PORTALS FOR MORTALS

Fiction lies deep in the underworld, plotted on a subconscious map of time tunnels – a network of stories as vast as a rabbit’s warren. Every tunnel is lined with doors. Each door is a portal. Each portal invites you to experience the impossible. This blog is a portal containing a skeleton key to unlock your imagination.

Safe passage through two enchanted doorways. Two chances to touch the extraordinary.

When it comes to reading fiction, entering a door is a big deal. Page one is the threshold where a reader crosses the liminal border of imagination and reality into non-local space. Books are mystical portals behind which anything can and does happen to challenge the bravest of armchair travelers. That said, be forewarned and encouraged… after you open the door to ‘once upon a time’, you’ve entered a dimension that beckoned you for a reason.

THE STORY THAT CALLS IS ACTUALLY ABOUT YOU!

ENTERING A DOOR IS A BIG DEAL

Whether you travel into the unknown via telephone box, armchair, or a silver screen, fictional travel equates to the art of delving. Logic is checked at the door by sluffing off the normal world the way a snake sheds its skin. And in so doing, we gain conscious ‘skin in the game’ we’re about to play. Stories are all about playtime.

Original illustration by E.H. SHEPPARD

DOORS CAN BE WINDOWS

Literary doors are windows of opportunity to role play. We become virtual actors as we understudy the protagonists we admire and test our mettle against the antagonists we choose to despise. And whether we’re aware of the subtle dynamics of reading or not, we have in effect, agreed to be screen tested for the part of a main character. 

At first, we volunteer to participate as obligatory crowd seen extras inherent in every saga, legend, fable, parable, and fairy tale, but if we sign a contract to partake fully, we don armor and silk dresses and dive into character with astonishing ease. We fly with Peter Pan, ride into battle, slay a dragon (real and metaphorical), discover lost treasure (real and metaphorical), and meet the love of our life or the multiple loves of past lives. But now that we’ve jettisoned our twin-skin, we read differently. We read our lines. We stand on our marks. If the story possesses us, we evolve from vicarious interacting at a safe distance to a steadfast symbiotic relationship with fantasy. We act out.

WE HAVE BECOME IMMORTAL!

In the greater sense, we escape into or out of reality for the sole purpose of increasing engagement with our inner selves. We explore the realms of ghosts and mythical creatures where the most mythical creature is ourselves. It is we who fight and love in every story. We face fears and conquer enemies. We grow from cowards to heroes. We’re stalked and haunted. We win and lose and live to tell the tale. And since we learn from antagonists and evildoers as much as fairy godmothers and magic frogs, with each story we’re closer to becoming exemplary expressions of humanity. We often find ourselves after losing ourselves in story.

Whereas a row of ‘trick or treat’ game show doors promise a super-prize if chosen correctly, every fictional story is a gateway that promises a surPRIZE premise behind every portal: the ones left ajar, the ones flung wide open, as well as the closed, locked, or temporarily blocked ones… even a beaded curtain!

The password is SURRENDER! 

ENTER WITH CARE

A door to a spooky haunted house pulls no punches. Right up front, its rusty hinges creak a warning that within lies a story of suspense and horrific ‘can of worms’ tension, that you enter at great risk to your physical survival and emotional stability. Daring to cross such an obvious threshold means we have taken up residence in a realm where deadly deeds transpire, and heroic deeds inspire. The new password is ESCAPE.

Chemical messengers lurk between every line of surrender and escape. Just remember, a ‘brain-body’ cannot distinguish fictional emotions from truth. One’s ‘performer-body’ travels into the imaginary landscapes of fiction for a boost of energy, a romantic fix, a jolt of historical cruelty, inspirational freedom, or to mercifully break free of drudgery. One thing is certain, for the duration of the magic, you are committed to being with or against whatever comes: the next episode, the next page, the next scene, whether there be monsters, opportunities, magic, mayhem, wars of one kind or another, or assaults of pain and pleasure. But no worries… guilty or innocent, on stage, we’re OMNIPOTENT.

Courageously, we pin our best dreams and worse fears onto the coattails of a downtrodden character’s rags-to-riches arc, hoping for a lottery win – the grand prize of a happy ending. Yet even if a protagonist falls short of the good life, or whether we’ve been charmed or tortured along their journey, while visiting altered states in the fictional dimension, it’s perfectly safe to bask in a character’s lifetime dreamed in increments of 90 minutes.

Even so, it’s no wonder we emerge slightly spellbound from behind books or when the telly is silenced with the need to decompress. Our body has endured the vicarious adrenalin rushes and endorphin gushes of an entirely dreamed lifetime without anesthetic.

A looming door marked exit leads to the sanctity of our familiar home world, restored or exhausted, gratified or mortified, crushed and humbled, resolved or shocked, triumphant or defeated, abandoned or accepted, stalked and haunted, healed or wounded, aided and befriended, sympathetic or hardened, flabbergasted or stabilized, but made more authentic from a vicarious understanding of life veering in and out of slow lanes in fast cars.

We can set fizzy drinks and popcorn aside to rest in salads and fresh air, knowing we can return to the land of story whenever we choose to indulge in fictional calories. Humans must continue to learn in harsh flashes of adrenalin driven angst or fogs of feel-good endorphins. Sleep deprived or energized, dizzy from roller-coaster storylines, our psychic equilibrium shaken by frequent plunges into the depths of despair, taken to the brink of failure and the pinnacles of mountaintop success, we emerge from each portal with a fresh take on life.

We arrive home, as T.S. Eliot immortalized: “We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

And when it’s time to ‘wake up’, although we may have grown too big for our old skin, we’re all the more complete for the brief dance with make-believe. We slither and glide home into consciousness, carrying the weights of defeat and the helium of victory with new respect for the characters we played. And hopefully, affection for newfound friends and allies, and perchance a nomination for ‘best new actor in a series’.  

In today’s market, a reader is spoiled for choice. It can be daunting for readers and authors alike. For readers, it’s wise to read a book’s promotional back cover blurb synopsis. Two unlocked synopsis follow. Feel free to enter without knocking.   

THE GHOSTS IN MY NOVELS INVITE READERS TO COME ALIVE

I hereby invite you to enter two portals with themes of haunting dreams and artful forgetfulness. They are portals for IMMORTALS!

DISAPP’EARRING TWICE showcases Vermeer’s famous masterpiece ‘The Girl with a Pearl Earring’, the haunting specter of dementia, a troubled teenager, and a purposeful ghost.

SNOW BEHIND THE DOOR is the memoir of a child ghost with amnesia. Venture into Bede, and welcome. But remember… once through the portal, you may have to stay!

BEHIND DOOR NUMBER 1 – lies a portrait of timeless love

‘DISAPP’EARRING TWICE’ where appearances are deceiving and disappearances are revealing!

While walking her private stretch of island beach, retired Aurelia Marcus, an eccentric recluse haunted by the dispirited-spirit of a teenage girl, finds three sandcastles. Each one is planted with a message addressed to her, embedded within a quote from one of her favorite poems. Strangely, there are no footprints to indicate the sand has been disturbed.

Aurelia must decide if she’s being wooed by a secret admirer, pursued by a dangerous stalker or being visited by the ghost of a boy she knew in high school. Has she been sharing her home with a fifty-year-old hallucination to avoid recalling a mysterious incident she’s repressed since the twelfth grade?

Aurelia’s fast disappearing memories indicate she may be succumbing to the curse of dementia that runs in her family. She may be delusional, drifting in a perpetual dream-state in the care home she’s feared all her life, dreaming of the love she never lived,or the perfectly sane victim of a cruel joke.

The possibility of slowly disappearing into a 350 year-old-painting, one memory at a time is disturbing but there’s a ghost of a chance she’ll remember the way home.

BEHIND DOOR NUMBER 2 – lies the memoir of a child ghost with amnesia

‘Snow Behind the Door’, documents the multiple time-slipped memories of an abandoned ghost-child, named Snow, in search of the family she glimpses in dreams and the dusty mirrors of Bede Hall – a disgruntled sentient stately home with a mind of its own that has sheltered earth’s time portals, guarded by an ancient line of royal Egyptian cats, for thousands of years.

A TRILOGY OF FOUR BOOKS?

NOT A TYPO! Because as I began to write the PREQUEL to the Bede ‘Trilogy’, it became obvious that time travel disallows such things as chronological time. But, even so, Snow had a personal story to tell because she had forgotten the essential details of her haunted life. And when a ghost demands time… I listen.

when a ghost demands time… listen!

After being reunited with her family, Snow, the child ghost of Bede Hall, retreats into her subconscious to escape the terrifying possibility of haunting Bede Hall forever. In order to save herself, Snow must battle her way through memory loss, dream her way through time to reclaim her lost memories, make peace with a past life, and discover if reincarnation is a viable alternative to a fate worse than death.

I invite you to BE a child ghost. BE Snow – an old soul with a new secret.

SHE WILL CHANGE YOU!

A‘stand-alone-prequel-sequel-summary’ to the Bede Series – a middle-grade time-slip adventure for all ages.

MAYBE WHEN ONE DOOR SLAMS SHUT… ANOTHER DOOR CREAKS OPEN!

Until we meet again on my blog’s doorstep, I leave you with these poetic words of wisdom regarding books:

No genuine book has a first page. Like the rustling of the forest, it is begotten God knows where, and it grows and it rolls, arousing the dense wilds of the forest until suddenly . . . it begins to speak with all the treetops at once.” – Boris Pasternak

Silent K Publishing  Vancouver Island   http://www.veronicaknox.com

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GHOSTBUSTING IS TEAMWORK

Even a blog post must tell a story. So, this blog, being no exception, is a story about you and me and how we connect, because collaboration is a two-way street. One might even say that ‘possession’ is nine-tenths of believing fiction at all! Here is our story.

Once upon a time there was an author…

When a fictional character arrives out of the blue, literally ‘dying to tell their story’, an author dutifully listens like they’re old friends, because in way, it’s quite possible, they are. If not at the beginning; then certainly at the end.

And more often than not, a deceased character with a story will rent a compartment in the author’s mind for years before they get down to business. But when they do, the two bravely enter another world, together before inviting you to join us.

Personally, as an author of metaphysical fiction, I always approach my ‘tenants’ cautiously at arms length. Vicarious is as vicarious does.

Paranormal fiction requires a transmitter and a receiver. One thing is certain: there is no story unless you and I agree to meet on another plane of existence. As a writer of fiction, I create a fanciful story deliberately intended to displace reality. I then invite you, the reader living on ‘the other side’ of the story, to travel on a different plane for a few hours by suspending your disbelief to learn something new about yourself.

Now there are three of us. You, me, and the insistent character who wants us to listen. Because you, the reader of paranormal fiction, and I the author of it, dare to tread in a holding pattern above the norm. We’re the ‘sensitives… the psychics… the ghostbusters!

That said, the first rule of ghost busting is vital for our survival: we must approach the unknown with the confidence of a seasoned traveler. The second rule is never let a ghostly character see you sweat.  

FOR EXAMPLE:             

One of my favorite novels is ‘THE LOVELY BONES’ – a ghost story/murder mystery with a poignant twist because the ghost narrator is an innocent teenage girl. Unfortunately, children go missing every day, so it was an especially poignant scenario, startlingly believable in concept; arrestingly beautiful in the telling.

ARTIFACTS = ART + FACTS THAT INFORM MY FICTION

Every museum artifact has a story.

Stories like ‘The Lovely Bones’ inspired me to explore what-if situations. Not from the downtrodden social-economic tracks on ‘other side of town’, but from the proverbial ‘other side’ of life where humans with unfinished business confront the living in order to be heard.

And so, after this pair of children’s shoes ‘followed me home’ from a Titanic exhibit in the Halifax Maritime Museum, they haunted me for seven years before I wrote ‘THE UNTHINKABLE SHOES’ about a boy named Finn who perished on the doomed ocean liner.

Finn explained his predicament, shyly at first, but grew bolder as we formed a bond of trust. He was afraid to meet his mother on the ‘other side’ because he lost the first store bought shoes he’d ever owned.

Mothers, it seems, are able to imprint irrational fears in brutally swift unconscious moments.

At first sight, inside their glass case, the shoes were unthinkably LONELY SHOES – the forgotten shoes of a lost child. But beyond the shoes, beyond the truth, lurked the lingering ever-present reality of a once-cherished living child.

Not long after visiting the museum, I watched a young mother struggling unsuccessfully to squeeze a shoe on her toddler while he wiggled his toes. It awakened the ghost within me of the Titanic shoes, once water-logged and encrusted with salt. The pair of extraordinarily ordinary shoes in my mind, still housed a dormant spark of energy. I couldn’t help but visualize another mother in a desperate hurry, cajoling her fidgety child to cooperate, dressing in haste to reach the last lifeboat.

And knowing that the shoes’ history can ever be truly known, I wrote a fictional story to honor the child who wore them – an homage to the lost children of the ‘unsinkable’ ship that sank on its maiden voyage, April 15, 1912.

A LOST BOY FROM THE TITANIC LOSES HIS SHOES BETWEEN HEAVEN AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA

When death separates two children onboard Titanic who were destined to marry, the ghost of the boy chooses to remain earthbound as the surviving girl’s invisible childhood companion.

Finding a pair of lost shoes is their one chance to stay together in the future.

AUTHORS AND READERS ARE ESSENTIALLY LIFEBOATS

We offer a ‘dispossessed’ astral traveler the means to escape by listening without judgement. 

A canny muse unexpectedly delivers the deep end of a story, sideways (from the brightest shadows of the imagination), the direction I, and many other writers, have come to recognize as the true north of a story. Storytellers are compelled to mine the hidden story layers where the true treasures lie. We are strange creatures who float in a sea of fantasies, unconsciously digging for gold. In my case, an imagined otherworldly memory blew my first draft of ‘THE UNTHINKABLE SHOES’ out of the water.

SO… WHAT IS A GHOST?

It occurs to me that our worst and best moments embed themselves in our minds like snapshots in a photo album. Every now and then their flashbulbs pop twice. Images that have a particular impact, like it or not, continue to haunt or inspire us for ill or for gain. And like all true pictures, they’re worth a thousand words. So, a memory or an old picture can, in effect, be a ghost that walks through a room and leaves an impression when you least expect it.

But that’s what a ghost is… a trace of life-force with an unfinished tale to tell.

To a sensitive observer, the echoes of the past reach out and touch them in surprises of recognition.

For this reason, I’m determined to write ghostly rather than ghastly by celebrating a positive curiosity of the afterlife rather than fearful visions of an horrific ‘void’ at the end of the world.

My stories explore the lighter side of alternative physics where museums archive the essences of past lives, sentient buildings host generations of ghosts and elementals, and mystical places provide safe harbor to lost souls determined to find each other across time, resolve their unfinished business, and make their way home.

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THE MEMOIR OF A CHILD GHOST WITH AMNESIA

SNOW BEHIND THE DOOR by V KNOX

A million years after I broke the world,

I said I was sorry.

But until I truly mean it,

my truth is frozen in time.

My companions are a rabbit doll,

a keyhole named Jack,

and a disgruntled stately home.

And so, I remain, age nine,

adrift in the ‘House of Reincarnations’

where the scent of lavender

once started an endlessly cold war.

– Snow

After being reunited with her family, Snow, the child ghost of Bede Hall, retreats into her subconscious to escape the terrifying possibility of haunting Bede Hall forever. In order to save herself, Snow must battle her way through memory loss, dream her way through time to reclaim her lost memories, make peace with a past life, and discover if reincarnation is a viable alternative to a fate worse than death.

WHEN ONE DOOR SLAMS SHUT… ANOTHER DOOR CREAKS OPEN!

Available now on Amazon as a Kindle and in print:

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VICTORY DOESN’T COME BIGGER THAN THIS

the NIKE OF SAMOTHRACE

The 9 ft. tall Hellenistic statue ‘WINGED VICTORY’, known formally as the ‘NIKE OF SAMOTHRACE’, holds pride of place at the top of the Louvre’s Daru staircase. It was excavated in 1863 with only one wing, minus its head and arms, but in 1950 a few fragments of Nike’s right hand were discovered. The second wing was cast from the original created in the second century B.C. The missing body parts have never been found, but there’s a chance they were preserved and hidden away, yet to be discovered. In its original state it would have been painted in garish colors… proving that old-age can actually be improved with the ravages of time.Like Bridget Jones, she’s perfect… just the way she is.

An excerpt from ‘I Was There’ by V KNOX

Samothrace’s white Victory,

a statuesque goddess once dressed in gaudy bling

for the Hellenistic naval ball,

stands defeated at the top of the stairs,

passing the time.

The toppled lighthouse queen’s retrograde destiny hovers,

frozen in the space of eternity.

‘Nike’, a cryogenic lady-in-waiting,

held captive within the stasis of a hermetically sealed museum,

anticipates the technologies of two thousand years

to restore her broken limbs.

An archaeological donor’s card of body parts:

to transplant an injured wing

and heal the massive head wounds of ancient color-blindness

and the shattered windblown draperies of hindsight.

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JUST FOR FUN… LEONARDO’S CAT

drawing by V Knox
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A CHAIR IS NOT A CHAIR… look again!

The Yellow Chair – Vincent van Gogh – 1888

This post is about a chair and not about a chair. It’s about meaningful mystical perception, the deep end of the awareness pool. It’s about Vincent Van Gogh, and a couple of sentient chairs in a disgruntled building with time on its hands. 

A chair is a support. A chair is a story. A chair can be the seat of profound knowing.

When a chair’s seat is removed, it’s no longer a functioning chair. It can serve as a handy receptacle for draping clothes or stand-in as a hat stand. Without its seat, a chair is an un-chair. It’s the empty framework of a chair – a potential chair. It can be a metaphor for being unseated.

In the framework of the written word, secrets are the hidden meanings between the lines. What is left ‘unsaid’ ‘frames’ what a character may want to say but refuses to say. The protracted pauses in dialogue speak volumes. When a character makes a declaration, it’s often a truth within an outright lie. Hiding is revealing.

In the topsy turvy world of fiction, reality becomes the fantasy upside-down time that makes sense of or denies a character’s negative thoughts and attitudes. It offers readers the experience of the mystical – the para (above) the normal and the super (before) the natural. 

Some chairs have things to say. Case in point, in my ‘Bede trilogy’ for *middle-grade to adult readers, Vincent’s famous ‘yellow chair’ is a teacher. It has a twin brother and a best friend from the eighteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt. So… not a regular chair!

Segue: before I go any further. Here is a quick art lesson. One of the best ways to draw a chair is to take a picture of it, turn it upside-down, and focus on its negative spaces. Force your mind to see an object by tricking your brain.

The brain ‘KNOWS’ what a chair is but it can’t ‘SEE’ what a chair is.

By separating positive and negative spaces, and focusing on the negative, a true image of the chair will emerge. It may be slightly wobbly. But in both the literary and art world, wobbly equates to character. In art, as in story, believing is seeing. May I add, tricking readers is a promise made at the onset by authors of fantasy, mysteries, and paranormal fiction.

THE FRENCH IMPRESSIONISTS

Chairs and beds and paintings hung on walls painted by French impressionists were usually gravity-challenged. Abstract paintings are visions of the formless – the undefined spaces of reality. The same can be said of fiction.

In books, abstraction becomes the art of distraction

A HOUSE IS NOT A HOME

A room can be a sanctuary or a prison. A hallway can lead nowhere. A window can be glued shut. Ambiance is a big deal. A cold spot in an attic is more than a temperature reading.

In Bede Hall, the blue door of the Winter Room is more than a door. It’s a portal. A portal protecting the ghost of an abandoned child

Twin yellow chairs and precariously hanging paintings in Vincent’s bedroom – 1888

The shape of things to come arrives in plot points, reversals, and reveals. It lies in negative perception. (foreshadows, real clues, deceptions, and red herrings slyly inserted into the unsuspecting text to suggest, imply, and mislead). No shape of a physical object exists without the empty spaces that ‘frame’ it.

In the Bede trilogy: ‘Twinter’, ‘Time Falls Like Snow’, and ‘Tomorrow Again’, Vincent’s restless yellow chair is a time-travel device. Its legs twitch with anticipation as much as unease. It represents a character’s anxiety or eagerness. It shouts:

 ‘Hey, you over there. Look at me. Sit! We need to have a talk. I’ve seen more from my place in the corner than you can dream of, and you’re about to make a huge mistake. Please, be seated. Take a moment before you leap. Allow me to guide you.’

And speaking of famous yellow chairs… allow me introduce King Tutankhamun’s golden throne, from the eighteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt… another character with a starring role, visiting Bede Hall, a curmudgeonly stately home with a mind of its own and an eye to the future from the perspective of a distant past.

AND… SOMETIMES A CHAIR IS A TABLE

Vincent van Gogh – chair as a table – 1888

SEEING IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

I spy with my little eye something beginning with yellow…

Cheers from me and…

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NEWSFLASH – APRIL 15th – 1912… ESSENTIAL TRAVEL ONLY!

109 years ago, to be exact, RMS Titanic sank in the early morning hours of April 15,1912 in the North Atlantic after hitting an iceberg four days into the ship’s maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City. More than 1,500 passengers perished including 53 children.




These shoes were last worn April 15, 1912 by a child onboard Titanic.

Sadly, history has given us a particularly perverse example of good news/bad news… Charles Dickens captured it perfectly in his famous opening line of ‘Tale of Two Cities’:

‘It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.’

Charles Dickens

The date April 15th is an extreme case of the best and worst headlines. When you read, listen, or watch the news that dominates the media every day, give pause to the past which isn’t so long ago.  

‘TITANIC ANGELUS ‘- original painting by V KNOX

I’ve used this painting ‘Titanic Angelus’ as a banner for my newsletters for some time, now. Today, is a good day to reveal that it’s a painting I made of the White Star Line ‘RMS Titanic’, at the bottom of the Atlantic, showing the souls leaving the ship.

NEWSFLASH:  HEALTH ADVISORY – APRIL 15th – 2021…PLEASE STAY HOME!

In keeping with the spirit of good and bad tactics, ‘rearranging the lifeboats on the Titanic’ could never have saved the passengers on the doomed ship. But safe passage through the Covid pandemic is possible. Hoping for the best is good. Defying the rules of safe distancing and wearing masks is bad. 

NEWSFLASH:  APRIL 15th – 1452 …  BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT

Good news. Leonardo da Vinci is born! A child prodigy arrives who will become the consummate renaissance man.



Leonardo da Vinci, age 24 – a self portrait from his ‘Adoration of the Magi’

From wunderkind to master of all trades, Leonardo studied the arts of ongoing exploration: science, anatomy, and flight. He was an artist, inventor, engineer, philosopher, botanist, musician, and poet. By all accounts, Leonardo was a gentle compassionate soul, possessed of a boundless curiosity – a dedicated perfectionist, driven to record the entire world in one lifetime.

LEONARDO arrived 569 years ago, today.

THE ‘MONA LISA’ MAY BE PRICELESS… NOW SHE MUST BECOME A WOMAN WORTH SAVING

Due to a blotch of ink in an old manuscript, Lisabetta, Leonardo da Vinci’s kid sister, loses her identity. She becomes an embittered spirit trapped in her portrait for over 500 years. To reclaim her true name, the ‘Mona Lisa’ must join forces with Jupiter, an autistic six-year-old boy visiting the Louvre with his troubled mother. Jupiter is ‘Lisa’s knight in shining armor but his fraught mother needs saving first.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07K6SBB78

A BAREFOOT GHOST FROM THE TITANIC LOSES HIS SHOES BETWEEN HEAVEN AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA

When death separates a pair of children onboard Titanic who were destined to marry, Finn, the ghost of the boy, chooses to remain earthbound as the surviving girl’s invisible childhood companion. Finding a pair of lost shoes may be their only chance to reunite in the future. But first, Finn, must fulfill a sacred promise made in haste.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01E4Q95A6

NEWSFLASH: DESIRED THINGS

In 1927, Max Ehrmann, a wise compassionate man, wrote the ‘DESIDERATA – Latin for ‘DESIRED THINGS’

“whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

Max Ehrmann

And so, Spring forges on anew. Hopefully, ‘a new’ pandemic story with a happy ending. Not so much ‘ever after’ but soon and sweeter for all that. Remember your home is your lifeboat. Stand firm, fight the good fight with kindness, and because passionate sentiments are much more commanding in Latin, please make a truly ‘titanic’ wish on Jiminy Cricket’s bright star.

‘FINIT HIC PESTUS’ – HERE ENDS PLAGUE!

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FINIT HIC PESTUS!

And so, Spring forges on anew. Hopefully, ‘a new’ pandemic story with a happy ending. Not so much ‘ever after’ but soon and sweeter for all that. And because passionate sentiments are much more commanding in Latin, please join me in shouting out:

FINIT HIC PESTUS’ – HERE ENDS PLAGUE!

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THE WRITING GAMBIT … a serious game of power, strategy, and seduction

Why worry? Not all crowns are gold. Making a splash in the literary world is akin to winning a crown of glory in a chess tournament, but going for the mountain top of any sport is essential for victory. True kings and queens of the writing world are usually born with a storytelling gene implanted with a passion for wordplay. Here are a few game-changing strategies for anyone with an urge to write a novel because:

WRITING A NOVEL IS A SPORT!

Taking on a full-length novel is as challenging as making the second move on a chess board. But it needn’t be daunting if you study the art of storytelling and read a lot of books. Sharpen your pencils, crack your knuckles before the keyboard, and set the timer for longer than you think. Consciously disconnect from the outside world. Stop thinking. Feel. Practice eight days a week. Writing is a joy; publishing is war; play by the rules but think outside the box.

Own the key’BOARD. It belongs to you.

THE OPENING MOVESET UP a solid dazzling premise!

A PREMISE is a promise – a contract between an author and their readers to deliver the story outlined in the promotional blurb. All other moves are secondary: RECRUIT a cast of supportive three-dimensional characters and CREATE a compelling story outline. JUDGE when to employ diversion and misdirection, and COUNTER complexity with simplicity. WEAVE subtlety and transparency into every visual scene. SEAMLESSLY BLEND introspection, narration, and dialogue. SENSE when to advance the story, when to delay, what to hold back, what to deny, and when to reveal. INSERT any historical references with discretion, and most of all AROUSE primal emotions.

Here are two of my novels inspired by historical events: ‘DISAPP’EARRING TWICE’ and ‘THE UNTHINKABLE SHOES’ discover more about them here:   

STAY FOCUSED… listen to the whole keyboard. It has 26 letters, and they’re all yours. Refrain from bringing out your exclamation marks too soon.

DISTINGUISH between diversion and misdirection. INITIATE curiosity. INFUSE logic and imagination, and don’t forget to GENERATE surprises. RECONCILE back story with current events. BALANCE the subtleties of micro tension and macro intentions. CONCEIVE and PRESENT strong plot points, a surprise midpoint, and a satisfying conclusion. IMPLANT foreshadows and false clues. FLIRT with impossible possibilities. RECONCILE love and hate by TRANSMUTING your characters fear and pain.

Here are two of my paranormal romance novels: ‘THE INDIGO PEARL’ and ‘PEARL BY PEARL’

DEFEND YOUR STORYLINE

INJECT magic. BALANCE victories and defeats. SUSPEND belief and DELIVER believable imaginary worlds. OFFER a spoiled-for-choice spectacle of outdoor vistas as well as common rooms of simple pleasures or dark spaces haunted with inner demons. Where appropriate, SUPPLY moody atmospheric conditions or clear skies. TRANSPORT the reader’s senses with stunning visuals and intimate details. ASK compelling story questions, NURTURE imagination, and INFUSE the concept of synchronicity. ROMANCE the art of suspense.

Here are two of my time-slip trilogy adventures for middle-grade enthusiasts of all ages: ‘TWINTER’ and ‘TIME FALLS LIKE SNOW’

WHEN CORNERED… ATTACK  

BRING the moxie. GENERATE a surprise twist that stuns even yourself. PRACTICE the subtle crafts of showing and telling. CREATE unanticipated story arcs. INTRODUCE unforeseen elements, and BLEND reality with fantasy. NARRATE distinctive voices. COMPLETE a first rough draft. WRITE hot, EDIT cold, and LAUNCH a novel that sizzles.

Here are two of my art history-mystery novels: ‘LISABETTA – a stolen glance’ and ‘ADORATION – loving Botticelli’

THE LAST MOVE is a win, lose, or draw situation. Remain equally gracious throughout negative reviews and victorious triumphs. Say thank you. Avoid winner’s circles.

MARKETING IS WAR!

DESIGN a cover, COMPOSE a catchy tagline. CRAFT an irresistible hook. ORIGINATE several punchy log lines. SUMMARIZE a compelling back blurb, COMPOSE a clear synopsis, and WRITE a professional query letter. REHEARSE a memorable elevator pitch, BLITZ the letter. REMAIN gracious. ESTABLISH a brand. FIGHT by the rules, BE a good sport – a gracious author lives to write another day.

YOUR IMAGE… MAKE A BIG SPLASH  

Shake hands with serendipity. SET UP the next board. Rest, eat, breath, sleep, and with all the sensitivity of sublime kismet that you can muster and the intrepid confidence of a master, balanced with the relentless authority of a dictator. SET UP a new dazzling premise.

ESTABLISH a positive reputation.

Still-waters often run shallow for unknown authors, lured off course by the false promises of predators. Be aware. Due diligence is vital to your literary health. Books often run aground, dashed on the rocks of business. But then, the love of words has its own rewards which is just as well… the odds of making a huge publishing splash is somewhat mercurial. It’s a tenacious author who reaches their own finish line. Never give up! Serendipity awaits the dedicated few.

Welcome to my wading pool: https://www.amazon.com/V-Knox/e/B0094K0Q7Y

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IMMORTALITY MAY BE DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH

For me, studying art history was equal parts fascination and frustration that drowned out the angry voices of paintings that had ‘died’ from being lost, stolen, hidden, unfinished, copied, damaged, or destroyed. Where were they?

The ghosts in my novels invite readers to come alive. And, in the words of Marcus Aurelius, whose philosophy drove the story plot of ‘Disapp’earring Twice’: It is not death that man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”

No fictional characters have to die in my ‘ghost stories’

‘Disapp’earring Twice’ is a metaphysical ‘art history mystery’ of love, reincarnation, and sacrifice inspired by a true event when eternity drives a pair of estranged lovers to manipulate the rules of immortality.

Aurelia Marcus, a troubled high school student, is singled out by Jakobina, the dispirited spirit of a teenage girl trapped in a famous painting, in a hostage bid to resolve their mutual issues of mortality – a fanciful art history mystery of love, reincarnation, & sacrifice inspired by a true event:

Aurelia Marcus disappeared long before she ran away from home.

So, when is a ghost story not a ghost story? … It’s when ghost protagonists are metaphors for emotional, philosophical, and psychological, deaths, or when a ghost story intrigues without horror and paints a future world without dystopian angst.

‘DISAPP’EARRING TWICE’ https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085SYZPGG

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