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 Claviรฉ has a beautiful voice:

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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."๐Ÿ˜œ . 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?๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธIt's only fair.๐Ÿ“š๐Ÿ–Œ . And how about an *unbearded* man? This is American diplomat William Short, painted by Rembrandt Peale in 1806, when Short was age 47.๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ . #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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Haste Ye Back (To Rothesay)

On Monday, the Mrs. had airline business in Scotland, west of Glasgow. Somehow in all my years here, I’d managed never to have visited Scotland. So I joined her – and grabbed some photos over the three days there:

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Worried Novelist Walks Through Hitchin

Almost there. Actually, “there” is one of my multitude of tiny problems. 130,000 words and at the point where major changes are essentially impossible, I’m fussing now over single words and individual – but not quite exactly what I wished they were – sentences.

It is that maddening creative moment when you the writer are down to the level of anguishing over the likes of “I’ve used ‘there’ too often in those two paragraphs.” Or “Rather than three sentences, perhaps make it one sentence joined together with semi-colons?” Or “That is supposed to be ‘at’ not ‘as’. Spell-check missed it! Ugh!”

As you get “there,” you also need to pause, breathe, take an extra-moment or two, and maybe see some ducks:

Because it is difficult not to think “Eh, there be monsters out there…” I find I am increasingly consumed with worry. As I correct issues of “as” that should be “at,” I confess even to having moments of despair. “All of this effort,” my mind races as I look yet again at the screen, “and what if it stinks? I may have to jump into that water in Hitchin town center. But I suspect it may not be deep enough…”

To be a writer is to be forever in some self-doubt.

The last thing I’ve been doing is daydreaming about conquering the universe…

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“De Certains Droits Inaliรฉnables”

As you may know yesterday was International Women’s Day. Being a man, I thought I should best be “quiet.” My piling on with my male opinion was hardly necessary.

From the International Women’s Day web site.

Now that we are here the day after, I thought I would offer simply this:

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From France To England (Again)

Well, that’s all for the latest France visit. I no longer know how many times I’ve been in the country. I’ve lost count.

If you have never been there and ever have a chance for a trip, don’t hesitate. I would suggest, yes, see Paris, but also make sure you get away from there and find a part of the country that is NOT Paris. And, above all, if you are American, don’t worry: trust me: the French do NOT hate Americans!

By coincidence, returning to Geneva airport on Saturday we ended up with the same woman driver who had taken us to the airport last year. And she remembered us. We had a great chat once again over the hour and a half between La Clusaz and the airport.

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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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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 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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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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