The last place my Mom and Dad lived in before he died was out in the country, near Lake Fork, Texas. There was a big plate-glass window in front of which Dad had hung bird feeders. Among the many birds who winged in were cardinals, crimson feathers startling, vivid, unforgettable. Whenever I see cardinals, real or otherwise, I think of Dad, I think of that place, a home place for him, a vision he’d worked toward all his life. And I think of my mother, too, acquiescing to him, sharing his dream. What was hers?
In Pier One yesterday, caught like a magpie by all the Christmas glitter and glow, I saw LED candles with tiny red cardinals on them. I had to stop and touch the glass. My throat got tight as I thought of my father, but also of my mother, 13 years down with Alzheimer’s, bedridden, incontinent, unable to turn over or ask for what she wants, able only to croak sounds and smile her occasional but still lovely smile. I didn’t buy the candle. I bought five small, red clip-on cardinals, glitter on their tails and shaken like salt in among their color. Foolish, I thought as I checked out. She won’t see them.
But today I go to place them in her room, among the bits of holiday tinsel I put up even though she doesn’t know. My heart hurts, my throat is tight. I think I summoning Dad to bring her on home.
Posted in Before Versailles, books, Christmas, creativity, Dark Angels, family, fathers, George I, historical fiction, history, mothers, Now Face to Face, spirituality, Texas, theme, Through A Glass Darkly, Uncategorized, vulnerability, writing
Tagged Alzheimer's, birds, cardinals, Christmas, holiday sadness, Karleen Koen, Pier One, sadness, Texas
Hello. I’ve been offline resting, but online ebook seller bookbub has Through a Glass Darkly on sale only today for $1.99. If you would, if you can, pass it along on Facebook or Twitter or Goodreads or email or whatever.
Here’s the link: https://www.bookbub.com/ebook-deals/latest?page=2.
Where have I been? Well, the novel I’m in is taking too long, so I’ve been in lots of worry and fear and judgment, which makes me tired. But I am in some sort of ending (never-ending is what it feels like). I hope all is well with you. I hope I pick this up again, for it feels nice to be here. Love, Karleen
November 17, 2015 in Before Versailles, books, Charles II, creativity, Dark Angels, fame, family, fathers, fear, fiction, friends, George I, historical fiction, history, inspiration, Karleen Koen, Louis XIV, Louise de la Valliere, love, mothers, Now Face to Face, romance, romance writing, sensuality, spirituality, story, story and love, Through A Glass Darkly, writing
Tagged books, English history, George I, Karleen Koen, romance, sex, Through A Glass Darkly
Le Notre and I are busy. He walks around my yard, leaning on the gold-headed cane gifted him by Louis XIV, and commands me to prune and pick up and plant. I love it when he visits. It’s that time of year, when my yard becomes a siren, and I lured to toil. It’s good to put one’s hands in soil, to dig and rake and straighten. To put a seed down. Seeds are the epitome of hope. I need hope in these days of my aging. It’s my botox.
Posted in Before Versailles, books, Charles II, creativity, Dark Angels, George I, historical fiction, history, inspiration, Karleen Koen, Louis XIV, Louise de la Valliere, Now Face to Face, romance, romance writing, spirituality, Through A Glass Darkly, Uncategorized, writing
Tagged "Louis XIV", botox, gardens, hope, Houston, Karleen Koen, Le Notre, spring
I’m straightening Mom’s room at the place which cares for her. She’s in year 10 of Alzheimer’s, healthy but unable to do a single thing for herself or communicate clearly. I’ve made her room pretty, but more and more I take things away and store them: the costume jewelry someone gave her to play with, the received cards she so loved to tear to pieces and then rearrange, clothes which are too difficult to put on her. If I bring a plant, she doesn’t notice it. I gaze at the things I’ve selected to comfort and define her. Without her zest and vitality, their definition is less and less clear.
Posted in Before Versailles, creativity, Dark Angels, family, George I, Karleen Koen, life, Louis XIV, memoir, mothers, Now Face to Face, romance, romance writing, story and family, story and life, Through A Glass Darkly, writing, writing process
Tagged Alzheimer's, costume jewelry, Karleen Koen, mothers, mothers and daughters, sadness, 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’m back listening again to The Writer’s Almanac. It’s fun and heartening for anyone writing, whether that’s in a journal or something larger. In addition to reading a poem every day, the host, Garrison Keillor, always includes anecdotes about writers, how we fumble and fail, stumble on success or don’t. If you write to be published, there is an enormous amount of work that is completely unseen, that which is dropped, changed, rewritten dozens of times. Anyway, this quote was up on the site, and it touched a nerve.
Writers end up writing stories or rather stories’ shadows, and they’re grateful if they can, but is is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough.
I think it’s speaking of the gap between the vision and the finished project…….do you know what I mean? Is it always impossible to grasp the vision? An artist I know says she has learned she can’t control creativity. What do you think?
Posted in Before Versailles, Dark Angels, Karleen Koen, Now Face to Face, Through A Glass Darkly
Tagged "Garrison Keillor", books, creativity, fiction, Karleen Koen, science, The Writers' Almanac, touching the vision, writing, writing process
The new year can be a time of fresh starts, and one way is journaling. Julia Cameron of The Artist’s Way recommends writing three pages long-hand before you’re fully awake in the morning.
Why? Because you dump irritation, bad feelings, complaints onto the pages usually, and then you begin your day, and a lot of what would have muddied the hours is on those pages, rather than carried outward with you. It’s as if you’ve been heard. And writing three pages every morning creates discipline. (And more, but you’ll have to find out about that by going to her website.)
A lot of people are doing gratitude journals. A blog I read recently spoke to this topic with words from Nicoletta Baumeister: “Gratefulness thoughts in the morning light are about the setting of the daily lens. What will we take in, what will we seek and what is today’s sense of self? Feeling grateful puts my feet on solid ground, able to work out the next step; whereas, asking what I don’t have sets my day on a frantic course.” She ends her day in an interesting way, too: “A poem, haiku or a small drawing at night has the effect of driving all other thoughts away. The narrowed focus and purity of intent creates a sense of calm after a day of supersaturated activity. It also affords feelings of satisfaction, job well done, if only in the tiniest work, so that I slip seamlessly into excellent sleep. Too many people out there have insomnia!”
Another way to journal is from wonderful Dr. Rachel Naomi Ramen, who counseled a successful but burned-out doctor in one of my favorite books, Kitchen Table Wisdom, to find again these three things in his days: what inspired him, what surprised him, what touched him. I’ve done this one for a long time, and it has transformed journal entries from junior high whining to memory rushes with sweetness.
And that, my dears, is what I want to take forward into this long day’s journey into night, into this particular new year in the journey, into aging, the only way forward in the journey: sweetness. What do you want?
Posted in Before Versailles, Dark Angels, historical fiction, journaling, Karleen Koen, Now Face to Face, Through A Glass Darkly
Tagged aging, discipline, journaling, journals, Julia Cameron, Karleen Koen, making a fresh start, Rachel Naomi Ramen, Robert Glenn, starting anew