International Writers Conference 2015 Post conference report!

IMG_3059What a wonderful weekend of leading edge information on the evolution of writing in this new era of social media and the instant story telling power of Twitter.

Our talented and philanthropic faculty shared a goldmine of writing treasure.

I would like to thank Caleb Pirtle for his inspiring, entertaining and memorable keynote speech. Maurice Monette for his valuable pointers on writing memoir. Melissa Frost for her academic integrity and historical perspective on the evolution of writing through the ages , right through to now with the emergence of Twitter and the micostory.Donna Dahl the energizer presenter who shared so much on the how of using Twitter for the non tweeters. James Callan’s defining workshop on dialogue. Sarah Cortez so professional in her presentations and giving such sound advice and useful tips. The delightful and very knowledgeable Elise Capron agent from Sandra Dijkstra Agency in San Diego. Thanks Elise we were left wanting to hear so much more. Evelyn Byrne of Whitebird publications who argued the case for using a smaller publisher so persuasively. Colin Hamilton who in spite of being sick shared vital information on radio interviews and Virginia Fox who encouraged us in honing our abilities as performers of our written words. Last but not least Thomas Pulley aka Rusty Debris who wrote a delightful song especially for the conference and kindly performed with friends at the beginning and the end.

Folks we had a lot of fun and learned a ton too. Hope to see you next year at Biblioteca Los Mangos for another enjoyable weekend of intense instruction.

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Final Count Down to International Writers Conference 2015

IMG_3059For those of you who like to read and write. This is the event for you- an intensive weekend of workshops and presentations starting with registrations at noon on Friday 6th March at Los Mangos Library in Puerto Vallarta. The inspiring title Leaving Our Mark… Awakening More Than Memoir intends to convey the flavour of the conference which will cater to writers and readers of all genres.

In addition there are Workshops on Twitter, Songwriting and on Performing The Written Word something many writers find difficult.
The Keynote will be given by Caleb Pirtle at 7.00 on Friday evening.
On Friday afternoon starting at 2.30 we will have workshops on Twitter with Donna Dahl, Performing the written word with Colin Hamilton, A songwriting workshop with Rusty Debris and Friends and The use of poetic techniques to make your prose sparkle with Sarah Cortez.Meetings will be scheduled throughout the afternoon with agent Elise Capron and publisher Evelyn Byrne.
Saturday will open at 9.30 with a plenary session with Maurice Monette author of Confessions of a gay married priest and Sunday will begin with Melissa Frost and The instant story telling power of memoir.
On Saturday and Sunday two separate panel discussions will address the Pros and cons of publishing today and Marketing the elephant in the room.
Our teaching faculty includes Colin Hamilton former radio broadcaster for the BBC, Evelyn Byrne of White Bird publishing New York ,Elis Capron of the Sandra Dijkstra Agency in California, Thomas Pulley musician, songwriter and author, Sarah Cortez, Poet and memoir specialist, Maurice Monette Memoir and mindfulness, James Calland author and dialogue expert, Donna Dahl Twitter and marketing and Melissa Frost visiting academic and Twitter expert and author from the University of Virginia.
This is the only local event in the Bay of Banderas aiming to meet the needs of both visiting and local authors, artists and readers.

We look forward to seeing you at this inspiring and thought provoking event for writers honing their craft and readers who love to devour books.

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Evelyn Byrne White Bird Publishing

Evelyn Byrne will be attending the 9th International Writers Conference in Puerto Vallarta. In her presentation she will focus on what is needed to prepare a manuscript for publishing and why manuscripts are rejected.

For those registered at the conference and those who would still like to : Byrne is offering to look at the first 5 pages of your manuscript. Manuscripts need to be professionally edited ,double spaced with one inch margins and in New Times Roman 12 point. Whitebird accepts most genres with the exception of erotica.

This is a wonderful not to be missed opportunity if you are an author who has a manuscript ready to be submitted in the above format.

Evelyn will also be conducting interviews by appointment on a first come first served basis on the 6th and 7 th March. If you would like to benefit from this excellent opportunity please register now . E mail me at for conference details and a registration form.

Please see previous post for speaker faculty and registration fees.


Playa Careyeros yet another reason to visit Mexico

Playa Careyeros yet another reason to visit Mexico

We look forward to seeing you at Los Mangos Biblioteca on the 6th 7th and 8th March 2015!

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Happy Christmas 2014 Mexican Style


Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and Preaceful New Year 2015.

These cute festive photos were taken at Kuali in Nuevo Vallart Nayarit Mexico, Reindeers, IMG_1801Santa, Snowmen and Christmas trees. And of course numerous nativity scenes in this very Christian and Catholic country.

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Early Bird Registration International Writers Conference 2015

Early bird registration is available until midnight tomorrow 1st December 2014.  The conference is scheduled for the 6th 7th and 8th March 2015 in sunny Puerto Vallarta. Early bird registration is only $99 USD for 3 action packed days featuring Caleb Pirtle, James Callan, Sarah Cortez, Carmen Rodriguez ,Melissa Frost, Thomas Pulley and Evelyn Bryn of White Bird Publishing.

The conference agenda will span memoir, social media, poetry, songwriting, dialogue and consciousness in writing.

A warm and sunny welcome awaits you in Puerto Vallarta beside the sparkling blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.IMG_3059

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The Puerto Vallarta International Writers´ Conference 2015


The conference will be held on the 6th, 7th and 8th March 2015 at Los Mangos Library.The title has yet to be agreed and if any of you have any bright ideas we would love to hear from you. The conference is going to be on writing memoir.
Our teaching faculty so far will include Caleb Pirtle, Sarah Cortez, James R Callan, Carmen Rodriguez, Donna Dahl, Melissa Frost, Thomas Pulley and Evelyn Bryn from White Bird Publications who have all kindly agreed to participate. This is wonderful news.
Please pencil the dates in your diary and share the invitation with your fellow writers.
A warm welcome awaits you here in sunny Puerto Vallarta.

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Acapulco ATP Tennis Tournament 2014 in Pictures



Kevin Anderson at practice Finalist at Acapulco Open 2014



Dead Dog Society of Mexico

Dead Dog Society of Mexico

Diving is all about height

Diving is all about height

Looking taller before the dive

Looking taller before the dive

Acapulco Bay

Acapulco Bay

In flight

In flight

Love All Tennis Sweethearts

Love All Tennis Sweethearts

From the Top

From the Top

Holiday Inn Hotel

Holiday Inn Hotel

The bright colours of Mexico

The bright colours of Mexico

Humberto  Ortega Wiseman of tennis. Former coach to Jimmy Connors and John Macenroe.

Humberto Ortega wiseman of tennis. Former coach to Jimmy Connors and John Macenroe with Grigor Dimitrov 2014 Acapulco Open Champiom

The lovely Dominika Cibulkova Tournament Champion 2014

The lovely Dominika Cibulkova Tournament Champion 2014

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Raul Zurutuza Tournament Director extraordinaire : Acapulco Open

I honestly can´t say enough good things about this gentleman´s skilful execution of a sometimes impossibly difficult job. For tennis fans anywhere in the world I want to emphasize that the Acapulco Open is a must see event. Set in the elegant Fairmont Princess overlooking the glittering waters of the Pacific, the location is paradise.

Humberto Ortega and I had been anticipating our trip since last year in the hope of seeing Rafael Nadal defend his title. Any disappointment we may have had when he could not come was more than made up for by the extraordinary matches we saw . These include those played by Andy Murray, Grigor Dimitrov, Kevin Anderson and Ernests Gulbis.

I am a die hard Andy Murray fan and sometimes I felt like the lone Brit waving my flag, but evidently it struck a chord with the promoters who captured the images and now you can see me and Humberto on the TV ads! Also there is a photo on the tournament blog, of me proudly brandishing my Union Jack and wearing a big smile.

Throughout the tournament Humberto and I had a ball! We picked our matches which weren´t always the ones on centre court and rooted for our favourites. Nicolas Meister was unfortunate to lose to Alexandro Fallo but fortunate to leave the court with his shirt. Enthusiastic fans wanted him to part with just about everything he owned even though he confided that he did have a sponsor. This is a great shame as Nicolas has an excellent game. I hope he is doing better with sponsorship.

The grounds surrounding the new hard courts were well supplied with all kinds of vendors from ice cream, steaks refreshing juices and horchatas and tons of tennis clothing and other goodies. There were autograph signings,fun events for kids and raffles to add to the offcourt activities.

The bonus for me was arriving early to see some of the qualifiers. For 100 pesos a day with play starting at 4.00 pm there was a great opportunity to see tennis rising stars. I pick Allie Kiick as top 50 by the end of the year all she has to do is believe in herself and that she is a winner!She has the capacity to change a losing game and fight back in 3 sets and that is always impressive !

The new hard courts with the new surface is I believe a great advance for the tournament. I think clay will be phased out and I expect Roland Garros to change surfaces within the next 5 years. That is my prediction let´s see if I am right. In this respect Mexico´s premier tournament is ahead of the game and is I believe making a very very positive choice for change.

So Raul Zurutuza warm congratulations from Jane and Humberto on such a successful tournament. This gentleman can hold his own anywhere in the world as tournament director. Both his interpersonal and organizational skills are quite exceptional and thanks to him we have very happy memories we shall treasure for the rest of our days.

Thank you Raul from the bottom of our hearts!Image

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Allie Kiick, Sachia Vickery, Eugenie Bouchard and Sharon Fichman Tennis Update

I was lucky enough to see all of these young ladies play at the Acapulco Open 2014.

Allie Kiick has a great game. She had Sharon Fichman on the ropes but limped home to a 3 set defeat after sustaining a very unfortunate injury in the 3rd set against the petulant Fichman.Allie is a charming and very talented young lady. I´d like to see her take advantage of her own talents and opportunities and truly believe in her capacity to play her winning game.Coaching  Allie if you need or would like is waiting here in sunny Mexico with none other than the talented Humberto Ortega. See my blog.

Sachia Vickery is another rising star who is a great representative for the sport of tennis. Good work Sachia ! Keep plugging away.

Sharon Fichman for all her hard work and industry is as good as she is going to get. Allie Kiick will surpass Sharon Fichman soon as long as she persists.

Eugenie Bouchard looked shakey at the Acapulco tournament and it was no surprise to see her go out although I would love for her to have made the final. She still needs to work on her second serve and first serve for that matter, and speed on court coverage. Unfortunately her training session content did not impress me. Needs to do more work on angles, work in the alley and on volleys. She should develop a serve and volley game she is made for it! Her coach in Acapulco is missing a training opportunity and Genie´s growth as a player is stunted. She is full of potential but needs better training. If she is to win multiple Grand Slams and be a serious contender against the big hitters(S. Williams, Azarenka, Sharapova) she needs a hitting partner who is going to kill her in practice after that a real match will be a cake walk. A word to the coaches: please you guys need to get to work (yes work!) and stop slacking!

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The Extreme Tennis Experience : Acapulco Open 2014 Report

This was our first foray to the Acapulco Tennis Tournament and the location, event and warm hospitality exceeded our expectations.
Dominika Cibulkova and Grigor Dimitrov are not only stars on the court but off court they have excellent interpersonal skills and are wonderful ambassadors for the game of tennis. They both kindly agreed to have their photos taken with me and these are on my blog too.
Dimitrov is responsible for inspiring the title of this post.
On court this delightful young man passionately gives his all in an effort to eke out a victory. He scrambles, scrapes, dives and even crawls to make sure that ball stays in play.
He played a tough match against the talented but capricious and temperamental Gulbis and won through. Gulbis has a lot of potential and I see a rivalry developing between him and Dimitrov in the future. It was a pity that they met so early in the tournament because the match itself was as good as any ATP final you are ever likely to see.
Dimitrov then faced my countryman Andy Murray. It seemed to me that Andy for whatever reason was not on his best form in Acapulco. I also sensed that in spite of the warm Mexican welcome that he did not feel quite comfortable in his surroundings which was a pity because there was a lot to enjoy.
Dimitrov defeated Andy in a hard fought 3 set match. Andy may have suffered a wardrobe malfunction. He seemed constantly dripping with sweat which trickled down into his shoes. Humberto and I played for 2 hours or so at the courts at the Mayan Palace and I too was soaked from top to toe and my feet had washerwoman´s skin. The problem with this is that you run the risk of blisters and fungal infections. Professional tennis players routinely play with blisters and fungal skin infections but it is very unpleasant. To stay dry in Acapulco is impossible but frequent changes of clothing and shoes and socks are absolutely essential if you are a sweaty person like me or Andy Murray.
The ladies final between the lovely Christina McHale and Cibulkova proved to be a thrilling contest as McHale repeatedly saved match points denying the ultimate victory to Cibulkova many times.
The hardworking Christina McHale certainly has a future in the game mostly because of her work ethic and discipline. She thoroughly deserves this well earned success.
If you have never been to the Acapulco Open Tournament put it on your list and if you can afford it stay at the lovely ocean front Acapulco Princess and feast on extreme tennis. Grigor Dimitrov will be back next year to defend his title. It is an opportunity you should not miss!

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The Scorpion Sting!

Yesterday evening I was stung on my right middle finger by a nasty little scorpion hiding in my hand towel. Ouch Ouch Ouch! Humberto has been warning me for years about how dangerous these creatures are and when I googled scorpion sting I discovered more people die from their stings than from snake bites.This did worry me.

Well I haven´t died yet from the sting but I have a very numb middle finger, a cough and an achey right arm. I may also have a low grade fever but as Humberto predicted I slept very soundly last night. He also says that my immune system and capacity to heal quickly will improve after the sting. This remains to be seen and I do not recommend the sting as a medically proven means of boosting one´s immune system obviously.

The venom is eliminated via the kidneys so I have been pouring in the fluids.

Since yesterday evening Humberto has been on a murder scorpion rampage and has killed three. When I am lucky enough to find a live one I shall photograph the beast and post. Until then be careful. These creatures are everywhere in Mexico and especially if you have a well treed yard like ours where they can thrive!

I will keep you posted and let you know via this blog of any decline in my condition.Stay tuned.

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Mariposa´s Restaurant and Poverty in Mexico

Mariposa´s restaurant has been open exactly one month today. Her partner now has a job at Pemex pumping gas but strangely enough has no key to come and go from our property. They made enough money to pay the rent this month plus a little. The lovely young lady who works for her is 17 years old and earns 80 pesos a day plus tips which she must share with Mariposa. Tips are supposed to be for the waitress! Today Elli showed up for work hungry and fainted because she had not eaten. Mariposa won´t let her eat until noon. Elli lacks energy and speed because she is starving.Elli lives in a tiny shambles of a room half a block from our house. The cramped space is shared with her parents, twin sister and younger sister. Her father is out of work. Her brother who suffers from epilepsy lives 2 hours away so that he can train as a mechanic.

Mariposa lives at our property rent free, electricity and water included . She can not find the time to do the chores she agreed to when she moved in. Is there something wrong woth this picture? I think so. She promised me she would keep my house nice and clean but on her first visit could not follow instructions and started ‘clearing’ things out which weren´t hers to clear nor requested by me. Interesting! I had wondered if her saying would be equal to her ability to doing. Not so. I kept my wonderful cleaning lady Izzie just in case things didn´t happen quite how Mariposa promised.

The restaurant is doing so so although I always worry about someone cooking for me that is willing to cut corners. Maybe things don´t get cleaned as they should be there, either but who would ever know? Only once you get the abdominal cramps and all that goes  with it do you find out how clean things really are.

The hours at the restaurant Las Brisas in Mezcales are in a state of constant change a bit like the rest of Mariposa´s life. She started 7 days a week 8.00 am to 10.00 pm.Now it is 7 days a week but the hours are different until 4 or 5 maybe but she lacks regular routine so it is really hard to say what the hours will be. It is tough to recommend the place too to friends when times are variable. In life regular routine wins the day. Working 6 slighter longer days a week with a rest day would be more productive but Mariposa doesn´t understand and can´t be told.

I wish her the best of course but with a little more discipline in her life she would do so much better. She complains that Elli is slow about doing her work. Starving people can only feel the hunger pains in their stomach. Feed the kid for heaven´s sake she is working in a restaurant!

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My innocent neighbour in jail….

My wonderful neighbour Sherry spent last night in jail. Unwittingly she had purchased a stolen vehicle.
In Mexico if you are in possession you are guilty until proven innocent. The process to avoid a long time in jail needs to be invoked speedily. There are two ways one to claim that you are the victim of fraud and name the person you believe guilty or get an Impago which buys time. Many guilty people use this as means of getting away with murder. Understanding how the law in Mexico works is interesting and certainly doesn´t follow the British idea of innocent until proved guilty. Here you are guilty until proved innocent. If you are a foreigner the law may not be administered in a fair way unless you happen to be French with persuasive political connections. Lawyers can sometimes “play” with their clients so that they can reap a bigger fee. Meanwhile they may languish in a Mexican jail which is no holiday camp. In Sherry´s case the lawyers appear to have done their job so far and she is I am relieved safely home.

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Acapulco ATP tennis

This is my first visit to the wonderfully well organized and thoroughly enjoyable Acapulco Tennis Tournament. I give great credit to Raul Zurutuza for pulling it altogether: no mean feat (as anyone with any experience of organizing a tournament will understand).

The venue at Fairmont Princess sitting on the shores of the glittering blue waters of the Pacific Ocean is enticing. The weather enviable, sunny without a raindrop in sight!

The new hard courts provide a surface with a true bounce! Why would anyone want to play on clay? These new courts are equal to any world class tennis centre.

This tournament has been a  tennis feast. Andy Murray fighting for his life against the upcoming Dimitrov who is set to be in the top 10 soon and a contender for the coveted number one spot. This young man is a breath of fresh air with precocious talent but a most amiable disposition. As long as he remains injury free I see him as leader of the new tennis guard and may even exceed Roger Federer as a tennis legend.

Tonight he plays in the Final and I predict he will win his second title here in sunny Acapulco, but he has won something more here : the affection of the warm hearted Mexican people.

Go Dimitrov all the way to number 1!


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Puerto Vallarta Writers´Group Conference 2015

Plans are underway for next years conference.

I will be keeping you regularly updated via this blog.

We plan to host in Los Mangos Library as we have done for past conferences.

Group members continue to contribute with great ideas suggestions and generous offers of help.

Please let your fellow writers know that next years conference is ago.

Come and have fun in the sun and while you are here hone those writing skills and find inspiration with like minded artists.Image 

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Puerto Vallarta Writers´Group Conference 2015 Survey

I have prepared a questionnaire to survey members of the PVWG in anticipation of next year´s conference.

The questions include the following:

Do you plan to attend in 2015?
What is your genre/genres?
Do you have a blog?
Do you have experience with organizing conferences?
How would you like to help?
What suggestions do you have for the themme of 2015?
What topics would you like to include?
Have you got a catchy title for the conference?
Would you like an agent to come so that you can pitch?
Have you experience as a speaker/lecturer/teacher that might useful for the conference programme?

Please respond to me by commenting on this blog and your suggestions will be included in the planning process for next years conference.

Many many thanks!

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Out of the frying pan into the fire : A Mexican Solution

Mariposa quit her job at a sandwich bar/ American style diner two weeks ago. She had been chattering about how much she wanted to open a restaurant of her own. She complained about the bickering of the hard working couple who employed her, and this provided her with the perfect excuse to quit a perfectly good job.She had no job to go to. She found employment in a restaurant that closed due to lack of business after affording her only five days of work. “I don´t have a job,” she whined. Meanwhile her son Antonio continued work quite happily for the same couple whose bickerings bothered her so much.

The solution for her self inflicted crisis is to open a restaurant. We all live in Mezcales a rural community where local folk often struggle to put enough food on the table and pay for essential services like water, gas and electricity. Just where are these folks going to find 350 pesos to pay for Fajitas for four?

When Mariposa first floated her restaurant idea to me I explained the difficulties of running a business. The costs for the business have to be paid every month even if you don´t sell a single meal. I don´t think she heard anything I said. Yesterday she had the keys for her new premises jingling in her hands. “I don’t have any tables,” she said. “Ask the lady whose business has just closed if you can have hers” I suggested. The idea had not crossed her mind. If you are to succeed in running a business the ability to problem solve is a significant asset. Do I see another red flag here?

Mariposa is a great cook and her meals are delicious but this is rural Mexico where wages are around 100 pesos per day. Her new place named Brisas del Mar is located one block North of the main highway to Tepic, and Mezcales is between Bucerias and Nuevo Vallarta. This is not on the Malecon, where wealthy tourists will give her lots of passing trade.

I wish Mariposa the very best. In six months when starvation September hits I hope she has a enough money stashed away to make it through the month and keep her business open but I am not holding my breath.

What worries me somewhat is that she and her husband and son live on our property as caretakers. Poverty can make people desperate. I hope we are not the ones who have to fund Mariposa´s foray into the glamorous world of business and catering.

Watch this space. I am sure there will be several episodes as this doomed adventure unfolds.

Sorry to sound so gloomy and I hope with all my heart that I am wrong.

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Puerto Vallarta Writers´Group: The Plight of Publishing today!

PVWG met yesterday in our now usual meeting location at the Boutique Theatre that has been kind enough to host us since November of 2013.

The topic under discussion : the current struggles of publishing houses and of aspiring individual authors seeking publication.

I´ll summarize how I heard it. Big publishing houses are merging leaving fewer options for authors to peddle their work. If you are lucky enough to get published don´t  expect to make a financial killing, instead consider yourself very fortunate to have been scouted and to have made it into print with a reputable publisher at all.

Why are publishers struggling? Lots of reasons. These include the cost of offices in New York and other big cities, staffing, printing, warehousing, transportation, technological support and advertising make it to this incomplete list of expenses. Advances in the e book industry are challenging printed copy especially in Canada and the US. Europe is still hanging on to the hard copy reading experience. Childrens books are still selling well as hard copy although children are increasingly using computers as educational tools.

I admit to being very old school. I like the convenience of using a computer as I am at this moment and use it as a means to an end. A book however in hard copy is a sensory experience. The trip to the book store. Leafing through the fresh pages, scanning the words, and breathing in the smell of the paper. An e book can never capture the same pleasure for me and besides when you buy a book: it then sits on the book shelf as a reminder and offers the opportunity to revisit the pages that were most puzzling or thought provoking. Suffice it to say I am not an e book reader yet! But I am aware that a ruthless e book giant Goliath is leading the literary Philistines. It makes a terrifying prospect.

So why are the middle sized publishing houses facing so many challenges. It seems to me that publishing as an industry is almost as bad as farming. In other words, you hope for rain and a good price for your crop. In publishing I don´t know the exact stats on how many books are published per year and how many are real winners and how many are losers. I heard once that 95% of published books sell less than a hundred copies. So even the publishers don´t really know which books are going to sell a million copies or more. But the irony to me is this that even really well written works with significant literary merit may not sell multimillions of copies. On the other hand a certain shade of grey has sold 50 million copies. There are a lot of readers out there with an appetite for the banal and the media band wagon gathers momentum and then the book is a huge financial winner. Ellen Greene who belongs to our PVWG group has written a delightful book called “Remember the sweet things”. In spite of all her hard work she does not consider the book a publishing success when it comes to the number of sales. Too bad because remembering that the smallest things in life are the most precious is something we all need to embrace now.

So to summarize both publishers and writers are gambling when they put a book in print. It is no more than a literary lottery.

Tastes in books have changed a lot in the 50 years or so since I was a small child. I cut my teeth on Ladybird books and God Bless her Enid Blyton and the famous five. I read Charles Dickens, George Elliott, Thomas Hardy, and I loved and still love the works of the English poets (William Shakespeare, Dylan Thomas and John Keats). Today poetry has almost no commercial value yet it represents I believe a higher consciousness and a taste for the erudite things in life.

But as we like to say with such eloquence in North America “It just aint so”

Publishing is in a state of flux. The future does not look great but there is still opportunity for success and in spite of the challenges some of us in the group are going to succeed. Some will be lucky and others through persistence will make their own good fortune.

Personally I would like to wish everyone the very best: publishers and writers alike. At the end of the day we need each other in order to survive.

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Holiday reading : The Light between Oceans

This brilliant book is a heart breaking read ( I mean boxes of Kleenex).The story is set on Janus Island in Western Australia where Izzy and her husband Tom live. Izzy suffers the loss of three consecutive pregnancies and this tragedy impairs her judgement. She makes some terrible decisions leading to equally terrible and inevitable consequences. The ensuing suffering extends way beyond her isolated life on Janus.

The Light between Oceans will get under your skin, and the dilemmas this book poses will haunt you forever! 

Margaret Steadman has written a master piece as good as Thornbirds and Anna Karenina.

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Why Fat Matters!

Happy New year to you all! As I write the sun is making a brave effort to shine after several days of almost constant rain.A little sunshine a little inspiration for New Year’s resolution and one of the most popular ones is to lose weight.
Being fat is not primarily a cosmetic issue it is a health issue. Anyone who is fat will sooner or later suffer ill health as a direct consequence of the excess body fat.In fact younger and younger people are suffering heart attacks and strokes as a direct result of obesity.
So what are the health risks of having a BMI of greater than 25.0.

I will list them:

1 High blood pressure
2 Heart attack/Ischaemic heart disease which is lack of oxygen to the heart muscle
3 Stroke/ Brain attack due to a blood clot most cmmonly or a bleeding blood vessel.
4 Diabetes which is a very serious condition and shortens lives by 10 years.
5 In women increased rates of endometrial /uterine cancer.
6 In women decreased fertility and capacity to conceive spontaneously.
7 In men and women a greater incidence of Vitamin D deficiency
8 In men and women a greater incidence of osteoarthritis joint problems decreaing mobility.
9 In obese children a much higher rate of depression
10 In short obesity is very bad for health and we as a species are on the brink of extinction from being quite simply too fat.

I hope we can still feel happy about the New Year. I hope so. If you would like to read on, I have simple healthy eating and drinking and lifestyle list which will guarantee you lose weight if that’s what you choose to do and the solution lies with the indvidual and nobody and nothing else.(If you truly have a medical condition such as underactive thyroid or leptin disorder then this list may not help you lose weight but it will be beneficial to your overall well being)

Simple solutions for losing weight forever.
1 Don’t buy anything that is harmful to your health and weight. If you shop wrong I promise you will eat wrong. So be a healthsmart shopper!
2 Don’t consume alcohol.Lots of calories almost zero nutritive value.
3 Don’t consume carbonated drinks, pop, juices nor energy drinks which are caffeinated.Lots of calories and very little nutrition.Read the labels.Low calories drinks are often a swindle too. Check that small print.
4 Drink water at room temperature or tea such as cinammon and ginger in the winter ti warm from the inside out.
5 Avoid ice and refrigerated food. That does include popcicles and ice cream I am sorry to say.
6 Avoid dairy : that means cheeses butter milk and sour cream.
7 Replace meat in your diet with fish or pulses such as split peas, beans, chick peas. Don’t eat more fish. We don’t need to eat more of anything substitute it for a burger or steak which is loaded with fat and makes us fat.
8 Avoid beef, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb and eat lentils and pulse and beans instead.
9 Eat more vegetables and make more vegetable soups. They are delicious.Broccoli,carrot,leek,celery
10 Avoid bread and potatoes, this includes all kinds of processed chips and tacos and in case we think chocolate and candy are ok These are a definite no no too.

Losing weight is easier than you think.
Follow the above diet and exercising vigorously by walking at least an hour a day will see us all in better shape in a month.

Who wants to die of heart disease? It is all about shopping right and then we shall eat right.
If we permanently change our bad shopping habits our health will improve.
Good luck and in a month let me know how you did?

And finally speaking of Mexico ….Mexico ranks number 1 in the world for obesity with the greatest number of people with BMIs of 30 or more!

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Keeping up with the Kardashians in Mexico

Over the Spring, Summer and Fall I work hard to set money aside in what I call the “Sunshine Fund”. The money I work so hard for over the warmer months in Canada allows me to nurse my aging joints in the delightful sunny winter in Mexico.
One of my favorite places is the Playa Careyeros beach close to the Four Seasons Hotel in Punta de Mita. I could never justify the cost of staying even one night at this luxury resort that hosted President Enrique Peña Nieto in November of this year.Tight lipped troops patrolled the beach we frequent each Sunday and a Mexican navy frigate was anchored off the sandy beach. I shared my guess with Humberto “some politician must be staying at the Four Seasons.” My hunch was right.
Along with our Mexican president many “A” Listers visit this secluded corner of the Pacific including the curvaceous Kim Kardashian, teen heart throb Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Charlie Sheen, Kate Hudson, Kirsten Dunst, Lady Gaga, Ewan McGregor, Joan Rivers and the discreet but enormously wealthy Sir Paul McCartney.
It is very unlikely that I will share their fame and fortune in this lifetime(though nothing is impossible) but I do share the same sunkissed beaches and the pleasure of playing in the warm waters of the gentle Pacific.
And the best thing of all as an ordinary traveler I don´t have to worry about tight security or running the gauntlet of paparazzi. If I’m having a bad hair day which happens quite often, nobody cares not even me!

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Why too many Margueritas is not such a good idea

Well folks I am not so sure that this is the way to cultivate traffic to my blog but I am going to be brave about sharing what I consider good information about safe drinking and eating.
All inclusives allow us to satisfy our greed and indulge in drinking alcohol in quantities which are harmful. We all know that overeating and alcohol in excess is bad for our health but it seems to me that the ones who should be putting on the breaks on as far as gorging is concerned and drinking less are the very ones who over indulge.
Too many Canadians are very overweight and I am sorry to say it but they eat as if it is a national sport and the same is true of US Americans. Europeans do a little better.
So how can we improve?
It is a very simple conscious act of the will to make a deliberate change but for the majority of people execution fails.
1.Shopping: if you put it in your cart it will find its way home and is likely to get eaten or if it is alcohol you are very likely to drink it. Shop the way you are going to eat. If you have heart disease and diabetes pop and Blackforest ham is not for you and neither are alcoholic beverages
2 Alcohol contains a lot of calories and lacks micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals(Except Red Wine which is high in iron and bad for folk with haemochromatosis an excessive iron storage problem).
3 Alcohol is associated with a huge healthcare burden of cost. In my past experience as an ER doctor a third of visits were directly related to the use of alcohol. The youngest an 11 year old girl who drank a bottle of Vodka.
4 Alcohol impairs judgment causing accidents including unintended pregnancies. Motor vehicle accidents frequently involve innocent victims.
5 Alcohol is associated with aggression, violence and addiction. Alcohol impaired individuals are far more likely to commit an act of violence than a schizophrenic.
6 Consistent excessive consumption causes cirrhosis of the liver
7 Binge drinking can cause pancreatitis which can be fatal and is associated with lifelong consequences. I have seen one case of this following a holiday to Mexico at an all inclusive.
8 Drinking in women is much more dangerous than for men. Ladies listen please. Liver damage occurs more easily and mental function is more quickly impaired. Regular alcohol consumption in women is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
9 Alcohol increases the risk of osteoporosis : thinning of the bones in men and women.
10 Alcohol can cause severe gastritis which can cause life threatening bleeding in the upper gut.
I belong to the Puerto Vallarta Writers Group here in Mexico. Many well known writers have suffered ill health from alcohol. Being a writer can be a very solitary, depressing occupation but drinking actually worsens depression. The wonderfully talented Dylan Thomas died prematurely in New York following the consumption of an enormous amount of alcohol.
Enough said. If you want to drink keep it to one drink. If you know you are a binge drinker you should NEVER drink at all!
Have a Happy Healthy Holiday!

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Happy Christmas from Mexico 2015

Wishing you and all your loved ones a very Merry Christmas from Mexico a country that is proud of its heritage and unashamedly Christian. What a blessing that we can freely celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Attached are some images from Puerto Vallarta depicting the nativity.

We look forwarding to welcoming our beloved Pope Francis in 2016!


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Remembering Colin Hamilton…..

Hello dear Colin! This may seem a little crazy but I am going to write this as if you can hear every word, as clearly as a broadcast on the world service! I hope there is consciousness after death in which case you will be able to enjoy sharing these sentiments that I should have shared with you before you were abruptly snatched from our reach. If you can not hear this , it’s okay I would still like to honour you with these thoughts and souvenirs of your life.

Colin you are a  gentleman, gracious, trusting with a refined taste for the better things in life. You are witty , kind and gentle and you have made this world a happier better place. As moderator of our Puerto Vallarta Writers Group  you inspired and entertained us with the wealth of knowledge you had acquired over the many years that you worked in the broadcasting industry. Thank you for sharing your accumulated years of wisdom and enriching our writers group.

Colin you have a mischievous side too that we enjoyed. You said you had problems remembering names. Funny, Colin you had no problem remembering all my names ! And then playfully putting me on the spot ” Are your Dr Jane Alabaster or Mrs Ortega? You had a talent for languages too, fluent in Swahili but you also spoke some Spanish , with a BBC British accent giving it some extra style! We all have querks and those that are friends love them.

So Colin you have been catapulted into the after life and are voyaging on. I hope you have found some fellow travellers to share this special journey. Your untimely death reminds us of how fragile life is, and how important this present is. There may be no tomorrow to laugh, sing and celebrate this life and share our love for the ones we love. Colin you are very loved by many. We miss you, but I do look forward to seeing you again on that shoreless land where there is space and silence giving birth to glorious possibilities.

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Shortage of Tetanus vaccine in Mexico

The US has required that Mexico send their tetanus vaccine north of the border. This is hard to believe but on Tuesday of this week Humberto and I had to visit 4 different hospitals so that he could get his booster for a dirty wound.

The only reason he got what he needed was through the good heartedness of Lorena from the Mojoneras clinic who advocated on his behalf at the State hospital somewhere in the hills behind Central Camionera.

I am totally shocked that a country like Mexico should be sending their precious tetanus vaccine to the US.

Mexico desperately needs all its tetanus vaccines to prevent tetanus which is deadly without vaccination.Mexico is a rual country and wounds are frequently contaminated with soil which harbors the tetanus spores.

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Making 14 pounds of Tibetan pastries for the Wood-Sheep year…


The intricately designed and colorful rhug rhug Khapsey

With the Tibetan New Year or Losar around the corner (Thursday, in fact), I spent my Sunday in the kitchen, cooking Khapsey(s). A khapsey is a Tibetan snack or pastry, made of whole flour, sugar or salt and butter/ghee or oil; some varieties of khapseys are even topped with ground sugar or melted jaggery.

Khapsey literally translates into “mouth, eat” — meaning a snack to eat. With the help of my two Amalas — my own and my husband’s — we made a wide variety of Khapseys, mainly because they were giving in to my quest to make all the kinds of Khapseys made in the different regions of Tibet. (Here’s a great read on Tibetan Khabseys)

Of course, we made lots of different types of dough — colorful ones for the colorful khapseys; sweet ones for the rhug rhug or regular small khapseys; salty ones for…

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