Thursday, 31 December 2009

2009 - the good stuff


In the spirit of gratitude for my blessings, I've made a list of the stuff I've had reason to be thankful for in 2009.
  • Watching my son's business go from strength to strength.
  • Completion of my second contemporary romance novel. Here's wishing it finds its wings in 2010!
  • The launch of author blog Novel Spaces.
  • My book stacks have been growing again, thanks to gifts from friends and late nights spent prowling Amazon's alleys.
  • Found almost every movie I've always wanted to see on Amazon, and am thrilled to order a few every month.
  • Got lots of great reviews of and feedback on Café Au Lait!
  • Met more wonderful people, writers and readers, on the net.
  • Goodreads, I love you! Thanks for inviting me, Sandra!
  • Pillaged the M.A.C. store in West Mall several times. If I look terrible it's not for want of beauty products!
  • Created a proper writing space in my bedroom.
  • My Dell laptop continues to run like clockwork after more than a year, despite my initial skepticism as I don't have a good history with the brand.
  • My family remains safe and sound.
  • I've finally, finally gotten around to renewing expired ID and travel documents. That took some intense running back and forth, not to mention generous dollops of cash. No, I didn't bribe anyone, but when the registration office suddenly throws up its hands and tells you the name on all your documents, certificates, and expired IDs is actually your third name, and tries to foist a new first name on you, you get your butt to a lawyer to sort out the mess - and those fees don't come cheap. Deed poll, statutory declaration et al out of the way, I'm well on the way to being fully back on the grid, y'all!
  • I never, ever take the beauty of my island for granted. It's easy to forget the local politics and social challenges when I look out my windows at the verdant valley where I live, or take a drive up the North Coast to Maracas Bay. It's medicine for the soul.
Here's to friends, family, love, laughter, accomplishment, soul medicine and dreams that come true in 2010. Happy New Year, everyone!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Painting-pilates

You already know I'm no fan of Christmas fuss, and I'd happily run away for the entire holiday season and amuse myself doing the stuff that pleases me: reading, walking, writing, observing nature and exploring new places.

Sometimes one must compromise, though. I live with my mother and Christmas means a lot to her. I have one sister who doesn't participate on account of her religion. I have one brother who has taken his family and sailed to another island for their Christmas vacation. That leaves me to provide the 'family' and 'celebration' in my mother's Christmas.

So, my little getaway in a far-flung beach house with a writer friend begins after the big day, as I wouldn't dream of leaving my mom alone with her turkey and Christmas tree on December 25th. And, since a big part of the excitement for her is getting the house all spruced up, I offered to give her the gift of a newly painted living, dining and kitchen area.

I bought the paint on Wednesday, and figured that I'd have it all done by Thursday night - two coats on every wall as we had decided to change the colour from coral white to shy shrimp. It's four days later and I'm still not done. The pale peachy-shrimp colour on the catalogue swatch just looks pink on the wall, but it's a pink with a peach undertone, so we're not too disappointed. It might not be the colour we envisaged but it looks quite beautiful.

And I ache. Climbing ladders, balancing a can of paint in one hand while, bent at odd angles, I apply the colour to walls, stooping, stretching, lugging, pushing and pulling heavy furniture and large appliances around - it all adds up to pains in muscles I'd forgotten existed.

I'd come out of this painting jag fitter and trimmer - if the exertion wasn't making me so hungry I devour everything in sight the minute I step off that cursed ladder.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

For those who still hate Christmas

Last year around this time I ran a post in which I countered a friend's blog call to nominate the best Christmas movie ever by offering a list of 10 movies For Those Who Hate Christmas. Still not content to keep my Scrooging around to myself, I'm blogging on Novel Spaces today where I offer more twisted advice for those who're thinking of jumping the Yuletide ship right - about - now.

T'is the season - to run away!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Almost Paradise

Photo courtesy Richard Voisin

In the valley where I raised my son, there's a waterfall just a few minutes walk away - up the road, on to a forest trail, a short hike up a boulder-strewn stream... and there it is. It's a little waterfall; everything here is island-scale. It cascades over a rim of rock into a pool of cold, fresh water. This waterfall and the area around it is my son's favorite place on earth.

Photo courtesy Richard Voisin

High above the first waterfall, further into the forest, there are other pools, other cascades. I've never ventured beyond the first falls because, well, it's lonely and isolated up there and hikers have been robbed repeatedly. One pool goes by the chilling name of Coffin Hole, and the myth is that no one has been able to fathom its depth.

Photo courtesy Richard Voisin

A few weeks ago my son did a photo shoot with some models up there, and the images blew me away. This has existed a few minutes away from me for all these years? No wonder, I thought, my son loves this area the way he does. For all those who insist on thinking I live in paradise, these shots should add weight of your argument. Paradise indeed.

Photo courtesy Richard Voisin

Photos copyright Richard Voisin / R.S.V.P. Studios. Please contact the blog owner for permission to reproduce and/or transfer images used in this article.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

When is English not English?

I'm blogging about US versus UK English today on Novel Spaces. Come find out what you get when you ask a UK or Caribbean native for a 'ride'. :)

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Cemetery saga

Today is All Saints' Day, and tomorrow is All Souls' Day, also known as the Feast of All Souls, Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed. Both are celebrated by the Catholic Church, the denomination in which I was raised. On these days Catholics (in Trinidad & Tobago anyway) get busy cleaning the graves of departed relatives, and this is followed by the traditional 'lighting up' of the graves with candles.

I have never been interested in any of this; for one thing I haven't practised the religion in many years, and even more pertinent, I've always considered the entire production the preserve of the 'old folks' in the family: my great-grandmother ('Granny', who raised my mother), my great-aunt and my mother. My great-gran has been dead for many years, and my great-aunt is in Canada with her children, so I wasn't too surprised when my mother asked me this morning, just as I was about to start cooking lunch, if I would go with her to see about cleaning Granny's grave.

"Now?" I enquired, taken aback.
"Yes."
"All right," I replied, suppressing a little spurt of irritation.

The cemetery, with grass cut in the foreground and high grass giving way to forest in the middle and background

By the time I showered and dressed I was actually looking forward to the expedition. We drove to the valley where she was raised and where I spent the first thirteen years of my life, and swung up the side road to the cemetery which is the final resting place of almost everyone on my mother's side of the family.

We parked outside the mildewed wall and entered the unimposing gates where I ground to a halt, flabbergasted. On the right someone had created a small dump, and I identified, among other flotsam and jetsam, a broken computer monitor. In the middle distance, and running all the way to the far perimeter of the cemetery where it began to climb to the hill and merge into forest, was a common species of tall grass, as much as six feet high, covering and completely obscuring the graves beneath. In the foreground and to the left the graves and headstones were visible because someone has recently made a half-hearted attempt to cut the grass.

The makeshift dump, with broken computer monitor in the background

Aghast, I asked my mother who was supposed to maintain the cemetery. I thought it was the church, but she explained that it was a public cemetery and the City Council was responsible.

We picked our way between the graves, clumps and heaps of drying grass and found Granny's grave without much trouble. The only other person in the cemetery was an old man cleaning the grave at the back of Granny's. After a brief chat with my mother, during which she explained who she was in the town hierarchy and he did the same, they agreed that he would clean the high grass in my great-gran's grave, and they came to an agreement on the price. He started immediately, hauling his fork over Granny's headstone and sinking it into the huge clumps of wild grass while my mother and I set off, picking our way through the obstructions as she tried to find the graves of her great-grandparents, their siblings and offspring, and all the others down through the generations.

My great-grandmother's headstone. Her mother, brother, son, and the grandson who died at 8 months are also buried here.

Cemeteries used to unnerve me. Usually, I couldn't get out of there fast enough, and I would try not to think of the dead bodies, rot, worms and bones beneath my feet. I would see a fresh grave, several of which we encountered today, and shudder. Something must have happened in the years since my last visit there, maybe an acceptance of mortality, but I felt none of that old dread this time, and even joked with my mother: "Careful, Mom - you're standing on someone's head!" Or maybe my old negative feelings have been ameliorated by the process of writing about this cemetery in my work-in-progress, a book set in that valley. The cemetery scene is at the very end of the book (I wrote the beginning and the end of the story first), and in it there's a sense of peace, of coming to terms with life and all its complexities. Sometimes I honestly don't know where my writing ends and my life begins.

Granny's grave, cleared of high grass and root clumps

I was fascinated as we discovered the graves of the long departed, the great-great-grandparents, the great-uncles and aunts, the cousin who died of a brain tumor the year I was born and about whom I'd heard many stories, the uncle and aunt who passed away just a decade or so ago. There was more, such as my maternal grandmother's grave, but we had to stop where the head-high grass began. And all the while I couldn't help but think that it's a shame, a disgrace, really, that the cemetery should suffer such neglect from those responsible for its upkeep. I can't pay someone to do the work of the City Council, but there's the power of the pen, and I intend to harness it to try and make a difference.

By the time we returned from our circuit the old man had a friend working alongside him, and I asked if I could take their photos for an article I was writing. Here they are - two old men from the valley of my childhood where all my oldest and deepest memories lie sleeping.


Of course we could not simply pay the good men and leave, life being what it is. When we returned to the car my mother couldn't find her keys so we traipsed back into the cemetery and my heart plummeted. We had spent the better part of an hour weaving between numerous graves, picking our way over and through clumps of grass, holes, broken gravestones and more. Much drama ensued as we called our sister to pick us up and take us to my brother's house where the spare keys are kept. They weren't where they should be, and we could not raise him on the phone. My mom, in desperation, called a friend who has a metal detector. The guy came without a murmur of protest, never said a word about being disturbed in the middle of his peaceful Sunday lunch, took us back to the cemetery, and found the key within five minutes of arriving there. And he didn't even use the detector. (Thank you, R.J.!)

R.J. found the keys down in here where my mother had slipped and almost fallen.

My mother plans to go back tomorrow with white paint and candles to finish the job. I have the day job to attend to, so I'm not sure if I'll be involved in that segment of the proceedings. But my sister and I have agreed on one point: from now on my mother is going to keep her keys on a chain around her neck. We won't entertain any objections; we've had it up to here with her lost key dramas.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Hunk of the Month: Olivier Martinez


I recently watched the movie Unfaithful, a cautionary tale about infidelity and the tragedy it can unleash. My sympathies should have all been with the cuckolded husband, right? I did empathize with him, but also, to my surprise, with the guilty wife. I totally understood the madness, the passion, the recklessness that drove Diane Lane's character into the affair. I blame my regrettable lack of moral steadfastness on Olivier Martinez' character in the movie. Someone, please tell me how on earth can a mere female mortal find the strength to resist the charms of such a one?

The man is beautiful. He's French, and his accent is to die for. "Heet me!" he tells Diane Lane at the start of their first erotic encounter, and she does hit him, shedding her principles and inhibitions in the process. Not only is Olivier's character très bandant, but his house is full of books - everywhere, on shelves and stacks from floor to ceiling. Aarrgh! He's dangerously hot and he's got thousands of books too? It was easy to understand how he could make a woman like Lane's character lose her head and risk everything that was good in her life. Far, far too easy. And very disquieting.


Martinez is 43, the son of a French mother and Spanish-Moroccan father. During his promotional tour in the USA he was billed as "the French Brad Pitt." (A preposterous comparison, in my opinion. So - you can tell I'm not a Pitt fan!) He's dated Kylie Minogue and Mira Sorvino, and lived with Juliette Binoche.

Personal quotes:
"I like Paris. My problem is I don't like Parisians."

"I'm not very comfortable in love scenes because I'm shy, because I don't play naked. It's very rare for a French actor. I have an issue with that." [Awww!]

"I personally think you must believe in something. You must have a point of view on everything even if you have to change it often."

"I don't consider myself a sex symbol because all my cousins would laugh at me."

Monsieur Martinez, you're a sex symbol, and I'm not laughing.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Dude!

The last time I posted a photo of my son here I had to clear up a few misconceptions; certain ladies thought that he was my hunk of the month! Now that we've established that this is my SON [scowl, scowl] we can get on with stuff. The boy was supposed to go surfing in Tobago on the weekend these shots were taken but couldn't make the trip after all, so he went to Sans Souci (North Coast) instead.

I 'napped these from his Facebook album. The captions are his.

Not the happiest camper at this point... lil pissed that I bolted up there at 6am for NOTHING!!!

WHERE DE WAVES, DAMMIT!!!

Went vert for this one and landed on my HEAD!!!

I know I can get in there... just a lil... bit... more...!

...made it in... didn't make it out...

...small cutback...

Running from an EXPLOSION of a wave...

Monday, 12 October 2009

For Love of Words

The lovely Shauna Roberts, author of Like Mayflies in a Stream, is interviewing me on her blog today! Please drop by and say hi!

Shauna is an award-winning medical writer and editor specializing in diabetes and related subjects, as well as author of fantasy, science fiction, and romance stories and novels. She lives in California and is a member of the author group Novel Spaces.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Random yard pics: Bougainvillae

I was with my mother the day she bought this plant. We had gone to Central Trinidad to look for bargains - or rather, she had. I was just along for the ride, providing her with company and a sense of security as she doesn't like to drive far from her familiar haunts alone. The plant was little more than a twig in a pot, but it was covered with masses of the most beautiful bougainvillea flowers I'd ever seen. (To be botanically correct: the tiny white splotch in the middle of each bloom is the real flower, and the colourful parts surrounding it are actually bracts or modified leaves.)

"Should I buy it?" she asked, indecisive as usual, eying the exorbitant price tag.

"You'd better," I responded.

That was at least two years ago. It's still in a small pot, but the twig is somewhat larger now. Several times a year, particularly during drier spells, the flowers emerge, and they're a sight to behold. When they fall they continue to enchant, looking like the most delicately hued rose petals scattered in the grass. That was money well spent.

The small white flowers in the background are periwinkles, or 'Old Maid' as they're known here. Our common varieties of periwinkle are so hardy they flourish in cracks in concrete. We tried planting an entire border of the more exotic, hybrid varieties and they all died out in a few months. That was not money well spent.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Word rat

Are you a pack rat or a word rat? Join me as I blog on Novel Spaces today about the stuff I can't throw out.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Random yard pic of the week: Heliconia

Heliconia flowers in border

I started fiddling with my cellphone cam again since my son showed me that I can change the resolution etc. etc. Yeah, yeah, I've had it for a year and a half and didn't figure out I could do something about the teensy tiny images I've been getting. That's what children are for - to point out the blatantly obvious to their technically challenged parents.

Took a bunch of yard shots but most are badly pixellated (my son's word) so I'll have to tinker a bit to get the hang of things. The one above is of my mother's heliconias in a border, mixed with a miscellany of other plants that all grow happily together. Too happily, if anything. Ignore it all for a few weeks and it turns to jungle.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Blog vacation


The blog is tired. I'm tired. Over the past three months my part-time, low-stress day job has morphed into something else altogether with long hours and triple the responsibility.

Hopefully, things will revert to normal within two to three weeks and I'll have the time and mindset once again to take care of my writing and my blog. Right now it's a struggle to balance all the facets of my daily life, so for the next few weeks I won't be blogging unless something spectacular happens that I just have to share with the cyberworld. I'll still be posting over at Novel Spaces when my turn comes around, and I'll still drop by your blogs to see what you're up to now and then.

And now for some good news. The house wrens, our tiny, animated coco rachelles, returned after a prolonged absence and have been making happy sounds around the eaves on mornings. One even paid me a visit, hopping and chirping along the rafters in my bedroom. And the manicou (opossum) family has also reappeared; I hear their sounds at night and even spotted one making its way along the back fence. I take the flourishing of the wildlife as a good omen for, oh, life in general.

Blessings, all!

Friday, 14 August 2009

Two years and counting

My second blogiversary came and went in June - and I was so busy I didn't even notice. I believe one should never pass up an opportunity to celebrate, so...

To all who visited, commented, stuck around, became my blog buddies and friends, shared their thoughts, opinions, and wit, empathized, commiserated and celebrated along with me, and whose thoughts, adventures and misadventures I've followed on their own blogs, here's a great, big,

YOU'VE BEEN WONDERFUL, AND MADE IT ALL WORTHWHILE. IT'S BEEN ALL GOOD...
THANK YOU!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Interview with Elizabeth Naughton

I'm being interviewed on Elizabeth Naughton's blog today. Elizabeth is the author of three romantic adventure novels, Stolen Heat, Stolen Fury and Stolen Seduction. You're invited to drop by and say hi!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

What I learned from books on writing

I'm blogging over at Novel Spaces today on "What I learned from books on writing". You might be surprised to find what those books taught me had little to do with the words themselves!

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Guest blogger Susan Schulman, literary agent

My literary agent, Susan Schulman, is the guest blogger over at Novel Spaces today. Hop on over and find out what she looks for in a fiction manuscript, and her must-read novel recommendations for writers.

Susan has been in the business for close to thirty years. Some of her better known projects are The English Patient (Miramax) by Michael Ondaatje, Holes (Disney) by Louis Sachar, and The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.



Saturday, 1 August 2009

The making of an author photo - Part II

Novel Spaces decided me. Every member had to submit a head shot and I liked the new blog so much that I didn't even mind. A rectangle with a question mark or a beach scene absolutely would not do. I stuck a hazy cellphone self-portrait in my appointed slot and scheduled a photo shoot with my son. Just in time, too, as the very week the group blog went live Connie Ogle, books editor at the Miami Herald, contacted me about doing a small feature - and a photo was required. All that was left was for my son to appear with his beloved Canon, take a couple shots and I'd be set, right? The fact that I asked twice if he had a slimming lens should have forewarned me.

The morning of the shoot was rainy and grey. The rain eventually stopped and I proceeded to get ready. Predictably, my hair refused to cooperate. Sighing, I hooked it up in my everyday banana comb and gave it up as a lost job. I have all the right makeup but as I rarely touch it, hurriedly swiping on powder and lipstick most days, sudden expertise in such matters as concealer calculus and the Sine Law of eye-shadow application did not spring from my inept fingers. The biggest problem, though, was - the fat. There it was in the first round of photos, mocking me. The Death by Chocolate from Jardin de Tuilleries. The Baileys Irish Cream. The potato salad. All transformed into that f-word. It was hopeless.

My son protested. "But Mom, I love these! You look nice!"

"I look fat! No way. Let's try again." A less good-natured child would have rolled his eyes.

Round two began, this time in the backyard. My skirt was long and the grass was wet. My stomach horrified me despite my son's assurances that he would crop it out. I hated every shot. The problem was not the photography; it was me! The boy requested, then pleaded, and finally ordered: "Smile, Mom. You look like you're suffering. Let's get those dimples. Smile!"

I would have consigned all 125 shots to the recycle bin but my submission to the Herald was due the next morning. I agonized then chose the one that now appears in the sidebar of Novel Spaces, the one in which I had actually managed a half-smile. Get used to it, folks, because it'll be a long while before I subject myself to that particular form of mortification again.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Grab the Miami Herald today! :)

It's today! I'm being featured on "What are you reading now" in the Miami Herald, so if you're in South Florida please grab a copy - and an extra one for me!

The online version is on the Herald's "Between the Covers" blog so you can click the link below, hop on over and leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you, and Connie Ogle, the books editor, would too!

http://miamiherald.typepad.com/between_the_covers/2009/07/what-are-you-reading-now-2.html#comments


I'm especially pleased to be featured in the Herald because it's one of my favorite newspapers. During my extended sojourns in Miami my entire Saturdays were devoted to the paper. There was so much of it, and it was all good. It was there I discovered writers like Dave Barry, Carl Hiaasen, Leonard J. Pitts Jr., and others - all great columnists. I didn't know until long after that most of them were nationally acclaimed and had won Pulitzers and such; all I knew back then was that I loved their work. It was also through the Herald book reviews that I discovered writers like Zoe Heller (Notes on a Scandal).

So, if I seem happy and excited today - it's because I am. It's the Herald, after all!

Monday, 20 July 2009

R.I.P. Frank McCourt

Even though he was 78, the news still shocked me. Chauncey Mabe, former books editor at the Florida Sun-Sentinel who now writes a blog for the Florida Center for the Literary Arts, has written a tribute here. I'll repeat my comment on his post:
This is indeed sad news. As a former teacher in the process of reinventing myself I take a particular pride in Frank McCourt’s achievements. Teacher Man is the most unsentimental and profound reflection on the profession that I’ve read. The prologue to that memoir was circulated among my teaching colleagues; it is a brilliant, painful shaft to the heart: Yes, he’s one of us. He knows.
He will be sorely missed, but he’ll live on in his work.
I reviewed Teacher Man on this blog almost two years ago. (The post is here.) His other books, Angela's Ashes (for which he won a Pulitzer Prize) and 'Tis, have been languishing on my wish list for too long. I'm moving them to the head of the queue.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

My first Novel Spaces post

My first post over at Novel Spaces is up today... Don't be a stranger - come across and say hi!

The making of an author photo - Part I

I didn't want my image on the Internet. Didn't want it my book(s) either, and definitely not in any newspaper. For an author these days achieving this, I realized, would demand a bit of dodging, running and conniving.

When the editor of Café Au Lait sent me the list of items I needed to submit, a photo was among them. Was this optional? I asked hopefully. Yes, she replied. Bingo! One down - but how many more to go?

The blog came next and I saw that I had lots of company in the incognito-blogger department. Then I realized that although this was true of writer blogs in general, it was certainly not the norm for the sites of published authors. Norm be damned, I resolved. My avatar would be a beachscape, and that was that.

The press releases were a bit trickier to negotiate since an author photo was de rigeur there but no one made it an issue - except for the features editor at one local newspaper. She called and told me she'd run an article, but insisted on a photo.

"I don't have a recent, decent one," I replied. That was the truth. All my decent pictures were taken years ago when I was young. And thin.

"No problem!" she chirped. "Are you in Trinidad at the moment?"

My alarm-o-meter redlined. "Uh, well, yes..." Damn. A lie would have solved the looming problem but where was one when you needed it?

"Okay, then. I'll send a photographer around."

"No!" I thought fast. "You can't do that."

"Really, it's no problem. We do this all the time."

"You don't understand," I squeaked. "I have the cold, I've been in bed for two days and I'm an absolute wreck right now. I cannot, CANNOT face a photographer." This was the truth, but it sounded like a whopper even to my ears. I produced a wracking, hacking cough for effect and the editor lady capitulated.

"Okay," she decided. "I'll run it as is this time but I'm just letting you know I'll be coming back at you for that photo."

Ha, I thought. Catch me. But I could feel my time running out...

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Men, Fidelity and a Skillet

Novel Spaces is honored to host Bonnie Glover, our very first guest blogger, on July 10th. Her column, with the intriguing title Men, Fidelity and a Skillet: Back to the Basics, promises to be a thriller - so don't miss it!

Bonnie is the author of Going Down South (nominated for an NAACP Image Award for an outstanding literary work of fiction earlier this year) and The Middle Sister.

News just in: Bonnie Glover's novel Going Down South is #3 on Essence magazine's paperback fiction list - that's the August issue that's on newsstands now. Congratulations, Bonnie!

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Novel Spaces Launch & Giveaway #7

You are cordially invited to the launch of

Novel Spaces

Date: July 1st, 2009

Venue: NovelSpaces.Blogspot.com

Contributing Authors:
Phyllis Bourne Contemporary Romance
K.S. Augustin Science Fiction & Romance
KeVin Killiany Science Fiction
Stefanie Worth Paranormal
Farrah Rochon Romance
Terence Taylor Horror
Karen White-Owens Contemporary Romance
Marissa "Pynk" Monteilh Mainstream & Erotic
Jewel Amethyst Contemporary Romance
Shauna Roberts Fantasy, Science Fiction & Historical
Liane Spicer Contemporary Romance

Giveaways * Contests * Guest Columns by Agents, Editors,
Publicists & Award-Winning Authors



A couple months ago I started a series of book giveaways on this blog. Six have gone by and the last, a copy of Café au Lait, will go to a visitor who leaves a comment on any post on Novel Spaces. Just mention over there that you came from here - and you're in! Contest closes July 31! *

*Update: The giveaway has been postponed. Leave a comment on Novel Spaces in September for your chance to win a copy of Café au Lait!

Monday, 22 June 2009

And the winner is...

The winner of Book Giveaway #6 is DeeDee. Congratulations! I'll be e-mailing you shortly to request a mailing address, and A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena De Blasi should be winging its way to you soon.

There's one more giveaway to go... I'll try to tie it in to the launch of Novel Spaces, so stay posted!

Friday, 19 June 2009

A third Amazon review :)

This writing life is so uncertain, you learn to treasure every glimmer of light that comes your way. My ray today came from Café Au Lait's third review on Amazon. It was added June 17 but I didn't see it until tonight. The reader got the book in a library and is actually considering buying it. Here are some tidbits that have me smiling into the screen right now:

"Wasn't a 'romance' reader until this book!"
"a book that transcends the genre"
"plot is well-thought out"
"kept me intrigued the ENTIRE time"
"love the characters"

Thank you, reader, whoever you are. Now where did I put those happy-dance shoes? Never mind - I'll dance without!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Book Giveaway #6: A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena De Blasi

The second-to-last in the series of book giveaways is A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena De Blasi. National Bestseller. Random House trade paperback. 2002.

You know the drill: leave a comment in the trail and you're entered in the draw.

Lane and Flowerpot have confirmed receipt of their packages. If any other winners are reading please let me know whether you've received yours.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Interview with Eddie Tadross

"An outstanding artist" - Taxi A&R
"[A] gifted songwriter" - The Deli Magazine

WT
: Welcome to the blog, Eddie. I'm honoured to have you as a guest on Wordtryst. I 'discovered' you when I created a promotional video for my novel, Café Au Lait, on the Animoto site. I remember going through hundreds of song clips, but the decision was easy: I wanted your music. Can you tell us a bit about your background?

Eddie: I grew up in the Long Island suburbs of New York City, started piano lessons around 11 and played open mics in the city as a teenager. I headed to New Orleans at 18 on a scholarship to Tulane University and got hooked up opening up for local bands at Jimmy's, a rock club uptown. After a year in the U.K. (I vaguely remember briefly singing for an Oasis cover band), I moved to southern California, where I fronted an alt-rock band in San Diego and played solo there and L.A. Now I'm back in New York City, where I've been performing solo/writing/recording, etc.

WT: What kind of music did you love growing up? Which artistes in particular inspired you to write your own music?

Eddie: I was very into some of the greats, such as Tom Petty, Eric Clapton, Billy Joel, Paul Simon. So I guess you could say "classic" rock.

WT: When did you begin creating your own music? What prompted you to start?

Eddie: At some point I switched piano teachers from a stuffy classical teacher to a vary cool jazz/rock musician. I was probably around 14 or so. I love classical, but I wanted to write my own music. So he taught me chords, and it all started from there.

WT: Tell us a bit about your process.

Eddie: Usually the basic idea and melody of a song will come out of me, most often when I'm not thinking about it (on a train, in a hotel room, taking a shower). Then I develop the lyrics and the rest of the song from that first idea. Sometimes it's easy, and sometimes I end up shelving an idea and returning to it later, if at all.

WT: Sounds a lot like the writing process! I love the You Without Me track that I used on my video, and when I found you on MySpace I listened to some others songs that were equally impressive. I thought: I want this! Where can a fan buy your music?

Eddie: For now there are some free downloads (including You Without Me) on my website. I am [currently writing] an album, which will be available on iTunes and everything when it comes about. Hopefully in 2010. Otherwise, there is an electro-pop EP I recorded back in 2004 available on iTunes; search "Governortea" to find it.

WT: How would you describe your genre? (pop, alternative, easy listening...?) Are there other genres you'd like to explore?

Eddie: That's a tough one. I guess it's a little of each of those, with a bit of indie thrown in. I've done electronic music (see above-mentioned Governortea EP), I also love country and jazz. I think there will always be elements of different genres in my music.

WT: Who are your favorite artistes currently? Have you met any of them?

Eddie: Tom Waits, Rufus Wainwright, Regina Spektor, Brazilian Girls. I ran into Regina on a flight to Chicago a while back, I'm sure she doesn't remember :)

WT: How do you fit family life into what must be a hectic schedule? Do you have a day job as well? I ask this because most of us writers cannot support ourselves by our writing, and I wonder if it's the same for the majority of musicians.

Eddie: I do have a day job and a family, so yes, it's not easy. Everybody is totally supportive of my music, at work and home, and it is just that I have to put things off until 11 at night or even for a few weeks...definitely requires patience.

WT: Hm. That scenario sounds familiar. I doubt it's ever easy balancing a creative life with the demands of everyday living. It was great having this chat with you, Eddie. I'm on your mailing list now, so when your album is released I'll be sure to mention it on the blog.

Eddie: Thanks for the interview opportunity and I wish you all the best with your writing.

WT: You're welcome, and thank you for the music!


Eddie's news:
Eddie's website: www.eddietadross.com
Eddie on MySpace: www.myspace.com/eddietadross
You Without Me on YouTube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdTnVxGLdS0

Saturday, 6 June 2009

What's your word?



Your Word is "Think"


You see life as an amazing mix of possibilities, ideas, and fascinations.

And sometimes you feel like you don't have enough time to take it all in.

You love learning. Whether you're in school or not, you're probably immersed in several subjects right now.

When you're not learning, you're busy reflecting. You think a lot about the people you know and the things you've experienced.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Those numbers again

Okay, I can see where this obsession can get really boring for everyone but the author involved, so I promise to stop posting search results after today. I'll even attempt to not check in with Amazon on a daily basis, but don't know if I have the required self-control. Consider that a work in progress. So here goes...

When I looked at the search rankings this morning Café Au Lait showed up as:

#1 of 1,659 in African-American romance
#1 of 201 in Caribbean romance
#9 of 1,676 in African American romance (no hyphen)
#29 of 32,003 in contemporary romance

This must surely signify something! Not sure what, though. Probably some anomaly in the Amazon algorithm.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Those numbers

I think all authors must be obsessed with numbers: sales rank, print runs, royalty percentages, etc. etc. etc. Then there are search rank numbers. I don't know what, if anything, these esoteric indices reveal about sales, but...

On current (as in today's) Amazon searches (search rank, not sales rank) CAFÉ AU LAIT comes up as:

#1 (out of 757) - African-American romance novels
#2 (out of 1,657) - African-American romance
#2 (out of 201) - Caribbean romance
#11 (out of 1,673) - African American romance (without the hyphen)
#32 (out of 31,963) - contemporary romance

This can't be bad. If you know otherwise, do NOT burst my bubble!

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Giveaway burnout & Debs you're it!

Debs, blogger from Jersey and owner of an enviable writing shed, won the copy of Connie Mason's Caress and Conquer by default. Congrats, Debs! You should receive your copy sometime within the next month or so. I haven't heard from any of the winners so I'm wondering just how long it takes snail mail to get around these days. If any winners of the first four giveaways are reading this, let me know when/if you received your package.

The blog is suffering from giveaway burnout so I'm postponing the last two to sometime in June. Okay, Vaughn? Now you can stop complaining that I haven't posted any news in ages. Hullo! You want my news, there's e-mail, text message, telephone, smoke signal, talking drum...

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Hacked!

...or phished, or whatever it's called. Yup, got a message in my Facebook inbox from a lovely friend, with a somewhat mysterious title: Look at this. When I opened the message there was a succinct instruction to click on the link given. Nothing else. I wondered why my friend was being so mysterious and, curiosity piqued, clicked on the link which took me to a blank page. Thinking the page hadn't loaded properly I went back and clicked again. Same result.

This morning I got a message from her - sent to all her Facebook contacts, I imagine - advising us that she hadn't sent us the link and that if we got it we shouldn't click on it. She also mentioned that Facebook had frozen her account while advising her to change her password.

Then the messages started coming in from some of my other FB friends: Hi, did you send a link to me? I clicked but nothing happened. One friend did not click because she got a phishing warning. Another friend told me her click opened a window that asked for her e-mail address and password - which she entered!

A flurry of messages followed, all from 'friends', all with the same title and invitation to click. I changed my password, posted a warning on my FB page and sent a warning message to everyone on my list. Then I ran my antivirus and spyware scans, hoping for the best. I had no idea what the hackers would do next so I painstakingly made a list of all my FB friends and their contact info. Wouldn't like to go over there and find everything had disappeared into the cybervoid. Minutes ago another friend - who had gotten the message to go click from 'me' earlier today - let me know that FB had frozen her account as well, pending her changing the password. Interesting, no?

Beware, beware, beware. These villains thrive on the trust we put in our friends. If something with, for example, my son's name in the sender field comes into my inbox, my defenses disappear without my even thinking about it, and I'm clicking away and following instructions before I'm even aware of what I'm doing. Hopefully this episode will serve as a warning to me, and to you. The Internet isn't the fuzzy friendly place we imagine it is sometimes. Let us not fall into complacency.

There's another angle to this. I've been hearing rumors about FB beginning to charge users for the privilege of using their services. Being a great fan of conspiracy theories, I've been wondering if they're engineering this rash of break-ins to convince us that we need a more secure, PAID version of their service? What think you?

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Happy Birthday, Kim!

Kim, my blog buddy from It's a Maze aaand a Maraca, is celebrating a birthday today. So what does she do? She creates the lovely tissue box above for me! Bee-yootiful! For a 360 degree view, go here.

Isn't she something? Giving gifts away on her birthday! I think this trend should catch on! Thank you, Kim. And look what I got you!

No? Are you sure? Well, then, I'll take him off your hands!

Happy Birthday!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Book Giveaway #5: Caress and Conquer by Connie Mason

The winner of Book Giveaway #4 is akalol, that Trini humorist, satirist, reader, movie enthusiast, reviewer, photographer, engineer, provoker of security guards, and much more, I suspect, from This Beach Called Life. Congratulations! The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is all yours!

This week's giveaway is Caress and Conquer by Connie Mason. Warning! If serial rape and ravishing of allegedly innocent maidens is not your cup of tea, opt out of this one. From the back cover:

"Lovely, young and poverty-stricken, Amanda Prescott was forced to support herself and her invalid mother any way she could. Cast into prison for stealing, she was horrified to learn that she would be transported to the American Colonies to serve her term as an indentured servant. Her master turned out to be none other than dashing plantation owner Tony Brandt, the very man who had unwittingly caused Amanda's downfall. Yet from their first passionate embrave, Amanda knew her heart would belong to him forever. Despite the difference in their stations, Tony was determined to wed her. But his jealous mistress had other plans..."

Love Spell, Dorchester Publishing, 1999. Mass market paperback.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Book Giveaway #4: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The lovely Lane who blogs over at Lane's Write is the winner of last week's title, Wifey by Judy Blume. Congrats, Lane! Hope you don't have another encounter with crazies when you go to collect your package at the post office. Remember, avoiding eye contact is the key!

And now for #4: The NYT bestselling The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Good condition. 2005 mass market edition. I have to admit, it's hard letting this one go!

The winner will be announced next Thursday when title #5 is posted. Good luck!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Book Giveaway #3: Wifey by Judy Blume

Flowerpot from Cornwall who blogs over at Flowerpot Days is the winner of last week's title, Lost Hearts in Italy by Andrea Lee. Congrats, FP!

My bookshelf clearing project continues this week with Wifey by Judy Blume. Hardcover, dust jacket, excellent condition. Putnam Penguin.

"Sandy Pressman is a very nice suburban wife whose boredom is getting the best of her. No matter how much her husband urges her to make friends at the club, she just can't seem to concentrate on improving her golf game or getting her hair done. For some reason these things pale in comparison to the naked man on the motorcycle who keeps appearing outside her bedroom window. The story of how Sandy trades in her conventional wifely duties for her wildest fantasies is hilarious, affecting , and simply unforgettable."

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Book Giveaway #2: Lost Hearts in Italy by Andrea Lee

My space-making project is moving apace! The winner of Book Giveaway #1 is Wendy who blogs over at It's Really Only a Purple World. Wendy, congratulations! You've won yourself a copy of Note to Self by Andrea Buchanan.

Today's book is Lost Hearts in Italy by Andrea Lee. 2007 Random House trade paperback edition. Good condition.

You know the drill: leave a comment and you're entered in the draw. The winner will be chosen and announced next Thursday when the new title is posted. Suerte!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Book Giveaway #1: Note to Self by Andrea Buchanan

April 23 is a symbolic date for world literature for on this date and in the same year of 1616, Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died. It is also the date of birth or death of other prominent authors such as Maurice Druon, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla and Manuel Mejía Vallejo.

Beginning today, this blog will be giving away a book a week for the next seven weeks or so. I'll post the name of the book on Thursday and anyone who'd like a chance to win it should leave a comment to this effect. The winner will be chosen and announced the following Thursday when the new title is posted. Capiche? Wherever you are in the world, I'll mail your prize to you. In addition to sharing the joy of reading, I'll be making some much needed space on my bookshelves! :)
First up: Note to Self: 30 Women on Hardship, Humiliation, Heartbreak, and Overcoming It All by Andrea Buchanan. Brand new. Hard cover. Simon & Schuster January 2009.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Friday, 17 April 2009

Hugo Chavez vs. President Obama at the 5th Summit of the Americas

I just watched President Obama get off his plane and lope along the red carpet at Piarco Int'l Airport here in Trinidad - watched on television, that is - and my initial impression, obviously shaped by my profound analysis of the issues surrounding this 5th Summit of the Americas, is: Lawdie, Lawdie! He's hawt! My sister doesn't see what I see, though. She insists I just like skinny guys.
Now that I've succeeded in disgusting you, let's get back to those issues...
  • Trinis, with my mother spearheading the torrent of aggrieved citizens, are annoyed because there are no meet-the-public events scheduled for this historic president. If I have to hear her complain about this one more time I'll scream. Very loudly. Because I know she would never brave the milling crowds of Obama-crazed Trinis to catch an in-the-flesh glimpse of the man, or shake his hand, or genuflect at his feet, or whatever his local worshippers think they have been unfairly deprived of the opportunity to do.
  • I, on the other hand, am looking forward to some fireworks from the defiant president of Venezuela. According to Mr. Chavez, "We are ready to attend the meeting of the Americas and let's hope that the US President comes and not follow the example of the King of Spain when he told me to shut up, because we are going to speak our truth." And I can't wait to hear it. He thinks Cuba should not have been omitted from this summit, and I happen to agree with him.
  • The fallout, the aftershock, the backlash from T&T's hosting of this summit promises to be entertaining in the extreme. Why? Because the snowballing public outcry against the obscene amount of money spent on this event may well determine the outcome of the next general election. The current estimate of the cost to taxpayers is $1 billion to $2 billion TT dollars (US$161 million - US$323 million), or about 13% of the GDP of Trinidad and Tobago. That's about 10 times the cost of hosting the recently convened G20 Summit.

Yes, folks. There's lots of excitement ahead.