Some books we consume as light reading end up catalysts for change in our lives. Laura Florand’s romance novels have fallen into this category for me (I recommended her free story The Chocolate Rose in my last post). In her chocolate series her heroes are French chefs (the stories set in France). I’ve loved all her heroes. Even the book I gave two stars (The Chocolate Temptation) I’ve actually re-read the first half again (and will read again because the first half deserves five stars). Her French chefs are just so captivating I’ll probably break down and buy the rest of the series (soon).
So how can reading about fictional French chefs finding love change one’s life? If you’d asked me this question two weeks ago I would have raised an eyebrow and stared back with a blank mind. I think it was while reading The Chocolate Rose a second time that change set in. The hero is a pastry chef who pours his heart into his desserts. When he offers the heroine something he’s made for her the reader knows he’s offering his heart on a plate though she doesn’t realise this at first. It made me stop and wonder if I’m dishing up my heart for my creative endeavours and if not, why not? There is no point creating anything without passion (without pouring our hearts into it). It’s made me ask myself, do I dish up my heart in my stories? I do! Am I dishing up my heart in my other artistic creations? Hmmm – not all the time! Why not? What do I want to be creating? Does it make me happy to dish up my heart? Yes, but I must feel passionate about the feeding.
So what else is changing? Read more…
Book Reviews, I've been thinking
Yesterday I watched an amazing video-talk on TED – Brenee Brown’s: The Power of Vulnerability. It’s funny, deeply poignant and produced several bright light-bulb moments that made me see myself in a new light! If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it. I now understand why and how I’m mutating back into the girl I was at 12. That girl is my most authentic self; she’s the Cari who defiantly wore her heart (dreams, feelings, agonies) on her face with her head upright because she knew it was harder than pretending otherwise. She was wasn’t always kind or happy (she whined endlessly about not feeling well – some things never change), but she tried to be kind and tried to focus on the positive. From the outside her life prospects appeared grim, but she was always busy dreaming up impossible adventures (a number of which we’ve actually accomplished). I want to be that me and over the last few months I have felt more like her. One can’t go backwards, but we all have an authentic self buried under whatever fears we’ve allowed to warp us out of recognition. Read more…
Dancing the Maypole, I've been thinking
The real Adderbury House in Adderbury Oxfordshire!
Dear members of Regency Romance Novels.com
I’ve finished Dancing the Maypole and it’s on my website ready to read (all fifty-one chapters). For those of you who prefer e-books Smashwords has approved it. For those who might not have noticed, the Goblin has redesigned my website. It now shrinks down to fit all hand held devices that connect to the internet. I hope you enjoy long stories. Dancing the Maypole is twice the length of my other novels. On the Goblin’s iphone it came out as over 1500 pages (but those are tiny pages). In a paperback the book would be about five hundred pages. I would have liked it to be shorter, but the story had other ideas.
Dancing the Maypole follows on from The Hired Wife. A year older, the five Smirke brothers have decided it’s time to help their father find a wife. Knowing Peter Smirke will be attending a house party they put an ad in all the papers. They assume they’ll have at least a week and a half to interview applicants before their father returns to give them his spine chilling glare.
When I started the story, I knew by the end of chapter two that the title would be Dancing the Maypole. Dancing around a maypole is an old European custom that stretches back into pre-history. Originally Pagan, it was a celebration of May day. The dance is performed around a pole or a tree cut down and trimmed for the occasion. In recent times multi coloured ribbons were attached to the top of the pole and each dancer would hold one ribbon. The dancers then dance…half going one way, the other half going the other…and the ribbons entwine around the pole.
The heroine, Isabel de Bourbon, is a tall woman so she is what some unkindly term, a maypole, but half way through the story I realised that the maypole being danced was something bigger. The story is a romance novel, but it’s also about the weaving of the generations. We often think that our choices alone define us, but really it’s a combination of our choices and the choices of our parents/ancestors (both genetic and adopted). Our great to the tenth grandparents made decisions that genetically and emotionally affect us today. All these layers of stories woven together make up our story. I find that utterly fascinating.
Even if you’re not a member, the first ten chapters are free to read here.
Dancing the Maypole, Feeling Creative, General, Ghost stories, I've been thinking
I went for a walk in the evening sunshine with my camera. I didn’t think I’d find any pictures. The sun was setting and after an emotional yet positive day my thoughts were turned inward. I intended to have a short gentle walk down the paved road into the countryside as usual, but when I got to the first footpath sign I stopped and admired the young rape seed plants starting to sprout and the rock hard path shaped by endless dog walkers cutting through the field. For the first time in months I decided to walk down into the field. My camera was in my hand, but I didn’t think I’d use it. I knew the path and couldn’t think of anything of interest. Down the hill and over the foot bridge into the next field I noticed the sun, still fairly high, over an overgrown bush and took several unexciting pictures before heading past a boring looking tree and around the corner. Being out of shape, I stopped to catch my breath. Looking back over the way I’d come I saw a pleasant view with the two fields juxtaposed with three trees at various distances all the colours infused with the soft yellow light.
I was about to move on to finish my walk when I suddenly thought I’d try to take a closer shot of the nearest tree because from this side with the sunlight on it the boring tree looked sort of interesting. I’d never walked up that way before. I’d never thought to take a closer look at this tree. Once I was a few feet away I could finally see…at some point it had been struck by lighting or suffered horrific winds. The trunk had been split open. Read more…
I've been taking photographs, I've been thinking
Collective memory is such a strange thing. Living in the moment we often take for granted that movie stars, pop stars, world renown authors, earth shattering historical happenings will never be forgotten. Sadly (or gladly depending on one’s point of view) this isn’t the case. The societies we live in whether nations or extended tribes, make choices as to what we will and won’t remember collectively. That which is replayed or repeated most often will be the winner whether it deserves a place in history or not. The English have this saying, ‘Remember, remember, the fifth of November.’ Nearly four hundred years old, this childhood chant (that all English people know) calls the people to remember Guy Fawkes (and his associates) who nearly managed to blow up parliament with kegs of gun powder in 1605. Every November 5th the English build bonfires and burn effigies of Guy Fawkes. This is an excellent example of collective remembering. Whether some individuals getting drunk and setting off fireworks can remember anything specific about Guy Fawkes is irrelevant. They remember collectively! Read more…
A Companion for Life, Book Reviews, Dancing the Maypole, I've been thinking
Today I went for an eye check. For a while now I’ve been taking off my glasses (I’m nearsighted) to work at the computer and to read books. The eye doctor’s verdict; my eyes are aging. In a week I’ll own my first pair of reading glasses. At last I have an excuse to treat myself to one of those spectacle-chains worn by librarians (real librarians, the ones who gave you the evil eye if you made the slightest noise). Through my teens and into my early twenties my mother would regularly rant that I should become a librarian. I always rolled my eyes. Just because you think every moldy book should be cherished as treasure, cataloged and kept on a shelf (in alphabetical order with all the other books one can go without food to afford) doesn’t necessarily mean one has the talents to be a librarian! At least not the kind of librarians I grew up with. Those ladies (and gentlemen) had degrees in librarianisms. They probably had fantastical dreams of living the Dewy Decimal System. Read more…
Dancing the Maypole, General, I've been thinking
I ventured out into the rain to take pictures and found this fellow slithering off to some appointment. Read more…
General, I've been taking photographs, I've been thinking
Lately I’ve been feeling mentally empty, as if someone washed all my thoughts, dried them, put them away and then pulled the plug and drained the sink. I decided that instead of complaining to myself I’d read something. I have dozens of novels and reference books waiting to be read and at least a dozen I keep forgetting to finish. I went downstairs to look over my bookshelves and the first one to caught my eye was a paperback on the bottom shelf, a book of essays by H L Mencken called ‘Prejudices: A Selection’. I randomly opened the book and started reading, ‘Roosevelt: An Autopsy’. I hadn’t been reading long when I started thinking that all I knew about Theodore Roosevelt was that he was a President of the USA and supposedly that the Teddy Bear was named after him…and that’s about it. My curiosity aroused I put the book aside and looked him up on Wikipedia. Reading quickly through the boring early life I was soon at the important part…the section titled First Marriage. You didn’t think I was going to sit here and ruminate on politics and philosophy did you? I’m a romance writer. I want to read about love! Read more…
General, I've been thinking
Last night some time after turning off the lights (as I tried to fall asleep with a large fan blowing in my face) snatches of a song popped into my head; a song I haven’t heard in decades. At first I only had one line…’You take my breath away”…it was an eternal minute or two until my brain dredged up…”on a summer’s day”…and then I thought, Oh yes, THAT song! I should write that down. I might forget it in the morning and I’ll want to listen to it for a laugh. It was too hot. I was too tired to bother…so I didn’t. Waking up, sure enough, I could remember there was a song I wanted to remember but all the words to the song had vanished from my brain. Irritated by my malfunctioning memory, I trolled the internet for help. Sure enough some obsessive soul had listed every hit song from 1979. Over half way down the list, there it was! You Take My Breath Away by Rex Smith. These are the lyrics… Read more…
General, I've been thinking
Last week I finally spent part of my Christmas Amazon gift certificate. After a month of changing my basket every few days (failing to decide what I most wanted) I impulsively bought a modern romance, something I haven’t done in years. I’d read an interview with the author, Jennifer Crusie, about her latest novel ‘Maybe Next Time’ and went off to Amazon to see if I’d like it. In the first few free pages she’d made me laugh and empathize so I bought it before I changed my basket-mind again. Read more…
Book Reviews, I've been thinking