Friday, 9 June 2017

In black and white

I have a Kindle. I also have a Windows tablet through which I read books purchased from Kobo. You could say, I like my gadgets.

I don't. I'm not a fan of technology but I love the convenience of being able to buy and download a book from anywhere in the world.

For this reason, when people say they don't like eReaders because they like the feel of a physical book and enjoy turning pages, I hadn't really understood - until now.

Recently, I had a hankering to read a book I read years ago and haven't read for a while - Mermaid's Ground by Alice Marlow.

It's been so long since I've read a physical book that it took me a while to find my favourite bookmark!

Feeling a little old-fashioned, I sat on the train, turning my pages, while everyone around me was plugged-in, tapping, scrolling and swiping. But then, suddenly something interesting happened - I found I liked it.

I liked the fact that my electronic gadgets were tucked away in my bag. I could neither see their look-at-me glow nor hear their pick-me-up call.

More than that, I liked the feel of the pages as I turned them. I liked the musty smell of the old paper, I liked the shiny smoothness of the cover with its raised lettering.

Reading a real, physical book made me feel all warm and fuzzy and vintagey and as I finished the book, with a satisfied sigh I decided to read another.

No love lost - another Alice Marlow, as co-incidence would have it - of course there's no such thing as co-incidence. Alice Marlow is the nom-de-plume of Pamela Belle, one of my fave authors.

Bye the way, I was interviewed recently by the Border Mail about our move to the Albury-Wodonga area and the new book - the title of which is mentioned in the article. Big spoiler there, eh? Not really, I'm going to make an announcement soon anyway.

Here's the article, for your consumption, if you so desire.

Author Karen Turner relocates to Albury-Wodonga.

See you in 14!

PS this time last year, Stu and I had just arrived in Italy after spending three weeks in Ireland.
Here's one of my favourite pics from the Emerald Isle.
Romance in old Ireland
The beautiful Cliffs of Moher - Ireland

Friday, 26 May 2017

Grammar vigilante is not graffiti

I noticed an interesting thing on social media a while ago. Apparently - and there was a video to back up the story - there's some bloke getting around the U.K. under cover of darkness, correcting grammar mistakes on signs.

I love it!

Kudos to this guy. There was footage of him, disguised in a hoodie of course, up a ladder, covering a redundant apostrophe.

That accursed redundant apostrophe! That's the apostrophe people seem to insert these days to form a plural word.

For example: writing cat's when referring to more than one cat.

You should NEVER pluralise a word by using an apostrophe! To me, it's ignorant and a failing of our education system.

Agreed, some English words are difficult and stray from the usual grammar rule of simply applying an S to the end. But all languages have their little quirks, irregularities and exceptions.

Can you pluralise these English words? I'll put the answers on the bottom of the page.

  • sandwich
  • tomato
  • berry
  • sheep
  • hoof
Now, back to our grammar vigilante. I think there should be more like him.

I find it astounding that organisations pay a fortune to marketing people to put together wonderfully colourful and memorable ads, send the ads to the printer to have them printed on glossy brochures, flyers or fancy, illuminated signs, only to not have the wording checked for spelling and/or grammatical mistakes.

Restaurant menus, advertising brochures, catalogues and all manner of things that end up in your letter box are invariably written incorrectly.

I once received a brochure advertising a popular brand of body lotions. The brochure was so badly written; the language, grammar, spelling and even the structure of the sentences were so poor that I'm sure the owner's six year old must have written it.

If not, there's no excuse!

I couldn't resist taking out my red pen and getting stuck in. I then sent it back to them with a friendly suggestion that they have their written material checked before being printed.

I also mentioned that if their standards, and attention to detail were so low, as their brochure seemed to indicate, that it caused me to question the quality of their product. Therefore, their expensive advertising convinced me that I would never do business with them.

It is a personal rule of mine, that if I receive advertising material in my letter box, that is badly written with poor attention to spelling and/or grammar, I will never use the services of that business.

If I were a little more gutsy, I'd be out there, right beside our grammar vigilante, holding his ladder and passing him his tools.

There should be more of it.

There's a little video I found of him on the SBS site. Click here to view the article.

For now, I make it my mission to point out mistakes on menus to restaurant staff - most of whom gaze at me through glazed eyes because they don't understand.

Yep, it's right there on the list of first world problems.

See you in 14!

Bye the way, those plural words you need are:

  • sandwich - sandwiches
  • tomato - tomatoes
  • berry - berries
  • sheep - sheep
  • hoof - hooves

Friday, 12 May 2017

Technology - a love-hate relationship

I love technology.

No, I don't. In truth, I hate it.

I hate its fake simplicity - you know what I mean: they say, simply click here, simply enter your details... all that rubbish.

And it is rubbish because nothing with technology is simple. Nothing works unless you buy the compatible upgrade, add the doo-dad, enhance the whatsit or link to the app.

Give me a break!

Recently I had my website revamped. I handed over my hard-earned cash - online, of course - downloaded the thingo and my ever-patient I.T. guru husband got to work.

He did a great job and finally the new site was ready to go. It looked fab, had loads of pictures and information and some funky new options including a book shop.

We launched it. It was exciting.

Then I ran some ads - online, naturellement!

When a newspaper contacted me for an interview about my new home and exciting new book, I told them all about my new website too.

Well it was all good - or so I thought. After handing over yet more money to run my ads in the lead-up to Mother's Day this weekend, I discovered the website wasn't working after all. In fact, log on and all you'd see was a daggy little screen offering a free sample of Torn.

Oh that's not so bad, if all you wanted was a free sample of Torn.

Why is it that these days, you never seem to get what you pay for? Expectation always leads to disappointment.

After that, it leads to a fruitless, frustrating round of online chat sessions with a faceless person to whom you explain your situation and wait with growing impatience as they insist on working through each step of their script without paying attention to your issue.

If you think I'm pissed off, you're right.

So I ask, do we ever get what we pay for these days? Are we too ready to accept mediocrity of service and product? Have we lowered our expectations to the point where we're no longer surprised by poor quality? Are those in the business of service and supply so complacent as to have no pride in their work anymore?

Not so the poor consumer, crying out for attention!

And yes, I blame technology because, as guru-Stu pointed out, everything is done at a distance these days. Our cyber-lives have resulted in a world where nobody is accountable and everything is disposable - just as well because it probably won't work anyway!

So, after all that, in a moment of sheer frustration, I tried my website again and found that its problems had mysteriously rectified itself.

I can only assume that some pasty I.T. boffin in some dingy little office somewhere in the world has intercepted the pleas and threats I issued to the universe and - hello - fixed the problem!

Doesn't matter - I still hate technology. But why don't you try it out for yourself. Pop over to or click here  and tell me if it works! Or better still, don't tell me. I really don't want to know!

As for you, my long suffering peeps, have a great Mother's Day whether your kids are of the two- legged upright variety, or furred, feathered or finned.

See you in 14!

PS. Don't forget the next FREE installment of Counterpoint. It'll be up on Wattpad by Monday.

Historical fiction for regency romance book readers
Torn and Inviolate - buy online from my new website if it's working!

Friday, 28 April 2017

A thousand words in silence

I love art, though I'd never claim to be an expert - I just know what I like.

For example, I love the old Dutch masters, Rembrandt, Vermeer, the rarely mentioned female painter, Judith Leyster, and many others in whose work I lose myself as I try to interpret the symbolism and understand the artists' messages.

Breaking away from these dark and broody daubers, my favourite artist of all time is the truly brilliant impressionist Lawrence Alma-Tadema. This is an example of Sir Lawrence's work:

Romantic, artistic, talented, all words to describe this lovely work
A Favourite Custom 1909 - Lawrence Alma-Tadema

In the world of paint, these are the kinds of work that I like; they are what move me.

However, no piece of art has ever moved me like The Boxer at Rest. This is an ancient sculpture by Greek sculptor, Lysippus (340 BC), and when I first saw this work, I was left in tears.

The Boxer at Rest is one of the highlights of the Italian museum Palazzo Massimo in Rome, and last year while in Rome, I visited the boxer again, with the same emotional result.

If you're ever in Rome, this is a must-see! I really mean that because this sculpture tells a story; Lysippus has woven a tale as tragic and dramatic as anything written in words.

They say that a picture can paint a thousand words, but look into the scarred and battle-weary face of the boxer and you'll hear more than a thousand.

Lysippus was known for the detail of his sculptures and this one is no exception.

I won't put a picture on this page because the ones I've found are privately owned, but click here to view them. Look into his eyes, look at the exhausted expression on his face, the world-weary slump of his shoulders, the cauliflower ears and his bruised, cut and swollen knuckles.

I feel that he is resting after a fight and has just been told he must fight again. There is disbelief and resignation on his face. I also see grief and an ambiguous gentleness in him.

Sometimes you don't need the written word to tell a story.

Sometimes words are not enough and you must listen with 'other' ears.

See you in 14!

Friday, 14 April 2017

Hindsight - what I didn't know then

Some time back I heard about a book that sounded rather interesting.
It was called, Dear Me: A letter to my sixteen year old self, edited by Joseph Galliano. It's actually a compilation of letters written by people from all walks of life - actors, pop stars, BAFTA winners, a doctor, an Archbishop, even an horticulturist!

These people have all written letters to their sixteen year old selves, effectively giving themselves the sort of advice they wish they'd been given at the time.

You know: what I didn't know then but wished I did.

It's a great idea and to be honest, I haven't read the book but it's on my to-read list.

I've been thinking about it though, in the context of my own tortured teen years, and wondered if I'd actually pay attention to myself?

My parents weren't the sort of people to dish out advice; they tended to let my brother and me make our own mistakes and learn our own lessons. My two grandmothers were polar opposites of one another: one was a highly religious, domestic goddess, while the other was a cigar-smoking world traveller with no sense of fear or restraint.

Neither was in the position - I thought - to offer guidance to me in my world of teen angst. After all, no one could possibly have gone through the kinds of problems I'd been dealing with... school, boys, friends, am I too skinny, am I too fat, do I fit in?

Weren't those questions unique to me!?

So, had I had someone to advise me, would I have taken that advice? Probably not.

Which leads  me to the question, if I could give myself the advice, with the benefit of hindsight, would I have listened to me?


Isn't it an interesting thought though?

Do you have a teen in your life? Of course you could try to give them advice, the benefit of your experience, but is there any point?

Which I think is why this compilation of letters in Dear Me: A letter to my sixteen year old self is such a brilliant concept. Young people in need of guidance - whether they acknowledge that need or not - are more likely to pay attention when it's not from a parent or well-meaning adult.

Why not check the book out and see what you think. If you read it before me let me know what you think. Otherwise, I'll give it a look and a bit of a review.

Today is Good Friday. We're planning to do a bit of gardening and to eat Hot Cross Buns! Whatever you do, enjoy!

Bye the way, here's the cover to my Counterpoint novel. It's available now on Wattpad. A new chapter is released every month. It's FREE so why not give it a try?

Free love story on wattpad featuring romantic hero of regency times
Check out Counterpoint FREE on Wattpad
See you in 14!

Friday, 31 March 2017

Recommended books

Is it just me, or is it becoming less common for people to lend books these days?

Personally, I feel it is becoming less common and I think the increased popularity of eBooks is partly to blame - after all, it's not easy to lend someone a book when that requires handing over your phone, Kindle, iPad, etc.

In fact, before last week, I can't remember the last time someone lent me a book to read.

Last week, I was genuinely surprised - and even a little chuffed!

You see, there's this group I'm part of. We are four people, who get together every fortnight, to chat in Italian. One of us is Greek, one Swiss, then there's me with my Anglo-Italian background, and the fourth member of our group is an Italian ex-pat who is a languages expert. Katia facilitates our sessions by setting the topic and the rest of us either discuss it, or individually deliver a presentation to the others.

We've been meeting for over ten years and it's been a wonderful opportunity to keep my language skills up to date. Over the years we have held dinners, gone to Italian movie festivals and shared the stories of our lives.

But never, have we lent books to one another - until last week. Imagine my surprise when my Swiss group-member - who just happens to be an eighty year old man - arrived with a book and offered it to me.

He told me that as a writer, I would appreciate the writing style of this author. The book, I saw a man, by Owen Sheers, I'd never heard of, but I took it gratefully and began reading it on the way home. (It just happened that I'd finished a book and was looking for my next).

The book was good, well, probably better than good. It went through a number of stages where I wondered what was going to happen next - always good, and at one point I thought, Oh this isn't going to end well!

As a writer, when someone tells me they have lent my book to a friend, I'm conflicted. I waver between satisfaction that my book is good enough, while inside I'm screaming, don't lend my book to a friend... buy them a copy!!

In truth, it's always very gratifying when someone loves your work so much they want to share it with friends and loved ones.

And ultimately, I want my books to be read. I can't tell you the number of books I've given away simply because I want them to be read, and hopefully enjoyed.

So, while I'm not likely to retire very soon on royalties, I think the idea of people lending books to one another is a dying thing and it should be nurtured.

Lend books. Lend my books. Lend other peoples' books. Doesn't matter - just lend and read.

If you've read a good book, tell the world. Life's too short to read books you don't enjoy.

Thank you Marcello for lending me your copy of I saw a man. I enjoyed both the book, and your sentiment.

See you in 14.

Rome - one of the world's most romantic cities
This photo is apropos nothing except that I love it. 

Friday, 17 March 2017

A good old fashioned library - does it still exist?

I write with some consternation today of something I recently experienced.

Finding myself in unfamiliar territory recently with some writing work to do, I decided to forgo the cafe thing - which is the current trend - and avail myself of the local library instead.

After seeking directions and a relatively short walk with my laptop slung over my shoulder in a backpack, I found a library.

It was nice. Well fitted out with the usual stuff: computers, printers, photocopiers - oh and books too, although not as many shelves as I expected.

Is that because so much is online today? Are libraries set to go the way of the humble bookshop?

Hope not.

Anyway, yes there were books and magazines and - oh there's the catalogue! A quick search revealed they have copies of both Torn and Inviolate and they're on loan. Excellent - move on!

Selecting a desk behind a row of books where I could write in relative solitude, I set up my laptop, switched my phone to silent and got to work.

So engrossed was I that at first I didn't notice the very loud mobile phone conversation taking place behind a row of books.

I put my head down and tried to continue working but it was impossible. I'd been rudely bounced out of the 'zone' and couldn't get back in.

Hoping it was a short conversation, I opened Facebook and noodled around for a bit. But alas, the enthusiastic conversationalist wasn't letting up.

After about ten minutes of listening to the talker make prolonged and very loud financial arrangements, I lost patience and gave the worldwide, Be-quiet-unless-you've-forgotten- you're-in-a-library signal.


To my astonishment, a librarian poked her head around the row of books, phone still glued to her ear, and gave me a venomous glare!


Adding to my surprise, two girls studying at a nearby table turned to look at me, clearly confused by my rude outburst!

It was then that I noticed the two girls sitting amidst a sea books and - horrors! - McDonald's wrappers, fries and burgers strewn over the table and takeaway drinks in the distinctive Macca's paper cups with straws poking out the top.

Is it just me then? Are libraries no longer the silent sanctuary of readers and studiers?

To say I was shocked is an understatement

I remember, surely not too long ago, where even a whisper was met by threat of death at the hands of the fearsomely stern librarian. There was no eating or drinking, and certainly not within a ten meter radius of any book!

What has happened?

Suddenly I felt old. I was the proverbial fish out of water. What was to be done about this?

Well, the only thing I could do under the circumstances. I offered the librarian my most contemptuous glare and curled my lip at the two staring girls. Then gathering my books, my computer and my dignity, I left the young whippersnappers to their hand-held devices.

Will I go back? Well maybe - I did notice a rather nice looking cafe at the entrance. Perhaps they can do me a decent takeaway coffee.

See you in 14!

From romance to drama it's all here
How's this for a book collection? Be inspired to read.