Short stories, complete new worlds packed into tiny containers

Recently EbookFriendly published this wonderful infographic as a reminder that “short stories may turn out to be the most effective tool of a revival of reading.” And gave six reasons to start reading a short story right now:

Benefits of reading short stories (infographic) | Ebook Friendly

Via Ebook Friendly

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Look at the Past to predict the Future



By Nora Vasconcelos

If you live in London, or if you’re visiting the city, and don’t have any plans for this weekend, the 2016 London Literature Festival at the Southbank Centre is a fabulous option.

This year’s topic Living in Future Times celebrates the world’s most visionary writers and artists including H.G. Wells, Margaret Atwood, Richard Dawkins and David Bowie.

“In its tenth year, the festival rediscovers farsighted classics and examines how we are already living in an era predicted by Science Fiction,” says the Southbank Centre in a press release.

Some of the highlights of the Festival for this weekend are:

15 October: A day featuring the best international writers of sciencefiction including Hassan Blasim, Lauren Beukes, Xiaolu Guo and Cixin Liu.
15 & 16 October: Young Adult Literature Weekender offers more opportunities than ever before to the next generation of writers. Featuring the most exciting YA novelists, bloggers, vloggers, poets and spoken word artists from rising stars to legends of YA, such as Sara Barnard, Malorie Blackman, Holly Bourne, Juno Dawson, Sally Green, Sungju Lee, Hollie McNish and Harriet Reuter Hapgood.

16 October: In an exclusive preview event before publication, Naomi Alderman reads from her new novel The Power , telling the story of four girls and women who struggle against daily oppressions and sexism until one day they find their lives radically altered by the power to inflict lightning bolts of pain, and even death, at the flick of their fingers.

16 October: Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science, Marcus Du Sautoy offers insights into the boundaries of scientific understanding in a keynote address and asks if we are at the limits of knowledge.


To close the 2016 London Literature Festival, the Literary Death Match, on 16 October, offers a comedyrich futuristic evening featuring four authors reading their most electric writing for seven minutes or less before a panel of three allstar judges. Two finalists compete in the Literary Death Match finale to decide the ultimate winner.

View of Southbank Centre credit Belinda Lawley
View of Southbank Centre credit Belinda Lawley

The Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, occupying a 21 acre site that sits in the midst of London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. The site has an extraordinary creative and architectural history stretching back to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Southbank Centre is home to the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery as well as The Saison Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection. For further information please visit

The world as a science fiction novel

“We are living in a time where the world looks more and more like a science fiction novel, and this year’s festival aims to explore that connection between the current day and the world predicted by far-sighted writers. The festival will explore how imagination and writing can give us a clearer insight into the world as it is now by exploring alternative worlds and alternative realities,” writes the Mayflower Collection on its blog.

London Literature Festival Image Courtesy Mayflower Colletion
Image Courtesy Mayflower Colletion

“From Shakespeare to Austen, Dickens to Rowling, Britain’s literary history is second to none … But rather than looking back into London’s literary history, this year’s theme (of the London Literature Festival) is all about looking forward, about Living in Future Times,” adds the blog.

The Mayflower Collection is a group of three boutique hotels in Central London. Founded in 1999, the Mayflower Collection offers stylish, design-led, 4-Star hotels in Earls Court and in the historic and trendy area of Notting Hill, a short walk from Hyde Park.


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Where the oceans meet


By Nora Vasconcelos

Puerto Rico lays where the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea intersect. This archipelago contains some of the most amazing landscapes any traveller can see, as well as rich architecture; centuries of history; Spanish, French and Caribbean culinary influences, and beautiful beaches.

All of this makes of Puerto Rico a really good destination for turists who want to relax and wander around historical sites.

Curious about it? This week, my good friend and mystery author, Jane Isaac, kindly published a guest post I wrote about lovely Puerto Rico.

You can read it here: (Puerto Rico: Where the oceans meet)

Jane is also launching soon her fourth book: Beneath the Ashes, which is ready for pre-order now. Don’t miss the chance to discover what new mysteryes DI Will Jackman will be called to investigate!

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Amazing and Rare: Festivities in San Miguel de Allende

By Nora Vasconcelos


Weekends in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, are extraordinary. This colorful city, located in the State of Guanajuato, has achieved international recognition thanks to its beautiful architecture and quiet life that inspires artists from all around the world and gives a peaceful haven to foreign retirees who have made of this place their home away from home.

But when Saturdays and Sundays come, many visitors come along to join the creative and entertaining spirit that floods the city in a way that is not easy to find anywhere else.

This unique place is also a very demanded venue for weddings, so national and international couples who have fallen in love with San Miguel, book months (many months) in advance a place for their ceremony which, unlike any others, some times includes the religious ceremony at the magnificent San Miguel de Allende Parish, as well as a vibrant display of arts, crafts and traditions.


With not many people expecting it, a local band starts playing music, and two very tall dolls, depicting the bride and the groom, appear in the main plaza, causing the surprise and admiration of everybody around.

Then, the two figures approach the Parish dancing in a way that make easy for the people watching understand the story they want to tell with their dances.

Discretely, they look at each other before entering the atrium of the church, like stealing a mischievous glance that shows the loving complicity of the couple.


Then, they dance all their way to the main entrance , facing the public that stands at each side of the atrium with amazement and enjoyment.

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Before the enter the parish, the couple give one last glance to their audience, taking care of not facing each other.


Minutes later, when some more dances have taken place, the happy newly weds finally get together, face to face, to start their new life as husband and wife, with all the cheers of the people who have enjoy a unique event, right before the “big event”, that is the actual wedding.


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Cruising the Mediterranean


By Sunny Lockwood and Al Lockwood

Guest Post

For those of us who love to travel, there’s rarely a question of why?

We know why: we want to see new places, learn about new cultures, try new foods, and simply have fun in a city or countryside where we’ve never been before.

The questions we ask are: Where do we want to go next? How can we get there? When can we leave?

My husband and I have had the travel bug since we were young. Now, well into retirement, our wanderlust is strong as ever. And the rewards are equally great.

Studies show that travel is good for the body, the brain and the spirit. And even though our older bodies lack the endurance they once had, we find that travel enlarges our concept of “home” and enriches our experience of wonder.

Imagine being awakened by the deep, resonant melody of church bells, bells that have rung each morning for centuries. That was our experience in Florence.

Or being enveloped in the fragrance of incense from a fortuneteller’s shop. We experienced that each afternoon in Barcelona. Our Airbnb apartment was right above her shop.

Imagine the flavor of dark chocolate gelato setting your taste buds dancing. That was our daily experience in Venice. That and the scene of shiny black gondolas sliding calmly through narrow canals.


Our stunning world is immense. But our individual lives are brief. So if there’s something you dream of doing, our advice is do it now. While you can.

Sweetheart Al and I choose ocean cruising as our preferred method of long-range travel. There are many reasons for this, including our modest travel budget and our declining mobility. We can no longer hike like there’s no tomorrow, jump into sleeping bags, or pedal bicycles for miles.

But on a cruise we can see the world at our own pace and in our own way while sleeping in the same comfortable bed each night.


And we’ve chosen to share our adventures through travel memoirs.

Our newest book, Cruising the Mediterranean, brings readers along on our 12-day cruise to Venice, Athens, Istanbul, Ephesus and three Greek islands.

Color_Cover_Promo_72dpi copy

Even before we left California, we started our trip by adjusting our internal clock so that we’d be on European time when we arrived in Amsterdam. We added four days in Amsterdam just because Al wanted me to see that historic city, before boarding our cruise ship.

In Amsterdam, we used Airbnb. A first for us, and we loved the experience. We stayed in the heart of historic Amsterdam. Actually, our room was in the Red Light District, so our “window shopping” introduced us to the latest in sex toys, edible underwear and items we couldn’t even identify.

We cruised on Holland America. We’ve cruised on other lines, but this 12-day trip fit our pocketbook and visited places we really wanted to see.

At every stop, we experienced something wonderful, from standing on the Acropolis as the morning sun gilded its marble monuments, to watching a rug weaving demonstration in Istanbul.


We discovered delectable Turkish Delight during a dinner cruise along the Bosphorous Strait. And enjoyed the largest piece of Baklava we’d ever seen in a family-owned restaurant on the island of Santorini.

We’ve done our best to capture in words (and a few photographs) the wonder of our trip. Our goal in writing travel memoirs? To share our fun and fabulous experience. And to encourage others to make their own travel dreams come true.


*Sunny Lockwood is a retired newspaper reporter, columnist and editor. Her freelance stories and articles have been published in MS magazine, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and other national and regional publications. Al Lockwood is a retired Silicon Valley engineer. He’s a fine art photographer whose work has been published in magazines and newspapers.

*All the images courtesy of Sunny Lockwood and Al Lockwood


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Have you ever wondered why writers make incredible friends?

Why Writers Make Incredible Friends infographic

*Global English Editing is a leading online editing and proofreading company that provides book editing and proofreading services for all sorts of writers

The Lost Art of Lending Books and Sending Postcards

reward by NVS

By Nora Vasconcelos

Last weekend I was all happy and excited because I had just bought a new book. Then, just a few seconds later, a somber thought crossed my mind, I wouldn’t be able to lend that book to a friend who, I was sure, would love to read it.

It was then when I thought of how much we’ve lost in terms of human touch due to the our fast paced lives, which have to adjust everyday to a world in constant change, as well as to all these new and admirable technologies such as electronic books and internet.

The advantages of ebooks are usually many, such as ‘packing’ onto your e-reader, tablet or smart phone as many books as you wish to read at any given time. These same gadgets allow us to take almost an innumerable amount of digital photos of our trips and daily adventures and encounters in our hometowns.

However, I get a certain feeling of nostalgia when I remember how much I’ve enjoyed lending a book to a good friend just because I wanted to share with them all the emotions, images, experiences and, many times, relief that a particular work of fiction, memoir or a non-fiction piece brought to me.

With e-books the experience it different. We can talk for hours with our friends about a title or titles we’ve read, but somehow, the sharing experience is different, mainly because there is an essential component missing, the physical book.

The same thing happens with the digital photos. We can share them by email, or upload them on social media. But unless you carry all of them on your phone or tablet and they’re well-organized, showing them to your friend during a gathering or while having a nice cup of coffee, the experience of sharing your travel adventures gets a little (usually, a lot) missed in the whole conversation.

Sometimes we can’t really take the time to look with all the detail those photos, because watching pics on a gadget usually comes with the urgency that we’re use to while dealing with anything that’s on our phone or tablet, our fingers automatically start passing all the images very fast which give us just a hint of what travellers have seen while visiting a place.

On the other hand, taking photos with a film and developing was a bit complicated, and totally limiting to 24, 32 or 48 pics. Many rolls have remained inside a box, but many other have become wonderful photo albums, which are always very nice to see and enjoy while bringing back wonderful memories of past trips.

The same happens with postcards, it used to be such a nice mission finding postcards to email them home, thinking how happy family and friends would be when they received that little piece of paper full of images of faraway lands, making them feel that even in the distance, they were in our minds.

May be more than the physical objects, what we’ve missed is part of the emotions and the feelings that are attached to sharing special intangible mementos which make us linger in time while holding a book or a postcard, and the solution to this particular nostalgia might be easily brought back just by taking the time to really be there when we talk about a particular book or when we see some digital photos, leaving behind the excruciating hurries that come with this contemporary life.

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