A Boomer coming of age story ….

This month marks the exciting re-release of the unique Boomer coming of age story, Yellow Pansies in a Blue Cobalt Jar. Heroine Rhose Guerin is the quintessential New Kindle Yellow Pansies coverboomer with a vibrant mind, passionate about contributing to society while engaging the challenges of everyday life and family.

In this journey through a web of relationships, we explore a long-term marriage where one partner’s desire for stability and security conflicts with the others drive for personal growth.

Bibliotherapist Rhose Guerin uses books, and movies in her private therapy practice, but no novel can show her how to become the heroine of her own story and make peace with life decisions boomer generation women face.

New Paperback Yellow Pansies cover

The Vintage Telepath

The world of vintage clothing introduced in the Loving Vintage series opens an entire new realm of clothing history that mixes both past and trending fashion. How the two worlds collide is up to how yesterday‘s pieces are paired with today’s—an art form for self-expression.PRINT cover Vintage Telepath

In The Vintage Telepath, we follow Julie Bishop, the Loving Vintage authenticator, who feels publicly humiliated because she knows things unknown to everyone else merely by holding an object. Julie is a clothes telepath. While this makes her job as vintage authenticator easy, she hides this ability from everyone.

There is much to learn about vintage. For instance, clothing categorized as Vintage is 20 years prior to current date, and Antique is applied to items older than 75+ years. The best way to learn is immersion. Visit many shops and experience how vintage makes you feel.

Hints to help with the process:

  • Don’t pass by items that may not look good on the hanger, try it on
  • Try on items for fit rather than relying on garment’s actual size, sizes have undergone standardized changes across the years and often use Vintage sizing versus Vanity sizing
  • Incorporate one piece at a time
  • Dead stock vintage means the items are vintage, but have never been worn
  • Don’t feel comfortable in it? Hang it back up

Once you dip a toe into the Vintage world you may be pleasantly excited by its design and quality workmanship. Included below are links to popular Vintage shops across the nation. Enjoy exploring!

RaleighVintage, Raleigh, North Carolina

Hey Betty Vintage Clothing, Pittsburgh PA

Rue St.Denis, New York, NY

Screaming Mimi’s, New York NY

Sweet feedback for Loving Vintage

After a story releases and an author gets to take that deep breath now that her book has started its journey to readers, the next truly joyful step is discovering the impact the story has on actual readers. Did they enjoy it? Were there thoughtful moments main characters Annie, Julie, and Mimi shared that may mirror those of readers’ experiences? Do readers reach out to contact me to share their take-aways, and ask questions about the story? I particularly love to share this sweet feedback.

One such reader, a talented artist in her own right, Mimi Goehringer, sent along fashion drawings she’d sketched of vintage outfits inspired by Loving Vintage.

mimi-1

Her own fashion sense is quirky and artistic. She has delightfully captured the joy of vintage.

mimi-2

I love these sketches!

Another reader, Dori, offered a  review which she also shared to Goodreads:

In Loving Vintage, we meet an eclectic cast of women and men who’s lives converge at a downtown Raleigh vintage store who’s inventory and displays are as intriguing and colorful as its customers and staff. We follow Annie Savone and her colleagues through challenging passages that push them (and the reader) to look at their reputations and life directions. Annie finds herself alone, unexpectedly, with her life in as many pieces as a vintage ensemble and has to face tough choices to put things together in for her future.

Every path in front of her presents uncertain outcomes that requires leaving some part of the past behind yet dares her to dig deep to reclaim her personal and professional identity.

I felt like I had spent an afternoon in a great vintage store, imaging the history of the clothing and the characters, curious about would happen next! Treat yourself to this book, it’s worth the visit!

This is the fuel writers thrive on and the energy that builds their desire to create the next story! Thank you to all my readers. I appreciate your sweet feedback!

The wisdom of trees

Trees have always been a special adjunct to my inspiration. Sitting beneath an oak’s branches, a willow, a poplar, or the sparkling silver of long-leafed pines, I find writing a special joy. The gentle dappled sun making its way through the entwined tree tops, the fresh, clean smell of the leaves and pine needles covering the earth at their base all promote a feeling of well-being that’s healing and soothing and my writing muse. img_20161018_123950

From my debut novel, Nardi Point:

Leyla Jo stood dead still at the edge of an empty rectangle set in the middle of the woods. Their first unobstructed look at the freshly cut, denuded building site. Her distress, obvious. “The trees, the squirrels, turtles, rabbits, nesting birds, tree frogs, where do they go when their universe changes forever? Do the trees, old ones, medium-aged ones, saplings growing from pine cones, or the sweet gum sticky pods dropped by trees beside them, consider themselves a family? Are they sentient is what I guess I’m trying to say?”

I wonder if they know that they’ll be cut down when giant bulldozers or little men with super-sized chain saws arrive. Do they have alerts to transmit distress to other trees? Are they concerned about saplings? They have no way of knowing the extent of the damage, or which of them will remain, or which of them will die as the land is cleared.

I remember the day spent in a Tuscan hillside garden as my husband rested in the  Il Patriarca country villa hotel, slowly recovered from an unfortunate episode of vertigo. A garden well over 200 years old shaded where I sat that tranquil morning. Two giant pines most likely placed there in the garden from its beginning, captured my attention. I remember it being so quiet there on the gentle slope overlooking a vast spread of a vineyard and the sun gloriously shining through a canopy of leaves.

Because I’m interested in exploring, healing, and learning many things, I focused on the beautiful pines and asked them to tell me the story of this lovely historic property. Yes, this may sound woo, but after listening closely I heard a story about the original owners of the villa and their two daughters. One became pregnant as a young teen and shortly thereafter, died in an accident before she could give birth. It was a sad story. When we checked out, I asked about the origins of the villa. The lovely, poised woman at the desk began telling me about a prominent family who had owned the villa. “Did they have children?” I asked. “Yes, two daughters. One died young.” I hesitated. “Is it possible she may have been pregnant?” “Yes,” she answered. “That is what we know of the villa’s history. The family left the villa soon after. It was said the young man secretly met with the daughter in the garden.”

This story resounds with me especially today, as new neighbors of barely a year, have taken it upon themselves to remove every tree in the back of their home, almost an acre’s worth. A swathe of mixed forest trees that have stood for at least 80 years are gone on their callous whim and without any understanding and appreciation for the land that’s home to rabbits, fox, turtles, birds, deer, squirrels. Trees that absorb excess rainfall, trees that provide shade and a micro-climate and that form a community with the trees on my land. Barely there a year and the first action they take is to mass cut these trees. There’s no talking with those who don’t get it. Who haven’t developed an understanding about the ways of a natural environment, but who indulgently provide children under 10 years old with monstrous, unlicensed ATVs to roar about the small roads for fun. Ahhh, what can I say?

If there was any depth to their understanding, I’d recommend Max Adams’s The Wisdom of Trees. Or The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. But regretfully, they are deaf to explanations and so small in their viewpoint of “my property.” And the trees, they are all felled now….

Pansy time

As August wans,  cooler temperatures hint at fall and herald pansy season here in my garden. Soon, nurseries and big box home store garden centers will feature flat after flat after flat of these surprisingly hardy flowers that tolerate so well the mild winters typical of this region. so many yellow pansies

Yellow ones are my favorite, but there are plenty of white, blue, deep violet, and many mixes so everyone can select a favorite.

Pansies were the inspiration for my latest novel, Yellow Pansies in a Blue Cobalt Jar. And now, wherever I travel for plots and refreshment, I grab pics of yellow ones. Once I started looking for them, I found them everywhere.

According to the Language of Flowers popular during  Victorian days, Pansies symbolized loving thoughts and attraction. The main character of that story, Boomer Rhose Guerin, found encouragement and hope as she pushed through family crises to hold on to her marriage, yet pursue her own identity.

In a few short weeks, you’ll know where to find me—yes, busy in my garden and planters adding happy pansies!

 

Remembering a poem fondly

All is so clear in hindsight, isn’t it? I wrote short stories and poetry throughout grammar and high school without recognizing writing would be the constant joy of my life. While additional paths criss-crossed my journey, I’ve just uncovered some dog-eared, early published materials … and it’s like meeting my younger self.

Seeing the magazine cover from the issue that held my first poems, the small payment check received fifty years ago, the gracious letter from the Editor-in-Chief, Sylvie Schuman, acknowledging my contribution is like reviewing a standalone journal. Every word of that letter places me back exactly to the time I first opened the envelope and read her message. And she said magic words any author lives for: “I shall be happy to see more of your creative work in the future.” It took my breath away. Of course I sent another and it too was published. Yes, I was ecstatic. 0306161632~2_resized

There was even a fan letter from Beth Johnson written on the softest blue onion skin stationery so popular with girls of the ’60s:

You probably think this is very strange having me writing to you when you don’t even know me. But I just wanted to write a little note to tell you how much I love your poem, ‘Apart from love.’ It is really beautiful. 0306161634~2_resized

Wow! I’d love to meet up with Beth somehow after all this time. Beth, if you’re out there, please let me know. How I would have loved to have encouraged my younger self’s writing life and hint at the publishing adventures that awaited. Perhaps there’s a story-line here.

Feeling grateful for the perspective of time and sending encouragement to anyone who simply cannot resist putting words to paper!

Researching vintage and loving it!

My current work in progress, Loving Vintage, has renewed my quest for exploring vintage articles and made me more appreciative of period clothing. Heroine Annie Savone knows all about vintage clothing and selects only the finest for the shop she manages. She had a lot to teach me. My research is rich with vintage shops here in the Raleigh, North Carolina area and I’m making a point of visiting each one. I’d love to share these shops as I come across them.

The most recent is Two Birds, a darling little shop in Neuse that’s packed with artfully, curated pieces of interest. There’s much to be said about how the items in a shop are arranged. If the articles are just thrown  Two birds shop together they appear like clutter. When items are thoughtfully assembled, you can definitely feel the pull of a grouping … and consequently find yourself wanting to take them all home! Self-discipline is an important ally when visiting the cutest shops for sure. Annie has on staff, a celebrity stylist who has an eye for display, and a vintage authenticator who is a clothes psychic. The clothes psychic can receive impressions about the clothing’s past owners. This trio is involved in quite the adventure right now!

Do you have favorite vintage shops where you are? Let me know!

Learning to love vintage

While vintage clothing may have been low on my priority list, the idea of period costumes, and period culture always intrigued me. Years ago I participated in a letter-writing exchange where those that loved letter-writing could select by subject, other letter-writers who also enjoyed the same interests. The Letter Exchange.

The peculiar charm of letters — perhaps also, their greatest value — is brought home to us when they are familiar, unstudied expressions of thought and feeling; when they betray no sense of a larger audience than the friends for whom alone they were written. — Edward T. Mason

The letters were fascinating always. One artsy pen friend, a costume designer, shared with me how the discovery of a curved seam changed the history of the long-worn roman togas into how fashion looks today. Now that I have my own personal historical fashion overview of the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s it’s easier to identify the different shapes and characteristics of each time period and appreciate the changes.

I became intrigued with those that lived in those years and fashions. I wondered how someone without a personal history might identify clues to their beginnings through fashion. As I explored these ideas the beginnings of Loving Vintage, my work-in-progress, took hold. Heroine Annie Savone was adopted. She’s not certain of her authentic beginnings long-clouded by the adoption, but a vintage photo that has remained with her after all these years provides clues.

As always, synchronicity played into the story development. On a visit to Wilmington, North Carolina, we discovered a vintage clothing/artisan/antique neighborhood on Castle Street, just blocks from downtown Wilmington. One particular shop, Every Good Thing Artisan Gallery, was a joy to visit. In fact, proprietor Kathy Huber wanted to know more about my stories and asked if she could place my books in her shop. If you find yourself in Wilmington, I recommend visiting Castle Street and Kathy’s shop.

I’m happy to report I’m Loving Vintage right now and the wide world of remembrance and seeking our authentic selves!

Writing about death

So, from Wednesday my family has been taking up the challenge to love and assist my dear 95 year old mother-in-law, who is still working, crocheting baby hats and blankets for volunteer groups, savvy, funny, alert and beloved, to pass over to join her deceased family. In our crazy world, there doesn’t seem to be time or provision for a meaningful death … a death with dignity. Her diagnosis is Aortic Dissection wherein her Aorta is shredding apart. (You may remember John Ritter , Three’s Company, died from this.) At 95 any type of surgery, anesthesia is out of the question.

It got me thinking about how many of you ever include death in your stories? Or perhaps find it uncomfortable to read a story that somehow addresses this important part of life?

In my story, A Path Through the Garden, I talk about this transition and how the main characters must face this challenge with love and compassion. As a Holistic Nurse, I included information within the story about this profound transition, end of life care and introduced the concept of Golden Rooms. And here might be an example of a strictly romance genre story vs Women’s Fiction. In a romance there MUST be a Happy Ever After ending. Women’s Fiction on the other hand can have a Happy Ever After, but also address other less than happy events women face with strength and compassion in their lives. Sometimes this is a Happy For Now ending where the story conflict involves life and death and how it affects the characters.

Also, in this story, I created the character “Henrietta” who is my mother-in-law. Here is where as writers it would be fabulous to be able to rewrite life as easily as writing words on a page.

Our challenge continues though we’ve been advised we only have days left with her. Ahhh, the writing life provides another level with which we experience our everyday lives, heartbreaks, and life challenges.

Characters who heal

Today more than ever, thoughtful consideration of methods to increase well-being abound. This most likely reflects our growing awareness and appreciation for the mind-body connection … how a calm, positive and confident mindset can help ease discomfort and pain. My understanding of this is when freed from discomfort, the immune system has an enhanced ability to work toward returning the body to wellness. And this is, certainly, a low range understanding of the dynamic.

I’m interested in different modalities available for both healing and end of life transitioning and so it follows that within my stories, my characters practice some of these methods. It’s amazing at the variety of therapies now available.

In Nardi Point and A Path through the Garden, readers were introduced to holistic nurse practitioners, Reiki bio-energy practitioners, flower essence therapies, folkway health treatments and a very new concept for end of life transitioning, Golden Rooms.

Yellow Pansies in a Blue Cobalt Jar released October 10, 2014. Heroine Rhose Guerin is a bibliotherapist who uses poetry, books and movies in her private practice. Clients in bibliotherapy may find it easier to work out their issues identifying with characters from literature first, before growing self-understanding.

Most recently, I’ve become aware of musicians who serve the ill and dying with live music to facilitate and promote healing or assist in the life/death transition. These musicians offer music therapy in hospice/hospital/home settings. The Mozart Effect, playing music to an unborn child, has been recognized as possibly increasing certain cognitive/spatial skills in a child. For the ill or transitioning, there may be a corresponding affect of the music to increase energy should the patient seem lethargic, or be calming if the patient is restless.

These are fascinating alternative options to explore and they represent many non-invasive, inexpensive, and therapeutic treatments my characters love to investigate!

Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s Book Blog, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-july-2015