Out and about in #Switzerland #travel

Summer has arrived in N.E. Switzerland – at least it’s here for the moment; next week looks slightly iffier. Last Sunday was also museum day in our town, so as both sons were visiting, off we set to see a couple.

We walked into town the long way, by the lake. You can tell which trees have spent the past two years standing in water, due to the beaver dam.

Further on, though, we came to some lovely horse chestnut blossoms.

There was a carpet of pollen floating on the lake – several, in fact, but better in the water than up my nose.

First we came to the Saurer Museum, with its collection of old vehicles and embroidery/lace machines the town (Arbon) is famous for.

Further on is the old town with the castle, home to the historic museum now. I didn’t take photos inside here, but the castle is amazing. Imagine how many feet have walked past these buildings since the 12th century.

The tower from below:

And right up there at the top (I didn’t count the stairs) we saw a crow’s nest, slightly indistinct as it was taken through glass.

And below is the tree they were nesting in, a huge old… something. I need one of those apps that tells you what you’re looking at…

Finally, the walk back home. Doesn’t that path look inviting?

Next week, we have writer Terry Tyler and her choice of classic comfort books – see you then!

Posted in Life in Switzerland, travel | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Springtime in #Switzerland #SilentSunday (almost)…

I took these photos late last month. Remember in Anne of Green Gables, how Matthew goes to the station to collect – he thinks – an orphan boy to work on the farm? He finds Anne, and on the way home they drive along an avenue arched over by fruit trees in bloom, which Anne, 11, immediately christens ‘The White Way of Delight’. I thought about that when I saw the tree below.

That’s all this week. I’m deep in my writing cave – more about that another time. And I’ll just mention that Stolen Sister is on a 99p UK/US deal this weekend…

Posted in books, Life in Switzerland, The Writing Life, travel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Cable ties and floor cloths, or: How to fix your washing machine… #householdtips

It’s something every woman (and man) dreads. Your previously law-abiding washing machine starts misbehaving… Instead of softly churning the washing around, supplying a reassuring background burr to daily life chez vous, it now sounds like a fireworks party out of control. And it’s scary.

Exactly this happened in my flat just recently. Sometime around New Year, my machine started making the odd little thud. I would switch it on, it would go, burr burr burr thud burr a couple of times, then settle down to wash. That was all. It was easily ignored…

Life went on in N.E. Switzerland. January gave way to February, and I became conscious that the washing machine was now going, burr burr burr THUD burr as it started. I made a habit of closing the bathroom door when it was on. (Our machine stands in the corner of the guest loo/shower room.)

Then the thuds started to come on the spin cycle too. They grew louder… and louder… and more frequent, and I took to washing when I knew the neighbours were out. Then last Saturday, I switched the machine on. Burr burr THUD THUD THUD BANG BANG… Spin THUD spin BANG THUD… The entire flat was shaking.
Monday morning, I phoned the company who provided the machine. I wasn’t hopeful. Ten to one they’d say, ‘time for a new one’ – and I knew what a palaver that had been the last time. But no.

‘We’ll send someone out,’ an efficient female voice assured me. She told me the charge for the call-out and for each half-hour of the repair person’s time, plus parts, and I swallowed. Was this really worth it for a nine-year-old machine? Wouldn’t it be less expensive in the long run to get a new one straightaway? Hope dies last, though, so I agreed.

A cheerful young repairman arrived the following morning. I explained the problem, and he opened his tool box and spread a selection of complicated and technical equipment across most of the floor space in the guest loo.

I leaned in the doorway, and he switched on the machine.
Burr burr THUD BANG THUD. Spin BANG THUD BANG.
He switched it off again quickly and vanished round the back of the machine. For a few minutes, all you could hear was heavy breathing. (His.) Then his head popped up.

‘Have you got an old cloth you don’t need?’

Who hasn’t? Off I went to fetch some old cloths, and returned to find him standing at the back of the machine clutching a couple of cable ties. He chose an old floor cloth from my selection of rags and tea towels, demanded a pair of scissors (complicated and technical tool boxes don’t contain scissors) and vanished again. I went back to leaning in the doorway. More heavy breathing.

Then he stood up, came round the front, rearranged the machine in its space and switched it on.
Burr burr burr burr burr burr burr… Spin spin spin spin spin…

I gaped at him, and he explained. A pipe inside had worked loose over time, and started banging on the casing. All he’d done was tighten it and add some padding, just in case. He packed up his complicated and technical tool box, minus the cable ties, wished me a nice day, and left. Shaken to the core, I went for a sit down. To think I had very nearly bought a new machine – and he had solved the problem with two cable ties and an old floor cloth.

The really interesting part will come when the bill arrives, though. Will I be charged for those cable ties? Watch this space…
Edited 9.05.22 to add – I wasn’t!! 🙂

Posted in Life in Switzerland, The Writing Life | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Classic Comfort Reads… with Louise Mangos

The idea behind the Classic Comfort posts is that each featured writer chooses a favourite title from the classics – we’ll define ‘classic’ as pre-1940 – and a favourite comfort read, a book they always return to, for whatever reasons. As third book in each post, we’ll have one by the writer.

This week, we have Louise Mangos, who writes psychological suspense thrillers, historical fiction and flash fiction. She’s also travelled widely, as her recently published novel The Beaten Track demonstrates – but more about that later.
Over to Louise:

Classic:

A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens.
Of all of Dickens’ novels, I feel A Tale of Two Cities is the most contemporary in its exploration of human emotions. The setting, on the other hand, is very much anchored in the historic era either side of the French Revolution. Suspense is maintained throughout as the characters are in constant danger of being either imprisoned or killed, but a complicated romance lifts the narrative away from the typical darkness of a Dickensian novel. The closing sentence: “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known” still makes me weep.

Comfort:

The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion.
This novel is one to raise a smile. It’s fundamentally a rom-com, but with special characters that appeal beyond the usual commercial novels in the genre. Don is a man looking for a partner and has written a list of criteria to help him find the perfect candidate. He meets eccentric Rosie and they strike up an unusual friendship as he tries to find the perfect partner and she tries to find her father. Each of them has their own foibles and unusual traits which gives this story its own recipe of warmth and humour.

Thank you, Louise! A Tale of Two Cities is one of my favourites, too, though it’s years since I’ve read it.

Louise’s new novel The Beaten Track was published by Red Dog Books last week. I was lucky enough to read an ARC, and I can thoroughly recommend it. As a reader, I travelled all over the world with Sandrine, the main character – who’s being stalked…
Here’s the blurb:

After her stalker takes his life and she’s jilted by a holiday lover, Sandrine returns home to Switzerland from a round-the-world backpacking trip perturbed, penniless and pregnant. She meets handsome Scott, who offers love, security and all she and her new baby could ever wish for.

But their dream is about to turn into a nightmare…

Louise writes novels, short stories and flash fiction which have won prizes, placed on shortlists, and have been read out on BBC radio. Her short fiction has appeared in more than twenty print anthologies and magazines. The Beaten Track is her third suspense novel. She holds a Masters in crime writing from the University of East Anglia in the UK. Louise lives at the foot of the Swiss Alps with her Kiwi husband and two sons.

You can find out more about Louise and her books on her website, Facebook and Twitter.
Next month, we’re having writer Terry Tyler to tell us about her choice of Classic Comfort reads.

Posted in books, Guest Posts, travel | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

I #amwriting, #travel in Switzerland and a Chill award!

It’s been a busy week here in N.E Switzerland. On Monday, I travelled to Zürich to meet up with writing friends Louise Mangos – who’s coming on the blog later this month with her choice of Classic Comfort books – and Alison Baillie. As usual, we wasted no time in setting the entire publishing world right, and we may have clinked glasses, too. It’s always good to chat in person with others who have the same kind of being-an-author worries.

To finish off the day, we went for a wild and windy walk along the banks of Lake Zürich and yes, it was pretty chilly…

My writing week continued with some very nice news on Tuesday. Daria’s Daughter has been awarded a Chill with a Book Premier Readers’ Award. These are open to authors who are self-published or with small indie publishers, so I was really pleased about that – and so were Hobeck Books. 🙂

Wednesday was a non-writing day and I was back on the road, or rather the rail tracks, first to Kreuzlingen Hafen and then on to Konstanz, which is our nearest big-big town in Germany.

Thursday and Friday found me back in the editing cave with book 12. Below left is what my WIP plan looked like a week or two ago, and right is Friday’s attempt to rearrange the POV sections in chapter twenty. Sometimes, structural edits are easier when you DON’T do them on the PC…

So what’s next? Well, I hope to have some more news about book 12 soon, plus a few pics of a launch do I’m planning to go to later this month. And as the only sure thing about the writing life is that nothing is certain, who knows what else is coming up this summer?
For now, though, I’ll get back to the edits and leave you with a pic of our lovely Lake Constance. The blog will be on holiday over Easter, but we’ll be back on the 24th with Louise and her choice of books. See you then!

Posted in books, Life in Switzerland, My books, The Writing Life, travel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Toilet roll holders, and other tricky moving-house decisions…

It’s almost exactly seven years since we moved into this flat. I don’t know if it’s the toilet roll holder that did it, but this is one of my most regularly visited blog posts… 🧻

linda huber

toilet-roll-220415_1280If I had ten franks for every moving-house decision I’ve made in the past two and a bit years I could retire tomorrow, and go and live on a lovely tropical island and write books and watch the sun go down with a Marguerita by my side…

In 2013 we downsized from a big old house to a medium-sized (temporary) flat, and I really thought all the ‘Do we need/want to keep this???’ decisions were as bad as it could get.

Wrong.

Shortly after that removal, a whole new decisions game started… building the permanent flat. I was prepared for some of it. I knew I wanted wooden floors in the bedrooms and stone tiles in the living areas and bathrooms. I knew I wanted white walls throughout the flat, and white gloss fronts in the kitchen area. I fondly imagined that was about it.

Wrong.

Door handles. Door locks?…

View original post 383 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Classic Comfort Reads… with Sue Shepherd

The idea behind the Classic Comfort posts is that each featured writer chooses a favourite title from the classics – we’ll define ‘classic’ as pre-1940 – and a favourite comfort read, a book they always return to, for whatever reasons. As third book in each post, we’ll have one by the writer.

This week, it’s Sue Shepherd, who writes contemporary romance as herself, and crime fiction as S.E. Shepherd. Her recently published crime novel Swindled has one of those characters you love to hate… but more about that later.
Over to Sue:

Classic:

And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie.
Ten strangers on a bleak island, cut off from the mainland, each accused of a previous crime. Followed by a series of murders based around a macabre rhyme. What’s not to enjoy? This is Christie at her best. In fact, in the author’s notes, she says herself (about writing it) – It was well received and reviewed, but the person who was really pleased with it was myself, for I knew better than any critic how difficult it had been. I’ve read it many times and of course I know full well who the killer is. But I enjoy keeping track of where everybody is at crucial times. It’s a masterpiece in murder mystery. I must point out that the book had two previous titles, which are considered offensive now, so I will stick to the modern title used above. Title controversy aside, it is, without doubt, an expertly crafted story.

Comfort:

Life after Life, by Kate Atkinson.
I have no idea how many times I’ve read this ‘what if’ novel. Atkinson has a wonderful way of writing, which simply carries you along with ease. Quite a fan of exploring infinite possibilities, I love how one small change can lead to a fresh start and a different direction for Ursula. Reading this cleverly written book is absolutely the epitome of comfort. I have been known to read it in a bubble bath – just to add to the sheer decadence and pleasure.

Thank you, Sue! And Then There Were None is one of my favourite Agatha Christie books too, and I enjoyed the film a few years ago as well – though I have to confess I’ve never read Life After Life. One for my tbr list.

Sue’s novel Swindled is published by Hobeck Books, and tells the story of Vincent, Lottie and Hannah. It’s Vincent you’ll love to hate… Here’s the blurb:

‘He’s out there somewhere. He’s taken everything from me, and … I hate him!’

Lottie
Beautiful, but a little spoilt, Lottie Thorogood leads a charmed life. Returning home from horse riding one day, she finds a stranger, drinking tea in the family drawing room – a stranger who will change her life, forever.

Hannah
After a bad decision cut short her police career, Hannah Sandlin is desperate to make her mark as a private investigator. She knows she has the skills, but why won’t anyone take her seriously? She’s about to become embroiled in a mystery that will finally put those skills to the test and prove her doubters wrong. It will also bring her a friend for life.

Vincent
Vincent Rocchino has spent his life charming the ladies, fleecing them and fleeing when things turn sour. How long can he keep running before his past catches up with him?

Sue Shepherd was born in Harrow, she then spend several years living in Hertfordshire before taking a leap of faith across The Solent to the picturesque Isle of Wight. Sue lives with her husband, two sons, and their two dogs, a Standard Poodle named Forrest, and a Cavachon called Sky.

Sue’s passions in life are her family, writing, the seaside and all the beautiful purple things her sons have bought her over the years.

Now writing under the name S E Shepherd, Sue’s first suspense novel, Swindled, Book 1 in The Sandlin PI Series was published in September 2021 by Hobeck Books.

Sue has also written three RomComs, ‘Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret?’ which reached the top ten UK Kindle chart in 2015, ‘Love Them and Leave Them’ and ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’.

Ask Sue to plan too far in advance and you’ll give her the heebie-jeebies, and she’d prefer you not to mention Christmas until at least November!

You can find out more about Sue and her books on Facebook and Twitter. And for audiobook fans, Swindled is available on your usual audio platform from April 1st.

Next month, we’re having writer Louise Mangos with her choice of books.

Posted in books, Guest Posts | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

I don’t believe it!!!

My 9-year-old washing machine has been making ominous noises recently, and I was reminded of the horrors I experienced while buying it. So while I’m deep in the editing cave, I thought I’d reblog the post I wrote then. Grab your calculators and buckle up…

linda huber

It was a real Victor Meldrew moment. The first of two, actually. There I was in Switzerland a couple of months ago, rooted to the spot in our nearest big-town washing machine retailer, eyes popping and mouth hanging open…

But let’s start at the beginning. Washing machines, as we all know, don’t last forever and mine had died. I did my research on the www and found a nice machine, but in spite of over 20 years in Switzerland I’m a canny Scot at heart, so instead of ordering online I went to see my chosen machine in the flesh, so to speak.

The machine I’d picked out cost 1,100 Swiss francs. That’s at the expensive end of the cheap machines, by Swiss standards. Now I’m the first to admit that numbers aren’t my thing – they always seem a bit meaningless. I was hopeless at maths at school. So…

View original post 444 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Not such a happy coincidence…

As coincidences go, it was a big one, and it nearly meant that one of my books wasn’t finished, never mind published.

The Clyde, with the footbridge

Going back a couple of years, I was watching a TV programme called The Heir Hunters, which was about a team of people who searched for relatives of those who died inestate. The relatives then inherited whatever was left, and the heir hunters were given a certain percentage. Interestingly, the size of the estate was unknown during the search, and one lovely side effect was that people were often reconnected with long-lost relatives, or relatives they’d never even known about.

And that was where the idea for Stolen Sister came from. I started to write about Vicky, who discovered she’d once had a baby sister… I set the book in Glasgow, and as I was in the UK visiting family around that time, I took a friend for a scout around the city centre to see the streets Vicky would be walking up and down every day.

For reasons to do with the plot, Vicky needed to live close to the centre, and we soon found the ideal place. The river Clyde flows through Glasgow, and a stone’s throw from all the action there’s a footbridge over to the opposite bank, where twin buildings sit on either side of the bridge. I put Vicky’s flat into the building on the left. From there, she could look out across the river and see the glass roof of the St Enoch Centre glinting in the sun. Perfect!

The footbridge

Back I came to Switzerland, and had almost finished the book when the coincidence reared up and floored me. My father had been living with cancer for many years then, but things took a sudden and dramatic downturn and he needed terminal care asap. My brother called to tell me a place had been found for him in the Prince and Princess of Wales hospice in Glasgow, and he was taking Dad there immediately.

‘Where is it?’ I asked.

‘Carlton Place, somewhere in the city centre,’ he replied. ‘I’m putting it into the satnav.’

I rang off, booked flights and went on Google maps to find out where the hospice was.

You see the bridge on the photo above, and the row of houses along the river bank? That’s Carlton Place, with “Vicky’s flat” on the left – and the hospice in the building on the right. I’d walked past it that day and never realised.
For the next three weeks, I spent my time sitting at Dad’s bedside by one of the windows on that photo, looking out at the city centre on the opposite bank, with the Clyde flowing past in between. The exact same view my Vicky would have from her flat…

It was months before I went back to my manuscript. If it hadn’t been so nearly finished, I think I’d have abandoned it. But I didn’t, and it was published, spending a few years with digital publisher Bloodhound Books before rights returned to me last week.

The kindle and audio versions are available now, and we hope to have a new paperback out this summer. Working to get the text ready to republish took me right back to the time I spent at Carlton Place with Dad. Since then, the Glasgow hospice has moved into a lovely new building in a park, and I’d like to finish off by thanking them once again for the amazing care they gave not only to Dad, but to all our family. ❤

Cover image: The Cover Collection
Posted in books, My books, The Writing Life, travel | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Classic Comfort Reads… with Helen Pryke

The idea behind the Classic Comfort posts is that each featured writer chooses a favourite title from the classics – we’ll define ‘classic’ as pre-1940 – and a favourite comfort read, a book they always return to, for whatever reasons. As third book in each post, we’ll have one by the writer.

This week, it’s Helen Pryke, who writes standalone psychological suspense as well as her Healer’s saga, a series of historical/fantasy women’s fiction reads set in Italy where she lives. I’ve read them all and I can’t wait for the next one!
Over to Helen:

Classic:

Watership Down by Richard Adams

When I was little, I loved the idea of talking animals, or being part of an animal’s world and seeing how it thought and lived. Showing life from a rabbit’s point of view, Watership Down, for me, was an incredible book that I read over and over again. The legends that Adams created, the idea of a group of rabbits setting out in search of a new warren, the hardships they faced, and yes, even the tragic deaths, held me enthralled throughout. Each time I read it I discover something new, even all these years later.

Comfort:

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

I don’t remember the first time I read The Magician’s Nephew, but I was very young, probably seven or eight. I was fascinated by the world that C.S. Lewis created, from the attics that linked between houses, to the wood between the worlds with its wondrous pools among the silent trees, to the creation of Narnia and all its creatures. I can still vividly recall each scene, and just seeing the cover brings back the characters, as if they were old friends. The whole series sparked my imagination and my love for reading.

Thank you, Helen! I love the Narnia books too, and Watership Down was one of the first home readers I was given at secondary school, so I have happy memories of both these books too – though I wasn’t so keen on the film version of Watership Down.

The Healer’s Secret is the first in Helen’s series, and it was one of those books where I sat down to read and didn’t get up again for hours. Here’s the blurb:

Jennifer’s life isn’t going as she planned. Fired from her job and on the brink of divorce, her only salvation lies at the bottom of a wine bottle. When her mother insists she get away from everything, she reluctantly agrees to explore her Italian roots in Tuscany.

Staying in her family’s centuries-old cottage, she becomes embroiled in a mysterious tragedy involving her great-grandmother. As she delves further into her ancestors’ history, she discovers there is more to her heritage than meets the eye.

Ghosts from the past could give Jennifer something she thought she’d never have: a future. But that depends on whether she can resist temptation and avoid slipping back into her old ways.

Will she be able to conquer her inner demons and discover the healer’s secret?

Helen Pryke is a British author who has been living in the north of Italy for almost 30 years, learning everything about Italians, their culture, and their way of life. She now considers herself more Italian than British, even though she has never lost her British accent. Addicted to coffee and chocolate, she has also developed a passion for good food, having married an Italian who is a wonderful cook!

As well as writing suspense novels, Helen also writes emotional women’s fiction set in Italy that deals with the difficult subject of abuse in a sensitive way.

She also writes middle-grade fiction under the pen name, Julia E. Clements.

You can find out more about Helen and her books on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

I’ll leave you with the four books published so far in the Healer’s saga – aren’t the cover images lovely? The books are available individually and also as a kindle boxset. Click HERE to see The Healer’s Secret on Amazon.
Next month, we’re having rom-com and suspense writer Sue Shepherd with her choice of books.

Posted in books, Guest Posts, The Writing Life | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments