A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral. Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I am off to Spain in a few of days and most likely will not be posting on my blog for a couple of weeks. So I thought I would share a few pictures of one of the most amazing sights in Barcelona. It is Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. I was in awe when I came upon this cathedral. My husband did a wonderful job of capturing the many features of this work in progress, started in 1882 and estimated to be completed in 2030. As you walk around the building you can see the style of construction appears somewhat different between the new and old parts.
I can’t imagine I will ever see a sight more incredible than this cathedral.
“The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plane.” My Fair Lady
Here are more pictures from my favourite places in Spain.
These are just a few of my favourite pictures. I may post more from time to time.
All pictures were taken by Darlene Foster and Paul Foster over the course of 8 years.
I have been reading some very good books lately and thought I should share them with my readers. I write children’s books and read them as well, but lately I have been devouring some worthy adult novels. These stories have one thing in common, they are all well written and have characters you care about. You might want to check them out.
Gifts of the Peramangk, by Dean Mayes
In 1950s Australia, during the height of the divisive White Australia Policy, Virginia, a young Aboriginal girl is taken from her home and put to work on an isolated and harsh outback station. Her only solace: the violin, taught to her secretly by the kind-hearted wife of the abusive station owner. However, Virginia’s prodigious musical gift cannot save her from years of hardship and racism.
Decades later, her eight year old granddaughter Ruby plays the violin with the passion Virginia once possessed. Amidst poverty, domestic violence and social dysfunction, Ruby escapes her circumstance through her practice with her grandmother’s frail, guiding hand. Ruby’s zeal attracts the attention of an enigmatic music professor and with his help, she embarks on an incredible journey of musical discovery that will culminate in a rare opportunity. But with two cultural worlds colliding, her gift and her ambition will be threatened by deeply ingrained distrust, family jealousies and tragic secrets that will define her very identity
Once in a while you read a book that makes your heart sing and weep at the same time. Gifts of the Peramangk by Dean Mayes, is one of those books. The story centres around two young girls with incredible musical talent. One, an aboriginal girl cruelly taken from her family at a young age and the other, her motherless granddaughter. The story shifts between the early 1950s to present
day Australia. The heroine of the story is Virginia, the family matriarch, who does whatever she can to keep her dysfunctional family together and to preserve the musical talent that has been passed down through the generations. Her strength and perseverance, even in deplorable situations and failing health, is remarkable. Dean Mayes has crafted a fine tale of hope. Hope when all is lost, hope against all odds, and hope when many would have given up. This is a must read.
Scarborough, by Ellen Ekstrom
When Quinn Radcliffe shows up in a village somewhere in the Cotswolds or Dorset, he knows he’s been there before. It’s a place out of a Thomas Hardy novel – or the imagination. There’s the Curiosity Shop with The Proprietress and her famous guests, the church at the end of the lane, and unbelievable but necessary journeys that test and affirm. Now the conductor of a world-renowned orchestra, Quinn isn’t surprised by his surroundings – the love of his life, Alice Martin, told him all about the village but he has always and secretly thought it was the best part of a dream she shared after her life-threatening illness.
Until now. There are two sides to every love story. This is the other side of the haunting and poignant romance that began with “Tallis’ Third Tune.”
If you loved Ms Ekstrom’s Tallis’ Third Tune, as much as I did, you are in for a treat with her latest novel, Scarborough. Once again the reader encounter’s the star-crossed lovers, Alice and Quinn, the curiosity shop with historical figures popping in and out, and wonderful scenes from York and Scarborough. This time, however, we hear the story from Quinn’s point of view. The author’s superb writing takes us into the mind of a brilliant, talented, tortured young man. His inability to make clear decisions and choices causes him much heartache. With the help of the likes of Thomas Wyatt, Richard III, Janis Joplin and Jane Austen, to name a few, he has a chance to make things right. You will not be disappointed in this, the second in the Midwinter Sonata series.
When Renee Marshall locked the door on her dark past and married Jalal Vaziri, she hoped for a quiet life in a California coastal town. Now, with a sexy, adoring, wealthy husband, one beautiful child and another on the way, she dares to believe happily ever after could be her future. But doors don’t always stay locked. As the stress of living in Jalal’s high-society world increases, the traumas of Renee’s past begin to poison the present and threaten to destroy everything she treasures.Is it her imagination or is Jalal keeping a secret that will end their marriage and rip her children from her life? And could it involve Diane, the woman who reminds Renee too much of Jalal’s beloved first wife?
I love Spain. I have been there four times in the past 8 years and every time I enjoy it more. Here are some pictures from my vist last September to show what I love about this amazing country.
The Sun and the Beaches
The Mediterranean Sea
The Historic Buildings
The Art - Everywhere
The Outdoor Eating
My in-laws, who live there
Just a few of the things I love about Spain. I will share more in future posts. I love it so much I am returning next month!
Is there some place that you can’t get enough of?
What I love the most about blogging, is the wonderful people I meet in the blogging world. Today I am featuring the author Lada Ray, an extraordinary individual with many talents who stops at nothing to pursue her dreams.
Thanks so much for being a guest on my blog Lada. I am always curious to learn more about other authors.
L: It’s my great pleasure to be your guest today, Darlene! Thank you for your gracious invitation!
You have a very interesting background. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
L: I was born in Russia, when it was still called the Soviet Union. Since the age of twenty, I’ve lived abroad. I studied linguistics (got M.A. in comparative linguistics) and traveled to a number of countries on most continents. For a while, I worked in Havana, Cuba as a translator. After coming to the USA, I worked as financial consultant at AIG and Smith Barney/Citigroup, after which I decided to travel to Asia to study Feng Shui and various metaphysical disciplines. I received my International Feng Shui Master certification from the famed feng shui author, Lilian Too.
Presently, I write full-time at my Upstate NY residence. So far, I’ve written several books including mystery/thrillers Gold Train (Accidental Spy Russia Adventure), Stepford USA (Accidental Spy Small Town Adventure), Green Desert (Accidental Spy Iraq Prequel), metaphysical fantasy novelette Catharsis, Legend of the Lemurians (Earth Keepers Chronicles 1) and my new release, The Earth Shifter, a visionary fantasy/thriller, which is an epic novel. I will soon be releasing Earth Keepers Chronicles 2 and 3: Lemurian Crystal and Atlantis. I’m also working on The Earth Shifter sequel: Key of Destiny.
What or who inspired you to write?
L: I think I’ve always wanted to write. When I was a child, I often put together stories in my head. But my life developed in a different direction, or rather directions, until one day I realized that I had acquired much knowledge, wisdom, and unique experiences throughout my life’s many adventures, and decided to share them with the world.
When you were a child, who were your favourite authors?
L: This is easy. My father was a huge history and international adventure buff. We had a large library of classical literature, including complete Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott, Alexander Dumas (how much I adored those Musketeers!), Shakespeare, Fenimore Cooper, and many others. I also read Russian sci-fi, especially Brothers Strugatsky, and Polish author Stanislav Lem, as well as the Russian classics: Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky. Later, I couldn’t get enough of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. My fave author as a teen was (still is) Mikhail Bulgakov, author of incredible fantasies and other books based on real events: The Master and Margarita, Ivan Vasilyevich Changes Occupation (hilarious time travel comedy of errors, featuring Ivan the Terrible), Dog’s Heart, White Guard (about the 1918 Russian Civil War). I think Bulgakov was a major influence on my writing.
Who are some of your favourite authors as an adult?
L: Oscar Wilde, Rumi and Mikhail Bulgakov. Of contemporary authors, I actually enjoyed J.K. Rawling’s Harry Potter. There are more, but these are the ones that came to mind immediately.
What has been the defining moment in your writing career?
L: I would say that publishing The Earth Shifter qualifies as one. I’ve published several books before this one, but it all started for me with the idea of The Earth Shifter several years ago. It took me a while to figure out how to tell this complex, fascinating and inspired story. In the interim, I wrote several other books, including mystery/thrillers Gold Train and Stepford USA. But in the end, it all came back to The Earth Shifter. Seeing it finally on digital shelves, and now also in print, is a huge milestone, and I’m very happy!
Your books are an interesting mix of mystery, intrigue, history, action, fantasy, philosophy, culture and spiritualism. Where do you get your ideas?
L: As I said earlier, I have accumulated many ideas and experiences throughout my life. These experiences are longing to be shared with the world. I have many more ideas and projects – if only there was more time in a day!
I love that your books take place in different parts of the world. Have you been to all the places you write about?
L: Yes, I’ve been to most places I write about. If I haven’t been to one, I still know enough, either from talking to others or from my own research and knowledge of similar places.
Where is one place you have not been to that you would love to visit?
L: Tibet and Machu Pichu.
When you are not writing, or thinking about writing, what do you like to do?
L: I love hiking, walking and traveling. I also love working on my blog, playing with my kitty, doing photography, meditating, and doing various metaphysical experiments and studies.
Now for a few fun, personal questions, which do you prefer:
Cats or dogs? Love all animals. I have a very cute kitty, but I equally love dogs.
Coffee or tea? Love the scent of coffee, but can’t drink it – maybe on special occasions. I’m primarily a tea drinker, with a large collection of Oriental green teas in my cabinet.
Lakes or oceans? Oceans and seas. I grew up on the Black Sea and some of my best memories are associated with it.
Cake or pie? Cake.
Now that we have that out-of-the-way, what advice would you give someone who is starting their writing career?
L: I like this quote: “A successful writer is the one who doesn’t give up.” Keep writing and keep sharpening your writing saw.
Anything else you would like to add?
L: Check out my new, top-rated fantasy/thriller THE EARTH SHIFTER! The ebook is available now, and the paperback is coming to Amazon in a few days. Gold Train second edition paperback is coming to Amazon in a few days as well. And Stepford USA paperback will be available at the same time.
For more about my books and other projects, visit my blog: LadaRay.wordpress.com.
Also, I wanted to add that I just started a new project called YA Revolution.
This is a grassroots movement for books with message and meaning. To find out more about it and to join go to the official YA Revolution Page on my blog. All readers and writers are invited!
In conclusion, thank you very much, Darlene, for this fabulous interview! I enjoyed it tremendously!
Read my review of The Earth Shifter on Goodreads
These and other books are also available at Sony, Apple, Kobo and Smashwords.
Check out this amazing author:
After receiving a copy Amanda in Arabia, from her aunt, Karoline Cullen, this eager fan couldn’t wait to start reading the book.
For more samples of this talented photographer’s work check out her website http://www.cullenphotos.ca/
Here is my wish for you this weekend, courtesy of Neil Gaiman
Have a fabulous weekend!