“But I can’t ‘unfriend’ a cousin?!”

Yesterday, I finally had enough. Three or four more appeared. I got so fed up with receiving Facebook email post notifications from a relation here in Britain that I went into the settings and turned them off.

Facebook.com.

There is a general election scheduled for June 8, when the current prime minister’s party may be returned to power or it may not be. I had grown weary of, and increasingly aggravated by, the incessant Facebook politicking that “Candidate A” is some sort of a national savior. I don’t vote here, but regardless I am not in the slightest enamored of that individual and had for weeks been simply deleting those emails and ignoring the posts.

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About The British

I’ve lived here now nearly 20 years. I love this country. It has some of the best people in the world.

Flag of the United Kingdom.

Others out there may become emotional and raise their voices when angered. In contrast, the British tend to turn “frosty” and quieter. And the British definitely don’t scare easily.

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A Look Back

Now that I am no longer regularly beating my head down on my desk…

…when I find myself frustrated or annoyed by something I’d written, or am struggling to write, or feel unable to convey precisely as I wish, I think it is time to take a few moments, sit back and enjoy it. This “battle” is over. For better or worse, I wrote it.

I thought a post sharing a variety of “snapshot” excerpts – in no particular story order – of Conventions: The Garden At Paris might be fun. I’ve not posted many completed parts. You having put up for so long with my talking here about writing it, you are definitely entitled to see bits of the finished novel!:

Excerpt from “Conventions” on Kindle for iPad. Click to enlarge.

I labored over it and its characters for over a year and a half. I researched that bygone era carefully. I hoped to bring aspects of “1787” and the years immediately after in America and Europe back to life for us in our 21st century.

It's indifferent Monday weather.πŸŒ§β˜”οΈπŸ’¦πŸ’§πŸŒŠSo nothing great to photograph outside. I spent much of the day here – at the desk in my office.πŸ€”πŸ’»πŸ“šβœοΈIt's in our late-1600s built house's (it was, insofar as we can figure out, originally a three room cottage) converted loft space. . Oh, and the desk is actually not nearly as cluttered and chaotic as it looks in this pic. (And that's Thomas Jefferson in that portrait, keeping an eye on me.)πŸ˜‚ . #office #homeoffice #photo #photography #photos #writers #authors #authorsofinstagram #Monday #organization #writing #reading #upstairs #home #humor #humour #history #rural #countryside #Hertfordshire #England #thomasjefferson

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My hope is that you sit by a poolside, or on a beach, or on a sofa, or in bed, and lose yourself in it. Ultimately, that’s what writing is about: hopefully captivating a reader:

Excerpt from “Conventions” on Kindle for iPad. Click to enlarge.

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Old San Juan

We decided earlier this year that we would take a holiday somewhere we’ve never been: Puerto Rico:

We flew down here from New York on Thursday. A major impetus to doing this were cousins of mine, whose family roots are in Puerto Rico. Years ago they had suggested we give it a visit.

When I wrote her asking for some suggestions a couple of months back, one cousin practically overloaded my Messenger:

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Little Big Annoyances

Yesterday, we watched the first two episodes of Big Little Lies starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman:

Screen capture of IMDB home page.

Within moments as the first episode opened, this program felt gratingly familiar. If you are new here, you might have missed where I explained (wow, almost 2 years ago now) how The Affair that was not exactly my favorite program – and why. I got through about 3 or 4 episodes of it before I gave up.

And The Affair has apparently been a success on Showtime in the U.S.

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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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Viewed From This England

We’ve been watching the political-melodrama U.S. TV series Madam Secretary. But you don’t need to know the details of the program to get this post. I thought I’d use it as a basis for some “fun” today – it’s Friday – mostly due to the episode we just saw and because, as you probably know, my wife is English (and we have been married for, uh, quite a few years).

In that episode from its 3rd season, the U.S. Secretary of State’s twenty-something spoiled, mouthy, annoying pain in the neck for the previous two seasons and now continuing to be so apparently daughter has returned to Washington recently after a summer in Oxford with her English fiancΓ©.

In the kitchen, unexpectedly she gets all emotional and reveals to Mom (the Secretary of State, I repeat) that she was like wow really unhappy with her English husband-to-be when they were in England. Suddenly, she announces she doesn’t want to live there. She says she hated the place.

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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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“He doesn’t love me as I love him…”

For today’s topic – the obvious one. I’ve found that writing romance is one of the most difficult things to get right as an author. It is too dangerously easy to produce sappy, or unrealistic, or simply unbelievable relationships.

It is also easy to poke fun at romance writing. However, if you try to write even a few romantic paragraphs yourself you will quickly develop a respect for those who craft romantic tales. Since 2013, I have.

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