Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Great Britain Rocks!

Perhaps it's because I'm an ex-pat and no longer feel jaded by the day to day grind of living in England. One of the better things about living abroad is that you feel kind of detached from the realities of your own country. Politics, over-crowding, Council tax, and all the other things that we so like to moan about- don't get me started on the weather! - no longer apply. Rose tinted specs most certainly do.

Thousands of column inches have been written about the Jubilee and the Olympics. Some of them are even accurate. All I want to say is that this year I'm proud to be a Brit, albeit an absentee one. I thought the Jubilee showed the rest of the world how to throw a party with dignity and style. Who cares if it rained for the Thames Pageant. We're Brits. We can handle a drop of rain, can't we? We've had enough practise.

I was in England for a week or two before it happened and it did my jaded heart good to see all the bunting and union flags everywhere. For once people weren't afraid to express their patriotism and love for the queen without worrying about offending some minority faction.

Now the Olympics have put the UK firmly in the map. Don't know about you but I thought the opening ceremony, on the whole, was a great reflection of the history of this great nation of ours. The media loved reporting all the negatives on the run-up to the games - well, good news doesn't make headlines, does it? - but now the time has arrived it seems to me that the majority of the nation is firmly with the programme. It's great to see our young royals in the crowd, mixing with Joe Average and cheering our athletes on.

Don't know who'll come out on top of the medal table...well,actually I can guess but that's not the point. The overall winner will be the UK and how bad can that be?


Monday, 23 July 2012

Never Waste and Experience

When my husband got tired of trying to kill himself in racing cars, light aircraft, helicopters and all the other stuff men turn to in their hour of mid-life crisis, he suggested that we try boating. We were at home in Andorra, up to our ears in snow and the heating was on the blink, so pretty pictures of sleek motor cruisers cutting through the calm, crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean seemed rather appealing. And safe. We fell for the hype and before we knew it, we were the owners of an ancient boat in need of a considerable amount of tlc.

For Andre, that was the start of an on-going love affair with the sea and all things nautical. For me it was more a hate-love-hate situation. When the sea is actually as calm as they make it out to be in those glossy ads then boating is a dream. But those days are few and far between. Most of the time you’re tossed about like a loose coin in a washing machine, feeling sick and wondering what the hell you think you’re doing.
Still, never waste an experience, that’s my motto, and one good thing to come out of hours of staring at endless expanses of sea was The Hunter Files, my series of marine crime mysteries. 

The first, Unfinished Business, was released by Carina Press last October, written under my other persona, W. Soliman.The second, Risky Business, is just out and Lethal Business will soon follow.

Charlie Hunter is, like me, a Brit. He shares my husband’s passion for boating and, at forty, having taken early retirement from the police, plans to live aboard his trawler yacht in Brighton marina and spend his days restoring it to its former glory. Sound familiar?

Charlie’s dream life doesn’t get off to a good start when a woman involved in one of his first cases as a detective accosts him, trying to persuade him to look for her missing sister. Charlie, a soft touch when a pretty woman turns on the tears, reluctantly agrees. Mind you, if he’d known his investigation would lead to a gang of ruthless Russians, leaving him and Kara fighting for their lives, he probably would have stuck to boating!

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Writing this book was a departure for me, since it’s in the first person, obviously from a male perspective. Andre came in useful here, both with technical boating issues and likely male reactions in given situations. Can’t say more than that!

Anyway, get a feel for Charlie by seeing how he reacts to his first sight of Kara.
“Excuse me, I’m looking for Charlie Hunter.”
The spanner flew out of my hand and clattered into the bilge. “Shit!”
“Hello there, is Mr. Hunter on board? I was told to ask on this pontoon.”
I swore again. The female voice responsible for breaking my concentration clearly wasn’t going anywhere. Bare-chested and bloody-minded, I hoisted myself out of the engine room of my motor cruiser and slowly wiped the oil from my hands on the rag protruding from the pocket of my jeans. I took a moment to shake the hair out of my eyes and rotate my shoulders to smooth out the kinks before turning to the woman, ready to let rip. One look in her direction and the words stalled on my tongue.
The policeman in me took stock of the evidence. Midtwenties was my guess. Tall, slim, curly red hair tumbling down her back, big green eyes, a dusting of freckles across her nose, curves in all the right places, no wedding ring. The man in me couldn’t help approving. She was just my type, or would be if I hadn’t sworn off all women as being more trouble than they were worth. Still, there was nothing to say I couldn’t indulge in a spot of window-shopping.
“I’m Hunter,” I said tersely. “Something I can do for you?”
If the woman was discouraged by my churlishness, she gave no sign. “My name’s Kara Webb, Mr. Hunter.” She introduced herself as though it ought to mean something to me.
“You don’t remember me?”
“Can’t say that I do.” The name rang a vague bell but I was willing to swear I’d never had the pleasure. Kara Webb wasn’t the sort of woman a man was likely to forget.
“Is there somewhere we could go to talk? I could buy you a coffee, or something.” She nodded towards the cafĂ© on the landside of the approach to the marina.
“Can’t see that we have anything to talk about.”
“Please, I—oh!”
She broke off as Gil bounded out of the boat’s salon, a growl rumbling in his throat, long tail wagging like crazy. Talk about mixed messages. I made a mental note to have a chat with my dog a bit later on about his duties. It would be useful if he could get into the habit of warning me of imminent intruders before they caused me to drop spanners in bilges.
“Gil!” Too late. He’d already leapt onto the pontoon and was jumping all over my lovely visitor. He’s a huge beast in an interesting variety of colours, and although I wasn’t about to admit that he’s a big softie, a lot of people were intimidated by his size. “Careful, he’s a bit edgy ’round strangers.”
“So I see.”
And then she smiled. I found myself silently repeating the words I’d said aloud when I’d dropped that spanner. Miss Webb, when she smiled, could put the sun itself to shame. It changed the whole tenor of her face and dispelled the air of despondency I’d sensed when first checking her out. Uh-uh, Charlie boy, I told myself severely. This looks like trouble. Don’t let that bloody smile influence you into buying whatever it is she’s come to sell.
Kara reached out a hand to tickle the dog’s ears. Gil, sensing a soft touch, had already rolled onto his back, ready to lap up any attention on offer.
“Gil,” she said, “that’s a strange name for such a handsome beast. Something to do with fishing?” She nodded towards the fishing rods attached to the roof of the cockpit.
“It’s short for Guilty.”

Stop by my website if you get a moment. It’s at http://www.wsoliman.com. You can read the entire first chapter of Unfinished Business there.


Monday, 16 July 2012

How would you answer?

I came across these ten questions for authors that someone asked me to answer recently so thought I'd reproduce them here. How would you answer them? Make me laugh by posting a whacky answer to just one of them and I'll give a copy of my latest Hunter Files Mystery, Risky Business, to the winner.

1) A short paragraph on what you write about and the genre, please?

I started life as an author writing regency romance. I now write contemporaries, too, and also a series of marine crime mysteries. You can find me at http://www.wendysoliman.com and http://www.wsoliman.com

2) What is a typical writing session like, in 300 characters or fewer?

No such thing. Every day varies. I have to clear the decks, so to speak, get all the boring daily stuff out of the way first – like cleaning, shopping or whatever – then the rest of the day’s mine and I can lose myself in a world of my own creation.

3) Women: underwire or banded?
Underwired. I’m an inverted pear-shape so carry most of my weight up top! Enough said.

4) If you use a pen name, why? If you don't, do you worry about stalkers?

I write my contemporaries and marine crime novels as W. Soliman, just so that readers of my regencies don’t get confused. I’m certainly not trying to hide who I am – far from it. Stalkers? Just let 'em try!

5) What is the oddest thing about your writing or the way you write?

Went to an Abba tribute band concert a while back and as they sang ‘The Name of the Game’ I thought it would be a great title for a book. (Us writers are never off duty!). That book has now been published.

6) Give us a glimpse into how you choose the names of your characters, please?

If I’m writing regencies I refer to my Penguin book of names and then check on line to make sure the name I choose existed in the time period I’m writing about. A Lady Jenna wouldn’t really cut it! With contemporaries, I usually just choose names that I think fit the personality of the character I’ve created, or a name that I like, but with nineteen published books under my belt, I’m running out of those.

7) Any thoughts on staying healthy while pursuing such a sedentary career?

I walk – fast - at least an hour and a quarter every day with my dog. (A great activity for plotting, by the way), I pump iron at the gym twice a week and have just acquired a push bike.

8) Dogs or cats, and why?

I love all animals but have had dogs for years. My latest is a rescuee from a shelter in Spain. Here he is in all his loveliness. We paid more than the price of a business class seat to have him flown out to Florida, where we spend half the year. Couldn’t be without him and didn’t think twice about the expense, which is more than can be said for my husband, who had to foot the bill! He's still in therapy, trying to get over the shock!

9) If you research, what's your method? If you don't, how do you get away with that?

I mostly use the internet for research but also have an impressive library of research books, mostly centred on the regency period.

10) What is the most interesting or outrageous comment you've heard/read about your writing?

When my first book was accepted for publication, someone very close to me who ought to have known better, asked if I was actually being paid for it!

Come on then all your writers out there. Choose a question and post the answer here. One of you will win a copy of Risky Business.
Good luck!


Saturday, 7 July 2012

A Satirical take on the obesity epidemic

It’s scary to think that this little planet of ours is already home to seven billion people. By 2050 make that nine billion. Poor old earth is sinking under the strain, struggling to sustain those of us already here. So how come one third of Americans are obese and another third overweight, with the UK heading in a similar direction?

What’s to be done?

Well, here’s a radical suggestion. How about putting a limit on individual BMI’s? Over 30 and you’re…er, chopped liver. Would that we with or without onions, sir? Personal trainers would be a thing of the past. Nothing like a little incentive—like staying alive—to focus the mind.

Yep, anyone who let’s themselves go beyond that limit should be food for the rest of us. Just think, a six foot man, nicely rounded, could support a family of four for a week. Yum, yum. Factor in the food he’ll no longer be eating himself and we’re already turning the tide. They’ll be plenty of ribs, nice juicy breast, loads of fat thigh, flabby belly and plenty of heart for all. Form an orderly queue now; there’s plenty for everyone. Not too sure what we’ll find to chew on in the brain department but there’s a downside to every arrangement.

What about the kids, I hear you ask? Podgy little loves abound. They’re everywhere; have you noticed that? Seeing the state of them is enough to put you off ever eating again. Still, I’m not totally heartless, (pun intended). They’re not to blame for the junk they get away with eating. Personally I think there’s nothing wrong with a clip round the ear to remind a kid who’s boss. Bring back the birch—never did me any harm. But allowing one’s chubby cherubs to gorge on stuff that will shorten their lives considerably and make them unhappy by being permanently overweight for that shortened lifespan—do you really want to know what goes into chicken nuggets?—well, that really is child cruelty.

Answer, barbeque the parents on a slow spit for just under two hours until golden brown, season well, add vegetables, a good dollop of decent red and spices to taste…

Er, before you start berating me as a meanie, I’M ONLY JOKING!!