We have all dabbled in "poetry." Don't deny it. It was
okay. Because it came from deep within us - even though much of it was lousy as
far as the correct pentameter, rhyme, or all the other rules about the real
thing were concerned.
Well, I just read some poems of real-life, present-day Canadian poet, Jim Bennett. I was even presumptuous enough to write
"a review" of his latest volume, Retirement Clock: Poems 5. My
only excuse for such arrogance is that I put down what I felt;
because that's how I enjoy poetry; it's personal.
And here is said personal review:
* * *
A Book of Haunting and Powerful Poetry
Retirement Clock: Poems 5
On my shelf, a heavy bookend holds treasured volumes tight against
intrusion. There, they reign, my poets: Goethe, Schiller, Grillparzer. I grew
up with them. Carl Sandburg, too, amuses; while Maya Angelou accuses. I love
Poetry. It sings to me and stirs my soul.
Today, I shifted the heavy marble, for Jim Bennett, Canadian Poet, to take up residence among my
After several re-readings, Bennett’s fifth volume: Retirement Clock: Poems 5 was not
an easy read, hitting home on so many fronts: Retiring from ‘being somebody,’
wilting away like autumn leaves, ashamed of our cruel world. Among the pages,
there are four inter-connected poems in particular that made me stop and
grieve; powerful beyond the thirteen years of passing.
If the poet will allow me to quote from The Path Now Taken.
A misguided fanatic justifies his unthinkable act before Allah: “the path now
chosen absolves your path behind.” Not until the following Burning “I
am the flame,” did the imminent threat quiver, then horrify in Executed “can’t
get out.” The last of these four poems, Speech to the Statue of Liberty “I
saw the flame of freedom fail” ends with the pledge ‘we must prevail.’
I did not check pentameter, nor rhyme, which are technically perfect. I
simply felt what I read. Some words swept over me at first,
like that unexpected breaker on an unknown shore. But as I came to anticipate
the next wave, moved back not to be swallowed up, followed it out into the surf
to be taunted, I glimpsed precious pebbles underneath, watched blue-footed
boobies soar above. This is today’s Poetry in all its glory, its depths, its
bared feelings; haunting imagery of life passing...
Jim Bennett’s preceding four volumes are equally as powerful. I strongly
recommend you spend some stirring hours in their company.
* * *
Be sure to visit Jim's blog - I recently asked him some pressing
questions in connection with nominating him for the "Liebster Award"
(nobody ever gets to be the finalist). His answers are interesting, if
not as terse as his poetry.
- Answer the 10 questions that are given to you by the nominator
(and don’t be shy). Scroll to the end of this post for your questions from me.
- Nominate 10 other bloggers for this award.
- Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
Let the nominees know that
they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.
* * *
Even though this might be a slight bow to Mr. Ponzi,
combined, we are a force, and we proudly
acknowledge each other, our strengths, our genres, our very different
approaches to writing. All are valid in
their own right. All are commendable. All are to be celebrated.
* * *
Here are Christoph Fischer’s questions to me. I
answered them as honestly as I could. Now, remember, I am a writer. I have been
suspected to make things up!
1. If you did not blog about books, what would you
where I often feature
authors with an interest in animals and/or their pampered pets (from cats,
dogs, to fish, water buffalo and elephants). You are all invited to send me your
stories with pictures of your “best ever friends.”
2. What is [was] your strangest hobby?
Let me explain: I innocently
went to our little animal shelter to volunteer. A couple of hours max. I was to “socialize
the cats,” stroking and cooing. Yeah, that got buried in cat litter real fast.
I can joke about it now,
as I do in “Pasha, from Animal Shelter to
a Sheltered Life” (the cat’s life, not mine) Although I sadly do lead a rather
sheltered life now. And, I still scoop being owned by two cats. Of course, they
are from the shelter; a volunteer’s occupational hazard.
3. What makes you laugh?
A good joke. I am gullible
(see no. 2 above).
4. What is your favorite song?
“Warum hat jeder Frühling, ach, nur einen Mai?”
Huh? Relax, you don’t have
to repeat it. But, as an Austrian expat, I do love my Viennese operettas which
I still listen to on my old records (those round, black, vinyl things; you remember?
Well, maybe not.)
5. Where would you like to live if it
could be anywhere at all?
isolated Hana. Of course, I’d need a helicopter pilot to ferry my supplies over;
that winding one-lane road is too treacherous. (Christoph, are you listening?)
That reminds me: I once sent
an RVer friend directions to my house here in the foothills of rural Arkansas, cautioning
her about the “windy roads.” She told me that there was no wind at all. Geesh:
Not windy as in Indie. But as pronounced
in, I, or whatever—can’t come up with
6. Celebrity Crush?
Sorry, not my thing. (Except
for Clive Cussler. He ranks right
after “Mr. Smith.” See my question no. 3 to you.)
I guess, I’m getting too
old to gush over our present-day “Celebrities,” unless they were my favorite
writer-friends. So, hurry up and get famous so I can initiate said gushing and
crushing. (Charlie Bray has an
opinion about that).
7. Do you prefer books with a message or
are you happy to just be entertained by a story?
Actually, both, depending
on my mood. I do love exotic locales, though – the more tropical, lush or
remote and dangerous the better. I guess that’s why I can’t abide “country”
music, all too popular in this southern rural setting I chose as my exile.
All that moaning and
groaning about the outhouse (been there, done that), the lame horse (never had
one, lame or otherwise), and the grubby hubby “who’s done gone run off with
Lilly-May.” Luckily, I never had one of those either.
8. Do you have a pet “hate”?
You better believe it. It
took me a long time to master the English language. (And according to some – my
above RVer friend included - I am not done yet.) I am not talking accent here;
that’ll never go away.
But now, I find that they have abandoned conjugating verbs in
schools. “I should have did this,”
or “I should have went,” etc. It
raises havoc for a writer. Y’all agree, aren’t ya?
9. The world ends tomorrow, where would
you go if you had one plane ticket free?
Waste my last day on a
plane? Squashed in the middle seat? You must be kidding.
I am driving to the liquor
store and blow my money on the best bottle of wine they have.
Now there is a challenge. This
Arkansas county is as dry as a ghost ship’s last barrel of rum.
10. Do you have a motto you live by?
“Avoid ladies’ lunches.”
Sorry, but I moved to a small
community where almost everyone is retired. I find old people really selfish.
They won’t talk about my books. They won’t gush over my writing. And they won’t
buy my darn novels (my fault. I furnished the library with free copies). All
they talk about is themselves.
The next time I have to meet
someone for lunch, I’ll take my books along. And I’ll talk about them!
* * *
Here are my nominees:
Jim Bennett (Poet Extraordinaire with strong opinions; that's okay, he is Canadian)
This will take some
thought – and perhaps a glass of wine - because 1) a lot has been asked and
answered before, and 2) I am not an overly curious gal to ask personal
questions. Doesn’t mean I don’t care; just that I want you to dig deeper into
your writer’s soul.
Now, if you let me be a
little bit wicked about this, we can have some fun (I hope I don’t have to
change my nominee list. Naw! You’re game for a little irreverence, aren’t you? This
from someone who is generally burdened by “The Importance of being Earnest” (misspelled intentionally, lest
you get the wrong idea).
1)Do you talk to your computer?
(No, not that. We know
what you fling at it when it swallows your manuscript).
I mean, do you thank it
for being there, day after day, in the middle of the night when you have that
epiphany; and when it helps you spell epiphany?
someone introduces you as “an author,” people sometimes (mostly at ladies’
luncheons) dismiss your meteoric little moment by saying “Oh, I could write a
a) What is your answer?
b) What do you think to yourself? Remember, this is a GA-rated blog.
3) If you
use a pen-name, what was your primary reason?
(Since we don’t have any
erotica writers here that I know of, this should be educational, rather than
obvious. I give you a hint: My real name is too long to fit on my covers, and
too complicated to be remembered, or ever being spelled correctly; yes, I do
have an Umlaut; it’s an ö. When the
immigration lady asked me too suddenly if I wanted to change my name, I sputtered
that I was still looking for Mr. Smith. She said, she was too, and stamped my
US-citizen certificate. That was long before I tried to sneak into Wilbur’s domain).
4) How lenient
are you with people who answer their own questions?
5) This is hard. Let’s see: Why don’t you get something off your chest.
No, it can’t be the cat, nor
your Labradoodle or pet-elephant. It has to be about – your Love of MARKETING. That should open some floodgates.
6) Did you
ever change the original cover(s) on your book(s) and why? (I can answer that. Oops, it’s not my turn – but
it was Russell’s blog article even though I loved the other cover).
7) Someone of your not-so-good
friends (at the ladies’ luncheon) insists that the lush in your novella “sounds
How do you tell them: Hell no! It’s a MADE-UP STORY
(as you order another glass of Merlot).
Still, this pillar of the community righteously declares "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." Note that I gave her credit to get it right (which she won't).
8) The best advice you received
from a successful colleague.
(Other than to get lost)
9) Did you
have the fortitude (otherwise referred to as guts), and humility, to follow it?
10) Do you
blog to get added exposure, or do you really feel a connection with your
* * *
Whew. That’s done. Now, is there some Superior
Being to select a Winner in all of this? I have no idea. As far as I am
concerned, we are all winners here, supporting each other, and giving the
three-up cheer: “Hip, hip, hooray.” Because—levity aside—we are all passionate
about our writing. We believe in it. WE ARE GOOD AT IT...yeah, darn right, we
are! So there!
I was given this book free
from storycartel.com for my honest review.
Egypt, archeology, history, mystery and thrills. How could I not like this
book? The three main characters, Naunet, Jonathan, and Bill, are sent
post-haste to Egypt in order to clear off and translate an ancient gold tablet.
It turns out that there are 50 of these tablets. Because of the rarity and the
material they are made from these tablets are very valuable.
Edward convinces Naunet to join him for lunch and the adventure begins... He
and Karakurt have taken two of the tablets. They need Naunet to clear and
translate them. She is kidnapped. I liked this book so much that I bought
another three of this author's works. I VERY HIGHLY recommend this book.
Cataclysm" by Inge H. Borg is her third book with an Egyptian theme, all
three belong to the "Legends of the Winged Scarab" series. On this
occasion the story is set in a post-apocalyptic / post-cataclysmic world where
most of the US is wasteland and power and wealth are now in South America and
Art theft, smuggling and
material survival form the story of this book that brings back Egyptologist
Naunet Klein from the previous book. She finds herself invited together with
her husband, to join Egyptian archaeologist Jabari El-Masri and art
collector Lorenzo Dominguez on an abandoned cruise ship in the Caribbean to
help translate the inscription on Ancient Golden Tablets.
Legends around the
inscriptions and their threatening nature make this a difficult task for her,
as does the entire set up of illegality and bribery and with untrustworthy
partners in crime on board.
The story is like an
adventurous dream, ornate and meticulously set up. It tells with often
sarcastic wit and Borg's signature dry sense of humour the motifs and hopes of
our characters while checking those ideas constantly against the harsh reality.
With her all-knowing
point of view Borg lets us look into all of their minds - a technique that I
Obviously well researched
and knowledgeable about Egypt and its culture Borg’s writing style is full of
ornate and beautiful descriptions.
Weaving in the ancient
Egyptian mythology and legends lends an almost philosophical and moral aspects
to some of the writing and plot.
The boat that our heroes
use is real and, once again, the precise descriptions make it come alive
At the same time, the
futuristic setting does not distract from the story. What could have been a
major component in the plot is merely a writer's tool in my eyes to show once
more the enormity of time. Book 1 one (Khamsin, the Devil Wind of the Nile) was
set in 3080 B.C, Book 2 (Sirocco, Storm over Land and Sea) in the present, and
now Book 3, "After the Cataclysm," takes place only a couple of years
into the future. It pays homage to the indestructibility of the legends and the
artifacts and with that made a lasting impression on this reader’s mind. While
dystopian in nature the book spares us distractions that would not befit the
Naunet and her husband,
the art collector and the archaeologist are all excellent characters that make
the reading experience a very enjoyable one.
* * *
Read a detailed description of
Cataclysm on Christoph Fischer’s interesting website here:
And while you are at it, bookmark this
website. It’s a great place to hang out, reading about new releases and great author
interviews. And while you are at it, don’t forget to check out Christoph’s own
I like the
way it turned out; standing alone as a dystopian action/adventure. However, readers will
definitely benefit from having read at least Book 2 - Sirocco, Storm over Land and Sea,
whereas Book 1, Khamsin, the Devil Wind of the Nile, is
a stand-alone with only its artifacts as the bridge to the two sequels).
* * *
Yellowstone Supervolcano explodes. A
ghost ship, the abandoned real Lyubov
Orlova, becomes the floating battleground between protagonists from Sirocco, Storm over Land and Sea, Book
the Cataclysm is a dystopian action-adventure novel that plunges straight into this
desperate post-apocalyptic world.
Egyptologist Naunet Wilkins and her
scientist husband Jonathan flee their lawless homeland on a small sailboat. They accepted an uneasy
offer from Egyptian archaeologist Jabari El-Masri, a
fugitive from his own country. He was given refuge on Venezuela’s Isla
Margarita, owned by the fanatic art collector Lorenzo Dominguez. Did El-Masri
barter his Golden Tablets and the expertise of his
American friends for his own exile?
Once again, Naunet is torn between translating
the ancient curses for the ruthless South American billionaire, and saving her
future world from the dire prophecies.
As another ill-wind blows, she finds her
of you who have encouraged me over the years, and especially you who
have bought my books, I say a big “Thank You.”
down, do some reading, and write that short review on whatever books of mine you have
read so far, so that I get onto that Amazon best-seller list.
I had featured Christoph Fischer's Trilogy on this blog before; as well as having shown his four-legged family of Labradoodles on Pasha's blog.
Today, Christoph has opened up with a question that he has asked himself:"How autobiographical are my stories?"
In the following article - reblogged from his website - he allows us glimpses about the people behind his novels.
* * *
Here are some pictures that might give some insight into my world and the stories behind my stories.
This is my paternal grandmother, Gertha / Greta Adam. She divorced my grandfather in 1933, the year my father was born. He never saw his older sister, who remained with my grandfather, until in the late 1970s. They were living in East Germany while my grandmother, her sister Vilma and my father lived in Bavaria, in the West.
Gertha/ Greta and her sister Vilma’s story between 1933 and 1946 is a huge part of THE LUCK OF THE WEISSENSTEINERS, although their exact story was quite different from that of the Weissensteiners in my book.
The two and their kind-hearted nature were the basis for the characters who I named after them.
This is my paternal grandfather and his Trabant. I sadly never met him but my aunt told me a lot of good things about him when I met her in 1989 (just before the wall came down). He had an amputated leg – not war related – and was a gentle soul, a librarian and book lover. Why my grandparents divorced was never explained to us children. My aunt thought it was to do with money for the family business, but nobody who knows is still alive. Two of my books play out divorce scenarios that could befit their story – seen from different sides. My grandfather and his (imagined/ projected) character heavily influenced the figure of Jonah Weissensteiner. Jonah is how I imagined my grandfather to have been and how my aunt described him. The story of his amputation is the basis for Sebastian, and a lot of the other ‘cold’ facts about his life have influenced the story line of SEBASTIAN.
(A "Trabant" was the ubiquitous East German two-cylinder car)
This is the mighty alpine landscape that was the backdrop for my childhood. Typical for my upbringing was also the mighty Catholic church, which punished me with masses, confessions and terrible guilt trips because I just did not believe as I was told. [Not that I was forced to do anything other than to go to church by my mother - I hasten to add] Mundane things seemed more important to me than religion at the time and I disagreed that it would have to be the most important thing in my life. Rebel that I was I stopped going anyway, so no harm done.
Our wider family had a farm with a restaurant business attached. It was central to the people of the generations above us and many a yarn was spun about its owners and the people who wanted to inherit it. THE BLACK EAGLE INN is heavily inspired by those stories, but what really happened with the family business I honestly do not know. I never met the people concerned and for the purpose of my post-war German story I had to change so much of the original script that only little of the outer sceleton is similar to the real Inn behind the book.
Above is a picture of my maternal grandparents. My grandfather died at the age of 54 due to a heart condition – something that also found its way into my books. He was a civil servant and had several children.
This is my grandmother’s offspring as seen in the 1970s.
You can see, a lot of children, hence my tendency to write large family sagas.
My grandmother Gertha / Greta with me and my siblings, early 1980s before her death. Me eating cake with a silly hat on next to my grandmother, my father walking and smiling, my mother on her way into church, a picture that reminds me of the famly business, a political poster from after the war and a family snap shot as I imagine the Black Eagle Inn lot.
The Luck of the Weissensteiners (Three Nations Trilogy Book 1)
In the sleepy town of Bratislava in 1933 a romantic girl falls for a bookseller from Berlin. Greta Weissensteiner, daughter of a Jewish weaver, slowly settles in with the Winkelmeier clan just as the developments in Germany start to make waves in Europe and re-draws the visible and invisible borders. The political climate in the multifaceted cultural jigsaw puzzle of disintegrating Czechoslovakia becomes more complex and affects relations between the couple and the families. The story follows them through the war with its predictable and also its unexpected turns and events and the equally hard times after.
But this is no ordinary romance; in fact it is not a romance at all, but a powerful, often sad, Holocaust story. What makes The Luck of the Weissensteiners so extraordinary is the chance to consider the many different people who were never in concentration camps, never in the military, yet who nonetheless had their own indelible Holocaust experiences. This is a wide-ranging, historically accurate exploration of the connections between social location, personal integrity and, as the title says, luck.
Sebastian is the story of a young man who has his leg amputated before World War I. When his father is drafted to the war it falls on to him to run the family grocery store in Vienna, to grow into his responsibilities, bear loss and uncertainty and hopefully find love.
Sebastian Schreiber, his extended family, their friends and the store employees experience the ‘golden days’ of pre-war Vienna and the timed of the war and the end of the Monarchy while trying to make a living and to preserve what they hold dear.
Fischer convincingly describes life in Vienna during the war, how it affected the people in an otherwise safe and prosperous location, the beginning of the end for the Monarchy, the arrival of modern thoughts and trends, the Viennese class system and the end of an era.
As in the first part of the trilogy, “The Luck of The Weissensteiners” we are confronted again with themes of identity, Nationality and borders. The step back in time made from Book 1 and the change of location from Slovakia to Austria enables the reader to see the parallels and the differences deliberately out of the sequential order. This helps to see one not as the consequence of the other, but to experience them as the momentary reality as it must have felt for the people at the time.
The Black Eagle Inn (Three Nations Trilogy Book 3)
The Black Eagle Inn is an old established Restaurant and Farm business in the sleepy Bavarian countryside outside of Heimkirchen. Childless Anna Hinterberger has fought hard to make it her own and keep it running through WWII. Religion and rivalry divide her family as one of her nephews, Markus has got her heart and another nephew, Lukas got her ear. Her husband Herbert is still missing and for the wider family life in post-war Germany also has some unexpected challenges in store.
Once again Fischer tells a family saga with war in the far background and weaves the political and religious into the personal. Being the third in the Three Nations Trilogy this book offers another perspective on war, its impact on people and the themes of nations and identity.
Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years he moved on to the UK where he is still resident today. ‘The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ was published in November 2012; ‘Sebastian’ in May 2013 and The Black Eagle Inn in October 2013. He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.