My Blog: Artful Fiction

Day 2 of the 12 Days of Victorine!

Today you have the opportunity to win this lovely one and her lamb that I discovered just for you (the winner, that is) at my local vintage shop. She reminds me of the little girl that Victorine paints in my eponymous novel. These photos do not do this piece justice. The pendant is about 2.5 inches long, with a nice length of chain. While there is no maker’s mark on it, it’s got a good heft, something I look for in vintage jewelry.  

She’ll come to you nestled in a holiday jewelry pouch.

To be entered to win, all you need to do is be a subscriber to my newsletter list. (Sorry, but while you will get a free short story when you subscribe, if you’re not in the U.S., I can’t mail giveaway items to you.) Sign up today so you will be eligible not only for this giveaway, but future giveaways!

The winner will be chosen on or after Dec. 18, 2020, midnight EST. A list of winners’ first names will be posted here shortly after the contest ends. Winners will also be alerted via email.

Thank you again for visiting, and best of luck to you! I know this shepherdess would be happy to be worn around your neck. Please share this post with others!

Day 1 of the 12 Days of Victorine! V’s First Christmas!

Vintage jewelry, books, and surprises…oh my! It’s Victorine’s first Christmas, and you’re invited to join in the fun!

Welcome to Day 1 of The 12 Days of Victorine! Each day from now until December 18, 2020 will bring a bonus or a giveaway.

Today’s treat for you is a podcast episode listing ten gifts for the readers and writers in your life, from my and my hubby’s podcast, Writing All the Things. We have so much fun over there.

I’m so glad you’re celebrating with me! As a thank you for being such wonderful people, I’ve done some of your shopping for you and will be giving away items right here in the coming 12 days. (But if you want to keep what you win for yourself, don’t worry, no one will know.)

I won’t tell you all of the goodies up front (think vintage! think jewelry! think artsy!), but let me say they end with a gift bundle I wouldn’t mind keeping for myself. (But I won’t, because I adore my readers and you deserve holiday fun. Especially this year.)

If you’re not on my newsletter list, go ahead and sign up so you will be eligible for the giveaways. When you do sign up, I’ll send you a free art in fiction story about another “forgotten” artist, Olga Meerson, student to Henri Matisse. (Sorry, but I can only mail giveaway items to the U.S. But there are going to be a ton of bonuses and fun links right here, not to mention that free story when you join my mailing list.) And if you’re already on my list, you’re already in on the giveaways. But I’ll love you forever if you tell your friends about this.

Check in every day to see what’s on offer. And Happy Holidays!

Here We Go Orlandoing!

We are still reading Orlando, aren’t we? I know I am, and I hope you’re enjoying the journey as much as I am. What a simultaneously entertaining and philosophically engaging novel this is.

Here’s an article from Vulture that reminds us why this is such an important novel, especially for the past few years. It’s worth a read, for sure.

Heads up: in the next couple of days we are going to celebrate the 12 Days of Victorine over here with bonuses, giveaways, and more. Be sure you’re a newsletter subscriber if you want to be entered in the giveaway. (Alas, I can only mail giveaway items to my U.S. readers. But there will be plenty of fun content for all here, too. And new subscribers get a free historical fiction story.) So be sure to subscribe.

And let me know how you’re doing with Orlando.

My “Thanks Giving”

Thanks to DK Marley for the opportunity to guest post on her blog Hist Fic Chic. Please pop over and have a look if you want to read about the transformation of the architecture of Paris in the mid 1800’s and how it affected a group of painters you might be familiar with. (Think Impressionists and their ilk.) I even added in a poem by Charles Baudelaire for good measure. While you’re there, take a look around. It’s an educational and beautifully laid out site, for starters.

Since our household’s Thanksgiving will be dinner for two this year due to the Damndemic, I don’t have many preparations to make. We’re doing low carb (ugh!), so there are even fewer dishes to cook than usual. (I just wrote a flash fiction piece on the topic of low carb eating; if it doesn’t get published by the publication to which I sent it, I’ll share it with you here in the future.)

But there are dishes to be made, regardless. There is a turkey breast to be baked in the morning. Oh, and the Christmas Chronicles: Part 2 to watch on Netflix along with 84, Charing Cross that hubby does not know I found on Amazon Prime and now very much want to watch. Can you believe I never have?

Then there’s that book I didn’t know I was going to write that is almost up to 40,000 words to carve at. And the fact that I’m as lost as a white glove in a snowstorm as to how to stitch the parts together. (I wrote a loose outline, I did. But alas, I still took off in all directions. I think maybe I’m an “enjoy the journey” kinda writer. )

I really did not intend to join in on NaNoWriMo, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to hit that 50K without trying. (I’m a fast — if messy — writer.) I’m happy about that.

While I have once again taken on more projects than I probably should have, I’m in a productive phase so I’m going with it. All of the things I’m doing are blessings. Some of them have tedious parts, sure, but I enjoy them all.

And after all, being busy keeps you from missing those you can’t be with for the holidays quite so much. Here’s to next year.

Virginia Woolf: Modernist Master with Anne E. Fernald

Apparently I am not the only one who is ready for more Woolf!

This link dropped into my email box today and might be of interest. The Center for Fiction is hosting a series of Woolf readings via Zoom.

This list substitutes The Waves for A Room. I can’t blame them but my copy of it is so brittle I’d better get another before attempting to read it.

And btw, if you haven’t read it, it’s way experimental.

I Have Had My Vision!

Photo by Steve Johnson on

See, I ended up posting more about Lighthouse than I did Dalloway. That being said, I’ve finished re-reading it. You? 😊 So I’m going to go ahead and start re-reading Orlando so I can get a jump on it. We all know how holiday weekends end up. We’re staying home for Thanksgiving, to be safe, but I intend to make up for that by watching every single holiday movie on Netflix that I haven’t already watched. (Or as many as my sweetie will tolerate.) Reading and prepping posts early is a good idea, if you ask me.

Speaking of, have you watched the adorable Dash & Lily on Netflix? Oh my gosh, so cute.

Oh, and I’ve just started my third novel. I hadn’t meant to get serious about it, but I made out with it at the office Christmas party and now we’re dating. (JK, JK!) Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve already written 50 pages! (I wish I could say more, but you know how it is…I don’t want to introduce it to anyone until we’ve dated awhile.)

Now, how to wrap this Lighthouse study when there’s so much more to say? As I read, I had so many things to share, but each could fill pages.

Here are the story’s ending thoughts, our eyes on Lily as she finishes her painting: “Yes, she thought, laying down her brushes in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision.”

Sure, you can argue that Mrs. Ramsay is the book’s main character, but I would disagree. Lily is the one who notices, who watches, who paints observations of the main couple and their family, of all of those around her. She memorializes them in her painting with her acute scrutiny. I, for one, am grateful she did.

We could talk about Mr. Ramsay and his insistence that he and his youngest children go to the lighthouse. The two clearly don’t want to go. They decide they will fight tyranny to the death, meaning they won’t give their father the time of day. James never does capitulate, but Cam softens when their father asks her about the new puppy.

Most of the long trip, however (I’d like to know exactly how long, because they bring a meal and Mr. Ramsay brings a book), Mr. Ramsay spends his time reading. Is the actual visiting of the lighthouse the point, then, or is it the journey? It would seem the journey is not what he cares about. Much buried there.

Lily imagines the journey at the novel’s end. She thinks they must be there now. It’s then she can complete the novel, so she’s not the only one who has gotten stuck in this loop, this unfulfilled promise.

While I think it would be difficult to make a good film of this book because so much of the importance and beauty of it is in the prose, its structure would lend itself to that.

And that leads me to more thoughts, on and on. I want to mention other spoilers that I won’t, of Lily’s imagining of what happens to various members of the family’s circle, of actual facts versus her impression of them, impressions that change.

By the book’s end, her attitude towards even Charles Tansley softens. Art helps her “see” life.

I’m going to stop now because I don’t know where to stop. One line leads to another! And guess what? I didn’t even really touch what I covered in my master’s thesis, because I mined that for novel number two. (“Briscoe” is in its name, so…)

Remember: we start Orlando next! Have you read it before?

Ordinary Mysteries

This is one of my favorite passages in Lighthouse. As a human, this has always been my goal, to pay attention to the ordinary moments of beauty and to elevate them.

At the funeral for my husband’s grandmother a few years ago, the minister came around beforehand and asked for memories to share. I was surprised at how many of them were mine that he mentioned during the service and how teary the family got as each was brought up. I was glad I spoke up.

What had I noticed?

Strawberry pie…the scent of apples stored in their breezeway…fresh apple cider…country magazines stacked neatly on the coffee table…ribbon salad…heaping bowls of mashed potatoes…rabbit show trophies…that and so much more signaled we were at the Drudges’.

My aim as a writer is to recall those average, everyday moments and hold them.

Recently I shared a photo with my daughter of a bottle of wine on our dining room table. “I can’t believe you still have that table,” she said. We’ve thought of replacing it, but there are paint and marker blotches on it from her and her brother. We studied and read there together. We played cards and ate how many meals at it?

The table is just a table, but it’s also a miracle, a memory.

I didn’t mean for this to turn into a Thanksgiving post, especially not so early, but then again, it’s fitting. I’m thankful for miracles of all sizes.

Do you have a favorite passage from this book? Almost finished reading it? I’m rounding the corner. For some reason I don’t remember the last bit being quite so long. Not that I want to leave Lily’s side any time soon.

A Character Map

Course Hero supplies this character map of To the Lighthouse. While I can’t say I agree with the description of the “main” character along with other “major” characters, it’s interesting to see them presented in this manner.

Found on Pinterest

True, I would say Mrs. Ramsay is indeed the primary main character (spoiler here — stop reading NOW if you haven’t finished the book) she is only physically present in the first section.

Where is nasty Charles Tansley? Where is the poet, Carmichael? Maybe they could be characterized as minor characters, but they’re so sewn into the story that it’s odd to imagine them demoted.

By contrast, Paul Rayley is unmemorable.

What do you think of this list? Are any of your favorites missing?

Would you argue, as I would, that Lily could be seen as the main character? She and Mrs. Ramsay are inextricably linked.

The Artist and the Audience: Lit Hub

Remember when I wrote a post on Robin Lippincott’s excellent Mr. Dalloway? He’s turned up again in connection with Woolf in this Lit Hub article on the art and the audience, but this time for his   Blue Territory: A Meditation on the Life and Art of Joan Mitchell
(Tidal Press). Both his meditation and Woolf’s To the Lighthouse (our Autumn of Woolf book of the moment!) are highlighted alongside three other books as wrestling beautifully with the artist’s process in this Literary Hub article by Scott O’Connor. I find this type of philosophical, deep, “thinky” books beautiful.

But I would add Of Human Bondage to the O’Connor’s list and dare I also nominate Victorine?

I hope you’re not tiring of my admiration for Robin’s writing, because it’s not going away any time soon. And I highly recommend you order his book.

Rather than recite the insightful list, as a takeoff on both Robin’s writing and a nod to the above piece, (merging both sentences here, my apologies),”“Oh, just look at the goddamn article!” 🙂