Diane Sawyer, Blog # 23, May-June 2015

Diane Sawyer Portrait

Hello to all my loyal newsletter readers. Welcome to my new readers, including several I met recently, friends of friends, at a luncheon. I hope all of you enjoy this May-June 2015 edition.


Diane Sawyer

Writing News

Montauk Mystery Montauk Steps Tomoka Mystery Cinderella Murders Montauk Cave

The very latest news from Amazon: Their marketing specialist recently included my five novels, Kindle version, in a special promo for AARP members via social media. If this is as successful as their previous promotions, I’ll be very happy. Also I’m pleased to say that last month readers in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and Mexico read (and apparently enjoyed) my books. Happy reading to one and all!
Previous news: My web site address is http://dianewsawyer.com (Note that the middle initial “w” must be included to avoid confusion with Diane Sawyer, the newscaster.)

Please visit my web site and share my enthusiasm for my friend Roy Baker and his expertise in setting up everything and including his gorgeous photo of a sunset at Lake Maggiore, near my home. All the previous blog/newsletters are there. The hardcover, paperback and e-book editions of my novels are available on Amazon and other on-line sites—and you can even get to them directly via my web site by clicking on the photo of the book cover. That Roy, my web designer, is so clever. Happy Reading!

This and That

You often hear the expression “armchair traveler” or “armchair adventurer,” suggesting that a reader can enjoy an event or a place from a comfortable chair with a book (or Kindle or Nook etc.) in hand, even though he or she has no direct experience.

My favorite example on the list was “armchair detective.” I know dozens of them, myself included. And who can blame them for wanting to know “who done it” and then figuring it out from all the clues and a dose of intuition without ever leaving their comfortable chair. And, might I add, without ever having taken a course in criminal justice, the pathology of a killer, or even the most effective poisons.

But the expression only tells half the story. Maybe we need something like “traveler- reader,” meaning first you travel to a place and then you read about it. For instance, you had explored the quaint cafes and art studios in the Montmartre section of Paris and then read a wonderful book that was set there. You doubled your pleasure because you remembered the fragrance of the flowers a vendor was selling on the corner from a wheelbarrow, the taste of the wine at a corner café where artists congregated, a sudden downpour that sent you running into a shop where you enjoyed a baguette and chatted with a handsome stranger, or any number of memories that enhance the story you are reading. (Okay, a handsome stranger might not have been in that shop, but it happens so often in novels that it has become a commonly held belief, even a cliche.)

I guess it’s a question of which came first the chicken or the egg. Just recently, thanks to my daughter, I read The Broker by John Grisham, set in Bologna, Italy. Years ago, she and I enjoyed a trip to Italy and one of our favorite cities was Bologna. She was expert at finding a hotel, making reservations for trains, and details like that. My contribution was language. I studied Italian for several weeks before arriving in Italy, and found as many words as possible that resembled French, my second language, hoping to be able to easily recall them. As we traveled around the cities and towns of Italy, we became very aware of the language, gestures, and facial expressions that helped the people communicate. Back to The Broker: an American man with political connections is hiding out in Bologna where he spends hours each day learning Italian with a beautiful translator-teacher. If he gives himself away, that he is an American, he will be shot on the spot by enemies. The novel is filled with Italian words (the English is always given). Thanks to my trip to Italy, I was reading the Italian words (often out loud), and getting swept up in a story that revolved around language. It wouldn’t have been half as much fun, seeing all those Italian words on the page and not knowing how to pronounce them. Bellissimo!

Currently I am reading All the Light We Cannot See,” by Anthony Doerr, set in St. Malo, France. My daughter and I had toured France, including the city of St. Malo. We enjoyed a series of comical experiences, basically based on things I told my daughter never to do, like “Don’t leave your luggage unattended,” and “Don’t talk to strangers,” and “Don’t pay for a room until you’ve seen it.” And there we were breaking all those rules and laughing as the unexpected turned out better than what we could possibly have planned. As I read (I’m half-way through) All the Light We Cannot See, I recall many details of the beautiful city of St. Malo that was bombed in World War II and rebuilt. I see the St. Malo I visited decades after the novel takes place. I see the people, les Malouins, smiling, pouring from cafes to fill the cobblestone streets and ramparts of their walled city, and the hearty souls who challenged the swift-rising tides along the walkway to Grand Bré Island. The sights and sounds, the language, the food, the seaside ambience. It all comes back. Then I return to the story of All the Light We Cannot See. It was set decades before I visited it, but the people I met in St. Malo could have been the descendants of people who had survived the war and seen their beloved town rebuilt. Although as I turned each page I feared for the lives of the characters in the book, I was keenly aware that their spirit had survived.

Finally, I am reading Art Nouveau (mainly looking at photographs), by Gabriele Fahr-Becker, a coffee-table book that I bought several days ago at my local library’s book sale. Guess what? As I turned to the architecture section, I relived my mother-daughter visit to Chicago to the home, office, and neighborhood of Frank Lloyd Wright. I progressed through the book to the work of Alfons Mucha and mentally I was back in Prague with two good friends, visiting the artist’s museum and saw not only his works, but also a film about his life. Onward I went in the book, again to Chicago, where my daughter and I saw a special exhibit of Edvard Munch’s work, the most famous being “The Scream.” I could go on and on, but it seems to me that if you read about places you’ve never seen and experiences you’ve never known, you can derive tremendous pleasure. The same is true, I would say, if first you have experiences in a foreign country or an unfamiliar place and then later you read a story set there.

Chicken, egg? Egg, chicken? Six of one, half-dozen of the other?


July Fourth

July Fourth, known as Independence Day, celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from Great Britain. Most of the signers actually signed the Declaration on July 2, 1776, and it was approved 2 days later. Only John Hancock and Charles Thompson signed on the 4th.

In 1777 on July 4th, 13 gunshots were fired in a salute once in the morning and once in the evening in Bristol, Rhode Island. And in Philadelphia, there were speeches and prayers, and the ships were decked with red, white, and blue bunting. In 1778 near Brunswick, New Jersey, General Washington gave a double ration of rum to his soldiers along with an artillery salute.

he Star Spangled Banner was written in 1814, but didn’t become the official National Anthem until 1931.

Three US presidents died on July 4th: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Monroe.

The Betsy Ross flag has 13 stars in a circle to highlight the equality among the colonies.

Many US cities have incorporated patriotic themes into their names: Libertyville, Iowa; Independence, Missouri; New Freedom, Pennsylvania; Patriot, Indiana; and American Fork, Utah. Hooray for the US of A! (That little shout of pride is from me, first generation American.)

150 million hot dogs will be eaten at July 4th celebrations. Coney Island celebrates with a Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.

And for all my friends out there with roots and/or ties to Denmark, you might like to know that Denmark celebrates American Independence on July 4th with celebrations.

Happy independence, happy fireworks, happy picnics, happy times with family and friends, and enjoy those hot dogs!


Cooking Delights

Hate to clean out the freezer and wonder what’s in those unmarked containers? Me too. This time I found several bags of (easily identifiable) whole cranberries, left over from Thanksgiving. What to do with them? I discovered a quick recipe for cranberry sauce I think you’ll enjoy. Thaw the cranberries and wash them. Grind I cup cranberries in a blender with 1 skinned and cored apple, and 1/2 orange with skin and pits removed (or 2 tablespoons orange juice). Add ½ cup sugar. Stir. Refrigerate. Serve with chicken, turkey, pork, or ham. Delicious, even as a snack with pleasant memories of Thanksgiving rolling through your thoughts.

Pork Chops with Peaches (Serves 2-4)

4 4-oz center-cut boneless pork loin chops
2 tsp light olive oil
2 peaches, each cut into 8 wedges
1/2 medium onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup vegetable broth
½ cup white wine
2 tsp butter
2 tsp honey (or light brown sugar)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a skillet (or electric fry pan) to medium-high temp. Coat with oil. Sprinkle chops with salt and pepper. Cook chops 3-5 minutes each side. Remove chops and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Add onions and peaches to pan and cook for 2 minutes. Add wine, loosen any browned pieces of meat, and boil for 2 minutes. Stir in broth and honey (or brown sugar). Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and heat. Add chops to sauce and reheat briefly. Serve with rice or noodles, veggie, and salad.

Bon appétit!

Fondly, Diane

@ Copyright 2015 by Diane Sawyer. All rights reserved.

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