Saturday, June 23, 2018

I've Launched a New Career







Jeff—Saturday


I’ve always thought of “launch” as such an imprecise term. After all, leaving the pad doesn’t mean you’ll make it into orbit.  That’s particularly likely to prove problematic with the career I’m talking about.

Or rather not talking about, for on top of everything else, the event that has me writing this post is confidential, more precisely Mykonos Confidential.

Into its thirteenth year of publication, Mykonos Confidential is the often imitated, but never equaled, summertime bible of the passions, pastimes, and peccadillos of a place like no other. 

This year, as in the past, its publisher, Petros Bourovilis, invited me to contribute an article to the issue. It’s always a great pleasure and honor to be part of MC, and so I of course accepted.

But this year Petros didn’t stop there. And here comes the confidential part. DRUM ROLL, PLEASE. He asked me to participate in what has become a core part of the magazine…its fashion shoot on island locations.  Yes, you read that correctly. I was asked to model for a magazine, and not MAD.





Whatever possessed him, I do not know, but I shall await the results (and editorializing) to see how it all comes out—and how much of my “work” makes it into print.  Though I cannot share any of the shots, or give away the theme, I do have a few photos of my colleagues at work. 


We shot for three days on beaches in Mykonos and its environs, and had a blast. The people were great, the laughs many, and my role as the senior model (by multiples over the ages of the professional Russian, Swedish, and Italian-Brazilian models) did not dampen my fun in the least. I guess that comes from being used to younger souls offering me their seats on the NYC subway.

And I learned so much from them too. For example, how many of you know what’s a “Boomerang shot?” Okay, let’s amend that to how many of you over thirty.

Well, enough of the chit-chat. Here’s some photos of my last three days away from the keyboard.  I can’t wait to see the finished product. Nor though, can I wait to get back into writing Kaldis #10.  But I’m returning with a new vigor toward that project, and a bandbox of grand new ideas for Kaldis and crew from this experience.


Plus, another bucket list accomplishment marked off the list.  I’m a fashion model! Of sorts.










All I can say is, thank you, Petros, Stefanos, Thanasis, Marios, Iris, Angeliki, Eva, Maya, Daria, Lucas, Michele, Dana, Ari, and Panos for great fun and introducing me to your world.

Can’t wait to see my tear sheets.

—Jeff

Friday, June 22, 2018

Hunting for inspiration.




I recall a few weeks ago that I was writing about being at a cross roads in life and career,  and people wanting this and that, and me having no idea what was going on. Well the universe has stepped in, working its magic in mysterious ways. 

So my car failed its MOT spectacularly- seemingly headlights are not supposed to be under water, and I had a huge split in my crank/drive/prop shaft. Some thing technical anyway. Cost of repair £1200. 
Value of car £104.
Cost of car when I bought it as a stopgap 9 years ago...£1000.

So no complaints really.

Buying the new one was more complex- nobody has any new cars for sale if you want them sometime before 2025. I found some money I didn’t know I had. So I bought a nice second hand one. Got home ..that same day… to a letter from the accountants to say 'We were right, the tax man was wrong and we do owe him the extra funds.'

 So THAT’S what that money was doing there.

Well I have the car so the revenue can go and raffle.

And I got a very nice green light for the next two books. The first of those is a standalone ( why did I agree to this Stan? Michael? They are hard to write!)

I needed to find the exact location of the house where it all takes place, and ever hopeful of a film deal I wanted it to be at the top of the Holy Loch. The Holy Loch sounds good doesn’t it, for a place of evil in a beautiful setting.

So today we set out in the new car, in search of the ‘three lochs’. It turns out there is a drive now ( like the 500) called the Three Sea lochs. Basically as the Clyde turns right (?) from the ocean to head into Glasgow, it feeds three fingers of water at that point ( and another 13 lochs elsewhere) ; the Gare Loch, Loch Long and the Holy Loch.

Sounds lovely, but they are very deep and very protected by the geography of the area. So this is the place where the UKs only nuclear submarines park up. The Holy Loch used to be the home of the US naval base but they have gone, leaving a lot of broken hearts, kids with no dads and strange boxy housing schemes in the middle of no where.

The economic deprivation since they have left has been some of the worst in the UK.

On a happier note, here  are some pics of what I found.


First stop Helensburgh.  The three fingers are laid out on the opposite side and it is a very long way round.( In Scottish terms, not American scale. It's not Texas!)

This fence goes on for mile after mile. I did catch sight of a football pitch behind it.
You can guess what it protects.

Ahhh, the Gare Loch itself.
(All pics taken  from the drivers seat of a car going at 40 mph)


Head of the Gare Loch- top of the first finger.

And now the road heads inland, missing out the second fingertip. This is Glen Croe and the infamous Rest and Be Thankful road which features  in The Night Hunter.

Still trying to repair the rock fall that happened in The Night Hunter

A wee  Marle Sheltie. Cute but nippy.
There is a famous Botanical garden up here, something to do with the rainfall and warm air coming up the water.
This huge garden is right at the top of the Holy Loch  ( the third wee stumpy loch) and is about 80 miles into the drive. What a fascinating place, but more about that later. I'm looking for ideas and inspiration for 'Megan and Carla' who both grow up at the head of the loch, in a big house and I need a river or a pond to set on fire. As you do!


This could be an ornamental pond near 'The Italian House' but not big enough for my evil purposes.

A sign from above. Attempted murder !!

I could give the family this summerhouse for 'Sound Of Music' type assignations. 

Ohhh, I so wanted this to work as 'The Italian House', it's a youth activity centre within the Botannics.

But the lower part of the house looks better, this suits my plot.

And I can use this in a later book. It's very Heathcliff/ Katherine.

My characters have a park in front of the house where the grass rolls down to a 'watery thing' but the water cannot be fast flowing. I will give them a few trees like this to add atmosphere.

Imagine looking out this window and witnessing a murder!

The northern tip of the Holy Loch... all very sandy and not suiting my purpose at all.
Then I found this flowing into it.....  BINGO!!


Time for Ice Cream and the ferry home.
Far too tired to write anything!
Word count of new novel. zero.

Caro Ramsay 22 06 2018

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The news

Stanley - Thursday

My mind has been overflowing for the past seven weeks. We rewrote the manuscript for Dead of Night from first person to third person in about four sleepless weeks. We dealt with the edits of that, and we started the seventh Kubu mystery, due to the publishers in mid-December. In addition, I have a commitment to write a golf article for the Minnesota Golf Magazine. Needless to say normal STUFF has been largely neglected.

So as I started to look around for a topic for this week's blog, I found it really difficult. Not because there are so few, rather there are so many, most of which I'd paid scant attention to.

What has taken centre stage here in the USA is Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy that purposefully separates children from their parents as a deterrent to future immigrants. The situation has been so sickening that not only did the spineless Republican elected representatives actually stand up to Trump, but some of his political base did also. That is what tipped the scales, in my opinion. It wasn’t any softening of his attitude that made him sign an executive order yesterday doing away with child separation. It was his recognition that he was losing support of his strongest supporters.





The run up to his change of position was astonishing. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was quoting the bible as justification for what the Trump administration was doing. Secretary for Homeland Security, Kjersten Nielsen (no relative to Mette, I’m pleased to report), flat out lied by saying no children were being separated from their parents. Period. That despite records showing over 2000 had already been taken and the daily number was increasing rapidly. I suppose she would argue that the photographs of it happening had been photoshopped. Both she and Trump insisted that the problem had been created by the Democrats, and that it was up to them to fix it. This lie continued even on Tuesday, the day before Trump signed his executive order, which he had repeatedly stated, he wasn’t able to do. 

Kjersten Nielsen lying.
However, the executive order fails to address how the kids already separated are going to be reunited with their parents. Many people believe that many will never be reunited either because their parent or parents have already been deported or because the federal bureaucracy won’t be able to match parents with children. Sickening.

Secretary Nielsen decided to eat at a Mexican restaurant near the White House on Tuesday evening. Bad idea! She was loudly booed by protesters. Good for them.

Kudos have to go to the press, both print and electronic, for picking up this horrendous story and running with it. There’s no doubt in my mind that the photographs and sound clips had a profound impact on the country – to such an extent that a variety of polls showed that two thirds of the country opposed what was happening.

I think this is the end of the beginning of the story, not the beginning of the end. There are going to be many more horror stories as time passes.

On a totally different topic, my interest in football (soccer) is minimal at best, even when the World Cup is being played. Neither of my two countries are in Russia – South Africa and the USA failing to qualify. Today Denmark plays Australia. Of course, I am sticking up for Denmark, both because of Mette, but also because South Africans support any team playing against Australia! The only good thing about the Cup is that it provides a mindless diversion from politics.

Russia's strange World Cup symbol.
Finally, did you read that the mighty De Beers, for years the monopoly controlling the sale of diamonds worldwide, has just announced that it is going to make and sell artificial diamonds for about $800 a carat, considerably undercutting its competitors? Huh? How does that make any sense when it mines millions of carats of gem quality stones? From what I can read, the idea is to get the public to equate artificial diamonds with costume jewelry. The idea is that no self-respecting woman would then want an engagement ring made from costume jewelry. Will it work? I don’t know, but then the value of a real diamond is not intrinsic, but merely what someone will pay for it.

And then there is the upcoming trade war: the USA versus its closest allies. My mind is too boggled to think of that. But also the USA versus China. I think Trump may have miscalculated here (if he thought at all about it) because the USA's leaders are elected. If midwest farmers start losing their export markets, their votes will move to someone who will improve trading relations.

And then there's Brexit and the rebels, who seem to have capitulated.

And Canada legalising recreational marijuana.

And did you read that Trump wants the USA to have space police? 

Vice-President Pence talking at a meeting of the Space Council. Looks as though he's shouting, trying to be heard.  And is that the Space Police's cruiser?
And that the USA withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council, citing its bias against Israel.

Nothing is simple anymore. Unless you are Mike Pence, Vice-President of the USA, who is Trump's lap dog mimicking everything he does. Watch here: you can't make this stuff up.


Upcoming event:

July 15: release by Orenda Books in the UK of our stand-alone thriller DEAD OF NIGHT. Not available in the USA at the moment.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Longest Deadline on Earth...Stay Posted!

Sujata Massey



Once again, this is not a typical blogpost. I'm still on deadline--a new one!
I did not realize before I became published is there's not just one deadline per book. There's the deadline to turn in your unedited manuscript. It's followed by a deadline to turn in a completely revised manuscript (completed two weeks ago). And now I'm on a deadline to approve edits to that revised manuscript and add in whole new sentences and paragraphs to clarify points. I've got one week to go through 370 pages--a feat I'm not sure I can accomplish. There will be a deadline later for me to look at the copy edit, with only very minimal alterations allowed, and another chance to look at bound galleys for errors.

Does this sound like creative, inspirational work? You're right, it's not. However,  a well-edited book is so satisfactory. It lasts longer in people's minds than the average novel does. And that's what I want to create.

I have illustrated this brief posting with some dog photographs to make up for the lack of content. My dogs, Charlie the Beagle and Daisy the Chorkie, do not approve of deadlines.  Sure, I'm around the house more than usual--but I'm parked at a table ignoring them.  They disapprove of the attention I'm giving the gray metal box with the funny light on the back. Daisy walks across the laptop sometimes, to prove a point.

Deadlines will be met! I am keeping an eye on the prize and will not let go of my spirits.