Celebrating, 11 March, 2016


11 March, 2016 Celebrate The Small Things

Welcome to this lovely blog hop, started by VikLit, bless her!
Lexa Cain and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits are presiding.

Check them out and be prepared to smile!


What am I celebrating?  Well, changes, comings and goings. I spoke of Jesse James (my darling old dog) earlier.  He’s left quite a hole in my household, but lots of smiles, as well.  And it appears that we may be having a new little presence in a couple months in the form of a puppy.  Jesse’s wisdom and humor linger.  We learned a lot from him, and the puppy will benefit from the years we had him.  Meanwhile, we’re remembering and smiling.

On another front, I am finishing two stories, a full-length novel set in Paris and a fable that I’ve mentioned before…  Or, I will be once I start up again in April.  I’ve been beta-reading (VERY enjoyable!) doing this and that.

And fiddling with things.

Large male saltwater crocodile, Australia


Which brings me to my celebration.  I have a cover nearly finished for the fable.  I’ve posted a version of it before.  It prominently features a magnificent crocodile that is a major force in the story.  The photo I found was perfect…  It had been printed in a newspaper.  If you are using photographs or other images, you must, if you are honest, verify that they are in the public domain and, if not, secure a license to use them.  As an amateur photographer, I understand what goes into taking what your eye sees and turning it into a work of art.

So, the crocodile.  I searched for the photographer…and I finally found him.  Or, rather, his name.  I looked him up by name and located his website.  At his website, I swallowed hard and took a deep breath.

The man was a superb photographer.  He did work for the National Geographic Society.  He was as good as Galen Rowell (if you know photography, you will know the name).  I couldn’t possibly afford him.

But one must ask.  I wrote to him, told him what I wanted the image for, explained how I had tracked him down, and inquired whether I might purchase a license to use the photograph.  Knowing his quality and my budget, I also started looking at stock images…

And I received this response:

Hi Diana
Thanks for your enquiry. I can confirm that the image of the crocodile is one I took in 2005. The Courier Mail published it without my permission (which is far from unheard of). I have full copyright over the image however I preference how I license images depending on the status/capacity of the use, and the user etc.

I would like to provide you use of this image as a courtesy, since I appreciate the demands on writers in bringing their work to completion. I also appreciate the obvious effort you have gone to contact me.

I have attached a higher res version of the image to assist you.

If you are able to publish your work it would be great to receive a copy.
Good luck.

Kind Regards
Kerry

I looked at the image he had attached and reread the note.  The book will be published and he will receive a copy as well as credit for the image.


…and I am celebrating the nearly finalized cover that I can use now that I have cleared permissions:

(Stars are very important in the story)

What are you celebrating?

Buying Books – Reading List


I have been on my repairing lease for a month now, and it was the wisest thing I could have done.  No composing.  No wheel-spinning.  Catching my breath.  Catching up with people who mean a lot to me.  I will be phoning my oldest friend tonight and engaging in a long chat.  It has been too long since I have done that.My current project is a Beta-Read that is disgracefully overdue (dear Author: expect it Sunday) involving an author I love and a book that I want to review once it is published.

…and I have been catching up on books (remember reading them?  I’d forgotten).  I just ordered a copy of a book from the 1930’s, J. B. Priestley’s The Good Companions.  That should be arriving shortly.  A nice, fat hardback book to replace mine, which, having turned Australian, I believe, has ‘gone walkabout’.
At loose ends, but pleasantly so, I started looking at books.
And then, I must confess, I went a little crazy and ordered four of them:

In downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lou works tirelessly to build her beloved yet struggling French restaurant, Luella’s, into a success. She cheerfully balances her demanding business and even more demanding fiancé…until the morning she discovers him in the buff—with an intern.

Witty yet gruff British transplant Al is keeping himself employed and entertained by writing scathing reviews of local restaurants in the Milwaukee newspaper under a pseudonym. When an anonymous tip sends him to Luella’s, little does he know he’s arrived on the worst day of the chef’s life. The review practically writes itself: underdone fish, scorched sauce, distracted service—he unleashes his worst.

The day that Al’s mean-spirited review of Luella’s runs, the two cross paths in a pub: Lou drowning her sorrows, and Al celebrating his latest publication. As they chat, Al playfully challenges Lou to show him the best of Milwaukee and she’s game—but only if they never discuss work, which Al readily agrees to. As they explore the city’s local delicacies and their mutual attraction, Lou’s restaurant faces closure, while Al’s column gains popularity. It’s only a matter of time before the two fall in love…but when the truth comes out, can Lou overlook the past to chase her future?

This sounds delicious, with most of the elements I love in a story.  Naturally, I ordered it in paperback.  Beware when you are browsing, whether online or in a brick and mortar bookstore.  You find other things that look good.  Like this:


Http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00LEYI3PKLittle Beach Street Bakery

A quiet seaside resort. An abandoned shop. A small flat. This is what awaits Polly Waterford when she arrives at the Cornish coast, fleeing a ruined relationship.

To keep her mind off her troubles, Polly throws herself into her favorite hobby: making bread. But her relaxing weekend diversion quickly develops into a passion. As she pours her emotions into kneading and pounding the dough, each loaf becomes better than the last. Soon, Polly is working her magic with nuts and seeds, chocolate and sugar, and the local honey—courtesy of a handsome beekeeper. Packed with laughter and emotion, Little Beach Street Bakery is the story of how one woman discovered bright new life where she least expected—a heartwarming, mouthwatering modern-day Chocolat that has already become a massive international bestseller.

Well, I have never read Chocolat, but this sounds very interesting, touching, and amusing, as did this one:

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. He lives alone, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over–and see everything anew.



Bakeries and bookstores are somehow connected in my thoughts.  I don’t know whether it is because I view shelves overflowing with potentially fascinating, enjoyable, sob-worthy and laugh-inducing books as akin to a glass-front bakery counter that contains (at any given time): Italian pastries, French pastries, gorgeous loaves of golden-crusted handmade bread braided (like Challah), slashed (like baguettes), overflowing with butter (like croissants), filled with herbs or cheese or…  Well, you get the idea.  I have a terrible time leaving bakeries.

And true to form I saw this as I finished my order.

Heroic bookseller Laurent Letellier comes across an abandoned handbag on a Parisian street. There’s nothing in the bag to indicate who it belongs to, although there’s all sorts of other things in it. Laurent feels a strong impulse to find the owner and tries to puzzle together who she might be from the contents of the bag. Especially a red notebook with her jottings, which really makes him want to meet her. Without even a name to go on, and only a few of her possessions to help him, how is he to find one woman in a city of millions?

Ah, Paris…  What’s not to like?  I added it to the list.  I’ll consider it part of my Repairing Lease…  AFTER the beta-read!

…Which brings me to this lovely blog hop:Lexa Cain and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits.

Check them out and be prepared to smile!

Celebrating the Small Things, Christmas Edition, 2015


Welcome to Celebrating the Small Things, one of the loveliest blog hops on the blogosphere anywhere, run by Lexa Cain and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits.



It is Christmas.  I am sitting in my bathrobe (shame on me!) without any slippers on.  The fireplace is cold, which is perfectly OK beause it is hovering around 61 degrees right now.

I finished designing the cover for the third book in a series of mine and am debating cleaning the house.  I  had meant to fill in holes in a nearly finished manuscript.

(Sibling is at Mom’s; other sibling and family are down in Virginia enjoying the weather.  Third sibling is stranded in upstate New York with a broken down car and a shoe-eating Lab puppy named Mack (for the truck).  He doesn’t just eat shoes, either.  

The proud owner of quite a case of puppy-wiggles, he is enthusiastic about everything but shots and baths, and hasn’t met a hotdog he did not like.

Puppies are always smile-makers unless it is the middle of the night, you have been wrestling with the ‘joys’ of housebreaking, and you have just started to take that long, slow fall into dreamland in the middle of your warm, desperately desired bed, when you hear the prefatory yips that you just know, with a sinking feeling in your stomach, means that you will shortly be pulling on what passes for a bathrobe (I know someone who uses a quilt) and stumbling to the door to stand there while said puppy decides whether it really wants to squat to (name the function) outside, or maybe should go back to the nice, safe papers.


That, however, is not my situation.  My grand old dog, Jesse James (aptly named as far as his attitude toward food goes) has been housebroken for…let me see…fourteen years.  Labs age gracefully, but he spends a lot of time snoring.  I may rent him out to people whose significant others are traveling and are feeling lonely at night.  Some people have actually said that the sound of snoring is very soothing, and it helps them to sleep.  I can loan out Jess (his nickname) and do a good deed.  He no longer bellows in your ear when he wants to be let out, but he still stares when you are eating, and he does a wonderful job mimicking a starving puppy.

But I digress.

Today I am celebrating those book covers.  Someday I’ll bore everyone by posting them, which means that I will be smitten with an urge to change them forthwith.  I am celebrating the fact that while my family is far-flung this Christmas, there are no feuds, arguments, simmering bad feelings.  We all get along, we all watch each others’ welfare and we actually love each other.  Truly a cause to celebrate.

I am celebrating last night’s Christmas Eve service.  Since I was holding down the fort at this end of the country, I went alone. It was a wonderful service, everyone was welcoming, the music was lovely, and my thoughts were happy ones.

Tomorrow I drive to my Uncle’s house a few hours away.  He turns 90 tomorrow, and I MUST be there.  Where have the years gone?  He’s a little deaf now, but still the sharp, wonderful uncle I always called my bess frend (I was very little).

Right now I am going to get up and pop a chicken in the oven.  I like to make roast chicken, and a side of rice, cranberry sauce (with candied ginger, pineapple bits and mandarin oranges) will be good.  Not sure about dessert.  Perhaps the orange-tinged fudge (homemade).  Pity I don’t feel like drinking a bottle of Champagne by myself.  It’ll have to be a nip of Drambuie.  I think I can take it.  

It’s been a lovely couple days.  I hope it’s been the same for you.

And now, just for pretty, a picture a friend sent me.  Nearly as good as being there, she said:


All the best to all – and may 2016 be a wonderful year for you!