Goodbye August!

Too full of common sense for your average politician to act upon…What do the heads/despots of many countries care about their people? Very little.

Georgia Varjas, Writer & Author

Thank ye Goddesses August is gone and buried!


What a month of heat and humidity, corruption, denials and fraud,that was my holiday experience!

Shattered glass, yes, the security glass door on the shower exploded into a thousand pieces, and thankfully no one was inside.

Disillusions and scary foggy illusions from viral bugs and strange infections, upheavals and heaving…..and that was just my world!

August, often considered the “silly” month in the media soaked our minds with tragic images of people escaping their own horrors and heading to the Pearly Gates of Europe.

It seems nobody wants to go to rich Kuwait, wealthy Bahrain, golden Saudi or the many other economically stable Muslim countries.

Well, it is true, I wouldn’t go to these countries! But then again, I would not be allowed to enter with my wild Western ways, non religious attitude, brazen fashion style, loose language, non marital status…

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On characterisation / a poem

Being human, all writers have strengths and weaknesses and enjoy/dislike different aspects of their craft. Plots and sub plots are, of course, vital, as is the balance between action, dialogue, description, etc., but, for me, one of my favourite tasks – or I should say joys – is endowing a character with a personality and physical image through description.

Jean Wilson, a writing colleague, who has now retired to Torquay in the UK, was a favoured member of a small group I take as group leader for the University of the Third Age, in Torrevieja, Spain. Here is her take on a certain man who helped people a short, brilliant, story, she wrote.

‘Harold was a person one endeavoured to avoid if at all possible. He was an intense, blustery man of somewhat large stature, which of itself failed to hide his poorly controlled thinking ability, rather like a failed computer made in a third world country, which hadn’t yet got its act together. He was certainly low in gigabytes, and wanting in RAM. One couldn’t be certain that the keys struck would register as expected and a whole load of input seemed to have no relation to its later output. Harold’s idea of taking a short-cut was to fall down the stairs; and his confidence in himself took no account of the extent of his limitations. Any unfortunate encounter with him left many people feeling immense hopelessness in the integrity of the workings of Nature. Here was a man who told everyone he was a born again Xtian. It didn’t occur to him that he hadn’t been one in the first place, but he liked the reaction it had and tapped one of those pleasure seeking nerves which made him feel good for the day, enjoying the illusion of people’s undivided attention.’

Thanks Jean.

And now, as light relief from the really terrible happenings on this precious, be-devilled planet of ours, is a poem.

Most long-term Facebook, Twitter and Skype users, now and then get odd messages…And when I started receiving several requests from ‘Generals’ to Skype them, it struck me as amusing and didn’t quite ring true. This led to the writing of a poem, which I hope will make you giggle or grin…


The first message was explicit:
(I imagined him cock-sure and slick),
I giggled but quickly recovered,
got rid of him quick with a click.

I’m spoken for and happily married,
and let’s face it “over the hill…”
but it took me back decades of years,
provided an egotistical thrill.

‘Twas as if I’d sent out a photo,
doctored and faintly erotic:
where my boobs were “in place,”
and an unwrinkled face
suggested a jolly good frolic.

Dear reader I’m totally innocent,
except for writing on line;
don’t wear fancy drawers
(prefer metaphors)
although the thought was sublime.

These days my pleasures are simple:
coffee on patio, pastry snack,
hot chocolate at night,
a book and “to write,”
not gymnastics in bed on my back.

What triggered this poem you may wonder,
I’ll tell you the truth – it’s a fact,
in twenty-four hours
I was suddenly showered
by four Generals, a sir and a hack.

Of course most of “the others”
intentions were pure, white as snow,
but it’s safe to be wary
and quite necessary
for how is a woman to know?!

Who are you?

Your posts are alway fascinating, and sometimes wonderfully silly. No.1 fan.

Halfbananas - humour, short fiction & verse


Identity is a funny thing, something we often take for granted. How do you define the you that you see in the mirror? Who is that person looking back at you and is it the same person who was there yesterday? What do you mean you have no reflection? Do your friends know you’re a vampire?

When you think back you might realise just how much you’ve changed over the years, even if you’re still relatively young. The fact that you (hopefully) no longer howl when hungry, or throw a temper tantrum at the supermarket ‘cos they’ve sold the last of your favourite ice cream or potato chips shows that you are evolving. Of course not in a Darwinian sense: you are unlikely to develop gills just because you swim a lot, or wings because you are tired of taking the bus. It doesn’t quite work like that, unfortunately.

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A monster hit

Halfbananas - humour, short fiction & verse

Creature_medI seem to be running low on cash and have begun wondering where exactly I slipped up in my cunning plan to relocate and start afresh in a new country. Who would have thought that employment, contacts or a sensible career strategy would have been so necessary to make it work? Surely just turning up and waiting for opportunities to come knocking is a reasonable alternative? After all, it’s always worked out so well in the past…

Perhaps it’s partly to do with the fact that the term ‘career strategy’ fills me with a sense of nausea, not unlike the words ‘merchant banker,’ or ‘leveraging your personal brand to facilitate an ongoing financial remuneration paradigm.’

Maybe I can drum up a few quid with a bit of genre fiction, and solve my ongoing lack of a financial remuneration paradigm. Maybe.

Looking around at what’s popular recently, I’ve narrowed my options…

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As this post is a slight departure from the norm… I’d like to put strangers to my occasional ramblings in the picture, lest they send ‘the men in white coats’ to my door. Eldest son, Jason, is a blogger (among other things) and I have written the following in reply to his recent out-pouring of nonsense.

Who would have believed it, after all the years of shady shenanigans; coded glances and messages secreted in ancient lavatory cisterns, the truth was revealed by our eldest son to the unwitting world.

It is true, we ran a modest hotel in Bournemouth, before being pursued and approached by the Cirque du Soleil (not the Circus con Leche as stated by Jason). Seduced by our reputation – for ‘‘im indoors and yours truly were renowned for our prowess on the trapeze (despite the gathering years, and not known by many people) – the troupe were planning to ‘star’ us in a dazzling Spectacular, which would astound the public. While middle-aged, what we couldn’t do with our amazingly virile, versatile and talented forms, wasn’t worth talking about. Our stage names were Kermit and Dolly Rodriquez. Tragically, the spectacle was cancelled after Kermit developed a large corn on his big, right toe, and ‘delayed acne’ at the same time as my varicose veins became too prominent.

It was more than our lives were worth to comment further about the man with the withered hand. Then Jason suggested plastic surgery would be ‘rejuvenating,’ (and otherwise advantageous) and our planned retirement to sunny Spain fitted neatly in with the circumstances. It also meant that our other two sons wouldn’t be able to find us, thereby paving the way for our eldest son to inherit our vast estates and the oil-fields in Texas when we popped our clogs. We were astounded by his dastardly plan.

Quite a few Menu del dias and Café con leches later…

It is with huge relief that we have learned of a few, pertinent, arrests in the UK by MI5. This is most fortunate in that we were looking over our shoulders so frequently, we kept bumping into lamp-posts. We are also delighted to discover the truth about our eldest son. He arranged the plastic surgery to save our lives, which were in imminent danger at the time, and due to his magnanimous nature and a windfall from a grateful, former client (Jason was a ‘Professional Carer’ at one time, and not as he claims a Ninja assassin), he’s totally disinterested in our alleged fortune. Another massive bonus, we have been reunited with our other two sons, and so folks, as the sun sets in the Western, technicoloured sky, we are able to paddle in the Med. again with carefree hearts and be a united family..

And now for something completely different..

Three of us flying Lennicks are planning to publish a book of humorous poems, anecdotes, jokes and fifty word stories in the near future. So, do look out for The Moon is Wearing a Tutu. By Joy, Eric and Jason Lennick.

Available now for your reading pleasure – Food Glorious Food – a ten-story anthology, penned by various writers: members of WordPlay Forum. Published by Quirky Girl Publishing. A must for any occasion: beach or curled up in an armchair.

Keep an eye open (or two) for our up and coming anthology: Des Res. Another treat from WordPlay writers and the able Quirky Girl Publishing stable. (Both available from Amazon,
Kindle and CreateSpace..)

Coming soon: a brand, spanking new version of My Gentle War, a memoir written by yours truly. (No. 1 on Kindle in Memoir/Social History category.)

An interview with Dale Rominger

Scene: a sun-drenched patio in Playa Flamenca, Spain..

DaleHi Dale, Welcome to Spain and Chez Lennick. May I ask you a few questions?

Dale: Fire away!

Me: First off, would you like a cold beer?

Dale: It would be rude not to…Thanks.

Me: Would you tell us a few relevant facts about yourself: where you were born, lived and work/worked, and have you travelled much?

Dale: I was born in Summit, New Jersey in August of 1948. We moved around a bit when I was young. Actually I moved very five or six years until I landed in London, England where I lived for sixteen years. We lived in New Jersey, Washington D.C., and Ohio when I was young. I went to college in Ohio and then moved to Montana followed by California. They were both great places to live. In 1987 I moved to Great Britain where I stayed for almost thirty years. Now I’m in Seattle, Washington. I’ve been here a year and a few days and am doing my best adjusting to life back in the United States. I must confess, it’s not easy.

You asked if I have traveled much. The last time I counted I have been to 67 countries. For about ten years I was putting in about 100,000 miles a year in the air. I’ve been fortunate in this regard. I loved it, but it was tiring and now I’m settled here in Seattle.

Me: Wow! You’ve certainly burnt up some shoe leather…and clocked up some air miles! How interesting. Now, about the kernel in the shell: your writing… What inspired you to write in the first place?

Dale: A desire to write began when was in high school. I actually started writing a sci fi book then – it was crap! I never had the discipline to write and work full time, that is to write fiction. Much of my work demanded some writing of various kinds. But I retired early – around 62 – in part to begin writing in earnest and to create a website to post my writing and to provide a place for other people to publish their writing. I’m happy to say that I’m doing both of those things and enjoying it.

Me: I know everyone asks this question, but have you a specific routine or are you a more spontaneous writer?

Dale: I have a kind of routine. I’m a real night person so most of my creative time is late at night and early in the morning. I usually spend a couple of hours in the afternoon on whatever project I’m working on. That doesn’t mean I necessarily write, though I might. But more than not I reread what I wrote the day before, work on my flow charts – I keep flow charts of the narrative so I can quickly find scenes I want to look back on. I also may do some research. That sort of thing. At about 10:30 pm I go up to my study and begin writing. I’ll work until about 2:30 am, run the spell check, and then go off to bed. I love working like that. The world is quiet and it seems peaceful. And if it’s raining, I crack the window open a bit. The sound of the rain is great.

Me: Do you edit as you write or map out a rough draft/s first? And are you meticulous as regards to research?

Dale: I edit some when I write, but I’m a lousy editor of my own work – not unusual for writers. When I’ve completed a book, I print out that first draft for editing. When I’m done it goes to my wife who will go through it twice. Then it goes to a professional editor I use through the publisher. That edit is great and necessary, as far as I’m concerned. The professional editor not only makes sure the book is in the proper grammatical style demanded by the publishers, she (mine is a she) also finds plot holes, etc.

I don’t create a detailed outline or synopsis of the book before I begin. I do have a general outline, mostly in my head, but some on paper. That outline will change as I write. Those flow charts I mentioned allow me to keep a hold of the narrative structure as I write so I can see what is happening. They allow me to keep some control of the story. If I were made to write a detailed outline first, I’d never begin the writing.

I do a lot of research for both my fiction and nonfiction writing. A lot of that research is done before I begin writing, but not all. I often click on Google when I’m writing, look something up, do the research, and then return to the writing. It works for me. If you were to look at my word count each night, those nights with less words are also the nights I did a lot of research. I don’t lose the flow of my writing when I do that. And I enjoy the research as well.

Me: I have just finished your recently published book ‘The Woman in White Marble’ and I must say I was very impressed at the way the story-line just zipped along. Your writing flows really well. Do you have a clear idea of the way the complete story should go or do you let your characters lead you?

Dale: Well, as I said, I start with a general outline, but when I sit down to write, while I know in general what I will write about each evening, I often have no idea what the details will be or what the characters will do and say. Sometimes, however, a future scene will come to me in detail, so I pause and write that down in its detail so I don’t lose it. For example, I always discover the ending of my books at the beginning only a few days into the writing. I stop and write it down, either in my notebook or in a computer file. When I actually get to the end, it will change some, but I’m surprised how accurate that first imagining was.

Me: What inspired ‘The Woman in White Marble’?

Dale: You’ll notice that the book is dedicated to Peter Crook. Peter was a dear friend of mine. He died suddenly and I participated in his memorial service. A couple days after that service I was lying on the couch supposedly watching TV. What I was actually doing was remembering my times with Peter. Something happened on the TV that sparked with my thoughts and a general outline for the story just appeared in my mind’s eye. I laid there for a few minutes thinking about it, then got up, went upstairs to my study, and started writing. The book is interesting and fun because Peter was interesting and fun. It was really written for his wife and two daughters, my good friends.

Me: At roughly what age did you start writing seriously?

Dale: Depends what kind of writing we are talking about. Nonfiction probably in my early thirties. Fiction when I was 62.

Me: Now for the three W’s – Where do you write? What do you have a preference for: fact or fiction? And When is your favorite time to write?

Dale: I write in my upstairs study. Where ever we live, one of the bedrooms becomes my study. It’s filled with books, photos from around the world, and items I brought back from my travels.

I now prefer fiction, though I do nonfiction writing for my website almost every week.

My best time for writing is between 10:30 pm and 3:00 am.

Me: Have you a favourite writing tip you can share with us?

Dale: Not sure I do, except to find what works for you. I’ve read a few “how to write” book by successful authors. I enjoyed them and got some tips. But those book are really “how I write” books which have authority because they are written by successful authors. But how they write may not be how you write. I think Stephen King said you should first create a detailed outline. On the other hand, Ian Rankin doesn’t even know “who done it” when he begins writing his mysteries. They are both very successful authors, but you can’t take advice from them both.

I did read in one “how to write” books that if you never actually get down to writing something, and not just thinking about writing something, then you are probably not a writer and should go on to something else. Seemed like good advice.

Me: Who is your favorite writer/s?

Dale: To name a few: Philip Roth, Toni  Morrison, Chuck Palahniuk, Zadie Smith, Dave Eggers, Kurt Vonnegut, Barbara Kingsolver, Roberto Bolaňo, Haruki Murakami, Margaret Atwood, Julian Barnes, and Joyce Carol Oates.

Me: What’s next, Dale? Do you plan writing anything specific, or does your Muse surprise you?

Dale: I’m currently writing a second Drake Ramsey mystery – Drake is the protagonist in The Woman in White Marble. This one takes place in New Orleans so the city is a character in the book as well. I’m enjoying it very much.

Ideas are never a problem for me. I have another novel sitting in my computer – well, 4000 words of it – which I will return to when I’m done with good old Drake Ramsey.

Me: I feel I have taken up enough of your time! It’s been fascinating talking to you. Thank you for the interview. I’m looking forward to your next book!

Dale: Thank you.


You can find Dale at The Back Road Café



The fascinating world of blogging

Being, quite literally, an old hand at writing: childish stories and silly poems leading to keeping a diary, writing articles, travelogues, short stories, and eventually books, I have had a long love affair with the written word. It has never diminished. If anything, it means more to me in my twilight years, than ever. Oh the joys, and hiccups…of reading and writing!

Naturally, over the years, fashions and fancies have changed, and I am now delighted to welcome and be involved in the world of the Blogger. The word itself somehow has as odd, unpleasant connotation, perhaps reminding one of mugger or blagger, but most of the Blogs I’ve read have been interesting, entertaining, erudite and some downright brilliant, with plenty of humour and twists. The dictionary calls the act of blogging a verb and a noun (depending on use), its full title being weblog, a piece of writing used on the internet.

Of course, as with every genre of writing, there will always be abysmal bloggers and good ones, and naturally I would like to highlight three of – in my ‘umble opinion – the best.. The first name which springs to mind, is that of Carol Hedges, esteemed writer of many books (around fourteen I believe) and latterly the author of several, exciting, Victorian murder tales. Now, being a grandmother for the first time, Carol looks after her ‘little G” (two years old on 24th February) a few times a week and writes delightfully of their time together. Under the umbrella of “Adventures of L-Plate Gran – Never underestimate the power of Grandmas!” Carol writes regular gems which I thoroughly recommend to other grandmas. (Sadly I’m not one, but love them all the same.) In Carol’s offerings, you will find heart-warming episodes, zaniness and plain good fun.

Carol’s blog

My second recommended Blogger is a man with the unusual name of Bun Karyudo (pronounced Boon-CAR-you-dough) who was ‘Born on one continent, raised on a second, and now lives on a third.’ A married man with two teenaged sons, he has written blogs with such titles as: “Exploding tea bags? Not my cup of tea.” And “The Cosmic Significance of Bathroom Tiles,” which gives a few clues as to the quirkiness of his nature. Pictured with a paper bag over his head, Bun pretends to be “A Billionaire Philanthropist.”(Always good to humour him, as he might just happen to be one!). I personally think that Bun should open an “‘Ideas Line” for Bloggers as he can find interest and humour in tripping over his own feet or being sick; not to mention waxing lyrical over anything from plastic bags to “A freezing day in Wigan.” I kid you not.

Bun’s blog

Now I come to my third favourite Blogger and won’t apologise for so doing. Being a Brit – brought up not to praise myself or my family – I questioned myself soundly before ‘exposing’ my eldest son, Jason, to the limelight. And then I thought, ‘Why not?’ I’m a truthful person and I believe my eldest son to be an excellent Blogger. (All three sons are ‘good eggs,’ their hearts are in the right places and they are good citizens. It just happens that the eldest one also writes. Well!) Totally ignoring the word nepotism, an ugly concept, I continue… No stranger to originality or weirdness (a necessity in the blogging world) – and we’re back to quirky again – Jason also produces such posts as “Dinosaurs from Space” and “Klaatu barada nikto!” and a departure: a zany short story called ”Procrastination Man.” I can thoroughly recommend a read at his blog – halfbananas.

Jason’s blog