July 31, 2016
A little Sunday sunshine.
There was a Crooked Cat and another Crooked Cat.
They found a crooked painting and yelled a crooked “That!”
They wrote a crooked story and took a crooked look.
And it all came together in a little Crooked book.
Except that it wasn’t as easy as it sounds!
The Women Friends – coming early in 2017.
July 27, 2016
Following on from my announcement of changes to my blog, this post links all three themes of my blog: writing, social anxiety and living in Israel.
I get it when women say they need to talk problems over with women friends. There’s something about the conversations that makes them different from conversations with men. Yet, for most of my life, I didn’t have any women I was close enough to to confide in. Social anxiety caused that. It told me to keep my distance from women… from everyone… because while I needed them, they didn’t need me or want my friendship and I shouldn’t cling to them.
I still don’t meet other women very often, but I’m getting better at it. There’s one I often meet. We write together and talk, too. And two days ago I met up with someone I haven’t seen for many years. I even initiated the meeting and travelled all the way to Haifa for it. Well, for this country it’s a long way. The bus journey from Jerusalem to Haifa takes all of two hours.
We had a pleasant and interesting chat together. She also gave me a brief but fascinating tour of Rambam Hospital, where she works. In particular, I saw how the underground carpark can be turned into a whole hospital in times of emergency. Amazing!
Sir Winston Churchill at the Churchill Building, Technion
As I was in Haifa anyway, I did a bit of research for a novel I began in November and plan to return to. I wandered around The Technion Institute of Technology and found some details to add or change in the novel. It was hot and humid and the paths of the campus, up there on the Carmel mountain, are very steep, but I’m glad I went.
The title of this post also has a different significance for me and connects to the exciting news I hinted at in my last post. Along with another author – the lovely Emma Rose Millar, who appears again at the end of this post – I have been working on two novellas based on the painting The Women Friends by Klimt. The first, which will be published early in 2017 by Crooked Cat, tells the story of Selina, a country girl, desperate to escape the demons of her past and searching for solace in the glittering city of Vienna. The second novella follows Janika, who is Jewish. It begins when the first novella finishes, in 1938, a time when Vienna wasn’t a good place for a Jew to be in, to say the least.
So that’s my big exciting news. If you’re interested, you can also read about how I’m spending the summer over on Nancy Jardine’s blog. How are you spending your summer? Or winter, if you’re in the other half of the world?
Author of the Day
Today, I highlight two authors – the two who appear in the post.
Emma Rose Millar writes historical fiction. Five Guns Blazing, set in the eighteenth century and written together with Kevin Allen, follows a convict’s daughter from London to Barbados. More information is on Emma’s blog.
Nancy Jardine is a multi-talented author, who writes historical romantic adventures, intriguing contemporary mystery thrillers and YA time travel historical adventures. Her published novels are too numerous to list here, but can be found on Nancy’s blog.
July 26, 2016
Disclaimer: this post is in no way political. (Well, that’s almost true.)
It’s time for a CHANGE. I’ve been feeling that for a while. It’s time to make that happen. Let me explain.
History of An’ de walls came tumblin’ down
The Point of the Blog
I began this blog over seven years ago when I was in a very different place. I wanted to write about writing and about social anxiety – especially social anxiety. It had been my ambition for some time to tell the world about this common but little-known disorder. I began anonymously, because I was afraid of negative reactions. (In all seven years, I haven’t had any at all.)
Gradually, as I became more confident, I added my first name, then my whole name. And with that came the other secret: I live in Israel – the place I felt everyone loves to hate. I don’t know whether that turned anyone off, but I still had readers after that revelation. And some readers even said they wanted to know more about what living in Israel is really like. So I added a category: Everyday Life in Israel, because I was scared to mention anything controversial.
Only occasionally – very occasionally – I felt I needed to write about something more serious. And I put it under Everyday Life in Israel, because that was all there was, even though the serious topic was far from ‘everyday.’
So, for me, as far as this blog goes, the walls did come tumbling down. In real life, well, that’s much harder, especially after nearly fifty years of SA.
Swerving Off the Path
Then, at the beginning of 2014, I received some wonderful news: my novel, Neither Here Nor There, was going to be published by Crooked Cat. I was thrilled… ecstatic. I’m still very grateful and happy that Crooked Cat accepted me and my novel.
Farewell, for now
From that time, I became a member of a large and ever-growing community of writers. Many of those lovely writers hosted me on their blogs and I hosted them on mine. I started the series Letters from Elsewhere, in which characters sprang out of books to share their letters or to write directly to blog readers. It turned out to be popular among the writers.
During those two-and-a-half years, I hardly wrote about Israel or about social anxiety. I lost sight of the point of this blog and it became just another writer’s blog. Don’t get me wrong – there are many blogs that are solely about writing and are interesting, because their owners do it much better than I can. But I had a different purpose for starting this blog and it’s time to return to it – not as that frightened, anonymous individual who began it, but openly, as me: Miriam Drori, an author who lives in Jerusalem and who still lives with social anxiety, as do many others all over the world.
As well as social anxiety and Israel, I will talk about writing – my writing, starting with some very exciting news that hasn’t even made it onto this blog yet. I will also mention my fellow authors, at the end of each post, with links to their blogs and books.
With that decision in mind, I have changed some of the categories. That will be a problem for old posts, but it needed to be done.
There may still be guest posts; I’m hoping there will be. But guests will have to relate to Israel (or Jews) or social anxiety in their posts.
This decision isn’t set in stone. If you have any further ideas, do let me know and I’ll consider them.
July 22, 2016
My last visitor in the series Letters from Elsewhere, at least for the time being, is also a first. He is the first character to return. He must have enjoyed it here, while all the others… no, let’s not go there!
Gendarme Jacques Forêt first appeared in October, when he shared excerpts from three letters he wrote to his father in Paris. Now he’s come to share three more excerpts from letters to his father.
How’s maman? Again, you didn’t say much in your last letter papa and I’m worried. I realise how difficult it must be for you, but I just need to know that she’s all right.
Tell Francis that I send my best wishes for his new job. It can’t be easy for him to be starting work again after such a long period of redundancy. I’m sure Thérèse will be relieved. When I was home at Christmas I thought she looked very tired and drawn. And when you write back, papa, don’t forget to let me have all the news about those nephews of mine.
…you’re right; the job’s not going so well. Fournier is a difficult man to please and we don’t see police work in quite the same way. I’m beginning to wonder whether leaving Paris for the rural gendarmerie was the right decision. But then, I think about the easy pace of life down here, the more regular hours and I realise that perhaps it is not so bad after all. And, of course I have what I could call my own ‘patch’. The villagers have accepted me, I think and I seem to be the first person they come to these days, so that’s a good outcome.
…yes I’m travelling up to Paris on the 9th and I will be with you and maman for the whole of Easter. I’m looking forward to it and I’d be happy to take the boys wherever they want to go. It will be good to catch up with them and Thérèse as well. Perhaps, whilst I’m there, you and I can take a look at the laptop that I brought you last year. Keeping in touch would be so much easier, papa, if you would just use the computer.
You ask about Beth…well, there’s nothing much to say. I haven’t heard from her recently. I’ve thought about phoning her…but now I’m not so sure that she will want to hear from me. If she comes back to Messandrierre, she comes back. I’m no longer certain that she will. At the moment I’m concentrating on my work…
Your only son,
Sacrificing his job in investigation following a shooting in Paris, Jacques Forêt has only a matter of weeks to solve a series of mysterious disappearances as a rural gendarme. Will he find the perpetrators before his lover Beth becomes a victim?
But, as the number of missing rises, his difficult and hectoring boss puts obstacles in his way. Steely and determined Jacques won’t give up and, when a new Investigating Magistrate is appointed, he becomes the go-to local policeman for all the work on the case.
About Angela Wren
Having completed a twenty-year career as a Project and Business Change Manager, Angela now works as an Actor and Director at Doncaster Little Theatre and has been writing, in a serious way, for about 5 years. Her work in project management has always involved drafting, so writing, in its various forms, has been a significant feature throughout her adult life.
She enjoys the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work. Her short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical. She also writes comic flash-fiction and has drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio. The majority of her stories are set in France where she likes to spend as much time as possible each year.
Where is this blog going next? Watch out for the next post, which will appear on this very blog as soon as I’ve worked out the answer to that question.
July 17, 2016
The day after the attack, I saw tweets blaming Jews for it. I saw tweets blaming Israel for it. After voicing my response to no one but myself,
No, Mr Israel-hater. The fact that Israel hasn’t had an attack on that scale is not an indication that Israel caused the Nice attack. Firstly, Israel has more attacks than you know about because the so-called impartial media chooses not to mention them. And secondly, Israel has better security in place than France. The terrorists would love to damage Israel in that way.
I tried to ignore those.
I saw Theresa May, the brand new UK Prime Minister said she was “shocked and concerned” about the attack. Someone suggested “concerned” was too woolly a word and that others would think even “horrified” was not strong enough. I agreed with that and also wondered about the word “shocked.” It carries with it a sense of surprise and, unfortunately, I don’t feel at all surprised. France has suffered a number of horrific, devastating attacks and there’s no reason why these attacks won’t continue. Nothing has changed that might facilitate an end to the trend.
But I do feel extremely sorry that this has happened yet again. I feel sorry for the families of the dead, for the injured and for all peaceful citizens of France and of the world.
Terrorism is an enormous problem everywhere. There are ways of trying to curb it. Doing nothing isn’t one of them.
July 15, 2016
I’m delighted to welcome Fra’ Roberto to the blog today. He comes from the pages of The Ghostly Father by Sue Barnard and is sharing an excerpt from his diary. Take it away, Fra’.
FRA’ ROBERTO’S DIARY
Today we welcomed two new postulants to the friary.
As always, I instructed Fra’ Amadeo that I wanted to meet them in person before I learned anything about their backgrounds. I prefer to form my initial opinions of people purely on their own merits, and this is much easier if my mind is not cluttered by any preconceptions.
The new postulants are called Gianni and Sebastiano. From their appearance, I divined that they are both around twenty years of age. Gianni is short and slight, and despite his cheerful demeanour, he looked (to my mind at least) as though he bore the signs of a deprived and impoverished past. Sebastiano, by contrast, is tall, solid in frame, and appeared well-nourished and well-cared-for, yet I discerned in him traces of an indefinable sadness. These differences aside, both of them looked nervous and bewildered as they stood before me in their postulants’ robes. But perhaps this is only to be expected; they stand on the threshold of a whole new mode of life, completely different from whatever they might have previously known.
One reason for such nervousness became evident during our brief conversation. It transpired that Sebastiano had his own preconceptions about life in holy orders. He was familiar with the Rule of Saint Benedict and the principles of poverty, chastity and obedience, but like so many postulants before him, he appeared to hold the belief that this would entail long periods of discomfort and self-denial.
It continues to trouble me that those outside the cloister should have this unfavourable (and incorrect) perception of monastic life. Sebastiano appeared genuinely surprised when I explained that we in the Order of Saint Francis do not condone unnecessary fasting, sleep deprivation or self-chastisement. As our founder has decreed, our purpose is to serve – and none of these practices are conducive to full and proper service to God or to our fellow men.
I sense that both of these young men, but especially Sebastiano, have come to us under difficult, perchance even troubled, circumstances. Tomorrow I shall ask Fra’ Amadeo to tell me what he knows of their stories. In the meantime, I shall say an extra prayer for each of them at Completorium. May the Lord Almighty grant them a quiet night. Amen.
I’ve read your story, Fra’. It’s so much more satisfying than Shakespeare’s version. I’ll never understand why the Bard thought to change it as he did…
About The Ghostly Father
Romeo & Juliet – was this what really happened?
When Juliet Roberts is asked to make sense of an ancient Italian manuscript, she little suspects that she will find herself propelled into the midst of one of the greatest love stories of all time. But this is only the beginning. As more hidden secrets come to light, Juliet discovers that the tragic tale of her famous namesake might have had a very different outcome…
A favourite classic story with a major new twist.
About Sue Barnard
Sue Barnard was born in North Wales but has spent most of her life in and around Manchester. After graduating from Durham University, where she studied French and Italian, Sue got married then had a variety of office jobs before becoming a full-time parent. If she had her way, the phrase “non-working mother” would be banned from the English language.
Since then she has had a series of part-time jobs, including some work as a freelance copywriter. In parallel with this she took several courses in Creative Writing. Her writing achievements include winning the Writing Magazine New Subscribers Poetry Competition for 2013. She is also very interested in Family History. Her own background is stranger than fiction; she’d write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.
Sue has a mind which is sufficiently warped as to be capable of compiling questions for BBC Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz. This once caused one of her sons to describe her as “professionally weird.” The label has stuck.
Sue joined the editorial team of Crooked Cat Publishing in 2013. Her first novel, The Ghostly Father (a new take on the traditional story of Romeo & Juliet) was officially released on St Valentine’s Day 2014. This was followed in July 2014 by her second novel, a romantic mystery entitled Nice Girls Don’t. Her third novel, The Unkindest Cut of All (a murder mystery set in a theatre), was released in June 2015.
You can find Sue on Facebook, Twitter (@SusanB2011), or follow her blog here.
July 8, 2016
I’m delighted to be joined today by Maximus Decimus Meridius, a.k.a. Marc, the lead character in Catriona King’s Craig Crime Series. He’s here to tell you who he is and what he does.
My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions…and if you’ve ever watched the movie Gladiator then you’ll know the rest. That’s not really my name, obviously; it’s Marc Craig. But I am Roman, on my mother’s side, and we are both fighting a war, in my case a war against crime.
The other half of my blood is Irish, from the north, but borders are irrelevant to me when I’m hunting for a murderer, and the only blood I’m interested in is the blood left at a crime scene, and the details of its DNA.
I’m a murder detective, a Superintendent now, a promotion I only accepted because I won my argument to stay on the street. That’s where the killers are. Not just in the alleyways or rough estates, but in the luxury offices and government buildings, the hospitals, farms, shops and universities. Murder is all around us, not from The Troubles now, because Northern Ireland finally has a hard won peace, but since the conflict ended ‘normal’ murders have risen, their motives the same as everywhere else in the world: sex, money and revenge. Without that triad I wouldn’t have a job, and I love hunting killers, but not as much as I hate the pain and mourning that they create.
The only way I get through it is to mainline coffee and by having the support of a brilliant team, most of whom have a sense of humour that if it ever started out as normal has definitely become warped through the years. They cope with my foibles and obsession when we’re on a job, and in return I try not to take my moods out on them, although I’m not always sure that I succeed.
Well, that’s it really. I have to go now because I have to case to solve: a hacker who infiltrated a lift’s operating system, plummeting it to earth and killing the two people on board.
Thanks for listening. Perhaps you’ll join me on a case or two?
See you then.
About The Craig Crime Series
The Craig Crime Series is a police procedural series comprised of thirteen novels, with number fourteen coming in late autumn.
The novels in the Craig Crime Series are
- A Limited Justice
- The Grass Tattoo
- The Visitor
- The Waiting Room
- The Broken Shore
- The Slowest Cut
- The Coercion Key
- The Careless Word
- The History Suite
- The Sixth Estate
- The Sect
- The Keeper
- The Talion Code
About Catriona King
Catriona King is a medical doctor and trained as a police Forensic Medical Examiner in London, where she worked for some years. She has worked with the police on many occasions. She returned to live in Belfast in 2006. She has written since childhood and has been published in many formats: non-fiction, journalistic and fiction. She has also been a radio presenter.
Find Catriona’s books on Amazon US and Amazon UK.
Find Catriona on Twitter and Facebook.
Most Crooked Cat books are currently on sale for a short time. Find out more at the Facebook event or just toddle off to Crooked Cat’s page on Amazon.
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