At The “Breakpoint”

I don’t normally do more than one post a day. But the stark difference in the subject matter between this one and the previous one is such that I could not combine them. And I wanted to make sure I posted this as well.

Yesterday afternoon, unaware of what was going on “out there,” I had been working as usual. Also I took a break which included not only making a coffee, but listening to Soundcloud while doing so. Marion ClaviΓ© has a beautiful voice:

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In Our Times

Since about 1750 (after the Reformation, the Civil War, Cromwell, and battles over the succession to the throne), other than during WWII, Great Britain has generally been a pretty safe place. It had some “highwaymen” and street thuggery, but even that was patchy. (In 1800, it also had several dozen offenses for which hanging was still commonly applied.) And there has been the occasional, isolated “political riot” – such as the “Gordon Riots” in London in 1780.

Because of the patterns of life, centuries of rural habit, and the static world most were born into, lived in, and died in, there was little public violence. Great Britain has not suffered from extended periods of political instability and the terrorism that usually stems from that – save for that which emerged from Ireland in the 1960s, and which had a clear political goal. What happened yesterday on Westminster Bridge is a relatively recent phenomenon – but one we are now seeing all too regularly in various places.

For us as Americans, in 1777 Morocco was – informally – the first country to recognize the newly independent U.S. A friendship treaty was officially signed in 1786, and that treaty remains in place even today. The first foreign property the U.S. Government owned would not be in London, Paris or Amsterdam, but was the U.S. Consulate in Tangier, which is now on a register of U.S. historic places.

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The Young Man On “The Fringe”

There comes that moment when you are finished writing for yourself, and you have to share the total of your effort. I’ve reached (and possibly even passed) that point now. Last night, Conventions went to she who has been a wonderful “critic” since I began this writing endeavor in 2013.

So she has the “biggest” book of all. As I say in the email to her, March 31 – as I note in the sidebar – is unfortunately probably going to have to give. But hopefully only a few weeks at the most.

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Springtime

Sunday’s postΒ on loss and grief was quite serious, I know. I appreciate you having read it. As I have had some time to reflect on my feelings since posting it, interestingly I have found a bit of relief in my own words.

And spring is upon us:

Where would writers be without their families and friends to provide them with material? When I fictionalized my mother and my uncle, they were still living. Both died just after I’d essentially finished writing Distances in September 2015.

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When You Experience Grief…

I lost an aunt a couple of weeks ago in New York. I’ve never mentioned her here. She was the widow of my other uncle – my mother’s and my novelist uncle’s younger brother. He died at 48 in early 1994.

My aunt had been ill for a long time. I hadn’t seen her in about 5 years. I last spoke to her just after my mother died in 2015.

Yes, the beard is off. The major reason it is? She who is dearest to me, revealing: "It's as I imagine kissing a brush might feel."😜 . Okay, it's Friday and given previously I've put up paintings of lovely eighteenth century ladies, why not a handsome bloke of that era?πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈIt's only fair.πŸ“šπŸ–Œ . And how about an *unbearded* man? This is American diplomat William Short, painted by Rembrandt Peale in 1806, when Short was age 47.πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ . #humor #humour #painting #USA #France #diplomacy #Europe #travel #expats #classical #history #art #writing #authors #photo #photography #beards #Hertfordshire #England #novels #fiction #romance #writing #writersofinstagram #authorsofinstagram #fun #Friday #weekend

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My writing is a form of release. (As is social media.) It’s a means to try to get away. It has proven especially important to me in the last couple of years.

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Lizzy Asks: How To Write A Novel?

Lizzy of Lizzy’s Weekly Blogs wrote me an email yesterday asking if I would share some advice on “how to write a short story or a novel.”

Stock Photo.
Stock Photo.

I said I would give it a shot. What are some things I’ve learned in the five years I have been doing this?

As I so far write only novels, here is my brainstorm on that complicated, yet also very simple, question. For starters, I have 10 suggestions (not offered in any particular order):

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The Widower

Yesterday, I was having what I had thought was an innocuous FaceTime with my father. There was our usual current discussion of the weather in his northeast Pennsylvania, and any snow – including what is up at our house in the Catskills. There was also the required exchange about what the new U.S. president is up to. And there was other chitchat.

As I thought we were about to sign off, abruptly he veered without warning into again reviewing my mother’s cancer and death in October 2015. Through hard personal experience, I’ve learned a lot about widowers since then. “The widower” is a particularly difficult area in our culture.

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While Storm Clouds Gather

It’s said writing is hard. And it is. Yet there should be some fun in it.

Engraving of the ChΓ’teau de Bagnolet, Paris, 1730. [Wikipedia. Public Domain.]
Engraving of the ChΓ’teau de Bagnolet, Paris, 1730. [Wikipedia. Public Domain.]

I have learned after three novels, and continue to experience with this fourth, that characters can come to resonate with you almost in the same ways as do real people. As their personalities become clearer to you, you begin more easily to anticipate what they will think, how they will act, and what they are apt to say, in any given situation. It doesn’t start out that way, of course. It’s a process, and it takes hold of you slowly, almost imperceptibly, much as we experience with real people in our lives – we learn more about them thanks to our increasing interactions and the passage of time.

When you get to that point, that’s when writing fiction flows at its easiest. It’s when I find it to be the most enjoyable (and you hope your eventual readers will come to feel much the same way about the final product). Suddenly characters seem to be “alive” and you are sitting at your writing desk feeling you are just eavesdropping on them and tapping away as if you are merely transcribing what they’re up to and saying to each other.

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If You Are Age “20”…

As you may know by now, America had a big day on Tuesday. The result was not to everyone’s liking, of course. We have by now seen a great deal of this sort of reaction, this one described by Chy, at The Lost Mango:

Donald Trump is United State’s newest president. A lot of my friends cried because of sadness and fear regarding the future of our country. As you can see in the photos below, a lot of students in my university protested.

As many of you know by now, this is not a politics site. You don’t care about my personal opinions anyway. Nor really should you.

But before I go back to talking travel, fiction books, history and romance as I do usually, let me say this much…

I have a new blazer. Selfie. [2016.]
I have a new blazer. Selfie. [2016.]

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