Interview with author Carole Giangrande

Hi Carole,

Tell us more about yourself and the book “The Tender Birds”.

How long have you been writing?

Since I could hold a pencil. Seriously. As a kid, I wrote all over everything (including my desk at school, until I got caught). I also wrote on the fridge door. Gradually I used more legitimate writing media, and did well in English. In high school, I wrote poetry and essays, some of them quite surreal. I started my career as a radio broadcast journalist, and found my way to fiction and recently, back to poetry. My first kids’ book features a bear who doesn’t want to hibernate. I can’t imagine not writing something.

How did you do research for The Tender Birds?

Most of it was hands-on. I’d lived in the Boston area and I now live in Toronto — the two locales where the story is set. Wherever I go, my eyes and ears are always open to interesting sights and local speech. So I made use of the Boston Common area which figures in the novel. In Toronto, I hiked the ravines, as the character of Alison does while a homeless teenager. I made notes and took pictures. One of my characters is a peregrine falcon named Daisy, and in order to research her, I went to a conservation area north of Toronto, learning how to “walk the hawk” and observing the habits and behaviour of these beautiful birds.

What made you write a book about two lonely people and an injured falcon?

It happened that I stumbled upon a New York webcam showing a pair of red-tailed hawks nesting on a ledge outside the NYU president’s office! I couldn’t take my eyes off the birds as they laid and hatched their eggs, cared for their adorable chicks and fed them until they fledged and left the nest. The human chat was just as fascinating, as if the group were creating a virtual nest to hold and protect these vulnerable creatures. Then my inner novelist kicked in, as I wondered what sort of people would attend to these birds with such affection, and perhaps a trace of loneliness. So the characters started talking to me, and the novel began.

Apart from that example, where do get inspiration for your novels?

Ideas come from everywhere, and you never know when a good one is going to hit. Newspaper articles, street scenes, dreams, snippets of conversation, online chat – I make note of anything that grabs me, but an idea for a novel never comes to me whole. There’s always something at the core of those observations that nags at me and begs to be explored through characters and their relationships, so that over time the characters come to life and the plot develops.

There are many books out there about lonely people and strange animals. What makes yours different?

We’re living in a period of time when we’re very concerned about the future of our planet, and while the characters in this novel never address this directly, they do something better. Their actions embody our relationship to nonhuman life and the power it has to give solace and to heal us. Over time, they grow and change, revealing how their interactions with fellow-creatures have

opened their hearts. I think that readers will relate to this at a personal level, but they will also appreciate its implications for the environment.

If you could become a character in your book, who would you be?

Daisy the falcon. Love her cool feathers and amazing eyesight.

What is your next project?

I’m hard at work on my first poetry manuscript.

 

Thank you Carole.

Interview with Rod Wood

There is a bonus when reviewing books, not just the luxury of a good read but also the possibilities of a new found fascination with the person behind the book.

Lucky for me I got to chat with Rod Wood…………………………………

So the ultimate question why mountain trekking and travels to Kenya? What compelled you to go on your travel?

It was a childhood ambition, I was so interested in East Africa and its wildlife that I promised myself to climb Kilimanjaro before I was 50, long before it became such a popular climb – I wanted to stand at the roof of Africa. That always stayed with me but life got in the way.

I did it when I was 58 and it was my cure for depression, reaching something I had always wanted to do. Friends encouraged/ pushed me to pursue my ambition when I realised the only person who could cure me was myself, and what an affect it has had on me.

Kenya was a promise to return after five years, to climb Africa’s second highest peak and to see the wildlife I had missed in 2012.

Did you make a conscious decision to note your findings whilst on your travels and when did you decide to turn your memories into books?

I did make short notes on both Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya. Kilimanjaro had such an affect on me that I decided to write my story “Kilimanjaro. My Story”, if only for myself. As you say, everyone has a book in them somewhere. Up till then, I had always hated writing, only writing clinical veterinary articles. It took me fifteen months to write the first two thousand words, but then a friend said if I didn’t write it now, I never would. I finished writing the book in the next three months and everything was so fresh in my mind I could have done it without my notes. I found I really enjoyed writing and was undecided which was the greater achievement, climbing or writing about it and my depression.

“Kenya: A Mountain to Climb” was far easier, enjoyable – writing had become a hobby and now, being so much more confident in myself, was able to offer my opinion on climate change, conservation and other important life issues. I did write notes but there was now more structure in what I was trying to portray.

Did you have a routine to your writing? What disciplines did you have to adhere to whilst writing and how easy / difficult was it for you to stick too? On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being worse) how painful was it to write then and now

I have a full-time job as a farm vet, I work some nights and weekends so writing had to fit writing into that. But I now enjoyed it, looked forward to it so I would try and write for 1.5 to 2 hours 3-4 times a week. I am not a quick typist.

Painful to write, no, once it became a hobby, mainly a 2, but sometimes frustrating when I couldn’t find the right words I wanted, then 7.

What’s happening next both with your travels and your writing work? They always say there is a book in everyone and with you there is a need to travel – is there another book you are thinking of writing perhaps about something other than travelling?

In terms of travel I want to go back to Africa, definitely to see more wildlife, but maybe also to climb Kili again but a different route, she has had such an impact on my life. But I am getting older. I went back to Kenya in 2018 to work for a charity called “Send a Cow” and I want to revisit that area to see if we have impacted on lives, to meet the people I met last year. I want to write more about Kenyans.

My wife has a son in Australia, so that is on the list for when I retire, whether there is a story for me there or not I don’t know. I went to the Caribbean last year and found nothing to write about.

Iceland looks an experience.

Future writing, I have written two books which are as yet unpublished. “Sea, Seine and Sardinia” on experiences travelling Europe in 2016 on three excursions, and discovering cultures, history I knew nothing of.

A second book on Kenya is written, about my experiences with Send a Cow, and discovering more about Kenya, its people, their hopes, and also discussing more topics, female empowerment and female genital mutilation.

I have written a novel, “Fishing the Net”, a light hearted and saucy look at Internet Dating through the eyes of Gill Finn (fish pun), a middle-aged woman. I have started writing book 2, “Netting the Fish”, with the final part of the trilogy, “The End of the Line” to follow.

I also intend to write (have started) a light-hearted book on my profession (farm vet) and how it has changed since my qualifying forty years ago up to my retirement in 18 months time. But there I am in no hurry until I am retired.

And a story of two dogs and their adventures on their new lives abroad.

But, working full time, I find novels hard to keep my train of thought – my wife says write a novel, but it will have to wait until I retire.

I think there’s soulfulness to telling a story, either in relation to true events and a way of marking memorable moments and commit to memory the achievements and highlights and sometimes the setbacks. Creative writing, the made-up bit still tends to be from a semi truth and usually some sort of moral somewhere. What’s your opinion?

One pleasure I have had in my travel writing is when people have said that in reading my book, they felt they have become me, my next step is their next step. So yes, in writing of true and memorable events, there is a soulfulness. You are writing from the heart and expressing emotions, my emotions.

So far, my experience of creative writing, “Fishing the Net”, and I know nothing about internet dating, is relying on other peoples experiences and using that to develop a story line, so semi truths become stories, and with some morals, some of the highs, lows and risks. But as I have said, creative writing needs my full attention, not fitting it in between my main job.

I wait to see how I will get on, but I do miss it now when I am not writing.

Rod Wood

https://rodwoodauthor.com/

 

Ambitions climbing high, inspired by Rod Wood

I have friends who tell me of their day, getting back from the gym or their family walk or….well I am a self confessed lazy person and even the idea of clubbing gets me shaking to the core of some sort of physical activity. I am not great at sport but that doesn’t mean I don’t have ambition or appreciate the world as nature intended.

So on reading Rod Wood’s Kenya, A mountain to climb – a diary of events of his ambitious build up to his quest to climb a mountain, actual and metaphorical had me gripped!

Ron’s first task achieved years ago, an epic high both on adrenaline of climbing to the top and achieving the biggest life goal ever, having climbed Kilimanjaro, a little or in this case a big task to tackle and complete with pride you find solace in an achievement well done.

Secondly after the calm after the storm he feels unsettled, there’s that itch, something upsetting the balance. A reminder of that wondrous achievement is very much in the rear view mirror, years having slipped by. The aging anniversaries of the first success letting you know that you are not happy with the status quo he seems to have fallen in.

It’s just a matter of time before you start to wonder, imagine and first draft a plan to do something epic again – a new victory to sort out. Let’s face it who stops at one mountain when you can have two?

There was a whole kind of holiday planning, least what to pack and more as to who was going with him, those important things like family commitment and finances playing on peoples minds whilst all the time having that need to go to Mount Kenya.

Challenges before new terrain and cultures including ill health (fundraising and charity work undiminished and continuing working as a vet) which could have affected Rod’s will, desire and the need to fulfill this planned trek.

Even the training program before leaving had Rod evaluating his surroundings in his home town and surrounding counties taking up walking long distances and “dealing” with his depression through the healing mood created by the natural environment.

There’s such an amazing wealth of what he encounters on his trip, Mount Kenya and safari’s, no spoilers you will need to read the book to find out the inspiring greatness of Africa. There’s  pictures representing the trip, the views and the cultures and so much more of his great exhibition in this excellent retelling of events.

So for further details visit https://rodwoodauthor.com/

 

Fashion a creative question

I have previously mentioned doing e-learning and extending my skill set. I have also mentioned my flair for anything creative and so it might surprise you that I do follow and have an interest in fashion. Innovation fascinated me and fashion scares and inspires me at the same time and this then led to my article below.

Fashion innovation immunity by Laura Sansom

Who is designing a fashion brand specific to a wearers health needs and not just their purse, the trends or peer pressure?

Whoopsie Daisy

With the usual fashion faux pas, mismatches and colour clashes, crying tears after falling over in heels and creases in the low end mixed adulterated linens there is always a non-surviving trend and always a trend setter. A pair of jeans with half the fabric missing or a low bearing blouse revealing a lot of tit for not at all tat of pure silks need to fill a market demand, even if they have created that demand themselves. That’s why they are called trend setters; they lead by design of whatever commodity they stitched up wisely from market and customer analysis and a bit of creative thinking and design.

Economy and commerce

Considerations of previous and past markets have been economic, both for the seller and buyer; cultural, sociological and anthropological changes and evolution’s have and always will turn fashion on its side and behold the one person who champions the new thing.

A healthy option and choice

So this is my time on my soapbox to ask what can be done for a need I have when it comes to my fashion choices. Lists of health conditions have a bigger list of symptoms and sadly sometime no cure is available. If it’s one of those conditions in which management of symptoms and side effects involve painkillers and getting on with it is usually the best a person can do. I could tell you more about how bad it can get however this is an article to get the fashion world to champion an answer to a girl’s dilemma of what she going to wear on a night out when symptoms expanded her stomach to the size Mr Blobby or the world is spinning before the first tipple.

Feeling alien

I want to know what will make a girl with skinny legs and semi muscular arms look good despite her belly looking like an alien is about to burst out (it can also feel like that too). My current solution to this is to have two different wardrobes, size 12 for good days and size 14/16 for symptomatic days, determined on what occurs on these days depends on if it’s a good fit or at best looks good. Confidence takes a big bashing whilst suffering from symptoms we can be thinking about cancelling the night out.

 

Compromising situations

One of my answers has been elastic waistlines but I need to make sure these items of clothes still look nice enough to wear out and not that I couldn’t be bothered to make an effort. Being a bigger woman can mean baggy uncompromising and unseemly. This is not right in any demographic; trends have moved on to being proud of your body shape and have confidence with it.

Masking the issues

When suffering ill health we already hate the world and themselves in the worst case scenarios and needs to let her hair down and shake their thing without worrying about mishaps presenting themselves. There’s the need to wear a mask, many a time if you look closely they can reveal everything in their facial features, extra pale or hot flushes and the eyes can reveal all about the pain. I am not suggesting that the fashion industry create actual masks but maybe look at make-up that might adjust to the issues mentioned.

Unicorn it and believe in yourself

All we want is a helping hand with their auto immune condition and just go with it, we are strong and are more than happy to realize that there are always people worse off than they are but on the night we want to brave the public and be a shiny bright unicorn believing party people we need to know that the fashion and makeup choices don’t make us look or feel like ogres under a bridge. Viva a fashion trend that can cope with my health needs as well as my financial and still celebrates my personality and sexuality. Perhaps a fashion trend to fit with a variety of health needs should be rivaling advancements such as digital enterprise and 3D printing?

More mystery and intrigue with Elizabeth McKenna

A review of the crime mystery “The great jewel robbery” written by Elizabeth McKenna…

The make shift fashion police journalist and a reporter in the guise of wannabe detectives end up having a great excuse to play at being real life investigators after being in the right place at the right time when the great jewel robbery takes place.

Could putting a big piece of jewelry as the high end auction prize to the highest bidder of the elite attending the soiree to raise money for charity and get noticed with the gained notoriety of being able to afford such a gem be risky?

What happens when the big boys and girls meet their match in the fun loving  journalist team duo of Grace and Emma who have a flair for being  inquisitively and doing it all with a hint for trendy  fashion too. Our two girls have an investigative streak to use when the jewels disappear in a trail of injury, misdemeanors and come across those boys from the elite who might now be having a cash flow problem or two as investments might not have been so fruitful.

The top ten of who’s in vogue, who earns the most and who has the highest net worth soon becomes the top ten likely suspects for thieving the most expensive auction lot of the year making this the most memorable auction of all time.

Our bravest and sassiest pair plays at solving the crime and take advantage of the after show party which is now a crime scene (do not leave the country type of thing) to their advantage and try and solve the crime of their lifetime whilst maybe enjoying some romance too.

The ending, well no spoilers please, you will have to read it to find out….

See more about the author – https://elizabethmckenna.com/

Laura Sansom

 

 

Return of the P.I

Your leading man or lady in any murder mystery, it can be a variety of personas and characters and with differing job roles but there is nothing more safe to a reader than having a private investigator leading the story (especially perhaps a troubled one).

Adult mystery writer Katy Munger’s P.I Casey Jones is back in “Fire and the rain” with quite a challenging journey ahead of her. One which takes to more than just a mysterious drama to investigate but also encounters with a few ex boyfriends too and other life troubles – Neither is anything she hasn’t faced before. So if like the author you missed your favorite P.I from before shes back in a new installment in “Fire and Rain”

http://www.ireadbooktours.com/

https://thaliapressauthors.wordpress.com/katy-munger/

Obsession with the mysterious

As a genre we truly love a little mystery and perhaps the grislier the better – UFO’s and all but a bit of crime drama well there are book shop shelves and TV channels with a focus on this theme.

We enjoy the drama of some deed that has been committed that is immoral and/or criminal and the need to find the resolution, the who instigated the wrong doing and why such a thing should have occurred.

Lise McClendon adds a female perspective to the before mentioned style of story. Women have some big challenges to deal with and these can possibly be something of having made bad choices and decisions and this fuels an extra complexity to Lise’s work.

Her current story sees her character in France where everything can not be seen as petite by any means – big drama, big romance, big issues and an even bigger crime.

Read more at – https://thaliapress.wordpress.com/ and http://www.ireadbooktours.com/

 

Laura