Friday, September 30, 2011


You know what feels like fingernails on blackboard, chili on the tongue, acid on your skin?
When translations in movies get ... uh... messed up (yeah I was going to use a different word but if I do I'll get my wrist slapped and... oh well).

I write in English. Or rather, in American. I've chosen this language because I think it is beautiful, melodic, poetic, and as fluid as a brook in a forest. Don't look at me like that, if you think I'm crazy read some good literature for a change and don't listen to the guy next to you on the subway. English is wonderful. I like it better than my native German. Well, it wasn't quite that native. I grew up speaking three languages. German with my mother, English with my father, and Portuguese out on the street with my friends, in Brazil, where we lived for some years.

Right now, it's a Friday night. I'm chilling. Having a drink (vodka bitter lemon, with a LOT of bitter lemon) and watching TV, and I'm a happy chick because I've figured out why I'm writing the novel I'm writing, where it will lead and how it will end, and all I have to do now is write it down, which isn't the hardest task in the world and only needs some patience.
So I'm sitting here and watching Castle, a silly, pretty brainless US crime show, and WHAM it hits me like a hammer.
There are words that sound similar in German and English, and yet they have a totally different meaning. And when you KNOW it's a translation, they become totally hilarious.

Serious? The German word is "ernst".
There is a German word, "seriös", and it means "respectable".
Oh, how often these are messed up!

Another beauty: "sensible". German word: "vernünftig".
The similar German word: "sensibel". Meaning: "sensitive".

Oh, and this one: "become". Strangely enough, it translates into an auxiliary in German, "werden".
The German "bekommen" means "to get".

This one is my hubby's favorite: A "billion". Hey, that's a lot of money, right? But in German, the equivalent amount of $$$ would be "Milliarde", and a German Billion would be a thousand American Billions. Bring it on, I say.

There are some more.  I'm not a translator, so generally I don't bother with these things. but just now, watching Castle, hearing one of these monstrosities, I felt myself hoping that if my book ever gets translated into German there won't be any of these mistakes.
For good measure, I'm going over the manuscript and removing every "billion" I can find.
My characters aren't THAT wealthy.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

One Haiku

                                                                                         Photo: Ulrike Pein

                                    My bed, empty now / your fragrance on the pillow / I will dream you back.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Poet's Words

Today's guest blogger is my friend Jackie. 
As far as I am concerned, she belongs to the top poets on Twitter, and trust me, there are many. Jackie wrote this poem for my blog, at my request, when I asked her to talk about creativity. I love what she came up with.

"Time and Creativity"

I have no minutes, no hours, no days
Creation is my clock
My mind's labyrinth
Webbed, waiting

Your hour hand to me is useless
The minutes even more
The hands I see are words o'clock
Chimes echo only Poetry

The hands of your clock
Knives at the ready
To cut my syllables
Slice, stab, at my words, my dreams

Your day starts at dawn, five of the clock
Mine starts and ends with magic
'Round the clock 
Visions of dragons, gryphons,unicorns

You eat flesh and plants to nourish
I am a word chef with platters of thoughts
Sauted, broiled, and boild
For others to digest

Creativity is my Timekeeper
Poetry is my jealous lover.

If you like this, you will find more by Jackie on her own blog.
Here is the link.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Talli Roland Writes

Today begins a series of guest posts on this blog, to celebrate the launch of my own book, "The Distant Shore", in January. I have invited twitter friends who have arrived at the same stage in their lives, where their books have just been or will soon be published. We share the excitement and  to some point disbelief at what is happening to us, and the wonder. Please welcome my fellow authors, and go look at their books!

The first blog post is by talented, funny and very pretty Talli Roland. Thank you, Talli, for sharing!



Chick Lit is Dead. Long Live… Chick Lit!


Chick lit has been through the wringer recently, with critics and authors alike on the warpath. It’s too pink. Too girly. Too sweet. Agents won’t touch it with a ten-foot pole; publishers run shrieking in horror (slight exaggeration, perhaps…). But the demand for curlicued covers seems to have abated… or has it?


Well, it certainly hasn’t if you look at e-books. Over on the Kindle Top 100, chick-lit novels are going strong. Readers are buying in great numbers, driving their favourite reads – with those pink, pretty covers –right to the top of the chart. No matter what the people ‘in charge’ say, to me, it’s obvious readers are devouring these entertaining reads, and asking for more.


I didn’t set out to write chick lit. Coming from a background of English Literature and trained as a journalist, initially I longed to pen something serious; something with staying power. But my inner writer didn’t want to comply. Whatever I scribbled always had a bit of humour to it; even the most tragic moment, I couldn’t resist livening up.


The more chick lit I read, the more I became convinced this was the ideal genre for my voice. And it was! I love writing stories featuring modern women who try to find themselves and discover what they want from life – with a little bit of snark and a touch of romance along the way.


And you know what? Whether or not chick lit is dead, it’s what I’m going to keep writing.

Talli Roland has three loves in her life: chick lit, coffee and wine. Born and raised in Canada, Talli now lives in London, where she savours the great cultural life (coffee and wine). Despite training as a journalist, Talli soon found she preferred making up her own stories – complete with happy endings. Her first novel, The Hating Game, was an Amazon UK best-seller, remaining in the top 100 for almost three months. Her second novel, Watching Willow Watts, is available now as an ebook (paperback coming in November). Talli blogs here and can be found on Twitter here.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

You're Human. Forgive.


Today I'm honored to present the first ever guest on my blog, my dear friend Jessica Luton, @serenitywriter on twitter.

We were talking about creativity and writing the other day – well, we always do; it's either that, or cupcakes – and she said she was stuck because "real life" stuff was keeping her down and occupied. To cheer her up, I suggested a guest post. Here it is. Thank you, Jess.


These past ten days have been very strange for me.  My creativity seemed to get shut off.  I love baking, sometimes I make jewelry, and I play with words.  I couldn’t write anything that expressed what I felt.  I continually began a piece on forgiveness.  It was about other people, past experiences, in a word, trite.  Select all, delete.  Try again.


Ignoring my intuition, I picked up a book to read, and stopped two paragraphs in.  It was as if a part of me had sighed disapprovingly.  The gentle insisting to look inward, still rather fledgeling, was drummed out by the urge to cram as much productivity into my day as possible.  I was hired to create a necklace, and rushed to begin.  It wasn’t long before I could see that it wasn’t coming together cohesively.  Put it aside, you should look at this.  I didn’t want to see or hear, and continued with my forced busy-ness.


I was offered to write a guest blog.  The more I tried to bring words together, the more they seemed to tell me to piss off, and form jumbled ideas.  “I thought it was confetti in our hair.”  To appease all I think makes me who I am, I had a long lunch with a friend.   There, I’ve had a lazy day lunch, it was great.  I enjoyed every moment of it.  Now, NOW can I get something meaningful done?  No eh.  What the heck was going on?  And since when does my intuition sound Canadian?


Continually old songs came to mind, they pointed to someone specific.  “Every precious dream and vision underneath the stars...”  I acted like a kid sticking my fingers in my ears, loudly shouting, lalala, I can’t hear you!  If I don’t want to look inward, and I can’t occupy my mind, I’ll watch T.V., and shut all thoughts down.  Ha!


Friends who needed help with forgiveness, cropped up.  To help others, sure, I’d delve into the facets of forgiveness and where it might be applied.  To myself though, I had closed my eyes, hadn’t I mastered that lesson?  Don’t laugh yet.  If I had opened my eyes right then, I would have been shown...myself.  But I kept thinking, it’s nothing to do with me.  Did I mention that I hadn’t been meditating lately?  Whatever the message, I went to extremes to avoid it.  Really, watch T.V., me?  More music came to mind, “That was the river, this is the sea.”


Tired of the creative block, I got quiet.  I turned my gaze inward.  I needed to forgive someone for not being who I thought he should be.  Not just past tense, but now.  It’s who I think he ought to be today as well.  What does that say about me?  “These things you keep, you better throw them all away.”  If I let go of all the anger, and clear out the clutter of the life I picture for our daughter, does that free him and me?  How open we are to seeing solutions makes all the difference, and there I was doing the limp-as-a-wet-noodle-drop toddlers are famous for.  You can lead someone to a fire, but you can’t make them throw water on it.


The point, I ignored all of it and held onto resentments, ... no, TIED them to me like badges of pride.  This one is from the time I was right about _________, and this one, with the gold star shows I am the better person.  And this big one here, it gives me free reign to kick his name to the curb.  That one?  That’s just for sticking pins in.  Not really, but you get my meaning?  Now you can laugh.  What was I thinking?  I’m not better than anyone else.  If I truly believe that, can I be selective in that ideal?  No.  The questions this is bringing up are wonderful.  It all boils down to being given a key to a closet door that’s in need of clearing out.  What was I thinking?

You’re human.  Forgive.


Here you will find Jessica's blog:

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sense and Nonsense of twitter #ff

Good morning, Friday, as always you bring us the joys and tribulations of the twitter #ff lists. There are  many who refuse to do the #ff honors completely, some who believe they only work of you do a few, individual #ffs, and some who do nothing but send out long lists with recommendations all day long.

Just now a discussion about the value of the FollowFriday  cropped up on twitter. There seems to be a general tiredness about the whole thing, and a doubt that it does any good at all. I think originally the #ff were meant to connect people, to get a chance to easily meet friends of friends, but that's not how I see it anymore. With the many, many tweeters out there right now, and growing numbers in followers, introducing ALL of your friends is insanity, would take about twenty-four hours and bring on the infamous twitter whale for two days.

No, here's what I think.

There is a whole different meaning to the thing, and that's why I still do them.

By giving people a #ff shout, I show them how much I appreciate their tweets. This might be for different reasons: because they are my publisher, and I want to promote them (and myself, ahem), or the authors I connect with most (because by talking to them on twitter I feel a little more like an author myself), they tweet delicious recipes (yeah, I like to eat; who doesn't), they send beautiful photos (Paul Steele; the grand-master of amazing links!), they tweet funny stuff (ScoDal; follow or die!), they are literary agents (Janet Reid; hilarious, useful blog! And Rachelle Gardner, twitter friend, full of good advice.), or simply because they are beloved, friends.  There are many others, not listed here now because this is only supposed to be a short, dashed-off blog and I want to get back to the REAL writing.

So you see, I do #ff. With them, I tell people, "Hey, I know you. I read your tweets. I like them so well that I think others should read them too. I love being your friend. I love that you think my tweets are worth your time. In this very second, typing your name, adding #ff, pressing "enter", I'm thinking of you. Have a wonderful day, and thanks for talking to me!"

That's all. Please proceed with your Friday. :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I Am, I Write

I've been in a mind to write about writing for a while now, but it always seemed presumptuous, and I don't really have time for it, and anyway, I don't care too much for blogging. Yes, I know, big mistake, authors have to have a blog and post regularly, and so on.  Have you ever had a feeling of distance on your computer? Like, some pages, files, whatever, are simply farther away from what you do daily than other stuff? Well, that's how I feel about my blog. It's in the farthest corner of Safari, somewhere DOWN THERE WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE and I don't like to go there. It involves work.

Sometimes there's a subject I'd really like to rant blog about, but I'm not that stupid, and I keep my trap shut until the moment is over, or I do in fact write the blog post, but then my poor publisher gets dumped with it, and of course has to comment or leave me still in ranting mode, and unhappy. Publishers have a hard life sometimes, and sometimes they are more babysitters than publishers.

Anyway. I'm rambling.

What I really wanted to write about today is... writing.

I don't believe you can teach writing. There, it's said. I believe you can teach technique, grammar, maybe even style. There may be a way to teach plotting, storyline, dialogue, characterization, even description. You can put all these together, and maybe a couple more that I forgot, and you have the classic creative writing program. Oh yes, punctuation. Ah, and... contractions (*doffs head to publisher*).

But if you put all these together and shake well, all you have is CRAFT. I want to compare this to creating a clone. You can grow a perfect clone, the prettiest girl on Earth, or the most adorable male, and yet they are empty husks, nothing but bodies, because the main ingredient is missing: the soul. The thing you cannot teach is the feel for writing, how to make it come alive.

A writer has to be able to observe. I'd almost go so far and postulate that this is a major ability for a writer. Everything that goes into a story, every emotion, every expression, the way a twig bends under snow, you must have observed it to put it into words. If you don't see your surroundings, you can't describe them.

Just as important, I believe, is visualization. To write a scene, you have to see it in your mind. It's as if the characters are doing private theater scenes in your head. They act them out, you write them down. They deliver the dialogue, all you have to do is listen. And write.

Writing is not a job. It's something you do, or you don't. There's no half-way writing. It happens all the time. Either you're at your desk, typing, or kneading the story in your head, or collecting impressions, or doing research or playing out dialogues while you clean the bathroom. You may not even notice you're writing, but the next time you sit down to actually type, you'll notice.

Either you're a writer, or you are not.

That's basically all. I said, BASICALLY. This is a declaration of faith, and nothing more. I've said my piece. Generally, I think talking about writing is a waste of time, when I could instead by writing a story.

To say it in the undying words of Yoda: There is no try. Either do, or do not.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Glory Road, Chapter 1

Ok, since you asked. Here's the UNEDITED first part of the first chapter of the new novel. Before you even THINK of copying or stealing it: it's with the publisher already. So HANDS OFF. It's only for my friends.


He watched her rise to get another cup of coffee.

The grace of her movements astounded him and kept him staring even after she had returned to her seat in the corner of the large couch, right in the shade of the palm tree. She sat there as if she wanted to hide, ankles crossed and head lowered, so lost in her thoughts that she did not notice him at all.

She was dressed very simply, in jeans and a shirt the color of a ripe tomato. Her hair was wrapped into a tight knot at the nape of her neck, but a few curly tendrils had escaped and bounced on her shoulder every time she moved. Parker wondered how long it was, and for a wild, exhilarating instant he felt the urge to go over and pull the pins out of that coil and dig his fingers into the tumbling strands.  He held his ice tea tightly between his hands, hoping the cold of the glass would transport itself to his heated blood.

The moment she had walked into the lounge she had captured his attention with the way she carried herself and the stillness that seemed to hover around her like a fine mist. A hush had fallen over the large room as nearly every man in it watched her. He had felt an insane spike of jealousy right behind his eyes and held his breath, wishing every other male away so he could have her all to himself, savor her presence without having to share his thoughts with others.

His flight was called. Full of regret Parker rose and picked up his briefcase, tossed a tip on the counter and made ready to leave when he saw her move toward the door, not once looking his way, not once even noticing he was there. As hasty as a schoolboy, nearly ripping his jacket on the back of his chair, Parker followed her, curious where she might be headed, hoping that she might be on his plane, since she had reacted to the same call. He followed her down the length of the terminal, followed right in her trail until she stopped before the gate and handed over her boarding pass.

In the gangway, he nearly caught up to her. She had to stop and wait for a wheelchair to be pushed inside, and she stood, as still and silent as she had sat in the lounge, until the way was open again and she could move on. Inside, she was led to one of the comfortable  seats in first class, as he had hoped, one right by a window, and he could hardly believe his luck when he was assigned the one right next to her, just across the aisle.

It took quite a while until the plane had filled up and everyone had settled down and he could see her again properly.

Her head was turned away, her chin propped on her fist, as she looked out onto the tarmac. Never in his life, Parker was quite sure, had he seen such a clear profile, such a delightful curve in a woman’s neck or a body quite as perfect. He guessed her to be in her early thirties, a bit young for him, but he was beyond the point of caring. There were seven hours ahead of them, crossing the Atlantic, and he was resolved to at least talk to her, or maybe get her to agree to a lunch date.

The flight attendant came by to check on their seat belts, which made her look up and smile briefly. Her lips crinkled in a way that made him want to get up and kiss her, inhale that smile right into his heart and lock it away there for all times. She noticed him when the attendant moved on and threw him a cool, distanced glance, nothing questioning, no interest, not even impatience in it, and then turned away again, giving Parker the impression that to her he was no more than a fleck of dust on the back of his seat, nothing she would ever bother about at all.

“I’m Parker Hamilton,” he said quickly, before she got lost in her own world again, “Pleased to meet you.”

There was no response for the longest time. Then, a quick nod without looking his way.

“So you are going to London too?” It was the only question he could come up with, inane as it was.

She ignored him.

“I am actually from London,” he plodded on, “And I’m glad I’m going home. Washington is so hot at this time of the year.” And, after a short pause, “Are you going home too?”

Very slowly, like rising out of water, her head came up. “Yes,” she replied, and her voice was as soft and melodious as he had hoped it would be, “In a way, yes.” But she did not go on to explain.

The plane moved away from the terminal, its big body shuddering as it rolled over the tarmac toward the runway, a harnessed beast ready to be set free. Looking past her Parker could see the land rush by and then drop away as they lifted off. He had flown this way so often, there was hardly anything exciting left about it, but being so close to a woman he thought was beautiful beyond words gave the trip a new spiciness.

Deplorably, there were rings on her left hand. They were expensive rings too, rings a wealthy man would buy for a cherished woman to show off he had won her.

She did not watch the movie, nor did she buy any of the duty free things the flight attendant offered them, she barely touched her meal and refused the wine, but she asked for a bottle of water and drank a lot of it as they flew into the night, a sure sign that she had traveled a lot.

“So where in London do you live?” He had never felt this stupid before, approaching a woman, but, he realized, he had never before wanted to impress one as badly as this one, either.

Again she looked at him from large, very dark eyes. “I don’t live in London.”

Drinks were offered, and he ordered a double brandy. He needed a fortifier badly.

“I’m joining my husband.” There was just enough inflection in her voice to emphasize the last word.

Parker, on an impulse, decided to ignore it. He knew he wanted her, and in a very bad way, wanted to break through that cool, passive resistance and find out how she would react to passion, reserve all gone, hair down and her pale skin flushed.

“Are you from Washington, then? It’s a nice town, only the heat is incredible. We never get that kind of weather in England.”

“No.” In a polite attempt to clarify she added, “No, I’m not from Washington.”

“I thought not.” More comfortable now, he settled back in his seat and raised his glass to toast her. “Your accent is different. You sound almost English. You are European, right?”

This time she actually turned and regarded him for a thoughtful moment. “I am not. I’m Canadian.”


Her hands folded neatly in her lap, she said, “Excuse me, but I would really rather not talk. I’m tired,and I’ll try to sleep now.”

“I’d love to share a last drink with you then,” Parker answered quickly, “Maybe some champagne? You look like you would enjoy some good champagne. Please? I’d enjoy that very much. It’s not often I have really lovely company on one of these flights. Tell me what you’ll be doing in London. Are you going there to shop?” He signaled to one of the flight attendants. “Will you tell me your name? Then I would not have to call you “mystery woman” all the time. Your name is surely prettier than that.”

Her lips pressed together. Then, very softly, she replied, “My name is Naomi.”

Somehow, in a part of his memory he did not visit too often, the combination of the face and name rang a bell, but he could not pin it down. He thought he recalled some act of violence, something that he had seen on TV and that had shocked him at the time, but he could not call up the image.

“Have we met before?” he asked instead, and that brought the first smile to her face.

“Certainly not. Or at least I do not remember talking to you. Maybe, on one or the other party…” Her eyebrows raised, she watched as the champagne was poured, a very good brand and in an aged bottle.

“Oh that’s right, it might have been a party.” Relieved, he handed her one of the glasses. “Somewhere in Washington? Somewhere around the White House? You look just like that, like you belong there.”

That made her laugh. The sound made his heart beat a little faster and his palms sweat. Carefully he picked up his own wine and toasted her across the aisle.

“Not the White House, certainly not. No.” Mirth shook her voice. “No, I don’t belong to the Washington noblesse. Sorry.”

“You look as glossy as a movie star. I’m totally enthralled. I hope we have to take a detour to Australia or something so we won’t get to London too soon and I’ll have the joy of your company for just a few hours longer. What a great good fortune.”

“I’m married,” she reminded him gently, “And I’m flying to London to meet my husband.”

“But he’s not here now. And I’ll take advantage of that.” He reached over to refill her glass. “He will surely not begrudge me a few hours of friendly chat with you.”

Instead of an answer she gave him a small, mysterious shake of her head.

Parker loved the way the overhead lights reflected in her black hair and gave it a rich sheen.

“How long will you be in London?” The brandy was more to his taste than the Dom, but he drank it stoutly, seeing she seemed to enjoy it.

“Only a few days.” Her shoulders came up in a gesture of rejection.

“Well, maybe you would me to show you around a bit? There are quite a few great things to see. You know we have a queen, and…”

“I’ve been there before,” she interrupted, “Thank you.” With a nod of thanks she returned the glass and pulled out the quilt provided by the airline. “I’ll sleep now. I need to be fresh tomorrow morning. Good night.” And lowered her seat into a bed before she switched out her light and turned away from him.