Weekly Photo: Letters

By Nora Vasconcelos

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Letters Slideshow

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Always missed, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

By Nora Vasconcelos

Gabriel_Garcia_Marquez - Author- Photo Jose Lara

It happens some times that readers become as attached to the authors as they are to their characters and stories. This happened to me with the Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927 -2014) whose books have accompanied me for several years now.

I remember that I was still a little girl when Garcia Marquez was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, back then in 1982, “for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent’s life and conflicts”.

However, it was during my college years when his work captivated me. Despite the general advice that I should start with One hundred years of solitude, I went directly to read Love in the time of cholera. A good friend of mine had said I should read it and I still recall that afternoon when I was walking around the crowded streets of the city center in Mexico city when I came across a special edition that was being sold at a news stand. I bought it and started to read it as soon as I got home.

A few days later I had already finished reading the book, and I then I called my friend to tell him: ‘I owe you a debt of gratitude”. Love in the time of cholera took my mind traveling all along the some times uneasy terrains and some times exotic lands of Colombia, while the main characters Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza struggled with sickness, travels, distrust and yes, also with love.

The richness in Garcia Marquez words painted colorful scenes throughout all the novel, taking me inside this imaginary world which, once inside, seemed at the same time unbearably real and incredibly fantastic. But the best thing this book gave me was its ending. Many years have passed now, and to me, it’s contains the best ending I’ve ever read, nothing else could have been more perfect than the last words written by Garcia Marquez at the end of this novel.

Ever since I became a faithful reader of his work, which taught me not only about life in Colombia (the imaginary and the real one, both depicted by Garcia Marquez), but also I learned about the craft of writing and discovered through his stories how majestic words could be and what magnificent stories could be produced by the “simple” act of writing.

Lucky me, I’ve read his books in Spanish, and even though translations are available, it’s hard to reproduce the magic that these stories have in its original language. This has made me love Spanish even more, as well as appreciate the hard work of the translators.

Many titles by Garcia Marquez come to my mind right now, but I should say that my second favorite is Living to tell the Tale, the first part of his memoirs in which he describes his first years as a young journalist trying to make a name for himself, chasing the news and composing compelling stories that later would be the beginning of a prolific career as a writer.

Years have passed since I read this book and I’m still able to smell the ink of the old news paper presses described in the book and I can feel the excitement that comes with every new story, as Garcia Marquez wrote it in his book. As a writer and a journalist these memoirs are priceless to me.

Now, “Gabo”, as he was affectionately called by his friends and readers in Latin America, is gone, and I’m still having a hard time to process the news, but I find some comfort knowing that his books will be always around to keep us company. And somehow, I have the idea that wherever he’s now, he’ll keep on writing all sort of stories, even if only for infinity to read them.

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The magic inside the writing process

By Nora Vasconcelos

pen-and-paper
I should say that I’ve written all my life, even before I knew how to write. I remember myself creating all sort of stories that I used to share with other little kids. Some years later, pen and paper came in handy to see what my stories would look like when expressed with written words.

It was from my teenager years that my first children’s book, Pequeñas Fantasías (Spanish for Small Fantasies) came to live. Of course, it took some time to put it together, and by then I had already become a journalist.

Writing the news became my everyday work, while creative writing remained as my ever faithful companion. Taking advantage of every spare moment, I kept on writing all sort of stories.

And it’s now that my writing brings me here, to this Blog Tour, a very interesting and dynamic way to interact with writers and bloggers from around the world. For this honor I want to thank Trish Nicholson, who invited me to be part of it.

Trish likes to share her traveling, reading and writing experiences in her blog:
http://trishnicholsonswordsinthetreehouse.com/blog/

Last week she answered these questions about her writing process, now it’s my turn:

1) What am I working on?

As a journalist, I’m always writing news related stories, which I find really interesting because it keeps me up to date with what’s happening around the world.

As a writer, I keep on creating short stories, some for children, some others closer to adventure and science fiction, this last one a genre I love both writing and reading. Mystery, on the other hand, keeps escaping from my pen (computer, I should say), although I truly love reading suspense and I keep juggling some mystery / suspense ideas for a couple of fictional stories.

Also, a long project has kept my attention for several years now, as my first romance novel is still “in the oven”, now much closer to be ready than some time ago. About this, I’d like to say that even though it’s taken a long time, I’ve enjoyed deeply the writing process, coming up with all sort of ideas and situations for my characters has been really enjoyable.

Writing about my traveling expiriences is also something I keep on doing, with the idea that one day it’ll become a book.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

It never ceases to amaze me the magic that comes from words used in creative writing, this allows writers to create new worlds, lives and destinations, ideas that they share with their readers, who, have also the liberty of recreating such imaginary realms in their own minds.

What I admire about journalism is the immense reach that words can have, it’s thanks to them that both, difficult and fantastic true stories are discovered and shown to the world.


3) Why do I write what I do?

Because I don’t picture my life without it. Writing just comes naturally to me, either if it’s a feature piece or a short story or if it’s in Spanish or in English, I just love doing it and I’m really happy when I’m doing it.

4) How does my writing process work?

This is quite an interesting question. Research and traveling are key parts of it. Either if it’s a feature piece or a short story, I like to create writing pieces that relate to my readers. To do it so, I like to capture moments that feel real.

Whether it’s fiction or non fiction, I keep working on the story even when I’m not physically writing. Of course, long hours in front of the computer are required, but taking breaks is also essential for me to go over the story in my head and see if the focus is the one I want to present and if I’m truly communicating what I want with my writing.

Exchanging points of view with family, friends and other writers, even if they are far away, is always something I enjoy deeply, as I’m always looking forward to learning from other people.

And, as part of this wonderful experience of exchanging ideas with people around the world, let me introduce you to these very talented writers:

Not tuscan pic
Nancy and John Petralia retired to the New Jersey shore and took Italian lessons. And they dreamed…of living in Italy. When they decided to make that dream a reality it was the start of the best year of their lives–and a story they wanted to share in a book the they titled Not in a Tuscan Villa.

Nancy Petralia grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and will forever be a Steelers fan. Always moving eastward, she landed in Philadelphia where she met John. Born on Broad Street not far from where the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers play their trades, a graduate of three local schools, it’s hard to imagine anyone more Philadelphian than John. He taught her about good olives, opera, tennis and Italian cooking. She taught him about Irish stew and having a dog. Together they started a book club that’s met every month for 20 years.

Their blog: www.notinatuscanvilla.com/blog

Janet


Janet Webb
: I grew up reading and loving to write, although I could never have imagined being a blogger, as computers were the size of a room and Al Gore had yet to invent the internet. I enjoy the social part of blogging, too, and love meeting blogging friends in person. Travel is a favorite pastime and a book about the trip to New Zealand my husband and I are planning in late 2015 sounds as though it might be a good project.

My blog is “This, That and The Other Thing” at http://sustainabilitea.wordpress.com/

Pov
William Rasoanaivo
has spent most of his life expressing himself in Malagasy, French and English, always through cartoons, a means of communication that “Pov” (his pen name) has mastered to tell stories through drawings and just a few words.

He illustrated the book The Story of Mauritius as told to my grandchildren, as well as my own book Pequeñas Fantasías. He also has been awarded with several international prices such as the third place in the World Press cartoon 2010 Award, and an honorable mention granted by the United Nations Correspondents Association Ranan Lurie Political Cartoon Award 2005.

His blog: http://povonline.wordpress.com/

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Weekly Photo: Monument

By Nora Vasconcelos

Monument by NVS

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Flavours that make us happy

By Nora Vasconcelos

coverIf you love natural ingredients, but you also like fresh tasty food, Homemade Condiments is a book that will bring a whole new life to your table.

As it’s quoted in the introducción, “condiments are like old friends, highly thought of, but often taken for granted”, so, it’s almost impossible to picture our lives with out them, but we often think of them as products we always can get from the supermarket.

To change this, Jessica Harlan developed this book to offer the readers the chance to prepare their own ketchups, salad dressings, mayonnaises, and so many more delicious condiments, all prepared with fresh natural ingredients, some of which people usually already have in their own pantries.

“Making your own condiments is easy and fun”, says Jessica as she explains that some of the advantages of preparing them at home is that these can be customized with ingredients that create flavors according to different tastes and needs.

“It’s also fun“, she says, as there’s a special satisfaction on sharing them with family and friends, either they come home for a meal, or if you give them as presents.

To help everybody to prepare their own condiments, this book published by Ulysses Press, presents recipes that go from different kinds of ketchups, mustards and mayonnaises, to essential sauces for barbecues and other dishes, infused oils and vinegars and salad dressings.

chipotle 1
chipotle 2

It also presents different forms to prepare pickles and relishes, hot sauces and salsas, ethnic and specialty condiments, and sweet sauces and spreeds, for the ones who love desserts.

Tomato 1
Tomato 2

At the end of the book, the author offers advice on how to preserve and can the condiments, as well as how to prepare the containers as gifts.

* All images courtesy of Ulysses Press

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