Book Hippo

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Viviane Bretanos

Another author with MuseItUp Publishing has released a new book. Unfortunately, she is quite sick and can do no promotion for herself. So I thought I'd do a blog for her. This is going to be in the words of others. Here is Viviane's bio of herself.

I was born in Reading UK in 1958. My father is English and my mother is French although there is a strong vein of Spanish on my maternal grandmother's side. I was educated at various schools before completing Sixth Form College at St Peter's Huntingdon. I somehow managed to collect A levels in English, French and History and I subsequently won a place at Sheffield University where I decided to read Classical

Civilization. Once there, however, I decided that I had had enough of the academic life; I found the student mentality rather false and having been brought up in student circles, rather boring.

Much to my mother's horror, I gave up my studies and went to London to begin a course as a Canine Beautician. In 1984, my first husband and I parted ways amicably and I decided to visit the Ionian island of Corfu to celebrate my new freedom. It proved to be a life-changing decision. I still remember to this day, sitting in a café-bar, overlooking the crystal clear azure sea and saying to my friend. "I never want to leave here". And here, I still am. I am now married again, to a Greek, Alexander {not the Great}, and I have two teenage children, 2 dogs and 4 cats and I absolutely love the life-style here. I would recommend it to anyone.

In 2005,I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer - for the SECOND time in 5 years. It is when you are faced with your own mortality that one begins to put one's life into perspective. Thankfully, God was yet again on my side and I am now in full remission.

But I decided that there was more to me than being a mother {although, I hasten to add, it is a worthy assignment.} I decided to finally get my head down and do what I'd always promised myself; I was going to finish a novel. I have been writing romance since my early teens, mostly for my own satisfaction and for my friends but now I really want to work at it. Writing has become my passion. I have always been a "Romantic", often accused of not living in the real world but who wants to do that? I like to call my work Romance with a quirky, humorous Brit twist and I am always striving to make my characters real, characters we can all relate to.

I still fly back to the UK at least twice a year - especially if Darren Hayes {my other passion} is performing but I have to say that my heart is now in Greece. I suppose with so much Mediterranean blood flowing through my veins, I didn't stand a chance against this magical Island. The imaginary island of Kuros, featured in my new release Dreamweek has been inspired by my beloved Corfu and I hope it will inspire you all to visit.

Viviane has a new book, like I said, A Little Crushed, because she's very sick and in radiation for her third cancer, she can't do any promo herself. I'm just helping her out a little. Really five star reviews all the way.
Age-old tale of student/teacher attraction is told with intelligence and depth. A Little Crushed


Friday, February 22, 2013

February Shopping

February is almost over. This year, I'm glad of that, even if February is my favorite month. That's because my birthday is on Ground Hog's Day at the start of the month.

I do a little thing each year to celebrate my day. I spend money to buy myself things I want, not need. I just came home from shopping for books. I got the Canadian Writer's Market and another writing book plus a language book of Russian for fun.

Earlier this month, I went to another mall and bought a Silurian era ammonite fossil. I was quite thrilled to find a place one could buy fossils. They're mostly from Morocco. I also got some sandals for summer.

But I've finished spending money for a while, as I'm on a medically supervised diet, I don't eat out anymore, so there's no more money gone on subs and steaks. And I've given up scratch and wins as a waste of money. So I have plenty to spend on myself in February.

March is time to save. I want to get some money to go somewhere in April. There is a place in Ontario named Grisby where the birds come and soar on the down drafts off the Niagara Escarpment. I've planned to go 'some day' but for the last couple of years we either didn't have the money or the time. So I'm hoping for this year.

At least I'll have something to read on the way.

Monday, February 11, 2013

History Speaking

So I'm reading The Rise And Fall Of Ancient Egypt. Great book. So much I didn't know but it makes me think about how one goes about writing historical fiction. Because the fiction writer can't say, 'I don't know' to their readers like an historian can.

When there is no evidence in the archaeological record, the historian leaves a blank. The fiction writer must fill it in. Here's an example. No one knows why Menes decided to unify the land and make it Egypt.

As a fiction writer, I would write that other peoples had their eye on the fertile Nile delta and all the rich farmland made by the inundations. So Menes had to protect it for the people who already lived there. He did this by unifying them under his rule so he could co-ordinate the protection of the resource.

Now I have no way of knowing if that is true or anywhere near true but no one else does either and if you can  make a good story with it, why not? You'd have to square it with facts that are known, like, Menes didn't really care about the 'average' guy. He wanted power for himself.

So maybe he's one of these self-centered guys who has charisma and people flock to his standard, maybe he lies to them, but that's part of the story, too.

The great thing about historical fiction is that people never really change. There'll always be greed and kindness and war and peace. So it's not impossible to construct a believable story from history, even history as ancient as Egypt.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Leonardo Re-thunk

So I watched another tv show about how Leonardo da Vinci was an isolated genius, a towering intellect whose creativity and inventions stump people. How did he do it?

Wrong, wrong and more wrong. Leonardo stood on the shoulders of others. People mention his flying machines. Well, people have always been interested in flight. About 300 years before Leonardo, there was Eilmer, also known as Oliver a monk at Malmesbury who strapped some wing-like gizmo onto his back and jumped off the tower.

He did fly for some yards before crashing and breaking both his legs. He could never walk again but he did fly. Leonardo most probably did know about him.

As for his other inventions and ideas. A good book has been written by Gavin Menzies which claimed that the Chinese treasure ships actually landed in Europe, too, and he notices in his book, that Leonardo's best work is done right after that.

Some of Leonardo's ideas are known to the Chinese who tried them before him. Did Leonardo da Vinci meet the Chinese travelers? Was he enthralled with their ideas, so radically different from what he was used to? Possibly.

I think that history needs to change it's opinion of Leonardo. Genius: yes. Lone inventor who invents all his own ideas: no.

Leonardo was a man of his time and was well read enough to know all about previous inventors and what they achieved. He improved on every idea he came across, found a better way to make it work, but he did not do it all in a vacuum.

He wasn't any more ahead of his time than any of the other 'crazy' inventors back in the Dark, Middle or Renaissance ages.

But go ahead, admire the guy. He was what he was and did a lot. Mostly mechanical toys and objects for his patrons parties. And he cast his giant horse in one go. It's still unknown how he did it.

These days I guess you'd call him the go-to guy and he's still the greatest genius the world has ever known.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Building A Toilet

Funny the things one does as a child. Before I started school,  my best friend was Randy Peterson. He lived almost at the top of the hill.

One day we went into a place called by kids, 'The Gulley'. It was a chasm running close to where I lived. It had a creek running through it and a clay falls, where a kid could take some clay right out from under a waterfall and make stuff with it.

Well, Randy and I went down there once and as happened from time to time, someone had dumped their garbage. A toilet seat. So Randy suggested making a toilet. We dug a hole and built something like a blind around it so noone could see in and put the toilet seat on the hole.

Then Randy said we should each use it. He went it and then I went in. I was worried Randy would peek at me but I don't think he did.

And so we left our toilet to anyone who wanted to use it. The next time I was down in the Gulley, there was no sign of it.

When we left The Gulley and went to Randy's house, he gave me a dead mouse because he liked me. I took it home and tried to entice my cat to play with it but my dad saw what I was doing and threw the mouse out. He said Kitty would get sick playing with it.

I thought I would be friends with Randy for a long time but as soon as we started school he stopped talking to girls completely. I was devastated. It was years before he would deign to talk to girls because back then boys were always saying how much they disliked girls and mock attacking them.

So much has changed. Now little boys will actually say they like girls and both sexes play quite nicely together, thank you. It's a good sign. No more girl's sandbox and boy's sandbox, they play in one sandbox, great strides.

Anyway, I never spoke to Randy again, except once, when I was with my friend Karen Burns at my neighbour's house and we wrestled with him. He much preferred Karen because she deliberately lost to him and we were older then and at the stage of boys being interested in girls so she was the big favorite. I was definately out.

But no worries. He got into drugs as so many other kids did back then in White Rock and became paranoid, I have no idea how he ended up.

But I still look back with fondness at our toilet making and have a giggle.