Friday, April 17, 2015

Pay Attention Book Lovers/Readers: A SPECIAL DEAL starting Monday, April 20!

THIS WEEK ONLY, from Monday, April 20 to and including Sunday, April 26, the complete Family Portrait collection (An Uncommon Family, Love of a Stonemason, Emilia) is available on all Amazon sites for $2.99. You get three novels for the price of less than one!

Link to the Book:


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

For my sister

Rosmarie Spiegel-Umiker, October 19, 1929 - April 15, 1997

In Memoriam

Back then, we tried once again                             
to cram a year’s worth of feelings
into one week,
letting our thoughts float
in the vast stillness.
Before us mountain peaks
drained away into the summer night.

Now your face is tucked in a frame
on the shrine next to the flowers
and the candle I light every night.
It looks my way with a warm
or mischievous smile, 
depending on the way the light falls. 

Your sanctuary lies in my heart
in little heaps of joy and sorrow.
I think of you often,
of the times we sat together
gazing at the lit church
on the hill above Santa Maria, 
our bodies suffused in the evening glow,
you, leaning back into the
lime-green sofa pillow, and I
leaning into you.

(From The Path of Fire by Christa Polkinhorn)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Literary and artistic surprises during a fun journey

This past week, I was in San Leandro, in the Bay area of California, visiting my friend Susan and having a good old time visiting, chatting, eating and drinking and going for walks. And during our walks and drives, we stumbled upon art and literature at unexpected places.

It started at the De Young Museum of Art in San Francisco. By chance they showed an amazing exhibition of some of my favorite painters, Botticelli, for instance.

The De Young is not only a great art museum but situated within the beautiful Golden Gate Park, it is also a place to just hang out, have lunch, or a coffee.

Susan and I at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

On the way to San Francisco and back, we passed the new Bay Bridge, which is impressive and a little scary (can't help thinking about earthquakes). But I love the skyline of San Francisco and of course the city itself.

After all the excitement, we relaxed with a cup of coffee and a sweet. Food for the spirit and the body.

One of the next outings was to Berkeley and in particular to the Botanical Garden, a real treat! It's an oasis of peace with a display of the most gorgeous plants and flowers.

But next to the Garden of Old Roses, there was a lovely surprise waiting for us. See further down.

Hidden underneath a canopy of leaves, a poem by Sylvia Plath carved into stone!

From the Botanical Garden, you have a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge!

Berkeley still has a selection of fine brick-and-motar bookstores. This one was another surprise: Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf!

A great bookstore that still invites you to browse and hang out.

On my way back to Los Angeles on 101, I drove through Salinas and stopped for a quick look at another literary great--you guessed it. John Steinbeck lived here many years and there is a museum and a restaurant in his honor.

"Meeting" all these fantastic artists and writers inspired me to get back to my own writing. I'm polishing my next novel, The Italian Sister, which takes place in California and on a vineyard in Tuscany, Italy. More about this later!

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Der Steinmetz und die Malerin - für die deutschsprachigen Leseratten

Für die deutschsprachigen Leser, die es noch nicht wissen: das zweite Buch meiner Familienportrait-Trilogie ist nun ebenfalls auf Deutsch erhältlich, als eBook und, seit kurzem, auch als Taschenbuch.

Für die junge Malerin Karla Bocelli gehört Verlust zum Alltag. Mit fünf Jahren verlor sie ihre Mutter bei einem Autounfall im Süden der Schweiz. Ihr peruanischer Vater lebt am anderen Ende der Welt und vor einem Jahr starb auch die Tante, die sie großgezogen hatte. Jetzt, im Alter von vierundzwanzig Jahren, wird sie beinahe von einem rasenden Auto angefahren. Als ob das allein nicht schicksalhaft genug wäre, ist der Fahrer des Wagen, Andreas, ein Bildhauer und Gestalter von Grabsteinen. Trotz seines Berufs ist Andreas alles andere als morbide. Hitzig und intensiv, strahlt er eine wilde Energie aus. Nach dem stürmischen Anfang ihrer Beziehung wird Andreas für Karla zum „Felsen“ ihres Lebens, das perfekte Antidot zu ihren Ängsten des Verlassenwerdens und den Depressionsanfällen. Andreas hat jedoch mit seinen eigenen Problemen zu kämpfen: einem alkoholkranken Vater, der ihn als Kind misshandelte, und seiner Neigung zu Wutanfällen. Gemeinsam müssen sich die beiden Künstler mit ihren Dämonen auseinandersetzen.

 DER STEINMETZ UND DIE MALERIN handelt vom Kampf zweier Künstler mit der Vergangenheit, ihren Familien, ihrer Kreativität und ihrer Liebe zu einander. Die Geschichte führt den Leser auf eine Reise der Sinne vom Süden der Schweiz nach Italien und in die peruanischen Anden.

Das Buch ist bei Amazon erhältlich:
Taschenbuch, Druckformat:

Das erste Buch der Trilogie, Eine ungewöhnliche Familie, ist ebenfalls auf Deutsch erhältlich:
Taschenbuch, Druckformat:

Für die Leser, die es vorziehen, die Bücher in der englischen Originalfassung zu lesen, hier ist meine Autorenseite auf Amazon:

Viel Vergnügen beim Lesen oder Happy Reading!

Wenn Ihnen das eine oder andere Buch gefallen hat, würde ich mich für eine kurze Bewertung/Rezension auf Amazon freuen. So werden andere Leser auf das Buch aufmerksam!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Hype and hoopla...

William Shakespeare, b.23 April 1564 Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England (observed) d.23 April 1616. Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. Playwright, poet, actor.
The Bard
Amidst all the hype and hoopla about the newest trashy novel and blockbuster movie, it has become obvious, once again, that it is not self-publishing or the independent author who destroys literature, nor is it the traditional publishing industry as a whole. It is those in the business who cater to the lowest common denominator and set out to appeal to our base instincts who diminish literature and art. And it is above all consumers with questionable taste who support this kind of industry. But only for a limited time. Quality books and movies may not bring in the big bucks--at least not all at once--but as history has shown again and again: the best of them will be around for a long time--long after 50 Piles of Garbage have sunk into oblivion and, fortunately, disappeared from our consciousness.

Virginia Woolf in 1902, photo taken by George Charles Beresford. #virginiawoolf
Virginia Woolf
The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann (1924)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo, California, with the Mighty Wurlitzer Theater Pipe Organ

I fell in love with the small town of El Segundo, a community with plenty of free street parking (hard to find anywhere in California) with a great choice of restaurants, bars, small stores. This town invites you to take a leisurely stroll, stop for a cup of coffee, a meal, a drink, or, visit the cultural treasure, called Old Town Music Hall!

The Old Town Music Hall celebrates the classic period of American cinema and music. The manager and other talented musicians play the Mighty Wurlitzer Pipe organ. The theater itself is lovingly decorated in the old style with beautiful chandeliers, tapestry, and all kinds of memorability.

After a nice dinner at a nearby restaurant, my friends and I went to listen to old cinema music and watched the classic black-and-white film 42nd Street. It was a blast!

In case you're in the neighborhood, drop by and let yourself be transported into the Roaring Twenties with old-fashioned popcorn and delicious coconut muffins from a nearby bakery!

More information and pictures here:

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Last impressions of Switzerland

I spent a little over two months at my first home in the German part of Switzerland, visiting family and friends. I was looking forward to a change of climate from sunny southern California (which turned out not quite as sunny and warm over the holidays, as I saw on the internet) to real Winter. Having grown up in Switzerland, Christmas in my subconscious mind is still associated with snow and cold, a Christmas tree with candles, roaring fires in the wood stove or fireplace, hearty meals and a few glasses of excellent wine. So when I first arrived here in the beginning of November, snow was nowhere to be seen. In fact, not even the mountains had much of the precious white and the tourist industry in the ski areas were all gloom and doom.

After a short holiday in a castle in the Piedmont (see my last blog entry), it was back to Switzerland and my dreams of white Christmas seemed to kind of evaporate--

Pretty, but more like Autumn than Winter

  until the second day of Christmas and then the dream became reality.

and with it the work of shoveling shoveling shoveling ...

And, of course, a real Christmas tree with real candles!

and one of those yummy gloggs or mulled wines (hot red wine with spices and fruit)

A visit to my niece's tea and coffee lounge with the addition of a vegetarian buffet at restaurant Limalimon in Bremgarten, Aargau. Although I'm not a vegetarian, I really enjoy these delicious dishes!

And above all, I'm very grateful for the company of family and so many friends.

Wishing you peace, health, and happiness in the New Year, dear friends. May your dreams come true in 2015!

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