My Books

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Poem that Rhymes!

Poets are not academics (though some are) or highly educated men and women (though they may be), but most of them are ordinary everyday people with the desire to express something fun or meaningful or turbulent or painful or joyful and so on and so on (you choose).

Many are computer nerds, taxi drivers, hamburger flippers at McDonald's, cleaning men and women, students, drug addicts, police officers, shoe sales people, firemen, some doctors (yes it happens), teachers (okay, that may be obvious), presidents (you never know). Anyway, my point is--is there a point? Not sure. There is no rule or regulation as to who can and should write poetry--or anything else for that matter.

That brings me to a poem of my own. Nothing serious, just a fun play with words. So, please don't take it seriously. It really isn't meant to be taken seriously.

Here we go, a silly poem that rhymes--well somewhat:

A Poem that Rhymes 





On the deck in front of my room
at Cambria Pines Lodge
a little after noon
I’m tempted to snooze
but my undone work
wraps around my neck like a noose.

It is so tight
I want to fight
but then I see the light
and throw pen and paper out of sight.

I’d rather go for a walk
I don’t need to talk
or sing like a lark.

I sigh and admit
that this sounds like shit
but write I must
even if nothing
comes out of it.

There’s nothing to say
that hasn’t already been said
I’ve nothing to say
at the end of the day.

Oh, the freedom of silence
around me and in my mind
so I gaze at the highland
in the distance and pray
and so it’s okay
that I’ve nothing to say.

Amen.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Dreaming and Research - Central Coast of California

One of my favorite types of research for my novels is traveling to different places where my characters live and work. This time, I spent a few days in one of my favorite spots in California, namely in Cambria at the Cambria Pines Lodge. Since the fictitious Segantino family lives in the wine region of the Central Coast in California, the Paso Robles area was on my itinerary as well. And last but not least, I checked out the California Polytechnic State University or Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. This is the place where Julietta Santucci, a major character in The Wine Lover's Daughter series, studies architecture and environmental design.

Here are a few pictures of my vacation/research in beautiful San Luis Obispo county.


Cambria Pines Lodge, Cambria



Cambria Pines Lodge is situated on a hill above the town of Cambria and is a charming lodge with beautiful gardens, the perfect place to dream and write.
A very special kind of flower bed



















 A garden with organically grown herbs and vegetables they use for cooking is also part of the landscape.




View from my room

A couple of miles north of Cambria is a famous elephant seal spot. These amazing animals come here year after year to breed, raise their young, and relax between their long and arduous migrations in the Pacific Ocean. Every season has its own kind of spectacle. In September, the young males are jousting playfully, preparing for the serious and often bloody fights for dominance and their chosen females.




Of course, a visit to the famous wine region around Paso Robles, the imaginary home of the Segantino family, is mandatory!




Next stop is San Luis Obispo, where I took a brief walk through the Cal Poly campus, a well-known technical and agricultural university.























Another important spot that plays a role in my next novel is the Benedictine monastery in San Luis Obispo, but time ran out and I had to postpone this for another visit. There is always a reason to come back to this beautiful area of California.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Surprise Find - New "old" Poems

I was browsing through my Writing directory and came across a folder I totally forgot about, called Poems 2000. These are poems I wrote around the year 2000 and after reading a few, I decided to review them and perhaps use them in a new poetry volume.

Here is one of them. Not sure what made me write it--perhaps an old man sitting on a park bench or memories of my father? 

I hope you'll enjoy it!

The Old Man and his Memories

He always walks the same street
stops at the same coffee shop
sits at his favorite table
looking lonely and somewhat bored

Today is different; today his eyes
accentuated by the blue hat
are deep and longing
he scans the sky
as if he heard the spirits of lost friends
converse with one another
somewhere above the evening clouds

He’s holding a long-stemmed rose
a perfect bud of red with white tips
who knows which young girl
took pity on an old man
quite decently dressed
alone and possibly ill
the blotchy skin
one edge of his mouth drooping
and the hands unsteady
signs of a past stroke

Perhaps he’s thinking of that night
he walked along the beach
of the flecks of gold on the horizon
of his wife, long dead,
who used to love sunsets
of his married daughter who lives in France
and the grandchild, a girl with long dark hair,
who sends him letters in French
he barely understands but
delights in anyway

I don’t have it bad
he probably thinks
a place to live
a few friends
you can’t ask too much at my age
an occasional phone call from overseas
the usual invitation to come and visit
We’ll take you to Paris
didn’t you always want to go there?

No, not anymore, not without his wife
it would be too sad to always be reminded
how much she would have enjoyed it
more than he who’d really rather stay home
but he would have gone to please her
but now there is no reason anymore

His daughter and the family come to visit
once in a while for a few weeks
the young girls passing by the coffee shop
remind him of her; she used to have long hair
braided the French way

Tonight, perhaps, he’ll sort out
the old photos in the cardboard boxes
and stick them into albums
which he had been planning to do for a long time
only to abandon the task
feeling the life flow out of him and settle
in memories of past adventures
past loves

Sometimes, before falling asleep,
voices from within the bedroom walls
convince him that someone is still alive there

He’s smiling now
a slightly crooked smile
one corner of his mouth pointing upwards
the other one hanging down.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Finding Angelo (The Wine Lover's Daughter, Book 2) - paperback is out!!

Dear Loyal Readers,

I have great news for those of you who still like to hold a "real" book--made of reap paper and ink and with a beautiful glossy cover--in their hands. The paperback version of Finding Angelo is now available on Amazon.

Link: Paperback Finding Angelo




As a reminder, here is the blurb again:
 
A hidden diary and a crumpled envelope, postmarked in Italy, are the only clues Martin Segantino has to what happened to his younger brother Angelo, the black sheep of the family, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances twenty years ago. When the police find the skeleton of Angelo's close friend buried in one of the fields on the Segantino vineyards, the hunt for Angelo begins. Is he the killer or is he himself a victim? Sofia Segantino, great-niece of Angelo by marriage, embarks on her own search for the missing man. On her trip through the Piedmont region of Italy, she uncovers clues of Angelo's whereabouts, which puts her in grave danger. The local gangsters are equally interested in the elusive Angelo and are ready to do whatever it takes to find him. Will Sofia be able to outsmart them?

Part family drama, part suspense, Finding Angelo takes the reader on a thrilling journey from California via Chicago and New York to Italy.

Happy Reading, my Fellow Bookworms!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Huntington Library, Pasadena, California - Part 2

My second visit to the Huntington Library was in company with my friend Jackie Ingerson. This time around, I got to see one of the great treasures I didn't have enough time for during my first visit: original manuscripts and the Gutenberg Bible!

But first a few more shots of the beautiful gardens. In one of them, the rose bushes were named after famous actors and artists. Here is one dedicated to Henry Fonda.



The Japanese Garden and Pavilion belong to the most serene sceneries.






The next series of pictures are of original manuscripts and of the famous Gutenberg Bible.


On the right and below is the original manuscript of Jack London's White Fang
















The next manuscripts are from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and Milton's Paradise Lost





This photo below doesn't do the Gutenberg Bible justice. You really have to see it in person to appreciate the beauty of it. The old-fashioned script makes it look like it was produced by the hand of a perfect scrivener. The print and the decorations are gorgeous.



I could spend whole days in this place. I hope you enjoyed the "walk" through one of southern California's precious heritages.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Huntington Library, Pasadena, California - go on a treasure hunt!

One of my favorite places in the southern California area is the Huntington Library. "Library" is almost a misnomer, if you think of a regular public library. The Huntington Library is a vast landscape with gardens, museums, coffee shops, pavilions and more. It's almost impossible to see everything in one visit and once you are there, you will want to come back for more. The first time I visited this amazing place was with my good friend Shawn Gadberry and we focused on the valuable paintings, some of the gorgeous gardens, such as the one devoted to Shakespeare.




The Picture Gallery
Pinkie by Sir Thomas Lawrence
The Blue Boy by Thomas Gainsborough (the painting, of course)


                                                                                        
One of the many gorgeous gardens
The Bard











After all this food for the soul and spirit in this exciting environment, we also needed food for the body. The Rose Cafe serves the most delicious and very extensive English Afternoon Tea.











I'm glad we saw the art and the gardens before indulging in this spread. We may not have made it afterwards!

Photos courtesy Shawn Gadberry.
More to follow!



Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Finding Angelo (The Wine Lover's Daughter, Book 2) - ready for pre-order!

Dear Friends and Bookworms,

For those of you who are not on my mailing list, here is an exciting announcement. By the way, getting on my mailing list and being informed about new books and important events in my writing career is easy. I promise, I won't fill up your inbox. Just click on Mailing List below and fill out the short form:




Greetings and Salutations!

It's been a while, but here I am once again, your slow but loyal wordsmith. The ebook version of my new novel, Finding Angelo, the sequel to The Italian Sister, is now ready for pre-order on Amazon for a very modest price of $1.99. The price will increase after the official launch on June 21, 2016. So reserve your copy while the  discount lasts!

Here is the link: Finding Angelo

For those of you who still like to hold a "real" book in their hands and inhale the scent of paper and ink (I do!), there will also be a printed paperback version.

Both The Italian Sister and Finding Angelo are stand-alone novels, but I recommend you read them in sequence. In case you haven't read the first part yet, the ebook version of The Italian Sister is available on Amazon for 99 cents (instead of the regular price of $3.99) for about a week. So grab it while you can. If you like the book, I would of course appreciate a brief honest review on Amazon. This does not have to be a professional literary review, just a few sentences why you liked (or disliked--I hope not!) the book. The number of reviews, particularly positive ones, draws attention to the book and makes it visible for other readers.

And now without further ado, here is the blurb of Finding Angelo:

A hidden diary and a crumpled envelope, postmarked in Italy, are the only clues Martin Segantino has to what happened to his younger brother Angelo, the black sheep of the family, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances twenty years ago. When the police find the skeleton of Angelo's close friend buried in one of the fields on the Segantino vineyards, the hunt for Angelo begins. Is he the killer or is he himself a victim? Sofia Segantino, great-niece of Angelo by marriage, embarks on her own search for the missing man. On her trip through the Piedmont region of Italy, she uncovers clues of Angelo's whereabouts, which puts her in grave danger. The local gangsters are equally interested in the elusive Angelo and are ready to do whatever it takes to find him. Will Sofia be able to outsmart them?

Part family drama, part suspense, Finding Angelo takes the reader on a thrilling journey from California via Chicago and New York to Italy.

I hope this triggers your interest!
Your devoted Scrivener,
Christa

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Curmudgeon - Wordsmith, Part 2

Hello Fellow Scriveners and Lovers of Words.

Here are a few more terms, which intrigued me, so I checked out their meaning and origin.
Enjoy!
Curmudgeon: a crusty, ill-tempered, and usually old man (Merriam-Webster)

Etymology: 1570s, of unknown origin; the suggestion, based on a misreading of a garbled note from Johnson, that it is from French coeur mechant "evil heart" is not taken seriously; the first syllable may be cur "dog." Liberman says the word "must have been borrowed from Gaelic (and references muigean "disagreeable person"), with variant spelling of intensive prefix ker. Related: Curmudgeonly.

Why just an old man? I'm a woman and perfectly capable of being very curmudgeonly!

Evanescence: the process or fact of evanescing, disappearing, vanishing. (Merriam-Webster)

Etymology: comes from the Latin evanescere meaning "disappear, vanish."
"the evanescence of a rainbow detracts not a whit from its beauty" - (said who? couldn't find the source)

Obsequious: "obedient or attentive to an excessive or servile degree."--I don't need to worry about this one. I've never been very obedient!

Etymologylate 15th century (not depreciatory in early use): from Latin obsequiosus, from obsequium ‘compliance,’ from obsequi ‘follow, comply with.’

Any words that intrigue, puzzle, excite you?

Have a wonderful weekend! 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Serendipity - Wordsmith, Part 1

I decided to toss around some interesting words. As a writer, and particularly one who writes in her non-native language, I'm constantly trying to expand my vocabulary. I love words, most of all those whose meaning I don't know or I keep forgetting, such as:

SERENDIPITY

Where does it come from and what does it mean?

Merriam Webster defines it as: "luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for."

Wikipedia: "'fortunate happenstance' or 'pleasant surprise'. 

It was coined by Horace Walpole in 1754 in reference to the Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip. 

Did you know this, my fellow scriveners or loyal readers? 

I ordered the fairy tale from the library and look forward to reading it.

And, by the way, "fortunate happenstance"--happenstance, anybody?
It means, of course, coincidence. What I didn't know: it stems from the late 19th century and is a blend of:
"happen" and "circumstance."

Enough for today. 

Are you having fun with words? What are your favorite ones? 


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Day 7 of the Scenic/Landscape Challenge

Day 7 of the Scenic/Landscape Challenge. I conclude it with the stunning scenery of Peru:

El Beso, famous sculpture in Lima by Victor Delfin



Artisans in Cuzco creating native handicraft
Cathedral at the Plaza de Armas in Cuzco
Plaza de Armas in Cuzco
Desert near Arequipa with carvings from a pre-Inca tribe

Tunupa or Wiracocha, the legendary Pilgrim Preacher of Knowledge above Ollantaytambo
Sixteenth Century Convent Santa Catalina in Arequipa
And, of course, Machu Picchu

This is the end of the Scenic/Landscape challenge. I hope you enjoyed it. Leave a comment, if you wish!