Wednesday, August 28, 2013


     We've all heard about the curious cat and noticed one of our own investigating something only she can see--all she needs is a deerstalker cap perched on her head to be a feline version of Sherlock Holmes. And what about our loyal companion--the dog? His nose examines every scent--no clue or tasty morsel escapes him. When on a tour of Kangaroo Island in Australia, a charming resident let me pat his sandy head while he checked my pockets for an interesting bit of chocolate. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, on a visit to the zoo, I engaged in a conversation--pantomime, of course, with an ape. A docent told me the ape loved to see the contents of a purse. I held up my cosmetics, a notepad, a pen--all the things that multiply in our bags and we both became thoroughly absorbed until we finally noticed a crowd had gathered and were observing the two of us.
        We begin in childhood when everything we see, hear, touch. smell and taste is an endless source of fascination. As we age, most people lose a good portion of their curiosity. I believe that writers keep their ability to relate to the world--the who, what, where, when and why of life and bring that to the page.


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Friday, August 23, 2013


     Why do some professions lend themselves to fictional heroes?
Others are thought to harbor villains. Several give us an easy or sympathetic victim. Royalty is chock full of victims and villains--Shakespeare's live on. Politicians? Many more villains than heroes. Perhaps we'd better stay away from politicians unless we intend writing a detective novel that features the Father of our Country.
     Most of John Gresham's lawyers are role models and professors can be exciting and even sexy--think of Harrison Ford chasing after the Holy Grail. But stay away from Colin Dexter's Oxford and a few of the professors who teach there. Those intellectuals keep Inspectors Morse and Lewis busy solving their crimes.
     There is the crusading newspaper reporter--our hero and his opposite--the gossip columnist who wrecks havoc with lives and careers. And what about doctors? In real life and most television shows we are filled with admiration and usually follow everything prescribed but in fiction? A doctor often falls off the pedestal he or she is placed on. And victims--Susan Isaacs in Compromising Positions used Dr. Fleckstine, a dentist, as a victim. Lawence Olivier as Dr. Christain Szell--a dentist, Nazi and former SS Officer made a splendid villain. I'm sure many movie patrons lived with hours of pain before keeping their dental appointments. I've never read about a fictional dentist as hero--fellow writers the character is all yours.


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Wednesday, August 14, 2013


     Grew up in Inwood in NYC where Manhattan was bought from the Indians who thought they were just sharing. The neighborhood was mixed--descendants of immigrants from Russia, Germany, Greece and Ireland and I decided that someday I would visit the places where my friends grandparents had once lived. In 2005, my husband and I took a trip to Ireland.
     The town of Ennis--the home base for the tour,  grew around the friary in the heart of County Claire. The 13th century friary has many sculptures and there's a walk along a sculpture trail. From Ennis we went west to the lofty, 650-foot-high Cliffs of Moher--the highest in Europe and a nesting site for thousands of seabirds. Below  the billowing ocean presents a spectacular picture. A walk along the coast introduces us to a limestone landscape called the Burren with white, deeply crevassed limestone that's hospitable to semi-tropical and arctic vegetation growing in close proximity .
     No visit to Ireland is complete without a stop at Blarney with its famous castle. One hundred and twenty seven steps up a tower is the Blarney Stone. Legend tells us that anyone who manages to lean backward and kiss the stone will receive the gift of Blarney--a smooth, endearing way with words. Almost impossible to resist is a shopping trip to the Blarney Woolen Mills--I've used my sweater whenever the cold hits our city.
     Cobb is on our agenda--the port where many an Irish immigrant looking to make a new home in the new world embarked in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was also the last port of call for the Titanic and the Lusitania.
     Travel along the coast of the Iveragh Peninsula is a visual adventure combining oceans, coasts, mountains and the ever changing weather and light with a long pause in Kells to see Ireland's Border Collies working at a sheep farm.

                                                SHEEP TO THE LEFT
                                                SHEEP TO THE RIGHT
                                                WHEREVER WE LOOK
                                                 THERE'S A SHEEP IN SIGHT
       One of our last stops is Tralee and the Kerry County Museum--a living history museum that explores life from 7,000-years ago, the Mesolithic hunters and fishermen, and later settler including Celts and early Christians. We end our journey in Dublin. We walk along the same streets as Joyce and Yeats, see the Book of Kells and take in a show at the Abbey Theatre. Of course, no trip is complete without a walk along the River Liffey.

Do you enjoy travel?


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Wednesday, August 7, 2013


     A young woman—overflowing with enthusiasm—addressed our tour group. We were invited to a wine tasting in Tuscany. We trouped down the cellar stairs, were gifted with silver-colored wine tasters and listened trying to absorb her lessons about how the grapes were grown, how to taste and how to choose the appropriate wine for each meal and each course.
     We learned how to sniff the wine, roll a sip around our mouth and decide if it was to our personal taste.
     Our first sip and the “teacher,” looked at us and asked for our opinions. Quiet reigned.
     “Nice,” I said.
     “Nice!” I received a glare in return for breaking the silence.
     “This wine,” she said, “This wine is rich with the fragrance of the earth. Sunlight has added a warm glow.
     When we write our stories many writers paint an image of time and place, the background and the actions that affect our heroes and villains. We think and may place upon page previous happenings that may cause a specific or sometimes unexpected reaction in the tale we tell.
     Other writers keep description to the bare minimum and pare the words and sentences until the story is lean and spare.
     I imagine the writers we tend to read and admire have influenced our own choices when we sit down at the keyboard.
     Are you lean and spare or do you paint your picture? Who has been an influence in your life?
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