Setenil de Las Bodegas

Setenil

We travelled to Spain in the fall of 2010 visiting Madrid and Seville before renting a cottage at Ronda, intending to explore the White Villages of the Sierra Nevada.

One day our route took us past the Roman ruins at Acinipo towards Olvera. We drove high above the River Trajo past the historic village of Setenil. We stopped to take pictures of this “village the mountain ate” before travelling on.

_MG_0835 - Version 2The village stuck in my memory and when I wanted to send Anne McPhail abroad after her adventure in Bermuda—No Motive for Murder—I brought her to Setenil with its cave-like houses and shops with their whitewashed exteriors.

The villages of the Sierra Nevada gleam from the mountainsides in this part of Spain. Every spring the citizens apply a fresh coat of paint to their walls, to reflect the harsh summer sun. Setenil does the same.

Setenil stood as a bastion for the Moors, its people attacked 7 times before the Christian king retook it in the long war that drove the followers of Islam from Spain, the Reconquesta.

Now tourists, those who find it in its remote location on a little-travelled road, sit in its cafes and walk the hilly streets.

It seemed a perfect, quiet location to bring Anne to repair her emotions. It seemed. What happened next is the story of The Child on the Terrace, coming soon from Write Words Inc.

We went on to Olvera that day, a steep town with a castle sitting on a pinnacle high above, and got lost in the Sierra Nevada.

Olvera, Spain

Olvera, Spain

Missing and Exploited Children

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Many will remember the abduction of Madeleine McCann in 2003. She was one of thousands that year and in all the years since. The statistics from the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children detailed in the article below are horrifying.

http://www.icmec.org/missingkids/servlet/NewsEventServlet?LanguageCountry=en_X1&PageId=4896

The global problem of missing children is an issue that needs the immediate attention of law enforcement and officials around the world. It is estimated that at least 8 million children worldwide go missing each year. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that nearly 800,000 children will be reported missing each year in the United States. Other sources estimate that 40,000 children go missing each year in Brazil; 50,500 in Canada; 39,000 in France; 100,000 in Germany; and 45,000 in Mexico. An estimated 230,000 children go missing in the United Kingdom each year or one child every 5 minutes…

About the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) 
The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children is a private 501(c)(3) non-governmental, nonprofit organization. It is the leading agency working internationally to combat child abduction, sexual abuse and exploitation. The Organization has built a global network of 22 nations, trained law enforcement in 121 countries and worked with parliaments in 100 countries to enact new laws on child pornography. ICMEC works in partnership with INTERPOL, the Organization of American States and the Hague Conference on Private International Law among others. For more information about ICMEC visit: www.icmec.org.

Canadian statistics are provided by the RCMP here: http://www.canadasmissing.ca/pubs/fac-ren-2013-eng.htm

Just for readers of the blog:

The Child on the Terrace: The latest in Anne McPhail’s Dangerous Journeys is back to the publisher after proofreading. Difficult not to edit as well but that’s not the stage we’re at now. Reproofing at Cambridge Books and then back to me again.

Anne McPhail, retired pediatrician, shattered by her experience in Bermuda, rents a tiny house in Setenil, Spain, hoping to reconcile what she learned about herself and Thomas after the gunfire in that dark room on the island. 

But she sees a child on the terrace of the local café who doesn’t seem to belong to her minders and then Ari, the Mossad agent who saved Anne’s life, seeks her out with a plan to rescue the child from kidnappers. Should she trust him? Three days later, she is on the run with Ari and the little girl, with killers Esti and Sergio on their trail. She glimpses a man she thinks is Thomas. Is he, too in Spain? And why?

How far will Anne go to save Naomi?

From Spain to France to Italy, this is Anne’s most dangerous journey. 

Sent! Last Sunday I emailed the latest installment of Anne McPhail’s Dangerous Journeys to Arline Chase of Cambridge Books, Maryland. Working title is The Child on the Terrace and it’s set in Europe: Spain, the south of France and Liguria in Italy.
Writers write, but they also market, look for sources of income while waiting for the book to sell, and take courses to further their craft and to meet other writers.
Marketing The Child on the Terrace is next for me, but most of that waits until the book is actually available to buy. In the meantime, I’ve applied for a grant from the Ontario Arts Council for my work-in-progress. Applying is a time-consuming process, involving editing the first forty pages of the novel-to-be into the best it can be at this stage, printing 5 copies, and a synopsis and sending the lot to the office in Toronto. Novelists can also apply for Writers’ Reserve Grant: 10 pages but the applications go to recommenders(publishers) who support(or not) the application. http://www.arts.on.ca/site4.aspx

 
On October 17th, I’ll drive to Fern Resort for this year’s Turning Leaves writing retreat from Writescape. Always a fun and productive weekend. This year’s guest is Barbara Kyle, writer of historical fiction and crime novels.
Plans for the winter include rewriting several short stories that have yet to be sold or win prizes, work on the as yet untitled new novel, and proofreading The Child on the Terrace.
Recently I attended a tax seminar presented by Gwynn Scheltema of Writescape who, among other careers, was and is an accountant. Very useful and well worth attending when she next offers it through Writescape. Another visit to my own accountant coming up!
I’m off to Toronto for a few days next week to visit an old friend and perhaps the Alex Colville show at the AGO.
Happy Thanksgiving.

The Railway Trail, Lindsay, On.

The Railway Trail, Lindsay, On.

October walk along the Railway Trail, Lindsay, On.

October walk along the Railway Trail, Lindsay, On.

New Title Poll Results

The results of the poll for a title for my Dangerous Journeys sequel are a dead heat between Eighteen Days and The Child on the Terrace. Just to remind you:

Anne McPhail, doctor and genealogist vacationing in the Spanish village of Setenil, risks her life to save a child. An arms cartel kidnapped Naomi to pressure her grandfather, an Israeli cabinet minister, into voting to extend the settlements. The cartel’s goal: to foment war and increase the sales of its arms to both sides.
The story begins 16 days before the vote and 18 days until Anne leaves Spain.

Vote below for your choice!

 

 

Titles for my latest Dangerous Journey novel.

Over the last few months, I’ve worked on the 4th book in my Dangerous Journeys series. The title? None as yet.

Anne McPhail, doctor and genealogist vacationing in the Spanish village of Setenil, risks her life to save a child. An arms cartel kidnapped Naomi to pressure her grandfather, an Israeli cabinet minister, into voting to extend the settlements. The cartel’s goal: to foment war and increase the sales of its arms to both sides.
The story begins 16 days before the vote and 18 days until Anne leaves Spain.

Titles

1.The Child in the Plaza
2.Running
3.The Ransom
4.The Child on the Terrace
5.Naomi’s Donkey
6.Saving Naomi
7.Journey with Naomi
8.Rescuing Naomi
9.18 Days
10.Eighteen Days
11.Sixteen Days to the Vote
12.Sixteen Days
13.A Child as Pawn
14.The Red-haired Girl
15.Race to Italy

16.Abduction from Spain
17.Abduction from Setenil
18.The Spanish Rescue

Which title would you prefer? You can vote below.

A May Morning

Spring: the leaves popped on the Manitoba Maples along the creek back; serviceberry bushes bloomed white together with the spirea;  daffodils, mine at any rate, ended yesterday; the hummingbird returned last weekend, a few days early; the red-breasted grosbeaks returned to the feeder.

A long, harsh winter left some ornamental bushes bereft of leaves. My gorgeous Vibernum “Shasta” has growth only at the base, but the branches are green when I scrape them so I have hope. No hope for the Purple Smokebush and the Blue Mallow, I’m afraid.

Most of the roses and clematis have survived except for a little beauty—Blue Sprite clematis—that appears to be gone. But one’s never sure with clematis and it was buried deep so it may come along.

At the local nursery—Hills—I found two hybrid tea roses on their own root! I couldn’t resist and bought four: 2 dark red Royal William and  2 pink Royal Kate. They are supposed to be disease resistant and have a strong fragrance.

Writing: I’m within sight of the end of my first draft of my new Dangerous Journeys mystery with Anne McPail. This time she’s in Spain, her life endangered by her concern for a mysterious little girl.

Ontario is in the midst of an election. I see the Conservative Party is trying to position itself as the party of hope. Hope, as demonstrated by planning to eliminate 100,000 civil service jobs. A mythical number, neatly dissected by an editorial in the Globe and Mail. Hudak appears to pull these numbers from an imaginary hat. How many civil servants do you know? I can count at least three, not including the teachers, hospital workers, doctors, nurses, firefighters, police and whomever else the party fears to cut. That leaves social service, and labour and the environment, all unnecessary from its collective point of view. The ones I know are not at the top, not even managers, but workers who are on the wrong side of senior and likely to be cut first. Hope? Not too much. Read the editorial here. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/editorials/can-tim-hudak-win-election-by-100000-job-cuts/article18629579/#dashboard/follows

That’s about it for this Sunday in May.

 

 

Stone Patrick author interview

What inspired you to write your first book?
I initially thought of writing as a way to make money, and lots of it, but as I did more research, I read time and time again that most writers will never be able to support themselves with their writing alone. That was a sobering thought, but I didn’t want that to stop me from at least trying. I continued to read books about how to write — I bought at least 20-25 books, some of which I have read multiple times — and when I tried it for myself, I felt a real sense of accomplishment when I wrote something that moved people emotionally. It’s that acclamation from other people that motivates me to continue writing.
Do you have a specific writing style?
Yes, I try to write simple sentences, changing the structure to make it easy to follow, and I don’t use big words that most people won’t know the meaning of. I like to think that my dialogue is full of conflict and reflects the characters’ traits and biases. When I write, I try not to create word combinations that would sound foreign if they were spoken out loud. I believe my style of writing is conversational and smooth, and that it conjures up images in the reader’s mind that are specific to that individual, instead of being so descriptive that there is only one possible image that can be thought of.
How did you come up with the title?
In coming up with the title, I wanted something simple that would be easy to say, not easily misunderstood, and was based on the crime that needed to be solved. It started out as a working title, and by the time the book was completed, I couldn’t think of anything else that personified both the crime and the one responsible for what happened.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The book starts out focusing on the death of Neil Baines, and how a small-town lawyer, Taylour Dixxon, found herself defending his wife, who is the one accused of perpetrating the crime. I chose a small-town lawyer because I wanted to highlight the challenges that these sole practitioners face, day in and day out, as they try to practice law outside of the big city. The message that I want the reader to come away with is that the job of a lawyer, especially in a small town, is vitally important to the sustainability of order in society. It can sometimes be a thankless job, but in the end, Taylour knows that this is where she belongs.
How much of the book is realistic?
I took bits and pieces of places and buildings that I know and made a fictitious town of Marlinsville, TX. Some of the pieces were patterned after where I live, with certain names of restaurants and streets and festivals that are similar, and I chose a central county in Texas (Falls) and the county seat (Marlin) for the actual spot on the map, but the description of the town itself is made up and has no similarities to the actual town of Marlin, TX.
Are the experiences in the book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not at all. I did reach out to a small town attorney named J. Burton Hunter, III who helped me with some of the legal questions that I had, but the characters and experiences are not based on any actual events.
What books have most influenced your life the most?
The books that have influenced me the most are the scriptures of my church, including the Holy Bible and The Book of Mormon, as well as the books that I have read of several mystery authors, John Grisham, Dick Francis, Jeffrey Archer, just to name a few.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
My biggest challenge is finding the time to do everything that I need to do with the limited resources that I have. Between writing, spending time with my family, working my day job, fulfilling my church responsibilities, marketing my book, and a thousand other things, I never seem to have enough time to do everything that I want. I am not good at prioritizing my time, and I do like to watch certain TV shows that I can’t seem to give up.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part was trying to tie everything together. I wanted to use most of what I wrote, but some of the scenes didn’t always fit, so I either had to adapt the scene or cut it all together if it didn’t move the story along. Also, there were times when I was simply too exhausted to type any further, but I needed to complete the scene so that I wasn’t falling behind schedule. I had to push through that more than once.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write what you know, and don’t be afraid to create characters that have flaws. No one likes a perfect protagonist or someone who is always happy. Inject humor when possible, but don’t overdo it. Decide early on if you want to write for the sheer joy of writing, or if you want an audience. If you want to write for an audience, then know who that audience is and write as much as you can.

Also, you need to read about the art of writing! Study and see examples of different points of view, learn how to develop plot and characters, and understand the underlying structure of a great story.

And finally, tell everyone that you are writing a book because 1) people think it’s cool that you are a future author, 2) it will motivate you to keep writing when your friends and family constantly ask about your book, and 3) it will help you to sell more books because you are creating buzz, and buzz sells.

This interview first appeared on Smashwords.

Debut Suspense Novel from Stone Patrick

Stone Patrick’s debut novel, The Fallen Body, takes us to the heartland of Texas, to the fictional small town of Marlinsville, and young lawyer Taylour Dixxon. She focuses her practice on civil law but yearns for the big case. No one tells her to be careful what she wishes for.

One day, she meets Sarah Baines, a woman from New Jersey, befriends her and invites her to dinner. This is Taylour’s last peaceful moment for many weeks. The Texas Rangers burst in and arrest Sarah for the murder of her husband.

Taylour takes the case and before the murder is solved, finds herself saddled with a charming nephew, Spencer, almost loses her home and her life at the hands of the Russian mobster, Roman Danshov, and falls in love with Texas Ranger Philip Davidson. A wild ride, to be sure.

 

I enjoyed this densely-plotted debut novel, with its varied cast of characters.

Taylour, a feisty young woman at the beginning of her career, struggling with aggressive clients, and a Texas Ranger who distracts her from her work, deserves another outing. I hope Patrick has something more planned for her.

Spencer, my favorite 23 year-old going on 17, arrives with a show of adolescent bravado, but grows up during the novel time, and demonstrates his bravery at the conclusion.

Like many debut novels, The Fallen Body would benefit from a professional edit. However, if you enjoy romantic suspense and don’t demand foul language, explicit sex scenes or gratuitous violence, but want a book to keep you turning the pages, try The Fallen Body.

Watch for an interview with Stone Patrick on Wednesday, May 7.

The Fallen Body is available from Smashwords at the following link:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/402747?ref=tayman0522

 

James Scott Bell and the Magical Mirror Moment

Storytelling has a rhythm, a structure based on centuries of tales recounted wherever people sat together, around a fire, or a table, at a bedside or in a classroom. Three acts, a middle turning point, a crisis and a denouement comprise most. Simple enough, I hear someone say. Not at all.

Countless books on writing have dealt with the structure of novels, and now websites devoted to writing and bloggers eager to help other writers, do the same.

Until my current WIP(work-in-progress), I’d been a pantster, getting on with writing and worrying about structure later. This time, I plotted and outlined and followed my work count, making sure that the ends of the acts fell where they should, that there was a middle turning point, that a hook moment existed, not too far into the first act and so on, and so on. All great, until James Scott Bell wrote Write Your Novel from the Middle, a terrific(and short) book that defines a mirror moment, at the exact middle of the book, in which the protagonist assesses herself, and makes a decision based on her own psychology, what sort of person she is going to be, or assesses the forces against her and the certainty of her death, whether physical, psychological, or professional. From that, the writer develops the pre-psychology and post-psychology. So far so good. Then he writes about the two pillars, or doorways of no return. I was familiar with those. I’d read his excellent book Plot and Structure. So now the novel has three points: a first doorway at about 20% in, the mirror moment and 50% and the final act, again shorter at 20%. Other writers suggest longer first and final acts.

His description of the method is clear and freeing. Writing the mirror moment, the point of realization, means the first half must lead to this moment and the second half lead to the crisis and transformation.

My personal problem with this is that the WIP was more than half done when I read about the mirror moment. It turns out that this is not the problem, but part of the solution. I found my mirror moment, tucked into the middle of the book, where it belonged, and now I’m revising with a surer grasp of where I need to strengthen the plot or make the psychologic pressures clearer.

So yet again, I’m grateful to James Scott Bell, for his concise, entertaining and useful books about writing. I buy them on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/James-Scott-Bell/e/B000APSY8A or at Writers Digest Shops http://www.writersdigestshop.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=james+scott+bell

Disclaimer: No connection whatsoever with James Scott Bell, except that of reader and student.