#SundayWalks ‘Flowers and Patios’ #Tanka #Poems

 

In ancient gardens

Dismembered, Roman statues

Watch pruned, potted plants

Bursting with fragrance, glowing

In lush, flourishing patios.

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I went for a walk to visit the World Heritage Patios Festival in Cordoba, Spain, this morning with my friend Gabriela. What a stunning place to stimulate all my senses!

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I hope you were able to take an inspiring walk this Sunday❤

 

#SundayWalks ‘A Rose at the Zoo’ #haiku ‘Not a Rose’ #Poems #Poetrymonth

A rose at the zoo

Watches elephant cry, while

Poet writes haiku

Not a Rose

The rose is a rose,

Loveliness extreme.

The elephant is not a rose,

And it is not lovely.

An elephant at the zoo is

loneliness extreme.

The poet is a woman,

Who writes about beauty and despair,

While she thinks of lonely elephants,

Watching lovely roses, wondering

Why an elephant is not a rose.

****

I went to the zoo this morning with my children and grandchildren, and two things struck me; the beautiful roses and the downcast elephant. Well here they are, joined by my pen to be shared to the world.

My daughter and granddaughter

Hope you were able to take an inspiring walk this Sunday❤

#MondayBlogs ‘To Do Lists and To Be Lists’ #MondayMotivation

I’m a compulsive writer of ‘To do lists’.

Before I leave my office, at school, every day, I check my notepad and cross out the things I’ve done which were on yesterday’s list and I add my new tasks for the following day.

It makes me feel as if I’m in control of my work life and it actually works, because it means I usually get (almost) everything done (almost always) on time.

I also write shopping lists and weekly menus. Having three children and four grandchildren, who still often come home for lunch or dinner, this also makes me feel I’m in control of domestic matters.

There is a wonderful lady who’s been looking after the rest of the housework once a week for the last twenty years, which means I rarely have to worry about it.

Fortunately, work and housekeeping, (usually) run smoothly, which frees my mind, so I can devote the rest of my time to my writing.

I also write (sort of) to do lists related to my writer’s life. When I wrap up, I write down my word count, what I’ve done (writing, editing, rereading, researching, etc.), how I feel about it, and what I’d like to start with the following session. These reflections are a great help in focussing because I can’t always write every day, and losing track would be far too easy.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do away with my lists, but as a result of recently reading a short yet enlightening post by GunRoswell, I realised I wasn’t writing the most important list of all: My to be list.

So I’ve put it up on the window of the room I usually write in, to remind myself to make sure I take care of being as well as doing.

I’m going to be thankful every day for everything I am and have. The importance of gratitude can’t be overstated.

I’m going to be kind(er) to those I interact with, because we don’t know what other people are dealing with and because we all know what goes round comes round (ain’t karma a bitch!).

I’m a teacher a wife, mother and a grandmother, so being patient should be a priority, and it is, but sometimes I it isn’t easy, and on other occasions, I forget.

I need t find time to nurture my mind and be creative by devoting time every day to either reading, writing, playing the piano, photography, etc.

I need to remember to be in love, because love is the strongest feeling which binds people together. I must never forget to make sure those people around me who are special, such as family and friends, know I love them.

I also have the right to be happy. In spite of tragedy, pain and suffering which exists around me, I can allow myself to enjoy moments of joy.

I also need to be at peace with myself. I have made mistakes, and probably will continue to do so, but I need to forgive myself for making mistakes, as long as amends are made as soon as possible, stating the reason, expressing regret and offering repair.

I can’t do much without taking care of my physical health. If I’m sick or unfit, it would affect every aspect of life negatively, so I need to be healthy take care of my body by doing exercise, eating well, and making sure I keep up with my regular check ups…

I should never forget to be prepared for the worst and yet be optimistic and expect the best to happen.

Finally I need to be alive, ‘feel the rain on my skin’, because ‘no-one else can feel it for me’.

Do you write lists?

What’s on your To Be List?

#SixWordSaturday Getting Ready for #Christmas Family Reunions

Christmas Tree outside the shopping centre.

Close up of the Christmas tree.

Inside the Christmas tree!

November’s a longish, coldish month.

Today, while doing my weekly food shopping, I noticed a Christmas Tree in the square outside the shopping centre, and plenty of Christmas decorations inside the shop.

I didn’t buy anything, not yet, but it reminded me about the family reunions ahead.

This year I’m looking forward to having all my children and grandchildren at home for a few special days.

Have you seen any Christmas trees yet? 

#FlashFiction ‘When I grow up’ @NorahColvin @Charli_Mills #amhealing #WWWBlogs

Healing Lilly

“How was your day, Lilly?”

Tears spilled.

“Tell me about it.”

“No-one wants to play with me and they call me names.”

“So, what are you doing about it?”

“Crying, mostly. Sometimes hiding. I don’t want to go to school.”

“Lil, listen to me. You’ll get good marks, make wonderful friends, be a great teacher and have your own family one day.”

She stamped her foot. “I’m ugly and silly!”

I held the picture of my younger self to the mirror.

“Look at me, Lil. You can and will do it. Anything you want is there for the asking.”

****

 

Fifty years and still healing. Lucy at about 8 and 58

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Lilly or sometimes Lil was my nick name at home when I was a child. My sister couldn’t say Lucy, so she named me Lilly. Elsa died many years ago, and nobody has called me Lilly since, but I know Lilly’s still with me. I encourage her and remind her not to worry and believe in herself, every day. I think it’s working, Lilly is healing and Lucy is happier every day.

We all have hang ups from our youth. Speak to pictures of your younger self, tell her not to worry because it will work out. Believe me, it works. We can heal the child within.

****

This post was written in response to Norah Colvin’s prompt on Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest, coordinated and inspired by Charli Mills.You can take part in the contest or just post your flash on your blog, which is what I’m doing.

Norah asks us to cast ourselves back to six years of age, knowing what you do of life in the present; what would you want to be when you grow up and how would you go about achieving that goal? Tell us in 100 words, no more no less. It can be real or imaginary, serious or light-hearted. Extra points for comparing it to your childhood choice, if you remember it.

Geoff Lepard is hosting the challenge this week at his blog. Check it out if you’d like to join in.

#IWSG Reworking Old Stories @TheIWSG #amwriting #WWWBlogs

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts and concerns about our profession.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

insecure-writers-support-group-badge

Every month there’s an optional question to discuss.

March 1 Question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Some people think we live in chaos.

I don’t believe in chaos. There is order in nature, in the universe and in our comparatively small lives, because every cell in our bodies is both part of the universe and contains the universe.

There is no chaos.

The sun doesn’t rise every now and again, the moon doesn’t spin and show its dark side whenever it pleases, leaves don’t turn blue if it’s cold, people don’t have two noses. There are exceptions to some rules; it might be hot on a spring day, someone may claim to have seen a heavy snowfall in the middle of summer, really? But when exceptional events do occur, it doesn’t mean there’s chaos, it’s only a tiny glitch.

The universe works like clockwork.

And nothing happens quite by chance. I mean there’s always a reason for everything that happens, although we might not realise at the time, or ever, in fact, but that needn’t worry us; there’s so much we’ll never understand.

The IWSG question resonates with me this week because, quite by chance, I’ve been rereading the beginning of a novel written by my sister twenty-eight years ago. Of course, you all know by now, that I don’t believe this happened by chance, at all. It was meant to happen.

My sister died, twenty-eight years ago. It seems like yesterday, every day, but still, the calendar says it happened twenty-eight years ago.

Last week, one of my sister’s friends ‘found’ me on Facebook and we started chatting. I’m afraid I didn’t remember her very well, she and my sister were five years younger than me, which isn’t a lot when you’re over thirty, but is a great deal when you’re under twenty!

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She was intrigued that I had become a writer, and I mentioned that it must run in the family, because my sister was writing a novel when she died. Her friend knew, but she had no idea what the novel was about. Elsa, my sister, was very secretive about it. I myself found out about it after she died.

She lived in Harrow, London, just around the corner from where she had been born twenty-five years earlier, and I was married and had moved to Spain, where I lived with my husband and three children, so we only saw each other once or twice a year, although we often spoke on our landline phone and wrote letters, as people used to do twenty-eight years ago.

Elsa had only just started her novel when she died, unexpectedly and tragically. 

I have a prologue and one chapter printed out on an old dot matrix printer, and obviously corrected. There are a few more chapters, but although they’re also typed, these were typed on an old typewriter and it’s obviously a first draft, which hadn’t been edited yet, in fact, it may not even be part of the same novel.

Unfortunately, there was no outline, no handwritten notes, or any other evidence of how she meant the novel should progress, and nobody knew about it, because she hadn’t discussed it with anyone, at least not with anyone I knew. This leads me to believe she was obviously a pantser and it was all in her mind, or there might have been a plan, but it has been lost.

I’m not a pantser, but I have nothing against panters, yet I don’t believe she wrote without a plan, because it was some kind of intricate thriller, so she must have written notes somewhere. And, in the 80s, people used pen and paper a lot, I was there, and I remember.

The novel is called ‘One Woman’s Story’, which may be a working title, and starts out with a woman who dreams about her own murder, death and funeral. She tells her best friend about her recurring and distressing nightmare. Shortly after, she is murdered and everything happens just as she had told her friend it would. There it stops.

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The few pages I have of my sister’s novel, One Woman’s Story.

I have no idea at all what she had in mind for the rest of the novel, but it was obviously going to be either a detective or psychological thriller, which would have required at least some notes, and a brief story line, yet, there is nothing at all to go on.

Elsa had no first hand knowledge of police procedure, that’s why I’m inclined to believe it was more of a psychological thriller, but that’s a hunch. We both loved reading Ruth Rendell novels at the time, and psychological thrillers weren’t as popular in the 80s, as they are now, but who knows?

I’ve often wondered whether I should continue her novel or not.

Last week, after speaking to her friend,  I reread it once again and tried to imagine a novel of my own, unsuccessfully. My version would probably look nothing like hers would have, because I have no idea what she had in mind.

Yesterday, reading the IWSG question, I started to think about continuing my sister’s novel, again. Is that a coincidence? But I don’t believe in coincidences, do I?

Any suggestions or ideas? Should I go for it or forget about it?

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2 Days to Launch Midsummer at Eyre Hall. My Genre: What is a #Victorian #Gothic #Romance?

I’m relieved, overjoyed and excited to tell you that The Eyre Hall Trilogy is complete.

There are two days to go to the launch of Book 3, Midsummer at Eyre Hall, on the 21st of June, and I’m aiming to write a post a day about my writing process to celebrate my achievement.

Day two is all about genre. The Eyre Hal Trilogy is a Victorian Gothic Romance, but what exactly is that? Read on to find out.

3 BOOKS ALL HALLOWS

The first word in my genre description is straightforward. A Victorian novel is a novel that is set in Victorian England, roughly between the 1830s and 1900, although many scholars extend it to the encompass the end of the 18th century, too. Most Victorian novels were written in Victorian times, but many others, sometimes called neo-Victorian novels, were written in the 20th and especially in the 21st century. There is more information on the characteristics, themes and style of Victorian and neo-Victorian novels,  and why I write them in these other posts in my blog:

What is neo-Victorian Fiction

https://lucciagray.com/2016/03/28/why-i-write-neo-victorian-fiction/

Why read neo-Victorian fiction instead of authentic Victorian Fiction.

A general introduction to Victorian times

A general introduction to Victorian literature

The Eyre Hall Trilogy is set in Victorian England between 1865 and 1879, although some of the events included as back story occurred in the 1850s and before.

The third word is also relatively easy to define. A Romance is a novel whose central concern is a love story. Romance novels are immensely diverse. Apart from the central theme of love, the rest of the characteristics are infinite, except for the presence of some kind of conflict, which must be resolved (remember Aristotle and Vonnegut; someone get’s into trouble and out of it…).

That’s the sum of common characteristics of romance. There are endless types of conflict and endless types of love stories. They can be set in any time period and in any setting or location. The ending is generally satisfactory, optimistic or downright happy ever after, although it can be partially or totally unhappy, too, see for example: Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte, 1846), Love Story (Erich Segal 1970), or The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks, 1996).

Wuthering heights

The Eyre Hall Trilogy is a Romance, because it includes several love stories, and romantic love and the conflicts brought about as a result of  the characters’ love interests are central to the plot and the sub-plots.

The genre which is going to prove most complex to define is ‘Gothic’, especially because there are many subgenres. In my case I’ll be discussing the Victorian Gothic Romance genre.

It’s origins are attributed to Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto, which he himself subtitled ‘A Gothic Story’.

Castle

The name of the genre is derived from gothic architecture, specifically from the gothic neo-medieval buildings emulating the architecture which flourished in Europe between the 12th and the 16th century, including pointed arches and vaults, flying buttresses, narrow spires, stained glass windows, latticed windows on the exterior, and dungeons, secret passages, ghosts, long winding corridors, dark furnishings and a gloomy atmosphere in the inside.

Not surprisingly, one of the salient features of this genre is the setting, which must include an isolated and spooky, gothic mansion or castle. Think of The Castle of Otranto, Thornfield hall in Jane Eyre, Satis House in Great Expectations, Dracula’s Castle in Dracula, The House of Usher, Manderlay in Rebecca (20th century), Hundred’s Hall in The Little Stranger.

House

In the case of The Eyre Hall Trilogy there is a large country house, Eyre Hall. Jane Eyre rebuilt a house on the site of Thornfield Hall, which had been burnt down by Bertha Mason in Jane Eyre. Jane purposefully made sure that Eyre Hall didn’t have an attic, a rookery, vaults, or a flying buttress, in an aim to make its appearance less gothic than Thornfield  Hall, and although it was a more modern building, there were plenty of nooks and crannies to hide unspeakable secrets…

There are plenty of characteristics which are common to gothic novels. Naturally, the more elements the novel contains, the more gothic it is! Here are a few of the most recurrent, apart from the house, in no particular order:

A mystery and a secret, often a family secret or mystery including murder, torture, or illegal confinement.

A prophecy or ancestral curse on a family.

Omens and paranormal situations.

A persecuted heroine, or damsel in distress, who is generally innocent or naive and easy to fool, by…

An evil character, or villain, who causes havoc in the heroine’s life, often including a seduction, rape or forced marriage. This person is often seeking financial gain and social status.

A supernatural element, which may be a ghost or any other type of unearthly being, such as a devil or a vampire.

Macabre situations such as death, decay, graveyards, churches, exhumation, etc.

Situations which terrorise or frighten the characters.

A dark and gloomy atmosphere, including foggy, dark, cold weather.

Complex plots with secrets and scheming characters.

Strong emotions of love, hate, fear, distress, etc.

Dangerous journeys in carriages, often at night.

One of the essential elements is the opposition between good and evil. The Picture of Dorian Gray and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are prime examples. The writer is concerned with the description of the spiritual and psychological challenges of the human soul in extreme situations.

The wicked are usually punished, although they may be redeemed if they learn their lesson and change their evil ways. The good yet physically weaker characters are often empowered due to their moral superiority.

Endings vary widely. Gothic Romance usually has happy endings, whereas Gothic Horror may have unhappier endings.

The Eyre Hall Trilogy must be a very gothic novel, because it contains all the elements I’ve named in spades!

I’ve tried my best to transport the modern reader to Victorian England and experience a gothic romance. There is adventure, suspense, the mystery and magic, dark family secrets, including murder, kidnapping, child theft, blackmail, exhumation, supernatural elements, journeys, asylums, villains, scheming, twisting plots, and plenty of conflict and obstacles for all pairs of lovers in the diverse love stories.

I’ve had great fun researching, planning and writing The Eyre Hall Trilogy, and I hope my readers also enjoy the ride!

Which is your favourite gothic romance?