Category Archives: Accounting

Well being Advantages of a Foot Tub/Epsom Salt Soak

Putting your feet into a tub of warm water is quite a nice way to relax. Even though there’s nothing in the warm water, this soak relaxes your muscles, makes your skin hydrated, and it can relieve pains and aches, which come as a result of standing for hours or walking for a long time in shoes that are uncomfortable. Letting your feet soak in a bath can help prevent bacteria and reduce swelling. Blisters and cuts that come under toenails would greatly be reduced.

We all know a little tough skin helps protect our feet, but if you do not want thick calluses, softening them using a soak would make it easier to exfoliate. This is why most pedicures start by putting your feet into warm water.

For healthy results, you could consider adding Epsom salt into the warm water.

Epsom Salt Foot Soaks

This is a combination of sulfate and magnesium. Epsom salt is a compound that can help flush heavy metals and toxins from the cells of your skin. It helps increase blood circulation and reduce inflammation. Thus, it also eases joint pains and cramps. 

As your feet take in magnesium, ions utilized in the reduction of pain are released, this helps in the relaxation of nerves and muscles and helps them function properly by regulating the levels of electrolytes present. The sulfate targets and attacks any substance that is harmful and needs to be eliminated from the body. Epsom salt can also get rid of foot odor, help with ingrown nails, soothe dry skin, and to help heal foot fungus. 

You can find this healing salt at pharmacies and drug stores. In a standard size tub, simply put a cup of Epsom salt in warm water and soak your feet in it for 10-15 minutes.

Other Important Foot Soaks ingredients

There are a lot of ways you can use important oils in your home. These include adding just some drops into your foot soak. Choices you could add together or individually for the treatment of your feet include:

Cypress oil: This is a natural deodorant. You could add a few drops to your soak if you have a blister or you are stressing about smelly feet.

Cedarwood oil: This is an antifungal and antiseptic, which makes it a great choice if you have problems from athlete’s foot.

Juniper berry oil: It gets rid of muscle aches like those caused by arthritis.

Rosemary oil: It helps relax muscles and it has antiseptic properties.

Lavender oil: It is one of the best for relaxation. It also serves as a pain reliever. It works very well for sore joints and muscles.

Wintergreen oil: It is also known as nature’s pain killer. This works quite well with swelling, and it has a cooking sensation that feels pleasurable to the feet.

When the Soak Doesn’t Work Completely

If after soaking your feet and you still feel the following problems, you need to visit your doctor. Problems like severe foot pain, swelling, redness, and foot pain may indicate that you have diabetes.

The post Health Benefits of a Foot Bath/Epsom Salt Soak appeared first on Fiction Vixen.

The Phenomenology of Wild

Phenomenology classically deals with lived experience. A fleeting or one off experience may be the domain of poetry, but a range of repeated experiences that can be reflected upon is something a phenomenologist can get working on. The experiencer uses his own knowledge derived from the experience and, going back and getting closer, takes apart as much of the coalesced memory of the experience as he can. By doing this he or she arrives at things unsuspected by the analytic approach which goes from explicit knowledge to conclusion without teasing around the hinterland of tacit knowledge.


When we repeatedly experience a thing we build up tacit and explicit knowledge. There is stuff we don’t even know we know, we just do it. There is also the effect of perhaps hidden or buried influences. There may be a buried unconscious impulse lurking below the surface that affects the experience in ways that are not entirely obvious.


As we progress in our look at what being wild means in terms of experience we will surely more areas in which wildness plays a part and correspondingly more ways to talk about being wild.



  1. 1.    My starting point is to refer briefly to a book by anthropologist and structuralist Claud Levi-Strauss- L’homme Sauvage- translated as the Savage Mind. This book is naturally rather out of favour in current times. It is hardly politically correct to use such terms as ‘savage’. And even to suggest there are different types of mind is perhaps racist in some way. But what the book does do, is highlight a different way of organising knowledge, and perhaps a different way of experiencing. The ‘savage’ is a bricoleur- a bodger and improviser and a jack of all trades. The modern man is a specialist. The idea of the polymath is fondly imagined to be something that only applied in the past to such greats as Leonardo or Goethe. But those polymaths are closer to the savage mind than a specialist.
  2. 2.    The book implies of course that the savage is inferior to us, that he would be better off becoming more like us, that crucially he has nothing to teach us except in an objective sense of increasing facts about savages. He has nothing to teach us that will improve or change our experience of living.
  3. 3.    What gets in the way is that the primitive man or indigenous man is characterised as less intelligent than us. There can be no Einstein lurking in the trees clutching a spear. There is of course some truth in this for a contactable tribe. Any child with superior linguistic capabilities would have been attracted out and educated we surmise. What is left behind is the people who are not quite as bright. But primitive man has no such escape. Primitive man, the cave dweller and rock artist, had just as much raw intelligence as us. And we will see that he had a much more balanced view of man’s place in nature than we do. Though he could not leverage his energy as we can through machines, methods and contrivances, he made up for that by superior wisdom- that is- foresight and alignment with his environment over time.


Why are we tame and how can we be more wild?


Modern life is tame. We are like caged beasts so long in a zoo we don’t know we are institutionalised and imprisoned. We think zoo life is normal- with the state or our employer doling out our money which we are then forced to pay to the rentman, the utilities company and the supermarket. We believe we have to live as others live- be like the tame herd. But the tamer we get the more easily we are milked and exploited. We do not need fancy products and clothes and cars and other things that are depleting the planet of wilderness and beauty, polluting the seas with plastic and our rivers with hormones. Yet we believe we need this stuff and this is because we are tame.


Tameness is characterised by fear. When fear is exploited its flipside, greed, comes into play too. Why? Because a fearful man loses sight of the fact that we live in an abundant world utterly suited to human life. He thinks ‘life is hard’- but life is only hard when we impose artificial structures. Humans are immensely adaptable and when they are masters of their own fate they do not mind harsh conditions. These make them stronger and they revel in them. Eskimoes feel the cold- for sure- but they do not think this is a terrible problem. They solve it with fur and fat. But a tame man, forced to work sixteen hours a day in a factory in a damp cold climate- that is hard, that is what will break a man’s spirit.


Men are tamed. When tame the uberstructures of nation, tribe and state become more powerful and more able to ‘act through’ individuals in the group. When a man or woman experiences power and enjoys it they will often act to increase that feeling. Subjugating others is easier if they are tame. So perhaps subconsciously, the power seeker approves measures that make people tamer. And, what is more, they do it in the name of the bigger structures- Napoleon used the idea of the nation of France to enslave millions in his army. The idea of a suprahuman organism acts on individuals and they do its will. It is a kind of hive mind, everyone doing his bit. And the tamer men become the more easily they adapt to being a worker bee, a member of the hive.


But the hive keep us alive you say.


No, what keeps you alive is your humanity, your higher qualities of empathy and pursuit of wisdom and to further both of these you need to be wild, not tame.


The wild man is characterised above all else by fearlessness. He is afraid of nothing. He may be cautious. He may be very canny, but he has no fear because it is business to know his world, and, when it is known, to master it. He therefore has no place for fear. He is above all else, not institutionalised, nor even tribalized to the extent that some tribes make him as tame as some corporations do.


The way a corporation works is to make life without the corporation unthinkable. The way a tribe works is to make life outside the tribe seem unthinkable.


Yet no man is an island. And look at what happens when you leave the tribe- you become an outcast, a scrounger, a parasite. Stranger in the Woods tells the  true story of a young man who lives for 27 years by stealing from remote cabins in Maine and living in a hidden encampment. He is not a hunter or a fisherman or even a farmer- he steals from humans in order to live a ‘free life’ – yet he lives in fear of being caught all the time. When he is, he confesses all. Now he lives a quiet life with his family- an oddball for sure.

No that cannot be a model for anything except madness. The wild man is still a sociable man.


The first step, therefore, is de-institutionalising. It is being self-sufficient.


The wild man refutes land rights. The right to roam replaces the right to own. There are hunting rights and cultivation rights but these are not ownership. There can be no building on the land, no damming and destroying. But when numbers increase because of cities men become tame in order to survive. This is a crime.


The higher man, the man of foresight and intelligence choses to be wild. 


The essence of life is not knowledge. It is taking some piece of knowledge seriously and to heart. You may have heard the injunction- find something you can sell and sell the hell out of it. But you will only DO THIS if you have very much take it to heart and believe you either have no choice in the matter or that this is your course of action, your next step on the rungs of life. A higher point. Because being wise must be accompanied by being wild, being free. Yes, a tame man can be a wise man in words. But he can only be wise in deeds if he is free and his own man.


The celebrity is a proxy wild man or wild woman. The celebrity really ‘lives life’ whereas the tame man just survives. He lives a watered down version of life. Because in the 1980s it was discovered that celebrities sold things the culture reorganised around celebrity worship. Earlier you had to kiss the feet of a royal or a member of the aristocracy to get things done. Now you had to enlist a celebrity.


Wild culture is in opposition to celebrity culture. A celebrity is someone famous for being famous. Their name attracts people who will then buy products associated with that name. The only moral position is to be an anti-celebrity; certainly it is the only way to maintain normal relations with people.


The wild man has something to sell. They may be fruits from the forest, or the fruits of his labour.

المهرج ذو البلطة

كنا في مقهى قريب، نستريح من “تمشية” برلينية طويلة، ثم قادنا الحديث عن العلاقة ما بين المرأة والرجل لحكاية مثيرة: روت لي “يوفيتا” أنها رأت فيلمًا تسجيليًا، يتحدث عن قرية صغيرة في ألبانيا، حيث قررت بعض النسوة أن يتحولن قانونا لرجال، لا ليس لرغبات دفينة هنا أو هناك، بل من أجل المشاركة في القرار السياسي والإداري في القرية، المقصور على الرجال فقط!
ولكن الجميع يعرفون أنهن كن سيدات!
قلت متعجبا، فردت عليّ:
المجتمع هناك لا يحترم إلاّ الرجال، هكذا كان عليهن التحول لرجال..

نعم، ولكن الجميع سيعتبرهن نسوة في الأساس، لا أتخيل أن يعاملهن كما يعامل رجل بالولادة، لِمَ لم يمارسن السياسة والإدارة وهن نساء كما هن؟!
هذا ما جرى! وأنا أحترم هؤلاء النسوة.

طبعا، هكذا أجبت، من باب أنهن يهتممن بإدارة شؤونهن الأوسع من مجرد بيت صغير هنا أو هناك، ولإيمانهن بدورهن في العمل الإداري والسياسي، ولكن هل نعتبر تحول هؤلاء النسوة إلى رجال هو “إيمان بدور المرأة”؟! ظللت حائرا، الموضوع لم يكن مثل مناقشة قديمة حامية، مع صديقة عزيزة كانت فخورة بأن النساء يقدن “التريلات”، وأنا شخصيا لم أجد ذلك فتحا بأكثر من كونه غريبا، أول قائدة طائرة مدنية إنجاز بالطبع، ولكن سائقة “تريلا”؟! الموضوع هنا تعدى مسألة السياقة، ودخل في مستوى آخر أوحى لي بالقهر والعجز لا بالانتصار.

بعد هذا الحوار بشهر، فتحت لي يوفيتا صفحة إنترنت تحكي عن هؤلاء النسوة، أخذت أحدق في صور الرجال الذين كانوا نساء، الملابس، الإكسسوارات، القبعات فوق الرؤوس، طريقة الوقوف أمام عدسة الكاميرا، لا أنكر أن مظهر بعضهم لم يشِ أبدًا بما كان عليه الماضي، ولا حتى ملامحهم، سألت نفسي كيف يجلسون في الحانات؟ وهل من المفترض أن يحنوا رؤوسهم خجلًا إن استبان من امرأة أخرى عري غير مقصود؟ وما كان رأيهم في حمامات الرجال في الأماكن العامة؟ (قلت لنفسي هي قرية! أي سؤال سخيف هذا!).

طيب دعنا منهن، ما هو شعور الرجال “الأصليين” تجاه الموضوع بأكمله؟! هل سوف يضربون متحولا على ظهره أثناء المزاح بالقوة نفسها التي يضرب بها الرجال بعضهم؟! هل سوف يستدرجون المتحول لقول رأيه في النساء وكيفية كسب قلوبهن؟!

ظللت حائرا، وبدا الموضوع برمته عجيبًا وغريبًا، ثم قرأت خبرا عن أن مصر قد أصبحت رئيسة المجلس العربي لمكافحة الفساد، فقلت لنفسي إن اسمه الحقيقي هو “مجلس الفاسدين لمكافحة الفساد”، قلت لنفسي حسنا، هو الوطن العربي ومشاكله ونكاته وما إلى ذلك، ثم مضيت أكثر لأتذكر كلمات مثل “تعويم العملة”، و”الإصلاحات الاقتصادية”، و”الأمن القومي”، و”كاميرات مراقبة المرور، طبعا”، إذن لماذا أعترض على تحوّل نسوة لرجال من أجل السياسة؟! لماذا أجد هذا غريبا؟! طيب ألم تكن هي قناة سويس ثانية؟!

يعرف الكتّاب أن مزج المتقابلات يقوي الأثر التي تتركه الفكرة، هكذا كانت فكرة الخطيئة في مكان العبادة مثلا، أو الوحدة وسط الزحام، أو الأعمى البصير، أو ما فعله ستيفن كينغ في روايته الشهيرة “الشيء”: الوحش الذي يأكل الأطفال يظهر غالبا في صورة مهرّج ضاحك، لكننا لسنا في أرض الخيال، نحن في أرض تحاكم الخيال بخيال مريض مقابل.

هكذا يحاكم الكاتب الصحافي والمدون والباحث المصري إسماعيل الإسكندراني، من قبل مهرج معه بلطة، ليحبس احتياطياً أكثر من مائة يوم في السجن، بتهمة الانضمام لجماعة إرهابية

نشر المقال في جريدة العربي الجديد في ١٩ مارس ٢٠١٦. لقراءة المقال الأصلي اضغط هنا

Writing & Transcribing

I realize I have been absent for some time –I have no excuse other than that I’ve been fighting a serious cold and am just coming out of what is probably one of the most stressful periods of my semester. The main reason I’m writing today, on a Tuesday, is that I don’t want any more time to go by without a post.

I’ve been transcribing lately, and finishing up the article that I am about to submit for publication. I had some conundrums about what venue I was going to submit the article to, but I finally decided on an outlet. The journal’s 75% rejection rate scares me a bit, but the review process appears to be speedy and I appreciated the editor’s efficiency and quick responses to my queries. So, I hope to submit the article within the next couple of days. Meantime, I’m letting the book simmer while I focus on transcribing, which has so far been a very pleasurable experience –I got the Olympus AS 2400 transcription kit, which is working smoothly with my Apple OS -the only drawback is that my recording, which I created using the iPad Notability app, are all in m4a format, which means that I had convert my files to aiff. I’m not super tech-savy so that experience has not been without hiccups. Nevertheless, I have to say that transcribing with a pedal is infinitely easier than transcribing without one, and I am kind of kicking myself for not having acquired one of these nifty little tools years ago. Even so, I think that after I submit my article I am going to have to devote some serious time to transcription, as I still have lots of interviews to transcribe and I’m not making nearly as much headway as I would like.

I also am re-writing my little language and mental health grant, and really kicking my summer research planning into gear.

How on earth did I manage to convince myself I could write a book in twelve months????? Oh well… I guess I’m committed (to myself) at this point…. maybe I need to go back to my carefully drafted writing schedules…


Seize Your Copy Of Tunnel for FREE . . .

Free, I tell ye. FREE

We all love a freebee and seeing as it’s coming up to one of my favourite times of the year, I thought I’d allow you all a chance to sit back with a pillow and be suitably scared with a free copy of my short ebook, Tunnel. What more could you want for Halloween? It has lots of darkness, zombies, blood and claustraphobia, the perfect recipe for the perfect chillfest.

It will be free to download for the next 5 days (click here) so get in quick while you can. And remember, whether you loved it, hated it, was traumatised by it, would love a sequal or never want to read anything from me ever again, leave a review. Mucho Gracias 🙂

The London Underground, a convenient way to commute, with miles of tunnels weaving their way beneath the city – but with many of these tunnels now unused and abandoned, a whole new world unknown to the people above has evolved below the streets. 
Mike travels the Underground every day for work, battling rush hour crowds all taking the same journey day in day out. He follows the unspoken underground etiquette every time, with his music playing in his ears and the avoidance of eye contact, and no one says a word as they routinely travel the tedious path life has given them. 
An evening of working late means Mike misses these rush hour crowds. The platform at nine o’clock in the evening is sparse of people, and the train car he boards offers plenty of seats. He settles down, listening to his music and preparing to travel the same journey taken hundreds of times before, only this time the journey offers something different, and as the train stops, trapping everyone beneath the streets, he realises they are not alone. Something else, something terrifying, is lingering in the shadows of the Tunnel…

Classes in Management: Observing Bosses, Managers & Shopper Over A Decade

Lessons in Leadership: Observing Bosses, Managers & Client Over A Decade

I  started my career almost fifteen years ago (gasp!) and for almost a  decade now I’ve been collecting lessons on leadership — from managing  teams myself as well as from observing clients, bosses and managers that  I worked with. Over the years, in the spirit of learning, I kept  writing down down examples of good and bad leadership, looking for  patterns and things that I need to watch out for when working with  people. Thought it would be a fun to turn that into a blog post, since  design leadership is a hot topic now and I have something to add to the  discourse.

Without further ado, here are my observations, as an easily digestible list.

Things I learned about being a leader

  • Explain the why, let your team figure out the how.
  • Never use the job seniority argument. This undermines your credibility and makes you look like an ass.
  • Your experience isn’t other people’s experience. Learn to listen.
  • “Because I say so” is never a valid argument.
  • “Manager” is a title. “Leader” is a mindset.
  • Don’t get bogged down in details: collaborate with your direct reports and let them take care of their part.
  • Trust your team. You’re working with adults.
  • Failing is learning. Failure is an outcome, not an identity.
  • Opinions hold no value in serious discussions, speak about the facts.
  • Never assume ill intent.
  • Identify questions and misunderstandings early — the further down the road it comes up, the more expensive it will be to fix.
  • “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor kind of business” — Henry Ford
  • Relentlessly focus on things that work.
  • If your team is 100% booked, when do they learn?
  • It’s easier to make things people want than to make people want things.
  • When  you make it easy to do the right thing, people are much more likely to  do it, and then do it effortlessly and without conflict.
  • No matter how beautiful your theory is, if it doesn’t work as experiment, it’s wrong.
  • The hardest part of your job is to figure out what excites and motivates every single person that reports to you and adjust the leadership style accordingly.
  • Turnover and burnout within the team are the mark of bad leadership.
  • Ideas are worth zero. Execution matters.
  • Bosses  are responsible for results. They achieve these results not by doing  all the work themselves but by guiding the people on their teams. Bosses  guide a team to achieve results.
  • Relax. Look around. Make a call.
  • Own your mistakes.
  • Leader who tries to take on too many problems simultaneously will likely fail at them all.
  • Don’t be a bottleneck, learn to trust and delegate.
  • “Winging it” is not a valid strategy. Plan ahead and learn from past mistakes.
  • Leaders who lose their temper also lose respect.
  • Praise in public, criticize in private.
  • If people need constant oversight, it means you didn’t explain your goals and intent right.
  • Putting some structure around way things work lets your team focus on things that actually matter. Boundaries are freedom.
  • Processes are great, but only when they’re tailored to serve around the team, the goals, and the expected results.

Des – ITV evaluate

When I wrote the other day about David Tennant’s excellent performance as a psychopathic serial killer in Bad Samaritan, it didn’t occur to me that I’d soon be singing his praises again, for his performance of a real life murderer. He takes the lead in the ITV drama series Des, which is running this week, playing the serial killer Dennis Nilsen. I’ve watched the first two episodes full of admiration for his chilling portrayal of a dead-eyed man without a conscience.

Nilsen’s bizarre and horrific crimes were revealed back in 1983 and I remember the case vividly. He had worked as an employment adviser in a jobcentre in London and through a personal connection I learned a little bit about him. He wasn’t a popular man, although everybody who knew him was astonished to learn of his crimes. He was best known as a trade union representative, a virulent left-winger who hated the government. All his victims were vulnerable people. 

Tennant is superb, and I don’t think it can sensibly be said that this programme glamorises his crimes. Far from it. The material is sensational, but the scripts of the first two episodes treat it with sobriety. There is a proper focus on the quest to identify the victims. The main challenge faced by the writer, Luke Neal, is to maintain tension, given that Nilsen admitted his killings from the outset, and we all know that he died in prison. The real mystery is about what motivated him.

So far, we’ve been given a few clues. The main source material is Brian Masters’ book about Nilsen, and Masters is a major character in the story, again very well played, by Jason Watkins. I’ll be interested to see how the third and final episode brings the story to a conclusion. At the moment, there’s a division of focus between the police’s efforts to investigate and Masters’ relationship with Nilsen. I wonder if the script writer considered taking the unorthodox step of telling the story mainly from Masters’ point of view. That would have been a very bold approach, and may have paid dividends, but the method actually adopted in telling the story has so far been fairly effective. I look forward to the concluding episode. 


Inspiration and Challenges: Metropolis of Spies by Mara Timon

Inspiration comes in a lot of forms, and my inspiration for City of Spies came from a lot of different directions.

I first heard about Special Operations Executive on a BBC2 history programme, and became intrigued by the “Baker Street Irregulars.”  They were more than just spies.  Although they did their share of espionage and reconnaissance, the more traditional spy roles, they were also involved with sabotage and subversion, liaising with and trained local resistance groups.  Winston Churchill directed them to “set Europe ablaze”, and they did, with panache, breaking rules that were no longer relevant, not the least of which was when, in 1942, they began recruiting women to work behind enemy lines. 

How cool was that?  So what did it take for these women, back in the early ‘40s, to sign up for a job they didn’t understand (SOE, unsurprisingly, were fairly light on the job description), but who were given, like their male counterparts, a 50% chance of survival?  These women had to fight to be considered in the first place, and fight harder to remain in SOE.  In training they were used to spur the men on, the first to jump from the planes in training exercises, as well as into action. 

And yet, of the 39 extraordinary women that were sent into France alone, all but 13 survived. Their stories read better than most thrillers – and I mean that with no disrespect to my fellow thriller writers! 

Fun fact:  SOE agent Anne-Marie Walters’s autobiography Moondrop to Gascony won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in 1947.

These women were colourful, and recruited from a wide range of ages (At 20 years, Sonia Butt was the youngest woman to be sent into France. Yvonne Rudellat, at 45, was the oldest).  It wasn’t a class thing either, with recruits from the working classes (I’ve read that Violette Szabo had Cockney accent) as well as the aristocracy (Noor Inyat Khan the daughter of an Indian prince, and Krystyna Skarbek was the daughter of a count).  And not all of them were British; Virginia Hall was American, Nancy Wake was from New Zealand, and Krystyna Skarbek was Polish.  Some were prim, others flamboyant, but what they had in common was their determination, and their fluency in French.  They broke rules, in an organisation known for breaking rules, and while my characters aren’t based on any one agent, but are inspired by all of them.

After binge-reading their stories, I became determined to write about them, or rather, fictional accounts of fictional agents, but staying as close to the history as I could. 

From a stylistic perspective, I learnt a lot from reading the early Jack Higgins books.  I loved the way he made me sympathise with his baddies, who weren’t really bad but were just fighting on “the wrong side” of the war.  It made those stories much more interesting, so I passed that on, allowing my readers to grumble when they found themselves liking, even rooting for, characters they “shouldn’t”.

Finally, I became inspired by places I write about.  Lisbon had a complex history during the war.  Dr António de Oliveira Salazar, Portugal’s conservative, nationalist, and Catholic dictator, might have distanced himself from German fascism/Nazism, but he did consider Germany the last bastion against communism. Portuguese neutrality was a balancing act.  Siding with the Germans risked breaking the Anglo-Portuguese pact, and most likely losing some, or all, of its colonies. Siding with the Allies, would likely have risked tipping Spain over to the Axis, or even opening themselves up to an attack from Spain. It wasn’t until October 1943, when the tides of war were truly turning towards the Allies that Salazar allowed the British access to the Azores to build a base.  With this backdrop, Lisbon was a melting-pot, hosting large swathes of exiled European nobility and aristocracy, desperate refugees fleeing the Nazis, diplomats, merchants, smugglers, and of course spies. 

What better place to set my spy novel?

But writing isn’t without its challenges.  And while part of the fun is researching the story, like my main character, I don’t speak Portuguese, which made parts of my research a bit tricky (although the National Archives in Kew was terrific).  The other thing with research is knowing how much is enough, and when I’ve wasted too much time looking into something that I find interesting, but isn’t relevant to the story.

By far the biggest challenge was balancing my writing alongside a demanding full-time job.  I went to a webinar the other day on how to achieve a work/life balance, hoping for a holy-grail type of revelation.  Needless to say, there was no holy-grail revelation and the only key to balancing work, life, and writing is to carve time out of the day to write.  And to protect that time, even from myself. 

(c) Mara Timon

About City of Spies:

LISBON, 1943.

When her cover is blown, SOE agent Elisabeth de Mornay flees Paris. Pursued by the Gestapo, she makes her way to neutral Lisbon, where Europe’s elite rub shoulders with diplomats, businessmen, smugglers, and spies. There she receives new orders – and a new identity.

Posing as wealthy French widow Solange Verin, Elisabeth must infiltrate a German espionage ring targeting Allied ships, before more British servicemen are killed.

The closer Elisabeth comes to discovering the truth, the greater the risk grows. With a German officer watching her every step, it will take all of Elisabeth’s resourcefulness and determination to complete her mission.

But in a city where no one is who they claim to be, who can she trust?

‘Perfectly captures the conflicted loyalties of wartime espionage in neutral Portugal . . . atmospheric . . . tense’ Sarah Armstrong, author of The Wolves of Leninsky Prospekt

‘Casablanca meets le Carre’ A. K. Turner, author of Body Language

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"Compassion is permitting our human must cry out—in ache, in confusion, in anger. It’s placing apart…"

“Compassion is allowing our human need to cry out—in pain, in confusion, in anger. It’s putting aside our independence to reach out to one another—for guidance, for support, for a listening ear. Compassion is allowing our weakness, our imperfection to shine through; to set aside our pride enough to admit we just can’t get through this alone.”

Brett Elena, “Courage and Compassion