Playoffs and Memories

I’m not a huge sports fan, but I have my moments or seasons. A good example is when our children were playing different sports through the years. Then I couldn’t help but LOVE soccer, track, and cross country. As you know it is playoff season for high school football. Since I teach in a high school, playoff is a buzz word. And it just turned cold in northern Louisiana so the time is right.

IMG_2992Soccer became popular when our children were little–ages three and four. I remember my husband volunteering to coach the teams when he knew nothing about the sport. The local YMCA helped him along, until one day, my husband said “I have this. It is just like basketball but with the feet.” Presto! We have been hooked for life. My daughter still plays as an adult in city leagues.

During this time the World Cup for the first time interested me. While in Ecuador in the early 2000s, the Ecuadorian team played for the first time ever(?) in the World Cup. I ducked into a small café and joined the locals in celebration, not of a win, but of the chance to play.  There’s something special about being in the country or close to the country when their teams play.

Another example was in McAllen, Texas in a restaurant when Mexico played. The excitement and noise level so high that the only thing we could do was watch and listen to the game and forget normal conversation. Once again, it was about the opportunity to play versus actually winning the game of the World Cup (Mexico lost).

I think the prime example took place this summer in France. My daughter and I started off watching a game in Charlotte, NC before boarding a plane for Paris. Once in Bordeaux instead of seeking out a quiet, quaint restaurant we sought the one with a huge TV screen (multiple TVs), lots of people, and noise as France played Uruguay. The rise and fall of the French shouts pulled us further into the celebration. I had the privilege of sitting next to a man with his son, teaching him about the game and possibly a tradition. Knowing French, I felt a part of this group of citizens. And France won.

We mapped out when the other games would be. In Carcassonne, in the old walled city, we found a small café with a big TV and the next match France versus Belgium. We settled in for two hours in the middle of French and Belgian fans. We could hear the roar from other pubs and cafes when the tension rose. France won–even the military and policemen joined in the revelry. And all of this in the ancient Medieval walls of a French town drooling with history. Outside the walls close to our lodging, the celebration continued until midnight as cars circled a huge plaza, honking as if welcoming in the new year.

The next night we were back in Carcassonne in a different restaurant, La Terrasse, since our cafe from the night before didn’t have access to the game. England versus Croatia. The British crowd dominated this restaurant. This game determined who played France for the World Cup title. As we walked back to our apartment, we stopped at each cafe watching to see who would win. In the end, Croatia succeeded in moving forward.

Finally, the France-Croatia confrontation began. We were in Monterosso, Italy–a quaint mountain town on the Mediterranean Sea. We couldn’t fit in the packed bars and cafés, so we relied on the brief glances on the screens and asking questions. The mood here was a bit different than in France. Italy held a grudge against France since they had clashed before and lost. Yet, France was a neighbor and a plus for Europe. In the end France won. The young and old paraded through the narrow streets, shouting, cheering, an all-out celebration!

Something about sports brings the community, the country, the world a little closer. I loved every minute of celebrating in France and Italy, just as I do at home.

Do you follow any sports?

My late fall TBR list

IMG_5779I could call this my winter To Be Read List, but knowing me I’ll have it completed before winter begins. I love completing a goal and beginning a new one. I have some beloved authors here and some new ones. A couple of Christmas treats are included that I can’t wait to give my hours.

 

I’ll start with A Tale of Two Hearts (Once Upon a Dickens Christmas Book Two) by Michelle Griep. London 1855, an innkeeper’s daughter and a gentleman’s son.

Then, probably the total opposite: The Haunting of Thores-Cross by Karen Perkins. This one involves a young girl, thought to be a witch, in the Yorkshire Moors. Scary? I hope not too much.

 

An all-time favorite author, Terri Blackstock, has written a Christmas novel, Catching Christmas. I attended a workshop with Terri about twenty years ago, and I taught her daughter French.  Good memories.

To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander takes me back to Nashville and Belle Meade Plantation, 1869. An Irishman, thoroughbreds, and racing. I love everything Tamera writes.

IMG_5784Seven authors (Michelle Griep, Nancy Moser, Erica Vetsch, MaryLu Tyndall, Amanda Barratt, Angela Bell, and Susanne Dietze) have combined their talents in The Regency Brides Collection. I look forward to roaming Jane Austen’s England.

 

Back to a time period I enjoy, A Heart Set Free by Janet Grunst places the characters in 1770 Virginia where conflict is brewing. Janet is a new author to me.

Another favorite author has made the list with Dawn Crandall’s latest addition to the Everstone Chronicles, Enchanting Nicholette. I’ve read all of Dawn’s books and will continue to be a fan.

You might want to pick up a few of these for your November reading. Share what you are reading now.

 

Quiz 1770s

img_6155-1.jpgAs you know already, I am a teacher–French and Spanish. Yet, I LOVE history. It is in my genes, so I desire to share, to converse, to write, to read, to experience historical events and ideas. Since I write historical fiction, different groups ask me to speak about my books and my research. Although speaking in front of my peers is out of my comfort zone, I say yes–to book clubs, DAR, libraries, etc.

Being a teacher at heart, I like to throw in a quiz to allow the listeners to participate in the historical era. I’ve included a few true/false items here. See how well you know 1770s colonial history.

  1. The Rich Old Lady represented the colony of New York.
  2. The East India Company delivered tea in brick form.
  3. Members of the Petticoat Brigade distributed water to the poor.
  4. Everyone in the colonies knew how to ride a horse.
  5. Pineapples were a sign of wealth.
  6. Charles Town was known as a city of religious freedom.
  7. All men wore wigs.
  8. The Sons of Liberty was an old society of lawyers in England.
  9. The French language was taught to middle- and upper-class citizens.
  10. Christmas trees and wreaths were used as decorations.

 

These are useful tidbits to know when reading my Revolutionary Faith books. Welcome to my fictional/historical world.

IMG_5407(Answers: 1. F (England) 2. T 3. F (women carrying weapons, food, etc to rebels) 4. F (not in the cities) 5. T 6. T 7. F (always those who refused) 8. F (colonists rebelling against Britain) 9. T 10. F (not until 1800s).

How did you do on the quiz? Share your response!

Secrets and Patience

Below: My characters and me with our mouths closed, hiding a secret.

Have you ever wanted to talk about something when you didn’t have all the details? Or have you held a secret that begged to be told? The secret has a life of its own in a separate fantasy world. Is it real or is it really make believe? Well, I am at that place. There is so much I want to spill about my books and publication, but anything I might say would be part of my dream world. Therefore, I want to share what I can without crossing the fantasy line.

175Hold Me Close and Surround Me, Books One and Two in the Revolutionary Faith series, are no longer available from my previous publisher. I pulled them in order for the books to be republished and released by my current publisher.  Although I think you can still find copies of the original books on Amazon, no new copies of that edition are being printed. I will miss the covers and the content, yet I’m so excited about the possibility of the new release and the publication of books three and four!

Below are hints of the new covers. They are beautifully designed by Roseanna White. Can’t wait for the formal reveal.

New covers, rewrites, new audiences, new potential…my excitement bubbles. I hope you will continue the journey with me. I promise to give you the information on release dates, giveaways, etc. I wish I could share a date, but I don’t have it to share. I just know everything is lining up for an announcement soon.

Stayed tuned and keep reading….

 

Quiet and Alone

IMG_5456On an average day I speak to and listen to over a hundred individuals. I’m a teacher who has 90 students. During the workday, I’m never alone. There is always noise–I need my classes to be that way since I teach Spanish. Communication is the goal! It is true when I am home the noise is not as varied, only my husband, kittens, and the TV.

IMG_5450Also, another tidbit about myself. I’ve never lived alone. I went straight from my parents’ house, to a dorm with a roommate, to my parents’, and then with my husband. That is many years of never truly being alone for any length of time.

Part of the reason I wanted to go on my three-day writer’s retreat by myself was to see once again if I could be alone and quiet. I’ve done it twice before on research trips. And somehow, I managed. Yet, I find I prefer to have people to talk with and listen to daily.

As an author, the act of writing is a solitary job. These three days without cooking, washing, and teaching gave me the time I needed to organize my papers, my ideas, and actually put some words on paper. I appreciated the quiet, the nature trails, the lake, the rain, the deer, and long hours to do some things that I love–writing and reading.

IMG_5459I’m home now where I should be, happy and rested with a plan for my writing, ever thankful for the hours to focus, regenerate my excitement, and set a few goals.

I asked a friend last night if she could go away for three days alone. She said she couldn’t. Could you? Where would you go and what would you do?

My Writer’s Retreat

IMG_5336Just me. Alone. With my research box, my computer, books, pens, and a great view. I am on fall break from teaching. I asked my husband for a getaway, and he couldn’t leave work. So, here I am in a comfy room with a view of a huge lake and nothing to do except what I want. Three nights and three days.

IMG_5337I’ve needed time like this to organize my thoughts and make some progress on my current writing project–Draw Me to Your Side, Revolutionary Faith Book Four. I’m so excited with high hopes and lofty ideas of progress.

Of course, I will use the scenery and perfect weather to motivate me. I will take at least two walks a day finding spots to write and think.  I’ll nap or rest with a good book when I feel the need. Oh, how I look forward to the freshwater fish and local dishes.

What will my writer’s retreat involve? Here are some of my (flexible) plans.

  1. Organize my research box. This will take a few hours as I look through odd pieces of paper that at one time I thought important enough to jot down notes or save from odd resources.IMG_5341
  2. Reread the chapters I have written, comparing them to my outline, focusing on my characters’ personalities and physical appearances.
  3. Input my handwritten manuscript to my computer–I have about four chapters that haven’t been added to the 15,000 words already there. IMG_5343
  4. Write. Write. WRITE. I want to advance 4-5 chapters.
  5. Make a schedule for writing once I return home. My novel will be 90,000-100,000 words, so I need to write the end in the next two months.                                                                                                                                                                                                             Well, happy week to you. I’m doing exactly what I want to for a few days.                                                                                                                                                                            If you could, what type of retreat would you take all by yourself?

The cigales of Provence (Cicadas)

As I contemplate writing about the awesome cigales (cicadas) of Provence, I’m concentrating on the sounds around me that I hear consistently every day or in a particular season. Since I live in a small town, the noises surrounding me are different from the ones in a city. Before we moved, my ears acclimated to the sounds of traffic, sirens, children playing, dogs barking in back yards, and doves.

Now, I hear birds, frogs, trains, dogs, wind in the trees, rain, distant interstate traffic, and silence. My ears tend to get used to my surroundings. I’m glad. Otherwise, the trains would render me sleepless!

On our road trip through France in July, we continued our journey from Andorra to Carcassonne and on into Provence to the village of Rousillon. On a narrow country road, we heard a loud, constant raucous, a rhythmical din, a roar as bold as any train. Actually, we thought it was a train or a roaring river hidden behind the trees. After rolling down the windows, my daughter suggested it was coming from a thousand insects! Mesmerized by the sound and the possibility, we determined to find the source. No, not by traipsing through the woods. We waited to ask our questions, but not for long. Rousillon gave us all of our answers without asking anyone.

The cigale was on many postcards and posters. A postcard explained that the cigale (cicada) is the symbol of Provence, France. We began to see them everywhere, except alive in the trees. In high summer (in July), the insects perform their symphony for hours on end. To me it sounded like a harmony of millions. I guess it could have been. I loved every minute of it, and as with anything heard for a period of time, I became used to it and less disturbed. But I wanted to know more, because the cigale had made it into art forms like soap and paintings and sculptures.

IMG_5279Here are a few facts about these amazing insects of Provence:

  1. There are about 15 species of cicada in Provence. The provençal cicadas live for four years.

2) The males make the noise to attract females to the tree where they are sitting.

3) The cicada is one of the world’s loudest insects, recording sound of up to 120 decibels.

4) Cicadas are on pottery and fabric, in paintings, sculpted, immortalized in song and novels and drama.

5) In Provence, there are restaurants called La Cigale, but the insect is not a delicacy on the menu as in other countries.

IMG_0554I hope you enjoy these little tidbits about the cicada. I was pleasantly surprised to find an insect receiving so much attention.

 

Do you have cicadas where you live? I do but nothing like those of Provence.