Tag Archives: Malta

A Sad Day Indeed

A sad day… the first real publication offer received for “Out of the Darkness” and I refused it. Although the publisher said: the manuscript is a wonderful tale, well written, with a great plot and subplots‘, they wanted me to change the time frame. As this would mean losing the story’s originality, and affecting the two subsequent stories I have planned for this series, I decided to reject their offer.

It’s bad enough that we Australian writers always have to ‘bend’ to the demands of the American market, by writing our stories in American English, using Americanized expressions such as ‘parking lot’ instead of ‘car park’, ‘sheriff’s office’ instead of ‘police station’, etc… etc… but for the sake of a 23 year time frame when mobile phones were just starting to make an appearance and not everyone owned one, the publisher insists to bring the time line forward so that my characters have mobiles in their possession so as not to have to use a pay phone then it is time to hold one’s ground, and say ‘NO’.

Which is precisely what I have done. I told the publisher ‘Thank You’, but ‘No Thank You’.

Out of the Darkness” is my very first piece of serious writing which began its life in 1994 [the time frame of my story], but which I never considered it good enough at the time to submit it for publication. Instead I worked on it trying to improve its quality over several years and in the meanwhile wrote and self-published my non-fiction history book “Smithy’s War [that took 10 years to research and write], and my first historical romance novel “Beneath Southern Stars” using a pen name ‘Louise Roberts’.

Since then Louise has had published five historical romances by Luminosity Publishing UK. With their successes, I thought it was time for “Out of the Darkness” to have the same opportunity.

Despite submitting it unsuccessfully to several publishers over the last few years, this latest publisher’s initial email was the only one which expressed any encouragement, as did their email accepting my rejection, which stated:

‘Our readers did enjoy the story and had good things to say about it, including that they would love to see it contracted and revised so it could find an audience because they like your voice and your ability to keep the suspense going. So I hope you consider our point of view and perhaps update it over time – as I mentioned, that late 1900s time frame is a hard sell to readers, which could be why other publishers were hesitant to contract it. No matter how much we like a story, we still have to make a living’.

Personally as much as I appreciate their candor, I don’t see why a certain time frame should annoy readers. If the story has the right ingredients and is a good suspense thriller then why would the date in history be a disadvantage?

In the early 1990’s Australia saw at least 326 violent crimes including the murder of politician John Newman assassinated outside his home in 1994, and the back packer murders 1988-1992.

Despite this being a shameful statistic it is a speck in the ocean compared to the same period in America, where it is reported that in 1992 alone in excess of 2,000,000 murders, rapes, aggravated assaults, and robberies took place.

As for “Out of the Darkness” which is set in Australia and Malta in January 1994, I strongly believe this story deserves the best, and I had hoped that a third-party publisher could do it justice. However it now seems that the only way that I am going to get this story published without compromising the plot and time frame is to self-publish.

 

RLB – Tomewriter

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Robert L J Borg & Viviane Elisabeth Borg - Our Writings

Master Story Teller – Justin Sheedy

 

I first learned of Justin Sheedy via my wife who had heard the name mentioned on her favorite radio show with Alan Jones on 2GB three years ago. Knowing my passion for anything relating to history and in particular World War II since the publication of my own non-fiction book “Smithy’s War” in 2005 and then as an e-book in 2012, she suggested I obtain a copy of “Ghosts of the Empire”.

I must admit that when I read this I was blown away by not only the story, but in the way Justin Sheedy related the tale. His vivid descriptions of the aerial sequences as put in the thoughts and words of the pilots transported the reader [me] in the cockpit with them.

I loved the book so much I had to get the prequel.

I was honored to meet Justin at Dymocks Bookstore in George Street, Sydney where he graciously signed a copy of “Nor the Years Condemn”. [I also bought that day his book “Goodbye Crackernight” which was a lovely insight to times in Australia now long gone].

Anyway as it turned out “Nor the Years Condemn” was as good as “Ghosts of the Empire”, so when I heard that Justin was releasing the third book in his trilogy “No Greater Love” I knew this too had to be bought.

As much as I would have loved to have purchased a copy from him in Sydney in order to get it signed, it was not to be as since March 2016 I have been residing in the south of France. Fortunately I was able to obtain it on Amazon.

The moment I started reading it I knew I was going to be unable to put it down; and so it was just as I thought.  I found myself in the kitchen that first night of reading it with the book in one hand, and a wooden spoon in the other stirring my dinner.

My family is of Maltese origin and since an early age we were always taken to the island on summer holidays to visit family and friends. The thing one noticed the most during the 1950’s and 1960’s was how much evidence there still was of the bomb damage that had occurred on the island during World War II.

Malta is a very small island. At 260 square kilometers it is smaller than London that covers an area of 1,572 square kilometers. Yet as much as people remember the Blitz that devastated London, it was nothing compared to the pounding that the people of Malta received from June 1940 to November 1942 by Italian and German aircraft flying out from their bases in Sicily only 60 miles away.

“No Greater Love” takes you on a journey back in time to the small island of Malta beginning in April 1942. From the moment you turn the first few pages you are drawn into a story that so absorbs your very being that you can immediately feel an empathy with the pilots, ground crew, and the very populace who were being tormented by the continuous bombing raids by enemy aircraft. Germany’s goal was to destroy the populations resolve and forcing them to surrender or by letting them starve to death by ensuring all convoys transporting fuel and food were sunk before they reached the island.

Justin Sheedy’s thorough research is transposed onto the novel’s pages as he carefully exposes the hardship the people of Malta went through. It is also astounding to read that with so little food available how the pilots and ground personnel were able to continue the fight against the Axis forces.

“No Greater Love” is a testament to those few pilots who risked their lives to ensure that the generations to follow them into the future would not have to live under the rule of tyranny.

From Malta our hero, Colin Stone is transferred to North Africa and finally to England. Although his journey is fraught with danger, he still manages to put a smile on your face with his good humor.

As for the end, it caught me by surprise, and it left me feeling content, despite the small tear in my eye.

I’m sure Justin won’t mind me attaching the link to his website here, https://crackernight.com/

If you haven’t read any of his books, then start with “Nor the Years Condemn” before reading “Ghosts of the Empire” and “No Greater Love”. I assure you it will be an experience worth having.

RLB – Tomewriter

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Robert L J Borg & Viviane Elisabeth Borg - Our Writings

Third Time Lucky

A Tangled Web by Viviane Elisabeth Borg gets another lease of life when it is released on Friday 12th August 2016 by Luminosity Publishing, UK.

This will be third time in four years that A Tangled Web which is a mystery/suspense novel with romantic elements is published.

It was first published independently by Robert L J Borg as an e-book on Smashwords in 2012:

A Tangled Web Cover Final Revised

In 2014, Sweet Cravings Publishing, USA (SCP) made an offer to publish the novel as an e-book and in print. Sales of the book did reasonably well under their banner, a lot to do perhaps with the flattering review by Nightowl: http://www.nightowlreviews.com/v5/Reviews/Paulinemichael-reviews-A-Tangled-Web-by-Viviane-Elisabeth-Borg

ATangledWeb_LRG

Regrettably in September 2015 SCP went out of business and publishing rights were restored to the author.

Since then the book was submitted to several publishers and in May 2016 a three-year worldwide publishing contract was offered and accepted.

Viviane Elisabeth Borg is now eagerly looking forward to seeing her novel “live” again for all those millions of potential readers who enjoy a good mystery with romantic elements and, of course, a happy ending…

Serena Burton is a shy and disillusioned young English woman holidaying on the idyllic Mediterranean island of Malta. Although she finds romance with the hotel manager, Luigi Coletti she finds it hard to commit herself completely to their relationship. This is mostly due to her deep involvement in the life of her employer, an elderly writer named Louisa Weston.

As Serena gradually discovers Louisa’s strange past she is drawn into a tangled web of hidden mysteries. As these are slowly uncovered her fledging romance struggles to develop into something more meaningful. Regardless Luigi persists and though he perceives a future, it comes at a high price…

You will be able to find Viviane’s book initially on Luminosity’s website at http://luminositypublishing.com/ and then on the usual popular book distributors. Buy links will be added to the blog page of A Tangled Web as they become available.

atw-veb-450-675R

To those people who have not yet read it, please do, as I am sure you would enjoy it. I for one who has reviewed it countless times when working alongside the Sweet Cravings and Luminosity editors will never tire of it.

RLB – Tomewriter

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Robert L J Borg & Viviane Elisabeth Borg - Our Writings

Malta – the Island of the Knights of St. John: Travel Log 24

http://www.visitmalta.com/ To me, personally, Malta is a land where my family originated from; where as children our parents used to take me and my two sisters on holiday to visit our paternal grandmother and other relatives. It is the land of my ancestors who have resided here for the last five hundred years. I recently returned to Malta after a thirty-two year absence to mostly see the island again – refresh my memory of various parts of the island and conduct some research for my next novel “Out of the Darkness”. But it was also important for me to meet up with family members whom I hadn’t seen for many years, and to meet new relatives either through marriage and/or birth. It was a wonderful experience. From knowing Malta prior to the 1980s to where it is today, one can say the island has come of age. Gone has the innocence associated with a sleepy touristic destination where beaches lay tranquil with only a few tourists who know their whereabouts? The Malta of 1982 as I remember it was a place where everything moved at a slower pace and never crowded. Where going to the beach at Mellieha meant a lazy drive along the coast road from Sliema. Today Malta is vibrant, a bustling country where the population now boasts some four hundred thousand people. Where the skyline has changed to include numerous residential apartments, commercial developments, and hotels, and cars seem to choke the roadways.

DSC00079 DSC00059

My recent visit was with my mother and elder sister. We stayed at the Cavalieri Art Hotel in St. Julians. This 4 star hotel is not so centrally located and there is a bit of a walk to the main road. The hotel does not have car park facilities and is further disadvantaged by a marine development being constructed across the street. We were fortunate to have rooms overlooking the bay and were therefore not inconvenienced by noise emanating from the construction site. The hotel facilities were adequate. The pool was beautiful and mum and I took full advantage of it on a daily basis, apart from the day when the pool was overrun by numerous rowdy kids celebrating a children’s party. Actually, this was one of the main annoyances of our stay. The hotel seemed to place more of an emphasis on private functions and events rather than concern themselves to the needs of their hotel guests. During our week-long stay there were two weddings and two birthday parties which closed down parts of the hotel to guests. Although the hotel does have a wing which provides convention facilities which would be adequate to hold such functions in ample comfort and style, management saw one wedding shut down the bar facility to guests for that particular evening; and for the other wedding, the entire swimming pool area was set as off-limits from early afternoon until the following morning.

DSC00062 DSC00049

Another annoyance was the lack of Wi-Fi frequency reception. Although the hotel claimed availability of free Wi-Fi in their reception area, I for one was unable to obtain any signal and for an entire week I was unable to access my emails, etc. [I was not too happy]. A word about their house-keeping: Although the rooms were cleaned daily and the beds made by late morning there seemed to be a lack of understanding by the cleaners to replace the towels. Each day one found the towels had been taken away but new ones not left; and it became a pain in the neck to have to phone down to reception on a regular basis to request towels for the room. My final word on this hotel: it was nice, but I wouldn’t want to recommend it unless management change its policy regarding private functions, improves their Wi-Fi capabilities, and ensures staff members are trained to a level one would expect from a prestigious hotel.

Moving on… I was determined to visit Valletta’s St. John’s Cathedral where two of my ancestors are buried. I took a bus from St. Julians bus interchange at a cost of €1.50 for an Adult Daily Pass which I thought excellent value for money. It wasn’t a long trip even though it was during “peak” time and I had soon reached my destination. My ancestors were brothers in blood and in vocation: Knights Emmanuel and Giuseppe Borg lived in the late Eighteenth Century. They were chaplains of justice and are buried in tomb number 267 at the entrance to the Sacristy. I stopped and offered them a small prayer.

Tomb 267 Emmanuele + Guiseppe Borg

[Image courtesy of St John’s Website http://stjohnscocathedral.com/ ]

It is not permitted to take photos inside as needlesstosay the authorities would like you to buy their guide books, but I would encourage you to click on the above link as the Cathedral’s floor, walls and ceilings are quite spectacular – better still visit it in person, and whatever religion you are you will feel compelled to pray to your God so captivating is the scenery about you.

On the subject of Knights I would add at this point that my father’s elder brother, Edwin was honoured for his numerous years of service to Malta and invested by HRH Queen Elizabeth a Knight of St. John a few years before his death. Edwin H W Borg died on 19th October 1991 aged 72. His shield and I expect as genealogy allows now passes on to his son, my cousin Adrian, is shown below:

Uncle Edwin's [now Adrian's] Shield

It’s a beautiful thing and makes me very proud of my relative. In days of old I expect I would have been entitled to bear a similar shield although it would need to have a slight variance to it. Uncle Edwin once recounted the story [or should I say rumour] of how our family came to being in Malta. It was due to “shields” which led two brothers who residing in eastern Spain during the early 16th century to fight a duel which was to see the demise of one brother and the exile of the other. It was this tale which inspired my novel The Sword and the Rose and I shall always be grateful to Uncle Edwin for igniting my imagination and allowing me to write the novel so many years later. Valletta I didn’t think changed that much. Apart from the entrance to the City which I felt pointless and perhaps an insult to the original architect of the city Gerolamo Cassar:

DSC00147

The structure looked as though it was still being built and as you enter the city a meaningless bronze of a three-legged horse greets you.

However these distractions are soon forgotten as you wander about the City’s streets and taken in the glorious old buildings, narrow streets filled with shops of every variety, sit for a coffee at the famous Café Cordina which my mother loves so much she includes it in her novel “A Tangled Web” [currently available as an e-book on Amazon and due to be released in paperback early next year. You can access the link to this on her blog: http://vivianeeborg25.wordpress.com/ ].

cafe

Actually Mum’s book was released two days before we arrived in Malta and I had arranged with the main newspaper the Times of Malta to run an ad [see bottom right hand corner of page]. I then bought the paper and gave it to Mum she was well pleased. The story is set in Malta which was quite apt for the ad and us being there: http://archive.timesofmalta.com/archive/issue

 20140905-archive--018-thumb-350

Best of all, in my opinion anyway, is the Upper Barracca Gardens where the views across the Grand Harbour take your breath away and the gardens themselves offer respite from the day’s heat amidst its shaded foliage, fountains, and café.

DSC00164 DSC00166 DSC00170

The City was also viewed from the water when the previous day my mum, sister and I took a pleasure harbour cruise out of Sliema. I arranged it through the hotel and although it appeared well-organized it turned out to be another small annoyance. Supreme Cruises arranged to collect us from our hotel [and promised to bring us back] and delivered us to the waiting boat for our cruise at 10.30am. On arrival we were told the boat had broken down and we were obliged to await the return of their other vessel:

DSC00102 DSC00103

When the small Luzzu arrived everyone tried to rush on board so eager were we to get away – it finally set sail at 11.45am [Better late than never]. Our captain/guide however could have done with some training in how to conduct a proper narrative of the sights shown. There seemed to be a preference to views on the right and a constant repetition of the same phrases to the point that it was becoming quite grating on one’s nerves. Our narrator also gave us the impression the trip was some sort of political propaganda when he insisted on taking us to every one of the numerous dry docks dotted around the Grand Harbour to tell us how wonderfully the Government had been in ensuring they remained in operation. Not all was wasted and whilst ignoring most of his banter I was able to enjoy the views on offer. Here are but a few:

DSC00125 DSC00126 DSC00127

When we returned to Sliema an hour or so later we were told the shuttle bus would be ready to return us to our hotel at 5pm. Disgusted and not wanting to hang around doing nothing for hours in the oppressive heat just to accommodate the tour operator we took the local bus back to Spinola Bay, St. Julians and were then obliged to walk to the hotel from the main road. Not that my sister or I minded the walk, but for our 90-year-old mother the trek in 30+*C heat was no easy task. We made our way directly to the bar for some refreshing drinks and a couple of pizzas.

We returned to Sliema on a different day as both my mother and sister were determined to do some shopping. For a small town, Sliema is well stocked with retail outlets including some British favourites such as BHS and Marks & Spencer. Of the latter we were told there are four stores on the island – there was a large branch at Valletta. The Plaza Shopping Centre is located in Bisazza Street off the Sliema Marina and boasts some 40 retail outlets including Miss Selfridge, Toni & Guy Hairdressing, Mothercare, to name but a few. http://www.plaza-shopping.com/ The Point is Malta’s newest and largest shopping mall. It is located on the Tigne Point peninsula where it stretches over three levels of fully air-conditioned shopping heaven. Here’s the link for you to enjoy: http://www.thepointmalta.com/

I left the two women to lose themselves in M&S whilst I went off to do some souvenir shopping and have a coffee with some unusual companions…

DSC00092

The rest of our stay consisted of meeting up with family and on this note I just would like to say “Thanks” to all of them for their generosity and companionship; in particular to my cousin Wilfred who made a special effort to leave his place of employ in Abu Dhabi to be in Malta at the same time as me and offer his time to drive me to various places, including Malta’s largest cemetery. I know this is not the sort of destination many tourists would want to visit, but for me it has been a long-time desire to pay my respects to my grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins who were so very dear to me. The site is massive yet somehow quite peaceful and some of the structures most impressive such as the war memorial, chapel, and various bronze statues:

Europe 2014 135 Europe 2014 124 Europe 2014 129

On a lighter note we also visited the picturesque fishing village of Marsaxlokk with its colourful boats, lively market and numerous waterside restaurants; one of which we sat at to enjoy a sumptuous meal in the company of cousins.

 Europe 2014 136

On the day prior to our departure, I visited my cousin Clare, a talented artist who has her studio/gallery at Tigne Point in Sliema. I had seen most of her works when she displays them on Facebook; however I was determined to see them in the “flesh”. I wasn’t disappointed – they truly are magnificent works: http://www.cultureinside.com/25/section.aspx/ViewGallery/878/

Afterwards she invited me to her apartment in the company of her husband Joe, and her brother Wilfred. We sat on their terrace enjoying coffee, each other’s company and the wonderful views of Sliema:

Europe 2014 186

Very early the following day we left Malta and returned to the Cote d’Azur where my holiday was to continue with mum and sister for a further two weeks…

RLB – Tomewriter

5 Comments

Filed under Robert L J Borg & Viviane Elisabeth Borg - Our Writings

A TANGLED WEB is Published

A Tangled Web Cover Final Revised

ISBN: 978-0-9873858-2-6

As Promised to my mum in September when I was visiting her in France, her novel has been published today.

Read the Page assigned to this book for the synopsis, or better still make my old mum very happy and buy a copy to read it in full.

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/255433

Don’t be misled when seeing my name as ‘Author’ I’m not, I’m just the publisher. Because I have published it through my Smashwords Account my name appears against the book.

Thanks to everyone in advance who:

  1. Reads my Blog
  2. Buys and reads the books published by me and my mum.

RLB – Tomewriter

Leave a comment

Filed under Robert L J Borg & Viviane Elisabeth Borg - Our Writings

Promises

Those of you who are aware, I am in the south of France at the moment – at least until the end of the month. I am visiting my elder sister and our old mum who will be 88 years old next January. My mum is also slowly losing her sight due to macular degeneration – pretty sad as her passion was reading, playing bridge and beating me at scrabble. As I have also mentioned in a previous blog, she is also a published author in her own right.

In 2002 she wrote a second book which never got published and has been sitting in a drawer all this time. I am currently reading the manuscript and it is a pretty good story (I’m not just saying so, because of any bias). I have therefore promised her that I will re-edit and re-format it for publication through Smashwords as an e-book asap. This means I will be putting my own second novel, The Sword and the Rose, on hold until I can finish with her book – A Tangled Web.

I have created a new page for this book and have added the story synopsis for your perusal. As soon as I return to Australia I will seriously start working on it, and ask Judy Bullard to create a cover for the book to do it justice.

Mum has also made me promise to re-write her first book When the Wind Blows under a new title using the characters’ real names rather than the fictitious ones she originally used. Afterall, the story she told was her true story, so why not tell it as it was. This re-write however may have to wait a while, though not too long I hope.

RLB – Tomewriter

Leave a comment

Filed under Robert L J Borg & Viviane Elisabeth Borg - Our Writings