Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fish, Surf and Portuguese Wine

November arrives tomorrow, coinciding with the month I picked to set my next Anna Sweet installment. Such a grey, wet, cold time of year and a perfect backdrop for a crime to unfold. One aspect of mystery novels that I truly enjoy is the creation of mood - sitting in my reading chair with a cup of tea and the fire going and reading about characters walking the streets slick with rain and a wild wind blowing, or sitting in a warm pub or coffee shop with a winter storm raging. And with today being Hallowe'en, what better time to appreciate dark suspense and frissons of fear?

I surpassed my word count this week and am now over 4000 words. It's early days yet for the plot, but I'm circling the wagons and starting into the meat of the investigation. In these novellas, you have to get into the action quickly, but not make it seem that you're rushing. A fine balance.

I've go a few publicity pans in the fire but no public appearances in bleak November as of yet. It is a good time of year to hibernate so I'm happy to take a break :-)

Speaking of breaks from life, we've reached the last leg of our European tour in September...Portugal. We took the bus to Lagos in the Algarve area on the Atlantic coast. We lucked out with accommodations, landing in a two bedroom condo with a pool and five minutes down the cliff to the beach. The weather was still hot and sunny although evenings got cool the last few nights of our five night stay. There were two seafood restaurants on the beach and we went back to Antonio's (our favourite) for three suppers, climbing the steps home in the dark with a big old full moon shining down on us the last night.

On the walk to the beach. 

The fresh catch of the day. I requested they take the head off my sole before serving after the winter brought it to show me whole. Only sole I'd ever seen before was a filet with no way to look back at me.

Sunrise from our balcony. 

We spent a morning and afternoon in the nearby town of Lagos where I bought a hat.

We left our beach abode to catch the flight home from Lisbon. We were staying near the airport, but took a cab down to the ole section of the city for supper. We wished we had another day or two in Lisbon - so beautiful. 

We saw graffiti everywhere we went. You don't want to stay too long in one spot or this can happen!

Now, this is a well rested man!

What a great trip making wonderful memories with good friends. Until next time.....


Friday, October 23, 2015

Lots of Bull: Travels in Seville

A quiet week on the writing front. I managed to make some progress on chapter two of my latest manuscript and hope to carve out some time this weekend to get the plot moving.  I feel like I'm still in holiday mode and have to get myself back into gear. It will happen!

I'm enjoying reliving the September holiday, speaking of which, and today share some impressions of Seville, which is a few hours west of Granada. The most surprising thing on this leg of the trip was the non-stop rows of olive groves the entire way. 

Our VRBO in Seville was in the old quarter and a block away from the shops. We were in a Medieval building with a central courtyard open to the sky and a rooftop patio, common to Seville. It rained one night and we could hear the water splashing in the courtyard outside our bedroom window, but good drainage had it dry by morning. This style of building is from the Moorish occupation back in the day.

Up on the roof.
A view from the roof into the central courtyard.

I was very taken with Seville. We had a tapas bar at the end of our narrow street, where we ate supper the first night. Seville is famous for tapas and flamenco dancing - we also took in a show one evening.
A bit of a decor theme in the pub at the end of the street. Not the moose heads of my youth but similar taste.

Impressive dancing and clothing. 

And what trip to Seville would be complete without a visit to the Barber?

And some pics from our travels around Seville....

This is the church where Christopher Columbus is buried. If we'd had another day, we would have toured. Interesting that Ferdinand Magellan set out from Seville for his world tour. Seville is about 2200 years old. It's the hottest city in Europe with average temps around 35 degrees c and was still good and hot mid-September. 

And after three nights in beautiful Seville, we shut the door to our apartment and caught the bus to Portugal. Our last stop next week!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Trip Back in Time

I'm back at the keyboard and it feels good (like I knew that it would,,,now (you can sing along if you like.) I'm working on the fifth in the Anna Sweet novellas for Grass Roots Press, an adult literacy press out of Edmonton. It's taken me a while to come up with the crime that the mystery centres around and I'm still working out details, but chapter one is well under way.

I've been invited to participate on a book show on Cable 22 with filming the weekend of November 28. I've done a lot more radio than tv so this will be a good experience. I'll let you know how it goes!

Back to our travels in Europe in September. After four nights in Montpellier, France, we took the train back to Barcelona where we caught a plane to Granada in south central Spain, which is a small city in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, an hour from the Mediterranian. We'd had a few days of cool, stormer weather in France but were right back into the sun and heat.

After a half hour bus ride from the airport, we arrived in the business district at the entryway to the Albaycin district, the oldest part of the city and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is also the Moorish quarter with bazaars, markets, restaurants and bars. We read that our VRBO was a five minute walk down to the Plaza Neuva - cars cannot travel through the narrow, cobblestone streets - but the walk up to our apartment dragging suitcases took more like twenty minutes. The route was a series of steps, making the dragging of suitcases even more difficult.

Ted and Paul had gone ahead to make sure we were on the right path.
A hookah lounge down the hill from our apartment.
The cobblestones are pebbles and take a bit of getting used to walking on. 
Around the corner from our apartment...
And down the hill.  We found this resto owned by an Algerian and ate there both night of our stay. We sat in this little central courtyard with the ceiling open to the night sky. I still have fond memories of the chicken with plums and almonds. 
Again, not far from where we were staying. The Monastary of Santa Isabel de Real, dating back to 1504, a women's religious convent still operating today.
Fabulous views from Albaycin lookout.

We spent the next day touring the Alhambra on a guided tour. The Alhambra is a fort and series of Medieval palaces, still fed by the original aqueduct system. There are also spectacular gardens to walk through. We walked up a steep hill a short distance from our apartment and slept well after our climb through Alhambra.  

The ancient ruins, dating back to 889. The castle was built in the 11th century and the Moors arrived in the 13th century, adding palaces for the sultans and families.
Inside the palace.
The ornate ceiling inside one of the palaces.
A view of the Sierra Nevada in the distance.
The original fortress. 

And next week, we travel to the beautiful city of Seville!