blog tour · book review · Contemporary Romance · romantic comedy · romantic suspense · Spain

Mini Blog Blitz ‘n’ Book Review – The Spanish Wedding Disaster

The Spanish Wedding Disaster

Some people are romantics. Some aren’t. When Sophie and Maddie are summoned to a mysterious, top-secret meeting by their best friend Kate’s partner, and told that he’s planning to whisk Kate away for a surprise wedding in Gibraltar, it’s immediately clear that bubbly florist Sophie is a total romantic. And that freewheeling, purple-haired Maddie is not.

Soon, Maddie finds herself reluctantly organising venues, planners and ceremonies; trying not to think of her own memories of Andalucia, and those she’s lost touch with there. Meanwhile Sophie’s hoping this dreamy gesture might spur on her own boyfriend to similar plans . . . and absolutely not thinking at all about Kate’s gorgeous brother-in-law-to-be.

But Kate’s got no idea what’s going on. And as the stress piles up and the group jet off to the sunny south, it seems it’s not just Kate who might get a surprise in Spain – one that could change everything . . .

Purchase Link – http://smarturl.it/thespanishwedding

Author Bio

Karen King is a multi-published author of both adult and children’s books. She has had eleven romantic novels published, two psychological thrillers with another two in the process of publication, 120 children’s books, two young adult novels, and several short stories for women’s magazines. Her romantic novel The Cornish Hotel by the Sea became an international bestseller, reaching the top one hundred in the Kindle charts in both the UK and Australia. Karen is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors, the Crime Writers’ Association and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. Karen now lives in Spain where she loves to spend her non-writing time exploring the quaint local towns with her husband, Dave, when she isn’t sunbathing or swimming in the pool, that is.

Social Media Links

https://linktr.ee/KarenKing

Giveaway to Win 3 x signed copies of The Spanish Wedding Disaster (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Rafflecopter link

My Review

Time to buy a hat!
However, bride-to-be Kate doesn’t know she’s getting married. Her boyfriend, Steve, plans to surprise her with a proposal during their summer holiday in Spain. But he’s leaving it until they get there – she always tells him he is never spontaneous, so he’s decided to plan a wedding too.
Eek!
Surely he can’t do it alone? Of course not. He ropes in his brother and Kate’s two best friends (who end up doing the bulk of the organising really) and swears them to secrecy. Trouble is, he wants Kate to have the wedding of her dreams so her input is vital. They simply need a creative way of planning Kate’s wedding with Kate but without her realising it. Simples! Or not.
Cue Sophie (best friend 1) pretending she’s going to be getting married and so wants Kate and Maddie (best friend 2) to be her bridesmaids. Sophie asks Kate for her opinion on dresses, cakes, colour schemes and in so doing she gets a clear picture of what Kate would like by telling her she really doesn’t want her ‘dream’ dress but would prefer something more elegant, something Kate would choose. It’s a plan with lots of potential to go wrong, and that doesn’t even take into consideration what Sophie’s boyfriend, Glenn, thinks of the whole thing.
Still Sophie thinks what Steve is doing is romantic, even though his brother Josh and Maddie have a feeling Kate is going to be furious that Steve has done all this without her involvement let alone her agreement to marry him.

It’s the perfect scenario for a disaster and there are further calamities that threaten to scupper the holiday-engagement-wedding, all of which make for a fun read, with a fabulous Spanish setting and the will-they/won’t they tension right up until the end.

Wedding aside, there are some wonderful subplots surrounding Sophie’s future with Glenn as well as her job, Maddie reuniting with her Spanish family, and a realisation for Josh that a past love was never meant to be.
The writing is fun, breezy, realistic though a tad repetitive on the “going grey with all this planning” imagery. Nonetheless, a great summer read.
Thanks to Netgalley and Headline Accent for my copy which I’ve reviewed freely and fairly.

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As always,

blog tour · book review · crime · Female sleuths · France · mystery · Spain

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Five Dead Men

Five Dead Men

When the bodies of five men are discovered in a secret vault at the villa Belle Époque, suspicion falls upon the villa’s former owner, enigmatic Pascal Deveraux.

Actor, gambler, general good-for-nothing – Pascal has lived a life of privilege and excess. But with no evidence to implicate him in murder, the case goes unsolved.

Called in to investigate the cold case, it’s not long before Margot’s enquiries re-open old wounds. Aided by policière municipale, Alia Leon, the investigation moves swiftly from the smugglers’ trails of the Pyrenees to the cannabis clubs of Barcelona. And it’s there, in the dark medieval streets of the city’s Gothic Quarter, that someone finds a reason to silence her.

Purchase Link – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09NK367Q7

Author Bio

Rachel Green is the pen name of a writer from the UK. Rachel has twice been longlisted for both the Bath Novel Award and the BPA First Novel Award, as well as being on the shortlist for the Capital Crime New Voices Award. Rachel lives in a tiny village in England, but travels frequently to the south of France where the stories from the Madame Renard Investigates series are set

Social Media Links

www.rachelgreenauthor.com

https://twitter.com/AuthorRachelG

https://www.instagram.com/authorrachelg/

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRachelG

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rachel-green?follow=true

My Review

I must admit in advance to not having read the first book in the series but, for the most part, that wasn’t a major issue.

Margot has been asked by Judge Deveraux to look into a matter relating to a family property – Belle Epoque – and the disturbing case of five dead men being found in an underground tunnel beneath the grounds. (At this point, I didn’t yet know of Margot’s background, only that her husband had been a police detective, so I did wonder why Margot was chosen to investigate matters)
Anyway, that aside, Margot stays in the area and is eventually invited to stay at the home of policière municipale, Alia, and her father, Didier (also a former police officer), and together they look into the mystery. No-one was ever caught, and the discovery of the bodies has left an indelible stain on the property which is now left vacant by its former owners (whose plans to redesign the grounds led to the finding of the bodies in the first place).

Several years have since passed, and the case has gone cold, the bodies still unidentified. That doesn’t deter Margot, who is intrigued and determined to get to the bottom of things. With Alia and Didier, and one of Alia’s friends, they find themselves with some leads – the main one being Pascal Deveraux who grew up at Belle Epoque with his sister.
Pascal is an odd chap, the kind who’d make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, but there is no evidence to conclusively tie him to the murders. Even so, you get this feeling that he had to be involved somehow.
Margot feels much the same, and she won’t rest until she knows for sure what happened. Well, rather her than me, because he really has a creepy, smug vibe about him.
So, just imagine how Margot feels when he turns up unexpectedly when she’s in Barcelona following a lead in a cannabis club.
Too much of a coincidence, right?
Absolutely, and that glimmer of an opportunity to catch Pascual out is what lands Margot in deep, deep trouble.
Has she got it all wrong, or will she finally be the one to catch the killer of those five dead men?

The story is atmospheric in its settings, from the rural French countryside to the seedy backstreets of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, the tension mounts incredibly towards the story’s conclusion – it’s a breathless race to the end, dangerous and heart-breaking for those close to the action.

The characterisation is sublime, from the crotchety gardener and housekeeper to the “unsettling” Deveraux siblings. Alia and Didier appear to have a wonderful father/daughter relationship, but a surprising twist changes that dynamic and Margot is pivotal in steering Alia towards leading her own life; their interactions are touching and, hopefully, long-lasting.

Now that I fully understand Margot’s history, I hope there is more to come from her. She’s a fierce femme fatale, definitely someone not to be messed with.

For more news and reviews:

As always,

Contemporary Romance · humour · mystery · self discovery · Spain

Book Review – The Spanish House

The Spanish House

One bizarre to-do list to earn her inheritance. One Spanish summer. One huge family secret.

‘⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ An absolutely delightful and captivating read!’ – Lucy Coleman, bestselling author of Summer in Andalucia

Juliana makes a modest living as an ‘ethnic’ TV/film extra – even though the only connections with her Spanish heritage are her cacti, Spanish classes, and some confused memories of a Spanish mother she hasn’t seen since she was seven.

When her beloved Uncle Arturo offers her the chance to discover her roots while housesitting his coastal home in a quiet corner of Andalusia, Juliana can’t believe her luck. Especially when he reveals that the house will be hers if she fulfils ten life-enhancing ‘Conditions’ within 90 days.

Redecoration of the house and a visit to the old film studio where her mother used to sew costumes seem ridiculously simple tasks for such a wonderful reward. But little does Juliana realise that there are family secrets and inherited rivalries awaiting her in sunny Spain, and the condition that she has to ‘get on with the neighbours’ – who include a ruggedly handsome but moody artist – may be harder than she thinks.

The perfect escapist read for fans of Rosanna Ley, Jo Thomas and Sue Moorcroft.

The Spanish House is gorgeous romantic escapism that you won’t want to miss!’ Holly Martin, bestselling author of Sunlight Over Crystal Sands

WoW! This book was simply a joy to read!‘ Reader review

‘Loved this enjoyable book!’ Reader review

It was funny, cute and intriguing‘ Reader review

‘This is the first novel of Cherry Radford that I read and it was beautiful … One cannot resist wishing to visit Spain after reading this splendid book … The story is heartwarming’ Reader review

‘A wonderful book, that I would recommend to anyone‘ Reader review

‘A light and heart warming read set in a beautiful location’ Reader review

‘I could not put this down, it was my first book by this author and wish I had found her a while ago. Fantastic writing, fantastic plot development and I just loved the main character’ Reader review

‘This was my first Cherry Radford book and it was a beautifully written story. The description of Spain made the reader feel like they were there with Juliana’ Reader review

‘A great summer read!’ Reader review

‘This is a great book! Well written, complex storyline with various moving parts … Would so recommend this amazing read!‘ Reader review

‘Absolutely loved this sweet romance … So glad I came across this’ Reader review

‘It’s just right for a summer read … although it would be delightful to spend time in Spain in the middle of the winter!’ Reader review

‘This was such a gorgeous read!!!! I really enjoyed the plot and the writing style was gorgeous!! The character build up is fantastic and I couldn’t put it down’ Reader review

Purchase link

My Review

Sometimes a book title will call out to you. The Spanish House did that to me, no doubt because of where I live and how I got here. I can’t seem to resist a story set in my adopted country! The fact that I’m familiar with Almería and can visualise the descriptions only added to my enjoyment.

It was comforting and entertaining to take a step back and read about Juliana’s experience of doing up her Uncle Arturo’s house in San Rafael. Her encounters with the local and non-locals alike felt so realistic; I loved her “stream of consciousness” outpourings as she ummed and ahed over how to ask certain questions, wondering whether her vocabulary was as effective in Spanish as she intended. But more than that I loved the relationships she built with her dear uncle, with Josemi next door and even with his “Miserable Bag” of a mother.

Conflict came in the form of a family secret (I’m not giving any spoilers here!) that initially angered her but then helped her understand who she was. Why it seemed inconceivable that a parent would hold back such information, in the end Juliana benefitted in so many ways. Her life changed forever, and for the better. What felt like betrayal of trust eventually became an explanation, an understanding and her future.

Her uncle’s “to do” was super specific and yet vague – she should visit the site where her mother worked on the set of Once Upon a Time in the West, a Western made in Spain years before her birth. She should visit all the beaches, and get along with the neighbours. None of the tasks seemed too onerous, yet they were indeed very random. However, Uncle Arturo was a wise man, mending bridges that Juliana didn’t even know existed, let alone that they’d been broken in the past.

As she went about the task of painting the house, replacing bits and pieces, and making it into a home, it was evident she would have to inherit the place. But, of course, it was not as straightforward as that, especially when he ex threw a huge spanner in the works and put her one true romantic relationship in jeopardy. Would she be able to fix that mess? And how could she live in the house if not?

A lovely story about family, friends, memories and being true to yourself. Set amidst stunning scenery within a village of fun, lively and believable characters. Evocative and dramatic, quirky and hugely entertaining. A great read for a rainy day – although there aren’t many of those here! 😉

As always,

Reviewed on Amazon UK by Meandthemutts

blog tour · book review · historical fiction · LGBT · must-read · mystery · series · Spain

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – A Prison in the Sun

A Prison in the Sun

After millennial ghostwriter Trevor Moore rents an old farmhouse in Fuerteventura, he moves in to find his muse.

Instead, he discovers a rucksack filled with cash. Who does it belong to – and should he hand it in… or keep it?

Struggling to make up his mind, Trevor unravels the harrowing true story of a little-known concentration camp that incarcerated gay men in the 1950s and 60s.

Purchase Link: http://mybook.to/prisonsun

 

Author Bio

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes dark psychological thrillers, mysteries, and contemporary and literary fiction.

Isobel was shortlisted for the Ada Cambridge Prose Prize 2019 for her biographical short story, ‘Nothing to Declare’. The Legacy of Old Gran Parks is the winner of the Raven Awards 2019. Isobel holds a PhD from the University of Western Sydney, for her research on the works of Theosophist Alice A. Bailey, the ‘Mother of the New Age.’ She is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: a biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey.

Social Media Links

https://isobelblackthorn.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Lovesick.Isobel.Blackthorn/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5768657.Isobel_Blackthorn

https://twitter.com/IBlackthorn

https://www.instagram.com/isobelblackthorn/

My Review

4.5/5 stars

This is the second book I’ve read in the Canary Islands series, and I was absolutely bewitched by the whole tale. Trevor is in a rut from ghost- and copy-writing. He wants to write a novel under his own name – a desire made even greater when a client for whom he rewrote a novel is in line for a major literary award. He books a three-month break in Fuerteventura, determined to find his muse and write the next best-seller. But Tefia, while definitely perfect for isolationism, has a grim history.

Trevor finds the “camp” one day when he’s exploring the area. Tefia is way off the tourist path, and the brisk breeze and hardy terrain suits his mood, until the sun beats down on him and leaves him burnt, exhausted, and curious.

His lack of fitness spurs him on to join a gym where he learns about the history of the camp as well as about other sights to explore. In search of his muse he chooses to visit the smugglers’ caves, but doesn’t account for the return of the tide nor the abandonment of a rucksack. Concerned someone may be missing their belongings, he carries the rucksack back to shore, no mean feat as he battles rising water levels. When no-one claims the rucksack, he takes it home. Inside he finds a large amount of cash, a fact he shares with a couple he’d met earlier that day … a couple who he starts to see a lot of, a couple who he starts to suspect, especially when a body is found and the body turns out to be related to the couple. Also in the bag are notes – in Spanish – written by a young man, Jose, who was held at that camp. His crime: being gay in the Franco era.

For Trevor, already struggling with his own sexuality after his wife leaves him for a woman, and he can’t stop thinking of how much he enjoyed a boyhood friendship, his paranoia is firmly out of control. He tries to focus on his novel. Despite earlier misgivings, he decides to use the story of the camp as his premise; the notes seems to compel him to tell Jose’s story.

However, it’s not as straightforward as it may seem – since people know he has the rucksack and the cash. Scared for his safety, Trevor decides to return to the UK …which is also not as easy as it seems, or indeed should be.

The author has created an intricate story here, combining two men – Trevor & Jose – from different times, but struggling with similar issues, though with very different options.  Jose’s story at the concentration camp for homosexuals, where the daily regime is harsh, the treatment by guards is brutal, yet through it all Jose finds love. For Trevor, the future, while nowhere near as dangerous, is still uncertain and he is floundering in that uncertainty.

This is a mystery with a strong literary vibe. It’s compelling, fascinating, and intriguing. Though I have to say the ending left me ….ARGHHH!

For more news and reviews, you know where to go:

 

As always,

 

 

 

book review · historical fiction · NetGalley · Reading for Fun · Spain

Reading for Fun: Until the Curtain Falls

Until the Curtain Falls

by David Ebsworth

#UntiltheCurtainFalls #NetGalley

October 1938, and foreign correspondent Jack Telford is on the run in northern Spain, territory now controlled by Franco’s fascists.

And he’s killed somebody close to the Generalísimo’s heart.

Telford’s a hunted man, and hunted by three different and deadly enemies.

In a climactic chase from Madrid to the Republic’s last outpost, in Alicante, during the closing days of the Spanish Civil War, Jack will learn hard lessons about the conflict between morality and survival.

My Review:

This was more than a story about the Spanish Civil War to me. Having  lived in Alicante many years, this book delivered much more than an account of the Civil War. Seen through Jack Telford’s eyes, the events – often bloody, frequently horrific, and sadly too real – were brought to life as a result of familiar towns, sayings, and places that I now know so well.

Jack’s story is a turbulent one. Frequently falling down the proverbial rabbit hole, he is an unfortunate victim of circumstances, the first being when he learns of the true allegiances of a woman decorated by Franco, a woman who intends to frame him for a most treacherous act. Jack is forced to deal with her … and flee. He makes plans to head home to England but nothing is ever as simple as it seems. As a hunted man he seeks help from diplomats and priests alike, but not everyone is who they appear to be.

Capture, torture, imprisonment and many a dramatic chase across Spain follow. Jack’s journalistic prowess attracts the powerful from all sides of the battle. His freedom depends on who he helps, and whose secrets  – if any – he is willing to expose.

The author combines the horrors of war with real relationships. We see suffering, corruption, an evil abuse of power, yet also good people, kindness, loyalty and a hint of romance.

The backdrop is delicious in its detail, both beautiful and gruesome. In a country divided by war, there is fury and resentment from some while others just seem to carry on in their own merry way. The contrast couldn’t be more glaring, yet this is fiction with a whole lot of factual evidence to support it.

I was enthralled, disturbed, amazed and saddened in equal measures. I will revisit the localities mentioned in this book with renewed interest and complete respect.

Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book, which I reviewed voluntarily.

Thank you for reading 🙂

mystery · paranormal · Spain · Sunday's Scraps

Sunday’s Scraps – The Dream Builder

Week Two of Sunday’s Scraps and this is a complete shift for me, which is probably why it remains unfinished …

Anyway, I wouldn’t want to keep you from your Easter celebrations so will jump right in with this one. As always, these stories remain unedited and subject to typos, mixed POVs and a tendency to luxuriate in description (or ramble on, you might say)

The Dream Builder

#sundayscraps #mystery #paranormal #Spain

Today, he would break his father’s heart, and it was all her fault! She smirked, knowing the drama she was about to unleash. Ramón will thank me for interfering one day, I know he will. 

“Come on Ramón, it’s time!” her whispered words permeated his subconscious mind effortlessly. She paused a while. “Hmm, I’m disappointed Ramón. I expected more of a struggle. You’re making this far too easy. Now come along my son, wakey wakey.” A hint of a cackle accompanied her command, the excitement in her tone was palpable.

***

Ramón squirmed under the covers as the first streaks of daylight filtered through the shabby wooden shutters, warped with age and neglect. The September sun peeked through the cracks in the pale blue slats and poked at him; the warm rays already burning his skin as he forced his eyes open, one at a time. He didn’t need an alarm clock to tell him that it was time to get up. Heavy footsteps downstairs and the aroma of coffee brewing were indication enough. He rolled over again, trying to put off the task ahead of him. Today would be his final opportunity to tell his father before he had to leave.

“Coffee’s made, Ramón!” his father yelled. It was the way they started each day, especially since his mother’s death five years ago.
“OK Papá, I’ll be down in a minute,” he said, continuing their normal ritual.

With reluctance, he pushed aside the thin cotton sheet that barely covered him. A warm summer breeze squeezed through the crooked slats and wafted gently against his body, a most welcome treat given that the old farmhouse had yet to discover the likes of modern-day air-conditioning units. He sat up, swung his legs onto the floor and sighed. Ramón hated confrontation and felt certain that today would end badly once his news was out.

Lost in thought, his peace was shattered as, downstairs, his father slammed the solid oak door behind him, heading out to perform the first crop inspection of the day.
Damn! Now I’ll have to go and fetch him back in and he won´t like his morning routine being disturbed! he thought, chastising himself for not having got up earlier to explain his news.

Sleep had eluded him for almost a week, a mixture of excitement and apprehension had kept him awake. And an interfering mother. Her constant clamour for his attention and her insistence that he tell his father of his plans only made matters worse.

His father had assumed his son would carry on at the farm, working the land and selling their produce at the marketplace. Over the years, Ramón had witnessed his father grow weary and despondent, struggling to make ends meets with a dwindling supply of healthy crops to harvest. The weather had taken its toll, and the current drought was the worst in decades, forcing them to rethink their strategies and diversify again, just to earn even a pittance.

Ramón pulled on his working clothes, faded black cut-offs and a greying vest with more rips and tears than actual fabric, and opened the shutters to see his father trudging along the dirt path towards the distant grapevines. They could no longer afford the luxury of using the clapped-out truck to ferry them around the farm, since the price of fuel had skyrocketed and made the vehicle too expensive to run, except in emergencies. Wearing a frayed cotton beanie hat, his father walked with a stoop, as though he were carrying the weight of the world on his once strong shoulders.
“I can’t delay this any longer,” Ramón said to himself, grabbing his ‘La Roja’ cap from the twisted nail that served as a hook in his door and then descending the stairs at speed.

In the kitchen his sister Ramira stood at the sink, washing dishes and gazing out of the window absentmindedly.
“Morning, Sis!” he grinned at her as she jumped, jolted from her daydream by his greeting.
“Good morning, Ramón, although the day’s nearly over now, you know.” She giggled when she saw him grimace, they were really close and shared the same silly sense of humour. He hugged her tightly and kissed her cheek.
“My, my Ramón.what’s got into you today?”
“Hey, can’t I give my beloved twin a hug these days, without you getting all suspicious?” His eyes twinkled with fun and she gave him a playful shove. “Oh, please don’t hurt me!” he squealed and they both started laughing.
“So, are you going to tell him today?” Ramira’s tone changed, gone was the lively, happy mood, in its place a sense of foreboding.
“Yes, I will. I promise you.”
“Ramón, you’ve been saying that for weeks now. It’s not fair, not on him nor on me. I’ve been biting my tongue and even avoiding having a proper chat with Papá, just in case I say something that I shouldn’t.”
“I know, Sis, but I’ve been dreading this moment … and you know how I hate to cause a fuss.” The sadness in his eyes backed up his words. Ramira had always been the more confident twin, whilst Ramón was often mocked for his sensitivity.
“Well, I can be there with you…when you tell him…if you want.” She spoke hesitantly, wanting to support her brother and comfort their father when he discovered Ramón’s intentions. He wrapped his arms around her again, planting a kiss on her head and squeezing her gently.
“Would you? I’m sure Papá will appreciate you being there, I know I will. Thanks Ramira, I really mean that.” She returned his embrace, burying her head in his chest as she fought back the tears.
“Anything for you, you know that. Now, please, go and get Papá. Let’s get this over and done with.” She pushed him towards the door, not looking him in the eye in case he saw the tears welling in her eyes.

Ramón opened the door and strode out, seemingly assured and positive. She watched him walk, then run a little, before slowing down again as his doubts returned. He glanced back at the farmhouse, she smiled and waved at him, full of encouragement and he set off again in the direction of the small vineyard.

***

“That’s my boy! Now go break the news to dear old Papá – do it for both of us!” The hair on his neck bristled as he shivered upon hearing his mother’s voice. Its echo reverberated in his head, he felt unable to escape her vicious tongue and, for the most part, unwilling to do her bidding.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Next week’s scraps come from Goodbye, Georg – historical fiction set in Germany as the Berlin Wall is destroyed, testing loyalties toward family and country.

Spain · travel

Seville – Sevilla: A Travel Guide

The blue skies of these photos drew me in … and while I’m only a few hours drive away, I have never yet visited Sevilla.

I need to …

¡Hasta luego!

Seville has been on my hit list for a long time. So when Ryan Air started flying there from our local airport, I booked us a break quicker than you can say ‘make mine a cava’. Here are my tips on how to have a wonderful weekend in the Andalusian capital.

via My Seville travel guide — Words by Nina

books · original plot · Spain · The Nasrid Charm · writing

Going full circle

Sometimes, all it takes is time. While hammering away at my keyboard for NaNoWriMo, a momentary lapse in concentration had me hunting through old files for my very first Nano effort.

Granted, it doesn’t take much to distract me, but this story – The Nasrid Charm – just won’t lie in the shadows.

I think it comes to mind at least once a month, and especially during Nano prep or writing.

There  has to be a reason for this, don’t you think?

I’ve never been one for muses, and am rather envious of those who suffer at the hands of an attention-grabbing muse. So, why will this story not just sit back and let me get on with my writing? Maybe, this is its time to shine.

I’ve restructured  this story a gazillion times, taking it from a single novel to a series of novellas, but nothing has ever felt right. When I wrote this back in 2011/12, it drew me into the world of fiction as a writer, rather than the avid reader I was and still am.

Problem was, I was rubbish at it. I had no idea about POVs, or voice, or exposition – I was a victim of my reading material and spewed out some particularly purple prose. in my mind it was a case of putting words onto the screen and telling a story.

Okay, so shoot me. I made the ultimate error, assuming anyone could write a book. (Although, that is true, anyone can write, but whether they should is a different matter. I shouldn’t have … then)

Hopefully, I’ve learnt a thing or two since then. So with that in mind, I am bringing The Nasrid Charm back out of the darkness, blowing away the cobwebs and re-writing it as it was originally meant to be – but with a tad more knowledge and – fingers crossed – a little more skill than I had back then.

I know I’ve said this before – in fact, only a few months ago (or was it only weeks?) I posted that I was rekindling the story in series format.

But, hey, a girl (ahem – artistic licence, ok?) can change her mind, can’t she?

I recall being so excited about this story back in the day, I even got a local artist to design this cover.

I loved his style – still do – and admired his interpretation of those white-washed Spanish villages. (I’ve learnt a bit about what makes a good cover too!! – heck, we all make mistakes, don’t we?)

Can you tell the genre from this? Ha ha! I have to laugh myself – it’s pretty dire, isn’t it? Oh well, things can only get better, right?

Bubbling with enthusiasm, I posted excerpts for critique and … hmm, you can guess the rest. Suffice to say, I discovered there’s more to writing a good story than just putting words on paper.

This time, I’ll do the story justice – while maintaining the essence of the original story though – and it’ll likely involve a complete re-write – but I reckon I can do it now.

In the meantime, I’ll get back to my Nano draft which, I’m pleased to report, is looking quite healthy.

Like I said, sometimes it just takes time … and work, lots of work.

Look out for more news on my progress with The Nasrid Charm in 2018.

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

A to Z challenge · Alhambra · goals · Spain · Spanish · translation

T is for … Translations

TI asked a group of Spanish friends if they read many books in languages other than Spanish and their answer was an overwhelming ‘NO!’

I guess the same can be said of most English speakers too, so I wasn’t really surprised, just a little saddened.

However, as I live here, I want to (eventually) see my book in a local bookstore and have come to realise that, although the stores will stock it, it stands very little chance of attracting a Spanish audience. Of course, there are many Brits here too, so there is still a potential readership.

My friends obviously saw the look of disdain on my face and immediately tried to remedy the situation by suggesting that I translate it into Spanish.

I laughed out loud but then saw that they were serious. Not only that, they were positively buoyed up by the idea and agreed to help me by proofreading it.

And so, the seed was sown.

I’m in the throes of translating it myself and sometimes I feel that certain elements seem more effective and realistic when written in Spanish. As the story features many true events and locations (the Spanish Civil War, the Alhambra Palace), I did a lot of research on these topics in Spanish, so those parts flow more easily. At least all that research has paid off and has given the tale a touch of authenticity, which I hope will appeal to a Spanish reader or two.

It’s quite demanding and progress is slow as my priority is to get the English version published by the end of the year. But, being the control freak that I am, I am enjoying the challenge and aim to complete the translated text for next year.

It makes a change from the usual stuff that I translate, so why not?

A to Z challenge · accents · conversation · foreign · languages · learning · Spain · Spanish

L is for … Language

LAdmittedly, I adore learning foreign languages. It makes up for the nightmare English lessons I endured as a child. For some reason, my brain is attracted to the exotic sounds of other tongues. As a small child I used to mimic the accents of my favourite TV shows, my attempts at the Scottish dialect of SuperGran drove my parents crazy, which tickled me no end. I loved the reaction I got when I drifted into any type of accent, and my poor family was forced to sit through countless performances as I strove for perfection.

At school, French became my best subject within nanoseconds of my first lesson. As soon as I entered the classroom, I took on the persona of ‘Simone’, the name given to me by my teacher. Suddenly, I was French … (not literally, but in my imagination) and I shrugged and waved my hands about with natural Gallic flair. I was intoxicated and absorbed the language like a sponge.

When the time came to then learn German, I was first in the queue. Gone was the subtle, soothing sounds of French, in its place came a harsher, more aggressive tone. Words that combined to make even longer words were my particular favourites. It was a kind of Heaven filled with tongue-twisters.

At university, I switched to Spanish and finally found my true home. My love affair with all things Spanish had begun and it was inevitable that I would eventually move to Spain permanently. Whilst, I am still obsessed with the language, it is the lifestyle, people and culture that now keep me here. The language was merely the hook that enticed me here.

These days, I’m still enthralled by new sounds, to the extent that I recently took courses in Tagalog (Filipino) and Mandarin – both at the same time! I’m a sucker for punishment, but … the opportunity to learn both came at the same time, and I was powerless to refuse. Somehow, I think I’ll be following the same path for the rest of my days. If it means that I can travel further afield and make myself understood, then it’s no bad thing. But I will undoubtedly return to Spain.

The moral of this story is that education can take you anywhere in life, it can even take you home!