Coffee or Tea? And Thomas Hardy, Please! An Interview… drew

Elizabeth J. St. John asked, and I spilled the tea (or is it coffee?) over on her website. Thank you, Elizabeth, for having me over! I enjoyed the interview, especially the lightning round.

Let’s do a check-in: how’s everyone holding up? For me, last night was tough. All of a sudden I became cold and started shaking uncontrollably. I managed to take myself to bed and hubby piled as many covers as he could find onto me, but it lasted about half an hour: finally I went to sleep and it stopped. I awoke a couple of hours later and was too warm, but otherwise felt okay. This morning no fever, no shakes. Although my muscles hurt so badly last night from the shaking that I was groaning, I’m remarkably not stiff this morning.

Alas, we had an opportunity to test out our “quarantine” plan: we had agreed that if one of us becomes sick, the other will sleep downstairs, we will use separate bathrooms, etc. SOMEONE was worried enough about me that he refused to leave the room, no matter how much I insisted. While I love how much he cares…

What was that illness last night about? I have no idea. I have been vigilant about remaining socially distant, only having gone on one grocery run in a week. I honestly don’t think I’ve been exposed to the bad stuff, but I’m still remaining cautious. My husband had an idea as to what might be wrong with me. Although I have never had sympathy pains, if you will, he wonders if I might have become overwrought with the world’s troubles. If maybe I was feeling so helpless that I became physically overwhelmed. I mean, I don’t remember feeling like it was too much, and yet I can’t explain what happened. He and I ate virtually the same food yesterday, so it wasn’t food poisoning. Maybe he’s right.

In any case, it brings to mind this William Wordsworth poem, definitely the title. Since it’s National Poetry Month, it seems fitting to post a poem, anyway.

The World Is Too Much With Us

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.
Maybe the world was too much with me last night, or maybe my illness was some inexplicable squall, blowing up and leaving just as soon. But it’s true, these days the world is too much with us. And yet, somehow not enough, either. Ironically, nature is the one place we can spend our time besides our home, as long as we remember the six feet rule.
I don’t do well feeling helpless, so here are some things I have done/am doing:
— Sent books to shut-ins
–Put stuffed animals in the windows on our porch for the stuffed animal parade our town has; parents drive their children around and the kids count how many animals they find. I love the idea! Today I’m adding my Easter bunny and my Minion to the mix. (I love Minions.)
–Called my peoples to be sure they’re okay
–Attended online church
–Been in regular contact with my friends and etc. on social media
–Trying to keep at my writing
–Promoted the writing of others
And in honor of Wordsworth, whose poem I think of each spring, here is a picture of some daffodils, evoking another of his poems.
landscape photography of field covered with yellow flowers
Photo by Takao Numata on
A quick update on The Ambassadors: still enjoying it, but my grad school mentors would have had a fit if I hadn’t added more choreography than he has: so many talking head scenes, and yes, he STILL insists on babbling on about one woman and then another to the point that I’m not sure who he’s talking about, and yet somehow he’s keeping my attention. So yes, I’m liking it, but am also mildly irritated.
P.S. Did my capitalizing STILL above remind you of anything else he does??
Be well. Enjoy nature. Truly, we will make it through this. Let me know how you are!

Time for Another Cup of Coffee…

Mary Anne Yarde has welcomed me back to her blog today over on The Coffee Pot Book Club to talk about the life of women artists in the mid-19th century in Paris. As always, I’m pleased to lift a cup of coffee with Mary Anne. May the tour continue!

If you read my post here yesterday, you know I was just beginning to read Henry James’ The Ambassadors. I’m now about halfway through, and up until that point, I’d really been enjoying it. There are some exquisite, sweet passages. I’d share them with you but I’m tired this morning. Maybe tomorrow?

I picked the book up again in the middle of the night after waking from a dream in which I was being delighted by pet squirrels doing fun tricks and where I was contemplating buying one. (I care just a little too much about squirrels, I fear. I partially blame my dear friend who sends me pics of the squirrels outside her workplace on the reg.) And then I was so tired while trying to read that I got angry at James for taking three pages to say what could be said in one, for forcing me to go back two pages to see who the hell he was talking about! I don’t mind some obfuscation in the right measure, but dammit, man, give me something a bit clearer, would you? (To be fair, it was a passage where the main character wasn’t entirely clear on what was going on, either. So the writing reflected that, but was that on purpose?)

squirrel on wood
Photo by Toni Ferreira Ph on

I still highly recommend the novel thus far, and I am sad that I can’t seem to find a movie based on it, because it seems highly cinematic to me. Am I just missing one that’s out there, dear reader?

I’m not sure what today holds, but I’m hoping part of it holds more reading…because I have a feeling things are about to take a turn…

What are YOU doing today during these uncertain times?

Stay well!



Five Fun Facts — Blog Tour Edition

Many thanks to Mary Ann Bernal for hosting me over on her excellent blog.

If you want to know how I feel about roller coasters, go take a look:

In other news, Hubby and I are busily plotting and planning bonus episodes of our podcast, Writing All the Things, to get us all through this time. We put one out yesterday, featuring a short story of Sandra Cisneros, Barbie-Q, and Barry breaking down a song he wrote for Victorine the album. 🙂

I’ve been blessed to be a guest on several podcasts lately, but sometimes I forget to mention our podcast. Here’s the bonus episode: I hope you enjoy it.

The podcast duo. 😊

Today’s Stop: Manet and Fashion

Right this way to today’s stop: The String’s the Thing: Manet and Fashion.

Many thanks to Deborah Swift for hosting me over on her blog this morning. Today’s stop offers Manet and Fashion: the String’s the Thing. If you notice, in many of the paintings Manet does of Victorine, she wears a black choker. I’ll let you go over to Deborah’s site to learn more about my thoughts on this.

Observe the string/choker here Manet paints onto Victorine.

How are we doing? It occurs to me that this pandemic is the perfect time to journal about how life is going, how life has changed, and our thoughts and feelings about it all. Not only will it be a way to express ourselves, but it can also be a record for the future.

Sure, we’re all recording our thoughts and experiences on social media, but what if someday those particular forms of social media no longer exists? Just a thought. Stay well! And feel free to share your observations on current life here.

Who Needs a Read? Here Ya Go!

Many thanks to the kind-hearted Judith for hosting an excerpt of my novel over on her blog today during this latest stop on my blog tour. I’d be honored if you’d checked it out.

In other news, yesterday wasn’t so great. It started with bad news about a family member, followed by an announcement that my favorite coffeehouse is closing for at least a week. That place has been the last semblance of normalcy in my life, and I had tears in my eyes when I read the post to hubby.

Add in miscommunications, lost mail, unmerited snarky emailed responses, my headache of two days, sore throat…and rain. There was more to the “how to fashion a bad day” recipe, but isn’t that enough?

I reached out. I told my friends on social media how I was feeling. I told the hubby first and foremost, I should say, and claimed more of his sympathy and time than I had a right to. To cope, I rescheduled everything I could. I read. I watched Tiger King (IKR!). And I ate free fudge.

Sure, I could’ve kept up a brave face knowing a good night’s sleep and a good read would eventually help, even if it wouldn’t change what had come before. And it has. My head still hurts, but I’ve processed most of yesterday.

But had I not told others how I was feeling, I wouldn’t have received their kind comments and texts, their show of friendship. A reader over on Twitter shared that she’s immersed in my novel and really enjoying it. I needed to hear that!

It’s not as if I share my bad day every time I have one. I seldom if ever do that, but right now we must. We must collectively be vulnerable. We must gather around one another, even if it’s just for a moment.

Sure, having a favorite coffeehouse close sounds like a first world problem, but what if that’s the place you’ve written parts of your one and a half books? It’s more than just a place to get a pot of tea to me! It’s an extension of my house. I meet up with my friends there; hell, the baristas are my friends as well!

And that thing at the beginning of my post that I yada-yada’ed over, that was nothing small and it’s not going away any time soon. But we all have such moments and we can be there for each other. That’s one of the beautiful things about this moment.

Be ye well! And if we’re up to it, let’s be there for someone having a worse day than us today. (But sitting in your pj’s eating fudge is perfectly acceptable, too, if needed. I’ll let you know where I’ve landed once the ibuprofen has kicked in.)

A photo of Victorine from one of Manet’s albums.

Next Stop? Excerptville!

Many kind thanks to Elizabeth Keysian for hosting an excerpt of Victorine over on her excellent blog Seduction, Scandals, and Spies. Please pop over and leave a comment while you’re there. Bloggers are authors’ best friends right now, in a time when in-person events are well nigh impossible. Show them some love!


Painting of Victorine by Alfred Stevens

How are you holding up? Are you making time for self-care?

No, I don’t mean just doing your work, although do that. But are you drinking water? (Not enough over here.) Moving? (Ditto.) Are you making time to not just veg in front of the TV but choosing material that moves and inspires you, rather than whiling away the hours as if you are in a jail cell? Because these, these days and hours are also part of the weft and warp of our lives. Don’t discount them. Use them to their full advantage. Let me qualify that.

Today I have put “read for an hour” and “write for an hour” on my list. Sure, being this nigh the other side of publication means I am still doing plenty of PR. This week alone I am recording three interviews with podcasts, which I am appreciative for, but they take time and courage.

Pair that with mailing out books to friends, teaching and related activities, reaching out to friends and family to be sure they’re all doing okay emotionally (some aren’t, which is totally natural during these uncertain times), aspiring to launch a whole new outreach journey which will require trial and error, and more, and I am not just bored at home. (I’m never bored anyway, but I’m particularly not now.)

But is it well with my soul?

In ways I’m very content, but I tell you, though I am grateful for those guest blog posts I will be polishing and handing in this week, the lack of creating is beginning to show. I need to make something all mine, with no expectations on it.

I’m finishing up a novel, except I haven’t written on it in weeks. I have two new novel ideas, except I’m not sure which one to go with, and if I choose one of those, what about that other, simpler, idea? Do I let it go or pursue it as the fast burn I suspect it will be?

Is it well with my soul?

I had a cathartic hour’s call with a friend yesterday. We both needed to vent about life. Today I have scheduled a phone call to someone in quarantine; she isn’t allowed any physical contact for a few more days. My life is so much better than that right now, and yet I haven’t let my creativity out of quarantine.

My to-do list is no shorter than it ever is, showing I am not taking the time to embrace what’s going on in our world. That I am itching to do a thorough cleaning of the bedroom tells me that my priorities are out of whack.

And yet, for me, I know what I need. I need to pull up my WIP and write, for God’s sake. I need to sit down with that new book on Vonnegut and writing (Pity the Reader) that I’m speeding through when I do allow myself reading time.

I need to adjust my expectations. Maybe I can’t achieve twenty things on a list in a day. Maybe I shouldn’t try. I mean sure, I want the upstairs bath to be cleaned, but we aren’t exactly going to have company over. I’d like to get that overdue birthday card out to my sister, but I did call her on her birthday, so if it waits one more day, that’s fine.

What does your soul need today? What goes beyond self-care and into soul care for you today? I’d love to hear from you. Let’s both pledge to do better about that. If our bodies and careers are preserved and not that which makes us who we are, what is the point? Nourish the best in you today.

If we were in church, here is where I would end my “sermon.” I would ask for a few seconds of silence before adding on my words of thanks to Elizabeth for featuring Victorine on her blog. After all, Victorine is a prime example of allowing a creative impulse to fully engulf my life for a time. And Elizabeth is doing me the favor of calling it worthy of a share. Thanks to her, to art, and to and for you.



Blog Tour Stop #3: The Writing Desk

So many, many thanks to the generous Tony Riches for hosting me on his blog today, The Writing Desk.

I so enjoyed being interviewed. His questions were unique and fun to answer.

And…if you want to know what my next book is about, take a look over there! 😉

I couldn’t be more thankful! Thanks again, Tony!

P.S. How are we doing during this shelter-in-place time? I’ve been video conferencing with students and colleagues, which is a nice way to stay connected with the outside world.

It’s supposed to be warm enough today that a walk might be in the works as well.

Hubby is an extrovert; I’m an introvert, so he may get tired of this before I do, but with him working across the table from me, I think I could get used to this life!

Reach out if you need someone to talk to. I’m here:


Edouard Manet: A Game of Croquet.

Can you guess which of these women is Victorine?

Let the Blog Tour Begin!!

Victorine Twitter

I’m not alone in having to press pause on in-person book events. Many authors are having to find alternate ways to spread the word about their newborn novels. I am very blessed, however, to have had a wonderful book blog tour in the works for quite some time.

Many thanks to Mary Anne Yarde of Coffeepot Book Club for her organizational efforts. If you need a caring, competent person to head up your tour, check out her services. She’s wonderful to work with.

My blog tour starts today with a review of Victorine by Mary Anne over at her Coffee Pot Book Club. She also rates it a five-star recommended read. Yay! 

There’s also a spotlight on Victorine over on the blog of Jennifer C. Wilson. Thanks much, Jennifer! I’m grateful. 

Want to follow me on this journey? Great! Every day there is a stop I will post where you can find reviews, spotlights, interviews, and more all about Victorine, our spirited Victorine. All aboard! I’m so glad you’re along for the journey, especially during these uncertain times. 

The Railway, Edouard Manet. Here Victorine holds a puppy.

Living Things

I’m not much of a plant person. I once had my heart broken when a plant my grandmother gave me died. I haven’t been able to become attached to any since. However, I do periodically think about becoming “planty.”

My hubby and I have a policy of “no living things,” because it’s easier for travel.

But the universe is trying to tell me something, I think. First, for my birthday a friend bought me a plant. I usually keep it at work, and so far it seems pretty healthy, once I remembered to water it, and once I learned not to overwater it. It’s a succulent, so I think he had an idea that maybe I’m not the best with plants, because these are easy to care for. I love it. And I kind of want to name it. Is that wrong?

Then there were the beautiful roses my dearest Barry brought me home on book launch day. What a sweet, sweet gesture. Although they’re almost beyond it now, I have enjoyed them so much.

A couple of days ago brought the latest: a friend commiserating with the cancellation of my book launch party for Victorine brought me by some potted tulips. I adore tulips!

The first one was just beginning to open. Today, all have bloomed, and I’ve got to say, being surrounded by these beauties made me decide to bring my succulent home from work as we will not go back for the duration of that dreadful illness that must not be named.

Here’s to living things. All of us.

My Book Featured on History Roadshow Alongside Jane Austen!?!

Okay, I am so excited about this! Thanks much to the excellent History Roadshow.

The show featured my novel, Victorine, at the end of its video on Jane Austen. Please take a look.

The video is so good I forgot to watch out for my book and was surprised at the end.

Let me know what you think, and please go subscribe to the channel on YouTube.

If you love history, if you love Jane Austen, you’ll enjoy this.