Travel blog…and why not?

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Barcelona. Home to works of art from Gaudi to football clubs.

But what is it like? I was there recently for book research (my sixth book of my John Steel mystery thriller series, and yes I’m plugging because it’s my blog), and I wanted to get to know the ins and outs of the place.

First of all, best airport, I’ve ever come into. Usually, its here’s your bags now get out. Not here, you have to go through the shops to get to baggage claim. Smart idea. Next off, the taxis. These were organised pretty much like JFK in New York, where you are led to a taxi. Its fare on the customers and the drivers.  To get from the airport to our hotel was around 28 Euros. A decent price I thought. There are buses, but really stuck on public transport with all those cases?

The Hotel; a very nice place called the Hotel Granvia, was located in the prime location. Not too far from restaurants the local stores. The hotel was fantastic with friendly and helpful staff. The building itself only has around fifty rooms, but this ensures a peaceful and pleasant stay. The room was fabulous with a view of the street and a comfortable bed. Tea and coffee items were also in the rooms. However, the coffee machine in the breakfast room was always available for use. There is a small library/ quiet room, which I often used for my writing.

Barcelona is a fascinating place due to the mixed structures, ranging from buildings from the 1400s to modern multi-level apartments. The people are friendly and welcoming. They speak Catalonian, Spanish, English and also more than often with hand and foot. There are markets tucked away down side streets as well as the main shops selling Burberry and Hugo Boss.

 

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The city is vast, but one can find that in a moment of utter awe, you’ve just walked around half of it. There are fantastic restaurants, but beware there are ones that are not that great as well. We were directed to one restaurant called  Casa Carmen.20171127_213027[1].jpg   A brilliant restaurant, with fantastic food at a reasonable price. The staff were helpful and made you feel welcome. This place I would most certainly recommend. But there are other places out there, you just have to explore and try out. However, I would say you speak to the hotel staff to see what they would recommend rather than just going for it too much.

The weather was just perfect; not too hot during the day so walking around didn’t feel like a forced march. The evenings can be a bit chilly, but by British standards, it was quite lovely.  There is so much to see and do. So depending on your time schedule, make a plan. There are hop-on-hop-off buses, which are good to get an initial feel for the place.

There are a few places that you will require to cue at to pay and then again to get in. One of these is the Sagrada Familia. A marvellous place, but there are times allotted for when you can buy the tickets and then when you can enter. A bit strange, but then it keeps down the number of people inside. P1010807.JPG

Another place that should be on anyone’s To-do list is Montserrat. This is a monastery that has grown into a breathtaking wonder set on top of a mountain.

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There are several ways up. But we took the cable car. The view from the car was outstanding, and also you find yourself humming the theme from Where Eagles Dare…or maybe that was just me?

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The place itself has restaurants, gift shops and a view that will take your breath away. Inside this building is the most fabulous place of worship. Believer or not it is worth a look.

Barcelona is a jewel that everyone should experience at some point. The place gave you the feel of being relaxed rather than pressuring you to rush around. It is definitely a place I would revisit, regardless of seeing most of the sights. But I believe it has more to offer.

So, go pack your bags and get yourself to Barcelona.

 

 

 

 

I find this offensive…..

Today, while checking FB to see who loves me, I noticed someone had put that some found the flag of Israel offensive?

For a while now I have seen that particular elements and people have been saying what they find offensive, and quite frankly, it’s a bit silly what they are complaining about.

People find the cross of Saint George (the English flag) offensive because of the crusades…which happened around eight hundred years ago.

Some people find a film offensive something on television offensive which the rest of the world had even thought to be that bad….stop watching and turn over.

Some people find breastfeeding their child offensive, but will gladly watch smut of television and look at posters for underwear…really?

You know what I find offensive?

People who find poppies and the Remembrance day offensive. Enough said on that.

Cuts to the Armed forces, nurses, police force, and emergency services and then giving yourself a pay rise for doing a good job.

Making children education a joke.

Closing Libraries.

Taking religious beliefs and rewriting it for your own agenda. And before people start pointing fingers or having a go at me it has been going on since religion was created.

Bullies. This includes people who abuse their spouses and kids, Online bullies and people who think large people in gyms are funny. (Hello, they are trying to do something about it, and a little support is better than bringing them down).

Governments and courts that make more rules to support criminals than those who need the law on their side? Sorry, but if a person who brakes into my house and hurts himself should’nt be able to sue me, he should go to jail for breaking into my property.

People who beat up old folks for their money, which usually is only enough to feed themselves.

This world is full. Far too many people of this small living space requiring too many resources. But together we can make this small living space a nicer place to be if we work together instead of trying to kill each other for money, beliefs or just because we can. There is technology that can feed the world with little resources, but it costs money, and people just don’t want to spend that money to feed, they would rather spend it on grand things and weapons.

We spend billions on space programmes and weapon programme, but there is no money to rehouse or send aid to countries that had suffered from earthquakes, hurricanes or floods, or fires. And fine this offensive.

President Kennedy said to the American people “Ask not what our country can do for you, but what we can do for your country.” Maybe the same should be said for our planet.

 

 

 

The 11th of 11th of 11th….Remember them.

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Today is Remembrance Day. The day when most Brits wear a poppy and go to parades, lay wreaths at cenotaphs. Today is the day we honour those who gave up so much for peace.

Unfortunately, some people disagree with this tradition and say that we shouldn’t do it because it honours war. These single-minded, unpatriotic people do not understand what this day represents. Today we honour EVERYONE who has given something to their country in the name of peace. Whether it was the British Empire, Germany, America, India, France…the list goes on.

But it isn’t about the first world war or second, it is about every conflict. Whether it is from a hundred years ago or yesterday.

These people; soldiers, Naval personnel, Airforce, and civilian, who gave up their lives for the freedom of those safely back home, should be remembered and the lessons learned not abused or put down.

All these people who scoff and say the day should not be remembered should think about why they are able to sit at home safely and not ruled by some dictatorship, or even not exist at all.

This is the day we not only remember them but give thanks for their sacrifice. Not only to those who died but those who were injured, physically and mentally. Let us not forget them and brush them to the side. But instead, keep this tradition going and help those who need it now.

 

Whilst watching the news……

This morning while watching the news there was a piece on Sexual harassment. Now, this is something that has been going on for years and is utterly wrong. What these poor women that have to endure the inappropriate advances by work colleagues or worse still bosses, is unfathomable.

Yes, more should be done to help these women. It is a form of abuse which should not be shrugged off.It should have a voice, they should have a voice.

However, as they interviewed women in the street to get their opinion, it became apparent most women don’t understand what unwanted advances mean. And unfortunately, this in itself can lead to a massive cry wolf situation and get many innocent people marked. But worse still get the attention drawn away from people who really are abused and need help.

PEOPLE…did he just says, people? Yes, because, believe it or not, men can be sexually harassed as well. Unfortunately, these cases are not brought up because, well let’s face it if a man tells another man he is sexually harassed at work, what reaction would he get?  Men can be put into an awkward position because of threats of lies to their spouses, or even the police get the abuser control. We don’t believe it can happen because men are meant to be the stronger sex. However, that is what makes that the perfect scenario for the abuser, who would believe a female could harass a man, surely it’s the other way around?

Sexual harassment or let’s face it abuse (because that is what it is), is swept under the rug because people are afraid of losing their jobs, not being believed because the abuser is someone that just doesn’t fit the bill. But most of all fear of what people will think of them.

Also, you have the people who feel just been looked at by someone they don’t like falls into that category. There are those who will use this as a form of revenge or just plain spite. These are the people who will ruin it for those who need help.

Sexual harassment of any kind is wrong, but don’t get your wires crossed. You have people who like to touch people, you know the sort, the hand touches when they laugh, or the huggers. If you feel this too much have the strength to tell them ( but nicely), they will understand most are just nice bubbly people. Be sure you know what is and isn’t inappropriate before coming forwards. If you’re not sure to talk to someone you can trust.

But if you are abused, don’t sit in silence, don’t let them destroy your lives. Speak out, get help. Be strong.

 

 

Finding that inspiration……

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As a writer, it is hard to sit at a desk and write about something you can’t see, let alone a place you have never been to. But what gives us inspiration, the drive to put pen to paper?

For some, it is music, a tune they heard on the radio or television commercial.  Other it may be something they have seen or read in a newspaper. The source of inspiration is finite. Even sitting in a cafe watching the world go by can be an excellent source for getting the grey cells working.

But what if you are stuck at home and not out and about, what then? Again music can stir all sorts of emotion which can lead to that perfect scene, whether it is action, love, or just plain scary. I try to stay away from tv shows or films while I write, this defends against cross-contamination. However, these are also an excellent catalyst for inspiration to some people.

Another great idea is making notes in a notebook, so if you are out and about and an idea presents itself, you can jot it down for a later date.

Inspiration is a fascinating thing that leaps at you when you least expect it. Which is fantastic, but is also a pain when the thought is about something else and not what you are working on. That’s where your notebook comes in. Most brilliant ideas come at the most inconvenient moments. Most of mine arrive just as I’m dropping off to sleep, and I have to jot them down before they are gone forever.

For some, the reality it an excellent source while others try and stay away from it; like your sci-fi or fantasy authors. Everyday life is great for a plot; a story in the newspapers perhaps that seems mundane, but it becomes a whole new thing in your head.

so, listen to that music, read those papers and just sit and watch the world go by, because you don’t know when that big story will come along and present itself.

 

 

I want to be an Author…..

 

WP_20140724_003  When I started writing, I got a lot of people saying, “wow, you wrote a book? I could never do that.” A statement that is somewhat perplexing. Everyone can write a book, it doesn’t mean it will be a bad, good or great book, but never the less everyone can do it.

In my mind, all you need to write is the will to do it. Not a very forthcoming or groundbreaking revelation know, but correct. Sure you would need Imagination, but most people who say they can’t are people who read. For me, these people have a great imagination, because they use this to fill in the blanks the writer leaves out.

So, with all that out of the way, let’s get started. For all those people who want too but don’t know where to start, here are a few pointers I’ve picked up on the way.

Get yourself a decent place to work. I’m not talking about renovating a room, so it becomes a writers den, not yet anyway. However, find a place you feel comfortable that is away from distraction. So, far away from that evil television.

Notebooks: Oh yes, notebooks. Ones you carry with you, a large A4 pad, pretty much anything you can scribble your notes on. Massively important. I myself have a notebook for out and about and an A4 jotter pad next to my computer.

cid_011c01c7e9498a8513900200a8c0key Two hard drives or datasticks: why? Oh, believe me, back up, back up, back up. A number of times things have gone horrid on me, and I’ve not backed. Not a pleasant sight I can tell you. As good and useful computers are they have a tendency to go wrong on you when you least expect it. So, again, back up.

Know what you want to write: I’m talking genre here; Horror, mystery, erotic, horror erotic.  Nothing worse than you writing something you feel you have too, rather than what you want. If you start writing something and it feels wrong, stop and try something else. Find where your passion lies. At the end of the day, you want something you can pour your imagination into.

Never stop trying: You write one book, it doesn’t do too well (remember you set your own bar, if you set it too high, naturally you’ll feel like you failed.) So what, you’re a new author. You are learning. The more you write, the better you get, plus you are starting to make a name for yourself.

Social media: Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn..ECT. Get your beautiful face out there. Unfortunately, it’s more about selling yourself rather than your books. If people don’t know you, why should they buy your book? Get yourself a blog, or do book reviews, anything so people can read your work.  Folks love to put a face to a name. So, get tweeting.

Talk to other authors: Oh my goodness yes. For this one, you will defiantly need social media. These brilliant people are a source of infinite wisdom. They’re like the wizard of OZ. Joking aside, other authors are the best source of information in regards to writing I have come across. They’re friendly as well, so don’t be afraid.

happy reader Read: Lots of writers, authors(especially authors because they want you to buy their books, great sales ploy) will tell you to read. And it’s true. Reading helps you to know how you want to lay out your book. Whether you use the same approach as Lee Child and use short, crisp sentences, or long flowing ones like James Patterson, Massively descriptive like Micheal Connelly.   As a new writer, you are in the position to invent yourself, and that is the other important thing. Invent yourself, don’t mimic. Someone once asked me which author I was most like. I replied, “I’m like me.”

Finally, and possibly the most important. Enjoy yourself, have fun in your work. If it feels like work, it is work. If you enjoy what you write, then the readers will enjoy reading it.

 

 

 

TIPS FOR WRITERS….OR HOW I DO IT ANYWAY.

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Writing for the first time can be scary because you are in unfamiliar waters. But that’s OK. I class it as adventures nerves rather than fear, because you are re-inventing yourself, you are becoming an author.

Now there are loads of books to help new authors, tips on the internet and so forth. All of which is great, however, they all differ slightly, leaving the new would be writer confused.

The best advice I would give anyone is to find your own voice. Just start writing regardless. If you have a story in your head, just go for it. You will soon learn what is right for you. We learn by doing, which is correct, we also improve by doing so, just keep writing and most importantly, have fun.

Which brings me to the next tip: have fun, it should be something you want to do instead of something you feel you have to do. You should be writing for you, it must be a story you want to tell rather than what you think someone wants. Of course, there will be times you just can’t be bothered, that’s fine, it happens. If this does happen, just try writing something else, plot your next book. But don’t stop writing.

Don’t throw anything away: by this I mean, if you have written something and it doesn’t fit, save it somewhere, write it down, but never bin it, you may find it suits somewhere else, possibly in another story.

One another tip (plundered by Mr King, sorry Stephen), have your desk in a corner, away from windows and distractions. And this is a big one, distractions. Find a room where you can lose yourself, no TV and games consoles (guilty on both accounts I’m afraid). These will be a devil on your shoulder when you are stuck or just can’t be bothered that particular day.

Talk to other authors. Whether it is on social media or you know a writer. Pick their brains, because they may be going through problems you may be going through or have ideas you may never have thought of. They are also a fantastic well of knowledge for other things related to the field.  Join writing clubs or go to writers conventions. Appart from being a brilliant way of picking up ideas, they are bloody good fun.

Carry a notebook. This for me is a golden rule. Above all else, this is a must. There is nothing worse than having a brilliant idea, and you have nowhere to jot it down. Keep it close to hand, even put it near your bed at night.

Don’t be afraid of what you want to write. This goes back to finding your feet as a writer. Writing, like painting or any form of art, is an expression. It is a way of venting your imagination and feelings. As you start to write you then find which direction you will end up. At first, you may well want to be a crime novelist, but then see you are better at horror or another vice-versa.

Research is paramount. Books, internet or even going to a place to get a feel for it is another excellent idea. Your books have to feel real to the reader, be it describing a street or a wood. The firing of a gun or just sitting in a cafe in Paris. Research is everything between someone saying to themselves “Oh yeah, I know what they mean,” and “What a load of old codswallop.”  There are lots of means in which to gather information, so don’t be afraid to lose a day looking something up to get it right. The reader will find thankyou for it later.

 

These are just a few ideas, but you may find your own style later, and that is what it’s all about. Finding what suits you. So have fun and have an enjoyable journey.

 

 

 

Did you believe me…?

Hi all. How many of you read my last post and believed Me? Probably quiet a few. At the moment there is a Twitter account possing to be from J.D. Wetherspoons saying about a poppy ban. Apart from being complete and utter …rubbish, its also damming to the branch.(sorry Wetherspoons for using you as an example).

The internet now is full of people who just want to watch the world burn. There are people pretending to be movie stars or pop stars, and worst of all, animals pretending to be kids to lure in other kids.

The damage that this tool can do is terrifying. Terrorist use it to brainwash, agencies use it to spy and scum bags use it to steal Kids and cash of people.

So, all have fun on the net, and be safe.

Written on my cell phone…no poppies for Witherspoon.

Just heard, due to their multicultural members of staff they will not be wearing poppies on remembrance day.

I find this not only insulting but also ignorant. The poppie stared out to commemorate those who lost their lives during the first world war, but now it is for all who have served and lost their lives or got injured. Not just Brits but all.

So to say they are not wearing them they insult all who have given the ultimate price for freedom,  peace and the freedom of speech.