Music Monday honors Bob Dylan ~ Things Have Changed

Following up on the same theme with Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin'” from last week, we move to this song, released in 2000.

“Things Have Changed” hailed from the soundtrack for Wonder Boys. It won the Academy Award and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.

It’s another fitting song for the times. Here is the last verse.

” …  I hurt easy, I just don’t show it
You can hurt someone and not even know it
The next sixty seconds could be like an eternity
Gonna get lowdown, gonna fly high
All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie
I’m love with a woman who don’t even appeal to me

Mr. Jinx and Miss Lucy, they jumped in the lake
I’m not that eager to make a mistake

People are crazy and times are strange
I’m locked in tight, I’m out of range
I used to care, but things have changed.”

Have a good week,

~eden

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Music Monday honors Bob Dylan ~ The Times They Are A-Changin’

Since 1901, the Swedish Academy has annually awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in memory of donor, Alfred Nobel.

On October 13th, it honored Bob Dylan as its latest recipient. The last time an American received the prize was in 1993 with Toni Morrison.

The Academy cited Dylan’s work as “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

I have mixed feelings about his victory.

Don’t get me wrong. I think Bob Dylan is brilliant. I value his contributions to music, culture, poetry, and I love many of his songs. I would not dare downplay his talent.

No, my thoughts have to do with whether he should be given a prize that has been traditionally awarded to a writer of fiction and non-fiction.

It hardly seems like a level playing field to measure the song lyric against prose.

Prose presents itself naked on a page while the lyric is dressed up with voice or instrumentation or both.

As an author who struggles to create with only words, I know how difficult it is to produce a story, poem, or novel, and I empathize with writers because of this.

Bob Dylan is an incredible songwriter—perhaps the best, but is he a writer of literature? I don’t believe so.

Regardless, I want to honor him and his music over the coming weeks, for the simple reason that his songs remain as relevant today as they were when he first wrote them. That is an amazing feat when you consider they span a career of more than fifty years.

I was surprised to discover that after writing nearly 300 music posts, I’ve blogged Bob Dylan only three times, and just once on his own with “Blowin’ in the Wind” as part of my Harmonica series.

The other two times were in a group with “My Back Pages” and “End of the Line” with the Traveling Wilburys.

In light of the recent American election results, this classic of Dylan’s is once again, prophetic of changing times.

Here we see him performing for President Obama at the White House (Feb. 2010) in celebration of music from the Civil Rights Movement.

Is it me, or do you feel a twinge of irony in this?

Wishing all a peaceful week,

~ eden

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Music Mondays remembers Leonard Cohen

leonard cohen 2

I started my Music(al) Mondays segment November 2010, and Leonard Cohen was the second blog in the series. It’s with great sadness that he is no longer with us.

Here’s a wonderful quote from him: (on his writing process).

“Well, I’ve never been intimidated by form … What we call a novel, that is, a book of prose where there are characters and developments and changes and situations, that’s always attracted me, because in a sense it is the heavyweight arena. I like it — it frightens me, from that point of view — because of the regime that is involved in novel-writing. I can’t be on the move, it needs a desk, it needs a room and a typewriter, a regime. And I like that very much.” 

Cohen had an innate love of the English language, and it’s revealed in every interview I’ve ever read of him. He was thoughtful in how he chose his words and phrased his responses. His economy of words was what made him both poetic and interesting.

The inspiration I took from him almost six years ago lives on.

It’s time for me to get writing, but not before I leave you with one of Leonard Cohen’s songs.

“Tower of Song” is both funny and self-depreciating. The song jokes about his voice (“I was born like this / I had no choice / I was born with the gift of a golden voice”). He ranks his songwriting skills “a hundred floors” below those of Hank Williams, and admits to the ravages of time with the line “I ache in the places where I used to play.”

Rest in peace, dear sweet man. May you forever sing to us from your tower of song.

Looking forward to a better week,

eden

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Toning my Mind, Body, and Time Travel (Part 2) #Bali #Ubud

Welcome to the fourth instalment of my Mind Body Series. If you missed the first three, you can start reading here. The series is about my efforts to unite mind, body, and spirit to inspire my writing.

I started writing this blog while in Indonesia. I have since returned home. What an amazing trip!

Here are some final thoughts on my time in Ubud, which encompasses changes I encountered in Bali from the last time I was there in 1988.

Postcards—The Internet of the Past

The Internet was in its infancy when I was traveling around Asia almost thirty years ago. For all intents and purposes, it didn’t exist. To stay in touch, one of the first things I did when I arrived at a new destination was pick up a stack of postcards and spend a couple of hours writing them. The process helped me acclimatize to my surroundings and lay down thoughts on my travels while planning next steps. I had a list of about twenty people to write, including family, friends, and acquaintances I had met along the way.

Writing postcards was not just a responsible travel ritual.

I did not pen: “Hi, I’m here in XYZ city. Alive and well!” on all my cards. No, each one was personalized.

Even though it was one-way communication, postcards helped me maintain friendships and forge new ones.

bali postcard

In my two years away, I must have sent close to 200 postcards. My only regret was that I didn’t send one to myself each time I posted them. Along with my photographs, they would’ve added another dimension to my scrapbook.

Fast forward to this trip and I can hardly remember when the Internet did not exist.

En route to Ubud, I connected with loved ones at each juncture—each time I landed at a different airport until arrival at my final destination. Media platforms like Facebook and Twitter made it easy. I no longer had to write a note to each person. I could provide an update of my whereabouts and what I was doing en masse.

It was quick and easy, but it did not have the personal investment of postcards. As much as I love the Internet and its ability for near instant communication, it lacks for something. Perhaps I’m a romantic. I still like writing letters and cards on occasion.

Even now, postcards are available if I want to buy and send them, but the process seems like more effort than it’s worth. For a short trip, coupled with slow postal service, postcards probably won’t make it to the addressee until I’m already home.

For most people (and me included) *sigh*, the Internet has replaced postcards as the touchpoint along one’s journey.

Hostels and Hotels

Hostels were a great place to meet other travelers especially when backpacking on my own. I never felt like I was alone and the normally small facilities meant I would make friends, usually over breakfast or while using shared facilities.

This type of accommodation was perfect for a twenty-something on a budget. I don’t remember exactly where I stayed in Ubud so long ago, but it couldn’t have been more than $4 a night.

This go-round, I didn’t exactly stay at the Ritz, but it was luxury by comparison. I had a large room, king-sized bed, and a washroom I didn’t have to share with anyone! Breakfast was included as was a pool, and housekeeping was excellent. Space and privacy was what I valued during my stay at Gana Restaurant and Villa.

If you’re thinking of going to Ubud, consider booking Gana, located centrally and within walking distance to many attractions. The best way to book is via Anita’s Airbnb Listings. She has multiple places listed with different price points.

gana staff 2

The friendly and helpful staff at Gana!

Monkeys—Then and Now

Below are pictures of me in the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary back in ’88.

bali me and monkey 1 I was feeding peanuts to the Balinese long-tailed macaques and recall them being quite timid. They didn’t mind sitting with me for a while before scampering off.
bali_monkey-2

For this trip, I brought with me a a bag of unshelled peanuts again. Unfortunately, visitors to the forest can no longer feed the monkeys certain foods—peanuts being one of them. The caretakers maintain a strict diet with the monkeys, which consists of sweet potato, bananas, coconut and other fruit. It’s understandable for the continued health of the monkeys.

monkey forest sign

Instead of feeding them nuts, I gave them bananas purchased inside the Forest. Several monkeys approached and snatched the fruit immediately. They were no longer willing to sit and have a chat.😉

monkey forest 3

There are now more than 600 monkeys living in the area. This has more than doubled since I was last there. Along with the population growth, the monkeys now seem more brazen. I can’t help but think it’s due to the continued interaction with tourists.

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-7-47-37-pm

One of the guidelines states: Do not make eye contact with the monkeys. They see this as a sign of aggression.

And yes, there are stories of how monkeys bite, scratch, and jump on tourists.

The amount of interaction between humans and monkeys did seem too intimate at times. I saw tourists posing with monkeys using their selfie sticks, the monkeys on their heads and shoulders. I was only too happy to observe from afar.

monkey-forest-roots

A photo opportunity with a monkey did not interest me, as I wanted my presence to be as non intrusive as possible.

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-7-43-15-pm

Along with monkeys, there are 115 separate species of trees and three temples inside the Forest. With its moss-covered statues and hanging tree roots, the Forest is an amazing place to walk through.

monkey forest temple

Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal or the “Main Temple,” built around 1350

Toilets, Toilet Paper and Why the Hose? 

When I was first in Indonesia, I was terribly naive about many things. The first time I walked into a public toilet, I was shocked to find nothing more than a hole in the ground. No toilet paper.

Luckily for me, I always traveled with a small packet of tissues, so I was able to take care of myself that time. Later, I learned the lay of the land as far as toilets were concerned.

If you’re squeamish about bodily functions, this is a warning not to read further.

In Asia, travelers spoke incessantly of their bowel movements. Whether you were constipated or had diarrhea was a topic of conversation at breakfast. I quickly got over my shyness around the subject, and to this day, I have no issue talking about poo to anyone at anytime. (Not that too many of my friends want to talk about this anyway!).

There are several iterations of the Indonesian toilet. In the one I first experienced, a ceramic basin filled with water and a bucket stood next to the toilet. The idea was to use the bucket to scoop water from the basin and clean yourself—with your left hand only. (I’ll talk about this distinction of hands shortly). You would also use the water to flush contents down the bowl.

Below is a pretty fancy version of these toilets. The one I remember was simply a hole with no decorative ceramic tile. I’m not sure why the water is brown in this picture, but it should be clean water from the spigot.

squat toilet

With regards to cleaning yourself with your left hand only, I learned this when I was introduced to an Indonesian man and extended my left hand in greeting. He was polite but did not shake my hand.

As the left hand is used for cleaning yourself, you would never touch a stranger with it. Also, Indonesians eat traditional meals with their hands, and only the right hand is used to pick up food.

On this trip, my hotel had a Western-style toilet along with a handheld hose—a bidet, if you will. I saw more and more of these bidet hoses in public restrooms.

toilet with hose The hose is attached to the seat and activated by a button or knob, or in some toilets, it is mounted to the wall. In any case, it’s a step up from using the bucket. The idea is simple: After you finish your business, you would hose yourself while sitting on the toilet. Because I had good water pressure at my hotel, I didn’t need to clean myself with my hand.

The hotel also provided toilet paper, which I used sparingly to dab myself dry after applying the hose. A full roll of paper is only about a quarter of what you would get in the West.

Toilet paper is expensive, and the sewer system is not equipped for flushing copious amounts of it.

It takes some adjustment and coordination, but I like the idea of cleaning with water. It’s much more hygienic than just using toilet paper.

Food and Drink

I LOVE Indonesian food.

I had opportunity to eat at some fantastic warungs this trip. These small, family-owned businesses serve traditional food, and are usually housed in modest dwellings, though some can be quite large.

trad-food The food is normally a simple combination of rice, meat or fish, and a vegetable. Along with a drink and shrimp chips, you can have a filling meal for less than $3.00.

trad-food-2

What makes the meals delicious are the spices, usually a combination of chilli, turmeric, garlic, and ginger. Curries are also a big part of Indonesian cuisine.

curry

On one of my last days in Ubud, I was invited to a friend’s birthday party with many other women. It was a veritable feast that lasted over three hours. Thank you Ednawati!

I tried a shaved ice dessert made with fruit, grass jelly, and sweet and condensed milk called Es Campur.

me holding es campur

I never thought I would be able to eat the entire bowl, but I did. It was so delicious! I couldn’t finish the birthday cake though, but it was also very good.

dessert-and-drinkYoung coconuts were abundant, and since it’s a super food, I could not get enough of them. The juice from one coconut filled me for hours.

coconuts

Wine is expensive in Indonesia, given it is imported and there isn’t much variety. I’m also not much of a beer drinker. As such, I drank hot tea most days, particularly green tea, which I am addicted to! I found an amazing brand of it at Kakiang Bakery near my hotel and bought three bags to take home.

Now I have to find out how to replenish my supply once it’s finished! green-tea

On this trip, I tried something I’ve never had before—Kopi Luwak coffee. If you are unfamiliar with this coffee, it is the most expensive coffee in the world.

Why? The unusual production process.

The coffee beans (which are actually seeds) are digested by the Indonesian cat-like animal called the civet cat (known as luwaks in Indonesia). The feces of the cat/luwak are collected by farmers, processed, and then sold as Kopi Luwak.

Cat poo coffee.

civet-coffee

I told you I had no qualms talking about poo. Heh.

So, did I like it?

To frame my response, remember I’m a lover of green tea. I’ve also been off coffee for several months, so my taste for it is not discerning, by any stretch.

I drank the Kopi Luwak black, which is what you’re supposed to do in order to experience the unique flavour.

Truth is … I didn’t hate it, but that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement!

kopi luwak

Kopi Luwak is very rich, as you can see from the residue around the cup.

I tried not to disturb the coffee as I drank it, but once I got near the bottom, it became too thick to continue.

My best analysis of the flavour is it’s a blend of dark chocolate and dark coffee with a smooth, nutty aftertaste. Given I usually take my coffee with a bit of cream, I expected it to be bitter. Surprisingly, it wasn’t bitter at all.

My recommendation is you try it once and make up your own mind. Indonesia is certainly the place to do it.

Travel with Purpose

When I traveled to Bali and Asia in the late eighties, the purpose was to explore the world. With an open ticket and no set timeline, I started in Hong Kong and meandered from there. I had a simple formula—when my funds ran out, I would return home.

Indonesia was not on my radar when I started my journey, but it manifested as I met other travelers along the way.

bali_Goa Gajah

Goa Gajah, 1988

The only purpose of that trip was to expand my realm of experience and my mind. The power of travel helped mould me into the person I am today.

festival banner

On this trip, I planned my stay around the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. The festival saw numerous speakers come together for a five-day event to discuss writing, books, and issues affecting the world today.

open-dance-for-fest

The festival began with a traditional Balinese welcome dance.

The theme – Tat Tvam Asi: ‘I am you, you are me’ – created a strong focus for the conversations.

eden at the festival

One of the most entertaining speakers I met was Delhi-based author, Mayank Austen Soofi. (You have to love a man who chooses his middle name after his favorite author!).

He writes a popular blog called The Delhi Walla. I attended a couple of his panels, one in which he shared the stage with three other authors.

His approach was decidedly different from the others.

How so?

He didn’t try to sell his books by obnoxiously mentioning them while answering questions from the moderator.

Indie authors like myself who do it all, including promote our work will understand why this is so important. Nobody wants to listen to someone who screams: “Buy my book!” at every turn. In the age of social media, over-selling is easy to do, but it won’t work. Seasoned authors know that selling a book does not mean flogging it to death.

Mr. Soofi’s responses, infused with enthusiasm, warmth, and wit sold his book.

nobody can love you moreFor this reason, I feel fortunate to have received a copy of Mr. Soofi’s book, Nobody Can Love You More. It is an account in words and photographs of life in Delhi’s red light district. He was gracious enough to sign the book for me, and I look forward to reading it.

mayank sign book

Writing, yoga, and sightseeing made up the other days of my stay in Ubud. Instead of telling you about it, I’ve attached a slideshow. You will see for yourself why Ubud, Bali is one of the most magical places on earth.

Thank you for reading. Now that I’ve returned from Bali, my Mind Body Series will tackle other areas of my life. I hope you continue to join me as I explore this curious time in my life.

~eden

Approximately 30 pictures

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

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Music Monday flows with Billy Joel

I’m back from Ubud, Bali. It was a wonderful trip and went by too quickly.

I felt very much at home there.

Yet, now that I’m back in Toronto, this song, “You’re My Home” reminds me that home is not a place, but where my heart belongs.

“When you look into my eyes
And you see the crazy gypsy in my soul
It always comes as a surprise
When I feel my withered roots begin to grow
Well I never had a place that I could call my very own
That’s all right, my love, ’cause you’re my home

When you touch my weary head
And you tell me everything will be all right
You say, “Use my body for your bed
And my love will keep you warm throughout the night”
Well I’ll never be a stranger and I’ll never be alone
Whenever we’re together, that’s my home

Home can be the Pennsylvania Turnpike
Indiana’s early morning dew
High up in the hills of California
Home is just another word for you

Well I never had a place that I could call my very own
That’s all right, my love, ’cause you’re my home

If I travel all my life
And I never get to stop and settle down
Long as I have you by my side
There’s a roof above and good walls all around
You’re my castle, you’re my cabin and my instant pleasure dome
I need you in my house ’cause you’re my home.
You’re my home.

If I travel all my life
And I never get to stop and settle down
Long as I have you by my side
There’s a roof above and good walls all around
You’re my castle, you’re my cabin and my instant pleasure dome
I need you in my house ’cause you’re my home.
You’re my home.”

Enjoy an oldie by Billy Joel and have a great week,

~eden

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Pieces of You in Ubud #poem #Bali

A poem for my husband on the occasion of his birthday.

* * *

John,

Thank you for being who you are, for granting me precious time and space … for Ubud.

In return, this is my gift to you,

eden
xox

* * *

Pieces of You in Ubud

 

I walk the streets of Ubud and discover pieces of you
In the cracks of broken tile pavements
Across ill-fitting, metal sewer grates
Your spirit rises to greet me like incense to the gods

Faded signs of cafés and hotels line a main road
Veering toward alleyways filled with unknown treasures
You pull me close for a moment or two
To breathe in the wonder of a new day

Appeasing and pleasing gods and demons
Begins a daily ritual in Bali
Devotional gifts of flower petals and frangipani
Adorn sidewalks, shrines, and statues

You walk with me in harmony
Careful not to step on the canangs
The day is young and the hustle has just begun
You hypnotize at every turn

 

I meander the streets of Ubud and find traces of you
In statues wrapped with black and white checkered cloth
In the sweet fragrance of incense permeating the air
You guide me through narrow walkways hand in hand

I sidestep a dog that is too hot or too tired to move
Or maybe he is just claiming his space
You escort me to the edge of shattered crossroads
Where I look right, then left, then right again

A rumble quickly escalates to a roar
In the tangle of vehicles that defines Ubud traffic
A chaotic racetrack unfurls from around the bend
Unleashing a blur of motorbikes and vans

“Wait …” you whisper in a cautionary voice
I feel the squeeze of your hand as you inch me forward
The dust and noise settle down, a fleeting calm
Just the break needed to run to the opposite side

 

I weave through the streets of Ubud and remember pieces of you
In the voices of young women offering a massage
In a bakery window filled with chocolates and sweets
Your essence surrounds me like a favorite sarong

A gentle rain falls in the early evening
Merchants pull in their wares and clapboard signs
Backpackers scurry to find shelter
I seek refuge under my latest possession

A monsoon hits, third one in a less than a week
The downpour floods the streets within seconds
I skip over puddles with unsteady footing
My flip-flops are soaked, yet again

You navigate me around a minefield of gaping holes
Loose rocks and debris float toward overflowing gutters
I squelch my way toward my hotel
And silently thank you for my umbrella

 

I travel the town of Ubud and conjure up images of you
In the faces of men who call out “Taxi?” as I walk by
In swathes of brilliant green rice fields as far as the eye can see
You tug at my heart until I choke with tears

Ubud …

You cast your spell on mortals and spiritual beings
Lay bare the knowledge of your ancient wisdom
You tempt
Like the graceful sway of a Balinese woman
You inspire
With the mystery of the Sacred Monkey Forest
You arouse passions and fulfillment of passions
Pieces of you live inside of me
And they always will

* * *


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Music Monday flows with Pink Floyd #Bali

Hello from Ubud, Bali.

The past week has been incredible in so many ways. To find inspiration for my writing is one of the reasons I took this trip, and I am so happy I did.

If for no other reason, I’ve confirmed that the sights, sounds, and smells of Bali have to be experienced. There is no possible way I could have breathed the magic of Ubud without being here.

Last night, I went to the Laughing Buddha Bar to decompress after a day of writing, sightseeing, and dinner. It’s a small, live music venue located on Monkey Forest Road, one of the few main arteries in Ubud. An Indonesian band called the Cooltones played rock cover tunes.

They were very good musicians.

Along with Clapton, Hendrix, and Muddy Waters, they also played this song by Pink Floyd.

Oh …. how I wish you were here.

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New Release by @TammyLGrace ~ DEADLY CONNECTION #mystery

Author Tammy L. Grace writes in multiple genres and has a new release due out November 1st. It’s her sixth book and the second in a series.

Find out more about Tammy’s latest creation, DEADLY CONNECTION: A COOPER HARRINGTON DETECTIVE NOVEL.

You can pick it up now on pre-order! Also, don’t forget to connect to Tammy at all her virtual homes.

* * * *

deadly connection

Available for pre-order now! 

Amazon US | Amazon UK 

Coop’s case takes an unexpected twist when he discovers the dead body of his latest client.

A newcomer to Nashville with a troublesome problem requests an emergency meeting with private detective Cooper “Coop” Harrington.  When she fails to keep her appointment, Coop and Annabelle, his faithful friend and assistant, become worried and go in search of their new client.  Their hopes for a quiet Sunday are dashed when they discover her dead body.

Coop and Annabelle find themselves immersed in the investigation, uncovering tenuous links to a handful of suspects. With the help of his loyal golden retriever, Gus, and meddling but well-meaning Aunt Camille, Coop works to untangle the web of connections to expose the motive and identity of the killer before anyone else is murdered.

* * * *

Connect to Tammy

tammy grace

Blog | Twitter @TammyLGrace

Facebook | Google +

Amazon Author page

Tammy L. Grace is an award-winning fiction author who brings readers entertaining stories that take them on an emotional journey, filled with complex relationships of friendship and family in her Hometown Harbor Series. Set in the picturesque San Juan Islands in Washington, escape with a close-knit group of friends and their interwoven lives filled with both challenges and joys that resonate with women. Each book in the series focuses on a different woman and her journey of self discovery.

Tammy creates compelling characters who readers love or love to hate. In her Cooper Harrington Detective Novels, readers will delight in the fast paced whodunits, featuring Coop and his loyal golden retriever, Gus. Set in Nashville, Coop, a snarky t-shirt wearing lawyer turned private detective, with the help of his dog and faithful friend and assistant, Annabelle, work to solve murder mysteries with plenty of twists.

Born and raised in Nevada, Tammy loved reading at a young age. With the help of her middle school teacher, she discovered the joy of writing. After spending a career in local and state government service, she retired and finally has the time to dedicate to writing.

When Tammy isn’t working on ideas for a novel, she’s spending time with family and friends or supporting her addiction to books and chocolate. She and her husband have one grown son and a spoiled golden retriever.

Her new releases in 2015 include Pieces of Home, Book 4 in The Hometown Harbor Series and Killer Music, the first book in the Cooper Harrington Detective Novels. Tammy enjoys connecting with readers. Visit her website at http://www.tammylgrace.com or connect with her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tammylgrace.books.

* * * *

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Toning my Mind, Body, and Time Travel (Part 1)

Welcome to the third instalment of my Mind Body Series. If you missed the first two, you can start reading here. The series is about my efforts to unite both mind and body to inspire my writing.

I’m currently in Bali, Indonesia. Travel is a passion for me, and I haven’t been to Asia since 1988. It was time to return.

For this post, I’ll highlight a few things that have changed since my last trip.

Checking Luggage

My flights to Bali were without incident … but for one issue—I’ll get to that in a minute. I originally booked to fly to Denpasar via Beijing and Singapore. With connection times, it would’ve taken me over 33 hours. I found a better route a few days before the trip. It cut my travel time to less than 29 hours, flying Toronto—Houston—Taipei—Denpasar.

I never fly Air Canada because it’s too expensive, but I was traveling on points and it was worth making the change. Air Canada would fly me to Houston and EVA Airways (the Hello Kitty airline based in Taiwan) would take me to Taipei and my final destination.

eva airways

The AC flight was uneventful, and I slept part of the way. When I got off the plane to catch my connecting flight, I thought I heard my name over the intercom. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Houston is an enormous airport with multiple terminals. I only had 75 minutes to catch the next flight. As I waited for the airport train to take me from Terminal A to D, my name sounded over the speaker again.

I couldn’t catch the garbled message. A slight panic set in. Who was calling me and why?

At that moment, the airport train arrived. There was nothing I could do but go forward.

When I arrived at Terminal D, I immediately went to the EVA Airways counter and asked if they had paged me. The attendant confirmed she had. The reason? She wanted to give me EVA’s official boarding passes and vouchers for the lounge.

I didn’t even know I had the privilege of a lounge. Bonus … and relief!

It was past midnight, and there was a giant buffet in the lounge. People were piling food on their plates, but I couldn’t eat. I watched CNN’s ongoing recap of the last Presidential debate. An announcement for pre-boarding sounded shortly thereafter. I was anxious to board the 16-hour flight to Taipei.

Queued up for the gate, I felt pretty good until the attendant scanned my boarding pass and asked me to step aside.

Now what?

Another attendant’s worried look told me it was not good news. She asked me to sign a form absolving EVA Airways of any fault. Apparently, they could not find my one piece of checked luggage. It was supposed to be delivered to them by Air Canada, but they never received it.

luggage

I would have to fly to Bali without it.

There was no time to think, even less time to be upset. While in the air, I tried not to fret, but I did use the plane’s WIFI to send a note to a friend. Perhaps he could do some investigative work for me before I landed.

Long story short, my luggage never made it out of Toronto. I thought it was misplaced in the transfer, but Air Canada had not even loaded it on to the their own plane! Several e-mail exchanges with my friend revealed my suitcase was en route to Houston. It was leaving 24 hours after I did.

In the two years I traveled around Asia back in 1988, no airline ever lost my luggage, and I took a lot of flights back then.

Time has not improved the transport of luggage.

Indonesian Currency

I’m a millionaire here in Indonesia!

Back in 1988, the exchange rate was 1 USD = 1,665 Rupiahs.

Today, 1 USD is approximately 13,000 Rupiahs. it means $500 US equals $6,507,493 Rupiahs. That’s a lot of zeros.

The currency has devalued over the years, with the 100,000 note now worth about $8 USD or $10 Canadian dollars.

idr currency

An interesting note: I was told that Indonesia changes its money every five years. That could mean a change in denominations, removing old notes, adding new ones, or other changes.idr currencies

Recording my trip

It’s hard to believe I carried around 50 rolls of film and a camera the size of a small appliance when I was last in Bali. I still have my old 35mm Minolta with its zoom lens.

camera

Film camera vs camera i-Phone

The camera served me well and took some great pictures, but it weighed a ton. I was always self-conscious of its size in countries where photography was not always welcome. The Balinese are a modest people and do not always want their picture snapped.

Today, convenience is key. I take pictures with both my phone and a small digital camera.

Music

Remember this?

walkman

It’s a Walkman, akin to today’s MP3 players such as iPods, except that it plays cassettes.

Today, I don’t travel with an MP3 player. I no longer consider it a necessity to be constantly plugged in. I listen to music on my laptop when I’m working (not writing).

I haven’t thrown away my Walkman. Maybe I should donate it to a museum, along with all my cassettes?

Travel Information

I love books and that goes for travel books too. One of the great pleasures for me was always in the planning of the trip. Travel books were excellent guides to help with the process. Well … no more.

travel-books

Now, with the Internet, I can book a hotel online and research anything I care to know about a destination before I get there. For instance, I’m staying at a terrific hotel called Gana Restaurant and Villa, which I found on AirBnB.

gana

Since the Internet allows for so much available information, I am able to customize my searches and create the holiday I want. No longer is it necessary to carry maps and books to locate landmarks and other places of interest, though I still keep a blank notebook for recording interesting facts.

Thank you for reading. I hope you will join me for Part 2 of this Time Travel instalment for Mind Body Series. I’ll be writing it this coming week.

 

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Music Monday flows with The Traveling Wilburys

Hello from Indonesia!

Here’s my view of coconut trees and rice fields as I write this blog.

rice fields

This is a departure from my previous music series that highlighted songs from my yoga classes.

I’m in Bali for a writers’ festival, yoga, and research for my next book—A Fragile Truce.

While on my recent flight from Toronto to Houston, I scanned the albums available to help me sleep  for the 3 1/2 hour flight. It was night time and the first leg of what was to be a thirty-plus hour journey to Bali.

The only album of interest to me was The Traveling Wilburys, a band which included Bob Dylan. He recently won the Nobel Prize for Literature (in case you didn’t know). I’ll be featuring the music of Mr. Dylan in a future month.

As I sat on that plane leaving the country, these three verses of “End of the Line” spoke to me , even above the roar of the airplane’s engines.

” …Well it’s all right, even when push comes to shove
Well it’s all right, if you got someone to love
Well it’s all right, everything’ll work out fine
Well it’s all right, we’re going to the end of the line

Don’t have to be ashamed of the car I drive (End of the Line)
I’m just glad to be here, happy to be alive (End of the Line)
It don’t matter if you’re by my side (End of the Line)
I’m satisfied

Well it’s all right, even if you’re old and gray
Well it’s all right, you still got something to say
Well it’s all right, remember to live and let live
Well it’s all right, the best you can do is forgive …”

I hope you find your own meaning in these lyrics. My next blog will be Toning my Mind, Body and Time Travel, which continues my Mind Body series.

Have a wonderful week. I know I will.

~eden

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Music Monday flows with @LadyGaga #yoga

As I continue to highlight music from my classes at Union Yoga studio, here is a great song from my Body Tone class.

When it’s playing, we are usually on our backs doing sit-ups, crunches, and working on abdominals.

It’s a motivating tune, and so long as I keep breathing, I really feel like I’m on the edge of glory.

Enjoy the inimitable Lady Gaga.

I’m traveling shortly, and I’ll be in transit to Bali the next time I blog.

Have a super week!

~eden

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Toning my Mind, Body, and a Trip to Bali

Welcome to the second instalment of my Mind Body Series. If you missed the first one, Toning my Mind, Body and Breasts, you can read it here. It provides a basis for the series.

For this post, I’m tackling a few topics: My upcoming trip to Indonesia (specifically Bali); writer’s block; and travel as inspiration.

But first, a few facts about Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation.

map of indonesia

Indonesia is home to more than 17,000 islands in each of its 34 provinces. With a population of 260 million (dated: July 2016), it is the world’s fourth most populous country after China, India, and the United States. My flight to Bali by way of Beijing and Singapore will take about 22 hours from Toronto.

With wait times for connections added in, it will be 33 hours before I land in Denpasar, the capital city of Bali.

I traveled around Indonesia in 1988 as part of a trip I took across Southeast Asia. Here I was on the most exquisite white-sand beach in Lombok.

lombok beach

That was nearly thirty years ago, but I’ve never forgotten the beauty of the country and the people I met there.

I knew I would return to this part of the world someday, but what would call me back?

As it turns out, several things did. In my first post, I talked about health concerns which forced me to make some changes. I started a regimen of Chinese herbs, continued to meditate, and took up yoga. I’m in better shape now than I was twenty years ago; I lost ten pounds without even trying, and I feel terrific.

It was all good, except … my writing was stuck.

Stranger at Sunset released in 2014. It was the first of a 3-book trilogy, but books 2 and 3 are not finished. A bit of introspection uncovered the following thoughts, which of all things, involved the concept of input and output.

My mind is a mystery, even to me.

input output

My thinking went something like this. As with all things that require an ‘output’— correct and adequate ‘input’ must first feed the brain. A series of steps known collectively as a ‘process’ then creates an output. If the output is not as expected, it only makes sense to go back to the source and ask: Is something missing from or wrong with the input?

For example, if my pipes leak, I engage the services of a plumber. If the leak persists, it’s due to bad input. Either the plumber used incorrect or faulty parts, or the problem was misdiagnosed, resulting in a flawed process to fix it. Whatever it is, the desired result is not achieved.

Why am I using this odd plumber analogy?

Because once upon a time, in an over-simplified attempt to dismiss writer’s block, I wrote: “Plumbers don’t have plumber’s block, so why do writers have writer’s block?”

Unlike plumbing though, writing is deeply entangled with an author’s personal identity. The inability to produce undoubtedly creates angst. This in turn, can paralyze the process of writing altogether.

So … as much as I hate to admit it, writer’s block is real. I had to eat my words.

eat your words

I initially treated my block as emotional noise, something I could banish by continuing to write. I produced novellas and short stories, but I could not move forward with my series, no matter how hard I tried.

My block was specific. I couldn’t defeat it with enthusiasm and discipline.

I beat myself up mentally until I realized I had to change my input if I wanted a different outcome.

When I purposely shifted away from negative thoughts, I created space for opportunity. That’s when I came upon a festival—in Ubud, Bali.

ubud writers fest

I was familiar with the festival but had always dismissed it. The cost of airfare and distance to get there made the trip prohibitive. I never gave it a second thought. This time, I thought twice, so I decided to explore the pros and cons of making the journey.

Pros:

(1) Travel lifts my spirit and imagination to a new high.

(2) Parts of my next two books are set in Asia. Firsthand research is the best, whenever possible.

(3) Ubud is the cultural heart of Bali filled with temples, galleries, and local markets—an inspiring place like no other.

(4) Numerous yoga studios are located in Ubud, so I can keep up my practice while there.

(5) The aforementioned Writers and Readers Festival.

Cons:

Hmm …

Aside from the cost and distance, I really had no cons.

I chose to make the trip because ultimately, it was an investment in me and my writing. And the two are inextricably linked.

From the moment I booked the trip, my imagination went into overdrive. I won’t make empty promises about when I will finish my books, but I do know this … I’m excited and I’m writing, and I look forward to returning to Bali to recharge my batteries.

Stay tuned for the next instalment of my Mind Body Series when I’ll be writing to you while en route to Beijing. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing on a 16-hour flight.🙂

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Music Monday flows with @Beyonce #yoga

I never thought I’d feature a Beyoncé song for yoga, but live and learn. This high energy dance song is part of my Body Tone class at  Union Yoga studio.

It’s about girls running the world, and I feel a bit bad for the few guys in the class (it’s 90% women), but they don’t seem to mind.

They’re huffing and puffing along with the song just like the rest of us.

Have an energetic week, and for those of us in Canada, Happy Thanksgiving!

~eden

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Toning my Mind, Body, and Breasts

I hope you’re here for my mind and not my breasts.😉

The title is a bit misleading, so allow me to elaborate.

Over the next month (possibly longer), I’ll be blogging about my mind, body, and … something else. I’m calling it the Mind Body Series. The “something else” is a by-product of the work I’ve been doing to improve myself mentally and physically.

For this post, I’ll talk about toning my mind and body and only touch on my breasts.

Hmm … that didn’t sound right. What I mean is, I won’t be offering any tips on how to make your breasts perkier or firmer, in case that’s why you stopped by.

As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (USA | Canada | UK), it’s important that I highlight this worthy cause in any way I can. Since I was diagnosed in 2000, both detection and treatment have improved significantly for those with breast cancer.

It’s encouraging to read about the progress over the years and know this disease may someday be eradicated—in my lifetime.

breast cancer awareness month

The stuttered beginning of this post provides a small indication for how I’ve been feeling the past two years—hesitant and unfocused. It’s affected every area of my life, most notably my writing. I’ve pushed ahead as best as I can, but it’s been a difficult time not knowing how long the lethargy would last.

In essence, when would my mind bounce back to the way it was—to when it was sharp and clear, without the filter of cobwebs behind a thick fog, buried under a rock?

See? I need major help with my metaphors too.

empty brain

On paper, my thoughts were dysfunctional and incomprehensible to me. Others did not seem to think so, but I’ve always been my own worst critic. The words rang hollow. At times, I felt like my brain was empty of thought. This, of course, was impossible. What offered me small comfort was knowing that I can write. I had proof of it in my previous books even though my perception of my writing had changed. When I used to read my old work, I would think: “Ha! I can write better than that now!” and feel good that I had improved.

Now, I did not recognize myself in my writing. I felt like an imposter, which wasn’t all that different from how I felt when I first started writing fulltime. Call it self-doubt or a crisis of confidence, but whatever it was, it gripped me in a headlock and was not letting go.

For the better part of this year, I’ve limited my blog to music posts and author promotions. I figured I couldn’t mess those up too much. Penning an original and personal post had become increasingly difficult. I wrote the last one when I returned from my grandmother’s funeral, and that was nearly ten months ago.

If it were not for R.B. Wood’s WordCount Podcast and Toby Neal’s Lei Crime KindleWorlds series, I would not have done much creative writing at all. Both of them gave me opportunities to write—at least in the short fiction format.

Regardless of how I felt, it was important that I kept up a daily writing ritual, so I turned into a robotic vomiter of words for the sake of meeting word count.

word vomit

I tried to maintain discipline, anchoring myself in the knowledge that these words were not without merit. The problem was, none of them were in the proper order for my next book—A Fragile Truce, which was to follow Stranger at Sunset, released 2014.

I had planned to launch the second book less than a year later, followed by book three shortly after that.

The pressure to meet my deadline prompted me to withdraw from social media for a while, but that didn’t help.

What was happening to me?

Was it the dreaded writer’s block (which I had vehemently denied even existed?)

writer's block

Or was it something more sinister?

Following a couple of trips to see my doctor, he diagnosed me as severely anemic. My iron level was non-existent and my blood pressure so low he was surprised I didn’t faint. I was 50 at the time. It made sense I would be experiencing hormonal fluctuation and other symptoms of life change. Still, I never thought it would affect me with such intensity—to the point where both my mind and body felt foreign to me.

I know every woman goes through this, and some I’ve spoken to have much worse symptoms than me. I was also reminded that fifteen years ago, my oncologist told me there might be lingering effects from my chemo treatment. I guess I had chosen to ignore that little piece of information. Unfortunately, it was impossible to ignore the connection between changes in my body and how it affected my ability to communicate – both verbally and via the written word. I never used to struggle to find the right words. Now, It’s on the tip of my tongue syndrome occurred more often than I cared to admit. My vocabulary plummeted, which meant writing took longer since I needed to consult a Thesaurus more often.

Something had to change, but what?

meditator

Since my mid twenties, I’ve meditated regularly, which I owe to saving my mind from becoming even more erratic than it already was. What I didn’t realize was the process of stilling my mind (sitting for long periods in meditation) was not fully serving me at this stage in my life—not physically anyway.

I’ve never really had to exercise. Moderate physical activity was enough to keep me in good shape, but I knew I needed to do more. I felt sluggish and heavy. I couldn’t sleep.

In February, against my doctor’s wishes, I decided not to take iron supplements and instead, started a regimen of Chinese herbs. They have helped me regain much of my energy. I don’t have that lethargic feeling anymore, and best yet, my foggy brain cleared up as well.

chinese herbal concoction

Concoction of dates, goji berries, and dong quai

I also did something opposite to what my doctor recommended. He wanted me to take it easy with exercise. I understood his rationale, but I listened to my body, and my body told me it needed to move. It needed to move A LOT. I felt manic when I made the decision to join a hot yoga studio in the neighbourhood, like I had been on ice for far too long.

5-lb-dumbbell

I started going to classes two, three, then five times a week. One of the classes is a Body Tone class which is fitness inspired. We work with weights, loud music, and the pace is breakneck. I imagine it’s what “Bootcamp Yoga” would be if there was such a thing. In the beginning, I couldn’t even do half the moves of the hour-long class. I am now happy to say that after eight months, I can complete the full class—with gusto! I’ve even moved up to using 5-lb weights from my original 3-pounders. Though that might not sound like a lot, performing repetitive weight-bearing squats, lifts, and sit-ups in 35C (95F) heat is exhausting. I walk out of the class drenched but feeling happy and invigorated. The workouts have also helped me sleep much better.

I returned to my doctor recently for a follow-up appointment and told him what I had been doing. He was fine with my approach though a bit concerned I had lost 10 pounds since I started yoga. It shocked me, really. I don’t own a scale, so the only time I ever weigh myself is at my doctor’s office. It was never my intention to lose weight, but despite my thinner body, I felt stronger than I have ever felt in my life.

All good news, right?

Well, there is a small downside to the story … and that’s where my breasts enter into the picture.

Or more accurately, it’s where they make their exit.

Those 10 pounds I lost came straight off the top. I didn’t think it was possible to go down a size from a 32A bra, but it is.

The main casualty of this weight loss is now I have to get rid of many of my bras. I love beautiful lingerie, and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I own several push-ups that feel like they could double as a football player’s shoulder pads. They transformed me from a 32A to a 32C—a two-cup increase. Woohoo!

bras

These babies could stop bullets!

When I fitted myself with these push-ups the other day, I laughed my ass off! I thought I was going to topple over. Suffice it to say it looks unnatural for me to have such large breasts now.

Did you ever think you would be so intimate with my intimates? Heh.

It’s been a trying and interesting time. I’m not one who complains, but I wanted to let readers know why I haven’t been able to deliver on my trilogy. At the same time, I also wanted to thank you for reading my meanderings, now and in the past.

The good news is I’m on the mend.

My mind is much improved with Chinese herbs and meditation. My body is leaner and growing stronger with yoga, and last but not least, even though there is less to them now …

love your breasts

Stay tuned for the next instalment of my Mind Body Series when I talk about travel and returning to a magical place—Bali.

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Music Monday flows with @MaxFrost #yoga

Over the next weeks, I’ll feature songs and artists who’ve helped me move in my hot yoga classes.

The songs are an eclectic mix, as are the teachers who lead the classes at the wonderful Union Yoga studio, where I’m a member.

I respond to upbeat, lyrical songs when I exercise, as well as to the slow, soothing music usually associated with yoga.

Imagine flowing to “Let Me Down Easy” by Texan songwriter, Max Frost.

Have a super-charged, great week, even if it’s not an easy one,

~eden

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Author @DMassenzio asks Eden Baylee 20 Questions

I had the pleasure of answering some unique questions for author Don Massenzio. You may recall he was on my blog earlier this year and is an avid supporter of indie authors.

If you’d like to read my responses to Don’s questions, including my answer to:

Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?

Then hop over to Don’s site and connect to him. You can read the interview here.

Thanks!

Connect to Don 

Don M

Web Site | Blog | Facebook Author Page

Amazon Author Page | Goodreads Author Page

Google+ | Twitter @dmassenzio

Barnes and Noble | Smashwords

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Music Monday cools down with Summer Soft

Wow, I’ve definitely felt a chill in the air this past week.

It seems autumn and a cool breeze settled into the air the day after summer ended.

Many thanks to my wonderful designer JB Graphics who alerted me to this oldie by Stevie Wonder.

The lyrics speak to the exit of summer like a woman leaves her lover.

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“Summer soft…
Wakes you up with a kiss to start the morning off
In the midst of herself playing Santa Claus
She brings gifts through her breeze

Morning rain…
Gently plays her rythms on your window pane
Giving you no clue of when she plans to change
To bring rain or sunshine

And so you wait to see what she’ll do
Is it sun or rain for you
But it breaks your heart in two
When you find it’s October

And she’s gone
And she’s gone
Summer’s gone
Taking with her summer’s play …”

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Despite the end of summer, I have much to look forward to. I’m taking time off and will blog about an upcoming trip to Asia in October.

Stay tuned and have a wonderful week,

~eden

 

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Eden’s Exchange talks to author Chris Rose (@WritingOnaCloud)

Author Chris Rose and I have crossed paths on several writers’ groups, and I’m happy to finally have him on my blog.

He has a sense of humor, and I think you will enjoy his interview. Please learn more about Chris and all he has to offer.

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Welcome Chris! Let’s start with a personal question. How would your best friend describe you in 20 words or less?

Shy & outgoing. Black and white. Yin and Yang. And on it goes. But passionate always. Oh, and charming (cough).

Sweet. Are you a full time writer or do you have a day job? 

I’m a translator, for now, which, ideally, when the good work’s there, is much the same as writing – it is, indeed, re-writing, rather like editing someone else’s work – so I flit between the two, theirs, mine, theirs, mine…

Sounds like great work for a writer. What part of the world do you live in? 

I live in Norfolk now, Norwich, Europe’s centre of all things literary, and I LOVE it! For its sense of community; for its beautiful coastline, and for all its many cultural and historical aspects.

What is your biggest extravagance?

My clothes. I’ve always been a bit of a dandy.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Well, I’ve recently read a quote by Helen Mirren, at 70, where she says that if she could go back and advise her younger self about how to deal with people, day to day, there would be many more ‘F*ck offs’ in there. I was brought up to employ the old stiff upper lip, and to not let the bastards see they were grinding me down, and to get through matters on wit. Which isn’t the way to go about things.

Helen Mirren is wickedly beautiful and I love her. What profession other than your own would you like to try?

Be a member of the S.A.S, anything that makes me feel alive. May sound silly to compare the two but that’s why I do theatre.

What is one thing you want to do before you die?

Other than indulge in quite a number of sexual fantasies, all involving willing participants, I’d say get my Italian up there with my French and Spanish.

It’s wonderful to know many languages. Do you have favorite curse words, in English or any other language?

If they can be classed as curse words this day and age, I love the old British working class ‘bleedin’’ this and that – ‘Shut up, ya silly bleeder!’ That kind of stuff, very dry and genuine. But I tend to swear in French most of the time, and so get away with it now: you know, like, ‘Putain de bordel de merde !’ I say get away with it, but I can get caught out sometimes.

How about a motto you live by?

I have so many, as trite as they sometimes sound, but I think ‘Nothing ventured’ holds very true.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

My good lady and kids aside, my having become tri-lingual to native level in French and Spanish, having started late on in life, from scratch. It’s what seems to impress people, although I never initiate the question; it’s always due to their curiosity, no cats involved.

🙂 What makes you REALLY laugh?

Wow, where to start! Nothing too intellectual, and it always tends to be quite visual; and it’s something that can catch me completely off guard, all very reactionary and natural. Very basic.

Let’s learn more about the writer in you, Chris.  Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Memory, mainly, I have quite a vivid memory. It’s strange, but I think somewhere, deep down, I always knew I’d become a writer, and it’s as if I’d subconsciously record stuff, from situations right down to something somebody said. And I can go back decades on those alone.

And then there are books I’ve read of course.

What motivates you to write?

The previous question, I think. It’s a need to purge, like most writers, I imagine.

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-4-43-13-pmWhat is the best advice you’ve received as a writer?

To write for me, not some 23 year old agent. Or publisher. Hence why I love the route I’ve taken and wouldn’t change it.

Name a few of your favorite authors and books, and why you like them.

The question I feared. Albert Camus. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Truman Capote. Kurt Vonnegut. Christianne Rochefort… I could go on, and on.

Yes, it’s always hard to choose just a few. How do you market yourself?

Twitter and Facebook, generally. I mean to do more by putting myself about with the paperbacks, but life keeps getting in the way.

Do you do much research for your books?

Very little. I write about what I know about. Based on what I like to read personally. I’ve yet to attempt some new area.

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of being a writer?

I love the editing part, it’s what I call the real writing, even when it means deleting chunks of text; in fact, I love that part most, clearing away the debris.

The least favourite is the few days after a book has come to completion, and I feel a little lost.

I can relate to that. It’s the anti-climax. Define your style of writing.

Different. Original… hopefully. But to place it somewhere I’d go for poetic prose.

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-4-42-48-pmIs it important for you to know the title or ending of a book before you write it?

Fantastic question. The title of a book works as a wonderful catalyst for me. I base a book around it. For the ending, no, that just writes itself… as long as it isn’t a happy one, I don’t like those.

Do you outline, plot and structure, or do you just sit down and write?

The second option. Or rather I sit down and bleed😉

So true! Do you have a set schedule for writing? 

Not really. Whenever it’s quiet, mainly. And if the muse isn’t there, I don’t. No rush.

What is your best advice for new authors?

Be you. There’s room for us all. And read when you can.

What are some of your “must-have” tools for writing? 

A thesaurus – sometimes, that is; I don’t like repeating words when I can help it. And my guitar.

Ah, a musician, nice. What is the name and genre of your latest book?

The latest is called Nancy Boy: for one year only…

Although genre is always a tough one with me. Let’s call it ‘contemporary, introspective, family drama, and romance – there are many more, I’m sure, I like to give value for money (cough).

Yes you do! Let’s  learn more about the book.

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-4-44-17-pm

Buy link: Amazon 

Nancy Boy: for one year only…

It’s a time of great social and political upheaval – industrial disputes… and… hang on, that was the last book, Wood, Talc and Mr. J, which I hope you’ve read; it might help keep you in the loop. This time the upheaval’s personal; less a “Britain on the brink” for more our protagonist being on it, the brink, on Britain’s brink, heading outwards, over the water by way of the odd blunder.

You’ve got it, Phillip Rowlings is back, all grown up (cough…)

A new dawn approaches – “the real out-with-the-old-and-in-with-the-new,” deems Emmaline; “the shedding of crinkly baggage.” What with a tired and tested Conservative party spiralling downward, and the emergence of a New Labour drawing near, the writing is on the wall; things, as they’d in time say, could only get better. And how better might Britain these “things” than by her ever innovative, her unique, musical sons! Oasis? Blur? The ’80s are gone and good riddance to them, that’s what Phillip thinks!

Or he would, were he to think at all…

He couldn’t give a garlic snail about emerging British dawns; he wants out. And has invested years applying himself to that end – he’s heard the call, you see. Or rather, the calls, conveyed by T.Rex’s Marc Bolan, and Blind Date’s Cilla Black. And if you think that’s weird, how might they inspire our ex-Soul rebel-without-a-clue to… become a Nancy Boy, for the one year only?

France. 1994-’95.

Phillip no longer sees life in black and white, for blue, white, and red, perfect symmetry, height, width. And it all looks lovely on the brochure. Save that – hélas – he’s never been skilled in the shedding of crinkly baggage.

Still, he will encounter the unforeseen, as you do when things come… unforeseen. Poor Phillip, somebody once said. Well, maybe this time it’s more a case of lucky Phillip. Maybe.

Cigarettes are cheaper in France, too.

But let’s get one thing clear from the outset – dès le départ, as they say in the old hexagon. This isn’t A Year in Provence…

Why should people read Nancy Boy?

Because I like to face taboo issues. Or maybe issues people don’t even think to write about, hopefully. They can then, perhaps, find themselves in my books.

How long did it take for you to write it?

Off and on, about two years – with quite a few offs.

What inspired you to write it?

Memory, unresolved issues?

How are you marketing Nancy Boy?

More of the above, really. Which is quite difficult in a paranormal romance dominated world. But as long as someone reads it, I don’t mind… (sniff).

How did you celebrate when you finished the book?

I stopped drinking. I tend to celebrate during.

Ha! Okay. What has the reception been to it?

Great. Initially. And then zilch. Which at least goes to show I have a fan out there (another sniff).

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from writing Nancy Boy?

Again, self-belief. And it’s a great feeling.

What makes your book stand out from the crowd?

Its originality.

What is the best way for someone to support your book, aside from buying it?

That detailed (5 star, cough) review.

What is next for you, Chris?

I’m hoping to write a number of flash fiction stories, perhaps based around the same novel.

Excellent, let’s finish with a fun lightning round! 

Aside from people/pets, what is the ONE item you would save if your house was on fire? My cashmere coat.

Favorite place you’ve traveled to or would like to travel to? I love Cortona, in Tuscany. But I guess my heart will always be in France.

Name a food you can eat every day. Eggs.

Salty or sweet? I swing both ways.

Coffee or tea or something else? COFFEE !!

Cat/dog/other pet? Hamster.

Favorite style of music? Why, Soul music, sista !!

The best gift you’ve ever received? A boy and a girl.

Your most guilty pleasure. Chocolate and banana crèpes – that’s when I’m anybody’s…

Favorite season. Autumn.

Name something you cannot go a day without. A cuddle… (please!)

Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers?

YES. PLEASE BUY MY BOOKS & I LOVE YOU ALL !!!!!

Ps: sorry, but my original website no longer exists (long story, & one I’ll no doubt write about in 20 years or so), so what you have at the moment are the splutterings of a new and basic blog. But just you wait, folks !!

Got it! Thanks again for sharing of yourself with my readers, Chris. It’s been a pleasure to learn more about you.

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Connect to Chris

chris-roseWebsite | Linkedin | Google +

Facebook | Twitter: @WritingOnACloud

Born and bred in the city of steel: Sheffield.

Spent – or misspent, whichever your viewpoint – the majority of his ‘young’ years on the Northern Soul circuit. It’s around this time and place that his novel is set – ‘Wood, Talc and Mr. J : We never had it so good’, which is the 1st in the ‘The Rowlings Years’ series.

His academic education came much later, from scratch, in a sense.

In time, he fell in love with the idea of languages, French in particular, and went on to get a BA Hons in French Language and Literature with subsidiary Spanish, at The University of Sheffield. He was a ‘mature student’, though maybe not as mature as he would like to think, looking back…

After which, he moved down south – mid 90s – and eventually further still to the South of France for a few years, where he taught English. He then moved up to northern France to do much the same thing.

But it was here where he also began to write, or experiment with writing.

He came back to England in the mid-00s and lived in North London for five years, teaching and writing again.

And for the last four or five years, he’s lived in Norwich, where he’s completed a Masters in Literary Translation, at the UEA – he likes to believe he’s most definitely mature now!

He’s now working his way toward making a living by writing, with a little translation on the side…

He tends to be picky about books, and take his time reading them; he expects each word to count; something he can go back to, read again – and again. Things witty, satirical, poetic… Moving. Favourite writers of late? Maybe Markas Zusak. Anna Funder, her ‘All That I Am’. Actually, he’s only just discovered Kurt Vonnegut, and read ‘The Slaughterhouse Five’.

Soulful writers, and their soulful things. And maybe he tries to emulate them.

Same goes for his taste in films, music… and people

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Pre-order THE BODY IN THE SNOW by Christoph Fischer (@cffbooks) #cozymystery

the-body-in-the-snowI’m very happy to announce an upcoming release from prolific author and friend, Christoph Fischer. His latest novel tackles a new genre for him—a cozy mystery called The Body in the Snow. It will be the first in a series.

I received an advanced copy of the book and am loving it so far!

Christoph is an incredible writer, and I think he has a terrific voice for this genre. If you’d like to learn about his inspiration for the book, read his fascinating post here.

The official release date is September 24th, but you can pre-order the book right now.

Please help me in congratulating Christoph on his latest novel!

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the body in the snow 2

THE BODY IN THE SNOW

~ A BEBE BOLLINGER MURDER MYSTERY

Fading celebrity Bebe Bollinger is on the wrong side of fifty and dreaming of a return to the limelight. When a TV show offers the chance of a comeback, Bebe grabs it with both hands – not even a lazy agent, her embarrassing daughter, irritating neighbours or a catastrophic snowfall will derail her moment of glory. But when a body is found in her sleepy Welsh hamlet, scandal threatens.

Detective Sergeant Beth Cooper has a string of unsolved cases to her name. Her girlfriend left her and she’s a fish out of water in rural West Wales. Things couldn’t get much worse – until the case of the Body in The Snow lands in her lap.

Can Beth solve the case and save her career and can Bebe make her comeback?  All will be revealed in this light-hearted, cosy murder mystery by best-selling and award winning historical and crime fiction novelist Christoph Fischer.

The Body in the Snow is now available as e-book on Amazon on pre-order via these links:

http://smarturl.it/BodyInTheSnowBB

http://bookShow.me/B01LVYRI9L

flourish

Connect to Christoph

christoph fischer 2

Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years he moved on to the UK where he now lives in a small town in West Wales. He and his partner have three Labradoodles to complete their family.

Christoph worked for the British Film Institute, in Libraries, Museums and for an airline.

“The Luck of The Weissensteiners” was published in November 2012; “Sebastian” in May 2013 and ‘The Black Eagle Inn” in October 2013 – which completes his “Three Nations Trilogy”. “Time to Let Go”, his first contemporary work was published in May 2014, and “Conditions”, another contemporary novel, in October 2014. The sequel “Conditioned” was published in October 2015. His medical thriller “The Healer” was released in January 2015 and his second thriller “The Gamblers” in June 2015. He published two more historical novels “In Search of a Revolution” in March 2015 and “Ludwika” in December 2015.

He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.

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SCENE FROM A BAR ~ My story for @RBwood’s #WordCountPodcast

Congratulations to author, R.B. Wood on his 60th episode of the Wordcount Podcast! 

You can hear me read this story on: Episode #60 of R.B. Wood’s THE WORD COUNT PODCAST.

The prompt asked that we use 3 words in the story:

Charming | Key | Computer

STORY INSPIRATION: I never frequented bars in my single days, but on occasion when I dine out alone, I enjoy sitting at the bar. It’s a great place to “people watch.”

~ eden

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I hate this place, too noisy, too busy, yet my geeky brother-in-law insisted it was the best bar in town. He should know, he said. He used to work here before he moved on to better things.

In every corner, people are talking fast, acting smart. I feel out of place even though I’ve been here before, but at the time, I knew exactly what I wanted. Today, I don’t know what’s going to happen.

The place caters to all types, though a woman with a halter top that barely covers her ample breasts seems out of place. I was once her age. I probably looked as silly as she does in that get-up, but like her, I must have feigned obliviousness. A twenty-something is now chatting her up, and they’re both laughing. Another man approaches them and asks a question before he moves on. This man is older, full beard, seems a lot more aware. He walks with purpose and his eyes dart across the room behind his Buddy Holly glasses.

Hipster, I think to myself.

A woman catches his eye. She is completely different from halter top girl. Well dressed in a suit and sophisticated, she looks like a banker or a lawyer. You can tell she’s serious too. She knows exactly what she wants and has no time to fool around. I wish I was in her shoes. When the hipster approaches her, they exchange a few words and he is definitely interested. He nods quickly and gestures for her to follow him. They move toward one of the many busy tables occupied by patrons. There is only one free seat and she takes it, setting her briefcase by her feet. They start talking for a bit before she pulls out her cell phone and shows him something on the screen. He gesticulates with his hands, then touches his ear like he’s playing a game of charades. I almost burst out laughing.

Three words.

First word.

Sounds like.

Bird.

Is it a bird?

Is it a plane?

Wait, now he’s sticking up his index finger while he says “Just a minute, I’ll be right back.”

“Sure,” she says and returns her gaze to her cell, swiping the screen back and forth. She seems content to wait.

My imagination is active today. I must be bored or nervous or both. I’m waiting for my man to return. Unlike the hipster servicing the businesswoman, my guy isn’t quite as committed or attentive to me. He excused himself fifteen minutes ago and has not returned. For the brief time after I shared my story when I sat down in front of him, he nodded and his eyes lit up. He asked a couple of key questions before stepping away.

I want to remain hopeful. That’s all I can do.

“Miss Hermeez?”

I swing around in my chair to face the man pulling up a seat in front of me. His main features are a jutting chin covered in peach fuzz and pretentious wire-rimmed glasses atop a Roman nose. He wants to look older than he is, but it’s not working—not on me anyway.

“Oh … hi, you’re back.” A sigh of relief escapes my lips. “Actually, the “H” is not pronounced.”

“Huh?” He looks at me like I have a third eye.

“My name is Hermes. The ‘H’ is silent. It’s French, like the designer.”

He stiffens his back and takes a deep breath. His vacant eyes tell me he’s never heard of Hermes.

“All righty then,” he says and continues in a robotic tone, “Miss ah … Miss ahhh … Air Meez.”

I decide against correcting him again. Charming, he is not.

So, here I am at the Apple Store genius bar, and across from me is Billy, who can’t even say my name properly. He’s obviously no genius. If he were, I wouldn’t still be sitting here.

“I’m afraid your laptop is now a boat anchor,” Billy says. “There’s nothing we can do. I hope you had everything backed up to an external hard drive.”

I bite down on my lower lip, and the room begins to spin. I see hipster dude walk out from behind the genius bar carrying a box. It looks like the latest iPhone. A wall of colorful accessories expands and contracts like it’s about to explode. The noise inside the store turns to a dead silence. I’m drowning in perspiration. It dots my back and rises to the surface of my forehead, then begins dripping down my face.

If Steve Jobs were still alive …

“Miss?” Billy says.

His voice snaps me back to attention.

“Are you all right?” He suddenly looks concerned.

“No … no, I’m not!” The sound of the room is reawakened by my voice. “This isn’t just my computer, it’s my life. If you’re going to give me bad news, you can’t say it like that. A little small talk at least, but this …”

Billy dips his fuzzy chin, and I half expect something snarky to come out of his over-entitled millennial mouth.

“Yes, Miss Hermes. I’m sorry to be so blunt. I just thought you would want to know. Did you …?” He drops his gaze again. “Were you able to save everything before your computer shut down?”

I swallow hard, shake my head slowly and feel tears welling in my eyes. Billy looks horrified and squirms in his seat. He jumps up, almost knocking his chair over.

“I’m going to call my manager,” he says. “I want a second opinion.” He holds up his palms toward me as if to say Hang tight, help is on the way!

Before I can say another word, he’s run off.

I pull myself together. I’ve never been fond of bars, especially genius bars.

Thank you for reading.

Feel free to leave a comment or question. Feedback, whether good or bad is always welcome.

~eden

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