Once upon a time, long, long ago (about thirty odd years or so) I watched a war movie. I was a young and impressionable teen, just beginning to learn about the world of boys and love. The movie was "Summer of my German Soldier". I remember it with astounding clarity, even though I watched it only once. I remember, too, that I sobbed my aching little heart out at the end of it and vowed never to watch another war movie again. It affected me tremendously and I have never broken that vow. I was as heartbroken as the girl (Patty) in the movie with the death of a young romance, but I was even more destroyed by the bitter and vile atrocities that man wrought against man in the name of war and, ridiculously, in the name of peace.
Around the same time, I read the book by Sarah Patterson (daughter of the famous Jack Higgins), called "The Distant Summer", about a teenage girl and the effect World War II has on her life. I adored this book and read it over and over again. How could this be? How could I read this book about war when I had sworn off war stories?
The truth of the matter is this: When you read a book, you can distil the images, temper them to fit in with how much you are willing to take. Your own imagination can be controlled. This is not so when you watch a movie. The images are 'in your face' and there is no hiding from them. They are vicious and cruel and your mind has no protection from what your eyes are seeing.
Now, my way of doing things may be a little ostrich like, i.e. head in the sand, but I watch movies and read books to escape and enjoy myself. I still avoid war movies and "The Distant Summer" is the only war book I have ever read (I think it was because it was so brilliantly written that I loved it so much). I have never seen any of the famous Oscar winners, like "Saving Private Ryan" or "Inglorius Bastards", much to the dismay of my husband. He has, however learnt, that when he watches a war movie, I take myself off to the opposite end of the house and watch a comedy-romance. To me, war movies are akin to horror movies, but even worse, because a horror movie is usually somewhat unbelievable and you can laugh (albeit a little nervously) when someone gets off-ed quite gruesomely, but there is no laughing at the reality of war.
I am, and will always be, faithful to the happy ending. I can see no happy ending in war (or start or middle, for that matter) and so I avoid it, in whatever format it may be presented to me. I remain unashamedly romantic and there is no romance in war. Robert Burns had the right of it when he wrote :
"Man's inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn! "
Is comfort eating really comfortable? This is a valid question and one I have come to today simply because lately I have not been comfortable - and damned if it isn't because I have been comfort eating.
When I did the intro to my baking course I clearly stated that I bake every day. This is no lie, not even stretching the truth a jot. I honestly do bake every single day. A daily staple is bread. I have three men living under the roof and sandwiches/toast/toasted sandwiches are the order of each day. Beyond that, though, I love to bake treats. I also like a challenge, so I am often experimenting and in experimenting there is a LOT of tasting and I don't hold back. You will also note on the course that I emphasise that I like to use real butter (full fat - whole hog, butter) when I bake. So by now you get the picture. I bake a lot and not all of it is super-healthy. This means that when it comes down to a need to get into some serious comfort eating, baby I am the queen.
The way I see it, comfort eating goes hand in hand with love. Good, bad or indifferent - the base line is L-O-V-E.
Good = In love, watching romantic movies, feeling open to all the good stuff and enjoying it.
Bad = Dumped, broken-hearted, let-down by someone you need approval from, hurt, exhausted, scared ... (man, that list could go on and on)
Indifferent = Who cares? I'm getting old and fat anyway why not enjoy it? Hey, I want the food, I'll eat the damn food if I want ...
Now to the uncomfortable part. I am edging to the big 5-0 (a little faster than is comfortable) and this means that the metabolism slows down and I'm not as invincible as I used to believe. Last week was a BIG comfort eating week for me (including doughnuts and croissants - to name but two decadent delights) and after almost two weeks of sleepless nights, constant exhaustion, headaches and sinus issues I finally clued in. I was in the classic Catch-22 situation. I was tired from lack of sleep, depressed (likewise from lack of sleep), in pain and very, very unhappy and what did I do to deal with eat? You're darn right - I grabbed another bit of comfort cake; which of course made me feel worse. Vicious cycle. At 3:00 a.m. in the morning I had an epiphany. Too much comfort was making me uncomfortable. I immediately switched back to the gluten free ... um, diet is too strong a word... gluten free "lifestyle". Two brilliant nights of sleep, clear sinuses and no headaches and I'm feeling so much better. I want to emphasise that I am not allergic to gluten, I have just found that time has changed me physically. I still eat a slice of cake or pie or croissant at least once or twice a week, but my comfort eating is becoming more savvy with how it makes me feel at the end of the day.
My next course will be on gluten free baking. No, I will not be including bread made with GF flour (tastes, looks and feels like a rock - yeach!) or cake for that matter, but I will show you some fantastic treats that are super easy (and some a little more challenging), just perfect for comfortable comfort eating.
Today is crazy-hot-and-noisy in the city. Everything is bleached to white by the sun and even the trees seem to droop below its rabid rays. The noise of the traffic is intensified as it is brought through my window on the hot and annoying wind.
And so I escape .... Run away to my little fantasy land. I close the window and the door to the noise. I lie on the floor (it is the coolest place I can find right now), close my eyes and breathe in a deep lungful of air and let is slowly blow out through my lips. Now, my mind takes over.
I am lying in a hammock, hitched between two enormous, old and gnarled trees. The dappled sun plays over my eyelids, but it is no competition for the coolness of the shade beneath the leaf laden boughs of these beautiful, green trees. I don't know what kind of trees they are. Does it really matter? This is my fantasy so they are, simply, fantastical trees.
In my lap is my book. The spine is still sturdy, but the pages are well leafed, as if the book has been read time and again. Hum... sounds like me. My spine and my will are still strong even though I have been through so many changes; each day a page turning in the book of my life.
Peace descends. I can hear the soft rustle of the leaves as the trees sway slightly in the cool breeze. It feels like Autumn in the air - my favourite time of year - not too hot, not too cold. All is quiet and I feel my nerves settle, ease. All my troubles disappear. If only for a few moments, there are no worries about hearth, home, money, work, survival .... This is all. This is the moment, just the blink of an eye, where my imagination allows my heart, mind and soul to replenish, to block the bad and remember the beauty of each day. And boy, do I treasure the moment and hold it close.
Today, take five minutes (yes, that is all it takes) to "disappear" from the world as you know it and walk your imagination into the world that you want. It's so easy and so remarkably refreshing. Taking five minutes for you and you alone is allowed - in fact I highly recommend it.
Right, therapy session over. Onward and upward.
Has the e-book conquered the reading world? It may seem like a silly question in this day and age. After all,the Kindle has been around for years now. Many competing e-readers are out there and everyone is reading e-books. Right? Wrong. The majority of books in circulation are still printed. That includes countries like the USA.
Why is this still the case? Estimates are that e-readers in the USA account for about 30% of the books in circulation. It is growing though while print may be in decline. At least print seems to be flat right now, but consider this.
A decade ago people said the vinyl LP was dead. Long live CD. Then the MP3 was going to kill off CD's. Did anyone born after 1997 know what vinyl LP looked like a couple of years ago? Now they do. Turns out my parents were wise not to throw out their old Akai LP turntable. Vinyl is back and growing fast. Even my teenage son has asked for Greenday's latest record in vinyl.
I see a parallel with e-books. While I prefer to indie publish in e-book format, I still love print books. So print on demand remains a good option for indie publishers. Yes I do most of my reading on a Kindle since it is so easy to find new books. The convenience is fantastic. But I love browsing the book store. Especially the second hand bookstores. It is like flipping through the LPs at the music store. A treasure hunt for us nerdy readers!
What about perceptions? When I tell folks about my latest book being published they are happy, but when I put a print version in their hands it is WOW. You cannot beat that real book in your hands. It is like all things digital. Nice and convenient, but not as cool as holding the LP, book or even the photos in print form. Old school engages more senses and that is the difference.
Will I stop publishing in e-book format? No. The trend will simply broaden to cover digital and retro markets. Choice is what counts and people are looking for choice above all else. How to be an individual in the digital world. Retro is cool, but it must work and be reliable. Digital is an option that must be available when required. This means we writers need to cover more bases. Did I mention audio-books? That is also growing.
So do not be surprised if the Millenials start insisting that their books be in print format. After all when the books have been read they can use them to support their turntables and prop up their LPs.
The new installment in my Port Gallaway series has now been published. A Different Direction is packed with fun, action and of course, romance. To celebrate this moment I have combined both books into a special holiday reading bundle. You can get both books for only $2.99. Plus you get them in Mobi and Epub versions when you purchase them from my new store.
I hope that you love the new book. Please send me your comments or review. Happy reading!
I think sometimes (a dangerous sport for the uninitiated) that I am in love with love. As I have stated before, I adore anything romantic. I have, on occasion, even cried at romantic adverts. In my defence, I don't believe there is anything wrong with feeling this way. How could there be? Love is the most delicious feeling on Earth; even when it hurts.
A short while ago I conducted a poll of my subscribers and asked them for their favourite romance author. By overwhelming majority the response was Danielle Steel. Now, to again quote Kathleen Kelly from "You've Got Mail" (by Nora Ephron - another great writer): "When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your life does."
For many of us Danielle Steel was our introduction to the world of romance, and this is why she still has such an enormous and indelible effect on our reading as adults.
Did you know that she also wrote poetry? I finish off today's blog with one of her poems - The Year of the Bears:
Side by side
through the winter,
all our cares,
and we talked,
and we whispered
and at once
and not there,
your eyes empty in mine,
from your trend,
year of the bears
"You've Got Mail" is my favourite movie of all time. I cannot tell you how many times I have watched it - over and over and over again. I hear the opening bars of Harry Nilsson's "Puppy Song" and I am already smiling. There is no way you can watch this movie and not feel good.
As for the quote in the picture above - well, I am always excited when I do something or see something and I immediately think of a scene in a book. What an amazing connection! Someone, somewhere has seen or done this exact thing and has written it down. It brings home to me how very huge and how very small this world of ours is, to be able to connect across a void of time and space. Wonderful!
Some may say: Yes, that's all good, but the woman loses her business - her legacy. I like to believe that this is a lesson as well. The business was her mother's business and she made it great, but maybe the universe was trying to tell Kathleen (Meg Ryan) that it was time to make her own path - to be a writer.
The point I'm getting to here is that sometimes what we think is just a fantasy is actually what should be our reality and what we think is our reality is keeping us from realising the fantasy and making it our reality. If you can work that one out you better let me know - I think I just confused myself.
Joking aside, take a closer look at your fantasies. You may find that the universe is giving you a heads-up on what you really want in your life.
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