SO… I WALKED INTO THIS MUSEUM…

… and I came out with a story. Or, to be more precise, it followed me home and shadowed me for three years.

And now it’s coming up to the first anniversary, of self-publishing THE UNTHINKABLE SHOES, appropriately, the traditional ‘paper anniversary’, and the 105th anniversary of the morning when the museum shoes and their young owner perished in the North Atlantic on April 15th, 1912.

Titanic sank with many immigrant children aboard – young passengers trapped in the doomed steerage section on the ship. One of whom, likely wore these shoes, permanently on exhibit in the Maritime Museum of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

In an homage to the unknown child, I created Finn Cleary, a wild Irish boy who lost two pairs of shoes in the icy waters that fateful night.

It was unthinkable for Finn to face his mother who’d declared:

“I’ll skin you alive, so I will, if you so much as scuff your new shoes before we get to America.”

LOSING THE SECOND PAIR WAS EVEN MORE UNTHINKABLE

‘THE UNTHINKABLE SHOES’ is an extraordinary love story between two children onboard the Titanic, destined to marry, who struggle to stay together even after death separates them. Finding Finn’s shoes is their only chance.

New shoes don’t grow on trees, but sadly, printed books, do rely on them. To win a paperback copy of ‘The Unthinkable Shoes’, please answer the following question: Was it an iceberg or greed that sank the Titanic? Give your reasons. The answer that dazzles me, wins. Please use the contact page to send your reply with the words Titanic book contest in your email heading. I look forward to hearing from you.

www.amazon.com/Unthinkable-Shoes-Save-Our-Souls/dp/0993738036

Posted in Books, fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Historical Fiction, literary fiction, magical realism, Nova Scotia, paranormal romance, REINCARNATION, Silent K Publishing, supernatural, THE UNTHINKABLE SHOES -novel, Titanic, Titanic's lost shoes, Titanic's unknown child, V Knox, V. Knox author, Veronica Knox author | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

JUST ANOTHER TRICK IN THE WALL

HADRIAN'S WALL - Great Britain

HADRIAN’S WALL – Great Britain

Sometimes a wall is meant to defend and protect.

Sometimes a wall draws a line in the sand.

Sometimes a line in the sand marks a point of no return.

Often, if you’re lucky, the point of no return is an invitation to enter the liminal space between two realities.

In the ‘BEDE SERIES’ for middle-grade to young adult readers, Hadrian’s wall is a great divide.

But sometimes the common ground of a great divide is a non-local destination of great joining – the perfect space for uniting the natural and the supernatural to experience the mysteries of warm rain, red snow, and footsteps that end in silence.

‘TIME FALLS LIKE SNOW’ – book 2 of the BEDE SERIES is a time travel adventure to ancient Egypt through the time portals of a sentient stately home in Northumbria, built atop the successive ruins of prehistoric Britain.

Kit, a boy-scientist who decries all things supernatural must confront his worst nightmares after moving to Bede Hall, his grandmother’s crumbling estate. The Hall, steeped in local mythology, buzzes with unearthly energy and encounters with ghostly phenomena.

When Kit’s twin sister, Bash, wholeheartedly embraces the very energies that Kit denounces, they’re pitted against each other. Their natural telepathic bond remains a flimsy connection that connects the real and paranormal worlds.

But to prevent a global disaster and several personal ones, Kit must overcome his fear of the unknown, face erasure by time traveling through the dangerous portals of Bede Hall, and change the future by creating a new past.

‘DOWNTON ABBEY THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS’

What if Downton Abbey had a mind of its own?

Bede Hall is a sentient family estate, fallen on desperate times, crumbling in the shadow of Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland. It has survived in countless reincarnations, hovering on the liminal boundaries of the Isle of Lindisfarne – the sheltered threshold between mythology and a hard place, in a world that’s positively ancestral.

When local developers target the abandoned Hall for demolition, it refuses to surrender without a fight.

With its ‘back against the wall’, the stately home is forced to recall its reluctant matriarch and her twin grandchildren, Bathsheba (Bash) and Christopher (Kit) – teenagers with their own challenges.

And since time refuses to turn back permanently, the Hall’s time portals can only play a risky game of hide and seek with its young champions.

Bede Hall must overcome its pride in order to fulfill its destiny. It has an ancient curse to defuse, a future catastrophe to avert, and a young ghost to set free while the twins face the consequences of playing chess with time itself.

BEDE HALL IS ALIVE BUT ALL IS NOT WELL

Three years have passed since the twins arrived to live in Bede Hall.

Turning sixteen isn’t going to be easy.

feb-14-cover-time-falls-like-snow-from-august15TWINTER FRONT COVER AUGUST 15 2016

Book 1 of the ‘Bede series’ ‘TWINTER – THE FIRST PORTAL’ is presently available in print and e-book versions. The estimated publication date for book 2, ‘TIME FALLS LIKE SNOW’ is May 2017.

https://www.amazon.com/author/veronicaknox

Posted in ANCIENT EGYPT, Ancient Egyptian history, Books, fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Historical Fiction, magical realism, middle-grade time-slip adventure, REINCARNATION, Silent K Publishing, supernatural, THE BEDE SERIES - V KNOX, the Green Man, time travel, Twinter the novel, V Knox, V. Knox author, Veronica Knox author | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

WHERE WERE YOU?

dec-21-final-front-cover-i-was-thereIf meditation is time travel, then I have been there with Leonardo and Sandro and Lisa. I brushed against their cloaks of country-rough sackcloth or city-thick velvet trimmed in fur, and run my fingers over the heavy embroidered stuff of their Sunday best.

I’ve worn a wedding gown of stiff pearl-encrusted silk.

I’ve paced out the length and breadth of the Piazza della Signoria with Il Marzocco (the heraldic lion of Florence) and his wife – the back-to-back lions of yesterday and tomorrow. We skirted the deserted arena, a savannah of sun-baked paving stones, hugging the walls, keeping to the shadows – circling the square, squaring the circle, roaring at its empty coliseum of African dreams, ignoring the pigeons and an escaped wishing-pig. We were careful to sidestep Savonarola’s fire-blackened martyr-stone marking the center of vanity, the very heart of art.

I’ve set aside many a nosegay against the blast of renaissance filth. But then I’ve also been gifted the scent of flowers blooming free of diesel fumes and pesticides that leave our bleached versions of fruit and vegetables and pale-scented roses in the dust.

I’ve shadowed fifteenth-century Florentines unawares, light and casual in my T-shirt and tenderized stone-washed jeans, shuffling through their littered streets in sensible shoes, vaccinated and well-supplied with bottled water.

As a time-traveler, I’ve explored their natures the way discoverers of the New World embraced the shores of a Utopian mirage. I invited them inside my head, to share one mood, one pair of eyes, and allowed their DNA to mature – to percolate in quiet moments and prosper under my skin.

As their host, I gave them breath and a voice. As an author, I continue to shout their praises in pixels and electrons, and gift them paper and air.

 

SO… WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?

Were you a fly on the wall? Or inside someone’s head? Or did you settle-in under an historical character’s skin?

Meet me for an espresso in the marketa of Florence beside the wishing pig.

See you there.

BON VOYAGE!

dec-10-new-final-full-cover-i-was-there

‘I WAS THERE’ – V. Knox

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0993738087

 

 

Posted in Books, fantasy, Fine Art, Florence, Florence. Italy, Historical Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Italian renaissance, Italy, Leonardo da Vinci, literary fiction, poetry, romance, Sandro Botticelli, Silent K Publishing, the 'Mona Lisa', V Knox, V. Knox author, Veronica Knox author | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

OUT OF FAIRNESS

out-of-africa-main-reviewHOW PERVERSE IS THE LAW OF THE JUNGLE? ARE TOO MANY INDIE BOOKS BORN FREE?

Of course, I meant to say, ‘reborn free’ after a brief float in the harbor of desperate measures, and before embarking on a doomed journey on the library Titanic – the bookstore that shall not be named.

Please excuse a proliferation of mixed metaphors but jungles and oceans have a lot in common for indie publishers. We are often lost at sea and mired in jungle fever without a paddle. And now there are more rules and there aren’t enough lifeboats (I mean reviews) to save us.

OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF STORYTELLERS

We indie authors march to the same literary drum as those who are traditionally published but the machetes we use to slash through the undergrowth look an awful lot like a pen. Less is not more. The pen is not mightier than the dollar. We work hard against an increasing tsunami of opposition making unnecessary waves. A few water-wings may save a few books if you know how to play the game that the big-game hunters play.

It seems wise to take a page ‘OUT OF’ another author’s book. And, if not an entire page, then a few snippets of dialogue based on the African memoirs of Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke, published under the pen name Isak Dinesen’s. It’s inspiring to hear a distant jungle drum with conversations of literary hope… and more power to the indies.

MY FAVORITE MOVIE ‘OUT OF AFRICA’ SPEAKS VOLUMES:

DENYS FINCH HATTON:

“Can you tell a story, then?”

KAREN BLIXEN:

“I happen to be rather good at stories.”

ME: “Of course you are and when you publish them you should get paid for that!”

 

DENYS FINCH HATTON:

“We should have a story now.”

KAREN BLIXEN:

Smiles

ME: “This is going to be good. The movie begins with strains of Mozart as if played under water and the visual hook of a tiny train in a vast expanse of the Serengeti plains, chugging into a story. I hear the poignant sound of an elephant trumpeting but that’s only in my imagination because I’m already there. I’m on the train. Out my window is a landscape that belongs to lions and giraffe and elephants. The female narrator delivers a moving voice-over as a soft Danish memory… the haunting phrase: I had a farm in Africa. I’m hooked. Then, the lilting poetry: I had a farm in Africa. I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills. I had a farm in Africa.” Her last plaintive refrain fades into a symphony. I LOVE this story.

KAREN BLIXEN:

“But I have gone ahead of my story. He’d have hated that. Denys loved to hear a story told well. You see, I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills… I had a farm in Africa.”

And later:

DENYS FINCH HATTON – giving Karen a pen as payment for a story:

“We pay our storytellers here.”

KAREN BLIXEN:

“But my stories are free, and your present is much too dear.”

DENYS FINCH HATTON:

“Write them down sometime.”

ME: “Great idea, but writing stories ‘down’ is a lot harder than spilling beans around a safari campfire. It’s not a hobby. The written word requires a serous commitment of time, sometimes years.

A good writer must study the craft of writing. They must work on weekends and holidays. Focus is a big thing. One must experiment with subtext and familiarize themselves with the business of publishing. They must have a solid understanding of pacing and structure, story arcs and themes, plots and subplots, dialogue, and the subtle nuances of exposition and narration. They must create and invent and research. They must grapple with first person point of view vs. third, and tie up all the story questions in a satisfying conclusion that is neither stale, expected, nor lame. They must subject their manuscripts to harsh critics, revise, polish, and revise again. Not a hobby!

And if that’s not daunting enough, an indie author must hire a plethora of professional publishing services while dodging the predators who call themselves publishers but are really wolves in librarian’s clothing. Indies are advised, nay compelled to market and blog and schmooze when their first preference is to write their next book.

Did I mention out loud that WRITING A NOVEL IS NOT A HOBBY.

KAREN BLIXEN *speaking of her adopted Kenyan landscape of opportunity:

“Every time I try to tame it, it goes wild again.”

But if a writer isn’t fortunate enough to own a coffee plantation, or one that, like Karen Blixen’s, is being reabsorbed by an encroaching jungle, they must resort to investing in endless cups of high-priced lattes and espressos in expensive cafes where… (I knew I had a point to make) a single biscotti costs more than most e-books.

Novelists are urged, nay compelled to eat real food once-in-a-while, keep a roof over their heads, and pay all those editors and technicians and graphic designers who, quite deservedly, charge more per hour than the price of a single paperback edition. They eat ahead of us. And here the food chain takes a dangerous off-trail hike through book-eating territory.

Sometimes it feels like we indies are scavengers picking the bones of a gazelle after everyone else has feasted.

DENYS FINCH HATTON:

“We’re short a story or two.”

KAREN BLIXEN:

“Yes.”

ME: “Not any more. The jungle floor is littered with books. There’s no room to swing a lion cub in there. The bookshelves are miles long and reach the stars… which brings me to another set of sharp teeth. Reviews are sometimes harshly monitored (read deleted without just cause) and yet often, the worst and most obvious review offenders are taken at their word. Authors may not review each other. No reviews can be purchased with the exception of a few high-profile professional reviewing businesses that charge upwards of $500. As Woody, the ‘Toy Story’ cowboy often likes to shout out: somebody’s poisoned the water hole!

So, it would seem the ‘King of the Beasts’ even rules the stars

FYI:

TICKET TO A MOVIE BASED ON A NOVEL      … $15

CELEBRITY E-BOOK, EDITED, GREAT READ … $15 and up

POPCORN AT THE MOVIES                                  … $7

SOFT DRINK AT THE MOVIES                             … $5

CHOCOLATE BAR AT THE MOVIES                   … $4

DESIGNER COFFEE WITH EXTRA FOAM          … $7

A SINGLE BISTRO BISCOTTI                               … $4

AVERAGE BUS FARE TO THE LIBRARY           … $2.50

INDIE E-BOOK, EDITED, DESIGNED                … FREE or 99 cents… FAIR TRADING?

 

All things being equal, and by the way, since NO BAOBABS HAD TO DIE, shouldn’t all e-books be priced ‘fair and square’?

For many Indie Joneses, falling into the trap of a permanent bargain-basement bookstore is as horrifying as a pit filled with snakes. It’s a last circle of hell that would even freak out Dante.

I REMAIN ‘OUT OF ANSWERS’:

What e-book price is a fair sweet spot?

What artificial-sweeteners poison the water hole?

Must Indie authors be reduced to lion fodder in a skewed coliseum where the survival of the fittest books requires wishing on five burned-out stars?

I think Denys would have our backs.

 

Posted in Books, literary fiction, romance, Silent K Publishing, V Knox, V. Knox author, Veronica Knox author | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

WALK THIS WAY

the-angel-and-tobias-feet

Sometimes, to understand history, you must put yourself in another person’s shoes.

Walk with me…

Pretend for a moment that you are a master painter. You live in fifteenth-century Florence. It takes you over a year to complete a masterpiece. One particular portrait is more important than all the others. This one you tweak when the mood strikes. It will never be finished when you can add another layer of varnish to make it sing. It’s not only a new treatise on portraiture, it’s the likeness of your beloved sister. A sister who died not long after she posed with her hands just so, and her eyes meeting yours in a familiar return of affection.

She inspired you to greater heights, and so the likeness is not only a perfect representation of her true appearance but also her inner beauty. Her expression mirrors her sense of playfulness as much as the sadness she felt when she lost her only child. You’ve painted her life by capturing her very soul on a panel of poplar wood. And in your grief you turn to it. You speak to it the same way a photograph in a locket becomes greater than a treasure – a companion with whom you can share your triumphs. A compassionate face that looks back at you and smiles in celebration or empathy.

When you travel, the painting goes with you. When you set up a new home, it’s there displayed where you can see it. It’s not a formal shrine. It’s more like setting a place at the table for a loved one who is never coming home, begun as a gesture to ease your pain. And before too long it IS your sister. She IS home. You speak with her as if she were in the room, and others hear you.

But you are an eccentric man and revered for your unique abilities. What you do is humored and documented: ‘Leonardo carried one portrait with him everywhere and would not be parted from it’. You are Leonardo da Vinci. The portrait becomes celebrated and known the world over as ‘The Mona Lisa’- the iconic image of your sister, Lisabetta – the woman known as your half-sister Lisabetta Buti. But you know a secret. She is the second lovechild of your mother and Piero da Vinci. Your relationship is as close as twins born six years apart. You taught your kid sister how to paint. She taught you how to survive.

Later, your painting is the most famous face in the world but Lisabetta’s identity is gone. Your sister’s name is lost because you painted another Lisa, and somehow the two women have been mistakenly interchanged. The silk merchant’s wife’s portrait was lost long ago. And now your sister survives as an exquisite portrait, a single line in a forgotten census, and the legend of an old man who carried a portrait to his deathbed… and still, when you leave your body, you will not be parted from her.

Time passes in the otherworld. You can hear Lisa calling. She’s trapped by the very art that created her. You search the world over for five-hundred-years. She searches for you too… and at last you meet again through a chance encounter with an autistic boy visiting a museum. A boy who recognizes truths hidden in the open. He feels the magic of a special day – the five-hundredth anniversary of Lisabetta’s death. But it’s not by chance. Love such as yours never is.

And now ‘The Mona Lisa’ smiles more radiantly as her new journey begins.

Second Lisa_cover1_CS.indd

A STORY TOLD IN THREE VOLUMES

Posted in Books, Florence, Florence. Italy, Historical Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Italian renaissance, Italy, Leonardo da Vinci, literary fiction, Lost Paintings, Second Lisa, Silent K Publishing, supernatural, the 'Mona Lisa', V Knox, V. Knox author, Veronica Knox author, women's fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The first cellular phone?

Tobias and the Angel

Tobias and the Angel

EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN

I see an angel reading a text message.

This painting, Tobias and the Angel (c. 1467) from the studio of Andrea Verrocchio, is considered to contain three of the earliest instances of painting by Leonardo da Vinci’s hand, likely a teenager of fifteen in his early years of apprenticeship. His identifiable light touch is seen in the delicate curls of the dog’s fur and the wayward lock of hair on the boy’s forehead, and his exquisite attention to detail in the fish.

The Angel and Tobias is a composite studio painting by the master, Verrocchio and his assistants. The figures show the awkward anatomy of Verrocchio’s more angular sculptural style. Note his signature right-hand position of the extended crooked baby fingers of both figures.

From the mirror pose of the angel and the boy’s left hand, it appears that the fish may have originally been held by the angel.

Book one of my trilogy, Second Lisa, outlines Leonardo’s apprenticeship years and describes him painting the Tobias alongside Sandro Botticelli.

Leonardo was certainly a man ahead of his time!

Posted in Books, Fine Art, Florence, Florence. Italy, Historical Fiction, Italian renaissance, Italy, Leonardo da Vinci, literary fiction, Lost Paintings, paranormal romance, Sandro Botticelli, Second Lisa, Silent K Publishing, the 'Mona Lisa', V Knox, V. Knox author, Veronica Knox author, women's fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

THANKSGIVING MUSEUM

Peyton '2005 - October 6, 2016'

Peyton ‘2005 – October 6, 2016’

Museums house the collective dreams of the anthropologist in each of us. We humans celebrate a general curiosity and regard for antiquities. But most of all, we ‘exhibit’ an inherent need for ‘DESIDERATA (Latin for ‘DESIRED THINGS’). More energetic than the hushed hallowed halls of libraries, museums encourage conversation. And even though we share a desire for tactile reassurance, we can look but not touch. Objects under glass are beyond our reach. And so we reach elsewhere for living contact.

THE MIND IS A STOREHOUSE OF TREASURES

We’re a possessive species; we amass everything from sea glass and heart-shaped stones to the rare loves of our life. The most evolved of our species invite pets into their world. We especially revere cats and dogs.

But most of all we accumulate memories. And since humans are hardwired to remember ‘THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY’, we each become the custodian of an emotional hoard of personal ticking artifacts. We are the curators of our own inner museums. Glass houses with shutters and padlocked doors, closed to the public. We are prone to fear too many ‘things’. Death is one of the biggies.

“Do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.”

– DESIDERATA – by Max Ehrmann 

When ‘things go wrong’, it’s tough to remember that last line. We live in a universe of dualities, so although Thanksgiving Day is set apart to highlight the GOOD, it also stirs up the SAD.

SNAPSHOTS HUNG IN A HEART GALLERY

My personal museum is a complex of white carpeted halls. My nostalgic exhibits include the usual emotional flags and fears that haunt everyone’s calendars. Thankfully, I also harbor a sea of favorites: being a mom, the season of Autumn, music from the sixties and seventies, cats, dogs, elephants, tigers, art, the sounds of Gregorian chanting… and rain.

The museum behind my eyes is filled with memories captured in neurons and pixels. Everything is filed and shelved and catalogued. The carpets are immaculate. I believe my muse, who hangs out there (after all it IS called a MUSEum) is a house-proud librarian.     

THE GOOD TODAY

I’m especially thankful that Peyton came to stay. A gentle ‘lassie’ wearing white stockings, ears like velvet, and warm eyes that expressed her own thank-fullness of being cherished as part of our family.

Today it’s ‘pouring cats and dogs’, so I’m thankful for the comforting sounds of rain. And grateful for the commonplace life of rehearsed indoor tasks that thankfully ask little more of me than peripheral attention. I’m thankful for the companionship of felines at my feet, earl grey tea, and a blanket of ‘GOOD GRIEF’.

THE SAD TODAY

Peyton is gone. My thanks move seamlessly from the humane to the mundane – the compassionate dignified face of euthanasia, and a path over the uneven landscape of loss. The sad constancy of ongoing routines: the picking up of dropped threads, sorting, washing, cleaning, cooking, writing, and the task of putting an empty corner to rights that has more meaning now for its emptiness.

THE UGLY TODAY

The jagged morning after and uneven waves of mourning that return as mini aftershocks. Feeling disoriented. The sympathetic shadow of writer’s block accompanied by the never-ending chaotic stupidity of ‘Windows 10’. Work is flavorless. I’m more aware of how many cats and dogs are in desperate need of comfort and good homes. And sadly, the space Peyton left is as great as the space she once filled.

… but then I remember another stanza of Max Ehrmann’s DESIDERATA:

“With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”

That’s a tough one, Max. No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should but giving thanks for time with Peyton is the best memory I can rally this Thanksgiving weekend.

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