Wednesday 17 August 2022

#WEP August challenge - #Moonlight Sonata - #photoessay - Tonga underwater volcano.

 Hello friends!

Here is my entry in the WEP writing contest for the prompt, Moonlight Sonata. Many ideas ran through my mind when I saw the prompt, but the image inspired the following, a photo essay. 


Sonata form is a (musical) structure generally consisting of three main sections: an exposition, a development, and a recapitulation. It has been used widely since the middle of the 18th century.

Sounds like the structure of a story to me – an exposition (beginning), a development (middle) and a recapitulation (denouement).


“The 15 January blast sent shock waves around the globe and defied scientific expectations.” (


The spectacle we’re seeing in our Australian skies begins and ends each day on a grace note. Every morning and evening during our unaccustomed-bitter-cold-flood-prone winter, there’s a gift to be had if we look upward, an astonishing beauty that offers a time to reflect in those few moments between dark and light in the morning and light and dark at night.

Australia and the Pacific Islands

Where did these spectacular daily shows of outstanding beauty originate? In Tonga. Tonga? Yes. The undersea volcanic eruption that devastated the little Pacific Island and surrounding islands on 15 January 2022 lasted 11 hours and cost precious lives. It was the most powerful explosion in more than 30 years, with an equivalent force of 100 Hiroshima bombs. Scientists have not yet worked out exactly what happened during the cataclysmic explosion — and what it means for future volcanic risks. The eruption is forcing scientists to rethink their ideas on the hazards posed by the many submarine volcanoes that lurk beneath the waves of the Pacific Ocean.

The volcano, full name Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha‘apai, erupted before dawn, 492 feet (150 meters) below the ocean's surface, when the island was bathed in moonlight. It sent a plume of ash soaring into the upper atmosphere and triggered a tsunami that destroyed homes on Tonga’s nearby islands. The plume of ash and dust reached higher into the atmosphere than any other eruption on record and triggered more than 590,000 lightning strikes in three days. Reverberations from the eruption circled the globe multiple times, but probably most of us knew nothing about it.

The extraordinary power of the blast, captured by a range of sophisticated Earth-observing satellites, has challenged ideas about the physics of eruptions. Researchers are finding it hard to explain why the volcano sent a cloud to such heights, yet emitted less ash than would be expected for an eruption of such magnitude. And the shock waves that rippled through the atmosphere and oceans are unlike anything seen in the modern scientific era.

The eruption threw up vast amounts of ash, sulphates and water vapor into the stratosphere, three times as many aerosols as usual contributing to …

The development

…what we’re seeing in our evening skies. Particles in the atmosphere provide a surface on which to scatter light which results in breath-taking sunrises and sunsets. It provides a vast show-off moment in the battle of the realms, earthly versus heavenly. There are moments like this in nature – consider the mythical swansong of that silent bird who sings so sweetly just before death.

Each night, I stand at my bedroom window and watch nature’s magnificent dance, the colors pale, then bright, then intense, before fading into the night. Those wondrous blazes of fiery warmth cause me to gaze at the sky, remember loved ones who have passed, loved ones who live nearby, loved ones living on the other side of the world. Definitely a spiritual moment.

I’m not up early enough to watch every sunrise, but when I am, I’m glad I’m present for the show. Not as spectacular as sunset, but spectacular all the same. That bright ray that promises another day is born, a day to do what you will, to make good choices or bad, to love or hate. (I always am thankful that the brightness I’m seeing isn’t from missiles, bombs or nuclear explosions. It’s just nature sharing its giggly joy at coming back for another show).

 The recapitulation

As the morning begins with the orange orb pushing upwards on our horizon or the night curtain is drawn on another day, don’t we all hope that it will last a little longer? By the time we rush for our cameras, it’s gone. Then we remind ourselves that nothing lasts forever.

Summer is coming; the bitter cold that has clenched Australia for months while our brothers and sisters in the Northern Hemisphere have sweltered through heatwaves and fires, this too will pass. But on a bright note, the Tongan-inspired sunrises and sunsets will linger for another year.

The sunset sky is to me like an artist's canvas, filled with skilful brushstrokes of reds, purples, oranges and yellows. As the sunset fades, the sun gradually melts into the sky like paint into canvas, like a person waving goodbye and walking into the distance, far, far away; and darkness settles in and night closes around us, softly, like a fading musical note at the close of a symphony.

TAGLINE: There are more things that nature has wrought than humans can ever imagine.

808 words

I hope you enjoyed my take on the entry. Click in my sidebar to read more entries in our writing competition.

I'm On The Road Again as of this morning, the 17th, hauling my caravan northwards to hotter climes in the tropics. We are in the grips of, to us, a freezing winter. 

I'll answer comments as soon as I'm able.

And if you want to join the fun and are ready to be creeped out for Halloween, consider writing something for us in October - Thriller!!!! 

After a hiatus, Renee is back with a vengeance. She has treats galore in store for you! She really loves her horror-fests. And as a prize for the best entry, Renee offers a beta read/critique of your WIP. Go for it!!!

If horror's not your thing, go HERE for other ideas.

Thanks for reading ...


Wednesday 3 August 2022

#IWSG August #How #travel influences #writing - A new #cozymystery from Elizabeth Varadan

 Hi all!

Welcome to the August IWSG. Today I'm not answering the optional question. Instead, I'm talking about connecting with blogger friends and how travel influences our writing.

The awesome co-hosts for the August 3 posting of the IWSG are Tara Tyler, Lisa Buie Collard, Loni Townsend, and Lee Lowery!

Many bloggers have abandoned blogging for Facebook or Twitter or some such, but there are a few die-hard bloggers still around to keep me company.

The blogosphere is a wonderful place. I know I'm not the only one who has made friends for life and who has gone on to meet some in person, turning a digital friendship into a personal one. If we're feeling insecure, chatting with a blogger friend is often the antidote.

Even when blogger friends are only digital, I've found them awesome writing partners because we're in a truly global community and help each other in several ways:

- I often flick off a quick email about words/phrases/spellings that might be used in, for example, the US, as my books are marketed to a primarily US audience. 

- I can ask a blogger in a certain city something only a local might know and they can do the same. I had a recent query about words/phrases that would have been used in early Australia, for example, and I was happy to oblige.

- I can flick off the first chapter of a tricky manuscript when I just can't nail it. Bloggers as beta readers are worth their weight in reciprocal opportunities.

- I've made good virtual friends due to travel. When I was traveling in Portugal a few years back, Elizabeth Varadan asked me to check something in the Portuguese city of Braga. She since moved to the city in question herself. Like me, Elizabeth likes to write the settings she knows, and her travels influence her books.

I asked Elizabeth one question:

What influence on your writing did living in Portugal have?

I first went to Braga specifically to get first-hand information for my first book in the series. At that time my husband and I had been traveling to Galicia to a village vacation home we had bought, but I wanted to set a mystery in Portugal, so I checked to see what Portuguese city of interest was close enough to Galicia to visit — and it was Braga. I had done research online and made contacts online as well whom I met on our first visit in spring of that year, when the series opens. This was in 2014 (the year of the series).

 We fell in love with Braga. It’s an historic city with art, beautiful gardens, and interesting architecture, and, like Galicia, both a Roman and a Celtic history. We ate at restaurants I had chosen from online, and we made lovely friends who told us about events and new places. Walking the streets, visiting the shops, having the tactile and logistic sense of the place made all the difference in the details I could use in my books, as did the feel of the weather and the light at differing times of day. Now, of course, after many visits, followed by living there for over a year, it’s so familiar. I can close my eyes and picture a particular building or the angle of a street, feel the cobblestones. Not to mention being able to recall foods I savor.

Does Elizabeth have your attention?

Released on August 4, is her new cozy mystery, set in Braga, Portugal, titled Deadly Verse. It's about a stolen manuscript by Portugal's most famous Renaissance poet, Luis Vaz de Camoes. 

Sounds intriguing to me. This is what people are saying:

"Deadly Verse is a colorful and fascinating journey to Braga, Portugal. The murders, plot twists and turns, plus memorable characters will keep you reading until the surprise ending."      Cindy Sample, National bestselling and award-winning author of the Laurel McKay Mysteries

 Two Americans in Braga, Portugal, are given an ancient poem by the country's famous poet to safeguard. When their friend is killed, the couple are drawn into the ruthless world of antiquarian booksellers and collectors. What sets this mystery apart are descriptions of the Portuguese setting, festivals, food and traditions. Varadan's writing becomes poetic when describing country and city she clearly loves.      Sunny Frazier, author of the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries

 If you like cozy mysteries of the Sherlock Holmes ilk, support Elizabeth as she releases her new novel to the world (whilst winging her way back to the States). 

Elizabeth Varadan is a former teacher and Sherlock Holmes fan who writes poetry, children’s fiction, and adult mysteries. She and her husband live in Sacramento, California. They love to travel and divide their time abroad between Braga, Portugal, and Galicia, Spain.

 Varadan’s stories, flash fictions and poems have appeared in literary magazines and anthologies. Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, a middle grade mystery featuring Sherlock Holmes, was published in 2015 by MX Publishing. Her story “Kidnapped” was included in a 2016 Holmes-related story collection, Beyond Watson, by Belanger Books, and “What the Raven Knew,” was included 2019 in Sherlock Holmes, Adventures in the Realms of Edgar A Poe. In 2017 Belanger Books published her picture book, Dragonella, in English and in Spanish, followed in 2018 by a children’s story collection, Carnival of the Animals. In 2019 her chapbook, Saudade, Thirty Poems of Longing, was published by Finishing Line Press.

Author Links




Amazon author page:

 Link to Trailer

 Release date

August 4, 2022

 Purchase Information

Amazon (allow a few days following August 4th)

Belanger Books (allow a few days following August 4th) 


A post from me wouldn't be complete without a shout out from WEP. If you'd like to join a group of enthusiastic writers, check out the August 1 post where the new challenge is explained. 

How could you resist writing something in response to this? You have two weeks to come up with your masterpiece!

A couple questions for you -

- Have you made excellent blogger friends?

- Do you swap intelligence regarding your WIPs?

- Do you read cozy mysteries?

Please support Elizabeth with an encouraging word as she embarks on a new adventure, settling back into the US.

Thanks, blogger friends,

I couldn't find a picture of a Portuguese Custard Tart (Pasteis de nata) - I was too busy eating them to take a lot of snaps, so you'll have to make do with Crème brûlée and coffee from Paris.