Trastevere

I recently returned from a trip to Italy where I spent time in Rome. One of the areas I visited while there was Trastevere where part of my novel, Not By Design, was set.

Not by Design

We cross the River Tiber and approach the archeological remains of rooms that were once baths made of black and white mosaics. My guidebook tells me that these were made in the first century AD. It’s hard for me to grasp that over two thousand years ago there was an entire civilization living on the ground I am standing on.

We are walking along the delightful district of Trastevere.  In Trastevere one will get glimpses of the “real” Rome. Marco and I have been here many times. To eat in their famous restaurant area, go to the theatre, the cinema or just mingle with the Romans in clubs and bars. Today our mission is different. We are visiting the church Bridget reserved for our wedding.
Marco and I are holding hands as we pass by boutiques offering handcrafted wares and clothing stores with magnificent styles.

As we approach Piazza Santa Maria with its spectacular fountain I stop to take in the church in front of us. It is a stunning Medieval church. Its façade glows with its series of faded mosaics honoring the Virgin Mary. I can’t think of a more romantic setting for our wedding. Even before entering the church I know that it is perfect. Except for one thing. “I can’t believe that my father won’t be here to walk me down the aisle,” I say.

 

Travestere (2)

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Bau: It’s here!

It’s finally on sale – a book which I have been working on for years.

Throughout these years the book’s title has changed. It first was Only the Lonely, inspired by Roy Orbison’s iconic song Only the Lonely and which I also included as a quote in the beginning of the novel.

Then the title became The Boy Next Door but I found it told only part of the story. The Set Up was the third title but after a bit of research I found that there were too many books with that title.

Finally, I settled with Just Before Sunrise because it evokes the question: What happened just before sunrise? Which is the whole point of the story.

Right now, Bau, who has been so tolerant throughout this process is still manifesting his patience and control. He is just eagerly waiting for me to finish this post and press publish so that he can go for his well earned walk.

I am very proud to present my dog Mom’s latest novel Just Before Sunrise. It is available in both e-book and paperback.

I hope that those of you who will read it will enjoy it.  

Description on AMAZON

Bau: Cover Reveal

Let loose without my leash as a reward for all my patience while I waited for my Dog Mom to finish her latest novel with its new title and blurb.

She’s warned me that although the cover is done, her manuscript is not quite ready. Not more waiting around!

A coming-of-age story with a domestic noir twist

Nadine, tired of running her call-girl agency, has upgraded to gold digger as she finds the perfect rich widower to marry. Discovering that her wealthy widower is an abuser she seduces his stepson, Charlie, to plot her husband’s murder. But things don’t go as planned and soon she is turning to her experience hiring young call-girls to find the perfect girl to save her from going to prison…

Homeless Maya is drifting on the streets, grieving the recent loss of her mother.
When she is offered the opportunity to prepare a lake-side house to be used as a half-way home for delinquent girls, she doesn’t think twice.

She soon falls for Charlie, the attractive boy next door, who has a seriously dark side. She is drawn into his murderous schemes, doing anything he asks her to, risking her own safety for the promise of a future with him.

When she finds herself party to murder, and she realizes he is more concerned with his older female accomplice than with her, she must learn to trust her instincts and use all of her courage to get out of their trap alive.

An older woman, a younger man and their rocky relationship become involved in investigating the murder for which young Maya is accused of committing.

Just Before Sunrise is a story about loss and survival. About loneliness, betrayals and deadly desires.

Darlene Foster: Amanda in Arabia

I have been following Darlene Foster’s blog for sometime now and had often told myself that I would want to read one of her books.

Lately, I’d been emersed in a lot of adult literary fiction and so this past weekend, I was looking for something to read which wouldn’t be too demanding on my exhausted brain cells. A book that a middle school child could handle.

So far, Darlene has eight Amanda adventure books, each one set in different countries: Spain, Holland, England, Arabia and Malta or in different states or provinces: Alberta, New Mexico or The Danube.

I had debated whether I wanted to read one of the adventures set in a place I had already visited but finally settled on the exotic, the foreign, somewhere I will likely never visit: The United Arab Emirates or as the locals refer to it as either the UAE or simply the Emirates.

Amanda, a twelve-year-old girl from Alberta, Canada, is visiting her aunt and uncle in the Emirates where she befriends an English girl living in the same apartment building. The two girls explore powder-soft white sandy beaches – spotless with its clear blue water, a deserted Bedouin village, impressive and dangerous desert dunes and sandstorms.

Then, there is the magical “Lawrence of Arabia” fairy-tale (After all there is a perfume flask which reminded me of Aladdin’s lamp, reference to flying carpets and a princess who needs saving). There is also the chaos of camel races and a kidnapping.

My favorite part was Amanda riding a camel in the desert – I never thought I’d be so interested in camels before reading this book.

There is also a scene where a boy is sand boarding in the desert dunes which brought back tender memories of my visit to Mui Ne Sand Dunes near Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where, there too, boys sand boarded.

Reading Amanda in Arabia was like taking a mini vacation to a colorful and fascinating country learning a bit about their culture. It was encouraging how Amanda found everything about her visit amazing, whether it was the women covering their faces, the soothing sounding call to prayer five times a day, the friendliness of the people and the little goats climbing trees.

When I was ten or so I would order a bunch of Scholastic novels for my summer reading and would be so excited when they arrived. It is easy for me to imagine that I would have been just as excited to have received Darlene Foster’s Amanda series had they existed then.

Jennifer Kelland Perry: Calmer Secrets

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The Cross family (Darlene, Samantha, Veronica, baby Henry and Cash, Darlene’s boyfriend) are a normal family with its own problems ranging from sibling conflict over a boy, a mother’s drinking problem and abuse.

Calmer Secrets is a novel about good people making bad choices. It is a book about an affectionate family sticking together through thick and thin.

But it is also about romantic relationships. There’s Darlene with Cash, her live-in boyfriend who get along splendidly. Then Veronica’s dating “like you’re going through a box of Kleenex,” Samantha tells her and finally there’s Samantha’s conflict between two guys.

For anyone who has gone through dating in their early twenties, you will recognize the angst, vulnerability and fragility of that period of beginning to date.

Although Calmer Secrets is classed as a Young Adult book there isn’t an age to stop enjoying a book genre. I’ve always loved YA books, often taking me back to my own young adulthood and providing me with a few new vocabulary words:

Girl, you are bangin, says one of Samantha’s boyfriend’s when he sees her appear. To which she answers You’re pretty dope yourself. By the context I took these words to mean cool.

Calmer Secrets takes place in St John’s, Newfoundland, somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit. It was a pleasure reading about the vibrant painted row-houses, the pubs and the mall and a major blizzard which the author cleverly uses to advance her plot.

It’s a heartwarming book. Filled with love and tenderness and suspense.

Getting Organized

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I am a messy writer. When I am working on a story I have notes on index cards, in journals, on random pieces of paper lying around my apartment, on my computer. Piles and piles of notes.

I kept telling myself  

YOU NEED TO GET ORGANIZED

And so I did. I made myself two notebooks in which I could keep a few facts about my characters and settings and a place to keep ideas together.

Note that the preview may not be working. To look inside click on the titles or the links at the bottom of this post.

Author Notebook: Characters

Facts matter. Organize your writing by keeping track of your characters in one easy to access space while saving you time.

No more scattered notes, or messy files on your computer. No more having to search through your manuscript for factual information about your characters that keep your writing consistent.

 The details that are on the worksheets include the character’s physical appearance, place of residence, education, family ties, childhood, mannerisms, jobs, flaws, traits and goals.

Whether this is your first book or you’ve written several or have characters that appear in a series the Author Notebook will help you stay organized and focused on your writing.

The notebook has two parts. On the right is a fact page for you to fill in for each of your characters. On the left is a blank page for you to add notes as reminders, inspirations and ideas as you go along writing your book. It measures 6 x 9” (15.24 x22.86 cm) in size and has 102 pages.  

Author Notebook: Settings

A setting can bring life to your book, especially if it is fresh and unique. That is why it is so important. However, it is also important to vary your settings so as to keep your reader interested.

This notebook on settings is to help you keep track of the places your characters inhabit and their physical and emotional interaction with the setting.

A setting can conjure up memories that can help advance the plot and while different characters can be in the same setting, depending on their mood and past experiences, they will notice and react differently to the details of the setting.

The Author Notebook sheets help you to describe places, weather, seasons, sensual details, feelings and memories which a setting can trigger. This enables you, the author, to notice at a glance, whether you have varied these details and how your character relates to them.

The notebook has a sheet on the righthand side with the title of your book and the character’s name followed by three blocks of setting details.

On the left is a blank page to add your notes as you go along creating your story world. It measures 6×9” (15.24×22.86 cm) and contains 102 pages. 

Both notebooks are now available on Amazon:

Character Notebook

Setting Notebook

Bau: Let me Know When It’s Over

My Doggy Mom is still working on her book. Because she wants to change the title I am forced to endure hours lying next to her as she keeps searching for a suitable one. It’s enough to put a dog to sleep. I wonder if she spent that much time searching for my name.

Doggy Mom: Well, in fact, it was easier. You are of French origin and I wanted you to have a literary name.

Bau: As if I can read French!

Doggy Mom: I thought of Hugo, as in Victor Hugo, but I didn’t think that my daughter’s friend, Hugo, would appreciate me naming you after him.

Bau: He should have been honored.

Doggy Mom: So, anyway there was Baudelaire but that was too long. So I shortened it to Bau. Here in Montreal where almost everyone speaks French, when they ask what your name is, they think I mean Beau, which means handsome.

Bau: Oh, I quite like that!

Doggy Mom: Fits you perfectly. Anyway back to my book title.

Bau: Oh yeah (Yawn, Yawn). What was wrong with The Set Up? Lots of books have that title.

Doggy Mom: That’s the problem. I don’t want my book to get lost in the slush pile.

Bau: If that’s the case, you should have checked before wasting my time.

Doggy Mom: You’re right. Learn from my mistakes. Also the title gives the story plot away.

Bau: What about the cover?

Doggy Mom: Finally, I found what I was looking for. Now, I’m just waiting for the graphic designer to get back to me. Could be a few weeks. Of course there’s going to be the extra headache of formatting my book to fit Amazon standards.

Bau: Oh, boy! I think I’m going to go for a nap. Wake me when it’s over.

Bau: Can We Go For A Long Walk Now?

My Human Mom tells me that there are a lot of steps she still needs to do before she’s ready to publish her new novel.

Here are some things which I secretly know about it:

It’s a Domestic Crime Novel (Apparently that’s her favorite type of crime novel along with Domestic Noir novels).

She tells me because there is a Femme Fatale in her novel it might also be categorized as Domestic Noir.

She’s likely going to launch it in May (That’s a long time in doggy days). That’s if all goes well!

The title is The Set Up.

Here’s a tentative blurb for it:

Homeless sixteen-year-old Maya has found the perfect summer job – getting a cottage ready to serve as a half-way house to delinquent girls. A summer job where she won’t have to wonder where she’s going to sleep for a while. Being by the lake in nature will give her time to grieve the death of her mother. Best of all, she’s met Charlie, the boy who lives in the cottage next door who gives her the attention she craves and the promise of a bright future if she sticks with him. But Charlie has a very dark side and Maya becomes involved in a murderous scheme. What will happen to Maya now that she is being blamed for the murder by the police? Who can possibly help her?

I love to listen to my Human Mom read her manuscript out loud, but honestly, I’m disappointed because I’m not even in it!

In the meantime, you might want to have a look at my Human Mom’s other books on her author page. (Every time you click on one of her books I get a treat).

D. Wallace Peach: Liars and Thieves

My first thoughts in reading D. Wallace Peach’s novel Liars and Thieves (Unraveling the Veil: Book One) was how fluent the author is with the English language. I was grateful to be reading it on my Kindle if only for its instant dictionary as I searched for the meanings of Middle English Words.

After my initial struggle with the language, I found myself immersed in the story and invested in the characters:

Alue — an elf soldier,

Talin –a changeling

 Naj’ar — half-elf, half-goblin.

Together they try to keep peace but are confronted with the Force of Chaos.

For photos and detailed descriptions of these three main characters click on their names above. I only came across these descriptions (given by the author) of her characters after I had read the book. I was pleasantly surprised. They were not at all how I had envisioned elves, goblins and changelings!

Liars and Thieves is a character driven novel in which the setting also plays an important role. In Part One of this three-part series D. Wallace Peach creates a world where goblins inhabit the mountains, the elves the river plains, and the changelings the jungle. As I continued into the author’s world of transitional powers, racial conflicts, clans and crystals, I was transported into the political world of a legal thriller, its pace picking up as the novel progressed into a court case.

The story is narrated in third person from different perspectives but mostly from that of the three main characters. At times, the writing style reads like stage directions for a screenplay, and other times her descriptions are so deep and visual that you are magically transposed into her world of fantasy.

D. Wallace Peach possesses the gift of imagination and the talent to express it.