If There Is No Blog Post Here…

It is taking me much longer than I had hoped to work through the final bits of (what I lightheartedly like to call) my, uh, personal “Gone With The Wind”:

Working Covers, Conventions: The Garden At Paris.
Working Covers, Conventions: The Garden At Paris.

As a consequence I know I haven’t really had the time to write posts here as usual in recent weeks. But no writer should ever cut him/herself off entirely. I always find some time (mornings especially) to read blogs and check social media – especially Instagram.

I like Instagram because it’s fun. And it’s a necessary distraction at times. I can’t get over the stuff some people post.

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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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The End Days

I’ve learned since 2013. I hate this “ending” period perhaps the most. A novel is essentially finished…

“Controlled chaos.” The home office, this morning. [Photo by me, 2017.]
…but it’s not “quite” (in my mind) finished.

And you take a photo of your desk and put it on your blog as you plan to return to it once more. Because it’s your “baby” and it’s almost all grown up. And you want it to be PERFECT – or at least as “perfect” as you as an imperfect human may make it.

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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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Not Even An “Iron Mask” Will Do

Most of you know I write under a pen name. Since the publication of Passports in December 2013, I have gone to some lengths to try to separate my real-life self from my authoring identity. To do so, I created social media accounts for myself as an author that are different from my personal Facebook account, which is under my real name.

That does not mean I am some dramatically different person on here as an author, and on my Instagram, etc., than I am in my real-life. (Yes, it may disappoint some of you to learn perhaps that I am not, for example, secretly actually a 6 ft tall blonde Swedish woman.) I have sought merely to keep my two social medias apart for primarily creative reasons.

I’ve written novels to date that stem in large part from my own life experiences. And they feature characters based on people I know, or have known, and events that often happened in my life and in the lives of people I know, or have known. When I’ve told some close to me in real-life about the sort of fiction I’ve written, I’ve more than once been asked: “Am I in your books?”

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“What are we to do with all of you?”

Another week. Oh, and I admit, I forgot! That game was last night!

I’ve had lots else on my mind. We also had a cousin pass through here on his way back to the U.S. We went out to dinner with him on Saturday.

Pre-dinner, we had chatted about my latest manuscript. As we did, I thought on Monday I’d share a final peek into it.

But I was unable to decide on any single part that could be seen as “representative” overall. So after some thought I decided I’d put up some “rapid” shorts sort of like a film promo – to provide the flavor of the tale. They aren’t in any particular order – except for the last one. (If you click on any of the pages below, it will expand for easier reading.) Enjoy. πŸ™‚

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Love Letters: Duchess And Diplomat

I must be pretty high up there in search engines for this subject. An old post is attracting looks most days lately. This was just yesterday:

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Visitors are headed to this about Rosalie de La Rochefoucauld and William Short, which I wrote in February 2014:

Falling Short In The Pursuit Of Happiness

Anyone who knows details about Thomas Jefferson’s years as an American envoy and then Minister to France from 1784-1789 has likely at least vaguely heard of their relationship. Since that 2014 post – for reasons that will become clearer soon enough – I have researched them more deeply. That post back then has a few minor (but generally unimportant) mistakes.

To update things. Who were they?

Rosalie de La Rochefoucauld (born Alexandrine Charlotte Sophie de Rohan-Chabot in France in 1763, but friends and family called her Rosalie) was then the attractive young wife of a French liberal duke – Louis-Alexandre, Duke de La Rochefoucauld. The duke was a friend of America and close to Jefferson while Jefferson was in Paris in those years just before, and at the start, of the French Revolution. Love having little to do then with marriage in their strata, the duke and the young duchess were almost certainly married for “dynastic” reasons: his mother was her grandmother, and he (born probably in 1743, the same year as Jefferson) was also twenty years older than she was.

In comparison to the duke, William (born in Virginia in 1759), Jefferson’s private secretary from 1785 until Jefferson’s departure from France, was only four years older than Rosalie.

He was probably introduced to her alongside Jefferson at a public gathering possibly in 1785, but more likely in 1787; and probably with her husband standing right there. It seems that from William’s first encounter with her that she reduced him to, well, mush. From then on, when he wasn’t working, he seemed to spend a lot of his time contriving somehow to see her.

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Day Of Rest

I read none of my Conventions manuscript yesterday beyond glimpsing its cover on Instagram and here in my post about it. I’m taking a few days away from the late 1700s to clear my head before I delve into correcting it from the beginning. I think this is probably the first time in months I have gone a 24 hour period (and counting) not writing or reading any of it.

Stock Photo: An Indo-Chinese tiger sleeping on a rock.
Stock Photo: An Indo-Chinese tiger sleeping on a rock.

As part of my “day of rest,” I found myself in a sudden Messenger chat with a friend. She lives in Bristol and was my wife’s friend before she became mine as well. (I have deleted names used.) She is the opening message…

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My “Gone With The Wind” (I Laughed)

When you have finished the rough draft of your latest book one day earlier than you had targeted it for completion, what do you do? Well, I sat there stunned and shattered. Later, I watched an old film and decompressed:

And I went for a quick walk:

I did not go inside. I resisted. I had thought, though, maybe…

Earlier, I had also “freed” my book at last from the confines of a PC file and printed the ENTIRE manuscript for the first time. In its three dimensional form it’s now 516 pages (double-sided printed, of course) and it took the printer about three hours to work through it all. At last I could point to it and say, 13 months of work (so far):

Conventions: The Garden At Paris. The manuscript. It is no longer just an abstraction sitting in a PC. [Photo by me, 2017.]
Conventions: The Garden At Paris. The manuscript. It is no longer just an abstraction sitting in a PC. [Photo by me, 2017.]

I was so pleased, as you see I took a photo of it. As I looked at it, I thought as well that I still couldn’t believe it. All of that had once been merely an “idea” bouncing around vaguely in my head.

Soon the “editor” – she may well be reading this post – will receive a copy. Now the truly scary part commences. I hope she has a spare month or so of reading time!

I have just Facetimed my wife in Portugal and waved it at her: “My Gone With The Wind,” I laughed.

She came back, “Let’s hope it sells like that!”

Indeed, and as I look again now at that huge pile of paper, my uncle comes to mind. If you are a regular visitor, you know he died in October 2015. He had been a crime novelist published starting in the early 1980s by “big name” companies.

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Into Conclusion Seclusion

Odd to see this pop up on VOA News’s Instagram. But the Voice of America’s feed is far from just news. Generally, yes, this – which many a writer now quotes – hits the mark:

Isn’t it “Toni,” not “Tony”? In any case, whenever I see that Toni Morrison quote I find myself thinking it’s also really only “the half” of it.

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