Mallorca Contribution to New ‘Kaleidoscope’ Anthology by Writers Abroad

When we came to live on Mallorca I had grand plans to write a novel . . . after I’d written about the experience of moving to a rural finca on the island and all the challenges that it entailed. We had the first eight months without electricity, which meant I couldn’t plug in a computer. And anyone who has seen my handwriting will know that using paper and pen would not have been a workable option. Not if anyone (or even I) intended to read it later.

I soon discovered that better and more experienced writers had already written about moving to Mallorca and living in a finca. Perhaps the novel? I’ve probably written a quarter of it, but that was some time ago now; I do intend to get back to it soon. And, yes, it’s set on Mallorca.

Most of my writing work is factual, rather than fiction, but I have had short stories chosen for inclusion in three anthologies published by a group called Writers Abroad (of which, incidentally, I’m not a member).

A Hat Trick on the Story Front

The latest of these anthologies, entitled ‘Kaleidoscope’ is published today, October 12th. Even though I’ve probably had a few hundred articles published now, I’ve had little success with short stories – so I’m pretty excited to have had my third one published. Especially as I spent quite some time trying to find inspiration for the ‘light-themed’ story – and almost gave up the idea of submitting anything.

They do say that you should write about what you know and, thus, the seed of a story idea sprouted. ‘Seeing the light’ (published under the name of Janice Dunn) is a complete work of fiction – but prompted by the occasion when lightning knocked out the invertor of our solar-powered electricity system.

News Release From Writers Abroad‏

 
An Anthology of Stories and Poetry from Expat Writers Around the World

‘Kaleidoscope’ Available for Purchase

All proceeds from sales will be donated to the charity Room to Read.

Online, ex-pat writing community Writers Abroad are proud to announce the publication today Monday 12th October of their fifth anthology, Kaleidoscope.

Kaleidoscope is a dazzling collection of flash fiction, short stories and poetry, written by expats (or former expats) around the world on the theme of light, as 2015 is the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies.

The stories and poems selected for Kaleidoscope evoke many varied interpretations of light: from a force that dispels evil or illuminates to one that can be destructive, from sunlight to firelight, or from the glow of an Arctic summer night to the brilliance of a Mediterranean afternoon.

This anthology is dedicated to two writers and members of Writers Abroad, Mary Davies and Jäny Graf, who both died in June 2015 during the planning of Kaleidoscope. Two pieces written by them are published in the anthology.

Author and former Writers Abroad member Chris Allen, who lives in Germany, has written the foreword. His writing has appeared in a wide range of publications. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Chris Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize twice.

Kaleidoscope is available from Lulu and Amazon at a price of $8.50, £5.99 or €7.50.

Jan Edwards Copyright 2015

Of Birds and Beasts in Mallorca’s Spring

Living in rural Mallorca and no longer having to commute into a city for work has given us more time and appreciation for the nature that surrounds us. We’re more aware of seasonal changes – and have become just a teeny bit obsessed about noting the ‘firsts’ of each season.

It’s been a good week for ‘firsts’. We went for a walk on Sunday and retraced some of our earlier steps on the Via Verde (or Via Verda as it’s known locally). This ‘green way’ is one of Spain’s network of eco-paths – conversions of disused railway line routes – and connects Manacor with the small town of Artà, in the northeast of Mallorca.

These Feet were Made for Walking

The path opened without a great deal of fanfare in October 2014 and we began 2015 by resolving to walk the full length of some 29 km – in stages – during January. A spell of bad weather meant we didn’t finish until mid-February. But, hey ho, we did it.

Spring wildflowers on Via Verde, Mallorca

Wildflowers in abundance on the Via Verde, near Son Carrio


Poppies on the Via Verde

Poppies on the Via Verde

The path looked very different on Sunday, with so much greenery around and swathes of wildflowers lining the route. Our latest walk gave us some ornithological sightings that were our ‘firsts’ of the season: a swallow (yes, this early) and a bee-eater.

In the past couple of days we have also seen our first tortoise of the spring, ambling through the undergrowth in an untamed part (one of many) of our land. It was Pip – the newest addition to our family of adopted felines – who discovered the creature, alerted by the rustling sounds from the foliage it was navigating its way through. A tortoise was clearly ‘the very first’ for this relentlessly inquisitive little cat, and she wasn’t quite sure what to make of it!

Tortie kitten in window

Inquisitive Pip seems to have heard something interesting . . .


Mediterranean tortoise, Mallorca

An early outing for this Mediterranean tortoise

The sighting was good news. Our area is a natural habitat for the Mediterranean tortoise and we’re always pleased to see them surviving. No doubt there will be coin-sized babies soon, which means we have to tread carefully when we’re out on the land.

A Cyclist’s Surprise

First-time visitors are always surprised to see tortoises roaming freely around. Last autumn we heard a shout from the other side of our gates and opened them to find an English Lycra-clad cyclist with a concerned expression on his face.

“Have you lost a pet tortoise?” he asked, in a broad Mancunian accent, pointing back up the lane. “Only I’ve just seen one up there.”

We explained that the creature he’d seen was a wild Mediterranean tortoise and that sightings were quite common; he beamed in surprise. It reminded us – for the zillionth time – how much we enjoy living  in the Mallorcan countryside, in the midst of nature.

Our next seasonal ‘first’? Who knows? But you can be sure we’ll be as thrilled as we are every season . . .

Read more about the ‘Via Verde’ here in my article recently published in abcMallorca magazine’s spring edition, and online:

http://www.abc-mallorca.com/via-verde/

Jan Edwards Copyright 2015

Check Out My New, Second Blog about Mallorca

It’s all about some of my favourite things: food, drink, hotels (and other places to stay) – and they’re all Mallorca-related.

I’ve had lots of articles published on these subjects, but this blog contains things I write that haven’t been commissioned by, or submitted to a print or online editor for publication. In other words, things I write out of my own personal interest (and because I simply can’t help it. My name’s Jan and I’m a writing addict). I hope some of them will interest you too, and that you may even be tempted to press that ‘Follow’ button. And, of course, continue to read about living in rural Mallorca.

See you on the other side at www.eatdrinksleepmallorca.com. As they say on Mallorca, bon profit!

Entrance of Son Brull Hotel & Spa - voted in top 20 hotels in Europe by readers of Conde Nast Traveller magazine (UK).

Entrance of Son Brull Hotel & Spa – voted in top 20 hotels in Europe by readers of Conde Nast Traveller magazine (UK)

Jan Edwards Copyright 2013

One Year . . . One Lemon . . . Four G&Ts

One year has passed since I started writing posts on Living in Rural Mallorca. I know this because WordPress just told me. And yet it seems just a few months ago that I started my new blog, after we’d finally had an Internet service connected to our finca on the island. This also means that we’ve had our Broadband Wi-Fi connection for a year, so thanks very much Wi-Fi Baleares – who achieved what we were convinced no company ever would, and stopped me pulling all of my hair out in frustration at a local Internet café.

Yes, time seems to pass quickly on Mallorca . . . except when you’re waiting for your tree’s first lemon to ripen. I wrote about our young lemon tree in June 2012 – The Boss having planted it in the spring of that year. We were looking forward to plucking a plump yellow lemon and slicing it into a celebratory G&T. Christmas seemed a likely date for this epic moment, but Christmas came and the first of our crop still looked more like a lime than a lemon. Easter perhaps? Naah.

But last week the moment to pick the first lemon from our garden arrived. And we were lucky enough to have our great friends from Oxfordshire with us to share in our minor triumph (a suitable distraction from the slow progress of the blackthorn shrubs they’d brought us on their previous visit).

Our luscious and deliciously fragrant lemon was sliced into four glasses of The Boss’s famous G&Ts, made with Mallorcan Can Vidalet gin. Delicious. By my reckoning, the next lemon should be ready in about seven months’ time . . .

Patience eventually rewarded

Patience eventually rewarded

Jan Edwards Copyright 2013

Hi-diddle-dee-dee, a Writer’s Life For Me

When we moved from the UK to live in rural Mallorca, my intention was to become a freelance writer, working from home. Our finca seemed like the perfect environment for inspiration, creativity, and other writerly stuff.

What’s now our third bedroom (and winter storage area for garden furniture), in an annexe adjoning the main house, was originally destined to be The Writing Space. It offered lots of benefits, with its own shower room and loo, door opening onto a small covered terrace, and lovely views of the far side of our valley.

Our old pine desk was moved into the room immediately – along with everything else that didn’t seem to have a place in our home at the time. We’d already had plenty of electrical plug sockets installed, awaiting that day when electricity was connected, and we’d be able to plug in computer, printer, scanner, etc.

But it soon became clear that this was not a room in which to spend much time in the winter: mould began to grow on the legs of the desk and we realised that the dampness of this small unheated, uninsulated room would be equally as bad for a computer and other sensitive stuff, such as electrical goods . . . and me!

Not Driven to Distraction

The small room at the centre of the house – grandly dubbed ‘the library’ – became my writing space. With five sets of doors leading off this room, the wall space for furniture is limited and, by necessity, the desk (no longer sporting its fetching furry green coating), was positioned facing a wall. It’s probably just as well: the combination of lovely views, cats doing amusing things, and the birdlife in our garden, would surely be a distraction. . . .

With my focus firmly on the computer, I’ve written countless articles and reviews that have been published in magazines, newspapers, and on websites. But my fiction-writing success has so far been restricted to just two short stories I wrote under the name of Janice Dunn. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to have these accepted for anthologies published by Writers Abroad – more than making up for the rejection slips from the declining women’s magazine short story market . . .

Download your copy Foreign Encounters book cover

The latest of these anthologies – Foreign Encounters – was originally available in conventional book form but is now also available for download.

And here’s part of the opening of my story ‘Embracing the New’ – which is entirely fictional:

‘I had more than enough sand in my private parts yesterday, thank you. But don’t let me stop you going.’

‘Mum!’ I put down my mug of coffee and reached across the terrace table to place my hand gently on her sunburnt arm. ‘I thought you’d enjoyed yourself.’

My widowed mum had come for a three-week stay with us on the Spanish island of Mallorca – which had been our home for just two weeks, and was still new and strange to us. We were expats due to a change of employment, rather than pure choice.  

Until we could find ourselves a new home, we were renting a beautiful villa in the north of the island. Casa Rosa’s owners were friends of Martin’s new boss and had been looking for someone to house-sit during the two months they were visiting family in New Zealand. We were thrilled to move in and find ourselves living in unexpected luxury, with a few weeks to enjoy before Martin started work. So we invited Mum over for a family holiday. She’d never been abroad before but we were sure that a few weeks here with us, away from the cool damp British summer, would do her good. Four days into her visit, I was beginning to wonder . . .

If you want to know what happened next – or read a host of stories, articles, and poems written by expat writers with far more talent than I have – you can download your copy of Foreign Encounters from Amazon:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00BD2C21E

If you’re in another country, simply substitute the appropriate letters for that country for the co.uk, but include the reference at the end, which takes you straight to the relevant page. The price has been set in each country based on the list price of $2.99.

Happy reading!

Jan Edwards Copyright 2013

Up There With Other Expat Blogs

I had some great news on Monday. After just a few months of writing about living in rural Mallorca, my blog has been nominated for the Expat Blog Awards 2012. OK, I know there are loads of really interesting blogs in the running – from expats living all over the globe – but just getting this far feels fantastic.

If you are an expat blogger too, it’s really worth checking out their website. I’m looking forward to reading some of the other nominations when I have a few quiet moments to myself. I’m fascinated by what motivates people to leave their homeland and travel to a (sometimes very) different country to pursue a new life.

The Expat Blog Awards 2012 will be announced late December; in the meantime, check out  http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs/855/living-in-rural-mallorca and then explore what other opportunities their website offers for expat bloggers.

Blogtastic!

Jan Edwards Copyright 2012

Foreign Encounters

When we moved to rural Mallorca, I was itching to start the novel I’d always wanted to write, but there were a few small challenges. Firstly, the finca we’d bought needed quite a bit of work to turn it into a comfortable permanent home, rather than the rustic holiday home it had been for many years. Our days were filled with DIY, painting, varnishing, cleaning up the inevitable mess that results from home improvements, and undertaking shopping expeditions for various items of furniture and other necessities. My spare moments were spent recovering from all this, rather than writing.

There was also the small matter of electricity – which we didn’t have for the first eight months we lived here. No electricity meant no computer, so any writing would have had to be by hand, using a pen or pencil and paper. And for me, for some reason, the words just don’t flow unless there’s a keyboard and screen to accept them. How I envy those writers who can sit with a notepad and pen, committing their mots justes to paper. It just doesn’t work for me.

Once we had electricity, I began to make up for lost time, and I’ve now had several hundred articles published in Mallorca-based magazines and a few publications in the UK. But I’ve made little progress with writing fiction. Several short stories sent to women’s magazines in the UK have been rejected, and the novel has stalled at 20,000 words. One day . . .

However, I’m thrilled skinny (oh, I wish) to have had some success with a short story (only my second to be published), entitled Embracing the New, which appears in the third anthology, Foreign Encounters, published by Writers Abroad http://www.writersabroad.com/ today (October 24th); the stories, articles, and poems included have all been written by expat writers living around the globe.

Author Julia Gregson, a former expat whose bestselling novel East of the Sun won the Prince Maurice Prize for romantic fiction, has written the foreword.

All proceeds from the sale of Foreign Encounters will go to Books Abroad, a charity which co-ordinates the donation of books to schools throughout the world. The charity celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and has supplied more than 1,600 schools with books.

Foreign Encounters is available from Lulu, price €9.99 (approximately £8.00), from today, Wednesday 24th October: http://www.lulu.com/shop/writers-abroad/foreign-encounters/paperback/product-20450826.html. Well, Christmas is coming and this would make a good stocking-filler . . .

The Courier Man Always Rings Once . . .

Short stories, articles, and recipes, by expat authors around the world. ISBN 5 800062 294851

Living in a tranquil valley that’s at the end of a long camí – the local name for a lane – seems to make our address something of a no-go area for courier services.

Since we’ve lived here, we’ve probably had experience of them all – local, national and international companies – and, almost every time, we’ve had a phone call from the delivery driver saying that they can’t come out to the finca. Could we go into Manacor to meet them somewhere?

There’s usually a slightly heated exchange between driver and whoever here has answered his phone call, before one of us leaps into the car and heads – fuming – into town to the agreed meeting point.

Excuses, Excuses

If you’ve ever had to drive deep into the countryside to find a place you didn’t know, you might have some sympathy with Mr Speedy Delivery.

But our bucolic location is only ten minutes’ drive from Manacor – the second largest town on the island of Mallorca; the lane leading from the main road down to our finca gates is 2.3 kilometres of smooth tarmac surface, and you won’t find the words ‘here there be dragons’ on any map of our valley!

Excuses (translated into English) why the courier service cannot come to our finca have included:

 “I don’t drive down country lanes because they’re too rough for the van.”

“I’m running late and haven’t got time to drive out to the country.”

“I haven’t been given any directions how to find you.”

Honestly, it makes you wonder why we bother supplying these companies with a map, written directions, and GPS co-ordinates.

The Courier Calls … But Not Here

A while back, I ordered a few copies of the anthology Foreign Flavours, published by Writers Abroad, which included something I’d written. I had the expected phone call from the driver of the courier service van, asking if I would meet him at the petrol station by Manacor hospital, to collect my parcel. I duly drove into town – in record time because he’d said he was in a hurry – only to find that he’d already departed, leaving my parcel with the rather bemused cashier behind the petrol station counter.

Why am I writing about this today? Well, I ordered something last Wednesday that was to have been delivered by courier within 24 hours. Have I got it yet? No. Perhaps I should pop down to the petrol station . . .

Jan Edwards ©2012