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Remembering Gabriel Garcia Márquez

It’s been many months since I have posted on this blog. My energy levels have barely managed to keep up with the full schedule while wearing different hats, another addition soon (I should know better). Yet the passing of a man, who for decades touched millions of lives with his written words, forced me back.The writer and author of many works of fiction and non-fiction, Gabriel Garcia Márquez has died at the age of 87.

He was born in 1927 near Aracataca, Colombia and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, the year I discovered the author and read his  “Autumn of the Patriarch”. I read it in Madrid, a fitting backdrop.

Gabriel García Márquez at his house in Mexico City, 2010

   Gabriel García Márquez at his house in Mexico City, 2010. Photograph: Miguel Tovar/AP

Years later, my nineteen year old son added himself to the fan base and eight years ago, gave me a copy of the freshly published, “Memories of My Melancholy Whores” (2005). The inside jacket described the book as ” . . . a story that celebrates the belated discovery of amorous passion in old age”. I wondered how my son felt handing me a book of that title! With a mix of anticipation and mild trepidation, I sat down to read my Christmas gift, blown away by my son’s mature taste in literature.

Mr Márquez’ writing style had likely changed over the years, but I had no idea what to expect of this novella other than a gripping read. In reality, I struggled, despite a couple of separate attempts at finishing the 115 pages, to read beyond the first 30. So, in memory of the author I have taken the book off the shelf, a fitting time to read and reflect, this Easter weekend. This time, I commit to read every word.

I end this post with a quote from Mr Márquez, and which appears in an article by Jonathan Kandell in the New York Times, 17 April 2014. Writers and authors, take heart:

“When I finished one book, I wouldn’t write for a while,” Mr Márquez said in 1966. “Then I had to learn how to do it all over again. The arm goes cold; there’s a learning process you have to go through again before you rediscover the warmth that comes over you when you are writing.”

Slides of Gabriel Garcia Márquez, courtesy of the New York Times:

Mena Bruno

Location, Location, Location – by Tim Flanagan, Author

Tim FlanaganThey say that when you’re looking to buy a house, there are three things you should consider – location, location, location.

In the movies, a location gives a scene drama, suspense and an air of mystique. You only have to think of the James Bond films and the exotic locations they feature, or the historical places visited in the Da Vinci Code to realize that location is key to the film success. But the same can also apply to books. I believe that where a story is located can be even more vital. Readers usually have no visual clues to connect them with a location, relying completely on the writer to convey the sights, sounds, smells, and atmosphere to be immersed in the scene.

When I write my books, I always like to include real-life locations to deliver a sense of realism and authenticity. They also leave the reader with the ‘what if’ feeling, especially if the story includes facts and information that are genuinely true. Hopefully it leaves the reader wanting to visit the places. I usually choose places that are historic, have an interesting history or are linked with myths, legends or magic. Some of the locations I have used include EdinburghCastle in Scotland, the MI6 and Bank of England buildings in London, and ancient stone circles. For me to get a feel for the location, I usually do a trawl through the internet and collect images of the location and use these to help me with my descriptions. Also Google Earth is an amazing tool that helps me physically describe a journey my characters may be taking. I appreciate that it would be better to visit the location in person, but unfortunately it’s not always possible. The internet opens up the world in an incredible way.

My new book, The Curious Disappearance of Professor Brown, is a humorous detective story with a nostalgic twist set in Whitby in North Yorkshire, UK. 

I spent some time in the north east of England many years ago when I was at University, which gave me a flavour for the area. There is something ominous about the dark clouds that hang above the hills of the North York Moors, before quickly changing as the wind blows off the North Sea. Whitby is featured in Bram Stokers Dracula; it’s where Count Dracula’s boat beaches in a storm. Dracula feeds off some of his victims amongst the ruins of Whitby Abbey on the top of the hill overlooking the harbour. Although Whitby is a harmless coastal town, I like the undercurrent of mystery that is sometimes associated with the surrounding moors, the abbey ruins and the unforgiving North Sea. In the Professor Brown book, my protagonist is a reluctant eighteen year old private detective, Lawrence Pinkley. Although an idyllic coastal town immediately conjures up a pleasant image in the mind, the story is supported by brilliant illustrations by Dylan Gibson that portray that simmering and sinister feeling.

So, for a reader, the right location helps to create a mutually shared and recognisable feeling and emotion. For writers, welcome to the location shop – take your pick and help yourself. Your story gives you permission to journey across the planet and into space.

Tim Flanagan

How Fast is the NBN vs the Coalition’s Internet?

A big thank you to Claire Porter, Technology Editor @ for her article that addresses in real terms, the difference between speeds for a variety of uploads, comparing the NBN to that of the Coalition’s internet plans.

There is a link to Brisbane PhD student James Brotchie’s website which he built ‘because he didn’t think the Labor government was selling the NBN properly to everyday Australians.’

I wanted a website that I could sit my parents down in front of and have them appreciate the difference between the competing parties’ NBN plans.

NBN vs Coalition Internet

Upload photos NBN vs Coalition Internet

You can run a number of simulations such as above and witness in real time, for yourself. The difference is alarming. Longer download times means greater data usage, which means high monthly costs. Other simulations include every day tasks such as uploading a video to YouTube or downloading an episode of Game of Thrones on iTunes.

Claire Porter details the time differences:

Using the NBN, uploading 100 10mb photos to Facebook takes 20 seconds.

The Coalition’s plan takes 27 minutes and 18 seconds.

Downloading a one-hour high definition TV episode from iTunes would take 16 seconds on the NBN, or 10 minutes and 55 seconds on the Coalition’s plan.

Uploading a short video to YouTube would take 4 seconds under Labor’s plan, and five minutes and 20 seconds under the Coalition’s plan.

Scary! This may not only affect us personally, but it could mean the difference in Australia remaining globally competitive or falling into the third world internet basket.




A Tribute to Mandawuy Yunupingu

Mandawuy Yunupingu was a man of peace, and one determined to bridge the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, using the magic of the universal medium, music. Who can forget Treaty by the band he co-founded, Yothu Yindi.

May you rest in peace, Yunupingu. You died too young of kidney disease at the age of 56.


 Chronic Kidney Disease is a silent killer in the Indigenous population.

From Kidney Health Australia:

Key points on Chronic Kidney Disease in Indigenous Australians

  • Indigenous Australians are almost 4 most times as likely to die with CKD as a cause of death than non-Indigenous Australians.
  • Indigenous Australians were found to be more likely to have end-stage kidney disease and be hospitalised or die with CKD than non-Indigenous Australians.
  • The greater prevalence of CKD in some Indigenous Australian communities is due to the high incidence of traditional risk factors, including diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking, in addition to higher levels of inadequate nutrition, alcohol abuse, streptococcal throat and skin infection, poor living conditions and low birthweight which is linked to reduced nephron development.

You can read the full article here:


Since the ‘APE’ Book Makeover

I almost didn’t attend the book makeover for which my book was selected along with four other authors. Thank goodness for my Samsung netbook which saved the day. I could see and hear for the first half but could not be heard or seen by the panel or anyone else joining the hangout…Anyway, I have made some important changes as a result of feedback from +Guy Kawasaki and +Shawn Welch and regarding social media, also Peggy Fitzpatrick. Below is the G+ Hangout link.

This is what I have done so far as a follow-up:

1. Changed the readership target market to a slightly older age range, that of a 8 to 11    years (instead of 7-9)

2. have the chapter book entirely separate from the ABC section which was at the end of the book. This means I will have two books – first, the illustrated chapter book for older readers, followed by the ABC book for beginner readers (Marie, my talented cover designer, will be kept busy!

3. I have decided to hire an experienced illustrator as the chapter book requires a lot more illustrations that I had first envisaged. The hunt is on!

4. Changed the usernames for two of my social media pages:

– Facebook author Page from the business name, Itria Publishing to my name,              with an extra identifier to distinguish me from others of same name: (I want to remove the ‘.’ but I need more ‘Likes’…So please, do visit if you are able. Thanks!:)

– Twitter: #menabrunoauthor

In addition to this, feedback on my manuscript from a Google + pal of mine, Rob Golieb, sent me scuttling to revisit the narrative. In trying to keep within the 32-page format that I had imposed on the book, was suffocating the content and flow of Wiggly and Wobbly’s story telling….They had a lot more to say and say and they did!

Some major alterations in content and narrative structure followed, such as adding more back story, developing Wiggly and Wobbly Wombat’s characters more. The ending didn’t escape, which now opens the door to a bunch of new adventures which the wombats will tell in a series of books.

I am half way through this revised draft. I’m off to a regional town in a couple of days so I will make good use of 2.5 hours of  round trip flying time! 🙂