Winter

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I adore winter. I know that this is unusual and, especially in Italy, most people prefer summer but days of sweltering heat that linger until late drain all my energy, whereas the long, dark evenings of winter bring me comfort.
I love to curl up in front of a fire, listen to the song that the logs sing and watch the flames flicker and jump. As a child I loved sitting by the window when I had come home from school, looking at the dark enveloping the house; the gleam of the streetlight on the wet road, the skeletal branches dancing in the garden as the wind tossed their shadows across my face. There is a kind of slow, hidden magic in winter. Nature is honed down to bare, stark essentials and yet beneath the ground there is life laying in wait for the warmth of spring to release it.
In my novel, “The Song of the Cypress”, I write about each season as it unfolds. Here is how the Cypress, guardian of the sacred places, views winter.

Winter, season of inner growth and hidden mystery. Suddenly, with no warning, winter tightens its icy grip on the land; a cold, remorseless embrace that will endure for months. Winter has a terrible, stern beauty. In the linearity of bare branches and frosted furrow, the true shape of things is unveiled. Muddy brown earth is sealed with a shimmering coat of frost. The wind sears like white heat. Ridges of mud crack, blades of grass snap. When all else has faded and died away only the bare outline is left, like webs of dark branches against white sky. Nature, stripped of its bright adornments, is starkly skeletal and what is left is the essential core.
Then another transformation as soft snowflakes swirl around me, wrapping me up along with the rest of the world.
Under the snow’s cold blanket all is isolated. It is hard to recognise my world in the rounded, crystal perfection.
While other trees lower their heavy boughs to form tunnels that spring back when touched with a shuddering flurry of white, I am unbending. The snow that wraps me is the first to slip away in the pale winter sun.
Under the cold glittering starkness of the winter world, life lies in wait. In the dark womb of the earth the hidden mystery of life is quickening.
Snow sculpts the landscape into pregnant curves and, when the spring eventually brings the thaw, that same snow will melt deep into the earth, nourishing, swelling, easing new life to the surface.

Song cover Amazonhttp://www.amazon.co.uk/Song-Cypress-Tonia-Parronchi/dp/8890510706/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416128460&sr=1-1&keywords=the+song+of+the+cypress

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New Friends

Finding a publisher for your book is not easy, at all. That is why I was so delighted when Sunpenny said they wanted to publish “A Whisper on the Mediterranean”. What I could not know at the beginning was just how special this experience was going to be.
At the start, nearly all the contact I had was with the lovely Jo Holloway, who also edited the book so expertly. However, I gradually began to “meet” some of the other Sunpenny authors, on Facebook and Twitter and this is when I realised how lucky I am. These authors were so warm and welcoming to a newcomer. They support each other and make each other laugh. I now have a long list of their books that I want to read and am gradually working my way though them, although I have much less reading time right now.

Check out the Sunpenny website (http://www.sunpenny.com) if you are looking for Christmas gifts. They really do have something for everyone, from historical romance to sudoku, and of course books about boats and water in their Boathooks Books imprint, which is where you will find mine!

I have just started to read “Bridge Beyond Betrayal” by Stephanie Parker McKean.

 Bridge beyond Betrayal

At the very beginning is a poem dedicated to her son, Luke, who died in a plane crash and I cried when I read it. The book is about Miz Mike, a Texan writer who constantly gets herself into “pickles”, has an enormous crush on the handsome Marty and, even though she always minds her own business, somehow manages to get involved in all sorts of adventures. It makes you smile on every page and you get a sense of the warmth and underlying faith of the author shining through. Knowing that she has seen more than her fair share of tragedy, her ability to write with humour is all the more remarkable.

Next on my list to read is “Fish Soup” by Michelle Heatley, which promises to conjure up the magic of Greece. I have an ongoing love story with Greece, as I met my husband there, so know all about the magic it can weave!

Fish Soup (FILEminimizer)

Then I have to choose which of Valerie Poore’s books to read first. Val lives on a barge in Rotterdam and writes a lovely blog (wateryways.blogspot) which is well worth following. She has written books about her barge experiences but I am more tempted to start with the story “The Skipper’s Child” which is not just for children. I read a snippet and am hooked already.

The Skipper's child

Having found a publisher, I now had to start promoting my work. I am a bit of a dinosaur as regards to technology so am still struggling with it all but these new friends have been very helpful and encouraging. I started using twitter but it felt odd, as if I was talking to myself. I do that all the time but somehow, sending messages off into cyberspace and knowing that probably no one would actually read what I had said was weird. However, recently Val retweeted one of my tweets (see how proficient I am with the terminology now). Contact! Someone reads me. I confessed to having hardly any followers and she swiftly introduced me to a few friends of hers and suddenly I feel as if it is something I just might start to enjoy. I rarely turn my mobile phone on (told you I am a dinosaur) so obviously do not get “instant tweets” but can catch up at night.

Facebook, on the other hand, I took to immediately. I love seeing friend’s smiling faces each day and reading what is important to them, whether it is about politics, sport, nutella or Snoopy. I even got my Mum started and at 82 she now manages to log on and read all the posts I put there (better watch my step now!) You see a side of people that sometimes surprises you. The Snoppy cartoons for example are usually shared by my big, gruff Italian friend Giampiero. I find Facebook a great way to keep in touch with friends around the world and family in the UK, even though I am far from them, in Italy, Germany or when sailing. The only person it does not help me to keep in touch with is my 20 year old son, James, who is obviously enjoying life so much that he has forgotten he has a Mum – growl, hint, hint.

So, thanks very much Jo, Michelle, Stephanie and Val, as well as all the others who have helped and encouraged me. You are great!