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Pink Peek #2

October 29, 2016

Another sneak peek of art detail from new cover of my next novel:

7 MLFS.jpg


Pink Peek #1

October 28, 2016

Sneak peek of art detail from new cover of my next novel:3-mlfs

Michaelmas & Jane Austen Connections

September 29, 2016

Jane Austen told me about Michaelmas. The British Isles holiday is peppered in her written works. Well, maybe not exactly peppered, but the Michaelmas parties do make their occasional appearances, and every time I saw anything of it, I wanted to know what in Heaven it was. Once I got Michaelmasly educated, I wanted to take part in the holiday. Every year. September 29th.

Michaelmas is an Olde English Holiday stemming from an older Scottish Holiday with blackberries as a key ingredient in the celebratory mix. Blackberries?! Ooh, I LOVE blackberries. An excuse to enjoy blackberries?! Sign me up! We can even almost call it Blackberry Day, just for fun! Do the research right now, if you like, and find out WHY blackberries are the thing at Michaelmas!

I don’t know about other Janeites and Austenophiles, but it seemed to me that Christmas Holiday season almost began at Michaelmas, in Jane’s novels. A chance and excuse for me to begin Christmas feasts and festivities three months earlier?! Before Thanksgiving?! Even before Halloween?! What’s not to love?! Put Michaelmas on my calendar of events! I’ve GOT to do this! Michaelmas could kick off my Christmas season henceforth!

For years I talked and planned of celebrating Michaelmas. I read up on it. I wanted to do it right. I looked at attendant traditional recipes. It was a goose-style feast with all the trimmings. Soon I wondered how traditional, modern, classical or neo-gothic I should do the holiday for my loved-ones.

In the end, I decided we could do it fancier like Downton Abbey or just wing-it like a Highland Fling picnic in the British countryside. Our first forays into Michaelmas territory have been with Scottish Scones and Blackberry desserts in an English Tea Party style. With pretty teacups, saucers and all, it doesn’t take much to put all our favorite dainties together for a delicious celebration. With my family bringing their best or funniest British accents to the table, it makes the event all the jollier. It’s an annual hit I highly recommend to any UK descendant, or Anglophile.

My Jane Austen Hero?

February 14, 2016

Valentine’s Day has got me thinking romantic thoughts about my man again. And asking, ‘which Jane Austen hero is he’? As I’ve done before.

Sometimes I’ve thought he was a Darcy, other times, a Bingley, or a Knightly and even a Tilney. Occasionally, I’ve wondered how much an Edward or Edmund he is. I suppose, over the years (and decades!), my man’s many facets and moods have made him seem an Austen hero chameleon. I can fit him into most any Austen hero slot on any given day or hour.

No matter, he’s my hero. My very own.

And he doesn’t have to fit into any fictional slot, no matter how profound or Austen-like. As long as he fits with me, that’s what counts. As with many couples, we two work to fit together. Constantly. Ah, communication and compromise, SO romantic.

Come to think of it, as I actually have pondered many times before, I’ve never fully fitted any of Jane Austen’s heroine slots either. I’m a little bit of a number of them, at different times in my life. And then there are my own moods, of course.

Whether you have your romantic hero in hand, or not, worry not about having or finding a Darcy, a Brandon, a Knightly, or any other Austen hero creation. Don’t fuss which heroine you are either. It all matters not, save understanding human personality traits and characteristics, and how to mesh it all together nicely. Wisely. Lovingly.

Though Jane Austen’s heroes and heroines can be very realistic, for she was decidedly and even expertly a connoisseur of human follies and all, this is reality. And truth is stranger than fiction. More complicated and less understandable as well. Who’s life perfectly fits any romance novel, however classic and crème de la crème?

But yes, it is fun to compare your life to Austen stories and characters. Jane is romantically tops.

Reasons I Love this Season

December 15, 2015

The Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas are filled with more than a few of my favorite things.

Twinkling lights and trees, the music and movies. Sparkling snow and shining stars. Dears and deer, ribbons and bows, wrapping and wreaths.

Warm woolen scarves, sweaters, slippers and mittens. Leather and furry collars, cuffs, muffs and moccasins.

The food and festivities, family and friends, giving and smiling, hugging and loving, and spreading cheer.

A perfect baby boy, His loving virgin mother and protective adoptive father. Humble shepherds and wise men bearing gifts and honoring Him. A lowly manger in a stable with the star on high.

Now, for those who don’t believe in Christ, there is still much to celebrate and enjoy, so why not? For goodness sake, the world around us needs more caring, joy, charity and love. Won’t you agree?

Here’s wishing you all your favorite things this season of peace and goodwill.

Write like Van Gogh or…

October 5, 2015

Write like your favorite artists throughout history painted. The ones who made history, and even those who didn’t. Breaking rules, from the heart, after years or decades of practice. And standing on shoulders of giants who went before them, by following those genius paths, though still originating their own style. Coloring outside conventional lines, or just drawing their own lines altogether.

From Van Gogh to Claude Monet, from Da Vinci to Michelangelo, from Mary Cassatt to O’Keeffe, from Frederick to Edmund Leighton, from J. S. Sargent to George Romney, from Degas to Renoir… and the list goes on and on. Pick Picasso or any artist who inspires or resonates with you, and ask yourself why. Why do you love that art? What is it about the style or technique that speaks to you personally? Why do you keep coming back to look? And why do you buy?

I love art with meaning I can relate to or art that makes me feel. Especially in a good way. In this world of too much bad, mostly I want to feel good. I crave pretty pictures. Or simply colorful. Something pleasing to the eye. When it comes to fiction, I prefer happy endings, interesting people and main characters I can look up to or learn something from. True heroes and heroines. And believable villains that I feel free to despise.

With art, I’m drawn to things of beauty, goodness, family, or celebrating nature’s original art. Sunsets, stars, flowers, greenery, the sky and water in its many forms. Lately, Van Gogh and Monet capture that energy, those impressions, expression, contrasts and colors I marvel at when I go outside or travel. Or see in my vibrant dreams. And, Mary Cassatt has always lovingly touched on relationships of especially mothers and their children. I love to see true art that is family. Norman Rockwell’s art was memorable that way.

As a writer who was more an artist first, and a novelist who has studied classic art and literature many years, I keep thinking about my love of art, and how that focus relates to my own artistic endeavors. I’ve been pondering my favorite paintings and prose. Why do I feel the need to emulate them? What is their power over me? Why do they call to me, still, after so many years? And why must I create in kind?

Painting and writing are more similar than some might expect. Studying the works of masters you admire, emulating what you love, then honing your own style out of it all. The planning, sketches, adding details, and polishing until you’ve got something worth showing or sharing. Painting or writing, the process is basically the same.

Lately, I want to write like Van Gogh painted. Expressively. But uniquely me. Faux Van Gogh? Perhaps. Shutting myself away, breaking imposed rules, not caring if people call me crazy, using all the colors I love, writing with an expressive brush, painting stories that call to me personally. Feeling free to create fiction all my own.

Set yourself free to write or paint as inspired, and to evolve, to embrace ‘periods’ or ‘moods’ – like Van Gogh’s predominantly yellows or blues. When happy, write happy, when somber, write that way too. And mix it up too. One story doesn’t have to only evoke one feeling, nor hold to one arbitrary genre. And characters can be complex, like people tend to truly be.

So, before you try to write like Van Gogh painted, or any other masterful artist whose work you might admire, spend some time just drinking those paintings in. Live in their ambiance. Pay attention to what moods they paint in you, what thoughts are awakened, and any visions that haunt or seek you. Maybe even paint a little with that sense of being, before you begin writing that way. But, whatever you do, write like you’d love to paint.

Prairie Shannon

March 30, 2015

Prairie Shannon, cover

From the back of the book:

A young Irishwoman flees her homeland to escape cruelty, crossing an ocean to do it. After landing in America, she fears she is followed. Who is the bearded man? What does he know? She dreads he may force her back to abuse.

In widow’s garb with her youngster in hand, she treks further west over wilderness, with consequent deprivations. Though traversing all the way to Wyoming Territories, she doesn’t evade the stranger who follows. Her hopes of freedom are shadowed.

Despite being haunted by her past, the young mother finds honest work and safely settles into her new life on the western frontier. She forges a new life, but what of love? Will full happiness finally be hers?

Abiding by her beliefs, she denies herself the proffered love of the best of men. Because of her convictions theirs is a love divided. Never allowing his charity, she indulges only in their correspondence. She accepts her lonely fate, letting time tell of anything more than shared letters and a distant love unanswered.

Story Inspiration:

Prairie Shannon was inspired by a true Irish love story I was told decades ago. The basic idea stuck with me all these years, and I always knew I would have to write the spirit of that romantic story and it’s enduring principles into something of my own making. I hope I honored the angels who inspired this story, and that they would approve my effort to share what made their love story so memorable to me all this time.

“Prairie Shannon” is available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon: