Weekly Photo: Sea

Photo by Nora Vasconcelos

May the Magic of the Ocean speak by itself.
May the Magic of the Ocean speak by itself.

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A world connected by words

Text by Nora Vasconcelos

Tree HousePhotos courtesy of Trish Nicholson

If you ever wonder if someone out there is reading what you write, the answer is Yes! Even though a big silence might surround you, all these words that you’re sending to the outer space, are echoing somewhere in the planet.

And this is when my good friend Trish Nicholson (@TrishaNicholson) comes in. About two years ago, or may be more, Trish and I met thanks to Twitter. Ever since, we’ve kept in touch, no matter the ocean in between.


Throughout this time, I’ve found in Trish a very nice loyal friend who’s supportive and caring towards her fellow writers.

Her blog Words in the Tree House (http://trishnicholsonswordsinthetreehouse.com/) is like actually being there, inside her tree house, built in a huge pine tree, overlooking a wetland and distant forested hills, having interesting conversations about her various trips, either to the Himalayas or the Philippines; the books she’s read such as Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed, and the ones she’s written, like Inside Stories for Writers and Readers.

Words of a child, words of a woman
Trish started writing when she was very young. Back then, she pretended to deliver stories about animals for a newspaper, although, she says, at that time, her writing was taken over by school work.

Once she finished her studies in anthropology, she spent a good deal of time travelling in 20 or more countries. “During those years my writing was for my personal journals, not for publication,” Trish says.

Most of her early trips were decided by her work in rural aid and development, so they were often in isolated parts of developing countries. Other travel was for research, in Asia and Australia.

A good place to start
By that time, she settled in New Zealand, and took advantage of the opportunities that the digital publishing industry was offering. It was then, when the idea of writing travelogues started.

She saw that Collca (http://www.collca.com/), an electronic publisher, focused its work on non-fiction short eBooks and Apps on a range of topics. “They wanted to start a BiteSize Travel series and I made a formal submission to them with a few ideas based on my own travelling. The result was my first two travelogues: Masks of the Moryons, and Journey in Bhutan”, Trish remembers.

According to her experience, small independent and digital publishers can be more flexible, “and the whole process is simpler and quicker. It is also easy to have colour photographs which would be too expensive in a print book”.

As Collca accepts direct submissions, she didn’t need an agent, so, for new authors, Digital publishing is a good place to start, Trish says.

Did you ever think that you could become a published author?
It wasn’t something I thought about or consciously aimed at in the early days. It just happened a step at a time: the published articles came first, then I was invited to contribute a chapter to a book; a publisher commissioned me to co-editor and revise a book on tourism, and another publisher accepted my submission of a book on management.

What has been your experience of working with Collca?
Mike Hyman at Collca works closely with me, discussing every aspect of the work including my views on titles and covers. We work on marketing together. And he is innovative, always open to new ideas – he accepted my study of human evolution and storytelling – From Apes to Apps: How Humans Evolved as Storytellers and Why it Matters – as the first in a new popular science series. He doesn’t mind my writing in different genre. This is a freedom I really appreciate.

Her latest book
Trish has recently published her latest book, Inside Stories for Writers and Readers, where she explores the relationship between a reader and a writer when a story is read.

InsideStoriesPbookCover-web (1)

“I discuss inspiration, character, theme, voice etc. analysing 15 of my own stories to reveal insights into story elements. Although it is about creative writing and reading, it is not a how-to book, but more like a companion or an entertaining friend.”

How is this book different from the BiteSize ebook you published last February?
Inside Stories is a full-sized book, and is available as a paperback as well as an eBook, which gives readers more choice – some people like both. And there is a bonus, From Apes to Apps will be included in the print book.

The craft of writing
Rather than a strict routine, Trish has the habit of writing during the mornings after breakfast, stopping at any time when she feels tired, or keeping on, if the words flow especially well. Often, she edits or researches in the afternoon, and reads in the evening.

What kind of stories do you enjoy writing the most? Why?
I especially like writing flash fiction – very short stories of around 500-1000 words – because it has a tight focus on a particular issue, and there is a challenge to use just the right words and find a resolution in such a small space. The shorter ones take a lot of editing to get right, they are often more difficult to write than longer stories.

What story would you like to write at some point?
Although my stories are based in various locations – Texas, Scotland, England, New Zealand – they are all in Western cultures. I would like to write stories set in other cultures, in places I have travelled. My doctoral studies were in anthropology, so this is of particular interest to me.

Can you share some of your experiences as a blogger?
The two most important things I found in having a blog are, first: to be realistic about how often to post so that I could write good quality articles. I keep to the same standards as if I were submitting a piece for formal publication, and second: it is essential to use social media – I use Twitter – to relate to people and let them know the blog posts are there. I post every week – articles about travel and about writing, photo-essays, or reviews. It is a good discipline to have to write an interesting piece each week.

Around the world
Trish’s journeys to India, China, Peru, Bhutan, Tibet, Italy and Spain, have given her the opportunity to cultivate her interests in cultures, mountain trekking and old cities, enthusiasm that might as well take her one day to countries like Sri Lanka or Mexico.

However, her most recent idea for a book is focusing on a long travel narrative about the years she spent in Papua New Guinea. “It shares my adventures working with local people in isolated parts of West Sepik Province. This country has the most diverse cultures and challenging environments on earth, and it’s one of the last stands of wilderness, both beautiful and dangerous.”

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The wonders of Mexican fast food

Text and Photos by Nora Vasconcelos

Cod Fish Torta.
Cod Fish Torta.
Not so long ago I wrote a post about an exceptional book on typical Mexican food origined during the 17th and 18th centuries right in the heart of the Colonial Convents placed in different parts of Mexico.

The book, called Delights of yesteryear. History and Recipes of the Mexican Convents refers to tradicional recipes that are still prepared in this country, dishes that usually take a long time to be made with amazingly delicious results.

Mole by NVS

So after some time enjoying this book, I started to think how the ingenuity of the Mexican people has managed to transform these very elaborated dishes into a some sort of Mexican Fast Food.

Of course tradicional chains of Fast Food are popular in the country, selling pizzas and hamburguers, but, for many people in this country, tacos and tortas are a good way to bring fast, some food to their stomach, while really hungry, or when time is short.

Tacos and Tortas, are also a good way to take advantage of the left overs and keep enjoying all sort of elaborated dishes such as Tamalli, Mole and Chiles rellenos (stuffed chilli). The only thing to do to transform this food into fast food is stuffing a tortilla o some bread (kind of baguette style but Mexican) with the left overs and that’s it, intant fast food ready to good!

Even more, if there are no left overs at home, or if there’s no time at all to prepare a torta or a taco, there are always many places to buy them, either street stand to (literally) eat the on the go, or small locals specialized in preparing this kind of food. And when times allows it, it’s also possible to eat them, quite relaxed, in a restaurant.

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Weekly Photo: Carefree

Photo by Nora Vasconcelos

No worries at all.
No worries at all.

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One Shot, Two Ways

Photos by Nora Vasconcelos

Two ways by NVS

Two ways 2 by NVS
One of the things I enjoy the most is wandering around with no hurries at all, it’s so that I’m always find interesting surprises like this wonderful sculpture called the Big Fish that represents with its tiles different aspects of the history and everyday life in Belfast.

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The long path to be published

Text and Photo by Nora Vasconcelos

Endless faith
Endless faith
I recently read in the New York Times the story of Donal Ryan, a young Irish author who had written two novels dreaming for them to be published. But his dream took a long while to come true.

After receiving more than 40 letters of rejection, Ryan perservered looking for a publisher, until he finally got magnificent news, his two novels, The Spinning Heart and The Thing about December, had caught the eye of a publishing house and the author was finally offer not only one, but two contracts!

The Spinning Heart tells the story of what was like life in a small Irish town after the financial crisis that affected Ireland not so long ago.

In 2012, the novel was awarded the Book of the Year prize at the Irish Book Awards, and its currently longlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize, to be announced in October 15th.

This story of perseverance and faith made me remember other writers who had to wait for a long time to be published, facing constant negatives from the publishing houses, until they found one firm that believed in them.

Writers like Jane Austen, Dr. Seuss, John Le Carre, Isaac Asimov, Agatha Christie, E.E. Cummings, are some of the authors who walked this long path to be published.

Ryan’s story also made me think, about the courage and strenght that writers must have to keep on trying, even when their dreams are clouded with letters of rejection.

Even now, when self-publishing is becoming more popular, the task of transforming a manuscript into an actual book and then letting people know about it, is a hard thing to do.

It’s faith in themselves and in their work, as well as confidence on their skills what makes them go on with their dreams.

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Weekly Photo: Foreshadow

Photo by Nora Vasconcelos

What's coming over there?
What’s coming over there?
Some times we just need to look quietly at the horizon to surprise ourselves with what Nature wants to communicate us.

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