Monday, 30 December 2013

Hemingway Quest

Two obsessions: one shares his home, the other draws him to Cuba.

Kyle, a London bookseller, has women problems. There's Mallika, his flirtatious, married Asian flatmate, and Janice his ex - now a bitter, emotional wreck. Kyle's Hemingway obsession draws him to Cuba. There he encounters a shocking truth about his own family, and enjoys a fling with a troubled tourist. After her partner falls to his death, Kyle is stunned to find himself suspected of murder.

Shaken, he arrives home where Mallika now treats him as a low-caste pariah. Is she serious or playing another of her teasing games?

Following a business meeting with an American entrepreneur, Kyle's future looks bright. But trouble is brewing. Mallika receives unwelcome attention from within her family - a man who holds a grudge against Kyle. Janice, too, is out for revenge.

Allegations and blood flow as, once again, Kyle fights to clear his name. 

Available from Amazon:

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Paris writers of the 1920s

Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Joyce - and artists of the calibre of Picasso and Miro. Expatriates all. What was it that made that era special? And why Paris?

For me it began with The Old Man and the Sea, my favourite novel. I loved it so much I looked at the writer behind it. Although raised continents apart, there were similarities between Ernest Hemingway's upbringing and mine. We both loved to fish and spend time outdoors. In Nick Adams - hero of the early Hemingway short stories - I recognized a kindred spirit.

My reading taught me about Hemingway's family, school, home neighbourhood, war injuries, career and marriages - his whole life. I was hooked. But let's look at Paris, the city he loved best. Like him, I knew what it took to adapt to a new country. There was something about the struggling but confident young writer that held me enthralled. What was it that turned him from novice to world-renowned author in a few short years? I trawled for facts and the more I learned the more hooked I became.

In Paris he met Scott Fitzgerald who offered writing advice and steered him towards Charles Scribner's Sons in NYC and the firm's famous editor Maxwell Perkins. The relationship with Fitzgerald soured as did almost all of Hemingway's literary friendships. Fitzgerald became a new source of interest to me: his and Zelda's marriage difficulties, his career's sharp decline. EH claimed Zelda was jealous of her husband's fame and crazy to boot. She was to end up in an institution.

James Joyce was the living writer EH most respected. In recent years Joyce has attained deity-like status in Ireland, although he had few good words to say about it during his lifetime. I had known a girl from Trieste and was fascinated to read of Joyce's time there, and of his speaking Italian when out and about in Paris.

Back then, life was very different to what we know today. To hear news of acquaintances or rivals you visited certain cafes or called in at Sylvia Beach's bookshop, Shakespeare and Co. Gertrude Stein, American writer and art collector, was a good source of knowledge about painters. Hemingway would go on to own artwork by both Picasso and Miro.

The US dollar went a long way in 1920s Europe - a continent not yet recovered from the ravages of war. Paris was beautiful, lively and cosmopolitan, different in every way to the staidness of prohibition-era America. Expatriates came and enjoyed it's gifts; and the skiing in Austria and Switzerland, the beaches of the Riviera and the magic of Spain.

EH's years in France are brilliantly captured by Paula McLain in her best-selling novel The Paris Wife.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Bathroom blues

Home renovations aren't my thing, but a friend needed a hand . . . He's refitting a bathroom and I helped carry in the new bath, loo and washbasin, and dispose of the old. That done, I spent hours stripping paper from the bathroom walls. Those of you who've tackled this know it's no easy job. The best method, I was assured, is to make long slashes in the paper with a Stanley knife, first one way then the other, creating a diamond pattern of cuts. Next you spray water into the cracks. Using a scraper, you can then get the paper off in bits and strips. Of course, as any DIYer will tell you, it's never as straightforward as it sounds. There are stubborn patches which haven't read the script.

And if, as we found, the flooring under the bath is wet and needs replacing, then the job takes on a new dimension. More time and money before that dream bathroom becomes a reality.

Day two - today - I woke with tired arms from overworked muscles. But, as we worked, the mood was positive. My friend has done many such jobs and remains unfazed by problems. He has the know-how and the tools. He works at a steady pace, never rushing. He takes coffee and cigarette breaks. The transformation progressed: each floor sweeping, each wall screw, a step nearer the end. When I left he was connecting water pipes, his radio tuned to a golden oldies station.

He doesn't do it just for the money. He gets a buzz from a job well done. And he's in demand - word gets around.

Anyone dreaming of a new-look bathroom? Area: west London and out to the airport. Leave a comment. I'll get back to you.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Boston: what goes around comes around

To anyone who has studied international acts of terror, events in Boston over the past few days will have made interesting viewing and reading. And for many of the city's more senior citizens, the twin bomb blasts, fatalities and horrific injuries will have provided much food for thought.

Over a thirty-year period, Boston was a prime fund-raising area for the Irish Republican Army. Organizations like Noraid and Clan na Gael collected millions of dollars from the city's large Irish community. While it's accepted that funds reached needy families in Northern Ireland (read: families of imprisoned IRA men), it's also accepted that money collected in the US helped pay for weapons and explosives and led directly to the deaths of many innocent people.

IRA apologists will argue that telephone warnings were given before bombs went off. Not always. Did PM Margaret Thatcher get a call before the explosion which partly demolished the Brighton hotel where she was sleeping? Some warnings were unclear - like with the Omagh bomb that killed twenty-five people. They will argue that the IRA never packed bombs with nails and metal fragments. No, they had a better idea. At the La Mon hotel they attached cans of petrol mixed with sugar to the bomb, creating a napalm-like fireball which incinerating its victims beyond recognition.

The signs are that terrorism in Ireland is on the rise once more. We can only hope that, after Boston, Americans will keep their hands tightly in their pockets when the collection boxes are passed around.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Writer Friends

Where would we be without them?

Writing is a lonely business - how often have we heard that? Perhaps not as lonely as sailing solo around the world or sitting in solitary confinement on death row. It's the nature of the job. Few writers can have gained inspiration amid the confines of  a crowded, rush-hour train or surrounded by raucous fans at a football match.

But just like normal people :) the writing fraternity needs social interaction. Under that brooding, glowering gaze is a mind that relishes freedom breaks. Hemingway would forget about his WIP after knocking off for the day, believing his subconscious was still beavering away, readying him for tomorrow's fight. Yeah, he saw it as a fight. That's why he wrote standing up. Today we enjoy the luxury of connecting with people around the world at the click of a mouse. From the comfort of our homes we are able to chat and interact without the need to shave or dress respectably or even to have met the other person.

Where would we be without comments on our work? The feedback, both good and bad; and when the going is tough the encouragement from others who themselves have faced and slain the demons. How can we adequately express our thanks to those who, blessed with a quicker understanding of how the 'social media' and new technology can help the writer, give of their time and knowledge to assist others?

Today I acknowledge the assistance of cyberspace friends. May their years of toil, mental anguish, sore backs, broken fingernails bear fruit in spectacular fashion. May their early drafts be transformed as if by magic into scenes that excite and transfix the reader.

Nancy in Florida. A lovely lady full of humour and ambition, currently crafting a series of  YA sci-fi and romance novels featuring a feisty science-wizard teen who becomes the target of a shadowy group intent on using her brilliant new ideas.

Lisa in France, and her Mom - a dynamic duo - creators of New Adult fantasy tales set in magical kingdoms with a host of intriguing characters.

Sandra-Jane, a writer of historical novels set in 1830s England. Her knowledge of the countryside shines through in her work. Hers has been a guiding hand helping me along the self-publishing path.

Ruko Dango has written a fascinating, colourful and often amusing account of her time working with the UN in the Congo. Ruko is now seeking an agent.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

First Self-Published Romance Novel

Zambezi Seduction by Tamara Cape 

Little does English air stewardess Kerry Stephens know what she is letting herself in for when she agrees to accompany world renowned South African wildlife artist Chad Lindsay on a field-trip to Zimbabwe.

A charging elephant, hungry lion and car breakdown aren't all that Kerry has to deal with. Chad is a confirmed bachelor - an independent, at times arrogant womanizer who loses no time in trying to bed her. Alone with him in the wilds of Africa, will she be forced to defend her honour each night?

Their relationship reaches a turning point as she recovers from illness. She sees a caring, softer side to her companion. And on the banks of the beautiful Zambezi River, Kerry finds her feelings for Chad changing.

For those who like romance played out in exotic locations, complete with appealing heroine and lusty hero, this story is definitely for you.

Tamara Cape is a pen name - obviously. The link to the story on Kindle:

Thursday, 14 February 2013

A Writer's Thoughts

Greetings everyone!

Up and running at last. Phew!

A brief intro: In the past I took some heavy punches from agents and publishers (haven't we all?) - but never thought of quitting. After a quiet 2012, during which I did some rewrites and gave and received critiques on Authonomy, I'm expecting things to happen this year.

  • My short story A Night at the River was longlisted at the Chapter One International Short Story Competition, 2011. Tranquillity Publishing took it for their anthology titled Tales of Tremendous Tragicide which came out this month in both print and Amazon Kindle. Can't wait to receive my copy! The story has been accepted by a new magazine in London. It's owner/editor called it Compelling and beautifully written ... (No, I'm not making this up! :) More on this later.

  • Klipspringer Hill A small snake undertakes a perilous journey through the Kalahari in search of his missing dad. It's aimed at the 7+ age group. After a valuable critique from a literary consultant, changes were made and it's ready to go out to agents.
  • The Pink Pigeon - about a 9 year-old Asian girl's holiday adventures in Mauritius. 
         Hemingway Quest - a mainstream adult novel largely set in Cuba.

         Perfect Killing is a crime novel with an IRA theme.

         Zambezi Seduction is a romance novel - no prize for guessing where the action happens!

 If all goes according to plan, this group will be self-published on Amazon Kindle this year.