If you run a blog, you know that spam bots are constantly trying to post on your page. Here’s a hint: if they mention Viagra, Cialis, body part enlargement, breast milk (???), or any random pharmaceuticals, they are spam.
But sometimes they are sneakier, pretending to be real people who are (of course) trying to “help you” write better content.
This second spam comment reads:
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I say you’re sorry if I wrote off-topic
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This reads like someone shoved their paragraph through the Google translator—from English to Thai, then Thai to Russian, and then Russian back to English. (I do not choose these languages randomly; they are the ones that most often appear in my spam comments!)
What’s the point? Well, folks, I am sick of battling spam. I am going to start turning off comments on each blog post after a week or so. If you still want to post on a topic after I’ve cut off comments, please go to my Facebook page and find the relevant post link there. Please feel free to add a comment there. Thank you for reading!
[Featured image by freezelight of the wall of spam outside of the Cannon Theatre during the first day of ticket sales for SPAMalot.]
One of the highlights of my sabbatical has been joining the Weare Area Writers Group. The gang meets twice a month on a Friday morning at the Weare Public Library. We workshop our writing and pool our knowledge about the changing world of publishing. This group came about because of the efforts of one woman—our organizer extraordinaire and our biggest cheerleader, Sharon Czarnecki.
What the above description does not capture is how much fun we have together. Members of the group share very personal memories—in every format from poetry to prose—which has allowed us to move right on past superficial friendship into something deeper and more meaningful. I cannot believe that I have only known this group a year. It feels like we have been friends for ages. Since I am a relatively new transplant to Weare, New Hampshire, their support has been especially important.
There is a social component to what we do, too. So far four of our members are published, in genres ranging from memoir to time travel mystery to historical fiction to my own steamy historical romance series. One of our favorite things to do is to take our show on the road by selling books at craft and book fairs in the area. Our next date on the calendar is Weare Old Home Day on August 26th. Come see us, check out our books, and ask about the group.
Here’s a little about the other published authors and what they will be selling:
Connie and I joined WAWG the very same day, and a year later I was in the room when Connie pressed “publish” on Amazon! It was so exciting. I have no doubt this will be a bestseller at Old Home Day.
The book I have workshopped with the WAWG folks is the upcoming Sugar Moon, small excerpts of which you can read here. But, while I’ve been a part of WAWG, I did publish a new novella in the Sugar Sun series, Tempting Hymn:
These books and more will all be ready for purchase and signing at Old Home Day. We hope to see you there!
When I was writing Under the Sugar Sun, I imagined annotating it with all sorts of fake documents: telegrams, ledgers, even Javier’s high school report card from Seminario-Colegio de San Carlos! Yep. Apparently, I thought that needed to happen.
I was looking through these documents the other day, bemoaning how much time I wasted making them, and then realized: I have a website. Junk is what the web is for, right? So, here you go: Sugar Sun extras! Enjoy.
I hope you enjoy the little tour into my obsessive brain. Thanks for reading!
While I was drafting Under the Sugar Sun, I made character sketches and background briefers on the whole Altarejos and Romero family tree. Before I even knew the end of my book, I knew who this family was.
Let’s look at Javier’s household a little more closely, in the center lower portion of the family tree. Wait, you’re thinking, isn’t Javier an only child? If you remember, he is the only surviving child. Lourdes’s other three died at birth or in infancy—a tragedy that would have been all too common at this time. In Sugar Moon, we learn a little more:
The last delivery had been so traumatic that it almost killed the doña, too. Left with only one healthy son for all her effort, Lourdes had spoiled him with indiscriminate love until young Javier was hustled off to boarding school to grow up. When Javier returned home for his first vacation, he found a new little “sister” in the bedroom next to his.
That “little sister” is really his cousin, Allegra, the heroine of Sugar Moon. Her true story is not really even on this tree:
Early in Under the Sugar Sun, while Javier was flirting with Georgina at the Luneta, he explained that Allegra’s real father was a Spanish friar:
“My aunt never made a public accusation, of course. And my grandparents managed to marry their daughter off to a respectable, if not terribly intelligent, man. Unfortunately, even he could add. My aunt named the baby Allegra, hoping her husband would believe the child a miracle of rapid gestation. As you might imagine, their marriage was not a happy one.”
In fact, the marriage was so unhappy that Allegra’s mother, Raquel, ran off with a Spanish soldier. Horatio Alazas returned the child that wasn’t his to the Romeros—he had given Allegra a last name, and he believed his duty done. Lourdes took her sister’s child as her own, and that is how Allie ended up at Hacienda Altarejos. This whole backstory was inspired by a real Filipina friend of mine who raised not only her sister’s children, but one of their children, as well. Anything for family.
And then, of course, we have Padre Andrés. In Tempting Hymn it explains:
The biggest secret of the Altarejos clan, though, stood at the front of the nave: Padre Andrés was the late patriarch’s bastard son. Since the priest’s legitimacy was never openly questioned, neither was his ordination—but no one who looked at Don Javier and Padre Andrés side-by-side could miss the fact that they were brothers.
More about Andrés’s family will be coming in the upcoming Sugar Communion (expected 2018). I know this is eagerly anticipated by a few readers. I promise that I’m working on it!
One day I might tell more about Lourdes and Lázaro’s marriage, but suffice it to say that Lázaro Altarejos came by adultery honestly. From Under the Sugar Sun:
[Javier] sat in the heavy wooden chair in his office and examined a painted miniature of his grandfather, the first Altarejos hacendero—though Altarejos was not even the Spaniard’s true name. When Capitan Hilario Vélez y Perales resigned his Army commission in Manila, he had balked at the idea of returning to his sowish wife and homely children in rural Altarejos, Spain, so he reinvented himself as an eligible feudal lord on the new frontier of sugar. Hilario “de Altarejos” eventually dropped the preposition from his nickname, won himself a thousand acres of virgin soil for saving the life of the alcalde-mayor, “married” a lovely mestiza who never knew that she was only a mistress, and planted himself a legacy.
That’s the Altarejos clan. Soon I will be making family trees for Javier and Georgina’s children…and more! I can’t wait.