How About a Soundtrack to the Story?

It’s said that a picture paints a thousand words but what about a song? Certainly more than the number of words in the verses and chorus of the lyrics but can you have a soundtrack to a book that hasn’t yet been made into a film or published as an audiobook? Maybe the people at Kindle, Kobo and Smashwords will find a way – if they haven’t already – for the reader to hear a tune described in the pages of an e-book but if that same reader is familiar with the song, it’s mere mention will hopefully enhance the atmosphere of the story regardless. So – here’s the as yet unheard but hopefully imagined soundtrack to Yuri Medev’s The Colonel of Krasnoyarsk…

Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty is playing on the jukebox as Yuri leaves the bar on his first night in New York City: The mood of the song reflects his own thoughts as his usual positive professionalism is replaced by weariness as our hero – not for the first time – contemplates leaving his adventurous but sometimes lonely lifestyle behind and moving back to be closer to the family he misses.

Surfin’ USA by The Beach Boys is playing on the stereo in Jim Bergman’s car as he and Agent Urquhart speed north through Vermont: FBI Agent Jim Bergman hails from Los Angeles and while he’s pretty much made NYC a second home, the remote backwoods bring back certain insecurities that are held at bay by a song that is universally associated with his West Coast home.

Sunday Morning by the Velvet Underground is playing on the radio in Yuri’s stolen pickup truck as he prepares to set out north and evade his pursuers: After a narrow escape the relaxed atmosphere of the tune and the DJ’s comments relieve the tension he’s been feeling since crash landing the sea plane into the lake south of Middleton VT.

Someone Like You by Adele is the song Juliana Regan is dancing her solo to in Dance Society’s rehearsal at the studio just off Broadway: Yuri has come back to find her because he feels she’s one of the few people he can trust and the emotive lyrics of the song perhaps sum up what he is beginning to feel for her at that moment.

The Eagle by Abba is played by Juliana Regan at Yuri’s request when he stays at her Manhattan apartment on his return to the City. Her statement that the Abba CD is “her mom’s” accentuates the age gap between the two of them but despite his somewhat dated taste in music, the theme of the eagle returns during a subsequent rescue attempt high above those same City blocks later in the story…

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A Short Hike in the Highlands – Bridge of Orchy to Beinn Dorain

During moments of clear weather as one heads north along the A82 from Tyndrum towards Rannoch Moor and Glencoe, a vast pyramid shaped mountain makes its presence felt ahead towering above the small hamlet of Bridge of Orchy. More often than not all you will see is mist and rain but the peak is called Beinn Dorain and is a Munro of over 3500 feet in height. Along with Ben More above nearby Crianlarich, I’d had a mind to climb the mountain for some time having driven past it many times so one fine day in summer I stopped at Bridge of Orchy instead of driving past…

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bridge of orchy to beinn dorain highlands

Approaching the summit of Beinn Dorain

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An Adventure in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado…

Part 1 – Maroon Lake and Quandary Peak

maroon bells near aspen colorado

A few years ago I spent some time wandering around the Rocky Mountains of Colorado generally exploring and climbing a few peaks. The picture shows the Maroon Bells from Maroon Lake near Aspen which was the start point of one of the hikes I did. The photos were taken on a cheap camera so while the views were awesome, the quality wasn’t but the highlights of the trip are all there to read about…

There is something rather surreal about sitting at breakfast and watching people dressed in breathing masks and carrying cylinders of oxygen as they butter their slices of toast and pour their coffee as though they are about to set out for Everest. My hotel by Colorado’s Lake Dillon though is at 9100 feet above sea level which is twice the height of Ben Nevis or about level with Eigerwand Station on the Jungfrau and a fair height to arrive at by car without the benefit of any exercise on the way up. After these men in masks came the raiders – those who had already had breakfast but had returned with doggie bags to fill with more food for the day ahead. If it’s free why not I thought – and picked up a banana and a couple of apples for later.

That day – which had dawned fine – I was bound for Glenwood Canyon which I’d been told was well worth seeing and much nearer than the Grand Canyon which would have taken a full day just to get to. Distances in America are in a different league to those back home with a hundred mile trip being “just down the road” and I knew that if I set off down Interstate70 I wasn’t going to be sat in traffic jams for half the distance. I also planned – if time permitted to see the Maroon Bells – two spectacular mountains of just over 14000 feet which are close to the ski resort of Aspen some distance to the West of here…

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The Lake District Four Valleys Walk…

For a first outing in the Lakes in some time I decided on this nice circular walk from Wasdale Head around the 4 main valleys of the region that I’d planned earlier in the year as the winter storms raged outside… today though even the weather smiled on the usually damp and misty Western Fells on what was a long but satisfying day…

pillar from wasdale head

dawn in the mountains

The topography of the western Lake District is so aligned that four of the seven main valleys converge on the relatively small area between Great Gable and Honister Pass. The advantage of this to the hiker is that these four valleys can be linked by a circular walk through some of the finest scenery in the National Park that is no more than a longish day’s outing in the fells… >>>Read rest of post

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An Author Spotlight from Echo Fox Books:

Here is a recent author interview I did with Echo Fox Books; please check out the Equilibria Series and the other interviews on the site too…

Author Spotlight: Pete Buckley

Tell us a brief summary of your book’s plot:

When the discovery of a murdered FBI Agent in a Manhattan apartment coincides with the arrival in New York city of a mysterious high ranking Russian agent from Siberia; a high speed manhunt is sparked that begins in the city streets and leads the dead agent’s former partner Jim Bergman, deep into the woods of New England…  full interview

Author Spotlight: Pete Buckley.

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A Blog Hop – My Ten Favorite Screen Characters

I would like to thank Jonathan Dixit author of Babyworld for inviting me to join this blog hop… I’ll no doubt remember one I’ve missed out as soon as I’ve posted this but here are my own ten favorite film characters. The authors I’ve invited are listed at the end of the post.

1 Jean Reno as Leon in the movie Leon – The Assassin

2 Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

3 Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in the Bourne Trilogy

4 Natalie Portman as Padme Amidala in Star Wars

5 Winona Ryder as Lydia in Beetlejuice

6 Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan Kenobe in Star Wars

7 Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan in Clear and Present Danger

8 Keisha Castle Hughes as Paikea in Whale Rider

9 Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela in Invictus

10 Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully in The X Files

I am inviting the following authors to continue the challenge.  Apologies if you’ve already done it. If you want to participate, simply list your ten favorite screen characters and maybe a video clip or photo (though I didn’t get that far) and ten or so more authors you would lke to invite on the blog hop along with a link back here from the post.

It’s completely voluntary with no time limits or anything like that and should get a few new visitors to your blog… Enjoy!

JC Brennan author of A Fine Line

Terri Lyndie author of Wolf Eye Sly

KK Allen author of the Summer Solstice Series

Richard Graf author of The Banjo Essays

Ericka Clay author of Unkept

DB Nielsen author of the Keepers of Genesis Series

Grant Nicol author of On a Small Island

Cleo de Lancey author of Kieran the Pirate

Pamela Winn author of Healings

Fallon Lak author of Torn Apart

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Hills, Horses and Sunshine – a Few Thoughts on Summer

As I contemplate the map, looking for inspiration on where to head in the summer, it occurs to me what a big part the summer trips away played in my own childhood. There was little in the way of sitting on beaches for two weeks that many of my school friends talked of but we didn’t miss out there – with both parents from Barrow by Morecambe Bay the seaside experience was there for my sister and myself throughout the year at half terms and weekends. No – the Summer Holiday was always the Great Adventure.

The choice of where we went fell largely to Dad and I with Gill’s only concern being that there were horses somewhere nearby and Mum trusting to our judgement as we pored over the maps laid out on the kitchen table like some latter day mariners planning a voyage of discovery. Mountain areas were a firm favorite with Dad and I both wanting summit challenges while Mum was content with the picture postcard views. As long as there was pony trekking nearby we were onto a winner. The only remaining decision was whether to head north – which meant the Scottish Highlands – or south which meant a leisurely journey through the idyllic French countryside ending in the Alps or occasionally the Pyrenees.

North or South? This decision was always Dad’s; after all he was doing the driving and paying the vast cost of a ferry to Calais in the days before (relatively) cheap travel. As for me I wasn’t bothered by the weather and like Mum preferred it not too hot but Dad always longed for the sun baked lands of the South and if the previous summer had been one of wind and rain in the Highlands then France it would be. Usually the right balance of hills, horses and sunshine would maintain a status quo that kept everyone happy for most of the time though there were odd moments of discontent.

I recall the second time we headed overseas and the wall to wall sunshine of Italy that greeted us at the far end of the Mont Blanc tunnel. The Aosta Valley should have been perfect but rebellion was in the ranks as Mum claimed that ants were invading the tent. Now I do remember seeing a few ants around though I don’t recall them causing any problems but the result in any case was a move over the Col du Grand St Bernard to Switzerland. Here in the Rhone Valley in the green and wooded hills near Aigle it seemed everyone was happy once again. That was until Dad who was missing the Italian sunshine, pointed out that this area must get as much rain as the West of Scotland. I guess it was a bit damp and while the rest of us didn’t mind temperature in the sixties instead of the eighties he had a point.

I’d been happy with both locations being discouraged by neither ants nor rain but my turn was to come. The route back into France took us to a large organised campsite close to the town of Bourg en Bresse that I later dubbed The National Wasp Centre. Dad had the sun back and Gill got to go horse riding but no matter how hard I looked I couldn’t see the Alps from anywhere in the site and to eat food outdoors was to invite wasp attack!

I guess that overall though, the problems were minor and I can look back at this and all our family trips as great experiences. I just hope that I can give my own boys as much enjoyment through travel as I had. Now where was that map…

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