Bookstore Adventure

2011 has passed entirely too quickly, and what a year it’s been!  The world has experienced its share of tumult and crises, and for the many, buying holiday gifts will be a stressful experience.  Yet it does not have to be so!

Last weekend in Paris, I grumpily agreed to take a bain de foule (literally, a crowd bath) on the Champs-Élysées to help a friend purchase books for everyone in his family.  The Grinch in me wanted to lobby for ordering online, but once at the store, I realized … Read more.

The Writing Process: Peter Ackroyd gives permission

“Well, I think it’s male, a great age, unpredictable, it’s diseased, it’s impatient, it’s energetic… that’s it.”

This is how one of my living literary heroes Peter Ackroyd describes London.  I’ve just taken an hour-long walk under that city’s ominous gray skies, heavy with the answer to London’s daily mystery: will it rain?  And like the cantankerous old man Ackroyd says London is, it would not give an answer.

Also known for not giving answers is Peter Ackroyd himself, who has written … Read more.

Panther (or creature of the night) stalks Tuscany?

More missing sheep, this time in Tuscany!  Call it a panther if it makes you feel better…but we know the truth!

Tuscany Trembling over Big Cat

Phantom Panther Gives Italians Paws for Thought

By Hans-Jürgen Schlamp in Massa Marittima, Italy

The village of Massa Marittima in Tuscany, Italy.

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The village of Massa Marittima in Tuscany, Italy.

A large black cat believed to be a panther is stalking the fields and forests of southern Tuscany, striking fear into residents and holidaymakers. Hunters have angered animal rights campaigners by offering to kill it, but the debate is academic — … Read more.

Chasing Vlad1: The Case of the Missing Sheep

Believe it or not, people often ask me, “Karen, was Vlad the Impaler really a vampire?”   I finally decided to make a trip to Romania and Transylvania to investigate.  The next few posts will be about that journey. 

We’d set out for the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania from Bucharest in the morning, encountering a tempestuous rainstorm so severe as to be deafening, lashing the vehicle and obscuring our sight.  In the brutal rain teaming from a blackened, ominous sky, it became … Read more.