Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My sister Rosmarie - October 19, 1929 - April 15, 1997


Winter in Castaneda 

Climbing the stairs
from the cellar to the room
with the tile floor,
eight months later,
after the pain has softened,
after the ashes have been scattered
on the rock, after driving past the
snowy fields of Saint Gotthard,
we feel your presence
fill the spaces between our bodies.

Not yet understanding the full meaning
of this merging, of your hands
entwined in the leaves of plants,
your scent lingering in the
cedar closet, your smile
in the candle flame,
your voice trailing the crackling
of logs in the fireplace,
a sound so delicate,
we dare not move
as not to disturb it.

With each breath we take
the silent words into our hearts
and choose to believe in the
here and now
of all that was, before you left us.

(The Path of Fire, poems)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Story behind the story

What made me write my first novel? The story behind Love of a Stonemason

Find out here: What is that book about?  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

But What Are They Eating?

What do characters in a novel eat? And why is it important? What does it mean?

Hop on over to author Shelley Workinger's blog where I talk about one of my favorite hobbies:

Have fun!


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

When authors kill the wrong characters ...

Have you ever read a book and liked or even fell in love with a character, only to realize one page with dismay that the character is killed off by the author. It’s a heart wrenching experience!

Sometimes the character’s death is unavoidable, I guess. Sir Arthur Canon Doyle wanted to kill Sherlock Holmes so he could move on and write his historical novels. He made him fall to his death together with his arch enemy Moriarty down the Reichenbach falls above Meiringen in the Bernese Alps of Switzerland. However, his readers protested so much that he was forced to bring the sleuth back to life. (There is an excellent new TV version of Sherlock Holmes on PBS, so far there are only three series. I hope there will be more!)

Anyway, characters die for different reasons: illness, murder, war, natural disasters, etc. Most of the time, the reader accepts the death as being a necessary part of the story. We grieve, gnash our teeth, but ultimately we agree with the author that the character’s time has come.

Sometimes, however, the death of a character is so out of line and, in our—well, at least, in my— opinion, outrageous. How dare the author….

Here is an example. I have been reading a series of four excellent mysteries/thrillers. They are real page turners and I couldn’t wait until the next installment was out. I’m not going to list the title or the author because I would be spoiling it for the readers. The heroine in the novels together with her journalist friend is trying to unlock a sinister secrete having to do with a religious cult. One of the characters, the father of the heroine, has disappeared under very mysterious circumstances and is believed to be dead. The heroine, however, finds evidence that made her believe that he is still alive. She suspects that he was somehow involved in the crimes committed by the cult and has faked his own death to protect his daughter.

As the story proceeds through three books, we get glimpses of the mysterious father. The author does an excellent job of keeping us wondering, wanting to know more about him. Like his daughter, we are made to believe that he is not exactly innocent, but we begin to like him and we want the daughter to finally meet him.

In the fourth book, the long-awaited meeting and reunion finally does take place—but what a reunion and what a disappointment. The father is about to be arrested and what does he do? HE SHOOTS HIMSELF. What??!!! Nooooooooo! After all this time, all our wondering and debating and waiting, he comes on the stage to be killed?

Please, that’s just not fair. Now, to the defense of the writer of this otherwise excellent series I have to say that there is going to be a fifth part. So, perhaps, the author will bring the father back to life just like Canon Doyle did with Sherlock Holmes? Well, I doubt it but I am looking forward to finding out more about all this. Still, dear author, you could have been a little gentler with the poor guy. Really!

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Today, I have the honor of welcoming one of my favorite authors to my blog. I loved Lindsay Edmund's first novel CEL & ANNA, which I almost didn't read because science fiction isn't usually the genre I'm interested in. But I liked Lindsay's blog posts and I figured I'll give it a try. I am glad I did. I loved her interesting and quirky characters, the humor, and the funny jabs at modern government and society. But most of all, I realized that behind those imaginary beings are real people with real human feelings and problems. Besides, who has ever written about a computer who falls in love with its owner? What was even more intriguing was the fact that I fell in love with Cell, the computer. But enough preamble. Here is Lindsay. Take it away!
Good People Doing Their Best

Your family trilogy is about good people doing their best. Karla Bocelli and Andreas O’Reilly and their three children do not have trouble-free lives, but their approaches to trouble are heartening. These people fix things. They also make things: Karla is a painter; Andreas, a stonemason. This is heartening.

 I read EMILIA on a summer Sunday, and it was a pleasure to hang out with these folks. The armchair tourist in me also enjoyed the locales of Switzerland, France, Peru.

Scratch the surface of an ordinary life and you find there is no such thing as “ordinary.” It’s a myth, and a lazy myth, that a person can be reduced to a cliché.

In this blog announcing my new novel WARNING: SOMETHING ELSE IS HAPPENING, I want to
focus on the human characters and how they solve their problems.

Living Life No Matter What

In October 2013 I spent a happy long weekend in Chicago, Illinois, aka the murder capital of the United States. In the murder capital of the United States, people were out walking, driving, shopping, chatting, sightseeing, running businesses, and walking dogs. Even in the most dangerous parts of the city people were out living their lives, heroically though no one will give them medals for it.

The characters in WARNING live in an unstable society under an overstretched, unraveling government. The United States was ravaged by another civil war and has been reassembled under the name of the Reunited States. The country is showing signs of coming undone again.

In spite of the hard times they endure, people get on with their lives. They have relationships, they do their jobs, they cope with the harshness and weirdness of their lives. They chase their dreams. They unravel mysteries. They pray. They make mistakes and correct them. They adapt, adapt, adapt.

Computers have turned us into a nation of typists, but computers will never turn us into computers. In the end, as novelist Russell Hoban put it: “the things that matter don’t necessarily make sense.”


WARNING: SOMETHING ELSE IS HAPPENING is Lindsay Edmunds’s second science fiction novel. It is a dystopian fairy tale, populated with Networld e-beasts who feel about humans the way natives feel about foreign invaders. Its regular price will be $3.99. but it is on sale for $1.99 through January 19, 2014, at Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Lindsay Edmunds blogs about machine intelligence, books and independent publishing, movies and TV, and life in southwestern Pennsylvania at Writer’s Rest. Drop by, say hello, and share a story or two. She is newly on Tumblr, looking for people to draw her e-beasts and sometimes blogging about old movies, and on Twitter.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Journey of Writing

Every writer knows the feeling of elation when he or she finishes a book. "I did it. It's done!" Then comes the moment of truth. I realize that although I am pleased and happy to have arrived, the book I wrote is not the book I intended to write. It falls short of my initial expectations.

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't mean to be negative. I don't mean to belittle what I have achieved. It is more than I ever dreamed of. But I am not there yet.

What keeps me going is the process of writing, the insights I gain, the joy and (sometimes) the despair I experience. It's a journey and I may never get to the ultimate destination. But I will reach milestones and enjoy the vista from a mountain top, from where I can see the next, higher mountain. I rest and then go on ...

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Enchanting Tuscany - Part 3

Grocery shopping at the local markets in the small town of Cecina is fun and interesting.

Here you find almost anything you need for your wardrobe, your household as well as your kitchen.

Meats, cheese, the famous Prosciutto di Parma, as well as fish and seafood along with freshly picked vegetables.

On the right side: that's how prosciutto looks before it's sliced. Quite a hunk!

I hesitated to post the photo above for fear of offending my vegetarian and animal-loving friends. But, hey, that's how it's done here to attract pork-hungry customers. They put the whole roasted pig on the counter and you get to chose from which part of the animal you want your cut. I'm not a vegetarian, but I have to admit, I didn't linger in front of this stand.

Courtesy of Kconnors, MorgueFile
Just to let you know, there was plenty of vegetables as well and the kind farmer even tossed a few extras in for free.

We ended the shopping spree at a local coffee/liquor bar with one of Italy's perfect cups of espresso.

Now comes another part of my "serious" research for my WIP (work-in-progress) novel: winemaking and winetasting! Here we are at one of the many hill-towns in Tuscany. This is Querceto, a small town near Cecina. The only tourists here seem to be those who have heard about the excellent wine that's being produced in the local wine press house. Queceto is much smaller than Volterra and, perhaps because of its size and lack of tourists, even more charming.

 View from Querceto at the Tuscan scenery.

A castle, a church, one restaurant with lodgings, the winery, and plenty of friendly, helpful people.



And here is where it all happens, the magical transformation of vines into wine. In these huge steel vats, the grapes, skins and some stems, sit, simmer, sizzle until just the right time and then ...

... after a few months or years sitting in the barrels, the wine is syphoned into bottles ... and ... after some more time, it can be enjoyed. Sounds magical? In reality it is hard, backbreaking, and often dirty, sticky work. And the risk of a bad harvest when Mother Nature doesn't cooperate has ruined many small vineyards and winemaking outfits. You really have to love this process to continue. I haven't met a vintner or winemaker who wasn't passionate about it.

 Cheers! By the way, that young boy is NOT drinking wine, just smelling it!

If you want to know more about this charming hill town and its vineyards, here is a link:
Even the best things have to come to an end. The week in Tuscany is over and we have to say good-bye. It's been fun and enlightening. One last look at our paradise.



 Goodbye Tuscany!
Welcome Switzerland! Yes, it was quite a shock. From the swimming pool to the snow-covered mountains. In the meantime, there had been an unseasonably early snowfall.

Fortunately, the snow is gone again in the lower areas and we are able to enjoy some gorgeous fall weather.


 Now, that's better. Wait with the snow until I leave!