“He doesn’t love me as I love him…”

For today’s topic – the obvious one. I’ve found that writing romance is one of the most difficult things to get right as an author. It is too dangerously easy to produce sappy, or unrealistic, or simply unbelievable relationships.

It is also easy to poke fun at romance writing. However, if you try to write even a few romantic paragraphs yourself you will quickly develop a respect for those who craft romantic tales. Since 2013, I have.

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The Most Serious Action Of All

Our Christmas house guests have returned to London. They landed at Heathrow several hours ago. Fortunately, they got on the upstate New York roads and down to Newark Airport yesterday before…the snow hit:

So we’re not really going anywhere today. And we have a few days of “peace” ahead here before we too have to return to England. Time to get into some presents:

Back on Monday we headed to the small Windham cinema and saw Rogue One with one of those house guests – my youngest nephew. He’s 14 and a Star Wars fanatic. I thought it was a better film overall, in my humble opinion, than Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

On Tuesday night, eight of us sitting in front of the tele, we happened to catch Bogart in The Maltese Falcon on TCM. I told that nephew that Falcon is THE detective film of all time. Every detective film since then pretty much owes its existence to The Maltese Falcon.

The Maltese Falcon on DVD. [Photo by me, 2016.]
The Maltese Falcon on DVD. [Photo by me, 2016.]

Unsurprisingly, he’d never seen the film. Afterwards, on another channel we watched a much more recently made Marvel Captain America. I don’t recall which film it was exactly; I admit I lose track. One scene I recall saw Scarlett Johansson running around on a bridge, guns in both hands, spraying bullets at bad guys amidst bystanders’ cars crashing and bursting into flame and people running for cover.

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A Not So “Ordinary” Girl

A new follower caught my attention the other day. She did so not so much because of her amazing blog. Rather, I was struck by her utter lack of one.

In her WordPress gravatar she calls herself an “ordinary girl” and writes that she’s not social, but uses social sites to explore. She says nothing about her age or where she lives. She also notes she hopes to travel someday, but hasn’t had the chance.

Statue of Liberty and World Trade Center's Twin Towers, from the Liberty Island ferry. [Photo by me, 1991.]
Statue of Liberty and World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, from the Liberty Island ferry. [Photo by me, 1991.]

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“Why are you all saying ‘Casablanca’ so funny?”

While I’m here in the Catskills, Mrs. Nello is on a short trip to Morocco on airline business. She’d never been to the country before; and I’ve never been either. Based on what she’s seen of it so far, she told me by Facetime last night, she thought I’d like it.

The destination for her and several colleagues (they are all British, or working in the UK; none are American) was Rabat. To get there, they landed at Casablanca’s airport. The humor voiced all day among them about that fact was of the predictable sort, including knowing asides that every adult gets, of course.

Right? Surely every adult gets them? Don’t they?

“Our plane is landing in… Casa-blanca.”

“Here we are in… Cahsa-blanca.”

“We are leaving this… Cahsa-blan-ka.”

Finally one of the group, Lynn (name changed to protect the innocent), gave in. She didn’t understand. She asked, “Why are you all saying ‘Casablanca’ so funny?”

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Life’s Turning Points

We take photographs now so throwaway casually. We may forget how even amongst all of those uncounted thousands – so many of which we simply delete – that there are those that may be extra-special. Some few may eventually develop a deeper resonance and longer-term poignancy for us.

Probably you have something similar in your family and amongst your friends. I was doing some tidying up around the house yesterday, and while doing so I once again noticed this photograph on the wall in our lounge. It is one of my all time favorite family photos because of all it represents:

My maternal grandparents (before they were married), 1935.
My maternal grandparents (before they were married), 1935.

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That 9:30 Lecture

The other day I mentioned that my niece – who’s 18 – has started university this week in Belfast. (She’s at Queen’s.) It’s her first extended time away from home without her parents around. I believe her previous “separation” record was when she was 15: she had flown with us – uncle and aunt – for two weeks in New York and in Florida, just us three.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a pencil and back to class text.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a pencil and back to class text.

If you are just starting out, university will seem unfamiliar and maybe at times intimidating. You are thrown back largely on yourself for perhaps the first time. Within days, though, trust me, it will all start to make sense.

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In The Shadow Of Windsor

Friday night we went to an, uh, fiftieth birthday party at a hotel two minutes’ walk around from Windsor Castle:

The Queen Victoria statue in front of Windsor Castle. [Photo by me, 2016.]
The Queen Victoria statue in front of Windsor Castle. [Photo by me, 2016.]

The castle is along the edge of Windsor. I’d never been to Windsor or so close to the castle before.

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Fifteen Years Ago

Part of a personal experience of mine, placed in September 1994 for fictional purposes:

Excerpt from "Passports." Click to expand.
Excerpt from “Passports.” Click to expand.

That indoor observation deck was indeed superb. (I’m a bit better with heights now than I was then. πŸ˜‰ ) The roof walkaround just above it was reached by escalator with no guided escort being necessary, and was a more “open” viewing experience than the Empire State Building. There was no problem seeing from the top of the old World Trade Center:

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A New Digital Day: iBooks, Nook And More

I’ve again been spending way too much time in the eighteenth century. (An American and an Englishman walk into a Paris coffeehouse in 1792 and meet an Irishman…) Our present always needs looking after. Specifically, the published “1990s” present, that is.

Since 2013, I’ve been “cocooned” at Amazon. No more. I’m spreading my digital wings.

The three (thus far) Atlantic Lives novels are going “multi-platform” courtesy of Draft2Digital:

Screen capture of Draft2Digital dashboard.
Screen capture of Draft2Digital dashboard.

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What The Poet “Said”

It’s a pleasant surprise to have your phone ping around 10pm and find this, as I did last night. I screen captured it earlier this morning. Yes, this is about the time I usually start my day:

Text messages exchange screen capture.
Text messages exchange screen capture.

That opener is from my new poet friend, Tracey, in Cambridge. She’d found out who I am through a mutual friend. She’d texted me a few weeks ago that she wanted to read what I’d written.

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