I’m in another world, literally and figuratively.
The train station at Maastricht. I miss one of my train connections, but after panic subsides realize the trains run like clockwork and just get on one that names the next town I need to be in. Three train changes later, I’m proud of myself and the kindness and English of strangers.
The view from my hotel window. Heart of the city. Narrow, narrow streets. Houses old in a way we have no idea of.
The statue of d’Artagnan on the edge of what was once fortress walls. Fruit trees are blooming everywhere in the city, and all is spring’s green, a special shade.
I am taken by my new historian friend on a foot and car trip around the outskirts of the city, so that he can show me how it looked to the French in 1673. We end up in a vineyard, city in sight, because this is where he thinks a famous portrait was posed from. I am reeling with fatigue, but the hosts of the vineyard, friends of his in a d’Artagnan society they all belong to, give us a complimentary glass of wine. The courtyard and buildings are all old stone. We are in the country though the church spires of Maastricht can be seen. Dinner is late, eaten on the busy market square, table after table open to the night, the sun still up even though it’s past 8. I stagger to bed filled with thoughts of churches where long-ago soldiers might be buried and sacred wells whose water might solace them and monks whose vineyards might have thrived where the one I stood in does.
Posted in Before Versailles, character, Charles II, Dark Angels, George I, historical fiction, history, inspiration, Louis XIV, Louise de la Valliere, Now Face to Face, romance, story, story and life, story and theme, Through A Glass Darkly, Uncategorized, war, writing, writing process
I think I’ll plant daffodils around their headstone. I was in Arkansas this weekend at the small country cemetery where my mother and father’s ashes will one day be buried. Dad was born around here; a sister of mine lived down the road. Daffodils were blooming everywhere, covering yards in thick clusters, and that sister, now gone, was much on my mind. We all planted dozens of bulbs in her yard for her during her last autumn, a few months before she left us forever. Days before she was taken to the hospital—a place from which we all knew she would not return alive—I walked with my daughter to look at the green daffodil stalks in my sister’s yard. They represented love for her. In those months before her dying, we would have done anything for her, bought her anything she wanted, taken her anywhere she wanted to go. There were parts of her that were the best of us.
My daughter was in her 20s; my sister’s daughters were 11 and 5. I remember realizing that she would never do this simple thing I was doing—walking with a grown daughter. The pain around that was sharp like a honed blade and achy dull at the same time.
She didn’t live to see her daffodils or her daughters bloom. When I see those flowers in this place near where she had her home and family, she lives again in me; her final, bittersweet leaving is daffodil fragrant inside. Mom and Dad will like having them nodding their yellow heads around their grave, I think. I think my sister will like it, too.
Posted in Before Versailles, character, Charles II, creativity, Dark Angels, family, George I, historical fiction, inspiration, life, Louis XIV, Louise de la Valliere, memoir, Now Face to Face, romance, sisters, spirituality, story, story and family, story and love, story and writing, theme, Through A Glass Darkly, writing, writing process
Tagged Arkansas, daffodils, family, grief, losing a sibling, sisters, story and family
What a strange life I lead. I am researching details to write a war scene. I’m reading about demi-lunes and covered ways and bastions and ricochet fire. I’ve already researched it, but I’m going over and over it in my mind before I write it. A character will die in this war scene. If I see the siege in my mind, I’ll be able to make a reader see it. I’m in 1673 internally. In 2014, I’m at my computer looking at old drawings and making notes and diagrams. As the wicked witch told Dorothy, what a world, what a world.
Posted in Before Versailles, Charles II, creativity, Dark Angels, fiction, George I, historical fiction, Karleen Koen, Louis XIV, love, Now Face to Face, romance, romance writing, story, story and writing, Through A Glass Darkly, war, writing, writing process
Tagged "Louis XIV", romance, story and life, Vauban, war, writing, writing process
I’m pleased to announce that Sourcebooks is offering Through A Glass Darkly‘s e-book for $2.99 starting December 8-26, a big savings from the regular e-book price.
They’re offering e-readers and other things, too, in a promotion that starts December 1st. Enjoy and Merry Christmas, ya’ll.
Here’s the link: http://books.sourcebooks.com/promos/
Posted in Before Versailles, Charles II, creativity, Dark Angels, Geroge I, historical fiction, Karleen Koen, Louis XIV, Louise de la Valliere, Now Face to Face, reprints and new editions, romance writing, spirituality, story, story and love, Through A Glass Darkly, writing, writing process
Tagged ebook savings, fiction writing, Karleen Koen, savings Karleen Koen, Through A Glass Darkly
I have old faithfuls, books I return to, books I read the way a baby sucks a pacifier. One of my pacifiers is almost any regency by Georgette Heyer. I have paperbacks of hers so old that the pages have to be rubber-banded in a heap. I love her plucky heroines, the sometimes truly witty banter between characters, the very sweet romances. There is a lot of subtle humor in character interactions, which amuses me even more each time I read it. I also reread John le Carre’s Little Drummer Girl about once a year. I love the heroine he’s created in this book, the way he describes and builds character, and the truly gripping plot. He is a master of plotting and character. I reread To Kill a Mockingbird pretty often; the underlying tenderness of the story takes me, though I find the African American characters a bit stereotyped, but what do I know. Maybe for 1930s Southern America, they are not stereotyped at all. It’s just that they’re shaded all one tone, and the others aren’t. I love Winston Graham’s Poldark Saga, the first six books. He’s a fine, fine historical novelist, and Ross Poldark has my heart, as does Demelza. I adore Dr. Naomi Ramen‘s Kitchen Table Wisdom. Again, the scope of heart in her collections of stories about people gravely ill and those who serve them is huge. It’s a wise book, too, nuggets about leading a deeper life scattered like bread crumbs. I love Daphne du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek, though having read it so many times, I now see plot flaws, but I just never mind them because I like the character of Dona and her story so much, and the marvelous dreamy quality of du Maurier’s prose. Anything I like ( I’m almost always reading), I now put up on my shelf in Goodreads. But the ones listed here are my tried and true go-back- tos for a needed mental rest. My husband doesn’t understand it, and I can’t explain it, except that they never fail to comfort me, I never fail to not like them, I never fail to be amused again or touched again…..and that’s special…….
It occurs to me that I learn a little more about writing each time I read these favorites; I learn on a level I’m not aware of…..
Do you reread? What? And why? Or why not?
Posted in Before Versailles, books, creativity, Dark Angels, fiction, historical fiction, inspiration, Karleen Koen, life, Now Face to Face, romance writing, story, story and theme, story and writing, Through A Glass Darkly, writing, writing process
Tagged books, books I really like, Daphne du Maurier, fiction, Harper Lee, John Le Carre, what I read, what inspires me, Winston Graham
May we take steps in peace upon the earth…..boom goes my heart as it opens inside my chest. I’m holding hands with a partner, whom I don’t know, and we moving in a semicircle at a meditation workshop. We repeat-sing the words again as we move in the other direction. May we take steps in peace upon the earth. What tremendous delicacy it would require, I think, to take only steps in peace…..
I bow to the flower in you, we both say, as we bow to one another. Boom, goes my heart again, expanding out inside me, as I am so touched to say such words to another, to have them said to me. Only my very young grandchildren, in their wild innocence, move me this way. My mind can only just grasp the idea of the flower in another, in me, the rose, the daisy, the marigold, the lily, the peony, the violet….their names alone are a kind of poetry. A flower is a thing of beauty. What a concept, that we are innately things of beauty, that within us is a unique blossom of soul.
I bow to the flower in you.