Vă aștept la Gaudeamus!

Set 4 carti si verso.jpg

Am plăcerea să vă invit la Târgul Internațional de Carte GAUDEAMUS, sus, la cucurigu, la ultimul nivel, să admirați târgul de sus!

Romanul “Echipajul” poate fi găsit la standul nr. 343 al Uniunii Ellene din România, nivel 7.7.0. La același nivel 7.7.0, la standul nr. 354 al Editurii BETTA, găsiți Antologia “Sub cupola Unirii” și Antologia de poezie bilingvă româno-turcă (în ambele am texte publicate), iar la standul nr. 356 al Editurii Astralis poate fi găsit romanul “Prietenii dreptății”.

Joi, 15 noiembrie 2018, începând cu ora 12:30, vă invit la standul nr. 343 al Uniunii Ellene din România, nivel 7.7.0, unde va avea loc lansarea, respectiv prezentarea mai multor romane, printre care și “Echipajul”. În continuare, până la ora 20:00, mă veți găsi la stand, pentru autografe și răspuns la întrebări. Special pentru dumneavoastră, în ziua de joi voi avea la vânzare TOATE cele 4 romane publicate până în prezent.

Duminică, 18 noiembrie, la ora 14:00, la spațiul de evenimente BURSA DE CONTACTE (Complex Romexpo-Cupolă, nivel 3.2.0) sunt invitați cei care vor să fie alături de mine la festivitatea de premiere a concursului de proză scurtă “Nicolae Velea”, organizat de revista “Arena Literară” în colaborare cu Asociația Difuzorilor și Editorilor – Patronat al Cărții (ADE-PC) și Editura Betta

Duminică, 18 noiembrie, la ora 17:00, la spațiul de evenimente BURSA DE CONTACTE (Complex Romexpo-Cupolă, nivel 3.2.0) sunt invitați cei care vor să fie alături de mine la lansarea, respectiv prezentarea publicațiilor Editurii Astralis, inclusiv a romanului meu “Prietenii dreptății”.

Vă aștept cu drag, la oricare eveniment doriți să veniți!

Cu cartea prin liceu – la Colegiul Economic Viilor

Liceul EcViilor-06-11-2018-9

Elevii și profesorii de la Colegiul Economic Viilor, interesați de secretele lumii scrisului

Marți, 6.11.2018, nu au fost trei ceasuri rele, ci două ceasuri bune. Mai precis, între orele 13-15 am fost invitații doamnei Gabriela Diaconu, directorul Colegiului Economic Viilor, și ai doamnei bibliotecare, poetă cunoscută sub pseudonimul Sarah DeJar, poposind acolo cu cartea prin liceu. Proiectul cu acest nume, organizat de scriitorul Teodor Hossu-Longin, aduce scriitorii în contact cu liceenii de o vreme. Mă bucur că, împreună cu organizatorul și cu scriitorul SF Ovidiu Vitan, am avut ocazia să-i cunoaștem pe elevii de la Colegiul Economic Viilor. Inițial timizi, aceștia s-au încălzit, pe parcurs, în discuții.

Majoritatea elevilor veniseră la recomandarea profesorilor de limba română, nesiguri cum ar putea fi această întâlnire. Teodor Hossu Longin a deschis discuția, invitându-ne să ne prezentăm și întrebându-i de ce citesc sau, din moment ce se spune că tânăra generație nu citește, de ce nu citesc. Răspunsurile primite au revelat că există o dorință de satisfacție imediată care-i împinge spre filme și jocuri video mai degrabă decât spre lectură. Unii tineri citesc, alții nu au găsit încă genul de carte preferat sau nu au răbdare să termine cărțile începute.

Discuțiile au continuat, abordând teme diverse, de la faptul, subliniat de Teodor Hossu Longin, că ei sunt generația care trebuie să schimbe lucrurile, până la beneficiile aduse de citirea clasicilor, când ar trebui să citească mai mulți scriitori contemporani. Au fost amintiți scriitori preferați, cum s-a schimbat programa școlară din vremea noastră până în vremea lor, cum sunt făcute coperțile cărților, ceea ce a reliefat aspecte legate de copyright și domeniu public, și alte detalii din lumea cărților.

Singurul lucru care m-a șocat a fost că, la întrebarea mea “Cui i-au plăcut cărțile lui Alexandre Dumas? Dar ale lui Karl May?” m-a întâmpinat o liniște totală, fiindcă acestea erau cărți citite cu aviditate de adolescenții mai multor generații, începând cu vârsta de 12-13 ani.

Cei trei scriitori au donat cărți pentru biblioteca liceului și au oferit câteva cărți participanților – cum altfel să stimulăm lectura? Timpul a trecut în zbor, și sperăm să revenim peste un timp la acest liceu primitor.

Liceul EcViilor-06-11-2018-7

Ovidiu Vitan, Teodor Hossu-Longin și Marina Costa, cu cartea prin liceu

Frustrations with an upside-down Romanian literary market

It is nothing new that the world is functioning upside down in various aspects of life. Why not in the writing realm too?

This post is longer than the previous one (which comprises only a part of it), because it needed to be completed and clarified after discussions with people from the literary realm, both those who know only the English language literary world (which is not comparable to the Romanian one), and writers who know both, having lived in UK or USA but living now in Romania and writing for the Romanian literary market.

Those who know both worlds, agree with me (my conclusions being drawn not only by mere observation, but also after discussing with various publishers and writers of all kinds mentioned above) that the Romanian book market, unfortunately, doesn’t resemble the English speaking books market. (Actually, the literary market in each language has its specifics. Not even the French and Spanish ones, which can rival with the English as concerns the number of worldwide readers, ressemble the English one, not to mention our little European languages literary markets – like Greek, Italian or Swedish). This is also why most of the book marketing ideas I find online, in English speaking blogs, unfortunately do not apply to what I can do here.

For example, the English-speaking literary world promotes very much e-books. Here they are negligible sold. (But pirated with a frenzy – everyone wants free books). Printed word is the base… where it is.

While the English speaking market is catering to nearly one billion people (there were, in Internet statistics, 400 million native speakers of English, to which to add 400 million speakers of English as a second language, in 2006, and I assume the population has increased in 12 years), the overall population of Romania is of 19.5 million people, out of which about 4 million are abroad, about 3 million too young to read my novels (below 14)… and from the remaining 12.5 million, about 40% or more are poor, too busy to survive and not reading anything else than an occasional newspaper or religious book. Sad, but true. Of course, from the remaining people who would read in principle (some regularly, some occasionally) not all are fans of historical adventures fiction/ YA, what I am writing. This is a realistic analysis.

As far as I heard the publishers say (not only personally to me, but also in interviews on the internet) – and we have our “big fives” here too, plus a whole constellation of small indie presses – in my country a book (written by a contemporary national writer, not translations of international bestsellers and not books required for school reading like our classics) printed in 1,000 copies is already considered a best seller. My novels were, 2 of them published in 200 copies, the first one in 300. It is the level generally the writers around me use.

As you know already, and as you can see from the blog header, I have published three novels up to now. Two others and a short stories anthology will follow soon, almost certainly all three to appear this year. I published with small indie presses, because this is what I have the possibility in the current book market conditions. Many writers more seasoned than me published with the same two indie presses, so I am in good company. (And they aren’t vanity presses, printing and dumping the books in your arms. No, they assure launching events, participation at fairs, the collaboration of literary critics, etc.)

In the English-speaking literary market, I have heard that “the money should flow from the publisher to the writer, otherwise it’s a vanity press.” And there is also the option to self-publish.

In Romania, while vanity presses exist too, the difference is only in the provided services. As I said, a vanity press would print your book and load your car with them (assuming you have a car – I don’t, and the trees along the highway are happier living without me having a driving license.) Everything else is up to you.

The equivalent of self publishing would be here dealing directly with the printing house (typography) without a publisher. It is recommended only for professional books which have already the distribution ensured within the company, or for people who print one memoir book in their lives to give to 50-100 people, not needing ISBN or anything.

There are few really big publishing houses, financed from the state budget, which don’t require the writers’ financial contribution. Most of them publish almost only international authors translated, things they are sure they will be sold. The others accept Romanian writers only if members of the National Writers’ Union, therefore those who are just building their portfolio for accession (like me) couldn’t. Anyway, the budget is small and the few Romanian writers chosen to publish with them have to give up all rights on the book. They receive 20 copies as writer’s rights. If they want more books to give to the family and to the literary critics, they have to buy them like any other. Then they are waiting for years for receiving very small royalties. And they are stuck in legal hell with all the rights for their books belonging to the publisher, if anything happens or if they want to do something else.

The other writers are left to choose among the many small indie publishers. An indie publisher would organise launching events, promote your book, contact literary critics for chronicles, display the book at the semestrial international book fairs and at other local fairs. The advantage is that you, the writer, are keeping the rights to your book. But it doesn’t mean you don’t pay for the publishing, as the indie publishers are small presses who don’t have the financial capacity to take economic risks in these times of economic crisis. Bancrupcy can happen too quickly here, on an unstable market and with high fiscality (strangely regulated – I am not talking only books now, but any small and medium enterprise). Here even writers with 20+ years membership in the National Writers’ Union and with lots of books published, they mostly pay the publishing costs, for having the books published.

The two publishing houses where I published my books are, each of them, 3 people teams. They do graphics, editing, everything needed, including promotion. They have the right connections with good printing houses, writers, literary critics and book fairs presence, literary museum presence, etc. in order to be able to organise book-presentation literary events of various kinds. (And yes, I had several events with my published novels.) One of the publishing houses has a 18 years presence in the literature and can boast with having published plenty of famous authors, and also to have supported debutants like me and many others. The other one is newer, but also set on promoting both consecrated writers, members of the National Writers’ Union, and debutants. They are definitely no vanity presses, helping their best with book promotion on various ways, but this doesn’t mean that they are able to take any financial risk.

I am glad that I have started to become a little known among the contemporary writers in Bucharest. If one googles my pen name (despite being quite common internationally) one can find something about one of my novels too. If googling the titles, there are few information about them, but they are, reviews and photos. I had good reviews from the literary critics at the book presentation events, I had my novels displayed at the bi-annual Bucharest International Book Fairs… all these are successes for a junior writer, with only 3 novels published up to now.

I think I have a few more good things to list, including being on some senior writers’ good list. It sounds lovely, but… let’s vent my frustrations too.

– I haven’t recovered the costs on any of them. Yes, I have sold some, but the greatest amount was given freely. Now, to be honest, I knew from the start that I wouldn’t get rich from writing. I did it from my heart, and I loved when I received compliments about the books (not only from the critics, I appreciate more the readers’ compliments and questions, even if I know the critics’ are of importance for the accession to the Writers’ Union). This is when I felt they got their mission, to brighten someone’s day and to transport them to another time and place, offering them an insight on that way of living. But I would have appreciated if I succeeded to recover my costs. Some writers know business owners and get sponsors. (I had sponsors too, back in 1999, for my professional handbook in project management). Up to now, for my three novels already appeared, every cost has been supported from my meager savings (given that I am retired now).  Yes, I sold some books at various events… but the money received covered the expenses of the event, with very little margin (if any).

– I can’t reach exactly my target group, the high-school and Uni youngsters. Until now, my novels were bought mostly by grown-up or older people who were nostalgic about the style of novels they use to read, because these were the ones coming to the literary events.

…And everything needs more money. Half, I understand this as in the fact that if I try to expand my marketing network, this doesn’t come for free because this is what those people gain their living from – organising things, writing things. I am lucky that I haven’t had to pay for some things, though. There are friends who help me for free, and I thank them wholeheartedly. At my turn, I have always helped people for free, with whatever I could. It had never occurred to me to ask money, and I am always shocked when I am asked money for various things which, in my thoughts, shouldn’t.

In a world which wouldn’t function as upside down as it does, the writer should be allowed to write – like it was before the ascension of social media – and the others should do the marketing part. I am sure that Hemingway, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas weren’t the ones to do much more than writing. Yes, they received their money after the books were sold, but nobody asked them money for publishing, for book launching events organisation and other things. Or, if now shedding money is a must because there are too many books published and no publisher assumes the economic risks anymore in this crisis economy, at least they should want the money from the sales! Not before recovering the costs…

One would say fame has a price I am paying. Even little fame. Others say it’s something wrong with me and my writing, otherwise merit triumphs. What I have seen and heard around me, says that it’s not only me, and not only merit triumphs. Besides merit, it takes good luck, knowing the right persons and maybe also having some financial reserves… But I still have the feeling that things aren’t how they should be. The system doesn’t function how it should. (Where does it?)

A mai trecut un Camp NaNoWriMo

Nanod

…Și l-am câștigat! Numai că povestea nu este terminată. Mai am de lucru. Iar romanul Echipajul, la care am lucrat în timpul Camp NaNo din aprilie, a ajuns pe masa editorului deja!

Recunosc că luna aceasta am folosit toate instrumentele oferite de Camp NaNo… cele pe care NaNoWriMo din noiembrie nu le oferă. Am înțeles, de asemenea, că în noiembrie nu mai am nici o șansă să câștig… ceea ce nu înseamnă că nu voi mai participa. Voi folosi toate instrumentele pe care le am la dispoziție, fără să mă aștept la altceva decât la bucuria de a termina luna cu câteva zeci de mii de cuvinte în plus. Câte vor fi, fiindcă sigur, la ritmul actual de viață, nu pot scrie 1800 pe zi toată luna.

Romanul se numește Farmecul mării. Se petrece la granița dintre secolele XVIII și XIX, în Imperiul Otoman (care includea, pe vremea aceea, Grecia) și apoi în Africa, într-o expediție pornită pe aceleași baze ca a lui Mungo Park, dar în alt colț de continent. Pentru moment, vă ofer o cerere în căsătorie… cu totul originală, din roman. Nu că ar fi singurul care nu știe cum să înceapă, și cum să spună ce are pe suflet… Mai am, în alte romane, cereri ciudate!

Deodată, ca din cer, lângă mine a apărut Marco. Nu-i auzisem paşii, aş fi putut crede că înflorise acolo, la izvorul din munte, ca un bujor sălbatic. Mă privea lung, parcă voia să îmi spună ceva şi nu ştia de unde să înceapă.
– Marina, eu ştiu încă din Poli că tu lucrezi foarte frumos, dantelele şi broderiile tale parcă prind viaţă. Într-o bună zi o să mă însor, şi te-aş ruga să lucrezi trusoul necesar, când ai timp…
Mi se părea că n-aud bine. Asta departe de a fi tot glumă! Vocea lui părea serioasă, şi cu toate că spusele lui nu se potriveau tradiţiei de aici şi celei de care auzisem eu în Thirra, ca veneţian, putea să nu ştie anumite lucruri. M-am sprijinit de un copac, căci mi se făcuse negru în faţa ochilor, şi abia am găsit puterea să răspund exact ceea ce ar fi vrut el să audă:
– Da, o să lucrez, dar e nevoie să-ţi cunosc logodnica întâi, să vorbim, să ştiu ce are şi ce-i mai lipseşte. Din ce sat este?
– Atunci, să vorbim: ce ai şi ce-ţi mai lipseşte?
Abia acum am înţeles cu adevărat ce voia să spună, şi parcă tot nu-mi venea să cred ce auzeam. Fără îndoială că şi în ţara lui erau tradiţii oarecare, şi că nici pe acelea nu le respectase, că nu îndrăznea să mă întrebe de teamă să nu fie respins, dar nici nu mai putuse să tacă.
Mi s-a răsturnat cerul dinaintea ochilor, de bucurie. Parcă păşeam pe stele şi mă uitam în sus la florile multicolore, parcă şi timpul se oprise în loc… Şi ce se cuvenea oare să-i spun?

 

July2018

Negotiations under water

Gorgona

The schooner anchored not far from them was in danger, and several sailors had fallen into the sea. Marina, who was able to swim, jumped, together with a few others from her ship, to save them. She caught one of the sailors and after a while, the one she was towing didn’t struggle anymore. She was relieved to notice this, as she had started to get tired fighting with him. But suddenly both her one and the other’s ceased holding on their rescuers and tried to reach quickly the side of the boat… all at the same time. Couldn’t any of them use their common sense judgment?

The boat, as expected, was in danger of capsizing now, thing noticed by the two rowers. They looked one at the other for one moment, almost like reading each other’s mind in their glances, then it seemed they agreed instantly upon the best thing to do in such a situation. Each of them approached the sailor who was the closest to him and threw a good punch, knocking him out in order to save the boat from getting turned upside down. The unlucky boxing bags let the boat go and went, unconscious, to the bottom of the sea, while another man gave a hand to one of the sailors, helping him to get into the boat suddenly relieved of its additional load. The one who had gripped the fender was also helped to get inside.

“Now I’d really need Gorgona’s help!” Marina thought. “Or at least if I knew the secrets of sponge fishers!”

She had admired always the sailors of the Greek Islands who went for sponges and corals, to the depth of the sea. She could swim, but she wasn’t an expert in diving and swimming under water… and there were two of them to be caught quickly!

Her thoughts were focused on a prayer while she was looking for bubbles to indicate where those men could have sunk. She finally saw some bubbles and dove in that direction, catching a mass of curly hair, then she pushed back to the surface with her prey. The boat was, of course, still close, so once that stupid sailor caught, they took hold of him and she took a deep breath, diving again… not too sure if there were really bubbles what she had seen this time.

Marina was diving deeper than the first time, searching for the man she couldn’t find. The water made a sort of a semi – opaque curtain, unlike in the gulfs of the Aegean where she had tried, for fun, diving together with her brother, many years ago. She wasn’t sure what to do next, how and where to look for him, if what she had seen weren’t his bubbles… “God, if it is Your will… please let me find him!” she prayed.

God? No, somebody else she would have to pray for the sailor’s life… because she was bewildered to see a beautiful girl, with a lily-white face having the features so well known around Thessaloniki, waiting there for her, in a blue-green attire… and with a golden comb in one hand. Was it for good or for bad that she was seeing Gorgona, so far away from her native seas?

Diamandis had told them he had caught a glimpse of her after a storm, while she was sitting on a rock of the many scattered around Monemvassia, and that he hurried to answer to her question before she asked it. It was, no doubt, the wisest thing to do, as their ship had been spared then. Now Marina was going to do the same:

“Hail, my queen!” she thought, carefully choosing her words. “Your brother is ruling happily for much more years than I can count, sending you greetings!”

It was exactly what Gorgona wanted to hear, but she didn’t expect to hear somehow the mermaid’s answer.

“And your brother is happy in my arms. Little Dora is my lady-in-waiting. You are doing well where I sent you. Have you told my story to these foreign sailors?”

Marina was strangely happy to hear these. At least the ones she had lost were far from any regret and pain now. Maybe it was better for a family of sailors to be at Gorgona’s court than in that Paradise with milk and honey and angels. She answered immediately:

“Yes, my queen, I did, and they liked it. They have other mermaids in their legends. My queen, please give me this sailor’s life, if it is upon Your will to spare him like you did with me…”

“It might be, but what are you willing to offer me in exchange?”

It was a fair question; only… what could she offer to the mighty queen of the sea who had everything?

“You have already my life. You have marked me as your own six years ago, in the shipwreck. I am yours to serve! What else can I give you?”

“Your tears?” came the unexpected answer.

“I am not allowed to cry. I am supposed to be a tough sailor boy,” Marina protested, without understanding.

Gorgona laughed:

“You aren’t opening your mouth either… and still we are holding a conversation. I want your tears, the ones you will cry for a lost love, exactly like the tears I had shed some time ago!”

“You have them… and anything you want from me!” she said earnestly, thinking that any sacrifice was worth for saving a life.

Besides, what could the mermaid really want? Her tears for a lost love? Will she really fall in love some day, and will it be like in the knights’ stories the girls at the monastery were telling far from the nuns’ ears, a broken heart’s tears? Well, a broken heart might be a fair price… for somebody else’s life! And in some stories or songs… even a broken heart healed after a while.

“Well, we’ll see what else I might want from you in the future – because, indeed, you are mine to serve… and you’ll do it well from the deck of a vessel, for many years to come. I have a plan for you!” Gorgona said.

This was nothing new to Marina, who had always believed that it was a reason why only she had been chosen to live after that shipwreck. And the reassurance that she will be a sailor for many years, was more than she could wish to hear. It meant her dream would become true some day.

“Thank you very much, my queen, I’ll try to be worth of your favours!”

The mermaid motioned her to come closer. When she did, Marina received a strange embrace… Hers? Then she felt in her arms the texture of a sailor’s clothes. She had been granted her request! As she reached the bottom of the sea, with a firm push she hurried to rise back at the surface, still holding well that sailor. They would survive. Both of them! And now she had more than the confirmation she was seeking about her destiny… she had Gorgona’s blessing.

The long awaited portion of fresh air came just in time, and the boat was nearby.

All rescued sailors aboard the boat, Marina could gather her strength to follow them. She was tired, but happy. The rain on her face helped her to overcome the tiredness and become again her usual self still while on the boat. The satisfaction of having saved two lives superseded everything else. Well, almost everything. And the other happiness she was hiding deep in her soul made her forget the rain, the pain in her tired muscles. When she finally succeeded to get inside, she heard that there was another man missing. Strangely, but these news didn’t surprise her.

“He wasn’t here around”, she said with a small, epuised voice, “otherwise I would have found him when I dove. He might have gone down somewhere else.”

The ones who wanted to look for the missing guy might try, but she had the feeling that they wouldn’t find him. Not even the body!

“How was he like, the missing one?” she asked the sailor who was closest to her.

Before hearing his answer, she suspected what this will be: the officer was a handsome young man, exactly how Gorgona liked to choose her devoted guards. This was the reason why she had accepted to grant her the second sailor’s life: she had already taken her tribute, a young officer.

Marina returned to her ship with a large smile on her face. The officers had ordered to have blankets and tea ready for the brave rescuers.

“Thank you very much for allowing me to go with them, Sir! That was really my call!” she told briefly the first lieutenant.

Seeing him around gave her a new idea – something she wanted to know since her underwater adventure. She approached him and asked with an apologetic smile:

“Sir, do you happen to know how deep was the water where we had to dive? I mean I reached the bottom… finally… but it seemed… strange.”

Actually, something else seemed really strange to her, but she couldn’t say it: “how was it possible to meet Gorgona so far away from her native Aegean or Ionian waters? And so close to the harbour!”

“You dived to the sea floor?” the first lieutenant was surprised. “From memory I’d say around 30 feet or thereabout. Have you felt lack of air? This might be the strangeness you are telling about.”

Nobody would ever learn about the negotiation under water. It was her secret – and even if she was foolish enough to say anything, who would believe that she received the mermaid’s blessing?

– THE END –

A mai trecut un Camp NaNoWriMo

Diploma Nano-s

A mai trecut un Camp NaNoWriMo. Și, după cum se vede, am câștigat.

Mă bucur că am fost (până acum – mai sunt câteva ore și cele care nu și-au actualizat la timp succesele o pot face încă) 6 căștigătoare în cabina românească a taberei. 3 se pare că ar fi câștigat numai experiența de a-și doza eforturile (cu rezerva unor răsturnări de situație de ultim moment, așa cum am menționat mai sus). Exact ce câștigasem eu anul trecut pe vremea aceasta, când nu reușisem decât vreo 6000 cuvinte toată luna. Și acest gen de câștig contează pentru viitor!

Pentru cei care încă nu știu ce înseamnă acronimul de mai sus, am dat link-ul. Iar pentru cei care știu, însă nu suficient, explic că numai în luna noiembrie participanții trebuie să scrie un număr fix de minimum 50.000 cuvinte. În perioada celor două tabere, Camp NaNo Aprilie și Camp NaNo Iulie, participanții își pot stabili singuri țelul, în număr de cuvinte, de pagini sau ore de documentare ori editare.

Atât anul trecut în iulie, cât și anul acesta în aprilie, am lucrat la editarea unor manuscrise mai vechi, iar acest lucru a funcționat, ajutându-mă să termin ce mi-am propus. Cel început anul trecut, PRIETENII DREPTĂȚII, a apărut anul acesta, fiind lansat de curând.

Pentru Camp NaNo Iulie de anul acesta, intenționez proză scurtă. O schimbare de ritm nu strică.

În avanpremieră, un citat din romanul ECHIPAJUL, care va apărea în toamna aceasta:

        În după-amiaza aceea, un băiat de vreo cincisprezece ani ne-a “depus” pe malul celălalt, cu promisiunea că la ora şase vine să ne ia. O vreme am stat la plajă, am jucat cărţi, am făcut baie, apoi soarele s-a supărat pe noi, ascunzându-se în spatele unui nor des. Noroc că nu era negru.

– Hai să facem o expediţie! am propus eu. Liziera de copaci e mică; să vedem ce este mai încolo.

            Umbra răcoroasă a copacilor ne făcea să visăm ţări îndepărtate. Ne credeam exploratorii unor ţinuturi necunoscute.

            – Uite un tigru prin jungla noastră! spuse Narcisa.

            Ce-o fi văzut la bietul pisoi flămând, rătăcit cine ştie cum pe insulă?

            Copacii ascundeau un lan de porumb, din care am cules câţiva ştiuleţi. Când ne-am întors pe plajă, nici urmă de barcă la locul stabilit. Pe nisip, cineva scrisese trei cuvinte “ciudate”, cu litere mari de tipar: “DRACUL DUPĂ VOI!”

            Mihaela, singura care avea ceas, constată:

            – E şase şi zece. Acum ce facem?

            – Dormim aici, mârâi eu supărată, în timp ce căutam în zadar o soluţie.

            – Izolaţi pe o insulă pustie! Ca în cărţile de aventuri ale lui Jules Verne!

            – Lasă glumele, Virgiluş! Or să se supere, or să se sperie toţi ai noştri.

            Lemoni începu să scâncească. Îi era frică.

            – Taci, miorlăito, că trebuie să găsim noi o idee! o repezi frate-său. Uită-te mai bine în larg, la moşul acela care pescuieşte. Strigă-l, Em, că tu eşti mai mare, şi expediția la porumb a fost ideea ta.