Category: The Last Hotel

A Cure for CRPS

A Cure for CRPS

What is CRPS?

CRPS. What the hell is that? How often do we see an acronym, a sequence of letters that does not register recognition? Well, the answer to what the hell is CRPS? Is just that ‘hell.’ The words may you ‘burn in hell’ may as well define CRPS.

Dubbed ‘the most painful disease known to humankind’ and ‘the suicide disease’, CRPS or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, is a neurological condition characterized by intense pain, burning, inflammation, swelling and loss of movement.

It is a disproportionate response by the sympathetic nervous system to an injury to an extremity, a foot or hand. Often the initial injury is minor, a sprained ankle, a broken toe or wrist. But for some reason in some unfortunate people, the body responds by establishing a pattern of self-harm that can spread through the body in time, rendering the individual a cripple incapacitated by pain 24/7.

It can happen out of the blue to young or old, healthy or not. Millions world-wide suffer this incurable disease. All doctors can offer is pain relief via CBD oil or ketamine infusions and ongoing physiotherapy. Why am I writing about this in my usual history blog? The answer is I write this not to elicit pity but to give hope to others. You may have CRPS or know someone with it.

Oh, no! I have CRPS.

CRPS chose to attack me in January 2020 after a routine surgery for a broken right wrist. Plunged into excruciating pain, I could not comprehend what was happening to me. I googled and googled trying to come to terms with my diagnosis. I cried for days as all sites confirmed the prognosis of ‘incurable’, ‘debilitating’.

Until I dared the universe by typing in ‘cure for CRPS’. Not expecting any response, just ‘n0 results’, I was cheered to see the words ‘CRPS Italy’ and another Complex Truths.org. detailing treatments at clinics in North Italy. I read on, thankful I am a biochemist and could understand the medical jargon.

It seemed despite the defeatism of all the other sites, that there was a chance, a good chance of recovery for this dreadful condition. 100% within a year of diagnosis and at best 70% for individuals who had suffered longer. Compared to the cost of long-term pain relief and physiotherapy, over many years, the treatment in a clinic over two weeks seemed reasonable. Plus, a trip to beautiful Italy alone would surely cheer the soul!

The crippling pain spread to my shoulder and neck, immobilizing my entire upper right side. I felt there was no time to lose. With the help of my son and an interpreter, I booked treatment for the infusions for March 3, 2020. This necessitated flights from Australia to Rome then a train trip to Genova.

OFF in search of a cure!

All seemed to be going well for me until Coronavirus erupted in North Italy just days before my flight. As the virus already threatened Asia through which I had to fly, I could not get a refund. I am so glad now because if I had not gone then in early 2020 during that small window of opportunity, then when would I have been able to? Australia and many countries closed their borders soon after and Covid 19 became a global pandemic.

Yes, I received my treatment, four Neridronate infusions over a fortnight in a beautiful clinic set high on the hill overlooking Genova harbour. Yes, I recovered 90% of my function so that today I am only limited by residual stiffness in my right side that could have been prevented if I had been able to access rehabilitation soon after the treatment.

LOCKDOWNS, 1, 2,3 and 4

But instead of a restorative holiday afterwards, my husband and I had to flee Italy. While I was in hospital, lockdowns 1, 2 3 and 4 closed Italy. There were no ristorantes or cafes open to enjoy the usual vibrancy of Italian life. Borders to the east and north had closed. Only the French Italian border was still open. We set off from Genova railway station escorted by local police. All tourists had to leave.

After reaching the border and finding San Remo deserted, we continued on to Nice, hoping to find a hotel and reschedule our flight home. Our pre-booked three-week holiday, post treatment, could no longer happen as all borders were closing making being a tourist untenable. Also, to our alarm, hotels were closing one by one, like a pack of dominoes. Unable to secure a flight on our visits to a barely-functioning Nice airport, we took refuge in hotel after hotel, unsure of our immediate future. We met similarly stranded people from all over the world. They all had interesting stories.

At that point, I knew I would write up my story about CRPS if I recovered so others would know of the ‘cure’. But one day at the airport we met a young ballet dancer, a mother with a teenage daughter and a very helpful young chef from Torquay, all trying to get flights home. Why not add the plight of these people into my book and write not a non-fictional true story but a blend of fiction and true life?

THE LAST HOTEL

That was the moment when The Last Hotel was born, my story of love and loss, of lockdown and family, my story of hope. While recovering at a snail’s pace, I tapped out my ideas onto my old battered iPad. I could only use my left hand so it was a one -handed slow process, particularly for capital letters and punctuation. Once we finally arrived home in Queensland, Australia, I continued the writing in lockdown finishing the book in five months.

As I could not edit the typing easily, I sent the book to Tellwell for a tidy up. The result is I believe the only novel with a CRPS affected character (Maggie). But there are many other more interesting characters to meet, stranded in my last hotel. An inspiring novel based on a true story. Be encouraged on my women’s blog site./https://whisperingencouragement.com/

 

 

Writers of the Jazz Age

Writers of the Jazz Age

Novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald

I love the imagery and depiction of the 1920’s idol rich in The Great Gatsby, so I read Tender is the Night, another of Fitzgerald’s novels written post WWI. The writing style is very different to that in The Great Gatsby and difficult initially to become immersed in. But I persisted and found this tragic love story very haunting and beautiful. This Jazz Age novel interested me for another reason. I set my novel, The Last Hotel (Tellwell) in Beaulieu-sur-Mer which is where the opening chapters of  Tender is the Night is also set but of course a century earlier. I was so surprised when I read the opening lines of the novel;

“On the pleasant shore of the French Riviera, almost halfway between Marseilles and the Italian border, stands a large, proud, rose-colored hotel.’

How’s that for coincidence! A hotel!

Except that my hotel is neither large nor pink. But it could be considered proud due the quality of its occupants, my lovely characters.

The French Riviera and Writers of the Jazz Age

The 1920’s Riviera was a magnet for writers like Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway to while away their summers mingling with other writers and artists. They would laze on the beaches glorying in the idyllic Mediterranean climate, and drink cocktails at sunset in their hotel bars. Somewhere in between they would pen a few words of their latest work in progress. To understand the frenetic jazz era, you must reflect on the horrors of WWI that wiped out a whole generation of young men. Then The Spanish Flu wiped out a heap more. The crazy pace and vanity of the 1920’s was a reaction to these tragedies. A sort of ’Live like you never have before’ mentality. We may see our own version of The Jazz Age once Covid-19 is over.

Who Was Francis Scott Fitzgerald?

Francis Scott Fitzgerald was born in 1896 in Minnesota. He was named after cousin Francis Scott Key who wrote the lyrics to the American national anthem. ‘Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light…’etc. Fitzgerald entered Princeton in 1913 and apart from study, he wrote musicals. He dropped out in 1917 to enlist in the US Army and before going off to fight in WWI he submitted his first hastily finished manuscript, A Romantic Egoist, lest he die in the fighting. None of us writers have that sort of deadline!

Of course, he survived to write the novels This Side of Paradise, The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night. He and Hemingway stole all the best book titles! None of these masterpieces sold well in his time and he spiraled into alcoholism beside his mentally ill wife Zelda. He sadly died an untimely death at just 44, never achieving full recognition for his beautiful haunting prose.

 Ernest Hemingway

Fitzgerald’s life rather parallels that of Hemingway, another American who went to Paris after WWI. Both men with accompanying women and alcohol issues liked to travel around while they wrote, often spending long periods in The Riviera. Hemingway also frequented Spain and was fond of bull fights and hunting. I find his books rather shocking in their depiction of cruelty to animals especially bulls. Neither does he write with the beautiful flowing prose of Fitzgerald but instead in a blunt, terse way. Possibly a man’s writer. He too stole all the best book titles. The Sun Also Rises, To Have and Have not, For Whom the Bell Tolls and Farewell to Arms. They sound wonderful but sadly though they sound inviting, his writing is not for me. But it is interesting to see the different styles of these writers of The Jazz Age.

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The Last Hotel-Interview with Author

The Last Hotel-Interview with Author

An Interview with Joni Scott, Author of The Last Hotel

First of all, congratulations on publishing your book. How long did it take to write it?

Thank you, Maureen and thank you for taking a chance on me and my book. The Last Hotel was very keen to be written, occupying my mind day and night so it took five months then a few months back and forth with publisher about edits, quotes, possible inclusion of song lyrics etc

Given that the story is inspired by real events, are there details that you chose to omit from this book?

I changed names, businesses and did not mention the airline company that we flew with as I gave them negative press. I didn’t want to get sued by an airline! Only the first half of the book is based on real events, up to the meeting of strangers at the airport. After that fiction took over. I have never been to Beaulieu-sur-Mer, only passed it on the train that night we fled Italy for France. The name caught my fancy as it translates as ‘beautiful place by the sea’ When I met the interesting people at Nice airport the next day, I had the idea for the book, like a light bulb moment. My husband and I shuffled around hotels for another week and kept bumping into Kaz and Lou the two young women who lost their jobs in St Tropez, but we never saw the others again. I don’t know if they went home soon after or stayed put in France .I so wished I had taken names and adresses so I could tell these lovely people that I put them in a book!
The second half of the story is a “what if’” version of life. Personally, I would have loved to have stayed and met Lotte and Rene and darling Henri and Juliette. But they are fictional characters I imagined just like the bakery and bookshop. Sitting on my couch back in Australia, I walked through the places in Beaulieu on Google Earth and discovered that in the street there really is a bakery and bookshop! How cool is that! Maybe someone will ask them, “are you the bakery in The Last Hotel?” I hope a reader will go there to check out the town. I intend to when we can travel overseas again.
In reality, we managed a flight home early May. I started writing the book the day I returned home. It was so vivid, I had to get going with it despite only having one functional hand, my left one.
I did not get the use of right one back until November 2020 and it is still very stiff. 

Have you ever considered writing a personal memoir?

I think every book I have written (now 3) contains aspects of oneself ie memories of childhood, relationships. Who would want to read my memoir anyhow? haha

What was the hardest scene to write?

The chapter where I introduce Jenny’s family. I rewrote the part about Pieter quite a few times as I didn’t want to offend any lesbian readers and having no experience of them, I wasn’t sure how Pieter should think .In the end I chose confusion for her as she is still young and discovering herself.

In your opinion, is it prudent for people to start travelling again?

We can travel much yet . However, I understand people have been cooped up so long in Europe and Britain that if the governments don’t allow it, there could be mass anarchy. We have had it so easy in Australia, particularly Queensland compared to the rest of the world. We only had to wear masks for a short time yet people still complained. Time will tell if it is prudent to allow travel again. Once it is the European summer, there could be another wave.

If you could go back in time before the pandemic, what would you do differently?

I would still risk the trip to Italy. If I had not gone in the slim time frame of those few days, before we couldn’t go overseas and before Italy shut borders, I would still be in agony with my arm, shoulder and hand. Literally it was like being on fire 24/7. I am on a Facebook group for CRPS( Complex Regional Pain Syndrome), and people suffer terribly. Many have experienced it spreading from limb to limb or over the whole body. It is called the suicide disease. So, I feel so fortunate to have been able to have treatment and get 80-90% better. The treatment is most effective in the first year. If I had not gone when we did, who knows when I could have gone to Italy for the infusions? The Last Hotel would not have happened and that would be sad. The book will always be so special to me as I wrote it in such adverse conditions ie arm propped up on pillows, ergonomic keyboards, mice, apple pencils, dictate devices etc. Everyone said I was crazy!

What do you miss most about pre-covid life?

In Australia, it has not been bad but overseas, people have been separated from loved ones and how the very demonstrative Italians, French and Spanish have managed without all those hugs and kisses, I cannot imagine. I suppose social distancing has led to people being wary of each other which is rather sad .If it goes on too long, I will miss travelling overseas.

Is there something we can cherish about this new way of life?

Appreciating home life more? I have enjoyed being home more, writing, doing jig-saws etc. while I recuperated my right side. I am grateful to be healthy and home in Australia. So many Australians are still stranded overseas. If we had stayed on the Riviera, would we still be there, unable to get home?

Is there another book in the making?

Yes, a few. I have finished the sequel to Whispers through Time, my first historical novel based on the family research of my sister. This ‘sequel book’, Time, Heal my Heart, is both a stand alone romantic chronicle of life during world war 1 and a sequel to the story of Winifred, my grandmother. The book is at the publisher now and will be released this year. Again, very interesting characters invited themselves into my book and set up their own sub plot! I had to put up a sign, No Vacancies! lol
Also I am part way through another book, ‘Tangles’, inspired by my hair dresser. I realised hair dressers are part psychologists, meeting and advising so many people, so I have a full complement of characters in this modern day drama of life in the suburbs. A real woman’s book, this one, with an interesting Indian sub-plot.

Where can your fans and well wishers connect with you?

I have a few websites, one on Austen Macauley Publishing, then my official one is joniscottauthor.com then an author site on Goodreads. Reviews are welcome!

The Last Hotel is available on paperback and kindle format.

The Last Hotel review

The Last Hotel review

Post by Laura Bach » 26 Jul 2021, 06:43
[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of “The Last Hotel” by Joni Scott.]

We all went through this pandemic together and gathered all sorts of stories about it. Authors are the ones who decide to share their experiences, thus giving us precious books like The Last Hotel by Joni Scott. Set on the beautiful French Riviera in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, the novel tells of the first wave of the covid-19 pandemic and how a group of people found peace during such a chaotic time.

The Last Hotel brings together people from all over the world. Whether it’s a ballet dancer who comes for a new job in Nice, an ill woman who seeks a cure in northern Italy, or just people who need to get away from their lives, they will all find themselves both in danger and in absolute peace together.

I was especially touched by Maggie’s story, an Australian woman who flies to Italy with her husband in search of a miraculous cure for her rare pain disease, CRPS. Maggie was well until her wrist pain turned into “the most painful disease known to humankind,” making her feel ill and old. The promise of a cure gives her hope, but that changes when Italy is hit by the virus. Every hotel starts to close on her and her husband like they will be forced to go home, spending lots of money and not solving anything. But due to some very kind bakery owners, miracles do happen. The way Joni Scott described Maggie’s fear of the pain made everything so real and helped me empathize with her character. This vivid depicture of life makes a powerful impression on the reader. The way the author paints the warm colors of the French Riviera inspires me to want to visit it immediately, as the pandemic could never take away the beauty of this piece of heaven.

The beginnings of the chapters are sprinkled with concerning news about the pandemic. The events accurately match the restrictions and lockdowns that were in place at that time, making everything feel real. Even though the subject is heavy, the author delivers it in a light manner, emphasizing the great things that were born out of this unique experience, like some life-long friendships and romances. Actually, after reading the whole book, it seems that the characters needed the virus in order to rediscover themselves.

Since this book will have the characters stuck in lockdown for some time, it’s only natural to be focused on their development. The Last Hotel has a large cast of characters, all with different stories that lead them to the same place at the same time. What’s heart-warming is how they all end up as a ‘pandemic family.’ Small romances are bound to happen, teaching us that it’s never too late to find love. The characters are full of life and personality. I loved that the author paid close attention to how characters speak, like adding accents to French people speaking English. Other characters have speaking impairments, like stuttering. Also, all characters have a backstory and are constantly growing, culminating in a beautiful artistic moment.

Reviews of The Last Hotel by Joni Scott

Reviews of The Last Hotel by Joni Scott

Some online reviews of The Last Hotel

Maureen’s Lifestyle Blog , 16/5/2021. It’s a New Day! The Last Hotel by Joni Scott

The Last Hotel is a heart warming romance novel about a young couple starting their life together, an older couple solidifying their union and yet another couple getting a second chance at love. The narrative falls into place naturally because it is a true account written by one of the guests who stayed at René’s hotel. However, names have been changed to protect the privacy of the characters. I rate this 5 out of 5. This is a hope filled, light hearted story that is sure to uplift your spirit. The world is opening up again, but things may never go back to how they used to be. This is a reminder to live our lives to the fullest despite the fact. Sometimes we need a pandemic to discover ourselves !

Samama Reza,   rated it as amazing

The Last Hotel is the first book I ever read that spoke about the pandemic, so when I say I haven’t read anything like this before, I MEAN IT.
The description of southern France given in this book was so beautifully written, that I actually felt like I was walking through the streets of Beaulieu-sur-Mer, enjoying their wonderful weather and eating the best baguettes and pastries while admiring their perfect view.
This book also gave me a deep insight on Europe; it gave me details on how the comforting vibe of that continent suddenly changed during the pandemic, how the friendly ambiance of Europe changed into a fearful one. The first chapters made me wish I could’ve visited Italy and France, the chapters that came next made me glad I hadn’t.

As I read about the corona virus from this book, everything felt and sounded so surreal. I couldn’t believe it that we actually walked through a pandemic! It all sounded so weird and dystopian yet all of it was – and still is, very real, the corona virus is still out there, and it still is so scary.
In the future, when people forget how the pandemic actually changed the world, they can step back and read this book to remember! And the ones who did not exist in this era, can read this book in the future and get a glimpse of how life was during the LOCKDOWN.

This book is about different people, with different backgrounds from different sides of the world getting locked in an unknown country and finding each other in The Last Hotel available – a small cozy hotel over a sweet smelling bakery that was next to a bookshop. The strangers, with time, became family and found love and new meaning in their lives in the process. They fell in love with France.

Although the lockdown brought new opportunities into the lives of the characters in the book to shine, it was so different for many people in real life. There were people who were depressed for the first time, because before the pandemic, they never had the time to think alone. There were also many people who wished for nothing but their loved ones to stay healthy, and there were many who ended up losing their loved ones too.
We can never forget, the pandemic might have been a refreshing newness for some, it was a terrible turn in life for many – and it still is.
Stay safe everyone, and take care of each other.

5/5 stars from me as I really enjoyed the book immensely!

 

Sequel to Whispers Through Time

Sequel to Whispers Through Time

I have finished writing the sequel to Whispers through Time. Trying to find an original title was not easy. Hemingway took the best of them! I  So hoping the title, Time, Heal my Heart is unique and fitting for this sequel to my first historical romance novel. It captures the themes of the book, Time and Love.

TIME HEAL MY HEART

 

TIME HEAL my HEART is in the process of being published with Austin-Macauley, London where its predecessor, Whispers Through Time,  the first book in my Time Trilogy was published in 2020. Hopefully, it will be released mid to late 2022. Time Heal My Heart  can be read as a stand alone novel or exciting sequel to Whispers through Time. A wonderful saga of love, loss and family, it continues the story of sisters Winnie and Francesca now in Sydney, Australia. Their lives, like millions world wide, are thrown into unexpected turmoil by the outbreak of World War One. Gustave their brother is soon fighting on the Western Front in France as he was already part of the Royal Fusiliers. The sister’s  new husbands are obliged to support the war once Australia joins the British War Effort. The women too are swept up in the domestic war effort, The Home Front. An intriguing subplot follows the secretive love story of Lisbette, Winnie’s French-born neighbour, relocating the storyline to the magical isle of Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy, France. Another parallel storyline centres on war torn France involving the tragedy of shattered war orphans. But as storylines must, these threads weave together to create a tapestry of love and loss in wartime.

For those wondering whether Francesca finds love again after her tragic affair in Whispers Through Time, the answer is a resounding yes. But it would be a spoiler to tell you the identity of the lucky fellow. It is Winifred this time who has loss she must recover from. In this respect I stayed faithful to the real life events of my grandmother’s life. As this book is set during World War One, it encompasses a challenging time for our characters. Both Australia, the sister’s new home and England, their childhood home are at war and soon the whole world is embroiled in conflict when America enters in 1917. The horrific violence, lasting five years, culminates in the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1919. I was researching this flu when COVID happened in 2019 exactly a century later. Such a sense of deja vu! As some may know, I had a medical crisis and terrible diagnosis of CRPS in January 2020. I lost the use of my right side and so could not do much especially write. Instead of finishing the novel, I booked into a clinic in Italy that offered a cure for CRPS. Unfortunately Covid broke out there just before my flight. But I still went, had the treatment in lockdown in Genova, Italy which inspired me to write The Last Hotel. This story is partly based on my flight from Italy to the French border and subsequent lockdown on the French Riviera in the last hotel open. During lockdown near Nice, in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, I started writing The Last Hotel with my left hand, finishing it when I finally managed a flight home to Australia later that year.

Only once this contemporary novel was published in March 2021 did I resume Time, Heal My Heart. By then I could use my right hand again though the recovery was only 80 per cent. I’ll never be a speed typist but can slow poke along in a lop-sided fashion.
So please stay tuned for the continuation of the life of sisters Francesca and Winifred! The final book in the trilogy will not take so long, I promise as already half written.

SUNNY COAST TIMES – Joni Scott Author

SUNNY COAST TIMES – Joni Scott Author

Two Sunny Coast siblings have created a unique literary work that melds facts from their own family history with fiction.

Heather Carlisle, from Little Mountain, researched her family tree over 15 years before her sister Joni Scott Ryall, from Mudjimba, filled in the gaps, silences and mysteries with the magic dust of fiction.

The result is a historical novel called Whispers Through Time, recently published by Austin-Macauley in London, that focuses on another two sisters, now lost in time: their grandmother and great-aunt.

First-time novelist Joni says writing the fictional part was made easier by having some facts to base the story upon.

“I think the book chose me as it seemed to flow rather effortlessly and surprisingly quickly from somewhere within me,” she says. “I was on holidays and reading The Distant Hours by Kate Morton. She is an Australian author who writes fantastic novels wherein a character in the present discovers secrets about her family in the past. I really enjoy this style of book and so, having time to spare, decided to try writing myself, using my sister’s research of our maternal grandparents’ lives.

“Also, as all my grandmother’s siblings (all seven of them who reached adulthood) have no living descendants, I had free rein to create their characters and some of their actions.

“As I am a maths and science teacher, I had never attempted an extended fiction writing exercise before. Once I started this totally unplanned project, I found this new activity totally compelling, so compelling that I even continued to write a chapter a day as my husband and I toured South-East Asia for six weeks in April 2019.”

The story is one of love and loss, set in the first decades of the 20th century and encompassing the Boer Wars and Titanic tragedy, and travelling to the outposts of the British Empire. It revolves around the lives of the sisters’ grandparents, Walter and Winifred. With present-day granddaughter Heather, or Heady as she is known, trying to reconstruct the past, the story moves between past and present.

“The nature of time is an ever-present theme that waxes and wanes like a tide throughout lives,” Joni says. “There are the what-if moments, the only-if moments, and the sad reality that past and present generations can never meet, forever separated by time. Family is also a strong theme throughout, and the novel touches on women in the Victorian patriarchal society.”

Joni says Heady, a retired personal assistant, began the research into their family tree as a search for answers.

“Heady felt frustrated by the fact that her mother and aunt knew nothing about their own parents,” she says. “She started research with a search for the grandparents’ marriage certificate, then continued backwards to London and the 1800s using Census and registry records.

“Ever the organised one, she has the patience and tenacity to research family history. This she has done for about 15 years.”

Joni says the sequel, Time, Heal my Heart, is well on its way but its progress has been delayed by what she calls “an unexpected turn”.

“I wrote another novel, The Last Hotel, soon to be released by Tellwell,” she says. “It is a story within a story too. Interestingly, I was up to the research on the Spanish flu for the before-mentioned sequel, when COVID happened. Bit spooky, sense of deja vu. At the same time, I acquired CRPS, a supposedly incurable and debilitating nervous disease. I lost the use of my right arm and hand, so could not write, let alone brush my hair.

“Just before COVID hit Europe, February 28 to be exact, my husband and I flew to Genova in Italy for some prebooked treatment … While we were there the lockdowns occurred, starting at stage one and proceeding to stage four. Our hopes for a holiday after treatment were dashed
as border after border closed around Italy. Though we were only 10km from the Red Zone in Lombardy, the virus never invaded Genova while we were there. But we had to leave under the new regulation that tourists must leave. Hotels were closed so being a tourist was suddenly untenable.

“The police escorted us to the station from where we travelled towards the French border … France was not yet in lockdown but soon was and hotel after hotel closed. Hence the book title, The Last Hotel, inspired by this. Stranded strangers meet up at the last hotel open and magic and love happen. It is an uplifting story despite being based in the epidemic.

“I am very proud of this book baby as I wrote it while recovering in quarantine, back in Australia, totally with my left hand on the iPad.”

Whispers Through Times and The Last Hotel are available online from www.joniscottauthor.com, as well as online through Author Academy Bookstore, Harry Hartog Maroochydore and Berkeleouw Book Barn in Australia.