Latest on Amélie!

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I’ve finished the manuscript for Amélie: An Alsatian Tale (Book One)! FYI, this is a working title. It is currently being read by several Beta readers. Then, time to edit once again, and again, and again. I’m still up in the air on whether to continue my path of indie publishing or wander down that rocky road of traditional publishing. Decision to come soon. Input welcome.

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As this novel sits and marinates, I’ve begun the sequel to The Stone Manor! It’s been great fun to reconnect with my old friends, Mairi, Kathryn and Duncan, Beth, Ian, and Sean. Angus wondered why I’d taken so long to get back to them. Then, there are the new characters I’m meeting for the first time. I hope you’ll love them all as much as I do. For now, back to writing!

THE STONE MANOR IS HERE!

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After almost three months of working on updating this blog site, it’s finally up and running. (Thank you, Andrew Hale and Andy Fronius!) AND, after beginning my novel, THE STONE MANOR, over six years ago as a short story, it’s finally published! I’m beyond excited. It was a very long pregnancy. The labor was intense, but a labor of love. Now that my baby is here, I just sit and stare at it.

I attempted to have it published by October, but realized it just wasn’t going to happen. Things always take longer than you think. I started looking at dates in November, as in, what happened in history, famous people’s birthdays, famous and infamous inventions. You know me. Why wouldn’t I? Suddenly, a thought came to mind. I should look at the birth dates of my MacDonald ancestors, since the story is partially based on them. AND GUESS WHAT? The first MacDonald in my line born in the US to my Isle of Skye ancestor was born on November 6, 1788. There it was!

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(This is a photo of my great-grandparents. My great-grandfather, James Rueben Little, was the great-grandson of our MacDonald ancestor. This is also his fiddle!)

I realized I had very little control over the exact date my novel would be for sale. I knew November 6th was a long shot. However, my novel is all about ancestral dreams, fairy glens, and fate. In keeping with the fairy tale theme, it was, in fact, published on November 6th. This just makes me smile.

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(Your dreams are worth your best efforts to achieve them.)

Last night, Jim and I went to our favorite Thai restaurant in Percha, Germany (near Munich) to celebrate my dream finally coming to fruition. This was my fortune at the end of the meal. The dream theme continues. This also made me smile . . . and laugh.

Dreams do come true. I’ve loved the journey, from putting the first words to paper to pressing the PUBLISH button on my laptop. I know newbie novels don’t sell themselves. I’ve a lot of work ahead of me. But, I’ll be doing it with a smile on my face and a song in my heart, a fairy song I once heard in my dreams.

 

Of Carriages and Chapels: Medieval Moments

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Chapelle de l’Oberhof

“Will I ever get through those locked gates to see the 14th century chapel?” I’ve asked that question for a number of years now, and FINALLY, I learned the answer this week. This chapel is privately owned by the Thomann family. They also own Salzmann Thomann Vineyards. I went on their website, found their email address and explained my quest. I said I was writing a novel set in Kaysersberg in the Middle Ages and would love to tour the chapel.

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Inside the gates, in front of the chapel.

That very evening, as if by magic, I had an email from the owner telling me to ring the bell or call at the shop, and he would let me in to see the chapel. I was so excited; I could hardly sleep that night! I imagined sitting in the chapel, listening for the voices of the characters I’ve created, and possibly those I have not yet met. However the next day I realized, it was impossible to be left alone inside the chapel, as it was filled with wonderful art and icons. Truly a beautiful place of worship. And, I, being a complete stranger, was still afforded a personal tour by the owner.Jim took lots of pictures while I asked questions

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Window above doorway into chapel.

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Beautiful kneeling benches at the front of the chapel.

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Gravestone in the center of the chapel floor.

The interior was beautiful. The stone floor was fantastic. In the center was the carved stone slab in the above photo. I asked the owner about it, and he told me it was the grave of the builder of the chapel. There was a glass encased ornate staff from the Abbess of the nearby Abbey of Alspach on one of the walls. I stood in the center of the chapel and listened. I heard Amélie speaking with someone I did not recognize. Aha, a new character! I can’t wait to write the scene. The funny thing is I have no idea what I will write. But, I know once I begin the characters will have such a story to tell! Speaking of telling a story, here is a scene from the opening of my novel. (This is just the first draft, still a bit rough around the edges.) The village cheered as the opening procession of La fête des Vendanges marched down the main street toward the royal platform. The Harvest Festival had been celebrated in Rois de Montagne for centuries. As Madeline stood with her family near their shop waving her homemade banner, she felt a bite to the breeze that blew through her long black hair. Pulling her shawl across her belly, she shivered. Her unborn child stirred. Something was not right. First, the foot soldiers passed carrying flags representing the kingdom and the royal family. Madeline’s young sons yelled and jumped up and down with excitement. What boy did not want to be in the royal guard? Papillon, Rois’ town cryer, followed the soldiers announcing Borchard, the mayor, and his wife, Marie, riding on horses modestly adorned with flowers. Musicians played while jugglers and fire-eaters entertained the villagers along the main street. Several wagons with barrels of the new wine from the local vineyards rolled past the crowds. Everyone cheered, excited to indulge in the celebration following the parade. Finally, King Ulrich appeared, riding his war horse, flanked by his most trusted knight, Sir Galle de Oberay, steward of the castle. Each villager bowed. However, only briefly as the queen’s litter came into view. Everyone tossed flowers to Queen Giselle and shouted blessings. She was greatly loved and her beauty was unsurpassed. Her golden hair, braided and wrapped into a bun, gleamed in the sunlight.

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Philippe waiting to carry me through town!

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Me and my lady-in-waiting, Nina.

First, the chapel. Now this! There next to the bridge across from the chapel stood my carriage awaiting me! For a mere, 8 Euros, you can take a 30 minute ride through the medieval streets of town. Yes, please! I didn’t look like Queen Giselle as I rode in my own carriage along the same street I’d just written about, but I waved at passersby just the same. It was beyond fun! Tomorrow, we go for a drive across the valley toward the Rhine River to get a feel for the lay of the land. What do river crossings look like now? What might they have looked like then? Wait till you see what we found along the way!

New Novel: Setting the Stage

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My writing nook…

While fishing for an agent for my novel, The Stone Manor, I’m beginning work on a new story. As is always the case, I need to regroup, leave Scotland behind for the moment and move my imagination and soul into Alsace, France. I find it helpful to surround myself with items and photographs from the setting of my new novel.

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FOR EXAMPLE…on the wall above my desk are frames filled with pictures from the village where my story takes place. Top left being my heroines home. I will change out photos as the writing progresses with my many pictures from visits to this beautiful Alsatian village. Eventually, I plan to spend some extended time in the village writing. For now, photographs will have to do.

Sitting atop my desk are two wine bottles, which I’ve turned into candle holders. Yes, I do light these while writing. Ambiance, ambiance, ambiance. The bottle on left was purchased from Kaysersberg, Alsace, France, my story setting.

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In fact, if you look closely, my main characters house is on the label. Even better. The house is now a winery. The magic continues. The bottle on the right is a California wine called Bohemian Highway. I just love the name and label. Just a personal statement here.

The stack of books are the beginnings of my research. Life in a Medieval Village, Life in a Medieval Castle, A World Lit Only by Fire, Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel to name but a few. Writing a book well takes lots and lots and lots of research. The magic comes in the ability to take all this research and fold it seamlessly into a story, a story worth reading.

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The final touches to begin my writing…fairy dust. No, really. I’ve got my feather pen from HP, my enchanted mug filled with delicious hot tea, and no writing desk would be complete without a holder full of all manner of pens and pencils, a pirate flag, and two, count them, fairy wands for good measure. Yes, that should do it.

By the the time you read this post, I should be well on my way to finishing the first chapter of this new adventure. A first chapter that will inevitably get cut, trimmed, or moved before it’s all over. But, I must start somewhere…and I have found that chapter one is a very good place to begin.

In a land of light and shadow, a very long time ago, there lived a girl. Her name was Amelie.