new one, and headed for the sprawling house.

Links

1) AMAZON 

2) KOBO 

http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Cover-of-Darkness/book-SydhWnuMdEGT2jO97s6rDA/page1.html?s=znZMkhZzw0yjFAMp-WIkpQ&r=1


3) BARNES & NOBLE
 
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cover-of-darkness-gregory-delaurentis/1115107265?ean=97809891857077

4) SONY READER STORE
 


5) SMASHWORDS 

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/304457


The author also has a book video for his book. Use this link: www.youtube.com/embed/-dJ10pSUwaM

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Cadence of Gypsies

Hello folks! Today I’d like to introduce you to author Barbara Casey. Goddess Fish Promotions is organizing a virtual book tour for The Cadence of Gypsies, a contemporary mystery available now from Gauthier Publishing. To celebrate this occasion, Barbara will be awarding a $25 Amazon or BN.com gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during her tour.

Information about the author

Originally from Carrollton, Illinois, Barbara Casey attended the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State University, and North Carolina Wesleyan College where she received a BA degree, summa cum laude, with a double major in English and history. In 1978 she left her position as Director of Public Relations and Vice President of Development at North Carolina Wesleyan College to write full time and develop her own manuscript evaluation and editorial service. Since that time her award-winning articles, short stories, and poetry for adults have appeared in several publications including the AMERICAN POETRY ANTHOLOGY, the SPARROWGRASS POETRY FORUM, THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF POETRY (Editor’s Choice Award), the NORTH CAROLINA CHRISTIAN ADVOCATE MAGAZINE, THE NEW EAST MAGAZINE, the RALEIGH (NC) NEWS AND OBSERVER, the ROCKY MOUNT (NC) SUNDAY TELEGRAM, DOG FANCY, BYLINE, TRUE STORY and THE CHRISTIAN RECORD. A thirty-minute television special which Ms. Casey wrote and coordinated was broadcast on WRAL, Channel 5, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Ms. Casey's award-winning science fiction short stories for adults are featured in THE COSMIC UNICORN and CROSS TIME short story anthologies. Her essays, also written for adults, appear in THE CHRYSALIS READER, the international literary journal of the Swedenborg Foundation, and A CUP OF COMFORT ANTHOLOGY by the Adams Media Corporation.

Her two middle-grade/young adult novels, LEILANI ZAN and GRANDMA JOCK AND CHRISTABELLE (James C. Winston Publishing Co.) were nominated for awards of excellence by the SCBWI Golden Kite Award, the National Association of University Women Literary Award and the Sir Walter Raleigh Literary Award.  SHYLA'S INITIATIVE (Crossquarter Publishing Group, 2002), a contemporary adult novel of fiction, received the 2003 Independent Publisher Book Award and received special recognition for literary merit by the Palm Beach County Cultural Council. Ms. Casey’s novel THE COACH’S WIFE (ArcheBooks Publishing), a contemporary mystery, was listed as a Publisher’s Best Seller and was semifinalist of the Dana Award for Outstanding Novel. In 2007 her novel, THE HOUSE OF KANE (ArcheBooks Publishing), also a contemporary mystery, was considered for a Pulitzer nomination, and in December 2009 her novel, JUST LIKE FAMILY (Wandering Sage Publications), was launched by the
7-Eleven stores in St. Louis, Missouri. Her young adult novel, THE CADENCE OF GYPSIES (Gauthier Publications), was released in March 2011 and considered for the Smithsonian’s Most Notable 2011 Books.  It has also been selected by Amazon for its 2013 List of Best Books.  THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PRISSY (Strategic Media Books), a novel for adults, was released in March 2013 and received an IPPY Award for Best Regional Fiction.  It has also been listed as a “2013 Best Summer Read” by Conversations Live Radio and has been placed in nomination for a Pulitzer Award.


Ms. Casey is a frequent guest speaker at writers’ conferences and universities throughout the United States. She is former director, guest author, and panelist of BookFest of the Palm Beaches, Florida; and for thirteen years she served as judge for the Pathfinder Literary Awards in Florida.  She held the position of Florida Regional Advisor for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators from 1991 to 2003.

Ms. Casey is president of the Barbara Casey Agency. She represents clients nationally and internationally in fiction and nonfiction for adults. Her past and present professional associations are numerous and include being editorial consultant for The Jamaican Writers Circle in affiliation with the University of West Indies and Mico Teachers College in Kingston. She also received special recognition for her editorial work on the English translations of Albanian children’s stories.


So what is this book about?

Blurb

Three high-spirited 17-year-olds, with intelligence quotients in the genius range, accompany their teacher and mentor, Carolina Lovel, to Frascata in Italy, a few weeks before they graduate from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women. Carolina’s purpose in planning the trip is to remove her gifted, creative students from the Wood Rose campus located in Raleigh, North-Virginia, so they can’t cause any more problems (‘expressions of creativity’) for the headmaster, faculty and other students – which they do regurlarly. Carolina also wants to visit the Villa Mondragone where the Voynich Manuscript – the most mysterious manuscript in the world – was first discovered. She also wants to find out how this famous manuscript relates to a paper (written in the same script) she received on her 18th birthday when she was told she was adopted. This search will take them into the mystical world of gypsy tradition and magic, more exciting and dangerous than any of them could have imagined.


Excerpt:

The slight voice tremor was all that she needed, but the deep, audible sigh confirmed what Carolina suspected: that she was in for another real ass-chewing. This would be the eights time getting called into the headmaster’s office in the same number of months she had been teaching at Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women. Each time it had been because her girls had committed a serious infraction of rules or behaved in some inappropriate way that was unacceptable within the stone walls of Wood Rose.
Her girls, the ones she had been given total responsibility for, called themselves Females of Intellectual Genius, or FIGs.   Everyone else, however, called them strange.  Never before in the history of Wood Rose had a student even come close to approaching genius status.  Certainly not in the time that Dr. Harcourt had been headmaster.  Then, within the short span of one week, two seven-year-old children--Dara Roux and Mackenzie Yarborough--were admitted, each from a different family, a different background, and a different part of the country, but each with an intelligence quotient well within the range of genius.  Amazingly, several years later, a third student--Jennifer Torres--was enrolled, whose age and scores were comparable to those of the original FIGs.  What Wood Rose could do for these gifted girls was now coming to a close, much to the relief of the administration, faculty, and staff alike.  This would be their final year at Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women, for in June--less than six weeks away--they would graduate.

Carolina was still in bed, deep in thought as she usually was whenever she had a quiet moment to herself, when the telephone rang.  For several days she had been struggling with how best to approach the headmaster.  Ever since being put in charge of the FIGs shortly after getting hired at Wood Rose, she had been trying to come up with innovative ways in which she could somehow excite her girls, challenge their intellect, and, most of all, keep them out of trouble.  The inherent problems of being different extended beyond their prickly relationship with Wood Rose staff members.   The multi-faceted difficulties in teaching the FIGs frequently left the faculty with feelings of inferiority and impotency at the very least.  None of the other residents wanted to be around them either, with the exception of the youngest residents who didn't yet comprehend the difference between being brilliant and normal, which brought about additional struggles of an inner psychological nature.  Carolina had tried a variety of things, but, obviously, what she had been doing wasn't working.  What had stimulated her when she was their age?  What mysteries of the universe had intrigued her?

Then she had remembered.

 
Links:



 

In for a laugh?

Little Johnny and a lesson in government...

A teacher was teaching her second grade class about the government, so for homework that one day, she told her her students to ask their parents what government is.

When Little Johnny got home that day, he went up to his dad and asked him what government was.

His dad thought for a while and answered, ''Look at it this way: I'm the President, your mom is Congress, our maid is the work force, you are the People and your baby brother is the Future.''

''I still don't get it'' responded Little Johnny.

''Why don't you sleep on it then? Maybe you'll understand it better,'' said his father.

''Okay then...good night'' said Little Jonny and he went off to bed.

In the middle of the night, he was awakened by his baby brother's crying. He went to his baby brother's crib and found his baby brother had taken a crap in his diaper. So Little Johnny went to his parent's room to get help.

When he got to his parent's bedroom, he looked through the keyhole to check if his parents were asleep. Through the keyhole he saw his mom loudly snoring, but his dad wasn't there. So he went to the maid's room. When he looked through the maid's room keyhole, he saw his dad having sex with his maid. Little Johnny was surprised, but then he just realized something and thinks aloud, ''OH!! Now I understand the government! The President is screwing the work force, Congress is fast asleep, nobody cares about the people, and the future is full of shit!''

Monday, August 26, 2013

What do you like to eat?

I'm not very particular what concerns food, but I must admit I have some favorites. They rather depend on the season.

In autumn and winter, I really like oven dishes, with a mix of meat/chicken/fish - potatoes/pasta/rice - vegetables. Covered with some cheese, they can't be bad. We have dozens of recipes for this, and they all taste fine!


Also in winter, I hope to be able to eat some venison from time to time. Here in Flanders we have those typical recipes with Brussels witlof, which tastes quite well with venison.


An all time favorite is fish. We eat a lot of fish, most of all haddock. It's a quite firm fish that allows you to do almost anything with it. And of course I'm also quite fond of seafood, with my all time favorite lobster. Some time ago, we had a full grilled lobster (each) in Manchester, for a very reasonable price. But the best lobster ever eaten was in Newport, Rhode Island. Have you ever heard of Chicken Fried Lobster? It was so yummie we went to eat it twice during our stay there!


Care to share what your favorite food is?


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Why are men afraid of intelligent women?

Having reached middle age, and been a teacher all of the time, I've often seen how men - old or young - seem to be afraid of girls and women who have some intelligence. Why would that be?

Do they feel inferior? Do they think those women would look down on them? I don't know.

What I know is that there seems to be lurking danger in women's intelligence. For centuries women have been the lesser of the human race. They did not provide the food, they did not go hunting. They make the shelter and cared for the children (which in itself already proved they had some sense). They were often treated as stock, easily bought and sold.

It took a lot of time before women got rights - and it even took until after Word War One for the right to vote. A father, and later on the husband, was master over his daughter or wife. They could do what they wanted, without being punished. In mediëval law it was literally put you could beat your wife.

Luckily for us in the West times have changed. Around the 1900s it became more and more usual to let children - also girls - go to school. My own grandma, who was born in 1900, attented school and so did all her older siblings. As soon as people are given education, they are able to form ideas of their own and develop views on the world.

I don't say there were no intelligent women earlier on. But due to their circumstances, they will not have had a lot of use for their intelligence. Just think of the so-called 'witches'. I think most of them were just women who wanted a life of their own without male involvement - and that was weird behavior in those times.

The more intelligent you are as a woman, the less chance you have of finding a husband who can put up with that. My own dad had a high IQ, which he passed to both myself and my sister. He did not have a problem marrying a woman who also had a pretty mind of her own. But in most of my relationships - and the same goes for my sister - the then partner described me as 'difficult' and that was where the relation broke down on. Now I don't mind I don't have a husband. I'm fine and I have a good life. I would not want to share it with another person. And if I did, it would have to be someone like my father. Only then the marriage could have a chance.

What is your view on this?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Walking Dender

Yesterday evening the official start of the Dendermonde Fair was given. This Fair is a tradition of ages and lasts for one week. All kind of events take place during this week, with the finale on Thursday evening with the Procession of Giants.

Six years ago, the local horeca (short for hotel-restaurant-café) organised Walking Dender for the first time. It's an event situated near the boards of the old Dender. In the 1970s the local government decided to cut off part of this river and lead it around the town, to mound in the bigger Schelde - leaving the cut off part running through the heart of town like in the old days. In summer you can make kayak tours or boat tours on it.


The local restaurants, caterers and brewers set up stalls with their specialities and you can taste them for a small price. We had just eaten, so we did not taste any of the main dishes, but we bought some home-made ice cream and a pint of a new kind of beer (a golden triple ale) brewed locally. It tasted a bit of fruit first, and then you got a bitter taste which asked for more...


Due to the nice weather, it was very crowded. You could run over the heads and I'm sure the venders sold a lot of their produce!

Friday, August 23, 2013

A city trip to Porto

We have just returned from a couple of days away, to Porto (Portugal) this time. We mainly booked the trip way back in May to be guaranteed to have some nice weather. Little could we suspect we'd been having one of the best summers ever!

Nevertheless, we enjoyed being away (we always do). It's only a two hour and thirty minutes flight from Brussels to Porto, and the airport is quite near the town. Porto is the second biggest city in Portugal and the people there are very kind and helpful.

We stayed in a boutique hotel a bit away from the center. It was situated in the Rua de Boavista (off the Avenida de Boavista) and is called Casa do Conto (the House of Tales). It's an old house which was converted to become a hotel, but then they had a fire and they had to start over. Tito, the manager, is a very friendly guy who is (nearly) always there and he'll do what he can to help you. The room we stayed in was on the third level (there is a lift) and faced the garden. We also had a little terrace (the suite is NG, it's the only one with terrace). It was peaceful there and we had a lot of space.

From the Rua de Boavista it's only fifteen minutes to the center of town, but if you don't like to walk a lot, you can also take the metro at Carolina Michaelis (outside left, and then the first street on the right). That only takes a minute or two. And you can purchase a Porto Pass for one day up to three days (the most expensive one costs 21€) which gives you access to public transport and reductions in museums, shops and restaurants.

The oldest part of town (and World Heritage) is the quarter near the river Douro. It is called Ribeira. Very picturesque, with narrow streets up and down and typical restaurants and bistro's. There you can take a boat to tour the Douro - something you really must do.


Another have-to is visit one of the Port wine cellars. They are situated at the other side of the river, in the part they call Gaia. We choose the cellars of Taylor's which are of the eldest (founded in 1692). The tour consisted of a visit through the cellars which a very nice guide and - of course - a degustation of three kinds of port.


For the rest there are lots of churches (often tiled in white and blue), museums, shops where you can buy really cheap things, ... Well, nothing is really expensive in Portugal. You can dine rather well for only 50€ with two persons, and then taking into account you have a starter, a main dish, a dessert and a bottle of wine. The Portugese wine, btw, are of good quality.


On our last night, we went dining to DOP, the restaurant of Rua Paula. It's to be found in the Palace of Arts, in a restored building. This restaurant is of star quality and you pay accordingly. On comparison to other star restaurants it's not too expensive though. We paid 320€ for the tasting menu for two, plus an arrangement for the wine - a glass of a different wine with every dish. These wines were of superb quality, and all Portugese. The food too was of the most exquisite quality and I can certainly recommend it. The service was impeccable and all the waiters spoke English and other languages.

We had a great time, and hope to visit there once more in the future.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Watch the sun go down in a glass of wine

What do you do on hot summer evenings? We love to sit on a terrace and enjoy a glass of wine. Nothing better in the world!

I don't claim to be a connaisseur of wine, but I can tell what a good one is or a bad one... When I was only two years old (or even younger), I spent lots of time with my grandfather and my grandmother. While grandma was behind the cooking pots, I sat on my grandfather's lap. He read to me and also let me play with valuable things, like his precious stamp collection. At eleven o'clock (always the exact time) he dropped whatever he was doing and said "time for the apéritiv" - you have to know that during World War II he escaped a POW camp and escaped to France, where he spent a couple of years at a winery. Then he took out a bottle of wine, poured himself a glass, and asked 'do you also want to taste, little one?'. The little one liked wine.... until mother found out!!!

But I still like wine now and often drink it. Be it red or white or rosé, I like them all. I have a slight preference for Chilean wines, but also French ones are great.

Now, with these nice hot temperatures we're having, there is nothing better than sitting down at dusk with a glass of white wine, cooled as it should, or a bottle of rosé. Feet up and just watch the world go round from the roof terrace...

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Borlée brothers

If you are interested in athletics, you might have heard of the brothers Borléé. Kevin and Jonathan, and now also Dylan.

Father Borlée used to be an athlete himself, and now he is the trainer of the Belgian running team. He is lucky to have twin sons who are really fast. Kevin and Jonathan are their names. Kevin specializes in the 400 meter, and won gold in the 2010 European champignonship and a year later he won bronze in the world champignonships. His brother Jonathan in faster in theory, but he sometimes can't make it to the medals.


The family Borléé also has a daughter, Olivia, who won silver in the 4x100 meter during the Olympics in Peking. Now the youngest son, Dylan, is taking his place in the spotlights.


During last night's world champignonships in Moscow, father Borléé put  his three sons in the 4x400 meter, which must have been a unicum. They ended up 5th, which only fractions of seconds to spare with the numbers three and four.

Jaques Borlée is sure they will do even better. He hopes for an Olympic medal in 2016 in Brazil. The team certainly has possibilty to grow. The two eldest brothers have already proven their worth, but especially Dylan can grow into a force to reckon with.

A pity Olivia wasn't an Oliver, then father could have put four of his kids in this discpiline!

Friday, August 16, 2013

The gothic novel

When growing up, after reading lots and lots of adventure novels, I discovered the gothic novel. One of my first reads was Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt. Another one was Lord of Blacktower by the recently deceased Barbara Michaels (aka Elizabeth Peters).

Those novels were very popular in those days (I was a teenager in the late 1960s-early 1970s). Once having read one book by either Victoria Holt or Barbara Michaels, I read dozens more. They always had a rather threathening atmosphere, a romance (very decent, they never got much further than kissing, although there were hints to hidden passions), and most of the time one or more murders.
A pity this kind of novel is out of fashion now. I loved those authors, along with others who wrote purely romance, like Laurie McBain and Kathleen Woodiwiss.

I know of a couple of modern authors who write gothic romance - Eve Silver being one of my today's favorites in this genre. I'm also attempting to write a gothic romance, for a change. I'm working on a WIP which has the working title of 'The Black Coach'.

Some years ago, I wrote a collection of short stories for Halloween and one of them was also titled The Black Coach. It was about a bunch of  young people in an English village, where superstition still exists. The villagers tell about a black coach, driven by Lucifer himself, and of course the youngsters don't believe one word of it. Now, I'm not going to spoil the ending of the story. If you are interested, just read Face in the Mirror and Other Stories (on sale on Amazon) and you'll know how it goes.

But looking back years later, I thought the short story had the seeds of a entire novel. Why not tell the story behind the legend of the black coach and its devlish passenger? I'm well into the story and it also includes murder (vile murder, by someone inspired by the Ripper), a romance, dark atmosphere and suspicions - and a mystery. I hope to finish this novel by the end of the year, so it can be published in 2014.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Tower (Tae-weo)

Yesterday evening my sister and I decided to watch a film on demand. We've been having digital tv for several years now, and one of its best features are the programs and films on demand. It's cheaper than renting a film from the video store.

So we were browsing through the newly added films, and saw something about a big tower building, where a fire accidentally starts. A good film full of action, only.... it was a South-Korean film.

I must admit I've never seen a film not made in either the USA, the UK, France, Germany or Belgium. Not one Asian.

At first, having to listen to the strange language and forced the read the subtitles was a bit strange. I never read subtitles because I know the renderings are mostly poorly. I always listen to the original language because I can speak English, French and German next to my native tongue.

But once a couple of minutes into the action, we began to appreciate the film. I must say, it was well made. And the Koreans possess a rare sense of humor. I can't see an American director put humorous scenes into such a disaster film. We often had to smile when one of the characters said something funny.

Of course, this is a story that is quite ordinary. A rich guy gives a party in his newly built Tower Building. It is the highest of Seoul and supposedly the best. The lead characters are the chief of security, a widower with a little daughter; the chef of the restaurant (a woman), the cleaning lady and of course the captain of the fire crew.


During the party, it is supposed to snow because it is Christmas Evening. The rich guy has hired helicopters to drop the packs of snow, but because of the high winds, one of the helicopters gets caught in a draft, and hits the building. This causes a fire. Hundreds of people are caught between the floors where the fire rages.


All the fire companies in Seoul are put into action, but the film follows one crew. The captain of this crew takes pity of the security guy who is looking for his daughter. At long last, father and daughter are reunited, and the girl has already found her new mother (the chef) but now they have to get out of the burning building.... The cleaning lady breaks her leg, but also she escapes and can give her son the money to study (for which she has been working so hard).


A really good movie, in my opinion. I'm likely to see more of these!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Eyes of Love

Hello everyone! Today I’m presenting a guest blog by author Angelina Rose. Angelina wrote The Eyes of Love, a contemporary romance, which she is promoting right now. During her virtual book tour, she is awarding a 50$ Amazon/BN gift card to one randomly drawn commenter! So folks, please comment as much as you like. Please use this link to comment:
<a href="http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e43414/">Win a $50 Amazon GC!</a>


Angelina Rose has wanted to write ever since she could hold a pencil. The first daughter of immigrant parents, Angelina had her head buried in books, lost in a world of heroes, heroines and exotic places. It was a shocking experience that jump-started Angelina's author career.

"I awoke in the ICU... I had been unconscious for several days," Angelina says.

In 2010, Angelina had a long stint in hospital following her involvement in a motor vehicle accident: the longest time off work (as a Registered Nurse), she'd ever had in her life! It was then she took up pen and paper and started to write again, just as she had done when she was a child. She wrote four short fiction stories for young adults, entered them in several competitions, and managed to win three first prizes!

After happily dipping her toes into writing those short fiction stories for young adults, Angelina has now authored four books in a new "Mill Creek Crossing Romance" series... contemporary romance intended for adults.

The "Starting Over Series" is another contemporary romance series she wrote about a subject she knows well... nurses and their love life. At a recent reunion of her graduating class, she could not help but notice how the same girls would group together and laugh, chat, and even shed some tears over their lives since graduating. Many of the girls had divorced... so Angelina thought "what if a group of the nurses came up with a plan to meet in two years and have a new love story to share?" Then the first story in the series was born.

There is always a story running around in her head. A man with thick dark hair, gray-blue eyes, with an engaging smile and a quick wit... or a girl crying over a broken relationship. She finds herself talking to these characters during her day: when she's doing dishes, or bathing babies at the hospital. These characters crop up on days at the beach or on walks through the neighborhood. This is how the stories start to grow.

Angelina's mother was an author, so Angelina grew up with a love of words and stories. If she wasn't writing a short story about something that took her fancy, her head was buried in books... reading, reading, reading, as her brother constantly told her...

When she's not spending time with her goodlooking man, or quality time with her laptop, she's working at the hospital, hanging out with her family and friends, or walking her two dogs around the neighborhood. Angelina spends as much time as she can traveling, then coming home and including some of those adventures in her stories.

Angelina really loves to hear from her readers and she invites
you to connect with her on Facebook as she interacts daily with her readers there!   https://facebook.com/angelinaroseromanceauthor Of course she is also on Twitter https://twitter.com/RoseRomanceBook and she has her own website http://AngelinaRoseRomance.com

But to start, here are ten things she already wants to share:

1. My straight hair is really curly

2. I have 2 brothers

3. I loved being the middle child

4. I have appeared on TV as a backing dancer

5. I was in The Rocky Horror Show as one of the “Rocky Horribles”

6. I play Spanish guitar

7. One of my favorite songs is: “Reflection” sung by Christina Aguilera.

8. When no one is home or I'm alone in my car, I love to turn music up really loud and sing like no one is listening… because no one is.

9. I enjoy the Opera

10. I thought of becoming a Nun when I was a teen


A bit more about The Eyes of Love:

After a tragic loss five years ago, Sally Overby becomes an Attorney in Atlanta. She convinces herself that all she'll ever need again is her young son, David, and her life as an attorney. Until one day, Colin Dean barges back into her life and promptly blows her safe world apart, driving her crazy as only a guy she'd had a "school girl crush" on can.

Sally is wary to love deeply. Only, with every loving look Colin gives her plus every sweet kiss, as the attraction between them sparks, she can’t help but wonder if she’s met the one she should be with. And although Colin didn’t realize his life was going to change so quickly, amazingly, he isn’t the least bit interested in fighting that change. Instead, he’s gearing up for a different fight altogether. The one for Sally’s heart.

Will Colin be able to convince her that's it safe to love him... and that forever isn't really out of reach?


The Eyes of Love is a novella… so you can enjoy it in just one day!




Excerpt:

"Hi there. I'm Gracie..." the waitress said as she put down a napkin and some silverware.
"Gracie. It's me. Sally Overby," she said grinning
Gracie stopped in her tracks and squinted her eyes. "Sally? I can't believe it! You're stunning, honey!" she said reaching down and hugging her. "What are you doing in town?"
"Reunion. And to see Momma, of course."
"I can't get over how beautiful you are!"
"Thanks."
"You were always a sweetheart of a person, but now your outside matches your inside.
"That's a nice way to look at it."
"So, what have you been up to?"
"Let's see... Became an attorney, got married, had a son, became a widow..."
"Oh, Sally, I'm so sorry! I remember that now. Your Momma told me a few years back. You're still single?"
"Yep. But I have a date to the reunion tomorrow night, so I guess I'm officially back on the dating circuit now," Sally said giggling.
"Date? Who with?"
"Colin Dean."
Gracie started fanning herself. "Oh, girl, you scored on that one, huh?"
"I did. He's a wonderful guy."

Monday, August 12, 2013

A trip to Manchester and Media City UK

The last couple of days we spent in Manchester, more precisely in Media City UK. The weather was not great, but we were lucky it did not rain.


When we booked tickets for Evita which starred Marti Pellow, we were looking for a hotel that was near to the theatre where the musical played. So we picked the Holiday Inn, which is next to the new BBC studio's in Media City UK. Quite a nice environment, and if you are lucky you can spot a tv star or two.


I'm quite sure the guy sitting next to us in the bar one night was actor Iain Glenn, who starred in Jack Taylor, ex-guard and also in Dowton Abbey to mention a couple.

Media City is a new development in Manchester, situated where once the docks of Salford were. Now it's a place where one tv or radio studio pops up next to the other, and there is also a very new theatre, The Lowry, and a shopping mall.

We went and saw the show and of course we also paid a visit to Manchester. We're not big soccer fans, otherwise we'd needed to visit Old Trafford (which, btw, we could see from our hotel window).


Manchester itself is not much of a town. Personally I think Liverpool is a lot nicer and better looking, perhaps because they have the docks near the Mersey.  But the people both in Manchester and Liverpool are very nice and I really like their accent.

We also had some nice local restaurants, only five minutes away from our hotel. I especially liked Lime, where we had a full lobster for a price that it's possible!

Friday, August 9, 2013

The devil's offer

I don't have a lot of time today, so I'll just share a joke which I heard while being on the train. Next to us were a couple of lawyers, and they were making jokes about their profession. Here's one I remember:

The devil visited a lawyer's office and made him an offer. "I can arrange some things for you, " the devil said. "I'll increase your income five-fold. Your partners will love you; your clients will respect you; you'll have four months of vacation each year and live to be a hundred. All I require in return is that your wife's soul, your children's souls, and their children's souls rot in hell for eternity."

The lawyer thought for a moment. "What's the catch?" he asked.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Newport mysteries

Have you ever visited Newport, Rhode Island? I did, some years ago, together with my sister. We decided to go there because we had read a novel by Mary Jane Clark that played in this town - and we got curious.


Next to being a seaside resort, Newport is especially famous for its 'cottages'. The rich New Yorkers at the end of the 19th century used to spent their holidays in their vacation homes, mansions one bigger and grander than the other. Families like the Astors lived there in summer.

We took our time to visit some of these mansions near the sea, and while visiting one we found some books in the museum shop. They were mysteries set in Newport and its mansions, and by the hand of Anne Marie Sutton.


Heroine of service is Caroline Kent, a young widow who lives in one of the Newport mansions. Because she can't pay the taxes anymore, she decides to make her home a bed and breakfast - but soon a murder victim is discovered. Inspector Hank Nightingale comes to inspect the case... and there is also some magic between him and Caroline.

This first novel in the series is called Murder Stalks a Mansion. The next volume is Gilded Death and recently a third volume is available. The title of it is Keep My Secret. They are lovely reads, and especially if you have been to Newport they are fine reads for a lonely evening.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Bama Bride

Hello, all. Today I’d like to introduce you to Joan Chandler, author of Bama Bride. The novel is contemporary mainstream romance and is available from Book Strand Publishing. To celebrate its launch, Joan is doing a virtual super book blast tour with Goddess Fish Promotions, which will take place on Tuesday, August 6th.

Joan will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during this tour, and a $10 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn host. So please don’t forget to comment on this post!!!
Joan Chandler is a Florida native who has lived in the Deep South all of her life. She is married with two children who are her pride and joy. She lives a double life of sorts, holding down a nine-t-five job during the day, and writing steamy romance at night – often with her black cat curled up in her arms as she types.
When she is not spending her spare time working on her next novel, she loves to go camping, sharing girls’ nights out with her friends, walking her two dogs, and watching college football.

 
Blurb:
Neal Sinclair meets David Bankston in a college town bar. He’s tall, dark, and handsome, and wears a Stetson like nobody’s business.

When they dance, inner passion heats up while inhibitions melt away. Neal quickly discovers David’s not a Southerner at all. He’s a Boston architect, in Tuscaloosa for only one night. The next morning, they struggle to walk away from something that caught them both by surprise.

Time doesn’t diminish the ache they feel in each other’s absence. Unable to stay apart, David arranges to take Neal to watch her beloved Crimson Tide play in a football bowl game. Reunited, they’re determined to make it work. When separated, they perfect the art of open communication. They each know that true love is a long shot.

But distance isn’t the only thing standing in their way. Unbeknownst to her, Neal’s overprotective father is, too. With so much conspiring against them, can a natural disaster turn the odds in their favor?

 
Excerpt:

“Hey, cowboy. How about a dance?” As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she cringed. Wow, even to my own ears that sounded way too cheesy.

She looked him over as he stood with the sole of one boot propped against the wall, and a Stetson perched atop his head. He had sinfully good looks, and his olive complexion and wavy black hair gave him a swarthy, pirate-like appeal.

“Evening.” He nodded, but his gaze remained focused on the room, never lingering in one place too long. Clearly, she had been dismissed.

So much for my skill at playing the vamp. This is shaping up to be an epic fail.

With each swig he took from that long-necked beer bottle, however, she found herself wanting nothing more than to offer to lick off the moisture that clung to his mouth after every swallow. She decided not to give up so easily.

“You’re about empty. How about a second round? My treat?”

He locked eyes with her then, and humor glinted in his. The gorgeous stranger rewarded her with a dazzling smile even as he shook his head in polite refusal.

“Thank you, but no.”

His fingers were long, and his hand was broad. He exuded sex appeal. But she wasn’t used to these games of pursuit. It was usually the other way around, and she was fending off the unwanted advances.

Jeez, I must look utterly pathetic to him just standing here with doe eyes. I don’t know what possessed me to think I could ever stand a chance with someone like him.

She started to back away when suddenly the band began to play the first strains of “Sweet Home Alabama.” She took it as a sign that this might be her lucky night after all. She quickly downed the rest of her sour apple martini to bolster her courage and then deposited the empty glass on a nearby table.

“Are you just passing through?” She spoke loudly to be heard above the cacophony of their surroundings.

“I only came in for a beer—nothing else. I leave town in the morning.”

“I get it. No entanglements, right? But it’s just one dance. And judging by your accent, you aren’t from around here. So I’m willing to overlook the fact that you don’t know it’s an unwritten law that when that particular song comes on, it’s lady’s choice. She can ask any man to dance, and he can’t say no.”

“Can’t, huh? Is that a fact?” A playful grin toyed at the corners of his mouth.

“It is when you’re in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. That song’s a sacred anthem around here. So, cowboy, I’m asking you once again. You wanna dance?” She put one hand on her hip and extended the other toward him, waiting. Hoping he would acquiesce.

His hesitation surprised her. Instead of accepting immediately, he purposefully raked his eyes over her from head to toe.

“Go ahead. I’ve got all night.” She teased him at the flagrant assessment of her assets. She welcomed the appraisal. She knew she looked good tonight.

Finally he budged, putting both feet on the ground and taking a step closer. “All right then. You lead the way.” He smirked, as if amused by the whole incident.

She smiled and turned toward the wooden floor near the stage, their fingers joined behind her as they walked. When they were front and center, she put her hands on his shoulders while his immediately came to rest on her hips. Although it wasn’t a particularly slow song, he pulled her close until their bodies touched, and they began to move in time to the music.

He was tall and towered over her, despite her high heels, so he bent slightly and introduced himself. “I’m David. What’s your name?”

The feel of his warm breath against her face made the air around her crackle. She inhaled the scent of him. It was equal parts of shampoo, spice, and suds, and it was more intoxicating to her than the vodka had been. She breathed deeply then looked up into his brown eyes.

“Neal.”

He raised an eyebrow in apparent surprise at the revelation. “That’s an unusual name for a girl. My best friend in high school was named Neil.”

“Cowboy, it may sound like a boy’s name, but I can assure you I am one-hundred-percent genuine woman.”

He let his hands wander over the luscious curve of her bottom. Pressing his lips against her ear, he dared her. “Prove it.”


Buy links and author links:


BOOKSTRAND PUBLISHING:    http://www.bookstrand.com/bama-bride


Twitter account:   @joanchandler1

Find me on facebook:  Joan Chandler